2011Candy - September Edition Two

Background: On their third album (released a few days ago) 'Letters From The Coast'  The Caseworker exude the feel of a shoegazing Velvet Underground reared by the Flying Nun label - the perfect balance of drone and chime. The band creates an enigmatic intimacy and atmosphere, which they wrap around immaculately crafted pop songs like smoke. Perfectly intoxicating.

With opening track and lead single ‘National Runner’, The Caseworker have an instant pop classic on their hands. The song's consummate mix of hypnotic guitars and driving rhythm section are perfectly balanced with Conor Devlin's starry-eyed vocal. Elsewhere, bassist Eimer Devlin assumes lead vocal duties for ‘The Slow Track’ and ‘Sea Years’, both reminiscent of prime Yo La Tengo, while standout ‘Boats’ carries the listener away on its buoyant yet melancholic waves of arpeggios and feedback. The album exudes a wonderful sense of timelessness and romanticism - these are songs to attach to memories.

“The Caseworker extract darkness from inside whispery, ambient pop… completely enraptured and awesomely dazed” – Rolling Stone

2011Candy Says: Imagine The Stone Roses doing guitar lead riffing music, well for some reason that's what I thought, cant quite put my finger on it but this really does get my attention.
Featured Track: National Runner. Web: Official.

Background: Lenny Marcus hails from Wash, DC, but he worked for many years in New Orleans, studying and performing with legends such as Ray Bryant, Ellis Marsalis, Alvin Batiste, and recording with David " Fathead" Newman, Charlie Byrd, Frank Foster, Sonny Fortune, Brian Lynch, Jane Powell and others. His band is a well schooled jazz group. " Their jazz is infectious!" Jazz Times magazine.

Lenny has recorded 18 CD's to date, performed in two international jazz festivals, and has had his music featured on the National Weather Channel (many songs over the last several years), NPR's ALL that Jazz and ALL Songs Considered. Two of his songs were finalists in the ISC international song writer's competition.

Lenny's music goes from modern high energy to a more contemplative, meditative approach.

Lenny is a highly trained jazz pianist who also plays flute and adds vocals. His compositions are refreshing and uplifting, and he has been compared to Vince Guaraldi, Oscar Peterson, Keith Jarrett, McCoy Tyner, Mose Allison-type vocal style, Ray Bryant, and many others. His original melodies and harmonic counterpoints also provide a high potential for film/TV soundtrack.

2011Candy Says: This is wonderful, simply wonderful. I love genres getting mixed up and boundaries crossed, I reckon this takes us to a new level. More please!
Featured Track: Ode To Joy. Web: Official.

Background: Aaron Harris and Yosef Munro met as teenagers in Pittsburgh, PA and have been playing music together ever since. After high school they both moved to Montreal to be music majors at McGill University, but Harris dropped out when he got a chance to play drums in the pop band Islands.  When that ended the two relocated to Brooklyn, got their bearings, and after a few false starts met up with with guitarist Jesse Newkirk and Steel Phantoms was born. The boys developed a plan to compose deft, deceptively simple pop hits with one foot firmly rooted in garage rock and 80s new wave and the other stepping blindly into oblivion.

Yos and Aaron see the pop canon as a funnel of ideas moving through spacetime, little portions eddying off at times, strong tendrils forcing themselves in at others, large swaths glowing with ingenuity and pulling the surrounding dust with them ever closer to the end of existence. They note the holes in the great stream and see with immeasurable clarity where and how those empty patches can be filled, and they see themselves, quite humbly, as having been vouchsafed the infinite power and vision to do just that.

Their second EP, Forer, is more congruent and introspective than their first and eponymous EP, and its subdued intensity gives it a power and energy all its own. The EP's single, Bedouin, is a tight, synthy, new-wave inspired gem that takes several subtle twists and turns, its stunningly smooth and bright guitar textures complementing the dark vocals and driving percussion.

