“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.

[audio:The Switchback Games.mp3|titles=The Switchback Games|artists=Haas Kowert Tice]
“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

“Your Favorite Song” by Jason Sees Band

Seattle, Washington-based Jason Sees Band will celebrate the release of their third full-length, A Single Frame Passing Through the Light, nationally on October 28.

Compared to a cross between Austin, Texas troubadour Bob Schneider, Portland, Oregon’s space-rock act Helio Sequence, and a shot of top-shelf tequila, A Single Frame Passing Through the Light is a mixture of upbeat, bouncy pop-rock and melodic, swirling space-pop — the lyrics contradicting the hook-laden pop feel of the songs with sorrow, sadness, and mourning, yet a light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel hopefulness compliments the music nicely.

Danceable, hip-shaking, with a rocking rhythm section, “Your Favorite Song” is a prime example of the dichotomy between lyrics of reminiscing and mourning coupled with a melody that will make you dance and smile.

When all was said and done, Sees was brought to near tears at how good the album turned out, making it a fitting tribute to his late wife.

[audio:Your Favorite Song.mp3|titles=Your Favorite Song|artists=Jason Sees Band]
“Your Favorite Song” by Jason Sees Band

Jason Sees Band Cover Art

Image and mp3 courtesy of Alex Steininger of In Music We Trust

“Pop Culture (Who Cares)” by Lily Lambert

Born in England, part-Irish, part-Welsh songstress, Lily Lambert, approaches pop music with a breadth of musical history in her blood. Though influences of her motherland and native roots are imbedded in her musical DNA, Lambert has her sights locked on the indie scene stateside. Plus, like other non-conformists such as Bjork and Enya, Lambert is able to put an indelible stamp of originality on her sound.

Her sophomore album So Far sees Lambert departing from the piano pop of her debut, Life of Lily, to pursue a fuller sound that borders on folk-rock and country.

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“Pop Culture (Who Cares)” by Lily Lambert

Lily Lambert So Far resized

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

“Sound The Alarm” by QVALIA

New York-based cinematic alt-pop band, QVALIA, released an ambitious debut album titled This Is the Color of My Dreams on September 1. The QVALIA lineup consists of Michael Hazani (guitar and vocals), Pierluigi Salami (keys), and Shawn Crowder (drums), three musical soulmates who met while attending Berklee College of Music and have been playing together for years.

Stream the album in full at Soundcloud, or purchase it via bandcamp. Plus, check out the songscapes trailer here.

This Is the Color of My Dreams proudly wears its influences on its sleeve – analog synth and 80’s inspired guitar-laden melodies and percussive war drums a-la action film scores.

[audio:Sound The Alarm.mp3|titles=Sound The Alarm|artists=QVALIA]
“Sound The Alarm” by QVALIA

Fountain Light Leak

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

“Yggdrasil” by Postcode

Postcode began life when Marie Reynolds asked Mikie Daugherty to write songs with her in early 2005. Two songs were written but lost, before they began work on what would become Zebracore in the autumn of that year. The second album Zebraland was released in September 2008, following The Post-Zebracore E.P which came out earlier that year.

Longtime friend Steve Halsall joined the band as bassist in 2011. Next, guitarist, smooth mover and ukulele ace Kieran Ball and drummer Mambo the Mystery Boy joined in 2013.

The group has just released their second record of 2014, an EP entitled Year Of The Zebra – Part One. Issued by Small Bear Records, it can be found on bandcamp.

This EP features the lighter, poppier and more upbeat side of Postcode and sees the band exploring new territory whilst utilising, and sometimes expanding upon, the instrumental blueprint laid down on last year’s EP. Ostensibly a more traditional record than some past Postcode releases, Year Of The Zebra – Part One sees the band experimenting as much as ever and utilising sounds and techniques they have not explored before.

The video for lead track “Yggdrasil” can be viewed on YouTube.

