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Genre > Rock > Alt & Grunge
PluralElectric Guest – LA-based duo Asa Taccone and Matthew Compton – have confirmed details for the long-awaited follow up to their 2012 debut. ‘Plural’, on Downtown/Interscope Records, breaks the group's almost five-year silence with their most confident, catchy, fully-realized music to date, featuring behind the scenes contributions from Joanna Newsom, Haim, and Justin Young from The Vaccines.
Recorded in LA, 'Plural' infuses Electric Guest's off-kilter blend of electronic, pop and R&B with an even more adventurous spirit than on 2012's 'Mondo.' Written during a period of self-reflection, 'Plural' embraces Taccone and Compton's original instincts, forgoing detailed arrangements and falsettos in favor of a back-to-basics approach – strong, natural vocals, intuitive musical instinct, and unbridled inspiration. The result is a sonic mélange that sounds as if it’s from both the past and future, layering everything from 80s synths to iPhone drum machines to Latin and Caribbean percussion.1. Zero
2. Glorious Warrier
3. Back & Forth
4. Dear To Me
5. Oh Devil
6. Back For Me
7. See The Light
9. My Omen
11. Bound To Lose
$21.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
StiffThree years on from their critically acclaimed “barbeque” record Corsicana Lemonade, White Denim are back with more than just a new album to commemorate. Their sixth record, Stiff – out 25 March 2016 via Downtown/Sony Red – is a return to the Austin quartet’s frenetic rock band roots, and is both a jubilant thrill ride and joyous celebration of their past ten years. Heading into the studio with an external producer to oversee a whole album for the first time – and even writing a tune with Cass McCombs (‘Thank You’) – the band teamed up with the legendary Ethan Johns (Paul McCartney, Laura Marling, The Staves) to produce their first truly live record, one teeming with a cool ‘70s undertow, tumultuous riffs and a feverish energy that’s resulted in arguably some of their biggest and brawniest songs to date.
With drummer Joshua Block and guitarist Austin Jenkins now pursuing other production ventures, vocalist/guitarist James Petralli and bassist Steve Terebecki spent a long time reassessing exactly what White Denim meant to them. “The big thing for Steve and I was trying to define what made us want to keep going,” Petralli explains of the album’s early days. “What’s our partnership about? What’s cool about this? We learnt a lot making D and Corsicana Lemonade. We wanted to take some of those lessons and apply it back to our original mission statement. We were trying to get back to some of the things that made us excited about the band in the first place.”
Opener ‘Had 2 Know (Personal)’ is the embodiment of that mission statement. Described by Petralli as “a reassertion of our initial intent to make songs that satisfy our urge to play fast”, it sets the tone brilliantly for the bulk of Stiff, right from its idiosyncratic, Red Krayola-sampling beginning to its huge, golden era chorus. While it remains distinctively White Denim, there’s a reinvigoration permeating through its riffs via new guitarist Jonathan Horne and a beefed-up rhythm section thanks to the work of new drummer Jeffrey Olson. Every single high octane turn – from the tremendously fun ‘Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)’ to the outrageously shredding ‘Holda You (I’m Psycho)’ – sounds like a band re-energised and revitalised, resulting in what Petralli describes as a “high heat, high energy, good times record”. Having previously sold out Shepherd’s Bush Empire and having toured with Tame Impala and Arctic Monkeys, Stiff is full to the brim with songs that sound ready to now lift White Denim to similar heights.
For the most part, Stiff is an album crammed with adrenaline-fuelled sing-alongs that show off the band’s staple technical abilities. But it’s also one that sees some new shades that they’ve developed along the way, too. Citing new wave and the razor-sharp pop punk of Buzzcocks as influences this time round, there’s an addictive Elvis Costello circa This Year’s Model quality to ‘Real Deal Momma’, a tune that highlights the band’s love for hummable synthesisers and curious, affecting oddities. Then there’s the cow bell calm and backing vocals laden brilliance of ‘I’m The One (Big Big Fun)’, that along with ‘Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)’ (a song Petralli says “wants to be on a collection of doo wop songs written in 2016”) shows a softer and more intricate side to the band while fully emphasising Petralli’s vocal excellence.
Of the artwork – which was created by collagist Eugenia Loli – was inspired and worked from the band’s previous album covers and videos as a visual template. Ultimately, it’s a fleeting visit to a place the band have been before, with the covers of Workout Holiday and D being collages too. Stiff was even originally stylised ‘Stif’, which when spelt backwards spells out the title of their second full-length Fits. Then there’s ‘Mirrored In Reverse’, a nod to the Fits track ‘Mirrored And Reverse’. “I mean, we’re ten!” Petralli says in disbelief while explaining all of the record’s throwbacks. “We did think about naming this record Ten and referencing the Pearl Jam cover!”
