In Rotation

What is in rotation!

11/3

Recently added:
Marguerito, Spectrals, Five Finger Death Punch, White Denim, Rustie, Ryan York, Gauntlet Hair

Indie / Pop Features:

Artist: Marguerito
Album: I’m Having An Affair

Label: Not On a Label

Sounds Like: Destroyer, Pavement, and Wilco

Thoughts: New Jersey indie-rock band Marguerito (AlexNathanson’s high school friends) is the summation of what it means to havegrown up during the 90s and the 00s. The group defines itself as being, “thecenter point between Wilco, Kanye West, and Pavement, but way better.” Andwhile that definition reflects the band’s wry side, there is some truth behindthe faux-cockiness. Between the sampling of Panda Bear tracks and front manJake Fertig’s channeling of Andre 3000 and Drake on impromptu freestyles, I’m Having An Affair makes for one ofthe most eclectic albums of the year. However, it’s not just the sound thatmakes I’m Having An Affairunique–it’s also lyrical content. I’mHaving An Affair is a conceptual album that reflects the personal turmoilof Marguerito, a fictional character presumably from the Jersey suburbs–a placethat seems idyllic on the surface, but can be very stifling once you getsettled there.

Best Tracks: Marguerito, Let’s Grow Away, Minor League, YesMan, Rangers

Artist: Spectrals
Album: Bad Penny

Label: Slumberland
Sounds Like: Big Troubles, Real Estate, and Air Waves

Thoughts: Spectrals’s front man, Louis Jones, has a grittyvoice that rings of Manchester native and former Oasis front man, LiamGallagher. But it’s not the voice itself that makes the music interesting. It’sthe fact that this gritty voice serves as a complement to a psychedelic beachpop sound–a sound that’s usually complemented by more murmured vocalists (takeReal Estate for example).

Tracks: Get A Grip, You Don’t Have To Tell Me, Big Baby,Doing Time, Luck Is There To Be Pushed

Artist: White Denim

Album: Takes Place In Your Workspace

Label: Downtown Records

Sounds Like: Chill Led Zeppelin, Tame Impala

White Denim is a band your dad would like. They may mine the same territory as Yes did over 40 years ago, but White Denim replaces the heady ambition of their Prog influences with sunny, folk instrumentation. As shown on their earlier albums, White Denim can kick you in the face with a bass riff, but on this EP, they choose to soundtrack your neighborhood barbecue. The style shift is not out of place in the context White Denim’s already lengthy catalgue. So far, they been nearly impossible to pin down and I can’t imagine them staying still for too long. ~ Jordan

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 Artist: Ryan Adams

Album: Ashes & Fire

Label: Capitol

Comparable Artists: Neil Young

Ryan Adams has been through a lot lately. In the past few years, he’s been through the disintegration of his short-lived band the Cardinals, endured a high-profile relationship then marriage with singer/actress Mandy Moore as well as a potential hearing loss caused by Meniere’s disease. The resulting album is appopriately reflexive, delivering an albumful pull of beautiful, folk-and-country flavored compositions. Some of Adam’s most heartbreaking songs since Easy Tiger‘s devastating closing track “I Taught Myself How to Grow Old.”

Best Tracks: “Lucky Now,” “Dirty Rain,” “I Love You but I Don’t Know What to Say”

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Artist: Blood Oranges

Album: Coastal Grooves

Label: Domino

Comparable Artists: Tennis, Tears for Fears, Duran Duran

One of the things that makes Dev Hynes’s (British composer, artist, producer, general musical guru) solo project, Blood Oranges, great is the variety of genres that it encompasses. In a single song, you can hear the influence of everything ranging from 60s beach pop to new wave and from post-punk to Asian classical music. ~Alex

Tracks: Sutphin Boulevard, S’Cooled, Champagne Coast, The Complete Knock

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Artist: St. Vincent

Album: Strange Mercy

Sounds Like: Angelo Badalamenti, A crazier Feist

On her third and (I’d argue) best album, St. Vincent once again thrives on being her completely unpredictable self. A song that starts as a wistful lullaby can descend into a hell-raising guitar freak-out and then back again. It’s all held together by Annie Clark’s beautiful, if ethereal voice. Its an album of many layers and may require multiple listenings of every song to get the full extent of the elaborate songwriting. Still, well worth the effort. Looking forward to the day when St. Vincent provides the score to some off-beat indie feature.  ~Mark

