By Mandi Kimes
GREGORY ALAN ISAKOV - "LIARS"
The beauty of Gregory Alan Isakov’s latest album is realizing how much it surprises and rewards the listener. It burns slowly, not unlike a campfire that blazes one moment and then crackles the next. A song might begin with the barest of bones, with Isakov’s resonant voice closely synched to his acoustic guitar. But then the orchestral layers begin to pile up, transporting the songs to cinematic heights. Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony marks a milestone for the singer-songwriter, who’s beloved for the spectral intimacy of his recordings and live shows. Set for release on June 10th on Isakov’s own Suitcase Town Music label, the album finds Isakov cracking his catalog wide open to see what else he—and we—can learn about them. The album features songs from Isakov’s previous three studios releases, along with the debut studio recording of “Liars,” a fan favorite that’s been a staple of his concerts for the past few years. With orchestral arrangements by Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa) and Jay Clifford (Jump Little Children) and with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra’s Scott O’Neil conducting nearly 70 classical musicians, these are older songs cast in new and revelatory hues. “Liars,” written by Isakov’s friend Ron Scott, opens the album with thunderous elegance, led initially by the starkness of Isakov’s voice and finger-picking. Three minutes in, though, the song quakes with sweeping strings.
SUGAR CANDY MOUNTAIN - "666"
Joshua Tree-based Sugar Candy Mountain have premiered lush and melodic psych track "666," the title track to their album, 666, which will be released July 8th on People In A Position To Know. Sugar Candy Mountain will be playing Hickey Fest in June, founded by the band's own Ash Reiter. The festival takes place in the Mendocino Redwoods and supports the local Bay Area music scene. Sugar Candy Mountain deliver carefully built psychedelic odes in the style of Jacco Gardner and Tame Impala. Their newest album feels like something unearthed from a box of records found in your dad's garage, glowing wistfully with vintage inspired tones rambling organs, fuzzed out guitars, shimmering keys and sprawling drums. Reiter's woolly voice croons with icy warmth of Francoise Hardy, while Will Halsey's tender Lennon-esque vocals uncoil with easy languor. Recorded with Jason Quever of Papercuts, the band’s sophomore album sits comfortably between 60s Laurel Canyon bliss and more modern production of Dave Fridmann. Sugar Candy Mountain stands apart from the growing number repetitive droney psych bands, for its dedication to subtlety and devotion to melody. Since moving to Joshua Tree in November the band has been busy touring the west coast and setting up a new home studio and has already tracked albums for The Blank Tapes and fpodbpod and even a few Sugar Candy Mountain songs. The band plans to spend the majority of the year touring the US and Europe and is currently joined by Peter Maffei (The Electric Magpie) on bass.
NARCS - "BULLINGDON BOYS"
Leeds-based indie alt-rock quartet NARCS have premiered their "venomous" new single “Bullingdon Boys.” Pouring fury on driven-alternative-indie noise, NARCS create a unique blend of passionate lyrical incisiveness with powerful, spine-cracking intensity and the occasional shaman-like rantings of a possessed mad man. Following on from their dark and tense recent single “Pig” the band are now gearing up to release their new album A Thinking Animal, which will be released via Clue Records. Describing their sound as “guitar-centered alt-rock aimed at Tory scum”, A Thinking Animal is a visceral attack on political apathy. It’s a passionate yet desolate onslaught on topics such as misogyny, greed, nepotism and self-loathing. However, this shouldn't be taken as en-vogue right-wing sledging or liberalism, the content is both intelligent and sincere. “Bullingdon Boys” carries venom with verses that exchange caustic guitars for trenchant lyrics and vocal style and cacophonous instrumental sections that culminating in a volatile rhythmically driven end section, which conveys the bands frustration and dejection at current state of the country’s political and social status. As a whole body of work A Thinking Animal is a punishing yet driving album, which mercilessly fires on all targets. It is the product of dejection, vexation and resentment for the shape of current affairs, and is both a battle-cry and a wake-up call, which urges you to stand up with the band and scream along with them.
