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Solo albums can be a funny thing. Often times a lead singer who strikes out on his or her own can be desperate to fashion a new identity and reclaim their voice as an artist. This new identity can feel so far removed from their old band, maybe a hypothetical band that you loved dearly, that you question whether you can support this singer’s new quest for independence or whether you need to bury your head in a stack of old LPs and remember the good times. Hamilton Leithauser, the former frontman of a band that I happen to be enamored with, stands in direct opposition to this artistic pitfall: his new album doesn’t just showcase the raspy, smoke-filled croon I’ve come to love, it shows the development of an artist that I’ll happily continue to follow. read more comments
On the cover of The Apache Relay’s 2014 eponymous album, a man sits poolside, calmly strumming an acoustic guitar while another man appears mid-plunge about ten feet from the pool’s undisturbed surface. It’s a wonderful contradiction of active and passive and arguably one of the year’s best album covers. read more comments
My Brightest Diamond at Luna Music is photo that’s being photobombed. As Sharon Worden and company attempt to artfully show a subject in the shadows of distress, a fake, plastic tree makes a funny face from the far right corner, posters on the wall stick out their tongues, and shining curtains give a peace sign. Only the empty, black bookshelf seems to be on point. Mick Jagger must’ve painted it black. read more comments
Before even hearing a lick of his music, it wouldn’t be much of a stretch to single out Tim Showalter as some sort of rock and roll warrior just by looking at him (as self-described on “Heal”): long black hair and beard, black jeans, black boots, smoking a cigarette with headphones on. In conversation and in person, Showalter is as humble, excitable, and cordial as you could hope to find in a kindred music-obsessed spirit. All of these facets of him ring out like relentless clarion calls all over Strand of Oaks’ masterful, anguished, and absolutely triumphant 2014 album, Heal. Not only was Heal both my favorite and most-listened-to record of the past year, it also fueled me with all the firepower and guts I needed to chase my own breakthroughs on the other side of lingering heartache. read more comments
Message boards, album reviews, photo recaps, and, yes, even videos, aren't supposed to be the end-all-be-all of music. They merely help get you to the ever important main event: the music itself. read more comments
Art can have a online permanence yet lack a tangible presence. These videos can be seen as a fleeting collection of pixels arranged as an imitation of art; an experience saved as a convenience, to be received at a more appropriately scheduled time. But the joy in some art lies in the immediacy, in the here and now. This is where live music finds it's enduring sense of strength: part of the beauty of this art form lies in the ephemeral experience of simply being there. read more comments
Let’s just get it out of the way: The Whigs will remind you of Neil Young. It’s a thing that happens when American/southern rock bands don acoustic guitars. You’ll also probably notice they like to sing about girls and rock’n’roll as well as sport denim and long hair. The comparisons are abundant and obvious, but now that we’ve addressed them, we can leave them be. read more comments
The summer sun shone brightly through the storefront windows of Luna Music on the day Poliça came by to perform. Already a vinyl lover’s oasis, the store could’ve hardly looked more inviting, more picturesque to even the most melancholy of visitors. But with a bass tone that could narrate a walk down an abandoned alley and the echoic vocals of singer Channy Leaneagh, the Minneapolis-based synthpop group gave listeners no reason to doubt that they were somewhere damp, dark, and reverberant, grooving to the most sexually charged music to hit Luna since it restocked Purple Rain. read more comments
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” wrote Sir Isaac Newton. As the world becomes more and more obsessed with digital technology and, accordingly, music becomes more and more electronic and refined, the antithesis is, and must be, music that is far less refined; music that is unabashedly nostalgic, sentimental, and pure in accordance with the standards of old. This is not to say that Lily & Madeleine are intentionally rejecting the trajectory of modern music. Their popularity, however, suggests that there is a growing undercurrent of listeners longing for barely remembered traditions to be reborn in a modern context. In this way, Lily & Madeleine are the granddaughters of our imagined music of yesteryear, in both sight and sound. read more comments
This January we kicked off a new year of sessions with Chicago's up-and-coming Bonzie. Bonzie is the talented Nina Ferraro. Ferraro's lyrics and control exhibit a musical talent that is well beyond her years. Nina's often dark and lilting melodies transform and blend into a mysterious yet comforting and familiar sound. Her stripped down set up is rounded out by her wonderfully sweet voice. read more comments
Motel Beds are a veteran rock and roll band from Dayton, Ohio that bashes out whiskey-slamming nuggets of guitar-driven fury while always keeping sharp ears for a memorable hook. It’s a formula that has won generations of rebellious hearts since the glory days of the British Invasion, and Motel Beds grit it up in a no-frills package that does its hometown justice with a guts-and-sweat spirit rather than giving in to trends. read more comments

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