Heartless Bastards to release new album on 15 June

Heartless Bastards

Album release: "Restless Ones" by Heartless Bastards
Release date: 15 June 2015
Label: Partisan Records
More information / listen on: Heartless Bastards website

Heartless Bastards have spent the past decade in motion, boldly pushing their unique brand of rock ‘n’ roll into new shapes over four acclaimed albums and nearly non-stop roadwork. Now, with "Restless Ones", the band sets out once again, blazing a path to a place of shifting moods, seasoned songcraft, and unbridled spontaneity. Heartless Bastards’ fifth studio recording and follow-up to 2012’s breakthrough "Arrow", the album finds singer/songwriter Erika Wennerstrom exploring as-yet-unvisited avenues of sound and sensation, her bravery and ambition readily apparent in the emotional timbre and the sheer physicality of her songs. “Wind Up Bird” and “Into The Light” are straightforward yet stunningly sophisticated, shot through with layered guitars, atmospheric harmonies, hints of synth, and a powerhouse rhythm section adept at both subtle swing and heavy horsepower. Wennerstrom’s spellbinding vocals are of course front and center, her one-of-a-kind voice as primal, cathartic, and indefinable as ever.

“We took a lot of chances,” Wennerstrom says, “taking the sounds in different directions in order to grow. I don't ever want to make the same album twice.” 

Now based in Austin, the band’s current incarnation – that is, guitarist Mark Nathan, bassist Jesse Ebaugh, and drummer Dave Colvin – united in 2009, touring Heartless Bastards’ acclaimed third album, "The Mountain", before hitting the studio to record "Arrow". 

"Arrow" proved popular success, earning Heartless Bastards’ top album and track sales to date, fueled by multi-format rock radio airplay across the land, high-profile placements on a wide range of highly rated network programming, rave reviews in the likes of Rolling Stone, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, and show-stopping performances on such TV shows as NBC’s Friday Night Lights, CBS’ Late Show with David Letterman, TBS’ Conan, and ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! The band celebrated with furious roadwork, including sold out headline tours and memorable appearances at such famed festivals as Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival, Lollapalooza, Pickathon, Hangout Music Festival, Summerfest, Wakarusa Music Festival, Firefly Music Festival, and Austin’s own ACL Music Festival and Fun Fun Fun Fest. 

Having spent the better part of two years on tour, summer 2014 saw Heartless Bastards humming on all cylinders and ready to commence work on their next record. Wennerstrom began honing in on the myriad ideas she had accumulated, developing melodies and arrangements though not yet committing lyrics to paper. She experimented with vowel and consonant noises, toying with untested sounds and instrumentation. 

GRAMMY® Award-winning producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Angel Olsen, Swans) was tasked with corralling Heartless Bastards’ collective energy. The band made significant inroads during pre-production sessions, tightening songs and structures but still leaving things open to chance.  

“John came down to Austin and sat in with us for a couple of days,” says Nathan. “That was really great – it was important to get an outside ear and it helped make the process more concise. I’ve never seen anybody get sounds as good and as quickly as he does.” 

“These songs are about what’s happening now,” Colvin says, “about not looking too far ahead or back. John is a real decisive person, which is great for us as players. He helped us to capture the moment and not worry about it.” 

"Restless Ones" was tracked in August 2014 during a 10-day session at El Paso’s renowned Sonic Ranch. Located on 2,300 acres of pecan orchards bordering the Rio Grande and Mexico, the studio – the largest residential recording complex in the world – provided the perfect setting, miles away from all real world responsibilities and thus able to fully invest themselves in the act of creation.

“When you record in the city you all live in, it’s easy for people to just come in and out of the studio,” Wennerstrom says, “so vocals and guitar parts and overdubs are often recorded without anyone else hearing them. Recording at Sonic Ranch was a way for everyone in the band to experience the creative process and to be able to offer opinions in real time.” 

The band put their back into the project as one, living together, dining together, always alert to their mission. The communal nature and concentrated schedule of the Sonic Ranch sessions proved an intense but inspirational combination. 

“There was no break from the process,” says Nathan. “In some ways, it made the good things better and the bad things worse, but looking back, it was a different experience and I’m glad we did it.”

“Sonic Ranch attracts talent from all over the Americas,” Ebaugh says. “We met people from Chile, Argentina, Mexico City. It helps you contextualize your own work to be shoulder to shoulder with other artists from backgrounds so different from your own. It makes you think twice as hard about what you are saying, about your life, and your background artistically.”

The sessions were marked by Heartless Bastards’ openness to the unfamiliar, allowing previously untapped influences – from The Byrds and Syd Barrett to the Faces and the Flaming Lips – to take root in their own distinctive blues-powered rock ‘n’ roll. “Wind Up Bird” is given texture and psychedelic lift via a visit from keyboardist John Baggott (Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters, Portishead, Massive Attack), while the album-closing “Tristessa” was born of Wennerstrom’s home experiments with guitar loops but then grown by the band into a deeply devotional drone.

 “We started with sketches and ideas of directions,” Ebaugh says, “but allowed the process of discovery to guide the finalization. It allowed us to think about the songs more globally and really flesh them out.”

“There were some happy accidents,” Colvin says. “Things that were completely organic, that could’ve only happened in that moment. Things are still shifting, nothing’s set in stone.”

Where some tracks were built from the ground up, others were completely upended. First recorded for the soundtrack to 2013’s acclaimed "Winter In The Blood", “Hi-Line” was broken down and retooled from front porch folk to Fleetwood Mac-inspired country pop unlike anything in Heartless Bastards’ prior canon.

“‘Eastern Wind’ provided a bit of a road map for the record,” she says. “It’s a song of wanderlust. Writing words is always a real challenge for me, so I end up taking off in my car and roaming around by myself looking for inspiration. I think in doing that I’m taking myself out of my comfort zone. I turn my world upside down over and over and start anew. 

Further insight came from such literary touchstones as Haruki Murakami (“Wind Up Bird”), Jack Kerouac (“Tristessa”), and the late photojournalist/artist/activist Dan Eldon, whose Be Here Now philosophy is at the very heart of "Restless Ones."

“I love the idea of ‘The Journey Is The Destination,’” she says, referencing Eldon’s most famous work. “Not looking too far ahead and really focusing on the present. I've tended to look so forward that I forget to stop and smell the roses. The process of working towards the things you want in your life is more important than the goal itself.”

“As always, Erika’s lyrical honesty informs the behavior of the whole project,” says Ebaugh. “There comes a time in an artist's trajectory when you realize that your entire life experience is expressed through the work, so you better be able to relax and let the work reflect the experience that is yours.”

"Restless Ones" was finished in the fall with two mixing sessions at Congleton’s Elmwood Recording in Dallas. Heartless Bastards’ next challenge is bringing the album’s studio-crafted songs to the stage.  “It’ll be fun to chuck it all at the wall and let the collective experience of band/audience dictate the conversation of the music,” Ebaugh says.  “That's the mission ultimately: rock ‘n’ roll communion.”   

Rich with purpose, passion, and commanding musicianship, "Restless Ones" captures an idiosyncratic band exploring their craft and soul in an effort to reach a place that’s both true and transcendent. Heartless Bastards continue to drive their monumental music ever forward, towards hidden vistas and horizons still unseen.

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Debut album from White Reaper out July 17

Album release: "White Reaper Does It Again" by White Reaper
Release date: 17 July 2015
Label: Polyvinyl
More information / listen on: White Reaper website

Like everything White Reaper does, the band’s trajectory from regional act renowned for its high-intensity shows to national touring group was accomplished at the speed of 0 to 60. “We went all over the country and grew our hair out a little bit,” says guitarist/singer Tony Esposito about the past year spent on the road with the likes of Deerhoof, Young Widows, Priests, and more.

