The remarkable against-all-odds rise of Charles Bradley since the release of his 2011 debut album No Time For Dreaming has been well documented. He transcended a bleak life on the streets and struggled through a series of ill-fitting jobs before finally being discovered by Daptone's Gabriel Roth. The year following the release of No Time For Dreaming was one triumph after another. The soul singer’s ascent continued with the 2013 release of his triumphant second album Victim of Love, which saw Bradley emerging from emerging from his past heartaches stronger and more confident, confident, overflowing with love to share.
Bradley was close to his mother, as seen in the 2012 documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America. The pair reconnected in the mid-90s after a tumultuous relationship throughout his early life, and he spent most of the last two decades as her primary caretaker. She passed away in January 2014, the same night Charles was set to perform to a sold out hometown audience at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. Not one to disappoint his fans, he went on to perform that night and dedicated his emotional performance to her, and now also dedicates Changes to her.
Bradley’s longtime producer and co-songwriter Thomas Brenneck returns to the fold, though the album does see some changes from previous albums. Where the first two albums were recorded with Dunham Records’ house band Menahan Street Band, Changes sees Bradley collaborate and perform with musicians from across the Daptone universe including members of MSB, Budos Band, the Dap-Kings, and Charles’ touring band The Extraordinaires, and a number of prominently featured background vocalists (Sha La Das, Gospel Queens, Saun & Starr). The result, in songs like "Change For The World" and "Ain't Gonna Give It Up," is Bradley's most contemporary sounding album to date.
With Changes, funk & soul powerhouse Charles Bradley brings music fans of all ages another unforgettable set of songs and will continue to bring his live show to stages around the world. Look for the album in stores April 1, 2016 via Dunham Records / Daptone Records.
Add Date: 3/1
Focus Tracks: 6, 5, 10
Format: Americana, Modern Rock Specialty, Top 200, Triple A
Seven time GRAMMY award winning recording artist Ziggy Marley will release his sixth solo studio album, Ziggy Marley, on May 20th through Tuff Gong Worldwide. Recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Ziggy, the new self-titled album marks his first release in 2 years, following 2014’s critically acclaimed Fly Rasta, which took home the 2015 GRAMMY award for Best Reggae Album.
This summer Ziggy will embark on a major North American tour (official dates TBA). Confirmed dates so far include shows at the Spotlight 29 Casino on May 27th in Coachella, CA, BottleRock Festival on May 28thin Napa, CA and the Magic City Blues Festival on August 6th in Billings, MT.
ABOUT ZIGGY MARLEY
A seven time GRAMMY winner, Emmy winner, humanitarian, singer, songwriter and producer, Ziggy Marley has released twelve albums to much critical acclaim. His early immersion in music came at age ten when he sat in on recording sessions with his father, Bob Marley. As front man to Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers, the group released eight albums that garnered three GRAMMYs, with such chart-topping hits as "Look Who’s Dancing," "Tomorrow People" and "Tumbling Down." Ziggy's first solo album, Dragonfly (RCA Records), was released in 2003. His second solo release, Love is My Religion (Tuff Gong Worldwide), won a GRAMMY in 2006 for Best Reggae Album. His third solo album, Family Time (Tuff Gong Worldwide), scored him a 5th GRAMMY award for Best Children’s Album. In 2011, Ziggy released his critically acclaimed 4th studio album Wild And Free, which earned him a GRAMMY nomination, as well as his first ever graphic novel entitled MARIJUANAMAN. Ziggy Marley Organics, a GMO-free product line including flavored coconut oils and hemp seed snacks, was started in 2012. The products are distributed throughout the US and are available in over 1000 stores nationwide. His 2012 live album Ziggy Marley In Concert, earned him his 6th GRAMMY award for Best Reggae Album. Ziggy also recently released his debut children’s book I Love You Too, a co-production of Akashic Books and Tuff Gong Worldwide. The multicultural picture book is based on one of Ziggy’s most beloved songs of the same title from his GRAMMY Award-winning album Family Time, which explores a child’s relationship with parents, nature and the unstoppable force of love. Ziggy’s fifth studio album, Fly Rasta, also released on April 15th, 2014 to mass critical acclaim and gave Ziggy his 7th GRAMMY win for Best Reggae Album in February of 2015.
Add Date: 5/3
Focus Tracks: 2, 9, 7
Format: CMJ Radio 200, Triple A, World
"Tough, but not hard...sharp around the edges but soft on the inside"
“Some of the most compelling songs I’ve heard in a long time.” - Sharon Van Etten
“Glorious” - Noisey
"In the weeks after a loss, even as you convince yourself you're doing better, the physical weight of grief can take you by surprise and crush all your good intentions. Adrianne Lenker sounds like she's fighting those dark forces on 'Masterpiece,' where her ragged, reaching voice—somewhere between Sharon Van Etten, Hop Along's Frances Quinlan, and a drunk country singer—steers Big Thief's doleful riffs as they slump and sway along the bottom." - Pitchfork
Big Thief’s music, rooted in the songs of Adrianne Lenker, paints in vivid tones “the process of harnessing pain, loss, and love, while simultaneously letting go, looking into your own eyes through someone else’s, and being okay with the inevitability of death,” says Adrianne.
Masterpiece, Big Thief’s debut album (Saddle Creek), is filled with characters and visceral narratives, songs that pivot in the space of a few words. Adrianne's voice and guitar playing speak of rich emotional territory with grace and insight. In her words, the record tracks “the masterpiece of existence, which is always folding into itself, people attempting to connect, to both shake themselves awake and to shake off the numbness of certain points in their life. The interpretations might be impressionistic or surrealistic, but they’re grounded in simple things. Adrianne met her longtime musical partner, guitarist and singer, Buck Meek, in Brooklyn a few years ago, and they quickly formed a creative bond tempered by the experience of traveling and performing for months on end in old dive bars, yards, barns, and basements together. They recorded a pair of duo albums (A-Sides and B-Sides), and Adrianne showcased her songs on a solo album, Hours Were The Birds.
Now, as a full rock and roll band, with Buck on guitar, Max Oleartchik on bass, and James Krivchenia on drums, they bring a steady wildness, giving the songs an even deeper layer of nostalgia. "These guys feel like a pack of wolves at my back," says Adrianne, "they make the songs howl and bark with a fierce tenderness that gives me courage.”
After spending last July in an old house that they turned into a studio on Lake Champlain with producer Andrew Sarlo, the resulting collection soars on what Big Thief fan Sharon Van Etten calls "… a real journey, with intelligent stories and twist-and-turn melodies."
Add Date: 5/31
Focus Track: 13
FCC: 2, 7
Formats: Americana, Triple A
THE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM
Two worlds have collided, and what glorious and odd worlds they are. After Primus and The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger completed a successful summer tour, Les Claypool and Sean Lennon decided to combine their abstract talents into a project called The Claypool Lennon Delirium. Their efforts thus far have spawned the upcoming full-length release Monolith of Phobos.
"Sean is a musical mutant after my own heart," said Claypool. "He definitely reflects his genetics--not just the sensibilities of his dad but also the abstract perspective and unique approach of his mother. It makes for a glorious freak stew."
Over the course of six weeks or so, the two wrote and recorded a total of ten songs with both of them sharing various vocal and instrumental responsibilities, going beyond their core instruments of bass and guitar.
Claypool explained, "Usually I play the drums and percussion on my records but Sean has such a different feel than I do, it just made more sense for him to man the kit on most of the tunes on this project. I took the helm at my old vintage API console and let him bang away. His drumming is like a cross between Ringo and Nick Mason. But I think folks will be most surprised by what a monster guitar player he is, especially when you prod him a bit."
In astronomical terms, the Monolith of Phobos is a large rock on Mars' Phobos moon. As the phrase implies, this album is an old-school approach to a psychedelic space rock record. The Claypool Lennon Delirium will begin their Summer tour on June 4th and the touring band includes Les Claypool (bass, vocals), Sean Lennon (guitar, vocals), Mark "Money Mark" Ramos Nishita of the Beastie Boys (keyboards), and Paul Baldi of the Fungi Band (drums).
Add Date: 5/31
Focus Tracks: 2, 10, 4
Formats: CMJ Radio 200, Triple A
"Margaret Glaspy writes canny songs and delivers them with lean, bluesy understatement…”
– Jon Pareles, The New York Times
“Rising singer-songwriter...with hot barbs of electric guitar.” - Rolling Stone
ON TOUR WITH LUCIUS, MILK CARTON KIDS, & MOUNT MORIAH
CONFIRMED FOR BONNAROO & AUSTIN CITY LIMITS
WORLD CAFE, WFUV, KUTX, & KXT SESSIONS CONFIRMED; GREAT EARLY ENTHUSIASM FROM THE CURRENT
FEATURED ON ALL SONGS CONSIDERED ON APRIL 6
New York City’s Margaret Glaspy crafts searing, captivating, guitar-driven pop songs, wielding a silver tongue and an electric guitar. Her raw sound draws heavily from Elliott Smith to Joni Mitchell. Glaspy is poised for a big year in 2016, as her debut album, Emotions and Math, is set to be released on June 17 via ATO Records. The album was recorded at the legendary Sear Sound and was mixed by Shawn Everett (Alabama Shakes, Lucius). With these new songs under her arm, Glaspy is also set to hit the road with Lucius, The Milk Carton Kids, and Mount Moriah in the coming months around the record's release.
These 12 tracks waste no time cutting to the bone and present an artist who has arrived – intricate, unique rock songs underscored by “hot barbs of electric guitar” (Rolling Stone).
