Vocalist Georgia Nott and her older multi-instrumentalist brother Caleb Nott are Broods, a cleverly and descriptively named electronic pop duo from Auckland, New Zealand. The Notts, who grew up surrounded by music, have played together since they were children. They were in the Peasants, a band that won a competition for intermediate (junior high) and high school musical acts in 2011. After the Peasants broke up, the siblings formed Broods and connected with producer Joel Little, who had served as a judge during the contest. In October 2013, months after Little gained recognition for his work with Auckland native Lorde, Broods uploaded "Bridges" to their Soundcloud page and subsequently signed major-label contracts for various territories. The following January, "Bridges" was released commercially and reached the Top Ten in New Zealand. A self-titled six-track EP co-written by the Notts and Little, and produced by Little, was issued at the end of the month. In New Zealand, the moody set debuted at number two, just beneath Lorde's Pure Heroine. Released in the U.S. the following month -- less than a week after Lorde's "Royals" won a Grammy for Song of the Year -- Broods debuted at number 164 on the Billboard 200. Their debut album Evergreen arrived in September 2014. ~ Andy Kellman
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On his third album, the Pennsylvania snake-synth-charmer deepens his approach to aural depravity. Ultima II Massage widens a jagged swath through the dude's own weird catalog, each disparate track damaged to the point of contributing to some sort of greater, lurching Frankenstein-like state. "I spent a lot of time breaking it in all the right places," says TOBACCO. "It ends up making the whole thing breathe – sometimes gasp for air. It feels more alive." Immediately after finishing 2010's Maniac Meat, he went to work on the beat-addled series begun with Fucked Up Friends in 2008. There were notable breaks en route to now – a surprising commission to remix White Zombie's "Thunder Kiss ‘65," a new Black Moth Super Rainbow record (Cobra Juicy), and producing Demon Queen's Exorcise Tape with vocalist Zackey Force Funk – but he saved the worst for last, amassing the most misanthropic material for Ultima. To wit, SPIN dubbed early share "Lipstick Destroyer" a "junkyard takedown of Daft Punk's beloved, pristine electro."
TOBACCO explains his modified approach: "I wanted to push each song just enough, so that even when the album's at its wildest, it's something you can zone out to. It feels like a definitive end to a concept I've been trying to perfect forever.Maniac Meat was linear. This time I wanted to do a lot of different things and have them come together as one meditative piece. At least for myself."
Which, oddly enough, makes sense. This is easily TOBACCO's most diverse set to date – his own Stereopathetic Soulmanure, but about that 1-900 hotline life: massage parlors, plasticized sleaze, fake tans, old dial-ups to the fan clubs of dead B-actors. Fittingly, the album's only contributor is Beck music director Brian LeBarton who shrieks as Notrabel on the grimy freak-out "Streaker." At 17 tracks,Ultima is stacked with beautifully perverse hits – from the sickly sticky "Eruption," to the wobbly demon swaggerer "Face Breakout," to the distorted punk spazz of "Dipsmack," to the apocalyptic sepia ambience of "Spitlord." You may hear disembodied bits of Boards of Canada, early Def Jam records, and Gary Numan, or maybe just public-access TV and bad VHS dubs of ‘80s horror flicks. Or the sun exploding and everything you've ever loved melting. Again, TOBACCO was just trying to make meditation music.
But to find that rotted sweet spot, as always, he had to subvert his pop urges. TOBACCO went back to the cassette decks he started off with – analog weapons of distortion to compliment his hissing vocoder and blown rhythms. Any moment that felt "just right" was brutally assaulted until ugly again. All to accomplish one end: "This might be my most purposely difficult album yet, but I promise if you let it in, it can fuck you up."
The Philadelphia-based Dr. Dog are part of a long tradition of D.I.Y. pop oddballs who blend unapologetic '60s pop worship with lo-fi recording techniques and an apparent disregard for current trends. The group began as a part-time offshoot of the more traditional indie rock act Raccoon. Over the course of several years, guitarist Toby Leaman and drummer Scott McMicken found enough free time to record the casual, sprawling 35-track set The Psychedelic Swamp in a basement rehearsal space, finally self-releasing it in 2001. As Raccoon ended, McMicken and Leaman transformed Dr. Dog into a proper band, with McMicken on guitar and Leaman on bass (the two shared songwriting and vocals), as well as guitarist Doug O'Donnell, keyboard player Zach Miller, and drummer Juston Stens. This lineup recorded 2003's more focused and poppy Toothbrush, which -- like The Psychedelic Swamp -- received a low-key, self-distributed release.
