Before starting on songwriting for Yellow Ostrich's latest album, singer/guitarist Alex Schaaf moved into the band's Brooklyn practice space and immersed himself in the study of such astronomers as Carl Sagan and Frank Drake. Keeping up his day job of digitizing people's old home films by day, Schaaf devoted the next 9 months to exploring the depths of the galaxy from a tiny windowless room, whose lighting he altered to reflect the arrival and passing of daylight each morning and night. Around the same time, Yellow Ostrich drummer/percussionist Michael Tapper ventured into the infinite in a much more literal sense by departing on a sailing trip from Mexico to Hawaii that left him out at sea for nearly a month. Borrowing its title from Sagan's 1980 PBS series, Cosmos expands Yellow Ostrich's intensely guitar-driven alt-rock with dreamy electronic arrangements to mirror the mood of Schaaf and Tapper's retreats away from the everyday world. While the album embodies a sense of both wonder and isolation, Yellow Ostrich's refined melodies and dense yet delicate sonic textures make Cosmos as powerfully intimate as it is dynamic.
"Something I really like about the Carl Sagan way of thinking is how it's a very unironic and sincere amazement at how the world works," says Schaaf, who began Yellow Ostrich as a solo project at age 21. "One of the main things I was thinking about in writing this album is how to take that viewpoint and bring it into real-world life," he adds. "It's one thing to be reading all these books and watching all these movies in a very small room, or–as Michael did–to go out and live under the stars for a while. But trying to inject that pure amazement into day-to-day living in a big city is something completely different."
The follow-up to Yellow Ostrich's 2012 EP Ghost, Cosmos captures that uneasy tension by merging raw guitar riffs, lush atmospherics, brain-bending electro effects, sweetly ethereal harmonies, and earnest but unsettling lyrics. Engineered by Beau Sorenson (Death Cab for Cutie, Superchunk, Sparklehorse) and mixed by Paul Kolderie (Radiohead, Pixies, Dinosaur Jr.), the album saw its inception when Schaaf sketched out skeletal versions of his songs, then brought them to Tapper to begin fleshing out beats and arrangements. Having delved into the work of early-Krautrock and 70's synth bands while on tour the previous year, Schaaf and Tapper set to broadening their sound with locked grooves and textures inspired by artists like Neu!, Kluster, and Kraftwerk. For more help in crafting the sonics of Cosmos, Schaaf and Tapper recruited bassist Zach Rose and keyboardist/guitarist Jared van Fleet (who stepped in soon after the departure of multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez). With Rose and van Fleet further shaping the songs and helping the band to realize their vision, the new lineup of Yellow Ostrich recorded most of Cosmos in the same rehearsal space where Schaaf was living.
Opening Cosmos with the ominous "Terrors" and closing with the hushed, hymnlike "Don't Be Afraid," Yellow Ostrich lace together electronic elements and organic instrumentation to build a mood that's sometimes gloomy, sometimes euphoric, and often an inextricable mix of the two. Throughout the album, Schaaf's fascination with Earth and beyond plays out both literally and as metaphor: there's songs like "In the Dark" (a stark and dreamlike meditation on the journey of NASA's Voyager 1 and 2 spacecrafts), as well as "Shades" (whose urgent guitar lines and frantic piano reflect the anxiety that Schaaf imagines many people felt upon seeing the first published photos of Earth and "realizing how small and insignificant we really are"). Although that fascination bears an undercurrent of lonely melancholy, Cosmos also achieves its own strange brand of bliss on songs like "How Do You Do It" (a joyfully woozy track whose bombastic chorus serves as a diatribe against self-delusion).
One of the album's most exhilarating numbers, "Any Wonder" pairs a swirling soundscape and questioning lyrics that closely encapsulate the thematic heart ofCosmos ("I'm gonna try hard to tear it all apart/I wanna be stunned, don't you?"). In writing "Any Wonder," Schaaf again tapped into Carl Sagan's careful illumination of the romantic side of science. "A lot of people have this idea that when you explain something, you take away the magic and mystery of it," says Schaaf. "But sometimes the actual science of what happens is way more magical than any fiction we could invent on our own."
