Bruiser Queen – Sweet Static (Boxing Clever)

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Listen Now: “On the Radio”

GOING FOR TOP 200 ADDS

“Instead of a bit of lyric, most often what came to me first when writing this material was the melody,” confesses singer/guitarist Morgan Nusbaum of her St. Louis-based reverb-drenched garage pop duo, Bruiser Queen’s new album, Sweet Static. What’s clear here, in the band’s sophomore presentation – and their first since recently signing to Boxing Clever Records – is her masterful dedication to melody and structure.

Dreamy album opener, “Tiny Heart Attack,” charms listeners with the band’s signature trademark: Nusbaum’s potent Corin Tucker meets 60′s girl group top-of-the-lung howl; but the band’s true ace is her dynamic guitar style. “One of the challenges unique to being a guitar/drums duo is filling out the spectrum of sound normally covered by several instruments on stage,” she says. No such limits existed in the studio, where she crafted twinkling guitars and harmonies to depths of overdriven layers of bass, organ, and piano. “Working with Harry in his Memphis recording studio was such an incredible experience, where every instrument was within arm’s reach.”

While 2012′s debut Swears set forth Bruiser Queen’s bold mission statement with bouncy 3-minute sing-along anthems for the Nation of Oohs and Whoa-Ohs, Sweet Static asserts that rules were meant to be broken – or at least bent. That’s not to say Nusbaum, along with drummer Jason Potter, have thrown out the reverbial baby with the murky Mississippi River bathwater – they haven’t. It’s clear with tracks like “On The Radio,” “Invisible Girl,” and “Save Me” that the band’s still just as sweet, but it’s lush mid-tempo haunting entries like “Girls Like Me” and “Some Girl’s Ghost” that demonstrate their dealings with static.

Bruiser Queen is the collaborative effort of singer/guitarist, Morgan Nusbaum, and drummer Jason Potter. Formed in 2010, the garage rock and roll duo began winning over the Midwest in 2012 with the release of their first full-length album titled Swears, which preceded the highly praised In Your Room 7″/EP in 2013 via Certified PR Records. The title track, “In Your Room,” was named “Best Local Single of the Past 12 Months” by the Riverfront Times and was a winner on the 2013 Village Voice Pazz and Jop Singles Chart.

In the span of four years, Bruiser Queen has been voted “Best Garage Band” according to the RFT Music Awards 2014 Readers Poll, ranked at #36 on the KDHX Top Album Spins of 2012 Chart, and has filled supporting slots for artists including Best Coast, Wanda Jackson, Polyphonic Spree, Corin Tucker Band, Those Darlins, and Pujol. They have also featured in music festivals including Middle of the Map, Valley of the Vapors, Mile of Music, and True/False.

Focus Tracks: 2, 5, 6, 1, 4
FCC: Clean

High Highs – Ocean To City EP (Self-Released)

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Listen Now: “Ocean To City”

GOING FOR TOP 200 ADDS

“High Highs’ intimate sound evokes the reverb-heavy folk harmonies of groups like Grizzly Bear and Fleet Foxes” – Billboard

“… It’s the unity of each of the song’s swooning elements and the tranquility and equilibrium they seem to so effortlessly produce.” – I Guess I’m Floating

When asked to describe the ideal environment for listening to High Highs’ new EP, lead- singer and guitarist Jack Milas answered, “Just before dawn, when the party has ended.” Following 2013’s dreamy debut Open Season and an extensive year of touring, the Australian duo is set to release a three-song EP entitled Ocean To City.

Jack Milas and Oli Chang began making music together as High Highs in their native Sydney, Australia, while working at the same recording studio. Chang found himself drawn to Milas’ writing style, and the pair plunged into a world of collaboration and invention. They discovered the basis of a band aesthetic by marrying Chang’s passion for electronic indie with Jack’s penchant for classic acoustic rock. When Milas took an opportunity to work and live in New York, Chang joined, and the duo settled in Brooklyn.

Since living in the states, High Highs have toured with Vampire Weekend, Empire Of The Sun, Sky Ferreira, and Stars. “Opening for bigger bands in larger venues really gave us a sense of what works musically in big spaces,” said Chang. “It’s also been interesting to see people respond to big melodies in a positive way.” No longer working full-time jobs, this new freedom and time spent traveling the country also helped nurture these songs. “The music comes from a place of seeing more of the world,” explained Milas. “There are powerful moments and quiet moments, but we’ve tried to be honest in terms of presenting something that we think is beautiful.”

