Native to Houston, TX, Chris Lively began songwriting in the late 2000’s with a focus on lyricism and melody underpinned by euphonic chording and a blend of folk/blues/Americana-inspired rhythms and instrumentation. His oftentimes hypnotic and dynamic songs can both introspectively calm you and energetically tug at your heart. If they don’t, they’ll at least be stuck in your head.
October 2017 ushered in the release of Lively’s second full-length album, Distance. Replete with spacious vocals, emotive lyrics, layered guitars, and meditative finger-picking, Distance is not a far departure Chris’s previous work. However, the new album contains a unique character and feel that reflect an artist who has certainly evolved and is no stranger to traversing new terrain, both instrumentally and thematically. In addition to featuring diversified instrumentation with performances by other musicians on piano, percussion, violin, and steel guitar, Distance is a soulful and often twangy album that swings as it delicately balances a haunting quality with an optimistic lightheartedness.
Kyle Hubbard is a hip-hop artist from Houston, TX with a style that stresses strength in lyrics through an accessible presentation. Hubbard was nominated “Best Underground Rapper” in the 2010 & 2012 Houston Press Music Awards. His debut album, “You’re Not That Special”, won several awards in 2012 and was ranked third on Houston Chronicle’s “Top 10 Albums 2012” list. After a lengthy hiatus, Hubbard returned to Houston hip-hop with his new EP “Majestic Hotel”. The EP cracked the top 10 on Houston Press’ “Top 15 Rap Tapes of 2015” list. In 2016, Hubbard was an official SXSW performer and was noted by Billboard as one of the artists keeping Houston hip-hop alive. He was also nominated in the “Reader’s Choice” category of the 2016 Houston Press Music Awards. In 2017, Hubbard returned to SXSW for his second consecutive year as an official performer and was listed as one of Houston Press’ “50 Houston Music People We Love.” His sound has positioned him to be the South’s answer to Atmosphere with a bit of Phonte’s every-man lyricism sprinkled in.
Count Vaseline is an alternative rock project founded in 2016 by songwriter, musician, and producer ’Stefan Murphy’ during a creative spell in Berlin Germany. Following only a handful of live appearances in Germany, Count Vaseline decamped to the US to begin working on what would quickly become his first album ‘Yo No Soy Marinero’. The narrative of the record is very personal and details a difficult phase in Murphy’s life and creativity as well as a celebration of his trials and tribulations in Berlin.
‘’They almost let me into the Berghain, but then they got wise ‘when I accidentally puked in the Bouncers eyes” – Divebombing
Making the decision to stay in the US was closely followed by a Presidential election that was going to send the universe into something of a tailspin. The rise of Donald Trump as well as a lot of depressing reading about the cyclical patterns in world politics quickly gave birth to The Count’s second album, the very minimal ‘Cascade’.
“No Politics exists that will protect you from the horror of these times” – Cascade
But it wasn’t all doom and gloom ‘Russia’, the forthcoming single is designed to make the people dance!! The song was inspired by the documentary film ‘Hypernormalization’ and is a personal account of two lovers trying to break free from the constraints of the modern world. The song is deliberately performed at 117 beats per minute, the same BPM as Quincy Jones / Michael Jacksons magnum opus ‘Billie Jean’, one of the most danceable tunes in history.
Hangout—- GOING GREY finds The Front Bottoms embracing the impermanence of life and finding flexibility in the face of change. Having relocated band headquarters to the coastal New Jersey community of Asbury Park during the demoing stages of the album, GOING GREY sees the band acknowledge the nostalgia of simpler times with admiration while welcoming the inevitable unknowns of life.
Bronxville, New York lies about 15 miles north of Manhattan, a small, prosperous community largely made up of professionals, finance-workers, lawyers. Growing up here, Chris Baio’s life followed the trajectory familiar to many suburban teenagers — a progression of piano lessons, bad pop-punk bands, getting drunk in the park, one eye forever trained on the city beyond.
It was years – not until 2009, in fact, by which time Baio was 24, that he learned that the iconic American author Don DeLillo was also a resident of Bronxville. Struck by the proximity to a writer he greatly admired, by the simple knowledge that “there had been a great artist in my midst”, over the course of three months Baio set about reading all of DeLillo’s books — among them Libra, Underworld, and The Names, his 1982 novel about an American living in Greece, to which Baio felt a particular connection. “And I just realized,” he says, “that if I were ever going to make a solo album I would want to call it The Names.”
