If Beach Slang is James Alex fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is him head-over-heels for The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt.” Their first two and a half years as a band (2014-2016) saw them release two great EPs and two great full-length albums, and that’s not counting their cool covers EPs where they pay tribute to the artists they very openly love. If they were to put out a “greatest hits,” it’d be one of the most rock-solid punk albums of our time, and frontman (and only remaining original member) James Alex has sort of done just that with his new solo album as Quiet Slang. Titled Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, it’s stripped down versions of ten of Beach Slang’s best songs, from their first EP to their latest album, re-arranged for piano, cello, and voice.

This is an utterly gorgeous record that moves, inspires, and invites mixtape inclusion at every turn, Alex’s punk rock transformed into ethereal hymns to love and comradeship. A true delight.”

“Musically, these new versions feel totally natural, with Slang’s melodies holding up to scrutiny and the simple chord patterns leaving room for piano and cello to decorate the songs.

Beach Slang can be a raging punk band, but they’ve always had a sweet side to their songs, and that comes through loud and clear (well, quiet and clear) on Everything Matters. The songs sound beautiful with these arrangements, and in their own way, they’re just as effective as the originals. Who knew that the headbanging punk of “Filthy Luck” could work as a minimal piano ballad, or that the fist-raising “The night is alive, it’s loud and I’m drunk!” shouts of “Noisy Heaven” could flow so gorgeously into a sea of cello? It’s a really special record, one that could easily appeal to longtime Beach Slang fans and newcomers alike, and we’re excited to be premiering a stream of the whole thing. Listen, along with the just-released video for “Future Mixtape For The Art Kids,” .

Considering that, there’s something almost cheeky about the title of his new project: Quiet Slang. As the name implies, Alex is embracing minimalism, smothering the fuzz in favor of a cello, a piano, and his voice. In October, Quiet Slang released We Were Babies & We Were Dirtbags, an EP comprised of two Beach Slang songs and two covers from The Replacements and Big Star. Consider it an introduction to what Alex calls “chamber pop for outsiders,” because it simply serves as prelude to Everything Matters But No One Is Listening, a collection of 10 Beach Slang covers that’s set to drop on May 18th.

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That’s when he turned to the project’s key influence: The Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt. Merritt’s influence lent itself not only in his heartrending use of cello and piano via his work with the Fields, but also in one of his most famous lyrics. “Why do we keep shrieking/ When we mean soft things?” goes the final lines of “100,000 Fireflies.” “We should be whispering all the time.”

“That just always stuck with me,” Alex says, “how quiet can sometimes be more powerful.” He continues, “If Beach Slang is me fawning over The Replacements, Quiet Slang is me head-over-heels for Stephin Merritt.”

Quiet Slang

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Japanese Breakfast, 'Soft Sounds From Another Planet'

As Japanese Breakfast, Michelle Zauner writes sparkling, opulent dream pop about grief and love (and, occasionally, robots). After releasing its debut album, Psychopomp last year, the band returned with this year’s stunning Soft Sounds From Another Planet. Where Psychopomp, was written in the immediate aftermath of the death of Zauner’s mother, zeroed in on the experience of Zauner’s grief, Soft Sounds widens her aperture, featuring paeans to her coping mechanisms, ruminations on crooked relationship dynamics and said sci-fi robot fantasy. At its Tiny Desk concert, the band swapped out Soft Sound’s gauzy, astral synths for acoustic guitar and piano, and was joined by members of Washington, D.C. string quartet Rogue Collective.

Zauner had wanted to do something special for the performance, and was tipped off by Landlady’s Adam Schatz that the Rogue Collective make pretty great Tiny Desk partners. The Collective practiced with Japanese Breakfast the day before the Tiny Desk, and was a featured guest later that night at the band’s D.C. show. The adaptation highlighted Zauner’s strength as a songwriter, providing an even more direct line into the raw emotion at the heart of her songs. The string swells during “Boyish” lent gravity to the song’s bittersweet desperation. During “Till Death,” her ode to marriage, Zauner sang — as she often does — in a way that strains her voice to the crackling, taut edge of heartbreak. It’s arresting on any stage, but particularly powerful in the stark midday light of NPR Music’s office. For its final song at the Tiny Desk, Japanese Breakfast performed “This House.” Gone was the Rogue Collective, and indeed much of the band — just Zauner and pianist Craig Hendrix remained. The song describes moments in love that are more fearful labor than bliss, the hazy space where commitment, confusion and longing intersect. Like much of Japanese Breakfast’s music, the performance shows Zauner looking unblinkingly at fear and pain, daring us to do the same.

