Week in Pop: All People, Crown Larks, House of Wolves, Kinjac

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Colleagues, Courtesy, Flyying Colours, Mariage Blanc, guest curated by Mannequin Pussy.

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Sjimon Gompers | April 3, 2015

Crown Larks on the couch, photographed by Karina Natis.

In the throes of summer previews and spring indulgences; Impose’s Week in Pop presents a unique view into the latest exclusives from a handful of today’s current and upcoming artists of interest. But first we give you an overview of some of the week’s headlines involving all the movers and shakers: Jay Z announced that his TIDAL is his now his label, while Haxan Cloak (Bobby Krlic/Tri Angle) called out Hova’s TIDAL video teaser for ripping him off; Bowie is adapting his 1976 film, The Man Who Fell to Earth into a theater production titled, Lazarus; Kendrick Lamar shared the original title for his just released album, To Pimp a Butterfly; 1-2-3-4 Go! Records is sharing a space tenancy at San Francisco’s cultural keystone, Lost Weekend Video in continued efforts & campaigns to save the alt-institution; Future Islands extend tour and are recording at Abbey Road Studios; Grimes & Lana Del Rey tour is happening this summer; Johnny Jewel dropped a stream of the film score for Ryan Gosling’s Lost River; iLoveMakonnen dropped a new mixtape; Mac DeMarco played Conan; after being hit with water at a gig in Glasgow, Scotland, Danny Brown walked off stage; Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins’ “The End of Times Tour“; Wilco canceled their Indianapolis gig in protest over the Religious Restoration Act; Asthmatic Kitty Records has protested as well (along with a plethora of artists) by joining the Music For Indiana against IRFRA; Common will not be the commencement speaker at New Jersey’s Kean University following the State Troopers Fraternal Association’s complaint; Noel Gallagher’s solo career has allegedly cost him millions; cryptic words from Blur guitarist, Graham Coxon on the new album; Morrissey announced his summer 2015 US tour; and we hope Joni Mitchell gets well soon.

But coming up next, it is an honor and privilege for us to proudly present a vast range of exclusives and interviews from All People, Crown Larks, House of Wolves, Kinjac, Alge, CITIZENS!, Colleagues, Community Records, Courtesy, Docking, Flyying Colours, Har-di-Har, Jaga JazzistJay Stones, Mariage Blanc, Rivener, Spring King guest curated by Mannequin Pussy, and more – in no particular order.

Crown Larks

Cherishing the glowing orb with Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Cherishing the glowing orb with Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Chicago’s Crown Larks are keeping the free-form spirit of sound strong, presenting the world premiere of “Overgown”; the deep in the tall reeds and weeds thick of it that closes their forthcoming album, Blood Dancer. Following up 2013’s Catalytic Conversion EP, the early warning Blood Dancer has already grabbed attention from monstrous multi-suite blood visions on, “Blood Mirage”, while “Overgrown” takes its to the hilt via a three part movement of anchored psyched out jam sessions. With the new album available April 7 from Space Lung / Land Breathing, and Already Dead Tapes; Lorraine Bailey, Jack Bouboushian, Bill Miller, Peter Gillette, Kevin Ohlau, Chris Boonenberg, and more contribute to an avante-garde melting pot that depicts what happens when musicians on the same wavelength fuse mind, energy, and talents together as a unified communal-like force.

“Overgrown” is not your parent’s side b singular jam band track, but Crown Larks’ experimentation in creating plant and tree like textures that grow before your ears and eyes upon listening. Jack’s voice guides you through the evergreen tall grass, wild grown hedges, the thick of the woods until the Larks transform the entire soundscape into a jungle of amplified orations. Guitars grind against the droning meditation, as synths make circles like a dizzying swarm of birds, buzzards, and scuzzed out fuzz that blares and beats like scuffed up trainers stomping on a yoga mat. In under eight minutes you will have felt as if an entire natural habitat bloomed before you, as Crown Larks keep your attention and senses piqued for ever ensuing article of audio aesthetic interests.Jack, Lorraine, and Bill shared some generous words with us that gives you an intricate and detailed look at how Crown Larks made Blood Dancer, “Overgrown”, and more in our roundtable interview following the debut.

What’s the story behind how Crown Larks first formed, and the story behind the name?

Jack: “About 5 years ago, some old friends from Texas started a warehouse venue in Chicago called The Mopery. Before that, I really had no idea about the whole kaleidoscopic DIY thing, growing up in a small town in Texas and just having my records and instruments, a town where you can mostly just vandalize shit, set fires, do drugs, play football, leave, etc. as opposed to throw a show. I’d been in Chicago for school, then California, then just wandered around a lot, and music was always central but I wanted it to go from just fucking around by myself to something involved in that community. So finding Chicago’s DIY scene was inspiring as far as channeling that damaged, absurd, alien vibe into some sort of beacon for people to gather around and have a good time to build on. So Lorraine and I formed a band with our pal Mike on drums, later replaced by Bill and soon a lot of other people, usually four or five live. The solid lineup right now is us three and Linda on synths and keys, Lorraine’s moved to doing all the wind instruments live, but there’s always a lot of switching.”

Lorraine: The name was kind of a free association thing like the music can be, and it works with “lark” as either referring to play or a joke, but also the bird. I thought it had this golden colored sound without being too exultant or too specific… both words can be nouns or verbs, and looking at it on a page it’s not clear rhythmically how to read it. Bands always seem forced to choose between stone-faced seriousness and the “just kids eatin pizza” roles, so the indeterminacy of it plays with that too. And we liked how synced with Royal Trux and King Crimson, we’re in some kind of Venn diagram there…”

“Overgrown” is such a trippy jam, love how it turns into such a blossoming, pluming, sonic groove. How was this song made?

Jack: Three different parts…the start was originally this kinda mundane psych rock sort of bullshit thing, but then I saw the Chicago band Toupee play this amazing slow jam of theirs called “Cranial Walker” and got really excited about the two-chord exchange thing again. And my main thing used to be acoustic fingerstyle guitar, and Neil Young, that kind of poetry, so it came together. I feel like I’m still learning to write ‘songs,’ with this being one of the more song-y or introspective parts of the record.

The middle part has this meditative but ominous feel, and I love what we did with the flugelhorn and flute on there, just kind of directed improvisation with our friends/live-bandmates on those instruments… I tend to worry about sounding too sentimental, but in this case figured fuck it, it’s a nice moment, and felt it out in a different direction… Yusef Lateef or McCoy Tyner, stuff like that, was in my mind. Like, Yusef Lateef’s arrangement of the “Spartacus Love Theme” or “Fleurette Africaine” off Money Jungle… just beautiful stuff, I can never maintain it for long without throwing in some rougher noisy shit, but yeah.

We couldn’t decide where to take it, until one day we were just jamming with it super loud in the basement, and I got frustrated and just maxed out my amp, heavy feedback, and suddenly the magic happened: Lorraine started playing that cycling keys riff and Bill busted out this almost blast beat kind of drum thing, and then that heavy bass on the left hand and yeah, just felt … to tell you the truth, we considered scrapping that part because it felt a little… you know, the post-rocky crescendo/catharsis thing, but in the end I liked how it turn out explosive but still jagged, it’s a good exhale to end the record, which works best as a full record (doing it for Prince).

Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Insights into the dynamics of song construction with Crown Larks?

Lorraine: Jack or I might show up with some basic ideas that we jam on together before kind of imprisoning them in a structure, but just as often it’s just playing together for hours, then listening back to those recordings and building stuff out of them. We never really want to subordinate everything to one writer or idea…we’re more about conjuring up an explosive, communal vibe and keeping some chaos in the mix. So we try to combine raw energy and noise with more intricate arrangements and interesting playing. And the rhythmic component is taking over more and more, bands like Cloud Becomes Your Hand or CAVE or Goat or Guerilla Toss that do the nonstandard-but-still-groovy thing… to combine that with some noise, some free jazz, some punk energy, all that kind of happens since it’s what we’re into.

Jack: The lyrics to me aren’t that abstract, I think they’re not really ‘stories’ so to speak, but there’s a kind of shifting between the immediate and the warped or surreal there. But yeah, spontaneity, communal writing, but not aimless noodling. Intense, but not taking yourself too seriously…trying to express the fun and energy and personal feel of a warehouse show. I like to hear bleak, grinding noise suddenly give way to ecstatic horn leads or whatever. I have this impossible dream that people might dance to some of the things we write. And our drummer Bill is, for me, the main attraction musically, all kinds of weird shit happening on drums on this record that I don’t want to song-write away.

Tell us about the making of Blood Dancer, anecdotes, etc.

Jack: Live tracking was great because we toured so much leading up to it, and we’re also a band that’s happy to have some random shit happen in the studio and try to catch lightning in a bottle instead of working it over note by note.

But beyond that, one long ass story really sums it up. We like to live-track the full band as much as we can, but I’ve always wanted to add a second percussionist, like that Horse Lords vibe, but haven’t yet. The studio had this beautiful set of congas out, so the plan was to live-track and then just record a bunch of congas here and there and work some of that in to a couple songs, I was dead set, our immortal vision could not live without congas.

So now it’s 1 AM, we’re tracking “Overgrown,” which is this 8-minute beast, almost get a perfect take, and Bill drops a stick with like 15 seconds to go. We don’t wanna cut and paste shit, so we decide to do another take. But the amp starts buzzing, ground loops, more ground loops, more bullshit, it’s near 4 AM by the time we finish, and the congas don’t get recorded, and they were on loan, so they disappear.

The congas haunted my dreams. I can’t forget the congas. We’re doing all this great shit in mixing, but all I’m thinking about is congas. I can’t afford congas, so I interrupt a mixing session to drag my drummer through rush hour traffic to buy congas (I threw in a super nice djembe for good measure) at Guitar Center on credit, hoping to exploit the 30-day no-questions-asked return policy. We take them to my engineer’s house, record like two hours of fucking around on them. Then I realize I can’t fit them back in my car. I don’t fucking know how I got them in there at Guitar Center, I just can’t get them back in. And we go on tour tomorrow, so I leave these three huge drums blocking up my engineer’s living room for weeks, you know, motivate him to want to do a good job for us.

Now I’m back from tour and my mom’s in town, so yeah let’s have some together time and return some congas. Trying to drive to Guitar Center, turns out it was Pride Parade in Chicago, which goes down the street Guitar Center is on. Stuck in traffic two hours, can’t reach the store. Now my van’s in the shop. Time’s ticking on my $1,000 non-investment. Finally get there on the thirtieth day, have to lie to the Guitar Center worker who’s been toiling away for 11 years listening to kids stumble through Korn songs while their parents look up the Satanism prevention website, get my fake money back.

We didn’t keep even one conga track. There are no congas on this record. Bill’s conga technique got better though.