“She’s pure American muscle. Guitars snarl and spit, stares are deep and wise…”
“All snarl, swagger, and crunch with clever lyrics and noodling hooks”
– The Village Voice
“A stomping rocker with a DGAF attitude” – Brooklyn Vegan
“Complex, deceptively heavy riffs with vocals that really stand out and grab you around the throat.”
– VICE Noisey
Add Date: 6/7
Focus Tracks: 1, 4, 7, 13
FCC: 3, 6, 9
Formats: College, Modern Rock Specialty
When Puerto Rican singer Reinaldo Alvarez was looking to name a new Bolero project he searched for something simple that would be familiar to Spanish speakers; a name that would reflect the humble poetry of everyday life. Miramar seemed perfect: a romantic snapshot of a place both close and far away from home.
Miramar, the group, aims to capture that poetry through their music. Using a somewhat traditional instrumentation that includes organ, piano, guitar, bass, percussion and an occasional string quartet the group’s arrangements distill the essence of the golden age of boleros while adding touches that reveal the band’s scope and diversity.
While most of the members of Miramar have Puerto Rican roots, Marlysse Simmons-Argandoña is a first generation Chilean American who brings a distinct South American flavor to her writing and arranging and singer Laura Ann Singh, although born in Tennessee, contributes a Brazilian flavor she owes to her years spent in Brazil singing mostly bossa nova.
For now a century, whether in the Caribbean or South America, Boleros have been the ultimate expression of love and suffering. While its origin is to be found in Cuba, the genre quickly crossed borders and became particularly popular in Mexico. From the 1930’s through the 1960’s, Mexican composer Agustin Lara wrote some of the most recognizable and most covered boleros. Classic Mexican trios of the 1950’s such as Los Tres Ases and Los Panchos, expanded the popularity of the genre all throughout Latin America, making the bolero a pan-Latin common denominator. Puerto Rico was no exception where boleros have been popular since the 1930’s.
Singer Reinaldo Alvarez and pianist and arranger Marlysse Simmons- Argandoña have been leading cult salsa band Bio Ritmo for well over a decade. Both have also long shared an obsession with boleros, especially with the Puerto Rican boleros sung by the classic duos of the 40’s and 50’s. “We decided to start a bolero group because there were only so many boleros we could do with a salsa band“ says Marlysse.
“When I first heard duo music, specifically Duo Irizarry de Córdova” says Rei, “ to me it was a new expression of pain and longing. It was a concrete manifestation of everything that I love about romantic music. “Rei particularly loved the way the male and female voices interacted and the project didn’t really get off the ground until he met Laura Ann Singh who proved to be the perfect singing partner.
“We have to breathe together and feel the songs together, emotionally and rhythmically.” Says Laura Ann, “and because we have this natural chemistry in our voices and trust each other as musicians, I think we got to skip some of the mundane aspects of learning music and go right to the subtle and the abstract.”
The one record by Duo Irizarry de Córdova that had the strongest impact on the group was an album of all Sylvia Rexach songs. It was Miramar’s introduction to Rexach’s universe.
In Puerto Rico, Rexach has attained cult status. Born in 1922 into a well-off family, Rexach was a self taught pianist and guitarist. A fiercely independent woman, Rexach eschewed the traditional path then available to women, and embraced the lifestyle of San Juan’s bohemia of which she became a central character. She began to compose and write poetry in her teenage years and went on to form the first Puerto Rican all female band, Las Damiselas. She contributed a regular column to El Diario de Puerto Rico, wrote radio skits in which she also acted and was one of the founders of SPACEM, the Puerto Rican Society of Authors and Composers.
Rexach sometimes performed her own songs accompanied by guitarist Tuti Umpierre but she never really considered herself a singer. Still, the one record we have of her singing her own songs is a masterpiece of raw emotion and intimacy, comparable in intensity to some of the work or Chavela Vargas or Violeta Parra.
Sylvia Rexach died in 1961, at the age of 39, from stomach cancer. Her songs have since become part or the Puerto Rican canon, but she remains mostly unknown outside of her native island.
When Miramar started to record their first album, the idea of a tribute to Sylvia Rexach came naturally. The band approached her songs with awe but didn’t hesitate to add their own touches. They also added some of their own compositions.
Miramar’s style is very much driven by their sense of roots and a certain nostalgia for their parents’ world. For both Rei and Marlysse, who grew up mostly in the U.S, musical appreciation first came from their mothers.
Before re-settling to the U.S, Marlysse’s mother had studied classical piano in her native Chile. She made sure her daughter got a similar musical education. She also exposed Marlysse to a steady diet of South American music. “My mom listened to Peruvian walzes, which are really popular in Chile: Eva Ayllon, Chabuca Granda – but also Mercedes Soza, Inti Illimani as well as the boleros of [Ecuadorian singer] Julio Jaramillo.” says Marlysse.
Rei comes from a family of musicians and poets and his mother, Nelida Alvarez-Morel, contributes the lyrics to Como tu Eres, one of the three original songs included on the album. “It’s a testament to the strength of the family thing.” Says Rei. “How much we love where we come from – how much we draw from that as artists. “
This balance between a strong sense of roots and a constant feeling of cultural uprootedness – between the Latin heritage and the American upbringing – is in part what gives the album its strength. While clearly anchored in the style and the era it pays homage to, the album can’t be mistaken for a period piece. The arrangements betray the skills of musicians who possess a wide contemporary palette of sounds and references.
The three original songs are clearly informed by a cosmopolitan sense of adventure that comes with growing up in between cultures. Sin Ti has a definite Asia Minor influence; Estatua takes its cues from Peruvian Criollo waltzes and Como to Eres, which features acclaimed cellist Tomeka Reid and closes the album, is pure Miramar: a song which owes to many genres but creates its own singular universe.
To paraphrase a certain presidential candidate, Dedication to Sylvia Rexach is an act of love by children of the Latin diaspora who feel a strong connection to their parents’ cultural heritage – and an even stronger motivation to see this heritage become part of the culture of the country they grew up in. In the end, recording an unabashedly beautiful album is the strongest statement they could have made – especially at a time when the adjective beautiful has itself become suspect to cultural critics.
Add Date: 6/7
Focus Tracks: 3, 6, 7, 10
THE DEAD SHIPS
A lot has happened for The Dead Ships in the short time that they’ve been together.
Within a couple of months after singer/guitarist Devlin McCluskey and drummer Chris Spindelilus started jamming in the latter’s apartment, the soulful garage rock duo were playing sold out shows at The Echo in their native Los Angeles (opening for King Khan) and at San Francisco’s Bottom Of The Hill.
They quickly became the most talked-about live show in L.A., picking up airplay on radio giant KROQ where their song ‘Big Quiet’ spent five weeks in the number one slot on the station’s star-making Locals Only show. And just recently, the Ships were hand-picked by Goldenvoice to perform at Coachella 2016, where they won over the crowd with their punchy hooks and wiry on-stage energy.
Now, it’s time for the world to really get to know The Dead Ships as they look forward to the release of their debut full-length album CITYCIDE (out June 24th / Nevado Music). Produced by Broken Social Scene’s Brendan Canning (he also adds some sweet, sweet guitar playing throughout the LP), the now-trio with Alex Moore on bass put together a fiery collection of songs that showcase McCluskey’s engaging yowl and an unrelenting drive that refuses to let up on the gas pedal until the last notes of album closer “Tomorrow’s Crashes” fade away.
For all its dynamism and momentum, once you start digging into CITYCIDE, you’ll start to taste the bittersweet tang of McCluskey’s vision for this album. For example, the title of this LP began as a reference to the sad fact that when people choose the Golden Gate Bridge as the location to take their own lives, they do so facing the city that they’re leaving behind. “It seemed like a sort of statement,” McCluskey says. “One last rebellion.”
As he started writing a song inspired by that, it evolved into a full suite of songs about the alienation that folks living in big cities like Los Angeles or McCluskey’s former hometown of Chicago can feel, even as they’re surrounded by thousands of other people. On CITYCIDE that takes many forms like his frustration with people that give up on their dreams to make a buck (“Company Line”) or the feeling that the walls of your home are more oppressive than welcoming (“Floorboards”).
There’s an added shade of sadness to CITYCIDE too, as many of the songs poured out of McCluskey in the wake of his best friend’s suicide. Using his art to process his grief and confusion at losing the closest person in his life helped pour some added depth of feeling into the songs. You can get by just rocking out to them, but once you let them sink in deeper, they’ll quickly become a part of you too.
And if the music - a raw power mix of finely tuned dynamics with the unadorned grind of vintage Nuggets-style psych rock - isn’t enough to let you know that this isn’t a sorrowful album but rather a celebration of McCluskey’s friend’s life and the simple act of carrying on even in our toughest times, just spend some time with ‘First Mistakes’. Through the thick cloud of jangly power-pop chords, the message of the chorus bursts out brightly: “It was good to be alive!”
The next step for The Dead Ships is to bring this feeling to as many willing bodies as they can. The band is coming off a sold-out tour of the U.S. opening for Les Butcherettes and stopping by SXSW before their triumph at Coachella. For the immediate future, that means more touring on the way, hopefully taking them further and farther out than ever before.
