Week in Pop: Azar Swan, Kwesi K, The Mast

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featuring support and exclusives from Leg Lifters, Pandr Eyez and more.

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Sjimon Gompers | January 24, 2014

The Mast

The Mast's dream team of Haleh Gafori and Matt Kilmer. (photos of the Mast courtesy of the artists, alt photo of Kwesi K courtesy of Yana Galanin Photography)

Surviving the elements, with sights set on spring and ignoring the Bieber buzz, Impose's Week in Pop gives you a few quick headlines at a glance. First up, “Love Will Keep Us Together” becomes “Love Will Tear Us Apart“, as Captain & Tenille call it quits and split after nearly 40 years, the over-hyped Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree beef over the Niners elimination, the Grammy's and Royal Rumble battle it out for your viewership Sunday, Jay Z being sued for $600 mil pertaining to usage of Brooklyn Nets trademark, Slowdive reunion rumors, and 'Kurt Cobain Day' is now a holiday in Aberdeen, Washington. Switching gears and lanes, we bring you exclusives and words from Azar Swan, Kwesi K, The Mast, Leg Lifters, Pandr Eyez and more — in no particular order.

Also in Brooklyn's spirit of dynamic duos, The Mast premiere an advance and exclusive stream of their upcoming album, Pleasure Island. Available this Tuesday, January 28, their self-released album finds the two working in non-traditional song structures to formulate an escapist get away through a full spectrum of sounds. The opening drum and bass heart-starter takes a ride down the water slide on, “Raining Down”, that drops you into the smart, oil slicked waters of hot spring turned swamp with viscous groves. The keyboards emulate the density of fog and air that creates an environment for Haleh's flood light shining vocals. “So Right” keep the beat jumping and all other programmed items following suit, as Matt and Haleh help to make the situation “alright”. “Cliff” creates an audio sculpted formation of land masses with clever editing techniques, as the rhythm and bass begins to kick into a whole alternate space of future-techno club fare on, “Breathless We Go”. The Mast described to us the great joys they take in making music to please themselves, and the results of this synergy can be heard on the track, “Voices”. The approach takes the modern models of electronic modules and molds them like clay or putty for the sake of a new seductive synthesis.

And by the half way mark, the Pleasure Island-pleasure cruise continues on holiday. “Temptation” adds degrees of allure into a vibrant underground club crashing streak of synths, with “All The Way” riding the emotion over the edge and to the limit. “Nuclear Dragon” moves like the reptilian maneuvers of a mechanical monster that pits the duo against a digital adversary. Carrying the album to the closing cuts, “UpUpUp” takes you upward through the audio helium of an air balloon rising adventure into the sky. “Lean Into It” gives a moments pause to kick back with some special club feet steps, as “Emerald” gently eases its glimmer, glow and flicker as a night light to see you through the sun's absence. Concluding your trip to Pleasure Island, “Seas Across Your Mind” provides you with samples of familiar loops that find you reflecting on what you just experienced, wondering about what life holds next, and all the thoughts that generally clutter the mainframe of the mind when traveling back home from vacation.

Haleh Gafori and Matt Kilmer joined us to talk their cross-polination of styles, cultivating sounds, sonic playing fields, a view into their musical dialogues, creating their upcoming album Pleasure Island, and more.

How did the two of you first meet, and discover a kind of vocal-electric synergistic connection?

Haleh: We met at a party on a pier in NYC. There was a bunch of amazing percussionists there, including Matt. I took his card and called him for a gig in San Francisco. At that time, our set up was electric guitar, vocals, and percussion. We toured like that for a while. Matt had been making electronic music for many years before that and he asked me to put vocals on a few of the tracks. We started incorporating them into our sets, and it was just clicking so well. There was no wild card during soundcheck, with mics or soundman, we had such a wide sonic palette to play with and full control of our sound. It just felt right, so we've continued on that route since then.

Like many of your electronic leaning peers, the electronic medium has been enjoying an age of enlightenment where various experimentation and alchemy are providing some new results. What made you both attracted toward the allure of the electronica multi-methods?

Matt: It's such a vast playing field sonically. The types of sounds, how you can tweak them and refine them is just endless. It's very satisfying to hear the bass booming through the subwoofers too. It's a full-spectrum of sound that you can't get with instruments. It's very important to us to keep the spontaneity that instruments allow though too, so we preserve that in our shows with the live aspects, live percussion, live electronic, and vocals, allowing us to still improvise during the set as well.

