Currents

  • Baio

    Baio

    “Dead Hand Control”

    When Chris Baio sat down to work on his third studio album, “Dead Hand Control,” (out 1/29) he was circling bleak topics. Namely: death, and nukes.

     

    The record takes its name from a rumored Soviet missile system designed to obliterate America (“Dead Hand”), and a legal strategy for attempting to control the beneficiaries of your will after you die (“Dead Hand Control”). Yet this is not an album about annihilation. Instead, Baio zigzags joyfully between techno, art rock and a dash of funk, exploring what it means to care for one another in a society in Upheaval.

     

    “The starting point of the record was extremely dark,” says Baio. “But I wanted to make something that was ultimately romantic and hopeful.”

     

    For Baio, who is also the bassist for the Grammy-Award winning band Vampire Weekend, examining the most nihilist and human aspects of American life is a recurring impulse. His previous album, “Man of the World,” which Paste Magazine called “the album we need” for the moment, served as a deft reaction to the global upheaval of 2016.

     

    “Dead Hand Control” reflects the evolution of this distinctive musical voice. “I was looking at the past five years of American life and obsessing about topics like death, wills and nuclear war,” he says, of the album’s origins. “But at its heart, it’s about how the only thing you can control is the way you treat the people in your Life.”

     

    It’s a perspective on full display in the propulsive title track, which reimagines the defiant spirit of an outlaw country song as a battle cry against the end times. (“Dead hand control / You can take my life but you will never take my soul”).

     

    Recorded over 18 months at Damon Albarn’s 13 Studios in London, as well as Baio’s personal C+C Music Factory (founded with VW bandmate Chris Tomson in Los Angeles), “Dead Hand Control” reflects Baio’s evolving artistry as a producer. “I look at it as a big jump up in terms of production and ability,” Baio acknowledges.

     

    “There’s always a gap in the artist’s mind as to what they want a recording to sound like and the way it ends up. This is the smallest that gap has ever been for Me.”

     

    Baio wrote all the songs on the album with the exception of “O.M.W.”, the nearly 10-minute long closing ballad written in collaboration with Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. “It’s something we started together from a beat I made and a chorus he wrote almost nine years ago,” Baio says. “Now just felt like the right time to finish it.”

    The album features a small cast of eclectic collaborators, including Baio’s longtime guitarist George Hume, drummer and State Department Jazz Ambassador Robby Sinclair, Future Classic’s Buzzy Lee, and VW touring member Greta Morgan, on backing vocals. The album was made with Baio’s longtime engineer John Foyle and mixed by Lars Stalfors (St. Vincent, Still Woozy).

     

    While it arrives at a tenuous moment on the national stage, the album marks a banner year in Baio’s career, which saw a Grammy win for Best Alternative Album for Vampire Weekend, the release of an EP from C.Y.M., Baio’s experimental Krautrock project with British producer and DJ Mike Greene (a.k.a. Fort Romeau), and the launch of the popular Ringer podcast The Road Taken (which teams up Baio and Tomson interviewing touring musicians about life on the road).

     

    The basic throughline, from Baio’s solo work to his ancillary projects, is an unapologetic and uncanny perspective on the current moment—a quality that shines on “Dead Hand Control.” The eight razor-sharp tracks cut through the static of the present and position Baio as a sorely-needed creative voice.

    Listen: Baio – “Dead Hand Control”

    Baio – “Dead Hand Control”

  • Kids In America

    Kids In America

    “Afterlife” feat. Luna Aura

    With their prior single to radio “Summer Of Love,” a regular 2020 Top 5 Specialty Show Fave, we’re of course super excited to have Kids In America now Back for more to spark the new year off in style, and with the instant “Afterlife” feat. Luna Aura!

     

    Kids In America truly has a “big tent” philosophy of creating music and collaborating with other artists, and invites everyone to let loose and let go! The band’s first two songs “Summer of Love” and “La La” have already achieved Over 5 million DSP streams total with Over 3 million on Spotify Alone.

     

    “hooks on hooks, harmonies for days, a sound palette pitched directly to alternative radio” – Esquire (on previous “Summer Of Love”)

     

    “This debut single from Kids in America is a no brainer addition to your playlist…and will stick in your head long after the sun sets.” – Billboard (on previous “Summer Of Love”)

    Listen: Kids In America – “Afterlife” (feat. LUNA AURA)

    Kids In America – “Afterlife” (feat. LUNA AURA)

  • Goldpark

    Goldpark

    “Beautiful Desperation”

    Nashville trio Goldpark’s hopeful and reflective sound is a perfect way to start the new year, and it’s the propulsive and immediate “Beautiful Desperation” from these up and comers we’re excited to hit the ground with in 2021!