Add Date: 6/14
Focus Tracks: 8, 1, 3, 4
Formats: College, Modern Rock Specialty, Triple A
GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV
“Isakov’s presence [is] delicately hypnotic…” – Rolling Stone
“…an eloquent lyricist who delivers soul-searching rumination filled with cosmic pondering, nomadic wisdom and plenty of earthy metaphors. His understated voice has a hushed force akin to that of José González, and at its best, the alluring comfort of Paul Simon’s.” – The Washington Post
“When you listen to Isakov’s music, it’s instantly clear that he’s got a gift similar to The Boss.” – Esquire
“It’s such a rich arrangement and there’s so much texture.” – NPR
Set for release on June 10 via Suitcase Town Music, Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony marks a milestone for the Colorado-based singer-songwriter. On this exciting musical venture, Isakov and the Colorado Symphony reimagine songs from his previous three studio albums: The Weatherman, This Empty Northern Hemisphere, and That Sea, The Gambler–and they additionally debut a studio recording of “Liars,” a staple of Isakov’s live show and a favorite among fans. The album will be released on limited-edition vinyl, CD, and it will be available digitally. With orchestral arrangements by Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa), Jay Clifford (Jump, Little Children), and with the renowned Scott O’Neil (Colorado Symphony Orchestra) conducting an orchestra of nearly 70 classical musicians, the songs are being cast in new and revelatory ways.
Isakov and his band will take the record on the road this summer with accompaniment from a symphonic ensemble dubbed The Ghost Orchestra, a collective of Colorado musicians (some of whom are also members of The Colorado Symphony). Isakov will also collaborate with other symphonies along the way, including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, and the National Symphony Orchestra–all part of a tour that kicks off in early June.
Add Date: 6/14
Focus Tracks: 1, 3, 4, 8, 9
After an 11 year hiatus, and two brushes with death, former Rusted Root founding member Jim Donovan roars back with a new album & band called Sun King Warriors. The music is best described as sing-along groove rock, blended with rootsy acoustic goodness + two tons of drums. Think Led Zeppelin III & IV mixed with Rusted Root’s “When I Woke” era positivity & rhythmic intensity topped off with authentic vocal emotion ala' Michael Franti.
“As the consummate music lover that he is, Jim Donovan continues to explore new musical territory and challenges himself as a musician.Stepping beyond the drum kit, Donovan takes on vocals and assorted instruments, creating highenergy, world infused rock. As the former drummer for Rusted Root you can count on a heavy dose of rhythmic percussion, infectious melodies, and a party atmosphere. If you’re searching for the perfect cartrip music, I suggest this!” – Rosemary Welsh Afternoon Drive WYEP
“I wouldn’t expect anything but greatness from one of the great musicians out of Pittsburgh and that’s exactly what you get with this release! Jim Donovan and The Sun King Warriors is definitely something that should be in your collection.”
– Valerie Porter Music Director, WDVE
“Although they have their own voice and a fresh, modern perspective, Jim Donovan and the Sun King Warriors’ foundation lays strongly in Rusted Root’s wheelhouse. The music is fun, fast, rhythmic and ready for a sunny day. Jim Donovan’s big heart comes through loud and clear on this new record.”
– Cindy Howes Morning Mix Host WYEP
“Donovan leads stellar band in real, emotional record.”
– Pittsburgh Tribune Review
“Donovan proves on “Sun King Warriors” that he is a master of all manner of rock and world music genres. This is one of the most eclectic, and exciting, discs to come out in some Time.” – Washington Times
“Sun King Warriors do venture into reggae and “Graceland” world music territory, but also hit heavier with Zeppelinsized riffs. Mr. Donovan’s strong vocals put him in that rare company of drummers (Phil Collins, Levon Helm, Don Henley among them) worthy of singing lead.” – Pittsburgh Post Gazette
Add Date: 6/14
Focus Tracks: 3, 7, 1
Formats: Americana, College, Triple A
The Digging Remedy is Plaid's eleventh studio album and yet encompasses their playful approach towards production more than ever. Joined by Benet Walsh on flute and bass for much of the album has added an extra dimension to Andy Turner and Ed Handley's sound. When it comes to the album's name, The Digging Remedy hints at search and reward, the serendipity of finding something you weren't previously looking for - and signals that there is much more to be revealed leading up to the album's release on 10th June.
Turner and Handley will continue their tradition of collaboration that has seen them work with a diverse range of musicians - from Björk, to the London Sinfonietta, to the Southbank Gamelan Players - as well as artists, and innovators in music technology.
Add Date: 6/14
Focus Tracks: 1, 3, 4
Formats: College, RPM
THE MYSTERY LIGHTS
In an era when the city kvetches that there are no good NYC bands, when half of the music scene has split for sunny California, the Mystery Lights are an anomaly. Not only did these bold young men reverse the direction – optimistically migrating east against the tide from the west coast, but they also landed in the wormy apple to immerse themselves in the action and diversity of New York City. They all share an apartment in Ridgewood, Queens - the basement of which they've converted into a makeshift rehearsal space. Betting against the odds to live the archetypical 20th century downtown musician lifestyle in 2016, though inevitably further east of the bridge, they also play with the kind of conviction, immediacy, and raw power of their mighty ancestors – from the Velvets to the Voidoids and beyond. The Mystery Lights are living proof that vital contemporary music, in this case real-deal rock’n’roll, can still be dreamed, constructed, and performed in the Empire City.
Mike Brandon and L.A. Solano have been in many different versions of The Mystery Lights under assorted monikers since their teens. In a heroic jump from the small town of Salinas, California to NYC, the band solidified its lineup to also include Alex Amini, Kevin Harris, and Noah Kohll. The explosive live shows gradually became the stuff of legend as the quintet won their following one fan at a time in dives from Brooklyn to the Bowery. Organically unfolding over the nights months and years, the Lights’ sound has evolved into a fuzz-fueled hopped-up 21st Century take on 60s garage pebbles, and artful 70s punk, that is all their own.
2016 finds these rock’n’roll knights embarking upon the next logical step - unleashing their own brand of kick out the jams on tour and in the studio. When Daptone Records launched their WICK Records rock imprint, they wasted no time approaching Mystery Lights as their inaugural act. Hot on the heels of the "Too Many Girls" b/w "Too Tough To Bear" single, WICK officially rolls out the Mystery Lights’ debut LP, recorded at Daptone Records' House of Soul studio, on June 24.
Add Date: 6/21
Focus Tracks: 2, 4, 6
Formats: CMJ Radio 200, Modern Rock Specialty
NAHKO & MEDICINE FOR THE PEOPLE
Some people go a lifetime without knowing their mission in life, without feeling they have true calling, and without knowing why they even do what they do. Nahko is not one of them. And that calling and mission has never been clearer than it is on Nahko and Medicine for the Peopl's third full-length album, HOKA.
On HOKA, Nahko's voice is strong. His mission is clear. The mandate has been thrown down. "Hoka is a Lakota word, an indigenous tribe from the Great Plains, it is a call to action. It's what Crazy Horse would say when he went into battle, 'Hoka, hey!' My call is to put action to the words that I speak and the lyrics I sing. Not just to talk, but to do," says Oregonborn singer/songwriter Nahko, who is of Puerto Rican, Native American (Apache), and Filipino descent.
"This is the soundtrack of the movement for a better planet," he continues. "I want to challenge myself and others to make a change." "Hoka," which is the intro to the first track, "Directions," is one of the album's many song intros used as a way to round out the storytelling on the tracks. "On this intro, my uncles are chanting the lyrics to 'Directions' in Lakota, and the three female voices include a clairvoyant, an astrologer, and a friend who all had important messages for me that are a big part of my story," he explains.
It's been three years since the Los Angeles, California based Nahko and Medicine for the People's last record, Dark As Night. That release reached No. 4 on Billboard's Top Alternative New Album, No. 6 on the Heatseekers album chart, No. 36 on the Top Independent Album chart, and No. 7 in Australia on Triple J's Top 10 Roots Albums of 2013. Nahko and Medicine for the People gathered more members of their global tribe of likeminded fans as they spread their powerful and impactful musical message on tour with such acts as Michael Franti, Xavier Rudd, SOJA, and Trevor Hall, and on festivals including Outside Lands, Electric Forest, Wanderlust, Bumbershoot, California Roots Music Festival, Byron Bay Blues & Roots Festival, and many more.
Critics have praised the group's worldly blend of rock, hiphop, and altfolk. OC Weekly called the group which also includes Chase Makai (lead guitar), Justin Chittams (drums), Pato (bass and kora),Tim Snider (violin) and Max Ribner (horns), "empowering" and "powerful. "The Huffington Post called Dark As Night "beautiful and stirring," and compared Nahko to Bob Marley and a "musical prophet."
That prophetic nature comes through even stronger on HOKA, which was produced by Grammy Award winning producer Ted Hutt (The Gaslight Anthem, Old Crow Medicine Show, Lucero, Dropkick Murphys) "Over the last three years, I've been cracked open so deeply in my own healing to really give this record my all," explains Nahko. "My style of writing and my intentions with how I put things together has evolved a lot. I'm able to better paint the picture after time on the road, seeing firsthand the emotional state of the people of the world, of how sick people are, and how much healing they need."
The personal healing that he refers to, is based on the fact that he is product of a mother who was just 14 years old when she was forced into human trafficking. He was adopted at 9 months old and in his 20s, learned about his family’s tragic backstory. This is the inspiration for his life's work and music.
To that end, "San Quentin" is a pivotal song in the telling of his story. It was inspired by Nahko's visit with the imprisoned man who murdered his father a father he had never met. "It's about forgiveness," says Nahko. "I went there to forgive this man and in forgiving him, I freed myself. It only hurts yourself to hang onto hate. Forgiveness empowers you to create change. I believe everything happens for a reason good and bad. People are put in your life for a reason, and you need to turn that pain into something positive to make the world a better place."
"Make a Change," which features singer/songwriter Zella Day, represents the heart of this record. "I was challenging myself to take action on what's important, to not make the same mistakes over and over, and continue to evolve. It's aimed at the youth, in a sense, because we as the youth have to be the ones to get out of the vicious cycle of negativity," he explains.
