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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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Rush release their 14 Mercury albums in 2015

Alum Release: Rush
Release Date: 2015
Label: Mercury

Call it 12 months of Rush as Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees ready their 14 Mercury albums for release in 2015. 

All titles will be reissued on high-quality vinyl with a download card for Digital Audio version, high resolution Digital Audio releases, while three titles will also be released on Blu-ray Pure Audio 

Los Angeles, CA – December 11, 2014 – With the release of multi-platinum Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Rush’s self-titled 1974 debut this past April, Universal Music Enterprises (UMe) kicked off its own celebration of the legendary Canadian prog-rock band’s 40th anniversary since that first album. In 2015, vocalist/bassist/keyboardist Geddy Lee, guitarist Alex Lifeson and drummer Neil Peart, who joined the band in July, 1974, shortly after the release of that first album and two weeks before the group’s inaugural U.S. tour, will see the reissue of the remaining 14 albums in their Mercury catalog in chronological order, starting with Fly By Night, which will be available in high-quality vinyl with a download code for a 320kbps MP4 vinyl ripped Digital Audio album download; high resolution Digital Audio editions in DSD (2.8mHz), 192khz / 24-bit, 96kHz / 24-bit; and an additional Blu-Ray Pure Audio version with 96kHz / 24-bit 5.1 surround sound and stereo, on January 27. A Farewell to Kings and Signals are the other two albums which will be reissued in Blu-Ray Pure Audio. 

The remaining 13 titles will be released one or two a month through the end of the year. The band performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in April, 2013 at L.A.’s Nokia Theater after receiving a loving, humorous induction speech by super-fans Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins, who joined the group on-stage before a crowd of boisterous Rush supporters. “When the f**k did Rush become cool?” wondered Grohl, while recounting his own history as a rabid fan. “They broke all the rules,” added Hawkins. “And isn’t that rock ‘n’ roll?”  

January 26: "Fly by Night" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-Ray Audio): The 1975 release of Fly By Night was the first to feature drummer Neil Peart, who also became the band’s lyricist. The singles included the title track and “Making Memories.” Fly By Night reached #113 on the Billboard chart, going platinum in both the U.S. and Canada. 

February: "Caress of Steel" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The second album to be released in 1975, the band’s third release marked their emergence into more hard prog-rock styles as opposed to the blues-based style of the group’s first two albums. Singles included “The Necromancer: Return of the Prince” and “Lakeside Park.” Although the album peaked at #148 on the Billboard charts, it has since gone gold in both the U.S. and Canada.  

March: "2112" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The group’s fourth album, first released in 1976, proved a breakthrough, highlighted by its seven-part title suite written by Lee and Lifeson, with lyrics by Peart, recounting a dystopian story set in the year 2112. It came in at #2 on Rolling Stone’s list of “Your Favorite Prog Rock Albums of All Time.”  Most Rush fans consider it the band’s definitive recording, as the album sold 3 million in the U.S., going triple-platinum.  

"All the World’s a Stage" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): This 1976 double-live album was recorded at Toronto’s Massey Hall June 11-13, during the band’s 2112 tour, with the title a nod to William Shakespeare.  The record climbed to #40 on the U.S. Billboard chart, and going platinum in the States and Canada. 

April: "A Farewell to Kings" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-Ray Audio): This 1977 release, the band’s fifth studio album, was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales and mixed in London’s Advision Studios. It became the band’s first U.S. gold-selling album within two months of release, and went platinum. The singles included “Closer to the Heart” and “Cinderella Man,” while the album peaked at #33 on the Billboard 200 and #22 on the U.K. album charts.    

May: "Hemispheres" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Another favorite of true Rush fans, this sixth studio album, released in 1978, once more explored fantasy and science fiction themes in Neil Peart’s lyrics. The final track, the ambitious nine-and-a-half minute “La Villa Strangiato,” was the band’s first instrumental  The album peaked at #47 on the Billboard charts, and was the group’s fourth consecutive gold album in the U.S., featuring the singles “The Trees” and “Circumstances.” 

June:  "Permanent Waves" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The seventh studio album was released on January 1, 1980, and recorded at Le Studio in Quebec, becoming the first U.S. album to go Top Five, peaking at #4 on the Billboard charts.  The effort marked a transition from the band’s long, conceptual pieces into a more accessible, radio-friendly style on such rock airplay hits as “The Spirit of Radio” and “Freewill,” with the album going platinum.  

