Featured Release

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American vocalist and musician Alison Mosshart and British guitarist Jamie Hince had both been in other bands when they met in London in 2000.  They began exchanging ideas for songs by sending each other tapes.  In time, they started writing and recording their songs using a drum machine to fill out the sound, and that's how The Kills were born.

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Paul Simon has been a major figure in music since Simon & Garfunkel's heyday in the 1960s, and on through an always interesting  solo career that continues to this day.  In recent years the songwriter and musician has released an album of new material every 5 or 6 years.  This allows Simon to rewrite and perfect the songs to his satisfaction.  Stranger To Stranger is his 13th solo album.  Simon experiments with the music, collaborating with the Italian electronic musician and producer Clap!

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Kristin Kontrol is a new musical project for Dum Dum Girls leader, Dee Dee.  Dee Dee's real name is Kristin Welchez, and adding "Kontrol" to her first name was a spontaneous decision that just felt right for her new incarnation.  Kristin was looking for a new direction.  She was inspired enough to write 62 new songs, whittling them down to the 10 that make up the album X-Communicate.  The idea was to combine genres and to go beyond her work with Dum Dum Girls.  "The first music I felt was mine was classic 80s pop and 90s R&B," she says.

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Last summer, Des Moines-based singer, songwriter and performer Christopher The Conquered was sharing a stage with Natalie Prass.  He handed her an early copy of his new album I'm Giving Up On Rock & Roll.  She in turn passed it on to Ryan Adams.  After hearing it, Adams expressed his enthusiasm about the record on various online platforms.  Adams called Christopher "the real deal," and the album "crazy and incredible."  I'm Giving Up On Rock & Roll was recorded at famed Ardent Studios in Memphis, with Patrick Tape Fleming producing.

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The Jayhawks began in Minneapolis in the mid-1980's as an alternative country rock band.  Since then, the band has gone through changes and had periods of hiatus.  Founding member Mark Olson has left The Jayhawks a couple of times (this time perhaps for good).  Founding member Gary Louris currently leads the band, and Marc Perlman is the other remaining member from the original lineup.  Paging Mr. Proust is the ninth Jayhawks album, with Peter Buck, Tucker Martine, and Louris producing.

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Fruit Bats is yet another instance of an actual band evolving from the starting point of the musical alias of a solo singer/songwriter.  In this case, the musician is Eric D. Johnson, who started as Fruit Bats in 1997.  By 2000, Johnson was the guitarist in various bands, including Califone and The Shins.  He was also a banjo instructor at the famed Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago.  By 2001, Fruit Bats was a band, with their debut full-length record released that year.  In recent years, Johnson had continued making music, but had put the Fruit Bats name to rest.

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City Sun Eater In The River Of Light is the ninth album from the Brooklyn-based band Woods.  They formed in 2005, so that's nearly an album a year.  Songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Jeremy Earl leads the band, and also runs Woods' label, Woodsist Records.  Woods is a band that have made their name in the realm of lo-fi psych folk (or freak folk, if you prefer).  Their new album is only the second to be recorded in a proper studio.

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Radiohead formed in 1985 (originally using the band name On A Friday), while the five band members were attending Abingdon School, a school for boys in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.  The lineup of Thom Yorke, Jonny Greenwood, Colin Greenwood, Phil Selway and Ed O'Brien has remained remarkably unchanged throughout their career.  Radiohead released their debut album in 1993, and within a few years they became, arguably, the most critically acclaimed band of the nineties and early 2000's.

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Scottish vocalist and guitarist Scott Hutchison began performing as Frightened Rabbit in 2003.  His mother had given him the name in childhood due to his shyness.  The solo act grew into a band with his brother Grant Hutchison joining on drums in 2004, and guitarist Billy Kennedy coming aboard in 2006.  That was also the year Frightened Rabbit released their debut full-length.  For album number 5, Painting Of A Panic Attack, producer Aaron Dessner (of The National) worked with the group at his home studio in New York City.

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Love Letter For Fire is a collaborative record from songwriters Sam Beam and Jesca Hoop.  Vocalist and guitarist Jesca Hoop has recorded several albums under her own name.  Sam Beam has performed and recorded for many years as Iron and Wine, and for some time he has contemplated doing a male/female duets record.  He found the vocalist he was looking for (and more) in Hoop.  According to Beam:  "I was looking to work with another songwriter because I had never shared the songwriting responsibility with anyone.