Another pivotal song is "Tus Pies (Your Feet)," which was inspired in part by Chilean poet and politician Pablo Neruda. "It's about friendship and being an anchor for someone. Pies is the Spanish word for 'feet.' At the end of that poem, Neruda says a line I cherish: 'I love your feet for how they walked on the mountains and through the rivers and through the valleys until they found me.' I've always loved that picture of how we find people in life and all of the intricate twists and turns that it takes for someone to arrive."
"It Is Written" tells the story of how Nahko finally got closure on his past, giving him even more motivation to continue on his musical path and social mission. "This song is the story of the clairvoyant, who speaks on HOKA, who reached out to me to tell me some very important things. She said, 'I talked to your dad and he's really sorry for what he did. I talked to your [Indian] grandma and she's gathering the nations for you. It is written. Don't push your destiny. Just let it happen.' This was a big step in my healing process and the first real step to letting go. They are my guides."
Other guests include Trevor Hall, Xavier Rudd, Rising Appalachia's Leah Song, and the female trio Joseph on both “Directions” and "The Wolves Have Returned." Hawane, a Hawaiian singer, and Pua Case, one of Nahko's spiritual teachers and Hawane's mother, appear on "Ku Kia'i Mauna."
The album cover, by artist David Hale, sums up the theme as well. Nahko explains, "It's a warrior dancer. The warrior needs to be strong, and the dancer represents grace. Through the merging of the two you get change through peace. You get Hoka.”
Add Date: 6/21
Focus Tracks: 2, 5, 16, 10
Formats: Americana, CMJ Radio 200, Triple A
THE SILVER LAKE CHORUS - 'The Silver Lake Chorus Remixes' (Six Degrees)
The Silver Lake Chorus performs choral arrangements of indie music and exudes both the edgy, independent spirit of Los Angeles' Silver Lake neighborhood and the heart of community choral singing.
In 2010, Australian singer Ben Lee attended a rehearsal of the recently formed group and sat among TSLC members as they sang their cover of Beck’s “Lonesome Tears." Blown away by how the song had been “reinvented into this massive Russian Gregorian chant," Lee suggested the chorus take a completely original indie rock approach to the ancient choral art form. He signed on to produce their debut album and reached out to other artists and friends, asking them to write new music for the chorus. Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, Wayne Coyne and Stephen Drozd of The Flaming Lips, John Roderick of The Long Winters, Inara George and Greg Kurstin of The Bird and the Bee, A.C. Newman of The New Pornographers, Aimee Mann, Sia, Tegan and Sara, and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver all responded with songs.
The resulting eponymous debut album was a distinctly unique musical experience, giving original indie rock songs a lush and highly-tailored choral treatment. Some songs were performed entirely a cappella, while others included drums, synths, string arrangements and other instrumental touches.
As TSLC prepares for their next full studio release (with outreach to a new crop of songwriters already underway), Six Degrees Records has collaborated with The Silver Lake Chorus to put the beautiful tracks from their debut into the hands of a diverse and talented cast of remixers, who’ve taken the material in new and exciting directions.
Soprano and co-arranger for the group, Heather Ogilvy, adds, "Because The Silver Lake Chorus album is comprised of a collection of songs re-imagined for a chorus to begin with, it seemed like a natural extension of the project to then open those tracks up for further creative re-imagining. Like a really good game of musical telephone."
From the remix project’s very first track, we can tell that we are in the hands of expert texturalists. The Nashville-based guitar duo Hammock take the Aimee Mann and Paul Bryan penned “Easy to Die" and bathe it in haunting strings and ambient washes, framing the voices in achingly beautiful melancholy. The track returns as an instrumental at the album’s close, providing a kind of wordless coda for the project.
Artist/producer Carmen Rizzo continues the sublime mood with his remix of Justin Vernon’s “From the Snow-Tipped Hills." Rizzo was a founding member of Six Degrees act Niyaz and has brought his production skills to such diverse artists as Seal, Coldplay, Alanis Morissette and Pete Townshend. He has also released a series of fine solo albums under his own name. For his “Snow-Tipped Hills” remix, Rizzo utilizes the Chorus’s original vocals in an almost chant-like way, creating a serene mantra to greet a new morning.
Also on the more ambient tip is Delia Derbyshire Appreciation Society’s remix of “Home Come Home,” titled “Robots Come Home.” Ambient veteran Harvey Mason mixes a robotic, processed voice with untreated vocals from the chorus, creating a strangely haunting and original homage to the concept of “home.”
Interestingly, Nicholas Johns, the producer who calls himself Blade Foley, also uses a similar approach to processed “robotic” vocals on his 80s-influenced remix of John Roderick’s “Same Song,” adding a saxophone solo that wouldn’t seem out of place on the soundtrack to Miami Vice. According to Heather Ogilvy: "The ‘Same Song’ Showtime After Dark remix is a personal favorite. In addition to just loving the sound world, I really like how it restructures the song. And of course when I heard the saxophone, it was an immediate ‘yes’ for me.”
Two other remixes of note are the very different readings of Wayne Coyne and Stephen Drozd's Flaming Lips composition, “Heavy Star Movin’.” First up, Japanese producer Shinya Mizoguchi (who records as starRo), combines chopped up jazzy breaks with chilled electronics that really accentuate the song’s dream-like qualities. Mikey Wells says of the mix, "I love the total liberty and creativity taken in the starRO remix. It takes the inherent spacey, trippy vibe of the original track and totally reinvents it.” Later in the album’s sequence, guitar experimentalist and soundtrack composer, David Torn weaves cinematic strings, jazzy bass and an insistent rhythm track with the chorus’s angelic voices to hypnotic effect. You have to believe that The Flaming Lips would heartily approve of both versions.
The project is rounded out by contributions from artist and soundtrack composer Ben Lovett (who records as both Lovett and Lovers & Friends), veteran drummer and producer Denny Fongheiser (Groovesoup) and newcomer Grant Marr (Growing Boy). The end result offers a fresh look at The Silver Lake Chorus’s debut, written by some of alternative music’s finest composers and now re-imagined to explore new and exciting sonic terrain.
Add Date: 6/21
Focus Tracks: 3, 6, 8, 10
Formats: CMJ Radio 200, RPM
Lady Wray is back with "Do It Again", a tune addressing the complexities of love and accompanied by an empowering rooftop video. The track is produced by Leon Michels and Thomas Brenneck and is released today on 7-inch vinyl (b/w "In Love") and all digital formats via Brooklyn's Big Crown Records.
Virginia-born powerhouse Lady Wray (Nicole Wray) has an infectious Jackson-5-family-member flare, a range like Aretha’s, and a church upbringing that’s brought a pure, healing texture to her voice and gained her a mentor in Missy Elliot. Over the course of her career, the soulstress landed a gold record and climbed the ranks of '90s hip-hop royalty, working alongside Missy, Aaliyah, Ginuwine, Playa and Timbaland, to name a few. During her time in Lady, Nicole picked up fans at NPR, Pitchfork, Noisey and Essence, solidifying a global fan base.
On one hand, "Do It Again" is the story of a failed relationship. On the other, it’s the story of a revered intimacy, ultimately finding Nicole willing to get back into it regardless of the consequences. The classic, drum heavy production, paired with Wray's powerhouse vocals will surely have sweet soul enthusiasts and beat makers stockpiling copies for years to come.
Add Date: 6/28
Focus Track: 1
Format: Triple A
LAKE STREET DIVE
A “side pony,” the hairstyle that Lake Street Dive’s Nonesuch debut is named after, is the kind of one-sided Cubism-worthy ’do that requires unwavering self-confidence to pull off. The foursome is not referring to the demure, swept-to-the-side fashion Taylor Swift occasionally sports, but more the outré look of, say, Napoleon Dynamite’s friend Deb. However, a side pony, for them, is really a metaphor for their philosophy and personality as a band, one that seamlessly incorporates R&B, pop, ’60s-era rock, and soul into a unique, dance-party-ready mix. As bassist Bridget Kearney puts it, “When we were settling on the album title, that one just stuck out to us as embodying the band’s spirit. We’ve always been this somewhat uncategorizable, weird, outlying genre-less band. That’s the statement we wanted to make with this record: be yourself.”
Guitarist and trumpeter Michael “McDuck” Olson echoes her sentiment: “It came to mean something larger to us than the original image. The line, ‘I’m just living my life, I rock a side pony’ has a literal connotation: ‘Don’t judge me for my silly hairstyle.’ But it has also come to mean anything you’re doing for the sheer joy of it. We have always ‘rocked our side pony.’ Now we have a convenient phrase for it.”
The members of Lake Street Dive—named after an avenue of seedy bars in Olson’s native Minneapolis—met in 2004 as students at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. Powerhouse singer Rachael Price fronted the quartet and drummer Michael Calabrese filled out the rhythm section. Though they were all studying jazz, their work together took an altogether different shape, informed by their love of classic pop, particularly from the ’60s, when pop could mean the Beatles, the Supremes, Dusty Springfield, or the Beach Boys. They recognized the virtuosity—and timelessness—in the efforts of studio musicians like Muscle Shoals’ legendary Swampers and L.A.’s Wrecking Crew. Similarly, their original repertoire combined musical sophistication with an easy going groove.
For several years, the group was a part-time proposition, with everyone living in different cities. (Calabrese and Olson eventually returned to Boston, while Price and Kearney migrated to Brooklyn.) In 2012, Lake Street Dive became a full-time combo after a YouTube video of the quartet acoustically performing the Jackson Five’s “I Want You Back” on a suburban Boston street corner went viral. The arrangement was slowed-down and torchy, a little melancholic, more late-night New Orleans jazz than AM radio pop, and upwards of three million people were enchanted by it.
