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
"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
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
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
Formed by Márcio Menescal, son of bossa nova artist Roberto Menescal, Grammy Award nominees Bossacucanova combine traditional bossa nova with electronica and groove- based dance music. Bossacucanova launched with Menescal plus fellow Brazilians, Alexandre Moreira and DJ Marcelinho Da Lua, all working under a name that means "bossa with a new mind," a sound first heard on their debut album, Revisited Classics, which was released Six Degrees Records in 1999. Their sophomore effort, 2001's Brasilidade featured Bossa pioneer (and Marcio’s Dad), Roberto Meniscal on guitar. That record was nominated for a Latin Grammy in 2002, in the Best Brazilian Contemporary Pop Album category. Uma Batida Diferente arrived in 2004 with guest vocals from Chris Delanno, who soon became the group’s touring singer and a regular member of the ensemble. The late Oscar Castro-Neves and many other Brazilian luminaries appeared on the group's 2014 effort, Our Kind Of Bossa, an album that found the group adding sambas to their repertoire.
The Best Of Bossacucanova is just that, a collection that brings together some of the group’s most popular tracks, taken from a cross section of their releases, many of which feature some of Brazil’s greatest singers and instrumentalists. The package is rounded out with a never before released track and a new remix by famed Brazilian fusioneers, Da Lata.
“After more than 15 years on the road, we are more than a big band—we are a large family!” says Marcio Menescal. “Somehow we keep doing it our own way, with our own beat, in a unique studio process and production that makes this band so special and timeless,” he concludes. “We play and produce wholeheartedly, and the albums are consistent. Above all we end up learning a lot and getting better in the studio, as well as growing personally, which gives us a more solid result at work.”
Now for the first time, some of the best of that irresistible body of work if available on one great collection.
Add Date: 8/9
Focus Tracks: 13, 14
Formats: College, Triple A, World
Andrew Stogel took some time away from the outside world after a personal and painful time, and drifted into a dream-pop realm of his own creation. He’s emerged with the band, LOVEYOU.
On the group’s debut, Sparkle & Crush, tucked beneath darkly majestic hooks and hazy shoegaze atmospherics is shrouded enlightenment. These anthems for the introspective helped him through a transformative time. Pull back the mystical layers of sound and meaning of the group’s debut, and there is the raw-nerve emotionality of LOVEYOU’s enigmatic principal songwriter.
Sparkle & Crush is a majestic 8-song debut that beneath oblique wordplay offers intimate personal revelation. “Art is healing, for me the intrinsic value of making music comes first. Despite the cluttered feelings and ideas I have about my songs, I would come to realize that they were the right responses to how I was feeling when I wrote them,” he says.
The album bursts open with the jangly Beatles-esque “I Want To (Make You Feel Happiness)” which captures the essence of Stogel’s melancholy pop. The hooks are huge, but there is a sweet longing beneath the sugar high. The sleepy psychedelic confessional “Awake At Last” is a blissed out journey into self-realization that’s both tragic and triumphant. “Outed The Time” is a coming of age song about harsh realities forcing you to go within, look at your life, and make brave changes. Other standouts include the shoegaze pop of “Your Love Is,” and heavy-lidded closing track, “Fuzzy Logic.”
For Stogel, his journey in music is inseparable from his growth as a person. Filled with epiphanies and new hope from Sparkle & Crush, he’s already preparing another entry of mind-altering pop.
"Stogel has re-emerged fronting the new band LOVEYOU, with his heart-on-the-sleeve emotions matched by crushing, crashing guitars and atmospherics." – BUZZBANDS L.A.
"'Sparkle & Crush' fluctuates its silvery synth textures with crisp, uptempo melodies that are sometimes free-floating, other times rhythmically punchy. Never shies away from delivering the kind of sumptuous hooks that continue to reward with multiple listens." – THE DELI
"Groovy, dark and swirly indie-pop" – THE BIG TAKEOVER
"LOVEYOU’s music has the simplicity of a note sneaked between students at class. A first crush earnestness runs through the L.A. duo’s debut full-length 'Sparkle & Crush.'" – DIY
"Earnest lyrics and majestic elements of psychedelia that sees a songwriter clearly on the rise." – PURE VOLUME
Add Date: 8/9
Focus Tracks: 1, 3
Formats: College, Modern Rock, Triple A
“…ludicrously infectious…It’s a slice of absurdist neon-drenched pop with an equally surrealist accompanying video” – Stereogum
"After witnessing their atomic live set, you'll be rendered breathless," says SPIN magazine, who also named the band one of their favorite things from SXSW 2015. "Make sure to watch to the end" urges The Wall Street Journal, as audience members are regularly exposed to glittery crowd surfing, sweaty drum solos, and being fed cake until they reach "a cacophonous climax."
Holiday Mountain is an electronic music duo founded by Mexican-American songwriter/keyboardist Laura Patiño and drummer/producer Zander Kagle. The two met in Boston while attending Berklee College of Music and together found a genre-expanding sound, fusing together their affinity for electronic music, hip-hop, and pop to create a force so strong. When describing their sound, NPR exclaimed "resistance is futile."
The Austin duo of Patiño and Kagle combine hip-hop, electronic, reggae, dub, and Cumbia to create their own genre of heavy futuristic dance. Patiño cites surprising influences, such as Billie Holiday and Amy Winehouse, that, along with the visuals and Kagle’s production, manifest itself as art in the leagues of Major Lazer, Die Antwoord, and Peaches. SHIA is a balanced mix of freaky club bangers with a touch of vulnerability and sweetness. Says the band, “For us, SHIA signifies the end of compromise and the end of fearing what others will think or do when you become exactly who you want to be. SHIA is realization with a fuck-everything-else attitude.”
Add Date: 8/16
Focus Tracks: 3, 2, 5, 4
FCC: 1, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 (Clean versions available)
Formats: College, RPM, Triple A
COMPASS: MEXICAN INSTITUTE OF SOUND + TOY SELECTAH - 'Compass' (Six Degrees)
Producers Toy Selectah and Camilo Lara have traveled the globe in the name of music. They have played in front of thousands of fans at important festivals and have performed on some of the world’s most prominent stages. These two DJs who produce, write and make music utilizing creative and high-energy beats with sharp melodic centerpieces, have been colleagues and friends for years. They’ve always known that someday they would work together on a project of a bigger scale. Then one night the musical yarn inside Toy’s head—and laptop—began to spin.
Known for his pioneering work as a maestro of the hip hop en español movement, Toy has been traveling the world for the last 15 years DJing, producing and pioneering the New Cumbia and Global Bass phenomena. Toy sent Camilo a series of intricate beats he was saving for something special. Upon hearing the thumps and the bumps of those fast-moving and hypnotic rhythms, Camilo called Toy to say he was ready to begin work. In that moment, a new album concept was born out of their friendship and commitment to uniting the masses through music. They called it COMPASS, a name that refers to both the magnetized instrument and a shortened word for compadres or godfathers, and it would take two years of their lives in between gigs, tours and other projects to come to fruition.
“Toy and I had worked on Los Angeles Azules project,” says Camilo. “I told Toy that we should do an album of collaborations with people from around the world and the project grew from that. Before we knew it, we had traveled to 9 cities and worked with about 90 artists.”
The release features a 13-track set introducing a global pool of artists who signed on for the high-energy project and features genres such as reggae, punk, dance hall and electronica, and other musical styles.