Recorded with nothing but equipment that Petralli describes as being “past a certain point in the ‘70s”, he explains that Stiff is an album made “entirely the old way”. “It was tracked live to 16-track tape with very little overdubs,” he says. “It was very hardcore record making – traditional in every aspect.” Recorded with Ethan Johns in Asheville, North Carolina over a twenty-day period, Petralli and the band had an intense but deeply educational time with Johns. “It was really cool. The guy had these stories that were just unbelievable. He started talking about playing with Jimmy Page when he was a kid, and he lived in the studio where The Rolling Stones and The Faces would just hang out. Having Ethan in the room pushing us really made it more of an ‘in the moment’ and a visual thing. Capturing live performances is what he does really well.”
To make things even more celebratory, there was an extra ten day stint spent with go-to White Denim man Jim Vollentine, who Petralli describes as “my guy, man”. He continues: “we’ve made a lot of records together now. When we left the studio in Asheville with Ethan, we thought we gotta work on this record some more, you know? Though it was really just mixing, which we did with respect to Ethan’s arrangements and his recording. I feel like I really haven’t made anything like this before.”
Ultimately, Stiff is the sound of a band finding their feet again and having the time of their lives. It’s a record that refuses to buckle under the pressures of life, instead offering up a soundtrack to sing, dance, shout and scream along to. As a White Denim album, it’s a joyride through the past ten years of the band’s idiosyncratic catalogue while simultaneously pushing things further forward into new territories. “It’s similar to our first record [Workout Holiday] in that we found the initial energy and just went with that,” Petralli says of the initial studio spark that started it all. “We thought, what’s the fundamental thing that made us want to get into a van and quit our terrible jobs and start this whole thing in the first place? And it was loud, fast-playing, rock and roll.”1. Had 2 Know (Personal)
2. Ha Ha Ha Ha (Yeah)
3. Holda You (I’m Psycho)
4. There’s a Brain in My Head
5. Take It Easy (Ever After Lasting Love)
6. (I’m the One) Big Big Fun
7. Real Deal Momma
8. Mirrored in Reverse
9. Thank You
$19.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
JackrabbitBrooklyn-based San Fermin, now an eight-piece touring enterprise, did not start that way.
In December of 2012, the initially makeshift project performed a single concert—from sheet music—and signed a record deal. Their self-titled debut was subsequently released worldwide in the fall of 2013 via Downtown Records. Following rave reviews, the band was thrust into the spotlight, performing sold out shows and festivals across the world and opening for the likes of the National, St. Vincent, Arctic Monkeys, and The Head and the Heart.
“Suddenly, we were not in a vacuum. We were in the thick of it, which was thrilling but also terrifying,” bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone says. “There were all these new possibilities and gray areas. It was a shock to the system—out in the world, barely at home, constantly in a state of semi-crisis.”
Many of the songs on Jackrabbit, San Fermin’s second album, existed only on Ludwig-Leone’s laptop for the better part of a year, as he toured and turned the band into an ensemble operation. When at last he revisited them, he knew that they had to be reborn.
“The first record was written in a very pre-composed way, recorded when I didn’t think this would be a band. So I went from being this isolated composer guy to sitting in the back of a crowded van with seven other band members playing shows in rock clubs every night,” he says. “When I got back, I ripped these holes in the middle of the existing songs and added some new ones. I rethought everything I had been writing.”
Recorded piecemeal in many sessions under Ludwig-Leone’s watchful eye, Jackrabbit bears the scars of experience admirably. If San Fermin could seem prepared and guarded to the point of being polite, Jackrabbit lines that record’s complicated compositional maneuvers and grandiose pop eruptions with necessary aggression. It is urgent and in your face, like a band sweating and singing in a cramped venue. It is emotionally complicated, too, like a group of strangers who have suddenly had their lives interrupted and linked by unexpected circumstances.
Fittingly, Jackrabbit is filled with moments in which each member of the band is prominently featured: John Brandon (trumpet), Stephen Chen (saxophone), Rebekah Durham (violin/vocals), Michael Hanf (drums), Charlene Kaye (lead vocals), Tyler McDiarmid (guitar), and Allen Tate (lead vocals). The two discrete characters born by the debut album have been replaced by multiple personalities, treading new and difficult terrain.