After signing to Polyvinyl in early 2014 and releasing a self-titled EP that blasts through six tracks in a breakneck 15 minutes, the Reapers — Esposito, keyboardist Ryan Hater, bassist Sam Wilkerson, and drummer Nick Wilkerson — soon began working on new material to fill out their set.

Enter White Reaper Does It Again: a raucous debut full-length from a bunch of barely 20-somethings who have more fun on a Tuesday night than you do on a Saturday. Recorded in White Reaper’s hometown of Louisville, KY, with engineer Kevin Ratterman (Young Widows, Coliseum), WRDIA is a pure rock ’n’ roll adrenaline shot: vicious guitar scratches, elastic bass, sugary keyboard leads, and a thudding drums that will inevitably give your heartbeat a new rhythm.

Opening track/lead single “Make Me Wanna Die” counts off to detonation before quickly ensnaring the listener in a melodic force field of fuzz and distortion, highlighted by Hater's bright keyboard tones sending out signal flares through the haze. Esposito’s punk snarl takes centre stage on “I Don’t Think She Cares,” a two-minute ripper that romps and stomps like a certain girl on a certain guy’s heart.

Far from pausing to take a breath, the record’s b-side is just as eager to accommodate those with a beer in one hand and a limitless fount of energy to burn. Take “Sheila,” a track that displays thinly veiled restrained on its verses before exploding in a thrashing chorus over which the titular name is shouted gleefully.

As with their previous material, before entering the studio Esposito put together demos of all the tracks before sending them to his bandmates to flesh out their parts. The band then held reign over Ratterman’s La La Land space for a little over a week, arriving at noon and staying late into the night — a schedule that left everyone as giddily exhausted as the crowd at, well, a White Reaper show.

Not sure what that feels like? Crank this record at full volume — and then turn it up a bit more — and you’ll find out soon enough.

Press reaction to date

  • “…the feral snarl of MC5, the itchy, rhythmic spasms of post-punk, golden-era tunefulness.”  - Pitchfork
  • “Ramshackle riffing served with delightfully disorientating synth arrangements… Ramones-inspired chaos” - NME
  • “unrelenting garage-punk outbursts” - The Line of Best Fit
  • “The fuzzy garage rock of White Reaper has an inspiring groove” - The Independent

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Town Portal release new album, 'The Occident'

Town Portal

Album release: 'The Occident' by Town Portal
Release date: 25 May 2015
Label: Small Pond Recordings
Listen / more information on: Bandcamp 

More than two years have passed since the riff-forging Danes of Town Portal released their debut album Chronopoly; a cult favorite among math connoisseurs and nerdy alt. rock fans alike, but a well-kept secret to most. May 2015 finally sees the release of the follow-up The Occident, honing familiar expressions into a refined, darker aesthetics that merges adventurous complexity with measured temperance. 

The road to this album has been long: an increasingly intense and, at times, seemingly directionless excavation of musical feedstock from the depth of three geeky minds; a group of weathered fishermen angling in the musical ocean to see what deep-sea dwellers they might pull to the surface, lest they be pulled down with them. While decrypting and rearranging the continuous haul of musical fragments reeled in, the band witnessed both the beginning and completion of an artificial alpine skiing slope and vast residential constructions now surrounding the small portable cabin in the outskirts of Copenhagen, in which the album was composed and finally recorded. The challenge however, wasn’t the lack of inspiration or vision but the abundance of ideas and ambition. Thankfully the result honors these efforts.

Where Chronopoly was an album obsessed with the abundant, the eccentric and the bombastic, The Occident expands and inverts the subject of fascination. Rather than fixating a gaze at the fireworks in the sky, this album toys with the magical potential of even the dullest object that, if turned to reflect the light in different ways, inspires fundamentally different perceptions. The rhythmic complexities that have come to characterize the band’s efforts are not less adventurous, but have taken on a grounded, heavily synchronized and almost tectonic quality that allows heavy head bobbing even to the most intricate of systems. The harmonies and melodies explore themes of repetition, monotony, sequence and patterns, yielding new, darker expansions of the melodic palette of the band, without ever resorting to widely favored romantic post-rock chord progressions. Instead The Occident sounds more like a record translating the influence of bands like Shiner, Hum and Polvo into a drop tuned and heavily syncopated realm of almost Meshuggah-like stringency. Rather than creating something merely alienating, the aim has been to strike the perfect balance between unpredictability and listenability and to develop narratives capable of transmitting something other than grandeur or solemnity.

The ability of instrumental music to convey readily decipherable meaning is limited. However, the context of ideas and themes in which songs are created can permeate the music, making it the carrier of more abstract notions of meaning. On Town Portal’s second album, that notion is the Occident. Not as a political comment on colonialism or as the geographical or cultural counterpart to the Orient, but as a look at our western culture through the imagined viewpoint of a cyber-archeologist in a far distant future piecing together a picture of an era from random artifacts pulled from an overflowing data ocean. A legend based as much on spam-email, pop-ups or mindfulness-pamphlets as on the cultural beacons of our time. 

The Occident was recorded by guitarist Christian Henrik Ankerstjerne and mixed/ mastered by Carl Amburn (Riddle of Steel, Traindodge, Self-Evident). It releases digitally and on vinyl through Small Pond Recordings (UK) and Subsuburban (Denmark and the rest of the world) on May 25th 2015.

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Marvin Gaye - multiformat reissues announced

Marvin Gaye 1961-1965

Reisssues: various, including vinyl box set, by Marvin Gaye
Release date: 18 May 2015
Label: Universal

Seven-LP vinyl box set Marvin Gaye 1961-1965, Individual vinyl release of Trouble Man, Blu-Ray Audio of Let’s Get It On, Double A-side vinyl 7” single of “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)”/”Once Upon A Time”

One of the most iconic singers of his generation, Marvin Gaye, “The Prince of Motown,” would have been 76 years old on April 2 of this year. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, Gaye was cited for his “huge contribution to soul music in general and the Motown Sound in particular…[his] classic R&B voice was edged with grit yet tempered with sweetness…[projecting] an air of soulful authority driven by fervid conviction and heartbroken vulnerability.” 

Universal Music Enterprises and Motown Records celebrate that legacy with a reissue roll-out over the next three months leading up to his birthday and beyond: two classic albums, a new digital single, a 7” vinyl single and a comprehensive, seven-LP collection. That includes a vinyl version of his 1972 Trouble Man soundtrack (February 10); two rare cuts from 1972, “Where Are We Going” and “Woman Of The World,” that were first released only as a vinyl 12” last year, when it was mixed by the original co-producer Larry Mizell, now available as a digital single for the first time (March 31); a Blu-Ray Audio, 96k/24-bit release of his 1973 chart-topping album, Let’s Get It On (April 28); and a special limited edition double A-sided 7” vinyl single of his 1965 hit, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)” b/w “Once Upon A Time” with Mary Wells (April 14), when he will be honored as Motown’s iTunes Artist of the Month. In addition, a seven-album 180g vinyl box set, Marvin Gaye 1961-1965, covering the first seven albums of his remarkable career, will be released May 18th.

Known for his bold stance on racial equality and his pointed politics on albums like the legendary 1971 classic What’s Going On and intensely personal, provocative songs, it is apt that Gaye’s remarkable career should be celebrated throughout the year.

