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2019-04-26
Kevin Morby: Oh My God

Throughout his four solo albums and myriad records of various collaboration, Kevin Morby has recognized in his work the ubiquity of an apparent religious theme. Though not identifying as "religious" in the slightest, Morby-the globetrotting son of Kansas City who has made music while living on both coasts before recently returning to his Midwestern stomping grounds-recognizes in himself a somewhat spiritual being with a secular attitude towards the soulful. And so, in an effort to tackle that notion head-on and once-and-for-all, he sat down in his form of church-on planes and in beds-and wrote what would become his first true concept-album: the lavish, resplendent, career-best double LP Oh My God.

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2019-03-22
Strand of Oaks: Eraserland

"When I was writing these songs, every day I would walk on the beach and I was completely alone and overwhelmed by fear...but then I realized how there really aren't any rules for who you are, who you'll become, or who you think you need to be. Eraserland is just that. It's death to ego, and rebirth to anything or anyone you want to be." In December 2017, Tim Showalter was uncertain about his next record and the shape it would eventually take. With no new songs written, he was unprepared for the message he would receive from his friend Carl Broemel, the conversation that would follow, and the album that would become Eraserland. Leading off with standout track "Weird Ways" and his powerful declaration of "I don’t feel it anymore," Eraserland traces Showalter's evolution from apprehension to creative awakening, carving out a new and compelling future for Strand of Oaks. Revived by the support of Broemel and his bandmates, Showalter felt the pressure to deliver songs worthy of musicians he had admired long before and after a 2015 Oaks/MMJ tour. So in February 2018, he spent two weeks alone in Wildwood, New Jersey writing and demoing all of the songs that would eventually comprise Eraserland. And in April, he went into the studio to record with Kevin Ratterman at La La Land Studios in Louisville, Kentucky, and with Broemel, Hallahan, Koster, and Blankenship as his band. Jason Isbell also contributed his Hendrix-esque guitar work to Eraserland, while singer/songwriter Emma Ruth Rundle provided gorgeous vocals. Every song was recorded live, with all musicians playing together in one room and working to bring Showalter's ideas to fruition. "I remember sitting next to Tim and Kevin listening to the final mixes with tears rolling down my cheeks," said Hallahan. "From start to finish, this one came from the heart."

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2019-03-01
Durand Jones & The Indications: American Love Call

Durand Jones & the Indications aren't looking backwards. Helmed by foil vocalists in Durand Jones and drummer Aaron Frazer, the Indications conjure the dynamism of Jackie Wilson, Curtis Mayfield, AND the Impressions. Even with an aesthetic steeped in the golden, strings-infused dreaminess of early '70s soul, the Indications’ sophomore LP, American Love Call, is planted firmly in the present, with the urgency of this moment in time.

The Indications' 2016 self-titled debut was the product of friends who met as students at Indiana University in Bloomington, In., recorded for $452.11, including a case of beer. American Love Call, the band's sophomore LP is instead the record the Indications dreamed of making, fleshed out with strings, backing vocals, and a newfound confidence in songwriting.

Blending a slew of influences from years spent crate-digging, guitarist Blake Rhein says the Indications approach songs in the same way hip-hop producers do, as likely to pull inspiration from '70s folk-rock or classic R&B as they are Nas' Illmatic.

"Did I expect to do this shit once I got out of college? Hell no," Jones relays, laughing. "Totally not. But this is what God is telling me to do - move and groove. So I'm gonna stay in my lane."

Better Oblivion Community Center: Better Oblivion Community Center

Better Oblivion Community Center is a brand new band comprising the formidable talents of Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst, two of the most lauded American songwriters of the past several years. Written and recorded in Los Angeles during the summer of 2018, their self-titled debut album will be released on Dead Oceans in early 2019.The pair first collaborated on Bridgers' 2017 single, "Would You Rather", taken from her acclaimed debut album Stranger In The Alps. They teamed up again for a recording of Oberst's "LAX" in the fall of 2018.

Co-produced by Bridgers, Oberst and long time Oberst/Bright Eyes collaborator Andy LeMaster, Better Oblivion Community Center features the work of several talented friends: Yeah Yeah Yeahs' guitarist Nick Zinner appears on two tracks (first single "Dylan Thomas" and "Dominoes") while Carla Azur (Autolux, Jack White) plays drums on half of the album. Dawes' rhythm section Wylie Gelber and Griffin Goldsmith appear on the other half. Songwriter Christian Lee Hutson contributes guitar and Anna Butterss provides bass. Bridgers and Oberst are currently putting together a live band to tour in March and April.