For the Cosmos cover art, Yellow Ostrich selected a photograph by Bas Jan Ader, a Dutch artist who created a series of videos in which the force of gravity served as his main medium. An inspiration for "Things Are Fallin'" (the album's epic penultimate track, which starts as a tenderly off-kilter ballad before shifting into a sprawling rock song and finally dissolving into eerie noise), Ader's work also helped Yellow Ostrich tease out that elusive connection between the cosmic and the everyday. "We're living in a time when we're all split up into such small subcultures and everyone has their own personalized digital worlds, which can make it easy to lose touch with the basic principles that rule our lives," Schaaf says. "There's so much that connects all of us and makes us all the same. No matter who you are, gravity's always going to bring you down. I think there's something really beautiful in that."
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ew York City quartet Rathborne takes its name from band co-leader Luke Rathborne, a 25-year-old native of Northern Maine who self-recorded his first album and migrated down to the Big Apple by the time he was 18. On October 15, the guitar-pop crew — co-headed by bassist Darren Will and rounded out by drummer Jamie Alegre and Jimmy Gianopoulos, who switches between synths and guitar — will release their proper debut LP, SOFT, via Dilettante/True Believer.-SPIN
July Talk is a Canadian indie rock band formed in 2012 in Toronto. The band consists of singers Peter Dreimanis and Leah Fay, guitarist Ian Docherty, bassist Josh Warburton and drummer Danny Miles. The band released their self-titled debut on White Girl Records on 16 October 2012.
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While a lot of Bay Area bands tend to embrace the sunny, psychedelic side of their city's sound, San Francisco's Weekend have seemingly chosen to embrace their hometown's foggier side. Formed in 2009 by Shaun Durkan (bass/vocals), Kevin Johnson (guitar), and Abe Pedroza (drums), Weekend quickly made a name for themselves with their post-punk-shoved-through-a-shoegaze-filter sound. The trio's pounding bass'n'drum rhythms lay the groundwork for Johnson's wall of reverb-drenched guitar noise, giving the songs a dark, subterranean feeling. The whole package is tied together by Durkan's murky vocals, which feel both distant and warm, like hearing a My Bloody Valentine song on a fading radio station. After a couple of limited vinyl singles, the band signed on with Slumberland Records and released its full-length debut, Sports, in 2010. After a year that saw them touring and getting lots of good press, they returned in September of 2011 with the less noisy but still intensely poppy Red EP. The band's next album was produced by Monte Vallier and featured a sound that split the difference between the noise of the first album and the pop of Red, while adding some gloomy post-punk to the mix. Jinx was released by Slumberland in the summer of 2013. ~ Gregory Heaney
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"There are still people trying to work out what a genius Gary Numan is." Prince
"I was always impressed by the way Gary Numan found his own voice–and it was unusual–but it was unmistakenly him and boldly him. I see me doing what I learned from him." Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails
The influence of Electronic and industrial music pioneer Gary Numan has been recognized by a diverse array of the world's greatest artists—from Prince to Lady Gaga, Jack White to Kanye West; Beck to Queens Of The Stone Age, and The Foo Fighters to Nine Inch Nails, many of which have collaborated with Numan and covered or sampled tracks from his vast back catalogue. While Numan's unique, pioneering style continues to connect he has never stopped innovating and his latest album, ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)', is evidence of this desire to never standstill with the album marking Numan's return to the Billboard 200 for the first time in over 31 years.
Marking Numan's first full-length studio album since 2006, ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)' sees the Award winning electro-pioneer team-up with Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck and producing partner Ade Fenton to unleash his heaviest and most accomplished album to date. Whilst writing and recording of ‘Splinter' Numan has toured extensively, including marking the 30th anniversary of the classic and hugely influential ‘Pleasure Principle' with a tour and he was personally invited by super-fan Trent Reznor to join Nine Inch Nails during their set to perform several of his own songs including ‘Cars' and ‘Metal', which NIN had previously covered, on the band's 2009 ‘Wave Goodbye' tour. Numan also co-wrote the Battles single ‘My Machines', and his music continued to stay in the spotlight thanks to bands such as Jack White's The Dead Weather covering the classic ‘Are ‘Friends' Electric?'.
