Featured Release

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British musician and songwriter Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman) launched Spiritualized in 1990.  The band reached a kind of high water mark about twenty years ago with the album Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space.  Space is vast, and Pierce continues to mine it for inspiration.  He sports a vintage spacesuit as a visual theme for the new Spiritualized album, And Nothing Hurt.  With it's big, layered sound, it's fascinating to find out that J.

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Paul McCartney is a living testimonial to the virtues of being a vegetarian.  The 76-year-old remains as vital as ever, with Freshen Up world tour dates scheduled into next year, and a new album titled Egypt Station.  It's been five years since McCartney's last album of new songs, but he's no slacker.  The record is nearly an hour long, not including several bonus tracks available in different formats.  It's all prime Macca, with stylistic shifts and well-crafted songs to carry you along.  Ever mindful of honoring the legacy of The Beatles, Sir Paul explained the record's

Negro Swan is the fourth album producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist Devonte Hynes has released as Blood Orange.  Raised in England, Hynes started out as a teenager in the UK punk band Test Icicles.  Later in his career he put out two albums as Lightspeed Champion.  Hynes explains the latest Blood Orange recored as "an honest look at the corners of black existence...a reach back into childhood and modern traumas, and the things we do to get through it all.  The underlying thread through each piece on the album is the idea of HOPE, and the lights we can try to turn

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Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth met as music majors at the University of Vermont.  After graduating, they both joined the East Coast reggae band John Brown's Body.  Traver and Toth formed their own band, Rubblebucket Orchestra, about ten years ago.  By the time of their second studio album, the Brooklyn-based group was simply Rubblebucket.  Recent developments have included the end of the co-leaders romantic relationship, but they remain together in the band.  Promotional material for the new album Sun Machine aptly describes the Rubblebucket sound as "indie dance, horn-laden pop and k

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The Japanese-American songwriter, vocalist and musician Mitski Miyawaki self-released her first two albums while a student at the Purchase College (part of the State University of New York system) Conservatory of Music.  She signed to a label for her third album, and soon began attracting critical acclaim.  That acclaim has continued right up to her latest full-length, Be The Cowboy.  The carefully crafted songs on the new record were all written by Mitski, and performed almost entirely by the artist and her producer.  Mitski explains the album's title:  "There was this artist I re

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Thank You For Today is the ninth studio album from Death Cab For Cutie; a quintessential indie rock band (although their music has been released on major label Atlantic Records in recent years) from that fertile area of the Pacific Northwest.  After twenty years, Death Cab can still generate anticipation with a new release.  In this case they're doing it with a couple of new band members joining frontman Ben Gibbard and fellow veterans in the studio for the first time.  It's also the first album without founding member Chris Walla.

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The 21st Oh Sees album is not a breakup record.  Well, maybe it is if headbanging riffs and mythological sci-fi lyrics provide the catharsis for a broken relationship.  The album title Smote Reverser and the cover art tell you this is a project inspired by heavy metal.  The music (with those mythological sci-fi lyrics) is metal-leaning prog rock.  The San Francisco-based Oh Sees began in 1997 as a vehicle for the music of John Dwyer, and Dwyer has been experimenting with different varieties of psychedelic and garage rock ever since.  There have been band lineup changes and

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Lindsey Jordan turned nineteen in June, shortly after the release of her buzzworthy debut full-length album as Snail Mail.  The album is Lush, the follow up to the Snail Mail EP Jordan had released on a small local label when she was sixteen.

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Dirty Projectors are David Longstreth's band.  Where his life goes, so goes the band.  The 2017 album Dirty Projectors was a breakup record, with Longstreth writing about the end of his relationship with band member Amber Collins.  Now, a year later, things are looking decidedly more upbeat with  Lamp Lit Prose.  It's the eighth studio album from the Brooklyn-based Dirty Projectors.  The group rises above the indie rock (and indie pop) pack, with Longstreth's distinctive songwriting and vocal style, and those dazzling electronic bleats and blurps that we love from this ban

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Jim James is the frontman of the band My Morning Jacket, plus he's been involved in interesting collaborations like Monsters Of Folk and The New Basement Tapes.  As a solo artist, he's been releasing EPs and studio albums since 2009.  James is best known as a songwriter, vocalist and guitarist, but he's a multi-instrumentalist and producer as well.  He plays a lot of guitar on his new album, Uniform Distortion.  Like many artists these days, Jim James is finding inspiration in the current cultural climate, as he explains:  "I feel like there is this blanket distortion on society/me

