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Outside the Heard


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The Reckoning

When NEEDTOBREATHE’s Bear and Bo Rinehart set out to write the songs that appear on the band’s new album, The Reckoning, they felt something bigger awaited them. It wasn’t just commercial success either. “We wanted to make an important record in the way that people used to make records. Bands rarely have the time that allows them to create a game-changing album like Born to Run, Rumours, or Damn The Torpedoes. So we said, ‘Let's set ourselves up to do that. Let's believe in the songs enough that we're willing to take the time they need and really push ourselves. It may sound naïve, but we still have a dream that we're going to make a record that's going to change everything for us.” Bear and Bo poured every note, every sound, and every lyric that went into The Reckoning. “Everything was put through the ‘Do we really believe in this or not,’ filter. We never settled. We were looking for a spark.” What the band emerged with is a timeless-sounding album rooted in classic American rock and roll, unafraid to veer off into unexpected directions – and each turn is it’s own thrill.
Shimmering Stars
Violent Hearts
Hardly Art

Shimmering Stars is a three-piece dream pop act from Vancouver, BC, Canada. The music embodies an attempt at drawing out and illuminating the subtle darkness inherent in the seemingly wholesome, innocent music of the 1950s and 60s. The result filters older influences like the Everly Brothers, Del Shannon, Phil Spector, and Bo Diddley through a contemporary indie lens. Songs about being in love, not being in love, the painfully modern condition of floating in a state of suspended adolescence – all tinted with the slight self-deprecation of knowing how trite it is to be writing songs about these things at all. The band began as a recording project in Spring 2010. After stumbling upon some old live footage of the Everly Brothers, Rory McClure holed up in his parent’s garage in Kamloops, British Columbia to record the first demos. That first recording environment rendered Shimmering Stars’ distinctly dusty atmospheric sound and established a conscious insertion into the garage music continuum – and Violent Hearts is the first of many masterpieces to come.
The Note of Hope -
A Celebration of Woody Guthrie
Savoy/ 429 Records
Note of Hope -- A Celebration of Woody Guthrie is based on the words and writings of the great American singer-songwriter and folk musician. This collection features previously-unreleased collaborations between GRAMMY-winning bassist Rob Wasserman and Jackson Browne, Ani DiFranco, Kurt Elling, Michael Franti, Nellie McKay, Tom Morello, Van Dyke Parks, Madeleine Peyroux, Pete Seeger, Studs Terkel, Tony Trischka, Chris Whitley and the ever-slippery Lou Reed. The release is the first in a series of events leading up to the 2012 centennial celebration of Woodie Guthrie's birth – a man who’s life and legacy is now more important than ever.
Gravity The Seducer

Ladytron earned a decade’s worth of acclaim by relentlessly pushing boundaries, carving out new sonic and conceptual space and refusing to abide any formula or trend. So it’s quite a compliment in saying that Gravity The Seducer, the fifth album from the electro-pop provocateurs, is vintage Ladytron — because, like each of the four preceding albums, it’s not quite like anything the quartet has done before. Gravity The Seducer finds the foursome framing the indelible vocal melodies of twin sirens Mira Aroyo and Helen Marnie with painterly soundscapes that shape-shift like cloud formations above the narratives’ stark, vivid imagery. Unlike 2008’s Velocifero Ladytron focused meticulously on their studio craft for Gravity The Seducer. “This is not an album we made with performance in mind, specifically,” says multi-instrumentalist Daniel Hunt. “In a way, when we made Velocifero, we were thinking about the show, because we were fresh off the road. This one was made while removed from that thinking - how records should be.” The finished product is a feast for the head and the headphones.
Last Gang
It's a huge step," Lights readily admits. "For a year after my first record, I was confused and searching. I was writing all over the place and not finding anything that was essentially different. But after tour last year I was turned onto dubstep." The genre's grimy beats and sonic minimalism influenced the creation of Siberia, if not necessarily shaping the music itself (though she does pay homage with a dubstep drop on "Fourth Dimension.") Rather, dubstep led Lights away from the "perfection" of her past work. Siberia`s beats skitter and thwack, the retro electronics fire like decomposing lasers and the analog synths dirty up her trademark pretty melodies, propelling Lights' emotion-soaked but still-cute croon into her sprawling, imperfect new sound. Call it anti-electro, dream-step or perhaps even grit-pop. Whatevs. Just rest assured that it's the same bright Lights; she's just built herself a bigger city.
All Hours
"It's a rebirth," says Ivy singer Dominique Durand about All Hours -- the New York trio's new album and first release in six years. "We really had no idea where we were going for a long time. But in my mind, I knew I wanted to go back to some kind of innocence, and also a feeling of energy and excitement. I wanted to make a record based on those very basic sensations." In a burst of new inspiration, the group came up with a batch of songs that felt like a new band – albeit one yet heavily influenced by Ivy’s unmistakable melodies and hooks. "Suspicious" tells a tongue-in-cheek lyrical tale over handclaps and a bouncy, stripped-down groove; "Fascinated" sounds like a lost 80's synth-pop hit remixed for today. "The Conversation" is a lilting ballad over a jittery beat; the jangly "You Make It So Hard" is reminiscent of early Ivy singles, and yet the keyboard hook and propulsive rhythm ties it to the rest of All Hours. Perfect for late nights and lost days, All Hours is a cosmopolitan delight.
Miles Davis Quintet
Live In Europe 1967
The first in a projected series of boxed sets Sony/Legacy introduces Miles Davis Quintet - Live In Europe 1967 - The Bootleg Series Vol.1 featuring Miles Davis Second Great Quintet: Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter And Tony Williams -- arguably the single greatest small group ensemble in jazz history. The recordings from their 1967 European tour are some of the only existing documentation of the band performing compositions from the extraordinary series of studio albums they made between 1965-1967 -- E.S.P., Miles Smiles, Sorcerer and Nefertiti. Now fans can hear live versions of “Agitation” (from E.S.P.), Footprints" and "Gingerbread Boy” ( from Miles Smiles), Masquelero" (from Sorcerer ) and “Riot" (from Nefertiti), in addition to  some of the earlier classics that Miles had been performing for years – yet in strikingly different interpretations from the original studio versions. The sounds herein further cement the legacy of this group’s supernatural rapport – particularly Carter and Williams’ amazing rhythm section. You need this.
Gem Club
Hardly Art

