NYC-based, indie-pop duo MS MR. Lizzy Plapinger (MS) and Max Hershenow (MR) began their musical collaboration in December of 2010, recording in secrecy at Hershenow's home studio in Brooklyn, NY over the course of 2011. In May of 2012 MS MR mysteriously released the eye-catching video for their single "Hurricane," which was named "Best New Track" by Pitchfork and has since skyrocketed to over 1 million views. Noteworthy media outlets across the world were instantly captivated by the then unknown act's compelling blend of nostalgic, atmospheric pop. "Hurricane" was the first of three additional tracks ("Bones," "Dark Doo Wop," and "Ash Tree Lane") released off of the band's critically acclaimed debut EP Candy Bar Creep Show. Produced by Hershenow, with additional production and mix by Tom Elmhirst, Secondhand Rapture features both “Hurricane” and 11 new tracks that plan on staying stuck inside yr head for months to come.
Leroy Justice ABOVE THE WEATHER Elm City
Above The Weather is the next level for Leroy Justice, and a potential career breakthrough for the New York City quintet with roots in the Wyoming Valley (Scranton/Wilkes Barre) region of Pennsylvania. Here is a multi–hued portrait of a band that reaches back to the American musical bedrock – and the best qualities of the American character – to create contemporary rock music that may question our troubled present but also points to the better world that may yet be possible. It’s a diverse and dynamic set that showcases Leroy Justice’s musical maturation since the release of The Loho Sessions in 2009. The new album also introduces 22–year–old guitar wunderkind Justin Mazer, who makes his disc debut with Leroy Justice on Above The Weather. On Above The Weather, Leroy Justice displays the kind of songwriting and arranging skills that have characterized great American rock bands from Neil Young & Crazy Horse to the Allman Brothers Band. Songs like “Up On The Mountain,” “Blue–Eyed Blues,” “So Long,” and “Two Trees” are destined to become staples of Leroy Justice’s compelling live show, an emotion–packed thrill ride shared by musicians and listeners alike.
CRAIG TABORN TRIO Chants ECM
Recently hailed by DownBeat as one of the visionaries of the current wave, Craig Taborn has a unique perspective on creative music-making. Just as Avenging Angel subverted expectations of solo improvised piano, so does Chants find its own response to the vast tradition of the piano trios. The pieces that Taborn has been writing for the band in the eight years of its existence are set up to generate a new group music by channeling the special skills of drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Thomas Morgan. “I knew that if I created a context and then deferred, fully, to Gerald’s and Thomas’ sensibilities it would inherently be stimulating and would also challenge the context,” says Taborn. “I wanted to invite that challenge: I’d much rather engage with the group, always, than have the format be piano adventures with supporting cast.” Morgan and Cleaver share the leaders concern for compositional shape and multi-layered improvisational detail, as the music is pulled between the poles of density and spaciousness, to dramatic and thrilling effect.
Various NCIS: LA Soundtrack Artist Addition Records
It shouldn’t be that surprising that the soundtrack to NCIS: Los Angeles contains a few choice cuts by one of the show’s stars, Hip Hop icon L.L. Cool J, but I think we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that one of them isn’t “Accidental Racist.” As for the rest of it, we get a mix of mainstream rock (Daughtry), another Hip Hop mainstay turned actor (Ice Cube), and a few indie sensations who certainly deserve some Prime Time cash like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Little Dragon, The Gaslight Anthem, and Allen Stone. Like the rest of you, we’re patiently awaiting a spoken word album from David Caruso. Fingers crossed!
Dust Hard Attack/Dust Legacy
Think the phrase "proto metal," and the usual suspects come to mind - Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, etc. But only a select few have known that an obscure Brooklyn, New York-based band, Dust, was one of the first stateside bands to crank their amps up to ten and let it rip. Now, thanks to a reissue of the group's two albums, 1971's self-titled debut and 1972's Hard Attack, as a remastered (from the original analog master tapes) single CD, many rock fans can hear the sonic proof. Dust was also the beginning of the three members amazing careers. Kenny Aaronson (bass) went on the play with everyone from Bob Dylan, Billy Idol, Joan Jett, The New York Dolls and the list goes on. Marc Bell - a.k.a. Marky Ramone was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame and received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement award for his work with the Ramones. Richie Wise continued on as a producer with his partner Kenny Kerner, who went on to produce several platinum and gold records, including the first two Kiss albums (Kiss, Hotter Than Hell). This concludes our history lesson… Now crank it up!
Shuggie Otis Inspiration Information/ Wings Of Love Legacy
Even though he wrote a classic R&B jam – “Strawberry Letter 23” was released to great success thanks to the Brothers Johnson – Shuggie Otis’ own material wouldn’t receive the widespread acclaim it richly deserved until former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne’s record label, Luaka Bop, re-issued Inspiration Information as part of it’s World Psychedelic Classics series. Now said album is getting another release, but this time with a bevy of bonus material, including an unreleased album called Wings of Love. Otis, who was the sun of R&B pioneer Johnny Otis, was already held in high regard as a session musician when his debut was released upon an unsuspecting public way back in 1975, but Inspiration Information proved him to be a genius in the studio thanks to his gentle layers of strings, horns, and voices as well as his incorporation of drum machines. Despite the smooth sounds, Inspiration Information was quite an experimental record for its day, and sounds as amazing now as it did upon its release. Longtime fans will get lost in the abundance of extra material which only furthers Otis’ unique genius. You need this.
