Single & Lovin' It Vol. 36
By Mixtape Mandi
MINUS THE BEAR - "INVISIBLE"
Minus the Bear are excited to announce their new album VOIDS, due out March 3rd. VOIDS is the Seattle band’s sixth full-length album, and first new LP in half a decade. It also marks the band’s return to their original label home, Suicide Squeeze Records, a longtime pillar of the Emerald City’s vaunted indie rock scene. Fans can hear “Invisible,” the first single off VOIDS. For the past 15 years Minus the Bear have made music on their own terms while carving out their own unique musical world, selling over 500k records in the process and playing to countless sold out crowds along the way. This isn’t to say they’re impervious to outside influence. They’ve borrowed components from a wide swath of genres—the brainy clangor of New York’s proto-punk scene, the cerebral buzz of IDM, the poptimist evaluation of hip-hop and R&B, and the grandiose visions of prog rock—but always managed to defy classification. On their sixth album VOIDS, produced by Sam Bell (The Cribs, Weezer, Bloc Party, Two Door Cinema Club), Minus the Bear started with a blank slate, and inadvertently found themselves applying the same starting-from-scratch strategies that fueled their initial creative process. “There was a lot of change and uncertainty,” says guitarist David Knudson. “I think the general vibe of emptiness, replacement, lacking, and longing to fill in the gaps was very present in everyone’s minds.”
HOMESHAKE - "EVERY SINGLE THING"
Homeshake, the musical project of Peter Sagar, reveals "Every Single Thing," the new single taken from his forthcoming album Fresh Air being released on February 3rd via Sinderlyn. Born in the bleak isolation of the secluded prairie city of Edmonton, Canada, Sagar worked with friends in a number of local bands before picking up and moving to Montreal in 2011 to begin recording under the Homeshake moniker. Following two self-released cassettes (The Homeshake Tapes and Dynamic Meditation) and two acclaimed full lengths (In The Shower and Midnight Snack), Sagar gives us Fresh Air. This album continues Sagar's exploration of dreamy, down-tempo bedroom R&B and draws inspiration from such disparate artists like Sade, The Band, Broadcast, Prince, and Angelo Badalamenti. As the title Fresh Air suggests, Sagar's songs were created to clear his listeners' minds of negativity. Full of smokey, laid back love songs and airy productions, Sagar's decidedly stoned sound is a breath of fresh air.
JULIAN LAGE & CHRIS ELDRIDGE - "BONE COLLECTOR"
Virtuosic guitar duo Julian Lage & Chris Eldridge has announced their second full-length album, Mount Royal, to be released February 24th on Free Dirt Records, featuring the beautifully contemplative debut single, “Bone Collector.” Lage is a renowned jazz guitarist who has collaborated with a range of musicians—Nels Cline, Gary Burton, and Fred Hersch, to name a few. According to the New Yorker, he belongs “in the highest category of improvising musicians, those who can enact thoughts and impulses as they receive them.” Eldridge is a veteran of the bluegrass world, cutting his teeth in the legendary outfits the Seldom Scene and the Infamous Stringdusters before anchoring Punch Brothers, an acoustic supergroup that combines folk instrumentation with pop and experimental songcraft. When they play together, however, they do not represent the genres or styles with which they have long been identified. Instead, they make music simply as friends and individuals who happen to have unique ideas and techniques. In 2013, Lage and Eldridge released an EP of original songs, followed quickly by their debut album, Avalon, which was modeled after their live shows. For Mount Royal, they wanted to do something different—something less grounded in their live show, something more exploratory and innovative. Lage and Eldridge craft songs that sound familiar but are never easily classified. Percolating with tinges of bluegrass and folk, insinuations of jazz and pop, hints of classical and avant garde composition, the album rarely settles into any one particular category; rather, it dances around the territory between genres, never announcing its innovations and prizing soulfulness above chops at every turn. From first note to last, the duo push themselves to find new ways to play their flat-top steel-string acoustic Martins together. Ultimately, every note and every melody, every riff and rhythm on Mount Royal serves the song. In that regard the album sounds ascetic yet lush, modest yet incredibly accomplished, experimental but focused on something beyond the players themselves.
