Tag: The Shins

New Video: Acclaimed Drummer and Songwriter Kyle Crane and The Shins’ James Mercer Team Up on a Shimmering and Nostalgic Single

Kyle Crane is an acclaimed drummer and prolific songwriter, who has been a part of the touring bands for the likes of Neko Case, M. Ward and others. Additionally, he was the drum double for the Oscar Award-winning film Whiplash.  Crane recently announced a solo album of his own, Crane Like The Bird, which is slated for a January 18, 2019 release, and the album is reportedly steeped in Crane’s autobiography: Crane’s father was a Coast Guard lieutenant and pilot, whose helicopter went down in a search-and-rescue mission in 1997. The album tells the story of the time leading up to his father’s death and the effects on them; in fact, the album cover photo is a picture of his mother at the crash site, throwing a rose out to sea, and the album art includes his father’s old pilot logs and maps. 

As a result, the album’s material touches on love, loss and memory but also ski lifts and Nintendo, perhaps as a reminder that along with love, a healthy dose of nostalgia is part of the universal experience. Interestingly, the album finds Crane collaborating with a who’s who of indie music including Conor Oberst, Daniel Lanois, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Luke Steele, Peter Bjorn and John‘s Peter Moren, Sabina Scuibba, Brad Mehldau and The Shins’ James Mercer — and each collaborator allows the material on the album to be sonically diverse, as the material nods at points to jazz, New Wave, country and others. The album’s latest single is the jangling, Smiths-like “Wishing Cap,” an achingly nostalgic track that wishes for simpler and easier times, perhaps with loved ones who aren’t with us now. 

Animated by Tim Lierman, the recently released video is a larger metaphor for being transported back in time. After putting the wishing cap on, the video’s hero is transported with the task of healing a world that has fallen apart. That world represents Crane’s broken heart, after his father’s death. As Crane explains, “When I would visit my Grandparents i would stay in my father’s old room that he grew up in. One time I was rummaging through the closet and I found an old shoe box with letters and an old green baseball cap in the closet. I thought ‘what if I put this hat on and it gives me special powers and I can climb through that old photo on the wall and be transported to the past’”

New Audio: Acclaimed Indie Act Lucius Release a Hauntingly Gorgeous Rendition of a Christmastime Classic for Charity

Richard Swift was a singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist (best known as a guitarist) producer, and owner of National Freedom Studio, who was largely considered a musician’s musician as he quietly built up an acclaimed career as a member of The Shins, The Black Keys and The Arcs; Swift also developed a reputation as a go-to collaborator and producer, who worked with Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats, The Pretenders, Kevin Morby, Sharon Van Etten, Valerie June, Damien Jurado, David Bazan, Foxygen, Jessie Baylin, Lonnie Holley, The Mynabirds, Wake Owl, Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier, Gardens & Villa, Cayucas, Guster, Lucius and others. He was also a solo artist, who had released seven full-length albums through Secretly Canadian Records during his life — with his posthumously released eighth album The Hex being released earlier this year. 

Back in June, Pitchfork reported that Swift had been hospitalized in Tacoma, WA, recovering from a then-undisclosed life threatening condition and that a GoFundMe had been set up to help cover his medical expenses. Sadly, this isn’t surprising as musicians work as independent contractors, who have to pay the bills you need to get by, pay for studio time, and pay for medical expenses and insurance out of pocket.  If you’re a struggling working musician, you make the bulk of your living from touring or from being a session musician — and if you’re too sick to tour or get to the studio, it makes things increasingly difficult. A few weeks later, Swift died and about a week after his death, his family released a statement confirming that he had suffered from alcohol addition throughout his life, and that his death was ultimately caused by complications from hepatitis, as well as liver and kidney distress. 

Understandably for those within the larger music community, who worked with him, Swift’s death was devastating. As Luicus’ Jess Wolfe recalls in press notes, “We were on tour in Europe when we lost Richard. We didn’t get to say goodbye face to face. We didn’t get to go to the memorial service. I didn’t get a chance to hear his voice. I only talked to him while he slept, hoping somehow, in his dreams, he was hearing us. We sang to him. We sang to him and it was the worst and best gift we’d ever received. Somehow, pouring out something for someone who has done so much for your musical life, is the only way to cope. This loss really messed us up, as I know it did all of us in the musical community, and we felt the need, the urgency, to make sure to do something about that.” 

