Flock Of Dimes

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Flock Of Dimes

Head Of Roses

Flock Of Dimes (aka Jenn Wasner)’s “Two” is the new single and video from the stunning new album “Head Of Roses”, and on Wasner’s second solo album she showcases her ability to embrace new levels of vulnerability, honesty and openness, combined with the self-assuredness that comes with a decade-plus career as a standout songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and prolific collaborator.

 

“’Two’ is about trying to find a kind of balance between independence and interdependence, and the multitudes within ourselves. It’s about trying to reconcile the desire to maintain a sense of personal autonomy and freedom with the need to connect deeply with others. And it’s about struggling to feel at home in a body, and learning how to accept that the projection of self that you show to others will always be incomplete.” –Jenn Wasner (aka Flock Of Dimes)

 

Simply put, on her second full-length record “Head of Roses,” Flock Of Dimes (aka Jenn Wasner) has delivered a record about heartbreak, but from a dualistic perspective. It’s about the experience of having one’s heart broken and breaking someone else’s heart at the same time. But beyond that, it’s about having to reconcile the experience of one’s own pain with the understanding that it’s impossible to go through life without being the source of great pain for someone else.

 

“makes room for the multiplicity of Wasner’s artistic voice. None of the singles sound anything alike — not the springy, off-kilter pop of ‘Two’ nor the slow-burning, psych-rock of ‘Price of Blue’ — and none of them quite prepare the listener for the gorgeously subdued second half of the album, which features several of the most stirring ballads Wasner has ever recorded. The common element holding all of these disparate parts together is her luminous, jewel-toned voice.” —New York Times 

 

“Wasner brings the guitar-centered indie rock of early Wye Oak alongside textural layers and deep synth bass reminiscent of Sylvan Esso; the electro-pop shine of her previous Flock of Dimes work alongside the bass- and synth-fueled sound that defined Wye Oak’s later music; and something new.” — Pitchfork 

 

“feels like an emotional journey where every new feeling, moment of rest, and sonic surprise is hard-won.” — PASTE

 

“encompasses a whole galaxy of observations and sonic structures…worth getting lost in.”— The Independent (UK)

 

“it makes room for seething yet matured rock songs like “Price Of Blue” alongside strange yet infectious pop songs like “Two.” There are moments of transportive, dreamlike melodies. But along the way she does lean into a comparatively stripped-down approach, singing over guitar or piano with only a few accompaniments or embellishments.” —Stereogum

Listen: Flock Of Dimes – “Two”

Flock Of Dimes – “Two”

Ya Tseen

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Ya Tseen

Indian Yard

“Indian Yard,” is the debut record from Sitka, Alaska project Ya Tseen (pronounced: yacht-seen). Band founder, Nicholas Galanin is one of the most vital voices in contemporary art. His work spans sculpture, video, installation, photography, jewelry and music; advocating for Indigenous sovereignty, racial, social and environmental justice, for present, and future generations.

 

“Indian Yard” is a compelling document of humanity centered in an Indigenous perspective. Created by one of the world’s foremost Indigenous artists, the irrepressible upcoming album (out 4/30) is an intense illumination of feeling and interconnectedness. On the groups’ debut offering, and first single “Close The Distance,” Galanin reflects on the universal need for connection and the expression of desire across distances. The official video, directed by Stephan Gray (Shabazz Palaces), extends beyond human experience to consider physical expressions of desire in biological, mechanical, and celestial forms.

 

Galanin began working on the record in 2017 while going back and forth between his home in Sitka and Juneau, Alaska where he was carving a totem pole. The album entwines falling in love and the birth of a child with the urgency of current social and environmental justice movements to tear down destructive systems and build anew.  He shared the concepts with bandmates Zak D. Wass and Otis Calvin III and together they structured the album alongside longtime collaborator Benjamin Verdoes. Through sessions in Sitka and Seattle, a cast of brilliant friends—Shabazz Palaces, Nick Hakim, fellow Indigenous Alaskan singer and songwriter Qacung, to name a few—helped form “Indian Yard” into a cataract of intensely current pop wonders. 

