WILDHONEY – Friday, January 15th, 2016



Wildhoney formed in late 2011, aiming to write pop songs with the energy and malcontent of hardcore punk, but without its entrenched masculinity. The five-piece has since become one of the loudest—and sweetest—bands in its hometown of Baltimore.

‘Sleep Through It’ expands on two excellent 7-inches and one cassette EP, drawing influences from ‘60s girl groups, ‘80s post punk, indie pop, and shoegaze. Throughout the album, the group’s blasts of distortion and use of dense textures are balanced with beautiful pop tunes and chiming guitar work. Sleep Through It was recorded at Beat Babies Studio in Woodstock, Md., with Chris Freeland (Lower Dens, Wye Oak).

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JULIEN BAKER- Saturday, January 16th, 2016

Sometimes, things just seem to happen for a reason. The pieces fall into place in unexpected ways, and life takes a turn no one could have predicted. This rings strikingly true for the solo career of Memphis, Tennessee’s Julien Baker.

For years, Baker and a group of close friends have performed as the band Forrister (formerly The Star Killers), but when college took her four hours away, her need to continue creating found an outlet through solo work. The intent was never to make these songs her main focus, yet the process proved to be startlingly cathartic. As each song came into shape, it became more apparent that Baker had genuinely deep, surprisingly dark stories to tell from her thus far short life (she turns 20 this fall). Tales of her experiences are staggering, and when set to her haunting guitar playing, the results are gut wrenching and heartfelt, relatable yet very personal. There’s something wonderfully hypnotizing about Baker gently confessing her soul with such tremendous honesty.


At the prompting of a friend, Baker ventured to Richmond, Virginia to record a number of her new songs at Spacebomb Studios. The tracks from this session were circulated among Baker’s friends, meeting high praise and lots of encouragement for the songs to see a proper release. Soon, she found a home on 6131 Records’ increasingly diverse roster, and plans were made to release her debut full length, ‘Sprained Ankle.’

To call ‘Sprained Ankle’ a happy accident would be misleading as to the nature of these poignant, emotive songs. Yet no one, least of all Baker, could have predicted she’d be releasing an album, especially as a solo artist. Thankfully, now the world will be able to share in her passion and sorrow.

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AMERICAN WRESTLERS – Thursday, January 14th, 2016



Now based in Missouri, the Scotsman behind American Wrestlers has been on one hell of a journey. Born and raised in Glasgow, he then found his way to Manchester, where he recorded some demos under a different name and posted the songs online. It was then that his now-wife first got in touch, and after becoming enraptured with one another, he moved across the Atlantic to get married.

“I like to write real songs that survive all on their own,” he explains of the sound. “One human and one instrument. Just the human even.” Melodic and hazy, its ramshackle surface hides an attention to detail that leaves the ‘lo-fi’ tag dead in the water.

“The lo-fi thing was all unintentional,” he confirms. “This was me trying my hardest to keep all the different sounds and layers under control. Make the reverbs and chorus sound nice and get just the right amount of overdrive from the multi-track’s inputs, while at the same time trying to make sure I kept the natural sounds and feels of the real sources the music was coming from.”

Armed with little more than a TASCAM 8-track and “the cheapest pawn shop instruments [he] could afford,” the upcoming self-titled debut took shape in remote and rural America, and that comforting step away from the hustle and bustle is felt throughout.

First single sees ‘I Can Do No Wrong’ sees shimmery guitar-work draw upon that feeling of a Midwestern summer’s stifling heat. Driven along by a crackling beat, it’s a stripped back approach to garage-rock that focuses on melody and avoids the all-too-common desire to drench everything in layer-upon-layer of fuzz.

“The warbling in the chorus is me shaking the whole cassette after taking off the front of the tape tray,” he explains of his process. There’s a similar free-spiritedness throughout the record – on ‘There’s No One Crying Over Me Either’, the four-note piano refrain was a happy accident: “I was walking past a piano in a friends house and hit four notes at random, stopped and played them again a few times, then sang a melody, and it eventually became this song.”

“The last time I had a TASCAM 8-track I was fourteen,” he continues on the subject of the record’s playful and timeless nature. “The TASCAM was fitting because I was kinda trying to write the album I had always wanted to write since I first started playing music.” For the character behind American Wrestlers, then, it’s a lifelong ambition finally realized – for all us lucky enough to hear the fruits of his labour, it’s a wonderfully timeless record, and one that’s destined to inspire another generation of youngsters to pick up their own 8-track.

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CHARLY BLISS- Saturday, January 16, 2016



On the verge of releasing their debut full length, Charly Bliss are poised to become your new favorite band and your new best friends. 2014’s Soft Serve EP combines elastic guitars and kinetic drumming with lead singer Eva Hendricks’ acute and buoyant voice, making them feel like a new three dimensional idea of 90s pop rock. Live, Hendricks is part pugilist part doubledutch champion as she and the band embody the songs with reckless enthusiasm, like Pixie Stix emptied into a Jolt can. Whether it’s prom, a party, or the ensuing morning hangover, Charly Bliss is the perfect accompaniment.

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MILD HIGH CLUB – Friday, January 15, 2016



“Psychedelic soft rock that draws strongly from White-album era Beatles and T-Rex, with swirls of ’80s-indebted synthpop.” Pitchfork 

“Sounds like if John Lennon and David Bowie crashed the Pet Sounds recording sessions” SPIN 

“Inventive art-pop reminiscent of ‘Revolver’-era Beatles.” NME

“It’s that peculiar interjection of music-school attention to harmonic detail, ‘60s-rooted psychedelia, dad-rock takes on jazz and funk, and a bit of ‘no-holds-barred’ LA cool.” Ad Hoc 


Mild High Club is the brainchild collective of musicians led by Alex Brettin, a jazz-schooled multi-instrumentalist transplanted from the Midwest to Los Angeles. The band released their debut album, Timeline, on September 18 via Circle Star Records, and have garnered critical acclaim for their live performances alongside artists such as Mac Demarco, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, MIkal Cronin, and more. Between tour dates, they are currently hard at work on their follow-up LP, expected for a summer 2016 release.

