Mark Lanegan's chief compositional tool – besides his unmistakable voice – on Phantom Radio was his phone – specifically an app called Funk Box. “I didn’t bother to hook up my 909 and 808 this time,” he says, “because the app had ’em. I’d write drum parts with it then add music with the synthesizer or the guitar.” The album grew organically from these synthetic roots, taking in Mark’s ongoing love of Krautrock and also an ’80s new wave show on Sirius satellite radio, his favored aural companion as he drives around Los Angeles. “They have a few good shows but the ‘80s one in particular I like,” he says. “That’s the music that was happening when I started making music. And although [Lannegan’s former band, Screaming Trees] drew on Nuggets psychedelia, 13th Floor Elevators and Love, we were actually listening to Echo And The Bunnymen, Rain Parade, the Gun Club. A lot of British post-punk. We loved that stuff. I just waited until I was in my late forties before I started ripping it off.”
Stalley Ohio Atlantic
Known for his smooth delivery, sticky flow, and trademark beard, Stalley burst onto the Midwest hip-hop scene with a number of distinctive mixtapes before breaking out with 2011’s Lincoln Way Nights. Ohio – which follows last year’s acclaimed Honest Cowboy EP – sees Stalley paying homage to his beloved Buckeye State with a Midwestern hip-hop soundtrack like none other. To fully keep the flow local, the Massillon-based MC reached out to a number of his fellow Ohioans, including producer Rashad (of the Columbus-based Elev8tor Music), with whom he previously collaborated on Lincoln Way Nights Furthermore, Stalley even enlisted legendary Cleveland-born photographer Jonathan Mannion – known for his iconic work with such superstars as Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Cleveland’s own LeBron James – to shoot Ohio’s striking cover art.
Sam Amidon Lily-O Nonesuch
Lily-O, a new album of reimagined folk songs by Vermont-born singer/fiddler/banjoist/guitarist Sam Amidon. The album was produced by Valgeir Sigurðsson (Björk, Bonnie Prince Billy, Feist) and features the innovative jazz guitarist and composer Bill Frisell, along with Amidon’s other frequent collaborators, bassist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Chris Vatalaro. Lily-O’s ten songs are mostly traditional folk songs gathered from disparate sources and refashioned in Amidon’s signature way. The interplay between the four musicians is informed by their backgrounds in improvised music and the spontaneous nature of the sessions. As always, the central element is Amidon’s voice, which, in his deceptively understated manner, tells tales of adventure, love, violence and redemption.
The Hot Sardines The Hot Sardines Decca Records
Bandleader Evan Bibs Palazzo and lead singer Miz Elizabeth combine with the musical powerhouse of Sardine, as well as their very own tap dancer, to play hot jazz the old fashioned way: With a little glamour, a little grit, and a lot of passion. Even while giving voice to the history-defining jazz of the 1920s, 30s, and 40s, the Hot Sardines vibrant performances bridge generations and captivate 21st century audiences. The Hot Sardines have a distinctive recipe for making musical magic: Take a blustery brass lineup, layer it over a rhythm section led by a stride-piano virtuoso in the Fats Waller vein, and tie it all together with a one-of-the-boys front-woman who sings in both English and French with a voice from another era. The Hot Sardines sound fuses musical influences from New York, Paris, and New Orleans that were nurtured from the Prohibition era through the Great Depression, WWII and beyond.
David Virelles Mboko ECM Records
With Mboko, pianist-composer David Virelles based now in New York but born and bred in Cuba has taken the folkloric rhythms of Afro-Cuban religious ritual and transmuted them into a 21st-century music resonating with mystery and meaning. The main title, Mboko, can mean fundament or sugar cane or The Voice – not the human voice but The Voice that is believed in Abakua culture to be the voice of a spirit, or spirits. The album’s subtitle “Sacred Music for Piano, Two Basses, Drum Set and Biankomeko Abakua” indicates both the ritualistic intent of the 10 pieces and their sound, with piano as lead voice alongside dual bass drone and the polyrhythmic percussion of a traditional trap set and the all-important four-drum biankomeko kit, manned by Roman Díaz. Virelles has tapped into a musical impulse that is simultaneously ancient and modern, communal and personal, meditative and propulsive. Mboko casts a spell.
Marcin Wasileski Trio Spark Of Life ECM Records
Spark of Life, the fourth ECM album for the MarcinWasilewski Trio adds a special guest, the lyrical Swedish saxophonist Joakim Milder, whom the Poles came to know through performances with Tomasz Stankos Litania project. This, of course, makes the trio a quartet, but do you really want to be one of those people who are hung up on labels, man?!? Amongst other affinities, the players share a love of Krzysztof Komeda’s music, and “Sleep Safe and Warm,” written for Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby makes an appearance here. As ever, the MarcinWasilewski Trio group balances original material -- intensely melodic new tunes by Marcin (including two variations of the beautiful title track) -- with a daring range of covers, including tunes by Herbie Hancock and The Police.
Alisa Weilerstein Solo Decca Records
The 20th Century was significant in affirming the cellos place as a premiere solo instrument. The most ground-breaking of these forms the centerpiece of this recital: Zoltan Kodaly’s “Solo Sonata,” composed in 1915. Calling for left hand pizzicato as well an alternative tuning of the cellos lower strings, Kodaly’s Sonata was far ahead of the time in which it was written and explored every facet of the cello, revealing what could be done with this instrument. In other words: It ain’t easy… Committed to expanding the cello repertoire, Alisa Wellerstein is a fervent champion of new music and this release is her first solo album. Following her Zankel Hall recital debut, New York Magazine wrote: “Whatever she plays sounds custom-composed for her, as if she has a natural affinity with everything.” Solo also features compositions by Ligeti, Bright Sheng, and Osvaldo Golijov.