How was the process and art of developing Pleasure Island into your own musical island, festival, or perpetual club night of bliss?

H: Every song is its own creature. Most of the time though we toss the ball back and forth. Matt sends part of a song, I come up with a melody, send it back and the development of the song continues that way. I was definitely dancing around the studio and enjoying every piece as we made it. The idea was to please ourselves with the sounds, the beats, the lyrics and hopefully that would spread to others.

Thoughts on the evolution of the EDM concepts both in your music and others?

M: Meaning how do we see EDM and electronic music in general evolving? Cross-pollination of genres is happening faster and faster now and new sub-genres are born and die over the course of a summer. We've found it's best to stick to what gets us high and not worry too much about the hottest shit right now. But just hearing so much new music every day is bound to seep in one way or another.

What does a normal song and track development session look and sound like between the two of you? Interested in how you all assign your respective duties, talents, visions, etc.

M: I'll go on binges of production and bang out a lot of tracks at once, like three to five in a day over a week. And at the end of a session, I'll show the tracks to Haleh and she'll, hopefully, pick one or two she likes and then take them and work on it on her own coming up with melodies and writing lyrics. Then we'll get together with an initial version and then figure out how to make it into something that could be a song.

Haleh, are you more into the lyrical and melody department?

H: Yes, I handle the lyrics and melodies. Sometimes Matt will give one part of a song and we'll work out the other parts together, so there's some back and forth that happens, as sometimes a vocal line spurs on a new part, etc.

Matt, are you more into the sequencing or structure/post-structures of the track?

M: That ends up being the gig, especially if we make a track to finish and put out. I'm a drummer so I like to play in as much as possible in a track before I quantize and chop the shit out of it. It's definitely a whole different game from how I came up recording music as a sideman and session player. In regards to the structure of the song itself, Haleh and I work that out together. Sometimes the vocal will want to go into a bridge and other times a chorus. Lately we've been experimenting with non-traditional song structure and shaping the tension and release with timbre and dynamics instead of A section, B section, etc.

The Mast's album, Pleasure Island will be available January 28 via Bandcamp.

Our friends Azar Swan released the Joseph Roberman video for their title track off their their album, Dance Before the War from Handmade Birds. The Brooklyn duo of Zohra Atash and Josh Strawn have shared their exclusive tour photos with us, given us privy studio access, bar room chats, and join us again today to discuss their new video and more.

The Joseph Roberman video finds the two exploring the dizzying expanses of land in the b/w visuals of traveling across hills and arid valleys in the gritty film lens. Interspersed visuals depict traveling nomads and desert wanderers making their way across the hostile and rugged terrain, while images of a flag's sail mark the symbolic political boundaries met with the explosive cuts of erupting earth and frantic camera handling. Zohra's shouts of, “God give me peace” shoot down to the caverns and barren canyons as the production stock piles an exhilarating industrial and mechanical complex of programmed battle plans that ignite the flashpoint lines that thinly hover between states and systems of war and peace.

Without further ado, we bring you our recent conversation with Azar Swan's Zohra Atash and Joshua Strawn on the song, video, war, peace, synergy, and more.

What brought about the pre-war tribal dance of the title track?

Z: I have a couple of soldiers in my life, and in my bloodline. Some of which I've stayed up with for hours because they needed to get these horrifying stories off their chest. It's something that sits kind of heavy, one of those things where once you know it you can't un-know it. I think writing about it was the only way to rid myself of that heaviness. I didn't even live it, but I saw it, and it's equal parts surreal and terrifying.

J: That track in particular came into being as a result of experimenting with drum sounds. I was listening to a lot of African hip-hop, and I stumbled across these drum banks that had a really brutal, heavy feel.

What is it about the cliché of calm before the storm or those battle calls and cries that signify the heat of battles? Why do you feel these dance oriented preparations make for a more intense moment before the war hits?

Z: Growing up I learned this dance called the Attan. It was a celebratory dance where you'd whirl around like a dervish with the accompaniment of a drum that shifts its tempo from slow to insanely fast. The best dancer sees it through til the end, where they're whirling at cyclone speed and keeping their food up. It's performed at weddings, but essentially it's a war dance. Men perform it with swords and stuff. It's almost hypnotic. It got me thinking about the nature of these pre-war rituals, like war paint, and various dances from culture to culture. It sets a tone of, “Don't fuck with me, I'm not afraid to die.” What's more frightening than the person with nothing to lose?

