Category: New Single

Several years in the making, the highly-anticipated and long-awaited collaborative album from the late and beloved Brooklyn-based emcee Sean Price and acclaimed Philadelphia-based producer Small Professor86 Witness is slated for a February 8, 2019 release through Coalmine Records and Duck Down Records. The album’s latest single “John Gotti” is centered by a moody and noir-ish  RZA-like production featuring tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, twinkling and arpeggiated keys that’s roomy enough for an All-Star squad of ringers that includes AG Da Coroner, JOVM mainstay Guilty Simpson and Your Old Droog and Sean Price to spit rhymes full of wildly inventive wordplay, complex rhyme schemes, amazing pop cultural references that include 80s movies, old-school cartoons, childhood games — and murderous intent. Simply put — this is some pure street shit without silly shtick or gimmicks.

 

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Last year was a breakthrough year for the rather mysterious, up-and-coming Montreal, Quebec, Canada-based psych rock act Venus Furs as they opened for JOVM mainstays The Horrors, The Twilight Sad and Michael Rault. Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Canadian psych rock act plan to tour during the spring, which they’ll follow up with a full-length album slated for release sometime during the later half of this year; but before all of that, the band released the second single from their forthcoming album, the jangling, and anthemic “Chaos and Confusion.” And while the band says its inspired by Cat Power, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and TV on the Radio, the song to my ears sounds much older, as though it were simultaneously influenced by jangling 120 Minutes New Zealand art rock,  guitar pop, 80s post punk 60s psychedelia, complete with a rousingly anthemic hook, layers of lush guitars and a propulsive rhythm section — with the end result being a brooding and wistful air.

 

 

 

 

New Audio: Two From Acclaimed Swedish Indie Act Makthaverskan

Comprised of Maja Milner (vocals), Hugo Randulv (bass, guitar), Irma Pussila Krook (bass, guitar), Gusta Data Andersson (guitar) and Andreas Palle Wettmark (drums), the Gothenburg, Sweden-based indie rock quintet Makthaverskan according to the band’s Maja Milner has no real meaning — although the band name came from one of Hugo Randulv’s friends, who made it up. “The meaning is really hard to describe in English, but it’s the female form of someone with a lot of power. ‘Makthavare’ is the male version of ‘makthaverskan’ is the female version,” Milner explained. “We didn’t have any background thoughts about meaning but I think it describes Irma and me pretty well, since we both take charge and are powerful.” 

Interestingly, the acclaimed Swedish indie rock act can trace their origins back to 2008 when they released a mini CD with a collection of demos and their self-titled full-length debut through Luxury Records. Building upon a growing profile, they released “Antabus” in 2011. Since then the band has released the “Something More” 7 inch and their sophomore full-length album Makthaverskan II in 2013 and the “Witness” 7 inch in 2015. After several years away, the acclaimed band returned with the “Demands”/”Onkel” single, which was recently released through Run For Cover Records across North America. The A-side “Demands” features layers of jangling guitars, propulsive drumming and a soaring, rousingly anthemic hook — and while sonically nodding at The Smiths, the song reveals their most focused and ambitious writing in their growing catalog, underpinned by an earnestness of both feeling and purpose. “Onkel,” the faster paced B-single is centered by jangling guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and another soaring and rousing hook and manages to sound as though it were released during 4AD Records heyday. Both tracks lyrically are kind of bleak yet paired with ironically energetic and intense music that broods but also reveals a bit of hope, suggesting that things can and do get better — or at the very least, that you gain a bit of wisdom from the darker days. 

New Audio: Lily & Madeleine Release a Gorgeous and Swooning New Single

Over the past month, I’ve written quite a bit about the Indianapolis, IN-based folk pop duo, Lily & Madeleine, and as you may recall, the act which is comprised of siblings Lily and Madeline Jurkiewicz can trace its origins to when the Jurkiewicz Sisters began singing together while in high school, uploading home videos of various covers songs YouTube. Those videos catgut the attention of Bloomington, IN-based producer Paul Mahern, who invited the sisters into his studio to record what would become their debut EP, 2013’s The Weight of the Globe when their class schedule permitted. Kenny Childers (Gentleman Caller) assisted by co-writing the material off the EP with the sisters; but it was video of the sisters singing in Mahern’s studio reached the front page of news aggregator Reddit — and as a result, Sufjan Stevens signed the Jurkiewicz Sisters to his label Asthmatic Kitty Records.

