Cheerleader – The Sunshine Of Your Youth (Bright Antenna)
Listen Now: “The Sunshine Of Your Youth”
GOING FOR AAA ADDS
“Straight up power pop.”—KCRW
“Lovely hazy sunny vibes.”—BBC
“The band has a very distinct aesthetic, a wall of sound indebted to early ’90s shoegaze but sugar-coated in ’80s synthesizers…an artist to watch.”—CMJ
The Sunshine of Your Youth was recorded at East/West Studio in Los Angeles and produced by Mark Needham who took an interest in the band at one of their earliest live shows. Some of the earliest demo tracks ended up in the final recording, allowing the record to retain the intimacy of its beginnings as a low-fi bedroom project. Despite the cheery band name, album title and anthemic choruses, The Sunshine of Your Youth is a reaction to harder times. Joe Haller explains, “We actually wrote these songs at a time in our lives when we were dealing with some heavy personal stuff. It’s there if you really want to listen for it, but for us, the title is more about a state of mind than a particular time in your life… how no matter what’s going on, life can be full of wonder and beauty, as long as you’re open to these things.”
Cheerleader is Haller, Chris Duran, Josh Pannepacker, Carl Bahner and Paul Impellizeri. Haller and Duran’s musical partnership was born in Duran’s parents’ basement, sparking a connection that survived the 2000s and colleges in separate states. After garnering critical attention from the likes of NME for their self-produced and recorded three-song demo, the duo grew into its current incarnation as a five-piece based in Philadelphia.
Focus Track: 2
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Clap Your Hands Say Yeah (10th Anniversary Edition) (Self-Released)
Listen Now: “Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away”
GOING FOR AAA, CMJ TOP 200 & MODERN ROCK SPECIALTY ADDS
“The record is consistently, remarkably strong.” – Pitchfork
“CYHSY is at the best point in the lifecycle of a band: un-styled, simply produced and deserving of the hype for what is — quite possibly — a nearly perfect album.” – Billboard
“What sticks out right off is a drive that can’t be taught or approximated.” – Village Voice
“An album which will force even the most hardened listeners to throw in the towel.” – Tiny Mix Tapes
“Total immersion in the passion of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah reveals the true power of music as a means of artistic expression.” – Prefix Magazine
“[An] exceptional debut.” – Under The Radar
“An unpolished gem.” – Q Magazine
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of their debut album, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah will be touring across the USA and Canada this summer playing the album in it’s entirety along with other favorites from their catalog.
After being out of print for many years, the album has been remastered for vinyl by TW Walsh and will be available on transparent gold vinyl on June 2nd, 2015. Both CD & LP formats come with a custom download card that includes 12 all-new, solo acoustic, cassette tape recordings by the band’s lead singer and songwriter, Alec Ounsworth. The new versions were recorded on the heels of an extensive Living Room Tour with no stages or sound systems. Ounsworth wanted to record intimate versions of these songs the way he’s been playing them at shows; stripped down to just his voice and guitar with no barrier between him and the listener.
See reverse for a complete listing of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s 10th Anniversary tour. Contact your Distiller representative for any ticket and/or interview requests.
Focus Tracks: 2, 6, 7, 8, 10 + All Bonus Material
Nozinja – Nozinja Lodge (Warp)
Listen Now: “Baby Do U Feel Me”
GOING FOR CMJ RPM & WORLD ADDS
At the heart of it all is Nozinja, who has been diligently forging the Shangaan electro style from his tiny home studio for the best part of a decade. A homegrown super-producer of sorts, Nozinja has carved out an Afro-futurist evolution through countless productions/collaborations and the regular street-dance competitions which he organises. Passionate, humble and closely tied to his homeland, Nozinja is also fiercely determined; moving on from his previously established chain of mobile phone repair shops, he redirected his entrepreneurial skills towards taking the sound and culture of Shangaan beyond South Africa’s borders. His family naturally thought he was crazy, but he set to work in his studio learning the ropes of music production and scouting out the best singers and dancers in the area to bring his vision of a fresh local sound to life.
