Posts Tagged ‘United States’

There might be some parallels between Tom Sawyer, the Mark Twain character, and Thom Sawyr, the new solo project from Los Angeles singer-songwriter Tasso Smith. And the whole maturation thing might be one of them.

Smith played in the L.A. quintet Youngblood Hawke, who have been an on-again, off-again proposition since they released their album of youthful electro-pop “Wake Up” in 2013. Smith matriculated to a music industry job, working in creative management and A&R while continuing to hone his songwriting in the background.

The expansive anthem “Wishing on the Wind” is the first single from Thom Sawyr’s debut EP, releasing next month. The song hits emotional pay dirt using little more than an acoustic guitar and a dusting of synths and effects, a simple but beautiful chord progression carrying away its intrinsic ennui.

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Smith says of the tune: “‘Wishing on the Wind’ is an internal lament on the inherent frustration of being beholden to something or someone you don’t have control over. The hope is through perseverance that you can transcend anything that’s holding you down.”

Here’s to inspirationals like this to help one prevail. The single is officially out October. 18th.

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There is a warm haziness in the musical landscape of the song. Melchor’s vocals wax emotion while the backing vocals punctuate and echo the sweet sentiments. Though the time difference from the East Coast to the West Coast coast may seem like a mere three hours, many of us know just how much of a difference those few hours can make. We’ll be looking to hear more from this precocious new artist!.

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“I Don’t Wanna See You Cryin’ Anymore” is a simple folk sound with a brilliantly played acoustic guitar lines that pulls from elements of jazz, blues, and folk music. The slow picking, sets a perfect tone for Adam Melchor’s gorgeous voice to float on top.  In reality the song is an apology type song. Adam is singing to a close friend that he has let down, and he is owning up to the mess that he had made with this beautiful song. He comes across as being a caring and genuine person through the emotional and heartfelt delivery of the vocals. The acoustic nature of the song gives more room for the lyrics to really be heard and digested, and hopefully that means Adam Melchor’s apology has been accepted. Adam Melchor is a singer-songwriter from New Jersey who is currently based in Los Angeles, CA. “I Don’t Wanna See You Cryin’ Anymore” is the closing song on his 2019 EP titled “Plan on You.” 

I Don’t Wanna See You Crying’ Anymore – Adam Melchor

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After two albums of Mumfords-y folk rock, Lord Huron scored an unexpected hit with “The Night We Met” after it was used in Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, and it landed the band their first major label deal. And instead of capitalizing on the sound that made them famous, Lord Huron took a daring left turn and made their most creative album yet. (They also did a superior re-recording of “The Night We Met” featuring Phoebe Bridgers.) Maybe the major label budget helped them achieve their most ambitious musical dreams, but luckily it didn’t affect their process.

Main member Ben Schneider produced the album himself, and he brought in Flaming Lips collaborator Dave Fridmann to mix it. The result is their most psychedelic and their most rockin’ album, and Schneider still came armed with an arsenal of sticky hooks. The album still has a couple folky ballads that recall their earlier work (“Wait by the River,” “Back from the Edge”), but for the most part this is an entirely new and improved Lord Huron. “Never Ever,” “Ancient Names (Part II),” “Secret of Life,” and the title track were some of the year’s best driving rock songs, while the droning, krautrock-ish “Ancient Names (Part I)” and the sleepy “When The Night Is Over” were some of the year’s best psychedelia. And even as the album genre hops, the artistically slick production keeps it sounding cohesive.

Schneider’s recognizable voice of course ties everything together too, but there weren’t many indie rock albums this year where the production style and the rhythm section were just as distinct as the singer. Vide Noir didn’t score Lord Huron another Hot 100 charting song like “The Night We Met,” but it’s packed to the gills with could-be hits. It’s one of those albums where, once you’re into it, your favorite song will probably change over and over again. “Ancient Names” and “Never Ever” are the early standouts, but once you outplay them, that nice little nugget of a closer (“Emerald Star”) starts getting really addictive.

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Oh little darling/don’t you look charming/here in the eye of a hurricane – well you know, with a good hat, soft lighting and the right amount of blusher, anything is possible. Upbeat, up-tempo, lots of gee-tar: my top twenty sort of needed this – and the album is an overlooked gem of 2015.

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, Vide Noir is available now released April 20th.

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As elder statesmen in Portland’s music scene, long-running post-punk trio Woolen Men have seen the boom-and-bust genre cycle more times than they care to remember. But one era, in particular, stands out in drummer and songwriter Raf Spielman’s mind as pivotal to the band’s creative journey.

“It’s interesting being in Pacific Northwest. We were around when Naomi Punk showed up and all of a sudden everyone was doing the grunge thing again. We didn’t go that route, and it passed very fast,” he says. “That was when we were like, ‘We don’t have to do any of this stuff. It doesn’t matter. We can do whatever we want.’”