The producing duo traveled to US, England, Brazil, Jamaica and Mexico. They also made side trips to places such as China and Japan, reuniting with artists, colleagues and friends they met through the years. In each city they collaborated musically by including these musicians in the process of creating songs for COMPASS.
“In some ways this project felt old school meets new school,” Toy says. “Artists came together in the studio like a community and understood that the possibilities were endless and that the project was driven by the creative vision of making good music. We even began getting calls from actor friends like Gael Garcia Bernal and others who don’t typically record music, asking to be part of the album. These reactions made everything much more exciting.”
To make the COMPASS journey a reality, Red Bull signed on, lending their studios in various countries and filming many of the sessions. The innovative and independent label Six Degrees Records, known for representing recording artists from around the world, picked up the project.
Toy and Camilo called on a global pool of collaborators and friends to create the super-charged album that mixes a variety of musical elements to create a project with global appeal and a Latin edge. More than 90 artists participated, legendary Jamaican singer/songwriter, Toots Hibbert (Toots & the Maytals), MC Lyte, Cornelius, Eugene Hütz (Gogol Bordello) , Rob Birch (Stereo MCs), Kool A.D. (Das Racist), Emicida, Maluca, Kelli Ali, Tiombe Lockhart, Nina Sky, Tanto Blacks, Crystal Fighters, Bonde do Role, Mercurias, Bruno Morais, El Dusty, Gael Garcia Bernal and others. (Full list included below)
“It was incredible to see 90 artists coming to the table so wanting to collaborate, fulfilling the mission of this project to bring artists together in the name of great music” says music veteran Colin Finkelstein, CEO at YEBO Music, who represents Camilo and managed the album. “The project has a lot of Toy and Camilo in it, but it’s also very contemporary and a lot of people showed up to be part of this because of these two creative and thoughtful minds who have several decades of impressive work between them.”
For the COMPASS project, both Toy and Camilo worked together creating the beats and the music. Once they had songs, the two instinctively knew which artists would gravitate towards certain tracks. Says Camilo, “We made music we liked very much and quickly figured out what worked with certain artists, who also had say and input in the songs.”
Most songs, says Camilo, have multiple artists from different parts of the world each contributing to a different part of the track. The bilingual and cumbia-inspired song “Explotar” (Explore), for example, features Rob Birch (from the UK’s Stereo MCs), Kool A.D. (from NYC’s Das Rascist), Emicida (Brazil) and Maluca (from the Dominican Republic). Once in the studio, each artist had the freedom to help the song evolve into a unique experience that was heartfelt and genuine at each recording.
“This project is about democratization on the dance floor,” Camilo says. “This album intends to show that rock, electronica and dance music, among other styles, can co-exist. This is part of a community being part of this musical experience.”
Toy has a unique perspective about the project as a way of unifying artists from a variety of backgrounds.
“This album is a little like good tequila,” says Toy. “Tequilas come from specific regions and you can taste the difference. Music is similar in that all these artists represent where they come from and their own life experience.”
Camilo, who lives in Mexico City and who is best known for his work as a DJ, producer and for his electronic music project known as Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS) and his Mexrrissey Mexico Goes Morrissey project, most recently produced the Los Angeles Azules album that included the iconic band’s greatest hits. “Como Te Voy a Olvidar,” which was nominated for a Grammy, went #1 and spent 79 weeks on the charts in Mexico.
Toy Selectah, well known as commander of forward thinking mixing of traditional Latin music and modern beats, is Monterrey's pride and joy, particularly for his work in Urban Music through Control Machete, Celso Piña, 3BallMTY and Major Lazer which pioneered the hybrid sounds mixing Mexican soundscapes with modern touch. Toy is also deeply involved with Diplo’s Mad Decent label, and he produced the Los Angeles Azules’ album along with Camilo.
COMPASS was produced by Camilo and Toy and mixed by Toy and Frank “El Medico” Rodriguez, who also recorded and mastered the album.
Already Toy and Camilo are suggesting that there may be a COMPASS VOL. 2, since there is a deep well of material that can support another project. “That’s always a possibility, but first we want to show the world what this project is about and that’s a part of the process we look forward to seeing evolve.
Add Date: 8/23
Focus Tracks: 4, 1, 9, 11
Formats: College, RPM, Triple A, World
THE FRIGHTNRS - 'Nothing More to Say' (Daptone)
“From the start, both the band’s sound and presentation stood out from common Caribbean interpretations by other young American bands...favoring instead earnest ballads with a deep soul groove.”
– The New York Times
The release is a testament to the belief that the classic sound of Jamaican Rocksteady, when treated with the utmost respect and devotion, can be reimagined to speak to a new generation. It is a testament to the powerful forces that can be unleashed when a strong aesthetic is pursued through the relationship of a band, a record label and a producer. And finally it is a testament to the creative genius, as both songwriter and vocalist, of Frightnrs Lead Singer, Dan Klein who passed away in June 2016 after being diagnosed with ALS in November of 2015.
Nothing More To Say is a true collaboration between the band, black belt producer and arranger Victor Axlerod aka Ticklah and Daptone Records. In 2015, Daptone released the Frightnrs cover version of the Etta James classic “I’d Rather Go Blind” to great acclaim. The single stayed true to the soulful roots of Jamaican Rocksteady (a revered genre that famously appeared in Jamaica in 1967 and had petered out by late 1968 yielding some of the greatest Jamaican music ever made) while imbuing the genre with a crisp energy that casts away any overtures to imitation or nostalgia. Daptone had long wanted to make a full length Rocksteady LP with Victor Axelrod at the helm and The Frightnrs were the band to do it. “Rocksteady was the first style of Jamaican music that Dan and me fell in love with,” explains Frightnrs keyboardist Chuck Patel, “and the idea of making a classic album for a classic label like Daptone was a dream come true.”
The band immediately set to work, writing and playing every day, and coming up with some of the most beautiful and complex songs they had ever done. Working within Daptone’s time frame and the constraints of crafting only rocksteady tunes, forced the Frightnrs to display a singular focus to great benefit. As Victor Axelfod says “The fact that the direction of the album was determined by it being a DAPTONE record was crucial. We wanted to make a solid and cohesive record and so chose songs that most fit the Daptone aesthetic and the result was the best music that Dan and the Frightnrs had ever made with truly expanded levels of creativity.”
When they hit the studio with Victor, the songs that make up Nothing More to Say began to flow. With the exception of two soul covers (both from the Daptone catalog: Bob & Gene’s "Gotta Find a Way” and Saun and Starr’s “Gonna Make Time”,) the record is populated by original compositions of the highest order. They are simply great songs, and though the songs stick to the rocksteady sound, each one of them has the melodic and lyrical substance to hold it’s own in any genre. “Till Then” invokes the coquettish hyper-rhymes of top-form Smokey Robinson, while “Hey Brother” sounds like it fell off the desk of Gamble and Huff, and “Purple” defies any comparison at all. From the first cracking snares of “All My Tears” through the final pulsing echoes of “Dispute,” the murderous rhythms of Rich Terrana (drums,) and brothers Preet and Chuck Patel (bass and piano, respectively) can be heard chunking mercilessly towards oblivion as Dan Klein pours his endearing poetry over the top like some other-worldly falsetto potion. The combination is a sound birthday-suit raw --mesmerizing, infectious, and above all, lovely.
This record will long be treasured by lovers of Jamaican music, lovers of soul and anyone who has ever loved the bittersweet pain of being in love.
