Loved Ones single 'Harness' due 5 May 2017

Album release: 'Harness' by Loved Ones
Release date: 5 May 2017
Label: Blood Records
More info: Band Facebook

It is said that a change is as good as a rest, so when it comes to Liverpool quartet Loved One’s re-emergence, coupled with their shift in musical direction, things can only bode well for the swell of new material they are set to release in 2017. 
 
Releasing themselves from the lo-fi and ambient rock of their debut album 'The Merry Monarch' – having spent much of their recent time involved in soundtrack work - the forthcoming full length 'Harness' sets its stall out as a move into an eclectic, but no less focussed, sphere of operation.

The album’s first single 'End Of An Error' today premieres at Wonderland and offers a first look into what they’ve been working on. Listen to 'End Of An Error. With this track we get a sense of the record’s more anxious moments and themes of escapism, which conspire here to erupt into a dilating and expansive chorus.

Lead singer Nik Glover comments; “We tried to turn our traditional song structure on its head in 'End of an Error', piling all the melodies into the verse and letting the chorus speed past with hardly any vocals. It's a song about naive teenage love and regret, and why sometimes ripping up all your memories of a relationship is better than trying to hold on to it.” 

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Mt. Wolf single 'The Electric' out 17 February 2017

Single release: 'The Electric' by Mt. Wolf
Release date: 17 February
Label: CRC Music
More info: Band website

London’s Mt. Wolf ended last year teasing the world with the smart-pop stylings of 'Golden', which saw significant pick-up internationally from the likes of The Independent, Indie Shuffle and others but was moreover a distraction of sorts, to maintain momentum whilst the band continued working away in the studio on a debut album and the huge sound they have always threatened. With the 6 minute + 'The Electric', the first material from their as yet untitled debut LP, this sound is very much realised. This year marks a fresh start for a band whose promise is set to be fulfilled.  

The road up to now has been nothing if not eventful – including a line-up change, sell-out shows across Europe and the US, a brief hiatus last year that only invigorated the band and significant, ongoing critical support. Getting to this point hasn’t been easy but the feeling is that the real rewards, for the band and for us the listeners, are now just around the corner.

Punctuated by apocalyptic visions, the accompanying lyric video ebbs and flows as the song swells, and shows the strength – and importance – of lyrics in the band’s ever-growing sonic palette.  

Since last year’s comeback EP and single the band have kept busy writing and recording with Ken Thomas (Sigur Ros, M83, Daughter). Early listens confirm this as their boldest, most ambitious output yet; expect the full album to land, and awe, shortly before the summer. 

Press reaction to date

“Subtle soundscapes, haunting vocals and broody bass” – Clash Magazine

“Enough hypnotic electronica to keep bassheads interested, while their folky roots and classical string instruments add depth to satisfy any weary soul” – MTV

“The band’s dreamy electronic-folk sound is surely destined for great things.” – London Evening Standard

"Self-starters to the fullest extent... selling out shows at London Heaven and across the country, standing out as one of the most promising new acts in the UK." – DIY

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Be Like Pablo new single 'There She Is' out 17 March 2017

Single release: 'There She Is' by Be Like Pablo
Release date: 17 March 2017
More info: Band website 

“There She Is is the best Be Like Pablo song to date.” says lead songwriter, Ewen Watson, of the mischievous Scottish band. A bold statement to make for a band with a consistent record of quality music behind them, but not an exaggerated one in this case. With influences like The Rentals, and The Cars, the band’s interest in retro imagery and sounds are prominent in the track, yet their trademark Moog synths, and fuzzy power chords help to underline the narrative that runs throughout ‘There She Is’. 

The sleek sweet video, produced by the award-winning company, Freakworks, and starring Jerry-Jane Pears (The Royals, Survivor), depicts a Notting Hill-like tale of celebrity vs ‘normality’ and how images in the media blitz society. Watson explains this further,“There She Is tells the story of a high-school crush who left home and grew up to be the most famous person on earth. When writing the song, I could see a music video in my head from the outset: billboards and magazines spectacularly coming to life with their star – a glamourous model - breaking from her still-image form and reaching out to the real world.”

Press reaction to date

“Riotously enjoyable, noisy power pop.” - The 405

“Scottish indie pop of the most traditional and twee sort. Neither of which are an insult…charming.” - Drowned In Sound

“I cannot stress enough how good this band are…Be Like Pablo have music to suit every mood and their twee tinged hits will put a smile on anyone’s face.” – Glasswerk  

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Yazz Ahmed new album 'La Saboteuse' due 12 May 2017

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Album release: 'La Saboteuse' by Yazz Ahmed
Release date: 12 May 2017
Label: Naim Records
More info: Artist website
 
Yazz Ahmed has been making serious waves in the Jazz world after storming onto the scene with a commanding performance at Ronnie Scott’s with her quintet in 2010. With her next release ‘La Saboteuse’ Yazz looks set to join an pioneering group of artists such as The Comet is Coming (Leaf Label), Kamasi Washington (BRAINFEEDER), Yussef Kamaal (Brownswood) and Naim Records’ Sons Of Kemet who are flipping the jazz world on its head and breaking through to the forefront of the UK music scene with a vibrant and exciting approach to their art. 

Yazz has performed with creative goliaths including Lee "Scratch" Perry and Max Romeo as well as touring worldwide with These New Puritans and laying down the Flugelhorn on Radiohead’s ground-breaking ‘King of Limbs’. Her second full length release ‘La Saboteuse’ explores the creative process and the demons that can exist within. Yazz’s transformation of this into a unique blend of psychedelic Arabic jazz is intoxicating, compelling and sonically outstanding. 

Naim Records have teamed up with emerging Bristol illustrator Sophie Bass Illustration to craft a stunning visual aesthetic for ‘La Saboteuse’. Sophie’s work explores human nature and our sensual relationship with the world we occupy. Through an exploration of her Trinidad heritage Sophie developed an appetite for native art and the mythology and symbolism encompassed within, these themes are beautifully displayed in Sophie’s unique, culturally rich and symbolic style.  

With 'La Saboteuse' Naim Records will break away from the traditional model of release with the album being dropped as four chapters across streaming services in early 2017. Each chapter will have an individual cover crafted by Sophie which when combined will form the gatefold cover housing the heavyweight double LP. The vinyl and CD will be released concurrently with Chapter Four and the digital release of the full album, all landing in May 2017. 

