3 years ago, two emerging solo artists from opposite sides of the country randomly collided, fell in love, and combined their talents to form Us The Duo. A few successful YouTube videos (23+ million views) encouraged these songwriters to write their own music together, leading them to produce their first self-titled album, Us. After its release, Michael & Carissa got married and have been traveling and playing music together ever since. These two have gained quick exposure in the last five months. They released their 2nd album, No Matter Where You Are, which peaked at #22 on the iTunes Pop Charts, and #19 on Billboard's Heatseekers Chart. Us The Duo has made a name for themselves on Vine, with their 6-second musical covers and arrangements - amassing over 3 million followers. Their successes have led to press and media attention from Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter, Business Insider, Buzzfeed, and iHeartRadio. Us The Duo recently performed on Good Morning America and signed to Republic Records. They will rerelease their album, No Matter Where You Are, later this Spring.
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Indian Jewelry's sixth and most adventurous work to date, PEEL IT sees the uncompromising Houston band venturing further into the darklands of noise, psych, dub, and experimental rock. The band remain flagbearers for the long Texas tradition of outsider rock ‘n' roll, a grand, precarious history spanning the 13th Floor Elevators and Red Krayola, Jandek and Butthole Surfers. Tracks like "Eva Cherie"– streaming now on SoundCloud link below– see Indian Jewelry tapping into the primordial consciousness through dissonance and drone, defying easy categorization with fractured melodies, whitenoise, and heavy rhythmic energy.
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Will Thomas was the rhythm guitarist for an acclaimed singer-songwriter when he discovered his innate songwriting talents. As the principal singer and songwriter for Grand Old Grizzly he steps out front with an album of transcendent Americana. The band's self-titled debut is a top down ride through a cool desert with a stiff drink in hand.
The Houston-based quartet melds folk, country, indie, and rock, garnering favorable comparisons to Old 97s, Tom Petty, Uncle Tupelo, Neil Young, and Robert Earl Keen. In its brief time together, the group has generated an impressive local buzz. Grand Old Grizzly has been embraced by respected radio station 90.1 KPFT. Houston Press says "GOG might become your favorite new local band if you have a hankerin' for Tom Petty and the Old 97′s." The highly regarded paper recently nominated GOG for "Best New Act" and "Best Folk/Americana" awards.
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A Seattle-based rapper who is heavily influenced by the indie hip-hop duo Atmosphere, Grieves was born in Chicago. Thanks to his arts-loving father, he was introduced to the city's jazz clubs at a young age, but after moving to Fort Collins, Colorado, he had to wait until he turned 19 to land in a city with a more suitable musical climate, Seattle. It was there that his love of punk and hip-hop flourished, especially the latter, thanks to a fertile local community and a home studio. His debut effort, Irreversible, appeared in 2007 with a special guest appearance from underground favorite Mr. Lif. A year later, his album 88 Keys and Counting arrived, featuring backing tracks from producer Budo. Budo was back for 2011's Together/Apart, Grieves' first effort for Atmosphere's label Rhymesayers. His 2014 release, Winters & the Wolves, was a conceptual coming-of-age album and was co-produced by Grieves and B. Lewis. ~ David Jeffries
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Children are often raised in musical families, but few receive the same introduction to music as singer/songwriter Ben Kweller. Before he was old enough to enter kindergarten, a young Kweller emulated Nils Lofgren (who, during his time with Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, would hang out with Kweller's father) by playing his toy version of the guitar. He also played piano, and by the age of eight, Kweller had begun penning his own songs. The following year, he received a nod of encouragement from Billboard magazine when it conferred an honorable mention on the youth for his entry into Billboard's yearly songwriting competition. By the time he hit his teenage years, Kweller was an accomplished guitarist and had begun playing drums as well. He pulled together his first band, Mirage, and followed up with groups like Green Eggs & Ham and Foxglove. All the while, he honed the skills that would later launch his respected solo career.
With help from bassist Bryan Blur and drummer John Kent, Kweller established Radish in 1993. The group made its mark on the local Dallas scene, not far from Kweller's hometown of Greenville, TX. In 1994, the musical wunderkind and his teenaged outfit released the Hello EP through Practice Amp Records. That same year, the label released the full-length album Dizzy, which convinced producer Roger Greenawalt to partner with the group. Under his wing, Radish produced another demo and inked a contract with Mercury Records during the summer of 1996. Ben Kweller was still a teenager at the time, having turned 15 years old that June.