Artist: Mates of State

Album: Mountaintops

Label: Barsuk

Sounds Like: Matt and Kim (less party more love), Dirty Projectors (less guitar more synth), Jenny and Johnny (more pop less rock)

I felt like I had already heard Mountaintops while listening to it for the first time. Mates of State is not exactly breaking new ground but they are doing really well exactly what we love them for, writing great pop-rock ballads. If you aren’t familiar with them they are an oh-so-cute married couple that sing with overlapping vocals, up-beat rhythms, synthy, and lovey-dovey. This album definitely walks the line of cheese (especially in “Changes”) to the point that I would not be surprised to hear Delilah play a track or two. Still a solid pop-rock record for cruising with your honey-bunny. ~Jim

Top Tracks: Palomino, Total Serendipity, Basement Money

Rock/Folk Features:

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Artist: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Album: It’s A Corporate World

Sounds Like: Beach Boys, Vampire Weekend

While I have my issues with the band too-quirky-for-its-own-good moniker, their brand of experimental pop hits all the right notes. Its never straightforward enough to be boring but it never squanders a good hook or harmony for weirdness’s sake. For someone just looking for some good chill music, it doesn’t get much better than this. ~ Mark

Tracks: Morning Thought, Nothing But our Love

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Artisit:War on Drugs

Album: Slave Ambient

Sounds Like: If Bob Dylan Hooked Up with My Bloody Valentine and Had a Child

Significantly more fun than the actual War on Drugs, this American indie band delivers Springsteen-level anthems with the rich, experimental landscape of a great Flaming Lips song. For my money, the best debut album of the year (so far). ~ Mark

Artist: Wavves

Album: Life Sux

Label: Ghost Ramp (Self-Released)

Sounds Like: Blink 182 if Blink 182 really didn’t give a fuck about anything and binged on Wire’s “Pink Flag”. Black Lips, No Age, Harlem

Imagine an alternate universe where pop-punk had artistic integrity AND retained the guilty-pleasure, sugar-sweet hooks you’ve come to know and love. Nathan Williams and Co is vying to make that fantasy a reality, and with Life Sux they succeed, albeit on a smaller scale. On this EP, Wavves takes another step away from the over-blown, ear-gouging production found on 2009’s album Wavvves, thusly putting William’s keen sense of melody front and center. These are the kind of songs that you’ll belt out while whizzing down freeway, wishing you too could meet David Grohl. ~Jordan

Top Tracks: “I Wanna Meet David Grohl”, “Nodding Off (feat. Best Coast), “Poor Lenore”

Artist: Dan Mangan

Album: Oh Fortune

Sounds like: Bon Iver, Swell Season

Electronic and such Features:

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Artist: Rustie

Album: Glass Swords

Record Label: Warp

Similar Artists: Kuedo, Zomby

Rustie’s debut album Glass Swords has caused a stir all over the internet lately and I was reluctant to jump on board immediately. Well, needless to say, everyone was right. This album is great. It takes a few listens, but slowly the albums complexity smooths into a wonderful ride through many genres. Rustie utilizes sounds from glitch hop, hip hop, funky and progressive house, as well as dubstep to orchestrate an electronic adventure. This is a wild ride! ~Chandler

Listen to these: Surph, City Star, Cry Flames, Death Mountain, All Nite

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Artist: Gauntlet Hair

Album: Gauntlet Hair

Record Label: Dead Oceans

Similar Artists: CANT, Panda Bear/Animal Collective(sometimes)

Gauntlet Hair’s self-tited.. where do I even begin? This album finds itself nestled perfectly between lo-fi, shoegaze, and chillwave (or dreamwave.. or whatever kind of wave you want). This album floats effortlessly between upbeat, danceable tracks and chilled out, noisy songs. I’m all too often thinking of Panda Bear and Animal Collective during this album, which is a huge compliment in my eyes. This is surely a group that you will want to keep an eye on.~Chandler

Listen to these: Top Bunk, Mop It Up, Lights Out, Showing, Shout In Tongues

Secondary review, so you know it must good…

Gauntlet Hair is the kind of band that could only exist in 2011. Not only do they own their distinctively modern sound, loosely resembling Animal Collective covering Joy Division, but they are decidedly a “blog band”; Gorilla Vs Bear’s Forrest family records released one of the band’s early single, “Out, Don’t”. Nonetheless, Gauntlet Hair is determined to dance-rock your sinuses into submission and I’m not one to complain. ~Jordan

Top Tracks: “Top Bunk”, “My Christ”, “Overkill”

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Artist: Ryan York

Album: If I Am This Forest EP

Record Label: Non Projects

Similar Artists: Anenon, a.d.l.r.

