2012Candy - March(ing On).

BACKGROUND: The Los Angeles synth pop duo Tic Tic Boom! is giving away the first single "For Feeling" from their upcoming EP Before the Sun Rises. The release, to be available in April, promises to be stronger, dreamier, darker, and a major evolution of their sound from their previous recordings.

Before the Sun Rises, the band's third EP, follows on the success of their 2011 release  Reasons and Rhymes. Drawing inspiration from new wave, punk, and indie rock, their second EP received a wealth of praise and recognition from publications like Buzzbands LA, The Owl Mag, and CMJ, the last of which described their music as “hook-laced synthpop that casts live drums and guitars as conspicuously as it does sugary vocals and catchy synth loops.” It also earned the band the opportunity to do an official remix of one of the most popular songs of 2011, Foster the People’s “Pumped Up Kicks,” and an invitation to showcase at CMJ Music Marathon in New York.

After a year of tirelessly playing shows and releasing acoustic versions and remixes, Tic Tic Boom! is nearly ready to release their junior EP, Before the Sun Rises. It was dubbed thus by the two’s nearly nocturnal writing and recording schedule and, as with each of their previous releases, the upcoming six-track recording showcases a different side of Tic Tic Boom! “[Before the Sun Rises] deals with concepts of life and death,” explains Francisco about the inspiration behind the EP. “How all things are cyclical and we're all just a small piece of an enormous never-ending puzzle. It's about struggling to understand your place in all of that.”

To promote Before the Sun Rises, the band will be playing live shows in the LA area as well as performing in Austin during SXSW and performing a residency at Los Angeles’ Lot 1 Café for May 2012.

Beehive Says: Lots going on here, drums and synths colliding into energetic vocals, the whole song is a frenzy of action and it works. Set as your morning alarm call and you will hit the ceiling before you leave the pillow.
Web: Official HERE. Listen: For Feeling (MP3).
BACKGROUND: Originally a side project of sorts, twins Jaymes and Tegan Voltaire became the Voltaire Twins after winning the Triple J Unearthed Parklife competition in 2008 and receiving a personal invitation to support Ladytron. Fast forward a few years and with a single and EP release under their belt, the band has now toured Australia numerous times and played everywhere from CMJ in NYC to Laneway, Parklife, Groovin’ the Moo, and Summadayze. This March, Voltaire Twins will return to North America to perform at both SXSW and CMW. Dates and times are below.

Last fall, the indie/electric/disco foursome released the Romulus EP throughout Sydney and Brisbane. Australian critics describe the EP as “darker than the previous Cabin Fever EP with Lord of the Flies-esque themes of chaos and detachment from humanity in the wilderness.”

The lead track from the EP, "Animalia," has already been added to rotation on Triple J, FBI, and Radar Radio, and its accompanying music video, directed by Ben Young and David Le May, was recently awarded a Gold Award at the Australian Cinematography Awards. The video tells the dark, twisted tale of a taxidermist's latest acquisition - a pair of feathered twins.

The lead track from the EP, "Animalia," has already been added to rotation on Triple J, FBI, and Radar Radio, and its accompanying music video, directed by Ben Young and David Le May, was recently awarded a Gold Award at the Australian Cinematography Awards. The video tells the dark, twisted tale of a taxidermist's latest acquisition - a pair of feathered twins.

In an effort to step towards a bigger, more textural sound, the release of the Romulus EP also saw French nu-disco legend Lifelike, Sydney party-starters Purple Sneakers DJs, and Munich-based genre crusher Moullinex all contributing remixes. Fans can also “like” Voltaire Twins on Facebook and receive a code to download the single and remixes free.

Beehive Says: Catchy, very catchy. 'Indie/electric/disco' indeed! and all done to a fine standard.
Web: Official HERE. Listen: Animalia (mp3).
BACKGROUND: NY-Berlin trio Fenster has released the single "Fantasy II" with VMAN from their forthcoming debut full-length, Bones, out on March 13 release via Morr Music. Read Fenster's Q&A with VMAN to get better acquainted with them, learn what's behind their interesting song structures, and how their bi-continental background inevitably effects their musical point of view. The group will embark on their first ever US tour including three performances in NYC surrounding their scheduled appearances at SXSW '12.
Fenster began as New York native JJ Weihl and Berlin-based Jonathan Jarzyna started experimenting with de-constructed pop music, layering subtle distortions, melodic chords and city soundscapes under dream narratives. Their new album Bones takes its narrative structure from the associative logic of dreams, weaving morbid imagery and playful fairytales together into a sardonic play against backdrops of dark forests, train rides, graveyards, mountains and seashores. With influences ranging from the Velvet Underground, to the sounds of broken records, the hum of a washing machine, or the faint melodies of oldies tunes through their kitchen radio, at times, you might be  reminded of an American version of The xx.