Engineer’s summary: So all this happened because you just… saw some congas, right? So yeah, not that Kevin Shields perfectionism, just a kind of dogged stupidity and getting too caught up in it, stamina-over-talent style.

Chilling with Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

Chilling with Crown Larks, photographed by Karina Natis.

How has Chicago informed your sound?

Lorraine: It’s strange how the city’s beauty derives from its vibe as a grinding post-industrial hellhole. The clatter and din that bands like ONO and Toupee sculpt into amazing music is the sound of what it feels like to live in this place. So there’s this sea of decay, police, money, the million conflicted things people call gentrification — and this is the most racially segregated city you can find — and for me, wanting to give back to that and reach people naturally led to jamming with people more and getting a more stable project going. Chicago’s scene at its best is this orgy of noise, free jazz, and something like rock.

Jack: I think the record’s overall flow has this surreal disorienting quality, which is how I feel in Chicago, this harsh noisy squall with this sky that’s never really dark where you can still have a laugh or some moment of quiet or reflection and carve out a life.

And the music scene is doing that in this visceral and beautiful way…before/besides the DIY scene, the AACM is from here, and the music that came out of that and their whole idea of what music can be is so inspiring to me. This idea you can have this free individual blossoming and at the same time this ecstatic communal explosive thing in music, and then let that permeate your life. I feel like they pointed toward this third thing beyond what’s thought of as ‘art,’ and what as ‘politics,’ this realm where that explosiveness would produce real, visceral life and wash bullshit away. What’s best about Chicago is that you have these demigods like Muhal Richard Abrams, or Hamid Drake, or Phil Cohran doing their amazing thing, and then we have this killer noisy DIY scene.

Lorraine: Yeah and it would be amazing to see those things integrate and be aware of each other more. It’s always great to see heroes from those two worlds like Travis from ONO and Hamid Drake interact personally or musically, or a lot of the younger free jazz and noise guys who do band stuff too, Ryley Walker’s band is a great example.

The latest from Chicago?

Jack: Probably all these answers focus on music and personal stuff so much because it feels like Chicago’s a fucked place, that bleak landlocked post-industrial vibe permeates it, the mayor has sold off the whole social infrastructure, schools, etc. in favor of the most hard to believe bullshit cronyism. There’s this whole inferiority complex that the wealthy shot-callers feel with respect to New York, so you see things like… okay, what took 10 years in Williamsburg, some asshole in real estate goes and visits it and then takes the things he likes and builds them in Pilsen or Logan Square patchwork style. So it’s immediately not just wrong or unjust, it’s also ugly and boring and flat. Not to say you guys miss out on that in NYC, but here it’s just got that bullshit ‘we’re the city that works!’ put your head down sort of vibe.

But yeah, musically and culturally it thrives in spite of all that somehow. I think that our punk/outsider rock/noise/etc. scene is as good as any, and our free jazz scene is the best. It’s cool to see integration happening there, and a lot of great records. There’s also a safer spaces initiative about gender-inclusiveness, dealing with racism and sexism in DIY spaces, etc. And you see stuff like musicians working with Ceasefire, which I have to give credit to, because I’ve never seen an American city more segregated than Chicago, and the truth is that there’s a lot of complacency and bro-we-just-wanna-chill type shit in the music scene that also makes for boring music totally disconnected from where it’s at. Again, thinking about the consciousness of the AACM and good punk scenes for example, it’d be great to see that keep blossoming.

Favorite Chi-town artists/bands that you all feel the world needs to hear?

Jack: Hamid Drake, Toupee, Health&Beauty, Frank Rosaly, Columba Fasciata, El Is a Sound of Joy, Jason Stein, Mines.

Lorraine: Cool Memories, ONO, Videobug, Cool Memories, Wishgift, Natural Information Society, CAVE.

Bill: Mako Sica, Wei Zhongle/Rob Jacobs.

Crown Larks’ Blood Dancer will be available April 7 on CD and LP from Space Lung / Land Breathing, Already Dead Tapes on cassette, and digital via Bandcamp.

Catch Crown Larks on the following dates:

April
03 Brooklyn, NY at Shea Stadium
04 New York, NY at Cake Shop
05 Oberlin, OH at The Power Plant
06 Chicago, IL at Empty Bottle
07 Iowa City, IA at Trumpet Blossom Café
08 Omaha, NE at Midtown Art Supply
10 Denver, CO at Deer Pile
12 Albuquerque, NM at Gold House
13 Flagstaff, AZ at Mia’s Lounge
14 Tucson, AZ at The Flycatcher
15 Tucson, AZ at Solar Culture
16 Phoenix, AZ at Trunk Space
17 Los Angeles, CA at The Smell
18 Los Angeles, CA at Live Astro
19 Santa Barbara, CA at Funzone
21 Santa Cruz, CA at The Blue Lagoon
22 Sacramento, CA at Starlite Lounge
23 Oakland, CA at The Night Light
24 San Francisco, CA at Hemlock Tavern
25 Davis, CA at Third Space Art Collective
26 Arcata, CA at Oceanfront Generator Show
27 Portland, OR at Rotture
28 Olympia, WA at Deadbeat Records
29 Vancouver, BC at 333
30 Vancouver, BC at The Kremlin

May
01 Seattle, WA at Black Lodge
02 Seattle, WA at The Future
05 Billings, MT at Railyard Ale House
06 Fargo, ND at The Aquarium
07 Minneapolis, MN at Kitty Cat Klub
08 Madison, WI at Mickey’s Tavern
20 Cleveland, OH at Euclid Tavern
22 Brooklyn, NY at Aviv
24 Montreal, QC at Brasserie Beaubien
26 Toronto, ON at Johnny Jackson
27 Detroit, MI at UFO Factory

All People

Community Records' own, All People, photographed by Ryan Hodgson Rigsbee.

Community Records’ own, All People, photographed by Ryan Hodgson Rigsbee.

New Orleans indie imprint Community Records has given the world releases from Caddywhompus, Ex-Breathers, Ovlov, Woozy, Gnarwhal, Pope, Woozy, Donovan Wolfington, Tare, and more, and today we had a chance to catch up with label founders Greg Rodrigue, Daniel “D-Ray” Ray to talk shop and more. Premiering the song “Conversations” from their own band, All People; examination of music as a medium for human interaction is explored in an inclusive statement about continuing to keep discussions and forms of expression moving forward. Taken off the their forthcoming album, Learn Forget Repeat, available May 5 from a cooperation between Asian Man Records, Community Records, and Broken World Media — the ethics exhibited on the dissections of creative human dynamics on “Conversations” extend forth not just to the philosophies of Daniel and Greg’s own Community stable, but can be seen even through the multi-label release amongst an impresario network of friends, and taste-makers.

“Conversations” is the encouraging promise of finding infinite outlets of expression in an ever growing international global village of friends. All People paint an invitation for fans, musicians, and aspiring label operator upstarts with the minute and a half opening of charged power chords, synth loops, and the opening mission statement lyrics; “If you got something to say to the world, with no medium to say it, how about we put together a band, and then we can play it!” The impetus of why people get in bands to begin with, why anyone ‘hops in the van’ and takes the touring plunge, why anyone starts a label, and more are expressed by All People for indeed all people; in the same way that Community Records breaks the fourth walls and pretensions to create a communities for artists, appreciators, instigators, activists of the indie order, and more alike to inhabit a shared community. Sharing some insights into the world of balancing All People, Community Records, managing a coffee shop, pizza parlor, the state of the independent unions, and more, right after the following debut of “Conversations”.

Tell us about how you and co-founder Daniel ‘D-Ray’ Ray began All People.

Greg: Our project came out of both D-Ray and I desiring to have a band that would be able to tour frequently, make a lot of new music, and function as a conduit for self expression. D-Ray and I played in a band together for a number of years before this one, and due to some dissatisfaction with the frequency of touring and the functionality of that band, we wanted to start something new. We came up with the band name “All People” while waiting in the airport for the plane ride home to New Orleans from our visit to San Francisco for the Asian Man Records 15 year anniversary shows in June 2011. All People played our first show in March of 2012.

Tell us about the process of recording Learn Forget Repeat, and then procuring the release not only from Community Records, but your heroes Asian Man Records, and Broken World Media?

We recorded “Learn Forget Repeat” at The Living Room Studios in Algiers, Louisiana. James Whitten engineered and mixed the record. He also recorded our first EP “Communicate” at the same space. It was very important to us to record both records live in order to capture the energy of the four off us playing together. James is easy to work with and has recorded quite a few New Orleans bands including Thou and Pears. Asian Man Records co-released our first effort and we’ve always liked their record label so continuing to be affiliated with them is meaningful to us. I did an internship with AMR in 2007 and in many ways that experience was what led D-Ray and I to start Community Records in 2008. Community Records co-released Donovan Wolfington’s vinyl LP “Stop Breathing” with Broken World Media in 2013. We enjoyed working with them on that release and so another project together seemed like a rad idea. In general, we enjoy doing co-releases with other labels who we feel that we pair well with aesthetically.

As we debut “Conversations”, can you tell us what sorts of conversations, discussions, arguments, and exchanges inspired this song?

D-Ray: Specifically, the lyrics were written around a time of circulating band members and trying to convince them of the amazing opportunity this touring musician life provides to connect with people all over the world. One of the best ways to learn about the world we live in is not only through books or universities, but through human interactions with different cultures. Touring allows you to be in a different place with different people every single day.

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D-Ray: The overarching lyrical idea is spreading positivity through your conversations with others and using a musical project as the vessel to initiate those interactions. As well as, working past those little voices from your brain that tell you useless things like “you’re not good enough” or “you’re too tired.” The majority of my inner monologue is a battle to stay productive and positive everyday and I know I’m not special in that fact. We all deal with those thoughts, so I wanted to kind of tell my own personal account of how I cope and maybe my experience could shed some light on someone else’s situation.

How do you and Daniel find a way to balance running an imprint, and a band, along with Greg’s venue/coffee shop, Hey Cafe?

Greg: We just try to stay positive minded and motivated towards making music and helping others to make music. Lots of meditation, reflection, good sleep, eating well, making time to laugh…those aspects help one stay focused. We also are not in it alone, we get a ton of help from others. JayTee Barbour and Alexus Fisher are interns for Community Records that have been tremendously helpful in keeping us going and helping to make improvements. Matt Seferian who plays in Pope and Donovan Wolfington has also been our intern for the past few months and that has been rad. Hey! Cafe is co-owned by my business partner Tommy LeBlanc, his help and support is essential in keeping our coffee roastery / coffee shop / DIY venue going. D-Ray also co-manages a pizza shop in New Orleans called Mid City Pizza that sponsors many of our events and happens to employ a number of the musicians on the Community Records roster. In general though, I don’t think we have the ‘staying in balance’ thing figured out. We just wake up each day and do what we can to work towards our dreams and goals. Some days I fall flat on my face and I have awful anxiety, but the people, friends, and family around us keep us going. We couldn’t do this without them!

