December 2014
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“Veronica” by Postcards From Jeff

Melodic explorer, Postcards From Jeff recently released the single “Veronica.” Musically, Postcards From Jeff seamlessly blends together far flung folk, electronica, country, krautrock and pop owing as much of a debt to Weilheim band The Notwist as to Ohio’s The National or even as far as Canada by taking inspiration from Neil Young. Postcards From Jeff looks forward to releasing a debut album in spring 2015.

Veronica,” the free to download single, gives an indication of the themes explored in this highly anticipated debut.

The idea of projection is running through the album,” Postcards From Jeff explains. “We’re influenced by the bombardment of aspirational images that come at us from all angles, giving us distorted perceptions of other peoples lives via film, television and social media. Ideas form and we see what we supposedly need to do to get ahead. I guess we can all be guilty of presenting heightened versions of ourselves to some extent.”

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“Veronica” by Postcards From Jeff

Postcards From Jeff Veronica Album Art

Image and mp3 courtesy of Andrea Lynch of Blue Soap Music via Alien Boutique Records

“New Born” by Sounds Of Sputnik featuring Ummagma

Sounds of Sputnik is the brainchild of Roman Kalitkin, whose signature sound mixes post-rock, shoegaze and dream pop with a slight kickback to noise pop. New Born is Sounds of Sputnik’s debut album — an extraordinary effort demonstrating an impeccable ability to blend genres, complete with layered harmonies, interlacing synth and distorted guitars. Kalitkin’s music has always gone against trends within his home country of Russia.

Collaborating with Canadian-Ukrainian duo Ummagma (Shauna McLarnon and Alexx Kretov), Kalitkin co-wrote and produced New Born. Ummagma emerged on the music scene by simultaneously releasing two LPs in 2012 and, more recently, releasing the double A-side single “Rotation” and the Lama LP on Emerald & Doreen Recordings. Having recorded together in the past, Roman, Shauna and Alexx reunited last year. This project represents a heartfelt attempt to create something of beauty in the face of the hostility occurring between Ukraine and Russia.

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“New Born” by Sounds Of Sputnik featuring Ummagma

Sounds Of Sputnik New Born Album Art

Image and mp3 courtesy of Andrea Lynch of Blue Soap Music via Ear to Ear Records

“Clearly and Consciously” by Thorn1

Almost 20 years ago, Thorn1 signed to Silber Records as the label’s first signee. According to folks at Silber, the music is top-notch and embraces all the things they love like drone-pop, ambient, and lo-fi.

Hailing from Barnaul in Siberia, Thorn1 is Evgeny Zheyda. Recorded on a handheld voice recorder, acoustic guitars are manipulated into epic walls and pencil taps on a desk become amazing drums. The music mixes lo-fi-pop, post-rock, shoe-gaze, and dub for his own take on drone-pop. His newest release, The Light of Random Star, showcases the creativity that can come out of isolation. The track “Clearly and Consciously” showcases a broken heart turning into a victorious anthem.

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“Clearly and Consciously” by Thorn1

Thorn1 The Light Of Random Star Album Art

mp3 courtesy of Brian John Mitchell of Silber Records

Image courtesy of Bandcamp

“Road Less Traveled” by Great Spirit

Great Spirit is a unique culmination of a wide-variety of musical influences, from The Flaming Lips to Tony Rice and beyond. Based in the San Francisco Bay Area, Great Spirit combines poetic lyricism with equal parts folk-rock, bluegrass and funk. Their debut album Front Porch to Frontier (out January 13, 2015) combines tasteful blends of musical ability with distinctive, original songwriting showcasing an honest portrait of the people that compose the band itself. Great Spirit is composed of Tom Conneely, Will Durkee and Peter Domenici.

Tom, Will, and Peter laid out a rough plan to record an album while attending a bluegrass festival. Days later the group emerged from the studio with Front Porch to Frontier and followed up the recording session with a run of shows up and down the California coast. What started as a short run of five shows in three days, snowballed into an ongoing tour through the West Coast.

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Road Less Traveled” by Great Spirit

Front Porch to Frontier The Great Spirit Band

Image and mp3 courtesy of Jennifer Thorington & Samuel Markus of Working Brilliantly

“Foreign Lands” by First You Get The Sugar

Montreal-based First You Get The Sugar has released its third effort, a brand new EP called Foreign Lands. Visit Soundcloud and Bandcamp to download/stream for FREE.

A prominent thematic thread can be found in the way the five tracks unfold on the new record: alienation, confusion, and a struggle with the dark unknown. However, it’s not all doom and gloom. The ecstasy of making it through the darkness and returning to balance is reflected by the time the record clocks out.

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“Foreign Lands” by First You Get The Sugar

Foreign Lands EP Cover Art

Image and mp3 courtesy of Jennifer Thorington & Samuel Markus of Working Brilliantly

“Either Way” by Boy + Kite

On October 21, Boy + Kite released their newest EP, Blueprint. You may stream the album via SoundCloud.