What initially started off as a small way that the members of the acclaimed Los Angeles-based act Lucius could personally and actively bring awareness to the impact of drug and alcohol addiction within the music community has grown into a much larger concept that they’ve dubbed THE FUG YEP SOUNDATION. Derived from a phrase that Swift coined, the idea is a 7″ record series with each release featuring 2 songs by many of Swift’s closest friends and collaborators. All artist proceeds and profits from the 7″ record series will give financial aid to the Swift family, as well as MusiCares, the charitable wing of the Recording Academy, who had Swift with many of his medical bills — and Music Support UK, who do similar work for British musicians. 

“Richard would have probably hated this attention,” Wolfe continued. “But we all wanted to do more for him, we all wanted to be a part of a better way, to be helpful. I think we can all agree, the best way we can do this moving forward is awareness. What a gift that we’re able to offer what we love in honor of those we love. What better way to feature his art, and his imprint on all of us, then to share it with you.” Pure Bathing Culture’s Sarah Versprille adds “Each over features Swift’s original artwork. He was a prolific and persistent visual artist. He made work all the time and his studio was just as much a place for creating visual art as it was for making music. Shealynn (Richard’s wife) has helped us curate a collection of his pieces for each cover of this series that provide a window into this side of his genius, humor and creativity.”

The first release of the series is slated for a December 7, 2018 release through Mom + Pop Music and will feature two singles written and recorded by Lucius at Swift’s National Freedom Studios last April — the A-side “Christmas Time Is Here” and the B-side “Keep Me Hanging On.” The A-side single is a atmospheric rendition of “Christmas Time Is Here” that sounds as though it could have been released sometime between 1956 – 1965 as it pairs a lush arrangement of shimmering keys, reverb-heavy guitars and gently padded drumming paired with Wolfe and Laessig’s stunningly gorgeous harmonizing. While being a holiday staple, the Lucius version possess a weary heartache — the sort that comes with the passing of time and the gnawing reminders that loved ones aren’t around to celebrate another holiday, and the passing of another year. 

Currently comprised of founding members Joey Lemon (guitar, vocals) and Paul Goodenough (drums) with their college friend Matt Aufrecht (keys) and close friend Shane Bordeau (bass), the indie rock quarter Berry can trace their origins to when the band’s founding members met at an intensive, four-month, music program in Martha’s Vineyard, MA, back in 2002. When the band’s founding members returned to the Midwest, they recruited Aufrecht before writing and recording their debut effort Marriage, which was released by Right Place Records in 2003 to critical applause. Building on a growing profile, the band toured extensively across the country, with a number of touring bassists before relocating to Chicago with the hopes that their idiosyncratic and quirky sound would fit into that city’s scene.

While in Chicago, the members of the band had an incredibly prolific year between 2007 and 2008, in which they wrote, recorded and released six EPs — and to promote the releases, the band embarked on a novel tour: forgoing the typical cargo van or bus, the members of the band purchased a 30-day Amtrak pass and booked shows from Chicago to Seattle, relying entirely on public transport, traveling with a rather minimalist setup that included a tiny tube amp in a rolling suitcase, a children’s drum set in a single kick drum case and a full-sized keyboard on rollers. Exhausted by the tour, the band Bordeau, and eventually wrote and recorded their 2010 full-length Blue Sky, Raging Sun, which was inspired by their Amtrak tour — with the material juxtaposing scenes of epic, natural beauty with ennui of endless train rides in which micro societies were formed by handfuls of strangers.

However, despite the band developing a long-held devoted following, their 2010 effort saw limited commercial success and after its release, the individual members of the band spread out across the country to pursue separate professional opportunities; but in 2014, the band reconvened in rural Kansas to write and record without much expectations as to what the end result would be. Unfortunately, after writing and recording 11 songs in a breakneck 4 day period, the album fell into production limbo for several years until Paul Klimson offered his services to complete the album, which will finally be released through Joyful Noise Recordings next week. Everything, Compromised will further cement the band’s reputation for crafting  forward-thinking indie pop that’s complex and yet delicate.

Interestingly, Everything, Compromised‘s latest single “Civil Disobedience” finds the band’s sound possessing elements of shoegaze, dream pop and indie rock reminiscent of The Shins, The Breeders and hanging 70s AM radio rock — but with an offbeat and mischievous air.




New Video: The 80s Inspired Sounds and Visuals of Up-and-Coming Boston-based Duo Modesta

Comprised of Arjun Viswanathan and Kostas Papadopoulous, the up and-coming, Boston-based duo Modesta specialize in a retro-futuristic synth pop sound that will remind most listeners of John Carpenter soundtracks and 80s synth funk, as well as contemporaries like Umberto and others — although interestingly enough, the duo cites Roosevelt, The Shins and Unknown Mortal Orchestra as major influences while saying that their own own sound and aesthetic is rooted in diversity and experimentation.