Producer T Bone Burnett, as impressed as everyone else, invited Lake Street Dive to perform on the 2013 Another Day, Another Time concert event he curated at New York City’s Town Hall to celebrate the Coen brothers’ folk revival-themed movie, Inside Llewyn Davis. Lake Street Dive made the most of its one-song slot, with its performance of the Olson-penned “You Go Down Smooth,” garnering morning-after acclaim from the New Yorker, the Daily News, and the New York Times. The band looked striking too, like a retro lounge band that could have sprung from the surreal imagination of David Lynch. That star-making moment has been preserved on the Nonesuch soundtrack to Showtime’s documentary of the concert.
Side Pony, recorded in the winter of 2015, has an exhilarating feel from start to finish. For listeners familiar with Lake Street Dive, it’s a natural evolution of the band’s sound. The arrangements offer a knowing nod to the past while the lyrics tackle the pitfalls of modern romance in a manner that’s often more playful than rueful. And Price’s vocals have a teasing swagger to them. Neither her heart nor her hairstyle will be messed with.
Singer Price agrees: “We’re the happy breakup band. We like to write about our lives and real things but we always like music that makes you dance and lifts you up. And those things don’t need to be separate from one another. A sad song doesn’t need to be in a minor key and slow. That’s something we try to blend and do as much as possible.” The album track “Spectacular Failure,” she notes, is sort of a “cheerful parody” of a hapless Lothario. “The story and specifics aren’t true but it was inspired by a real person who we turned into this mythical, terrible character.”
Side Pony is produced by the eclectic Nashville-based Dave Cobb, whose credits include Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and the Secret Sisters. Cobb’s working method was to keep the recording fast and loose, as live-in-the-studio as possible, and to embrace the unorthodox.
This provided Lake Street Dive with a welcome challenge: an opportunity to experiment with sound and arrangements and to collaborate on songwriting in a way the band had never attempted before. For earlier discs, the band members each wrote their own material and by the time they’d all arrive in the studio, the songs would have been meticulously arranged—and then the group would simply record them.
But Cobb encouraged them to bring only the most basic demos. The band showed up in Nashville with a lot of ideas, 28 songs, for their first session, and quickly discarded more than half. After a break from recording to go tour Australia, the process took an even more freewheeling turn as the band labored collectively to come up with the final cuts for the disc, including the title track, the infectious sing-along “Hell Yeah,” and the early ’70s-styles funk of “Can’t Stop.”
At one point, Cobb encouraged the band to scour the dollar bins at used record shops, and then spin their finds in the studio, dropping the needle at random in search of inspiration. “Can’t Stop,” in particular, grew out of that exercise, spurred on by the wobbly sound of a warped old soul record they’d unearthed.
Kearney explains, “Dave wanted us to come without any preconceived idea of how we were going to do the songs, so we made only campfire-style sketch demos—me, McDuck, and Mike strumming guitar and all of us singing the melody. We could then easily slow a song down, change the chorus to minor—we could make some pretty broad strokes in the studio, just following a much more intuitive approach to finishing a song.” She deadpans, “We used to be stiffer, more analytical conservatory kids. Now we like to use our conservatory skills for good, not evil.”
Calabrese adds, “We would be working on a tune, trying stuff out, and Dave would stop us in the middle of the song and say, ‘Let’s try it this way instead.’ His process was mercurial, changing direction quickly, going from ‘we don’t have anything’ to ‘we’ve got it!’” He continues, “We weren’t always so sure. But then we’d listen to a comp and we’d agree that he’d heard something we hadn’t. That’s what good producers do: they capture lightning in a bottle.”
Price says, “We realized working in the studio this way that we each have our own strengths: Bridget is a really fantastic lyricist. She’s fast and she can come up with a lot of ideas. McDuck is the same way with harmony, with changes and chords. He can come up with a lot of options in a short period of time. It was great to see, through this particular recording process, how beautifully our individual strengths complement each other.”
Add Date: 6/28
Focus Track: 5
Format: Modern Rock Specialty
Before guitarist singer/songwriter Leni Stern fell in love with the music of Africa, she was an award winning jazz guitarist. Her innovative early bands drew in such greats as Dennis Chambers, Bill Frisell, Michael Brecker and Paul Motian. “All jazz musicians know that jazz comes from Africa,” says Stern, looking back. But that reality truly came into focus 20 years ago when she first heard the rich, percussion based mbaalx pop of Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour. The crack and punch of the sabar drum, the layers of rhythm and the depth of expression in the vocal performances compelled her to visit Dakar and experience the music and musicians first hand. Nothing has been the same since.
Stern’s 2006 appearance at the legendary Festival in the Desert outside Timbuktu, Mali, connected her with a new world of musicians—in effect, a new family. She began making regular pilgrimages—three or four a year—to Mali to listen, learn, perform, compose, record, collaborate and build deep friendships with the likes of Salif Keita, Toumani Diabaté, Bassekou Kouyaté and his magnificent vocalist wife Ami Sacko, who taught Stern to sing the griot classic “Malisadio,” a standout track on her 2016 CD Dakar Suite.
Dakar Suite is Stern’s eighth African inspired album, and it completes the circle of her remarkable career in a number of ways. Political unrest destabilized Mali in 2012. Stern was all set to play a concert in Bamako on the day the city collapsed into the turmoil of a military coup d’etat. Over the next year, unable to visit Mali, she rekindled her “love affair with Senegal,” recording an album of original songs with musicians in Dakar. She studied sabar drumming with percussionist Alioune Faye, and mapped songs she had written on guitar and the Malian n’goni to these distinctly Senegalese rhythms. She and her New York band—Mamadou Ba (bass) and Alioune Faye (percussion)—orked the songs before live audiences at her home base, the 55 Bar in Greenwich Village. Then it was time to return to Dakar and record Dakar Suite.
Stern’s Malian musical relationships have often revolved around collaborations with players of local harps and lutes which enriched the soundscapes but limited harmonic possibilities. But now, in a percussion based milieu, she was free to bring in more of the complex chord changes and harmonic nuances of her jazz past. Also new this time around was the decision to do overdubs and mix in Manhattan, where she could incorporate contributions from her New York posse: Karen Waltuch on viola, George Brooks on saxophone, Gil Goldstein on accordion, James Genus on acoustic bass, Shane Theriot and Mike Stern on guitars and Leo Genovese on piano and Farfisa. The result is the deepest and most satisfying blend yet of Stern’s jazz roots and her far flung branches into the richest musical realms of West Africa.
A pair of linked pieces “Dark Blue” and “Dark Blue Reprise,” one vocal and one instrumental, exemplify the new material. Dense textures of acoustic piano, sabar percussion, soprano saxophone, and tasty guitar playing interplay in a complex flow that links jazzy adventurism with rootsy African sensibility. Stern says that these pieces inspired the CD’s title. “Suite is a term from the 14th century classical music for a series of dances,” she notes. “By the 17th century it grew into a collection of compositions that were thematically and tonally linked. I liked the name for this collection of songs because sabar is originally a music accompanying dance. Many of the great Senegalese bands have dancers performing with them.”
The exuberance of dance music comes to the fore on tracks like “Hide and Seek,” with its pointillist guitar and sax riffing, funky bass, organ washes and ebullient choral hooks, all rooted in the snappy drive of sabar drums. It’s impossible not to move. A more subtle example comes in the swaying, waltzlike “Oshune.” This seductive story song unfolds over a marriage of almost ceremonial sabar rhythm and elegant acoustic and electric guitar playing.
For all the unique elements in her sound, Stern is at heart a songwriter, and the compositions on Dakar Suite range from a personal response to the church shootings in Charleston (“Mercy”) to an adaptation of a morally complex African fable of prejudice, betrayal and ultimate redemption (“Oshune”) to her sabar-fueled rendition of “Malisadio.” Shifting easily between English, French and Bambara, Stern sings with angelic clarity and palpable conviction. A storyteller and visionary, she bridges continents and cultures. Only prolonged exposure to such a broad array of influences can yield such confident fluidity.
Through it all, Stern reminds us that she remains the sterling guitarist honored five times as Gibson Guitar’s Female Jazz Guitarist of the Year. er playing is a dependable delight, whether pouring out her soul on acoustic on “Mercy” or wailing from the heart alaBonnie Raitt on the Mamadou Ba composition “Tuareg Dance.” Four largely instrumental tracks give Stern and her accompanists plenty of room to improvise, creating a pleasing flow of arrangement and spontaneity throughout this set of songs. Dakar Suite is a journey, for Stern, for her brilliant collaborators, and for any listener, whether their tastes run to jazz, African roots or indie rock.
One of New York’s most innovative musical creators has delivered her tour de force, at once a summing up of a 20-year global musical adventure, and a glimpse of the music of the future.
Add Date: 6/28
Focus Tracks: 2, 5, 6, 8
BALKAN BEAT BOX
“deftly programmed global fusion” – THE INDEPENDENT (UK)
“If BBB is world music, it’s in the most literal sense – because it can move anyone in the world.” – TIME OUT
Balkan Beat Box celebrate a short stint of successful stateside dates that wrapped triumphantly this weekend with a packed out show at DC’s 9:30 Club (w/Yemenite sister trio A-Wa in support), having commenced with an equally shoulder-to-shoulder affair at NYC’s Irving Plaza on June 17th, with the release of their new single, “Shout It Out,” accompanied by a nifty skate n’ spray lyric video.
The song itself has a simple message. It is a call to use one’s voice, to stand and be counted, embrace creative response, and let go of inhibitions. It’s about self-empowerment and it is the title track of Balkan Beat Box’s forthcoming long player, set for release on November 11th, 2016.
The new album features the world class trio of Tomer Yosef, Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat in classic form—their collective heart, less on the sleeve than it is in the chest—but with a clear mandate to move folks on a global front, both physically and emotionally. They’re well on their way as already dropped new album track and video, “I Trusted U,” has enjoyed some substantial fanfare as it recently scaled 655K YouTube views, and 1.5 million Facebook views.