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Loudon Wainwright III ‘Surviving Twin’ Live March 2017

Tour announcement: Loudon Wainwright III - ‘Surviving Twin’ Live
Tour dates: March 2017
More infoLeicester Square Theatre

'Surviving Twin' is a posthumous collaboration in which Grammy Award winner Wainwright connects some of his best songs with the writing of his late father Loudon Wainwright Jr, the esteemed LIFE Magazine columnist. The performance is a game of creative catch between son and father, exploring issues like birth, loss, parenthood, fashion, pet ownership, and mortality. In a one man show, Wainwright recites a selection of his father’s compositions interspersed with songs from his own catalogue. 'Surviving Twin' has never been previously performed in the UK. 

Loudon’s illustrious career as a songwriter, humourist and actor, spans over two-dozen albums. He collaborated with Joe Henry, on the music for Judd Apatow’s hit movie 'Knocked Up', penned music for the British theatrical adaptation of Carl Hiaasen’s novel, 'Lucky You' and also recorded several songs for HBO’s 'Boardwalk Empire'. His songs have been recorded by many including Johnny Cash, Mose Allison, Earl Scruggs, Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Rufus Wainwright and Bonnie Raitt. 

As an actor, he hit the screens early in his career playing Captain Calvin Spalding, the “singing surgeon”, on the American television show, M*A*S*H and has subsequently appeared in films directed by Martin Scorsese, Hal Ashby, Christopher Guest, Tim Burton, Cameron Crowe, and Judd Apatow. 

A limited edition, deluxe hardback programme including an 18 track CD of show excerpts will be available exclusively at the performances.  Listen to the tracks here

Leicester Square Theatre, London 9th, 10th, 11th (inc. matinee), 12th March 2017. Tickets available now.

Press reaction to date

“The sardonically humorous singer-songwriter delivers a moving meditation on father/son relationships.” - The Hollywood Reporter 

“…a bristling, acerbic, ultimately affecting family album of a show, with father-son resentments, hostilities and resemblances laid out for all to see, alongside the love and self-loathing.” - New York Times

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Wayde 'Lucky Aide' EP due 3 March 2017

EP release: 'Lucky Aide' by Wayde
Release date: 3 March 2017
More info: Band Soundcloud 

Having only released one previous single (‘Eleanor’), which earned them plaudits from the likes of DIY, The 405, BBC 6 Music and more, Essex four piece Wayde are now ready to unleash their new 'Lucky Aid'e EP. Recorded in guitarist/vocalist Tyrone Foster’s flat in Stoke Newington, in between the banging on ceilings and floors from disgruntled neighbours, Wayde’s sound is an amalgamation of sardonic indie, enveloping shoegaze and psych-infused grunge. 

Channelling influences from the likes of The Rentals, Hüsker Dü, Teenage Fanclub and Pavement, there is a nostalgic comfort amongst Wayde’s combination of warm guitars, mid-tempo grooves and vocals, which are lyrically sharp, saccharine and melodically contagious. The new EP draws on a beguiling familiarity throughout but despite its evocative nature it remains atypical and unbridled. This is exemplified in tracks such as ‘easy’, which oscillate between laid-back yet acidulous vocally driven sections and crushing, overdriven grunge-infused choruses. Whilst elsewhere, Wayde’s heavier guitar led sections on tracks such as ‘doser’ and ‘incomplete’ call to mind The Pixies ‘Debaser’-era riffs, if they’d have had the same production of Smashing Pumpkin’s ‘Cherub Rock’. The delivery is heavy, pretty and deceptively straightforward. 

Speaking about the themes behind the forthcoming EP, Miles Shawyer (bass) said, “There’s no consciously imprinted themes on the EP, however the songs were all written in a period when we were all just about to finish university and the anticipation of having to become real people and getting jobs was looming. So there’s an almost entirely unintentional coming of age/fear of adulthood theme running throughout the EP.” 

It’s this charming yet almost serendipitous honesty that resonates the loudest throughout every track on the EP. The themes come naturally and candidly, whilst Wayde place their focus entirely on infectious hooks, reverb and fuzz, only abating to take rapid turns into hazy garage-punk and feedback-laden grunge.

Having dipped their toes in water with their first single, Wayde are now ready to take the plunge with a consummated EP, which will appeal to many both on and beneath the surface.  

Press reaction to date

“Racing through a collision course with the likes of Ty Segall and Pond by their side, they still hit heights that other have yet to cross, rinsing a trusty sound and sourcing something original at the same time.” - DIY

“A noisy and abrasive yet relaxed and pretty slice of modern rock.” – The 405

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Myles Manley single ‘Relax; enjoy your night upon the town’ due 17 February 2017

Single release: ‘Relax; enjoy your night upon the town’  by Myles Manley  
Release date: 17 February 2017
Label: Little L Records  
More info: Artist website

'Relax; Enjoy your night upon the town!' with this utterance Myles Manley is being at once both sincere and fatalistic. "I always knew I was the best!" says the dashing and supercilious young artist with a smile, "but at certain points I realise that that might not really be the case. It is always the case though." 

Myles Manley makes idiosyncratic folk music on guitar with rhythms and colours snatched from various places, most recently Eric B and Rakim, Micachu and The Shapes, Moondog, The Clash's Sandinista, Jinx Lennon, Frankie Cosmos, etc. "I started listening to a lot of early hiphop for some reason and what I loved about it was the clunkiness of the sounds, and the excitement you can hear at a whole new world of opportunities. I bought an MPC and started making idiot beats late at night that I'd write songs to. I've always had an ear for weird rhythms and I was able to make stuff that you'd never come up with rehearsing in a room with a drummer." 

A batch of songs written in this way was then taken to human drummers Solamh Kelly and Oisin Trench and recorded by longtime collaborator Chris Barry, who added his own guitar parts, yielding the single you have in your very ears. "It is amazing to play with such musicians because they take a framework and make it come alive, add their voice to it. It starts to express a time and a place. And it starts to express my unbelievable talent." 

Hurrying through Broadstone, Dublin for another midnight session of bopping and guitar strumming at the Mr. Barry's studio Ail Fionn, the aloof, succulent Manley has this to whistle: "these are troubling times for a reluctant narcissist. You always thought you could saunter through life, gently seeking attention, a joker in the pack, avoiding beatings, harming no-one beyond mild nuisance making. There're times you wonder, are you lord of the dance or lord of the bluebottles?" 
 