2011Candy Says; Excellent mood vocals over well thought out music, add a touch of doing your own thing and you get Steel Phantoms.
Featured Track: Bedouin. Web: Bandcamp.

Background: Michael Paolino spent the last three years feeling like he didn’t have a story to tell. Then he got hitched young and everything changed. Michael’s story – grit, sweetness and all, is captured in his epic indie-rock songs.

Expect intense, broody tracks jam-packed full of melody.

Written in his home studio in Perth, Australia and recorded, mixed and mastered by Rob Agostini at Soundbaker Studios, it’s the first collection of tracks released under Michael’s moniker, Husband.

You may recognise him as the lead guitarist in indie-pop-tronic outfit, Carl Fox; or as the crooning front man and chief songwriter of indie-rock trio, Luna Parade.

Over the years, Luna Parade released two EPs, garnered Triple J airplay and played the Big Day Out. They were offered notable support slots with the likes of Cut Off Your Hands, Birds of Tokyo, Shihad and British India.

Husband plays live as a five-piece, which includes Carl Fox (Carl Fox, Good Little Fox) on guitar, Darrel Sundai (Carl Fox, Luna Parade) on drums, Seb Kane (Luna Parade) on bass and Connor Gamble (Lacey) on keys. 

2011Candy Says: This guy has a really powerful voice that dominates without suffocating the music mix. it's also a great song with a timeless feel.
Featured Track: Ordinary. Web: Official.

Background: Delivering on the promise of their self titled CD/EP, Charlottesville, VA’s Borrowed Beams of Light drop the needle on summer with their first full length album, Stellar Hoax.

While the Voynich Manuscript, a centuries old handwritten book with unknown origins provides a thematic foundation for the album, frontmen Adam Brock and Nate Walsh give us ten tracks that burn with their own strange heat.

Careening with imagination and delirious, sun-drunk joy, the album opens with the infectious “Plants.” It gallops towards the rambunctiously poppy “Holy Cow,” and ends on “Stellar Hoax” a bracing ballad with a riptide of melancholy. Album highlight, “Half Light,” is a stop-you-in-your-tracks anthem that strums the chords of brotherhood, love, and loss.

Brock, who cites the Kinks and Fleetwood Mac as influences, does justice to these songs with his infectious vocals. The album is shot through with high pitched harmonies sure to lift your heart while you crank down the car window.

It may be called Stellar Hoax, but these tracks speak the universal truth of rock and roll. The album is out now via speakertree/World Recs (LP/CD/digital).

2011Candy Says: The featured track is a slow starting song that suddenly goes off in a different direction and a very pleasing one at that. The vocals give it an edge and the influences are there but in a positive way.
Featured Track: Half Light. Web: Official.

Background: Why stop now? The best adventure could be just beyond that hill...Americana artist, Sharaya Mikael captures that road-weary but hopeful feeling in her first single from her forthcoming "Rush" EP, "3 Ft. From Gold". Beginning with gentle acoustic guitar and Mikael's evocative alto, the song gradually moves to a more driving tone, taking the listener along on the road trip. There's a reason for this imagery, as Mikael reveals the inspiration behind the song. She and her friend Ally Spotts had embarked on a 50 state road trip which was filled with self-booked shows for Mikael and priceless opportunities for Spotts to gain writing experience. "When I was on the 50 state tour, Ally and I stopped in Colorado in a gold mining town and I considered how the gold miners never knew when they would strike gold, but they kept digging," she says. "The thought occurred to me that in life we so often give up too soon just when we could have been so close to 'striking gold'. It's for anyone who is thinking about giving up, on a dream, on a relationship, or on life in general."

Sharaya Mikael quit her day job less than a year ago, but the talented singer/songwriter and guitarist has already created a buzz with her freewheeling approach to her career. Her first five song EP, Far Field, was independently released in 2010. It sold over 2,000 copies, most of them at gigs on a marathon 50-state promotional tour. Jessy Ribordy, leader of Portland's eclectic folk/bluegrass powerhouse The River Empires, produced the EP, giving it a warm folk pop feel to compliment Mikael's burnished alto. The title track was featured on Portland's KINK.FM Spotlight series and earned a "Best of 2010" mention in the popular Welcome Hohmes music blog.

