CIMS Indie Fresh
On the group's sixth album, Passwords, inspiration pulls guitarist/ singer Taylor Goldsmith, drummer Griffin Goldsmith, bassist Wylie Gelber, and keyboardist Lee Pardini into their most universal, topical territory to date. This is a record about the modern world: the relationships that fill it, the politics that divide it, the small victories and big losses that give it shape. Taylor's writing is personal at points - the result of his recent engagement, which lends a sense of gravity and self-reflection to album highlights like "Time Flies Either Way" and "I Can't Love" - but it also zooms out, focusing not on the director himself, but on everything within the lens.
Babelsberg – the fifth album by Gruff Rhys – is the Welsh singer/songwriter’s very best work to date. That’s a pretty bold statement, considering the incredibly rich and deep back catalogue he’s amassed over the last twenty plus years (as a solo artist and as a member of both Super Furry Animals and Neon Neon), but in this case, it’s undisputedly true. Lean and laser focused, Babelsberg is a playful ten-song set that properly cements Gruff’s reputation as one of the U.K.’s true national treasures. Although recorded in a feverish three-day burst of activity early in 2016 with help from drummer Kliph Scurlock, Stephen Black (aka Sweet Baboo) and Osian Gwyneth, the record only came together late last year with the help of arranger Stephen McNeff and the National Orchestra of Wales. Their work on the record helped to create a lush backdrop for Gruff’s songs – lush, dreamlike and beautifully timeless. The result is something close to perfection, a place where Gruff found himself “in service to the song and the emotion above anything else” (Mojo). While the songs on Babelsberg are reflective of many of the 21st century’s damning injustices, in the hands of this ever-visionary lyricist, none of them are mired in the kind of gloom that the subjects deserve. Whether on the album opener’s encounter with the embodiment of boorish patriarchy (“Frontier Man”) or its hopeful paean to the idea of positive solutions to god awful situations (“Negative Vibes”) or the closer’s vain attempt to capture the perfect Instagram portrait as the apocalypse dawns (“Selfies In The Sunset”), Babelsberg effortlessly meshes Gruff’s uniquely poetic perspective to some of the most glorious melodies he’s ever written. Bold statements, we know. We’re confident you’ll be in agreement when you hear it. “Emblem of imagination, pioneer of creative possibility” - Q Magazine “A truly maverick - albeit always understated - composer at work” - The Guardian
Athens, Georgia's T Hardy Morris (Dead Confederate, Diamond Rugs) is set to release his third solo album on May 24, 2018. Titled Dude, The Obscure, the album is a work that Morris says, "flowed from a creative space I found at the intersection of dreams and reality." In captivating songs, Morris sheds the traps of ambition and nostalgia and uncovers the strange satisfaction of living in the moment. Even the album title, “Dude, The Obscure,” hints at self-discovery. In an homage to English author Thomas Hardy’s novel, “Jude, The Obscure,” Morris reveals his love for literature, philosophy and poetry — along with a secret about his stage name. “Thomas Hardy is my given name, and Dude, The Obscure is a moniker I considered using as an artist,” Morris said. “The hat tip to the novel seemed appropriate for the album because it deals with doubts, joys, regrets and spirituality, a lifelong journey and such." Each song on the album seems compelled by Morris’ desire to help himself— and others— conquer the void of everyday meaninglessness. It’s an effort philosopher Maurice Blanchot described as the anguish of writing: “You have to cross an abyss, and if you do not jump, you do not comprehend.” Morris takes that leap to find universal truth by navigating sometimes opposing perspectives within moments that change lives. Morris beautifully warns us not to succumb to the fear of missing out that stands in the way of contentment on the album’s defining moment, “Cheating Life, Living Death.” Every dream is an invitation/ To leave your love up on the shelf/ When you walk out every evening/ Cheating life and living death." For the sessions, Morris made the familiar pilgrimage to Adam Landry’s home studio in Nashville. The longtime collaborators took their time and gave each song the opportunity to grow unaffected by outside influence except the magic that happens when two friends lock themselves in a smoky shed to make music, and a few pals stop by. Within 11 powerful songs, the Athens rocker reveals scars and shares lessons from an indie-rock odyssey that has taken him around the world and back home to find himself a little older and closer to something like enlightenment. And just in time for a new journey to begin.