Gem Club – the Somerville, Massachusetts-based duo of Christopher Barnes and Kristen Drymala – create “Soft Focus Pop” -- cavernous-sounding piano-based ballads that, despite their earthly trappings, feel truly ethereal, as if they're being piped in from another planet bereft of gravity. Gem Club buries vague but revealing lyrics in delicate, sometimes somber, sometimes lighthearted melodies. Their new album, Breakers, presents a balance between pain and hope, a sense of growth and catharsis spawned from harder days, all complemented by the breathy vocals and symphonic instrumentation. It’s a doozy... A treat for all you Brian Wilson / Bon Iver nerds. Check it out.
VHS or Beta
Diamonds And Death
They say location is everything, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the aesthetic shift audible on Diamonds & Death, the fourth album by VHS or Beta, was accompanied by a move from Louisville to New York. From the backroom disco of their favorite Bushwick watering hole, to DFA Records’ Plantain Studio in the West Village, new surroundings exerted a powerful influence on the predominantly electronic grooves of their first full-length since 2007′s Bring on the Comets. The album juxtaposes more straightforward dance floor tracks like the jittery “Watch Out” with experimental fare such as “Jellybean,” a trippy excursion pitched somewhere between Pink Floyd and the dark side of Italo-disco. While the grooves of Diamonds & Death are among the band’s most optimistic and propulsive to date, it is no accident that they are often paired with dark lyrics, as on the crisp, percolating single “Breaking Bones.” It’s a welcome step forward.
Will Hoge
Number Seven
Will Hoge has sold quite a few albums on his way to regional and national fame, and he’s been moving people on stage for well over a decade. It’s what he does. He’s an artist people see over and over again, because every show is unique and gripping. Now he comes forth with Number Seven, the seventh studio LP of his career, and the lucky number tattooed on his arm. Its eleven songs survey the struggles of the heart that are Hoge’s songwriting stock in trade while revealing enticing range and freshness on the sonic front. In places it leans folky-twangy, in others, it’s stridently loud and large with layered, goose-bumpy guitar textures. Acting as his own producer for the first time, Hoge says this album feels truer to his personal vision than any he’s made. Yes, artists say that all the time, but the confluence of events in Hoge’s life and career, plus his sheer believability, make this the first and most compelling endorsement of the many that are sure to follow.
The four musicians who make up Wild Flag have known one another for well over a decade. Brownstein and Weiss were in Sleater-Kinney and toured with Timony’s band Helium on numerous occasions. Brownstein and Timony played in a side project called The Spells. Rebecca Cole’s Portland-based band The Minders was a frequent opener for Sleater-Kinney. Weiss and Cole play together in the 1960’s garage-rock cover band The Shadow Mortons. If someone drew a visual representation illustrating the ways in which all indie bands are interconnected, Brownstein, Cole, Timony, and Weiss would be in the same tiny sphere, so playing together felt almost inevitable. After collaborating on a score for a documentary, the ease with which they worked together proved infectious and promising. Future practices were scheduled, songs were written, and Wild Flag was formed. And what’s it like? Imagine Helium’s snaky guitars melded with the maximum RnB of Sleater-Kinney’s The Woods and you’ll start to get the idea. This is very much ensemble playing – a mix of groovy punk and psychedelic jamming. It’s a potent brew that will likely grow stronger as the band continues touring and honing it’s sound... And it might just be one of the best rock records of 2011. Dig.