 

Nicholas Galanin is one of the most vital voices in contemporary art. Born in Sheet’ka (Sitka, Alaska), Galanin is Tlingit and Unangax̂; he creates from this perspective as an Indigenous man. His work calls for an accounting of the damages done to land and life by unfettered capitalism while envisioning and advocating alternate possibilities. For the 2020 Biennale of Sydney, he excavated the shape of the shadow cast by the monumental statue of Captain James Cook, a call for the burial of monuments to violent histories; >ArtNEWS and Artsy called a defining work of 2020. Land Swipe—a painted deer hide that depicts the NYC subway map, marked with selected sites of police violence against Black youth—was called one of “the most important art moments in 2020” by The New York Times. His work spans sculpture, video, installation, photography, jewelry, and music; advocating for Indigenous sovereignty, racial, social, and environmental justice, for present, and future generations.

 

“Indian Yard” is Galanin’s debut as Ya Tseen (“be alive,” and a reference to his Tlingit name Yeil Ya Tseen), and his first album for Sub Pop. Rich with emotional range and sharp awareness, the album explores love, desire, frustration, pain, revolution, and connection through magnetic expressions of an Indigenous mind and body.

 

This is not, by any means, Galanin’s first album. He has released a steady stream of records under a panoply of aliases, including Silver Jackson and Indian Agent. He has worked with the likes of Meshell Ndegeocello, Tanya Tagaq, and Samantha Crain. And for the better part of a decade, he’s also been part of the revolutionarily borderless art collective Black Constellation alongside Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction.

Listen: Ya Tseen – “Knives” (feat. Portugal. The Man) – (radio edit)

Ya Tseen – “Knives” (feat. Portugal. The Man) – (radio edit)

Pete Yorn

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Pete Yorn

Pete Yorn Sings The Classics

Platinum-selling Pete Yorn delivers “They Don’t Know” –a cover of the Kirsty MacColl original, popularized by Tracey Ullman with a sleeper 1983 Top 10 US hit, and simply one of Our Favorite Songs Ever! This charming cover is pulled from “Pete Yorn Sings The Classics” (out now exclusively on Bandcamp)!

 

“A good time for some new musical distraction. As you know, I’ve never been shy about celebrating my musical influences. I honor them and appreciate the fact that they have helped to inspire the style of music I create as my own. I have chosen to interpret and record this particular collection of songs for various reasons. Whether it was The Pixies’ “Here Comes Your Man” or The Stone Roses’ “Ten Storey Love Song,” these songs all have one thing in common….they all stopped me in my tracks upon first discovery, simply because I loved the way they made me FEEL. They compelled me to listen repetitively…almost compulsively over and over again.” – Pete Yorn

 

American Songwriter’s ‘Track By Track’ with Pete Yorn—on “They Don’t Know”:

 

American audiences might know the version of this Kirsty MacColl track that was a sleeper 80s hit in the U.S. for Tracey Ullman, as Yorn got the chance to tackle the iconic “Baby” exclamation that leads off the final verse. (“I knew that I had to,” Yorn laughs. “I just said, ‘Let’s hit it!’”) He ended up getting some meaningful feedback:

 

“We were able to get Tracey a copy of the record, and she hit back and she said she loves the version so much and she said she thinks that Kirsty would have loved this version too. She said some other fun stuff. I really liked the feel of the song. When we put the record together and the sequence, that was my favorite for a while. It’s kind of this forgotten song that everyone loves.”

Listen: Pete Yorn – “They Don’t Know”

Pete Yorn – “They Don’t Know”

Yuno

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Yuno

“Somebody”

Yuno has returned and stars in the official video for “Somebody,” his irresistible New emo-pop single. The song is his first new recorded output since the release of 2018’s “Moodie” and is available now worldwide from Sub Pop.

 

Yuno says of the single, “Spending so much time at home during the pandemic brought back a lot of feelings from my adolescence. I grew up as somewhat of a loner–spending most of my time isolated in my bedroom, and I wanted to capture the parallels between my life now and the life of my younger self. I drew a lot from the pop-punk, post-hardcore, reggae, and southern hip hop that I’ve loved throughout my life. I feel like my 14-year-old self would be very proud.”

 

“Somebody,” was written by Yuno Moodie, produced by Moodie and Christoph Andersson, mixed by Andersson and mastered by JJ Golden.

 

Yuno is currently at work on the follow up to Moodie, his acclaimed Sub Pop debut.

Listen: Yuno – “Somebody”

Yuno – “Somebody”

Baio

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Baio

Dead Hand Control

When Chris Baio sat down to work on his third studio album, “Dead Hand Control,” 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”

Kiwi Jr.

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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

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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” 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)

Goldpark

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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”

Kids In America

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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)