In 2018, Cub Sport transformed from a local indie band to a global pop powerhouse. Although it was a year of musical triumphs for Cub Sport—including the independent release of its sophomore album BATS and sold-out shows around the world—the most striking part of the band’s rise has been how it has used its platform to share a message of love, encouraging and inspiring people around the world to live their truth and love themselves.
After spending years writing and recording music in various bedrooms and basements, Andrew Carter hit his stride with And How!, the debut Minor Poet album. Made on a creative whim with no outside expectations, the 11-song collection combined Carter’s love of carefully crafted pop with a loose, fun, off-the-cuff recording aesthetic. The album was released in 2017 and developed a small-but-loving fan base. Minor Poet has grown from a passion project into a cross-country touring band with reviews in publications such as American Songwriter, Magnet, The Wild Honey Pie, and Impose.
Shortly is a solo musical project from Detroit native Alexandria Maniak. Her haunting debut single, “Matthew”, produced by Mat Kerekes, is threaded by vulnerability and consequence, enlightened by circumstance, and curated by honest and earnest reflection. Maniak has shared stages with artists like Mitski, Title Fight, Jeff Rosenstock, Tiny Moving Parts, Half Waif, Tancred, and Mom Jeans.
Small Talks is a pop band created to give a voice to the intagible experiences and emotions that come with the simple act of being human.
At a time when the magnitude of cultural sickness is coming to light, Henry Jamison has had some time to reflect. On his second record, Gloria Duplex, the Vermont songwriter deconstructs ideas of masculinity from boyhood to adulthood and what it means to be a white, middle-class male in the United States.
Recorded over a two-week period in New York City in January 2018, Gloria Duplex features an all-star cast, including producer Thomas Bartlett (Sufjan Stevens, the National, St. Vincent,) string arranger Rob Moose (Bon Iver, Arcade Fire, Phoebe Bridgers,) and mixer Patrick Dillett (Rhye, David Byrne, Glen Hansard).
Charli Adams is a Nashville based singer-songwriter who pairs her dreamy, haunting voice with raw and ruminative lyrics, creating a distinct and recognizable sound. Originally from southern Alabama, Adams’ songwriting combines with her sweet, slow paced roots with the fresh, electric joy and pain that youth provides. Her music serves as a nod to the old and the new, drawing from the sounds of timeless classic rock artists such as Tom Petty, Neil Young, and Elliott Smith, as well as current indie powerhouses such as Ryan Adams, the 1975, and the Paper Kites.
Before honing their songwriting skills to craft inviting pop hooks and kinetic guitar melodies, the Stolen began as a group of friends exploring their love of music by learning and performing AC/DC songs together.
Almost 10 years later, after playing countless shows locally, the band released Adults in 2013, which it recorded with producer/engineer Jesse Cannon (Animal Collective, the Misfits). In 2015, the Stolen reached a turning point with the release of its single “Chardonnay,” recorded with producer Paul Levitt (All Time Low, Have Mercy). In spring 2016, the band self-released and self-produced the EP I’m So Dead, which showcased its shift from a fast, loud pop-punk band to a more groove-driven, pop-rock sound. It also landed the band recognition from MTV, which called the EP “the perfect pop-alt soundtrack to take you into the summer season.” Meanwhile, between recording stints, the band has continued touring aggressively. In addition to self-booked stretches with peers, the Stolen has toured or performed with acts such as Neon Trees, the All-American Rejects, the Academic, Jake Miller, and Punchline.
Fragile Heart, released in May 2017, is the band’s most collaborative effort to date. It was recorded with a DIY mentality, with drums and vocals predominantly recorded from home. With Fragile Heart, the Stolen has accomplished something that sounds familiar and comforting with an ’80s pop vibe that is simultaneously young, fresh, and new.
Teenender is a pop band from Boston, Massachusetts. Drawing heavy influences from the ’80s and ’90s, the band’s goal is to get your feet moving.
Los Angeles' Weathers are a stylishly cool indie rock outfit with a knack for driving, dancefloor-ready anthems. They first grabbed listeners' attention with 2016's "Happy Pills," which peaked at number 21 on Billboard's Alternative Songs chart.