The Frightnrs were formed in 2010 in the borough of Queens – far beyond the gilded wealth of Manhattan and the pretentious hipsterdom of Brooklyn. The four piece ensemble took the cooled out vintage vibes of Jamaican rock steady, combined it with the raw energy and vocal stylings of 80s Rub A Dub and added a touch of punk rock spirit to create an entirely unique sound that redefines what a reggae band can sound like. For the past seven years, The Frightnrs have been one of the hardest working bands in New York, crafting their live set and developing their sound in the DIY underground of NYC reggae and its mosh up of live bands and sound system culture. Their hard work paid off as The Frightnrs debut release garnered attention and airplay from reggae / radio legend David “Ram Jam” Roddigan and Mad Decent’s Diplo, who released a Frightnrs EP on his Mad Decent imprint in the Summer of 2015. With Nothing More to Say, being released in September 2016, The Frightnrs have issued a brilliant final testament to their late lead singer Dan Klein, and will continue to go forward, representing the sound of now standing firm on the traditions of the past.
Add Date: 8/30
Focus Tracks: 2, 5, 9, 11
Formats: College, Triple A, World
There is nothing like the sound of siblings singing together. Whether it’s the Beach Boys or the Everly Brothers—or, more recently, First Aid Kit—absorbing the same breathing rhythms and speech patterns adds an element to vocal harmonies that can be pure magic. With the release of I’m Alone, No You’re Not, the mesmerizing, hypnotic sound of the trio known as Joseph—made up of sisters Allison, Meegan, and Natalie Closner—joins this elite company.
“It’s just second nature, like a fifth limb that’s already on you,” says first-born Natalie. “There’s an ability to anticipate what’s going to happen and blend with it. When Meegan and Allison sing, they know exactly what I’m going to do and when.”
But the Closners didn’t actually start singing together when they were growing up in Oregon, the children of artistic parents (their dad was a jazz singer and drummer, their mom a theater teacher). Natalie was the performer—“the older sister who stood on the edge of the fireplace and told everyone, ‘Watch me!,’“ she says. Twins Meegan and Allison stayed out of her lane, joining in for their mother’s musical theater productions but otherwise avoiding the spotlight.
When Natalie was in college, she began pursuing music more seriously. The summer before her senior year, she went to Nashville to check out the scene and work on her guitar playing and songwriting. She had recorded an EP and done a few rounds of touring when a friend sat her down one day.
“It was kind of dramatic,” she says, “He took me aside and said, ‘I don’t think you really believe in this.’ It stopped me in my tracks.” She thought deeply about the music she was making and had a curious epiphany; she decided to ask her sisters if they would consider singing with her.
Initially, they didn’t really get it. “We thought she was asking us to be background singers, so we didn’t take it that seriously,” says Allison. “It was more commitment than I was expecting—I even tried to leave at one point, but after a while, I was convinced.”
A transformation occurred when the Closners were in the process of recording their first album, Native Dreamer Kin. At the time, they were calling themselves Dearborn, but their producer felt that the name didn’t fit the strength of the music. They went to visit their grandfather Jo, in the eastern Oregon town of Joseph. Allison made a playlist for the trip and called it “Joseph,” which is what influenced the band’s name.
“Once she said it, it just hit us all—that’s what this is and who we are, these are the sounds of the land that we’ve lived on,” says Natalie.
With this new sense of themselves, Meegan and Allison began taking a more active role in the group’s songwriting. Meegan notes that while the process was a “totally new journey” for her, it felt similar to the candor and vulnerability of her long-time journaling—just “pulling out the gold and arranging that into neater lines."
She and Natalie both point to the song “Honest” as a keystone for the development of I’m Alone, No You’re Not. “We were trying really hard to write a song, but nothing was coming,” recalls Natalie. “One night, Meegan was working on some lyrics and getting frustrated, so she wrote in the margin of the page, ‘I can't say a true thing. It's hard to be that honest.’ Immediately after that, her most honest sentence spilled out—‘There's always two thoughts, one after the other: I'm alone. No, you're not.’ And she thought, ‘Oh, there's the song.’"
Meanwhile, the group was cultivating a devoted fan base in the most traditional ways possible: touring the Western states playing living room shows, backyard parties, and secret house party gigs; reaching an audience directly through such platforms as Noisetrade; selling their self-released CD and building a loyal following step by step. By the time they were approached by ATO Records, Joseph had already built a strong community of fans on its own.
As they moved toward making their second record, the project took an additional turn when the Closners decided to work with some other songwriters in Los Angeles. “We were afraid of it at first because the songs were more pop than we were used to writing,” says Meegan, “but as we internalized them, they started becoming super-important to us.”
They point to “More Alive Than Dead,” co-written with Ethan Gruska, as an example of these contributions. “That song describes an experience with a partner where you have hard things in your combined past,” says Natalie. “You’re haunted by them until you realize that those things are dead, and as long as you dwell on them, you're missing the real live person in front of you.”
She adds, though, that Gruska was critical in clarifying and sharpening the nuanced emotion of the lyric. “When Ethan sent us back the demo, I lost it, He was able to see the heart of the song and bring it out, cut to the core of what I was trying to say.”
Finally, the women of Joseph recorded the album with acclaimed producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Jenny Lewis, First Aid Kit) at his studio in Omaha. He was able to open up their expansive, evocative vocal sound with powerful and striking arrangements, adding depth while highlighting their haunting intensity.
“This was our first time doing a recording like this,” says Natalie, “and we learned so much about creativity. Mike is a genius, and he’s just a total maniac as a musician, so he took these bare bones songs and brought them to life with lush, gorgeous textures and sounds.”
The initial reaction to the music on I’m Alone, No You’re Not has been remarkable. Joseph was selected as a #SpotifySpotlight artist, and booked for festivals including Bonnaroo, Pickathon, and Sasquatch even prior to the release of the single “White Flag,” a song inspired by an article predicting a massive earthquake for the Pacific Northwest.
“Reading that created a heaviness that was making us jumpy, scared, and miserable,” says Natalie. “It became clear we had two options: be scared and cowering, backing away from the world into paralysis, or keep moving and live. Defy fear. Wear peace. Find better ways to love the people in our lives instead of huddling together like frightened sheep thinking about earthquakes.”
Most rewarding for the Closner sisters has been feeling the audience response to the new songs, as they tour supporting such artists as James Bay and Amos Lee. “This is really when you learn what’s special about a song, or if it’s special,” says Natalie. “It’s this crazy firecracker thing that happens—‘Am I feeling something? Is anyone? What is this song, what does it do, which parts make the most sense?’
“It really is about connection with people, and we’re so grateful we’ve gotten the chance to do that. This has been a totally wild journey, and we’re constantly blown away with possibility of what could be.”
Add Date: 8/30
Focus Tracks: 8, 2, 3
Formats: College, Triple A
JUST A GENT
#1 HypeM artist Just A Gent (Jacob Grant) has set his sites on the U.S. with a new EP Stories To Tell on Lokal Legend ft. his breakout hits "Heavy As A Heartbreak" (ft. LANKS) + “Loaded.”
In anticipation of the release next week, Jacob droped the the electric new single "Rolling Dice" ft. Ella Vos & Joey Chavez with This Song Is Sick on Friday, now boasting nearly 50K streams on Soundcloud alone and available to stream/share.
Speaking of his inspiration for the single, Jacob explains; “Every big decision in life is a risk, at some point we all have to roll the dice and see what happens.”