July: "Moving Pictures" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio):  Rush’s eighth studio album, released in February, 1981, also turned out to be their biggest-selling in the U.S., rising to #3 on the Billboard charts (and #1 in Canada), as one of the first discs to receive the RIAA’s first-ever multi-platinum designation, scoring 4 million sales to date in the U.S. on the strength of classics like  “Limelight,” “Tom Sawyer” and “Vital Signs.” 

"Exit… Stage Left" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio):  Released in August, 1981, this live album was recorded during the Moving Pictures tour at the Montreal Forum and in Glasgow Scotland, peaking in the Top 10 of the Billboard charts, buoyed by live versions of “Close to the Heart,” “Tom Sawyer” and “A Passage to Bangkok.”    

August: "Signals" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio / Blu-ray Audio): This September, 1982, release marked the band’s increase use of electronic instrumentation, especially sequencers and electric violin (played by Ben Mink), peaking at #10 on the Billboard charts and eventually going platinum. A total of five singles were released from the album, including “Subdivisions,” which became a live staple of their concerts, along with “New World Man,” “The Analog Kid,” “The Weapon” and “Countdown.”  

September: "Grace Under Pressure" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Released in April, 1984, the band’s tenth studio album reached #10 on the Billboard chart and went platinum. Alex Lifeson called it “the most satisfying of all our records.” It was the first album they recorded without long-time producer Terry Brown, eventually producing it themselves.  The song’s themes were influenced by the growing tensions in the Cold War. The music itself continued the presence of synthesizers introduced on Signals, as well as incorporating elements of ska and reggae into their sound. Singles included “Distant Early Warning,” “The Body Electric,” “Red Sector A:” and “Afterimage.”  

October: "Power Windows" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): This 1985 release was Rush’s 11th studio album, and the first time they worked with producer Peter Collins, who recorded the album at The Manor in the U.K., George Martin’s AIR Studios in Montserrat and Sarm East Studios in London. It was also the group’s first CD release. More keyboards and synths were introduced into the sound, with “The Big Money” and “Mystic Rhythms” made into videos for MTV. The album once more hit #10 on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold a million copies, earning platinum status. Other singles included “Territories,” “Manhattan Project” and “Marathon,” the latter two topping the U.S. Mainstream Rock airplay charts at #10 and #6, respectively. 

November: "Hold Your Fire" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): Released in September, 1987, Rush’s 12th studio album continues the band’s commitment to exploring new songwriting territory, with Aimee Mann contributing vocals to “Open Secrets” and “Time Stand Still,” appearing in the video for the latter. The album debuted at #13 on Billboard and eventually went gold. The other singles included “Force Ten” (#3 U.S. Mainstream Rock), “Lock and Key (#16 U.S. Mainstream Rock) and “Prime Mover.”  

December: "A Show of Hands" (Vinyl+Download Code / High Res Digital Audio): The band’s third live album was released January, 1989, recorded while on tour in Birmingham, U.K., New Orleans, Phoenix and San Diego during the 1988 Hold Your Fire tour, as well as in the Meadowlands in New Jersey during the 1986 Power Windows tour. The opening track “intro” features the Three Stooges theme song, “Three Blind Mice,” a song the band used to open many of their concerts during the ‘80s. That same year, the group released a video of the same name on VHS and Laserdisc featuring the Birmingham show, while a DVD version was included as part of a 2006 box set and as a stand-alone the following year.  The album reached #21 in Billboard, going gold, with the singles including “Closer to the Heart” and 12” promos of “Mission” and “Marathon.”

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The Complete American Recordings of Johnny Cash

Album release: Complete American Recordings by Johnny Cash
Release date: 11 May 2015
Label: USM

USM are proud to present the Johnny Cash American Recordings LP boxed set, a classic black box housing all studio albums released between 1994 and 2010 on 180gm vinyl. 

American Recordings is the 81st album by the country singer Johnny Cash after he was approached by producer Rick Rubin and offered a contract with Rubin's American Recordings label, better known for rap and heavy metal than for country music. Under Rubin's supervision, he recorded the album in his living room, accompanied only by his guitar.  His successful collaboration with Rick Rubin was in part due to Rubin seeking a minimalist sound for his songs. The album was hailed by critics and many declared it to be Cash's finest album since the late 1960s, while his versions of songs by more modern artists such as Tom Waits and Glenn Danzig helped to bring him a new audience. 