Rooney is a Los Angeles based indie alternative group formed in 1999 that is led by singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Robert Schwartzman. Rooney was initially signed to Geffen/Interscope by record producer and label icon Jimmy Iovine. They released multiple albums and singles that reached platinum sales. After returning from a hiatus in 2016, the band made the decision to go fully independent, releasing new music under Schwartzman’s label, Beachwood Park Music. 2019 will see not only the release of more new music, but also the group's 20th anniversary. Schwartzman will be taking Rooney on the road this summer for a special and intimate nationwide tour. The “Break The Wall Tour” will feature live and unplugged sets across 26 US cities in May and June.
While Luluc's music is at times masterful in it's minimalism, it is anything but quiet in impact.
Sonically, the band has broadened their tonal palette on their third album, Sculptor. This album follows a successful collaboration on Passerby, which was co-produced with the National's Aaron Dessner. Multi-instrumentalist, singer, and producer Steve Hassett mastered a wider spectrum of instruments to fully realize the album's expansive and daring vision. Hassett and vocalist Zoe Randell do nearly all of the writing, recording, and producing themselves, but their vision is far from insular. Recording took place in Luluc's new Brooklyn studio, which they built themselves. The new studio is volition and potential in action and even incorporates reclaimed cedar from Dessner's iconic former Ditmas Park studio, where the National and Luluc had both lived and recorded.
The notion that everyone has control of their own story is at the core of Sculptor. For Hassett, it's illuminated by the last line of the title track, which is the last line of the record itself: "'The most beautiful, serene sculpture my hands could make, could trace, could break.' All of the songs are playing with those ideas," he says. "Life is something you get, and you can get sidetracked for years and even destroy it, or you can remember that you've got some control over your life."
Sinkane is an artist with a real stake in our current cultural and political climate. Born in London to Sudanese parents, raised in Ohio, and living in New York City, Ahmed Gallab—a former skate punk turned Afro-funk whiz—refines his sound and message on his seventh studio album, Dépaysé, scheduled for release on May 31.
The album’s French title means “to be removed from one’s habitual surroundings.” The album's anthemic first single, “Everybody,” was recently made into a video, directed by Bruno Ferreira. Filmed at Brazil’s world renowned samba school in Rio de Janeiro, Escola de Samba Paraíso do Tuiuti, it stars local performers and is a testimony to the power of passion and dancing to overcome repression. Gallab says “Everybody” is “dedicated to the brave men, women, and children fighting against oppression in places like Brazil, Sudan, and all over the world.”
Dépaysé is the follow-up to Sinkane’s acclaimed 2017 album Life & Livin’ It, which earned the band its national television debut on Conan, an NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert, and worldwide acclaim from outlets such as Pitchfork, the Guardian, New York Magazine, Vulture, and the Washington Post, among many others.
Bassel & the Supernaturals combines soul and funk with captivating lyrics about love, loss, and a war in Syria that has affected Bassel Almadani’s family along with ten million others.
The soulful Syrian-American vocalist and his ensemble donate over 20% of their merchandise proceeds to humanitarian relief through the Karam Foundation, including $3,000 from the preorder campaign for their full-length album, Elements (2017). Their latest album - drawing inspiration from artists such as Snarky Puppy, Jamiroquai, and Steely Dan's Aja - was premiered by Noisey, which led to their involvement in the nationally acclaimed SXSW 2017 showcase ContraBanned: #MusicUnites, featuring artists from the diaspora of countries targeted by the travel ban. They've since been featured on PRI, Al Jazeera, Reuters, Paste Magazine, Huffington Post, NowThis, and many others.
Almadani co-produced the multi-genre humanitarian tour Amplify Peace, in collaboration with several other Arab-American artists from predominantly Muslim countries impacted by war. Highlights from their debut tour in October 2017 included performances at the John F. Kennedy Center, the Arab American National Museum, and a feature by the Associated Press.
Averaging over 60 tour dates per year across the US and Canada with internationally touring artists such as Youssou N'Dour, Brother Ali, Aesop Rock, Emancipator, the Dandy Warhols, Sinkane, and many others - Bassel & the Supernaturals is preparing to release another full-length album, Smoke & Mirrors (2019).
After fifteen years of writing and performing with projects like Wolf Parade and Sunset Rubdown, Moonface, Swan Lake, and Frog Eyes, Spencer Krug has finally decided to release and tour the music that he makes under his own name. While he still writes and sings for the recently reactivated Wolf Parade, there remains in him a need to express something less rock-oriented, something more quiet, strange, and introverted. So, returning to his first and favorite instrument, the piano, Krug has ventured back into his own fantastic world of pseudo-classical balladeering; poetic lyricism laced with twisted pop sensibility and jazz mimicry. Using this template, he now releases his solo work, and tours and a variety of new songs as well as those from older projects.