J: What was always specific about this song was that the cliche of the calm before the storm was invested with a certain mood and experience. The lyrics were drawn from actual accounts of friends and relatives of Zohra's in the hours or days — even minutes — before going into battle. This feeling of impending doom combined with a peacefulness, or whimsy. Beauty teased out by the proximity or potential of death.

How was it having your title track adapted in b/w by Joseph Roberman?

J: Joe did a great job. Almost all of the footage is his original footage. The few short clips of archival footage sort of act to flatten history a bit, which makes the video feel very timeless. I think it's amazing how clips of the Spanish Civil War mesh perfectly with shots of us from last summer. I think Zohra's lyrics are relevant no matter what conflict, no matter what side. It's really hard to make political music, and even though I don't think either of us ever set out to do that, this song ends up working that way. It's political but not preachy. It shows, it doesn't tell. And you can dance to it.

Why is war and conflict always more of an interesting subject than peace?

Z: The last line of “Dance Before the War” is, 'God give me peace!' I've never known anything but war stories. My Grandfather was an army General in Afghanistan and killed by Communists before I was born. It was the dark cloud over my family. Peace, and longing for it for every single person living and breathing is ultimately the most inspiring thing ever.

J: Well, we all know the cliche of how to write a good screenplay: find a hero, put them in trouble. We know compelling drama is driven by conflict. If human beings weren't somehow aroused by and driven by these things, we probably wouldn't have gotten very far as a species. We are striving creatures. Peace is a noble goal, but peace has a dark side. There's a classic episode of The Twilight Zone where a guy dies and thinks he's gone to heaven. Everything's great and easy for him, he doesn't have to work for anything or overcome anything. The punchline, of course is that he's gone to hell, not heaven.

Next move for Azar Swan?

Z: We're working on the second record right now. All the instruments are tracked, we're on to the vocals now. Then the mix, then it'll be done! After that, more touring and then dreaming some more.

Dance Before the War is available now from Handmade Birds.

(photo courtesy of Yana Galanin Photography)

Taking inspiration from all corners of the earth, Kwesi Kankam, otherwise known as Kwesi K writes songs that gathers all things and everyone together in the same boat. Putting together his Lovely EP for release on March 25, we present the title track video from his previous EP Pronouns from Tim Whalen and Adam Cate, for Big Foot Media. Heralding from his travels and residencies from Alaska, Ghana, Ohio, and more, Kwesi finds and focuses the inherent and self-evident truths that are shared, and often taken for granted that exist between individuals. These over looked places that connect the people in that magnetic in-between space are Kankam's principle song-writing cause that attempts to relay the ineffable aspects of attraction.

“Pronouns” is a toast to the highest romantic orders. Good times and intimate moments shared between friends and lovers are the cause for celebratory hedonism. Imbibed from the essential and house party unifying plastic red Solo cups, the intoxication from “bottles of whiskey and bottles of beer” flows from the fleeting instance of jealousy to the shared enamorment by the pool. And like the ambiguity of love and affection's mysterious nature; “Pronouns” strums to the rhythm, blues, and ways of intimacy. Everything represented in the video thrives on an inclusive nature of close bonds, extended from the bedrooms, the packed house pizza parties, dance floor delights and swimming pool diving sessions. The message here is that love is universal, love is blind, and should be cherished, and always kind.

Kwesi K talked with us about the upcoming EP, the fascination of “Pronouns”, the video, his multi-dimensional facets of style, hints of an album, and more.

“Pronouns”, both the release and song; what is it about pronouns that inspired you? Is it the allure of their ambiguity?

It's definitely part of it. I like how all-encompassing the quality of a pronoun is. Wanted to make sure the song, the release, and the video all touched on everyone's everything. The bigger picture is that we're all in the same boat. Plus those pronouns are kind of hard to escape.

You have a very holistic singer-songwriter approach, how do you fuse this in conjunction with your smooth r& b notes and tones?

Thanks, yeah, I listen to both genres a lot, so I guess they kind of meld together in the end. Started listening to alt-country / folk more in high school but always had r&b and hip hop around me while I was growing up. There was definitely a time when the albums Jagged Little Pill and Country Grammar woke me up for class everyday, oh fifth grade…

How do you feel your eclectic, Alaska x Ghana x Ohio roots have informed your approaches?

I wouldn't be where I am without travel. These places are places I've lived or I stayed or was born, but I think my approaches have been shaped by the places I've traveled. I've seen and heard a lot and am very grateful for what I take away.