When My Morning Jacket's Jim James, a friend of Leaman and McMicken from their Raccoon days, hand-picked Dr. Dog to open for his band on an East Coast tour, the band's almost nonexistent national profile began to rise. With O'Donnell replaced by former Raccoon bassist Andrew Jones and several Philadelphia friends making guest appearances, 2005's Easy Beat was picked up for distribution by the indie label National Parking. Following its release, the band toured again with My Morning Jacket and M. Ward and performed several well-received sets during the 2006 South by Southwest festival in Austin. The stopgap EP Takers and Leavers was released in September 2006 in advance of We All Belong, which arrived in early 2007.
Throughout the rest of that year, Dr. Dog began posting previously unreleased tracks on their website; the songs were later released as Passed Away, Vol. 1 in March 2008. In the summer of that same year, the group released Fate. Fate featured some of the band's most polished production to date. It also became Dr. Dog's highest charting album, peaking at number 86 on the Billboard 200 and earning positive reviews from outlets like Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly. After touring in support of the album, the group signed with the ANTI- record label and released 2010's Shame, Shame, a modern album that featured more guitars than the band's earlier work. Golden Boots member Dimitri Manos, who had played with the band on Easy Beat, joined up with the band as a full member, and made his first appearance on a full-length album in 2012 with the release of Be the Void early that year. Following the album, the band set to work building their own studio, a process that found the band refreshed enough to release another album, B-Room, in 2013. ~ Stewart Mason
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Rock'n'Roll ain't pretty and neither is Scott H. Biram. The self proclaimed ‘Dirty Old One Man Band' successfully, and sometimes violently, lashes together blues, hillbilly and country precariously to raucous punk and godless metal.
Biram ain't no candy-ass singer/songwriter either, sweetly strumming songs about girls with big eyes and dusty highways. His singing, yodeling, growling, leering and brash preachin' and hollerin' is accompanied by sloppy riffs and licks from his '59 Gibson guitar and pounding backbeat brought forth by his amplified left foot. The remainder of this one-man band consists of an unwieldy combination of beat-up amplifiers and old microphones strung together by a tangled mess of guitar cables.
Years of non-stop touring have honed his assault to a fine edge; his wide-eyed throw downs in the First Church of Ultimate Fanaticism routinely lead giddy followers to a fiery baptism.
Scott H. Biram won't die. On May 11th, 2003, one month after being hit head-on by an 18-wheeler at 75 MPH, he took the stage at The Continental Club in Austin, TX in a wheel chair – I.V. still dangling from his arm. With 2 broken legs, a broken foot, a broken arm and 1 foot less of his lower intestine, Biram unleashed his trademark musical wrath.
When Scott H. Biram took the stage at his 2004 SXSW festival showcase right after Kris Kristofferson he was quoted as growling "They said that was a hard act to follow….I'm a hard act to follow motherfuckers!!" The stunned crowd looked on.