Making the music they want without consideration of what might sell or what’s popular at the moment is central to Woolen Men’s DNA. In the decade that Spielman, guitarist Alex Geddes, and bassist Lawton Browning have played together as Woolen Men 2018 marks exactly 10 years for the trio—they’ve doggedly remained committed to the DIY punk ethos that pre-dates the transmogrification of “indie music” from a lifestyle to a sound, while quietly amassing a discography of sterling releases on a jumble of formats that show a band crafting an oeuvre of what might once have been called “college rock”: intelligent, tuneful guitar rock with a streak of punk rock grit underneath the hooks.

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They also released the decade’s best political post-punk record years before the term “angular guitars” started showing up regularly in the music press again: 2015’s instantly classic Temporary Monument(this isn’t hyperbole—go listen to it).

If Temporary Monument had been released today, its jangle-brushed post-punk sound and cutting lyrical dissections of gentrification, economic inequality, and the transformation of their native Portland into “a city full of ghosts,” as Browning sings on the record’s title track, might’ve made a bigger impact in a musical climate more inclined towards both post-punk and unambiguous political messaging than in the late Obama years. But Woolen Men have always been slightly ahead of their time, mostly because they’re uninterested in making anything other than what they want to make at any given moment.

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“We’ve never really made any concessions to the small changes that might make our music more appealing,” says Spielman. “This new record is a really good example of having made a pretty heavily post-punk-influenced record previously when very few people were interested in that sound, and now that sound, at least here in Portland, is very prevalent. If we wanted to keep people’s attention in that way, we could’ve made Temporary Monument 2. But we’re not interested.”

Their new record is called Post, which may or may not be a play on the prefix “post” as in “post-post-punk” (the band declines to confirm or deny this interpretation), but certainly showcases a band that’s post-giving-a-shit about pleasing anyone but themselves when it comes to the music they make together. Though not worlds away sonically from Temporary Monument Woolen Men will probably always best be described as a minimalist post-punk band with a scoop of early R.E.M.—Post finds the band making fearless musical choices, such as dropping a seven-minute long Arthur Russell-inspired track (“Amateur”) early on side one. It’s “about somebody who made a music they wanted to make their whole life and didn’t make any compromises,” explains Browning, which is a good way to sum up the career of “a band that has always been about doing what we want,” according to Geddes.

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While maintaining artistic purity makes for interesting records, it can present a challenge when building an audience. As Browning puts it, “I do feel like there’s a lot of love for Woolen Men in weird corners of the nation, but I don’t know if the kids ever really ‘discovered’ us. The people who buy our records are mostly people who are in families. It’s like they’re happy someone is still doing what they remember bands being about in the early ’80s.”

Releases September 1st, 2018

Raf Spielman – Drums
Alex Geddes – Bass
Lawton Browning – Guitar

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Given the winter the East Coast has just survived, it’s appropriate to emerge from the bleakness with a record that eases out of its own icy shell. ManDancing’s “Everyone Else” emerged in winter 2016, prior to political shifts at home and abroad, but carries no less weight than it did when quietly released online. In fact, this record from five New Jersey residents seems more potent than ever with its 2018 reissue. It’s at once intimate and ferocious, a windswept combination of hushed pronouncements and gasped confessions.

On their upcoming EP Hands On 3, ManDancing’s emotional compass magnetizes to vocalist and rhythm guitarist Stephen G Kelly, whose voice wavers between confidence and catharsis. The spectral nature of his delivery is a genre in itself. It waxes elegiac on the alt-country sway as percussion spikes and splinters behind it, before breaking free into a desperate wail. It’s this upward curve that carries the arrangements forward, a force that could explode any moment into something unpredictable, warped, yet altogether fitting of such visceral songwriting.

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Above all, ManDancing promises a narrative that finds its characters trying to define their own independence. Is it more isolating than liberating? Amidst the haze of young adulthood, the beer cans, and the skipped house shows, ManDancing navigates what it’s like to feel positively undone and unlimited at the same time. It’s hard and it’s an impossible thing, but it’s always part of growing older.

Hands On 3 is out July 13th via Take This To Heart Records.

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Buzzy Lee is Los Angeles-based singer Sasha Spielberg, daughter of film director Steven, but her impressive pop project doesn’t need a famous-dad endorsement. Today she shares her new EP “Facepaint” a seletion of soulful electro- Pop tracks. The lead track “Coolhand” along with the rest of the record, it’s produced by the brilliant experimental electronic composer Nicolas Jaar.