TOBIN SPROUT - "A WALK ACROSS THE HUMAN BRIDGE"
Tobin Sprout's second single "A Walk Across The Human Bridge" comes from his upcoming album The Universe & Me, out January 27th on Burger Records. Prior to this single Sprout released the song "Future Boy Today / Man Of Tomorrow." How do you bring a child’s curiosity to life? For Tobin Sprout, formerly of indie rock icons Guided by Voices, the answer is to revisit it with the wounded tenor of an aging piano man; someone searching, desperately, for his place in the cosmos. The Universe and Me is Sprout’s sixth solo album; hatched during a seven-year gestation period that included unearthing lost recordings, and digging through a treasure chest of memories in his home studio in Michigan, where Sprout composed behind his shambling grand piano and trembling, boyish voice. Each home recording was captured live with Sprout’s new band — which led to marvelous imperfections. The Universe and Me takes a deliberately primitive approach that focuses on feeling, as opposed to production. The result is a vague bridge between the ballads of psych-era Beatles, and the haunting vulnerability of Daniel Johnston’s Hi, How Are You?. Many of the fourteen tracks acts like a diorama of a boy’s imagination. However, “Walk Across the Human Bridge” is a heavy-hitting rocker driven by shredding and lyrics describing the decline of humanity.
BEACHHEADS - "UNA"
Beachheads have released another single: "Una" is a song about "instant love" that will be featured on their debut album, due out February 3rd on Fysisk Format. The spark that became Beachheads was first ignited on a tour bus, as Kvelertak guitarist Vidar and bassist Marvin fantasized about the endless potential of fuzzy guitars, energetic drums and strong melodies. The two hard-working Kvelertak musicians had little time off, and Beachheads endured as more of a dream for their days off, rather than the real band they wished for. Beachheads is the kind of band that will stay with you through life’s many twists and turns. The track sequence manifests life’s unpredictability and sharp contrasts, going from classic love songs to moments of deep despair. The album is brimmed with the sense a euphoric companionship, the power of trusting yourself and following your heart. Through the twelve tracks Børild establishes an ideal for us all: Truthfulness and honesty will get you through anything. The album was recorded in Beachheads’ hometown Stavanger and mixed by Øystein Frantzvåg in Oslo studio Nabolaget.
PILE - "TEXAS"
Boston's Pile have released "Texas," the lead single from their upcoming fifth full-length album, A Hairshirt of Purpose. When asked, Pile vocalist-guitarist Rick Maguire said A Hairshirt of Purpose is an album about "the joys of solitude" and "the inescapable selfishness of every action." Pile balance their ferocious tendencies with moments of beauty, building tension with release never too far behind. A Hairshirt of Purpose is due out March 31st via Exploding In Sound Records. Recorded at home in Boston at The Record Co. the studio's big windows and close proximity marked a change from the band's previous recordings. Maguire shared, "we were at home and we could see the sun, and I think both of those things lent themselves to a more focused and deliberate record." There's a warmth and radiant accessibility to be found throughout the album as the band experimented with different instruments and a resounding push toward clarity. Pile balance their ferocious tendencies with moments of beauty, building tension with release never too far behind. Well known as "your favorite band's favorite band" and for a tireless work ethic, Pile have earned their following from years of DIY touring and a humble approach to uncompromising performances. Never afraid to switch styles, Pile's music has morphed over the years, embracing both the ferocious and gentle sides of punk, indie, folk, and noise rock, delivering their own brand of gnarled intensity. Since coming together as a full band in 2009, Pile have toured as much as their lives collectively allow, playing over 600 shows spread out over the US, Canada, UK and Europe.