To help engineer, mix, and produce these new songs, they brought in Andrew Maury (Ra Ra Riot, Panama Wedding), whose detailed and layered production style helped contextualize the music. Chang commented, “Sometimes we get really down on an idea and he reminds us that it’s actually good. With a song like ‘Ocean To City’, we handed him a bit of mess and he made sense of it.”

Despite the inevitable expectations that build after a lauded debut, Milas dispels any fear of a sophomore slump and excitedly adds, “It’s going to feel really good to finally share what we’ve come up with and re-open the dialogue with the people that are waiting for this new music.”

Focus Tracks: All
FCC: Clean

Hookworms – The Hum (Weird World)

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Listen Now: “Radio Tokyo”

GOING FOR TOP 200 ADDS

Hookworms return with their new album, The Hum, which follows the Leeds-quintet’s debut album Pearl Mystic – a record that steadily went on to become one of 2013’s most impactful breakout statements in the UK!

Even more ferocious and uncompromising than its predecessor and yet more melodic and focused, The Hum further cements the band’s status as a vital force in British independent music. The Hum takes the blueprint of Pearl Mystic – proto-punk, garage rock, Washington DC hardcore, 80’s British spacerock – and further stamps it with the band’s seal. Leaner, meaner and more propulsive thanks to the muscular playing of new drummer JN, the record boasts both the most straight-up punk song the band have written to date in eviscerating opener “The Impasse” (“we wanted it to sound like Suicide if they had a full band”, explains MJ) and moments of patient, widescreen beauty only hinted at previously.

“We were writing Pearl Mystic to an audience in the same way your diary has an audience”, says guitarist SS. “It’s written to one but if no one ever reads it that’s not a big deal. This time round though we knew we had a really clear audience, so The Hum is really about different freedoms and constraints – with Pearl Mystic the possibilities were almost too vast, this time around we had a much clearer idea of what the record should be like and that became freeing because we didn’t need to worry about its direction so much. That word “free” is a good way to approach The Hum, a record that could only be made by a band in total command of their personality.

Focus Tracks: 4, 1, 2
FCC: Clean

Les Sins – Michael (Company Records)

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Listen Now: “Why”

GOING FOR AAA, TOP 200, RPM AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS

Michael is the debut full length from Les Sins, the dance project of Toro Y Moi’s Chaz Bundick. Inspired by cartoon and movie soundtracks, the largely instrumental album explores classic dance and pop music traditions. Catchy, repetitive vocal hooks gel with beats and synth work influenced by house, techno, French electronic, and ’90s hip-hop production. Bundick made the album over two years and recorded everything in his home studio.

The funky “Why” features vocals from Berkeley, Calif. singer-songwriter Nate Salman asking “Why you wanna go and do that?” “Bother” holds down a head-bobbing, body-moving groove until a stunning hallelujah moment straight out of a sci-fi version of Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. While there are no concrete themes associated with the album, Chaz says he can imagine all of these songs playing in the middle of the brilliantly lighted and busy Ginza district in Tokyo.

Touchstones like Timbaland, Mr. Oizo, and Daft Punk, and contemporaries such as Motor City Drum Ensemble offered inspiration, but most influential on the making of the album was the sage advice of a design icon. “My favorite graphic designer, P. Rand always said, ‘Don’t try to be original, just try to be good,’” Bundick says. “When making this record that was/is my mantra—it was just constantly looping in my mind. I believe ‘good’ is timeless and once you can recognize that you’ll see the world in its fullest.”

Michael follows a 12” on Carpark Records and two singles for Jiaolong. The LP is the first release on Company Records, a new label partnership between Chaz and Carpark.

Focus Tracks: 4, 7, 5, 1
FCC: Clean

ADDS for 10.28.2014

Bad Cop – Wish You Well… And Goodbye EP (Jeffery Drag)

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Listen Now: “Wish You Well”

GOING FOR TOP 200 ADDS

Firmly planted outside of any political spectrum, loud, unabashed and fluent in DIY principles, Bad Cop formed in 2009 and immediately caught interest of one of America’s oldest punk labels—ROIR, home to Bad Brains and releases from MC5, Beastie Boys, Television and others. Frontman Adam Moult and co left the buckle of the Bible Belt for the Big Apple and inked a record deal just four months after starting the band.  