If you know anything about Non Projects, then you know that you can rely on them to release beautiful albums and EPs from a group of very talented, LA-based artists. Ryan York is probably the most prominent of these. He worked with Zola Jesus on her new record and is part of at least two other projects. If I Am This Forest is a solo work from Ryan York. However, the EP is just as rich with textures and elegant arrangements as any of his collaborative projects thus far. In fact, in might even exceed what he has done with others. Give is a go, it’s quite easy on the ears. ~Chandler

Listen to these: The whole EP: If I Am This Forest, Sea Water, As the Darkness (After the Crash), Me and You.

Artist: Sully

Album: Carrier

Record Label: Keysound Recordings

Similar Artists: DBridge, Scuba

A hugely hyped album that lives up to all of the previous hype. It all started in Nov. 2009 with the song Phonebox (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IW3ZlOXCy8U). The deep, dark moods of his previous releases carry over to Sully’s newest work, Carrier. It’s not all doom and gloom, though! This album romps through heavy bass lines, ravey stabs, uplifting melodies, and sets you back down softly when it’s all said and done. Subwoofers or good headphones are a necessity to fully appreciate this one. ~Chandler

Listen to these: 2-Hearts, It’s Your Love, Bonafide, Let You

Artist: 3LAU

Album: Dance Floor Filth

Label: Currently Unsigned

sounds like: White Panda, Super Mash Bros, Kap Slap, 5&A Dime

I chose 3Lau because he is one of the youngest and most talented mashup house producer out there today. His songs have been on blogs with critical aclaim. 3 of his tracks have hit ~EdricTry: Jagger Bomb, Dubsex, Yacht Week in America

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Artist: Various

Album: Drive: The Original Soundtrack

Record Label: Lakeshore Records

Sounds Like: A poppier Krafwerk

One of the most visceral and ususual films of the year, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive also boasts an impressive array of hypnotic electronic-pop from both composer Cliff Martinez and select underground artists. It’s an album heavy on atmosphere and beautifully crafted dread. More importantly, unlike other soundtracks, it holds up on its own terms as an album. Though, of course, seeing the movie helps–Mark

Best Tracks: “Nightcall” by Kavinsky & Lovefox, “A Real Hero” (feat. Electric Youth) by College, “Rubber Head” by Cliff Martinez

THOUGHTS:

Hip-Hop Features:

Drake, Take Care

Drake’s sophomore effort, Take Care, released on Young Money, Cash Money, continues his hold on the soul/pop/melancholy hip-hop branch.  The album features fellow Young Money label mates Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj as well as Rick Ross and The Weeknd, part of Drake’s OVOXO movement.  The album is lengthy, measuring over an hour and fifteen minutes and Drake essentially spends it discussing a few central themes: confusion in love, an acceptance of success, and a certain balance of self-deprecation and bravado.  Most of the product is handled by Drake’s right-hand man, Noah “40” Shebib, and there’s a sampling of various hip-hop sub-genres, from spacey sounds to southern maximalism, Take Care features it all.  And just as Drake knows, all it takes is a few spins to realize that OVO and XO is everything you believe in.

Idle Warship, Habits of Heart

Blacksmith Music/Element 9

Idle Warship, composed of Talib Kweli and Res, released      Habits of Heart on Blacksmith Music/Element 9 as their first studio album.  The album features high energy tunes with vocals from Res and raps from Kweli.  Although Res really steps into the forefront on this album revolving love and its trials, Kweli offers a nice edge to what would otherwise just be another collection of some well-executed ballads.  Slightly funky, pretty soulful, Habits of Heart is a fresh take on hip-hop collaborations and duos.

 

 

 

 

Wale, Ambition

Maybach Music Group (MMG) and Warner Bros.

