The best albums of 2017, one for every day of your week

AOTY_0006_Yesterday's Gone.jpg

#7. YESTERDAY'S GONE - LOYLE CARNER

"An eclectic piece of work that manages to be tender, powerful, and profoundly honest. It deep dives into personal loss and domestic issues through prose and grace without losing a hint of truth in it." - @Pamuk

AOTY_0005_Pure Comedy.jpg

#6. PURE COMEDY - FATHER JOHN MISTY

"A gorgeous triumph of modern music, existentialism, and humanity. Tillman encourages you to confront the challenges of human existence, and if you take the leap of faith, you may find a happy ending after all. A huge step forward in the FJM catalogue." - krazyyeti555

AOTY_0004_landmark.jpg

#5. LANDMARK - HIPPO CAMPUS

"Hippo Campus embrace the possibilities of the recording studio while celebrating their hooky but adventurous melodies, their tight but engaging instrumental work, and their stellar vocal harmonies." - @AllMusic

AOTY_0003_Drunk.jpg

#4. DRUNK - THUNDERCAT

 

"An album that sacrifices cohesion to drown itself in its myriad of influences and ideas, maybe, but frankly, who cares when the music is this zany and flat-out fun to listen to. Propelled along of course by that signature FlyLo/Thundercat sound of jazz fusion that we've come to know and love!" - @HugoPavi

AOTY_0001_Apricot Princess.jpg

#3. APRICOT PRINCESS - REX ORANGE COUNTY

"Rex Orange County wears his influences on his sleeve, but his montage-like song structures and effortless transitions allow him to meld these distinctly separate styles into something curiously unique." - @ReviewsToSkim

AOTY_0000_A Crow Looked At Me.jpg

#2. A CROW LOOKED AT ME - MOUNT EERIE

"A beautiful demonstration of the power of meditative minimalism. The melodic devices here aren't particularly pronounced, but they perfectly compliment the evocative, powerful storytelling." - @Callum_Hofler

AOTY_0002_DAMN..jpg

#1. DAMN. - KENDRICK LAMAR

 

"This is sonically the most cohesive of 2017. Kendrick raised the bar with To Pimp a Butterfly and continues his reign atop the realm of hip-hop. Not much more can be said." - @samwich21

10 acts you can't miss at FIB Benicassim 2017

If you're looking for sun and a good time, there is really only one place in Europe that you should be looking - that place is FIB Benicassim 2017.

For the sixth week of our #SummerOfHype festival tour (13th July - 20th July 2017), we're sunning it up at FIB Benicassim 2017, which in our opinion is Europe's best festival outside of the UK.

 
FIB Benicassim 2017 line-up
 

Want to know more about FIB Bennicasim? Find out about the festival here. Below you'll find the ten acts we won't be missing at FIB Bennicasim 2017.


Blossoms

Bonobo

Crystal Fighters

Foals

Kasabian

Kaytranada

Peter Doherty

Stormzy

Temples

The Weeknd


We're covering FIB Benicassim, and 12 of the UK and Europe's other best festivals on Instagram. Catch you over there.

The story of Secret Solstice 2017 in 10 photos

Interview with Tory Silver

Interview


Can you tell us a little about the title of your album, Observere?

Ah, yes, Observere is the Norwegian word for observe. The album has a running theme of what it means to belong. I have some Norwegian heritage, and, for me, that has become a really important part of who I am-I've found a sense of belonging with it. Most of my songs are based off mundane observations I have walking down the street, or sitting down eating dinner. It just made sense to call the album Observere.

I love how on your website you describe your music as a “lyrical outlet” - how can singing and writing be a cathartic experience, and what is it that you are trying to capture in this album lyrically?

Like I said, most of my songs are based off observations and details I notice during everyday life. When I start writing, I begin with how I'm feeling at that moment, and then try to expand to how other people might be feeling, or people I don't know. I like to incorporate how I felt when certain things happened that day, how it might have happened to others. Feels therapeutic in the sense that it gets me thinking about what's in my head, and then a sense of compassion for other people. Lyrically, I wanted to accomplish a sense that yes, life stinks sometimes, but appreciating the small details, there's a calm light to that.

Observere

Observere

Released 30 May 2017

I also love the album cover for Observere, a softly colored water color painting of mountains. What influenced your decision to use this type of imagery in the album cover? 

Yes! One of my best friends painted it, so it's very special. Growing up, I spent my summers in the mountains on the east coast of the US. The imagery goes back to that sense of belonging and togetherness. 

Many of your songs, such as my personal favorite I’ve Been Stressin', seem to show you working through a feeling or emotion. What was the biggest influence on the songwriting in the album, and how did you go about the process? 