Long time friends Jace Lasek and Stephen Ramsay formed Light Conductor out of a mutual desire to create an expansive drone, ambient, and electronic music. After fortuitously acquiring a trove of rare analog electronic gear and meticulously restoring it from various states of disrepair back into pristine working condition, the duo began to explore the creative territories that were opened by their new musical tools. Using their mutual admiration for the celestial wig outs of Spiritualized, the quiet majesty of Eno's ambient albums, and the experimental landscapes of William Basinski as a template, Lasek and Ramsay ultimately carved out a sound of their own, resulting in their debut album Sequence One.
Singer-songwriter, indie Folk, acoustic pop – these are all labels that could apply to Mark Wilkinson, but ultimately he lends his voice to the human condition. His music has risen up the charts on two continents amd his shows have sold out in several different countries. He's shared arena stages with some of music's most enigmatic names like Brian Wilson and Rodriguez, but he can still be found performing on the street, forging connections through song without barrier or contrivance. Some of these organic moments of connection have actually led to breakthroughs for Wilkinson as an independent artist: while busking in Amsterdam, a late-night television producer approached him and asked him to appear on the show that evening. After the segment aired, his music hit the charts in the Netherlands and he began trending on social media. An advertising executive saw him busking in Sydney and placed his song "Middle Ground" in a Nescafé ad campaign that sent it to the top of the iTunes singer-songwriter charts in Australia.
In 2013, Wilkinson took the leap to North America, selling out his first-ever show in New York and hitting the airwaves across the U.S. and Canada on SiriusXM's Coffee House station, where he was named "Discovery of the Year" alongside breakout artists like Chvrches and Bastille. His 2015 acoustic hit "Everything To Me" is still in rotation, and he continues to sell out shows across the continent, playing legendary venues like the Bluebird Café in Nashville, Eddie's Attic in Decatur, and more. Now, with three full length albums under his belt, 2019 sees Wilkinson return to the live stage in support of his fourth record, Blue Eyed Girls. Set for release in March 2019, this new collection of songs comes hot on the tail of Wasted Hours, which hit #1 on the Australian independent album charts in early 2018.
The members of Sweet Crude all hail from South Louisiana, a region which still holds onto its unique culture and way of life stronger than anywhere else in the United States. That said, many of those elements are fading with time as American culture gradually becomes more homogenized. This trend can be seen most directly in the gradual fade of the Louisiana French language. The members of Sweet Crude grew up with grandparents and great grandparents that spoke the region’s native dialect as their first language, yet with each successive generation, that language gets lost to time. Instead of singing the language in its usual music genres, zydeco and cajun, Sweet Crude draws on their own influences coming mainly from New Orleans music, pop, and indie rock to produce a sound that is accessible to today’s generation. In essence, they are taking the language out the museum, weaving it in with English, and giving it fresh legs and relevancy for years to come.
Sweet Crude released their debut LP Créatures in April of 2017 on Rhyme and Reason Records and followed the release with performances at major US festivals such as Bonnaroo, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, and High Sierra. In addition to headlining their own US tour in April and May of 2017, they hit the road with their dear friends, Tank and the Bangas, on a sold-out nationwide club tour that lasted through the summer and fall. The band also won the Big Easy Award for “Best Rock Band” in New Orleans in 2017. The other two nominees were The Revivalists and Mutemath.
Nobody remembers if Gladys Broussard won the bingo game by going across or down. She might have even won by going diagonal, which has always been kind of like cheating to me. Anyhow, they had to give her the prize: two 33 and 1/3 long playing albums. The first was a Kiss record. They looked awful, very dangerous. The other album was the Village People's Cruisin'. It had a few men on the cover, relaxing on their toys. One had a big bulldozer, one an army jeep. Of course, the troublemaker had himself a chopper.
Gladys knew exactly what she was going to do with them. She gave this Kiss record to the Pegue boys who lived down the street and who were always getting in trouble. They couldn't drive the family's one working car in or out of the driveway without screeching the wheels and holding their middle finger up at their siblings left on the front porch. The Pegues played the record for about a month straight. Then it was stolen by the neighbor boy behind them. That boy was always lighting fires and torturing animals. Can't believe what he confessed to. We don't talk about him. His parents were always in church and they kept clothes spotless.
