Local Natives

 Photo by Brian Sheffield

Photo by Brian Sheffield

Local Natives are celebrating the anniversary of their acclaimed sophomore album Hummingbird, released five years ago today on January 29, 2013 (Frenchkiss), and to mark the occasion have shared an eight-minute demo of album track "Colombia." Listen now HERE. The Los Angeles band has also released a series of behind-the-scenes videos filmed during the making of the album; watch them now HERE.  Check out a Tumblr page featuring the videos as well as photos and blurbs about making the record HERE.

Hummingbird  -- recorded in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn with co-producer Aaron Dessner (of The National) -- followed Local Natives' breakthrough 2010 debut, Gorilla Manor, and earned the band press attention from outlets including PitchforkEntertainment WeeklyRolling Stone, StereogumSPINAmerican SongwriterConsequence Of SoundThe Daily BeastInterviewPaper, and Paste, among others.

The band's third album, Sunlit Youth, was released on September 9th, 2016 via Loma Vista Recordings and saw praise from NPRThe FADEREntertainment WeeklyNYLONNY Mag's Vulture, and many more, in addition to performances on The Late Late Show with James Corden and Conan.

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Khruangbin

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Texan trio Khruangbin is formed of Laura Lee on bass, Mark Speer on guitar, and Donald “DJ” Johnson on drums. Taking influence from 1960's Thai funk - their name literally translates to "Engine Fly" in Thai.

When you hear Khruangbins album it is likely you will fall in love with it, its fair to say there is nothing else out there that sounds quite like it. You see them play live and you fall in love all over again when you experience the music translated to stage in a way you won’t have imagined. When Khruangbin play a show – they play a show!

2017 kicks off with a US winter tour and a return to South By Southwest. The summer will include a variety of US festivals and a visit back to European soil. Will we see new material emerge this year? Knowing this band and how their artistry seems to effortlessly turn out new offerings it is very likely - and so we eagerly wait…

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Basement

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Basement, who formed in England in 2010, make melodic grunge influenced rock songs that brings to mind a kind of '90s D.I.Y. sound. The band features lead vocalist Andrew Fisher, guitarist Alex Henery, guitarist Ronan Crix, bassist Duncan Stewart, and drummer James Fisher (brother of singer Andrew Fisher).

Since abruptly announcing an indefinite hiatus only weeks after the release of 2012’s breakthrough LP “Colourmeinkindness”, the band has gained an devoted following. The record has since gone on to sell over 25,000 copies worldwide. In 2014, the band found time amongst other obligations to write and record the EP “Further Sky”. Immediately inspired by the creative chemistry they felt, Basement were ready to work on something more significant.

“Promise Everything” is the bands return full-length recording since the hiatus. Sonically, the record breaks progressive new ground for Basement despite the creative process sharing much in common with previous endeavors. Challenged by the spacing out of members not only across the country, but across the globe, “Promise

Everything” was written by piecing together songs from different members, sent back and forth over a short period of time. Without the luxury of a shared space or even a convenient time zone, the songs were only ever played by the full band while in the studio. Perhaps this is why on listening, Promise Everything feels like a conversation between different people, revealing different moods and feelings throughout.

Basement originally released “Promise Everything” via Run For Cover Records, their long time record label from Boston, Massachusetts, but not long after the release the band was signed to Atlantic Records imprint Fueled By Ramen who re-released a deluxe version of “Promise Everything” in March 2017 that included 4 bonus tracks. Basement has shared glimpses of studio time in late 2017 via social media potentially foreshadowing a 2018 release of some kind yet nothing has been officially announced.

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Diet Cig

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Diet Cig are here to have fun. They're here to tear you away from the soul-sucking sanctity of your dumpster-fire life and replace it with pop-blessed punk jams about navigating the impending doom of adulthood when all you want is to have ice cream on your birthday.