Beehive Says: Vocals and accompanying harmonies are spot on, as this song twists and turns. Fenster are imaginative as is this song.
Web: Official HERE. Listen: Fantasy II. (mp3).
BACKGROUND: In 2010, after the release of their debut melancholic folk LP On Claws to critical acclaim, I Am Oak was invited to be a part of over sixty-five tours and festivals throughout the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxemborg, Switzerland, and the UK, including a sold out show at the Unitarian Church as part of the Great Escape festival. Fast forward one year and I Am Oak have released their sophomore LP Oasem to unanimous praise, even earning “Album of the Year” at the prestigious 3VOOR12 Awards.

I Am Oak is the folk/experimental project formed around Dutch singer-songwriter Thijs Kuijken. Described by the 3VOOR12 judges as “night songs” and “songs that take you on a journey,” Kuijken’s truly unique sound is created by manipulating minimalistic sounds into complex and gentle sound arrays using his own voice as the main backbone complemented by guitar, banjo, organ, beats, and samples, all produced and arranged out of his bedroom.

On January 12, 2012 I Am Oak released the Skulk EP via Snowstar Records in the Netherlands. The first single from the EP, “Gills,” premiered on MP3.com last week. The “I Am Oak” moniker is derived from "Bergeijk," the village in which Thijs grew up. The name also contains the Dutch word for Oak ("eik") and expresses Thijs’ love and fascination for nature, a theme that is prominent throughout his impressive body of work.

I Am Oak will be making their North American debut at this year’s SXSW on March 16, 2012 at St. David’s Bethell Hall at 9pm.

Beehive Says: A gentle brooding song which flows and then kinda abruptly stops to remind us how we have drifted into the number.
Web: Official HERE. Listen: Gills. (mp3).
BACKGROUND: Time and good karma have a funny way of repeating themselves sometimes and coming full circle.  Here and now is one of those times, as we tell you the tale of Paper Garden Records’ first ever release and the Lovely Hearts Club’s newest addition – former Eagle Seagull front-man, Eli Mardock.

Eagle Seagull was the inspiration and jumping off point behind Paper Garden Records‘ entire existence back in 2005.  The town of Lincoln, Nebraska brought the two together, and from there both parties grew into their early adulthood years, quickly gaining international critical acclaim.  With their debut album very much at the forefront of the new indie-rock sound (think Arcade Fire and Handsome Furs), Eagle Seagull began to see shows and tours flow in from the likes of The B-52′s, Tokyo Police Club, Gnarls Barkley, Blonde Redhead, The Faint, and more. In the wake of this immediate success the big, bad major labels came calling, and needless to say, won the signing battle over the humble Paper Garden Records.  After enduring nearly every major label cliche known to man and numerous setbacks to to release of their follow-up album, Eli and the band eventually decided to go their separate ways.

In the two years since the band’s demise, Eli has been hard at work recording and producing his first solo LP, “Everything Happens for the First Time”.  Mixed in Brooklyn by Justin Gerrish (Vampire Weekend, The Strokes), the record is set for release in Summer 2012 and marks a new beginning for both Eli Mardock and Paper Garden.  We are so excited to be working with Eli on his solo record and just couldn’t be happier about this phenomenal family reunion. Eli will be making his way down to SXSW this year as well, playing the Paper Garden/My Old Kentucky Blog party @ Uncorked on 3/15.

Beehive Says: The Arcade Fire similarities have been mentioned above and elsewhere, so what, there's plenty of room for great music and for Eli to influence others. More please!
Web: Official HERE. Listen: Everything Happens for the First Time. (mp3).
BACKGROUND: The Lake Effect is a music collective comprised of some of the most prominent artists established during the wildly mad yet glorious punk scene in Ottawa, NYC, Dublin and UK in the late 1970’s.  Fast forward to 2012, and core members of The Lake Effect and respected industry veterans Phil Hogarth and Dave Bignell have rejuvenated their passion for music as well as reinvented their sound and image to create a fervent band that emotes sonic landscapes of loss and longing, redemption and love.  The Lake Effect will be releasing their inaugural EP on March 13, followed by the release of their long awaited debut full-length album due for Summer 2012 release.  The Lake Effect proves that musical prowess has no expiration date, as their forthcoming EP release presents a fresh collection of indie pop-rock tracks that lightly treads on psychedelic folk. 

Bringing together some of the most celebrated veterans of the Canadian music scene, The Lake Effect sings transcendent tales that are pain stakenly candid and unfeigned. With songs that were built on decades of empathetic real-life experiences and revelations, The Lake Effect has revealed themselves as a sound comparable to The Acorn and Bob Pollard …yet their incredible story of dedication to their craft puts them in the realm with fellow artists Ray Lemontagne and Leonard Cohen, whom have also been there and back a few times.