Since their formation, the duo have accrued almost half a million streams on Spotify with over 15,000 monthly listeners, and along with that the duo have built a home recording studio from the ground up, while learning new ways to improve their craft and experiment with their sound and songwriting process. Their debut EP VHS is slated for a January 12, 2018 release and reportedly the EP will find the duo meshing contemporary, electronic production, analog synthesizers, and organic instrumentation while further cementing their reputation for crafting material that’s indebted to 80s synth pop; in fact, as you’ll hear on EP title track and first single “VHS,” Viswanathan and Papadopoulous as the duo pair shimmering layers of arpeggiated, analog synths, thumping beats, a sinuous bass line, ethereal vocals and a slick hook. But underneath the moody iciness of the song is a swooning devotion of love. 

The recently released music video further emphasizes the retro-futuristc theme and vibe of the song as it features VHS player noises, grainy footage shot on VHS tape and incredibly 80s-like graphics and special effects. 

Comprised of husband and wife duo, Jeremy and Jessi Brock, the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock/dream pop duo I Hate You Just Kidding can trace their origins to 2009 when they met and immediately began writing music together. With the release of a couple of EPs and their 2011 full-length debut, Days Grow Longer, the Los Angeles-based duo received a growing regional and national profile, as their music was prominently featured in film, television and commercials, each which was supported through extensive national touring. Building on a growing profile, the duo began writing the material that they felt would comprise their sophomore effort, now titled Constellations but life happens to even the most creative types, and the duo went on an extended hiatus between 2012 and 2017. However, over the past year or so, the duo have reconvened the project and began finishing up and writing the material that would comprise their sophomore follow-up effort Constellations slated for a February 2, 2017.

The album’s latest single “Heartbeat” is a jangling dream pop/guitar pop song featuring four-on-the-floor drumming, twinkling keys, a propulsive bass line and a soaring hook paired with Jessi Brock’s ethereal and aching vocals and while being a swooning, anachronistic, love song, the duo’s latest single manage to mesh 60s girl pop/Phil Spector-like pop with much more contemporary fare — i.e., The Shins, Moonbabies and others but within a mischievously dark yet danceable arrangement.





Currently comprised of Kyle Morton (vocals, piano, guitar), Tony Tanabe (bass, vocals), Dave Hall (guitar, vocals), Shannon Steele (violin, vocals), Jef Hufnagel (violin, vocals), Pieter Hilton (drums, vocals), Alex Fitch (drums, vocals), Tyler Ferrin (horns, guitar, piano, vocals), Ryan McAlpin (trumpet, vocals), Eric Stipe (trumpet, vocals) and Devin Gallagher (percussion, ukelele, vocals), the 11 member Portland, OR-based indie act Typhoon has received attention for a sound that meshes elements of indie rock, baroque pop  and orchestral pop as their material is rooted around complex arrangements and lush orchestration, as well as a penchant for restless experimentation with various styles including classic sea shanties, Country and Western, Eastern European folk and others. And unsurprisingly, they’ve drawn comparisons to Frightened Rabbit, Bright Eyes, Beirut and Arcade Fire among others. Along with that, they’ve received attention for live sets that routinely feature 12 (or more) musicians performing on stage. However, with the release of Hunger & Thirst and A New Kind of House EP the collective’s material revealed an increasingly consistent sound paired with a greater attention on crafting a thematic through-line — with much of their material based around a preoccupation with mortality, based primarily around (and making references to) Morton’s childhood struggles with Lyme Disease.

Adding to a rapidly growing local and national profile, they’ve had their music appear on SyFy’s Being Human, NBC’s Chuck and the major motion picture Veronica Mars, and they’ve opened for the likes of The Thermals, Quasi, Yann Tiersen, Explosions in the Sky, The Decemberists, Belle and Sebastian and The Shins and have toured with Lady Lamb the Bee Keeper, Portugal, the Man and Grouplove. Thanks in part to the success of album single “The Honest Truth,” which was ranked #3 in Paste Magazine‘s Top 50 Songs of 2011 List, and 2013’s White Lighter, which reached #105 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Heatseekers and was 37 on Paste’s Best Albums list, the members of the collective played sets at 2014’s Lollapalooza and Outside Lands.