Since the debut LP, Harvest the Beast (ROIR, 2010), Bad Cop has run the gamut of American rock ‘n’ roll, from seemingly endless lineup changes, to becoming a CMJ and SXSW favorite alongside indie breakouts like Foxygen and Local Natives. The group even toured as direct support to break-out acts like Cage the Elephant, meanwhile establishing a successful indie label—Jeffery Drag Records—amidst a music industry in decline. 

It’s now been over a year since Bad Cop’s critically acclaimed The Light On EP. Since then, Nashville’s former hellions were invited by Converse to record at their Rubber Tracks studio in Brooklyn. With the help of engineer Hector Castillo (Lou Reed, David Bowie, Bjork, Roger Waters), the band recorded and self-produced a handful of tracks during a short stay in NYC.  They later paired with Converse again to produce a video for their pivotal track “Wish You Well” with critically lauded director Tim Nackashi (TV on the Radio, Neon Indian, The Faint).

The resulting product, the Wish You Well … and Goodbye EP, shows a new side of Bad Cop. The band who were once no stranger to the wilder times of rock n roll have managed to channel that rambunctious energy into three seamlessly-crafted songs. They haven’t lost their edge; they’ve just harnessed it. In a lot of ways, the band has grown up, but they haven’t grown out of making great music. More is on the way as they plot to release another EP as well as their long-awaited second LP, but for now, they begin with Wish You Well … and Goodbye.

Focus Tracks: All
FCC: Clean

Emma Donovan & The PutBacks – Dawn (HopeStreet Recordings)

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Listen Now: “Daddy”

GOING FOR AAA AND TOP 200 ADDS

Acclaimed indigenous vocalist Emma Donovan and Melbourne rhythm combo The PutBacks come together to bring you Dawn, an LP of hard hitting and heartfelt soul songs telling stories of grief, struggle and redemption. Dawn is a gritty, uniquely Australian record, simultaneously classic and contemporary. The songwriting is in turns optimistic, angry and melancholic, and on occasions bruisingly honest. The music is fluid, live and raw, recorded in one room on eight channels of analog tape and the electric connection between Emma and the band comes through in every beat.

Dawn takes some cues from the burgeoning soul revival, but it’s a far looser interpretation than many releases in the style. This is no attempt at reviving a bygone era. There’s no horn section. There’s more rock in there. There’s more country in there. There’s more, in Emma’s words, “blackfella music” in there. The songwriting is more akin to classic Aboriginal bands like Coloured Stone than it is to Sharon Jones. The sentiment is personal, for both Emma and the band, and forward looking, rather than revivalist. Shades of every soul record you ever liked sneak through: Al Green’s Hi Records era? Check. Aretha’s Classic Atlantic recordings? Check. Stacks of Stax? Check. It’s all there, but all different. Dawn is it’s own thing, indigenous Australian soul. From the ferocious opening salvo of “Black Woman” to the sweet and gentle comedown of “Over Under Away”, Dawn is above all a journey through Emma’s life written in song.

Emma grew up singing church songs with her maternal grandparents on the North coast of New South Wales. Her first secular gigs were singing in The Donovans, a band comprised of her mother and five uncles. With her mother, Emma sang country for years, and in her youth was a fixture at the Tamworth Country Music Festival, but she always yearned for the bluesier tones of her Father’s record collection, full of American artists like Laverne Baker and Etta James and Indigenous Australian artists like No Fixed Address and Archie Roach.

Years later, after touring and recording with many of the mainstays of Indigenous music and developing as a solo artist in her own right, Emma met members of The PutBacks, and finally she found a band with the gritty blues soaked tones she had been looking for. She also found, in PutBacks bassist Mick Meagher, a co-writer and collaborator on the the soul songs she had been waiting a lifetime to write and sing. The results are well worth the wait and hopefully, only mark the beginning of this oh-so-right collaboration.