Trouble Man, the 1972 follow-up to the previous year’s What’s Going On, is a mostly instrumental, orchestral jazz-soul soundtrack to the mostly forgotten crime thriller of the same name, but its title track was a Top 10 pop hit and the album itself is credited with spawning the acid-jazz movement. Gaye recorded the album in Motown’s new home of Los Angeles. A 40th anniversary expanded edition was released in 2012 by Universal Music Enterprises that combined the soundtrack and score albums. This version of the original soundtrack will come out on 180g vinyl and will recreate the album’s original unique gatefold design.

Let’s Get It On was first released on August 28, 1973, recorded both in Detroit and Los Angeles. The album, with its combination of funk and romance, established Gaye as a romantic icon, producing three hit singles: the chart-topping title track – named by Vibe magazine as the No. 1 love songs of all time – as well as “Come Get to This” and the frisky, explicit “You Sure Love to Ball.” The album peaked at #2 on the Billboard Top 200, charting for a total of 61 weeks; it was No. 1 for 11 weeks on the Soul LPs charts. The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2004 and was one of three Gaye albums on Rolling Stone’s 2003 list of “500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” With a 5.1 Surround mix supervised by the album’s original engineer, this will be the first time it’s available in digital Blu-ray audio.

UMe will also mark the 50th anniversary of one of Gaye’s most beloved hits, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” a Top 10 pop and R&B smash in 1965, with the double A-side, “Once Upon a Time,” a duet with Mary Wells that went to Top 10 R&B and Top 20 pop in the fall of 1964.  A special vinyl double-sided 7” featuring both tracks will be released in time for Record Store Day April 14.

To mark Gaye being named April’s iTunes Motown Artist of the Month, we will release a seven-vinyl-album box set, Marvin Gaye 1961-1965, featuring the first seven albums of his career, including the stereo mixes of his 1961 debut, The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye, That Stubborn Kinda Fellow (1963) and When I’m Alone I Cry (1964), for the first time ever in the LP format. The collection also includes Hello Broadway…This Is Marvin (1964); Together, his 1964 album of duets with Mary Wells; How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You (1965), and A Tribute to the Great Nat “King” Cole (1965).  The release is the first of three planned vinyl box sets which will encompass the breadth of Gaye’s career.

The singer/songwriter’s first solo hit, "Stubborn Kind of Fellow,” was released in September ‘62, reaching #8 on the Billboard R&B chart and #46 on the Hot 100, appearing on the album of a similar name which came out the following year. Gaye also had a hit with the dance song, "Hitch Hike,” from the same album, peaking at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100, as well as his first Top 10 single with "Pride and Joy."

In 1964, Gaye’s duet album with Mary Wells, Together, peaked at #42 on the Billboard pop album chart. The album's two-sided single, "Once Upon a Time" and "What's the Matter with You Baby,” each reached the Top 20. Marvin’s next solo hit, "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You),” the title track to the 1965 album, written for him by Holland-Dozier-Holland, reached #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Top 50 in the UK.

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Inner Tongue: "Tz, Ka" EP release

Inner Tongue

EP release: "Tz, Ka" by Inner Tongue
Release date: 1 June 2015
Listen / more information: on Inner Tongue Soundcloud page

What does a musician do when they’re forced to spend months in absolute, total silence? In the case of Inner Tongue, they simply continue on as before: writing lyrics, harmonies and melodies, working on perfect beats, all the time unsure how, when – or indeed whether – the individual components will ever be combined. Fortunately, on this occasion we can skip straight to a happy ending: in May 2015, Inner Tongue releases his debut EP, "Tz, Ka".

A project undertaken by one man in his mid twenties, Inner Tongue offers the sound of victory over an uncertain future: in 2013, its exponent was diagnosed with a vocal cord disorder so severe that only a handful of specialists throughout the entire world were capable of treating it at all. Still, given that the gift of a voice is sacred to a musician, he worked day and night to raise the funds necessary to pay for the required operation, and, after the procedure, embarked on a protracted period of silence. With this, inevitably, came the unbearable uncertainty of not knowing whether he’d ever be able to use his voice as he once had. 

“Until the first follow-up appointment,” Inner Tongue explains, “I hid myself in total silence in my apartment. I was totally depressed, and refused to write any music. But somehow I was drawn from my sofa to my piano, and tried to overcome my fear. So I decided to modify my musical focus temporarily by writing songs which could produce a melodic tension without vocals, but which featured the traits of forward-looking pop music. What emerged came from an entirely new perspective. It was as if someone had pressed a reset button on the musical identity I had of myself." 

Eight months after the operation, Inner Tongue was at last able to use his voice fully, and it turned out that not only is his unlikely history sensational, but also his talent. Working in his current home base of Vienna amid a thriving electronic scene – though he finds as much inspiration in the quiet serenity of the mountains as in the hustle and bustle of the city – the all-rounder wrote and produced his songs alone, before gathering musician friends around him to arrange them. (Even his videos, conceived with an ambitious sense of his overall artistic vision, are made with close allies on his own initiative.) Having recorded the tracks, he then travelled around the world in pursuit of vital finishing touches, calling upon Matt Boynton (MGMT, Kurt Vile etc.) in New York, and, especially, John Catlin (Foals, Warpaint, The Naked And Famous etc.) in London. 

The resulting work combines the lightness of touch that distinguishes Death Cab For Cutie, the heartfelt perfection found in SOHN’s sonic realms, and the intuition evident in Chet Faker. ‘Fallen Empire’ cleverly knits deft, nonchalant beats with elements that at times recall James Blake, while ‘Tz Ka’ boasts delicacy and astonishing depth. The EP’s standout track, however is undeniably ‘Somebody Knows It’: opening with a ballad-like piano, it’s soon reinforced by subdued drums and floating synths, and by the time his gentle, vulnerable voice appears, it’s clear that something extraordinary is happening. Remarkably, furthermore, ‘Somebody Knows It’ worked on the very first take. “That was a really emotional moment for me,” Inner Tongue recalls with pleasure. “Until then I honestly wasn’t sure I would ever sing my own songs again."

Bright and dreamy, though often undercut by the presence of a dark, almost physical bass, the soundscape of Inner Tongue’s songs is always harmonious, but nonetheless flirts constantly with discord. His lyrics, too, offer a tremendously reflective intensity, that fragile voice delivering them through a meditative pulse of restrained, intelligent beats. Classifying such hypnotic, understated pop isn’t easy, but the result is a small miracle, and the lust for life unleashed by the successful realisation of Inner Tongue’s creativity penetrates his restraint with a tranquil but substantial force. As the video for ‘Fallen Empire’ illustrates so beautifully, he’s not afraid to make his own rules. Whether the joy is in the game or the victory, however, is anybody’s guess.

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Goldsmack release debut EP

EP release: 'Wild Season' by Goldsmack
Release date: 11 May 2015
More information / listen on: official website

To define Goldsmack, just imagine that Love, Bruce Haack, The Velvet Underground and Nico teamed up to compose a song for a Disney classic. They are a psychedelic power pop trio of gold-scented, gold junkies, created to bring discord and entropy into the world of pop music with a sound that is soft and electric; quirky and genuine; super serious and absolutely whimsical.  

Dave Tebaldi, Georgia Minelli and Luca Bagatti are childhood friends who started a band in the single most beautiful and boring place on earth; that is the small village, situated in the gentle hills of northern Italy. As most kids who live in isolated places they approached music with much hunger and senseless ambition. The isolation also provided them with countless hours to be dedicated to reading, fighting, rehearsing, playing cards with the village’s elderly and most of all… imagining, fantasizing and dreaming. It is from this point of view that the Goldsmack project has to be interpreted. It is the fruit of dreaming and isolation, and it refers not as much to real gold, but rather to an alchemical sort of gold, a chimera, a potent drug…a prismatic, paradoxical thought that becomes circular and obsessive. We could say that all of us are chasing Goldsmack and we are doing it our own way.

