Currents

  • 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”

  • 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”

  • Giant Rooks

    Giant Rooks

    Rookery

    Billboard says Berlin-based indie art-poppers Giant Rooks have “fully come into their own,” and we’re So Very Thrilled to bring you their first foray at U.S. radio in the in love-struck new single “Heat Up”! The versatile German 5-piece full on soar with a refreshing genre-blend and euphoric choruses.

     

    Easily the most promising band to come out of Germany in recent memory, Giant Rooks have been selling out concerts everywhere from Rome to Paris to Manchester, and in their homeland are Already filling venues other artists only get around to having on their tour schedules after 15 years worth of efforts.

     

    Giant Rooks took their time with their debut album “Rookery,” and having played more than 350 shows in recent years has given the band endless possibilities to refine their own sound, freeing themselves of the idea of how things are ‘supposed’ to be done. They are ready for the states, and So Will You Be For Them!

    Listen: Giant Rooks – “Heat Up”

    Giant Rooks – “Heat Up”

  • Kiwi Jr.

    Kiwi Jr.

    “Undecided Voters”

    Already Polling Strongly at new music specialty shows across this great land of ours, and now also The Current/Minneapolis’ ‘Song Of The Week,’ comes Kiwi Jr.’s More than timely, and out of the gate kinda memorable, “Undecided Voters” from the Toronto band, newly signed to Sub Pop!

     

    “We all know UNDECIDED VOTERS: democracy’s driftwood, the third planks in the flotsam that purple the pie chart, always on sight and never a part of the scene. Placing imminent demise neatly to one side, Kiwi Jr. concentrate on the Real Issues: the terrible alliance between King Crab and the timezones; 3D printing causing mass sculptor redundancies; and the playlist at the Duane Reade. After all, who is it we’re really voting for: Spartacus or the dead?”—Kiwi Jr.

     

    Sub Pop first became acquainted with Kiwi Jr.’s music via the band’s debut, 2019’s “Football Money”. The album released by Canadian label Mint Records and eventually internationally in January 2020 through Persona Non Grata/Kiwi Club, was released to Unanimous International Praise.

     

    Kiwi Jr. is Jeremy Gaudet (mic, guitar), Brohan Moore (drums), Mike Walker (bass), and Brian Murphy (guitar).

    Listen: Kiwi Jr. – “Undecided Voters”

    Kiwi Jr. – “Undecided Voters”

  • Songhoy Blues

    Songhoy Blues

    Optimisme

    Acclaimed West African band Songhoy Blues have returned to unveil a More than Timely new single! The optimistic “Worry” (produced by Matt Sweeney–Run The Jewels, Stephen Malkmus) comes from the celebrated Malian group who felt a need to share an inspiring song of hope, strength and vigilance during these uncertain times.

     

    “The harshness of life still weighs on our societies and sinks many young people into a dead end,” says the band in a unified statement. “’Worry’ is a positive energy that Songhoy Blues want to be a ray of hope for humanity. ‘Worry’ is about not stopping fighting because at the very end you will find the light.” 

     

    Songhoy Blues were determined to release “Worry” during these tumultuous times because the message it sends is both relevant and universal, and a beacon of hope to people struggling everywhere. It is also their first song entirely in English, but propelled by the Malian polyrhythms and potent blues riffs that set them apart from all other bands. On beat with the current times, the track is the first glimpse of their rockier, harder, hopeful third album, which will be a determined treatise for a better life.

     

    Songhoy Blues has created a distinctive sound by blending Malian cross-rhythms with Western influences such as rock and punk alongside a uniquely virtuosic guitar style. These all come together on ‘Worry” with concept Don’t worry / You’re gonna be happy / Keep fighting today / That smile will come one day, sung as an empowering mantra. This feeling permeates the music of Songhoy Blues and is a glimpse of what’s to come as the band’s sound continues to evolve. They are finishing up their anticipated third album with producer/guitarist Matt Sweeney (Run The Jewels, Stephen Malkmus) to be released later this year.

