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Most people know Aaron Lee Tasjan as one of the wittiest, most offbeat, brilliant, weed-smokin’ & LSD microdosin’ Americana troubadours writing and singing songs today. And the New York Times, NPR and Rolling Stone will all gladly corroborate. But steel yourselves, folk fans, because he’s about to follow his restless muse straight out from under the weight of everyone’s expectations into the kind of glammy, jingle-jangle power-pop- and- psych-tinged sounds he hasn’t dabbled in since his younger days playing lead guitar for a late-period incarnation of The New York Dolls.
Karma for Cheap is Tasjan’s third LP and second for his label New West Records, based in his current hometown of Nashville. The record was co-produced by ALT and his friends Jeff Trott (Stevie Nicks, Liz Phair, Meiko, Joshua Radin) and Gregory Lattimer (Albert Hammond Jr.) and features Aaron Lee’s road band—guitarist Brian Wright, bassist Tommy Scifres and drummer Seth Earnest—with whom he’s been touring heavily for the last two years.
While the stylistic shift from Tasjan’s palpably stoned ‘70s-country-channeling 2015 debut, In the Blazes, to his more sophisticated, introspective and lushly produced 2016 follow-up, Silver Tears, was relatively incremental, Karma’s rocked-up Brit-pop-influenced Beatles-Bowie-Badfinger vibes underscore a significant departure. The album boldly reminagines these vintage sounds, pushing the boundary of what can be considered Americana.
The roots of Tasjan’s Karma for Cheap, stretch deep, drinking up the sounds of a Southern California childhood spent listening to The Beatles while riding around with his mom at the wheel of their navy blue Volvo station wagon—back to the very first pre-teen year he picked up a six-string and started figuring out all the pretty little chords in those Lennon-McCartney tunes. Back to the pure, blissful unfiltered innocence of falling in love with music for the first time. A huge sonic touchstone for ALT’s new record is The Beatles Anthology, one of his childhood favorites. In songs like “If Not Now When,” “Song Bird” and “The Rest Is Yet to Come,” you can hear echoes of George Harrison’s vibrant guitar riffs and Jeff Lynne’s lavish production on those lo-fi John Lennon demos the surviving Beatles dug up and polished off in the mid ‘90s.
Perhaps the most poignant moment on Karma for Cheap is the anthemic, hypnotic “Heart Slows Down,” a tune rife with musical and lyrical references to the Beatles and Tom Petty, anchored by an unforgettable chorus with a Traveling Wilburys vibe that finds the sweet spot between Tasjan’s two earliest musical heroes. “When I was a kid, my favorite CD to fall asleep to was Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers’ Greatest Hits, and the last song is a cover of that Thunderclap Newman song ‘Something in the Air.’ From the time I was a little kid to when I was teenager, I used to listen to that song on headphones almost every night—I heard it in that space between wake and sleep so many times. And Tom’s passing—he was a really big hero of mine, so it hit me pretty hard. We were in Seattle playing a show when I heard, and it was a heavy thing to process. But all of those elements are there in ‘Heart Slows Down.’ The chorus, ‘I will always be around,’ is a reminder that all the good you ever got out of listening to this music is still around you. You’ll always have that.”
Aaron Lee Tasjan says he aims to use his music for good, but he’s no protest singer. And Karma for Cheap isn’t some heavy-handed, didactic political record cramming a set of talking points down anyone’s throat. It’s a finely tuned rock & roll seismograph measuring the dark and uncertain vibrations of the time in which it was created. A cracked mirror reflecting back the American zeitgeist in this foul year of Our Lord, Two Thousand and Eighteen. With Karma, Tasjan establishes himself as an artist who not only evolves over time, but isn’t afraid to risk reinventing himself completely from one record to the next.
Although civilization’s transition into a cyborg world seems inevitable, there are still those who recognize the beauty and power of a human touch to complement the circumvention. Jack Tatum understands this balance, and through a decade making music as Wild Nothing he has learned to embrace both sides of that dynamic—but perhaps never as distinctly as on Indigo, the fourth Wild Nothing album. On one hand, it is a return to the fresh, transcendent sweep of his debut, 2010’s Gemini, and on the other, a culmination of heights reached, paths traveled, and lessons learned while creating the follow-ups, Nocturne and Life of Pause. Indigo finds Tatum at his most efficient, calculated, and confident—resulting in an artful blend of hi-fi humanity and technology that fires on all circuits and synapses.