'Wild Season' wants to symbolize a sort of Rite of Passage into a New Era. It is a concept album that traces the impossible triangle between Love, Money and Spiritual Enlightenment. All the songs are symbolically charged and these symbols, instead of being covert or slightly hidden are proposed in an almost excessive way, every song proposes a riddle, a paradox to be solved, and does so with the whimsical attitude of Trivial Pursuit but with the seriousness of a life/death deal.


  1. Good Morning Star
  2. A Wild Wild Season
  3. Rites Of Spring
  4. Kids with Guns
  5. Of Human Bondage


Georgia Minelli (vocals) // Luca Bagatti (bass guitar, keyboards, back vocals) // Davide Tebaldi (guitars).

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Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin to release new album


Album Release: 'The High Country' by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Release date: 1 June 2015
Label: Polyvinyl
More information / listen: on official band website

In many ways, 'The High Country' is the record Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin has been building up to its entire career.

A raw pop record infused with undeniable hooks, distortion pedals, passion, grit, and maybe a little insanity, 'The High Country' is the first SSLYBY album to truly capture the power and energy the group exudes when performing live. 

“We’ve always cranked our amps up in practice and at shows, but we always kept it off our records,” says guitarist/vocalist Phil Dickey. “This time we wanted to go beyond our mid-tempo tendencies and make something really satisfying.”

Opening track “Line On You” bears witness to this desire with gloriously fuzzed out Pinkerton-era Weezer guitar lines that don’t let up for two minutes.

“Step Brother City” follows at an even faster tempo, its pedal-to-the-floor drum beat perfectly mirroring the lyrical narrative of a relationship come and gone too quickly. Between contagious “oo-oo-ooh” refrains, Dickey croons the album’s most brilliantly incisive couplet: “All the good songs and poems are all about you / And all the bad ones, too.”

Even the ballads are authentically rough around the edges. Case in point — “Madeline,” which was tracked at 4 AM immediately after Dickey blew out his voice recording “Trevor Forever,” the punk rock anthem you wish you’d been able to scream along to as a teenager.

SSLYBY recorded 'The High Country' as a power trio consisting of Dickey, guitarist/vocalist Will Knauer, and bassist Tom Hembree, a founding member of the group who left after Broom, but returned to (as Dickey describes it) “stir things up in the best way possible and demand we play louder and faster.”

After a month spent demoing and practicing, the three musicians convened at Seattle’s legendary Hall of Justice to record with engineer Beau Sorenson (Superchunk, Garbage). 

Studio owner Chris Walla (who, with Sorenson, produced SSLYBY’s third full-length 'Let It Sway') also assisted in an unofficial capacity, dropping in now and then to lend gear and give feedback on early mixes.

A week later, the only task that remained was choosing the album title. Hembree was ultimately the one to suggest 'The High Country', a name with no particular meaning beyond the simple fact the band members thought it sounded good. 

And perhaps that criteria is more fitting than anything else. Because, when it comes right down to it, with 'The High Country' SSLYBY have crafted a collection of songs that just sound damn good. 

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'Strange Readings From The Weather Station' - new album from James McArthur

James McArthur

Album release: "Strange Readings From The Weather Station" by James McArthur And The Head Gardeners
Release date: 1 June 2015
Label: Moorland Records
More information / listen on: James McArthur website

We are proud to introduce 'Strange Readings From The Weather Station’ the long awaited new album from Welsh born folk singer/songwriter James McArthur. 

Following the release of the EP ‘Lawn Order’, 'Strange Readings From The Weather Station' delivers a startlingly accomplished brace of songs in a unique style of hazy folk; with plucked guitar lines and breathy, playful vocals that are reinforced with yearning violin parts and haunting pedal steel guitar.  The sound echoes the likes Nick Drake and Iron and Wine from a perspective that's all his own; grounded and fleeting and always profound.  

The tracks invite you on a journey, through rolling harmonies, shifting guitar, with songs as changeable as the British weather.

The album was recorded at Tin Room Studios in Hackney, London and Wickham Farm, Welling (once the home and studio of singer Kate Bush) with Head Gardeners Johnny O and Jim Willis, and featuring guest musicians Samantha Whates and Syd Arthurs’ Joel Magill and Raven Bush.  

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Rubik to release new album, 'Tone Poem', on 11 May

Tone Poem

Album release: 'Tone Poem' by Rubik
Release date: 11 May 2015
Label: Domestic Records
More information / listen on: Domestic Records website

London based producer/songwriter Rubik is also known as Shaun Yule, founder of the exploratory, left-field imprint Domestic Records. Responsible for the discovery of esteemed success AxxoN N, as well as releases by the likes of Atki2, Gnaw Their Tongues and Mink Freud, he set up the label in 2007 as a way to fulfill his experimental passions without limitation. Rubik’s new album Tone Poem is his fourth album, and the 19th release on the label.

Partly inspired by Alex Ross' 'The Rest Is Noise', Tone Poem is a menagerie of samples accumulated by a deterministically random process - an exploration into the landscape of late nineteenth and twentieth century classical music via a cathartic endeavor to compose his own personal opera.  

Expressing method in perceptible madness, Rubik has long been compelled to make an album as a product of almost entirely stochastic processes. After deciding on a stylistic theme he sourced the backing tracks from a selection of 10 classical CDs from his personal collection. Assigning numerical values to specific elements of these works, he picked numbers from a bowl to determine sample length; the point in time from which the sample was taken; and CD/disc/track number sampled from, etc. All samples of a certain length would be used on the same track and thus a tempo derived. Notes were then manipulated within the samples for a more expressive and ‘musical’ result and additional instruments and solos were ‘bent’ to fit the backing track in the same way.

Initially the lyrics were meant to be sourced in a similar way, particularly via love letters. As the project progressed he used less of this in order to write from the heart, with the odd phrase taken from existing poetry or lyrics. Although he’d admit to struggling with vocal limitations Rubik embraces them for what they are and even employs them almost New-Romantically to articulate the sometimes difficult and personal nature of the album.

Lyrical themes include religion, aging, paternal relationships, death/transcendence, acceptance of self, break-up(s), masculinity (and lack of perceived ideal), alcoholism, change.. Applied to musical influences including various classical genres, pantomime, experimental music, noise, black metal, grime and torch songs, Tone Poem might be considered to be part of a group including Dean Blunt’s ‘The Redeemer’, or James Ferraro’s 'NYC, Hell 3am' – conceptually and thematically linked yet dissonant portraits of flux.

The melodic, albeit slightly off-kilter, classical overtones provide some semblance of alleviation for any challenging listening, as if Billie Holiday’s ‘Lady In Satin’ had been warped in dystopia. Consider Rubik a more mortal David Sylvian or Krzysztof Penderecki, a twisted Sondheim, or merely a contemporary of L.Pierre or Hype Williams. And consider Tone Poem a nightmarish Disney production telling of one man’s everyday existence in Tottenham.

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New single coming from SUKH: 'For The Road'

Sukh - album cover

Single release: "For The Road" by SUKH
Release date: 27 April 2015
More information / listen on: on SUKH website
Second album ‘Heading East’ to follow in winter 2015

Doctor by day, musician by night, the young Mancunian songwriter Sukh returns with brand new track ‘For the Road’ - the first offering from a wealth of new material which sees his most accomplished songwriting yet.  