American Recordings received a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album of the Year at the 1994 Grammy Awards.  In 2003, the album was ranked number 364 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Unchained is the second album in Johnny Cash's American Recording series and contains songs by Tom Petty ("Southern Accents"), Soundgarden ("Rusty Cage") and Beck ("Rowboat"). Unchained received a Grammy for Best Country Album and Cash was nominated for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his version of “Rusty Cage”. American III: Solitary Man was notable for being Cash's highest charting solo studio LP since his 1976 One Piece at a Time. Between Unchained and Solitary Man, Cash's health declined due to various ailments, and he was even hospitalised for pneumonia. 

American IV: The Man Comes Around is the fourth album in the American series by Johnny Cash and his 87th overall, released in 2002.  This is the last album released before his death in 2003.  The majority of songs are covers which Cash performs in his own sparse style, with help from producer Rick Rubin. For the song "Personal Jesus", Rubin asked then-Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante to re-work an acoustic version, which featured a simple acoustic riff that stripped down the song to a blues style. 

American V: A Hundred Highways is the 93rd overall album and a posthumous title by Johnny Cash released on July 4, 2006.  The liner notes of “Unearthed”, a box set composed of outtakes from the first four entries into the series, claim "around 50" songs were recorded during the American V sessions before Cash's death on September 12, 2003.  However, only two albums worth of material were released, including American VI: Ain't No Grave, which was released in February 2010. 

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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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Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin to release new album

SSLYBY-by-Shay-Rainey.jpg

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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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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New single from Du Blonde

Du Blonde

Single release: "Black Flag" by Du Blonde
Release date: Available now as free download
Label: Mute Records
Listen: on Soundcloud

After revealing her reincarnation as DU BLONDE last week, Beth Jeans Houghton now presents the first taster of her new direction and upcoming album on Mute with 'Black Flag'. 
You can listen at http://po.st/DuBlondeBlackFlag and the track is also available as a free download from the Du Blonde website: http://po.st/DuBlondeOnline

As a statement of intent, there can be no better introduction to Du Blonde's sound than this. 'Black Flag' has thunderous drums, rumbling bass, heavy guitars and a vocal that burns with visceral rage. "You slay me with what you say and what you do / Don't try me, ‘cos I'm not in the mood," she snarls.

Anyone who knows Houghton as purveyor of offbeat baroque pop is in for a shock. "I feel no need to ease people in" explains Du Blonde. "Black Flag is a good representation of the direction of the album. There are a few quieter, thoughtful tracks but the general mood is one of finally cracking. The record is a powerful release for me. It's the result of finally sitting down and taking a look at my life, what I was angry about, what I needed to change."

'Black Flag', like much of the forthcoming album, was produced by Bad Seed and Grinderman member Jim Sclavunos, whose previous production credits include The Jim Jones Revue and The Horrors – more details to follow soon on its release on Mute this Spring.

In the meantime DU BLONDE will step out with her band for the first live performances this weekend, playing the Roundhouse Rising Festival at the Roundhouse, London and a hometown show in Newcastle at the 6Music Festival. 

Live dates / album trailer

20 February - Roundhouse Rising Festival, Roundhouse Studios, London - http://po.st/dublonderoundhouserising

22 February - 6Music Festival 2015, Newcastle upon Tyne - http://po.st/dublonde6musicfestival

Album trailer: http://po.st/DuBlondeTrailer

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New album from Jacco Gardner announced

Jacco Gardner album

Album release: "Hypnophobia" by Jacco Gardner
Release date: 4 May 2015
Label: Full Time Hobby
More information / listen: on Jacco Gardner website

"Despite drawing on influences that are 45 years old, Jacco Gardner's music feels original. For one thing it's somewhat dreamier and more layered than the music from the '60s." - NPR Music

 "His songs show so much observation and rehearsal - onstage, the vocal harmonies of his band members were impeccable..." - The New York Times

To call Jacco Gardner a daydreamer may not be as farfetched as he’d have you believe. Its meaning may refer to a fear of sleep, but with Hypnophobia (out May 4th on Full Time Hobby), the brand new album from the baroque pop prince and Dutch producer/multi-instrumentalist, Gardner’s all set to cast a majestic and vibrant psychedelic spell that will hypnotize listeners at the point dreams and reality meet. Since unveiling his Cabinet of Curiosities in 2013 (released on the Trouble In Mind label), tastemakers and fans alike have been drawn deeper into Jacco Gardner’s fantastical fairytale kingdom.