For some history, it’s been 4 albums and a decade worth of touring for Balkan Beat Box who have garnered a worldwide fanbase. The band emerged from New York City’s underground in the mid- 2000s, introducing to the world a distinctive sound and setting their reputation as a formidable live act. They became a favorite of audiences and critics alike the world over, combining a solid rhythm section of hip hop, funk, eastern Europe, and reggae influences with exotic brass, earth shattering bass and experimental electronics.
Add Date: 7/4
Focus Track: 2
Formats: College, Modern Rock Specialty, RPM, Triple A, World
BACAO RHYTHM & STEEL BAND
Keeping in the tradition of Steel Drum records, 55 is a journey through re-interpolations and covers with an updated approach, pushing Steel Pan music to uncharted territory.
Flawlessly bringing previously untouched genres into the steel pan cannon ranging from Underground Hip Hop tunes to staple Funk tracks and some of all that falls in between. From the smoothed out Reggae cover of John Holt’s “Police In Helicopter” to the DJ sure shot cover of Faith Evan’s “Love Like This” BRSB’s 55 is reinvigorating tunes both well known and helping to shed some light on tunes still largely undiscovered. However, some of the strongest tunes on the album are original compositions, from spaced out Disco vibes on “Beetham Highway Ride” and “Port Of Spain Hustle” to the ugly face inspiring drums of “Laventille Road March”.
Recorded to analog 8 track tape at The Mocambo Studios in Hamburg, 55 is a gritty, punchy journey in sound drawing on music from around the world, using production aesthetics from across both eras and genres, all coming together seamlessly.
Add Date: 7/12
Focus Tracks: 1, 5, 9, 11
Formats: CMJ Radio 200, World
EL MICHELS AFFAIR FEATURING THE SHACKS
El Michels Affair are back with a 45 of original material that features a new NYC band called The Shacks. The Shacks are made up of the enigmatic Shannon Wise, and studio wunderkind, Max Shrager. Their dreamy, voyeuristic sound was born in Michels’ Queens, NY studio in 2015. And while they describe themselves as a rock band, don’t expect the conventional kind.
The story goes that Max brought Shannon to the studio, where he was playing guitar on a track produced by Leon Michels of El Michels Affair, that needed a vocalist. They put Shannon in the booth to try it out. It was her first time ever recording. Then, in one take, the song “Strange Boy” had a singer who completed the vibe. The Shacks were born.
Side A, “Strange Boy”, sounds like the Five Keys met Neil Young and cut a record with Jane Birkin – but in English. A fuzzed out, heavy backing track with doo-wop background vocals create a peculiar, but perfect bed for Shannon’s dead pan celebration of her “Strange Boy”, of whom she would gladly “drink the kool aid from his cup”. Side B, “No Surprise”, is a perfect blend of El Michels Affair’s hazy, cinematic soul and 60’s pop ala Sonny and Cher.
When this stunning lil two sider was recorded, Shannon was only 16 and Max was 18. Since then, they have made nearly two records of material that will be introduced to the world in the coming year on Big Crown Records. Stay tuned.
Add Date: 7/12
Focus Track: 1
Formats: CMJ Radio 200, Modern Rock Specialty, Triple A
LEE BOB & THE TRUTH
“The Light feels like a new beginning,” says Lee Bob. It’s the 9th album of his career, but it marks the first time he has done back to back albums with the same band. “I’m addicted to creating, but not great at sticking around," confides the singer, who spent time in Asia, Africa and Europe before landing back in San Francisco in 2012.
"The Truth caught up with me. The band pushes me ...This is way more than I could ever do on my own. I wanna see how far we can go with it."
The Light is a new beginning indeed. The album is a dynamic 8 song journey, touching on themes of love, rebirth and the search for meaning in a shifting modern landscape. Acoustic moments of direct intimacy give way to spacious soundscapes and raw, blistering blues. This is a deep focus document of the band finding its true voice.
"By the time we released the first record," says guitarist Steve Wyreman, "the band had evolved. We wanted to record again as soon as possible. I had a good relationship with people at United Recordings. I knew we could record there with no compromises. So, we just got in and did it."
The band kept it 100% analog. Tape to tape to vinyl. These are mainly first or second takes with minimal overdubs. All mixing was performed live, hands on the board with all analog effects & zero levels of undo. It was recorded and mixed in only 5 days and mastered by the legend Bernie Grundman, who cut the vinyl directly from the master tapes.
"The process wasn't about being retro or purist," insists Lee Bob, "it was about finding the best possible way to record this band. We used Studio A at United in a way it doesn't get used very much these days. We let the room breath, let the instruments bleed. There was no cleaning things up, no looking at a screen, just making music."
Bassist Josh Lippi reflects on how far The Truth has come since it’s original conception over sandwiches in a Safeway parking lot in Berkeley, CA, circa 2013: "The original point was just to reconnect and to make music that we all have great passion for. We recorded the first record all around SF ... just had fun with it. Now, with this record, the band has a life of its own."
Add Date: 7/12
Focus Tracks: College — 2, 5, 6; Americana & Triple A — 3, 6, 8, 7
Formats: Americana, CMJ Radio 200, Triple A
RED MARTIAN - 'Retrailing' (BugHLT)
Red Martian is a band that revels in the experimental. On its seventh full-length, Retrailing, the band departs from the neue-shoegaze sound of their recent releases for a synth-based one. As frontman Stephen Jones puts it, “All of us…are interested in synthesizers and electronic sounds. We’ve kind of had a history of this back and forth between the two [styles].”
The band crafted Retrailing with a synthesizer based on a unique Mattson Mini-Modular that Jones—alongside legendary inventor and synthesizer technologist/pioneer George Mattson —helped design and create for Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins. Jones explains, “A few years ago I helped to build a custom 3 tiered MMM with George Mattson for Billy Corgan. During the building we bulk purchased parts so that we could build additional units. The Retrailing MMM is essentially one Tier of Billy’s design but features 4 MIDI interfaces.” The Mattson Mini-Modular used during the creation of album was controlled manually via a CV keyboard, with the majority of the material being recorded using multi-tracking.
The use of analog instrumentation provides a level of warmth and clarity to the record that is often missing from contemporary electronic music. Retrailing feels modern while remaining true to the electronic sound of the late 70s and early 80s. Think Kraftwerk, YMO, and Klaus Schulze.
Add Date: 7/12
Focus Tracks: 1, 13, 5
CRAWLING WITH COPS
One can only imagine if Crawling With Cops were a quartet quite how loud they would be, as this is a duo who need to be heard with ears bleeding and walls shaking.
The duo switch voices through tracks giving the compositions immense vocal range and melody and the blistering guitar fires like an arrow though the speakers. It is the sub-woofers that struggle as the impatient drum-kit emits thumps from each skin and piece of metal whilst the sublime bass makes the listener want to melt into the sonics.
The band consists of writer, performer Chris G. Simmons who founded such bands as Lick City, The Vagues and The Niki Taylors who gigged constantly with Marilyn Manson in their early days and also is the creative force behind experimental projects The Push Up Daisies, Comejungle, Gloriovs Dead and Parijs Plague; and Claire Lempke who was discovered in a church choir and whose angelic voice makes CWC's sound so unique. Oojah Cum Pivvy marks Claire's studio recording debut.
The band has opted for returning to the studio to record their 2nd album in lieu of a US tour.
Add Date: 7/19
Focus Tracks: 11, 2, 3
Formats: College, Modern Rock
Jacob Collier is recognized as one of the world’s most distinctive, inventive and prodigious young musicians. He is only 21 years old. Based in London, UK, Jacob has been inspired by many sounds – his music combines elements of Jazz, A cappella, Groove, Folk, Trip-hop, Classical music, Brazilian music, Gospel, Soul and Improvisation (to name a few), which culminate to create the world of "Jacob Collier.”
Jacob is well known for his viral YouTube videos which have turned numerous legendary artists into fans, including Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Jamie Cullum, Take 6 and Quincy Jones— who is now his manager.
Jacob has recently developed a new live show with MIT, which spurred The Guardian to herald Collier as “Jazz’s New Messiah” after witnessing the performance. He also recorded the soundtrack to the Beats by Dre Rugby World Cup campaign and is featured on Snarky Puppy’s Family Dinner Vol. 2.
Add Date: 7/19
Focus Tracks: 3, 7, 8, 1
Formats: College, Soul, Triple A
Hot off last year's placement of their song 'Quiteabitofbooty' in Nike's Womens Soccer commercial, Portland heavy rockers Foxy Lemon have released their new single, entitled "Butter.”
"'Butter' is the fuzzed out new track from Foxy Lemon [...] Their stellar organ melodies and fuzzed out guitar riffs fit right alongside the Portland garage rock scene, but stand out from the crowd by capturing the iconic feel of classic American rock music. If ever there was a remake of Dazed and Confused, “Butter” would undoubtedly make it onto the soundtrack.' – The Deli
Add Date: 7/19
Focus Tracks: 2, 1, 3
Formats: College, Modern Rock
PAUL & THE TALL TREES - "Once in a While" b/w "The Little Bit of Sunshine" (Big Crown)
Paul Schalda–one part of a crazily talented musical family from Staten Island, NY–seems to embody the unexpected overlap of Buffalo Springfield’s rock, The Band’s Americana, John Lennon’s appeal and activism, and Otis Redding’s raw, warm soul. Going back two decades, Schalda has been a part of projects like the ’90s Staten Island hardcore group, Three Steps Up, and Awek–his early-2000s, Brooklyn-based rock band. By 2005 he had Pablo, an acoustic-folk-rock affair that nodded more toward Neil Young than the alternative music scene that was king at the time.