Thank god Gladys sent her grandson Cruisin'. Otherwise, he might have ended up like some kind of weirdo, dressing up in some crazy costume pretending to be somebody he's not.
ENDERNESS, A.A. Bondy's first album in eight years was finished the day before a wildfire burned his house down. He recorded and played everything himself.
A virtuosic, award-winning guitarist with a gift for insightful songwriting, Molly Tuttle evolves her signature sound with boundary-breaking songs on her compelling debut album, When You’re Ready. Already crowned “Instrumentalist of the Year” at the 2018 Americana Music Awards on the strength of her EP, Tuttle has broken boundaries and garnered the respect of her peers, winning fans for her incredible flatpicking guitar technique and confessional songwriting. Graced with a clear, true voice and a keen melodic sense, the 25-year-old seems poised for a long and exciting career. When You’re Ready, produced by Ryan Hewitt (the Avett Brothers, the Lumineers) showcases her astonishing range and versatility and shows that she is more than simply an Americana artist.
Since moving to Nashville in 2015, the native Californian has been welcomed into folk music, bluegrass, Americana, and traditional country communities – even as When You’re Ready stretches the boundaries of those genres. Over the past year, Tuttle has continued to accumulate accolades, winning Folk Alliance International’s honor for Song of the Year for “You Didn’t Call My Name” and taking home her second trophy for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Guitar Player of the Year (the first woman in the history of the IBMA to win that honor).
Tuttle grew up in California in a musical family, performing at festivals with her father and two brothers. As a young girl, she took violin lessons but eventually grew more interested in playing guitar. By the age of 11, Tuttle was attending bluegrass jams and decided that she wanted to do more singing. She took voice lessons from one of her neighbors, a classical vocal coach who taught proper technique without sacrificing phrasing. As a young woman interested in bluegrass, Tuttle admired bold songwriters like Hazel Dickens and looked up to Bay Area bluegrass musicians such as Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick.
After graduating from high school in Palo Alto, Tuttle enrolled in Berklee College of Music in Boston, where she studied in the American Roots Music Program, focusing on guitar performance and songwriting.
Fujiya & Miyagi, based in Brighton, England, have been making expansive, experimental, and multifaceted electronic-driven music for 20 years. The band’s latest album, Flashback, expected to be released in May 2019, finds the group reconnecting with the potent music of its youth and linking it with well-learned musical chops.
Fujiya & Miyagi’s album Electro Karaoke in the Negative Style (2002) created the first glimpse of what became their distinctive sound of electronics and hushed vocals. It wasn’t until 2006, with the release of Transparent Things, that the group gained wider critical acclaim in Europe and in North America. The album blended ’70s German electronic music, post-punk dance music, and ’90s sounds affiliated with labels such as Warp Records.
Three years after releasing Ventriloquizzing, a record with more emphasis on sounds and textures, Fujiya & Miyagi returned in 2014 with Artificial Sweeteners, their most electronic album to date. In 2016 and 2017, they released an ambitious, three EP trilogy, Impossible Objects of Desire, on their own imprint. It was a carefully staged project that traversed disco, electronic, pop, and the ’70s Germany groove they so seamlessly ooze.
An accomplished guitarist and burgeoning songwriter, Annabelle Lord-Patey blends 1960s folk sensibilities with an aching amount of Elliott Smith, creating a haunting form of indie folk. Her much-anticipated debut album Polaris, released in the summer of 2016, featured guest appearances from Phillip Jamieson and Mary Lou Lord. The album and her live shows have thrilled listeners in her native New England and on the West Coast, where she completed a successful tour in 2017. Annabelle has become a regular fixture at the legendary Passim Folk Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The New Yorker described her music as "striking," Rolling Stone called her "the show's standout," Billy Bragg said her music "has a lovely, knowing quality," and Shawn Colvin says listening to Annabelle Lord-Patey will remind you "why music made you smile in the first place."
Matt Minigell is a Boston–based songwriter, musician, and busker. His lyrical, emotive brand of folk music and whispery, fingerpicked playing style have been compared to artists such as Elliott Smith, Bright Eyes, and Nick Drake. When he's not on the road or in the studio, Minigell can be found beneath the streets of Boston, performing at one of the city's many subway stations.