Boasting more than 45 Million streams worldwide and a combined social media following of more than 160K, the 19 y/o Aussie production whizkid pairs dirty bass and sick beats w/ experimentalism and epic hooks.
Just A Gent has received support from the largest names in electronic music including Skrillex, Diplo, & Dillon Francis and praise from Indie Shuffle, Earmilk, Music Ninja, Dancing Astronaut + more. In addition to his solo work Jacob has been tapped to do official remixes for Peking Duk, Alison Wonderland, Wolfgang Gartner, Temper Trap + more.
Add Date: 8/30
Focus Tracks: 5, 4, 3
Formats: College, Triple A
The Roxy Sessions, by chart topping vocalist Angela McCluskey, will be released on September 9th via Bernadette Records. Recently, Angela was heard on BIG GIGANTIC's smash hit The Little Things, and has worked with Telepopmusik on several cuts, including the worldwide #1 hit Breathe.
Now, the featured vocalist behind those massive hits and more is stepping into the spotlight with her new album The Roxy Sessions. On this project Angela shares songwriting duties with her producer and collaborator, Kiran Shahani (Bitter:sweet, Supreme Beings of Leisure.) Leading up to the September 9th album release, Angela will be 'Artist in Residence' at THE ROXY HOTEL in NYC.
Prior to her solo career, Angela was signed to Geffen Records and toured extensively with her band Wild Colonials before joining French electronic trio Telepopmusik-with whom she wrote and recorded Breathe as well as Don't Look Back which is sampled heavily by Kendrick Lamar for his track Is it Love? Her dance track "In The Air," with Morgan Page, went to number #1 on the Billboard Dance charts and she also collaborated with Electro Swing king Parov Stelar on Don't Believe What They Say and Paul Oakenfold on the dance track "You Could Be Happy."
The Roxy Sessions features a wide range of styles and genres from vintage James Bond themes and surf guitar vibes to post-modern space age chill outs. Songs such as "Paris to Hollywood," a bright & breezy carefree inter-continental romance, "Hit & Run," a trippy groove laden gem, "Turn Out the Lights," a modern take on Bond and Electric Sky," a cinematic monster of a chill-out track, round out this album.
The idea for The Roxy Sessions was inspired by Angela McCluskey's Time Warp, an event Angela created where she chooses a decade and recreates a night around that theme. After recording a track for the HBO hit show Boardwalk Empire, Angela was inspired to do a 1920's themed night, complete with the music, dancing, costumes and ambiance of a Paris Cabaret. Fully embracing the decadent nostalgia of the Prohibition era, the event was an enormous success. Angela and her producer Kiran penned 10 original songs at the Roxy Hotel in 3 weeks. Using the roaring '20s as inspiration, the pair added a modern beat and fashioned an addictive blend of electro swing that propels listeners to the dance floor in a feel good frenzy.
Many of Angela's previous works have been chosen for placement in major studio films, hit television shows and high profile national ad campaigns. Her distinct sound and talent is striking and eminently memorable. Angela's voice and artistry has enhanced and accompanied images from: HBO's Boardwalk Empire, Nike, American Express, Mercedes, ESPN, MITSUBISHI, Chicos, Fox TV's Empire and countless more...
Of The Roxy Sessions, Angela recalls "In many ways, the theme of the album was inspired by the events surrounding it. It is a record that celebrates coming through it all - the success, the failure, the heartache and despair- and finding yourself being a little less dramatic about love and intent on just enjoying your life and being thankful for what you've got- and that's something worth celebrating."
Add Date: 9/6
Focus Tracks: 5, 3
Formats: College, Modern Rock Specialty, Triple A
“Anchored by alluring layered vocal harmonies and an undeniable groove” - Barry Gruff, Barrygruff Blog
“Bedroom psychonauts guitarist Peter Tilton and bass/keyboards player Sam Rice have beautifully crafted four inspired modern psychedelic pop songs.” - THEE PSYCHEDELICATESSEN
With a sound that blends influences of spacious ‘60s baroque pop with the synth-bathed music of the 1980s, Seattle’s New Cardinals’ pull listeners into a psych-electronic trance that’s new to the city. After years of playing live shows in the Seattle area and recording with various lineups, Peter Tilton (guitar, vocals) and Sam Rice (bass, keyboards, vocals) began working as a duo to help refine one another’s musical vision. In 2012, the pair began production of what would become their self-titled debut EP at home in Snowqualmie, WA. For months, aberrant sounds washed through their secluded, tree-encompassed residence until they arrived at what would become their first official release.
Add Date: 9/6
Focus Tracks: 1, 2
SONNY KNIGHT AND THE LAKERS
Vitality is defined as the power to live or grow, and perseverance pertains to the qualities of moving forward when an obstacle stands in your way. The music of soul man Sonny Knight brims with these essential life traits because he exudes them. Along with his 7-piece powerhouse band, The Lakers, the 68 year-old retired truck driver has created a sound that extends much deeper than throwback soul.
After the band's 2014 debut album, I'm Still Here, which came to fruition much sooner than anyone expected, Sonny Knight and The Laker's released a live double album the following year. Now, the band’s sophomore studio set, Sooner Or Later, explores themes of overcoming adversity, love found, love lost, and societal observation. Where their debut might be likened to steering a bike before turning the pedals, considering how they wrote and recorded it before road testing their songs and individual strengths, their latest effort sees the wheels fully in motion.
With performances across the US and Europe in theaters, performing arts centers, festivals and night clubs, Sonny and the band have tightened their unity and discovered what each member brings to the table that can further the collective’s playing. By doing so, the group was able to gain a greater understanding of what their best material was through performing it on the road night after night. What results on Sooner Or Later is a rarity by today’s recording standards. Of the 10 songs that were taken into Secret Stash’s brand new studio, all made the final cut. Rather than track a bunch of material and pick out the best parts later, Sonny and the band hit the studio knowing exactly what the record would be, perfectly encapsulating a snapshot in time for the artist.
By focusing less on so-called groove makers and more on the songwriting process, Knight and company harnessed the power of the different genres that came together to shape what we have come to know as soul music over the last 50+ years. Gospel, country, and blues were all melded into a record that takes you on a journey through life’s questions and emotions via nine originals and a cover of Lonnie Mack’s “Why.”
From the opening wail of Cole Pulice’s sax to Eric Foss’ syncopated drums, the title track is a pure party jam. Sonny Knight soon owns the stage, however, with his trademark guttural punches that land somewhere just this side of a Wilson Pickett shouter. Knight’s vocal abilities to command a track extend to more plaintive numbers like “Stronger In The End” as well. Singing with a much more tender tone early in the song before exploding midway, the recording also possesses the backing of a band that effortlessly combines elements of the Muscle Shoals Horns with the sound of 1960s gospel music to further advance its message. The Muscle Shoals influence is even more prevalent on keyboardist Sam Harvey-Carlson’s penned “The Cry” with its triplet-laden guitar and understated but beautifully arranged horns.
Expanding their palette, the Lakers enter a blues-oriented R&B with “Why” that showcases a brooding, stirring sentiment thanks to Knight’s loose jazz-like phrasing on the verses and forlorn howl on the choruses. It also serves as a platform for the best individual instrumental performance in the band’s catalog thus far with Blair Krivanek’s passionate guitar solo drenched in a mournful, heartbroken tone.