What was different for you in the leap from the Pronouns EP to the Lovely EP?

They were actually all recorded as one project. We decided to break up the releases into two EPs. But I guess all the more personal tunes went to Lovely, and all the ultra-relatable tunes went to Pronouns. Hopefully it works for everyone.

What's next for Kwesi K?

I'm happily turning into a writing monster so hopefully the tunes keep coming this Spring and Summer and when it's ready, that proverbial LP

Lift a glass, an arm, and why not a leg, with Leg Lifters' bone breaking, “Radical Humiliation”. The 7″ single will be available from Three One G this March, packed with the promise of ferocious pain pinched with a spike of pleasure. The combined power team of Justin Pearson from The Locust, Retox, Three One G operator, etc, with Travis Ryan from Cattle Decapitation and Nathan Joyner from All Leather and Some Girls are not here to make this an easy listening hayride. This collaborative death match of gear grinding ear-skin grafts started as the result of production work with various Three One G artists and other friends, until Leg Lifters turned into a tri-force to be reckoned with.

On the surface, “Radical Humiliation” feels like the doomed anxiety you feel after taking four different types of public transit to the airport to fly overseas — only to find that you arrived without your passport. The blistering squelch of stream driven machines, searing guitar strings and pummeling vocals scour the inside of the mind and central nervous system with a Brillo pad's finesse as a feeling of internal emptiness grows like a bottomless pit. The single's b-side is a special rendition of The Velvet Underground's “Sunday Morning”, where the tender morning after lyrics are met with a new background battlefield. Now you are invited to get radicalized in the third degree burn of a humiliation that hurts so good, you will return for further indulgence and gluttony of glorious punishment.

We are also thrilled to be joined again by Justin Pearson, Cattle Decapitation's Travis Ryan, and Nathan Joyner talk about how Leg Lifter's came about in between these respective artists' other groups, and their work with other bands.

What brought you together with Leg Lifters? Was the opportunity to explore more explosive industrial rhythms and soundscapes?

Justin: If I recall correctly, the way Leg Lifters came together was Nathan and I doing a sort of 'production team' for videos, and soon after that, remixes. It was just a by-product related to the downtime with All Leather stuff that Nathan and I were fully submerged in. We did a few videos and short films which are hosted on the Three One G YouTube channel, for acts like Swing Kids, Unbroken, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, etc. Along with remixes for artists like Bad Religion, Designer Drugs, Warsawwasraw, we started doing a radio show for Vestal to showcase a lot of what we were doing and the stuff we were into at the time. So needless to say, Leg Lifters, whatever it was, and is, had no real parameters. Initially, the original music based material we were coming up with was much different in sound than the “Radical Humiliation” single. It was more dance oriented and over the top with tongue-in-cheek elements. We were also obsessed with adding double-kick to classics like, “Ooo Eee Oo Aaa Aaa”, and “Private Eyes”. Needless to say, it took a while to get to where we are at now.

Travis: I was approached by Justin to do a track and handed the music that was used for “Sunday Mourning”. For some reason I couldn't quite put my finger on, one of the first things that came to mind was Velvet Underground's “Sunday Morning”. I can't really explain that since upon first listen of the track probably one of the last things that would come to mind would be something as dainty and pretty as that song, but that's what came to me when I first heard it. Ran the idea by the guys and they thought it was cool. About a week and a half later, Lou passed and I had been really busy lately so I was finding it hard to get with Nathan to record my vocals, I had nothing to do that Sunday morning so it was like the planets aligned or something. I immediately hit them up and we made it happen. Makes the track even that more special.

The blood letting intensity of “Radical Humiliation” is like a hardcore post-industrial exercise in precision, and minimalism. Did you all have some kind of medieval public humiliation concept in mind with this, or was there some kind of sadomasochistic element at work here?

Nathan: The musical side of that song came from an interest of using musical instruments as texture tools. A lot of the sounds on “Radical Humiliation” came out of frustrations with the current state of music. The song was meant to be very dense and layered to the point of un-identification of the instruments used. I think we accomplished that goal with the song.

For each of you, how were you affected by Lou Reed's passing?

Nathan: I slept in the day he passed. I woke up to several text messages from Travis, saying that we had to track the vocals that day. So, we finally met up and tracked the vocals. The whole time I still hadn’t seen the official news about Lou Reeds passing. Once I got to read all the news about his passing on that day, it felt unnerving. Especially since I’ve never really had a huge reaction to a celebrity figures passing.