Acclaimed for his chamber folk tinged numbers (particularly breakthrough single ‘Kings’) Sukhdeep Krishan employs an orchestral element that sounds big enough to uplift and reverb around a space 300 feet high, balanced by gentle comfortable strumming and lupine vocals. Now even more advanced in production, 'For The Road' is textural, crisp and bold - born for the airwaves.   

Despite his accessible, even commercial sound, Sukh’s personal listening is underground, exploratory and thoughtful, including the likes of Luke Howard, Joe Hisaishi, Kings Go Forth, Milo Greene, The Slow Show and Tom Waits to name a few. He lets some elements of these tastes inform his songwriting but largely finds influence elsewhere, be it on the open mic circuit, temporary residencies in other cities, or, and perhaps most consciously, literature and psychology - Russian authors Tolstoy and Turgenev through to the more theatrical and poetic Henrik Ibsen, and emotional psychologists Haidt and Lyubomirsky.

‘For The Road’ is taken from forthcoming album 'Heading East' - an album about true love. Not your standard ‘I like you / I like you too’ yarn, or any type of dramatised romance. No it’s about a calmer, peaceful love. It’s about vines growing together, nourishment and sustenance - an autobiography of reality coupled with the everyday ups and downs of fiery passion. “I suppose the whole album is about two people’s lives that are inextricably intertwined,” says Sukh, “It’s a very personal album and is a lot more exposed than Kings.”

Sukh will launch his single live on Tuesday April 21st @ Ronnie Scotts, London.

Press reaction to date

‘Sukh recalls the more pastoral, up beat moments of Sufjan Stevens with a country tinge that is informed by Neil Young (think 'Harvest') and even less hip names such as Cat Stevens. It seems that the Manchester artist is confident enough to write songs - great big, hulking things which groan under the weight of the emotion contained therein.’ -  Clash

"It’s very, very hard to impress with acoustic based folk tinged pop songs. So when a track stands out amongst minimal techno productions and growling guitar licks, we know it’s something special. This offering is written, performed and produced by the artist alone and employs country, folk and americana elements with melodies that have a habit of embedding themselves on the inside of your brain." - Tom Robinson (6Music) blog

 "Sukh is a doctor. This clearly isn’t enough of a challenge for him, though, so in is spare time he makes short films. Oh, and on top of that, he writes, performs and produces dreamy, jangly folk pop like ‘Kings’. Naturally, there’s an adorable video to accompany it too. It’d be easy to dislike him if it wasn't all so good." - For Folks Sake

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Plain White T's announce new album, "American Nights"

Plain White T's

Album release: "American Nights" by Plain White T's
Release date: 28 April 2015
Label: Proud Bird Records
Listen / more information on: Plain White T's website

It's been years since the Plain White T's kicked off their career in the Chicago suburbs, playing a mix of pop, punk, and melody-driven rock & roll in basements and clubs across the metro area.  

A decade-and-a-half later — with several thousand shows and a string of platinum-selling singles, including the mega-hit "Hey There Delilah” (the 18th most downloaded song of all time), under their belts — the guys haven't stopped heading back to the basement to dream up new sounds. There's where the Plain White T's put the finishing touches on American Nights, the band's first independent album since 2001.

Independence. It's what American rock & roll — and American nights — have always been about. Even during the band's days with Fearless and Hollywood Records, the Plain White T's thrived on doing things their own way. They'd hire close friends to produce their albums and ask high school classmates to direct their music videos. Now, five years after the release of Wonders of the Younger, they're upping the ante by striking out on their own as an independent band, even putting the finishing touches on their newest album in frontman Tom Higgenson's basement studio.

The result is American Nights, an album that focuses on everything fans have come to expect from the Plain White T's — summery anthems, heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics, acoustic love songs — while still breaking new ground. It's an album about freedom. An album about looking back while still moving forward. It's also the most collaborative thing the guys have ever done, with three of the band members contributing their own songs to the track list. Higgenson wrote six. Guitarist Tim Lopez, who sang the Top 40 single "Rhythm of Love" on Wonders of the Younger, wrote four. Guitarist Dave Tirio wrote one.

"We had complete freedom," says Higgenson. "We didn't worry about figuring out what our label wanted, or what would help us get onto the radio. We weren't worried about doing too many acoustic songs or too many rock songs. We just wanted to do the ones that told our story. We wanted to be honest, because that's always been what's connected us the most to our fans."

The future looks bright for the Plain White T's. Even so, American Nights is an album that lives in the present, focusing on what's happening now instead of what might happen tomorrow. "Pause," the album's lead single, urges the listener to live in the moment, while "Stay" finds its narrator prolonging the inevitable end of a relationship, looking to spend one final hour with his partner before the two part ways. The tempo picks up during the anthemic title track, where Higgenson hits the streets of his hometown with a pretty woman in the shotgun seat, and then cools down during Lopez's "Love Again," a breezy love song with a melody reminiscent of "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." Those two bookends — the epic rock songs and the acoustic-leaning ballads — have always been the Plain White T's bread and butter, and they're dished up in hefty servings throughout the album.

"After years, we finally get to make the album that we wanted to make," Higgenson says. "That's the most exciting thing for any artist: to have free reign to make an artistic statement. We're rejuvenated and re-inspired. We're taking the reins."

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"The Door Behind The Door" by Black Ryder - out 20 April

Album release: "The Door Behind The Door" by Black Ryder
Label: The Anti-Machine Machine
Release date: 20 April 2015
Listen / more information: on Black Ryder website 

The Black Ryder began writing the songs that would appear on "The Door Behind The Door" not long after finishing their acclaimed debut "Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride" in 2009. Engineered by Von Ryper and produced by he and Nash, "The Door Behind The Door" began to take shape soon after the band left Australia to tour America in 2010. 

Says vocalist / songwriter Aimee Nash “Since releasing our first record we left Australia, toured America, relocated to Los Angeles, all the while trying to find our feet & get somewhat settled enough to write & produce this record. It also took some time to find the right scenario for releasing our music as well.” 

Nash and Von Ryper’s iconoclastic collective proves as hard to pigeonhole as it is easy to love. Rolling Stone included "Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride" in its “50 Best Albums of the year”, praising its “sprawling, slow-burning psyche rock that paints creeping moods with layer upon layer of droney, blissed-out guitars and ethereal vocals…This is the perfect accompaniment to slowly losing your mind (in the best possible way). Don’t come looking for big chorus or bubblegum blurts – just settle in for the long, blissed-out ride.” 

True to the group’s maverick m.o., "The Door Behind The Door" transforms The Black Ryder’s kaleidoscopic sound and vision into something even more vivid, uncompromising, and sublime, bringing in new textures and emotions that evolve as its nine-song cycle unfolds. “We wanted to create music that was layered, emotive & majestic,” says Nash. “You open one door, and you find there’s another, you keep moving through each door to the next not quite sure where you’re going or what to expect, but there’s something enticing & reassuring you that you’re moving in the right direction.” “The final track listing order was very deliberate, each track would morph into something completely different,” adds Von Ryper. “The whole idea is that it is a journey where, as a track finishes, one door might lead to ascension, whereas another may be a descent.” 

"Buy The Ticket…" became an underground phenomenon; tracks from the album appeared in TV shows like House, Damages; Fashion brand Diesel closed out their NYC fashion week show in 2010 with “Let It Go”; iconic Australian Jewelry designers MANIAMANIA featured the bands music on numerous campaigns including The Third Mind (modeled by Australian model Abbey Lee Kershaw & premiered in the NY Times); Nash also sang on Black Rebel Motorcycle Club track “Done All Wrong” which appeared on the "Twilight: New Moon" soundtrack. Despite this success, however, Nash and Von Ryper split as a couple and divorced. The pair remains close confidantes and musical collaborators, however, with Von Ryper moving with Nash across the world to Los Angeles.