Some of the best shows you all have had lately at Hey Cafe?

Hey! Cafe recently hosted the album release show for Pope – “Fiction”. Hey! Cafe also hosted two shows that celebrated the seven year anniversary for Community Records. Both of those anniversary shows were so much fun, but for me personally the set the second night from Native America put me over the moon. In between songs there was free pizza delivered from Mid City Pizza and passed around the room, FREE PIZZA PARTY! and at some point during their set, Ross Farbe (guitarist for Native America) was picked up by the crowd and safely and successfully crowd surfed while playing guitar in the basement size show space. My favorite show there ever was a post Mardi Gras parade impromptu set by Screaming Females in 2010. There were Mardi Gras beads everywhere and there was so much positive energy in the room.

Other cool artists you want to give shout-outs to from New Orleans, and elsewhere?

We just played some rad shows with Football, Etc. and Palehound at SXSW, we really love both of those bands. Some labels we love are: Exploding In Sound, Inflated Records, BUFU Records, Skeletal Lightning, and Father/Daughter Records. We collaborated on showcases with some of those labels at SXSW this year as well. Ava Luna and Boyfriend Material are playing our album release for Learn Forget Repeat in New Orleans. Lisabi (Campinas, Brazil) booked a tour for us last year through Brazil for a month, and this May Caddywhompus is flying down there to do the same tour and festivals. The whole Community Records family of bands of course (Caddywhompus, Pope, Woozy, Donovan Wolfington, Tare, etc.) are near to our hearts.

Community-Records

Next moves for both Community Records, and All People?

All People are in the middle of a seven week tour right now and we are doing a three week tour with Pope from May 20 to June 10. We will also tour for 5 or so weeks after Community Records Block Party 2015 (our annual music festival / label celebration) on October 23 and 24. All of these tours will be completed with our veggie oil van which runs on waste vegetable oil we pick up from restaurants along the way. Community Records has upcoming releases for: Boyfriend Material, Safety, Woozy, and Caddywhompus. We also have some other releases / projects in the works that we are not quite ready to announce yet.

Closing thoughts on the connections, and emphasis on curating culture with an imprint called Community Records, and a band titled, All People, that all endorse a kind of all-inclusive attitude and spirit?

As far as Community Records goes we try to run the label in a way that helps others and ourselves to release music and put on shows in a simple and honest way. We do not do contracts with bands, almost all of our MP3 downloads are free directly from our web-site, and we try to keep the prices for our albums, shows, and band merch affordable. Any money we make off of the label goes directly back into more releases and more projects for bands. D-Ray and I get our spending money from our service industry jobs (coffee / pizza).

The original concept / band name for All People was “All People Translate Pure Unfiltered Emotion”. This is a set of words that tries to describe what the band would be for us; a conduit for us to express our feelings and emotions. The statement is a kind of mantra or spiritual belief that also touches on the idea that we as a band wholeheartedly believe that there is a pure and common energy that exists within and connects all human beings. Music happens to be our method of self expression within the context of this common energy, but each person has their own unique way of expressing what’s in their hearts. Many of our lyrics are about this idea in some way. The lyrics for our song “Conversations” that you all are featuring here is attune to this concept.

We certainly do strive for an endorsement of an all-inclusive attitude and spirit in our projects. With that said, we know we are not perfect, and we as human beings will never be perfect. In this life and in these efforts all we can do is try our best to pay attention, and to help others and to help ourselves. We will inevitably make mistakes and hopefully make improvements along the way. We try to move forward with peace in our hearts while facilitating the production of music we believe should be heard.

State of the independent pop culture unions, labels, aesthetic progressions, and so on, here in 2015?

In general, it’s very exciting times right now. There are so many people starting up record labels, bands, media web-sites, DIY spaces, and people who are putting their hearts into what they do. We love participating in the DIY scene in New Orleans and across the country / world. I feel like I discover a rad new band or entity every week, sometimes every day! It is fun to go out on tour and meet new people who are running spaces, making music, and participating in art in general. We feel honored and lucky to get to be a part of this at all. The realm of the internet and adequate / affordable home recording techniques has really opened the doors I believe as far as people being able to make and distribute new music. There are not as many barriers to entry as there were before these things existed. To me, this is exciting. As stated earlier in the interview we love working with other labels and bands who we work with well aesthetically. I think this is part of our driving motivation in doing what we do.

All People’s Learn Forget Repeat will be available May 5 from Asian Man Records, Community Records, and Broken World Media.

Catch All People playing the following dates:

April
03 Sea Bright, NJ @ 1184 Ocean Ave
04 New York, NY @ Suburbia w/ Safety & Broadcaster
06 Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Roboto Project
08 Oberlin, OH @ Windy Pines
09 Detroit, MI @ The Sanctuary
10 Grand Rapids, MI @ The Quad
11 Kalamazoo, MI @ Louie’s Trophy House
12 Chicago, IL @ Gnarnia
13 Springfield, IL @ Black Sheep Cafe
14 Indianpolis, IN @ Indy Hostel
15 Bloomington, IN @ Kroger Castle
16 Carbondale, IL @ The Swamp
17 Nashville, TN @ Exponent Manor
18 Knoxville, TN @ Long Branch Saloon
19 Greensboro, NC @ TBA
20 Raleigh, NC @ Slim’s
21 Richmond, VA @ Heckingers
22 Middletown, NY @ House of 1000 Couches
23 Purchase, NY @ The Stood
24 Boston, MA @ PGC (Bufu Records Fest)
25 North Haven, CT @ Broken World Media Fest
28 Birmingham, AL @ TBA

May
08 New Orleans, LA @ One Eyed Jacks (Album Release w/ Ava Luna, Pope, Boyfriend Material, Melters)

House of Wolves

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The west coast wanderer, Rey Villalobos continues to craft gorgeous loner pop arts under the moniker — House of Wolves — featuring more reverberating piano notes, strings, woodwinds, vulnerable vocal exhibitions and the like on the premiere of “Love”, off his new album, Daughter of the Sea. Available April 7 from {Dusk, Dais, Dawn}; Villalobos follows up his Fargo Records album Fold In The Wind with the kind of intimacy reserved places more private than the open air acoustics of chambers and atriums alone. Recorded on the east coast of Ireland with Darragh Nolan, a certain solitude surfaces like an artist adrift with the tools, paints, and instruments of his medium by his side, complimenting a solace that overlooks the east Irish sea basin.

The piano notes speak to the hearts and emotions that contemplate the co-inhabited divided homes on House of Wolves’ painstaking portrait of, “Love”. The riffs of communications and connection confusions experienced by even the most legendary of lovers is demystified in the grounded piano laden earth; where all hopes, wishes, and departures are personified by echoes, strings, slight percussive rumbles, and Rey’s vocals that descend into a tear choked whisper. The mastery of conveying the classic song and tale of heartbreak is done utilizing minimal, unplugged instruments that expand like the way the sun burns off the fog, and evaporates the morning dew’s tears that mourns the exit of night. After the debut of “Love”, read our candid interview with Rey Villalobos for a personal inside House of Wolves tour.

What has the progression been like for you creatively, and personally from the creation of your album debut, Fold In The Wind, to the making of Daughter of the Sea in Ireland with Darragh Nolan?

It was a long process, both creatively and personally mostly because Fold in the Wind had multiple releases, from first being self-released, then picked up by Fargo, Moonpalace, and Bleek Records, and touring the album for 3 years straight with all the releases it was a slow burn. Creatively I was behind in releasing albums, so I took off 2014 to write and record a bunch of songs, by the time I got to Ireland to work with Darragh on Daughter of the Sea I was super ready to record and excited to get to the new material that had been waiting in the wings.

How have you found that tour European tours have informed your own creative processes and approaches?

It’s very inspiring, just having a place to go and tour and play your music, that’s huge for a new band… the shows have been really cool, and I’ve met a lot of great friends along the way. Europeans are immensely generous and very sensitive to all kinds of music, so when I showed up and played my mellow folk sets it gave me motivation to keep doing what I was doing, I didn’t have to change anything to compete, I was able to keep my soft sustained approach because people were digging that and it felt really validating.

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Tell us about the heart resonating inspirations that gave inception to the beautiful song, “Love”.

The song stemmed from a feeling of knowing deep down inside that your love is not going to last, even though there are good parts, all that shit doesn’t matter when there’s a disconnect at the cellular core, that’s broken love mixed with hopefulness about the situation at the same time…that’s where I was when i wrote that song.

What are some of your own creative styles and methods of song composition and construction?

I’ll pick up my guitar, start playing and experimenting with chords, and usually a melody follows, it kind just of falls down from the sky, sometimes with some words at the same time, it could be a 10 second idea, or a full song, I’ll record it on an old tape player or phone, then totally forget about it. When it’s time to get an album together, I’ll go back and go through all the song fragments and pick my favorite ones and then start to develop lyrics and flesh out the melodies, I feel that time gives me more perspective on the songs, something you can’t always hear the first time you write them. Eventually some of the songs switch over to the piano, but initially I’m writing with the guitar.

Motifs of nature seem to factor into your work a great deal, why do you feel that is, and what is it about everything water, air, land, wind, and sea that connects to the more sentimental places for you?

Nature to me is extremely sentimental, it is boundless and full of magic, that connection is one of the best parts of living. I grew up around nature from the pacific coast to the California mountains, i really connect to the elements and they definitely show up in the songs. I was thinking the next album will have to have a title that follows this idea, something to do with earth or fire.

Other lesser sung artists that you feel the world needs to hear?

Unhappybirthday.

House of Wolves’ Daughter of the Sea will be available April 7 from {Dusk, Dais, Dawn}.

Kinjac

kinjac week in pop

Seven Moths operator Michael O’Shea’s solo outfit Kinjac releases his album Possession April 7, and we bring you the debut of the electronic western gaucho drifter pop, “Stone” (Kinjac Remix) featuring Halli’s talents of River Whyless. As an artist who has traversed the Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, Stockholm, to the everywhere landscapes of the world — O’Shea’s roots are grounded in Asheville, North Carolina, born to a new age learning musically inclined family. The NC connection has found Michael recording in a haunted family home in the woods, working on solo Kinjac releases, Incandescent, Moths, producing for his friends, Carolinabound, Toaster Bath, numerous other artists on numerous other labels, as well as his own Seven Moths Records imprint. Utilizing his own natural gift of synesthesia where cognitive pathway sound sensory is processed in terms of color, shape and texture; the remix of “Stone” becomes maximized to a cinemascopic and paranormal level with the help of Halli from River Whyless’s own original vocal and instrumental contributions.