Hypnophobia captures a true sense of exploration, combining Gardner’s newfound love of travel with his continued passion for collecting and playing vintage instruments. The album features a Wurlitzer electric piano, waltzing alongside mellotrons, harpsichords, an Optigan, and an antique Steinway upright piano. It’s a stunning exhibit of lush instrumental tracks as well as songs that boast lyrics worthy of any great pop number. Fusing fantasy with sublime twisted reality, Hypnophobia was recorded in its entirety at Gardner’s Shadow Studio oddly juxtaposed in the heart of an industrial estate located midst the village of Zwaag, 30 miles north of Amsterdam.

For most tradition enthusiasts, it’d be all too easy to rehash the past. But that’s where Jacco Gardner’s differences lie. Playing all instruments except for drums, Hypnophobia brilliantly captures a unique artist and future-vintage aficionado operating at a far higher state of consciousness. Nowhere is this more apparent than on the excellent lead single, “Find Yourself,” which is streaming below and will be released by Full Time Hobby as a 7” single later this month.

Jacco Gardner tour dates

Gardner will tour the states with his bandmates, Jos Van Tol and Nic Niggebrugge, next month with stops at SXSW, Burgerama IV and Denton Music Festival, and be joined by Ultimate Painting for several dates. A full list of shows is available on the Jacco Gardner website.

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New EP coming from ticktock

Ticktock

EP release: 'TCOLT EP' by ticktock
Relase date: 16 March 2015
Label: The Big Oil Recording Company
Listen / more information: on Facebook / label website

Part-Danish, and nominal part-English citizen, Sebastian Zieler (ticktock) is ready to release his latest EP. Cryptically entitled ‘TCOLT EP’, this is the product of long sessions spent drawing sound with MS Paint-looking audio-imaging software, live recording and technical playfulness. The result is immediate, but otherworldly - like pop conceived of elsewhere.

Eager listening, from obscure DIY-punk to minimal techno to Destiny's Child (just listen to ‘Would You Look At God Go!’) the influences are many and varied, but no matter the technical approach, and no matter what genres and specific artists may be referenced sonically, the red thread in ticktock's music is an interest in the world: a profoundly enamoured and confused longing that permeates the EP from start to finish.

As an example, standout track ‘A- A- A’ started off as what Zieler describes as a “botched attempt at making two-step” and immediately morphed into some sort of very slow, fragmented and morose afro-beat, with the syncopated beats and languid basslines serving as a skeleton for an intensely direct and beautiful song, far from the dark, skittish ambience of its original point of reference.

‘TCOLT EP’ is strewn with charming synth based melodies drenched in melancholy, and compelling vocals which are both exciting and enthralling. From the lethargic and dreamy ‘A-A-A’, to the minimal yet prominent synth driven self-built canticle ‘I W R D T S Y O’, both the EP and Zieler experiment with a number of different soundscapes each more captivating than the last. Zieler says that, “The EP is about endings and what comes after - both privately, about love, and a more general sense; an apocalyptic idea, but not in a particularly dark way. More in a liberating sense.”

Zieler took up the moniker ‘ticktock’ because of a “life-long fascination and frustration with time”, and with the ‘TCOLT EP’ clocking in at just over 14 minutes you’ll find yourself frustrated that it was all over so soon, and wondering what’s coming next.

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Your Favourite Enemies: Between Illness and Migration

Your Favourite Enemies

Album release: "Between Illness and Migration" by Your Favourite Enemeies
Release date: 24 November 2014
Label: Graphite Records
Listen / more information: on official Your Favourite Enemies sit

Your Favorite Enemies are six chaotic individuals who collectively let go of their own self-depraved illusionary make-believes to surrender to the inner noises of moments they communally turned into songs, thus giving birth to a musical journey which has led them to their new album ‘Between Illness and Migration’. From reflections about the nature of letting go, redemption and mercifulness to rumination about faith, forgiveness, grace and absolution, the new album displays the bands most personal, honest and emotionally visceral work yet.