Ribordy was also behind the boards and played most of the instruments, on Rush, Mikael's new EP. "This time, I recorded songs that I'd been performing for a few months," Mikael explains. "I had time to get comfortable with them and knew exactly how I wanted them to sound. Jessy helped me be more expressive and capture the emotion of each song. I'd say most of them are a result of spending too many nights staring out the window at the rain and having too much time to contemplate relationships and life."

2011Candy Says: As Beehive Candy are mad about good quality Americana songs the entry level is high and getting higher by the year. Sharaya cruised through with this charming song.
Featured Track: 3Ft From Gold. Web: Official.

Background: Rivers and homes., is the new album from J.Viewz, a multi-genre electronic project brought together under the direction of Brooklyn based producer and songwriter Jonathan Dagan.

Up until this point, J.Viewz has released new songs, music videos, and remixes piecemeal to fans without actively promoting them to the music press. Yet through word of mouth the songs and videos surrounding rivers and homes. have been listened to and viewed hundreds of thousands of times, with the J.Viewz Youtube channel registering over 700,000 views on its own. A drop in the bucket for Lady Gaga, but a grand accomplishment for a project that has had no outside promotion.

J.Viewz sound alternately combines elements of soft breakbeat, hazy nostalgia, glitchy chillout, and strong vocal performances. The album vacillates between the high energy pop of “far too close” to calming expansive dreamscapes like “building a home”, but is pulled together cohesively by Dagan’s deft aesthetic vision.

rivers and homes. originated as an idea Dagan dubbed “Work In Progress” that he began developing in the Spring of 2010. The plan was to make an album available for pre-order, and then record and release tracks gradually over the course of a year to fans that subscribed to the process. In many ways this approach ran contrary to today’s current model, which usually sees artists offering their music up for free in the hopes people will deem it worthy of purchase. But from early on the quality of J.Viewz output drew subscribers in, and allowed the project to flourish. For Dagan this approach was positive on a few different levels. One of them was the immediacy of the process. Each song was recorded and released in the same weather, mindset, and period-in-life in which it had been conceived, giving fans an intimate real time look at the artistic evolution of the album. Another was the motivation that came with people paying for his album in advance. That fans were subscribing to his output gave Dagan reason as well as an obligation to fully realize material he might have otherwise left unfinished.

Through the subscription process Dagan was also able to fund the recording of new songs and remixes each month, as well as produce videos for select tracks. For their pre-order of the album/subscription fee, fans gained access to any recordings Dagan made as they were released, special remixes, access to song stems in order to make their own remixes, discounted tickets to shows, first looks at music videos, and now that it is complete, they have all been sent their own copy of the beautiful 26 page Booklet/CD rivers and homes.

Because of their involvement in funding the record, and the motivation and feedback they provided, Dagan describes his subscribers as “Associate Producers”. Some of the subscribers who uploaded their photos to the Work in Progress project have their pictures included within the rivers and homes. booklet.
rivers and homes. also bears the imprint of the talented musicians, vocalists, and artists Dagan invited to take part in his “Work In Progress” project. Each song features a different arrangement of players, and each is augmented by a piece of artwork or photography that can be found within the pages of the booklet. Pulled together they form a diverse aural and visual experience, presented in an engaging format that is as unique as the process by which the divergent parts were assembled.

2011Candy Says: I guess the featured track could be described as driving music to start with, then it gets real funky and you might need to pull over and dance!
Featured Track: Far To Close. Web: Official.

Background: From Paper Garden Records Lovely Hearts Club - Envision if you can, one of those eerie man made lakes, you know the kind made out of some small valley town? Usually for the sake of water supply or electricity, all the locals would have to relocate up the mountain when the valley filled up, their homes becoming a reservoir of murky remains.