Focus Tracks: 5, 1, 8
FCC: Clean

Fox and the Law – Stoned to Death (Self-Released)

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Listen Now: “Hot Water”

GOING FOR TOP 200 ADDS

“Shredding guitars tethered to thunderous bass lines sound like they could have been plucked from Jay Reatard’s Blood Visions, until they pause for a hazy, psychedelic solo.” – Wondering Sound

“Sometimes you just want to rock, late ’70s style with big in-your-face riffs — the kind that sound best blaring out of a car stereo on a long strip of highway.” – Brooklyn Vegan

“There was a time when every band in Seattle was as brash and ragged as Fox and the Law,” writes City Arts Magazine. It’s true: during a period where the Emerald city has become better known for its shoe-gazers, its singer/songwriters, and its new-age cowboys, this hard-rocking quartet harkens back to a louder, more energetic era. Pulling their sound straight out of the garage and drawing heavily on blues and classic rock influences, Fox and the Law have made a name for themselves since their 2010 formation as the go-to band in Seattle for a raucous, beer-soaked party.

Founder Guy Keltner (guitar, vocals) has worked with Dan O’Neil (drums), Patrick Dougherty (bass), and Peter Williams (guitar) to fulfill his vision of what a rock and roll act should be: heavy, rhythmic, and loud. Strong influences include T Rex, The Stooges and Stevie Ray Vaughan. The band has recorded albums with Martin Feveyear (Mudhoney, Queens of the Stone Age, Modest Mouse) and Graig Markel (Band of Horses, Nada Surf) and has performed at everything from packed clubs to the rowdiest house parties.

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. Having spent more than a quarter of 2013 touring the West Coast and the Southwest, they closed the year out by headlining Seattle’s Psychedelic Holiday Freak Out festival and performing a live in-studio session on the legendary KEXP. For more Seattle love, look no further then the Stranger, who says: “Fox and The Law’s work is split down the middle –on one side an homage to the heaviness of early 70’s Black Sabbath, on the other, fresh faced west coast punk. Keltner and crew have the audacity of youth on their side and both guitarists make the riffs they peel off look effortless while bouncing off one another, and bounding off the drummers kit, but I think it was the rattle-your-teeth-loose, thunderous bass work that got the people dancing.”

Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 9
FCC: Clean

Piers Faccini & Vincent Segal – Songs of Time Lost (Six Degrees)

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Listen Now: “Cradle to the Grave”

GOING FOR AAA, TOP 200 AND WORLD ADDS

Piers Faccini and Vincent Segal met in Paris in the late 1980s and have been friends ever since. Songs of Time Lost is their first joint album. Using voice, guitar and cello and a variety of languages (including English, Neapolitan dialect and Creole), the album brings together original compositions, traditional songs and some covers. “It feels like a reunion,” says Vincent, “even though we never really lost touch over the years.”

At the time of their original meeting, Piers was a painter and student at the Paris Beaux-Arts and Vincent had just left the Conservatoire. Vincent was immediately taken by Piers’ vocals: “I wanted to find ways to support his voice, to envelop his words.” Piers later went on to launch his first solo album in 2004, Leave No Trace, which Vincent produced. His many subsequent solo releases have drawn rave reviews from critics around the world, including his most recent album, Between Dogs and Wolves, which was released in North America by Six Degrees Records in 2013. Meanwhile, Vincent started to develop his band Bumcello, as well as a myriad of other projects, including the popular album, Chamber Music, recorded with kora master Ballaké Sissoko.

Songs of Time Lost weaves together many musical strands, made up of both artists’ diverse influences. There is the blues that Piers first heard from Mississippi John Hurt (“Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor”), a composition by Alain Peters from the island of La Réunion (“Mangé pou le coeur”), a country waltz by Townes Van Zandt (“Quicksilver Daydreams of Maria”) and an instrumental theme by the Berlin composer Friedrich Holländer (“Wenn ich mir, was wünschen dürfte”). There are also the melodies of the traditional Neapolitan repertoire, which are favorites of Piers, who is of Anglo-Italian lineage (“Jesce sole,” “Villanella di cenerentola,” “Dicitencello vuje,” “Cicerenella” and the contemporary “Cammina cammina” by Pino Daniele).

Both musicians also draw from their own repertoires for the album. This includes two songs dating back to 1996, which Piers originally wrote for a film soundtrack (“A Half of Me” and “The Closing of Our Eyes”). There are also two recent compositions by Vincent (“Cradle to the Grave” and “Everyday Away from You”), which Piers added lyrics to. The first has a New Orleans-style riff that would not feel out of place on an old Allen Toussaint record and the latter seems to conjure up the soft refrains of Brazilian guitarist Luiz Bonfá.