The band take influence from artists such as Sonic Youth, Fugazi, My Bloody Valentine and Mars Volta, and their unique and eclectic sound brings together fanatics from various musical backgrounds into a defining communion of high level noise, post-punk, psych, shoegaze and prog rock.  

The new album has been mixed by the estimable John Agnello (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., The Kills), and was recorded and produced in the band’s own studio (a former catholic church). It’s clear that working with such an influential figure has allowed the band to find the perfect balance between the stormy dynamic intensity to its furious tones and the fragile crisp of vulnerable sparks to the whispering density of its innermost form of musing confessions. 

The 6 minute epic, ‘Empire Of Sorrows’, the lead track from ‘Between Illness and Migration’, combines brooding and dissonant spoken lyrics, (which are evocative of bands such as Listener,  and mewithoutYou), with jarring low-fi instrumentation and refined post-rock vocals.

‘Empire Of Sorrows’ is a narrative storm, which Alex Foster (vocals) says, “could be seen as a spiritual epiphanic awakening or as an uplifting moment of consciousness, it could be the anthemic heartfelt scream of every underground megalopolitan outcast, the sincere whisper of anonymous passersby secretly longing to emancipate their spirit from the faceless waving crowd they've always been in."

The band’s last Canadian release rose to #2 on iTunes on the day of its release, and was also #6 top-selling artists in Canadian charts. This comes as no surprise when the band's previous releases have sold as many as 60,000 physical copies.

Kerrang! have previously called the band “Canada’s best kept secret”, and this album is evidence that you should be playing close attention to Your Favorite Enemies, as this won’t be the case for long.

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Angels and Airwaves team up with VEVO for the premiere of "The Wolfpack"

Angels and Airwaves

Video release: "The Wolfpack" by Angels and Airwaves
Available: 14 November 2014
Watch: on Vevo

Angels & Airwaves have teamed with VEVO for the premiere of "The Wolfpack," the companion video to their new single.

Spotlighted by iTunes in their "What Rocks" feature, the track is now available as an instant download with every pre-order of the band's upcoming album, "The Dream Walker"

Directed by Mark Eaton, "The Wolfpack" video is the latest in a series of brand-new Angels & Airwaves releases, following the album’s preview track, “Paralyzed,” (which immediately rocketed into the Top 10 on the iTunes Alternative Chart), the trailer premiere for the animated short film "Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker", and Spinmedia's launch of "The Wolfpack" single.

Together with the album, the short film will be released on December 9th and is an official selection of the 2014 Toronto International Short Film Festival, taking place November 12-14th, 2014. 

The Dream Walker was written, recorded and produced by Angels & Airwaves’ frontman/guitarist Tom DeLonge and multi-instrumentalist Ilan Rubin, known for his work with Nine Inch Nails. The album was recorded at Jupiter Sound in San Diego, CA, and mixed by Aaron Rubin, Tom Lord Alge (Rolling Stones, Liz Phair, Peter Gabriel) and Alan Moulder (Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails, Arctic Monkeys). “Paralyzed” was mixed by Aaron Rubin, who worked with AVA on 2013’s Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal.

"Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker" follows Poet, a Lucid Dreamer with the rare ability to be aware of his dreams while they’re happening.  As Poet journeys deeper into his vivid dream life, he meets his Dream Walker, a guardian angel of dreams who protects him from the torment of a vicious Night Terror monster.  But when his nightmares break through into his waking life, Poet must face his demons to fulfill his destiny. "Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker" is a story by Tom DeLonge and features music from "The Dream Walker".

"The Dream Walker"  follows the band's last two albums, Love (2010) and "Love: Part Two" (2011) and its companion film, "Love", which investigated the psychological effects of isolation when an astronaut stranded in space learns the importance of human connection and love. The critically acclaimed movie was screened at festivals around the world.

"Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker" will also feature a comic book series, novels and a live-action feature film launching in 2015.

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40th anniversary vinyl release of Frank Zappa's 'Apostrophe'

Frank Zappa Publicity Photo Apostrophe5x5-no text.jpg

Album reissue: ‘Apostrophe’ by Frank Zappa

Release date: 20 October 2014

Label: Universal

Listen on / more information at: official Frank Zappa website

The Zappa Family Trust presents more freshly remastered music with the 40th Anniversary Edition of Frank Zappa’s Apostrophe (’) on audiophile quality 180-gram vinyl.  Cut directly from the original quarter-inch stereo analogue master tapes, the special edition of the iconic 1974 album will be released on 20 October 2014.