“Yggdrasil” by Postcode


Image courtesy of zebracore tumblr

mp3 courtesy of Mikie Daugherty of Small Bear Records

“Joan Of Arse” by Joan Of Arse

The eponymous debut EP, I’m Fucked, by Joan Of Arse can be downloaded for free/pay-what-you-like via bandcamp. The video for the track “Joan of Arse” can be viewed on YouTube.

The band released prior albums titled Lost At Sea, Distant Hearts, A Little Closer, and Mating Under the Gallows.

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“Joan Of Arse” by Joan Of Arse

Joan Of Arse I'm Fucked

Image and mp3 courtesy of Phil Reynolds of Small Bear Records via bandcamp

“Chicago Dream” by Sister Speak

Rootsy-alternative outfit led by Canadian singer/songwriter and guitarist Sherri-Anne, Sister Speak, combines captivating vocals and guitar stylings with dynamic beats from drummer Lisa Viegas.

The duo is based in San Diego, CA. Their current line-up features the addition of Tolan Shaw’s soulful vocal harmonies and catchy guitar riffs augmented by Meir Shitrit’s warm Gibson electric and the bass grooves of Jacob Miranda. The sunny city welcomed Sister Speak with a “Best New Artist” nomination at the 2011 San Diego Music Awards, and recently a 2014 nomination for Best Pop Album.

The band released their album Rise Up For Love via The Vinyl District on September 23. The single “Chicago Dream” has been compared to “Mazzy Star doing a futuristic take on Stevie Nicks’ work with The Heartbreakers.”

Having toured nationally, Sister Speak has recently opened for major artists Chris Isaak, Air Supply and Henry Kapono, appeared on various TV and radio stations, and played notable venues such as NAMM, Humphrey’s Mainstage in SanDiego, Belly Up Tavern, Hard Rock Cafe Chicago, headlined at Casbah San Diego and Mayne Stage Chicago, and played various festivals throughout the USA and western Canada.

[audio:Chicago Dream.mp3|titles=Chicago Dream|artists=Sister Speak]
“Chicago Dream” by Sister Speak

Sister Speak Press Shot

Image courtesy of Sister Speak Press Shots

mp3 courtesy of Jennifer Thorington & Samuel Markus of Working Brilliantly

“Romie Knows” by Just Walden

Indie piano-rock band, Just Walden, is based in Austin, Texas. Just Walden is: Taylor Eicheseer, drums, percussion, guitar, bass; Danny Ferraro, vocals, piano, synthesizers, percussion, acoustic guitar; and Alex Margolin, drums, percussion, synthesizers. Ferraro and Eicheseer met in 2005 while attending Columbia University. The two released a self-titled EP and had a following around campus. After graduation, Alex Margolin joined the line-up.

The band’s latest album, High Street Barton Blues, will be released on October 21. For Just Walden, High Street Barton Blues is a soul-searching experience. Listen and download the single “Romie Knows” for free from SoundCloud.

Some of the material on the album, which is based on Ferraro’s experiences living in Central London, was informed by the harsher elements of coming-of-age, while other songs beam with encouragement and sanctuary.

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“Romie Knows” by Just Walden

Just Walden Hight Street Barton Blues

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

“Helium” by The Gallerist

Folk-rock trio from Philadelphia, The Gallerist, recently released an EP titled Twine. The Gallerist is Mike Collins: vocals, guitars, banjo; Kai Carter: bass, vocals; and John Holback: drums.

They have been described as Philadelphia’s “best kept secret” by WXPN’s The Key. In the past, they have also been compared to the likes of Wilco, Jeff Tweedy, Ryan Adams, Glen Hansard and the Lumineers. Prior to their current release, the trio offered A Falling Waltz in 2011 and opened for such acts as Laura Marling.

Have a listen to “Helium” below and watch its official video via vimeo.

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“Helium” by The Gallerist

Gallerist Promo 3 resized

Image and mp3 courtesy of Mike Collins, band member and manager of The Gallerist