Album closer “Oh, Mary” recalls the spiritual “Mary Don’t You Weep” that has morphed into a gospel standard throughout the years. What starts as a simmer increasingly builds as a reverb-soaked horn section masterfully release a reflective cry that soon leads to an emotional boil of expelled tension, creating the perfect backdrop for Knight’s poignant vocal which is undoubtedly the linchpin of the song. While not intended to be an overt political statement, he instead wrote “Oh, Mary” to focus on the human emotions connected to unnecessary violence. When asked about the murder ballad written from the perspective of the victim, Knight responds, “It’s in your face right now. All you gotta do is turn on the TV, and there it is. All this killing needs to stop.” In the wake of recent events, the song has forged a powerful connection with many of those who have seen its performance live. During one performance in a New England bar, the band watched two young women in the front row with tears streaming down their faces as they worked their way through the heart-wrenching song.
Knight’s vast array of life experiences inform a worldview that give him a unique perspective on the song writing, expressive, and storytelling process. While he was enamored with gospel music during his youth, which eventually led him to recording his first single in 1965, he soon found himself exploring other opportunities. From a deployment in Vietnam to a job as a long haul trucker, that it hasn’t been a linear path has made him a more attuned performer. Combining this hard-earned experience with a vivacious band whose members are half his age, the songs and performances are a perfect blending of observation, promise, and energy, thanks in some part to their collective globetrotting adventures playing for audiences of many different backgrounds.
Add Date: 9/6
Focus Track: 1
Formats: College, Triple A
Experimental pop band Aquaserge has been a subterranean driving force in the international music scene for the last few years, inspiring and influencing countless musicians. Originally formed by three friends (Julien Barbagallo, Julien Gasc & Benjamin Glibert) in the city of Toulouse in southwest France, Aquaserge quickly became a shifting collective with many collaborators (including mainstays Audrey Ginestet and Manon Glibert), while the band’s three founders went on to also become (respectively) part of Tame Impala, Stereolab and Melody’s Echo Chamber. Aquaserge also has a long-time association with Japanese band Acid Mothers Temple.
Aquaserge’s resolutely polymorphous music draws from sources as diverse as psych pop, free jazz, noise, vintage French film music, the most adventurous side of ‘60s/'70s rock, all absorbed and transmuted to create their own unique, cinematic & contemporary sound, imbued with a poetic and humorous approach that informs both their lyrics and music. Their tracks include instrumental excursions, intriguing harmonies, and pristine pop songs, always ready to joyfully burst at the seams.
In September, Crammed Discs and Almost Musique will release Aquaserge’s new Guerre EP, whose title also reads phonetically as “War and Peace” in French. Guerre EP contains 4 songs: a make-believe cumbia, a rock track with strong political subtext, an astonishing cover version of an astonishing piece (Chassol’s Les Oiseaux, in which he harmonized field recordings of bird songs) and a summery love song.
Add Date: 9/13
Focus Tracks: 1, 2
Formats: College, World
DEATH BY UNGA BUNGA
2016 looks to be Death By Unga Bunga’s most prolific year yet. After releasing Pineapple Pizza in March, the band plans to simultaneously reissue its debut record, Juvenile Jungle, and release the brand new Fight! EP on September 9th. Three releases in one year should justify a few pats on the back, but the band has no intention of slowing down anytime soon.
A common misconception is that DBUB leans heavily on the retro rock trend, and in particular good ol’ garage rock. It’s been a while since the boys listed The Sonics as their main source of inspiration, and people who have followed the band for the last couple years obviously know that they have grown to become one of Norway’s best power pop/rock bands. Few bands have cooler riffs or choruses than DBUB right now.
Following Pineapple Pizza’s release earlier this year, the band has mainly been on the road, especially in the US. The Americans welcomed them with open arms, and more than one hundred radio stations added the album. This made them one of the most played bands on American college radio. Their fans are screaming for more, and that’s just what Death By Unga Bunga intends to give them!
Fight! gives listeners four new songs, with the guitar distorted to the max and melodies that are guaranteed to start a sing-along at your next party. The EP’s title does not describe the band’s love for fistfights or meaningless quarrels, but is rather a tribute to the fight for quality music. Because quality music does exist, and Death By Unga Bunga ranks among its steadiest suppliers.
Add Date: 9/13
Focus Track: 1
Formats: College, Modern Rock Specialty, Triple A
For seven years running, decker. has been recording and performing some of the most vital music to be released from America's Southwest. The music is clearly drawn from the land itself—all that is at once comforting, eerie, haunting, healing, harsh and beautiful. He carves something unique out of the essence he grasps in his red rock home of Sedona, Arizona—a land of red clay mountains and vortexes. The music takes on a spiritual mantle, a deeper, ancient calling rooted to the land itself, tapping into the mysticism of old, weird America, divining its power, resurrecting what he sees fit and crafting it into musical odysseys of treachery, redemption, enlightenment and tenacity.
While seemingly possessed by his desert dwellings, decker. has approached his music with a blue-collar ethic, pressing himself to perform 150 shows a year and self-releasing six studio records in the last seven years. The songwriter has been either recording an album or touring in support of one since the fall of 2009 with relentless vigor—surviving a 2012 van rollover on tour, raising a young son and maintaining a relentless show schedule. The 2014 release, Patsy saw decker. make a hardy push to spread his desert lore, touring the U.S. three times over with all the fervor, he says, “of a drowning man.” Magnet raved, “[Decker] bursts with emotion at every edge,” while No Depression declared, “[Decker] combines dark mystic lyrics and off-kilter attitude with taut musicianship and psychedelic romanticism.
With barely a pause to reflect, Decker returned home and wrote what would become his 6th studio album, Snake River Blues, set for release September 23. Inspired by legendary psychedelic blues classics like Muddy Waters’ Electric Mud and Chuck Berry's San Francisco Dues, Snake River Blues is comprised by tales of treachery and conquest, in blues archetypes viewed through decker.’s unique lens. The album signifies growth, while also a departure from his more acoustic and methodic efforts. It harnesses an American desperation, while being simultaneously rife with audacious confidence, grit and focus. Self-described as “psychedelic desert folk,” Snake River Blues is altogether decker.’s tightest and most succinct effort to date.
Add Date: 9/13
Focus Tracks: 1, 6
FCC: 3, 4, 5
Formats: College, Modern Rock Specialty, Triple A
LEE FIELDS & THE EXPRESSIONS
Class is in session and all the youngins out there shaking a tail feather and playing dress up are about to be schooled by the ageless, timeless, and always present, Mr. Lee Fields.
"Special Night" is the latest offering from a man whose career has spanned 50 years and as Oliver Wang of NPR once said, “In a curious case of musical evolution, the older Fields becomes, the closer he gets to perfecting the sounds of soul that he grew up with as a young man”. "Special Night" is no exception.
An epic 6 minute jam split into one and two on the 7”, "Special Night" is a story of love an loneliness told from the perspective of a man with extreme life experience and deep wisdom. The tune is the perfect storm of production duties handled by Leon Michels and Thomas Brenneck alongside the inimitable musicianship of The Expressions, and recorded a the legendary Diamond Mine, "Special Night" is in the humble opinion of the Big Crown team, one of the greatest pieces of soul music Lee has put to record thus far.