Numan's permanent relocation to the US at the end of 2012 reinvigorated his creativity and had an immediate positive effect, with ‘Splinter (Songs From A Broken Mind)' eventually being finished in his LA studio at the start of 2013. Numan's unique vocal style evokes a feeling of machinery and icy alienation whilst provoking strong emotions within the electronic noise of classic albums such as ‘The Pleasure Principle' and ‘Telekon' that connects with his loyal and ever-growing fan base of self-proclaimed Numanoids.
Numan will be touring the album throughout 2014.
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After playing for a few years in the "straight" music world as a member of the uniquely virtuosic Washington, D.C.-based metalcore band Reflux, seven- and eight-string guitar wizard Tosin Abasi was asked to record a solo album by the group's then record label, Prosthetic Records, once the group disbanded. At first, Abasi declined on the grounds that to do so would be "egotistical," but he eventually relented and founded a new entity named Animals as Leaders (inspired by Daniel Quinn's 1992 anthropocentric novel Ishmael) to function as this solo project. An eponymous debut album followed in April of 2009 and saw Abasi handling all guitar and bass tracks, while drums and other synthesized sound effects were programmed by engineer Misha Mansoor. ~ Eduardo Rivadavi
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WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, mysterious lights in the night sky, dark hooded figures with unknowable powers, and cultural events.
Turn on your radio and hide.
Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Narrated by Cecil Baldwin. Music by Disparition. Logo by Rob Wilson.
"A geeky cultural gem" – CBC
"Incredible, spooky, funny, and monumentally charming" – BoingBoing
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Combining pop and rap like fellow Boston resident Sammy Adams, the duo known as Aer features David von Mering and Carter Schultz. After playing together in a four-piece band that broke up, David and Carter formed the pop-rap project Fresh Aer Movement, which was soon shortened to Aer. They introduced themselves to the world in 2010 with the mixtape Water on the Moon, then The Reach mixtape arrived in 2011 along with their debut EP, What You Need. The EP topped the iTunes Hip-Hop chart while their 2012 album, the reggae-tinged The Bright Side, topped the music service's album chart. In 2014, the duo returned with a self-titled album which was produced by Von Mering. ~ David Jeffries
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A crucial figure in the Southern branch of the extreme metal community, Dax Riggs was born in Evansville, IN, on October 15, 1973, where he lived with his mother after the divorce of his parents. As Riggs edged into adolescence, he began to question his mother's devotion to the faith of the Jehovah's Witnesses, and he moved to Houma, LA to live with his father. While initially Riggs didn't care for life down South, in his teens he developed a passion for rock & roll, and after singing with a pair of short-lived local bands, Riggs became the lead vocalist with the pioneering sludge metal band Acid Bath, featuring guitarists Sammy Duet and Mike Sanchez, bassist Audie Pitre, and drummer Jimmy Kyle. While Acid Bath's punishing but trippy, groove-laden sound would prove to be deeply influential, the group's audience was frustratingly small during its existence, and the band called it quits in 1997 after the death of Audie Pitre in an auto accident. After fronting a short-lived group called Daisyhead & the Mooncrickets, Riggs re-emerged on the music scene with Agents of Oblivion, which also included Acid Bath guitarist Mike Sanchez as well as Alex Bergeron on bass, Jeff McCarty on drums, and Chuck Pitre on keyboards.
