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Named for the ramshackle keyboards they first jammed on, Norwegian group Casiokids mix sparkling synths, Afrobeat, and techno for indie-pop that’s a bubbly and whimsical treat to the ears. The band carries a bit of mysteriousness around with them — for example, they only sing in their native language and their latest album Aabenbaringen over aaskammen (meaning The Revelation Over the Mountain) is about a hidden, almost mythical rain forest — but it only makes their pop hooks even more curiously infectious.
Discovered and signed by Peter Gabriel in the mid-’90s, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur has been a musician for over 15 years and has eight albums to his name. Arthur, who is originally from Akron, OH, is known for his poetic and melancholic songs. Whether done acoustically or with full, layered orchestration, his music feels intimate and poignant, as though it’s full of painful secrets. Also a distinguished painter and designer, his sleeve design for his 1999 Vacancy album was Grammy-nominated for Best Recording Package.
On this special episode of Serious Business on BTR, host Travis Harrison is joined by a panel of music fanatics to look back on their favorite albums of 2011. Meet the panelists… – Matt Gross runs the music blog A Heart is a Spade – George Flanagan is in the band El Jezel and an organizer of events at Fort Useless – Maia Macdonald is a BTR DJ, host of BTR Live Studio, and a musician in the band Mitten – Phil Nguyen is a BTR DJ, frequent guest host of BTR Live Studio, and a BTR video editor – Jeremiah McVay heads up BTR’s video team and organizes music events at Fort Useless
Glasgow-via-London foursome Veronica Falls blend aggressive garage punk with sweet Sixties pop, and morbid lyrics with sunny stories, making for unpredictable music that’s boldly ominous one minute and charmingly delightful the next. The dual moods give their songs an extra depth, but it’s their ability to straddle seamlessly between the haunting and the fun that makes Veronica Falls — especially singer Roxanne Clifford, whose vocal work calls to mind a more somber version of The Mamas & The Papas — stand out against other similar acts.
Electronic group Seekae create their music in the same way they’d put together a puzzle. The trio — made up of John Hassell, Alex Cameron and George Nicholas — take scores of sounds and piece them into a tapestry of music that’s hip-hop, indie-pop and ambient post-rock all at once. Each of their songs are like little soundtracks, moving through various moods as they sputter, crack, pulse, shine, and wind. Some sounds are actual live instruments, others digitally generated, and still others just everyday noises (they recorded random ruckus while in Tokyo, Berlin, Chicago and London).
Alamo Race Track are a quirky quartet from the Netherlands who’ve toured alongside Arctic Monkeys and have even been featured on the hit show Grey’s Anatomy. Incorporating a number of rock genres into their sound, their music has taken the form of dark indie-rock reminiscent of Interpol and more recently, stripped down, melancholy folk-pop in the vein of Fleet Foxes.
Jonquil is a young four-piece from Oxford, UK. Headed by falsetto frontman Hugo Manuel — who also happens to perform under the solo moniker Chad Valley — the quartet play the type of shimmery indie-rock that’s interlaced with pretty guitar noodling and coated with elements of Afro-pop, à la Vampire Weekend and Local Natives.
On this special episode of Serious Business on BTR, host Travis Harrison is joined by a panel of music fanatics to look back on their favorite albums of 2011.
Los Angeles-based PYYRAMIDS is made up of OK Go’s Tim Nordwind and He Say She Say’s Drea Smith. Although they initially began their collaboration via email, sending scraps of music back and forth, their debut EP Human Beings comes together as a strong, 6-track collection of sad, dark synth-rock. Smith’s voice has an air of chill nonchalance mixed with a hypnotizing seductiveness, which complements Nordwind’s piercing riffs and the hauntingly pulsing beats in the background. Here they perform stripped down versions of some of those songs…
Canadian singer-songwriter Dan Mangan infuses folk-rock with blooming, layered orchestration on Oh, Fortune — his first proper album on Arts & Crafts and the follow-up to his 2009 Polaris Prize-nominated Nice, Nice, Very Nice. His songs swell to become full-bodied, sweeping moments of textured arrangements and hearty vocals that are tinged with a roughness, sadness and even guttural power.
Denmark-based Icelander Snaevar Njáll Albertsson, the multi-instrumentalist mastermind behind Dad Rocks!, creates beautiful music that wavers between sparse, introspective folk and intricate, sonic bursts of orchestra rock. The straightforward guitar work is playful and the weaving arrangements are richly-textured — seemingly perfect for his songs, whose stories often reveal perspectives from both the naive, innocent child and the wise, serious parent. Similarly, his voice is tinged with a vulnerable tenderness, despite its deep and gravelly quality.