To the uninitiated, this progression of not-long-lasting groups and musical approaches may come across as scattered, or maybe even semi-typical of singer/songwriters like Schalda. But listening to his music, you don’t hear a man of many parts. You hear a sum of his experiences. This singular sound is helped by the fact that his doo-wop crooning father, Will Schalda, Sr., and brother, Will Schalda, have brought energy and inspiration to each record. In Pablo, his brother Will played keyboards and his father provided backing vocals in the studio.
What you can hear in Schalda’s music, no matter which song you hear, is that the road hasn’t been easy. His voice can be hauntingly harsh, yet hopeful and tender, raucous and gravelly one moment, smooth and intimate the next. In his cadences you can feel elation and life–performing on the road, tours funded out of his own pocket, and the hardships it all brought to family and loved ones.
After the second Pablo album in 2009, Schalda decided it was time to step away. He went back to school, got a desk job, and began to think that this is what life would be. Naturally, a new opportunity came calling. Tom Brenneck, of Daptone and Dunham fame, contacted Schalda about playing backing guitar for soul-man Charles Bradley’s tour. Once again, he hit the road. But this time, things were different.
Schalda had left music, only to have it come back. This brought new perspective and approach. And it takes the name of Paul and The Tall Trees. This is all shown in a new LP, being released on Brooklyn’s Big Crown Records. There is a renewed comfort, and an appreciation for even being able to write and perform his music. Yet some things remain: Schalda’s father plays a soulful harmonica on the record, and his brother presses out lyrical chords on the piano and organ. Both contribute to the vocal harmonies you hear. And still Schalda, even being compared to the famous groups and musicians mentioned above, can only call it Rock and Roll and be humbled. “I’m very lucky to be able to do this,” Schalda says. “And I’m extremely happy. Especially for my father. He worked hard for his sons and this record.”
Add Date: 7/19
Focus Track: 1
Formats: College, Modern Rock
The legendary Angela McCluskey has just released "You And Me," the single off her upcoming album. The powerful Scottish singer behind BIG GIGANTIC's current hit "The Little Things" (#12 Billboard Dance/Electronic Songs Digital chart, Top 5 Spotify Viral chart) and the Grammy-nominated "Breathe" from TELEPOPMUSIK will release 'The Roxy Sessions' on September 9th.
Add Date: 7/26
Focus Track: 1
Formats: Modern Rock Specialty, Triple A
“White-thug Everlast pushing Richard Ashcroft sheen.” – Ariel Pink
“I like the languid desperation of their voices.” – Moby
Dog Orchestra met at a club in high school – “Niklas got thrown out, and his mom came and picked us up in her car,” Daniel says. “I slept on a small couch in his room that night and dreamt of a nuclear holocaust. After that, we were friends.” Niklas and Daniel, who make up Dog Orchestra, moved to Stockholm and on Feb 1, 2010 began their artistic partnership.
Dog Orchestra was born of Niklas and Daniel’s artistic synergy. Daniel says, “We never wanted it to be about us. We wanted it to be about the band and the music as a separate entity.” Adds Niklas, “As much as I love being part of Dog Orchestra I want to enjoy it the same way an audience member might. No wall between the band and the listener—that’s the goal.”
Stats: Featured on Spotify Weekly Buzz; Over 120k Spotify streams; #11 on iTunes Alternative chart!
Add Date: 7/26
Focus Tracks: 1, 2
Formats: CMJ Radio 200
For nearly two decades, Eric Krasno has been an omnipresent figure in popular music. We’ve heard his virtuosic, innovative guitar playing with Soulive and Lettuce (both of which he co-founded), seen him onstage supporting the likes of the Rolling Stones and The Roots, watched him take home multiple GRAMMY Awards, and benefited from his deft, behind-the-scenes work as a producer and songwriter for everyone from Norah Jones, Tedeschi Trucks, and 50 Cent to Talib Kweli, Aaron Neville, and Allen Stone. Krasno’s rousing new solo album, Blood From A Stone, reveals a previously unknown and utterly compelling side of his artistry, though, inviting us to bear witness as he both literally and metaphorically finds his voice.
“My writing partner Dave Gutter and I have been composing songs with vocals for other people for awhile,” explains Krasno, who sings for the first time on Blood From A Stone. “So some of the initial ideas that would eventually wind up on the album were written thinking others would sing them, but when they were introduced to different artists, it wouldn’t necessarily work out. Eventually I realized some of the songs we’d been writing were more personal and would be better suited for me to sing.”
It might sound strange hearing Krasno discuss the idea of “finding his voice” so deep into a career already chock full of remarkable songwriting, but as he sees it, there’s something new, something intimately personal about this album that urged him to step up to the microphone for the first time. And though so much about this album feels like uncharted territory, in some ways, it brings him all the way back to his musical roots.
"Growing up, I listened to Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, and the Grateful Dead, along with a lot of hip-hop,” remembers Krasno. “When I linked up with Soulive, we played instrumental music, and that’s the path I’ve mostly been on ever since. This record loops back to those initial bands and songs I loved, but with the added experience and influence of the past 20 years.
When it came time to begin formal work on the album, Krasno left his home in New York City to join Dave Gutter from Rustic Overtones in Maine for the first writing session, which turned out to be so productive that the two had penned most of the album in just a few days. In a shift from the looser, jam/funk spirit that has marked Krasno’s previous work, the songs for Blood From A Stone took shape as tight, infectious, highly structured blues and R&B-based tracks. Krasno and Gutter commiserated over recent relationship turmoil and their shared love of music like Bobby “Blue” Bland’s ‘Dreamer’ and Muddy Waters’ ‘Electric Mud’ to create a sonic palette at once classic and modern, deeply personal and totally timeless. Deciding to strike while the iron was hot, the duo headed into Gutter’s barn along with Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce) to lay down what they envisioned to be demos, but in fact turned out to be the backbone of the album.
“We set up an old tape machine and pieced together gear and borrowed microphones and cobbled a little studio together,” remembers Krasno. “It was one of those things where, once people heard the songs we were coming up with, every musician in town started coming by with gear and helping out. We didn’t realize we were actually making the record, so there was no pressure, and that let us experiment in really cool ways. There’s a lot of rawness to the recordings, and that really bled into the performances and my vocal delivery.”
It’s apparent from the first moments of the funky, Hendrix-esque album opener “Waiting On Your Love” that Krasno’s voice has been an ace up his sleeve this whole time. Rich, warm, and full-bodied, his tone blends earnest sincerity with casual swagger and, much like his guitar playing, taps into a deep vein of emotion. On “Torture” and “Jezebel,” he sings as a bruised survivor of love-gone-bad, while the slow-jam of “Please Ya” channels Otis Redding soul, and “On The Rise” builds off a bass-and-percussion groove with psychedelic samples and gorgeous harmonies. The album has its lighter moments, too, from “Unconditional Love”—inspired by the spirit-lifting arrival of Gutter’s daughter after school every day—to “Natalie”—a romantic ode to an automobile originally written during Krasno’s Soulive days. It’s an eclectic collection, to be sure, but it’s all tied beautifully together through Krasno’s understated vocals and skillful songcraft, which always leaves enough room for him to stretch out on his six-string.
As brilliant as Krasno’s guitar work is throughout the album, though, Derek Trucks arrives as a special guest on “Curse Lifter”—a hypnotic instrumental that lands somewhere between Santana and the Allman Brothers—to give him a real run for his money.
“Derek is my favorite guitar player in the world,” says Krasno. “I’ve known him for close to 20 years, because the first national tour Soulive ever did was with the Derek Trucks Band, and we’ve been super close ever since. I’ve watched him progress into the best, and it was really important to have him on this record.”
The track’s gorgeous, evocative guitar harmonies are a fitting way of bringing things full circle for Krasno, who’s so often utilized his guitar in the service of others. In the end, he may not have drawn blood from a stone, but Krasno discovered deep wells of soul and untapped reservoirs of talent by recording this album, and he opened up entirely new worlds for himself as an artist in the process.
“It’s something I didn’t know was there,” he concludes. “I would have been totally content just being a guitar player and writing songs for other people, but this inspiration just happened, and I’m really glad it did, because it’s changed things. I didn’t know I had this in me.”
Add Date: 7/26
Focus Tracks: 6, 1
Formats: CMJ Radio 200
On July 22, 2016 Floating Points released his Kuiper EP – his first since last year’s standout debut Elaenia - via Luka Bop (N&SA)/PLUTO (UK/EU).
Previously the London-based composer/producer shared the title track and A-side “Kuiper,” which he also performed live during his recent KEXP Session.
Today he shares the EP’s B-side “For Marmish Part II,” a track about which he says; “It was recorded way before 'For Marmish' on the album but the two tracks happened to be written around the same time.”