Justin: I was initially shocked. And I will say, the passing of any true artist and someone who was inspiring in so many ways, was sad to discover. I do think that the over saturation of social network sites and people posting and saying things kind of desensitized me, as it has with the passing of other celebrities at times. But as things came together with the track, and Travis pushing for us to record the vocals and finalize the song on the day he passed, I think it put things into a much needed perspective. It was some next level shit, and a true homage to Lou Reed.

Travis: Let's face it, as people, we're all fairly disassociated from the artists we admire on a personal level. Quite frankly the only people I've ever stopped and thought, 'AW SHIT, that really, really sucks, I love and respect that person and this really is a shame', would be Johnny Cash and Lou Reed. Not to discredit anyone else, it's just these were very concrete personas in the musical spectrum that gave me these emotions. I can't say I shed any tears, not like I would if it was someone close to me or that had ever been in contact with me at all, so it's a much different kind of loss. Everyone and their mother posts on Facebook about famous people's passing as if they were best friends and I tend to roll my eyes a lot at that so it takes a lot for me to actually acknowledge an artist's passing in such a way. Johnny Cash and Lou Reed are two that I can say I felt that way about. Also to hear that it was cancer is always disheartening. It's a horrible thing to go through for Lou and Laurie, another artist I deeply respect.

Out all the songs in his and the Velvets catalog, what drew you all to “Sunday Morning”?

Travis: This is rather unexplainable. It was just the first thing that popped in my mind. Well, that and I did have a weird initial instinct to do some sort of Irish standard over it which I thought would have been funny. But I didn't want this track to be funny. I thought it would have been much more entertaining if it was approached in a sort of bi-polar fashion. Here's this happy, fanciful track over this completely brutal, electro glitch done by a singer in a death metal band. I don't know, I just thought it was interesting and I'm extremely glad we chose to take this route with that song.

I always like that sweet song of “Sunday Morning” is the first thing you hear on the Velvet Underground and Nico album, and it's like this word of warning before you are dropped into their beautiful, wonderful, terrifying world of transgressive street hustles and hassles with the man, while waiting for the man so to speak.

What else does Leg Lifters have in store?

Nathan: Anything!

Justin: Well this single pushed Nathan and I to start working on a new All Leather album.

Was pretty stoked that the Chargers made it as far as they did in the playoffs, any fave Chargers memories from the past Season?

Nathan: I don’t really keep up with sporting events. I do enjoy seeing people pout after 'their' team loses. I don’t know why, but it makes me chuckle.

Justin: I have no interest in football. Did you hear what is going on in Syria lately?

Travis: I'm an extreme opponent of sports. My sport is actively hating them and I'm perplexed by nearly all sports fans. I chose music at a very early age to be the thing to take over my life, not watching grown men chase balls on a field. If you're playing them, that's totally different, but I can't concern myself with such things. Can I get a “like” button for JP and Nathan's answers to this?

Leg Lifters' Radical Humiliation 7″ will be available March 11 from Three One G Records.

Pandr Eyez are back on the track with their track “Heartbreaker”, ahead of their incoming self-released Present EP available February 4. Taking on Mariah's classic, Ferren Gipson's vocals coast on sounds similar to the way we imagine beams of light do when they meet the tiny particles of matter that exist between our voices, the air that we breathe, the debris in the wind, and wayward dust brushed upward from the streets' scattered folderol. We can thank Tom Lloyd's production for this array of techniques learned from the bright production of the post-curfew underground clubs and private flat gatherings that entertain the more creative choices and selections of a properly penned dance playlist. “Heartbreaker” breathes with a held back restraint that indulges into the more atmospheric elements of r&b, where it informs the more experimental sides of pop music progression.

Last Thursday afternoon — London time — we had the honor of conversing with Pandr Eyez vocalist, songwriter Ferren Gipson about their new Present EP, with vague hints of a new album possibly coming later this year. But don't take our word for it, read on:

Covers are rarely my cup of tea, but some great things are happening between the production and delivery in the treatment of Mariah's “Heartbreaker”. What made you choose this song, and how did you reprocess it for your version?

We decided we wanted to do a cover and toyed around with a lot of different song ideas. In the end we thought it would be fun to cover a pop track and somewhere in there, decided on “Heartbreaker”. Coming to do it in this style came about after listening to how sad the song really is. It was really a magic moment between us of rapidly exchanging ideas, and then the song quickly came together. Mariah already makes beautiful pop music, we just put our spin on it.