THE AMAZING - "AMBULANCE"
Partisan Records is excited to announce the next album from The Amazing, Ambulance, coming out in the UK on August 5th, while sharing the title track "Ambulance." On Ambulance, the Swedish band composed of members of Dungen and led by Christoffer Gunrup, continues their journey to a place where music is free of restrictions, offering up another collection of densely concentrated melodies and fractured rhythms. Songs on Ambulance unfold slowly, without a traditional verse/chorus structure, spinning gauzy webs of shimmering mystery with their own inimitable dynamic of sinuous, swirling guitars; rich, ambient bass lines; crisp percussion and restrained, church-like, keyboard textures. They brim over with tension and more implied release than actual relief. The Amazing came together a few years after Gunrup's former group, Granada (a renowned Scandinavian pop duo with his ex-wife), broke up and he asked Dungen's guitarist Reine Fiske and former drummer Fredrik Björling to join him onstage. After a few personal shifts, the line-up settled down with Fiske on guitar; Fredrik Swahn on guitar and keys; bass player Alexis Benson and drummer Moussa Fadera. The band's previous four records have garnered a loyal following and critical acclaim, landing them on Late Show with David Letterman and on a world tour with Tame Impala.
YUNG - "COMMERCIAL"
With their debut album A Youthful Dream due out on June 10th through Fat Possum, Denmark's DIY ambassadors Yung unveiled the latest cut from their debut in the form of single, "Commercial." Following singles “Uncombed Hair” and “Pills,” “Commercial” showcases the band's urgent, yet melodic take on Danish punk. With gritty guitars and driving rhythms that snap like a live wire, creating a portrait of the band's life in their native Aarhus, Denmark's industrial second city. On the track vocalist Mikkel Holm Silkier explains "Lyrically it's about the very strange effect advertising can have on you. Some TV ads can really light up your own appalling everyday life."
BAT FOR LASHES - "SUNDAY LOVE"
Bat For Lashes, comprised of multi-instrumentalist and visual artist Natasha Khan, has released the visually striking and heartfelt clip for new single "Sunday Love," off her upcoming album, The Bride, due out July 1st via Parlophone/Warner Bros Records). This new video continues to expand on The Bride's chilling story, which chronicles a woman whose fiancé is killed in a crash on the way to the church for their wedding. Shot in the Californian desert at night, the film, created and conceived by Khan and co-directed by John DeMenil, shows The Bride frantically searching for her lost love, only to end up devastated and alone. Written as the soundtrack with a feature length film in mind, The Bride was created and produced by Khan alongside a host of long-time collaborators and friends including Simone Felice, Dan Carey, Head and Ben Christophers. During its conception, Khan wrote and directed a short film entitled I Do, making its debut at this year's Tribeca Film Festival in NYC in April, the themes of which point to the new album. The Bride was created over the course of 18 months in London, Los Angeles, and Brighton. Finally, last autumn, Khan headed to the mountains of Woodstock, where she built a studio into the ground floor of a big old house and lived there for two months, finishing the record with co-producer Felice (Lumineers, Felice Bros). The album was mixed by Head in London and mastered at Metropolis Studios.
SLOW CLUB - "ANCIENT ROLLING SEA"
Slow Club announced details of their fourth full-length album, One Day All Of This Won't Matter Anymore, and premiere the video for the record's lead single "Ancient Rolling Sea," directed by long term collaborator Piers Dennis. One Day All Of This Won't Matter Anymore will be released on August 19th via Moshi Moshi Records. After ten years in the scene, Slow Club's Charles Watson and Rebecca Taylor work to maintain the band’s interest on their fourth album. From the cute indie-folk of their 2009 debut Yeah So, to the wonky-pop of its follow up Paradise two years later, to the sophisticated and polished soul of 2014's Complete Surrender, this is a band that have never stood still, going out of their way to present a new version of themselves on every release, while maintaining the spirit, the warmth and the chemistry that has marked their music since they formed in 2006. On previous records the duo would play most of the instruments themselves, aided by occasional friends. Here they handed their songs to Spacebomb Studios’ core unit: guitarist Alan Parker, drummer Pinson Chanselle, bassist Cameron Ralston and keyboard player Daniel Clarke, encouraging them to develop their parts and help arrange the music. Almost every track was played live in the studio, allowing the long-established session band's natural chemistry to augment Watson and Taylor's, with the double advantage of recording being very effective, and also comparatively quick. Producer Matthew E. White was brought on to bring two distinct styles, two distinct lives, back together and make them feel like the same band.