The great country western epic soundtrack canons penned from Hazlewood, Morricone productions get tricked out and kicked up by the silver spurs of a next re-envisioning. The dusty vagabond trails of River Whyless’s original are given new drum machine appointments and a baroque score where the stems are set up and situated into sampling modules, and freshly arranged sequences. Halli’s destitute yet determined delivery becomes framed by new editing scheme where the rhythm develops from the set-up of a showdown confrontation to some one who has ceased their prayers and good tidings, to an experimental deluge into a barrage of supernatural styled effects, edits, chops, screws, and glitches galore. For insights into the Kinjac creative process, personal histories, stories of adventures, heartbreak, loss, inspirations and more; our interview with Michael O’Shea immediately follows the “Stone” remix.

Tell us how you manage the juggle between your own creative works, and curating your own imprint with Seven Moths Records.

I don’t think I’d call it juggling because I’d say all of that is my creative work on some level. Anything I’m working with closely enough to release on Seven Moths Records is usually pretty near and dear to my heart. Everything released on the label was produced on some level myself. Some of it was just mastered by me, but I produced, mixed and mastered a lot of it and I was heavily involved in the last two releases as a producer. I had a lot of creative control in shaping the sound of the Carolinabound and Toaster Bath albums that were just released and I think I’ll continue to have a very involved creative role producing future work that is released on the label.

Tell us about the journeys between Asheville and Chicago, and working on music in a haunted house outside of Asheville, and learning to cope with loss, along with the inhabiting spirits and other paranormal activity that occurred in your family’s old house turned recording studio.

The haunted house isn’t exactly haunted by ghosts in the traditional sense. Usually that means some sort of human spirit is lingering from unfinished business. This house happens to be built on a piece of land that seems to be some sort of interdimensional crossroads for all sorts of supernatural activity and things (demons, spirits, ghosts, whatever you want to call them) would get kind of trapped in the house as they passed through. I had a Cherokee Medicine Man smudge the place a couple of times, but it wouldn’t stay empty for long. The new Kinjac song “Possession” is actually about one experience in that house where my good friend was semi-possessed by the demon thing that hung out in the basement and almost attacked me after his voice changed and these insane noises started coming from the basement. That experience was intense enough that I started packing up all of my things the next morning and moved out of the house a few years ago.

Unfortunately, my minister father suddenly got sick died from undiagnosed cancer last winter over the holidays, so I moved back to Asheville from Chicago (after spending the coldest winter in 100 years there). That house strangely became available right then, so I moved back in. It was good fodder for creative work this year, but it pretty quickly became too intense again and I moved back out after producing albums for Carolinabound and Toaster Bath there and recording some new Kinjac material, including the “Stone” and “Chaos” remixes and the “Possession” single.

Loss is probably a good word to use when talking about my music. I think it plays a role in almost all of my work as an underlying theme in some way and comes in many different flavors.

The Kinjac releases Incandescent and Moths dealt a lot with loss in the romantic sense. Those were inspired largely by the collapse of a transatlantic relationship with a Swedish girl that I had. I’ve also always been deeply concerned with politics — and I studied philosophy and literature in college — and for me that tends to bring up a sense of utter hopelessness and despair. If you’re paying attention, you realize we’re careening towards global environmental disaster and a totalitarian police state that would make Orwell proud. Racism and hate are still very much in vogue, and we live in a time of rampant economic disparity that is tearing apart the fabric of society at the seams. Not that it’s ever been perfect, and we’re quite better off in a lot of ways now than in previous eras, but it’s awfully depressing how much better off we could be if we had learned some basic lessons as a species. But we didn’t, and now just the problems of overpopulation and looming environmental destruction are issues that are unfathomably difficult to deal with and are unprecedented to deal with. I think humanity missed its window to clean up its act and avert some of these disasters, so I carry a profound sense of loss for the brighter future that could have been, and won’t be now.

My fiancée’s father was diagnosed with cancer the same week as mine November a year ago. Whereas my father went very quickly, hers has been battling with it for a year and a half and just entered a hospice this past week. Two years ago, my sister Kathryn’s close friend died from cancer at age 19 the same month we started working on an album together. Reeling from that loss destroyed that project, and led to me moving to Chicago. Loss is a recurring theme that has been haunting the lives of myself and my loved ones for the past couple of years, and that obviously comes out in my artistic aesthetic.

Tell us a bit too about how you made “Stone”, remixing it, and how River Whyless impacted the recording.

Remixing “Stone” was a particularly interesting production project for me. River Whyless’ original version is a 7:41 epic journey of a song with three sections. The remix was created from just the middle part of the song, which is a moody middle bridge part that’s very different than the rest. Stone was one of my favorite tracks from River Whyless’ first release and I especially liked the dark middle section. Halli’s vocal take is absolutely haunting in it, so I tried to really highlight the eerie quality that it had and, expand upon that. The remix is built mostly from the raw acoustic track stems from the original recording, but with a very different production aesthetic. I combined that with some electronic sub-heavy drums, and additional strings, and menacing horns. It doesn’t sound like it, but it’s actually at the exact same tempo as the original. I met Halli in high school English class (small world), so I’ve been good friends with River Whyless for years and it was particularly fun to finally get the chance to collaborate musically. I also got to bring in Halli to play violin on Carolinabound’s album Smoking Gun when I produced that, so her violin playing ended up on the Kinjac remix of “Chaos” from that album too.

kinjac week in pop 2

Can you share a bit of insight on your own creative methods?

I play with sound until it seems right to me, which usually ends up being at a pretty weird place. I have a strange aesthetic. I have synesthesia, meaning I process sound also as color, shape and texture, so producing music is a very visual process for me. I’m not as concerned with technical aspects of music as it having the right feel and evoking a strong mood and emotional impact. If it does that, then it feels right.

What else is happening in the world of Kinjac?

I have two original Kinjac songs coming out on April 7. My fiancée and I just finished a 6,000 mile road trip around the US looking for a place to live after moving out of the haunted house, but we haven’t settled on anywhere yet. We thought it’d be Los Angeles, but it was too sunny for our taste.

Other indie artists that you want to give a shout out to?

I just ate some tacos with CJ Boyd while we were both crossing through Austin. I haven’t seen him in awhile and he’s a really great artist, so that was nice. I worked on a couple of his albums for Joyful Noise Records. They also just put out Reptar’s new album and their trumpet player Sean Smith is a good friend of mine. We used to tour together in a seven piece Afrobeat band I was playing drum set for and I’m glad to see them doing well. I just discovered The Pine Barons when they were on tour with The Districts. They’re a great band and really nice guys. And Die Antwoord because they put on one of the best shows I’ve seen in awhile.

Other big things happening over at Seven Moths?

I sure hope so.

Kinjac’s Possession will be available April 7 from Seven Moths Records.

Rivener

rivener week in pop 1
Available now from Twin Lakes Records, hear Rivener’s Fires in Response tape from Connecticut’s Paul Belbusti (of Mercy Choir) and Michael Kiefer (of Myty Konkeror) on their synergistic/synergetic jam fusion of mind droning experiments. The doors of perception are busted wide open on the 11 minute plus ocean rising serpent, “Almz”, through the aquarian channels of, “A river in her”, to the closing colosas that patiently awaits on the 16 minute and a half ruiner; “An uneventful first quarter”. Listen with a good friend, listen to it with a friend who has a beard, or a beret, or neither of these things; or experience it by yourself if you dare. Michael and Paul wrote us the following about the synergistic connection on the making of Fire in Repose:

We eagerly set up in Mike’s basement on a Wednesday night intending not to record an album, but rather to figure out what sort of band we were. We had some good fun making noises a week earlier. That was the first time we’d played together. This time felt a little different. Maybe because we wanted to right the wrongs from last week. Forget about what didn’t work and focus on what did. American hard bop drummer Tootie Heath once said that when musicians sit down to create, the players’ minds should be fresh, and they should ask the ancestors for permission to create. Everyone in the circle should be on the same fresh page, ready to respond not just to the other musicians in the circle but also the primordial reason to play music. It’s this devotional attitude that we seemed to embody that night.

Truth is, this session was a sweet spot: We felt comfortable playing together but hadn’t yet come up with a plan. There was just enough uncertainty and just enough confidence to play whatever felt right. Everything we played seemed to rattle the room just the right way. Every instrument and gadget in the room was attacked with a drum stick: guitars, bells, small pieces of metal and wood. There was a transistor radio nearby. Paul turned it on and jammed it against the pickups of his guitar. A football game play-by-play barked and echoed back at us. All the effects pedals seemed to be working on their own. There was enough empty space between notes that we were able to take a sip of beer once in a while, but the alcohol was working like caffeine. We were hyper-focused and the feedback was vibrating inside our chests. After an hour or so, we checked to make sure the recording sounded okay. We still like it.

Alge

alge week in pop 1

Lately we have been infatuated and moved by the recordings from Alge, aka Jon Weinman who continues his run of mood and thought provoking sounds while sharing generous perspectives and notes on his methods and collaborations of the craft. Lending us his new single, “Palms of Our Hands” featuring vocals from DAJ. Where ever you are when you hear this song, we highly advise you to find the nearest, and most plush seat in the house as the walls will melt in time and tune to the rhythm that will rock you deep into the cushions. Keep us ever informed and up to date on his latest labors of love, Jon wrote us the following on how he made the electro psalms of “Palms of Our Hands”, and the added environmental enrichment from DAJ’s vocal textures:

“Palms of Our Hands” is an anthem for the kinetic, transcendent hedonism of the dance floor. When the bass envelopes us in a molten embrace, when the faces of strangers and friends begin to morph into ill defined apparitions as if from a dream, when the chemical haze gives us our final push out to sea, we can be truly at home. We can be truly free to be the people we always imagined ourselves to be. We have everything we need, right here, in the palms of our hands.

The song starts with an iced out dive toward the depths of a dark lake, murky and unpredictable, until we are thrust skyward towards the clattering, banging and relentless forward roll of the beat. Its a Neptunes-ian astro stomp with the chaos dialed up, characterized by the same brand of “cow bell funk” that has the Gaye estate launching lawsuits. The sub bass stalks the track menacingly, bursting at the seams in the lower corners until the indelible hook comes in, suspending the listener in mid air until the floor gives out.

I wrote this song over two years ago in the midst of a massive comedown after a few too many days in a row partying in Bushwick. Despite my mind being in a thick haze and my body rebelling against me, I had a writing session later that day that I had scheduled over a week prior and subsequently forgot about completely. Needless to say I was not at all prepared, so I tore myself out of bed long enough to grab my laptop, midi controller and a glass of orange juice, and began frantically trying to throw something together in the thirty minutes that I had before the session started. The song got up and decided to walk into the world at that moment, and I facilitated, while half asleep in my bed.