It took me a long time to become comfortable writing songs that showed vulnerability. Write songs that felt naked, in a way. When I first started writing at 14, they were really goofy songs. I wanted to be serious about it, but I was worried about really, you know, spilling my guts out. It wasn't until my freshman year of college I decided to just go for it. The last song on the album, I Feel Like, was the first serious, emotionally pulling song I had ever written. After writing that, it set a spark. I wanted to keep my songwriting simple, but dig to figure out what's in my head right then, what's going on around me, who am I thinking about, what message do I want to convey right now. Staying in the moment is a key element to my songwriting process, and in the album.

Many of the songs in Observere also seem to be very personal and anecdotal - as a musician and songwriter, is it ever difficult fleshing out what you feel comfortable sharing, and what you would rather keep private? 

Definitely. There are a lot of topics I haven't covered because I haven't reached that comfort level yet. Just like when I was 14. I wasn't sure how to write emotional songs, but I got there. I trust I'll find the words some day to cover other topics, it'll just take more growth as a human being.

One thing I’ve noticed about your musical style is a preference towards the classics - your music is good old fashioned rock, your biggest influences were bossa nova and rock, and the album cover is a painting. What about this format do you find compelling in a time when electronic music and technology are so on the forefront of popular music? 

Don't get me wrong, I love electronic music and technology blows my mind. I'm a sucker for simplicity, though. The watercolor is stunning, but it's nothing flashy. I like to use lots of strange chords in my songs, but it's a simple three piece band. Almost feels organic in a sense that I know exactly who has touched the album and where it has been. The simplicity compels me.

You’ve been playing live shows since you were in college - does it feel gratifying for you to play music live as a culmination of hard work in the studio, or do you find it just another part of the musical process? 

Just another part of the process! I love performing. It's a happy place to be. 

Who are some of the biggest influences to your on stage presence, or just some of your favorite performers? 

Ah, yes, anyone who knows me know I love Sondre Lerche. He's a musician from Norway. Really, really quality music and performer. On stage, he just become the epitome of energy. You can't take your eyes off him because he shines. It's insanity.

Thank you so much for sitting down with us to do this interview - and what can we expect from you and your music down the road?

I've already started writing for my next album, and my goal is to tour around up and down the east coast of the US, and travel to Europe in the next two years.


You can find out more about Tory Silver on her website and listen to Obsevere on all major streaming platforms now, and we suggest you do just that.

10 acts you can't miss at Love Supreme 2017

Something special happens in Glynde, East Sussex every year. And if this is your first time hearing of Love Supreme - get ready to fall in love.

For the fourth week of our #SummerOfHype festival tour (30th June - 2nd July 2017), we're relaxing at Love Supreme 2017, which in our opinion is simply the UK's best jazz festival.

 
Love Supreme 2017 line-up
 

Want to know more about Love Supreme? Find out about the festival here. Below you'll find the ten acts we won't be missing at Love Supreme 2017.


Gregory Porter

The Jacksons

Hot 8 Brass Band

Kamasi Washington

Robert Glasper Experiment

Mammal Hands

Herbie Hancock

Christian Scott

Jordan Rakei

Becca Stevens


We'll be covering Love Supreme, and 12 of the UK and Europe's other best festivals on Instagram. Catch you over there.

Introducing Cigarettes After Sex

El Paso-based indie rock band, Cigarettes After Sex, have been sneaking their way into mainstream music circles.

When the band released their chilling new single, Each Time You Fall In Love it collected over 30,000 streams in less than 24-hours. The song is packed with breezy, haze-like melodies that reflect the lasting impact of past broken relationships. Two lines from the song left me haunted - “You say all of the words they wanna hear, it isn’t real” and “All I wanna know is if you love her, how come you never give in.” The dissatisfaction with relationships and recurring desire for more is powerfully accentuated throughout the song. 

In 2008 lead singer, Greg Gonzalez happened to put together an array of sounds in a stairway at the University of Texas, thus sparking the creation of Cigarettes After Sex. The collection of sounds turned into their first EP that the band would later release in 2012 and go on to have remarkable success on Spotify, reaching over 12 million streams altogether. Their most popular song, Keep On Loving You, is a slowed down rendition of REO Speedwagon’s original song from the 80s.

EP I

EP I

2012

 

In an interview with Fashion Unfiltered, Gonzalez said, “It’s funny—I grew up with that song and it didn’t really have any kind of impact on me. It was kind of a joke... And then, when I finally moved to New York, I heard it again by chance, and for some reason it resonated with me and I was listening to it all the time… I found that when I slowed it down a bit, it became this really sad song. I had that idea for two years, and finally the band got together and we did a session and we said, “Why don’t we try this?” We did it on the first take and it worked.” The cover has accumulated over 15-million views on YouTube and was recently played at Raf Simmon’s Calvin Klein debut show.

Three years later the band returned from their hiatus releasing two well-received singles: Affection and K. The song K. is packed with lazy guitar strums accompanied by ambient sounds that create a backdrop for the singer’s longing for a past no strings attached relationship. Affection, on the other hand, is played with simple yet breathtaking arpeggios that play out as a simple ballad outlining the good and bad varieties of love. The popularity of these two singles propelled the band to go on their first world tour playing intimate venues, such as Brighton’s Bleach, and Bologna’s Covo Club, as well as their first festival: London Calling. 