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2018-12-07
Durand Jones & The Indications: Durand Jones & The Indications Live Vol. 1 (Black Friday 2018 Exclusive)

In 2012 Durand Jones left his small-town in Louisiana, alto saxophone in tow, for the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. "Being a singer was never part of the plan," Jones admits. But soon enough he found his way in front of a rowdy rock-n-roll band belting out a rambunctious rendition of "Dock Of The Bay," to a basement full of drunken undergrads. That rowdy band unfolded into The Indications which includes founding members Aaron Frazer (drums, lead vocals) and Blake Rhein (guitar).

Inspired by a handful of dusty and obscure 45s bearing names like The Ethics, Brothers of Soul and The Icemen, The Indications set out to make a record steeped in heavy drums, blown-out vocals, and deep grooves. Gathered around a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder and a case of Miller High-Life, the group spent their Sunday evenings recording into the early hours of the morning. The result is their modern soul masterpiece Durand Jones & The Indications (Dead Oceans/Colemine Records).

With comparisons from Charles Bradley, Lee Fields to Al Green, this young band are now at the forefront of 60's soul revival. Their sweaty, fiery live shows have earned them a reputation for giving it their all each night which can be witnessed on Durand Jones & The Indications Live Vol. 1. Available for the first time on limited translucent blue vinyl, the album includes tracks from their debut and deep cut soul covers fans have become accustomed to experiencing live.

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2018-11-16
Khruangbin: Christmas Time Is Here

*** ANNOUNCING 10/23 / PLEASE DO NOT POST UNTIL ANNOUNCE ***

At the close of a marathon year supporting their breakthrough album, Con Todo El Mundo, Khruangbin return with an exciting addition - an update on Vince Guaraldi's timeless "Christmas Time Is Here."

"Growing up the three of us all had very different Christmases," says bassist Laura Lee. "But we recently discovered we all had the exact same favorite Christmas song. When we realized it, we sat down to play it and it came together instantly. In 15 minutes we had this recorded. It was like the best Christmas present ever."

With ambling sweetness and a fresh, beat-driven groove, Khruangbin have taken this oft-covered classic and made it wholly their own.

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2018-11-16
Ryley Walker: The Lillywhite Sessions

On The Lillywhite Sessions, Ryley Walker and the similarly indebted trio of drummer Ryan Jewell and bassist Andrew Scott Young cover Dave Matthews' infamously abandoned 2001 art-rock masterpiece of the same name, a record where he and his band indulged a new adult pathos and a budding musical wanderlust.

With a delicate rhythmic latticework and vocals that ask you to lean in, "Busted Stuff" recalls Jim O' Rourke's golden Drag City days. Emerging from a wall of distortion, "Diggin' a Ditch" becomes a power trio wallop à la Dinosaur Jr, shaking off existential malaise like twenty-something pals writing rock songs in the garage. Walker's "Grace is Gone," the most faithful take here, is a testament to his unflagging love for the music that helped make him a musician. This end-to-end interpretation of youthful fascination is a collective reminder that we are all just kids from somewhere, reckoning with our upbringing the best we can. Walker has stepped through the door long ago opened by the Dave Matthews Band to find a world teeming with musical possibilities. On The Lillywhite Sessions, he has, in turn, created his own.

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2018-10-05
Phosphorescent: C'est La Vie

For years, Phosphorescent's rise was a steady one: tours got a little better, rooms got a little bigger, and with it the music became more intricate, more ambitious in its recording and arrangement. Then came Muchacho, a juggernaut that to date has sold over 100,000 worldwide, with lead single "Song for Zula" now well over 50 million streams. Now, five years later, Phosphorescent returns with his seventh studio LP, C'est La Vie. Recorded in Nashville at Matthew Houck's own Spirit Sounds Studio, C'est La Vie reveals a crystallization of what made Muchacho such a breakout - a little sweetness and a little menace, sometimes boot-stomping and sometimes meditative.

A lot of life was lived between these records: Houck became a father (twice), built his studio, escaped New York. And C'est La Vie does have a hefty, career-spanning feel. But there's a newfound wisdom, too, a deeper well for all that livin'. The magic of Matthew Houck's music has always been the way he weaves shimmering, almost golden-sounding threads through elemental, salt-of-the-earth sounds. It's not experimental, exactly, but it’s singular and it's definitely not traditional. That knack, the through-line across the Phosphorescent catalog, is front and center here.