Every now and again when the lake gets low, people swear you can see the tops of these old buildings peeking just above the surface, struggling for the chance of resuscitation. Gun Lake‘s “June”, off their debut album Balfour,  is the soundtrack to those moments; witnessing from the green shoreline, with just a pang of wistfulness, the reflection of their life recycled and restored for better or worse. Ann Arbor’s Mark Fain is an immense talent. His voice coos and hollers throughout said valley, echoing our own impulses to forgive and somehow forget.

We first heard about Gun Lake as they opened for our pals Little Tybee in Detroit this summer. We kept in touch via Turntable.fm and whatnot, and we’re so psyched to finally be teaming up! Be sure to watch the video below, as Gun Lake performs their crooning “Backwards” tucked away in a lofty, quilted attic. Fall is on it’s way!

2011Candy Says: Loads of comparisons spring to mind for me with Gun Lake (I'll keep them to myself) however the vocals are really spot on, the band totally together and this song is superb.
Featured Track: June. Web: Official.

Background: Matt Andersen began to build his name on the Canadian circuit, his imposing voice and slashing slide guitar making a monolithic impression on audiences. He debuted with 2002’s One Size Never Fits, and followed with the likewise-warmly received Solo at Session (2004) and Live at Liberty House (2005).

After playing the prestigious 2004 East Coast Music Awards, Matt continued cultivating crowds, appearing with Randy Bachman, Bo Diddley, Little Feat, America, Loverboy, April Wine, and others. He signed with Busted Flat Records for a string of exalted albums: 2007’s Second Time Around, 2008’s Something in Between, and 2009’s Piggyback (a duo set with harmonica king Mike Stevens) and Live at the Phoenix Theatre.

By 2009 Matt had become a frequent guest on Stuart McLean’s CBC radio show “The Vinyl Café” and had completed his fourth tour of the UK, where The Times called him “Canada’s greatest guitarist.” In 2010 he became the first Canadian to win Memphis’s famed International Blues Challenge, which led to festival dates in France, Italy, and the US, where he toured with Old Crow Medicine Show.

Matt’s newest album, Coal Mining Blues, was produced by Colin Linden (who co-wrote and plays on several tunes) and recorded at Levon Helm Studios in Woodstock, New York. Featuring the Band keyboardist Garth Hudson and Olabelle singer Amy Helm, it’s a rich vein of new songs, many addressing the trying lives of working people: There’s the self-explanatory “Work Hard for the Luxury,” and the moving title track, which rings true in mining communities from Cape Breton to Sheffield and West Virginia. But not all of Coal Mining Blues is about hard work, as rollicking up-tempo cuts like “Lay it on the Line” and “Fired Up” bear out.

What is it Matt hopes audiences experience when they hear him? “I’m not trying to change anyone’s lives in a big way, but I love it when [listeners] really get involved in the music,” says Matt, performs over 200 shows a year and in 2011 won the Maple Blues Awards for Entertainer of the Year and Acoustic Act of the Year and was nominated for four East Coast Music Association awards. “That’s what really makes it a great night, for everyone.”

As Matt Andersen continues to do what he was born to do—play his exhilarating music—fans can look forward to many great nights, indeed.

2011Candy Says: If you are going to do stripped down blues rock, do it with passion. If you love this type of music and a good band and great backing vocals Matt Andersen is for you.
Featured Track: Fired Up. Web: Official.

Background: “Even if they hadn’t drafted Robert Forster as producer, The John Steel Singers’ debut album would still be a charmer.” 4 Stars
- Doug Wallen, Rolling Stone Magazine

“The melodic, chaotic explosion of pop still gives you a thrill, and you can’t help but grin and dance.”
 - Rave Magazine

“[The John Steel Singers] specialise in summery pop melodies, dashing harmonies and quirky, colourful indie gems like ‘Overpass.’”
- Jim Carroll, irishtimes.com

The John Steel Singers’ adventurous song writing has been making heads bop and feet tap since they scored triple j’s Unearthed J Award in 2008. With six members traversing across instruments like explorers, the Brisbane natives bring another dimension to the experimental pop aesthetic with an accomplished brass section on trombone and trumpet amongst the staple guitars, bass and drums.