While on their nonstop tour that started at the beginning of 2016, Cigarettes After Sex are set to play at five festivals including Best Kept Secret, Rockwave, and Primavera Sound. In June 2017, the band will release their highly anticipated self-titled album that will include their new song, Each Time You Fall In Love as well as some of the other singles previously mentioned. Showing no signs of slowing down, CAC are moulding their way to becoming consistent indie rock chart leaders. This isn’t the last time you’ll be hearing of them, so get on the bandwagon now before it’s too late.

Artists to listen to if you like Real Estate

Although undeniably a rock band, Real Estate offers a clean and smooth sound that many just can’t get enough of. Their songs are beachy, nostalgic, and make you want to jump in your car and go for a drive. They capture this sound, or rather feeling, through clean guitar, soft and clear drums, and mellow vocals.

This is all featured in full effect in their song Talking Backwards from their 2014 album Atlas. The song begins with a guitar hook that draws you in and is then accompanied by the band’s distinctive bass, drums, and vocals. The song starts off softly, but the sound intensifies in the middle as frontman Martin Courtney sings “When the night was over, and the field was lit up bright, and I want to tell you, nothing came out right”. We’ve composed a list of artists to listen to for those of you that just can’t get enough of Real Estate.

Beach Fossils

Brooklyn-based indie rock band Beach Fossils share a similar musical style with Real Estate. Although Beach Fossils have traded Real Estate’s clean sound with one that is somewhat more echoey and muted, you still get the similar sound of soft and mellow vocals over a beachy guitar hook. Although they generally follow a song structure which feels more melancholy than that of Real Estate, Beach Fossils are definitely a band to check out if you love the mellow, beachy sound.

Tennis

Tennis

Tennis is a Denver-based band led by husband and wife Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley. Tennis has a nostalgic sound similar to that of Real Estate or The Beach Boys. Tennis’s music is warm, upbeat, and hook you in with clean guitar riffs and Moore’s enchanting vocals. A perfect example of their style is their song Origins off of their 2013 album Young and Old. The track has a slightly grainy filter added to Moore’s vocals which add to their vintage sound. The track begins somewhat soft, but intensifies in the chorus in which Moore sings “Is it so hard to forgive the way that we’ve been made to live? How much is required to set things right? Have you confused your power with mine?” If you’re drawn Real Estate’s clean, rock sound - Tennis might be the next band for you.

Ducktails

With a sound somewhat more hard hitting than Real Estate, Ducktails are a Bedroom Pop band formed by Real Estate’s guitarist Matt Mondiale. Though you may not have heard the name Ducktails, you may have heard their hit song Killin the Vibe off of their self-titled 2011 debut album. The track is fun, upbeat, and in essence - the perfect road trip song. In addition to upbeat tracks, Ducktails also have softer sounds like Hamilton Road - a song which follows a similar sensibility to Wakin on a Pretty Day by Kurt Vile.

Surfer Blood

Surfer Blood

For a more powerful yet similarly beachy sound, you may want to check out Florida-based band Surfer Blood. Surfer Blood’s music is classic, hard-hitting indie rock. Featuring fast guitar riffs, loud drums, and assertive vocals. Songs like Floating Vibes off of their 2010 album Astro Coast and Demon Days off of their 2013 album Pythons deliver Surfer Blood’s trademark fast-paced and upbeat sound - which seems almost a more amplified version of Real Estate.  

Best Coast

Composed of duo Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno, Best Coast gives a classic indie rock sound paired with Cosentino’s dreamy vocals. The band’s sound is in full effect in their debut album Crazy for You from 2010. Crazy for You is made up of 13 songs with a sunny and beachy sound and Cosentino’s classic vocals. Many of the lyrics are about Cosentino’s longing, singing about wanting someone to be her boyfriend, saying goodbye to romantic partners, and feeling crazy when she’s not with the guy she has a crush on. For 'hooky' love songs with a classic beach-rock sound, Best Coast may be the band for you.

Why Kendrick Lamar is GOAT

Kendrick Lamar Duckworth, (known as Kendrick Lamar) born (June 17, 1987) in Compton, California is an American artist, rapper and songwriter who has gained recognition for his music at a worldwide level since his very first mixtape as Kendrick Lamar.

The Rise Of Kendrick

Kendrick started his career at an early age, he was just a 16-year-old teenager when he released his first mixtape in 2004, under the artistic name K-Dot for which he gained local recognition, and he titled the mixtape Youngest Head Nigga in Charge (Hub City Threat: Minor of the Year). The tape led him to secure a record label contract with an indie label based in Carson, California, Top Dawg Entertainment.