Knife Party Abandon Ship Big Beat
By now Knife Party is a name with which anyone with even a passing interest in electronic music will be familiar. In the three years since the mysterious duo Rob Swire and Gareth Mcgrillen emerged, their singular approach and ferocious productions have driven their rapid ascent through dance music’s ranks from unknown entity to dance floor conquering scene leaders, and festival headliners. The rest of this year has seen Rob and Gareth split their time between headlining huge festivals across the globe such as Global Gathering, Electric Zoo and Tomorrowland and working in the studio to finish, this, their eagerly awaited debut LP Abandon Ship – a collection of house music bangers that dip the resolution down to 8-bit for the gamers (“Begin Again”) and then crank it up to HD for the ravers (“Resistance”) and hit all the sweet spots in-between.
Mystery Skulls Forever Warner Bros
A mastermind electronic artist, producer and singer - Mystery Skulls is an adopted stage name for Luis Dubuc, a self-taught musician from Dallas who through trial and error, perseverance, hard work, self-belief, great timing and the courage to move to Los Angeles has made a name for himself. On his debut album Forever, Mystery Skulls sheds light on the past by focusing on the future, on new experiences, accomplishments, failures but most of all growth. Mystery Skulls' music offers hints of 70s and 80s pop and dance music with futuristic elements, shifting from a dark, lurking place of uncertainty to lighter and more self-aware as Forever progresses – it’s a complete thought, a collection of memories and experiences, present and future. "When I moved to LA, I sort of became the real version of myself and who I was supposed to be," says Dubuc. "Those are the lines, sort of a manifesto of something bigger than myself. And that is Mystery Skulls."
Haerts Haerts Columbia
Haerts began in a small Greenpoint apartment in the early fall of 2010. Long time musical collaborators Nini Fabi and Ben Gebert hoped to locate that emotional and sonic spot between the familiar and unknown. If this all sounds a bit romantic, like the fantasy of many young musicians who seek out Brooklyn as the backdrop to their musical love affair, it’s because it is. There is something decidedly mystical about Haerts’ story and it’s reflected in their sound, a kind of elegiac but warm electro-pop, which is showcased on their self-titled debut. Making the personal universal is what Haerts is all about. The sound they’ve built is a reinforcement of the idea that we all feel joy and despair in equal measure and can find something good in sharing it. You can dance to it, too: At their giddiest Haerts’ songs ceaseless arpeggiating and soulful vocals feel like falling in love while hitting a nitrous balloon, yet slow groovers like “Call My Name” bring you gently back down to earth like a teenage dream.
From Indian Lakes Absent Sounds Triple Crown
From Indian Lakes is an American indie rock band founded by Joey Vannucchi in early 2009. Vannucchi began songwriting in a small mountain community just outside Yosemite National Park and later enlisted the help of friends to perform his material. From Indian Lakes independently released The Man With Wooden Legs in the winter of 2009. However, it was the band’s second album Able Bodies that gained acclaim when it was released independently in 2012. Vannucchi continues to evolve the band's sound into music that “blurs the boundaries of genres like indie, post-rock and alternative” on their third release, Absent Sounds – which is to say that they’ve couched their soaring melodicism in electronic pulses, stabs of minor key skronk, driving percussion, and major key choruses that will send your ears into the atmosphere before dragging you back into their mysterious sonics. But don’t be scared – they’re romantics through and through.
Fly Golden Eagle Quartz Bijou ATO
When you lower the needle down onto a Fly Golden Eagle record, you’ll hear a few different things at once. You’ll hear the stomp-heavy drama of T. Rex. You’ll hear the swirling colors and textures of The Doors. You’ll even here a growl of punk rock mixed effortlessly with the choral echoes of the gospel church. And it is all of these – the psych-rock-glam-funk-gospel sounds – that unify to fully form this Nashville quartet on their latest and greatest LP, Quartz Bijou – the band’s first-ever release on ATO Records. “I wanted this album to be a real reflection of the whole band effort, of the vibes of us playing together,” said founding member and lead singer Ben Trimble. “I want people to listen to it and be able to feel the chemistry.” And you will… Quartz Bijou is a full-on lysergic stomper that will lift you higher the more you crank up the volume. Prepare for unexpected turns. Consult a physician… Or a shaman.
Sallie Ford Slap Back Vanguard
When Sallie Ford first burst into the music scene she quickly established herself as one of the most powerful voices in indie rock. Sallie grew up playing music in Asheville, NC. In 2006, she decided to move to Portland, OR where she met her band, The Sound Outside. Together they released three albums and an EP but parted ways in 2013. The beginning of this year Sallie fulfilled her dream of starting an all-girl rock n’ roll band and in February of 2014, the band went into the studio with The Decemberists’ Chris Funk as producer to begin recording Slap Back. The new record has a surf, garage rock & classic rock feel. Sallie proclaims Slap Back to be an “ode to all babe rockers from Joan Jett, Blondie and Pat Benatar to PJ Harvey & Exene Cervenka.”
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