Alex Luciano (guitar and vocals) and Noah Bowman (drums) have been playing music together ever since Luciano interrupted the set of Bowman's previous band for a lighter. The New York duo have since released the infectious, 2015 'Over Easy' EP that introduced consistent sing-a-long lyrics with thrashing drums and strums that never held back.

'Swear I'm Good At This' is the first full-length from the band and accumulates their tenacity for crafting life-affirming, relatable tales with a gutsy heart at their core. Luciano has the ability to write lyrics that are both vulnerable and badass, perfecting a storm of emotive reflection that creates a vision of a sweaty, pumped-up room screaming these lines in unison. Diet Cig make it okay to be the hot mess that you are.

But there's also a deeper, more powerful fuck-you among the bangers that see Diet Cig grow into an unstoppable and inspiring force. "I'm not being dramatic, I've just fucking had it with the things that you say you think that I should be" spits Luciano on "Link in Bio"; "I am bigger than the outside shell of my body and if you touch it without asking then you'll be sorry" she yells on "Maid Of The Mist". It's the sound of a band doing things on their own terms.

Wrapping up 'Swear I'm Good At This' on Halloween 2016, exactly two years after they finished recording 'Over Easy' on Halloween 2014, Diet Cig's first, full-length LP validates the experiences of punks who aren't always accepted first time around; the punks who throw their deuces up at the dominating bro-dudes and ignite the importance of owning everything that you are.

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The Regrettes

 Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Photo by Shawn Brackbill

Perfectly imperfect – that’s one way to describe LA based punk act, The Regrettes. Writing songs that proudly bear a brazen and unabashed attitude in the vein of acts Courtney Barnett or Karen O – with a pop aesthetic reminiscent of 50’s and 60’s acts a la the Temptations or Buddy Holly – the LA based four piece create infectious, punk driven tracks.

Lead by outspoken frontwoman, Lydia Night, and comprised of Genessa Gariano on guitar, Sage Nicole on bass and drummer Maxx Morando, the group have left the LA rock scene floored, managing to capture the hearts of jaded rock critics while opening for acts like Kate Nash, Jack Off Jill, Bleached, Pins, Deep Vally and more. With nothing but demos available online, the group are already beginning to generate hype, from outlets like NPR, and with NYLON already heralding them them as a “punk act you should be listening to”.

From the opening moments on a track by The Regrettes, we’re greeted with a wall of guitars, infectious melodies and a wistful nostalgia that continues right until the final notes. Taking cues from acts like Hinds and Hole, there’s a wistful sense of youth and vulnerability that lies at the heart of each song.

A song by The Regrettes is, essentially, a diary entry into Lydia’s life. “My music is a spectrum of every emotion that I have felt in the last year, and you can hear that when you hear the songs. Everything that is happening in my life influences me. It’s everything from boys, to friends, to being pissed off at people, to being really sad. Just everything.”

The most intoxicating draw of The Regrettes is their bashful, heart-on-your-sleeve temperament – writing urgent and fast-paced pop songs with a punk rock mentality. “The way that we write, it’s all based on honesty,” muses Lydia on the group’s punk aesthetic. “If I finish a song, I’ll just leave it – I won’t really go back to it. I like things to feel in the moment and I don’t want it to be perfect. If I work on something too much I lose it and get bored and I want to do the next one..”

Lydia’s not afraid to have her feelings on display. “I am not scared of anyone judging me, I don’t care. I don’t give a fuck if someone doesn’t like what I have to say. For every person that likes you, there’s a person that doesn’t like you. No matter what, if people can relate to the music then it’s worth it. That’s what is cool for me.” And at the end of the day, isn’t that what punk music is all about? 

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NE-HI

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Emerging from underground venues in Chicago's Northwest side, NE-HI made its name on both its live energy and cleverly wrought guitar anthems. On its second album Offers (Grand Jury), the band takes those basement-forged instincts and refines them, lets its guitars explore new angles, and focuses its songwriting. The result shows there are a wide range of post-punk possibilities yet to be explored.