Myles Manley was born in northern England and lived in a few places there until his family moved to Sligo, Ireland, where he became the village indie boy. "I'm in love with songs. What I am seeking in my music is naivety and deliciousness; what I find is also an escape from anxiety. And if you want to really hear it, imagine early days, running round a dead, shithole town at 4am in August, with a person you haven't kissed, want to kiss and will never kiss. No power. Night night." 

'Relax; enjoy your night upon the town' is set for release on February 17th via Dublin's Little L Records, available on 7" and all major digital platforms.

Press reaction to date

  • "The Irish singer/songwriter pulls his own "Praise You"-style dance moves across a city, his jerky movements embodying the anxiety of his folk-pop single" – The Fader

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The Dream ‘Get Dreamy’ deluxe reissue 3 March 2017

Album release: ‘Get Dreamy’ by The Dream
Release date: 3 March 2017
Label: Round 2 Records

From the somewhat sparse, yet unique catalogue of adventurous, high-quality rock music coming out of Scandinavia in the late 60’s, the sole album ‘Get Dreamy’ by The Dream has been one of the most hunted treasures. Originally released in 1967, the album proves that the youth of Norway were just as happy swinging as their blighty cousins. It also marks the beginning of guitar legend Terje Rypdal’s journey from beat music and pop into new musical territories, which would ultimately lead him to become a key player in the European jazz world. 

Any album that opens with a track (‘Green Things’) describing the heartbreak of aliens abducting your love, is clearly out of this world. But ‘Get Dreamy’ somehow fits there, and it doesn’t feel alarming when it takes you with it. Getting lost in the cosmos and making a great time out of it was the aim in ’67 and The Dream follow the tradition well. Having clear references to The Beach Boys (Driftin’), Floyd (‘Aint No Use) as well as some truly lust-filled riffs that sound like unreleased Hendrix tracks from a lost session, The Dream’s highly personal and almost fearless take on free rock and psychedelia was, actually, the first of its kind in Norway. With elements of jazz, glam horror (Hey Jimi), hazy sounding pop and the occasional whimsical Vaudeville-vibes so typical of 1967, it is a special slice of vinyl from the era.  

Round 2 proudly presents this rarity and true Norwegian classic, remastered from the original tapes and with liner notes written by Rypdal afficionado and guitar ace, Reine Fiske (Dungen, The Amazing). 

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The Week’s new album ‘Easy’ due 7 April 2017

Album release: ‘Easy’ by The Weeks
Release date: 7 April 2017
Label: Lightning Rod Records
More info: Band website

'Easy', the highly anticipated new album from rising Nashville-via-Mississippi band The Weeks, is set for release April 7th on Lightning Rod Records. The new video for 'Talk Like That,' the album’s first track, debuts today featuring live footage shot entirely by the band’s own drummer, Cain Barnes. Watch it here. Pre-order 'Easy', with special packages—including one of a kind artwork by band members Cain and Cyle Barnes, here.  

The Weeks recorded Easy over the course of two weeks at Memphis, TN’s Ardent Studios with producer Paul Eber sold. The band left Nashville to record in order to disassociate themselves from their everyday routines in the city, and to find a halfway point between their two homes old and new, Mississippi and Nashville. “Memphis has always been the capitol of North Mississippi to us, says guitarist Sam Williams. “We went there to be at Ardent. We knew Paul had learned everything from John Frye and John Hammond so we figured that was the spot. It’s important to keep those historic studios alive and not let them become museums.” 

Of the record, frontman Cyle Barnes says, “We called it 'Easy' because every time I make music with these guys, it’s easy. It feels good. But the other side of it is there’s nothing easy about being in a band. There’s nothing easy about staying together for ten years and still wanting to make music. We have the hardest and easiest job on the planet. But it works for us.”

Thematically, 'Easy' explores new ground for the band. Bassist Damien Bone explains, “We just wanted to make a rock record. We weren’t as concerned making it a southern rock record. The southern thing is always going to part of what we do. ” 

To celebrate the release, the band will tour North America extensively this spring. Further announcements are forthcoming. The Weeks is twin brothers Cyle (vocals) and Cain (drums), Sam Williams (guitar/vocals) and Damien Bone (bass). Formed when its members were in high school in Jackson, Mississippi, the band self-released its debut EP Dog Days in 2006. More than ten years and a handful of critically acclaimed albums later, the band has relocated to Nashville and toured extensively worldwide with Kings of Leon, The Meat Puppets, North Mississippi Allstars, Local H and many more. 

Press reaction to date

  • “Driven by rowdiness, and a mix of pride and defiance about their origins.”—The Guardian
  • “Their music still kicks with the same hard-bitten affirmations that made them better than weekends in the first place.”—American Songwriter
  • “powerful guitars and Southern-tinged vocals”—Paste
  • “Churning, turning marble-mouthed swamp-rock anthems…”—Nashville Scene
  • “Together they are a force…The Weeks know how to write, and play, and make music for their generation of midnight riders.”—Best New Bands

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The Black Angels album 'Death Song' due 21 April 2017

Album release: 'Death Song' by The Black Angels  
Release date: 21 April 2017
Label: Partisan Records  
More info: Band website

The Black Angels – Austin’s psych rock masters – have confirmed details for their upcoming album, ‘Death Song,’ out April 21st. This will be the five-piece’s first full-length release in four years, and their debut for Partisan Records.  Scorching opening track “Currency” is streaming now via NPR.  

Written and recorded in large part during the recent election cycle, the music on ‘Death Song’ serves as part protest, part emotional catharsis in a climate dominated by division, anxiety and unease. “Currency,” strong contender for the heaviest song the band has ever put to wax, meditates on the governing role money plays in our lives, while slow-building psychedelic earworm “Half Believing” questions the nature of devotion.  

Recorded between Seattle and Austin, ‘Death Song’ features production from Phil Eck (Father John Misty, Fleet Foxes, The Shins). The 11-track collection offers a sharply honed elaboration on their signature sound - menacing fuzz guitar and cutting wordplay, steeped in a murky hallucinatory dream.  