Due to the deeply personal nature of the new album's creation, Nash and Von Ryper are taking the reins for its release, putting it out worldwide on the band’s own imprint The Anti-Machine Machine in conjunction with The Orchard. After working with EMI Music Australia and Mexican Summer to release Buy The Ticket…, the duo decided to self-produce and release The Door Behind The Door in an effort to preserve the album’s uncompromised genesis. “We have a very specific vision for what it is we want to do here,” Nash says. “We had to keep moving & creating & evolving until we found the right fit as we saw & heard it. From the music production to the artwork & imagery, to wanting to release this on our own label, to the live performance.”

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CalatrilloZ: 'Psalms of Zahyin' out on 22 June 2015

Album release: "Mutiny on the Bounty" by CalatrilloZ
Release date: 22 June 2015
Listen / more information on: CalatrilloZ website

Formed in 2009, CalatrilloZ are a progressive symphonic rock/metal quintet hailing from London. Fresh out of a serious of successful UK shows, the operatic five piece are now ready to release their debut album ‘Palms of Zahyin’.

CalatrilloZ embrace a concept of theatrical personas stating that the band are “a circus troupe of wanderers”, complete with elaborate costumes, make-up, and incredibly detailed individual backstories. The lead vocalist of the group going under the name of Zahyin, says “Through Zahyin, through his universe, my compositions are free: Jazz, Metal, Classical, and Opera they all means nothing; there is no compromise...The only limitations I have are the ones I impose upon myself. None.” This is what is to be taken away from the concept. It is not simply a fantasy world created so that CalatrilloZ can masquerade in their detailed and well imagined story, it is also a gateway to musical freedom.

‘Palms of Zahyin’ brings together vast symphonic instrumentation, which sits somewhere between power metal and the glory days of NWOBHM, together with a classically infused vocal style its best described as a neo-classical metal opera. The lead track ‘I Am Alive’ calls to mind the sounds of artists such as Faith No More, Alice Cooper and at times you can even hear flourishes that are redolent of Mesmerize era S.O.A.D. Patton-esque vocal melodies augmented with uplifting instrumentation bring the track to its pinnacle before the guitars and drums bring the whole conformation back around again for another bout. ‘I Am Alive’ is somewhat of a nostalgia trip and a welcome journey back to classic rock and metal bands from the 1970’s and 80’s merged with pristine modern production and charmingly histrionic conceptual song writing.

The album as whole is as diverse as it is consummate. Tracks such as ‘A Glimpse At A Fools Destiny’ give way to the bands more extravagant side with Tim Burton-esque melodramatic and operatic vocals, and a more diverse instrumental accompaniment. Whereas ‘Z The Psychopath’ (named after the vocalists character Zahyin) displays the bands technical proficiency merging fastidious and melodic guitar tapping with an uninhibited vocal style which culminates in a prodigious and methodically orchestrated climax.

At a time where modern metal releases are becoming increasingly abrasive and discordant, CalatrilloZ bring something back to the table; flair. Whilst dramatic story telling and thespian performance is something that is still championed by power-metal bands such as Sabaton, Hammerfall and Powerwolf, the style remains a niche within the contemporary metal world, but the careful composition and deftness in which CalatrilloZ combine the copious elements that make up ‘Palms of Zahyin’ means that it will appeal to a much wider audience beneath the surface.

CalatrilloZ is:

  • Zahyin – Vocals

  • Vargovar - Guitar
  • Azriel - Guitar
  • Mobius – Bass
  • Jimmy Sticks - Drums

Concept Back Story 

“From a broken past, a cursed present and a burning future, CalatrilloZ endlessly journey across the pages of an ever-shifting history.

Wanderers gathered from the darkened fringes of time, they disguise their anachronistic appearances in the identity of a circus troupe, performing wherever they briefly rest in their ceaseless search. While the illusion effectively shrouds their true nature, it is also an apt parallel to their existence: the lives of circus people are an eternal odyssey; they have no home but the road, no allies but each other, and no masters but themselves. Perpetual outsiders wherever they travel, their presence is a fleeting experience but a lasting memory.

Led by a madman haunted by the sins of his past, they are a ramshackle assortment of lost souls bound by their search for redemption, isolation and guilt forever driving them forwards. Scouring the four corners of the Earth for five marionettes, in each of which is imprisoned a powerful demon lord, their hunt takes them to realms where few can travel and return sane.

A storm of chaos is gathering upon the temporal horizon. Puppets are made to be commanded, and should the marionettes find themselves without a master, the demonic forces trapped within them will once again be awakened.”

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Mutiny on the Bounty: new album "Digital Tropics" out 26 May 2015

Mutiny on the Bounty - album artwork

Album release: "Digital Tropics" by Mutiny on the Bounty
Release date: 26 May 2015
Label: Small Pond Recordings
Listen / more information on: Mutiny on the Bounty website

Following on from their last album ‘Trials’ released in 2012, Luxembourg post-rock quartet Mutiny On The Bounty are ready to release their new album ‘Digital Tropics’. The new album comes in the wake of signing to new up-and-coming Brighton based record label Small Pond Recordings, and a UK tour in December 2014 which saw the band play alongside the likes of Maybeshewill, Flood of Red, Dialects and Polymath.

The new album sees the band fully embrace their instrumental side which was heavily championed on their last album. Of the new album the band say: "Digital Tropics englobes all the facets of our personalities going from rock, to electro and more varied influences such as 80's pop or even hip-hop. It gives a wider range of emotions and we believe that it's a powerful album. We're really proud of this album and can't wait to share it with everyone."

The appropriately named lead track ‘MKL JCKSN’ is the perfect introduction to ‘Digital Tropics’, with reverb soaked and groove-infused staccato melodies from the guitars dancing around a technical and mechanically intricate rhythm section. Elsewhere tracks such as ‘Telekinesis’ infuse slightly heavier riffs and driving rhythm with guitars that sound closer to keys or synths than strings, giving the track a diverse and uplifting feel. This is where the inclusion of new influences can be heard, at times you can almost hear elements of Kraftwerk, whereas other areas are closer to bands such as ASIWYFA, Faraquet or Battles. Similarly this can also be heard in ‘Ecliptic’ which darts between the realms of electro, math-rock, and Vangelis/Brad Fiedel-esque moments of euphonious orchestration. 

MOTB are a band that have soared from strength-to-strength with every album by delving further into their individual personalities to explore new sounds and composition techniques. In doing so the band have reached new territory exploring a more deceivingly moody soundscape than ‘Trials’ which is both technically challenging yet entirely danceable.

‘Digital Tropics’ is a work of relentless convergence and exploratory disposal that reaches to the heart of both emotional and creative expression. The result of which has created MOTB’s most diverse and accomplished album to date.

Previous praise for Mutiny On The Bounty

  • “…a must-hear for anyone who enjoys their technical, melodic rock” – Rock Sound (9/10)
  • “…Mutiny On The Bounty’s wild time signatures and eclectic post-hardcore yelps invite the desire to listen again and again” – Kerrang! (4/5)
  • "…with careering riffs and electronic blips, this is a band that are intent on transporting you to another world” ­– Big Cheese (3/5)

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Tom Russell releases new double album, 'The Rose of Roscrae'


Album release: "The Rose of Roscrae" by Tom Russell
Label: Proper Records
Release date: 13 April 2015
More information / listen on: Tom Russell website

Tom Russell’s ambitious new double-album The Rose of Roscrae takes a fascinating look at the history of the American West and traditional cowboy and folk music, through the story of an Irish kid who travels to the United States in the late 1880s to become a cowboy.