"Scott's self described ‘dirty old one-man band' had a captivating immediacy that big rock shows rarely reach. On stage Scott is a man possessed, spitting and snarling like a Mississippi juke-joint shouter on a moonshine bender." – Eben Sterling, Thrasher
"He has a true stage presence that could be fairly compared to that of Clint Eastwood on film. The dude's more dude than most other dudes you will ever meet." – Austin Columnist
"An impassioned multi-instrumentalist unleashing a brutal cacophany with the fury of someone whose check from the Devil finally cleared. Half dirty blues, half underground punk, half honky-tonk, half revival meeting…oh shut up about the math. You'll see the light." – Dayna Papaleo, Rochester City News
"His barbarous exorcism of Depression-era blues—with a bedrock of frantic flatpicking, foot stomps into a floor mike, and gutteral growls through a distortion mike—has made Biram a rising star in Austin." – Brian T. Atkinson, No Depression
"Biram is the kind of guy you don't laugh at all the way just in case he really is crazy. We all wanna be entertained, but nobody wants to get stabbed in the head with a screwdriver." – Frank de Blase, Rochester City News
"With a raw immediacy that recalls Hasil Adkins and Bob Log III, Biram specializes in a twisted hybrid of gutbucket, hillbilly and godless metal. He'll praise the virtues of moonshine and titty bars one minute, then tongue-lash city slickers and hippies the next." – John La Briola, Houston Press
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Canadian-born, Brooklyn-based pop singer Kiesza makes dance-oriented music that touches upon house music, modern EDM, and R&B. Born in Calgary, Kiesza participated in theater, ballet, and tap dancing before joining the Royal Canadian Navy at 17, where she was trained as a code breaker. At 18, Kiesza also competed in the Miss Universe Canada pageant before focusing on a music career. Leaving the Navy, she attended Berklee College of Music in Boston on a scholarship. After graduating, she relocated to New York City and began performing her folky singer/songwriter compositions. Eventually, Kiesza found herself drawn to dance music and began collaborating with producer Rami Samir Afuni. In 2014, she released the Hideaway EP. "Hideaway" itself topped the U.K. and Scottish singles charts upon its April release and received significant airplay in the U.S. when it was released that July. A few months later, Kiesza's full-length debut, Sound of a Woman, arrived, mixing her house-influenced pop with hip-hop-tinged tracks and featuring cameos by Mick Jenkins and Joey Bada$$. ~ Matt Collar
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Nathan Quick has a soulful voice, tasteful melodies, and crisp guitar playing that will have you wanting to come back for more time and time again. He is an up and coming artist with alot to share, so be sure to check him out! His sound draws from a vast pool of genres from classic rock and roll to contemporary singer-songwriter and is something everyone can enjoy!
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Stars have partnered with Plus One so that $1 from every ticket goes to the global health organization Partners In Health (www.pih.org).
Like their celestial namesake, Stars only come out at night. It's been 14 years since the Montreal band debuted with an album of intimate synth-pop whispers titled Nightsongs, but really, any of the increasingly assertive and sonically elaborate records they've released since could be named that. Whether between the sheets or on the streets, the nighttime is when the most pivotal moments of your life play out: the drunken dusk-to-dawn hangs through which eternal friendships are forged; the knowing glance across the dancefloor that leads to exchanged phone numbers, that ominous 3 a.m. phone call from the hospital; the decision to turn a new leaf that can only come when you've spent five despairing hours staring at a ceiling fan. These are the worlds that Stars songs inhabit, to show us that, even in our most vulnerable and naked states, we are never truly alone.
Stars' albums have always served as thermochromic barometers of their makers' emotional well-being, be it the romantic upheaval of 2003's Heart and 2004's Set Yourself On Fire, the newsticker-triggered discontent of 2007's In Our Bedroom After the War, the downcast elegies of 2010's The Five Ghosts (a requiem for singer Torquil Campbell's father, who passed away during the album's creation), or the rejuvenation of 2012's The North (recorded while inter-band couple Amy Millan and Evan Cranley were in the throes of new parenthood). However, as Millan admits, the band initially approached its new seventh album from a place of relative stability. "We've always had so many things defining every album, whether it was the band going through a difficult emotional turmoil, Torq's father passing away, or us having children. And now it's like: You know what? We're pretty good. This is one of the best times of our lives."
This time around, Stars decided to scratch the seven-album itch by shaping their own environment. After inheriting the Mile End rehearsal space vacated by the then-disbanding Handsome Furs, Stars refashioned the space—"basically a dirty apartment," says Cranley—into a fully operational studio, where recording for No One Is Lost began last December with old friend Liam O'Neil (Metric, The Stills) behind the boards.
"It was initially quite painstaking," says keyboardist Chris Seligman. "But we put love into our space and our space gave us love back."
Campbell is also a parent, but his recording sojourns in Montreal allowed him to keep, shall we say, more traditional musician's hours.
"I'm a nighttime guy, I don't really like making records in the day," says Campbell, who made the studio his home for the duration of his recording sessions. "I slept on the couch. I've never enjoyed making a record so much, because I always hated going home at the end of the day. This time, in Montreal, the studio was my home."
Funnily enough, it was during one of Campbell's studio sleepovers that the city itself became truly present: noise was bleeding in from the gay discotheque, The Royal Phoenix, located on the floor below them.