Since forming in Austin in 2004, The Black Angels have become standard-bearers for modern psych-rock. They founded Levitation Festival (formerly Austin Psych Fest) in 2008, which has since grown into one of the best-reviewed and expertly-curated festivals in the country. The band has toured with Queens of the Stone Age, Brian Jonestown Massacre, the Black Keys + more.

The band will tour extensively behind ‘Death Song’.   

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Sweet Gum Tree album 'Sustain The Illusion' out 31 March 2017

Album release: ‘Sustain The Illusion’ by Sweet Gum Tree  
Release date: 31 March 2017
Label: The Orchard / Plastic Head
More info: Band website

Sweet Gum Tree’s first and heavily supported album by the likes of Mojo, Uncut and The Line Of Best Fit, came to fruition with the help of many prestigious collaborators such as Isobel Campbell -Belle & Sebastian, Earl Harvin -Tindersticks and Marty Willson-Piper -The Church. This time, Arno Sojo has reshuffled his cards and chosen to record this new album almost entirely on his own, except for the help of Irish producer David Odlum (long-time partner-in-crime of Gemma Hayes and Glen Hansard). 

Both a beautiful, romantic adventure and an unnerving trip through a mind crowded with troubled creatures, Sojo’s earnest vocals confirm that he is amongst those who still believe that music and words can touch the soul, by way of sincerity, constant reinvention and fine craftsmanship. Minimal drum machines and echo-laden guitars throughout create a state of grace evoking the ethereal new-wave productions of British label 4AD as well as hymns from great pop architects like Talk Talk, Prefab Sprout or Divine Comedy. The album’s electronic rigidity contrasts perfectly with the elegant strings and soaring melodies, while Sojo’s gravelled vocals ensure it remains an outstandingly humane and sensitive collection of tracks.  

The album’s title nods to Wes Anderson’s acclaimed, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel', which itself was based upon Stefan Zweig’s writings on the rise of Nazism in the mid-30’s. Drawing a parallel with the current fiery state of the world and Anderson’s tale of creating love despite all circumstances, Sojo reflects on the challenge of how one can fulfil the need to dream whilst in such a desperate context.  

The soul in Sojo’s voice is what really drives ‘Sustain The Illusion’, particularly on tracks such as ‘Someday’, ‘Guilt Trip’ and the closing lullaby, ‘Keeper’ that lulls you into a complete sense of security. On the other hand, ‘Burn Your Icons’ is both a thought provoking, sharp and ironic look at the relevant question of how we view our fallen idols that gives a truly unique perspective on our society’s traditions.  

Sweet Gum Tree will also be performing live on April 5th in London at The Good Ship. 

Press reaction to date

"A thing of delicate beauty... Sweeping cinematic strings, classical structures and wonderfully textured acoustics provide the perfect backbone to the vocals" - The Line Of Best Fit

“A beautifully windswept, wintry feel… thanks to swells of Scott Walker-style strings” - Mojo

“Gentle, poetic…backed by an elegant string section and a band who sound a lot like Tindersticks, dreamy…intriguing...lush..."” – Uncut

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Jim Lauderdale album 'London Southern' out 3 February 2017

Album release: 'London Southern' by Jim Lauderdale
Release date: 3 February 2017
Label: Proper Records
More info: Artist website

Award winning singer and master songwriter Jim Lauderdale releases a striking new studio album 'London Southern' on February 3 2017 and will take part in the hugely popular Transatlantic Sessions tour in February, starting in Glasgow at Celtic Connections and then touring the UK.  

Himself recipient of the Wagonmaster Award at this year’s US Americana Honors & Awards, a special lifetime achievement honour reserved for the most valuable contributors to the course and history of the format, presented to him by George Strait, Jim has been invited to present an award at the second UK Americana Awards in London next February. 

Recorded in London at Goldtop studios and produced by Neil Brockbank and Robert Trehern, London Southern features co-writes with Dan Penn, Joan Oates, Odie Blackmon and Kendell Marvell alongside six Lauderdale solo compositions and a host of celebrated guest musicians. 

The making of London Southern in Jim’s own words: 

"Making London Southern was my first time recording in the London area. It’s something I had wanted to do for a long time, but more important was getting to work with Nick Lowe's band and with his co- producers Neil Brockbank and Bobby Irwin.  I had been such a huge fan of Nicks and was able to be his support act back at different times in ‘94 and ‘95 which was a huge break for me. So fast forward 20 years later and this record came together. We recorded over several sessions at the Goldstar Studios in Balham. In my opinion Neil Brockbank is one of the best producers, engineers, and mixers out there. Period.  Tragically, Bobby Irwin has passed away and I dedicate this record to his memory. He was well loved by his friends and family and is terribly missed."

"Some of the songs for the first session were written or started in Glasgow, Liverpool, or London after gigs in the few days before starting. Back in the States, before going back for second rounds of sessions, I wrote with new co writers John Oates (If I Can't Resist, Different Kind Of Groove) and Dan Penn (Don't Shut Me Down, What Have You Got To Lose). Neil got me to add strings to "I Love You More" which I had never tried before. He had great ideas and made this a different sounding record than I had ever gotten to make.  It was a real pleasure and inspiration to play with the musicians and some of the songs were written during the recording. Ready for more."

Jim Lauderdale is both a ‘songwriter’s songwriter’, who has written/co-written many modern classics for iconic artists, as well as an intuitive sideman who has enhanced the music of a bevy of esteemed musicians. As a solo artist, he has created a critically acclaimed body of work spanning nearly 30 albums of imaginative roots music, encompassing country, bluegrass, soul, R&B and rock. 
 
Throughout his three-decade career, Lauderdale has helped pave the way for the current Americana movement, recording albums and writing songs that cross genres from country, rock, folk and bluegrass. Jim has written many classic songs for iconic artists and worked with some of the finest performers in traditional and modern music, including Robert Hunter, Ralph Stanley, Elvis Costello, George Strait, Buddy Miller, Lucinda Williams, John Oates, Solomon Burke, Lee Ann Womack, Old Crow Medicine Show, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Blake Shelton, the Dixie Chicks, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, and Gary Allan among many, many others. He co-hosts a weekly radio show on SiriusXM with Buddy Miller, "The Buddy & Jim Show," and is also co-host of Music City Roots, the weekly live and radio, podcast and PBS series. 

Jim has won two Grammys and been honoured with the SESAC Inspiration Award, the prestigious American Eagle Award from the National Music Council along with Kris Kristofferson and in 2016, the aforementioned US Americana Music Association’s Wagonmaster Award.  

