By alternating between expressive and easygoing folk-balladry and narrative, mid tempo rock n’ roll, Stories highlights Dawes’ enduring melodic focus. While many young bands fall prey to cheap songwriting thrills of loud n’ long histrionics, from the beginning Dawes has been cut from a different mold.
The Black Angels' recorded efforts have demonstrated a commitment to an assertive, dense, and kaleidoscopic worldview. While Indigo Meadow stays firmly rooted in these stylistic conventions it also offers some nuanced texture. By downsizing to a four piece the band has granted greater influence to producer and live mixer John Cagelton, resulting in a vibrant, compelling album with fresh production clout.
Following the dissolution of both his marriage and his first band, The Black Lillies’ founder Cruz Contreras spent a year on the road as a truck driver for a stone company in East Tennessee. Thus, after playing more than 200 shows in 2012 upon the release of The Lillies’ critically acclaimed debut, Contreras has lived a relentlessly nomadic existence. With its mix of pedal steel guitar, banjo, and crystalline harmonies, the melancholic and modern Appalachia-meets-Americana sound of second LP Runaway Freeway Blues is firmly rooted in the wandering spirit of a restless heart on the run.
When Sharon Van Etten joins Pickwick for a cover of Seattle indie-rock icon Richard Swift’s “Lady Luck,” their debut LP Can’t Talk Medicine reaches its zenith. The collaboration coalesces into a stone cold neo-soul classic. With a nod to Hall and Oates’ falsetto harmonies, “Lady Luck” is pitch-perfect; a patient rendering that exemplifies Pickwick’s triadic harmony of rock n’ roll, indie-blues, and classic soul.
FaltyDL is Drew Lustman from New York City by-way-of New Haven, CT. His pseudonym has been gaining steam in electronic music circles due in large part to his association with Thom Yorke and Radiohead. Lustman was invited to open for the iconic band at New York City’s Roseland Ballroom in 2012 but prior to this anointment he was an in-demand re-mixer for the xx, Scuba, Photek and many others. With the tastemakers listening closely, Lustman drops his first full length, Hardcourage on inimitable UK label Ninja Tune.
Chicago’s Speck Mountain is built around the song writing pair of Marie-Claire Balabanian and Karl Briedrick. On their third album, Badwater, the pair is joined by drummer Chris Dye (formerly of Chin Up Chin Up) and organist Linda Malonis and the band drafts a wide open, woozy statement of ambient rock n’ soul.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra's second album, aptly titled II, is being released on Jagjaguwar and the band shows off some musical evolution in its sly psych-rock skronk. An amalgamation of dusty, garage-rock production, cozy, “as if” sampled grooves, falsetto vocals and opaque funk nudge the band forward.
The Vaccines, one of the UK’s most buzzed about rock bands of the last few years just released their sophomore album, Coming of Age, on Columbia records. The record debuted at #1 in England as that provincial land loves to push its native lads to the top of the pops fast, brash, and loud.
Niki and the Dove are an electro-pop trio from Stockholm, Sweden. Their first full length, Instinct, was recently released on Seattle’s legendary Sub Pop Records. The band generated significant blog hype last year with their first single “DJ, Ease My Mind”, a piece of jack-nugget ear candy that makes a lush and ominous case for the healing power of the dance floor.