After the release of 2015’s live album, Live at Crystal Ballroom, which features the band playing material from off Hunger & Thirst and White Lighter, Morton released his solo debut What Will Destroy You — and during that time, the members of the collective spent time working on the material, which would comprise their soon-to-be released fourth album Offerings. Thematically, the album is centered on a fictional man, who is losing his memory — and in turn, his sense of self.  “I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?” explains singer/songwriter Kyle Morton in pres note

As the story goes, motivated by his own preoccupation with “losing it,” Morton was inspired by the films of David Lynch, Christopher Nolan’s Memento and Fellini’s 8 1/2, as well as several different books on his nightstand, including Samuel Beckett’s famed Three Novels — in particular, Malloy. “It made it a much darker album for sure,” Morton says in press notes.  Structurally, the album is divided into four different movements — Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning and Afterparty — meant to represent each of the four mental phases the main character goes through when he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to a terrible and unimaginable fate.

Musically, the band evokes an impending doom and chaos that’s supposed to mirror the main character’s sense of fear and anxiety. And to set the set the tone, Morton and company decided to write the material with much more guitar than horns and string arrangements.  “I wanted it to be a darker, more intense rock record, so it’s very guitar-based. It’s going back to my rock roots before Typhoon,” says Morton. But along with that, the material parallels the contemporary world. “I was also reading historian Timothy Snyder and was inspired by his take on how America is at risk of losing their sense of history. If we haven’t learned the lessons of our past, historically, we can’t recognize when elements come back to haunt us, which is what’s happening right now,” Morton adds.

Interestingly, Offering‘s latest single “Darker” is from the album’s third movement, and as Morton explains, the song details some of the final stages of the album’s main character’s memory crisis in which he loses the critical distinctions separating self from other. And naturally all kinds of chaos and confusion ensue. And while the arrangement balances a hook laden arena rock friendliness with a sweeping, cinematic quality, it possesses a tense and creeping anxiousness of someone, who’s fully aware of something horrifying happening to them and that they’re utterly powerless to stop it — but along with that, there’s the strange recognition that whatever it was that it was happening to them is something they’d have a difficult time explaining to someone else. Personally, what makes the song interesting is that Morton as a songwriter has revealed himself to have a novelist’s attention to psychological detail, capturing the fractured thoughts and uncertain emotions of someone slowly losing it all.


The band will begin 2018 with a lengthy US and European tour, and it includes a January 27, 2018 stop at The Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out the tour dates below.




New Video: Introducing the Breezy and Self-Assured Pop of Up-and-Coming Phoenix-born Los Angeles-based Artist Upsahl

Growing up in a deeply musical family, the 18 year old, up-and-coming, Phoenix, AZ-born and Los Angeles, CA-based pop artist Taylor Upsahl, who writes and performs under the mononymic moniker Upsahl, started playing guitar and piano when she had turned 5, and by the time she was 14, she had written and released a self-titled EP, which caught attention across the local music scene for material that was influenced by The Shins, Spoon, Lorde and Beyonce among others. In 2015, she pieced together a band, and then wrote and self-produced her full-length debut Viscerotonic. 

Upsahl’s third full-length album Unfamiliar Light was released earlier this year to critical praise from the likes of Phoenix New Times, who had written that the album was a “breath of fresh air” and that fans will be “blown away by the quantum leap in sound and vision,” and when you hear album single “Can You Hear Me Now,” which was released last month to praise from Nylon, who called the song a “a girl-power anthem you’ll want to play on repeat all summer long,” you’ll see — er, hear — why the young, Phoenix-born, Los Angeles-based artist has been dominating the blogosphere: produced by Max Frost, the single which features strummed guitar, boom bap beats, swirling electronics, undulating synths and chiming percussion reveals an artist, who is self-assured and confident beyond her years and perhaps more important, an artist who can craft an mischievously infectious, radio-friendly hook. But underneath the breezy and infectious surface is a message rooted on resilience and the recognition that a failing relationship isn’t the end of the world; that in fact, it could be an opportunity to recognize that the listener can and should be treated in a way that they deserve. 

Directed by Matty Steinkamp of Sundawg Media, the recently released video for “Can You Hear Me Now” features the up-and-coming pop artist with a group of friends and associates, dancing and goofing off in a number of neon-colored set ups; but underneath the surface is the fact that everyone is making the best of the situations in front of them. And while clearly nodding at Taylor Swift, the video reveals a young woman, who is quirky, coquettish, incredibly self-assured and self-possessed.