     

    Songhoy Blues understands first-hand what it means to stand up in the face of adversity and remain steadfast and positive in the fight. The group formed 10 years ago as refugees from the north of their homeland forced to head south during a series of events that included an al-Qaeda infiltration, imposed sharia law, civil war and a ban on music. The group has come a long way in their long, unremitting struggle, but their unwavering will shall not be deterred.

    Listen: Songhoy Blues – “Barre”

    Songhoy Blues – “Barre”

  • Bully

    Bully

    SUGAREGG

    A very old saying goes that no one saves us but ourselves. Recognizing and breaking free from the patterns impeding our forward progress can be transformative — just ask Bully’s Alicia Bognanno. Indeed, the third Bully album, SUGAREGG”, may not ever have come to fruition had Bognanno not navigated every kind of upheaval imaginable and completely overhauled her working process along the way.

     

    “SUGAREGG” roars from the speakers and jumpstarts both heart and mind. “There was change that needed to happen and it happened on this record,” she says. “Derailing my ego and insecurities allowed me to give these songs the attention they deserved.”

     

    Bognanno admits that finding the proper treatment for bipolar 2 disorder radically altered her mindset, freeing her from a cycle of paranoia and insecurity about her work. “Being able to finally navigate that opened the door for me to write about it,” she says. “Even small changes like listening to music instead of the news first thing in the morning “made me want to write and bring that pleasure to other people.”

     

    An unexpected foray into the film world also helped set the table for the upcoming album when Bognanno was asked to write songs for the 2019 movie Her Smell, starring Elisabeth Moss as the frontwoman of the fictional rock band Something She. “It got me motivated to play music again after the last album,” she says. “I loved reading the script and trying to think, what music would the character write? People asked if I’d play those songs with Bully but the whole point was for them to not be Bully songs. It was nice to get my head out of my own ass for a second and work on a project for someone else,” she says with a laugh.

     

    A highly accomplished engineer who ran the boards herself on the first two Bully albums, Bognanno was ready to be free “from the weight of feeling like I had to prove to the world I was capable of engineering a record, and wanted to be content knowing for myself what I can do without needing the approval of others to validate that.”

     

    So for “SUGAREGG”, she yielded recording and mixing responsibilities to outside collaborators for the first time and trekked to the remote Pachyderm Studios in Cannon Falls, Minn., an unexpected return to her home state. Behind the console was John Congleton, a Grammy-winner who has worked with everyone from St. Vincent and Sleater-Kinney to The War on Drugs and Modest Mouse. “Naturally, I still had reservations, but John was sensitive to where I was coming from,” Bognanno says. “He was very respectful that I’d never worked with a producer before.”

     

    The studio’s rich history (classics such as Nirvana’s In Utero, PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me and Superchunk’s Foolish were recorded there) and woodsy setting quickly put Bognanno’s mind at ease. Being able to bring her dog Mezzi along for the trip didn’t hurt either. “I had never tracked a record in the summer, so waking up and going outside with her before we started each day was a great way to refresh,” she says.

     

    With 14 songs on tape, Bognanno and friends left Pachyderm thinking “SUGAREGG” was done. But once back home in Nashville, she realized there was more to be written, and spent the next five months doing exactly that. Moving to Palace Studios in Toronto with Graham Walsh (Alvvays, METZ, !!!), Bognanno and Mitchell recorded “Where to Start” and “Let You,” which proved to be two of the new album’s key tracks.

     

    Ultimately, “SUGAREGG” is a testament that profound change can yield profound results — in this case, the most expressive and powerful music of Bognanno’s career. “This is me longing to see the bigger picture, motivated and eager for contentment in the best way,” she says. “I hope the happy go lucky / fuck-it-all attitude shines through some of these songs because I really did feel like I was reentering a place I hadn’t been to in a while and was excited to be back there.”