Add Date: 9/13
Focus Track: 1
Formats: College, Modern Rock Specialty, Triple A
Excerpt of a statement from Okkervil River's Will Sheff:
"The new Okkervil River album is called 'Away'. I didn't plan to make it and initially wasn't sure if it was going to be an Okkervil River album or if I'd ever put it out. I wrote the songs during a confusing time of transition in my personal and professional life and recorded them quickly with a brand new group of musicians. I got together the best New York players I could think of, people whose playing and personalities I was fans of and who came more out of a jazz or avant-garde background, and we cut the songs live in one or two takes over three days in a studio on Long Island. I asked Marissa Nadler to sing on it and got the composer Nathan Thatcher to write some beautiful orchestral arrangements, we recorded them with the classical ensemble and then I mixed the record with Jonathan Wilson out in Los Angeles.
"2013-2015 had been a strange time for me. When there was trouble at home, a friend offered me her empty house in the Catskills where I could go and clear my head. New songs were coming fast up there, so I set myself the challenge of trying to write as many as possible as quickly as possible. I wasn't thinking about any kind of end product; the idea was just to write through what I was feeling. Eventually, I realized I was writing a death story for a part of my life that had, buried inside of it, a path I could follow that might let me go somewhere new.
"I think this record was me taking my life back to zero and starting to add it all back up again, one plus one plus one. Any part that didn't feel like it added up I left out. Weirdly, it was the easiest and most natural record I've ever made. It's not really an Okkervil River album and it's also my favorite Okkervil River album."
Add Date: 9/13
Focus Tracks: 10, 1, 5, 8
REUBEN HOLLEBON - "On and On" (Bright Antenna)
Emerging English musician, producer and engineer Reuben Hollebon has confirmed U.S. tour dates this September, supporting Joseph Arthur. The tour kicks off September 11th in San Francisco and will make further stops in Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Denver and Minneapolis among others.
The tour dates celebrate the release of Hollebon’s critically acclaimed debut Terminal Nostalgia, out now via Bright Antenna. The album continues to receive critical praise both stateside and abroad–Nerdist explains, “Somewhere in the chasm between mischief and terror, is Reuben Hollebon’s unsettling, magnetic music,” and Clash calls it a “Darkly poetic piece of work of electronic noir and poised lyricism,” while Magnet furthers it’s “Reminiscent of early Bright Eyes…moody…dark and quavering.” The album’s single, “Faces,” has received airplay on AAA radio stations across the U.S., including KCRW, The Current, Colorado Public Radio and more.
Hollebon grew up on a housing estate in small-town Norfolk, UK and didn’t pick up a guitar until he was 18. He went to Huddersfield University to study music and audio systems, and afterwards moved to London where he began working as a studio engineer for composer Nitin Sawhney. There he got an education working on soundtracks, albums and orchestral recordings, before moving on to creating and performing music of his own.
Add Date: 9/13
Focus Track: 1
Formats: Triple A
ZOMBA PRISON PROJECT
“...glorious songs from behind bars...one of the top 30 albums of the year.” — Irish Times, Jim Carroll
"The music is sad...but also inventive, uniformly compelling and, in a way that unsettles the listener, entirely lovely.” — VICE
Produced by author and Grammy-winner, Ian Brennan (Tinariwen, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Malawi Mouse Boys), the Zomba Prison Project’s debut album I Have No Everything Here was the surprise “world music” hit of 2015. Featuring prisoners and officers from Malawi’s maximum security prison— many that were previously non-musicians— the record offered songs of heartbreaking and forthright loneliness, regret, and despair coupled with a sense of resilience and courage under the most extreme of circumstances. The album received the first Grammy nomination ever for the country of Malawi, an honor that sadly the overwhelming majority of African nations have still yet to receive.
Brennan and his wife, Italian filmmaker and photographer, Marilena Delli, returned to the prison twice more in 2016 to compile a new album of equal gravity to - if not more so than - the first. The new recording is called I Will Not Stop Singing and its standout track, “I Will Never Stop Grieving for You, My Wife,” was born out of Brennan’s songwriting workshop on the very final day of recording. Done in a single take, the tune explores for the first time the writer’s emotions around the recent loss of his wife and mother of his four young children.
The themes and concerns of the inmates are clearly expressed also in other titles such as “I Am Done With Evil,” “Leave My Daughter Alone,” “Protect Me,” and perhaps most revealingly, the almost prayer-like chant, “I Will Not Return to Prison.” Other standout performances come the newcomer firebrand vocalist, Agnes Chiwisa, and the ethereal, spine-chilling falsetto that lifer, Elias Chimenya unexpectedly reaches at the climax of the a cappella track, “Sister, Take Good Care of Your Husband.”
Earlier this year, Brennan’s fourth and latest book, How Music Dies (or Lives): Field-recording and the Battle for Democracy in the Arts, was published. The Zomba Prison Project is featured along with the extensive, other international recordings that Brennan has worked on, including the seven albums he has produced in the past year alone. The tome grapples with global inequities in terms music distribution and the disproportionate dominance of English-language artists. LargeHeartedBoy.com describes it as “One of the most thought-provoking books on modern music that I have ever read.”
Welcomingly, in the aftermath of their Grammy nomination, worldwide media swarmed to Zomba Prison. Sadly though, many “journalists” failed to delve too deeply into the facts, and almost wholeheartedly ignored the women, whose contributions had made up more than half of the songs. Still, the prisoners’ story provided uplift from China to Argentine to New Zealand to Israel...and far beyond. And through this attention, the musicians gained a new confidence and pride in their abilities, which shines through on the new record.
In the time since the release of the first Zomba Prison Project record, Malawi slipped to the #1 poorest nation on earth. This has been evidenced at the prison itself, where the inmates recently went three full days without eating due to "delayed funding" from the government, breaking the all-too frequent one or two day stints. This lack of nutrition is particularly perilous for the high number of prisoners that are HIV-positive or have AIDS.
As much as they are able, Brennan and Delli have continued to contribute musical equipment, food, and clothing to the prisoners.
Amidst the good news of various prisoners being released over the past few years, two female inmates whose cases Brennan and Delli first funded to have appealed in 2013, remain incarcerated due to their files having been “lost.” In January, Brennan and Delli visited the country’s highest court and personally searched through dusty stacks of two-inch thick files to at last confirm definitively that the files were in fact missing. This bureaucratic error translates to the two individuals being held without any documentation whatsoever as to why. Nonetheless, as of this writing, they continue to languish behind bars. Meanwhile, another inmate, Elube— whose charges Brennan and Delli were also having actively reviewed— perished in the prison, as her own child had done the year prior to the recording of the first album. The new album is dedicated to her memory.
Add Date: 9/13
Focus Track: 1, 4, 3, 8, 6
79.5 drips silky, raw-honeyed R&B emotion and radiates luxurious triple-female vocal harmonies. Their voices erupt into soulful solos riding over the sonic fabric of slick, heavy-hitting beats & bass silhouetted by organ, percussive funk guitar, and lavish tenor sax & flute. 79.5 blends future sounds and tones with elements of 90s R&B, psych rock, and soul, creating a sound entirely their own.
Since 2012, 79.5 has been heavily active in the NYC indie, soul, R&B & hip-hop scenes with creator/core songwriter Kate Mattison at the helm. The songwriting channels deeply spirited emotions wrapped in deliciously sample-able grooves.
In December 2012, 79.5 self-released a 12” vinyl single of the songs “Boogie” b/w “OOO” produced by Andrew Fox (Visuals, Other People). Originally a limited pressing, it was well-received by Andrew Jervis of Ubiquity Records/chief curator at Bandcamp who chimed, “Like a female counterpart to The Stepkids, this Brooklyn-based act stacks walls of harmonies on top of funky psychedelics.” The track “OOO” was then shipped off to Shawn Lee of UK’s “Radio Ping Pong” fame, resulting in considerable international airplay on his renowned radio show leading to 79.5 opening for AM & Shawn Lee on tour the following year.