This evolution is at the heart of Jackrabbit, a powerful record where moments beautiful, brutal and a bit of both produce songs that don’t know how to let you out of their clutches or console you with easy answers. At once lived-in and sophisticated, Jackrabbit feels a lot like real life—charmed, challenging, and wonderfully compulsory.1. The Woods
2. Ladies Mary
7. Ecstatic Thoughts
8. Woman In Red
9. The Cave
12. The Glory
13. Two Scenes
14. Halcyon Days
15. Billy Bibbit
$24.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
DaggersEx Cops, a nomadic duo featuring Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding, brings the hook-heavy blast of ‘90s alt-rock into a new era on their second album Daggers. Executive produced by icon-of-form Billy Corgan and produced by Justin Raisen (Sky Ferriera, Charli XCX, Kylie Minogue), the record rescues guitar-pop from the bedroom, returning it to the stage it deserves.
Formed in 2011, the group’s first album True Hallucinations, released in early 2013, was a critically-acclaimed collection of sprawling indie-pop. From the exuberant “Spring Break (Birthday Song)” to the band’s dreamy debut “You Are A Lion, I Am A Lamb,” the John Siket-produced record (Blonde Redhead, Yo La Tengo) was a genre-jumping opening salvo and its wall-to-wall guitars set the tone for their new album.
Daggers is a musical about-face, though. “We are not afraid of our favorite music anymore,” says Harding. “It’s pop.”
Billy Corgan, in addition to sharing the band’s love of ABBA and taking them to their first wrestling match, provided form and texture to the new tracks over a two-week period in Chicago. The band then took the material to LA for tracking with Raisen and continued collaborating with artists like Ariel Pink, who co-wrote “Burnt Out Love” and features on “Tragically Alright.”
The result reinvents modern rock. “White Noise,” with its addictive chorus, merges guitars that could make your teeth ache and a motorik electronic pop pulse. The impeccably-produced “Teenagers” brings club-ready downtown pop to an anthemic peak, while “Black Soap” shifts shoegaze textures to stadium status and “Rooms,” one of the album’s emotionally-resonant ballads, packs a substantial punch.1. Black Soap
2. White Noise
5. Pretty Shitty
6. Burnt Out Love
7. Modern World
8. Wanna Be (feat. L.P.)
9. Tragically Alright (feat. Ariel Pink)
11. Weird With You
$19.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
No Moon At AllWildcat! Wildcat!’s debut full-length, No Moon At All, ties the trio’s indie-pop anthems into a cohesive widescreen vision. Packed with the Los Angeles-based band’s uplifting musicality and angelic harmonies, the ten-track album, which features production from M83’s Morgan Kibby, represents both a major artistic leap and the culmination of the group’s rise since “Mr. Quiche” and their initial run of buzzy singles.
Featuring longtime friends Jesse Taylor (vocals, bass), Michael Wilson (vocals, keys) and Jesse Carmichael (vocals, drums), Wildcat! Wildcat! officially formed in 2012. Their early tracks, available as blog downloads and a single from the tastemaker label Neon Gold, led to the band’s 2013 self-titled debut EP on Downtown Records, which received critical acclaim from NPR, Pitchfork, Time, Stereogum, Nylon, Paste, Huffington Post and more.
In early 2013, Wildcat! Wildcat! was the subject of the Sam Jones-directed documentary Hello Everywhere – a feature that depicted the band’s journey from LA to SXSW for a massive concert with Passion Pit. The group has also toured with Alt-J, Portugal. The Man and MS MR.
On No Moon At All, Wildcat! Wildcat! achieves full headliner status. Its sweeping arc and range create an emotionally-rousing world for the band’s infectious underdog anthems. “Tower” sets the tone with a dreamy build and explosive low-end, while lead single “Hero” mixes the group’s innovative harmonies with dance production and an earworm chorus. “Holloway (Hey, Love),” with its skyrocketing emotions, is sure to play over many-a-movie’s end credits, and “End Of The World Everyday” is a slinky, bold ballad.1. Tower // W.O.H.L.
2. Garden Grays
3. Up & Beyond
5. End of the World Everyday
6. Holloway (Hey, Love)
7. Circuit Breaker
8. Nothing Below
$24.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
SomeKindaWonderfulFateful encounters at Cleveland bars rarely lead to musical mythology, but SomeKindaWonderful have a different kind of story to tell.
A three-piece featuring Jordy Towers (vocals/lyrics), as well as Matt Gibson (guitar) and Ben Schigel (drums), the genre-bending group came together after Towers became a casualty of the major label system. Once signed to Interscope as a solo act, he refused to become yet another faceless persona and the label left him hanging on the vine. Towers knew it was time for a reset and headed to Ohio to re-examine his life.
“Iʼm not the type to be defeated easily,” says Towers. “You know, most people move to LA to make it, but I had to leave LA to find my path.”
In January 2013, Towers took a trip to visit family in the suburban Cleveland town of Olmstead Falls (pop. 9,000). It was there that he fatefully crossed paths with Gibson and Schigel. While the local musicians were just intending to just grab some beers at a local bar, they found much more than they had anticipated when they came across Jordy.