Set List “Boyish” “Till Death” “This House”

Musicians Michelle Zauner; Deven Craige, Craig Hendrix; Peter Bradley; Alexa Cantalupo; Kaitlin Moreno; Natalie Spehar

Introducing...Lilly Hiatt & The Dropped Ponies.

It took Lilly Hiatt quite sometime to come to terms with her Nashville status. After her initial flee, she came to embrace the fact that home truly is where the heart is, and eventually returned to Tennesssee. Hiatt enjoyed some successes as a solo artist, including a shared stage with Emmylous Harris and Jim Lauderdale, as well as a guest appearance on the Craig Ferguson show. Upon her introduction to North Carolina guitarist, Beth Finney, a new beast began to form. Hiatt’s aching melodies combined with Finney’s tender yet turbulent guitar licks yielded a sound that the two were unable to find prior: women shedding their childhood skin and coming into the unraveled and emotional world of adulthood. Soon after, the girls hooked up with drummer John Radford (Charles Walker and the Dynamites, Drew Holcombe Band) and bass player Jake Bradley (Over the Rhine). The Pony Stampede had began. Since then, The Dropped Ponies have graced the stage of the Ryman, opened for Lyle Lovett, and enjoyed success over seas. They currently reside in Nashville, TN and are working on their debut album, “Let Down”. Produced by Doug Lancio (Patty Griffin, Gretchen Peters), the album is to be released in September.

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PROTOMARTYR – ” Pontiac 87 “

Posted: May 22, 2018 in MUSIC

Protomartyr, 'Relatives in Descent'

These Detroit punk boys are on a creative roll, and their strangely slept-on fourth album is their toughest yet, all guitar turmoil and bizarro noir humor. Joe Casey sings like a floor muttering at another floor – as Kendrick might say, he’s been diagnosed with real douchebag conditions. Yet he sounds so doomy in “Corpses in Regalia,” you’re grateful when the guitar drowns him out. Best line: “Call me Heraclitus the Obscure/Constantly weeping because the river doesn’t move/It doesn’t flow.”

The finest riff of the year, and a brilliantly hypnotic reflection on a dispiriting Papal visit to Pontiac, Michigan in the late eighties.

This album has a way of digging deep inside the listener, hooking on to emotions saved only for the most solemn or ethereal experiences. Adult Mom is real life magic and this album is proof of that.

its cute and simple and very pleasing, Stephanie Knipe brought totally loving love songs and truly hateful hate songs, like a home-made lo-fi cassette version of the SZA album. Adult Mom shows off the acerbic wit that turned heads on tapes like Sometimes Bad Happens and Momentary Lapse of Happily. Nine songs in 26 minutes, peaking with “Same,” where Knipe strums a hate letter to somebody barely even worth the time it took to write the song.

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Released in celebration of the one year anniversary of Adult Mom’s critically acclaimed sophomore LP, Soft Spots, these 9 demo tracks are stripped down and straightforward, yet equally as moving and powerful as the fully orchestrated songs they would eventually become. Intimate, deeply personal and without pretense, Soft Spots (Demos) showcases what Adult Mom’s Stephanie Knipe can do with their voice, a guitar and an iPhone.

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Band Members
stephanie knipe, bruce hamilton, liv battell

La Luz

Ever since they first appeared in 2012 with their lush combination of moody surf guitar and luminous girl group harmonies, La Luz have pushed the expressive possibilities of surf into ever more adventurous realms, with songwriting and arrangements that have grown increasingly sophisticated over time. The band’s latest LP, Floating Features, is the most fully-realized version of their sound to date, a record of complex, cerebral rock songs that feel as light and effortless as pop.

Floating Features was recorded in Nashville, and it marked the first time the group had been able to “take full advantage of all the bells and whistles and the toys that were just kind of laying around the studio,” remembers Simon, the group’s resident gearhead. “Harpsichord, orchestra chimes, marimba, all the different pedals. A Leslie speaker, too. We ran different organs through the Leslie with various effects.”