RYLEY WALKER - "THE HALFWIT IN ME"
Ryley Walker is pleased to announce his new album, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung, coming out August 19th on Dead Oceans. It’s the triumphant follow up to his breakout album, Primrose Green, which earned critical hosannas from the likes of NPR, Village Voice, Uncut, and Mojo and admiration of musicians who had chalked up no shortage of turntable miles in Walker’s life. Robert Plant declared himself a fan – as did double-bass legend Danny Thompson, with whom Walker embarked on a British tour. In November 2015, at the end of a ten-month period which saw Walker play over 200 shows in support of Primrose Green, he decided that he should probably head home. He went into the studio over the Christmas vacation to record Golden Sings That Have Been Sung whose songs were directly wedded to Walker’s return to Chicago. It was then that he figured that, for the first time in his career, it might be helpful to enlist the services of a producer. For Walker then, the prospect of having Wilco multi-instrumentalist LeRoy Bach produce his album was something of a no-brainer. Perhaps more than any other song on the record, the somnambulant sun-dappled intimacies of opening track and lead single “The Halfwit In Me” most audibly bear the imprint of Bach’s influence. Golden Sings That Have Been Sung was made for the dewy magic hour when night and day have yet to meet and, as long as the song is playing, you feel might briefly leave the corporeal world with them. This is the music you might imagine the woodland animals making once the humans have left for the night.
BEN CHATWIN - "INFLEXION"
Heat & Entropy is the first Ben Chatwin record to be domestically released, via Ba Da Bing Records, and marks the beginning of a new chapter for the Queensferry, Scotland-based musician. Having previously released under the name Talvihorros, Chatwin is already known for his innovative combination of electronic experimentation and modern classical composition. However, last year’s The Sleeper Awakes, the first work to appear under his own name, saw him take a distinct left turn, exchanging vanguard minimalism for enhanced melodies. Heat & Entropy delves further into this world, adding flesh to programming and cybernetics to Chatwin’s large collection of pianos and piano-like creations. The result is a colorful exploration into the future possibilities for composition. Chatwin begins the opening track on his new album, “Inflexion,” with an instrument you’d least expect: a dulctione. Created in the late 19th century, the keyboard strikes tuning forks with felt hammers, sounding like an ornate music box. Chatwin refers to Heat & Entropy as “an album of contrast, conflict and chaos, but also of complex relationships.” His achievement is in how he’s able to allow melody to rise above the maelstrom as the main focus of his compositions. It’s an album of experimentation, of delicately contrasting the organic with the artificial, and ultimately of great beauty and sophistication. It exemplifies the start of a new performing phase as Ben Chatwin, and the emergence of an incredibly exciting and visionary Scottish composer.
LP - "LOST ON YOU"
Recording artist LP will release her forthcoming EP, Death Valley, come June 17th on Vagrant Records. The EP includes spaghetti-western inspired ballad "Lost on You." An ode to a failed relationship and a love lost, "Lost on You" went viral, peaking at #3 on Hype Machine's Popular Chart, and landed #6 on Spotify's Viral Chart its debut week. Internationally, "Lost on You" just hit #1 in Greece and #2 in Portugal. LP also gave a riveting performance of "Lost on You" on Late Night With Seth Meyers. LP's extraordinary vocal range and strong, cinematic music production on the single, which was produced by Mike Del Rio from Republic Records' duo POWERS, beautifully translates into the video that was directed by Chuck David Willis.