To make Indigo, Tatum confronted the Man vs. Machine dichotomy by seizing on the surrounding synergy. Finding the right people to work on the album was integral, as was the proper place to record it. So, Tatum booked four days at legendary Sunset Sound’s Studio. Afterwards, producer Jorge Elbrecht (Ariel Pink, Gang Gang Dance, Japanese Breakfast) and Tatum built out the rest of the album’s sound by adding new parts and repurposing sounds from Tatum’s demos. The resulting Indigo is its own cyborg world, utilizing the artful mechanisms of human touch with the precision of technology to create the classic, pristine sound Tatum had been seeking his entire career. From the opening drum beat, chiming guitar, and sweeping synth of “Letting Go” to Tatum’s Bryan Ferry vocal turn on “Oscillation” to the ’80s-heavy blips, clicks, and strut of “Partners in Motion,” it’s clear that Indigo is at once vintage Wild Nothing and a bold, new leap into a bigger arena.
White Denim's new album 'Performance' collects nine expertly crafted songs that twist and turn, bending genres in the band's unique style. Students of rock music, White Denim has clearly listened to and learned from the best albums ever made from T. Rex to XTC to Little Feat to Jim O'Rourke...but they write songs just dumb enough to drink, dance, and fight to. Rock and roll music that aims for the whole body. Recorded in hometown Austin, Texas in their new Radio Milk studio, Performance displays a band of extraordinary musicians at their creative peak.
Limited-edition, indie-only. Single LP on pink + yellow marble vinyl in same packaging as standard LP. Includes coupon for full download + 2 extra digital tracks. Limited to 2,500 worldwide.
You may not be able to see the gorgeous landscapes behind Baby Grand, Stuart McLamb’s fourth record as The Love Language, but they’re so essential to the picture you’ll feel them in every note. Started in, of all places, a cavernous Virginia hammock factory, fragmentary demos came alive when splashed by sunshine during a move across the country to California, where the album was completed. “It was something just about being in a new city, and a new light,” McLamb says, “and reopening the sessions, and this demo that I thought was a throwaway, suddenly I’m really feeling it….” You can hear the freedom kick in when the backwoods country shuffle of “Castle in the Sky” explodes into a full-on aughts anthem, equal parts outstretched arms and pumped fists.
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My head feels like it is exploding with the amount of information we are forced to consume on a daily basis, and how that information is so DISTORTED there is almost no longer any tangible truth,” says James. “The name of my new record is UNIFORM DISTORTION because I feel like there is this blanket distortion on society/media and the way we gather our ‘news and important information. More and more of us are feeling lost and looking for new ways out of this distortion and back to the truth…and finding hope in places like the desert where I write this now...finding hope in the land and in the water and in old books offering new ideas and most importantly in each other and love.
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Brian Fennell is a student of simplicity. As SYML (pronounced “simmel”), which translates to “simple” in Welsh, Fennell writes emotive ambient pop songs that capture the ethos of his musical persona. With delicate piano, swells of strings and Fennell’s sterling vocals, the songs that comprise “In My Body,” embody the relinquishing of all emotions, a cathartic release laid bare.
Limited-edition, indie-only. Single LP on translucent green vinyl. Includes 24” x 24” full color foldout poster. Includes coupon for full download
Born in Cabbagetown, Georgia, the Rock*A*Teens carved their signature echo-wrapped, wounded-heart music on the edges of the Atlanta music scene more than 20 years ago. Led by songwriter and lead singer/guitarist Christopher Lopez, the band released a handful of reverb-drenched singles and full-lengths on the independent Daemon and Merge labels in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
Following their reunion at the Merge 25 festival and the reissue of their last LP Sweet Bird of Youth (Merge, 2000), the group returned to touring and playing live. Restless with the need to move forward, the band began writing and recording new music.