Jaar’s smooth and simple arrangement casts his typical downtempo style in a poppier tone, an appropriate backing for Spielberg’s perky and emotive vocals. The two seemingly unlike characters have worked together in the past on their joint project Just Friends,

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At Every SXSW, there seems to be one band that you can’t stop hearing about, and that honor goes to Hoops—it feels like everyone I’ve run into has listed them among their favorite sets. The band performed at Cheer Up Charlie’s. The indie-pop four-piece didn’t disappoint, serving up slick guitar lines and a welcome reminder as to why their self-titled EP was among our list of last year’s best. Their full-length debut, Routines, was released in May of last year.

Hoops’ full-length debut, Routines is a bittersweet and honest record that sounds both warmly familiar and jarringly distinctive. Whereas their previous releases were recorded on four-track tape machines in living rooms and basements (both their own and their parents’), Routines marks the band’s first sessions in an actual studio – namely, Rear House Recording in Greenpoint, Brooklyn with Jarvis Taveniere (Widowspeak, Quilt). Those sessions, however, were just one step in the band’s careful creative process. After a few months of touring, they returned to Indiana to set up their gear in Krauter’s parents’ basement and began experimenting with the studio-recorded tracks. Some songs they only tinkered with, others they scrapped completely and rebuilt from the ground up. They were determined to make a record that sounded like Hoops. The result is Routines, the sharpest and clearest delineation of the band’s sound thus far, drawing from and emphasizing each members’ distinctive influences and personal styles: four guys making music that is larger than themselves.

Tracklisting :

SUN’S OUT 0:00 RULES 2:50 ON TOP 5:02 BENJALS 8:47 BURDEN 11:07 ON LETTING GO 14:14 THE WAY LUV IS 17:40 MANAGEMENT 19:40 ALL MY LIFE 23:18 UNDERWATER THEME 26:00 WORRY 28:22

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Though the band hails from Los Angeles, they do not partake in any sort of witchcraft. Yet their ability to conjure a specific time and place through their sound does suggest a kind of magic. On their eponymous debut album, L.A. Witch’s reverb-drenched guitar jangle and sultry vocals conjure the analog sound of a collector’s prized 45 from some short-lived footnote cult band. The melodies forgo the bubblegum pop for a druggy haze that straddles the line between seedy glory and ominous balladry; the production can’t afford Phil Spector’s wall-of-sound, but the instruments’ simple beauty provides an economic grace that renders studio trickery unnecessary; the lyrics seem more descendent of Johnny Cash’s first-person morality tales than the vacuous empty gestures of pre-fab pop bands.

This isn’t music for the masses; it’s music for miscreants, burnouts, down-and-out dreamers, and obsessive historians. Album opener Kill My Baby Tonight is the perfect introduction to the band’s marriage of ‘60s girls-in-the-garage charm and David Lynch’s surreal exposés of Southern California’s underbelly. Sade Sanchez’s black velvet vocals disguise the malicious intent of this murder ballad, with the thumping pulse of bassist Irita Pai, the slow-burn build of drummer Ellie English, and Sanchez’s desert guitar twang helping beguile the listener into becoming a willing accomplice to the narrator’s crimes. Brian follows the opening track with a similarly graceful, if not somewhat ominous, slow-mo take on a well-worn jukebox 7”. It’s a vibe that permeates the entire album, from the early psychedelic hue of 13th Floor Elevators on tracks like You Love Nothing, through the motorik beat and fuzzed-out licks of Drive Your Car, to the grittier permutation of Mazzy Star’s sleepy beauty on Baby In Blue Jeans.

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New single “Soft Auxiliary” is out now! You can purchase the 7″ with this song and “Nighttime Girls” on our Bandcamp.

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Thanks to James Paris for doing the artwork and Keith Abrams of Pine Barons for mixing these tracks for us!

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Album release date:9th March 2018

Katie Von Schleicher is following up her excellent 2017 debut, Shitty Hits, with a 7″ vinyl for Record Store Day. The 7″ will be entitled  “Glad To Be Here/Party Dawn” and released on May 4th via the fine folks at Ba Da Bing.

“On a break from touring this winter I went alone to Maryland, where I am originally from, and made these two songs, taking the gear I’ve very happily accrued since making my album Shitty Hits. I built a fire, I set up my gold drum kit, I saw a ton of stars and felt smushed by silence, and it was lonely, so I made these songs. ‘Glad to Be Here’ is where I find myself right now. ‘Party Dawn’ is tied to Maryland, to my friend and our adolescence. Both are a bridge toward the subject matter of my next record. Back in New York, my collaborator Adam Brisbin (Sam Evian, Jolie Holland, Buck Meek) contributed guitar and bass, and Julian Fader (Ava Luna, Frankie Cosmos, Nadine, Palehound) mixed it.”

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Shitty Hits’, the debut album from Brooklyn-based songwriter Katie von Schleicher wasn’t just a brilliant title, but a great record.