Later on, the song would work its way into the live set of my band Sioux Lion. It was an instant crowd pleaser, and we closed sets with it at Glasslands (RIP), Baby’s Alright, Webster Hall, and the first ever iteration of KCRW’s School Night in New York at Brooklyn Bowl. Sioux Lion disbanded before the song ever saw an official release.

In April of last year I walked into a coffee shop in Williamsburg on the way to a recording session carrying a Moog Sub-Phatty under my arm. The manager of the spot started up a conversation about the keyboard and when I told him I was a producer, he wrote down his soundcloud link and told me to holla. I immediately got a good vibe from the guy, so I went right back to my studio and put his music on. I was blown away by the richness, sensitivity and control of the voice coming out of my speakers towards me. I hit him up immediately and he came by the studio when he got off work later that night and got down on a track. That’s how DAJ and I began collaborating. In the months since, I’ve done a few tracks for his upcoming EP, but “Palms of Our Hands” will be our first officially released collaboration, and we are very happy to share it.

Listen to more from Alge via Soundcloud.

Courtesy

Courtesy's Drew Ryan and Kirk Rawlings, press photo courtesy of the artists.

Courtesy’s Drew Ryan and Kirk Rawlings, press photo courtesy of the artists.

Last week we clued you into the new album, Slow Bruise from Courtesy, and now we present you the following stream, courtesy of their imprint Moon Glyph, alongside our interview with the duo of Drew Ryan and Kirk Rawlings. The title track opener takes you across the distances between the artist’s original dwellings of Chicago and Memphis (now Rawlings and Ryan both live in Chicago) like a long road trip scored by a never ending supply of post-electro dissonance. And then the big guns come out, where you are brought into a cyberpunk turned post-millennial nightmare on “ComEd”, while “Juliet” walks you through a horror show Shakespearean tragedy, to the analog psych-sprung rabbit hole of, “Black Hole”. Strange and surreal sensations of the supernatural creep all over the freak phase, “Nite Nite”, zapping you into the delightful, colorful splash into the Roman-esque baths of, “Acrylics”. Urban eeriness abounds in the sometimes paranoia portals that open out of almost no where like the shaken up, “Jungle Juice'”, to the meditative mystic gates of ennui and earthly disappointments on, “Total Drag”, as the sax fades out, as the oscillating, electric sustain sees you safely out of Courtesy’s maze of mystery on the droning caterwaul closer, “Cat Calls”. Join us after the listen, for our exclusive interview with Kirk.

How did your first creative collaboration begin between the locales of Memphis and Chicago, and then how did the Chi-town full convergence occur?

We met toward the end of 2009 in Memphis. We both grew up there but hadn’t met until a little less than a year before Drew moved to Chicago. We both answered a Craigslist ad for a third guy who was looking for people to play on his tunes. We didn’t click with the guy’s material, but Drew and I hit it off. We tried working on my songs at first, but when I heard Drew’s 4-track sound collages and looper vamps, that’s all I wanted to do. So we would just get really stoned and try anything off-beat we could find; Talk Boy cassette-recorder, stylophone, reading cereal boxes or (lightly) shaking a friend’s baby to record it crying. The first song came really fast and was called Life, Man. We worked on the rest of what became Idmatic and most of Slow Bruise over the internet with the occasional visit.

We started playing random shows when we could with virtually no rehearsal and they went well. My wife and I were wanting to get out of Memphis, we’ve always loved Chicago, and I was into the idea of Courtesy being a real thing, so we sold our house and moved here mid 2013.

How have you found your synergy changed from living in far away sectors to being in the same city?

In some respects it was more focused making things apart, at least at 1st. We would each record separately and then Gchat about it the next day, how to shape songs and what ideas to try. Conversations got super pretentious, and overly detailed and philosophical, but they were great.

Being in the same place was a small adjustment, but really, I live directly across the street from Drew in Chicago and we still operate in the same way.

Tell us more about the making of Slow Bruise, and the slow burning alchemy that covers as the tag-line reads; ‘aggressive apathy, modern awareness of dissolving cultural myths, and how time interacts with those of us whose pleasure circuits are fried.’

The term aggressive apathy made us laugh. People going out of their way to show they are uninterested in something was funny to us. We talked a lot about being cold and dull and being blown out with content and opinions and social issues and so much noise that you just shrug and check out. There is a line in Slow Bruise the song that says, ‘it was cool for what it was.’ We were making fun of self-defeating cynicism and in a way, but also guilty of it ourselves.

How do you two describe the kind of creative methodologies that are employed during the music drafting processes?

A lot of the first album was Drew sending me a slab of sound, all recorded on a four-track. Some were 2 minutes — some 25 minutes. I would pick out chunks of the loops and rearrange them in Logic until something worked. I’d improv some words or Drew would add a bass line, or one of us would do drums. They only goal was to surprise ourselves. Nothing is too crude, too sweet, or too dumb to use; everything is valid. It happened all sorts of ways.

When he gave the batch for the new album, they were closer to actual songs. We treated it the same way we did Idmatic, mailing new tracks and mixes back and forth until we liked it, but with more synths.

What things have you noted about how the two of you have progressed from the synthesis experiments of Slow Bruise, from your first Courtesy release?

Lo-fi noise-scapes, electronic and ambient music often contain the most innovative sounds and textures anyone can find, but we really like songs. We’ve found a way to focus the weirdness into what we think are pop songs. Slow Bruise is as dense as Idmatic, but the longest track is under 5 minutes and you can sort of dance to it.

Also too, what is about the name, and notion of Courtesy that you feel is important(and/or unimportant) in art, culture, media, and more today?

We didn’t put a lot of thought to the meaning of the word. We just liked that it sounded like an 80’s R&B vocal group. Like Jodeci. But it is a word as loaded as this question. One of the best sentiments on the planet, really. Being nice is nice and courtesy is paramount.

Courtesy’s Slow Bruise is available now on cassette and digital from Moon Glyph.

Colleagues

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We last caught up with Sweden’s Colleagues last year around the time of their “Tears” single, and now we bring you the time, place, and space transporting single, “Somewhere”, off the forthcoming Visits EP available May 18 from In Stereo Records. Their Swedish by Balearic ultra-pop tendencies become sharpened to sonic illustrations of restraint, and arrangements made in the primary concern to create an almost physical section of sound and synthesization sense of mood. The nu-gaze-ish keys loop like big festival stage heroes, where Colleagues constantly keep dense electric audio layers moving in congruent and simultaneously in-congruent additions of unexpected treatments at all times. Colleagues joined up with us for a brief chat, immediately after the jump.

What have you all been up to since we last talked?

We slowly made it through a textbook northern winter depression, spending the few hours of sun buried in the studio makes life feel like never ending darkness…but you sip for air through the progress of the music and the occasional French cooking session…

What do you feel has advanced about your own approaches to production and track crafting?

We think that we’ve become more playful and at ease in the way we produce songs. Nothing’s an exact science and our projects tend to contain 100+ individual tracks before mix. Then an additional 10 after. We’ve also learned a lot from playing live and wanting to reproduce the sound of live instruments more than we’ve done before which is great since we’ve had a lot of fun doing it but it takes some time getting it right.

Give us the story on where and what inspired the synth-smooth serenity of “Somewhere”.

We spent a couple of weeks in the southern parts of Sweden in a beautiful area called Österlen. The idea was to write a lot of songs and being creative but most of the time we spent by the beach or on the front lawn of the cottage we lived in. However, one of the songs we did finish there was “Somewhere”, and it was one of those songs that just created itself out of the settings. When the song was half-finished we put it together with a video we filmed earlier during the day as a sort of postcard-ish thing and it just captured that week perfectly. The beginning of a long summer night when seemingly nothing can or will go wrong.

How has spring been treating you all?

Its been rather stressful — getting everything in order for the release etc. But you see the light in the tunnel and that brings hope. We all put a lot of love into this EP and its quite scary putting it all on display in broad daylight.

Best underground tracks out there right now?

Really like the vibe of the debut track “Her” by Cold Courage, sounds like something Jamie xx would like to do, but more lo fi. Japanese Wallpaper’s “Forces” swept me of my feet — the phrasing of the topline is gorgeous. And off course the guitars in “Zenith” by Ben Khan — bliss.

Colleagues’ Visits EP will be available May 18 from In Stereo Records.

Docking

Introducing the latest from SMLH‘s Sam Higgins, introduce yourelf to his scuzz blasting rock and roll project, Docking. The artist known for his array of demos and dream devastors—the single “Meat Hook” is more than just your ordinary slaughterhouse tour romp. The rhythmic core of what would make up your mom or pop’s psych record jams is the central membrane by which a cluster of audio molecules scurry about in flurries of analog aided skronk of ages (from the ages, for ages to come).

Give us the story on how this Docking project began.

Docking doesn’t really have a cool origins story. Docking began as a detour from my output as SMLH; I don’t want to use the dreaded “side project” cliche because all of my musical endeavors are equally important to me and deserve equal amounts of negligence. Anyways, solo projects aren’t very punk rock, so I think of Docking as just a way for me to compartmentalize my riff rock tunes.

Is there some kind of maritime connection there with an allusion perchance to boat docking? How did the name come about?

There’s no real meaning behind the name. I came up with it when I was sitting with my friends during lunch and we were coming up with terrible bands that we would hypothetically start (e.g. a poo-themed VU tribute act called The Smellvet Underground feat. Poo Reed, John Stale, Anus Maclise, etc.). I suggested Docking, as in the homoerotic act, as a band name during one of these brainstorming sessions. At the time, I didn’t really have any attachment to the name, but it ultimately stuck with me because it’s so appalling yet so mundane. The name—as it stands now—isn’t in reference to any particular connotation of the word “docking”, but rather this idea that both gross foreskin tricks and the stationing of maritime vessels are both going on somewhere in the world right now; It’s this idea of everything all at once. Also, I’m a sucker for one-word band names.

“Meat Hook” is a fun no-wave rock and ripper. How did you let your scuzz, freak beat out on this number?

I wrote and recorded Meat Hook in one afternoon. I had just been accepted to UNC the day before and stopped caring about being coherent or being musically restrained at the time. It’s rare that I feel that way when I play music; there’s always this vague sense of seriousness and a conscious awareness of my influences hovering over me (i.e. bullshit).

Other hints on what to expect from the Docking self-titled?

Expect to hear less bullshit.

Other Sam Higgins projects and SMLH items to be looking out for?

I’ve got some wild stuff planned for later this year but I’m not allowed to share anything quite yet. Keep your eyes peeled.

Keep an ear out for more from Docking via Soundcloud.

Har-di-Har

Har-di-Har's Andrew & Julie Thoreen.

Har-di-Har’s Andrew & Julie Thoreen.