Guided by a batch of home recordings and demos, Lopez, guitarist Justin Hughes, bassist William R. Joiner, and drummer Ballard Lesemann convened with Tim Delaney at Electron Gardens Studio and Rafael Pereira at Tribo Studios to shape their ideas into the glorious, bombastic new album Sixth House.
Sometimes the catalyst for creating great art is simply being in the right place at the right time. For Arthur Buck, the new collaboration between singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur and guitarist Peter Buck, that place was Mexico, and that time was the fall of 2017. Specifically, a little town off the Baja coast named Todos Santos, with the Sierra de la Laguna mountains to the east and the bright blue Pacific stretching out infinitely to the west. It is here that Buck has, for the last several years, held the Todos Santos Music Festival, which he created with his wife, Chloe Johnson, in 2012, shortly after R.E.M. called it a day. Among the many artists who have played the festival is Joseph Arthur, who also happened to leave behind a guitar—a Dobro, specifically—after his last appearance there. And so last year he made the trek down to Todos Santos to pick up the instrument. Which is where he ran into Peter Buck.
That was the beginning of Arthur Buck. The creative result of this relationship is a vibrant 11-song collection that captures the spontaneity at the heart of the project—right down to the 1-2-3-4 count off from Buck that opens the record—with sounds and styles meshed together in an easy, almost playful manner. Tchad Blake was brought in to mix the proceedings, and the result is the new Arthur Buck—the result of a shockingly productive burst of inspiration.
Melody's Echo Chamber (aka Melody Prochet) has confirmed her second album, Bon Voyage, will be released on June 15th on Fat Possum Records. Made up of seven expansive tracks, Bon Voyage marries Melody's breathless soprano to the wildest sonic excursions, always pinned to an emphatic, clattering groove as she delivers her fables of spiritual search and emotional healing in multiple tongues (French, English and Swedish).
Bon Voyage is a collaborative record between Prochet and Dungen's Reine Fiske and The Amazing's Fredrik Swahn with Melody sculpting and producing the sessions as well as encouraging the players around her to experiment, often with instruments that might be less familiar to them. It also features special guests Gustav Esjtes and Johan Holmegaard (both from Dungen) and Nicholas Allbrook (Pond).
Producer/singer/songwriter Neko Case has won a large and loyal audience for her smoky, sophisticated vocals and the downcast beauty of her music. Now more than 23 years into her musical calling, Case is the consummate career artist--fearless and versatile, with a fierce work ethic and a constant drive to search deeper within herself for creative growth.
On June 1st, Anti- will release Neko Case’s ‘Hell On,’ an indelible collection of colorful, enigmatic storytelling that features some of her most daring, through-composed arrangements to date. Produced by Neko with help from Bjorn Yttling (Peter Bjorn & John), ‘Hell On’ is simultaneously the most accessible and most challenging album in a rich and varied career that’s offered plenty of both. Rife with withering self-critique, muted reflection, anthemic affirmation, and her unique poetic sensibility, the 12 tracks of ‘Hell On’ — which features collaborations such as Joey Burns, Beth Ditto, Kelly Hogan, KD Lang, AC Newman, Paul Rigby, Laura Veirs, and more.
Soccer Mommy is the project of twenty-year-old Sophie Allison, a Nashville native. She cut her teeth in her local DIY scene, going to shows and hanging out with other musicians, though she kept her own songwriting secret. All that changed the summer before Allison left for college. She bought a Tascam digital recorder and began to experiment with production, pushing the quality and craft of her songs to new heights. A buzz began to grow around her Bandcamp recordings, leading to live shows and eventually a record deal, with 2017’s critically acclaimed bedroom-recorded compilation Collection. “I realized that I could do this full-time,” says Allison. “It was either quit school now and do it, or stop growing as an artist. It was now or never.”
So Allison took the plunge. She quit school, moved back home to Nashville, shifting all her focus to music. She toured with Mitski, Jay Som, Slowdive, and others, and was featured in the New York Times article “Rock’s Not Dead, It’s Ruled By Women.” The bedroom project of Sophie Allison is now a full-time band with a new studio-album debut, Clean. Produced by Gabe Wax (War On Drugs, Deerhunter, Beirut) and mixed by Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, PJ Harvey), Clean is Allison’s journey out of the bedroom and into the studio.