Produced by Tom Russell and Barry Walsh, The Rose of Roscrae features a who’s who of legendary Americana icons including: Jimmie Dale Gilmore, David Olney, Johnny Cash, Joe Ely, Augie Meyers, Fats Kaplin, Barry Walsh, Jimmy LaFave, Gretchen Peters, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, Walt Whitman, Moses “Clear Rock” Platt, Jack Hardy, David Massengill, A.L. “Bert” Lloyd, Finbar Furey, Sourdough Slim, Blackie Farrell, Tex Ritter, Glen Orhlin, Pat Russell, John Trudell, Henry Real Bird, Thad Beckman, Maura O’Connell, Eliza Gilkyson, The McCrary Sisters, Ian Tyson, Bonnie Dobson, Lead Belly, Guy Clark, Dan Penn, Gurf Morlix, and Pat Manske. The album’s overture is performed by the Norwegian Wind Ensemble, arranged by Mats Hålling, composed by Tom Russell.

For over four decades and 28 album releases Tom Russell has continued to live up to his status as “one of the best singer-songwriters of our time” (Washington Post). His previous two  studio releases, Blood and Candle Smoke (2009) and Mesabi (2011), are considered his strongest composed works yet and were, in part, recorded with the groundbreaking roots band Calexico. In the 1990s, Russell and Dave Alvin were hailed as the architects of what came to be known as “Americana” music after their Merle Haggard tribute, Tulare Dust, initiated the Americana charts in the U.S. and remained number one for a year. Russell’s previous release, Aztec Jazz (2013), moved Americana into a new realm and his acclaimed song catalogue into uncharted territory.

Tom Russell’s songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Doug Sahm, Nanci Griffith, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dave Alvin, Joe Ely, and others. The Rose of Roscrae is his third in a series of acclaimed folk operas, following The Man From God Knows Where (1999) and Hotwalker (2005). Russell has also composed movie scores, including songs for the Monte Hellman movie The Road To Nowhere and published five books, most recently 120 Songs of Tom Russell. An accomplished fine artist, Russell’s paintings are featured in: Blue Horse/Red Desert: The Art of Tom Russell.

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Noel Gallagher's "In The Heat Of The Moment" remixed by Toydrum

Underscore Collective

Remix release: Noel Gallagher's "In The Heat Of The Moment", remixed by Toydrum
Release date: 2 March 2015
More information: on Underscore Collective website

'In The Heat Of The Moment (Toydrum remix)' is the first time Pablo Clements and James Griffith have remixed a Noel Gallagher track since they remixed ‘AKA.. What A Life!’, and ‘Let The Lord Shine A Light On Me’, as UNKLE. The members of the seminal project forged new musical partnership, TOYDRUM to produce and compose their own eclectic mix of projects from their own studio in Brighton, The Toy Rooms.

Furthering Gallagher’s forays into space-rock, Toydrum hastens and accentuates the durable beat adding even more celestial layers while spotlighting the Oasis man’s strengths in songwriting.

Pablo Clements began his musical career with the PSYCHONAUTS while growing up in Yeovil Somerset, amidst a burgeoning breakbeat revival in nearby Bristol. Moving to London in 1996, he began to work regularly for MO’WAX as a mixer and multi-instrumentalist. He officially became a member of UNKLE in 2007, co-producing their "War Stories“ (July 2007) album. Alongside bassist and guitarist James Griffith (BIG IN JAPAN & LAKE TROUT) they toured the world, and over the next few years saw a number of UNKLE releases that they were creatively responsible for: ‘More Stories (January 2008),  ‘End Titles Stories For Film’ (July 2008),  ‘End Titles Redux’ (December 2008) ‘Where Did The Night Fall’ (May 2010) and ‘Where Did The Night Fall Another Night Out (April 2011) featuring collaborations with Ian Astbury, Queen Of The Stone Age, Nick Cave, The Black Angels, Mark Lanagan, Sleepy Sun and many more.  

Both Clements and Griffith have extensive musical histories spanning many collaborations and projects, and they continue as a prolific and productive force at the TOY ROOMS studio today. Recent mini-album Distant Focus Vol. 1 was the first of many more official releases to come from the duo. 

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Eliza Carthy & Tim Eriksen to release new album on 18 May

Eliza Carthy and Tim Erikson - Bottle

Album release: 'Bottle' by Eliza Carthy and Tim Eriksen
Release date: 18 May 2015
Label: Navigator Records

'Bottle' is the first album by the dream duo - Eliza Carthy and Tim Eriksen. These highly regarded artists from either side of the Atlantic have come together and mixed hardcore 'Americana' with hardcore 'Anglicana' and the results are inventive and thrilling. Made up of traditional material from both sides of the pond - and influences altogether other - 'Bottle' features fiddle, electric guitar, banjo and bass drum and is brimming with passion and energy. The 13 tracks include 'Buffalo', 'Logan's Lament' and 'Castle By the Sea' from America, alongside the Copper Family's 'Cats and Dogs', 'May Song' and Whitby Lad from our own shores. The two artists met in the 1990s when they were teenagers but it was the offer of a duo appearance by a Czech festival (Folkové Prázdniny) and UK tours in 2013 and 2014 that finally provided the opportunity for them to record together. Bottle is the stunning result.

...this is a friendship that has been around, despite miles of distance and long times not speaking, punctuated by little cards or tapes, albums in the post, random nights in Massachusetts involving chicken wings.. or in Whitby or Bath, bottles of whisky and vans and caravans, petroleum-powered ships passing in the night. It really was time we did something with all of that.. and now this album is in its little bottle backwards and forwards over the sea.
— Eliza Carthy

Tim Eriksen is acclaimed for transforming American traditional music with his startling interpretations of old ballads, love songs, shape-note gospel and dance tunes from New England and Southern Appalachia. Tim combines hair-raising vocals with inventive accompaniment on banjo, fiddle, guitar and bajo sexto - a twelve string Mexican acoustic bass - creating a distinctive hardcore Americana sound that ranges across seven solo albums of northern roots American music and he’s appeared on more than 20 others in a breathtaking range of genres - (hardcore punk, symphonic, Oromo gospel, Czech folk rock, shape note, Afro Cuban jazz, Bosnian pop and bluegrass at last count). Eriksen's compositions have also been featured in films including Billy Bob Thornton’s Chrystal and the documentary Behold the Earth. Eriksen's other notable work includes contributions to Anthony Minghella's 2004 Oscar-winning film Cold Mountain and the 2010 Grammy-nominated album Across the Divide with Afro-Cuban world-jazz pianist Omar Sosa.

Eliza Carthy is undoubtedly one of the most impressive and engaging performers of her generation. Twice nominated for the Mercury Prize and winner of innumerable other accolades, over a twenty-six year career, Eliza has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists including Paul Weller, Rufus and Martha Wainwright, Patrick Wolf and Joan Baez. In 2014, Eliza recorded an acclaimed duo album with her father, the legendary guitarist, Martin Carthy - and at the 2015 BBC 6Music Festival, she performed live with rap/poet Kate Tempest. Eliza was recently awarded an MBE, is an Artistic Associate of The Sage in Gateshead and vice president of the English Folk Dance & Song Society.