Adding to a rapidly growing profile, John Mellencamp asked the Jurkiewicz Sisters to contribute guest vocals to the soundtrack of his musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County. The duo’s self-titled full-length debut was released in February 2013, and received praise from a number of major media outlets including The New York Times, which praised the album for their extraordinary sibling vocal blend, “deep and seamless and relaxed.” Since then the Indianapolis-based sibling folk pop duo have released two more albums — 2014’s Fumes, which was released through Asthmatic Kitty and 2016’s Keep It Together, which was released through New West Records.

The Jurkiewicz Sisters kicked off this year with the inclusion of “Just Do It” on the first Spotify New Music Friday playlist of 2019 and the track, which was co-produced by Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuck,  pairs Lily and Madeleine’s gorgeous and effortless harmonizing with a shimmering dance pop-like production centered around a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, hand claps and fluttering electronics; but at its core, the song not only talks about taking chances, it talks of confidently coming of age as a woman — and demanding what you need and want from yourself and others. “Can’t Help The Way I Feel,” the sibling duo’s second single of this year was centered what may arguably be the tightest and funkiest groove on the entire album — but perhaps more interesting is the fact that the track features a razor sharp and infectious hook, handclaps, winkling keys. shimmering and arpeggiated organ lines and the Jurkiewicz Sisters easygoing yet gorgeous harmonizing. At its core, the song’s narrator is proud and defiant, openly saying that while her friends may disapprove of her love interest, she simply can’t help how she feels — even if the relationship isn’t good for her. 

Co-written by Lucie Silvas and the Jurkiewicz Sisters, their third single of this year is the swooning and atmospheric “Analog Love.” Centered around shimmering steel pedal guitar, shuffling drumming, acoustic guitar and the Jurkiewicz Sisters gorgeous vocals, the track is a sweet love song that sonically seems to draw from honky tonk country and Phil Spector pop while evoking the sensation of the sort of love in which the world fades away, and for a few moments, it’s you and your love; but there’s also the underlying recognition that nothing lasts forever and as a result, there’s this desire to hold on to what you can for as long as you can. 

With the release of 2016’s full-length debut Get Home Safe, the Brooklyn-based indie rock act Teen Body, comprised of Shannon Lee (guitar, vocals), Xela French (bass, vocals), Alex Bush (guitar) and Marcus McDonald (drums) quickly developed a reputation for a sound that brought the likes of Yo La Tengo, Slowdive, Galaxie 500 and others to mind.

Slated for an April 12, 2019 release through Broken Circles Records, the Brooklyn-based quartet’s long-awaited sophomore album Dreamo derives its name from a term coined by the band’s close friend Casey Halter, who after a show, wryly said to the band “Your music is like dream pop and emo . . . dreamo music.” Interestingly, the album which was written and recorded in Brooklyn reportedly features some of the most vulnerable, sentimental sincere and hopeful music of their growing catalog. And while the album’s latest single “Validation” manages to retain the gorgeous, shimmering 4AD Records and classic shoegaze inspired sound that first won them attention, the single is both wistful yet comforting, seemingly evoking a lover gently squeezing your hand when you’re at your most desperate and uncertain.

 

 

New Audio: Dan Mangan’s Spectral Cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion”

Dan Mangan is a Smithers, British Columbia, Canada-born, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada-based multi-Juno Award-winning singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, whose music career started in earnest back in 2003 when he was 20 with the release of his debut EP All At Once. 500 copies were pressed and then sold or given away throughout the Vancouver area. Building upon the initial bit of buzz surrounding him, Mangan financially supported with a bank loan, recorded his Daniel Elemes and Simon Kelly co-produced full-length debut Postcards & Dreaming with the assistance of a small community of musicians, who offered cheap or free session work. Much like All At Once, Mangan initially released his full-length debut independently, selling the album online and at live shows; but by 2007, Vancouver-based indie label File Under: Music re-released the album with new artwork and a new, extra track “Ash Babe.”