Featuring definitive Zappa cuts “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” and “Cosmik Debris” among its original nine tracks, Apostrophe (’) was Zappa’s highest-charting album, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard 200.  The Gold-certified album has been remastered for vinyl by Chris Bellman at Bernie Grundman Mastering and manufactured for the world at Pallas Group in Germany.

The 40th Anniversary Edition of Apostrophe (’) continues the Zappa Family Trust’s ongoing commitment to the restoration of Frank Zappa’s albums on audiophile quality vinyl.  Joe Travers, Vaultmaster, Zappa Archives, is working on the new LP releases with Bellman. 

In 2012, when the rights to the iconic composer’s masters reverted back to Zappa Records and the Zappa Family Trust – headed by Zappa’s widow Gail Zappa – the family made his entire recorded catalogue available on iTunes for the first time and began remastering the albums for reissue on vinyl. Presented with proper care and attention to detail, the releases honor the iconic legacy of the Composer, Guitarist, Bandleader, Filmmaker and Irrepressible Wit. 

Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995 and received the GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. The official biography: Frank Zappa, American composer, fl. 1940-1993.

For more information, go to www.zappa.com

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Wampire to release new album on 27 October

Wampire Bazaar cover
Wampire Bazaar cover

Album release: “Bazaar” by Wampire

Release date: 27 October

Label: Polyvinyl

Listen on: Wampire official site

Following the release of their debut album, “Curiosity”, in 2013, Wampire went from a duo most accustomed to playing house parties around their hometown of Portland to a five-piece band performing in venues all over the world with groups such as Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Foxygen, and Smith Westerns.

That 12-month span saw Wampire play more shows in more cities, countries, and continents than in all their previous years together combined - a nearly non-stop barrage of new and memorable experiences that, above all else, forced the band members to become more fully immersed in music than at any other time in their lives.

As a result, when founding members and primary songwriters Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps returned home at the tail end of the year, they immediately dove into the process of working on a new album in order to capitalize on the creative energy that had been steadily amassing during their days, weeks, and months on the road.

Says Phipps of that moment in time, “I holed up in a tiny room within a friend’s warehouse and began knocking out as many different songs as I could. I tried not to look back, just wanting to explore everything I could possibly create. I started to feel like I was becoming a Kafka-esque insomniac musical novelist at one point.”

The reference to the German writer is an apt one for a band that has always imbued its disarmingly off-kilter pop with tinges of paranoia and surrealism (both lyrically and musically), but even more fitting is the title of Wampire’s new record: Bazaar.

Like the tantalizing blend of exotic treasures and captivating sensations its namesake suggests, Bazaar continually offers listeners a variety of unexpected and alluring sonic flavors over the course of its nine tracks - ranging from raucous riffs (“Bad Attitude”) to seductive sax (“Wizard Staff”) to charmingly catchy choruses (“The Amazing Heart Attack”).

As with their previous full-length “Curiosity”, Wampire recorded “Bazaar” with trusted producer Jacob Portrait (of Unknown Mortal Orchestra), though this time around the sessions took place at The Museum, a studio in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood, and were done directly to tape.

Far from home once again, Tinder and Phipps used the city to their advantage — writing lyrics on the 40-minute bus ride to and from their temporary residence in Bed-Stuy and rushing to a shop down the street to buy a guitar - one that looked and felt like it had been buried in dust for decades and had just the right analog sound - as their allotted studio time was winding down.

Another important change was the addition of touring drummer Thomas Hoganson to the recording and songwriting process. Though Tinder and Phipps had previously sought to minimize distractions in the studio by just working with each other, Hoganson’s diverse musical abilities (in addition to drums, he also plays piano and saxophone on Bazaar) made him an ideal collaborator.

And so, after a year spent in vans and on planes, in European clubs, Australian beaches, and everywhere in between, Wampire emerged with more confidence, a stronger vision, and what is undeniably their best batch of songs to date.

For evidence of this, check out the album’s first single “Wizard Staff” above now and see below for all of the band’s upcoming tour dates, including a September run with Temples. Bazaar will be available on CD, LP (Polyvinyl e-store limited edition of 300 on 180-gram clear purple, black), cassette and digitally. 

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