Named for the ramshackle keyboards they first jammed on, Norwegian group Casiokids mix sparkling synths, Afrobeat, and techno for indie-pop that’s a bubbly and whimsical treat to the ears. The band carries a bit of mysteriousness around with them — for example, they only sing in their native language and their latest album Aabenbaringen over aaskammen (meaning The Revelation Over the Mountain) is about a hidden, almost mythical rain forest — but it only makes their pop hooks even more curiously infectious.
London-based Alessi Laurent-Marke performs her tender and charming folk-pop under the moniker Alessi’s Ark. Her music is innocent and quaint, but also vulnerable and intimate — qualities similar to artists like Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons, two acts that she’s shared the stage with many times. Though she’s only 21, she’s already recorded her debut album with producer Mike Mogis (Bright Eyes, Rilo Kiley), released a handful of EPs on major label Virgin Records, and crafted a sophisticated, impassioned sound that seems well beyond her years.
Glasgow-via-London foursome Veronica Falls blend aggressive garage punk with sweet Sixties pop, and morbid lyrics with sunny stories, making for unpredictable music that’s boldly ominous one minute and charmingly delightful the next. The dual moods give their songs an extra depth, but it’s their ability to straddle seamlessly between the haunting and the fun that makes Veronica Falls — especially singer Roxanne Clifford, whose vocal work calls to mind a more somber version of The Mamas & The Papas — stand out against other similar acts.
The latest compilation of music recorded during our BTR Live Studio sessions is out now. To receive your free copy, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/breakthruradio and click on the “Bandcamp” tab on the left hand side. All you’ll need to do is enter your email address and you’ll receive a download link and be signed up for the BTR Newsletter to receive updates on what we’re doing at BreakThru Radio. Here’s a video playlist of all the artists featured on the compilation: [youtube_playlist] View the playlist on YouTube And here’s a listing of the artists included: Dale Earnhardt Jr Jr – view original post www.daleearnhardtjrjr.com Radical Dads – view original post www.radicaldads.com Reggie Watts – view original post www.reggiewatts.com Sallie Ford and the Sound Outside – view original post www.sallieford.com Malkit Singh – view original post www.malkitsingh.com Milagres – view original post www.milagresmusic.com An Horse – view original post www.anhorse.com Miracle Fortress – view original post www.miraclefortress.com Helado Negro – view original post www.heladonegro.com Darwin Deez – view original post www.darwindeez.com Tim Fite – view original post www.timfite.com Saint Motel – view original post www.saintmotel.com Radiation City – view original post radiationcity.muxtape.com
Initially formed in 2003 as a cello/guitar duo, LUFF has evolved into a four-piece group comprised of Mike Hurst (bass), Aleks Gylys (drums), Robin Pickering (guitar), and Sheila Sobolewski (guitar/vocals). Together the Brooklyn band creates driving, layered post-rock, sounding like a cross between Mogwai and Silversun Pickups. Each of their songs conveys various moods and seems well-suited for soundtracks — one moment it quivers and weaves, and the next it dips from a crunchy climactic high to a softer, melodic respite.
Discovered and signed by Peter Gabriel in the mid-’90s, singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur has been a musician for over 15 years and has eight albums to his name. Arthur, who is originally from Akron, OH, is known for his poetic and melancholic songs. Whether done acoustically or with full, layered orchestration, his music feels intimate and poignant, as though it’s full of painful secrets. Also a distinguished painter and designer, his sleeve design for his 1999 Vacancy album was Grammy-nominated for Best Recording Package.
Holy Sons is the one-man project of Portland’s Emil Amos. The multi-instrumentalist plays raw, lo-fi indie rock, and remains relatively enigmatic, despite having released music under the Holy Sons moniker for the past two decades and having played with bands like Om, Dolorean, and Grails. Amos’ introspective nature and penchant for obscurity, give his music an added haunted, mysterious quality.
Canadian-Sikh rapper Humble the Poet (Kanwer Singh), together with his producer and primary beat-maker Sikh Knowledge (Kanwar Anit Singh Saini), spit out smooth, yet fiery, socially conscious rhymes about the broken prison system, women’s rights, and immigrant life in America. Motivated by their mission to spread awareness of these issues, the two make for an electrifying and captivating hip-hop duo, their energy and flow seemingly inexhaustible.
New Zealander Liam Finn might have gotten the music gene from his father, Neil Finn of Crowded House/Split Enz fame, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t grown to become a unique artist in his own right. Formerly the frontman of Betchadupa, Liam can channel the singer-songwriter somberness of the late Elliot Smith, while also evoking the lively, raw emotion of indie-pop groups like The Shins. The range of his sound makes him stand out against the mellow troubadour crowd.