Sakura is a teenage singer-songwriter from Japan. She started playing guitar at the age of 12, and at 16 she uploaded her first video on Youtube. In November of 2018, Sakura released her second CD, Whereabouts, which she toured across Japan over the span of 2 years, playing shows in Tokyo, Osaka, Nagoya, Hokkaido, Hiroshima, and in her home town Fukui.
Matthew and the Atlas, the project led by British songwriter Matt Hegarty, has traversed a range of musical territories from classic acoustic folk, to dramatic synth-laden electronica, and urgent guitar led alt-rock. The common thread across Hegarty's three LPs (Other Rivers, Temple, Morning Dancer), and the four stripped back EPs that preceded and followed them has been a songwriting style that marries a subtle melodic sensibility with lyrics full of natural imagery and dark emotional heft. In the process, Hegarty has quietly built a major cult following in Europe and the US, which has seen Q Magazine dub him the "British Bon Iver".
As part of the Communion Records family (Matthew and The Atlas’ debut EP was the label’s first ever release), Hegarty toured his early releases extensively and internationally with the likes of Mumford and Sons, Bear’s Den, Civil Wars and others around Europe and the US. That early touring, and a passionate word-of-mouth fan base, has taken Hegarty’s music around the world and close to 100m streams across all his releases.
Matthew and the Atlas' new LP, Morning Dancer, sees Hegarty recording for the first time with his full five-piece touring band and Bristol-based producer Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, Youth Lagoon, Gruff Rhys). Recorded and mixed in an intensive six-week stint, the record has familiar elements - the energy and intensity of the live show, stripped and delicate confessional moments, and touches of the synth heavy drama that characterized his debut. To that mix, Chant and Hegarty have added flourishes of brass and woodwind and a playful looseness to the production and arrangements that takes the songs and Hegarty’s voice to a new place altogether.
Growing up in a small town in the periphery of London, guitar and piano were always a big part of Charlie Cunningham’s life.
After a few years gigging and finding his feet in Oxford he left for Seville, where he developed a fresh technique that served as a catalyst for his creativity. Taking the percussive qualities of flamenco, his playing became sharp enough to craft songs laden with delicate flourishes, intricate melodic turns, and moments of stark introspection. His work continues to be both expansive and intimate. “I guess the reason that it took so long for me to put something out was that I couldn't play the way I wanted to play” he explains. “I knew how I wanted it to be, but I just couldn't do it. I gave myself quite a tough time." Cunningham’s enormously suggestive songwriting is sonically beautiful while also packing an emotional punch. "I love all sorts of music, as long as there is an honesty to it" he says. "But it’s hard, really, to let yourself be exposed like that.”
Cunningham’s artistic development, mapped by his three EPs Outside Things, Breather, and Heights, took another leap forward with his debut album, Lines. His deft touch and restraint have produced a work of compositions that sound fresh and yet eerily familiar. Although his celebrated flamenco nods and vocal hooks are still present, his musicianship and songwriting ability now takes center stage. The popularity of Cunningham’s music is highlighted in over 4.7 million Spotify plays across his three EPs, tens of thousands of views for his captivating online sessions, and two sold out headlining tours of Germany, which reflect the public's enthusiasm for his live performances.
Tom Speight is making up for lost time. Laid low by illness, beset by personal and professional problems, the songwriter returned to what he does best: writing songs.
Using his convalescence as a musical break, Speight found that music simply tumbled forth in a torrent of ideas and a flood of melody. “I wanted to do it,” he says. “I came out of a big relationship—four or five years—and then I was pretty low. I’d just come out of two major operations, so it was a good, cathartic way of getting on with things.”
As a child, Speight listened endlessly to early Leonard Cohen albums, even going as far as to borrow his older sister’s classical guitar. That element of simplicity remains in his music, but his recent work feels more inclined towards Ryan Adams’s autumnal romanticism, or even the simple yet affecting Celtic soul of Damien Rice, where each note has its own place driven by a deeply personal connection to the music.
Armed with some of his finest songs to date, Speight released four EPs in a span of 12 months, receiving more than 12 million Spotify plays, earning support from BBC Radio 2, and landing a high-profile session on Jo Whiley’s show. Eager to play live, he chalked up more than 80 shows in less than 12 months, from London to Poland, from the Scottish Highlands to the continent.