Wale’s second studio album, Ambition, comes after the muted release of a debut album and several popular mixtapes, and it is this album on which Wale seems to find his voice in rap. . .and one with a heavy R&B influence.  Several songs feature some of the hottest R&B artists of the moment from Miguel (Lotus Flower Bomb) to Lloyd (Sabotage), Wale backs up his rhymes with sweet crooners.  The musical aspects of “Theory 11.1.11” act as a good preview to this album, as the overall vibe is created by Wale’s sense of arrival and merit of hard work.  The production finds itself not following the trend of “Dub-Hop” or melancholy beats in the vein of Drake, but rather in a spirited and joyful groove.

Stand-out tracks: “Chain Music,” “Focused,” “Sabotage,” “Ambition”

Sounds like: Chip Tha Ripper, Meek Mill

Singles Selection:  ~from Caroline

Childish Gambino, “Bonfire”

Sounds like: MF DOOM, Das Racist, and Donald Glover.

The debut single for Childish Gambino’s debut album, Camp, Gambino’s witty rhymes take a more aggressive delivery.  The result is good fire indeed.  Camp out November 15.

The Internet’s “They Say” and “Love Song”

Sounds like: The Weeknd

Two singles out from Syd and Matt Martian of OFWGKTA (Odd Future).  Slightly sleepy and totally relaxed, The Internet offers a sound yet to be heard from the Odd Future collective.  Stay tuned for more.

Tyga ft. Drake, “Still Got It”

Sounds like: YMCMB, Chris Brown (when he raps. . .)

The next big release since Tyga’s “Well Done” mixtapes, this Young Money MC tunes to more commercial rap with fresh bars over Drake’s “Still Got It.”  The real question is if Drake every had it on this track.

Young Jeezy ft. T.I., “F.A.M.E.”

Sounds like: Eminem

Atlanta’s own Young Jeezy premieres his fourth studio album, TM103, with “F.A.M.E.”  Taking a few steps from the Trap, Young Jeezy reflects on some facts of life with a melancholy tone.  Be on look out for TM103: Hustlerz Ambition in late December.

The Weeknd, “Initiation”

Sounds like: The Internet

Possibly off the pending mixture, “Echoes of Silence,” The Weeknd released this track in his typical modus operandi–lots of mystery.  Some try to call this R&B; some try to call this post-dub step.

Drake ft. Rick Ross, “Free Spirit”

Sounds like: YMCMB, SBTRKT

Rick Ross assists Drake in delivering a smooth set of raps about their lady friends over a relaxed snare beat.  Made just for those times when you simply get so drunk you forget your name.  Drake’s second studio album, Take Care, out November 24th. OVOXO.

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Artist: Kassa Overall

Album: Stargate Mixtape

Label: N/A (self-produced/released for free)

Similar to: Das Racist, TECLA, Lupe Fiasco

Meet Kassa Overall. Rapper, producer, classically trained jazz drummer. Stargate takes listener’s on a journey from upbeat tracks fit for bumping in your ride on a Friday night to more serious contemplations of mental illness and cancer. Kassa’s rhymes shift seamlessly from gangsta to silly, never losing hold on his decidedly slick flow. With guests on the tracks including Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Gordon Voidwell, TECLA, and Heems & Kool AD of Das Racist, Stargate Mixtape showcases an MC only getting started…keep your eyes out for more from Kassa.

Top Tracks: “Fireworks” “Till I’m Gone” “Black and Yellow” “What Would You Do” “What’s My Name”

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Artist: Das Racist

Album: Relax

Label: Greedhead

Similar to: Nobody in the game.

This September, hip-hop game changers Das Racist released their first LP, Relax. In the wake of two incredible free mixtapes “Sit Down, Man” and “Shut Up, Dude” Das Racist have taken the music world by storm. Das Racist seamlessly blends high brow racial commentary with thoroughly vetted hip-hop knowledge and a nonstop stream of wit and humor. Not to mention their top-notch lyrics and flow—these two MCs must be taken seriously…right? As the refrain from “hahaha……jk” states: “We’re not joking/just joking/we are joking/just joking/we’re not joking.” Himanshu “@HEEMS” Suri and Victor “KOOL AD” Vasquez are Wesleyan-educated and hail from Flushing, Queens, NY and Bay Area, San Francisco, CA respectively. Das Racist are probably best described by their own lyrics: “Is it parody, comedy, novelty, or scholarly? A little bit of Column A, a little bit of Column B.” This album must be heard to be believed.