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Vandana EP ‘Nox Anima’ out 21 April 2017

EP release: ‘Nox Anima’ by Vandana
Release date: 21 April 2017
More info: Artist website

Fusing elements of disquieting electronica with alternative pop, Vandana’s angular, intense music embraces womanhood and otherness as if from inside the mouth of a cave. Her multicultural lifestyle, from India to London to Brooklyn, has influenced her wildly eclectic and self-assured material, which arrives steeped in the knowledge of ancient Indian traditions and fables as well as in assorted vehicles of abstract art and thought. 

Inspired by musical pioneers like Aphex Twin, Thom Yorke and Miles Davis as well as the vibrancy of Bollywood, the Gothicism of The Cure and the evocativeness of Fever Ray, Vandana also takes her cues from purveyors of subversion like Edgar Allan Poe, Lars Von Trier and Henry Miller. In this latest material, the naturally introverted singer brings her insular and mysterious writing process to life via slow-dripping, throbbing synths, creating an atmosphere that’s arcane, exotic and brooding.  

An instinctive and intimate record - and one that was created in Vandana’s home studio during a period of solitary retreat - the six-track EP makes for a truly absorbing listen. 

Using a journal in which she writes and draws entirely with her left hand (in esoteric thought, the left hand is associated with receiving), many of her lyrics are the result of this inward-looking process and are thus super cathartic and revealing. It's a maze of sentiments with the emphasis being on a nocturnal space and - as a result - the release is named 'Nox Anima' - meaning Night Soul/Spirit. This in turn, is a nod to the psychologist Carl Jung's description of Anima: the part of the psyche that is directed inward and in touch with the subconscious. 

Lead single ‘Vicious’ was inspired by watching a lot of nature documentaries. This song is literally dedicated to the majesty of a creature in pursuit and what it’s like having an unobtainable subject of affection –a fixation over something without being able to physically or tangibly possess it. Elsewhere, ‘Nearly’ documents the seasonal cycles of a relationship, while ‘Jaan’ is a trying but exciting journey through a dense, deep, smoky forest with a loved one- about reconnecting with the primitive animal side. 

The whole EP twists about on a mixture of abstract and visceral themes, building you up before submerging you in swirls of throbbing sound that threaten to unsettle your very core. 

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Porshyne EP 'Environmental Music' due 10 March 2017

EP release: 'Environmental Music' by Porshyne
Release date: 10 March 2017
More info: Band Facebook

Porshyne are an atmospheric rock five-piece hailing from Brighton. Formed in 2014, early releases from the band such as 'Residue' and 'Warp' have helped to cement their name within the Brighton music scene, leading to them playing shows alongside the likes of Black Peaks, Valerian Swing, Town Portal and many more. Now, after having burrowed away to record their debut EP 'Environmental Music' with Mark Roberts (Black Peaks, Broker, The Physics House Band), Porshyne are set to return with their most heavy, emotive and accomplished material to date.

The contexture of the EP is a sound that sits somewhere between prog, alt-rock, electronic music and post rock. 'Environmental Music' is a masterfully dynamic and heavily textured collection of tracks combining melodic vocals with intricate and carefully refined guitar work, which alternates between cinematic and darker, heavier phrases that are intertwined amongst complex rhythms and subtle electronic moments.

Tracks from the EP such as ‘Exit’ show a understated ambient melancholy to the record, which at times calls to mind the sounds of Radiohead, meanwhile guitar sequences at times lean towards the darker end of the prog-rock spectrum conjure up the sounds of Tool, Dredg or Karnivool. Other tracks such as ‘Hubris’ have a more desert rock inflection with riffs akin to that of Queens of the Stone Age or Kyuss. Porshyne hold nothing back on 'Environmental Music' amalgamating a multifarious set of influences, styles and genres, concentrating their individual creative forces into one cohesive body of work.

'Environmental Music' is an intensely structured body of work, which is as meticulous as it is powerful. Records that manage to merge such a wide variety of styles and exhibit such a multitude of musical landscapes in such an unabridged manner are rare. This debut EP from Porshyne is a statement of intent and is not one that should be ignored.  

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Anna Coogan album 'The Lonely Cry of Space & Time' out 28 April 2017

Album release: 'The Lonely Cry of Space & Time' by Anna Coogan
Release Date: 28 April 2017
More Info: Artist website

'The Lonely Cry of Space and Time', a stunning new album by musical shape-shifter Anna Coogan, is for those unafraid to steep themselves in heart-wrenching honesty and to contemplate our place in the universe. Anna sings about the rising oceans, seeking other worlds, collateral damage, and how we sink or swim together. 

An anxious darkness that has followed Coogan throughout her life is reflected in her powerful guitar playing, balanced with hope, light and beauty in operatic interludes and optimistic lyrics. Boston born and influenced by her Austrian classical opera training as well as her father’s protest albums by Phil Ochs and Bob Dylan, she spent her twenties in Seattle, busking in Pike Place Market before filling larger venues in the region. After several efforts with her Pacific Northwest-based alt-country band north 19, a pair of well-received indie solo releases (2010’s The Nocturnal Among Us and 2012’s The Wasted Ocean) and a collaboration with producer JD Foster (2014’s Birth of the Stars), Coogan’s latest, 'The Lonely Cry of Space & Time', is something of a stylistic breakthrough. 

The album, a two-person effort which features Willie B (Brian Wilson) on drums and Moog bass, combines Coogan’s three-octave soprano vocals, electric guitar soundscapes and pointed social commentary into a fierce cohesive piece which combines the personal and the political, in a musical hybrid of rock, country, pop and classical opera into a unique whole.  Her new direction was born from her series of performances in her adopted hometown of Ithaca, NY, in which Anna and Willie B created live musical accompaniments for vintage silent films. 

The title track for the album – with its praise for scientific reason and rationality and its intimations of extraterrestrial life – was originally composed to accompany Soviet filmmaker Jakov Protazanov’s campy 1929 Aelita, Queen of Mars, which likened an alien invasion to the Russian Revolution. The inspiration was the discovery of gravitational waves by a group of researchers, with an actual audio sample included at the very end. “I’m optimistic whenever there’s a news story that doesn’t involve death and destruction,” says Anna, revealing that one of her relatives was part of the team that unearthed the sounds. 