The story of The Lake Effect is basically a story of commitment, and the roots of the band’s core members, Dave Bignell and Phil Hogarth, stretch way back into the glorious murky madness of the late 70’s punk scene in Ottawa, New York, Dublin and the UK.

Bignell’s first band, the infamous Red Squares, released one of Canada’s first DIY singles in late 77, were quickly named as a ‘pick to click’ by British DJ John Peel, and subsequently went on to share the stage with the likes of Ultravox, John Cale, and XTC. The Red Squares’ dedicated fans were legion, and rare copies of the band’s seminal Transmitter single are still trading for hundreds of dollars on record collector sites and eBay.

Around the same time the Red Squares were dissolving in 1980, The Lake Effect’s lead singer Phil Hogarth was recording his first EP with Bugs Harvey Oswald at U2’s Windmill Lane Studios in Dublin, Ireland. Returning to Canada in ’82, Hogarth released a follow-up disc and spent a number of years playing high profile stages in NYC and elsewhere with like-minded bands the Fall, Bauhaus, 10,000 Maniacs, and the Ramones.

Since the 80’s, Bignell and Hogarth have dedicated themselves to many interesting art and music projects in Canada and internationally, but they have always remained committed to the same personal, political and poetical goals that inspired them in the first place. They may be older now, and much water has passed beneath the proverbial bridge, but that is clearly a good thing. Stripped of all pretension, they have finally come together, cracked the shell and found the glistening pearl within.

The Lake Effect’s songs are unique in their strength and beauty, and the band’s live performances are quickly earning them a host of enthusiastic new fans. Refreshingly relaxed, candid and chill, The Lake Effect rules the stage with an easy humor and professional grace that reflects their extensive experience as major players on Canada’s national scene. They’re smart, they’re soulful and they’re sexy, and that is what the best music is really all about. Dreams may fade and empires fall, but the beautiful songs of Lake Effect fly sky high above them all. 

The Lake Effect’s highly anticipated premiere EP will be released on March 13, 2012, and digital review copies are currently available on request.

Beehive Says: As we grow older and hopefully wiser, its always a joy to hear artists with a pedigree such as these guys. Comfortable in doing what feels right musically without the need to live on past glories, and why not when the current ones are this good?
Web: Tumblr HERE. Listen: Fallen From The Sky. (mp3).
BACKGROUND: Dan London is a singer-songwriter-guitarist-bassist (currently with The Longwalls) living in the town of Jamaica Plain, MA. Written over the course of several years in between Nashville and Boston, London's debut Happy to See Me is a record about changes—-lots and lots of changes. A smart mix of Ray Davies and East Coast cool, Happy to See Me is a midnight run through the trials and tribulations associated with becoming comfortable in one's own skin. Better late than never.

The LP features old friends Mike Quinn (Moontower Studio / Q Division) and Longwalls bandmate Kurt von Stetten.

Quoting Dan himself - "I remember hearing Ben Folds’ "Underground" for the first time, realized he was singing about the American suburban experience, and thinking, “damn, he beat me to it.” The American suburban experience is where I come from, it’s where I made my bones, it’s where I cut my teeth.

When I was 13, I wrote my first song. It was the first thing I was ever really good at. I first heard a Bob Dylan song on the local classic rock station and it changed me. True stuff. The words kept coming. I bought his book of lyrics and carried it from room to room.

I grew up in New Jersey listening to Dylan, Pink Floyd, The Dead, The Stones, The Who and the Beatles. I loved Lou Reed and found it hard find other people who did that also didn’t scare me.

I went to college for songwriting. I moved to Nashville. I played in bands and went to open mic nights. I worked in bookstores and got taken out to dinner by crime fiction publishers.

I toured for a few months with a cover band. We kept getting fired, but I got to eat fried chicken in the Savanna Holiday Inn and play volleyball on a beach overlooking a nuclear power plant in Crystal River, Florida.

Sometimes I think music saved my life, other times I think it ruined it. It depends on the day. Just don’t ask me in the morning.

I moved back to Boston. I recorded a record with a band called Nag Champa. I worked in more bookstores. Eventually I went to grad school for Library Science. I started playing bass in the Longwalls. With their help I rediscovered a love of music and a desire to—finally—make my own record".

Beehive Says: This is good old 'no nonsense' music that feels just right. Enough said already.
Web: Official (label) HERE. Listen: Little Bit About Me. (mp3).
BACKGROUND: Violens' forthcoming album, 'True', finds the Brooklyn three-piece further amplifying their innovative songwriting with a palette of exquisitely crafted sound. The band's music eludes classification, expertly blending percussive guitar work and silky harmonies, seeking the silver lining yet to be discovered between the sounds we know and love. With a wash of 90s sonic pop drawn from artists like Pale Saints, Cocteau Twins and McCarthy, Violens paint soft watercolor notes across their compositions, adding crucial emotional depth via layered vocal harmonies.