Agents of Oblivion's sound was as doomstruck as Acid Bath, but the approach was more subdued, showing the influence of traditional hard rock and blues in its slower tempos and smoother melodies. Agents of Oblivion released one album in 2000, but broke up not long after completing a tour to support it. After the collapse of Agents of Oblivion, Riggs formed a new band, Deadboy & the Elephantmen, which sported a stripped-down, blues-based sound and featured Riggs playing guitar as well as singing. The group's first album, 2002's If This Is Hell Then I'm Lucky, was a full-band affair, with Riggs joined by Jason Dupre on guitar, Chris Gautreaux on bass, and Jeff Lecompte on drums, but he pared the group back to a duo for 2005's We Are Night Sky, with Riggs joined by drummer Tess Brunet. In late 2006, Brunet quit the band, and as Riggs was recording Deadboy & the Elephantmen's third album with a rotating crew of musicians, he opted to abandon the group moniker and release the music under the name Dax Riggs. Featuring some of Riggs' most powerful and emotionally incisive music to date, We Sing of Only Blood or Love was released in the summer of 2007. For 2010's Say Goodnight to the World, Riggs recorded in his home studio with Austin, TX locals Charley Siess (drums) and Kevin Fitzsimmons (bass). ~ Mark Deming
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In 2004, Guitarists Chris Letchford and Travis Levrier moved to Los Angeles to attend the Musicians Institute, where they met drummer Pat Skeffington. After a few months, the band was completed with the addition of Bassist Jordan Eberhardt. While attending M.I., Chris and Travis also attended a luthier course, where the duo learned to build their own custom guitars. At the end of 2006, Scale The Summit moved to Letchford's home town of Houston, Texas, where they released their self-released debut album, Monument. They slowly started to gain attention from magazines such as Kerrang, Rock Sound and Amp. A couple years later in 2009 they signed with Prosthetic Records and began working on their second album, Carving Desert Canyons. The release of the second album was extremely successful, earning the band a spot on the 2008 Progressive Nation Tour with Dream Theater. After a couple more years of touring, the band settled in again in late 2010 to record their most recent album, The Collective.
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Renowned independent music company Arts & Crafts is proud to announce a North American tour featuring three of the Toronto-based label's exciting young artists, showcasing across the continent this March and April.
The tour package is an extension of Arts & Crafts' long-standing collaborative spirit and is the latest in a tradition of A&C label packages that began with Broken Social Scene, Feist and Stars nearly a decade ago.
Bands will share stages and rotate slots throughout the tour - which includes a stop at SXSW - collaborating on exclusives and offering fans a unique live experience driven by Arts & Crafts' continued commitment to fostering creativity and discovery.
Los Angeles six-piece NO will release debut album El Prado on February 18, having teased the anticipated record with first single "Leave The Door Wide Open" and a haunting cover of Leonard Cohen's "Suzanne."
Toronto art-rock quartet The Darcys released its latest album Warring in late 2013 to critical acclaim, described by SPIN as a "pretty hybrid of Local Natives and Atoms For Peace" and recently hailed by NYLON as "your new favourite band."
Emerging Calgary folk rock outfit Reuben And The Dark are building towards the Spring 2014 release of its anticipated debut full-length, already buoyed by the success of a North American tour with Paper Kites and incredible reaction to debut singles "Rolling Stone" and "Shoulderblade."
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"Acoustic guitar, accordion, harmonies and enough Brit-folk melodies to make Mumford & Sons jealous." -American Songwriter
"A Redmoon spectacle multiplied by a Decemberists concert... It's tough to shake the notion that you're in at the launch stage of a group that could soon escape orbit." -Time Out Chicago
PigPen Theatre Co. began creating their unique brand of music, film, and theatre as freshman at the Carnegie Mellon School of Drama in 2008. Their debut indie-folk album, "Bremen", was featured by American Songwriter and was named #10 album of the year in The Huffington Post's 2012 Grammy preview. Their follow up EP, "The Way I'm Running", was released on October 8th and was premiered by American Songwriter. They were also the first group to win the NYC Fringe Festival's top honor for a play two years in a row in 2010 and 2011, and produced several original plays off-Broadway earning them critic's picks from The New York Times, Time Out New York, New York Magazine and more - ranking them in the top ten theatrical events of both 2011 and 2012.
PigPen is thrilled to be developing their debut children's novel with Writers House, one of the world's leading young adult literary agencies, as they are currently on tour as a band.