Brooklyn Rider A Walking Fire Mercury Classics
Brooklyn Rider is THE string quartet for the new age. In one sweep they have managed to establish themselves among the leading quartets of our time, become absolute critics darlings in the United States and reinvent the format, look and feel of what a string quartet concert can be. Having created major buzz with their previous self-released albums, A Walking Fire, the quartet’s major label debut (?!?) is a stunner. A Walking Fire combines Bela Bartok's epic second string quartet with two new works: Ljovas Culai, inspired by Romanian gypsy music, and the ensembles own Colin Jacobsen’s cycle “Three Miniatures for String Quartet,” inspired by a trip to Iran and their work with Persian folk music. Cultural curiosity and immense creativity are signature features of the four Brooklyn-based musicians, who have collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma (The Silk Road Project), Iranian musician Kayhan Kalhor and Banjo superstar Bela Fleck, among others. Don’t be afraid – it’s great!
The Neighbourhood I Love You. Columbia
In early 2012 a mysterious band appeared online. The group, The Neighbourhood, revealed no biographical information, no photos and no backstory, offering only a moody track titled "Female Robbery." Fans and the press were confounded, scouring the Internet for any information that might lead them to the identity of these musicians. Pieces of the puzzle, some reflecting reality and some not so much, began to emerge. The Neighbourhood were a quintet. They were from California despite the British spelling of their name. They had a second track, "Sweater Weather," which had an accompanying -- and equally dark -- video. Although The Neighbourhood's identity remained hazy, it became clear that the music they were making felt transformative to critics and fans alike. The evocative combination of rock instruments with R&B and hip-hop aesthetics, I Love You is The Neighbourhood at the top of its game. Recognize.
Pistol Annies Annie Up Sony Nashville
At first, the Pistol Annies seemed almost too good to be true. Here was a one-of-a-kind band begun out of the blue by one-of-a-kind singers and songwriters Miranda Lambert, the proven chart-topper of the group, and Angaleena Presley and Ashley Monroe, who’d accumulated their share of credits in Nashville, a band whose 2011 debut album Hell on Heels was a fantastically feisty breath of fresh air for country music. Two years on, it’s clear the Annies are not only very real, but very here to stay. Their days of collaborating under the radar without any expectations are gone, though. So they knew exactly what they wanted to do on their second album—up the ante, or in their words, Annie Up. The title’s no bluff. Instead of smoothing the edges, slathering on the slickness or playing it the tiniest bit safe, the Annies have returned with an even bolder song cycle than the first. And the way sparks fly when these three put their heads together, it’s no wonder the Smoky Mountain cabin they holed up in to plan the new album later burned in a wildfire.
John Medeski A Different Time Masterworks/OKeh
Keyboard master John Medeski thrives on the unpredictable, a trait that has kept his work with the trailblazing trio Medeski Martin & Wood (MMW) fresh and surprising for more than twenty years. With A Different Time, his first solo piano project, Medeski once again takes his sound in a completely unexpected direction. A Different Time is a far more introspective, meditative collection than fans of MMW's lively, groove-driven music might expect. Consisting mainly of his own compositions and improvisations, A Different Time presents a different side of Medeski's prodigious artistry. "I had a more eclectic record in mind," says Medeski. "I wanted to put out something that would be more representative of what my live solo concerts are like. The whole point is to get lost in the music."
Olafur Arnalds For Now I Am Winter Mercury Classics
For Now I Am Winter, the major label debut of Icelandic composer Olafur Arnaldss, features 12 original breathtaking surreal tracks. On this album, composer Nico Muhly provided orchestral arrangements, and for the first time Arnalds introduces vocals to his soundworld. Icelandic singer Arnor Dan can be heard on four tracks. Fresh off lauded performances at Iceland Airwaves, including an intimate KEXP live broadcast performance, Arnalds continues to steadily build a reputation as one of the worlds most bright and able young composers. On his past outings and last studio album ...And They Have Escaped the Weight of Darkness, the basis was almost always piano and strings with electronic embellishments. Now the dynamic has shifted, with Arnalds thinking in terms decidedly more poppy than before. “I think its by far the best thing I’ve done. I’m really happy that I made this decision to try something different.” The concept of evolution and seasonal change is one that has been ever-present in his music. Here it continues both musically and conceptually - a personal evolution as a composer and, for the first time, as a songwriter.
There was a time when Hanni El Khatib was a dude with desk job. Then came a day when he said “f*%k it,” burned the place down (New Jack City-style), and committed himself full-time to his true master: Rock and Roll. Now he’s ballin’ hard with a song featured in a Super Bowl Ad (“Family”) and a sophomore album that does anything but slump. Head In The Dirt, produced by Dan Auerbach (that bearded guy in The Black Keys), is the new album by Hanni El Khatib, where he takes a lucky 11 songs and makes the entire history of rebel music something all his own. He's got cut-to-the-bone Rhythm 'n' Blues and over-cranked Stooges-style stompers. He's got bottomless Black Sabbath riff-outs and Dub-a-delic garageland rockers that call up the spirits of the Clash and the Equals both. By the end of Head In The Dirt, you'll realize that El Khatib actually made something out of everything. You need this.
Hanni El Khatib - Head in the Dirt Innovative Leisure
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