Lindsey Jordan is on the brink of something huge, and she’s only just graduated high school. Her voice rises and falls with electricity throughout Lush, her debut album as Snail Mail, spinning with bold excitement and new beginnings at every turn. In the time that’s elapsed since Habit, her 2016 EP, Jordan has graduated high school, toured the country, opened for the likes of Girlpool and Waxahatchee as well as selling out her own headline shows, and participated in a round-table discussion for The New York Times about women in punk -- giving her time to reflect and refine her songwriting process by using tempered pacings and alternate tunings to create a jawdropping debut both thoughtful and cathartic. Recorded with producer Jake Aron and engineer Johnny Schenke, with contributions from touring bandmates drummer Ray Brown and bassist Alex Bass as well, Lush sounds cinematic, yet still perfectly homemade. “Is there any better feeling than coming clean?” sings the eighteen-year-old guitarist and songwriter halfway through the sprawling anthem that is “Pristine,” the album’s first single. You can’t help but agree with her. It’s a hook that immediately sticks in your head—and a question she seems to be grappling with throughout the record’s 10-songs of crystalline guitar pop. Throughout Lush, Jordan’s clear and powerful voice, acute sense of pacing, and razor-sharp writing cut through the chaos and messiness of growing up: the passing trends, the awkward house parties, the sick-to-your-stomach crushes and the heart wrenching breakups. Jordan’s most masterful skill is in crafting tension, working with muted melodrama that builds and never quite breaks, stretching out over moody rockers and soft-burning hooks, making for visceral slow-releases that stick under the skin. “The artist I’m most excited for in 2018” -Jon Caramanica, NYTimes “Songs that combat the acute smallness of suburban youth, filling in empty space with punk-inflected guitar and imagining vantages from which everything feels bigger and more beautiful”. Pitchfork “Rarely can we witness the creative progression unfold from prodigious potential to fully realized vision so quickly” - NPR
The Milk Carton Kids’ fifth album , All the Things That I Did and All the Things That I Didn’t Do arrives from ANTI- Records on June 29. The new project marks the first time that acoustic duo Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pat- tengale have brought a band into studio with them. “We wanted to do something new,” Pattengale says. “We had been going around the country yet another time to do the duo show, going to the places we’d been before. There arose some sort of need for change.” “Musically we knew we were going to make the record with a big- ger sonic palette,” says Ryan. “It was liberating to know we didn’t have to be able to carry every song with just our two guitars.” “Sometimes in singing, we’ll switch parts for a beat or a bar or a note,” Ryan says. “And things start to obscure what is the melody and what is the supporting part.” A third presence rises out of their combined voices. “There are only so many things you can do alone that al- low you to transcend your sense of self for even a short period,” Pattengale says. “I’m the lucky recipient of a life in which for hundreds of times, day after day, I get to spend an hour that is like speaking a language only two people know and doing it in a space with others who want to hear it.”
It's rare that a band's debut album sounds as confident and self-assured as Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever's Hope Downs. To say that the first full-length from the Melbourne quintet improves on their buzz-building EPs from the last few years would be an understatement: the promise those early releases hinted at is fully realized here, with ten songs of urgent, passionate guitar pop that elicit warm memories of bands past, from the Go-Betweens' jangle to the charmingly lo-fi trappings of New Zealand's Flying Nun label. But don't mistake Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever for nostalgists: Hope Downs is the sound of a band finding its own collective voice.
The Nude Party – one of 2018’s most groovy and dynamic rock records is produced by Oakley Munson of The Black Lips and recorded in Woodstock, NY at Dreamland Recording Studios, the circa-1896 former St. John’s Church. The self-titled album finds that formidable music machine cranked all the way to cosmic. Maybe it’s the electric waters of Lake Norman, NC where the band spent a primordial summer, or the upstate New York vibes that have beckoned American spiritualists and storytellers for a dozen generations, but something gives these cats a glow. At very least the numerology scans. Even when heartbreak crashes the party, like on the hilarious “Records,” the buoyancy of the band’s demeanor negates the inevitable bummer. From the self-aware irreverence of “Chevrolet Van” to the apocalyptic resignation of “War Is Coming,” The Nude Party surfs heavy wavelengths with elegance and grace.
4-panel digipak with matte coating
Formed in Brooklyn in 1998, The Essex Green released four albums between 1999 and 2006. They became one of the few bands from the Northeast to be associated with the groundbreaking Elephant 6 Collective. Their unique blend of harmony-infused pop music culminated in the 2006 release of Cannibal Sea.
Sasha Bell, Jeff Baron, and Christopher Ziter were last seen together in the late aughts, waving from their van as they bid farewell to Brooklyn. And then, the unthinkable: The Essex Green went silent. But why? Legal cannabis? Climate change? Bad oysters? Nothing so dramatic. It was a simple promise made among them to chase down their separate dreams: Baron to build a houseboat and navigate the mighty Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers; Ziter to return to his home state of Vermont and lead local fermentation efforts; and Bell to decamp to Montana to study elk rutting.
Having achieved their goals or not, they vowed to break their silence in secret on the frigid waters of Lake Champlain during the blood moon eclipse of 2015 when the effect of the moon in Libra would be most powerful. Over the next two years, the three continued to meet and record in undisclosed locations. The result is Hardly Electronic, a music mapping of the trio’s personal journeys over the past decade.
4-panel CD wallet
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.