Setting forth on their “One Brain Midwest” tour happening through May 8, we were able to catch up with Andrew and Julie Thoreen of Minneapolis’s serendipitous art pop act Har-di-Har. With their we are | they are EP available now, the two keep a consistent thread of fun running across the whirring and bubbling, “we scare each other”, to the electric organ and note scaling excercises on, “to break the fall”, to the addictive single of head swirling soundscape-ography; “the bottom dollar”, leaving you with the lush “just like he told us”. Continuing down the ecstatic pop paths blazed by tUnE-yArDs, Sylvan Esso, and others; we got a chance to learn more about what makes Har-di-Har tick, and more in our following interview exclusive with Andrew and Julie.

How did the two of you first become musically entangled?

Andrew: In college I played trombone in the pit orchestra of a musical that Julie was in. For the most part I was miserable because I didn’t like the music, but every time Julie’s featured song came up, I was blown away and couldn’t get enough of the sound of her voice. We didn’t end up writing music together for like four years, but that was the precursor to the musical relationship.

Julie: It was always a mutual goal of ours to be working musicians, but what ended up happening is that Andrew started his own band and I was just resentful because for like two years I didn’t do anything creative. Then, to be honest, we had a baby scare and I decided to stop making excuses. We started writing music collaboratively pretty much the next day and just haven’t stopped.

What brought you both to the name, Har-di-har?

Julie: It’s a stupid story, really, and it doesn’t make much sense outside of the two of us…but if you need to know, it came to us while binge watching Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Andrew: It’s funny how sometimes a band’s name doesn’t make sense at first but then the band grows into it. The name came out of an obscure reference that Julie alluded to, however, the name has become like a visual representation of how we are connected and dependent on each other when we play drums live. Also, when we researched the phrase ‘hardy har’ we had trouble finding its origins. We liked that a phrase so recognized in pop culture seems to have come out of nowhere.

Give us some insights into you how you two set about to make the sporadic sounds on we are | they are.

Andrew: Well, sporadic sounds are kind of our thing, or at least a thing we both are really drawn to. There hasn’t been a song that we’ve written that doesn’t have some abrupt jeering moment. Though we like ambient and static music, we also like a good slap in the ear from time to time. We had been writing, arranging and playing most of the songs on we are | they are for about a year, but it wasn’t until January, when we started recording them, that we had time to really mess with their forms and flesh them out. This EP was our first attempt at engineering our own sessions on our own time, which opened up a lot of possibilities. We had a few microphones at our disposal and the time to experiment with sounds and arrangement, so we played around with some stuff.

Julie: Kind of like rearranging furniture or Tupperware drawer, there is always a better way to arrange things…or each of you think your way of doing it is better…but in the end both are fine.

Tell us a bit about bottom lines that have anchored the mind and spirit wandering wonder of, “The Bottom Dollar”.

Julie: Saint Paul/Minneapolis are car towns–it’s hard to go anywhere without a car and there a lot of times one gets on and off ramps throughout the day. I have been struck by my reaction to panhandlers on the side of the road. I don’t want to give them money because I don’t trust they will use it to help themselves get out of their current situation, and for that reason, I just ignore them completely, like they’re not even human or something. That made me think about our generation’s way of dealing with problems–we talk about it a lot but when it comes down to actually acting on it, we avoid it. I guess the song became a way for me to step towards action. The namesake of the song came from the idiom, “bet your bottom dollar” (to be certain of something), and also the combo of the words “bottom” (the deepest part of something) and “dollar” (something with great perceived value). That which connects us on the most profound level.

Andrew: For me the song came out of a desire to write a rhythmic and disjunct, yet melodic trombone part. I’d written like five or six different sections of trombone and piano lines (way too many ideas). We recorded it all down one sections after the other, chopped it up, rearranged some stuff, deleted some stuff and then boom, we had a base song structure. At that point, Julie brought in the concept of the lyric content along with a really interesting chorus and we just continued to chip away at it, like a good soup broth that needs different flavors and textures to make a bad-ass soup. Some of the vocal lines that ended up on the track we’re improvised and some of them we’re painstakingly composed. I am a sucker for thick horn arrangements, people like Carla Bley, Bob Brookmeyer, D’Angelo, I’m sure they were all a reason for my wanting to add the beef of the trombone to this song as well as the whole EP.

How has Minneapolis influenced you two?

Andrew: Man, they are so many people hustling and being creative in this city, that its overwhelming and inspiring at the same time. The creative energy and amount of people writing always makes us want to be better at what we do. Every time we blink there seems to be a new band playing somewhere. Whether it’s the vibrant house show scene in South Minneapolis, the experimental jazz scene, the well curated shows at First Ave puts on, or one of the fantastic releases from the plethora of local labels, there is always new music being played somewhere. With a metro population of around three million, we’re not the largest city in the United States by any means, but it feels like that per-capita, the amount of visual art, music, and theater happening is extremely high and would rival any major US city. People in Minnesota tend to be introverted, thoughtful, and passionate people. They also love their art. Once you show, as an artist, that you are dedicated to improving upon your craft, people in Minneapolis-St. Paul are really quite supportive and lovely. You have to prove yourself though.

Julie: I love the eccentric nature of the scene here. Recently, I have been dipping my toes into the punk and hip-hop scenes here which has been influencing my musical choices. Also the people here are awesome.

Other fave Minneapolis artists you want to give a shout out to?

Andrew: So many shout outs here: local label props to Forged Artifacts, Totally Gross Domestic Product, MJ MJ Records, No Problem Records, Modern Radio Records, The Homestead Records, Afternoon Records, and of course Rhymesayers. Some great local bands that we love are: J.E. Sunde, Zoo Animal, LOTT, Suzie, We are the Willows, Waveless, Carroll, The Awful Truth, Frankie Teardrop, France Camp, the Bad Bad Hats, Nallo, B.O.Y.F, Rupert Angel Eyes, Dave King’s Trucking Company, and Ft. Wilson Riot and that’s just barely scratching the surface here.

Julie: Ditto to Andrew’s list, plus Yoni Yum, Crunchy Kids, Allan Kingdom and Lizzo.

What are you two the most excited about for your “One Brain Midwest Tour”?

Andrew: I’m always excited for the maps at rest stops. I don’t feel like I really know a state well until I gaze at the map in state-run rest stops while stretching my legs, it feels so good. Google maps pale in comparison. But seriously, we love meeting people and playing with good bands some we’ve heard before, some we happily stumbled onto by a bandcamp search. We booked this tour ourselves and we’re both stoked for all the local bands that we’ve lined up to play with. If you book good bands the shows tend to be more fun for everyone. Go figure. On this tour we’re bringing some recording equipment with us, so I’m excited at the prospect of writing and recording ideas for new songs while on the road… The midwest landscape can do a number on one’s brain ya know.

Julie: yes, all the things Andrew said + playing music every day + not having to clean the apartment + lots of falafel

Har-di-Har’s we are | they are is available now via Bandcamp.

Mariage Blanc

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Pittsburgh, PA by SF’s Mariage Blanc lends some therapeutic tunes for meditative mornings of healing with the following exclusive advance listen to their album, No Autobiography, available April 7. The quartet of Matt Ceraso, Joshua Dotson, Rich Kawood, and Josh Kretzmer provides you with silky smooth balladry to fill both the empty and fulfilled moments of life’s passage. Romantic pangs and longing croon and harmonize on “Blue Eyes”, to the Polaroid sifting quiet quandaries on, “Silent Nations”, to the no-man’s land piano lead, “Nowhere Town”, with it’s reflections of desires and conveyed feelings of dereliction. Motifs of home and identity continue to play out on “Shapeshifter”, the connective cool breeze traces of, “Bloodlines”, the desperate plea on the heart strummed, “Stay With Me”, the spring time allure of, “Nude Beach”, the swift and serene, “We’ve Got Time”, leaving you with the love note telegram, “Magnolia”. Following the debut listen to No Autobriography, we had a moment to get a little bait of band biographical insights from Matt Ceraso in our following interview session.

Tell us how your Pittsburgh and SF roots combined have had an impact on the music of Mariage Blanc?

Josh only recently moved to San Francisco, he’s only been there about 9 months. I don’t think that it’s impacted the style of music that we play very much, but I’ve noticed that his move gives us each a little more personal time to work on songs which has resulted in both of us bringing more fully formed tunes to the table. Because of that, we’ve actually noticed that we’ve been considerably more productive from a writing standpoint since he moved which is something that we didn’t necessarily expect. He’s away enough that we have time to let ideas blossom a little bit more, but he’s in Pittsburgh enough that we have a really easy time keeping up with things and working on the songs as a unit as well. It seems to be working out extraordinarily well.

Can you all give some autobiographical insights into the inspirations and events that lent meaning and impetus to No Autobiography, and why did you all choose this particular album title?

The title is actually a reference to a collection of lyrics from the excellent Washington D.C. band, The Caribbean. We’ve been friends for a long while now, and the title was chosen as a bit of a tip of the hat to that relationship. Originally, the songs were actually intended to be significantly less personal — but the psychological weight of the previous year crept in regardless.

How do the four of you go about making your songs, is it together, individually, and then you all come together, or how?

Generally it starts with Josh or myself coming up with some chord progression and melody individually, then we show it to each other to evaluate whether or not we think it’s a strong enough idea to continue pursuing. If we decide that it is, then he and I continue to develop it, usually on acoustic guitar at first. We start doing rough sketches of what we think the structure of the song will be and we’ll usually do a little recorded demo of some sort just so we have it. Once we feel like the song is on its way to becoming something, we then bring in the rest of the band and start learning it and arranging it using our rough demo as a jumping off point and we just go from there. Learning it as a full band is the fun part because everyone brings their own individual style to the song and you start playing off of each other and start to hear it come together.

Your music is like serenity unbound, and unfurled before you ears….what is the Mariage Blanc secret to create such sweet, plush, rhythm piano hymns?

There’s no secret, really. We are really hard on ourselves when we’re writing and we try to have very high quality control. Josh and I are of the opinion that we’d rather not put a song out at all than release one that we feel is OK but sort of half-baked. We try to make sure that our songs have everything that we would want to hear in somebody else’s songs – Great melodies and chord structures, good arrangements and hooks. We are definitely our own biggest critics and I think that’s a good thing. It keeps us on our toes and ensures that we don’t get lazy about things.

Your favorite underrated, unheard (or barely heard), artist or band right now?

The Caribbean – every album they’ve released has blown us away. Their last two in particular (Moon Sickness and Discontinued Perfume) have been exceptional.

The philosophy of Mariage Blanc if you all could adopt one?

I suppose our philosophy is one that most other musicians adopt as well. We want to always push ourselves to try to make the best music that we can make and never settle on anything because it’s easy. In the seven years that we’ve been a band we’ve learned a lot of lessons and feel like we’re starting to grow into our own skin as musicians. We don’t want to stop until we’re ready to stop, and frankly I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to be.

Mariage Blanc’s No Autobiography will be avialble April 7 via Bandcamp.