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Before becoming a full-fledged punk band, Against Me! was an acoustic solo project spearheaded by Laura Jane Grace, who began playing shows as a 17-year-old in Gainesville, Florida. Starting in 1997, Grace performed as a solo act wherever anyone would have her, drawing much influence from early acoustic protest music. By 2001, she'd beefed up her sound with the help of a full band -- including guitarist James Bowman, drummer Warren Oakes, and bassist Andrew Seward -- but there would always be some anarchism and Billy Bragg in the group's raucous braggadocio. After a few initial 12" and 7" releases, Against Me! issued the fan favorite Reinventing Axl Rose in 2002. The underground hit blended elements of punk, folk, and country into socially conscious and impassioned anthems. Continuing their reputation of always being on the road, the musicians logged countless tour dates around the country in support of their early material.
A slightly more polished album, As the Eternal Cowboy, was released in 2003 on the indie label Fat Wreck, followed by a compilation of that album's demos titled The Original Cowboy. After the release of a DVD (We're Never Going Home) and another 7", the band returned with its most mature effort to date, 2005's Searching for a Former Clarity. A subsequent headlining tour in support of the introspective, politically aggressive album saw Against Me! proudly hitting every U.S. state, and they signed with Sire Records in December 2005. Later they issued a rough version of Searching for a Former Clarity, titled Total Clarity. They were back on the road by spring 2006, this time opening for the Alkaline Trio, and spent the summer months playing the main stage at the Warped Tour. Though Against Me! were officially signed to Sire's roster, they released their last indie album in the form of Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!, a concert album recorded while on tour in London with Murder by Death.
In July 2007, the band's major-label debut -- New Wave, a decidedly more rock-oriented record produced by Butch Vig -- hit shelves. New Wave was the first album by Against Me! with no acoustic tracks; it was also their first on a major label's tab. Reviews were generally favorable, and the band toured heavily in support of its release. By the summer of 2009, drummer Warren Oakes had officially left the group to pursue an alternate career as a restaurateur, eventually opening up a Tex-Mex eatery in Gainesville. Hot Water Music's George Rebelo joined in his place, and the revised lineup re-enlisted Butch Vig to produce the White Crosses album, which appeared in mid-2010. White Crosses debuted at 34 on the Billboard 200 and Against Me! were prepared to launch an international tour when they canceled a planned leg through Australia and New Zealand in September of 2010. Two months later, the band parted ways with Sire, and then prepared for some end-of-the-year shows with Jay Weinberg sitting in for Rebelo on drums, a move that was made permanent early in 2011. That spring, the demos collection Total Clarity appeared on Fat Wreck Chords, and as Against Me! started work on a new album, they launched their own record label called Total Treble Music; that year, Grace also opened an Elkton, Florida-based recording studio bearing the same name.
In a May 2012 interview with Rolling Stone, Laura Jane Grace went public with her gender dysphoria, announcing her plans to transition to living as a woman and abandon her birth name, Tom Gabel. Against Me! began working on a new album called Transgender Dysphoria Blues in 2012 and, a few months after the interview, the band played its first dates since Grace's news. Toward the end of the year, Weinberg left the troupe and, the following May, Against Me! announced bassist Andrew Seward had left the band. Laura Jane Grace continued working with guitarist James Bowman and the band released Transgender Dysphoria Blues to wide acclaim in January 2014. ~ Johnny Loftus
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Dave Hause is a songwriter from Philadelphia that has played in several bands. His prior acts include Step Ahead, The Curse, Paint It Black and The Loved Ones the latter of the four being the most prominent. He found success with The Loved Ones but for certain reasons the band did not work out. This left him to work on his solo career which led to him being invited on Chuck Ragan's Revival Tour in 2009 where he played his bands favorites and solo cuts. Since splitting off on his own he has released two solo albums Resolutions (2011) and Devour (2013) and has continued to tour on his own. Anyone who loved Dave's old bands will surely enjoy what he has to offer here, but so will fans of Matt Skiba, Chuck Ragan, and Tom Gabel