Mercury Records released Restraining Bolt the following spring, and Kweller led Radish through European and American tours (as well as several late-night TV appearances, including The Conan O'Brian Show and Late Night with David Letterman). Despite scoring a Top 40 hit in the U.K. with "Little Pink Stars," Radish failed to enjoy significant success at home, and changing tides at their label (Polygram, Mercury's parent company, was absorbed into Universal Music Group in 1998) prevented them from releasing another album. When the group disbanded in 1999, Kweller headed east to Guilford, CT, where he stayed only a short time before relocating to Brooklyn, NY. Not yet 20 years old, he signed with Island Records as a solo artist.
Ben Kweller launched his solo career with a series of EPs, some of which reprised the material that Radish had written but not released. His heartland hooks and folksy flourishes made fans out of several artists, and Kweller soon found himself touring with the likes of Juliana Hatfield, Guster, Kristin Hersh, and Evan Dando. He inked a deal with ATO Records in 2001 and released one final EP before issuing Sha Sha, his solo full-length debut, in 2002. More touring followed, as did a collaboration with Ben Folds and Ben Lee known as the Bens. Kweller's sophomore effort, the subdued On My Way, followed in spring 2004 and was supported by a co-headlining tour with Death Cab for Cutie. Two years later, he returned with his self-titled third album, on which he played all the instruments. Kweller furthered his experimentation with 2009's Changing Horses, which saw the songwriter embracing country music and employing a pedal steel guitarist. The singer continued to explore pop music on 2012's Go Fly a Kite, which found Kweller dabbling in everything from power pop to alt-country. ~ Linda Seida & Andrew Leahey
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Antemasque is an American rock band formed in 2014 by former members of At The Drive-In and The Mars Volta, Omar Rodríguez-López and Cedric Bixler-Zavala. Some of their first tracks featured Red Hot Chili Peppers's Flea on bass and Dave Elitch on drums. Both Flea and Elitch had previously played with The Mars Volta. Despite initial reports to the contrary, Flea is not a member of the group but only played on a few tracks and let the band use his recording studio.
On April 9, 2014 the project was announced, and they released their first single "4AM" on the same day. Rolling Stone described the song as "a charging, punkish rocker with the sorts of squiggly noodling that both the Mars Volta guys and Flea have used as calling cards in their respective groups." The next day, the band released a second song, "Hangin in the Lurch", on their bandcamp page which is described as a mix of progressive rock and punk rock. The song's description mentions that it will be released on an upcoming self-titled album. Their third single "People Forget" was released on April 11, 2014. On April 15, the band released their fourth single, "Drown All Your Witches". The group's self-titled debut album is scheduled to be released on July 15 on their own Nadie Sound label. -Wikipedia
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Although declared "one of the 25 best bands on MySpace" by Rolling Stone in late 2006, Miniature Tigers rose to wider attention with the release of their 2008 debut, Tell It to the Volcano. The band was founded by songwriter Charlie Brand, an Arizona native who avoided his state's sky-high temperatures by writing songs in his bedroom. The resulting material paired Brand's acoustic guitar with a wide range of pop influences -- the Cars' strut, Weezer's snark, Phil Spector's polish -- and Miniature Tigers soon inked a deal with Modern Art Records, a label co-founded by fellow Phoenix-based group Chronic Future. With drummer Rick Schaier, guitarist Algernon Quashie, and bassist Alex Gerber also on board, Miniature Tigers released the breezy Tell It to the Volcano in September 2008.
Between the cross-country tours that followed, Miniature Tigers found enough downtime to pull up stakes and move to Brooklyn, where Charlie Brand began writing songs that were more experimental than Tell It to the Volcano's acoustic-based pop. Members of Neon Indian and the Morning Benders were enlisted to produce the material, which was recorded in upstate New York and released in summer 2010 as Fortress. Miniature Tigers returned in 2012 with the more '80s synth- and dance-oriented Mia Pharaoh. ~ Andrew Leahey
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Hailing from Austin, TX, What Made Milwaukee Famous features Jeremy Bruch (drums), John Farmer (bass), Michael Kingcaid (vocals/guitar), and Drew Patrizi (keyboards). The indie rock quartet came together in 2003 to create a playful indie rock sound that's well suited for fans of Brendan Benson, Spoon, and the Wrens. In 2005, What Made Milwaukee Famous performed alongside Franz Ferdinand on Austin City Limits, becoming one of the few unsigned acts to play the celebrated PBS show. With additional showings at South by Southwest and a feature on DJ Steve Lamacq's BBC digital station 6 Music, What Made Milwaukee Famous signed to Barsuk in June 2006. A remastered, and slightly edited, version of their 2004 debut, Trying to Never Catch Up, arrived with four new tracks in August. For their next album, the band added guitarist Jason Davis (whom Kincaid had known since high school, when they were in a band together) and got production help from Chris Michaels, who'd toured with Sparklehorse. The finished product, What Doesn't Kill Us, then came out in early 2008. ~ MacKenzie Wilson
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It has been 10 years since Clap Your Hands Say Yeah started, and they're about to release their fourth record, Only Run. Like the previous three, CYHSY will market and distribute the album independently. From the get go, this ethos struck a chord with fans, but it was merely an extension of lead singer/songwriter Alec Ounsworth's core belief: "The general rule is to be appreciative of your audience," he recently told Fast Company magazine. "If you can organize and are motivated, you should approach fans directly."