As Shangaan electro’s influence began to take hold throughout Limpopo, evidence of the exciting movement Nozinja was building began filtering through to the internet, and his unstinting work started paying dividends further afield when one of his surreal self-produced videos became a viral hit on YouTube: the wheels were set in motion for a genre-defining 2010 compilation on Honest Jon’s called Shangaan Electro: New Wave Dance from South Africa, which immediately attracted a fanbase of adventurous listeners, from musicians and DJs to dance music aficionados and connoisseurs of African music. Two years later, a remix album featuring the likes of Actress, Theo Parrish, RP Boo and Mark Ernestus further established the sound in the US and Europe, demonstrating how Shangaan’s nimble grooves and marimba-laden melodies could be retooled for the comparatively pedestrian dance floors of techno, house and footwork. As a result of these releases and the mind-blowing live shows that followed, Nozinja would form a friendship with Caribou and Daphni mastermind Dan Snaith who would release a pair of Nozinja-produced EPs on his Jiaolong label.
After several trips to Europe to convert new fans with his team of dancers in tow, in 2014 Nozinja signed to Warp and released the hypnotic, digitally scrambled single Tsekeleke, signalling a fresh direction for the Shangaan originator. “Warp made me up my game, they gave me a big challenge to match their brand,” he laughs. “They treat me like a king, and I have to produce music like a queen so that it can match.” Later that year an encounter with junglist ruffian Tessela led to a studio collaboration on Wa Chacha, released as a split 12” containing each producer’s interpretation of the Shangaan track – further proof that Nozinja’s sound is at much at home besides new-school western production styles as it is on its folk-cultural home turf.
That collaboration has set the stage for the next act in this extraordinary tale: spring 2015 sees Nozinja release his full-length debut on Warp. Nozinja Lodge sees him truly hit his stride as a producer, testing the frantic upper limits of Shangaan electro on white-knuckle, rave-channelling cuts like “Baby Do You Feel Me” and “Vatswelani,” while enjoying the freedom to take his foot off the gas and bring a tender, lilting touch to the sound on “Vomaseve Hina” and closing track “Jaha.” It’s a dance record with a unique soul, stamped with the spirit of the Shangaan people, their language and musical history, while endlessly chasing the visceral thrill of the dance. “For me to go into the studio and do Shangaan without the traditional part of it? It wouldn’t be complete,” he says.
For Nozinja, his journey from small town businessman to international Shangaan ambassador has taught him that the sky is the limit – and his dreams are only getting bigger. “I want to be nominated for a Grammy award,” he laughs. “Whether I win or not I don’t care!” With imagination, perseverance and an iron-clad belief in his cause, Nozinja now stands at the vanguard of the next generation of African music; no longer a novelty or fad, but a new chapter in the globalised story of electronic music.
Focus Tracks: 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8
Vomitface – Another Bad Year EP (Boxing Clever)
Listen Now: “Did She Come Alone”
GOING FOR CMJ TOP 200 ADDS
“Enter Vomitface, a band with a portmanteau filthy enough to make Mudhoney cower … this erratic bunch have some colorful ideas” – NME Magazine
“They combine sludgy grunge riffs with spazzy art-punk rhythms and wild whispers and howls … ‘Sloppy Joes,’ the EP’s flailing leadoff track, will bludgeon you” – Stereogum
“For those of us who don’t enjoy categorizing bands into meaningless two-word Tumblr tags, Vomitface could be described as a bass-heavy noise rock band that makes weird angular songs that manage to be heavy without sacrificing any melodic hooks” – VICE
Self-professed sludge-pop trio Vomitface have been described by others as filthy, edgy, erratic, distorting, sick, smart and potentially genius. We think we’re safe to say that these Jersey City natives are certainly unique. Guitarist and vocalist Jared Micah, drummer Preetma Singh and bassist Keller McDivitt released their s/t EP in 2014. This year, Vomitface is the newest addition to the Boxing Clever Records’ family. Their first EP with BCR dropped on 5/12 with a full album release to follow.