Like the rest of the band’s discography, Floating Features is a record that hinges upon La Luz’s preternatural talent for writing songs that balance the menacing edge of instrumental surf with sunny harmonies, a mix that’s defined the band from the beginning.

presents La Luz performing live in the KEXP studio. Recorded March 9th, 2013

Songs:
Big Big Blood
Call Me In The Day
It’s Alive
Sure As Spring

The Nude Party – one of 2018’s most groovy and dynamic rock records is produced by Oakley Munson of The Black Lips and recorded in Woodstock, NY at Dreamland Recording Studios, the circa-1896 former St. John’s Church. The self-titled album finds that formidable music machine cranked all the way to cosmic. Maybe it’s the electric waters of Lake Norman, NC where the band spent a primordial summer, or the upstate New York vibes that have beckoned American spiritualists and storytellers for a dozen generations, but something gives these cats a glow. At very least the numerology scans. Even when heartbreak crashes the party, like on the hilarious “Records,” the buoyancy of the band’s demeanor negates the inevitable bummer. From the self-aware irreverence of “Chevrolet Van” to the apocalyptic resignation of “War Is Coming,” The Nude Party surfs heavy wavelengths with elegance and grace.

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on New West Records

River Whyless have released a beautiful new track titled “Motel 6”, taken from their forthcoming new album Kindness, A Rebel. Penned by the band’s Ryan O’Keefe, “Motel 6” was inspired by their experience of being a band on the road over the last decade and a sudden moment of realization.

“We were driving home from a tough supporting tour, we were broke, which wasn’t uncommon. Halli had just moved to Oregon and we’d dropped her at a Motel 6 to spend the night before her morning flight. Watching her check into the motel as we pulled away felt like an ending. It was as if I removed a pair of tunnel vision goggles and could see the world and my life for the first time since we started this band. I felt incredibly small, fragile, irresponsible, foolish, at a loss for what to do next and very alone. The reality of what we had been trying to do for a decade came crashing down in an almost laughable way. We didn’t talk about it and I don’t know if anyone felt the same way but, at that moment, I changed. The funny thing is that a month later we had the most successful tour we’ve ever had.” — Ryan O’Keefe, River Whyless

Kindness, A Rebel will be available everywhere on June 8th Available as opaque white LP, CD, and digital download. All physical orders include an exclusive KAR flag enamel pin, as well as an immediate download of all three singles released so far.

Valley Queen! The LA-based band, fronted by Natalie Carol, released their 2017 Destroyer EP to widespread critical acclaim, with the track “Stars Align” even named one of Top 50 songs of the year on NPR’s All Songs Considered.

When asked what this album is about, I’ve gone mute. The bulk of the songs on this record were written over the past two years in my bedroom, backyard, or plucking away in the back of the van on Neil’s old Japanese guitar and headphones. I realize now a lot of the songs were written in fever dreams, fits of aggression, hot anger, ecstasy, longing, quietude.
In the experience of falling in love, going on tour in very seedy situations, being broke and in debt, self doubting, the band Valley Queen breaking up, the band Valley Queen getting back together, the guitar has always been sitting there for me to pick up and hammer out the inner reality of the external situation. We’re still here, and Supergiant tells you why.
I’m still as lost as ever, no conclusions have been made, no greater wisdom to impart – but for now, this is all I have.
What ecstasy. What a ride.  “Supergiant” is now live 

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Announcing Supergiant – July 13th on Roll Call Records

A solo moniker for Philadelphia musician Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast began as a month-long, song-a-day writing challenge during a break from her indie rock band Little Big League. The result was 2013’s June, an intimate set of melodic, electric guitar-accompanied lo-fi tunes issued on cassette by Ranch Records. She continued to write solo and with her band, with Japanese Breakfast’s self-released Where Is My Great Big Feeling? and the Seagreen Records cassette American Sound both following in the summer of 2014 before Little Big League’s Tropical Jinx arrived that October. With a varied palette including markedly bigger, synth-boosted sounds that bridged lo-fi and indie pop, Japanese Breakfast’s Yellow K Records debut, Psychopomp, was released in the spring of 2016.

The album dealt with the emotional fallout of her mother’s death, and was, in Zauner’s mind, the one and only Japanese Breakfast record. She soon changed her mind, signed with Dead Oceans (which re-released Psychopomp to a wider audience), and began work on another album with the help of producer Craig Hendrix, who had also helmed Little Big League’s debut album. The pair played the bulk of the instruments on the album and went for a much bigger sound, taking the project out of the bedroom and into a much bigger space. An expansive mix from indie pop alchemist Jorge Elbrecht made it sound even larger as Zauner delved into themes like grief, dead pop stars, outer space, and moving on. Soft Sounds from Another Planet was released by Dead Oceans in July of 2017

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