Violens was formed in 2007 by Jorge Elbrecht (a producer, multi-instrumentalist, and founding member of the art company Lansing-Dreiden). Their debut album 'Amoral' was self-recorded, self-produced, and is best understood as digital collage; a dark, guitar and synth-pop voyage of melodic and rhythmic collision.

'True' shifts course towards a more subtle and desaturated sonic landscape. The album's first single, "Totally True," demonstrates this with its stone-washed, semi-improvised feel, celebrating bands like The Chameleons and Martin Newell's Cleaners From Venus. As the writing process for this second album began while traveling together on tour, it also showcases Violens as a more collaborative effort. Band members Iddo Arad (backing vocals, synths, guitar) and Myles Matheny (backing vocals bass, guitar) had a much larger influence on the songwriting and the album's sonic direction. Framed by Will Berman's distinctive drumming, 'True' shows the band interacting and reflecting in ways both promising and exciting.
Throughout 2011, Violens kept up a virtual songwriting diary on their website, posting musical sketches as part of a continuous dialogue with their fans. In keeping with this practice, Violens will be premiering a song from 'True' each month leading up to the release of their LP.

Beehive Says: A few comparisons above, I would add Hawkwind without the synth and acid but that might confuse some. It's a good number that fly's by and needs a second listen just to remind yourselves of what you heard first and I love it!
Web: Official HERE. Listen: Unfolding Black Wings. (mp3).
BACKGROUND: Coke Weed is indeed an exotic specimen, an indie band that lays garlands at the ruins of rock and roll. This is psychedelic music with nary a trace of the blown out vocal or endless digital soup that is in vogue for this moment in time. Rather, Coke Weed lives in the essence of that perfect instance when the early hippies put down their beloved folk music and fixed their restless gaze on the possibilities of electric rock and roll.

For their upcoming release Nice Dreams, the band enlisted producer Nick Stumpf (former front man of French Kicks and producer of Caveman's CoCo Beware). The album was recorded completely live in ten days, and as a result, there are no overdubs. The first featured track from the album is titled "Magpie," which Coke Weed's founder Milan McAlevy explains, "is almost like the surrealist practice of automatic writing, it just came out and we had something haunting and beautiful that I can’t quite understand the meaning of."

McAlevy formed the Lil’ Fighters with Walter Martin (future member of The Walkmen) in 1999, which sparked an exchange of ideas that would take them both in very unexpected directions. Fast forward a few years and McAlevey has left behind the New York music scene to follow Coke Weed chanteuse Nina D. to Bar Harbor, Maine, the quintessential New England island tourist town. Nina and Milan quickly found guitarist Caleb Davis, young drummer Peter Cuffari and bassist Zach Soares, thus giving birth to the Coke Weed family.

In late April, the group will join fellow Maine constellation Micah Blue Smaldone for a string of ten dates along the East Coast. After that, Coke Weed will hit the road in support of The Walkmen on their North American tour in September 2012.

Beehive Says: This is one fine song where the guitar and vocals complement rather than challenge each other and yet are both standout in the mix (and the rest of the band are disciplined enough to carry the whole thing off with a gentle rhythm) .  
Web: Official HERE. Listen: Magpie. (mp3).
BACKGROUND: In advance of their debut full length album, Isle of Dogs (April 9, 2012), east London indie poppers Tigercats are releasing a free MP3 download of "Full Moon Reggae Party".

"Full Moon Reggae Party" was written in one day after an enforced absence from the studio, and recorded just a couple of days later. It's about going on the run ("I heard you stole a van, we've got some fake Gaugin's, let's go and get the cash, dance to Two Sevens Clash") but it's also the most direct love song they've ever done.

A lot of Tigercats' lyrics are constructed out of fleeting, disconnected
imagery, but "Full Moon Reggae Party" speaks straight to it's subject.  Unlike
earlier songs, it was written by Duncan with Laura's voice in mind: the exuberant verses that he sings solo contrast with the richness of the chorus.

"We love to play it because it's fast and it's about breaking the law."

Catch Tigercats touring UK (March) and Spain (April). They have also just been confirmed to play the Indietracks Festival at Midland Railway in Butterley, Derbyshire in July. Tigercats' album launch for Isle of Dogs will be March 30th at Power Lunches in Dalston.

Beehive Says: Come the summer this will be perfect partying out of doors music, right now it just lifts me way up.
Web: fika (label) HERE. Listen: Full Moon Reggae Party. (mp3).