Under Top Dawg, Lamar recorded 26 tracks and released them all as his second mix-tape in early 2006 Training Day which grounded more possibilities for the young artist, earning him to be featured and co-operate with other artists in stages such as Jay Rock and Ya Boy. He also managed to get the opening act for the veteran artist The Game and was partitioned to be on tour with him, which marked a groundbreaking event, he also got featured in two of his songs Cali Niggaz and The Cypha.

In 2009, Lamar received a co-sign from Superstar Lil Wayne and released his third mixtape titled C4, leaving behind the artistic name 'K-Dot' and adopting his birth name as his creative name, 'Kendrick Lamar'.

"The reason was I wanted people to know who I am as a person and who I represent.”, Kendrick explained to Hard Knock TV, from here on he started his path to greatness and rose to fame.

Claim To Greatness

Time to look at why he is so great, and a credible candidate for the greatest rapper of all time. I'll step away from the timeline order, let us now approach the reasons his fans, other great artists, and professionals consider him such an important subject in the musical and artistic field. 

The first aspect people notice in Kendrick's artistry is the fact that he has a great understanding of lyrical construction and the capacity to display through words a story, a thought or a real life aspect. He uses poetic approach to complex lyrical delivery without giving into complexity for the sake of it. Kendrick also keeps it simple to deliver complex ideas - a structure that allows Kendrick's music to flow.

The second aspect? Kendrick's diversity. With today’s over-exploited musical industry many artists find themselves trapped in having to play the same role over and over - Lamar was not giving in to this. Almost none of his songs sound identical one to another, might be that a few sound similar among themselves but never the same. The one key aspect he plays with the most is the subject of each song, they all tell a different tale.

The third significant aspect to mention is that his live performances are a vast output of strength and they deliver a quality performance. He keeps it vivid, he performs without failure, petitions the fans to collaborate with him and truly sings and raps (in some cases improvises in stage) with dynamic energy. Kendrick loves what he does and for a music fan to see an artist enjoy himself in the art form and performance is the true essence of a musician. Kendrick educated himself in his art form; he studied how his idols and legends made their craft and came up with tactics for his style.

What about the music?

Let's take a look at which of Kendrick's tracks best represent his ability. Good Kid bridges that all actions will have a consequence and that realistic thoughts and practical actions will bring real results. He also covers how fantasy concepts intoxicate the young minds, and they must step out of that fantastical comfort to find themselves in the real world, with this, he is approaching a whole generation and generations to come to believe in themselves.

The untitled unmastered discussion is another valuable bit of artistry of his own that prove he has the right to this spot; the album is eight tracks with the same title that vary widely in sound and genius especially. In Track 7 he approaches three main components to an artist’s greatness, emotional rushing, initial elation and inflated confidence in oneself to create and perform. The rest of the songs of the album also touch on such subjects but this track envelopes his authenticity and originality the most, as in general opinion to fans and critiques.

Damn

DAMN.

Released 14 April 2017

In my opinion Kendrick Lamar cemented himself as the greatest rapper of all time in 2017 with the release of DAMN. which for the first time gave him the top spot on the Billboard Album Charts and reached out in a viral spree in global output. The album features Kendrick’s most prominent skill, his storytelling; it tells the story of himself. The album tells the tale of how it was to grow in Compton, his life situation, moments of poverty and emotional discomfort, the loss, the anger, the fantasies and how he finally struggled to reach his dream. Not many artists take the time or have the confidence to portray their life in a whole album, Lamar made it crystal clear in details.

If you are not convinced let us add a few extras in general to why he is the greatest rapper in front of so many people and also considered GOAT. First of all, GOAT stands for 'greatest of all time' and the discussion among fans and professionals in the industry started in 2015 with the release of To Pimp A Butterfly.

  • He won five GRAMMY awards in 2016 for 'Best Rap Album', 'Best Rap Performance', 'Best Rap Song', 'Best Rap/Sung Collaboration' and 'Best Music Video'.
  • He was listed in 2016 as one of “the 100 most influential people worldwide” by “TIME” Magazine.
  • Every single track from DAMN. entered the Billboard Hot 100

Aside from musical recognition, Kendrick was given two Civic Honours by the California Senate in 2015 for helping with the renewal and maintenance of the neighbourhoods he grew up surrounded. The Kendrick did all this was a way of giving back to Compton after attributing the town where he was born and raised as the reason he has achieved so much. On February 13th, 2016 he was handed the 'Key To The City' by the Mayor of Compton, California for "representing Compton's evolution, embodying the New Vision for Compton."

 

Interview with Charly Coombes

Almost 10 years after playing Wembley Stadium with his then outfit Supergrass, Charly Coombes has just released his third solo studio album - RUN. We caught up with Charly and talked about how Stranger Things inspired RUN, how life has changed since moving to Brazil and his time in Supergrass. 


So, you’ve just released your third album RUN. Whilst your second, Black Moon, was an almost organic progression from your debut release No Shelter, RUN has obviously drawn influence from elsewhere though. What was the interjection that lead to that change?