“Since starting a band to realize the music from my LP, it has sparked a deep interest in the band itself, and so Kuiper is the result of playing with Leo, Alex and Susumu. Each time we play it, its completely different. We set the scene with electronics, and some drum machines that form the foundation to allow the unfurling of the rest of the track. The version on this EP – believe it or not – was recorded at 8am! – Sam Shepherd
Add Date: 7/26
Focus Tracks: 3, 4
THE GET RIGHT BAND
“Hip-shaking, earthquaking pure funk fun.” – The Alternate Root
“Put these guys on your radar, they’re undeniably talented and they know how to throw a party!” – The Grateful Web
“Groove with rock melodies built on funk attitudes--all energy and swagger.” – Alli Marshall, The Mountain Xpress
“The Get Right Band is one of those acts that make Asheville’s music scene so vibrant and exciting. They lay down some very cool grooves.” – Martin Anderson, WNCW
“An ass shaking good time.” – Relix Magazine
Who’s In Charge? was recorded in Asheville, NC at Echo Mountain Studio (whose clients include The Smashing Pumpkins, G. Love, T. Bone Burnett, The War on Drugs), engineered by Julian Dreyer (who has worked with The Avett Brothers, Dawes, Band of Horses, Zac Brown Band), and is being mastered by 6 time Grammy winner Brian Lucey (who has worked with The Black Keys, Arctic Monkeys, Dr. Dog, Beck). While seamlessly blending elements of rock, funk, and reggae, the album is held together by The Get Right Band’s honest songwriting, fierce playing, and strong self-identity. The powerful songs and the pop/rock/psychedelic approach to production puts the album in the realm of acts like My Morning Jacket, Dr. Dog, and The Black Keys (with hints of Sublime and early Chili Peppers).
Add Date: 7/26
Focus Tracks: 15, 5, 8
Formats: CMJ Radio 200, Triple A
Multi-instrumentalist and producer Brian Brater lives, works, and makes music in New York City. After cofounding Rawkus Records (which put out releases from artists like Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Black Star, Company Flow, Pharoahe Monche, Big L, Common) and co-founding digital media company UPROXX, he is launching an artist collective called Sherbert Gang. It's first project, Sherbert Gang EP, features original songs with drum programming and music production by Brian and visual creative direction and animation production by Los Angeles based painter and artist Amir H. Fallah.
Amir is the former editor and founder of Beautiful Decay, a critically acclaimed magazine that documented and promoted experimental and cutting edge design and art from around the world. Amir was the first magazine editor to feature global street artists like Shepard Fairey, Barry Mcgee, ESPO, and Jeff Soto.
Recorded in NYC and Illustrated and animated in Los Angeles, the Sherbert Gang EP and "Far Away" animated video explores collective joy and pain, contemporary haze and confusion, our constant drive forward, mixing original drum programming, analog synths and chopped up vocals with fluid illustration and dynamic animation.
Fallah and Brater collaborated on Brater's previous musical project, Brian Irving's Radiant Things and "Eyes Wide" Video, which garnered praise and recognition in outlets ranging from The Huffington Post to Earmilk. Sherbert Gang will release a forthcoming eponymous Sherbet Gang EP and additional animated videos later this year and play a series of intimate shows in support of it.
Add Date: 7/26
Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 4
Big Crown Records is proud to present a reissue of the highly sought-after, very rare, and only released by Texas funk band, The Soul Explosives.
Active in 1971 and 72, The Soul Explosives were a high school group from Kingsville, TX led by high school senior Skip Frazier. Their main goal was to play a neighborhood know as the”The Cut” in nearby Corpus Christ, where there were a number of Soul & R&B clubs. They paid for the recording and pressing of the 45 which was done by a tiny local Tejano studio/label, Bormeh. Copies of the record were given to friends and sold at shows. In ’72 Skip decided to leave the group to pursue his college studies and they disbanded not long after.
The A Side “Tryin To Get Down” is a lo-fi funk gem with all the makings of an underground classic. Driving drums and blown out vocals somewhere between encouraging and liberating are sure to peak funk fans ears. The B Side, a absolutely smashing cover of “Ain’t No Sunshine”, is nothing short of a must have. The Soul Explosives nearly instrumental cover might just be the toughest version on a 45. Another Big Crown sureshot.
Add Date: 7/26
Focus Track: 1
Formats: CMJ Radio 200
THE WEEKENDERS - 'Bright Silence of Night' (Self-Released)
The Weekenders are a raw rock n’ roll band.
Boasting a sound hearkening back to the days when Rock N’ Roll legends reigned supreme over the radio waves, Salt Lake City-based The Weekenders aren’t in the business of treading lightly.
The fuzz groove four piece has honed the ability to pull from some of the best elements of Rock n' Roll from Muscle Shoals to Grunge. They have supported a handful of national acts including Blitzen Trapper, Band of Heathens, The Stone Foxes, Lukas Nelson and many others.
Add Date: 7/26
Focus Track: 4, 1, 3, 8
Formats: CMJ Radio 200
Over eleven expertly crafted pop songs, produced once again by MJ from Hookworms, Martha returns with their second album, Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart, explores the difficulties in staying political, passionate and punk. Hailing from the small town of Pity Me, UK, Martha plays energetic, impassioned power pop with intricate vocals and lush four-part harmonies, informed by ’90s indie rock and contemporary garage punk. The band is J. Cairns (guitar), Daniel Ellis (guitar; Onsind), Naomi Griffin (bass; No Ditching), and Nathan Stephens Griffin (drums; Onsind).
Their debut album, Courting Strong, came out in 2014 and was included in NPR’s top 50 albums of that year, winning them the epithet, “One of Britain’s best rock bands.” If the band’s first album was about punks growing up, then Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart is about grown-ups staying punk, trying to stay creative and passionate, and making the most of everything in spite of the many obstacles that get in the way. It finds strength and solace in friendships, love, and motivation from the people in your life who really inspire you. Influenced by bands like The Replacements, Heart, Billy Bragg, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, The Go-Go’s and Radiator Hospital, the album bursts into life with “Christine,” inspired by the 1980’s British TV drama Threads about nuclear war. It’s followed by the rousing “Chekhov’s Hangnail,” with backing vocals from Ellis Jones of Trust Fund. Catchy “Precarious (The Supermarket Song)” finds romance in the washing powder aisle, while “Goldman’s Detective Agency” re-imagines 19th century anarchist Emma Goldman as a private eye vanquishing corrupt cops and politicians. Every song here is a potential single, from the infectious outsider anthem “The Awkward Ones” to the Billy Bragg / Coronation Street-referencing “Curly and Raquel.”
The album concludes with “St Paul’s (Westerberg Comprehensive),” about being caught up in the toxic culture of a Catholic comprehensive school. “It’s for the kids who had the guts to be queer at school and for those who didn’t figure themselves out until they got out of school.” Passion and love drip out of every second of Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart.
"The band is a panoply of anormative behavior: queer, vegan, straight-edge, even anarchist. But above all, Martha writes songs from the perspective of social misfits, while remaining devoted to providing a voice for anyone who's felt like an outsider.”
– NPR First Listen
"'Blisters In the Pit Of My Heart' is not an album of ideas so much as it’s an album of killer riffs, bouncy three-chord choruses, and confessional lyrics that sympathize with what it’s like to be a confused twentysomething whose identity doesn’t always align with the world’s expectations" – Consequence of Sound
"Between two stellar singles — the gritty, sunkissed “Goldman’s Detective Agency” and the dynamic pop-punker “Ice Cream And Sunscreen,” the band has set some seriously high expectations for the new album. And now you can hear for yourself that the band didn’t disappoint... Do yourself a favor and listen" – Stereogum
“Martha are everything you want a great pop band to be: students of their trade, people with something to say and the vocabulary to do it, a distinctively joyous sound and a grand sense of humour. Buy it, play it, play it again and again and again, and fall in love." – Clash Magazine
Add Date: 8/2
Focus Tracks: 5, 7, 3
FCC: 1, 2, 10, 11
Formats: CMJ Radio 200, Modern Rock Specialty
Low Light, the eighth album from independent recording artist Sean Hayes, captures his distinctive sound at its most intimate. Recorded both at home and in the studio, Low Light weaves its way through genres, incorporating the pulse and yearning of R&B with the low-fi grit and crackle of folk. From the gauzy, beat-driven title track to the aching, old-school country “Sing Me Your Love Song,” Hayes’ voice glides between a growling purr and seductive vibrato, transporting the listener into a rich, sensual late-night world.
In his twenty-year career as a San Francisco-based musician, Hayes has won acclaim from fans and critics alike. He’s performed with Aimee Mann, toured with Ani DiFranco and Cold War Kids, been covered by The Be Good Tanyas, remixed by DJ Mark Farina, and had his music featured in a variety of television shows, films, and commercials. Raised in North Carolina and honed as an artist in Northern California, Hayes crafts music that, as SF Weekly puts it, “succeeds on the tension between warm, resonant soul and dirt-road folk, all laced with a wandering troubadour’s coo.” In the track “Home I Left” Hayes sings of leaving San Francisco—“headed north with my young family/needed space to grow”—and this album is structured to represent snapshots of his life in the four years since. Low Light thrums with songs of desire, sanctuary, and the redemptive power of love.
Add Date: 8/2
Focus Tracks: 4, 2, 3, 6
Formats: Americana, College, Modern Rock Specialty
SHARON JONES & THE DAP-KINGS
It is our distinct pleasure to present: Miss Sharon Jones! Original Motion Picture Soundtrack. The film, directed by two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, follows the dynamic front-woman through her 2013 battle with cancer and her triumphant return to the stage around the 2014 release of Grammy-nominated album Give The People What They Want.
The soundtrack, featuring the exclusive song "I'm Still Here," boasts a selection of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings classics ranging from her early singles on Daptone to tracks from Give the People What They Want. Much like the film, the soundtrack gives you an intimate, candid look into the life of a woman who refuses to be defined by the challenges she faces—the perfect accompaniment to a truly extraordinary film.
See dates for the Miss Sharon Jones! theatrical release this summer, brought to you by Starz Digital, and watch the film trailer here.
“No mere music doc, Barbara Kopple's celebration of soul queen Sharon Jones captures the tiny singer's incredible strength in the face of cancer” – Variety
“veteran documentarian Barbara Kopple serves up another portrait of female strength and resilience with Miss Sharon Jones!” – Hollywood Reporter
Add Date: 8/2
Focus Track: 16
Formats: Americana, College, Modern Rock Specialty, Triple A