In the late winter of 2015, 79.5 expanded their line-up with the addition of five new members creating a new sound drawing from the spheres of R&B, Jazz, Soul, Psychedelia & New Jack Swing. Mattison joined forces with Piya Malik (178 Product) & Nya Parker Brown (Parker Brown) on vocals, Matty McDermott (NYMPH) on guitar, Izaak Mills (Clinton Fearon, Daed Haut) on tenor saxophone/flute, outstanding newcomer Adrienne Hailey on bass, and Dru.M on drums (M.A.Y.O.R., Hypnotic Brass Ensemble).
In early May 2015, the newest incarnation of 79.5 played a sold-out show at Brooklyn’s Baby’s All Right with hip-hop mainstays Edan and Paten Locke & internationally known DJs Chances with Wolves. This new, energized sound of 79.5 prompted three monthly sold-out late night performances during the summer of 2015 on the Clipper City, a tall-sail cruise ship & New York harbor entertainment staple. The Clipper City sailed at midnight around the NYC harbor in June, July, and August while 79.5 wowed the packed crowds.
With such a talented & accomplished roster of musicians now absorbed into 79.5, the band has collectively shared stages and/or recorded with Sean Lennon/GHOSTT, Akon, Elysian Fields, JG Thirlwell, Joe Bataan, Deerhoof, Kid Sister, Blitz the Ambassador, Neneh Cherry, Chucky Thompson, Diplo, Javelin, Freeway, Lil Louie, Barbara Tucker & Thurston Moore, to name a few.
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Track: 1
The album starts off with psych-rock offerings “Tides” and “Falling to the Periphery,” fueled by jangly guitar and punchy mellotrons, with sunny textures belying a cosmic angst via a ’60s meets ’90s meets 2016 aesthetic. Next, the album’s tempo gradually increases into an acid rock/house-derived middle section anchored by the lumbering squelch of “Guilty,” with frontman Pete Feigenbaum begging for forgiveness: “I’m guilty—do you still believe me?” After the motoric minimalism of “Light Rain,” the album descends into a murky, shoegazing dreamworld of infinite breakbeats yielding optimistic flashes (“Compass Rose”) and futuristic wall-of-sound doomscapes (“The Silent Earth”).
Produced by the band in their own studio, Fairweather brings back the excitement and playfulness of their debut album %, while imbuing a newfound sense of refinement and clarity to the mixes, coupling the experience from their recent studio endeavors with more concise and quick-moving yet provocative arrangements.
Although heavily dosed with electronics, Fairweather contrasts the dystopian industrial arpeggiators of their previous albums with a warm, timeless palette of organs, looped breakbeats, and radio-ready vocals, including the occasional psychedelic flourish of reversed guitars and exploding delay trails. As a result, the music moves forward by looking back, bringing to mind the work of contemporaries like Jagwar Ma, Tame Impala, and Deerhunter, while also incorporating some of the more exciting and psychedelic pop sounds of the early ’90s Creation Records back catalog with aesthetic nods to The House of Love, Primal Scream, and Ride.
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Tracks: 1, 2, 7, 6
Formats: College, Modern Rock
THE DO YOU THANGS
One Plus One is the five track debut EP by Melbourne band The Do Yo Thangs - a collection of sensual slow jams and bumping future soul dominated by rich, four-voice harmonies.
Their debut release is the result of many years of soul searching for songwriter/drummer/singer Hugh Rabinovici and his right-hand-lady, vocalist Audrey Powne (Au Dré). The two met some years ago in the drab corridors of jazz school and bonded over a shared love of Erykah Badu and a desire to spread their creative wings. The combination of Hugh’s writing and Audrey’s vocals immediately gelled and before graduating they’d assembled a gifted cohort of musicians that went on to become The Do Yo Thangs.
One Plus One is equal parts performance and programming, drawing from a broad palette of live instruments and electronic sounds. At the front, Hugh and Audrey alternate lead vocal duties, supported by harmony singers Maddie Otto and Tiaryn Griggs. Backing them, the guitar sound is classic soul but the plethora of synthesizers and 808 kick drums is definitely not, nodding equally to Vangelis or Hiatus Kaiyote. The more you listen, the more intricacy is discovered. The writing uses jazz elements and odd rhythmic devices, but it’s all tucked away - there’s nothing that intrudes into the foreground or interferes with the song’s abilities to speak to an audience.
Hugh’s writing is a reflection of a unique musical development. Before taking up the drums, he played piano in his childhood. Since then he’s played the cello, worked in Scottish Pipe bands, taught himself guitar and studied Carnatic music in South India. One Plus One is only the beginning for Hugh and the members of The Do Yo Thangs. With a new partnership at local label HopeStreet Recordings, anything is possible for the swooning soul collective.
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Tracks: 1, 5, 2
ATO recording group Drive-By Truckers have announced the release of their much anticipated new album. AMERICAN BAND arrives in stores and online retailers everywhere on September 30th.
Hailed by Stereogum as “perhaps the greatest extant American rock and roll band,” Drive-By Truckers have long held a progressive fire in their belly but with AMERICAN BAND, they have made the most explicitly political album in their extraordinary canon. A powerful and legitimately provocative work, hard edged and finely honed, the album is the sound of a truly American Band – a Southern American band – speaking on matters that matter. Master songwriters both, Hood and Cooley wisely avoid overt polemics to explore such pressing issues as race, income inequality, the NRA, deregulation, police brutality, Islamophobia, and the plague of suicides and opioid abuse. As a result, songs like “What It Means” and the tub-thumping “Surrender Under Protest” are intensely human music from a rock ‘n’ roll band yearning for community and collective action. Fueled by a just spirit of moral indignation and righteous rage, AMERICAN BAND is protest music fit for the stadiums, designed to raise issues and ire as the nation careens towards its most momentous election in a generation.
“I don’t want there to be any doubt as to which side of this discussion we fall on,” Hood says. “I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding of where we stand. If you don’t like it, you can leave. It’s okay. We’re not trying to be everybody’s favorite band, we’re going to be who we are and do what we do and anyone who’s with us, we’d love to have them join in.”
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Tracks: 3, 7, 9, 10, 11
Content Warning: 7, 9, 10, 11
Formats: College, Triple A
Katie Burden’s stylized atmospheric rock and shamanistic delivery often conjure up the ghost of Jim Morrison but in a modern context, falls somewhere between Bat for Lashes and Joan As Police Woman.
After being raised in a small hippy town in Colorado, Burden spent her formative years bouncing around NYC and later San Francisco. In 2012 she moved to LA and after attending a meditation retreat, synchronistically fell in with a group of blue chip musicians including drummer/producer Norm Block (Mark Lanagan, Sweethead and Jenny Lee of Warpaint) and guitarist Jen Turner of Here We Go Magic and Exclamation Pony.
Katie happened to have hundreds of song sketches recorded as voice memos on her phone and after she played them for her new friends there was no looking back. Block stepped into the role of producer while Turner helped flesh out the recordings that became Burden’s debut EP My Blind Eye. The 5 song set was released on Norm’s Cautionary Tail label and was met with critical kudos from Buzzbands LA, Impose and a video premiere on USA Today who noted the debut had a “mysterious, experimental appeal.” The EP also made a fan of Jenny Lee (Warpaint) who asked Katie to sing backup vocals on her newest LP, right on!.