Says Campbell: "I went to sleep to the sound of Charli XCX every night—and I loved it."
So rather than fight the funk, Stars rolled alongside, with the incessant 4/4 thump emanating from below serving as the metronomic template that would form the basis of No One Is Lost. You can hear that influence percolate in real time on the album's monumental lead-off track "From the Night"—Stars' most epic opening salvo since Set Yourself on Fire's "Your Ex-Lover Is Dead"—with a near-subliminal pulse vibrating the floorboards beneath your feet before exploding into a kaleidoscopic, French-touched house jam. And that crowd noise you hear at the beginning? That's Millan and Seligman walking into The Royal Phoenix during a Friday-night rager, field-recording gear in hand.
"The sub-bass throb coming from the club below our studio was undeniably and unavoidably influential," affirms drummer Pat McGee. "It motivated us to out-throb the throb."
But the Royal Phoenix proved to be more than just a musical inspiration; the bar essentially served as Stars' home away from home, with the band coming to know the servers on a first-name basis, and even getting cocktails christened in their honour. And through observing the bacchanalia playing out every weekend in their de facto rec room, the thematic framework for the album came into focus.
"I always find it so moving and beautiful to watch people have their nights out. " Campbell explains. "There's something so heartbreaking about it: People have jobs that they have to get up for, jobs they hate, and they live for the weekend; they live for these moments. And they put everything they have into it: They put all their money into it, they put their emotion into it, they sacrifice their health for it, just to make a connection out there, and go home with someone and not be alone."
During the writing of the new album, Stars were hit with another cruelly sobering reminder of just how precious our days here on this planet really are: the band's long-time manager, Eoin O Leary, was diagnosed with cancer.
Fortunately, No One Is Lost translates all that anxiety into pure ecstasy, from the laser-cut new-waved precision of Millan's "This Is the Last Time" to the soaring, Mozzerific chorus of Campbell's "Trap Door" to the dreamy duet "Look Away." And the titanic title track-closer—the sound of a dancefloor being swallowed whole by an ocean of sweat and swapped spit—feels like the moment Stars' entire 15-year journey has been leading up to, a euphoric house banger that distills all the hope, fear, joy, sadness, and sex in the band's songbook into a pair of unshakeable mantras: "put your hands up because everybody dies / put your hands up if you know you're going to lose."
"The fact Eoin got cancer is definitely sewn into the fabric of the album, lyrically and sonically," Millan reveals. "Because you had to believe he was going to be okay. [Spoiler alert: he's currently recovering from treatment quite nicely.] I think that's where the title No One Is Lost comes from: We were the army standing behind him."
Campbell, for his part, offers a somewhat more urgent interpretation:
"This record's called No One Is Lost because that is a fucking lie. We are all lost, we are all going to lose this game and, as you get older, you lose people more and more. Eoin's been facing down the Grim Reaper, and that was bringing us the fuck down. But we decided to go for it anyway, and so did he, and it was enormous act of blind hope to even think he would make it this far. So I wanted to call this record No One Is Lost because I just wanted to close my eyes and jump and hope that was true. Life is loss, love is loss. And loving people is about accepting that you're going to have to say goodbye to them. And that's why it's fucking brave. It's easy to hate, because you never have to let go of anything. It takes guts to be gentle and kind. That's Stars' ethos: this life is very heartbreaking and sad… so let's get completely fucking arseholed and listen to some Dionne Warwick."
Alas, Stars will need to find a new place to get arseholed: The day that the mastering of No One Is Lost was completed last July, word got out that The Royal Phoenix was closing, despite its undiminished popularity among local revellers. But then, this sudden turn of events was an oddly appropriate denouement for an album that evolved according to its own curious logic. After all, No One Is Lost is a record that began with Stars building a studio hideaway that allowed them to function as a self-contained unit free of external pressures, yet wound up being greatly shaped by its surrounding environment. And it's a record that, at its core, was intended as a celebration of life but became a rallying cry for an ailing friend and, now, a eulogy to a beloved bar. But that's the equally wonderful and terrifying thing about living for the night: you never know what the next one's going to bring you. Each sundown marks not the end of the day, but the beginning of a new adventure into the unknown—and No One Is Lost is the radiant flash of pink neon that lights the way. So, go dance.