MEGA BOG - "DIZNEE"
Just weeks out from the release of her second LP Happy Together, Mega Bog has shared the record's frenetic opening track "Diznee." Awaited for years by the large nationwide cult of Boggers in the know, Erin Birgy's second LP at the helm of the fog-shrouded ship they call MEGA BOG is an instant and timeless classic. It is equal parts nostalgic and futuristic, mapping a new, jazz-literate and free form of songcraft onto the model of the traditional guitar-based band. It's poetry on roller skates, defying recognizable structures in favor of a stream-of-consciousness flow that guides Erin's lyrics around their many soft and uncertain turns. It's an inspiring example of a unique vision carried to its most honest and vulnerable realization. Happy Together was assembled on tape amidst a lot of movement, including Birgy's relocation from Seattle to New York. Like Joni Mitchell or Beefheart, Birgy has a seemingly magical ability to steer a diverse bunch of players into her own dream-world. And this album has a lot of players, many with big credentials we'll refrain from mentioning (except for Zach Burba and Will Murdoch from iji, and James Krivchenia from Big Thief, who earn mentions for being particularly present). Considering its variety of personnel and its long gestation, Happy Together is a remarkably consistent and complete record that cuts the deepest when experienced from start to finish.
TALL TALL TREES - "FREEDAYS"
Tall Tall Trees newest single "Freedays" is the second single off of the upcoming album Freedays out February 17th via Joyful Noise Recordings. When talking about the track Tall Tall Trees mastermind Mike Savino said, "Free Days is a meditation, a song that captures the moment that exists between what one has and what one wants. It is the exploration of the passage of time and the acceptance that life and love may never appear as you expect. The track features Claude Coleman Jr. from Ween on drums." To say that Savino is an innovator would be an understatement. Touring under the moniker Tall Tall Trees, the banjo-wielding bard has reshaped the landscape of what is possible with the instrument. On stage and in studio, Savino breaks down the banjo into its most basic iteration, reminding audiences that the banjo is, at root, a drum. Coupled with his mastery of electronic effects, loops, toy ray guns, and heaps of spontaneous creativity, Tall Tall Trees has been encapsulating audience members worldwide with his mystifying solo shows, as well as playing alongside fellow innovator Kishi Bashi. Freedays is, in a way, his debut album. Having recorded two previous albums in a traditional collaborative band setting, Freedays is the first album Savino wrote and recorded as a solo project. Composed and recorded over a period of eight months, Freedays tells the story of a man in transition and documents an artist alone at the crossroads of the life he has and the one he wants. Although it’s often hard to imagine, most of the sounds on the album are experiments with the banjo, and they all reflect the innovative musings of one of the freshest sounds to come out of the Appalachians in decades.
FOXYGEN - "ON LANKERSHIM"
Foxygen will release their new album, Hang, next Friday, January 20th via Jagjaguwar. Written and produced entirely by Foxygen and recorded with a 40+ piece symphony orchestra, Hang is the band’s first proper studio record. After sharing debut singles “Follow The Leader” and “America,” the duo of Sam France and Jonathan Rado now present “On Lankershim,” and its accompanying video, recorded all over their hometown of Los Angeles. "We love all those old big budget videos about Hollywood, so we wanted to make our own version of that. We got out the old 66 Mustang and drove around LA and the Valley, getting shots of what LA life looks like to us. We filmed most of it and directed it ourselves, so it would be as close to how we see LA as possible." While Foxygen is known for their uncanny knack for pulling together myriad strands of influences to an elaborate vision, “On Lankershim,” with its nod to LA living, is more targeted, although it's open to interpretation whether they're paying homage to a present day Hollywood, or pining for a Hollywood lost.
THE WOODEN SKY - "SWIMMING IN STRANGE WATERS"
Toronto-based indie folk-rock band The Wooden Sky will release their new album Swimming in Strange Waters on April 7th via Nevado Records, drawing its title from a line in Frank Herbert's 1965 sci-fi novel, Dune: "Survival is the ability to swim in strange water." The Wooden Sky's fifth full-length record finds frontman and multi-instrumentalist Gavin Gardiner struggling to come to terms with the trauma and unknowns haunting both his personal life and the world at large. "It's how I filter a lot of things that come in," says Gardiner of his songwriting process. "For better or for worse, it's how I deal with things and how I communicate my feelings." Swimming in Strange Waters is Gardiner trying to make sense of the world. The resulting album is a sonic maelstrom that sees the band exploring unchartered waters, where textural psychedelia inspired by the Paisley Underground movement melds into quiet, acoustic cyclical guitar melodies, before once again transforming into a bombastic, Johnny Cash-esque rally against the XL Keystone pipeline in Canada. The title track glimmers like a technicolored circus with warbling synths and organs, cyclical, vocoder-drenched gang vocals and a spoken word interlude, performed by The Highest Order's Simone Schmidt reading from Herbert's Dune Messiah.