Wild Flag -
Wild Flag

Melissa Ferrick has a great deal to show for two decades in the music industry. There is the expansive body of work, mapped out over the sixteen albums that comprise her career to date, nearly all of which she distributed herself. There are the stories of the crisscrossed world and the things she has both gained and lost in her wake. There is the fervent fan-base that has grown with Ferrick, which has waited patiently for her latest opus for the preceding three years. Above all there is the sound, a voice burnished by breakdowns and breakthroughs, refined over the twenty years she has been doing this. And now, there is Still Right Here, the sum of these hard-earned parts set to music, Ferrick’s gorgeous purpose unspooling over the ten tracks that comprise the album. Featuring performances by Ani DiFranco & Kaki King, the album perfectly showcases Ferrick's finely-honed chops as a singer & guitarist, while highlighting her prowess on piano & drums. Co-produced by Ferrick with Brooklyn indie darling Alex Wong (The Paper Raincoat, Vienna Teng), it's a rich, emotionally intense album that will appeal to fans of Tegan & Sara, Ben Harper, She & Him, Jakob Dylan & David Gray.

Melissa Ferrick -
Still Right Here

MPress Records
The "retro soul" tag is added to almost any contemporary work that sounds like it was originally recorded before 1980, and Mayer Hawthorne is aware of how trends come and go. But, he says, he's not interested in taking it back to the "good old days," as much as he is in creating the "new good days." And to fans like producer Mark Ronson, who said, "I have no idea what this is, old or new, but it's fucking good!!!" upon first hearing Hawthorne's music, age ain't nothin' but a number. On How Do You Do, Hawthorne proves that he is not part of a trend. The classic Motown sound that provided the blueprint for his self-produced independent debut, A Strange Arrangement, remains, but is joined on How Do You Do by music reminiscent of late 1960s California pop and the best work from the likes of Steely Dan and Chicago. But that’s not all. On "The Walk," the first single from How Do You Do, Hawthorne plays a man scorned and content with saying "So long, you did me wrong" to the lady in his life. "A Long Time" is both a brilliant homage to Steely Dan's "Hey Nineteen" and a storied history of Hawthorne's beloved Detroit, followed by a duet - yes, duet - with the incomparable Snoop Dogg on "Can't Stop." You need this.
Mayer Hawthorne -
How Do You Do

Universal Republic
Since the release of Slow Road to Tiny Empire, Fan Modine’s first album, in 1998, Gordon Zacharias has been known as an artist who mixes buoyant orchestral pop music with oftentimes more gloomy lyrics. This disconcerting combination has won him a cult following among fans of obscure rock bands, and of indie-pop artists in particular. With Gratitude for the Shipper, Fan Modine’s first album in six years, his music adds dimensions both lyrically and sonically, drawing inspiration from sources as diverse as French symbolist poet Stephane Mallarmé and Southern pop trailblazer Alex Chilton (“Waiting for Distant Light,” the album’s finale, is a tribute to the recently-deceased songwriter, singer and guitarist). With expanded instrumentation and higher-fi recording, Gratitude for the Shipper sounds consistently bright, melodic and hook-happy. “It’s a struggle to think in terms of albums these days, but I still strive for that,” Zacharias says. “I wanted to make a tight, solid album that holds together like John Cale’s Paris 1919 or Procol Harum’s A Salty Dog do for me, although, I feel like we ended up with something quite different.” Indeed. Fans of brainy power pop should crank this up with abandon. Produced by the one and only Chris Stamey.

Fan Modine -
Gratitude for the Shipper

Daniel 13 Press

The Coalition of Independent Music Stores (CIMS) is a group of some of the best independent music stores in America. CIMS was founded in 1995; its current membership is made up of 29 accounts that handle 47 stores in 21 states. Many of the accounts have been recognized by the music industry and their local communities for their outstanding dedication to customer service and developing artist support.

Each member is bound by its shared love of music, a reputation for great selection and customer service in its community, yet each CIMS account is as unique as the market it represents. Most importantly, CIMS member stores continually seek to challenge the jaded, color-by-numbers advertising and marketing of other retailers.

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