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Plunging headlong into their second decade as a band, DENGUE FEVER's (www.denguefevermusic.com) new album, The Deepest Lake, their fifth full-length of all-new material, comes at a critical juncture in the bands career. In 2013, after forming their own label Tuk Tuk Records, the band crossed over into a brave new world as both artist and record label owner's. Today find themselves able to wear two hats – as creative musicians with no boundaries as well as label owners who make their own decisions on where, when and how to fabricate their career.
The net result is the aforementioned, The Deepest Lake, a record with more musical diversions than the Mekong River itself. Released in January 27, 2015 – US/Canada & February 2, 2015 in the rest of the world, the ten tracks on The Deepest Lake will satiate longtime fans as well as newcomers looking for something altogether different. Widely recognized for their trademark blend of 60's Cambodian pop and psychedelic rock, Dengue Fever's latest release expands their musical palette to include Khmer rap, Latin grooves, Afro percussion, layered Stax-like horns and more.
From the keyboard and percussion heavy opening track, "Tokay", lead singer Chhom Nimol's unmistakable bird-like Khmer vocals lead the band on a evolutionary musical journey on The Deepest Lake. Be it the John Doe & Exene boy/girl vocals on "Rom Say Sok" that gets your indie grooves on or the six plus minute psychedelic jam on "Cardboard Castles", it's pretty evident that this is a band looking to take chances and not play it safe. By following their instincts on this record and letting many of the final tracks come out of extended jams when demo'ing the album, the band played to their musical strengths. No longer was there a need to ‘find' a song, the songs on The Deepest Lake came to them.
The band's newly established independence as both label owner and artist marks yet another chapter in the continual evolution of a group unlike many other bands in the Los Angeles music scene. It all began in 2002 when Dengue Fever formed and released their eponymous debut (2003). Packed chock full of ‘lost' Khmer covers, the band paid homage to Khmer rock, a hybrid of Vietnam War era surf, psych and classic rock performed by Cambodian giants like Ros Sereysothea, Pan Ron and Sinn Sisamouth.
The bands sophomore release, critically acclaimed sophomore follow-up, Escape from Dragon House (2005) found them writing and performing original material in earnest. Amazon.com named Dragon House the #1 international release for 2005, and Mojo magazine named it in their Top 10 World Music releases of 2006.
In 2008, their third release Venus on Earth became the band's best selling album. It garnered praise from both critics and fans the world over. In fact, Venus on Earth found support from iconic musicians such as Peter Gabriel, Metallica's Kirk Hammett and Ray Davies who each made mention of the band in the press.
DENGUE FEVER's fourth release, Cannibal Courtship (Fantasy Records/Concord Music Group), was released in April 2011 and found the band expanding beyond their usual comfort zone and experimenting with new sounds.
The roots of the band began in the late 1990's with a 6-month trek through Southeast Asia by Keyboardist Ethan Holtzman. Returning to Los Angeles with a suitcase crammed full of Cambodian cassette tapes, Holtzman and his brother Zac, who had discovered the same music while working at a record store in San Francisco, reunited. The brothers soon bonded over their love of vintage Cambodian rock and in 2002 founded the band with saxophonist, David Ralicke (Beck/Brazzaville); drummer, Paul Dreux Smith; and bassist, Senon Williams (Radar Brothers). Shortly thereafter the members were on hot pursuit for the ideal Cambodian chanteuse to complete their outfit. After a short period of musical courtship that began at a Cambodian nightclub in Long Beach, Ca., Nimol joined the band when she realized the band shared a genuine passion for the music and culture of her homeland.
It's that cross pollination of Khmer rock, garage rock, psychedelic rock and the British Invasion sound that has pushed the band to heights they could only dream of in 2002. DENGUE FEVER as performed in front of thousands of fans at such noted music festivals as WOMAD (UK, AUS, NZ), WOMEX (Spain), Melbourne Festival (AUS), Glastonbury (UK), Bumerbshoot, (USA), Transmusicales (France), Roskilde (Denmark), Electric Picnic (Ireland), Peace and Love (Sweden), Treasure Island (USA) among many others. Their songs have appeared in films such as City of Ghosts, Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers, The Hangover 2, the Showtime series Weeds, the HBO's hit series True Blood (who named an entire episode after one of their songs) and featured the band's music, CBS' series CSI: Las Vegas and numerous independent documentaries.