Pittsburgh trio Donora have a contagious, glowing charm — perhaps helped along by the fact that guitarist/vocalist Casey Hanner and drummer Jake Hanner are siblings. Their brand of indie-pop is like pure sugar — sweet, delightful and irresistible — but also incredibly creative. With Casey’s pretty and darling girl-group-style vocals set against upbeat grooves and layered synths, Donora present a hybrid of pop from the ‘50s/’60s and today.
Brooklyn-based foursome Mainland (formerly Mainland Fever) play dreamy indie-rock, as much a suitable soundtrack for hazy, lazy Summer afternoons as for crisp, cool Fall evenings. Here, the band’s meandering guitar-work flows alongside Jordan Topf’s winding and sometimes melancholic vocals, as the song shifts seamlessly between drowsy, psychedelic verse and catchy, energized chorus.
Lizzy Ellison, Cameron Spies, Matt Rafferty and Randy Bemrose make up Portland foursome Radiation City. A group of genre-bending maestros, Radiation City marry together the dreaminess of indie-pop and the fog of lo-fi with just a hint of ‘60s doo-wop. As these different tones blend into one song, as here with “Park,” the result is a hazy, soulful, yet rousing sing-along, starring Spies’ edgy yelps and Ellison’s background crooning. Their music’s contrasting elements are refreshing and imaginative, and the fact that they all come together smoothly, make it immediately memorable.
Brooklyn’s The Binary Marketing Show creates avant-garde soundscapes, spattered with spooky noises, eerie vocal work, and pulsing beats. With multiple releases of varying sounds in their repertoire, the group understand the art of unpredictability and mysteriousness, much like the bands Animal Collective and Grizzly Bear. Their songs, like “Unwilling,” never seem to start and end on the same page, moving along via clamoring segues and playful percussive arrangements, as ethereal crooning morphs into developing tapestries of sound. The Binary Marketing Show’s music feels like a journey in of itself.
The indie-pop gems of Los Angeles group Saint Motel shimmer brightly and sweetly, with a radio-ready polished sound. Recalling the inviting keyboards of Keane, the whimsical tone of The Morning Benders, and the pitch-perfect harmonies of Local Natives, “Puzzle Pieces” is a rollicking anthem that swells up and sweeps smoothly through in all the right places. Although known for presenting themed concerts, like “Zombie Prom,” Saint Motel have also played alongside acts like Girl Talk, Ariel Pink and Best Coast, and seem poised to own the big stage.
Atlanta foursome Carnivores play the kind of lo-fi, brooding rock native to the corners of a gritty, abandoned garage. Though hints of softer melodies peek through occasionally on “Prom Night,” the song is mostly blanketed in a prickly, thrilling layer of ominousness — especially when Caitlin Lang’s vocals twist and soar like a haunted soul or mad scientist. The song captivates with its dissonance and drama.
Los Angeles singer-songwriter Nik Freitas has opened for acts such as Bright Eyes and Rilo Kiley and toured as a part of Broken Bells’ live band. Playing every instrument on each one of his five albums, Freitas’ brand of indie-pop is homey, light and sweet, with an easy-going, Beatlesesque tone. His performances are effortless serenades immersed in the emotion of the songs.
When not playing in the Brooklyn-based psychedelic group Here We Go Magic, Luke Temple channels a more stripped-down, introspective singer-songwriter spirit. His songs, stained with painful memories of broken love and haunting tales of regret, are perfectly devastating. In his performances, Temple’s raspy voice captures the poignancy of inconsolable loss.
Born and raised in Punjab, India, Malkit Singh celebrates the ornate and high-energy stylings of Bhangra — music that’s heavily influenced by traditional Punjabi culture, but also infuses elements of Western pop. He was propelled to the international stage in 2002 after his music was featured in the hit film Bend It Like Beckham, and has since proven his mastery of the genre. Singh’s intricately layered songs are titillating, flush with hypnotic drum thumps, vibrant rattles, and vocals that rise and fall beautifully with exceptional power, control, and fluidity.
Melissa Ferrick is a singer-songwriter unafraid to bare all through music. With songs that tell stories evoking a raw vulnerability, her performances are full of spark and conviction, revealing her as a woman intensely connected, emotionally and intimately, to her art.
Los Angeles-based American Royalty is an energetic young trio that packs soul, synths and rock & roll swagger into a single neat package. On their single “Levrolution” (from the EP El Ardemo), watch out for harmonies that ooze blues, electronic beats that swell and surge, and classic guitar riffs that cut like a knife. It’s a genre-bending tune soaked in infectious melodies.

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