     

    “‘Where to Start’ boasts Bully’s characteristic high-energy snarl, as growling guitars lead into Bognanno’s raspy-throated condemnation: ‘I don’t know where to start/I don’t know where to start with you.’ Decidedly more jangly guitars then usher us all the way into the guts of the song — a mixture of sweet and sour, soft and frustrated.”—Rolling Stone

    Listen: Bully – “Where To Start” (radio edit)

    Bully – “Where To Start” (radio edit)

  • Foreign Air

    Foreign Air

    Good Morning Stranger

    Duo Foreign Air are ready to get inside of your minds. While they may very well deliver as Billboard gushed, “Transcendent Indie-Rock-Meets-Electronica with a penchant for forceful guitars and haunting vocals,” in “The Apartment” they’ve simply produced a dead in the pocket new song to radio Sure to move the proverbial needle forward!

     

    The band’s own words sum up this instant new single Better than we ever could:

     

    “’The Apartment’ is a break up song. It’s about coming to terms with a relationship that is no longer working with someone you have built a life with over time. The record collection you’ve accumulated, the furniture that you purchased, and the friendships you have built together outside the relationship are all split in half. This a very strange and difficult time however you know deep down inside that parting ways will ultimately ‘better for us both’. ‘The Apartment’ deals with those exact feelings as well as the emotional chaos that comes with it which is represented musically by the heavy synth in the chorus and decision to leave the end of the song instrumental. Once the relationship is over and you moved on, there isn’t much left to say except for you replay memories over and over in your head much like a movie. We felt that it was important to deliberately create that moment. To give the listener a chance to reflect on their own experiences and memories they may have once shared with someone close to them.” – FOREIGN AIR

     

    Jesse Clasen and Jacob Michael call themselves Foreign Air and are a different breed from all other acts out there. Their entire catalogue of music the duo have created together, from their first song “Free Animal” all the way through to these most recent tracks they’ve been releasing throughout 2020 so far, have been streamed over 110 million times on Spotify and Apple. The music has soundtracked global advertising campaigns for Samsung, Nike, Vodafone, Microsoft and many other brands in addition to television features on Netflix, Showtime, ABC, TNT, Vice, CW and Fox.

    Listen: Foreign Air – “The Apartment”

    Foreign Air – “The Apartment”

  • Washed Out

    Washed Out

    Purple Noon

    Washed Out is Atlanta-based producer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Ernest Greene. Over the course of three uniquely enchanting, critically-lauded albums and an EP, the music he makes has proved both transportive and visual, each new effort inviting listeners into immersive, self-contained universes. With “Purple Noon, his fourth album he delivers the most accessible Washed Out creation to date.

     

    “Life of Leisure,” the first Washed Out EP, set the bar for the Chillwave era, shimmering in a warm haze of off-the-cuff Polaroids and pre-IG filters. “Within and Without,” his full-length debut, found Washed Out’s sound morphing into nocturnal, icy synth-pop and embraced provocative imagery. “Paracosm” is Greene’s take on psychedelia, with a full live band and kaleidoscopic light show, and saw him playing to the largest audiences of his career. The sample-heavy “Mister Mellow” delivered a 360 audio/visual experience, with cut-n-paste and hand-drawn animation to match the hip hop influences throughout the album. With each release, Greene has approached his evolving project with meticulous detail and a steadfast vision.

     

    For “Purple Noon,” Greene again wrote, recorded, and produced the entirety of the album, with mixing handled by frequent collaborator Ben H. Allen (ParacosmWithin and Without). Production of the album followed a brief stint of writing for other artists (most notably with Sudan Archives on her debut Athena) which enabled Greene to explore genres like R&B and modern pop for the first time. These brighter, more robust sounds made their way into the songs of “Purple Noon” and mark a new chapter in Greene’s growth both as a producer and songwriter.  The vocals are front and center, tempos are slower, beats bolder, and overall, a more comprehensive depth of dynamics that has yet to be heard on a Washed Out record. One can hear the luxuriousness of Sade, the sonic bombast of Phil Collins, and the lush atmosphere of the great Balearic beat classics.