In short, Songs of Time Lost is a fine balance between inspiration and influence. It is the meeting point of the music one inherits from the great masters and the music one writes oneself.

Focus Tracks: 4, 13, 6, 8
FCC: Clean

Stars – No One Is Lost (ATO)

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Listen Now: “No One Is Lost”

GOING FOR TOP 200 ADDS

Stars have confirmed the October 14 release of their new album No One Is Lost (ATO Records) and a headlining North American tour. The follow-up to 2012’s The North, No One is Lost is comprised of 11 original songs and was produced by Stars and Liam O’Neil (Metric, The Stills).

For No One Is Lost, Stars craved autonomy, and serendipitously inherited the Mile End rehearsal space last December above the now defunct, Royal Phoenix nightclub in Montreal. Stars built a functional studio out of the former space of then-disbanding Handsome Furs (and site of Arcade Fire’s first rehearsals); Mile End became a home away from home. Then the nightclub (and life) crept in, resulting in Stars’ most urgent record to date. Drummer Pat McGee explains, “The sub-bass throb coming from the club below our studio was undeniably and unavoidably influential. It motivated us to out-throb the throb.”

“This record’s called No One Is Lost because that is a fucking lie,” says Torquil. “We are all lost, we are all going to lose this game and, as you get older, you lose people more and more. I just wanted to close my eyes and jump and hope that was true. Life is loss, love is loss. And loving people is about accepting that you’re going to have to say goodbye to them. And that’s why it’s fucking brave. That’s Stars ethos: this life is very heartbreaking and sad… so let’s get completely fucking arseholed and listen to some Dionne Warwick.”

Focus Tracks: 12, 1
FCC: 7

ADDS for 10.21.2014

Fly Golden Eagle – Quartz Bijou (ATO)

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Listen Now: “Stepping Stone”

GOING FOR AAA ADDS

“Ramshackle Garage-Psych muscle” – Rolling Stone

After 3 years of dedication and good work, Fly Golden Eagle is proud to announce their forthcoming album, Quartz, to be released October 14th. The album was recorded in Tennessee and Texas and was a Herculean effort by a number of beautiful people. The album lines up with the groundbreaking 1973 film The Holy Mountain. These combined efforts are certainly evident in the overall power of the record that also translates to Quartz Bijou, a 12-song abbreviated version of its originally intended 26-track version, Quartz. Bijou ebbs and flows seamlessly; it’s a deeply satisfying stand-alone musical effort, with the bonus realization that there’s more to be heard and experienced. The Nashville quartet has also worked extensively with Andrija Tokic, cut music in the Bomb Shelter, and played on some of the most significant albums representing the new Nashville sound, including Benjamin Booker, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Majestico and Alabama Shakes.

Focus Tracks: 13
FCC: 3

Stars – No One Is Lost (ATO)

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Listen Now: “No One Is Lost”

GOING FOR AAA AND MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS

Stars have confirmed the October 14 release of their new album No One Is Lost (ATO Records) and a headlining North American tour. The follow-up to 2012’s The North, No One is Lost is comprised of 11 original songs and was produced by Stars and Liam O’Neil (Metric, The Stills).

For No One Is Lost, Stars craved autonomy, and serendipitously inherited the Mile End rehearsal space last December above the now defunct, Royal Phoenix nightclub in Montreal. Stars built a functional studio out of the former space of then-disbanding Handsome Furs (and site of Arcade Fire’s first rehearsals); Mile End became a home away from home. Then the nightclub (and life) crept in, resulting in Stars’ most urgent record to date. Drummer Pat McGee explains, “The sub-bass throb coming from the club below our studio was undeniably and unavoidably influential. It motivated us to out-throb the throb.”

“This record’s called No One Is Lost because that is a fucking lie,” says Torquil. “We are all lost, we are all going to lose this game and, as you get older, you lose people more and more. I just wanted to close my eyes and jump and hope that was true. Life is loss, love is loss. And loving people is about accepting that you’re going to have to say goodbye to them. And that’s why it’s fucking brave. That’s Stars ethos: this life is very heartbreaking and sad… so let’s get completely fucking arseholed and listen to some Dionne Warwick.”

Focus Tracks: 12, 1
FCC: 7