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Good Grief is the second full-length album from the Brooklyn-based band Lucius.  The group is currently a five-piece, but began in 2005 with just the core of lead vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig.  The two met while attending Berklee School Of Music in Boston.  They eventually moved to Brooklyn and spent time honing those wonderful vocal harmonies.  The other band members eventually joined up, and the debut album from Lucius was released in 2013.  Perhaps you caught their visually arresting and sonically gorgeous set at last year's Hinterland Festival.

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More Rain is the eighth solo album from Portland, Oregon's M. Ward.  The singer-songwriter and guitarist is also known for being half of the duo She & Him, a member of the group Monsters Of Folk, and a producer who has worked with many other artists.  Ward began working on More Rain in 2012, originally intending to layer his vocals and make a doo-wop record.  In time, the album went in a different direction.

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A Man Alive is the fourth studio album from the San Francisco-based band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down.  The group's origin dates to 2003, when band leader Thao Nguyen met drummer Willis Thompson.  Thompson has since left, as has the former group member who came up with naming the band "The Get Down."  Nguyen expanded on that idea for "The Get Down Stay Down."  A Man Alive was recorded in San Francisco, with Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs  producing.  Garbus brought a lot of tUnE-yArDs energy to this infectious and creative new album. 

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Quilt arose out of the Boston music scene in 2009.  Guitarist and vocalist Anna Fox Rochinski is the daughter of Berklee College of Music faculty member Steve Rochinski.  A jazz guitarist himself, he began teaching  Anna the basics of the instrument when she was 13 years old.  She later met guitarist and vocalist Shane Butler.  A year after that, drummer Taylor McVay joined them (he has since left the band) and Quilt was born.  The group released their first full-length album in 2011, moved to new York City in 2013, and recorded Plaza (album number three) in Brooklyn.

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Chicago-born Mavis Staples has been singing rhythm & blues and gospel music for decades, beginning as a child with her family's band The Staple Singers.  In recent years she has been a solo act, touring (with old friend Bob Dylan this summer) and steadily releasing new music.  Staples' latest album is Livin' On A High Note, produced by M. Ward.  Ward and ten other songwriters wrote new songs just for this project.  Ben Harper, Justin Vernon, Neko Case, Valerie June, Nick Cave, Benjamin Booker and others wrote the material specifically for Mavis Staples to record.

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The Syracuse, New York band Ra Ra Riot formed in early 2006, when they began playing at venues and house parties around the campus of Syracuse University.  Their high energy live shows attracted attention to the group, and soon they were opening for bands in New York City and touring the UK.  Ra Ra Riot's debut album came out in the summer of 2008.  Need Your Light is their fourth full-length record.  It's full of synthy hooks to grab you and get you out on the dance floor!

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Dr. Dog formed in West Grove, Pennsylvania in 1999, and The Psychedelic Swamp is their ninth album.  However, in a way this record is their first, since this new release is a revamped version of Dr. Dog's unreleased debut album.  Scott McMicken (vocals & lead guitar) and  Toby Leaman (vocals & bass guitar) were college students at the turn of the millennium.  The story goes that writing and honing the songs that would eventually become The Psychedelic Swamp is what led the two to form Dr. Dog.

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James Hunter began his career as a blue-eyed soul singer in the mid 1980's in his native England, using a stage name.  He was Howlin' Wilf in the trio Howlin' Wilf & The Veejays.  Van Morrison was a fan, and after The Veejays broke up, Hunter spent some time in Morrison's band before he started recording under his own name in 1996.  For the past couple of albums, the records have been credited to The James Hunter Six as a way for Hunter to acknowledge the contributions of his long-time backing musicians.  Hold On! is the first album for the band on Brooklyn's Daptone label.

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Eleanor Friedberger and her older brother Matthew Friedberger formed The Fiery Furnaces in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park in 2000.  Much of that band's music was inventive, creative and often weird (in a good way).  The Fiery Furnaces went on hiatus in 2011, and both siblings began making records under their own names.  While still a quirky lyricist with a distinctive vocal style, Eleanor Friedberger's songs have been more conventional on her solo records.  Perhaps it's maturity, or a newfound appreciation for traditional pop songcraft.

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Let Me Get By is the third studio album, and fourth full-length release overall from the Tedeschi Trucks Band.  The Jacksonville, Florida blues-rock band is led by married couple Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi.  Both are guitarists, and Susan Tedeschi also sings lead vocals in the band.  The two musicians led their own bands (Trucks is also a veteran of The Allman Brothers Band) before combining their talents as the Tedeschi Trucks Band in 2010.