With band profiles in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Mojo, Uncut, Magnet, Wired, NPR's "Fresh Air", Radio Australia, KCRW's "Morning Becomes Eclectic" and "World Café Live", the time is truly ripe for at least another decade of breaking down more musical barriers. The Deepest Lake is the first, glorious musical step in that new direction.
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Attempting to stand out among your peers when you practice your art in the world of Japanese pop/rock/punk is no mean feat, but New York City-based Peelander-Z has certainly made some serious waves. Blending elements of the Power Rangers, Japanese and American pop culture images, sci-fi, and pro wrestling, Peelander-Z won fans and friends from a wide cross section of the pop audience, appearing on a number of compilations, as well as festivals and conventions.
The group, made up of Kengo Hioki (aka Peelander Yellow -- vocals, guitar), Kotaro Tsukada (aka Peelander Red -- bass, vocals), and Kazuki Yamamoto (aka Peelander Blue -- drums, vocals) came together in 1998. As "legend" has it the three were born in the Z region of the planet Peelander, and their colorful garb was not merely costume, but their "alien" skin. Their debut recording, the mini-album Peelander-Z, was released in 1999, and -- coupled with their frenetic (to say the least) live show -- the buzz led to their first American television appearance, on Comedy Central's Upright Citizens Brigade that same year. 2001 saw the release of the debut full-length, Rocket Gold Star, as well as the band's first appearance at the New York CMJ Music Marathon -- a gig they would play a number of times over the next few years. 2002 saw the band take on their first nationwide U.S. tour, and in 2003, Peelander-Z released their follow-up album, P-Bone Steak.
Over the next five years, the group toured, appeared at numerous festivals (including Bonnaroo and SXSW), made television appearances (Spike's Most Extreme Challenge, for one) and released more manic J-pop/punk masterpieces, including 2005's Dancing Friendly and 2006's Happee Mania. After a busy 2007, which included the band's first DVD release (Peelander Is Fun!), the band was shaken up in 2008, when it was announced that Peelander Blue (Kazuki Yamamoto) was being "called back" to the Planet Peelander, as he was next in line for the crown of the kingdom of his home world. The actual story as to why Yamamoto left the manic trio is far more mundane -- family commitments -- but Peelander-Z was able to soldier on, when Peelander Green (Akihiko Naruse) signed on to further the group's momentum. In 2009, back to full strength, Peelander-Z released its fifth album, P-Pop-High School, and spent that spring touring their new collection. In 2013, the group tried on a new look for Metalander-Z, a spirited sendup of '80s hair metal. ~ Chris True
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Grindcore pioneers Extreme Noise Terror formed in Britain in early 1985, originally comprising vocalists Phil Vane and Dean Jones, guitarist Pete Hurley, bassist Mark Bailey, and drummer Pig Killer; after just one live appearance, the group was signed to Manic Ears Records, soon releasing a split LP with Chaos UK titled Radioactive. Pig Killer then left the group, with Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris coming aboard as his replacement. Winning the admiration of Radio One DJ John Peel, Extreme Noise Terror recorded a notorious session for Peel's show in 1987, their first of many appearances on the program. Drummer Tony "Stick" Dickens replaced Harris to record the band's first full-length effort, A Holocaust in My Head; in the wake of their sophomore record, Phonophobia, ENT collaborated with the KLF on a cover of the latter's "3am Eternal" which earned "Single of the Week" honors in NME. Extreme Noise Terror's appearance at the 1992 Brit Awards triggered a national furor after the band aimed a machine gun at the audience, firing off a round of blanks. Over the next two years, the group toured relentlessly, adding guitarist Ali Firouzbakht and substituting bassist Lee Barrett for the exiting Bailey. Original drummer Pig Killer also returned to fold for 1995's Retro-Bution, but left again after only a few months; his replacement was former Cradle of Filth member Was. More serious was the defection of Vane, who joined Napalm Death; ironically, ex-Napalm Death frontman Mark "Barney" Greenaway then joined ENT, making his debut on 1997's Damage 381. In It for Life followed two years later. ~ Jason Ankeny
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Myles Mills is an 18-year-old, born and bred Manhattan native. He grew up in Harlem and attended boys' private schools amongst the wealthy elite for most of his life. While most of his friends are en route to become lawyers or Wall Street types, Mills has chosen a different path, turning his unconventional background into raps as he vies for a spot on top of the hip-hop hierarchy. It's hard to believe that Mills, who goes by the stage name Skizzy Mars, recorded most of his singles—that exude the sophistication of a seasoned professional—while still in high school. Lyrics came easily to the rap prodigy who started penning his own as early as ninth grade. Flow and delivery took time, but eventually, the up-and-comer came into his own. And Mills has seen rapid success since last January when he released his first single "Possibilities." But it was his candid song "Douchebag" that set music critics abuzz. Since then, Mills has dropped single after single creating hype purely through word of mouth.