For me, RUN definitely feels like a continuation of a story, following Black Moon. This is more obvious in a lyrical and conceptual sense, in the way that Black Moon looked at space travel, the stars, the exterior - and RUN traverses the 'interior', exploring humanity's darker sides and the dirt and noise of the world around us. But also this continuation exists in the sounds and production style. Mirroring the concepts, we went from something sweet and peaceful to something altogether more brash and noisy. Orchestra to synth, 1970s to 1980s influence.

Charly Coombes

But the major difference with RUN was the lack of any limitations. It was the first time I'd sat down to record an album with no ideas in place and no sonic or lyrical concept to hold me in position. The album is a direct result of listening to my heart and creating something very true to myself and what I wanted to hear. I've always been fascinated by the ugly yet beautiful sounds of 1980s post-punk and guilty pleasures - and that long-term influence was clearly waiting in the depths to fully come to the surface for RUN.

With a stark change of direction we often find from artists that there was a single song you write you lay as the foundation for the forward movement of your project. Does that song exist, and if so, did it make it onto RUN?

There was a song that began the process, yes. But it did not make it to the finished album. In truth, the first four songs were abandoned as I began to find my feet with the record. RUN went through a number of changes and reactions, beginning as something extremely retro 80s, but quickly became something more modern and fresh. Those first tracks seemed immediately out-dated and anachronistic. The last major course change on the album came after 2016's Stranger Things. I was reminded of the intensity of those synth-based John Carpenter style soundtracks from my childhood, and that nostalgia fueled a new side to the record which was exactly what I had been searching for.

You’re now living in Brazil. How did that come about, and how’re you finding it?

Well, my wife is from Brazil, so it was always a plan in the works. I'd been quite a few times, on tour with bands and after I first met my wife. It was easy to fall in love with Brazil - it's a great country. As writing began for Black Moon, an album about incredible, terrifying journeys to the unknown - it seemed like the perfect time to embark on my own incredible journey. 

 Sao Paolo, the city Charley lives and also the city that Run was recorded.

Sao Paolo, the city Charley lives and also the city that Run was recorded.

Naturally, I miss England a lot - but I'm really enjoying my time here and it's amazing to get the opportunity to soak up a whole new culture. The music over here is not just about Samba or Bossa Nova, but something entirely different to what I expected. A varied, diverse set of music scenes with some fantastic alternative bands and artists. A real joy to explore. The foods not bad as well! Haha!

We’re not too sure how much you know about this - but a few years back a international artist radio ban was lifted in Brazil, and The Beatles and from there has been a second wave of ‘Beatlemania’ across Brazil. Is this something you’ve spotted - and perhaps even used to your advantage?

When I first arrived here in Brazil, most of the musicians and friends I was making were heavily into The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, but in equal measure, a lot of Britpop as well. Modern culture in Brazil is really only a few decades old because of the dictatorship that ended in the 1980s and the censorship that came before this. So this new wave of international music seemed quite apparent. I can't say that I used it to my advantage, but it certainly helped to meet a lot of like-minded musicians and friends with similar interests and influences, which was great.

To this day, The Beatles remain the only band or artist that I was properly obsessed with. I heard everything, read everything, watched everything. I had posters on my walls and forced my friends to give me Beatles quizzes at every opportunity. But you know, that was a long time ago now. Perhaps they laid a songwriting foundation for me - the strength of a good melody or a solid song structure - but my influences have changed so much since those days.

Your time in Supergrass gave you so much opportunity to accelerated growth in the industry. Looking back, what lessons do you take most value from?

Looking back, it's tough to take specific lessons or pointers from my time with Supergrass. It was a different time, and different place.. a different style of music. But the overall experience was invaluable. It was amazing to see places around the world I never thought I would get the chance to see outside of touring.

 Supergrass press

Supergrass press

A privilege to meet musicians and artists that I respected and was influenced by - except with Neil Young, I kind of went blank and the whole thing was a blur... too much for me! Above all, it was great to be a part of a passionate, hard working and talented band. My brothers are also my best friends and I have extremely fond memories of those tours.

Since the start of 2016 artists like The 1975 and Band Of Skulls have both taken huge influence from 1980s synth-pop, even though perhaps this strayed from their original genre. Also things like you mentioned before Stranger Things, have pushed 80s popular culture into today’s - did RUN take any influence from this movement?

Not exactly. I suppose strong cultural movements like this come about because of people feel that influence simultaneously. It was strange - the album began long before the start of this musical movement, but by the time I had finished I realised that a lot of bands, artists and facets of popular culture had also steered in the same direction. As I mentioned before, Stranger Things gave me a firm prod towards that direction about halfway through the record, but musically I was looking back like everyone else. Any modern musical influence on the album came from the fascinating production and styles of artists like Tame Impala, Black Keys and Beck - But the synth-pop elements came directly from the source: getting drunk and listening to Foreigner, Mister Mister, The Cars and Ultravox!