Two of the disc’s goth set pieces, 'If You Were the Sun' and 'A Wedding Vow,' evoke a childhood listening to Puccini’s La Boheme, both created to accompany French director Jean Epstein’s grisly 1928 horror film, La Chute De La Maison Usher (The Fall of the House of Usher), the latter playing over a scene in which an unlucky bride is buried alive. 

Anna explains that much of the apocalypse-now-fueled 'The Lonely Cry of Space & Time' was written and recorded during the run-up to the historic 2016 election, a reaction to such hot-button topics as inflammatory campaign rhetoric ('Collateral'), the implicit threats to immigration ('Wishing Well'), the environment (the title track) and Middle East unrest (the first single, 'Burn for You'). 

A distinct stylistic change from her previous work, Coogan explains her shift from the acoustic Americana of her past to the jangly, electronic buzz of the new album could be described as her “Judas moment.”  As a guitarist, think of her rubbery, pneumatic, wah-wah sound like a combination of PJ Harvey, Courtney Barnett and her personal favourites, Bill Frisell and Marc Ribot. 

“The music I’m making with Willie is pretty different that my older work,” she says. “I felt I had reached an end point in what I’d been doing, at least for now.” 

Just as Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Sly and the Family Stone’s There’s a Riot Going On were steeped in the tumultuous ‘60s, Anna Coogan’s 'The Lonely Cry of Space & Time' is inextricably linked to the flammable present.  The more accessible songs, like the girl-group 'Sylvia,' a nod to poet Sylvia Plath, the new wave dance-pop of 'Meteor' and the blues-country ballad 'Follow Me' (co-written with JD Foster and Willie B) are intensely personal. Still, other tracks, such as 'Collateral' (with its plea not to be typed or controlled by inflammatory words), 'Burn for You' (an “apocalyptic lullaby” in which she describes “the brushfires of empire burn”) and 'Wishing Well' (a pro-immigration plea which insists, “If they throw wide the gates, if they slam the doors/Keep on swimming until you find the shore”), all deal with how political issues affect the individual. 

There have been many attempts at rock opera in the past, but 'The Lonely Cry of Space & Time' is something different.  Call it operatic rock, a genre previously explored by the likes of Kate Bush, Jane Siberry, Lene Lovich, Yoko Ono and Freddie Mercury, among others. Coogan studied opera at the prestigious Mozarteum University of Salzburg in Austria, before moving to Seattle, where she worked as a fisheries biologist in Washington State and Alaska, which goes a long way to explaining her frequent use of water as a metaphor.  In fact, a drought in the Finger Lakes region of New York where she lived in part was a factor in the immediacy she brought to the new album. 

A true independent, Anna releases her own albums and books her own tours, which have taken her all over the world, including international festivals like the Blue Ball in Lucerne, Switzerland, the Maverick in Suffolk, U.K., as well as the Glasgow Americana Festival and Celtic Connections in Scotland.  She has also played extensively in Germany and the Netherlands, and toured as a member of the Johnny Dowd Band. 

“Oh let the oceans rise/To the shining skies,” she sings. “I will burn for you.” 

On The Lonely Cry of Space & Time, Anna Coogan does just that, providing a shiny ray of hope for a world seemingly bent on self-destruction, deftly weaving the personal and political into a yin-yang hybrid. 

“I think the two have been intertwined in me for a long time, since I was a kid” she observes. “And these days, I don’t feel as alone in my perception of current events.” 

And now, neither do we. 

Press reaction to date

“Anna Coogan is a curious songwriter on a musical adventure. The sharp intelligence of her lyrics softens in the hands of her poetic delivery.” – Grassroots Festival

“A must-see act of the festival season” – Acoustic

“A fine album with the affecting lyrics and Fiaschi’s soothing pedal steel guitar blending perfectly on a country-style song.” – The Daily Telegraph

“A festival highlight” – The Times

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Minus The Bear album 'Voids' due 3 March 2017

Album release: 'Voids' by Minus The Bear
Release date: 3 March 2017
Label: Suicide Squeeze Records
More info: Band website

Over the course of their 15-year career, Minus the Bear have carved out their own unique musical world. This isn’t to say they’re impervious to outside influence. They’ve borrowed components from a wide swath of genres—the brainy clangor of New York’s proto-punk scene, the cerebral buzz of IDM, the poptimist evaluation of hip-hop and R&B, and the grandiose visions of prog rock—but always managed to defy classification. Throughout the first decade of their existence, every new album offered a new musical approach, as seen in the idiosyncratic fretboard gymnastics of Highly Refined Pirates, the glitchy loops of Menos el Oso, or the modernized Fripp-inspired wizardry of Planet of Ice. By the time the band entered our current decade, their knack for reinvention yielded to an emphasis on refinement. Albums like OMNI and Infinity Overhead searched for a middle ground where their myriad of stylistic approaches could all work within the context of a single record. 

On their sixth album 'Voids', Minus the Bear started with a blank slate, and inadvertently found themselves applying the same starting-from-scratch strategies that fueled their initial creative process. “There was a lot of change and uncertainty,” says guitarist David Knudson. “I think the general vibe of emptiness, replacement, lacking, and longing to fill in the gaps was very present in everyones’ minds.” Change was everywhere. Keyboardist/vocalist Alex Rose took on a more prominent role in composition and handled lead vocal duties on songs like 'Call the Cops', 'Tame Beasts', and Robotic Heart', drummer Kiefer Matthias joined the fold, producer Sam Bell lent a fresh set of ears in the studio, and the band returned to their original label home at Suicide Squeeze Records. Minus the Bear were no longer swept along by the momentum that had driven them for the last fifteen years. Instead, they reached a point where they could recalibrate and redefine who they were as a musical entity. The resulting album VOIDS retains many of the band’s signature qualities—the hedonistic tales of nighttime escapism and candid vignettes of adulthood, the savvy up-tempo beats, the layered and nuanced instrumentation—while simultaneously reminding us of the musical wanderlust that initially put them on the map. 

