Bon Iver – “8 (circle)”

Tomorrow, Bon Iver will release his highly anticipated album 22, A Million, the enigmatic follow up to 2007’s For Emma, Forever Ago and 2011’s Bon Iver. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidated by the new album just from the song titles alone, considering the already shared singles “22 (OVER S∞∞N),” ““10 d E A T h b R E a s T ⊠ ⊠” and “33 ‘GOD'” aren’t exactly what I picture for Bon Iver anything (my mind still plays “Holocene” and simulates being in a cabin any time I see Justin Vernon’s face). These singles also hinted at a change in aesthetics, swapping out some of the acoustics for heavily synthesized and manipulated vocal effects. The newest track, “8 (circle),” has brought the old persona back for just a little while, with an ethereal, atmospheric sound and clear, deep vocals. I have a feeling the new album will be overwhelming on first listen, and a lot to get used to, but will slowly find its place within Vernon’s spectacular repertoire.

Vernon recently performed the new track at the Eaux Claires Festival, but you can now find the studio version, which debuted on Annie Mac’s BBC show here.

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photo by Cameron Wittig & Crystal Quinn

Years & Years – “Meteorite”

British group Years & Years make some of the most evocative and addictive electronic pop out there, as evident by their fantastic debut album Communion, released last year. “Meteorite,” the first new track from the trio, holds the same sort of energy that appeared on the debut, though with a more concentrated, carefree sound. Olly Alexander’s vocals intertwine delicately with the sharp, glittering synth instrumentals, matching the intensity and glamour seen in their dazzling new video for the track. The pop phenoms have confirmed that they will begin working on the follow up to Communion sometime this year.

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photo courtesy of artist

Monthly Mixtape – September 2016

This year has been a beautiful whirlwind of new tracks and albums, and believe us, we know its hard to keep up with them all. In the past we’ve made playlists with a more thematic and aesthetic approach, creating mixtapes for late night drives, rainy days, and everything in between. Those days aren’t gone, but now they’ll be more seasonal and selective as they require more careful planning. Starting now, we’re excited to be switching to soundcloud playlists so that everything we’ve been raving about on (and off) the site can be found in one neat, convenient little package. They’ll be compiled monthly, just so you don’t miss anything in the vast, fast-moving world of indie music. This month, we’ve got stunners from PWR BTTM, Von Sell, and Leisure, among many others. Happy listening!

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Kadhja Bonet – “Nobody Other”

When Kadhja Bonet released the dazzling, hypnotic track “Honeycomb” last year, we were absolutely entranced by her flawless silken voice, as well as the way it seemed to effortlessly transcend the complex, honeyed instrumentals that shimmered underneath, sounding much more substantial and special than just another mere love song. Now, the L.A. based musician and vocalist is getting ready to release a full length album next month, with both new and older tracks. One of the newest tracks is the sweet, soulful ballad “Nobody Other,” where Bonet’s gorgeous voice swells perfectly with lithe guitar and woodwind instrumentals. The track has a delicate, wistful feeling, yet still possesses quiet strength and tenacity that shows through delicately.

Bonet’s debut album, The Visitor, will be released October 21st.

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photo courtesy of fat possum records

Sunshine Faces – “Party Dresses”

Sunshine Faces is the experimental pop project of North Carolina based musician Noah Rawlings. His most recent release, Quorum, spans multiple emotions and aesthetics, but still manages to flow incredibly well, all with Rawlings’s flinty, honeyed voice hovering above. Though it was difficult to pick one out of the sixteen tracks on the new album, the beautifully bright and mercurial “Party Dresses” was the one we kept coming back to due to its quirky lyrical references and nostalgic, mellow instrumentals. There’s an otherworldly feeling to it, making it the perfect soundtrack to laying in the grass and letting your imagination take you away. Quorum is now available to stream here, with limited physical copies, so make sure you check it out!

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photo courtesy of artist (soundcloud)

Cherry Glazerr – “Told You I’d Be With the Guys”

Over the years, grunge group Cherry Glazerr has been a band synonymous with change and renewal. They released their debut album Haxel Princess through Burger Records, then switched over to Suicide Squeeze for the electric, complex track “Had Ten Dollaz.” Now, with two new members and frontwoman Clementine Creevy still in her rightful place at the helm, the group has released their first track since signing to Secretly Canadian. “Told You I’d Be With the Guys” begins with a thick, crunchy guitar riff that drives the track, interjected suddenly with Creevy’s growling vocals. It grows in prominence as it plays on, with Sasami Ashworth’s buzzing keys and Tabor Allen’s patient drums woven through in perfect increments. The track ends with an addictive, almost psych inspired guitar solo before dissolving in all out mania, sounding like the perfect rebirth of the group’s aesthetic.