Since 2006, Baio has been best known as the bass-player in Vampire Weekend, the New York-based rock band who last year won a Grammy for their third album, Modern Vampires of the City. In his downtime between tours, however, Baio recognized in himself an increasing restlessness, a desire to explore his own individual voice away from the band.
He describes The Names as “a realization of my influences and things that I love” — a world quite distinct to that of Vampire Weekend. Those influences do of course emerge in bass-playing and surfaced on an earlier EP, Sunburn (2012), but what is striking about Baio’s first solo collection is its marked difference to his work with the band.
Across its nine tracks, Baio wanted to return, in part, to the electronic music he had enjoyed while DJing at college, but also to investigate his own lyrical and vocal style to create something quite new and not easily categorized. “What I wanted to feel with this record was that it’s not a band record, it’s not a solo record and it’s not a producer record, but a combination of all three. I wanted to create a space where almost anything could happen,” he says.
In the making of The Names, Baio explored ideas of space — of belonging, identity and finding a place in the world. Some of this was occasioned by his own geographical shift — he and his wife relocated from New York to London in 2013, and he found himself struck by his new city’s expanse of sky, green space, globalness — elements that seem to infuse this record.
He began writing these songs at the tail end of that year, and in some ways, they were a continuous point in a transient period of his life. “I would be home from the Vampire Weekend tour, I would make maybe two rough instrumentals and then I would take those instrumentals back with me on tour,” he recalls, “traveling around listening to them, trying to write melodies, trying to write lyrics.”
At that point, the album was still something of a riddle to him, a conundrum of sorts. “I find working on music there’s the initial blast of inspiration and then after that, it’s like solving a puzzle,” he explains. But what was certain, even in the album’s infancy, was that he wanted The Names to be a record that was compact and intense and vital, hovering around the 40-minute mark, as many of his favorite Roxy Music or Can albums were. He also wanted the songs to show something of a narrative progression, “So it starts in a darker place,” he says, “and ends with sweet love songs.”
He also wanted it to show the diversity of his tastes, to be a musically rich and variegated collection of songs. He uses, as an example, the way that the track I Was Born in a Marathon “suddenly goes from this banging techno into almost like an explosion, almost like I blew up the first two minutes of that track and then it drops down to acoustic guitar.” Or how he experimented with his vocal delivery, trying different ways to use his voice for different tracks, “like if you had a producer-led record you would have different vocalists.”
There are “straight-up love songs” here, as well as songs that nod to Dostoyevsky, Kurosawa, Iggy Pop, The Cars; there’s a track Baio describes as “a classic rock band arrangement, throwback pop song” and a “tribute to David Bowie and Bryan Ferry.”
There are more sober moments too: thoughts on political unease and depression, on military drones, and lyrics in which he finds himself “questioning what the relationship is between me and my government, on the things I might not agree with but that are being done in the name of my protection.” On the album opener, Brainwash yyrr Face (its title a nod to Exit Through the Gift Shop) Baio looks at “the connection between electronic music and substance abuse” because, he explains, “There are plenty of great fun party songs about getting fucked up, but what I wanted to do was make a banging electronic track about the darker side, the shame in getting too drunk.”
He talks with particular affection about the album’s penultimate song, Endless Rhythm, begun one “beautifully, unseasonably warm weekend last year in March” when Baio went to visit Tate Modern and found himself captivated by a Robert Delaunay painting. “I loved the color, loved the design, loved the curves of it,” he remembers. “And I probably spent 10 minutes staring at it before I noticed it was called Endless Rhythm. And I thought that’s very fucking cool: a musical title to a painting. It immediately connected with me.”
The resulting song, he says, is “a song about itself, a song about writing a song. It’s kind of about the relationship between people and art, about the process of making a record, where there’s a part in the middle where it’s really frustrating, the idea of waiting for this song to come.” And it did, he adds, take some time to come. “I would work on it, and maybe two months later I would go back to the Tate and stand in front of that painting, listening to the song with my headphones on, seeing if I could get further connected with it.”
