Featured Release

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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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Ryan Adams began his career in his native North Carolina in 1994 , fronting the alt-country band Whiskeytown.  His began making music as a solo artist in 2000, and 1989 is his fifteenth studio album.  The new record is a track-by-track cover album of Taylor Swift's 1989, the biggest selling album of 2014.  Of course, Adams' musical approach to recording the songs that Swift wrote is entirely his own, and Swift is fine with it.  Adams' marriage to singer and actress Mandy Moore was ending when he first became interested in 1989.

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As I was listening to the new Neon Indian record, VEGA INTL Night School, hearing track after track of sublime electronic dance music, I had the thought that this was the dance pop record every other dance pop oriented band was trying to make in 2015- in other words, the best one I've heard this year.  Neon Indian is Mexican-born Alan Palomo's band.  He moved to San Antonio, Texas as a child.  Palomo attended college in Denton, Texas, and Denton remains his home base.  He had already been writing and performing music in high school, under the name VEGA.

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The British band New Order rose from the ashes of Joy Division in 1980, following the suicide of that band's lead singer, Ian Curtis.  The remaining members- Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Peter Hook added Gillian Gilbert to complete the lineup of New Order.  As time went on, band members have shifted a bit, and their new album is the first without founding member Peter Hook.   From the beginning, the group has combined post-punk and electronic dance music.  Their tenth studio album is titled Music Complete, and it's being hailed as "classic New Order."      

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Every Open Eye is the second studio album from the Scottish synthpop band CHVRCHES.  The band is decidedly synthpop, with all three members playing synths and samplers.  Lauren Mayberry is the lead vocalist, with Iain Cook and Martin Doherty also contributing vocals.  Cook also plays guitar and bass in the trio.  CHVRCHES formed in Glasgow in 2011, and they began generating buzz even before their debut full-length album dropped in 2013.  Two years after that very successful record comes the follow up album.

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Kurt Vile is a Pennsylvania native who began his musical career creating lo-fi home recordings in Philadelphia.  He worked with his friend Adam Granduciel, and the two of them would eventually form the band The War On Drugs.  Following the release of the debut album from The War On Drugs in 2008, Vile embarked on a solo career.  He has been consistently releasing his own music since then, and the new album b'lieve i'm goin down... is his 6th full-length album.  Vile plays guitar and banjo, along with piano and various keyboards on the record.

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As you can see in this photo, Beirut is a band.  As is often the case these days, Beirut began as a solo project, with teenage songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Zach Condon recording in his bedroom in his hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.  When he was 17, Condon traveled to Europe with his older brother.  European music (from the Balkans and France, for example) and "world music" influences are characteristic of Beirut's particular brand of indie rock.  Beirut expanded to a band, with their first live performances in New York around the time of their debut album in 2006.

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Slow, deliberate tempos and minimalist arrangements.  Mystery, atmosphere and perhaps even  trance-inducement.  That's the music of Low.  Founding members Alan Sparhawk (guitar and vocals) and Mimi Parker (drums and vocals) began Low in Duluth, MN/Superior, WI in 1993.  Their debut album was released the following year, and with the new Ones and Sixes, Low is now up to their eleventh full-length studio release. The record was recorded at Justin Vernon's studio in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  Sparhawk and Parker are married with two children, and still live in Duluth.    

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Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney are The Black Keys, a band that continues to grow in popularity.  Meanwhile, Auerbach and Carney each find time to get involved in producing other artists, record solo albums and start up side projects.  For the latter, check out Blakroc, Drummer and The Rentals (not a start up, but an existing band Carney joined last year).  The latest side project is The Arcs.  The debut album Yours, Dreamily began as another Auerbach solo record.

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Stuff Like That There is the 14th full-length album from Yo La Tengo, the pride of Hoboken, New Jersey!  Yo La Tengo easily fit into the indie rock category of "critical favorites/cult band."  Guitarist, keyboard player and vocalist Ira Kaplan and his wife Georgia Hubley (drums, keyboards, vocals) formed the band in 1984.  James McNew has been Yo La Tengo's bassist since 1992.  Guitarist Dave Schramm recently rejoined the band in time to participate in this new album.

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Beach House are purveyors of dream pop- defined as moody and atmospheric music, with the focus on sonic textures, breathy vocals and introspective/existential lyrics.  The Baltimore band decided to simplify the arrangements of their songs for their fifth full-length record, Depression Cherry, getting back to the feel of their first two studio albums.  Beach House began in 2004 when Vassar College grad (and French-born) songwriter, vocalist and keyboard player Victoria Legrand met songwriter/guitarist Alex Scally in his native Baltimore.

