Featured Release


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.


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."      


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.


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.


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.


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.    


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.      


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.


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.


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!  


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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Two bands make up the collaborative project known as FFS.  Of those two, the Glasgow, Scotland group Franz Ferdinand is certainly the more well known.  The other part of the equation is Sparks- a "cult band" since the 1970's.  Brothers Ron and Russell Mael are the core members of Sparks.  Over the decades, they have achieved some success in Europe, but were generally thought of as "too weird" to make it in the US.  The times have caught up with their weirdness, but now they would probably be thought of as "too old."  Franz Ferdinand are fans of Sparks, and met them a few years ago.


While Frances Quinlan was a senior in high school, she began her acoustic solo project and called it by the rather unwieldy name of Hop Along, Queen Ansleis.  That was in 2004.  In 2008, Quinlan's brother Mark joined as drummer, and bassist Tyler Long came aboard in 2009.  The Philadelphia band shortened their name to just Hop Along around that time, and have since added guitarist Joe Reinhart.   Painted Shut is their third full-length album; their first for Omaha's Saddle Creek label.

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Why Make Sense? is the sixth studio album from the British electronic music band Hot Chip.  The band formed in London in 2000.  Hot Chip strive to be melodic in their dance music.  While listening to their music, one never feels that the synths are overpowering the humanity behind the machines.  For the new record, the band has said they had enough material for an album twice as long, but they held back in an effort to not be indulgent.  They made the right choice- Why Make Sense? is a great listen!


The Magic Whip is the the eighth studio album from the British band Blur.  It's the first new album in 12 years for the band, and features the intact original lineup:   Damon Albarn (vocals & keyboards), Graham Coxon (guitar & vocals), Alex James (bass) and Dave Rowntree (drums).  Blur has achieved mass popularity in the UK, but here in the US they are known for their own particular brand of smart indie (albeit on a major label) rock.  Recorded in Hong Kong and London, The Magic Whip is the welcome return of Blur. 


Songwriter, vocalist and guitarist Bethany Cosentino and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Bobb Bruno formed Best Coast in Los Angeles in 2009.  California Nights is their third full-length album.  Influences for the band include surf rock, 1960's girl groups, The Beach Boys and much more.  Those influences and Best Coast's own take on them combine to create their sound.  Their songs evoke the feeling we've come to associate with west coast music.  That appealing vibe continues on California Nights.

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My Morning Jacket can be described as a roots rock band that is willing to experiment and stretch their sound. The new album is titled The Waterfall, directing the listener's attention to fluid and moving cascades of sound.  Since their 1998 formation in Louisville, Kentucky, My Morning Jacket have been in the tradition of deliberately creating albums of songs that flow best when heard together.  Vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Jim James leads the group.  They are on tour now, with an Iowa stop in Waverly on June 19.    

Alabama Shakes show absolutely no signs of "sophomore slump" on their new record Sound & Color.  The album comes three years after Boys & Girls, their debut full-length.  Alabama Shakes began when singer/guitarist Brittany Howard and bassist Zac Cockrell were attending high school together in Athens, Alabama.  They soon recruited guitarist Heath Fogg and drummer Steve Johnson, performed cover songs and worked on original material.  The band sounds positively  inspired on Sound & Color, and Brittany Howard's soulfully intense vocals are undeniable.

Untethered Moon is the first album from Built To Spill in nearly six years, and that's the longest amount of time between new records in the band's history.  Band founder Doug Martsch has indicated that the latest project was a bit of a struggle for him, and ultimately a new rhythm section were hired  to complete the album.  There have been several personnel changes since Built To Spill began in 1999, with guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Martsch the only constant member.  This is a guitar band through and through, with plenty to enjoy on Untethered Moon.

Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mikal Cronin grew up in Laguna Beach, California where he developed a passion for surfing and also for rock and roll.  Cronin earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music from the California Institute of the Arts.  Since 2005, he has played and recorded with several bands, most notably collaborating with fellow Californian Ty Segall.  Cronin released his first (self-titled) solo album in 2011, following it up with MCII in 2013, and now the new record.


Toro Y Moi is the stage name of musician, songwriter and producer Chaz Bundick.  Bundick had been in bands in high school and also played music while at the University of South Carolina (his home state), where he received a degree in graphic design.  Within a year of graduation he released his 2010 debut album on Carpark Records, with two more full-length albums following as Toro Y Moi, and also one as Les Sins.  Album #4 under the Toro Y Moi moniker is titled What For?, and finds the artist moving in a definite indie pop/power pop direction.

The Melbourne, Australia singer/guitarist/songwriter Courtney Barnett first attracted attention in America with her 2013 release The Double EP:  A Sea Of Split Peas.  It was lengthy, but was in fact two separate EPs put together.  Her actual debut full-length is the new release Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit.   Barnett is known for her confessional and sometimes rambling lyrics, delivered in her conversational singing style. Throughout the new album, her distinct voice is supported by her compelling guitar work.