     

    “You can live on a high and then come down into self-doubt. There’s an internal battle with those feelings. A lot of my songs look at two sides of a coin.”—Wes James/Goldpark

     

    Ironically for a band focused on live collaboration, the pandemic prevented Goldpark from playing live shows and testing out their new songs on the road. Undeterred, the Nashville trio spent the first half of 2020 writing before heading into the studio in August to lay down tracks. The songs draw their inspiration from the visual landscape of the desert, a place lead singer Wes James has often returned to in his travels. The vast scope of a barren desert plays into the music, reflecting a tension between beauty and desolation that also pervades James’ thoughtful lyrics.

     

    “There’s so much tension in every moment,” James notes. “Nothing is ever one way. I love when a song has conflict and resolution, where it brings you from feeling hopeless or sad to a feeling of optimism or peace. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Life is like that. Some days you’re feeling great and other days are not that way. It’s a transparent way of writing. I’m not trying to pretend one is more dominant than the other. Most of the time both feelings exist in a single moment.”

     

    “We quickly realized we needed to be especially intentional with how this record was going to sound,” guitarist Andrew Smith says. “It would have been easy, because of social distancing and remote sessions, for this record to sound like it was made solely with a computer. In a time when human interaction was scarce, we aimed to make songs that sounded like humans playing music together. These songs are a pillar of hope, like the light at the end of this tunnel.”

     

    “Our goal is to be able to write songs about things that touch people,” Smith says. “The world is hard and a lot of bad things happen, so we want to offer a different perspective and try to give people some hope. Yes, life can be painful, but there’s also a lot of beauty and a lot of beautiful people and a lot of love.”

    Listen: Goldpark – “Beautiful Desperation”

    Goldpark – “Beautiful Desperation”

  • Foster The People

    Foster The People

    Lamb's Wool

    Foster The People’s memorable, grooving and addictively dreamy “Lamb’s Wool” is soaked in emotion, and described by front-man Mark Foster as “a three part perspective on life, death, and what waits on the other side.” We’re elated to deliver this one to radio!

     

    “This became a healing salve for us to honor the people we’ve loved, and lost. I’m happy we kept chasing the song and tackled this topic with a gentle touch. It wasn’t an easy thing to honestly write about. The subject of death is so challenging to our internal fears, belief systems, and theologies. The best part for me personally, was getting to play the demo for my uncle when the lyrics were finished, before he passed away. It was a special gift for me to be able to communicate my love for him in the best way I know how – through this song.” — Mark Foster (on “Lamb’s Wool”)

     

    Founded in in 2009, Foster the People achieved success with the 2011 release of their debut album “Torches,” which has sold nearly two million albums and over nine million singles worldwide. “Torches” features the #1 hit single “Pumped Up Kicks,” which was recently named one of USA Today’s “100 Absolute Best Songs in History,” and also spawned the chart topping singles “Don’t Stop (Color On The Walls),” “Houdini,” and “Helena Beat.” Foster the People garnered three Grammy nominations for their monumental debut, including Best Alternative Album, Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for “Pumped Up Kicks” and Best Short Form Music Video for “Houdini.”

     

    “Supermodel” was the second full-length, influenced by front-man Mark Foster’s world travels and shifting perspective, the album was recorded in studios around the world and features fan favorites including “Coming Of Age” and “Best Friend.” In 2017, the band followed with their third record, “Sacred Hearts Club,” which features multi-format, Double-Platinum-certified hit “Sit Next To Me.” The track, described as “pure shimmering pop” by The Associated Press and named one of Billboard’s ‘Best Songs of 2018,’ has accumulated nearly 300 Million global streams to date. At radio, the song hit #3 at Alternative, #19 at Top 40 and reached Top 10 at both AAA and Adult Pop. The track also garnered a 2019 Billboard Music Award nomination for Top Rock Song and a nomination for Choice Rock/Alternative Song at the 2018 Teen Choice Awards.

     

    Just ahead of “Lamb’s Wool,” Foster the People have released new singles “Pick U Up,” “Imagination,” “Worst Nites” and “Style, with front-man Mark Foster directing the music video for each track.