Katie toured My Blind Eye up and down the West Coast, being welcomed into major musical hotspots including The Deer Lodge in Ojai, Hotel Utah in San Farn and El Cid back in LA where she opened for Jenny Lee. Upon her return she felt pulled back into the studio where she began tracking her follow up full length, Strange Moon, with her now tightly-knit band of collaborators.
The dark and moody undercurrents of the new material called for Burden to dig deeper into her emotional well, something that she struggled with when performing the songs. “I have a hard time feeling emotions sometimes” the songwriter notes. “Art makes me less afraid to feel and also less alone.”
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Tracks: 2, 1, 3, 9
Formats: College, Triple A
Brutal Lives is easily Nick Jaina’s most daring album to date. And that is saying a lot when you consider that Nick has made a career out of re-inventing himself. The 14-track album primarily features work that he originally composed for a contemporary dance piece in the summer of 2014. These pieces were all rejected by the choreographer, often with no other explanation other than that they were “too sad.” Nick thought the recordings had some value in them, so he refashioned them into songs, adding vocals and choruses to give them a different life.
In addition to these pieces, Nick also included compositions written during a process called The 20 Song Game, where he would arrange a day with friends to try to compose and record 20 new songs in one twelve hour period. Stylistically, the album jumps from the indie-pop standout “Make A Life”, to the haunting “Co-Creators”, to the jarring “Saw You On The Train Last Night”. And I swear, “Fell Too Much In Love” would be right at home in a John Hughes film. Though the collection is unusual and misfit in its sound and origins, it somehow seems to fit together seamlessly. Due to the unusual provenance of the recordings, almost every instrument was played and recorded by Nick himself. He gave the collection of songs the title that he proposed for the original dance piece, which was also rejected: Vies Brutales, or Brutal Lives.
This is Nick’s second release on Fluff & Gravy Records. It is coupled with an essay that Nick wrote to include in dance programs for people who are new to dance, How To Enjoy Dance. The essay was never used for the intended purpose.
Nick has been a composer and musical director for the Satellite Ballet and Collective in New York City since 2010. He has composed works with dancers from New York City Ballet and Julliard and performed them at Brooklyn Academy of Music and the Joyce Theater. Nick’s first book of prose, Get It While You Can, an impressionistic memoir about a love of music and the world, was nominated for a 2016 Oregon Book Award.
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Tracks: 2, 6, 3
Formats: Americana, College, Triple A
After wowing audiences at major festivals across many countries for the last couple of years, the original and creative duet consisting of Ghanaian-Swiss vocalist & musician Joy Frempong and producer & musician Lleluja-Ha are back with new songs from another world.
OY’s new album is a space opera - highly danceable avant-garde, based on a core of vocal loops, electronica and drumming. It tells the story of mankind’s prosperous future on a planet called Space Diaspora on which humans finally developed the ability to learn from their mistakes.
Life on Space Diaspora is a reflection and a distortion of our own struggling world, conveying sentiments of modern alienation and transnational identity. OY’s thoughtful and humorous, tongue-in-cheek approach looks back at current times from the vantage point of a chaos-driven but blooming society in our own future. A vision which elicits tears as well as smiles, and praises the huge potential of the in-between.
The Space Diaspora fable is a framework which enables OY to make use of their multiple talents and create a playful and imaginative opus, bursting with melodies carried by Joy Frempong’s formidable voice. As voices have remained the strongest form of communication throughout history, the album’s electronic core is built out of transformed vocal samples. They reappear in synthesized form - as melodies, chords or patterns - backing the band’s reflections on transhumanism, diaspora or transculturation. The resulting sound could be described as a futuristic blend of rebellious tribal jazz and electronica, which the band call “Oyxploitation"…
Initial pre-release concerts in Paris, Fes and London have generated great media reactions, with comparisons to Laurie Anderson, Grace Jones and MIA, and a show described as ‘a visual and utopian universe’, ‘a spectacle that cheers up listeners’, ‘a captivating performance pitched somewhere between preaching and performance art’, and ‘a set that confirms to us that music is a power, a force’.
The broad musical background of the co-writers ranges from underground experiments to composing for contemporary theatre and reflects that, for them, there is just one love: music as an entity. OY face the absurdity of life with humour, they share with generosity and invite listeners to participate in their musical journey.
“This album is an ode to those who move, and an invitation for people to let go of fears and use their imagination to travel far. After all, in spite of all technological inventions, the farthest we can travel is still with our minds.”
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Tracks: 8, 3
Formats: College, World
Future-facing UK duo patten return with their third LP & second for Warp, an album of deconstructed club music with multiple strains of Pop, Post Punk Industrial and hi-tech electronics.
The record is named with the Greek letter Ψ (pronounced “Psi,” a volatile symbol perfectly linked to their tripped out tracks), on the sleeve artwork, presented in an intensive state of growth or collapse.
patten seek to evoke and explore the worlds of deep pre-linguistic emotion and experience in all they do; in audio, visuals and live performance.
As with each release from the group, Ψ marks a definitive shift in the patten project, expressed across many forms from the sleeve artwork to stage setup. Their mind-altering drive remains present, but retooled and sharpened in focus. Ψ sees patten transforming their freeze frame blur into high-speed crystal clear emotive energy.
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Tracks: 8, 2, 3
Formats: College, RPM
La Despedida – Spanish for “The Farewell” – is a breakup album. A psychedelic, post- apocalyptic meta-breakup album by a band that has broken up more than once. For over a decade, San Lazaro have been playing and writing original Latin music in Melbourne. A tribe of lost Latinos, cobbled together from all over the Spanish speaking world. From Chile to Cuba to Catalonia, they’ve come together at the Southern end of Australia to sing the songs they needed to sing and tell the stories they needed to tell.
This album, like San Lazaro, is more than the sum of its parts – more fortunate accident than grand design. There’s so many different influences that its origins are hard to pinpoint. It’s a reflection of a world where children of a dozen diasporas ended up in the same adopted city, dreaming of motherlands they don’t quite remember, cannibalising and co-opting stories and musical influences from each other’s lives to make meaning in their own.
La Despedida is composed of storytelling that is honest, unapologetic and unambiguously personal. Not just breakup songs, but protest songs, songs of insomnia and midnight ennui, songs about losing friends to drug addiction, songs that promise music can save us. Unconcerned by the fact no-one around them has any idea what they are talking about, San Lazaro have put together a collection of Spanish language songs that reflects the alienation and uncertainty of 21st century suburban life.
The music is a synthesis of far flung elements from all over Latin America’s musical history: Afrocuban Rumba, Son Montuno, Peruvian Cumbia from the 1960s, New York Salsa from the 1970s, and more than a few echoes of the Chilean protest-folk movement that was extinguished in the coup of 1973. All the influences all together – unbound by borders or eras.
It’s not glamorous, unlike much of contemporary Latin music. The simple almost-live production allows for the musicians’ craft and identity to shine through. It’s distorted and psyched-out and echo-drenched but it always feels like the same band playing in the same room, no matter what corner of the Latin world they’re nodding to. This is a band that has been playing together for a long time, and the self-assurance and confidence that goes with that makes La Despedida an ambitious record that feels effortless and natural.
Add Date: 9/20
Focus Tracks: 2, 4, 6