Their debut album Tangalooma maintains their signature sense of indie rock meets dance-a-long pop, whilst juxtaposing their feel for unassumingly darker storylines. This has been their trademark on hits such as “Overpass,” “Rainbow Kraut” and “The Masochist.” Produced by Robert Forster (The Go-Betweens) and mixed by New York record engineer Nicholas Vernhes (Animal collective, Deerhunter), Tangalooma shows a depth of songwriting and is as lasting and infectious as ever. It’s the sort of album that would be best appreciated/enjoyed when listened to in full as a vinyl on a record player. This is what the band has always wanted to create, and looking back it’s been a busy journey to get there.

Tangalooma was released a couple of weeks ago, September 13, 2011 through digital in North America via Universal Music.

2011Candy Says: I love the name (The John Steel Singers) because you kinda get something else that is punchy, energetic and fun. And then it gets even better...
Featured Track: Rainbow Kraut. Web: Official.

Background: LA's Pizza! presents a taste of the next-level weirdo pop eclecticism that runs rampant on the group’s upcoming album available this fall from Vanity Projects. “Riding Through the Jungle” is a linear epic that combines group sing-along vocals with an abstract, dubby groove, while “Buttersaw” is a straight-ahead new wave rager built behind lyrics addressing the uncomfortable truths of post-Bush America. As a bonus, the single includes a hard-hitting, club-ready remix of “Riding Through the Jungle” from rising electro heroes Kid Infinity.

Pizza! is comprised of these five fun-lovin' bros, from left to right: Geoff Geis (lead vocals, guitars), Rand Voorhies (drums, guitars), Tyler Sabbag (drums), Duncan Thum (bass, keyboards, vocals), Alex Myrvold (keyboards, bass, vocals). Photo by Andy Quinn.

In 2010, the band released a collection called Bogus Rimshots from the Fourth (download here) via Kill/Hurt Cassettes. In August of this year, the group released a video for the song "Be a Man" (view on Youtube).

The members of Pizza! have participated in these other notable musical projects: Big Whup, Dnonkong, Evan Voytas, Fol Chen, Geoff Geis, Liars, Walter Meego.

2011Candy Says: Attention grabbed, song approved, vocals and harmonies spot on and suddenly Frank Zappa leaps out! Well I guess at some point in time another band will remind me of Zappa, then they go off and do something else and stamp their own mark on the song and all is well with the world...
Featured Track: Riding Through The Jungle. Web: Official.

Background: SONOIO, born Alessandro Cortini, has embarked on a month-long tour opening for Ladytron, including stops in Mexico City, Los Angeles, New York, and Miami. As the former keyboard player of Nine Inch Nails who has recorded tracks with with Ladytron, toured with Muse and recently remixed tracks by HEALTH, Big Black Delta and Nine Inch Nails, Cortini is no stranger to the industry. His work as SONOIO, however, has taken its own path. “This particular project is a materialization of me working on my own for the first time and trying to get as much out of a limited amount of tools, as opposed to using everything that is available to produce music these days.” All of the songs on the records are based on the meaning of the word/name SONOIO, which comes from the Italian phrase “sono io,” meaning, “it is I.”

For his two premiere albums Blue and Red, Cortini has carved out a new creative  direction by using solely a Buchla analog synthesizer, an obsolete instrument from the 70’s, to produce all of the sounds in the recording process. “The whole compositional process felt like a chess game, where I would make a move, trying to compose in a certain way, only to be antagonized by either the limitations of the instrument, or its quirkiness, ” explains Cortini. “This ‘back and forth’ process led me to composing the bulk of the Blue and Red SONOIO records, allowing me to create something unique sounding, yet familiar and memorable.”