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Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever are an up-and-coming band from Melbourne, Australia.  They formed in 2013 and released a couple of EPs leading up to their debut full-length album, Hope Downs.  The record is named after a vast open cut mine in the middle of Australia.  Guitar-centric indie rock is alive and well in the land down under (Courtney Barnett!), and Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever like to play theirs in the wide open spaces.  According to Fran Keaney, one of the band's three songwriter/guitarist/vocalists:  "We didn't really want to record in a studio.  We thought we'd get

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The Now Now is the quick followup to last year's Humanz from the virtual (i.e. cartoon) band Gorillaz.  As I mentioned a little over a year ago, when Humanz was a Studio One Featured Release, Gorillaz is the most successful cartoon band ever.  Why does that matter?  It adds a unique dimension to the band's music because of the space between Damon Albarn and the other band members, and the characters created by Jamie Hewlett.  After the apocalyptic Humanz, the darkness has lifted for The Now Now- as you can see in the video for "Humility."  

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Johnny Marr established his fame in the 1980s with The Smiths- a very popular and influential band in their native England, and a significant cult band in the United States.  Marr was the guitarist in the group, and co-wrote the band's songs with frontman Morrissey.  The Smiths only lasted for five years, and Marr went on to not only do a lot of session work, but to join bands like The Pretenders (briefly), The The, Modest Mouse, and The Cribs.  He also formed a new band, Electronic, with Bernard Sumner.  Since 2013, Marr has been releasing solo albums.  Call The Comet is his third

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Virginia-born singer-songwriter Neko Case has been releasing solo records for over twenty years.  In fact, her solo career predates Case's membership in The New Pornographers.  She's also done other projects, including her 2016 album with Laura Veirs and k.d.

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God's Favorite Customer is Josh Tillman's fourth Father John Misty album.  The songs are beautifully recorded, with producer Tillman utilizing members of his touring band, as well as people like Jonathan Rado (of Foxygen) as players.  With his dry sense of humor, sometimes morbid outlook, and taste for the absurd, the lyrics are what we've come to expect on a Father John Misty record.  Tillman seems to be a bit more reserved, a bit more serious this time out.  And yet, this is prime Father John Misty, not quite like anyone else on the current musical landscape. 

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Courtney Barnett is in the forefront of the latest wave of artists and bands from Australia.  One could argue that she is also a shining light among female musicians and songwriters.  It's hard to be totally original, but since she started to attract notice in the U.S.

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Arctic Monkeys formed in Sheffield, England in 2002.  The band has been very successful in their native country, but most definitely do not want to rest on their laurels.  For album number six, Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino, frontman Alex Turner wrote the songs on piano rather than guitar, with the result being a kind of "lounge pop" sound.  Lyrically, Turner was inspired by science fiction.  The kind of science fiction that comments on our current world and culture while it spins it's speculative tales.  

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is the new album from the Boston-based band Lake Street Dive.  What is striking about the record is the evolution of their sound- the strong foundation of soulful, jazzy classic pop remains, but with a new rock and roll edge added.  It's a very appealing sound, and it certainly doesn't hurt that the songwriting on Free Yourself Up is top notch.  Many of the new songs were written or co-written by Iowa City native Bridget Kearney, who plays bass in the band.  Kearney and her bandmates Rachael Price (lead vocalist), Mike Olson (guitar and trumpet), and Mike Calabrese (drums) self-pro

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Victoria Legrand & Alex Scally have been making music together as Beach House since 2004, when they formed the dream pop band in Baltimore.  7 is the duo's 7th full-length album of new material, and it's clearly an important record for Beach House.  Through their label, Sub Pop Records, they have commented on their recording process and what they intended to be.  According to Beach House:  "We are interested by the human mind's (and nature's) tendency to create forces equal and opposite to those present.  Thematically, this record often deals with the beauty that ari

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Okkervil River is a river in St.