Top tracks: “Relax” “Girl” “Punjabi Song” “Power” “Middle of the Cake” “Michael Jackson”

Album: “Cole World: The Sideline Story”

Artist: J. Cole

Comparable artists: Nas and Tupac

J. Cole may be asking for guidelines to get off the sidelines, but he’s done just that with his debut album “Cole World: The Sideline Story,” released on Def Jam September 27th.  With beats that could stand on their own, Cole provides insights on everything from unplanned pregnancies to making his dream a reality delivered in his genuine, yet confident style.  “Cole World” features several tracks off Cole’s previous mixtapes (In the Morning, Lights Please) which not only show that he has been in the game for a minute, but also commemorate all the work J. Cole put in to make this album happen.  J. Cole wanted his first album to be his time to glow, holding just four features.  Cole is no longer lending verses to Jay-Z and Kanye, he’s all-out, holding his own on the production and verses of his own studio album. How does J. Cole feel? Very happy.

Top Tracks: Lights Please, In the Morning ft. Drake, Lost Ones, Nobody’s Perfect, Rise and Shine

Album: “Black Up”

Artist: Shabazz Palaces

Comparable artists: Cunninlynguists, J Dilla, Ratatat

Dancing around the line of trip hop and dustep hip-hop, “Black Up” by Shabazz Palaces is an album to be experienced.  Smeared synths complemented by sharp and striking lyrics define “Black Up.”  Its atmospheric vibe and unique song structure make a listener hesitant to classify “Black Up” as hip-hop, but the subject material handles familiar topics just in a fresh and unorthodox way. So sit back, tune up, and zone out to “Black Up” by SubPop’s Shabazz Palaces.

Top Tracks: “free press and curl,” “A treatease dedicated to The Avian Airess from North East Nubis,” “Endeavors for Never”

Feeling Punky Features:

Artist: Five Finger Death Punch
Album: American Capitalist
Label: PROSPECT PARK
Comparable Artists: Killswitch Engage, All that Remains, As I Lay Dying, and Trivium
Review: Like any good band name does, Five Finger Death Punch tells you all you need to know. Sporting heavy rhythm, hard hitting double kick petals, blistering solos, and acidy vocals, American Capitalist pulls no punches (pun intended). The blend of deep, harsh screams and melodic vocals creates some beautiful destruction and a beat that is hard to avoid head banging too. At times, the vocals and guitar can become a bit to muddled, low and distorted, taking the listener a bit out of the moment. That being said, when they are at their best, Five Finger Death Punch creates some satisfying riffs and vocals that will keep you moshing for quite some time.  Final score: 3.8/5
Best Tracks: American Capitalist, Under and Over It, The Pride, and Coming Down

Artist: Blink-182

Album: Neighborhoods

Label: Dgc/interscope

Comparable Artists: Sum 41, +44, Angels and Airwaves, and Lit

After 8 long years, blink-182 has finally released a new album and it does not disappoint. I chose the album because blink-182 had a massive cultural impact on both the pop and rock world, defining many people’s childhoods (mine included) along the way. The tried and true trio is back for some good old pop rock. The overall production quality is better than their previous work, shying away from a bare bones set up of purely bass, guitar, and drums. This time around, keyboard, piano and a range of sound effects are a welcome addition, helping to flesh out a nice, clean sound. Tom and Mark are both back on vocals although Tom sounds a little less high pitched (for better or for worse). In terms of content, the album feels heavier. It is a departure from the teen-angst driven albums of the past such as dude ranch as you might imagine, considering several band members are now married with kids. The subject matter ranges from lost love to military oppression and blink certainly seems to boldly go where they have yet to tread. All in all, this is blink at its core and fans old and new will find something to relate to. Final score: 4/5 ~Avery

Best Tracks: Even if She Falls, Snake Charmer, Natives, Wishing Well, and MH 4.18.2011.