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Singer-songwriter Dan Bejar formed his band Destroyer in the mid-1990s in Vancouver, British Columbia.  He may or may not be amused by the fact that there are several other musical groups with the name "Destroyer." However, those are heavy metal and KISS tribute bands, so musically there can be no confusion with Bejar's indie rock sensibilities.  He is also known for his work with Vancouver's New Pornographers, which he joined after fronting Destroyer for a few years.  Bejar has continued writing, singing and playing with both bands.

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Lovers Know is the third full-length album from The Mynabirds, the band founded by singer-songwriter and keyboard player Laura Burhenn in 2009.  She had previously been one half of the Washington, D.C. duo Georgie James.  Burhenn signed to Saddle Creek Records and relocated to Omaha, Saddle Creek's home base.

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Inara George is the daughter of the late Lowell George of the band Little Feat.  She had already performed and recorded on her own before forming the Los Angeles-based duo The Bird And The Bee with musician/producer Greg Kurstin in 2006.  The two share an appreciation for jazz standards, sophisticated dance music, and well-constructed pop songs.  In fact, their previous full-length release was an album of Hall & Oates covers.  The new Recreational Love follows five years later, with ten new ear-pleasing indie pop songs.

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Blood is the second full-length album from Lianne La Havas.  La Havas was born in London to a Greek father and Jamaican mother and began singing at age seven.  Her father taught her piano and guitar basics, and she started writing songs at a young age.  La Havas signed to Warner Bros. Records in 2010, but took her time developing her skills before releasing any music.  Her debut album came out in 2012.  With the new follow-up record Blood, Lianne La Havas continues to write, sing and play smart, sophisticated songs in a jazzy neo-soul style.

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Coming Home is the debut full-length album from Leon Bridges, the young soul singer, guitarist and songwriter from Fort Worth, Texas.  Bridges' music and visual image are very much in the tradition of early Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke circa 1963.  It wasn't that long age that he was working as a dishwasher and playing open-mic nights around Fort Worth.  Bridges signed with Columbia Records last year, and began touring nationally this year.  Coming Home shows Leon Bridges to be utterly sincere in his approach to retro-soul.

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Kevin Parker founded  Tame Impala as his own home recording project in 2007.  The band continues to be his own very personal project, with Parker writing all the songs and performing all the music and vocals himself, plus producing and mixing.  He is joined be other musicians when Tame Impala tours.  Currents is the third full-length album from the Australian band, with more synths and a more dance-oriented approach this time around.  Parker's careful attention to detail has resulted in this buzz-worthy new record from Tame Impala.      

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On July 16th, Wilco fans (and there are a lot of them around here) were pleasantly surprised by the sudden availability of a new Wilco album titled Star Wars.  ​Then again, it's been nearly four years since the last new studio album from the band, and the feeling was that a new record was overdue.  Star Wars became available as a free download via Wilco's website.  A CD version will be released in late August, and a vinyl version of the album is expected in late November.

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Chicago musician and songwriter Ezra Furman began his career with the band Ezra Furman and the Harpoons.  They formed at Tufts University (near Boston) in 2006, and had a run that included three albums.  In 2012, Furman raised money through Kickstarter to record and self-release his first solo album.  He signed to a label and received great critical acclaim for his second album, particularly in the UK.  With album number three, Perpetual Motion People, Furman is really hitting his stride.

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Bad Love is the third full-length album from the British indie-pop duo Summer Camp.  In addition to those three, the band also released a film soundtrack album last year for the teen movie documentary Beyond Clueless.  Multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Warmsley and vocalist Elizabeth Sankey are a married couple, and formed Summer Camp in October, 2009.  Although lyrically a bit dark, their music is influenced by 1960s girl groups and 1980s synth pop.  It qualifies as fine summertime listening!  

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British songwriter, guitarist and vocalist Richard Thompson began his recording career in 1967 with the revered folk-rock band Fairport Convention.  He has continued to record and tour throughout the world.  Still is officially his sixteenth studio record under his own name (including many great albums credited to Richard and Linda Thompson).  Thompson wanted to shake up his approach to making records this time out, so for the role of producer he sought out Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.  Tweedy was happy to oblige, and the album was recorded in Chicago at Wilco's The Loft studio.  

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