So, 10 years later, while much has changed, many things aren't so different now. For instance, Ounsworth has spent all of 2014 thus far crisscrossing the United States playing living room shows. He still needs that direct connection with fans; it validates his vision of how art should work and confirms his belief in the music.
Before taking to the road, Ounsworth poured himself into the making of Only Run. Like the band's fateful first album, it's an artist's singular vision. Once again, Ounsworth crafted the songs himself before bringing them to the studio for completion and the album is further proof that CYHSY thrives because of a strong sense of identity. Fostered from his love of uncompromising songwriters (e.g. John Cale, Bob Dylan, Lou Reed, Tom Waits), Ounsworth believes in an artist's creative control. "Some people seem surprised when you shift gears aesthetically between records, but to me that's the point," he says. "We have a responsibility as musicians to take chances." Ounsworth continues, "There is a reason I have all of Tom Waits' albums, for example. I believe in him."
Only Run aims to loosely document Ounsworth's observations of his life in music over the last 10 years. "Lately, I've been assaulted by news, both distant and near, that suggests a certain sense of frustration," he says. "But Clap Your Hands Say Yeah—the entire concept of the band, the name itself—is about balancing optimism in the face of overwhelming odds. I'm coming around to this myself — finding that renewed sense of optimism."
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Sgt. Serpent, Chuck Knuckles, Utah Biggs, Arm, and John Gredal comprise the heavy, aggressive metal sounds of Seattle's Demon Hunter. They hooked up with Aaron Sprinkle (MxPx, Dolour, Poor Old Lu) for their Solid State self-titled debut, which appeared in fall 2002. Their individual identities were later revealed as brothers (and ex-Training for Utopia members) vocalist Ryan Clark and guitarist Don Clark, drummer Jesse Sprinkle (ex-Poor Old Lu), bassist Joe Dunn, and guitarist Kris McCaddon (ex-Embodyment).
Summer of Darkness was issued in mid-2004, after which a couple membership changes occurred. Sprinkle left to join Dead Poetic and was replaced by Timothy "Yogi" Watts (ex-Lonely Hearts), and McCaddon exited to be replaced by Ethan Luck (formerly of the O.C. Supertones). Triptych followed in 2005. Demon Hunter's fourth album, Storm the Gates of Hell, marked their debut on the mainstream U.S. album chart in late 2007. The concert albums 45 Days and Live in Nashville arrived in 2008 and 2009, respectively, followed in 2010 by the all-new studio recording The World Is a Thorn. The group's sixth full-length outing, True Defiance, arrived in 2012, followed by Extremist in 2014. ~ MacKenzie Wilson
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Thao and The Get Down Stay Down is a San Francisco, California-based (formerly Falls Church, Virginia) alternative folk rock music group. It consists of Thao Nguyen (vocals, guitar), and Adam Thompson (vocals, bass guitar, keyboards). Frank Stewart (lead guitar, production) and Willis Thompson (drums) are former members of the band. -Wikipedia.org
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Mixing pop, reggae, rock, ska, and even a little punk, Ballyhoo! are a band out of Aberdeen, Maryland whose music can be found on both Jimmy Buffett's Radio Margaritaville and underground skateboarding videos. Formed in 1995, the band released their debut album, 365-Day Weekend, in 2000 with The Green EP following in 2004. Both were released on the Hooligan Records label, as was 2006's Do It for the Money, an album produced by 311 collaborator Scott Ralston. Their 2009 effort Cheers found them on the Surfdog label, while 2011's Day Dreams landed on the band Pepper's label, LAW. After touring with the Vans Warped Tour 2012, the band climbed the Billboard 200 album charts with their 2013 Right Coast Records release Pineapple Grenade. ~ David Jeffries