It all started at Animal Kingdom, a flash-in-the-pan DIY basement in Chicago's Logan Square. There, in the summer of 2013, three friends from college, Jason Balla (guitar/vocals), Mikey Wells (guitar/vocals) and James Weir (bass) linked up with drummer Alex Otake to score a buddy's film and decided to start bashing around together as NE-HI. NE-HI's more ambitious sound and heady arrangements broke away from garage rock's back-to-basic's approach. The band's disparate influences--Wire's post-punk, Springsteen's everyman anthems, along with echoes of dreamy atmospheres of Dave Roback's Rain Parade and the jangly buzz of Kiwi pop legends The Clean--began burning through. The band attracted the attention of Dave Vettraino, who asked NE-HI to record at his Public House Recordings studio for posting on his website. Vettraino would go on to record the band's debut album. The Chicago Tribune's Greg Kot gave the debut the #4 spot in his 2014 year-end list.

Offers is NE-HI finding that rising to the occasion means living up to your own standards, not someone else's. The band entered Chicago's Minbal studio in January 2016 to record ten songs with Vettraino engineering, but scrapped most of the session. To finish the record, NE-HI went back to touring, writing, rewriting and returned to Minbal in March more solid than ever. It recorded most of Offers live at Minbal to capture the energy--only overdubbing vocals.

Offers drones, it captivates with soaring pop, it shimmers with atmosphere, always changing, looking. The album veers from the staccato pop of "Palm of Hand" (which nods to Chicago's Disappears) to the jangly pleasures of "Stay Young." The off-kilter, ultra-catchy "Sisters" refines the carefree feeling of the band's debut--picking up the spirit of New Zealand pop. Title track "Offers" feels like a slight departure, the band pushing its most abstract and unpredictable instincts. On "Prove" the band's post-punk guitars come at blistering tempo, it's the band's most athletic moment yet. While the punchy drawl of "Buried on the Moon" conjures a less sleepy Let's Active.

Offers finds the distant influence of forebears in cerebral guitar pop presented with a familiarity that typifies great FM rock hits. The Midwestern boys (two from Chicago, one from Wisconsin, and one from Minnesota) in NE-HI have a knack for knitting something comfortable and warm from those art school cast-offs and cult favorites. NE-HI's music demands to be lived in. Chances are good that in the case of Offers, regifting will be rare.

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Melkbelly

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If Nothing Valley were a real place, it’d be mossy, verdant, and a little bit strange.

Melkbelly, formed by vets of Chicago’s experimental and DIY scene champions, organized noise and thoughtful freneticism on its debut full-length, Nothing Valley, fusing dreamy vocal lines and cantankerous guitar racket. Its songs clang and bang in stripped-down production that highlights the band’s sharp edges; multi-faceted slabs of sound serve harmonious, immediate songs. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that the band members’ tastes run obscure–The Hecks, Lightning Bolt, and jazz drummer Paal Nilssen-Love and, as they tell us, “bands and musicians that draw on a sense of adventure.” The quartet’s membership overlaps with several Chicago noise and experimental bands and art collectives.

An efficient one-day recording session resulted in Melkbelly’s first EP, 2014’s Pennsylvania, which opened the door to touring and opening slots for Speedy Ortiz, Magik Markers and Built to Spill, and led to The Chicago Reader calling Melkbelly “one of the most exciting new sounds out of Chicago.” Next, Melkbelly got back to writing and working, recording a pair of 7-inches with Dave Vettraino at Chicago’s Public House where it had made its first recordings ever for Public House’s Digital Singles Series and a Public House compilation tape. The sessions gave the band a chance to deepen its collaboration with Vettraino.

Miranda writes most of Melkbelly’s tunes on guitar and brings them to the band who puts them through the ringer, where they morph into a Melkbelly arrangement. Often, however, the band will take a guitar riff or two from an open jam recorded at practice and spin it into a song.