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Kyle Thomas performs and records using the far more expressive nom de plume King Tuff, and of course that's also the name of his band.  The music of King Tuff is almost always described as "garage rock", and while that's not an inaccurate classification, the growth toward a more sophisticated indie rock and power pop sound is apparent four albums in.  The new record, The Other, was totally written and produced by Thomas.  He also played all of the instruments (including guitars, various synths/keyboards, and autoharp), except drums (played mainly be Ty Segall) and

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Critical Equation is the tenth full-length studio album from Dr. Dog.  The Philadelphia band began in 1999, gathering fans and hometown support, and eventually putting forth their self-produced and self-released debut album in 2001.  Toby Leaman (bass) and Scott McMicken (lead guitar) are the lead vocalists in Dr. Dog, and their musical partnership goes all the way back to eighth grade.  On Critical Equation the band continues to refine it's appealing indie rock sound.  Much of Dr.

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Greta Kline is the daughter of two actors- Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates, and although she has done a bit of acting herself, Kline is best known for her lo-fi, DIY, indie pop songs.  She has released a lot of material under various names, including the monikers Ingrid Superstar and Frankie Cosmos.  At age 24, Kline has over 40 albums of home recordings- just check her Bandcamp discography.  Vessel is the third "official" studio album from Frankie Cosmos, the group comprised of Kline and her bandmates. 

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Although Ben Harper made his reputation in the 1990s as an alternative rocker, blues, gospel and soul have informed his music from the very beginning.  Harper has gone on record as saying that he regards Charlie Musselwhite to be the best harmonica player in the world.  Mississippi-born Musselwhite has been active as an electric blues sideman and  bandleader since the 1960s, with many records to his credit.  In 2014 he and Harper won a Grammy award for Best Blues Album.  That was for 2013's Get Up!- their first record together.  Five years later we have the welcome followup- No

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In a nice bit of synchronicity, Wye Oak's new album The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs was released on the same day that the band played The Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City this month.  Since their self-released debut in 2007, the duo from Baltimore have sent a new full-length record into the world every couple of years or so.  That debut album was impressive enough to gain re-release on Merge Records, and Wye Oak have been with that well-respected indie label ever since.  Beginning with a folk-influenced sound eleven years ago, Jenn Wasner (lead vocals, guitars, bass) and A

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Erudite and often springing from some dusty old corner of history, the music of The Decemberists sounds like what one would expect from a band that named themselves after the 1825 Russian insurrection known as the Decembrist (sic) revolt.  But The Decemberists are also a tuneful indie rock/baroque pop band, as one would expect with acknowledged influences like Morrissey, R.E.M., and XTC.  I'll Be Your Girl is the eighth studio album from the group, formed in 2000 in Portland, Oregon.  Like a lot of music coming out these days, the record is informed (in a nonspecific way) by the mo

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Nathaniel Rateliff 's story is the "overnight success" tale of  a formerly obscure musician who comes out of nowhere with a song that catches fire, propelling the musician and his band to seemingly universal awareness.  Of course, there's a lot of hard work, struggle and even desperation behind that story.  St.

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Kim Deal and Tanya Donelly began The Breeders in 1989.  The critical acclaim that Deal was receiving as part of The Pixies, and that Donelly was enjoying as part of Throwing Muses, continued with their new side project.  Donelly left after a couple of years, and Kim Deal recruited her sister Kelley Deal to join up.  As the 1990s rolled on, The Breeders had a hit single and album ("Cannonball" from 1993's Last Splash).  ​There have been times of inactivity for the group, with various personnel changes and years between albums.  The new full-length release All Nerve is the first from

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Dan Auerbach is keeping things humming along at his Easy Eye Sound studio in Nashville.  One of his new production projects is Onion, the fifth full-length album from the Oakland, California band Shannon & The Clams.  The quartet are known for their garage punk take on 1950s and '60s pop genres like doo-wop, rockabilly, girl group, surf, and other variations of good old rock 'n' roll.  Auerbach is a fine fit as producer for Shannon & The Clams (Shannon is Shannon Shaw on bass and vocals).  Like the band, he loves those genres, too.  But he also brings his productio

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Last week Franz Ferdinand, and this week Belle and Sebastian.  Two Featured Release bands in a row from Glasgow, Scotland.  Belle and Sebastian have been around a bit longer though, and they haven't had the kind of mainstream success that Franz Ferdinand have enjoyed.  Founding member Stuart Murdoch leads the band named after the French novel Belle et Sebastien, which he and his mates knew from a television adaptation.  The new album, How To Solve Our Human Problems, is filled with their distinctive indie pop songs- so filled that Belle and Sebastian originally released it

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