Local Music Features:

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Artist: Little Tybee

Album: Humorous to Bees

Label:Paper Garden Records

Compare to: Tilly and the Wall, Bombay Bicycle Club

This local band recently got signed- and for good reason.The band addition of a violin beyond the regular guitar, drums, and bass createsa sweet sound that anyone can hum to. Humorous to Bees explores elements ofnature and love. With relatable lyrics and smooth instrumentals, this album iseasy listening.  ~Sonia

Best Tracks: Design, Passion Seekers, Nero, In Range, Holding Stones

Artist: New Animal

Unsigned

Sounds Like: Clap your hands say yeah!, Animal Collective,

These two (three maybe? I think they recently added a thirdperson, but I’m not positive) guys are a local band that is quickly blowing up.Listening to the music, you would never guess how simple their live set-up is. Both members multitask with two instruments, in addition to the vocals, which is incredible. The vocals have a very raw nature to them, which I find enticing. Whether sitting or standing, any audience member can have a good time watching these guys perform.  ~Sonia

Tracks: Lift you up, All I want is Gone, Kill the Lights, Grow Back Out, Take me If you Can

Experimental Features:

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Artist: Bjork

Album: Biophilia

Label: Universal

Sounds Like: The Knife, Sigur Ros, Lykke Li

Top Tracks: Crystalline, Moon, Virus

Have you ever had a dream that was both haunting and sensual? That is what Bjork sounds like but with strong female vocals. While most of her previous works have focused on romances between people, this album, as the title suggests (Bio-life, Philia Greek for love) examines her romance with the Earth and the heavens. Songs like Virus combine the two using the relationship of a virus and a host as a simile for human relationships, and, I believe, quite literally suggests Bjork’s love and awe of actual virus-host mutualism. -Jim

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Artist: Zola Jesus

Album: Conatus

Label: Sacred Bones

Sounds like: hallucinating zombie bride on the artic tundra; grizzly bear, a russian bjork

With a voice that rivals the strength of Adele’s (yeah i said it), with a haunting hypnotic vibratto, 22-yr old Russian/American Nika Roza Danilova has quite a career ahead of her. Naming Her alter-ego after JEsus Christ and Emile Zola, she wished to “alienate peers”. She’s a dark little one, that read too much depressing Philosophy at University of Wisconsin. Co-self produced, Conatus is her third LP, and fuses wonderful string instrument elements with experiemntal rock and electronic pop. It’s goth-y and gorgeous, and you can even kinda dance (like a coked-out zombie) to some of the songs… ~Ladov

Tracks: Shivers, Skin, Hikikomori, Seekir, Lick the Palm of the Burning Handshake

Foreign Features:

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Artist: Nous Non Plus

Album: Freudian Slip

Sounds Like: A French Yo La Tengo on uppers during the 90s

Well if my “sounds like” didn’t convince you of the happy-go-lucky tunes of Nous Non Plus, let me try harder.  ok ok, you spent the night at the discoteque listening to the Bung Bunga track, and you found your lover in matching blue-sequened jumpsuit. together, you gleefully stumble out the club, and decide to go for a frolick in a prarie field: white daisies in your hair, lollipops in mouths (except when your singing or kissing…, in french), and and there’s kittens and bunnies dancing with you too!

Tracks: All the ones on h-ro! Bunga bunga is much more dancey-disco, the others are very 90s pop.

My Friend’s In A Band Feature: 

Album: Psychic Summer

Artist: Triptides

Sounds Like: Surfer Blood + Clientele

Jake Krakovsky’s buddies are cool.

Bloomington, IN based Triptides is Glenn Brigman (guitar/vox), Josh Menashe (bass/vox), and Shaun Snyder (drums).

Having released a few singles, a mixtape, and an EP (most of which can be found at http://triptides.bandcamp.com/ for free) Psychic Summer (which can be found at their bandcamp for $4) is their first LP, available for digital download on the Beachtapes label. They have been described as “Psychedelic Garage Pop Landlocked Surf Rock” by me, and as AWESOME from dozens of music blogs. They’ve been getting lots of radio play in Europe, weirdly enough, and are currently on tour in California.

Influences include: Nazz, The Ventures, The Beatles, T. Rex, The Beach Boys, Tame Impala, Os Mutantes, Pavement,  The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Real Estate, Neil Young, The Resonars, Spacemen 3, Ariel Pink, Animal Collective, The Nuggets, Bare Wires, Deerhunter

Singles Features:

THOUGHTS:

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