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2018-08-17
Mitski: Be The Cowboy

The breakout success of 2016's Puberty 2 saw Mitski hailed as the new vanguard of indie rock, the one to save the genre from the white dudes who've historically dominated it. But the often overlooked aspect of being a rising star is the sheer amount of work that goes into it. "I had been on the road for a long time, which is so isolating, and had to run my own business at the same time," Mitski explains, "a lot of this record was me not having any feelings, being completely spent, but then trying to rally myself and wake up and get back to Mitski. I was feeling really nihilistic and trying to make pop songs."

We want our artists to be strong but we also expect them to be vulnerable. Rather than avoiding this dilemma, she addresses directly the power that comes from appearing impenetrable and loneliness that follows. "With a lot of the romantic infatuations I've had," she says, "when I look back, I wonder, Did I want them or did I want to be them? Did I love them or did I want to absorb whatever power they had? I decided I could just be my own cowboy figure that I so desire." In Be The Cowboy, delves into the loneliness of being a symbol and the loneliness of being someone, and how it can feel so much like being no one.

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2018-05-18
Ryley Walker: Deafman Glance

I was under a lot of stress because I was trying to make an anti-folk record and I was having trouble doing it. I wanted to make something deep-fried and more me-sounding. I didn't want to be jammy acoustic guy anymore. I just wanted to make something weird and far-out that came from the heart finally. I was always trying to make something like this I guess, trying to catch up with my imagination. And I think I succeeded in that way - it's got some weird instrumentation on there, and some surreal far-out words.

I'm lucky enough to have some people who are playing on it who had a big part in shaping the songs and writing with me. Cooper Crain, the guy who engineered it, and played all the synthesizers. And when the flute guy, Nate Lepine came in, that was really something that made it special. The producer was this guy LeRoy Bach. I love LeRoy, he's a really talented guy. He did the last record too.

And it's more Chicago-y sounding. Chicago sounds like a train constantly coming towards you but never arriving. That's the sound I hear, all the time, ringing in my ears.

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2018-04-13
A Place To Bury Strangers: Pinned

A couple of years ago, A Place to Bury Strangers were in search of a new drummer. Lia Simone Braswell, an L.A. native, had recently moved to New York, and was playing drums in shows around Brooklyn "just to keep her chops up." As it turned out, APTBS bassist Dion Lunadon caught one of those shows and, after seeing her play, was moved to ask her if she'd want to come to a band practice sometime.

For well over a decade now, A Place to Bury Strangers-Lunadon, founding guitarist/singer Oliver Ackermann, and, officially, Lia Braswell-have become well known for their unwavering commitment to unpredictable, often bewildering live shows, and total, some might say dangerous volume.

This April marks the release of Pinned, their fifth full-length and an album that finds them converting difficult moments into some of their most urgent work to date. It's their first since the 2016 election, and their first since the 2014 closing of Death By Audio, the beloved Brooklyn DIY space where Ackermann lived, worked, and created with complete freedom.

There are searing meditations on truth and government-led conspiracies ("Execution"), as well as haunting, harmonized responses to the tensions of our current political climate ("There's Only One of Us"). It all opens with "Never Coming Back," a frightening crescendo of group vocals, vertiginous guitar work, and Lunadon's unrelenting bass. It's a clear and honest statement of intent, not just for everything that follows, but for this band as a whole.

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2018-04-13
A Place To Bury Strangers: Pinned (Deluxe)

A couple of years ago, A Place to Bury Strangers were in search of a new drummer. Lia Simone Braswell, an L.A. native, had recently moved to New York, and was playing drums in shows around Brooklyn "just to keep her chops up." As it turned out, APTBS bassist Dion Lunadon caught one of those shows and, after seeing her play, was moved to ask her if she'd want to come to a band practice sometime.

For well over a decade now, A Place to Bury Strangers-Lunadon, founding guitarist/singer Oliver Ackermann, and, officially, Lia Braswell-have become well known for their unwavering commitment to unpredictable, often bewildering live shows, and total, some might say dangerous volume.

This April marks the release of Pinned, their fifth full-length and an album that finds them converting difficult moments into some of their most urgent work to date. It's their first since the 2016 election, and their first since the 2014 closing of Death By Audio, the beloved Brooklyn DIY space where Ackermann lived, worked, and created with complete freedom.

There are searing meditations on truth and government-led conspiracies ("Execution"), as well as haunting, harmonized responses to the tensions of our current political climate ("There's Only One of Us"). It all opens with "Never Coming Back," a frightening crescendo of group vocals, vertiginous guitar work, and Lunadon's unrelenting bass. It's a clear and honest statement of intent, not just for everything that follows, but for this band as a whole.