Present has a very sound of now kind of statement; you keep the style pen pushing from the action opening of “Don't Hurt Em”, the East Coast by Southern flair business on “Brr”, while closing out with big pop soul dramatics on “Cinematic”. Was there a point to make this whole presence of mind, presence of place and places with the Present EP?

The EP is definitely called Present for a reason. We didn't go into the EP with that concept in mind, but by the end, we felt like that idea really captured the essence of it. This is the music that we wanted to make right now, and we thought that it would sit well within the context of what music is doing right now. We've always toyed around with a range of styles because we have so many influences — it's all on the pop music spectrum, though.

How did you two strike up this creative partnership, US by UK wise?

We met while going to university together here in the UK. Both of us were really hungry to create music and decided to try working together to see what we could do. It's been a brilliant exchange of influences the entire time because, growing up in different music scenes, we each bring something different to the table.

What are on your stereos, pods, portables, whatever, lately?

This is always a hard question. The new Beyonce maybe? A lot of random new songs suggested on our Twitter feed.

Other happenings, remixes in the works, or any other collaborative items you all can share?

This EP comes early in the year for a reason. There may be something else for you before the end of the year. [wink]

Pandr Eyez' Present EP will be self-released, February 4.

From their Gold PP7s album, Detroit's new schoolers Clear Soul Forces roll deep with North Carolina's own cool collective, Kooley High on the Richard Taylor directed video for the Ilajide produced track, “Freq Freq”. The combined crews will instantly cause a mass collective response of relaxed minds with extra chilled and illed consciousnesses. Big up your wonderful selves, Detroit and North Carolina. Keep these collaborations in the future conversations, please.

Off the upcoming Wave 1 EP from Ghostly, Com Truise takes you into the lower and under regions of digital designs, with “Subsonic”. From factory car showrooms of the future to the audio affectations of tomorrow's underground; Seth Haley sets the controls for the subterranean places beneath the Galactic Melt of the earth's ice caps.

Our dear friend Scott Hansen of Tycho is readying his second album, Awake, for release March 18 from Ghostly International, and you are welcome to let the new track”Montana” take you across the state drawn lines and out toward the rural expanses of audio-escape territories.

Delorean remixed Empress Of's “Tristeza”, off her Systems EP from Terrible Records. Listen as Lorely Rodriguez raises the spirits of the most forlorn faces, with Delorean's reworking that sends her royal Empress forward into the future and then back again in this glistening and shimmering treatment.

Eternal Lips' Grey Gersten is preparing his self-titled EP for February 25 and sent the continual flowing and spanning astral visions of, “Dream Hesitate” featuring Sharon Van Etten.

Elephant stands “Statuesque”, on the enchanting and gengle breeze number from their upcoming album, Sky Swimming for Memphis Industries, available April 29. Listen, and wear it like your favorite, winter sweater.

High5Collective dropped the video for our friend Alexander Split's “Millions”, featuring Jay Ughh off the Bay by LA emcee's album, Dillinger. Skate past the traffic and be about that paper, mayne, as you get something you can vibe to.

Years & Years drop the fast-fowarding pop from their title jam off the Real EP available February 17 froom Kitsuné. The dream, fiction, and reality here all feel like they're part of the same vein and vibe of real.

Get hypnotized and baptized by Temples' Benjael Halfmaderholz video for, “Mesmerize”, that shows you the golden inner workings that lie behind the pyramid curtain. Listen and look at this view from within the holiest of holies.

A moment of silence and solemnity as Slick Talk (from League Of Extraordinary Gz) & Eric Dingus spill some tears and liquor on the title stunner from their upcoming, deathbeDreams EP (available February 18) that features Reggie Coby. Hats and snapbacks off, please.

Currently touring with Cate Le Bon, check out the Adarsha Benjamin video of Kevin Morby's title track, “Harlem River”, off the album from Woodsist. Let the at home in nature footage take you to river from within your consciousness or spirit.

Xeno & Oaklander made the big signing move to Ghostly International, with a listen to the dark flying stratospheres of, “Par Avion”.

Jump on the run with Axxa/Abraxas' new song, “On the Run”, from their upcoming self-titled available March 4 from Captured Tracks. Atlanta's Ben Asbury clashes together that mods meets rockers mashed together like one big bank holiday bust-up, but this ain't no throwback-Thursday tune. This is musical dedicated to individualism and freedom of the soul that all rebels seek.