Stranger Things

But it's a great movement - We live in quite turbulent times, politically and financially. Modern times are beginning to heavily reflect those tumultuous years of the 1980s so for me this emerging style feels natural. It's all about that combination of something sweet and ugly - a cross between nostalgia and something fresh and modern. That's exactly what I wanted for RUN.


You can listen to Charly Coombes' first single from RUN, SPX, below.

Artists to listen to if you like Father John Misty

Although the name Josh Tillman might not ring a bell, you’ve heard of his musical alter ego, Father John Misty. His music blends a classic, 1960s Laurel Canyon folk rock sound with a modern, indie rock edge that has earned him a legion of fans. Although he’s just released his third album, Pure Comedy, Father John always leaves his listeners wanting more. We’ve composed a list of other artists and bands for those of you who just can’t get enough of his style and sound.

Fleet Foxes

This list, of course, would not be complete without Fleet Foxes. Fleet Foxes, a band started in Seattle in 2006, are known for their melancholy and nostalgic sound -- and featured Father John Misty as the drummer. After taking a six-year long break, Fleet Foxes released their first new song in six years, titled Third of May, and they have an album titled Crack-Up due in June of 2017.

Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten

New Jersey native Sharon Van Etten shares a similar blend of indie rock and classic folk. Her song Every Time the Sun Comes Up from her 2014 album Are We There has a sound that is both dark and dreamy but packs a surprising punch with faux punk lyrics like, “I washed your dishes, but I s*** in your bathroom.”

Dams of the West

Like Father John, Dams of the West frontman Chris Tomson started his musical career as the drummer, in his case for Vampire Weekend. Produced by the Black Keys’ Patrick Carney, the Dams of the West debut album Youngish American, released early 2017, has sharp and funny lyrics, and - despite varying musical styles that fall under the umbrella of rock - a very cohesive sound. Tomson’s wit is in full evidence: “when I drink a Bud Light do I love America? Or only when there’s a flag on the can?", and, “I’ll make your pasta with a red sauce when I know you’re PMSing." Dams of the West will be opening for Father John at the Toronto, Brooklyn, and Chicago shows of his 2017 tour. 

Natalie Mering

Natalie Mering, known as Weyes Blood, is known for her synth folk tunes. Again, similar to Dams of the West, Natalie opened for Father John Misty on several legs of his 2017 tour. Weyes Blood’s 2016 album Front Row Seat to Earth was rated Best New Album by Pitchfork, and her collaborative EP Myths 002 with psychedelic-pop artist Ariel Pink also received critical praise.

Grizzly Bear

Formed in Brooklyn in 2002, indie rock band Grizzly Bear has a similar nostalgic sound to Father John Misty’s. Grizzly Bear recently created an Instagram and shared a teaser of their new music, which has a similar electronic/rock blend seen in some of Father John’s songs like True Affection.

The best albums to listen to with headphones

Listening to music with headphones or any headset immediately enhances the listener’s capacity to perceive sound and when it comes to music there are many factors that skyrocket, the bass, the guitars (rhythmic or melodic) any instrumentation handled by panning to left and right, usually done on vocals and drums and dynamic range. As good as music can be there are those albums that stand out as great, they handle these elements with utmost care in the mixing and mastering process and in most cases are carefully planned or thought to place the listener on a whole other level. So, Today we will take a look at the most outstanding albums that will give you, the listener, an experience beyond others.

Radiohead – Kid A (2000)

Radiohead has a magnificent discography, since their first album in 1993 Pablo Honey they have had a road of singles and awards given to them, but if one album stands out for its authentic musical production it has to be Kid A As this was an album that represented a more abstract change in sound and lyrics it also went down the same road in production and post-production, in songs like How to Disappear Completely and Everything in its Right Place. They introduce a series of robotic-like sounds combined with bass and guitar that switch from one ear to another accompanied by a slight reverb that can be highly appreciated in headphones as the voice of the vocalist takes a very fleshy-realistic texture as if he was whispering by your side.

As for a song that combines all the individual elements of sound on the album it has to be The National Anthem a six minute journey into a very strong bass riff, a solid work in drums that loop, accompanied by electronic  glitches, and two vocal tracks one robotic and one natural, the high point of focus in the song is a gathering of trumpets mixed in different panning channels and dynamic range that will overtake your headphones full sound spectrum.

The whole album is full of surprises and it is very well segmented and structured for a headphone user as it uses the elements of sound in a very in-depth and technical manner, you will perceive immediately that most of the sound’s warm and profound tone will not sound as well on any pair of speakers or monitors as it will on your headphones.

The Cure – Mixed Up (1990)

The Cure has been renowned for their high-quality music, complex lyrics and variety in sound, but it was in 1990 when they released an album called Mixed Up which is a remix of their most popular hits, remixed by themselves and treated by vocalist, Robert Smith, who did some equalisation and sound treatment on all the previous hits tracks and developed them further in with effects such as reverb, delay, panning, sound distortion and glitching, for each instrument for each track, the method of hearing Robert Smith used for remixing all these songs was through headphones so the nature of the sound must be heard through the same method.