Album opener 'Last Kiss' immediately establishes the band’s renewed fervor. An appropriately dizzying guitar line plunges into a propulsive groove before the chorus unfolds into a multi-tiered pop chorus. From there the album flows into 'Give & Take', a tightly wound exercise in syncopation that recalls the celebratory pulse of early Bear classics like 'Fine + 2 Pts' while exploring new textures and timbres. 'Invisible' is arguably the catchiest song of the band’s career, with Jake Snider’s vocal melodies and Knudson’s imaginative guitar work battling for the strongest hooks. 'What About the Boat?' reminds us of the 'math-rock' tag that followed the band in their early years, with understated instrumentation disguising an odd-time beat. 'Erase', recalls the merging of forlorn indie pop and electronica that the band dabbled with on their early EPs, but demonstrates the Bear’s ongoing melodic sophistication and tonal exploration. By the time the band reaches album closer 'Lighthouse', they’ve traversed so much sonic territory that the only appropriate tactic left at their disposal is a climactic crescendo, driven at its peak by Cory Murchy’s thunderous bass. Not since Planet of Ice’s 'Lotus' has the Bear achieved such an epic finale. All in all, it’s an album that reminds us of everything that made us fall in love with Minus the Bear in the first place, and a big part of that appeal is the sense that the band is heading into uncharted territories. 

Suicide Squeeze Records is proud to release 'Voids' to the world on March 3, 2017 on CD, LP, and cassette. Nick Steinhardt designed the artwork and layout for all formats. The first pressing of the album is available on 5,000 copies of splatter coloured vinyl and 5,000 copies of 180 gram black vinyl. The LP jacket features PMS inks, a die-cut cover with a printed inner sleeve and contains a download code. The cassette version is limited to 500 copies and includes a download code as well.  

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The Little Kicks album 'Shake Off Your Troubles' due 3 March 2017

Album release: 'Shake Off Your Troubles'  by The Little Kicks
Release date: 3 March 2017
Label: Loosen Up Records
More info: Band website

The Little Kicks first emerged around five years ago, a young Aberdeen band with the wind in their sails. A crisp, upbeat debut album followed, laced with off-kilter indie pop worthy of comparison to early Franz Ferdinand, The Long Blondes, or even Sparks. The band’s last album, 'Put Your Love In Front Of Me' (2013) was part funded by Creative Scotland and met with critical acclaim both in the UK and further afield in Europe. Several album tracks including the lead single 'Girl' and it’s B-side (a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s 'Dreams') have enjoyed national radio airplay on BBC 6 Music, BBC Radio 1, Radio Scotland and XFM. Sharing stages with the likes of Foals, Frightened Rabbit, Twilight Sad, Twin Maximo Park, Mystery Jets and The Maccabees, as well as appearing at many of Scotland’s major music festivals - T In The Park, Belladrum, Insider, Brew At The Bog, Electric Fields, Solus, Kelburn Garden Party, Insider – their recent history has involved a re-jig in personnel, and some time off to reassess ahead of staking their return…  

A relocation for some fresh perspective was called for, and in the Spring of 2015 the band packed their kit and set off for a lodge by Loch Ness in which they would pen the ten songs that would come to make up 'Shake Off Your Troubles'. Late night recording sessions gave birth to a collection of thoughtful, plaintive, liberating, and always melodic indie-pop songs, that were ultimately wrapped up in Edinburgh and then mastered at Abbey Road.

Lead singer Steven Milne elaborates; “This new album is a collection of songs that means a lot to me and I feel it reflects a massive increase in both my own and the band’s confidence and abilities. There have been ups and downs personally since we last released music but I’m happy to say that on the whole we have grown to be more proud of what we do and to be less reticent to shout about it and our music. The themes of the record would be a feeling of happiness, gratitude and to be thankful with what you have and not take things for granted. Furthermore, not to let others get you down or let anyone put you in your place. In 2017 when the album is released I can’t wait to let people hear it and I hope these sentiments carry through to those who listen to it.”

Through 2016’s political upheavals, and the loss of many a music icon, it was a year that many will be keen to see the back of. So it is perhaps with some foresight that The Little Kicks choose to name their 2017 album 'Shake Off Your Troubles'. Join the band in their latest chapter. Tour dates to be announced shortly.

Current singles: 'You & Someone Like Me' / 'Goodbye Enemies, Hello Friends' / 'Don’t Get Mad, Get Even'. 

Press reaction to date

"There's an awful lot to like." - NME
“could well be one of the next big indie-pop bands” – Q
“…laced with impeccable pop pedigree” - Clash

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Happyness new album 'Write In' due 7 April 2017

Album release: 'Write In' by Happyness
Release date: 7 April 2017
Label: Moshi Moshi Recordings
More info: Band website

When Happyness first burst into the public conscience with 2013’s debut single 'It’s On You', their spirited take on US college rock was as big a surprise as it was an instant hit. The resulting full length, Weird Little Birthday, went on to feature in many of 2014’s End of Year album lists. Worldwide tours, an NME Award, a re-issue on the much-loved labels Moshi Moshi Recordings (Bar/None in US), and millions of Spotify plays later, it is with some anticipation now that the band finally reveal the full details of the follow-up. 

Titled 'Write In', released on April 7th through Moshi Moshi Recordings (Bar/None in US) and featuring artwork from the band’s own Jon EE Allan, the record was made in the band’s own studio above a now-abandoned bookshop, then finished and mixed with Adam Lasus at his LA home studio. “Write In” sets its stall out as an outward looking, inventive, and thoughtful progression from their debut. Drawing on an array of influences including Roxy Music, The Beach Boys, Randy Newman, Sonic Youth, Big Star and Pierre Cavalli, the direction is best summed up by Jon EE Allan; “I’d like to think this record looks outside the little American alt-rock sphere we were looking in on. I think we used to be very afraid of being earnest. And now we’re able to be tender or heartfelt without feeling too guilty about it. This record cost us about £500 to make, and that was mainly spent on an 8 track tape recorder and a dehumidifier. We self-produced it in our studio [the affectionately named 'Jelly Boy Studios', where the band also recorded their debut, 'Weird Little Birthday']. The building's being redeveloped at the end of the year, so this is the last record we'll make there, which feels like the end of a chapter for us.” 

Ahead of the album release, new single 'Falling Down' now has an official video, a disorientating and retro 7-minute spectacle, as guitarist Benji Compston explains; “A friend of ours manages a cinema (shoutout Nyla!) and she gets free use of it every Monday night when the public have left. We showed up at midnight with an old TV and some musical equipment and a vague plan to shoot a Spiegel Im Spiegel effect with the cinema screens. Special credit should probably also go to the coffee machine.” Watch the video for Falling Down here.