Minneapolis duo Liam Benzvi and Francis Jimenez are Strange Names, who fired the boomerang bang of “Ricochet” ahead of their upcoming album Common Attraction available later this spring. Dance down and shake those limbs and joints to the angular guitar glitz.

Snowmine is setting up for a spring tour with Small Black in March and April, but first drops the colonial “Columbus” ballad adventures off their upcoming Dialects album available February 4 from Mystery Buildings.

Star Slinger just gave us a fresh spin of As Animals' cut, “I See Ghost (Ghost Gunfighters)”, that fires vocals in the dance club fireworks that encapsulate the mind and body and impact. I remember catching the Slinger some time back at Slim's, and that Manc sure can rock a house right.

Pyramid sends you into the great galactic electro gears of “Astral”, from his first EP The Phoenix available January 27 from the international audio clothiers of, Kitsuné.

Check out the title cut, “Automatic”, a bounce and hand clap happening off Ladi6's album slated for August 16 in New Zealand and August 23 in Europe, and finally September 17 stateside. Parks and Waajeed keep the mood stepping and stomping forward, and the NZ songstress warming our hearts, and reaching the sweet side of our souls. Find Ladi6 on tour from March 3 through March 13.

Philadelphia's Marian Hill are comprised of Jeremy Lloyd and Samantha Gongol, bringing electro moments with, “One Time”, of their upcoming EP debut Play, slated for March 4. Jeremy handles the programming duties, Samantha brings the vocal play as both share writing credits in minimalist compositions that cruise with a lot of heart and feeling. Catch them at Philly's Boot & Saddle February 25.

Dag Savage, your boys Exile & Johaz roll through with, “Don't Stop” featuring Blu, your first listen from their upcoming upcoming E&J album available February 4 from Dirty Science. These three together create one of the most timeless r n b creations that exceeds locales, as at times the production takes you to a KMD era NYC, with rhymes that roll between the coasts with the Midwest in mind.

We got word that Seahaven just released the 7″ single for “Silhouette (Latin Skin)”, as the Torrance, Cali band prepares their album March 25 from Run For Cover Records. The shadow play makes one heart's wistful with those sympathetic strings that ultimately beckon the event into a full blown orchestral affair.

Reno, Nevada's Spitting Image got plans to drop their “Love On A Terror” with the b-side, “We Begin” 7″ on February 14 through their own imprint Negative Space Extension and Broke Hatrè, and we got the inflamatory video for “Love On A Terror” that fires away sparks everywhere.

Check out Polly Scattergood's Tom Payne directed video for the synth booming title cut from the forthcoming Subsequently Lost EP, available March 11 from Mute. Follow the synths and subsequent strangeness into the strange sciences, outdoor places, exotic places, urban places, natural places, and nowhere places.

Thomas Azier's album Hylas is slated for release March 10 from Casablanca, and we got the zig-zagging pop synth title cut for you to marinate on.

Misery Makes Strange Bedfellows is available now, and we got the Devin Vaughn video for “Jackals”, which we debuted late last year with the following interview with Jared Bartman.

Nothing are on tour with our buddies Weekend, shedding and shredding out the rust of “Bent Nail” off their forthcoming Guilty of Everything available March 4 from Relapse Records. Let the ceiling of noise crash down on you and all around, everywhere.

Jim-E Stack has signed to Innovative Leisure this past week, and we got a listen to his track “Is It Me”, a humming, experimental dance experience that has as interested further in hearing what his Spring slated LP from IL will provide.

Norway's Highasakite have been riding off their Yngvild Sve Flikke video for, “Since Last Wednesday”, ahead of their the upcoming album, Silent Treatment available March 4. Star crossed lovers and ski mask follies abound, all to the thunderous euro indie pop buzz.

Chicago's Lykanthea and Savage Sister dropped their collaborative EP sundrowned, that subdues the burning star into seas of calm. Hear the ambient undertow of earth's forgotten depths on “Glass Orchids”, “Naked”, “Orphan Wild”, the new age deep ends of “Diving”.

Available January 28 from Trouble in Mind Records, be the second, or third bloke on your block to hear Doug Tuttle's self-titled debut-built strong and psyched out from the ashes of MMOSS. If you thought dad's old mossy LPs were tripped out, then son, you ain't heard nothing yet.