Tour dates (UK)


  • 21 May - Edinburgh House Concert, EDINBURGH
  • 22 May - ARC, Stockton Arts Centre STOCKTON ON TEES 
  • 23 May - Hexham Gathering, Queen’s Hall, BARDON MILL
  • 24 May - Waterdale, DONCASTER
  • 25 May - Fruit, HULL
  • 26 May - Guildhall Arts Centre, GRANTHAM
  • 27 May - The Live Room, Caroline Street Social Club, SALTAIRE
  • 28 May - The Met, BURY 
  • 29 May - St Pancras Old Church, LONDON
  • 30 May - Chipping Norton Theatre
  • 31 May - National Centre for Early Music, YORK

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Fossa to release debut EP


EP release: "Sea of Skies" by Fossa
Release date: 12 April 2015
Label: Fantastic Plastic Records
Listen / more information on: Facebook 

[Fossa] feels like an amalgamation of Wild Beasts, Alt-J and Radiohead. No bad thing in our book.” – Lauren Laverne, BBC 6Music

Fossa (noun): an anatomical pit or depression - such as the temporal fossa of the skull, or the fossa ovalis of the heart. A definition embodied by the band themselves who viscerally shape their music around matters of the heart and mind. Fossa’s debut EP "Sea Of Skies" sees its official release as Louis, Tom, Will and Joseph take their career forth in response to organic early intrigue from major tastemakers.

"Sea Of Skies" synthesises classic song structures and melodies with a bold experimental edge.  In these four songs, the rustic feel of acoustic instrumentation is brought together with digital elements that lend density and colour, coupling genuine emotion with exploratory sounds. 

Grizzly Bear and The Antlers are indisputable influences, but it is the intimate and haunted hedonism of late Talk Talk that has most shaped the mood and texture of Fossa’s  first release. Lead single ‘Five Days’ is a profound love-song about falling for someone over the course of five days - an abstract, scattergun stream of consciousness growing increasingly obsessive around the hooked refrain of 'you gotta be mine'. Closing the EP, ‘Swan Song’ reflects on the break-up of the relationship formed in ‘Five Days’, bringing the record full circle. ‘Butterfly’ and ‘Sea of Trees’ also explore the idea of a 'life cycle' – depicting metaphorical journeys that become progressively darker and wilder.

The band’s natural curiosity for the experimental is evident in the opening moments of Sea Of Skies, where home-made instruments and samples of household objects can be heard. Details like these were assiduously developed during an intense process of recording and production at Smokehouse Studios, near the flat that the band shares in East London. Such close quarters are far from a burden for the foursome; rather a habit of firm friendship from a young age.

Lead songwriter Louis Shadwick (vocals, guitar, keys) met guitarist Tom Dunning when he was only 14 and they quickly discovered they were on a musical wavelength, creating material together at every available opportunity. Tom's twin brother Will (bass, programming) brought the technical know-how that kick-started Fossa’s use of electronic elements. Joseph Malpas (drums), who learned his trade playing in jazz and classical groups, met Tom whilst gigging at University, where the pair became close friends.

Louis was brought up in a very musical household, particularly via his dad Keith - a jazz musician and music critic who wrote books on Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Bill Evans. While his songwriting exhibits the diverse influences that have been with him since childhood, Louis’ first thought is always to create words and melodies that stay with the listener. This emphasis on the song is essential to the instrumentation itself, where the lyrics are treated by the band as a storyboard for the music – every detail geared towards the core feel of the song.

"Sea Of Skies - EP" will be released on Limited Edition CD and Digital Download

The EP is available to pre-order on iTunes at  https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/sea-of-skies-ep/id953454709 (includes Instant Grat of Five Days).

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Andy Shauf: "The Bearer of Bad News"

Andy Shauf art work

Album release: "The Bearer of Bad News" by Andy Shauf
Release date: 4 May 2015
Label: Tender Loving Empire
Listen / more information on: Andy Shauf website

There’s an innate stillness and depth to Shauf and his music – a quiet, riveting strength that subtly steals its way into a listener’s bones. He’s a storyteller: a singer of heartbreak and regrets, isolation and loneliness, small-town heroes and smaller-town killers.  

Throughout "The Bearer of Bad News", Shauf studies the universal through two to five-minute microcosms, spinning tales as few others can where accidental, redemptive victories (the jaunty charmer “Hometown Hero”) stir alongside evocative, heartrending tales of self-doubt and lost loves (“I’m Not Falling Asleep,” the achingly beautiful “Covered In Dust,” “You’re Out Wasting”). There’s not one, but three cinematic murder ballads that slowly unfold like the greatest of tragedies: “Wendell Walker,” an epic account of adultery and betrayal, as well as “Jerry Was A Clerk” and “My Dear Helen,” sister songs that skillfully tell two sides of one unintended death. Shauf’s tender, singular tenor guides the way over muted instrumentation of softly-strummed guitars, dampened drums, weathered piano, and clarinet, which lends its unique timbre to frequently brighten – or hauntingly underscore – the songs’ darker undercurrents.

Meticulously written over four years, and recorded throughout one in a makeshift studio set up in his parent’s basement, Shauf plays nearly every instrument on "The Bearer of Bad News". The album was crafted on his grandfather’s timeworn guitar and heavily influenced by the aforementioned – and newly learned – clarinet, which was a Christmas gift from family. In spite of his modest recording setup, Shauf has imbued the album with an enduring warmth and redolence that lingers long after the album ends, a skill which earned him praise across Canada and a growing audience abroad.

Tour dates (UK)

  • London, UK • 13.05.15 • Slaughtered Lamb
  • Brighton, UK • 15.05.15 • The Great Escape Festival
  • Gardenstown, UK • 05.09.15 • End Of The Road Festival

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Sonny & The Sunsets: Talent Night At The Ashram

Talent Night at the Ashra

Album release: "Talent Night At The Ashram" by Sonny & The Sunsets
Release date: 23 March 2015 (UK / EU)
Label: Polyvinyl Records
Listen / more information: on Sonny & The Sunsets website

Bizarre? Scrappy? Deranged? Sonny & the Sunsets’ latest record sees them in perhaps their strangest and most lyrically explorative phase yet.

A big soup of sonic ideas that wouldn’t normally be glued together, the songs on Talent Night at the Ashram make a large collage that mixes cinematic stories of fringe characters.

Initially envisioned as a film project, each song was originally a short film that, when strung together, formed a feature-length movie.

As Sonny Smith was writing the scripts and hiring the actors (even shooting a few of the clips), the scripts began to morph into songs.

Equal parts Fellini and Os Mutantes, Talent Night at the Ashram is cinematic in its storytelling and kaleidoscopic in its mixing and merging of musical genres.

On album opener “The Application,” Smith applies to be a human being to the tune of Beach Boys harmonies, ragtag beats and ‘80s synths.

“Happy Carrot Health Food Store” tells an epic saga of grocery store employees set to a soundtrack that takes listeners on a psychedelic odyssey with elements of jazz and a hallucinogenic sequence including a conversation with a girlfriend swimming in his beer glass, or is that a dog?

‘60s folk, electric sitars, flutes, and myriad other sounds help accentuate tales of professional bowlers in desperate need of a strike (“Icelene’s Loss”), a mansion that houses every woman Smith has ever known (“The Secluded Estate”), and Occupy meetings ending in bad love (“Secret Plot to Destroy the Underground”).

Recording was a communal effort mostly done at Smith’s home on this tape machine with musicians such as Shayde Sartin (The Fresh & Onlys), Garret Goddard (King Tuff), Kelley Stoltz, Rusty Miller, Ian McBrayer, and more.

Pairing uniquely off-the-wall stories with an ambitious musical scope, Talent Night at the Ashram finds Smith once again securing his status as one of today’s most arrestingly inventive songwriters.

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