Durand Jones & The Indications: Durand Jones & The Indications

In the fall of 2012, Jones left his small-town in Louisiana for the foothills of Indiana. Alto saxophone in tow he enrolled in the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University. "Being a singer was never part of the plan," Jones admits. But soon enough he found his way in front of a rowdy rock-n-roll band belting out a rambunctious rendition of "Dock Of The Bay," to a basement full of drunken undergrads. That rowdy band unfolded into The Indications - comprised of Aaron Frazer (drums), Blake Rhein (guitar), Kyle Houpt (bass) and Justin Hubler (organ).

Inspired by a handful of dusty and obscure 45s bearing names like The Ethics, Brothers of Soul and The Icemen, The Indications set out to make a record steeped in heavy drums, blown-out vocals, and deep grooves. Gathered around a Tascam 4-track cassette recorder and a case of Miller High-Life, the group spent their Sunday evenings recording into the early hours of the morning.

With comparisons from Charles Bradley and Lee Fields to Al Green, the only thing that separates this band from those greats is their youth. Having now taken their raucous live show all across the US, the band have galvanized a following that are ready to take them to the next level.

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2018-02-16
Marlon Williams: Make Way For Love

New Zealand's Marlon Williams has quite simply got one of the most extraordinary, effortlessly distinctive voices of his generation-a fact well known to fans of his first, self-titled solo album, and his captivating live shows. An otherworldly instrument with an affecting vibrato, it's a voice that’s earned repeated comparisons to the great Roy Orbison, and even briefly had Williams, in his youth, consider a career in classical singing, before realizing his temperament was more Stratocaster than Stradivarius.

But it's the art of songwriting that has bedeviled the artist, and into which he has grown exponentially on his second album, Make Way For Love, out in February of 2018. It's Marlon Williams like you’ve never heard him before-exploring new musical terrain and revealing himself in an unprecedented way, in the wake of a fractured relationship.

In early December, Williams and his longtime girlfriend, musician Aldous (Hannah) Harding, broke up. While personally wrenching, the split seemed to open the floodgates for Williams as a writer. "…I wrote about fifteen songs in a month," he recalls. Sure enough, while Make Way For Love draws on Williams' own story, in remarkably universal terms it captures the vagaries of relationships that we’ve all been through: he bliss (opener "Come To Me"); ache ("Love Is a Terrible Thing"); nagging questions ("Can I Call You"); and bitterness ("The Fire Of Love", whose lyrics Williams says he "agonized over" more than any).

And there’s "Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore", a duet with Harding, recorded after the two broke up, with Williams directing Harding's recording via a late-night long distance phone call. "We finally got to talk it out," he adds. "We still love each other very much."

If "breakup record" is a trope-and certainly it is-then Marlon Williams has done it proud. Like the best of the lot, Make Way For Love doesn’t shy away from heartbreak, but rather stares it in the face, and mines beauty from it.

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2018-01-26
Khruangbin: Con Todo El Mundo

Formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald "DJ" Johnson on drums; globetrotting Texan trio Khruangbin present their second album 'Con Todo El Mundo', set for release on 26th January 2018. Whereas their 2015 debut album 'The Universe Smiles Upon You' was influenced by 60s and 70s Thai cassettes and compilations of southeast Asian pop, rock and funk, 'Con Todo El Mundo' hops east over India to take inspiration in similarly under discovered funk and soul sounds of the Middle-East, particularly from Iran. Laura Lee explains the album’s title: "My grandpa would always ask me 'Como me quieres?' ('how much do you love me'?), and he'd only ever accept one response. 'Con todo el mundo' (With all the world)." Throughout 'Con Todo El Mundo', Laura Lee's melodic low-end theory, Mark's lyrical, free-role guitar lines, and DJ's ever-steady, ever-ready backbeat form something greater than their parts. A vibe-synchronous soul-unit travelling the planet, honing their craft, absorbing the sights, sounds and feels from cultures across the globe, processing them through the Khruangbin filter and gifting the result...with all the world.

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2018-01-19
Strand of Oaks: Harder Love

Harder Love is the latest from Strand of Oaks, a collection of Tim Showalter's original recordings for the album Hard Love. Pairing the earliest versions Hard Love tracks with previously-unreleased material (including some songs deemed "too weird" for the official release), Harder Love feels like an alternate dimension. A whole lot stranger and even more raw, it’s like the tripped out, spiritual brother to its predecessor.

"These songs are me unedited…I just want people to have them. I’m sick of overthinking and talking too much about the process and the narrative." And it’s Showalter's desire for a wholly unfiltered approach that defines Harder Love, a listening experience that often feels like scrolling through the FM dial, not quite getting the station, and listening through the static anyway. Out January 19th, 2018, limited to 500 copies.