August 2009 saw the release of Mangan’s sophomore full-length effort Nice, Nice, Very Nice. Deriving its name from a line Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, the John Critchley-produced album was recorded at Toronto’s Green Door Studios and featured an assortment of Canadian musicians include Veda Hille, Justin Rutledge, Mark Berube, Hannah Georgas, members of Said The Whale, Major Maker and Elliot Brood. The album’s first two singles “Robots” and “Road Regrets” received airplay on local Vancouver radio stations, as well as The Verge and CBC Radio 3 — with Magnan eventually winning Artist of the Year at that year’s Verge Music Awards. 

The following year, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was licensed and released by renowned, Toronto-based indie label Arts & Crafts in the States and in Europe through City Slang Records. Adding to growing critical acclaim surrounding the album, Nice, Nice, Very Nice was shortlisted for the Polaris Music Prize, named iTunes Album of the Year in the singer/songwriter category, won three Western Canadian Music Awards — Independent Album of the Year, Roots/Solo Album of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. And “Robots” was named Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards. 

Over the course of the next year, Mangan began collaborating with musicians from Vancouver’s experimental music scene, recruiting rummer Kenton Loewen (Mother Mother, Submission Hold and Gord Grdina Trio), bassist John Walsh (Brasstronaut) and guitarist Gord Grdina (Gord Grdina Trio, Haram, and East Van Strings) to be his backing band for the writing and recording sessions that eventually comprised 2011’s Colin Stewart-produced Oh Fortune. Loewen, Walsh and Grdina recruited a large, rotating cast of local musicians including trumpeter JP Carter (Fond of Tigers, Destroyer), violinist Jesse Zubot (Fond of Tigers, Hawksley Workman, Tanya Tagaq), pianist Tyson Naylor and cellist Peggy Lee (Mary Margaret O’Hara, Wayne Horvitz, Veda Hille). Additionally, Magnan enlisted Eyvind Kang to contribute orchestral arrangements. The album was a critical and commercial success with the album winning Juno Awards for New Artist of the Year and Alternative Album of the Year with nominations for Songwriter of the Year and Video of the year for the Jon Busby-produced video for “Rows of Houses.” The album won three Western Canadian Music Awards for “Rock Album of the Year,” Independent Album of the Year,” and “Songwriter of the Year.” Also, the album was long-listed for that year’s Polaris Music Prize. Lastly, “Rows of Houses” won Best Song in the CBC Radio 3 BUCKY Awards, making Mangan the winningest artist in the award’s history — and the only artist to date that has won in the Best Song category multiple times. 

Credited to Dan Mangan + Blacksmith, 2015’s Club Meds found Magnan and his backing band of Grdina, Loewen, Walsh, Naylor, Carter and Zubot focusing on core band contributions — and while critically applauded, the album wasn’t as commercially successful as its predecessor. Since then, Mangan released the digitally released EP Unmake, which featured a cover of Robyn’s “Hang With Me,” stripped down versions of “Kitsch” and “Forgetery,” off Club Meds and an acoustic version of “Whistleblower,” re-worked from the original 6/8 time to 4/4 time and contributions from Tegan and Sara’s Tegan Quin, and drummer Loel Campbell (Wintersleep and Holy Fuck). Mangan has also done a few film and TV scores, including the CBC/AMC series Unspeakable, headed the Arts & Crafts Records imprint Madic Records, which released albums by Walrus and Astral Swans, who he has produced. During this exceedingly busy period, the acclaimed Canadian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist took some time off and became a father before writing and releasing his latest album the Drew Brown-produced, More or Less, an album that Mangan claims “feels more like ‘me’ than ever.” 