    Listen: Foster The People – “Lamb’s Wool”

    Foster The People – “Lamb’s Wool”

  • Kiwi Jr.

    Kiwi Jr.

    Cooler Returns

    On their sophomoric smash-up, Kiwi Jr. cycle through the recent zigs & looming zags of the new decade, squinting anew at New Year’s parties forgotten and under-investigated small town diner fires, piecing together low-stakes conspiracy theories on what’s coming down the pike in 2021. Put together like a thousand-piece puzzle, assembled in flow state through the first dull stretch of quarantine, sanitized singer shuffling to sanitized studio by streetcar, masked like it’s the kind of work where getting recognized means getting killed, “Cooler Returns” materializes as a sprawling survey from the first few bites of the terrible twenties, an investigative exposé of recent history buried under the headlines & ancient kings buried under parking lots.

     

    Kiwi Jr.’s “Cooler Returns” goes down easy thanks to meaningful changes enacted in 2019’s KiwiCares Pledge: delivering on a promise to transition from Crunchy to Smooth by 2021, the caveman chug of their debut “Football Money” has been steamed & pressed with the purifying air of a saloon piano – operated with bow-tie untied – and a spring green side-salad of tentatively up-tempo organ taps & freshly fluted harmonica.

     

    A chronically detuned spin of the dial through swivel-chair distractions & WFH daydreams, an immersive ctrl-tab deluge cycling through popular listicle distractions like the unentombing of Richard III, or the deja vu destruction of the Glasgow School of Art, Kiwi Jr. sing the title track to an indoor audience, crisscrossing canceled, every other prestige distraction source wrung dry, only songwriting remaining to deliver engrossing tales to the populace, just how one imagines it worked in the old days.

    Listen: Kiwi Jr. – “Cooler Returns”

    Kiwi Jr. – “Cooler Returns”

  • TV Priest

    TV Priest

    Uppers

    It’s tempting to think that you have all the answers, screaming your gospel every day with certainty and anger. Life isn’t quite like that though, and the debut album from London four-piece TV Priest instead embraces the beautiful and terrifying unknowns that exist personally, politically and culturally.

     

    Posing as many questions as it answers, “Uppers” (coming out 2/5/21) is a thunderous opening statement that continues the UK’s recent resurgence of grubby, furious post-punk music. It says something very different though – something completely its own.

     

    Four childhood friends who made music together as teenagers before drifting apart and then, somewhat inevitably, back together late in 2019, TV Priest was born out of a need to create together once again, and brings with it a wealth of experience and exhaustion picked up in the band’s years of pursuing “real life” and “real jobs,” something those teenagers never had.

     

    “Decoration,” “Uppers”‘ centerpiece, has a streamlined groove soundtracking vocalist Charlie Drinkwater’s lyrical vignettes that captures the absurdity and mundanity of life. Its opening and closing line (“I’ve never seen a dog do what that dog does”) is a misremembered quote by Simon Cowell about a performing dog on Britain’s Got Talent. Charlie says, “We often said it in the studio as a kind of in-joke when someone did something good or unexpected. Having already toyed around with the ‘Through to the next round’ line,’ this seemed too good to leave out.” And the chorus “It’s all just decoration” is credited to the 2-year old niece of Alex’s fiancé, who reassured him after he pretended to be scared by Halloween decorations.

     

    Uppers” sees TV Priest explicitly and outwardly trying to avoid narrowmindedness. “Uppers” sees TV Priest taking musical and personal risks, reaching outside of themselves and trying to make sense of this increasingly messy world. It’s a band and a record that couldn’t arrive at a more perfect time.

    Listen: TV Priest – “This Island” (radio edit)

    TV Priest – “This Island” (radio edit)

  • The Jungle Giants

    The Jungle Giants

    "In Her Eyes"

    One of Australia’s biggest independent acts, Brisbane’s buzzing The Jungle Giants return to our shores, with the irresistible “In Her Eyes,” shared from their forthcoming album next year. Wrapped in the outfit’s patented, habit-forming and celebratory groove, the Brisbane band have also perfectly paired the new single’s dizzying chorus with a stylistically surreal, and beautifully bizarre video to get to know the track by (don’t miss it just below!).

     

    “It feels so good to finally get “In Her Eyes” out. Both the lyrics and production are really close to my heart. This track delves a little more into some of the themes explored on the upcoming record. It’s a song not only about being in love with someone, but also going deeper into self love. Sometimes you gotta back your own horse.” — Sam Hales/The Jungle Giants

     

    Melbourne film director Julian Lucas describes the video’s concept as “about a man’s narcissistic obsession with his own reflection. This manifests into a beautiful love story where he falls head over heels in love…with himself.”