DEL PAXTON - "TAKE IT TO THE LIMIT"
Buffalo's Del Paxton has shared "Take It To The Limit," the second single from their forthcoming All Day, Every Day, All Night debut. Active since winter 2013, Del Paxton self-released their first EP, a collection of six songs titled Worst. Summer. Ever. later that year. In April 2014, Worst. Summer. Ever. was released as a 12" EP by the now defunct upstate indie label Secret Audio Club. Shortly thereafter, Del Paxton paired up with Topshelf Records to release a split 7" with their far more talented Canadian friends in Gulfer. All Day, Every Day, All Night, the band's debut album, is a collection of material written between 2013-2015, a reflection on their upstate New York punk scene upbringing, drawing nostalgic influence from bands they grew up watching like Polar Bear Club and Fire When Ready while still retaining a contemporary feel. All Day, Every Day, All Night will be released March 3rd via Topshelf Records.
SINKANE - "TELEPHONE"
Sinkane's "Telephone" is the second single from his new studio album Life & Livin' It, out February 10th via City Slang. The New York-based project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Ahmed Gallab features bassist Ish Montgomery, drummer Jason Trammell, guitarist Jonny Lam, and now joined by vocalist Amanda Khiri and keyboardist-vocalist Elenna Canlas. Recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, Texas, and once again produced by Gallab with lyrics and help from longtime collaborator Greg Lofaro, 'Life & Livin' It' draws from the best elements of Sinkane's previous records: the slinky funk and soul grooves are there, so are the sparkling melodies with roots in sub-Saharan Africa. With basic tracking played together live, the fun and immediacy of Sinkane's live show is a central feeling of the recordings. The four core members of Sinkane sing and play additional parts on every song. Daptone recording artists Antibalas contributed horns. True to its name, Life & Livin' It is an album about all kinds of experiences. When Gallab sings, he sounds unafraid yet vulnerable. But while he once sang of feeling like he was on the planet Mars, Gallab is now firmly grounded on Earth. He's no longer searching for his home - he has created a home for himself. There's a party there, and Life & Livin' It is playing on the stereo.
KNOX HAMILTON - "NEVER MY LOVE"
Knox Hamilton have premiered "Never My Love,” the synth-based, atmospheric cover of the 1968 release by The Association, which will serve as second track revealed from their forthcoming debut full-length, The Heights. Boots Copeland called the original, "one of the most classic pop songs ever written." The album will be released March 10th on Prospect Park Records. "When we were contemplating doing a cover song we discussed not doing anything too epic in case it didn't turn out," Copeland added, of the decision to add "Never My Love" to the track listing of The Heights, "but ultimately we decided why not tackle one of the best. We were nervous that we wouldn't do it justice but we couldn't be happier with how it turned out. Well, if we're being honest, we killed it." In support of the release of The Heights, Knox Hamilton will join Colony House on a North American tour. In addition to the tour, the band will set sail with Walk Off The Earth, Ben Rector, Better Than Ezra and 28 other bands on The Rock Boat, which will leave Tampa, Florida on February 10th and make stops in Harvest Caye, Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico along the way. In June, the band will join a lineup featuring The Head and the Heart, Gary Clark Jr., Young The Giant, Dawes, and The Revivalist at the 2017 Laurel Live Festival in Russell Township, Ohio.
SPACE ABOVE - "FALL THROUGH"
Indie electronic trio, Space Above, has premiered a brand new video for "Fall Through" and announced the upcoming release of full-length album, Still, coming on February 17th. Space Above is the side project of Aaron Short, the New Zealand artist best known as producer and keyboardist for The Naked and Famous. During a period of collective uncertainty among the members of The Naked and Famous, Short sought alternate means of expression. He collaborated with fellow kiwis Sam McCarthy (BOYBOY) and Maddie North (So Below) in an exploration of darker, electronic music. In the new project, Short strayed from pop structures and employed his passion for journey-focused music. Blending atmospheric melodies with intoxicating, electronic twists, Space Above creates an other-worldly soundscape.