Jaga Jazzist

Jaga Jazzist on Paulista Avenue in São Paulo, Brazil, photographed by Anthony P. Huus.

Jaga Jazzist on Paulista Avenue in São Paulo, Brazil, photographed by Anthony P. Huus.

With Jaga Jazzist’s Starfire available June 2 from Ninja Tune; get a load of the title track that takes you on vibe-y galactic trip set like a “Star Tours” styled tourist cabin that careens toward the pull of the sun to the sensation of cruising altitude while throttling ahead with the controls set for interstellar overdrive. Lars Horntveth of Jaga Jazzist described a bit about the interstellar, full-throttle overdrive of “Starfire” the epic soundtrack jam, to the album of the same name:

“Starfire” was the first track we started on for this record but also the last one we finished. It starts with a Radiohead-ish inspired guitar motif continuing with a middle section inspired by Cluster, goes on with an open riff were we tried for a McCoy Tyner style bass riff, the chorus was inspired by Tame Impala and Justice, the next electronic part inspired by Röyksopp and a Justice sounding synth riff going into a James Bond meets Primal Scream cinematic theme and then a very hectic synth heavy theme ending with a super cut up Justice´ísh arpeggio, back to the verse and then back to the chorus adding a little drum solo there. Puh! Obviously, our goal was for these references to not be easily noticeable on first listen, but like anyone else, we’re inspired by lots of different bands from different eras and there I go in revealing it all to you!

Flyying Colours

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In the continued, seemingly endless proliferation of indie artists that spill forth from Melbourne, Australia’s cup of indie talent that runneth over—we’ve recently been taken by Flyying Colours’ impressionistic canvas chemistry. On the single “Running Late” from the upcoming ROYGBIV EP available May 12 from Shelflife Records (May 11 in the UK via Club AC30); those familiar guitar-to-pedal setups stir up the sentiments where you remember those places and times where time itself was immaterial. Subjects of lateness, tardiness in excessive successions, truancies, the past’s indiscretions, and academic suspensions become sorted out in the that 1995 in 2015 vibe when the gazers, geezers, and dreamers decided to do the major label / big studio thing, turning the big bright pop lights shining brighter than ever before on their sound in a newer, and clearer definition. Following the listen, join us for our interview round with Brodie J Brümmer.

Tell us about the EP you all have made for Shelflife / Club AC30. What was that like for you all?

We worked again with Woody Annison who produced our first EP, so the environment and process was very familiar. We go into the studio with a solid idea of the tracks structurally and sonically, however keep our minds open and approach the tracks creatively to allow things to also develop as we go. With the vocals particularly, Gemma and I seem to do some of our best work on the spot in the studio, as a track comes together generally we begin to hear different harmonies and phrasing for lyrics etc. Especially with guitar I tend to try absolutely everything in my head, lay everything down and then go back through a track and establish what works best where. As our songs spend months in my head before recording, the studio is a great place to sort through all the different melodic ideas.

How did everyone meet?

We all went to high school together in a rural town in NSW called Wagga. Growing up there wasn’t much around, we started playing music out of necessity as much as anything i think. We started our own musical scene, all being in different and the same bands, and pretty much sounding like everything 90s. We moved to Melbourne at different times and I was able to get us all together to form Flyying Colours and it was super easy all having grown up together. Gemma and I had been working on and off with a few tunes vocally for years, which was funny as that was the last piece of the puzzle to come together, Growing up in a country town, once you start playing, music becomes such a big part (if not all) of your life.

Favorite indie, under-sung Aussie bands you all love right now?

There are so many, in just Melbourne alone. We have had the fortune of playing with most of our favourite bands around here. Im sure ill miss someone if i try and make an all inclusive list because there are so many, Its fantastic to have such a diverse and growing shoe gaze/psych scene to be surrounded by. My favourite are Contrast.

Best underrated, lesser known dream pop album of all time?

Hmmm. Tough question. This may be wrong to say, but I tend to classify dream pop and shoegaze differently. Ive heard people say they are different names for the same thing, and then heard that they are completely different. Either way I think “Crush” by Astrobrite is pretty amazing, and I haven’t met that many people who have heard it. I got it through a friend as I was trying to record us on a 4 track (unsuccessfully) at the time, and was given this album as a reference (as it was recorded on a 4 track).

CITIZENS!

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Following up their 2012 debut, Here We Are; Citizens! forthcoming album European Soul will be available April 13 from the fashionably sensible minds at Kitsuné, and we had a moment for a long distance conversation with singer, Tom Burke. While much has already been discussed about the Franz Ferdinand-Alex Kapranos dance pop correlations and formal connections — the new single “Are You Ready” finds Citizens! moving closer to the sophisto pop realms that Kitsuné and many of their globally/fashionably minded imprint denizens have been delving deeper into, as 2015 further pushes toward maximalist aesthetics that mix desire, infinite expressions of emotion, and a pursuit of limitless beauty. Tom discusses all this and more with us right after the jump.

Give us what the past few years have been like for Citizens!

We always look back to a time in Mexico which sums it all up. The police in Guadalajara shut down our show after three songs because the venue hadn’t put forward some money. I ended up singing “True Romance” with just an acoustic guitar to a crowd who had tickets for a full show. It’s been like that; crazy and littered with unpaid bribes.

Take us on your own creative musical journey that has marked, Here We Are, to European Soul.

Actually the day after that show in Guadalajara, we started having the conversations that led to the conception of European Soul. Maybe you have the best ideas driving through the desert with no air conditioning- or maybe we were just losing it. Anyway the spirit of that night has lasted and made for a much more positive slant. We just lost a lot of the doubt.

Like the world has heard on the massive single, “Waiting For Your Lover”, tell us a few of the secrets behind your bigger, and bolder sounds.

Yeah that’s it! Onwards and upwards and forwards and right through to the other side. There’s no secrets really- if anything it’s more honest about where we are as a live band. Turns out if you play with the same people every night for two years, things start to develop. Who knew?

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Other artists you all are enjoying lately?

When the Kendrick Lamar album came out it felt like a must-discuss moment. Grimes, Caribou… Those are the cool answers, but it’s mainly been ‘Would I Lie to You?’ by Charles and Eddie on repeat for a while now. We might make a remix album of just that song…and if the label doesn’t like it, then I don’t know what a record deal is for anymore.

Other obscure artists you all love that you feel the whole world should love, but few have heard?

Petite Meller. She’s only put out three singles but, man, that’s something. Making the phrase ‘I can finally think of time physically’ into a catchy pop chorus should win her some kind of medal. Also the Spoek Mathambo remix of the Samthing Soweto song ‘Let It Happen’. Check it out for undertones of Alicia Keys and James Blake.

What are you the most excited about for London’s XOYO?

I have a pretty special kimono that some of my friends haven’t seen yet. I think they’ll be looking at me in a different way. So making a statement I guess.

Words of Citizens! wisdom to impart to us all?

1. Your sock choice should always compliment your outfit. Otherwise how do you expect people to compliment you?

2. ‘Selfie sticks’ are for people who want to reach under toilet doors.

Citizens!’s forthcoming album European Soul will be available April 13 from Kitsuné.

Jay Stones

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Take a look at Jay Stones’ “Enter (入力しなさい)” video from onqui Productions from the Chicago artist’s Taboo Temple EP. Jay sensory and vibration/stimuli overload is conveyed through pensive, smoky productions and crooning cadences of a subdued sort of excess. The keyboard slow steam sensations of “Enter (入力しなさい)” becomes a collection of images that follow Mr. Stones through various Chi-town locales, with a variety of natural, exotic images and effects thrown in for good measure. Enter the audio/visual overload, check out our exclusive interview with Jay.

Tell us about working with Tao to create “Enter (入力しなさい)”; what sorts of initiating entrance inclinations where you two working off of?

Well initially we were working off of an Asiatic theme. We both love the place a lot, I believe it influenced our sound. We wanted to create an unmatched groove like a starting point. We worked off of each other a lot when creating Enter sharing ideas. Like in the song I sing “the temperature is rising, coming through the storm close your iris” I’m talking about climate change not necessarily sex. Climate change is more sensual like it’s deeply involved in us, it’s making us all feel some type of way. Me and Tao are also from two unique places he’s from Germany and I’m from Memphis in the U.S both places have a history. Our music brings heightened experiences directly to the listener.

Take us through your journeys from Memphis, TN to Chicago, IL, and how those environments informed your own music and creative sensibilities.

Well in Memphis I lived in Lake View Garden it’s a neighborhood around WestWood and Whitehaven. Growing up there I felt so free I met people that I’m still cool with to this day. But now that I look back at it the shit reminds me of a third world country. There was no police, there were hardly roads in the neighborhood, no sidewalk, crackhouses across the street, gang members down the street but I did not care I still played. I was a kid, I got into immense trouble in the neighborhood and in school. I later had to move out East and go to a different school but that didn’t help I got into trouble there too. I came to later realize that my nature was rebellious, I knew school was not set up right. I had lots of girls, lots of heartbreak, lots of weed. I started visiting temples, churches, and shrines at 17. I felt at home, like the spiritual path that’s me whatever spiritual means that’s me. I felt good going within myself, teaching myself. I still do not like how modern schools are. More people should rebel if they don’t like something it helps you breathe easier.

How did you first team up with TAO and Geometries?

He hit me up after hearing a couple of my songs and it just branched off from there.

What’s next for Jay Stones and company?

Ha ha, I guess the ‘and company’ would be Stone Club it’s a collective I created to influence culture through the arts and consciousness. Arts meaning we will have creatives anywhere in Music whether it be the wave of trap to jazz. Fashion designers to painters, skaters, and graffitist it will all coexist at Stone Club. I have also finished up Desolate & Blue a project that will shift the culture of arts and music. I plan it’s release to be mid/late April.

Artists you feel the world should be listening to, but are not?

With the Stone Club I will be touching on who needs recognition and who should be listened to. So stay tuned.

Jay Stones’ Taboo Temple EP is available now.

Spring King

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Manchester’s Spring King just released their title track from their upcoming Handsome Dad EP, They’re Coming After You. Currently touring with Courtney Barnett and Fraser A. Gorman, Spring King share a taste of contemporary day paranoia where everyone and everything is part of a secret police plot of mass sing-along proportions. Spring King’s singer, songwriter, drummer—Tarek gave us the scoop on all Mancunian things, and more after the jump.

What’s good in Manchester these days?

Music wise: Pins are still smashing it, Shinies, and Move. Hoya Hoya club nights at The Roadhouse has been one of James favourite nights for the last four years, sadly it’s closing down I heard?

Food wise: Charlotte O’Toole is making the most insane cakes for places like HomeSweetHome. Every time i’m in town, I get a cake.

How does this iconic city perhaps lend influence to your own your own music, and is “City” about Manchester, or perhaps another town of interest (Glasgow? London?)?