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PALEHOUND – Thursday, January 14, 2016



Ellen Kempner, the 21-year-old guitarist and songwriter behind Boston based project, Palehound, is even more prodigious than her age suggests; influenced by her musician father, she struck out on the songwriting path while she was still in elementary school. “I was kind of a shy kid,” says Kempner. “Music was a good way for me to express myself – I had a hard time socially, and it was a way for me to feel like I could contribute something and impress people in some way.”

“I envy 10-year-old me,” she laughs. “I would sit in my room for an hour, write a song, and be done. Now, it takes more time.” The eight songs that make up Dry Food, which Kempner wrote from 2013 to 2014 and recorded with Gabe Wax (Wye Oak, Speedy Ortiz) last summer, are wry and confessional, full of unexpected twists and turns. Kempner’s whispery alto gives the album a raw, confessional feel, even on louder tracks like the crashing, reverb-augmented “Cushioned Caging.” That’s partially because Dry Food is a snapshot of a time in Kempner’s life defined by instability and shifting, leaving Sarah Lawrence before her eventual move to Boston.

“I was coming off a transitional time in my life,” says Kempner of the period when Dry Food was written. “I was struggling in college, and with mental health issues. The album is a snapshot of a weird time for me, where I was transitioning from being in college to getting a job.

“The year between 19 and 20 is this weirdly insignificant time – you’re kind of an adult, but not a real adult. That was kind of hard for me, to think, ‘I’m not a kid, and there are things in my life making that very, very obvious to me, but I also can’t really fathom being an adult yet.’”

Despite the underlying factors, though, Dry Food is confident and cohesive, full of sophisticated songwriting and guitar playing. Kempner cites Elliott Smith and Kim Deal, as well as Angel Olsen and her childhood musical hero Avril Lavigne, as songwriting influences. (“I was obsessed with Let Go, and I still love that album,” she declares. “I was in third grade and would wear ties to school.”)

The glistening, complex guitar work on the dreamy “Cinnamon” and the fuzzed-out textures on album opener “Molly” makes plain that Kempner’s musical roots grow deep. “Wes Montgomery is one of my biggest guitar influences,” she notes. “I studied his music in college, and I still will pull up a chart of his and try to figure it out.”

Kempner played everything but the drum parts on Dry Food, but live, Palehound is rounded out by drummer Jesse Weiss, of the gnarly Boston act Grass Is Green, and bassist David Khostinat, who had previously worked with Weiss in the band Supervolcano.

Teaming up with Weiss and his crisp, steady drumming was, for Kempner, serendipitous. “I heard [Grass Is Green] when I was 16 or 17, and I thought they were the best thing I’d ever heard in my life,” she says. “Particularly the drummer. I saw them live for the first time right after I’d turned 18, and I watched Jesse the whole time. I worshiped him.

“He has this innate sense of how to work his kit. I can just get onstage and know that he’s going to play perfectly, and I can rely on him.”

While Dry Food chronicles a particularly rough patch in Kempner’s life, it does so with verve and grit, not to mention sterling musicianship and wry lyrics. Dry Food is a flag-plant by a young woman with a lot on her mind and talent to burn.

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JOHN MARK NELSON – Saturday, January 16, 2016



The past may be prologue, but for John Mark Nelson, the present is something else entirely: a gateway into a new era of life and the new sound that defines his upcoming album, I’m Not Afraid. Having released two critically lauded albums of melodic, lilting folk songs the ages of 17 and 19, Nelson, now 21, is set to take listeners on a leap forward into a new sonic landscape of propulsive rhythms and bright, complex instrumental arrangements.

“It’s impossible to progress through life without the outlets through which you experience life changing in tandem,” he says of the shift. “In the past, what might have influenced me was a lot of acoustic instruments–folkier, jangly sounds. But I was pulled into the songs being driven by drums and bass and more adventurous guitar tones. It wasn’t that I sat down and said ‘I want to make a record that’s a departure from what I’ve done.’ It’s just that as those things started coming through the speakers, I thought, ‘I want to follow that.'”

The smoldering warmth and haunting beauty of Nelson’s voice strings a line of continuity from his past work into the new album, as does his astute, literary songwriting. But he confesses that even in his wise-beyond-his-years, autobiographical lyrics, the album marks a passage. “I think if anything, this project–maybe even more so than a sonic departure–is a vulnerability departure,” he says. “In the past my writing has, in some ways, been guarded. Now I’m putting all my cards on the table.”


In the years since his first release, Nelson has solidified his position as a member of Minnesota’s new musical guard. Along with building a small army of loyal fans, he’s earned a spot in regular rotation on 89.3 The Current and caught the ears of fellow Minneapolis-based musician David Simonett (lead singer of Trampled by Turtles and co-founder of GNDWIRE Records). Nelson’s new work stands him on firm footing to launch into the national consciousness, a move that was primed by nearly a decade of writing, rehearsing, recording and performing–all before he turned 21.

From the irresistible bounce and frustrated romance of the first single, “Dream Last Night,” to the clap-along amble of “Broken” and the timeless, elegant sweep of “I Won’t Win (If I Let You In),” I’m Not Afraid defies genre and demands attention. As a document of what Nelson calls “a very new, very different season of life,” it positions him as one of the most exciting young songwriters and multi-instrumentalists of his generation.

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