The album’s strength and quality is most up noted in the guitars and vocals which share a very
dynamic warm tone to them, speakers have a real hard time to replicate the warmness of the voice as in headphones it is easier to hear it as the sound is closer to the ear and there is no ambient loss in quality.

The most remarkable song in this Remix is Close To Me the bass quality sits perfectly with the rhythmical aspects of the drums and clipped noises used as additional percussion, also, Robert Smith’s voice has a very clear, natural and human tone that guides the song into feeling like a live performance. Another interesting mixing is the guitars on Fascination Street the first two minutes are jaw-dropping on headphones as it was all experimental from Robert’s part and the result was a very consistent play through of several tracks.

The Fugees – The Score (1996)

Awarded for the best Rap Album Of The Year, The Fugees released a jewel in the history of Rap, being one of the best constructed and varied albums in the industry, touching bits of soul, hip hop, ambient and deep and well structured vocals, but why listen to it on headphones you might ask?  The album has a huge gamma of mixing power into it, with headphones the tone and power of the bass are highly boosted and sounds a lot more profound and outstanding, you can perceive the nature of the voice coming from the talented vocalist Lauryn Hill.

The mixing and mastering process of this album was a contribution of a few hand-picked sound engineers by the members of The Fugees and The Fugees themselves behind the console working each track. You can find a very wide spectrum of use of panning and dynamic range in Ready Or Not and Fu-gee-la as the beat constantly fights for attention with the lyrics and keeps you focused in both as they play their part amazingly.

The legendary single Killing Me Softly has a denoted strength in the vocals as they dance around from left to right and the chorus takes over you along with the simple drums and slight hints of reverb in the snare and Lauryn’s Voice which has been said to sound like if she was singing “right next to you” by many music producers and sound engineers, acknowledging the huge work behind it. The drums are tightly mixed to fit well in a part of the sound spectrum, and they hold through with a consistency and strength that you will not find in most albums, in any genre so easily.

GZA – Liquid Swords (1995)

GZA, former Wu-Tang Clan Member released another sound jewel in 1995 that blew up the musicophiles with the classic approach in the nature of its sound, it sounds as if you were hearing an early 70s mixed album, with classic bass mixing booming hard, very humanely characteristic vocals that sound you only get from an 'analog' recording.

Through headphones you will perceive a whole other level of characteristics, from the very beginning there is a little boy’s narration that transports you to what he is saying immediately
and gets your attention and focus in a breeze, there are sounds going on around you almost as if you were in the actual place.

The beat/instrumental production used the drums as a strong grounding to play with synths and real instruments which alternate through each song through the left and right panning and in small parts feels as if they were behind you or above you. 
The three most jaw-dropping songs have to be Shadowboxin , Cold World and Liquid Swords they all share the following characteristics to a maximum standard, Raw well-mixed Lyrics that feel very vivid and colourful, great instrumentation that switches in the dynamic range and carries the song’s strength into a haven perfection, very tight drums that boost the bass and the snare perfectly, you can even notice a bit of white noise mixed into them to add consistency to them.

Liquid Swords especially plays with the lyrical power GZA has as there is a game of “hushings and shushing” in between the verses and the chorus.

Queen  – Sheer Heart Attack (1974)

The third studio album by the legendary rock band was one of the firsts to be carefully mixed and mastered for being listened in both headphone and a sound system, it still remains and will remain as one of the best-produced jewels.

Why may you ask? The guitar solos were driven to two channels a left and a right, so you are hearing a multi-track song of the same instruments (simulating how live sound works) Freddie Mercury’s voice was carefully treated with real reverb recording and proper compression in all the channels.

As for the most outstanding songs it totally has to be Killer Queen and Brighton Rock, In Killer Queen you can hear the guitar crossing from one side to another, cemented by Freddie’s voice and guided hard towards a direction of strength and impotence by the drums and the bass, the bass has a very slap-like characteristic keeping you in pace with the song, in headphones you will notice also a high reverberance on it that never makes it completely silent adding body to the low-frequency spectrum always.

Brighton Rock was a very experimental song for them, it has a punk-rock feel to it with your classic Brian May guitar riffs, you will hear a very subtle phasing and distortion in both voice and guitar, the most noticeable characteristic in this song it has to be the drums moving all over the place, they suddenly are behind you, by your sides and above.

Not only these two songs handled dynamic range and panning amazingly but the whole album does, in an extremely detailed manner that really is hard to avoid paying total attention to, definitely one of the most pleasing experiences for a headphone user and musicophile who is seeking an extreme experience. 

 

Introducing Little Tybee

Little Tybee are a progressive psych-folk band that had its origin in Atlanta, Georgia in 2009 formed by the following members Brock Scott, Josh Martin, Ryan Donald, Nirvana Kelly, Chris Case and Pat Brooks. The six-piece are part of a wave of artists that expose technicality and musicality along with originality, making out of these three elements a foundation for a band that has set as an objective and goal to deliver a unique sound to their fans and make no one song similar to another.