And of course, there is a further nod or two to Don DeLillo — I Was Born in a Marathon, for instance, references the opening line from Underworld: “He speaks in your voice, American, and there’s a shine in his eye that’s halfway hopeful.”
But Baio has felt DeLillo’s voice winding around his own in more subtle ways, too. “There are some things about language that I find very influenced by him,” he says. “The way that he puts certain words together, repeats phonetic sounds. The music of language has always interested me; that’s why I love two-syllable titles because a one-syllable word is a monotone, but the quickest way to get to a melody in language is two syllables. That’s why I called it The Names, because it was strong and evocative, and it had music.”
Born in 2014, Whit is a spiraling force that will punch you in the face with love. Their music is often described as Sparkle-Shred and sounds like a “Disney Princess on acid”. Songs are filled with movement, jangly but shiny guitar tones, syncopations, and polyrhythms iced with soaring vocal melodies. Whit is inspired by bands like The Dirty Projectors, Yes, The Beatles, Grizzly Bear, Ava Luna and Deerhoof.
Citizen’s As You Please reports from ground zero of an epidemic. Two years removed from their previous Run For Cover LP, Everybody Is Going To Heaven, Citizen’s perspective is far less sublime. As You Please is a confrontational record, incapable of turning a blind eye toward the inescapable strife. And so, songwriter Mat Kerekes pursues the source of discontent that is ravaging his Rust Belt city of Toledo, Ohio with the band’s most dynamic record to date.
On As You Please the epidemic is bigger than addiction and overdoses. There is no longer a Dream to be pursued for the friends and family surrounding Citizen. The band explores that absence and the misguided ways in which it gets filled. On opener “Jet” the kids move slow and there’s a stranger living in the narrator’s home. “In The Middle Of It All” might be Citizen at their most hopeful, but it also reads as agonizing expression of the ruin in the Heartland.
As You Please also showcases the growing versatility of a band seven years deep and still restless. Citizen has churned and ground out their own unique foothold within the greater context of alternative rock. Written over the course of a year, the record is devoid of the brutish and sinister elements found on Everybody Is Going To Heaven. Here, Citizen go beyond their early grunge contrasts and strive for something benevolent.
There’s a spiritual core to the record that manifests in subtle ways like the ethereal vocals echoing in the breakdown of “Control,” the droning organs on “You Are A Star” or the almost operatic refrain on “In The Middle Of It All.” The finespun ways in which Citizen has written this record mark a cataclysmic breakthrough for the band. There is damage and disarray in the band member’s lives, but within this record, all the pieces have been restored in an ornate arrangement befitting a stained glass mosaic.
In the end, As You Please tries to give strength to those in need. There are illicit factors that control, but Citizen has written a guiding light of an album out of the debris. It concludes with “You Are A Star” and “Flowerchild;” one an unstable request of confidence set to soaring progressions, the other a blistering finale that subverts expectation. As You Please might read as meek, but it represents Citizen in its most confident and expansive state.
You’ll be able to pick up the Flower Graves’ new 7″ single here during the in-store. 7″ Artwork By Valeria Pinchuk Valeria is 🔥!!
18-year-old Singer-songwriter Sawyer Fredericks, hailing from his family’s farm in central New York State, is fast establishing himself as an authentic, original, Americana artist with an old soul. His deep, beyond-his-years lyrics and melodies, raw, soulful vocals, and powerful live performances have attracted an ever-growing number of devoted fans of all ages, selling out shows throughout the US. As a folk/blues singer-songwriter, who cut his teeth at local farmers markets, open mics, and iconic New York venues like Caffe Lena, the Towne Crier Cafe, and The Bitter End, Sawyer seemed an unlikely match for reality tv, but quickly won over broad audiences with his genuine delivery and unique arrangements of classic songs, going on to win season 8 of NBC’s The Voice. Fresh from that whirlwind, Sawyer went forward with the release of his major label debut, A Good Storm, with Republic Records, an impressive blend of soulful Folk, blues, and rock, entirely written or co-written by Sawyer. His 2016 A Good Storm Tour included 62 shows across the US. For 2017, Sawyer has once again gone independent, is busy crafting his sophomore offering, with full artistic freedom, and continuing to tour. Follow him at www.sawyerfredericks.com, and on FB, IG, and Twitter, to stay updated on new music releases and upcoming shows.