Boy + Kite has opened up for acts such as Ume, An Horse, Quiet Company and The Toadies, as well as played at SXSW 2012 and the Center of the Universe Festival in Toronto, CA while hitting the Top 10 Charts on KUT 90.5 in Austin, TX.

The newest three singles, collectively referred to as Blueprint, were a brutal and euphoric release for Jones and company, consisting of Darvin Jones, Puorro, Giuseppe Ponti and Marc Henry. The songs were crafted in their practice space, which sits inside a massive film equipment warehouse, and were then taken to Public Hi-fi Studios in Austin (owned and operated by Jim Eno from Spoon) where tracking commenced. The resulting singles, “Either Way”, “Turned Sideways” and “Touching the Sun” showcase the most balanced work of Boy + Kite’s career.

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“Either Way” by Boy + Kite

Boy plus Kite Sit

Image and mp3 courtesy of Jennifer Thorington & Samuel Markus of Working Brilliantly

"The Kids Are Alright" by WALLA

Los Angeles pop-rock band, WALLA, is crafting catchy and danceable music with their new single, “The Kids Are Alright.” The song also showcases an important message to today’s youth — that a silver lining is present in everything in life.

Directed by Myles Lumb and Jonty Fine, the video portrays several different situations in which kids of different ages and backgrounds face adversity, cutting back and fourth between footage of the band performing and the cast of children. In the spirit of triumph, it ends with the cast of children dancing around the band. “The Kids Are Alright” is streaming now on YouTube.

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“The Kids Are Alright” by WALLA

The Kids Are Alright Album Art

Image and mp3 courtesy of Amanda Blide of LaFamos PR & Branding

“Underneath You” by Craymer

Indie synth group, Craymer, has unveiled their EP Disordered Love featuring the single, “Underneath You.” Fronted by singer Jordan Lake, Craymer is emerging from the Seattle underground scene.

“Underneath You” showcases an ambient storyline in this modern day love song, regarding insecurities in new relationships that ultimately give way to blazing romances. Written out of a personal experience from female inspiration, Elizabeth Rodland, Lake captures her commonality of being stuck in a mediocre relationship, unable to break free from comfortable convenience.

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“Underneath You” by Craymer

Craymer

Image and mp3 courtesy of Amanda Blide of LaFamos PR & Branding

“The Switchback Games” by Haas Kowert Tice

American roots trio Haas Kowert Tice, creates music that uplifts and soars, but that is also grounded by a respect and love for tradition. With just three acoustic instruments – fiddle, guitar, upright bass – Haas Kowert Tice are building a new kind of roots music.

The trio is made up of fiddler Brittany Haas (Crooked Still), bassist Paul Kowert (Punch Brothers), and guitarist Jordan Tice (Tony Trischka). The trio came together for their debut album, You Got This. Trying to track their many overlapping influences is a labyrinthine process. For example, “Grandpa’s Cheesebarn,” brings together alternate banjo tunings, Norwegian dance tunes, hard-rocking folk rhythms, and Debussy-like string arrangements.

You Got This includes two tracks written by Haas, two by Kowert, and five by Tice, although none of the tracks would be anywhere near the same without the collaboration. They pitched in on each others’ writing and arranging each in their own different way. The result is a rich and varied sound and a strong presence from each individual.

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“The Switchback Games” by Haas Kowert Tice

Haas Kowert Tice cover

Image and mp3 courtesy of bandcamp via Greg at Punch Brothers HQ

“Bombs Away” by Darrin James

Bluesy singer/songwriter, Darrin James, released the single “Bombs Away” as the first in a new series he plans to offer via his label, Ravine Records.

James was born in Kentucky, raised in Metro-Detroit, and spent a formative decade in New York City, honing his skills as a producer, guitarist and singer-songwriter, before returning to Ann Arbor, Michigan, a unique, liberal college-town with a great history supporting jazz, blues and folk music. Upon his return, James set up a state-of-the-art studio on Main Street. His musical style is as varied as his background as it draws on his love of the blues and folk music of the south, the Motown soul and classic rock n’ roll rawness of Detroit, and the eclecticism and immediacy of Brooklyn.

In New York, James assembled a stellar roster of Brooklyn musicians, and in 2006 he released his debut album, Thrones of Gold, which earned a wealth of positive reviews in the press, as well as radio and television exposure. James’ gravelly vocals and thought-provoking lyrics generated immediate comparisons to Tom Waits, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan. The lyrics of the bluegrass-tinged title track, “Thrones of Gold,” were published in American Songwriter magazine. The beatnik blues “Crazy World” was placed on the Emmy-nominated reality TV sensation, The Deadliest Catch.

Darrin James Band’s second album, The Lovely Ugly Truth, was released in 2009. The album is filled with parables that illustrate moral dilemmas and regret.

A vinyl release is due out in 2014. With a new studio and a roster of great musicians from both Brooklyn and Ann Arbor such as Dave Johnson (Project/Object), Dan Bennett (Nomo), Ross Huff (Macpods), Tim Haldeman, and Dan Piccolo.

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“Bombs Away” by Darrin James

Bombs Away Single Cover

Image and mp3 courtesy of Matt Bacon, Intern at Independent Music Promotions