The critically applauded Vancouver-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist is currently in the middle of a lengthy tour to support his latest effort, and it includes a March 14, 2019 stop at Mercury Lounge. (You can check out the tour dates below.) And to celebrate the tour, and its inclusion in the trailer for Unspeakable, Mangan released a spectral, Peter Gabriel-like cover of R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion,” that’s centered around a looped guitar line, twinkling jazz-like keys and Magnan’s plaintive vocals. Admittedly, while I’ve been a huge R.E.M. fan for most of my life, I’ve hated “Losing My Religion” for many years because it was played way to death and then some throughout 1991 and 1992; but Mangan’s cover reminds me of the original song’s mysterious quality and weary ache. “When I was a kid, R.E.M. was a staple in my household,” says Mangan. “I remember air guitaring to this song with my brother and sister. It was such a massive hit but also so unlikely a candidate to be so. The chorus isn’t really a chorus. It’s long. It’s repetitive. It’s like a hypnotic cyclical trance of words that stick with you even if you have no idea what they’re about. I really wanted to try and approach it from a new angle. There’s no point in attempting to sing like Michael Stipe — there is only one Michael Stipe. So I tried my best to let it live in a new light while paying homage to the original.”

New Audio: Mike Edel Releases an Anthemic Radio Friendly Rocker

Mike Edel is a Linden, Alberta, Canada-born folk singer/songwriter and guitarist, who splits time between Seattle, WA and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Edel can trace the origins of his musical career back to about 2008 and since then he’s released two EPs 2008’s Hide from the Seasons and 2012’s The Country Where I Came From and two full-length albums 2011’s The Last of Our Mountains and 2015’s India, Seattle.

Edel’s forthcoming Chris Walla-produced album THRESHOLDS is reportedly a major sonic departure for the Canadian born singer/songwriter as he adopted a consistency-is-boring mantra before spending a year in the studio working on new material and evolving his sound. Interestingly, the album’s latest single “Houdini” is a radio friendly rocker with anthemic hooks and while bearing a subtle resemblance to David Bowie’s “Heroes,” the song focuses on love being confusing and contradictory: as much as any one of us claims to want it, we can be afraid of being vulnerable, of getting hurt, of losing ourselves and our freedom — and yet when we’re at our most desperate, it could be the most sustaining and necessary thing ever.  

Lyric Video: Lost Leaders Release an Anthemic Tom Petty-Inspired Single

Westchester County, NY-based indie act Lost Leaders features two extremely accomplished local musicians: Bryon Issacs (vocals, bass), who was a touring member of The Lumineers, a member of Ollabelle and a member of the legendary Levon Helm’s backing band; and Peter Cole (vocals, bass), who was a member of Lava Baby — and while both Issacs and Cole have collaborated with each other in some way or another over the years, Lost Leaders can officially trace their origins to Isaac’s time with Levon Helm.  

The act’s full-length debut was released in 2014, and the album featured the attention-grabbing single “I’m Gonna Win,” a track that received airplay on radio stations across the country and appeared on several Best Singles of the Year lists. Adding to a growing profile, the duo played a number of live sessions on radio stations and they were covered by Relix, No Depression, Huffington Post and others. Since then, the world has gone absolutely mad and they released an EP, which they’ll follow up with their forthcoming full-length album, the David Baron-produced Promises Promises. Recorded at Sun Mountain Studios in The Catskills, the album finds the duo drawing from Tom Petty, The Ranconteurs and Americana — and while the album’s latest single “Extra-Ordinary” brings to mind Damn The Torpedoes-era Tom Petty, the track which is centered around jangling and bluesy guitar chords, enormous, arena friendly hooks but unlike the material that influenced it, the song possesses a deep-seated and modern anxiety — the fear that you’re sinking into complacency and mediocrity, essentially becoming as boring as everyone else. However, the song seems to suggest that all anyone can do is keep fighting the good fight.  

New Audio: Australia’s Hockey Dad Releases an Anthemic 90s Alt Rock Inspired Song

Comprised of Zach Stephenson (guitar, vocals) and Billy Fleming (drums), the Windang, New South Wales, Australia indie rock duo Hockey Dad are lifelong friends, who grew up two doors apart — and as a result, they’re best friends first, bandmates second. With the release of their full-length debut 2017’s Boronia, the duo of Stephenson and Fleming quickly achieved a national and international profile for crafting infectious power pop: the duo wound up embarking on a sold out tour of their native Australia that included a number of shows with Dune Rats and the critically applauded indie act Wavves, some extensive touring across North America with stops at SXSW and elsewhere, before touring across the UK and Europe. 