Clean presents Sophie Allison as a singular artist, wise beyond her years, with an emotional authenticity all her own. “It feels like my first real record,” says Allison. “It’s my first real statement.” It’s an emotional album, heavy on themes of growth, isolation, and change, but balanced by a lightness of touch, and with hooks to spare. Clean is a true step forward, a mature, powerful album from an artist just coming into her power.
Limited-edition, indie-only. Single LP on opaque red vinyl. Includes bonus 7” of “Baby’s Got It Bad” b/w “Can’t Get Over You” on black vinyl. Includes coupon for full download. Limited to 1,000 in the US.
Tracyanne & Danny is a new collaborative project between singer-songwriters Tracyanne Campbell (Camera Obscura) and Danny Coughlan (Crybaby). Tracyanne hails from Glasgow, Scotland. London-born Danny is based in Bristol, England. Their paths first crossed in 2013 when introduced by mutual music industry pals. Tracyanne dug Danny’s Crybaby album (released on Helium Records) and invited him to open some Camera Obscura shows in the UK. Mutual artistic respect led to the swapping of song ideas, but tentative plans to work together were set aside while Camera Obscura wrote, recorded, released, and promoted their fifth album Desire Lines. Following the death of Camera Obscura’s Carey Lander, all band activity stopped. Time passed. Tracyanne and Danny revisited the idea of collaborating. A pool of songs were honed and crafted. On the suggestion of their manager (and Teenage Fanclub drummer) Francis Macdonald, they recorded at Clashnarrow, a studio in Helmsdale in the highlands of Scotland owned by the esteemed Edwyn Collins.
Gothenburg, Sweden’s Graveyard has been flying the classic hard rock, blues and psychedelic rock banner since the band’s inception in 2006.
Indie Exclusive 7” – limited to 1,000 copies
“Greyhound,” a slacker anthem recalling vintage Pavement to “Louie,” all Exile on Main Street-style country-blues slide guitar and choirboy harmonies,” Calpurnia’s songwriting craft belies not only their age but their experience as a collective unit. “It was super fun watching these ideas come to life,” Anderson offers with supreme modesty. “Seeing the stuff we’ve been working on for so long reach its full form is incredible.”
Life is Good on the Open Road is the welcome return that the group's legions of passionate fans have been waiting for. Led by the songwriting of lead singer Dave Simonett, the new songs touch on key elements from the entire spectrum of Trampled By Turtles body of work, while creating something that sounds fresh and invigorated. Simonett, and bandmates Erik Berry, Ryan Young, Dave Carroll, Tim Saxhaug and Eamonn McLain reunited at a cabin in the Minnesota woods to see if the special chemistry they once shared still existed. It did not take long for the magic to reveal itself with an invigorated sense of purpose and the result shines brightly on Life is Good on the Open Road.
Horse Feathers feels like a secret you don’t really want to share. Over twelve years and five albums, a passionate fan base has experienced this band as a precious commodity that they want to keep close to their hearts. The signifiers of the band are there: Justin Ringle’s warm tenor and taut lyrics that speak of work, love, and other struggles; but on this album less of the song dynamics are achieved with strings and more with an exciting new rhythm section steeped in Northern Soul, creating a sound that leaps into the spotlight. Diehard fans are going to have to make room in the club house for a lot more people – with this album, the Horse Feathers secret is officially out.
'I feel like I'm in a totally new band right now' says Dr. Dog guitarist/singer Scott McMicken. It's a bold declaration considering he's been co-fronting the beloved indie outfit for a decade-and-a-half, but it cuts straight to the heart of the intense and transformative experience behind the group's brilliant new album, 'Critical Equation.' Produced by Gus Seyffert (Bedouine, Michael Kiwanuka), 'Critical Equation' is the most infections and adventurous collection Dr. Dog has laid to tape yet. The record was born from a journey of doubt and discovery, a heavy, sometimes painful reckoning that ultimately brought the band closer together with more strength and clarity than ever before. Call it an existential awakening, call it a dark night of the soul, whatever it was, it fueled one of the most fertile creative periods in the group's history.