Saâda Bonaire released their double album last year on Captured Tracks, and we got an edit of the German duo's cut, “The Facts”, courtesy of 100% Silk producer Pharaohs. This is the kind of Euro dance that you hold out for as long as you can, while you roll your eyes at whatever trite trends the Thursday night crowd dance crowd extols on their petty pedestals.

The Affirmation Caravan EP from Isle of Rhodes comes out February 11, and you are invited to enjoy their proggy organ and shred suites here, with “Tic Toc”.

Wax Fang's The Astronaut will be available January 28 from Don't Panic Records, and check out, “The Event Horizon” of blast-off/take-off.

With their Oh My Sexy Lord LP available now from Totally Gross National Product, Marijuana Deathsquads take you deep into the heart of depression on Endor, with the sci-fi heartbreaking video for, “Ewok Sadness”.

Their Medusa EP is available now, and you can check out GEMS' cover of Seal's “Don't Cry” here with new breaths and textures. Check listings for them on tour, and catch GEMS at SxSW.

Lowell is setting up the I Killed Sara V. debut EP for February 25 from Arts & Crafts, but first the “bad boys” beating banger, “Cloud 69”.

We got the latest from East Bay's own Roach Gigz, with Chris Simmons' video for “Too Easy” ahead of the upcoming The Gig Effect EP. Get gassed out with Gigzy as he takes his list of disclosures and issues to San Francisco's illustrious Palace of Fine Arts.

Like that Alex Chilton homage, September Girls drop the “Green Eyed” single of dark surfing skills, as they prepare to take on SXSW, and release their album Cursing The Sea March 11 from Fortuna POP!.

Poliça are touring the UK this February, and dished out the scrill begging video for “I Need $”/”So Leave”, ahead of the single dropping March 3 from Mom+Pop. Channy Leaneagh takes on the life of a soul singing motel maid in the Isaac Ravishankara video where desire and dinero meet.

Having released her London EP on Good Year Recordings, UK songstress BANKS gets her song “Change” changed by none other than Nashville's own duo of deconstructed abstract destruction-Jensen Sportag. BANKS' vocals go through the transformation process of becoming their own beat and rhythm vehicles, with the pitch adjusted to the tune of those Eastern dwelling synths.

Lucius dropped their intimate, kitchen set live performance of, “Go Home” from their Wildewoman album from Mom+Pop. Consider yourself charmed with this acoustic, instrumentally creative take.

Australian producer Null fugged with “Rescue, Mister”, from Toronto's Trust this week, to snazz it up with digital freeway synth frequencies. Trust's Joyland will be available March 4 from Arts & Crafts.

Girl Band lays down the law in the Second Frame video for “Lawman”, with the 7″ single available Stateside from Any Other City Records. If these Dubliners had not already destroyed our ears and minds and won us over from a an aural assault; they are about to show you how they do it all over again.

Vaadat Charigim's The World is Well Lost is already available from Burger Records/ANOVA, and with the vinyl release now available from Warm Ratio this past week you can also peep this documentary from David Michael Shachar, following one of our favorite bands around Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.

Vikesh Kapoor prepares a massive tour through February 28, including a stop at San Francisco's Noise Pop festival, but not before sharing this intimate, full performance live from KEXP.

It's about time for the once a year, Don Giovanni Records showcase, which means, Screaming Females, California X, Laura Stevenson, Tenement, Shellshag, Upset, Priests, Nude Beach amongst others. Don't miss it, February 6 at Death By Audio, and February 7-8 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. Enjoy the following Don G mixtape streaming for your indie altitudes and attitudes.

Fresh from their album release of I Don't Know How to Talk Anymore, our buddies Felsen are hitting up Bottom of the Hill January 29 at 9pm sharp, joining comrades The American Professionals and The Tender Few. When they sing their new album's lead off song, “Rock and Roll's Not Dead“, you have no choice but to believe with all your heart. Also catch the dedicated indie rockers February 22 in Sacramento at Fox and Goose Pub with Bellygunner featuring Gabe Nelson of CAKE, March 7 in Los Angeles at M Bar, and March 8 in Long Beach at The Prospector.

Save the date, because here comes Suicide Squeeze Records Presents: Forever Singles available March 4, and we have a listen with one of theirs, ours, and your favorite Bleached single, “Electric Chair”.

Also out now on the limited edition Burn 7” from Suicide Squeeze Records, peep Eating Out's video for “That's My Man” from Cody Fennell. These are all your school year awkward moments and rebellion wrapped into one, succinct music video.

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