Interested in music early on, Mills became attracted to the harmonic tones and lyrics of alternative and indie music by way of bands The Killers and Death Cab for Cutie. Broadening his sphere of influence, he eventually became obsessed with Kid Cudi and his idol Kanye West, but has allowed rock music to remain a key component in his own material. It is in this way that Mills solidifies his individuality; fusing and integrating antithetic sounds that deviate from what the public ear has become accustomed to. "The thing is I'm never going to change my sound," asserts the rapper who often raps over entire indie rock tracks, rather than just sampling parts of the original beat. "I'm never going to make music that I don't want to make. It's just a matter of people liking it. So far they do." The artist knows a good song when he hears it, spitting rhymes over emerging indie group Foster the People's popular song "Houdini" and Gouplove's feel-good hit "Colours." His knack for metaphorically pleasing lyrics full of clever pop-culture references and puns doesn't hurt either. Although the fresh talent is not signed to a record label yet, it is merely only a matter of time. Meanwhile, he recently signed with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and is gearing up to drop his mixtape Phases come this spring/summer while simultaneously recording his debut album. Both the mixtape and album will be completely original, featuring an entirely new sound, and it is that experimental enthusiasm and willingness to take risks that tells us we'll be hearing more from the promising young star.
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One of the major success stories of 1992, Arrested Development are a progressive rap collective fusing soul, blues, hip-hop, and Sly & the Family Stone-influenced funk with political, socially conscious lyrics. The group was founded in the late '80s by rapper Speech and DJ Headliner, who decided to make the transition to a more positive, Afrocentric viewpoint after hearing Public Enemy. Arrested Development's debut album took its title from the amount of time it took the group to secure a record contract; 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... produced the hit single "Tennessee," a strongly spiritual track that hit the Top Ten and sparked the album to sell over four million copies. Its two follow-ups, "People Everyday" (a rewrite of Sly's "Everyday People") and "Mr. Wendal" did likewise. Accolades poured in; Arrested Development won Grammys for Best Rap Album and Best New Artist, and was named Rolling Stone's Band of the Year. The group returned one year later with Zingalamaduni, which some reviews hailed as a major work, though overall response was more ambivalent. In 1996, contrary to Speech's earlier assertion that the group would be around for ten or 12 years, Arrested Development officially broke up. Speech went solo, though his debut album failed to make an impact. In 2006, the band reunited and released Since the Last Time in Japan. A year later the album saw release in the U.S. ~ Steve Huey
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After Nickel Creek disbanded in 2007, mandolin virtuoso Chris Thile assembled an all-star quintet called Punch Brothers (the name comes from the Mark Twain short story Punch, Brothers, Punch!) with guitarist Chris Eldridge, formerly of the Infamous Stringdusters; bassist Greg Garrison, who has played with Ron Miles and Leftover Salmon; banjo player Noam Pikelny, who has worked with John Cowan and Tony Trischka, and violinist Gabe Witcher, a sought-after session musician and a member of Jerry Douglas' band for a half-dozen years. The new group quickly signed with Nonesuch Records and issued a debut album, Punch, in 2008, which was anchored by Thile's ambitious 40-minute, four-part suite "The Blind Leaving the Blind." The double-disc (plus a third DVD concert disc) Antifogmatic, produced by Jon Brion, arrived from Nonesuch in 2010, and was followed in 2012 by Who's Feeling Young Now?, produced by Jacquire King (Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, Modest Mouse), and the Ahoy! EP. ~ Steve Leggett