The pioneers of an ever-evolving metal scene, TesseracT, are set to release their fourth studio album entitled Sonder. The album adds significant firepower to the band's arsenal, blending the abrasive and progressive tone from their first two records with the accessibility of Polaris. It also includes field recordings submitted by the band's online fan base, giving an insight into the complex and varied lives of others; a theme which is also referenced in the artwork, designed by bassist Amos Williams, and the wider concept of self-identity within a population full of complex and vivid lives. For the first time, TesseracT acquired the talents of a choir for their album, produced and conducted by Randy Slaugh and recorded at Soularium Studios, Utah. Sonder was recorded in the UK at 4D Sounds, Celestial Sounds and Project Studios, and engineered by the band and mastered by Acle Kahney.
The album arrives following years of anticipation and speculation, which reached a fever pitch as the outfit helmed by Maynard James Keenan and Billy Howerdel launched their Fall 2017 tour with the release of “The Doomed”. The band then ushered in the new year with the debut of the contemplative song, “Disillusioned”.
“Although I’m extremely excited to finally be completing this album after a 14-year hiatus,” explains Keenan. “I’m actually more excited that its intentional release date is serving a greater purpose. The 20th of April is Carina Round’s birthday. She is a dear friend who is extremely difficult to shop for. Pressure off. Of course, I must also note that the potheads are gonna be thrilled that this album comes out on 4-20. May it serve as a glorious soundtrack to accompany all of the giggling and vexing sounds of nibbling and snacking. Fingers crossed, Cheech & Chong will be proud.”
“Demos are these precious ideas that you love in their initial state,” adds Howerdel. “Then you collaborate, invite other ideas, and watch them progress. That’s the dynamics and growth of a great record. I feel we’ve made a great record.”
Eat The Elephant, which was co-produced by Dave Sardy (Autolux, Slayer), is being released in multiple formats including digital, CD, and double gatefold 180 gram vinyl. In advance of Record Store Day, a limited-edition independent retail exclusive version of the LP on white 180 gram vinyl with alternate cover will also be available.
The highly-anticipated album, The Tree of Forgiveness, is Prine's first collection of new material since 2005's Grammy-winning Fair and Square. Rather than going out on a limb, Prine cultivated the themes that have brought international acclaim since the 1970s. For example, he can take a topic like loneliness and make it funny or heartbreaking.
Prine teamed with Grammy-winning producer Dave Cobb to record in Nashville's historic Studio A, enlisting friends like Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, and Amanda Shires to sing along. The songs are new, although some had waited to be finished for decades, like a co-write with Phil Spectro called 'God Only Knows'; Another incomplete song, 'I Have Met My Love Today' now celebrates the unexpected spark that leads to lifelong romance -- with a dash of youthful innocence. The musical arrangements may be simpler than on past efforts, yet his unique ability to distill complex emotions into everyday language remains fully intact.
Pigeonholing Blackberry Smoke has never been easy. Since emerging from Atlanta in the early ‘00s, the quintet – vocalist/lead guitarist Charlie Starr, guitarist/vocalist Paul Jackson, bassist/vocalist Richard Turner, drummer Brit Turner and keyboardist Brandon Still – has become known for a singular sound indebted to classic rock, blues, country and folk. Find A Light, Blackberry Smoke’s sixth studio album, doubles down on diversity. Songs hew toward easygoing roots-rock (“Run Away From It All”) and Southern rock stomps (“The Crooked Kind”), as well as stripped-down acoustic numbers (“I’ve Got This Song”) and bruising alt-country (“Nobody Gives A Damn”). Rich instrumental flourishes – keening fiddle, solemn organ and bar-band piano boogie – add further depth and resonance.
Winter is the project of songwriter Samira Winter, who’s love for guitar music and nostalgic imagery inspired the dream pop/indie rock four piece. Samira grew up in Curitiba, Brazil listening to her American father’s punk records, and her Brazilian mother’s MPB (Brazilian Popular Music) tunes. Winter’s first full length album, Supreme Blue Dream, was released in 2015 on Los Angeles label Lolipop Records. Ethereality is the long-awaited follow-up album, coming on the heels of various single releases and international touring.