I grew up going to highschool in Macclesfield with Pete — we used to listen to a lot of Joy Divison as thats where Ian Curtis grew up. I don’t think thats sunk into the music though. City is actually a metaphor for the many parts of the mind and the complexity behind it. It’s kinda like a City right?

Describe the energy and inspirations that made your EP, They’re Coming After You for Handsome Dad Records/ Mermaid Avenue.

The new EP for me is one of my favourite recording times I’ve had. I’ve been exploring different recording approaches and sitting in my shorts more than ever. We’ve tried to keep the setup the same, so recording everything at home with the same gear. Pete would send me a lot of cool new music I’d never heard before like David Axelrod, who is now big on my play count. I listened to a lot of The Clash, Beach Boys, and Arcade Fire making this new EP.

How do you blokes go about making tunes, is it like garage chemistry projects or something?

It’s all done on the fly really. I write the tunes pretty quickly, and begin recording them the same day I write them. Once I’ve got some basics down, the guys come in and throw their magic all over them. I try and get the song written as fast as possible to it still has quirks and isn’t something I begin to get sick of over time. The stuff I personally enjoy the most is generally always the stuff thats been done within the first few takes/ideas.

Other artists and bands you all want to give a shout out to?

Too many. We’re on tour with Courtney Barnett right now and Fraser A. Gorman who are some of the most welcoming people we’ve met. Juan Wauters and Delicate Steve who we’re big fans of, and got to meet on a boat at SXSW. East India Youth who we spent a night with in a Karaoke bar singing Pet Shop Boys and Beach Boys songs. Our mates Mikhael Paskalev, All We Are, Dan Croll, James Canty… We have the best friends we could ask for.

Spring King’s They’re Coming After You EP will be available April 20 from Handsome Dad Records.

Off her recently released album Miracles on Queens Ransom, Lady Lazarus (aka Melissa Sweat) directed by Ryan Cross & Adran Robb Alvarez; featuring Sweat’s fellow Joshua Tree frontier warrior, Chris Schoonover. The classic cosmic folk country fantasy of piano ascended nirvana is conveyed in a rustic, heavenly-holistic take on the “Train Song” tradition found in the hymnals of Gram Parsons, Tom Waits, Vashti Bunyan, and so forth.

With Mitski’s now canonical album, Bury Me At Make Out Creek grabbing everyone’s attention everywhere; the album will be re-released April 7 from Don Giovanni Records, and we bring you the minimalist (and evocative ballad) bonus cut, “Square” recorded solo and live on piano.

The dystopian future is definitely now on “Future Police” from our Providence, Rhode Island’s friends, Downtown Boys. Found on their forthcoming album, Full Communism; Victoria Ruiz kicks out jams and anger about what happens after the revolution gets taped, tweeted, and televised.

From Eskimeaux’s forthcoming album, O.K. for Double Double Whammy; hear some of the most honest, and most sacred sentiments and thoughts from Gabby Smith shared like sung sparklers of inner imaginations sprung wild along with statments of earnest apprehensions.

Found off the upcoming Collagen off the San Francisco x Denver label, DIRTY//CLEAN; get a listen to the Columbia Universtity student, Slam Skillet (otherwise known as the venerable, Sam Stevens) who busts out the fine instruments and production tools of the trade on the aerobic bounce of his single, “Incisor”.

The D’s own Clear Soul Forces drop their upcoming Fab 5ive album April 28 on Fat Beats Records, where the fabolous 5 comes at you like an explosive hurricane boasts of cool confidence to the wavy big beat of Nameless’s production.

Peep the RadioEditAV and brownshoesonly video for Axis: Sova’s psych-surf-n-turf, “Early Surf,” the title track off the Ty Segall’s God? Records release available now.

Prepare for the perfect sleepy-eyed dawn-breaking single, “Sasha In The Morning”, from Fever & the Fret’s The Long Island EP available April 21 from Shorewave Records. Gabe Schicchi’s style of sound and delivery is made up of that awakening bliss after embracing a mythic lover somewhere in the fantasies of dreamland.

Chicago’s Marrow are made up of members from Kids These Days and Vic Mensa, spinning some core integral instrumental chemistries that might coarse their way through your bone’s own internal system and structure.

Turnover pours out the emotion and performance for “New Scream” caught by Rob Soucy (brother of the band’s guitarist Eric Soucy), off the Virginia band forthcoming album, Peripheral Vision album available May 4 from Run For Cover Records.

Say hello to San Francisco’s Conrad, born from Matthew Shaw and Nick Andre (of Her Space Holiday, City Light, How To Dress Well, Dirty Ghosts, Nick Andre & E Da Boss, etc) who provide some some extra electro bandwidth and broadband from the Bay’s creative/collaborative undergrounds. Their first single “Punk Band” keeps the ethos punk-ish, while the electronically leaning approach indicates a DIY bedroom pop with high rising aspirations. With that post-meta-punk post-modernism thing in mind, Conrad’s cover of The Clash’s “Straight to Hell” provides a rendering that remains incredible dedicated to the nuances of the original while making something to rock the damned crypts of your favorite fallen counter-culture idols. These singles will be available from the duo’s website on April 22.

From online dispatches, we caught word and wind of this short from Florist, titled, “the birds outside sang”, focusing on a cat dwelling upon a window sill framed by curtains, with cryptic mixing board views and a tell-tale 4-track reel-to-reel. This might be evidence that soon the anticipated new Florist record may be moving from reel, to real.

MAHD’s album 13 is out now, and we give you his new track with fellow Detroit emcee Guilty Simpson with the loosie, “G.M.W.A.M.N.”, produced by Jeff Gore. The blueprint for balling in good times, rough times, and anytime is expressed through a method of sharing success, and investing in your own communities.

Party like the 90s IDM house trends never ran out of style, on Applescal’s overseeing single, “Overseas”, that will transport you serenely across the tempestous tides off the forthcoming, For available May 18 from Atomnation.

Fresh from signing to Bella Union (with news of a new album available later this year); Ezra Furman released the hyper-kinetic adventure through the Bay Area to match the frenetic, fashionable, and caffeinated motions that make up, “Restless Year”, directed by Joseph Brett, with production, mixing, etc from Simon Taffe, and Tim Sandusky.

Toronto’s Jeen (born Jeen O’Brien) dropped the New York groove mode of bright glowing pop, “NY Island”, off her upcoming Tourist (Deluxe Edition), available June 30. The dreams of the 90s live on through the garage-girl-grunge found in Jeen’s sound that is cooler than most things you could have found in a mall located Hot Topic back in 1994.

Peep the video for The Apartments’ “All The Birthdays”, from the recent expanded reissue of their 1985 album, evening visits… and stays for years, available now from Captured Tracks. The worlds of memories and broken hearts are seen as they are heard through the rumbling guitar strings, somber brass, and Peter Milton Walsh’s maudlin vocals. Check out Peter’s mix he made for CT here.

Wander the wilderness and expanses of desert imagination depths in the Ryley Walker’s “Sweet Satisfaction” video directed by Bethany Schmitt from his album, Primrose Green available now from Dead Oceans. The fuzzed out chords take on lysergic dimensions of both the rural and urban environments.

Rule the post-punk dance bass rhythmic school with the track, “Reign”, available on Prinzhorn Dance School’s DFA album, Home Economics. Consider this a home ec chapter segment that covers effective, applied techniques in minimalism.

Off Grounders’ Nevado self-titled, catch the mind-mesmerising no-fi/wi-fi feast for the indie senses with, “Fool’s Banquet”. The cassette tape quality of the mixed assemblage of parts on “Banquet” feels like the home-sweet-home comforts of enjoying a five course meal in the privacy and slimmer of your own room.

From Votiv Music / Pirates Blend Records; dance yourself clean with the fountain of youth elixir vibes from Young Empires’ single, “The Gates”, to keep your weekend nights never ending, and forever young.

In case you haven’t already, prepare thyself to take the voyage on Marie Davidson’s space traveling single “Insomnie”, from the album Un Autre Voyage, available April 14 from Holodeck Records. The experimental Montreal artist provides an insomniac’s rendering of a Franco sci-fi slice of cinema where the sleepless flight brings about a journey made possible by technological and instinctual talents.

Embarking on a crazy tour that runs April 8 through June 13; get a look at the Jason Harvey animated video for TOPS’ “Driverless Passenger” off their Arbutus album, Picture You Staring. Montreal’s beloved harmonic slacker-stoners become caricatures in a cartoon world where their tour van gets pushed into “super drive”, and you’re not going to believe what happens next.

For those looking to throw a dark wavy synth beat party in a clandestine cave decked out like a fashion week-“Night on Bald Mountain” — Eli Escobar remixed Ex Cops’s track, “Black Soap”, off their Daggers album from Downtown Records. Also be sure to read Ex Cops’ recent Week in Pop guest curation.

Featuring members of Brilliant Colors and Limp Wrist; San Francisco’s Flesh World released “Just To Tear Me Down”, from their forthcoming album, The Wild Animals in My Life from Iron Lung Records. Earnest outlooks on rises and falls, tear ups, and tear downs are told from Scott Moore and Jess Scott’s perspectives from SF’s Panhandle where they watch their city transform from it’s former self into the polarizing paradise for those that can still afford the cost of living. Sticking to their DIY roots, Flesh World celebrates the networks of friends, bands, and the seedy undergrounds that still exist in SF that once made it famous.

Mannequin Pussy’s Week in Pop

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(Mannequin Pussy take on Shea Stadium, photographed by Walter Wlodarczyk. Follow him on Twitter.)

We are honored and privileged to give you the Week in Pop guest curated by Mannequin Pussy’s Marisa Dabeast that she has titled:

Everything I Listened to/Watched this Week:

Drake, “Jungle”

Françoise Hardy, “All Over The World”

Young Trynas, “No Right”

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Parkay Quarts, “Uncast Shadow Of A Southern Myth”

FKA twigs, “Pendulum”

Sergei Polunin (If you’re not a fan of Hozier, just mute it and watch him move.)

Ballet Dancer Sergei Polunin Dances to Hozier’s “Take Me To Church”

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Grimes, “REALiTi”


Chastity Belt, “Time To Go Home”

Colleen Green, “Deeper Than Love”

Mannequin Pussy

Mannequin Pussy

Jamal from “Empire”; If you’re not watching this show, you’re not livin’ sorry.

Empire, “Keep Your Money (feat. Jussie Smollett)”

Kendrick Lamar, “King Kunta”

Earl Sweatshirt, “Grief”

Mannequin Pussy performing at a House Named Virtue, photographed by Walter-Wlodarczyk.

Mannequin Pussy performing at a House Named Virtue, photographed by Walter-Wlodarczyk.

Remy Ma, “Conceited (There’s Something About Remy)”

The Byrds, “I Knew I’d Want You”

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