“We were basically a band without a lead singer and he was a lead singer without a band,” says Schigel. “We headed back to our studio the night we met and, literally three hours later, our first song ʻReverseʼ was done.”
To call “Reverse” the product of fate is an understatement. Endlessly catchy, the song feels both modern and classic, nodding to ʻ60s soul and contemporary R&B with the dynamic range of big-room pop-rock and cinematic emotion. Its structure, which features Towers unraveling a backwards narrative with a cadence that merges rap and soul, provides a novel lyrical framework to a unique sound.
“Itʼs an R&B soul rock record,” says Towers. “It sort of mirrors my move from LA to Cleveland. That path is reversed from what youʼd expect. Nothing is deliberate. Just like how we met, itʼs natural and all about the music. I still canʼt believe I met my musical soul mates at a bar in Ohio.”1. Cornbread
3. Hard for Days
8. Devilish Man
9. Laugh out Loud
10. In Chains
11. Shine on Me
$19.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Still LifeDawn Golden is the work of Los Angeles-based producer Dexter Tortoriello. He gained exposure in 2010 when his other (much more serene) project, Houses began getting wide spread attention. Dawn Golden is it’s opposite. Influenced by everything from doom metal bands like Neurosis to avant noise artists such as Xiu Xiu, the songs pound with a calm, but dire urgency. The project began in Tortoriello’s bedroom as an experiment in different recording techniques, and quickly escalated as vocals were added and ideas rounded out. Dawn Golden released his first EP, Blow, in April 2011. The effort, which featured standouts like “Blacks” and “White Sun,” received critical acclaim from NPR and Pitchfork. Post-Blow, Tortoriello started recording albums for both Dawn Golden and Houses, releasing Houses’ A Quiet Darkness in May 2013. During this period, he continued working on the songs for what would become Dawn Golden’s debut LP, Still Life. The album was recorded over the last three years at the Mad Decent studios in Los Angeles.
Still Life is built around stream-of-conscious craft that explores the doleful voids of addiction, love, and death. Led by its first single “All I Want,” Still Life gains its stark emotional perspective through some of the most unique production you’re likely to hear this year. There’s heavy exploration of sonic texture, and Tortoriello uses frozen cut-ups and creative vocal editing to flip a traditionally-futuristic sound into something that oozes feeling.1. Discoloration
2. All I Want
3. Sleight Orchestra
4. I Won’t Bend
6. The Beekeeper
7. Still Life
9. Last Train
10. Brief Encounter
$19.99Vinyl LP - SealedBuy Now
Pretty Green EPAustin's animated rock group White Denim have released a B-side EP Pretty Green that accompanies their latest album Corsicana Lemonade. Corsicana Lemonade is the sixth studio album to come from these southern gentlemen and has received positive critical acclaim, as the album shows yet another sporadic side of the band.1. Pretty Green (Album Version)
2. Pretty Green Mash (Bottom Dollar String Band feat. Jim and June)
3. Under Mi Pretty Green
4. Looking For A Place To Start
$5.9910" Vinyl EP - SealedBuy Now
Wildcat! Wildcat!The self-titled debut EP from acclaimed LA-based band Wildcat! Wildcat! is released by Downtown Records. The band garnered critical praise for their previously released sold-out limited addition 7" on the taste-making label Neon Gold Records, including early support from BBC Radio 1 in the U.K. TIME raves, "I love the staccato electronic rock, I love the frantic opening measures, I love the fleeting falsetto in the background," while Metro furthers they're "the best overall new band."
The new EP was written and produced by the band in their home studios over the course of the last year and a half. Of the songs Jesse Carmichael (vocals, drums) notes, "Some came quicker than others but all of them provided us the time to try out different processes of collaboration and understand how and why we make the kind of music that we make together."
Wildcat! Wildcat! is Jesse Taylor (vocals, bass), Michael Wilson (vocals, keys) and Carmichael. The trio played together in various incarnations before officially forming Wildcat! Wildcat! in 2012. The band has toured extensively including SXSW, a sold out west coast headlining run and major U.S. support slots with Alt-J and Portugal. The Man.1. The Chief
2. Garden Grays
3. Mr. Quiche
4. Please & Thank You
$5.99Vinyl EP - SealedBuy Now
Alternative rock first emerged in Britain in the late 70s and early 80s, but it didn’t really hit its stride until the 90s with the arrival of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and
Alternative rock first emerged in Britain in the late 70s and early 80s, but it didn’t really hit its stride until the 90s with the arrival of bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane’s Addiction. That was also right around the time that Nirvana and Pearl Jam fueled the grunge rock explosion.
And when you want the full and real alt rock experience, you’ve gotta try it out on vinyl, and SoundStage Direct is your one-stop shop for all the best alternative rock vinyls.