Nothing Valley was recorded in early 2016 in Vettraino’s basement studio to 8-track analog tape. Fresh off a West Coast tour, the band let the hours on the road and missed art tourism opportunities at Spiral Jetty shape the songs as well as the recording process itself, writing half the album material in the studio. Nothing Valley breezes gust fresh and forcefully.

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Stuyedeyed

 Photo by Rachel Cabitt

Photo by Rachel Cabitt

It’s spelled S T U Y E D E Y E D. Pronounced “Tie-Dyed” with an S up front. No, we didn’t originally intend on giving you a headache, but any type of comfort removed is always refreshing. This band was born out of a basement in the neighborhood of Bed-Stuy in Brooklyn, NY.

Our music explores many vantages. It’s about perspective. Songs that stem from growing up on welfare and section 8, trying to break free from a system that is systemically oppressive against us. Trying to find weight in the existence of right now and not what others dictate for us. A perspective that showcases the anger, compassion, perseverance and strength found within.

We do not make music for the cool guy. Our songs aren’t for the self important people drinking cocktails at a bar in a neighborhood they have no respect for. Our shows aren’t for the people who live for just being seen. This band exists to shake the shit out of you. We are not here to validate validation for the social ladder.

Our sound is loud. It’s direct. It’s fuzzed out. Teetering on the brink of falling apart, but never allowing it to. There is a weight, there is a groove, and there is a message. We stop and we start. Find comfort in the uncomfortable. We are intimate, we climb on your heads, and most importantly, we are right there with you. 

As for the “we” in this industry mandated biography that I to hijacked, here is the band: Humberto Genao on bass, Luis Ruelas on drums and beer, George Ramirez on Guitar, and Nelson Antonio Hernandez-Espinal (me) on guitar and vocals. 

Get up front. Free yourselves. Fuck the bullshit. Love the real ones. No one is cool. No one is important. Preach love. Fight for yourselves, the marginalized, and the disenfranchised. Give into the uncomfortable. That is where the change happens. Be here. Right now.

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Flaural

 Photo by Rachel Cabitt

Photo by Rachel Cabitt

Denver based quartet Flaural is an outfit with its eclectic roots of influence lodged as firmly in the fertile grounds of psychedelic pop as in the less-often associated soils of shoegaze, new wave, and contemporary experimental. Only seeming to look back as a means to gaze into the future, Flaural walks the tightrope that often separates originality and accessibility with uncanny ease.

Flaural is the unified sum of four equal parts. The hypnotic pulse of Nick Berlin’s kraut rock drum grooves crystalize as the backdrop atop which sprawls the band’s ethereal pop-songwriting pallet. Connor Birch’s expansive synths and keys, the unique virtuosity of Noah Pfaff’s guitar playing, and the resonant croon of Colin Johnson’s vocals over his driving bass lines all coalesce into the rare type of experimental music that warmly invite the uninitiated listener into the unknown.

Formed in 2015 the band has released two EPs. 2015’s ‘Thin King’ established the parameters for Flaural’s exploratory vision and 2016’s ‘Over Imaginary Cigarettes’ pushed further their already immense scope. Gold Flake Tapes described the latter as a “humdrum flood of sound, colour, and exquisite vision.”

The band’s rigorous tour schedule has taken it on six total tours totaling fourteen weeks and 75+ dates along the west coast and through the Midwest. The burgeoning act has shared the stage with Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Thee Oh Sees, Built to Spill, Wand, Wild Nothing, Gardens & Villa, Quilt, Diane Coffee, Methyl Ethel, Mild High Club and others. Appearances at Boise’s Treefort Music Fest, Denver’s Underground Music Showcase, San Francisco’s Hickey Fest, Chicago’s Tomorrow Never Knows, and other high profile festivals have further grown the band’s national reputation.

It sometimes feels rare that a band founded on pushing boundaries is conscious of not alienating the listener. This is not the case for Flaural. Their music, in effect, feels like the spoils of a deep space exploration, brought back down to earth for all to observe. The band is currently writing and recording their debut LP rumored to be slated for release in 2018. 

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