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photo courtesy of artist

Album Review: Ice Choir – Designs in Rhythm

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Considering his excellent work in sound design, it’s clear that Kurt Feldman is no stranger to the inner workings of production for both business and pleasure. He’s worked closely with various groups and artists such as The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and The Depreciation Guild as well as Kristin Kontrol, and has inserted his lush, dense instrumentation in films and video game soundtracks. His debut album Afar showed his knack at writing and producing his own original work, which, unsurprisingly, just so happened to be near flawless ‘80’s inspired synth-pop. Now, almost four years later, the Brooklyn-based producer is back with another stunning album, this time both more accessible and whimsical than ever.

When listening to “Unprepared,” the main single and first lyrical opener, you’re immediately dropped in Feldman’s sugar soaked, digital world, left to delightfully scamper in the vast fields of glittering synth and quirky, inevitable instrumental flourishes. This enchanting atmosphere sounds incredibly different from any other synth-driven musical project that it often feels as if Designs in Rhythm exists in a vacuum, self-contained in its own unique aura. Feldman never truly gives you a legitimate depiction of ‘80’s aesthetics as a whole, but rather romanticizes them and packs in every technique imaginable, which becomes an ambitious goal that surprisingly works in his favor as the album plays. Feldman gorgeously manipulates his instrumentals to the point where its argued that each song could be considered part of the humorously controversial vaporwave genre, though without the vapid sense of sterility or cynicism that usually comes complimentary. Instead, there’s a dense feeling of warmth and charm that radiates from the album, seen in the title track as well as the more modern “Amorous in Your Absence” and euphoric “Variant.” even when attempting to achieve an atmospheric, otherworldly sound, Feldman’s crisp, complex production shines through, which, ironically, combines beautifully to leave the tracks feeling heavily saturated in both color and emotion.

Though it’s definitely not confirmed to be true, I couldn’t help hearing certain influences throughout the album, or maybe that came when looking at the colors and shapes that made up the cover as I listened. “Unprepared,” for example, with its vivid coloring and whimsical undertones, as well as the brooding, bass powered “Noosphering” don’t sound out of place within certain nostalgic ‘80’s and ‘90s anime, or even ‘80s Japanese cyber-punk and dream imagery illustration. However, whether or not the listener sees these images when listening is highly dependent on the experiences of the listener themselves, and doesn’t necessarily hold much weight, as the album seems to be designed as bright, upbeat, and, most importantly, highly accessible, evoking a variety of lush, vivid images. There are several spots where it even feels almost familiar and warm, and that feeling for us begins and ends with the absolutely beautiful track “Windsurf.” Feldman’s voice is a powerhouse, able to glimmer alongside the lush, jaunty synth, and halfway through, the track emits delicate effects and sonic instrumentals, achieving that otherworldly sound once again.

Designs in Rhythm is just that – lush interpretations and variations of synth-pop, ‘80s electronica, and yes, even vaporwave, all presented in a highly ambitious, yet irresistibly charming package. It’s an album that actively transports you to another world, one where fantasy is able to repeatedly and successfully escape from the snarling teeth of reality.

8.0/10

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photo courtesy of shelflife records

Birthday – “Night Rider”

Birthday is the collaboration between vocalist Kamran (Fake Laugh) and producer LUKA, where they specialize in hazy, lush soundscapes. We loved their last two singles, “Do It All The Time,” and “We Need To Talk,” now, they’ve released a third track from what we’re hoping is something much bigger in the future. “Night Rider” has the same shaky, delicate vocals and gauzy, lo-fi production, this time forgoing the deep, pounding bass line for a bright, wavering guitar melody and sparse, clapping synth. It’s trance-like and euphoric all at once, remaining a perfect participant in the dream pop genre.

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photo by Iga Drobisz

Nick Murphy – “Fear Less”

A few days ago, Australian producer Nick Murphy parted with the now well-known title of Chet Faker and embraced his true self, solidifying the change with a brand new track. It seems as if the name wasn’t the only thing Murphy changed, considering the deep, electronic whir of synth and throbs of bass, as well as sparse, yet incredibly dense vocals, worlds apart from the fluid, melodic hum of Built on Glass. Ambitious, intimidating, and enchanting all at once, its a great next step for Murphy, one that should only increase in bravado as the hopeful news of a new album is slowly released.

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photo by Philistine DSGN

Glass Animals – “The Other Side Of Paradise”

Before you say anything, yes, I know. We’re incredibly late to the party with this track from indie quartet Glass Animals, who released their sophomore album How To Be A Human Being back in August. The new, colorful sound, inspired by the group’s experience interacting with people on the road, was entirely different from the brilliant, exotic mystery of their debut, which made us initially hesitant about how the album would work as a whole, setting aside the thumping, vibrant single “Life Itself.” We’ve since gone back and discovered a few remarkable spots on the album, including the experimental, eclectic track “The Other Side Of Paradise,” the perfect marriage of their past and present aesthetics. Caged in by bizarre sound effects and swells of synth, frontman Dave Bayley’s voice works around the chaos, instrumentals all converging on the sighs of the chorus. Considering the album was more about humanity and what defines it, the consistent oscillation between chaos and calm that appears in this track works in their favor, making it especially effective in conveying the pure emotion that comes with the human condition.

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photo via the line of best fit