 Atlanta, Georgia 

Atlanta, Georgia 

Since their very first album, Building a Bomb (2009) Little Tybee started attracting attention for their technical and musical input as they had a "magical sense to themselves". Building a Bomb is a well-produced holding a complex mix of songs that listening to them over multiple times will not stop you from re-discovering each, due to the vast amount of details and acoustic sounds blending. Each of the members are well-trained musicians and play or perform in sheer excellence in two or more instruments - perhaps giving reason to the depth and contrast seen between consecutive tracks.

Two years after their first and debut album the band released their second album Humorous To Bees with recording and production studio Paper Garden Records. It was from their second album that Little Tybee set off to a path of recognition and attention for their artistic capacities as the album, featuring a total of 12 songs. The album also featured an amount of artists to feature on the project and cooperate in the production process, in this manner, achieving and even higher variation and originality standard, as many of the tracks develop around different artists in a co-operative process.  The album had widespread success and earned them social recognition and some attention from the media, leading them to a few interviews, mostly discussing their musical formation, their goals and what to expect from them shortly. The band were very insistent and firm in their sense of respect and admiration for complex music and originality, as they consider it an imperative element in their day by day creation and development process.

Another two years passed and the band put out their third album again under Paper Garden Records, the title - For Distant Viewing. The album features eleven songs and two of them which can be considered the hits of the album Hearing Blue” and “For Distant Viewing”. The band had taken a step further in their musical and technical aspects here, as the lyrics were very profound and meaningful, the songs have very deep mood changes and they produced videos for both of these amassing more fans via online.

Hearing Blue (above) was recorded at Doppler Studios as a live performance and amassed over 200,000 views. The studio setting of the video makes the sound as organic as it can be, making the song even more intimate for anyone even for those who have not heard of them before. The band had written the song in 2011 but it was until 2013 that they included it in an album, so both versions have slight changes, even so, it is one of their most remarkable tracks. From this point on, Little Tybee started interacting and performing live more often, they introduced new songs through online promotion and marketing methods and approached their fans more intimately.

Each of the band’s members has attracted a vast amount of attention individually aside from the band; the most notable instance is the guitar player, “Josh Martin”. Josh is noted for perfecting and inventing a guitar technique that he titled “Glitch Tapping” which is a motion of fast, successive same-tone notes, the guitar experts community started giving him a high regard of respect for his authentic way of performing and playing his instrument, the eight-string guitar. He attributes his guitar skill to the following reason as an origin “I guess one of the fundamental things that started me off with a different perspective of the instrument was being left-handed and playing a right-handed guitar. I think many people are accustomed to having the right-hand serve as a skeletal rhythmic component."

The first thing you'll notice about Little Tybee's music is the lead vocalist's, Brock Scott, voice. Often described as 'unusual' Brock sings in high-pitched range, the most astounding element of his sound is that it does not falter one bit, it isn't a n exadjuation he has perfected his singing. The rest of the band’s members have to be respected for their capacity to play more than multiple instruments and excel in each of them. All of the band members including Brock and Josh have mentioned their arduous six to ten hours of daily study in their musicianship training over the years and how that has played a huge part in their sound quality.

 Little Tybee live in Atlanta

Little Tybee live in Atlanta

Little Tybee have also been noted for their live performance as there is little difference in their live sound aside their albums. You can feel the same intimacy and sound quality, how all the instruments blend and the band members invite you to be part of a very peculiar experience, as they do not fall in any genre and at the same time have bits from many, you can not avoid being enthralled by their sound in admiration. In 2016 the band released their fourth album, self-produced and Released “Little Tybee” which was a recollection of all their singles between 2013 to 2016 and included a bunch of new tracks summing up to a total of 12 songs.

By then, they had already amassed over 30k followers among all their social networks and where very well known by their fans for all their unique musical, personal, collective and individual aspects. The band’s new self-titled album had a Kickstarter for which they were giving a special Vinyl version and a custom USB kit which included commentaries from the band members, comments on the pre-production and production process and personal opinions on each track along with all 12 full-length tracks.

The band has had a steady road of success which still goes on, and for which many are excited to see how they develop further with support from the media.

“Little Tybee is a group that is really hard to put your finger on stylistically, and that’s the way we like it.” - FILTER
“The band Little Tybee doesn’t fit into any genre, and the band likes it that way.” – CNN
“Maybe they recently perfected a time machine or found a way to stitch sunshine itself into their sound. I wouldn’t be surprised.” – Pancakes and Whiskey

Little Tybee has mentioned that they are always working on new projects and expecting to perform live as soon as possible, as they love to introduce themselves to new potential fans in live events, in that way of thinking we can surely expect new material and new musical concepts from them very soon in time.