Hockey Dad’s latest effort, 2018’s sophomore effort, the John Goodmanson-produced Blend Inn was recorded at Seattle’s renowned Robert Lang Studios, where Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, Death Cab For Cutie, Alice in Chains and NirvanaNirvana (who most notably recorded their last song ever there) all recorded seminal material. Interestingly, the Australian duo’s sophomore effort is a much more introspective effort. Blend Inn is the part of your head that you want to go to when you’re overseas and wishing you were back home, it’s within,” Hockey Dad’s Billy Fleming says. “We’re always just trying to be comfortable and semi blending in, so it’s the name we gave to that place you zone out to.”

Thematically, the album is centered around the trials, tribulations and uncertainties of young adulthood — but from the perspective of two young people, who have had an expanded mindset and much more experience in the world, while still retaining the playfulness and enormous hooks that won them international attention. Building upon a growing profile, the duo will continue a busy slate of national and international touring, including a West Coast Stateside tour through February. You can check out the tour dates below. 

In the meantime, anthemic album single “I Wanna Be Everybody” is centered around infectious, crowd pleasing hooks, thunderous drumming and even bigger power chords within an alternating soft, loud, soft song structure. Sonically, the song brings to mind 90s alt rock — in particular, I’m reminded of Local H and others.  

New Audio: Good Fuck Returns with an Atmospheric New Single

Late last year, I wrote about Good Fuck, a self-described exploration of experimental literary techniques and adventurous production and beats, comprised of Tim Kinsella, a Chicago, IL-based musician, author and film director, who’s best known for stints in a number of bands, including Cap’n Jazz, Joan of Arc, Make Believe, Owls, Friend/Enemy, Everyoned and others, and for an extensive solo career, releasing material under the name Tim Kinsella(s) and Jenny Pulse an electronic music producer and artist, who has released two full-length albums — 2017’s Spa Moans/Obedient Vibrations and  Marmalade, which was released earlier this year. 

Seeking an intimate creative environment to develop their aesthetic and sound, the duo decided that they needed to be in total isolation. “We packed the car and drove 13 hours to The Millay Colony in upstate New York: an artist’s colony in The Berkshires, miles down a private road, next to 100,000 acres of national forest,” Kinsella says in press notes. As soon as they arrived, the couple devised a unique artistic process to work from. Described by Kinsella as a “collaborative conscious alignment,” lyric writing was centered around 12 books, including Don Quixote, The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry and others that the couple felt were relevant. Then they came up with various systems to collapse and collage them into each other in different combinations. The result was a sort of literary mash up in which content and structure were scrambled into a totally new product. “We might take the form of an Eskimo genesis myth, but use words from Anaïs Nin,” Kinsella explains.

Sonically speaking, the project draws from Kinsella’s extensive background in genre-pushing rock and Pulse’s ear for minimalist electronic sounds — and interestingly enough, they managed such an artistic symbiosis together that “To a large degree we don’t even know who programmed what beat, and who programmed what synth line,” Kinsella reflects.  According to Kinsella, he and Pulse were “stunned” by what they had created, the entire process was far from perfect. “Of course there were snags, technological and psychological. And of course we threw a good amount away. But what was left was not the result of trying to write songs, but the effortless evidence of what emerged when we got clear in our intentions and then just let it out,” Kinsella says. 

Now, as you may recall, the self titled album’s first single “Secret Meetings” was centered around a minimalist electronic production featuring whirring, buzzing and industrial clang and clatter, brief blasts of arpeggiated synths, chanted lyrics and a sensual and sweaty groove — with the end result being a track that was esoteric and cryptic, wildly adventurous and yet accessible. Interestingly, “Jenny Dreams of Pies,” the self-titled album’s second and latest single is a slow-burning, atmospheric track with thumping beats and glitchy electronics. Sonically speaking the song nods at The Fragile-era Nine Inch Nails and The Beat Escape’s Life’s Short The Answer is Long — but while superficially placid, the song possesses a tense and anxious undertone, that gives the song a nightmarish feel.