Focus Tracks: 4, 2, 3
ADDS for 5.26.2015
James Davis – James Davis EP (Motown)
Listen Now: “Better Than You Are”
GOING FOR CMJ TOP 200 ADDS
It’s simple. Really. James Davis is a band, three musician siblings who have now come together after separately deciding they needed a way to express the songs that were constantly forming in their heads. Comprised of fraternal twin sisters Jess and Rey with their younger brother Auston, their music blends stripped-down soul with heartfelt modern rock. In the spring of 2015, they will release their self-titled debut EP on Motown Records.
They call themselves James Davis because it’s a family name. They grew up in Los Angeles, but they never stayed in one place for too long. They kept transitioning through the seemingly endless, disparate neighborhoods of a city where a five-minute drive can make you feel like you’re in a whole other town. Today the three all still live together.
Within their shared home they made their EP. It’s an intimate collection that yearns for a connection with others, fitting for a group who describe themselves as out-going introverts. “Every song you hear is from us. We want this to really be authentic,” says Jess. All three of them sing on it, and the EP was entirely recorded by Auston in his bedroom. “We’re self-sufficient, for sure,” he says.
While still a teenager, Auston surreptitiously taught himself the digital producing programs GarageBand and Logic on Rey’s borrowed laptop. Once his talents came out into the open, Ronnie Kaufman, the drummer for the Gap Band and a family friend, showed him how to compose on the keyboards. At the same time, Rey was teaching herself guitar so she could write the songs that she knew were inside of her. She could express these works with her raw and evocative voice, but knew they could be built up and made better by the family that surrounded her. Eventually Jess—who in an earlier stage of her lifetime pursued a music career, though abandoned it after getting a taste of the industry at its worst—was convinced to join them, bringing her powerful voice and love of harmonies.
The songs are deeply personal matters and carry that emotional weight. “Our music is about our life experiences—pain, joy, victory and the disappointments,” says Rey. Lead single “Better Than You Are” is a spare and beautiful song about moving forward with your life. It begins with just Rey’s singing, a simple keyboard part and a spare beat before it unfolds to include an increasing complex arrangement and the voices of all three siblings. The hopeful “On Me” shows the group’s California connection, as the winding guitar and insistent tambourine give it a classic summery pop sheen, even if it’s grounded in their knowledge that the sun eventually has to set. “Wish You Bye” cuts even deeper, a remorseful about-to-breakup song stripped down to just an acoustic guitar and their intertwining harmonies that was somehow inspired by 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song.”
There is no set way for a James Davis composition to begin or a process for it to come together. Any of the three might start it, taking it as far as they are able, but always leaving space, knowing that the others will be able to transform it into something greater. “We give whoever started the song room to exhaust all the ideas before either of us comes in,” says Rey. It’s an entirely unselfish way of songwriting. “We are three different individuals, so we have different takes,” Rey continues. “We know our strengths.”
“Better Than You” began during a difficult conversation between Rey and Jess, which Rey interrupted to get her guitar and start working out the idea. The two sisters recorded it as a simple acoustic version, which they then gave to Auston, persuading him to add the haunting arrangement with keys, strings, drums and his own comforting voice. The tender but dark “Co Pilot” was born during one of Auston’s marathon sessions where he disappears into his bedroom for days to work on music. Rey explains she often has to stand outside of his door and take notes on which songs to bother him about later, making sure he doesn’t delete them before the sisters can help shape them. The direct and gorgeous “Can’t Love Me” is pulled from a journal entry that Jess wrote at Dockweiler Beach and is set to a melody that Rey had been developing. As a result of these disparate approaches, their compositions can take untraditional forms. “One song may be only two chords, we may not have a bridge, or we may have five verses and no resolve,” says Rey. “We don’t create in a box, but we believe it’s relatable.”
What has mainly been a private project, James Davis has started performing live with a bare setup. Rey plays guitar, Auston is on keyboards and Maschine, while Jess offers her voice. Until now James Davis has also kept a minimal web presence, an anomaly in today’s musical landscape. They’ve held tightly to their songs, because they know they’re valuable. Now they’re ready, for you.