     

    The Jungle Giants 2020 world tour found the four-piece in the United States, Mexico, Japan, UK, Netherlands and France just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March. With the rest of touring cancelled, Sam Hales focused his efforts on writing and recording the band’s forthcoming album due in 2021. 

     

    The Jungle Giants consists of Sam Hales, lead guitarist Cesira Aitken, bassist Andrew Dooris and drummer Keelan Bijker. Together they have released three albums, “Learn to Exist” (2013), “Speakerzoid” (2015) and “Quiet Ferocity” (2017). They have amassed over 300 Million combined streams worldwide to date and counting.

    Listen: The Jungle Giants – “In Her Eyes”

    The Jungle Giants – “In Her Eyes”

  • Moontower

    Moontower

    What Day Is It?

    Coming straight off a string of #1 weeks in a row at the legendary KROQ’s ‘Locals Only’ program, LA’s high energy, indie-electro trio Moontower come Now out of the gate to radio nationally with the iridescent burst of a chorus that is “Hit The Lights”–a true uplifting banger of single!

     

    Word has been rapidly building for rising forward-thinkers Moontower, and they’ve not only Already crossed the country opening for the likes of Cold War Kids, YUNGBLUD, COIN, and Bad Suns, but now find their international profile growing too during overseas trips to play major music festivals like Reading and Leeds.

     

    This year Moontower has found innovative ways to continue to bring live music to their fans around the world. They just wrapped a wildly successful Virtual Tour, and earlier this Summer released an explosive live performance video from a state of the art production warehouse that features all the music off their newly released EP “What Day Is It?”.

     

    Moontower has been deeply engaged as leaders in the fight for gun control. Leaning into non-partisan gun-buyback programs, the band has mobilized their diverse and highly-engaged fanbase to raise thousands for the cause.

     

    Moontower’s motto is simply “Take Care of Yourself, Take Care of Each Other”. They have built a strong and massively engaged fanbase off the back of touring, and have brought their community together through encouraging everyone not only to fight for what they’re passionate about, but also to help others do the same.

    Listen: Moontower – “Hit The Lights”

    Moontower – “Hit The Lights”

  • Maxïmo Park

    Maxïmo Park

    Nature Always Wins

    Following Maxïmo Park‘s surprise track “Child Of The Flatlands” last month, This week comes announcement of the English band’s first true single “Baby, Sleep” off next year’s album “Nature Always Wins” (out 2/26/21)!!! The band’s Paul Smith describes the new song as “a light-hearted look at the surreal nature of sleep-deprivation, and the way it distorts normality in a capitalist society,”

     

    “Nature Always Wins” arrives as something of an examination, zeroing in on the notion of the self, identity as a band, and that of humanity as a whole. The album’s title nods to the famous Nature vs Nurture debate. Discussing whether change is capable under the influence of time, perspective, environment or if we are destined to be bound by our own genetics, it asks, “who are we, who do we want to be, and do we have any control over it?”.

     

    Refining Maxïmo Park‘s approach as a three-piece, writing began last summer with Smith, Lloyd and English seeking a different kind of fourth member – a producer who was also a musician. Fitting the bill came Atlanta-based Grammy-winning producer Ben Allen (Animal Collective, Deerhunter) who afforded the band freedom to play and create. What wasn’t anticipated was how that freedom would be soon be stripped, as Lockdown restrictions left the band making the most of technological advances to perform real-time recording sessions across the ocean – themselves in Newcastle and Liverpool, with Allen at the helm in Atlanta.

     

    Resulting first single “Baby, Sleep” is a world of pop energy, driven by the inimitable guitar of Duncan Lloyd and the deft turns of phrase that can only come from Paul Smith.

     

    “I’m so happy we were able to make this album during lockdown, as it’s been a challenging time for everyone. After almost 4 years since Risk To Exist, we wanted to explore new musical territory (for us) without sacrificing our trademark melodic twists and heartfelt lyrics.  As always, the passing of time looms large, although the songs contain more affection for the past than before, and there are occasional hints of the fractious, divided time that we live in.” —Paul Smith/Maxïmo Park

    Listen: Maxïmo Park – “Baby, Sleep”

    Maxïmo Park – “Baby, Sleep”