     

    The coastlines of the Mediterranean inspire “Purple Noon,” and Greene pays tribute to the region’s distinct island culture — with all of its rugged elegance and old-world charm — and uses it as a backdrop to tell the album’s stories of passion, love, and loss (Purple Noon”’s title comes from the 1960 film directed by Rene Clement, which is based on the novel “The Talented Mister Ripley” by Patricia Highsmith). Much like the romantic Hollywood epics, the melodrama throughout is strong  — a serendipitous first meeting in “Too Late”; the passionate love affair in “Paralyzed”; the disintegration of a relationship in “Time to Walk Away”; the reunion with a lost love in “Game of Chance.”

     

    Each Washed Out release has been rooted in a form of escapism, but coupled with this new layer of emotional intensity, Purple Noon” takes Washed Out’s music to dazzling new heights.

    Listen: Washed Out – “Time To Walk Away”

    Washed Out – “Time To Walk Away”

  • Dirty Projectors

    Dirty Projectors

    Flight Tower EP

    Dirty Projectors have shared new single, “Lose Your Love” at a moment when social distancing threatens to collapse into social alienation, singer Felicia Douglass implores us: “Just hold on, let yourself be found!” This is an anthem that invites connection and celebrates our need for one another.

     

    The song’s big, buoyant beats and exuberant instrumentation are a world away from the acoustic meditations of the “Windows Open” EP. But this is another facet of the same dynamic band: keyboardist-percussionist Felicia Douglass takes the lead, joined in harmony by Maia Friedman and Kristin Slipp, on music written and produced by leader Dave Longstreth.

     

    Dirty Projectors’ “Flight Tower” EP is the next in a sequence of five EPs that will come out in 2020. You read that right: March’s “Windows Open” EP was not a one-off, but the opening feature of a pentahedron of new music the band began in 2019 and is now working to wrap. Each EP will feature a different band member on lead vocals — Maia, Felicia, Kristin & Dave — with everyone trading verses on the fifth and final installment.

     

    On the upcoming “Flight Tower” EP, Felicia is in the captain’s chair. Each track is built around her mellifluous alto and empathetic eye, and Felicia and Dave wrote the lyrics together. Longstreth tills the other side of the screen, letting the sonic seeds planted on 2017’s Dirty Projectors and 2018’s Lamp Lit Prose blossom into something weird and new.  

    Listen: Dirty Projectors – “Lose Your Love”

    Dirty Projectors – “Lose Your Love”

  • Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

    Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

    Sideways To New Italy

    Following up their #1 Single at SubModern “Cars In Space” not only comes Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever’s newest unveiling “She’s There,” but also their second album “Sideways To New Italy”! Stereogum aptly nails the new single as striking “that same balance of a propulsive instrumental and a carefully orchestrated array of vocal hooks, driving by on first listen and then burrowing deeper and deeper into your head.” 

     

    For Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever, returning to Melbourne after long stretches looking out at the world through the windows of airplanes and tour vans lead to a dislocation, like being the knot in the middle of a game of tug-o-war. The upcoming “Sideways to New Italy” sees the band interrogate their individual pasts and the places that inform them. In clicking the scattered pieces back into place, they have crafted for themselves a new totem of home to carry with them no matter where they end up.

     

    “These songs were a long time coming together, after a year of touring and dislocation. To us, the album reaches forward to home and to love. New Italy is a tiny replica Venetian town built by immigrants in the middle of the Australian bush, it struck a chord with us as this kind of utopian totem of home (also knowing there is no such thing as a clean slate). It’s a strange time to be releasing music, but it seems like music sounds better than ever right now. We want to send our love to old Italy too, a place close to our all of our hearts, and also an inspiration for this album.”—RBCF

     

    “It’s pure guitar-mad elation. Hooks get piled on top of hooks, and the fleeting beauty of the music opens up a sense of urgency and drama in the lyrics. If they’re gunning for the best guitar band since Parquet Courts, then this is a great way to make the case.”—Rolling Stone’s ‘Song You Need To Know’ (“She’s There”)

    Listen: Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – “She’s There

    Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – “She’s There”