FCC: 2, 3
The Secret Storm – In The Sun EP (Self-Released)
Listen Now: “In The Sun”
GOING FOR CMJ TOP 200 ADDS
At first listen, The Secret Storm seems to contain multitudes. The music itself seesaws between airtight pop melodies and a kind of brooding Americana—a landscape where winsome string sections sections and plaintive piano chords move easily alongside narratives about doomed romance and obsessive, occasionally all-encompassing, love. The music is both honest, sexy and, at various turns, both deeply intimate and amazingly huge-sounding. Lauren Hoffman—the singer, songwriter, and general force of nature behind The Secret Storm—has lived many musical lives. Her new musical nom de plume marks a sharp left turn in what has already been a remarkable career defined by unusual twist and turns. First signed to Virgin records back in 1997, Hoffman has gone on to release four full-length albums of knotty indie-pop before deciding to shift gears entirely and ultimately redefine herself as The Secret Storm.
The first tracks to emerge as The Secret Storm reflect Hoffman’s newfound sense of liberation. Recorded at Sound of Music studios with longtime co-producer John Morand, the new songs bear a kinship to Hoffman’s atmospheric 2006 effort, Choreography. Characterized by a crystalline clarity of vision and emotional directness, tracks like “Family Ghost” and “Til It Lasts” rank among the most sharply rendered songs Hoffman has ever recorded. The latter track – a rumination on love and loss—showcases Hoffman’s knack for writing songs that are, on first listen, deceptively breezy, with lyrics that turn on dime. Tapping into hidden emotional undercurrents seems to be a theme with The Secret Storm, but nowhere more so than on “In the Sun”—the first proper single.
For Hoffman—an artist with a long and storied history of being swept along by the complicated and often mercurial nature of the music business—assuming control of her career, her music, and her name has proven to be a watershed experience. The Secret Storm will be an ongoing project in which songs are rolled out in small batches, each accompanied by their own specific visuals. She also assembled a band for The Secret Storm, which not only opens up the ways in which the songs can be played, but also alleviates some of the doldrums that come with touring as a solo act. The freedom to write and record of her own volition, to celebrate her own wily set of influences (“I probably have more in common with goths than other singer/songwriters,” she says, “My favorite band is The Cure.”), is something Hoffman has spent the better part of the last decade dreaming about.
For Hoffman, The Secret Storm represents a full-circle creative moment. By creating a project outside of her own name, she has created the kind of musical vehicle capable of channeling and containing all of her influences: from gloomy post-punk to buzzing grunge era alt-rock to quiet, acoustic-driven folk. The Secret Storm offers a vessel in which all of these aesthetics somehow make sense, in which Hoffman’s narratives of love and light and loss make their own very particular and truly wonderful kind of sense.
Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 4
Paul Spring – Towards A Center (Bad Run)
Listen Now: “Father’s Day”
GOING FOR CMJ TOP 200 ADDS
“The compositions Paul dreams are not easy to pin down, but I consider them to be songs you can live your life by. In his songwriting we get his sense of the literary, but he also mingles in delightfully american culture, and his observations about the world. The singing and the musicianship is just first rate.” – Minnesota Public Radio
“I don’t know if the family who reads and sings together stays together, but albums like this one make a convincing argument.” – NPR praise for Paul Spring’s Home of Song
Paul Spring is a 25 year old singer / songwriter on Bad Run Records from Minneapolis. He is the great grandson of American poet / war here Joyce Kilmer and impressionist painter Frederick Frieseke. He is the ninth of ten kids and was raised by two English professors on a steady diet of classic literature and music. His debut album, Towards a Center, was produced by Homer Steinweiss, the beat behind hits by Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Amy Winehouse, St. Vincent, Bruno Mars and Charles Bradley. The album also features Leon Michels on horns (El Michels Affair, Lana Del Rey, Ray La Montagne).
Focus Tracks: 2, 1, 5, 4