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Shearwater is from Austin, Texas, and led by songwriter, lead vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg.  Since the band's name derives from the long-winged seabird called the shearwater, it's often mentioned that Meiburg has a degree in ornithology.  That fact, plus Meiburg's lyrics and his vocal style give Shearwater a somewhat cerebral reputation.  The band began in 1999 as a side project for Meiburg and Will Sheff when both were in Okkervil River.  In time, Meiburg left Okkervil River and Sheff left Shearwater.

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Cage The Elephant have been around since 2006 when they formed in their hometown of Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Their first album came out in 2008, and they've released a new studio record approximately every two years since then.  The new one is Tell Me I'm Pretty.  This time out the band recruited Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys to produce.  Cage The Elephant recorded the new songs at Auerbach's Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville in the spring of 2015.

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The creation and distribution of music these days seems to be limited only by the imagination of the musicians involved.  In the case of Oh Wonder, the British duo wrote, recorded and released one song per month, beginning in September of 2014.  They released the thirteenth song in September of 2015.  Oh Wonder's self- titled debut album collects those thirteen, plus two additional tracks.  The duo (Anthony West and Josephine Vander Gucht) wrote, recorded, produced and mixed everything at their London home studio.

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New Kingdom is the second full length release from the Lafayette, Louisiana band Givers.  Two of the group's members, Tiffany Lamson (vocals and percussion) and Taylor Guarisco (vocals and guitar) began playing music together following Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  They were forced to leave school and their New Orleans apartment due to the conditions there.  Returning to Lafayette, the duo found they had little to do.  That led them in the direction of making music, and eventually they recruited the other members of Givers.

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El Vy (press material on the band helpfully indicate it's pronounced like "hell pie" or a plural form of Elvis) is a collaboration between Matt Berninger of The National, and Portland-based Brent Knopf, formerly of Menomena and now in Ramona Falls.  The two met about ten years ago when their respective bands were touring together.  Since then, musician/producer Knopf had occasionally been sending Berninger musical ideas, and Berninger had been writing lyrics with this project in mind.

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Thank Your Lucky Stars was the second full-length album released by the Baltimore-based band Beach House in 2015, coming less than two months after their previous record Depression Cherry.  The group began in 2004 when Vassar College graduate (and French-born) songwriter, vocalist and keyboard player Victoria Legrand met songwriter/guitarist Alex Scally in his native Baltimore.  The music of Beach House has been described as "dream pop"- moody and atmospheric, with the focus on sonic textures, breathy vocals and introspective and existential lyrics.

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Grimes is the stage name of singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Claire Boucher.  Boucher was born and raised in Vancouver, British Columbia.  While attending McGill University in Montreal, she began recording her own experimental music.  She began releasing albums in 2010, and Art Angels is the fourth studio album from Grimes.  The new record is more accessible, yet still arty in its approach to synth pop.  Grimes enlisted like-minded guest vocalists for a couple of tracks on Art Angels:  Janelle Monae and Taiwanese rapper Aristophanes.

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South Carolina-born Sharon Jones certainly knows her way around a Christmas song.  She began as a gospel singer in church, and only much later in life began singing professionally.  Jones has been singing with the Brooklyn, NY band The Dap-Kings since around the turn of the current century.  Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, along with other artists and groups affiliated with Brooklyn's Daptone Records, are at the forefront of the current soul revival.  The idea is to keep alive the spirit and the feel of the classic soul/funk era- roughly the mid 1960s to mid-1970s.

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Deerhunter was co-founded by lead vocalist, songwriter, guitarist and keyboard player Bradford Cox and drummer Moses Archuleta in 2001.  The band's name was inspired by a series of arcade games named Deer Hunter.  The group formed in Atlanta, Georgia, and several members have come and gone over the years.  Along with Cox and Archuleta, Deerhunter currently includes Cox's childhood friend Lockett Pundt on guitar and vocals, and bassist Josh McKay.  Fading Frontier is the band's seventh studio album.

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The band YACHT began in Portland, Oregon is 2002.  The core members of the band are Claire Evans and Jona Bechtolt, and it was Bechtolt's attendance at an alternative school in Portland called Young Americans Challenging High Technology that gave the band its name (YACHT is an acronym).  In fact, challenging (or at least observing and calling attention to) technology and modern life is a good description of what the band is all about.

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