Having already announced their biggest London show to date for April 28th, Happyness will also embark on a full UK & Ireland tour in April with tickets on sale from Friday 13th January 2017. Benji comments; “The April tour's our first UK headline tour for a while now, and for the first time we'll have two albums to play from so we're looking forward to it a lot. We've got a lot of expensive ideas for stage props that we probably won't be able to realise by April.”

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Craig Finn album 'We All Want The Same Things' due 24 March 2017

Album release: 'We All Want The Same Things' by Craig Finn
Release date: 24 March 2017
Label: Partisan Records
More info: Artist website

Craig Finn has announced the release of his eagerly anticipated new solo album. 'We All Want The Same Things' arrives via Partisan Records on Friday, March 24th.

Finn’ s third solo release, 'We All Want The Same Things' will be available for pre-order at all leading DSPs beginning today, January 10th. All pre-orders receive an instant grat download of the album’ s powerful first single,

'Preludes', that premiered yesterday, January 9th exclusively via NPR Music. “‘Preludes’ is what I remember 1994 being like,” Finn says, “coming back to the Twin Cities after being away for college. It's a time in my life that I felt most adrift, but there was also a feeling of wonder in being out of step and alone. This is the song on the album that is closest to being autobiographical, but I think it fits with these other character studies in that I was trying to figure out my place in a world that didn't seem to have a lot of room for me.

”'We All Want The Same Things' sees Finn exploring themes of love and partnership in the modern world, as ever expressed via finely etched character studies, black humor, and craftily arranged rock ‘ n’  roll. Largely recorded last spring at The Clubhouse in Rhinebeck, NY with frequent collaborator Josh Kaufman producing, the album features musical contributions from keyboardist Sam Kassirer (Josh Ritter, Langhorne Slim), former Rainer Maria vocalist Caithlin De Marrais, singer/songwriter Annie Nero, horn master Stuart Bogie (Arcade Fire, Antibalas), and Finn’ s longtime partner in The Hold Steady, guitarist Tad Kubler.

“We named this collection 'We All Want The Same Things' after a line in the song ‘ God in Chicago,’” Finn says. “It seems like a bit of dark humor in these turbulent political times, but it also rings true: no matter our differences we all have some very basic wants and needs that line up with each other. The characters in these songs are normal people trying to help themselves, trying to move forward, and in some cases trying just to survive. All the while they are negotiating what space the others in their lives can occupy.

Press reaction to date

”'We All Want The Same Things' follows Finn’ s two previous solo efforts, 2012’s 'Clear Heart Full Eyes' and 2015’s 'Faith In The Future', the latter work awarded four stars by Rolling Stone, hailing Finn as “a literary songwriter who deserves, and earns, a broad canvas.”

“Craig Finn has created a universe as big as America,” declared Pitchfork, “a stage that stretches from Minneapolis to Ybor City, from the bars of Chicago to behind bars in Memphis... Each new song and each new album expands that universe significantly, implicitly or explicitly adding new chapters to ongoing stories as Finn hangs out off to the side, narrating from the periphery of the scene.”

“'Faith In The Future' might be the record to give you faith in your own future,” raved Consequence of Sound. “Until you die, of course. Which you will. We all will. And that’ s okay.”

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Diet Cig debut album 'Swear I'm Good At This' due 7 April 2017

Album release: Diet Cig 'Swear I'm Good At This'
Release date: 7 April 2017
Label: Frechkiss Records
More info: Band website

Diet Cig are happy to announce the forthcoming release of their hugely anticipated debut album. Entitled 'Swear I'm Good At This', the album will be released on April 7th via Frenchkiss Records. Today the band share the first single off the album - the highly infectious 'Tummy Ache.' Listen to 'Tummy Ache'.

Of the single Diet Cig note: "Tummy Ache' is all about unpacking the feeling of approaching punk with radical softness, and the struggle when it's not always read as powerful or cool or whatever enough. Its the shout into my pillow when what I'm saying isn't being heard, and a big old I FEEL YA to all the femme folks creating space for themselves in a world that wants to keep us quiet."

'Swear I'm Good At This' is now available to pre-order here, and includes an instant grat of 'Tummy Ache'.

The band, who are well-known for their energetic and bombastic live shows, will be touring the world in support of 'Swear I'm Good At This' and the first tour is announced today as well.  It kicks off April 5 in New Haven, CT at Bar and concludes May 8 at The Catalyst Atrium in Santa Cruz, CA.  Diet Cig will play two shows in one night at Brooklyn's Baby's All Right on April 7 and The Echo in Los Angeles, on May 4. Further, the band will play a handful of pre-release dates including at set at this year's Noise Pop Festival in San Francisco on February 22 and shows during SXSW. The complete list of dates below and tickets go on sale tomorrow, January 13.

Diet Cig is Alex Luciano (guitar and vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums).  The two have been playing music together ever since Luciano interrupted the set of Bowman's other band for a lighter. The New York duo have since released the infectious, 2015 Over Easy EP that introduced consistent sing-a-long lyrics with thrashing drums and strums that never held back. The New York Times labeled it "a lo-fi whirlwind, with songs cutting to the heart" and NPR said the EP is "cathartic pop-punk with boundless vitality and wide-eyed charm" while Pitchfork chimed in calling it "a collection of brisk, personal pop-punk."

'Swear I'm Good At This' accumulates Diet Cig's tenacity for crafting life-affirming, relatable tales with a gutsy heart at their core. Luciano has the ability to write lyrics that are both vulnerable and badass, perfecting a storm of emotive reflection that creates a vision of a sweaty, pumped-up room screaming these lines in unison. Diet Cig make it okay to be the hot mess that you are.

But there's also a deeper, more powerful fuck-you among the bangers that see Diet Cig grow into an unstoppable and inspiring force. "I'm not being dramatic, I've just fucking had it with the things that you say you think that I should be" spits Luciano on the album's 'Link in Bio;' "I am bigger than the outside shell of my body and if you touch it without asking then you'll be sorry" she yells on 'Maid Of The Mist'. It's the sound of a band doing things on their own terms.

'Swear I'm Good At This' was produced, engineered and mixed by Christopher Daly at Salvation Recording Co. in New Paltz, NY with additional recording at Atomic Sound in New York City.   

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