SONOIO's limited amount of tools had an effect on both the composition and sound design of his music, and sparked another great idea for promotional merchandise. In conjunction with the release of his albums, Cortini had a custom-made synthesizer, SuONOIO, manufactured for fans to create their own SONOIO-inspired music. As a collaboration with The Harvestman, the fully-functional SuONOIO synthesizer utilizes sounds found on the Red and Blue albums, allowing users to reshape them into new sounds, rhythms, textures, and drones.

At once gritty and melodious, Red and Blue draw from Cortini’s past collaborations while exploring a fresh territory more akin to the likes of Crystal Castles and Salem. The result is a series of multi-layered pop records that reveal new emotional terrain with each listen. Cortini spurned heavy-handed studio production with the help of Jonathan Bates (Big Black Delta), while also recording and mixing both the albums himself. Likewise, his live show is an intricate one-man production. Be sure to check out the tour dates listed below... if you are in the area, we'd love for you to come out and experience the live performance for yourself!

9.29 Seattle, WA @ Decibel Festival
10.1 Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre
10.3 Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Lie Music Cafe
10.4 Chicago, IL @ Vic Theatre
10.5 Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre
10.6 Montreal, QC @ Telus Theater
10.7 Boston, MA @ Paradise
10.8 New York, NY @ Terminal 5
10.9 Philadelphia, PA @ Theater of Living Arts
10.11 Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
10.13 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade (Heaven Stage)
10.14 Pensacola, FL @ DeLuna Fest
10.15 Miami, FL @ Grand Central

2011Candy Says: This is heavy metal done without the guitars and hairy people. So turn it up to eleven and enjoy!
Featured Track: Can You Hear Me. Web: Official.

Background: Little Wind is the sophomore release from Minneapolis’ Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps. The album expands upon the band’s debut LP Backyard Tent Set’s storytelling whimsy, but shifts its foundation from the simplicities of gentle folk instrumentation to greater nuances of musical arrangement and soundscape rooted in modern indie rock. Loyal to the heart of the band’s sound, however, their songs continue to be characterized by unforgettable and endearing pop melodies. Most recognizable throughout their music, and the defining quality to their success, is Caroline Smith’s alto timbre, quivering through vibrato, classic, and controlled with the presence of Billie Holiday, Leslie Feist, and Joanna Newsom.

Caroline Smith & the Good Night Sleeps began with just Caroline Smith as an 18-year-old songwriter in 2006, who earned her place in the Midwest music community. She began her career with a residency at Minneapolis' 400 Bar, a venue pivotal in shaping the careers of Elliott Smith, Conor Oberst, and local hero, Mason Jennings, who less than a decade before began his own career with the same residency. A year later, Caroline befriended drummer Arlen Peiffer (Cloud Cult), bassist Jesse Schuster, and multi-instrumentalist David Earl and the boys joined forces to support Caroline's folk tunes as “the Good Night Sleeps.” The release of their debut LP Backyard Tent Set, seven national tours, and constant circuit through the Midwest has garnered a committed following of audiences around the US.

The newest LP, set to be released on September 20th via United Interests, tested the Good Night Sleeps’ boundaries and the developed intricacies of each song and the album as a whole shine in each of the ten tracks.

"This record took a lot out of us as a band. We were in a huge transitional period when we were writing these songs and still not completely comfortable with any of them when we finally went into the studio. But because we were so unsettled with everything, the songs and the band, the record means so much more to us now because we got to see it all come together in front of our eyes and turn in to something we are all so proud of," says Caroline Smith.

Little Wind was recorded at the Terrarium in Minneapolis with Jason Orris (Polara, Happy Apple, Haley Bonar) and was mixed by Tom Herbers (Low, Dark Dark Dark, Andrew Bird.

2011Candy Says: I love the vocals (Joanna Newsom comparisons accepted but this is natural so whats the problem?), I love the band, I love the song, hence I finish this round up on a high! Simple as that.
Featured Track: Calliope. Web: Official.

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