Archive
Blood Red Shoes is a rock n’ roll band from Brighton, England, made up of the duo of Laura-Mary Carter on guitar and Steven Ansell on drums, with both contributing vocals. Big riffs, impossible drumming, and epic pop songs about mortality, alienation, escape, and hope, all bolstered by a fierce live show and a dry sense of humor, have grown the band’s reputation over the past few years. Here they play a few songs and chat with Maia about an encounter with the Rolling Stones, among other things.
Twin Peaks is a Chicago-based band comprised of Cadien, Clay, Connor, and Jack — four young dudes blasting out fuzzy rock ‘n roll. Catchy hooks, a pile of effects, and blasts of attitude have brought a whole lot of attention to this foursome, based on their demos and hard-touring. After trying to hang it up and go to school, the guys realized they were destined (or doomed?) to rock, and headed right back into their own world of honest garage rock.
Courtney Barnett lives in Melbourne, plays guitar, and writes songs. As vague as that sounds, it’s the absolute truth. She even releases her records via her own label, Milk! Records. What we’re not telling you is that there’s something very special about her songwriting — something almost nostalgic and definitely timeless, akin to the folk and psych of the 60s. Once you hear her songs, you’ll want to keep her your own little secret, too.
Austin’s Mirror Travel had a previous music life as the popular band Follow That Bird. Label issues and perhaps some “big” bird issues were all factors in the new moniker, which also set the band off in a newer, more focused direction. Their music is dreamy garage pop, and totally fun. The band, made up of Lauren Green (guitar/vocals), Paul Brinkley (bass/vocals), and Tiffanie Lanmon (drums), stopped by to play some tunes and talk a bit about their history and recent recording experience.
Grandchildren are a Philadelphia-based band with lots of a drums, keyboards, horns, and mind-boggling arrangements. This six member-strong group (Russell Brodie, Adam Katz, Aleks Martray, Tristan Palazzolo, Roman Salcic, and John Vogel) uses a collage style to weave together their unique electro-acoustic orchestral pop. They crammed themselves into our studio to play some tunes, swap instruments, and chat about how they pull this whole wonderful menagerie together.
Joanna Gruesome is an irresistible noise pop five-piece from Cardiff, UK. During the 2013 CMJ Music Marathon, the band took some time from their packed show schedule — where they seemed to make fans of nearly everyone who saw them — to drop by for this session. Full of catchy pop melodies, full-on walls of shoegaze noise, teen angst, and punk drum beats, they exude energy from every pore, both in the studio and onstage. Lead singer Alanna has a ferocious power that comes out in playful, sweet whispers and dark, abrasive screams that match the intensity of the fuzzed-out guitars. It only makes (too much?) sense that the band met in an anger management group and didn’t even get along at first — how else could you explain such perfect musical chemistry?
Beginning as a synth-pop duo in London, Lovelife (aka LVLF) sure have gotten around. After spending some time in Brooklyn, they’re now based in L.A., where they continue to work on new music. With tight, exquisitely-crafted pop songs full of lush production and heavy on the electronics, it’s easy to assume these hits are full of loops and automation, when in reality there are talented musicians playing live behind it all. Add in that the group has done official remixes for some of the biggest international rock and pop bands and it’s easy to get confused — but seeing the foursome in action here should be more than enough to convince anyone that their smooth crooning, sexy pop songs, and perfect aesthetic (just take a look at their Instagram account if you don’t believe us) is all truly impressive.
traumahelikopter (lowercase intentional) have got it figured out: play short, fast, loud songs, and do it faster, louder, and more intensely than anyone else. This Dutch band from Groningen Noord is a trio, but with two guitars (no bass) and a minimal drum kit, they’re anything but traditional. Their unique setup and infinite energy give these punk anthems a fresh angle on the genre. They stopped by during CMJ to blast through some jams and chat about their music.
Duologue are a 5-piece band from London. With a rich falsetto sitting neatly on top of a finely-crafted web of electronics and stringed instruments, they build memorable pop tunes that deserve repeated listens. Programmed loops and breakbeats blend perfectly with ambient, folk, and pop elements, making for an immersive sonic experience. The band stopped by to share some songs and to chat with Maia about making music without a drummer and going undercover while traveling.
Norwegian songwriter Susanne Sundfor exists at the intersection of two worlds (as cleverly depicted in the video for her single “The White Foxes”) — the ancient, natural world of forests and ruins, and the modern, manufactured world of technology, all covered in snow. This is true both thematically, as her songs are often lyrically cold and dark with subtle overtones of brilliant warmth, as well as sonically, blending lush piano elements with the more mechanical, almost industrial elements of pop music. Susanne stopped by to play some solo tunes and talk about the therapy of making art and how her own style developed.
Courtney Barnett lives in Melbourne, plays guitar, and writes songs. As vague as that sounds, it’s the absolute truth. She even releases her records via her own label, Milk! Records. What we’re not telling you is that there’s something very special about her songwriting — something almost nostalgic and definitely timeless, akin to the folk and psych of the 60s. Once you hear her songs, you’ll want to keep her your own little secret, too.
Wolf People — a British band signed to North American label Jagjaguwar — comes from the imagination of singer and guitarist Jack Sharp, who crafts fantastical story songs from bits of history and his own imagination. Named for the children’s book, Little Jacko and the Wolf People, and taking the shape of bluesy, retro rock drawing on 60’s folk and 70’s classic rock, the band uses powerful hooks and complex, drifting melodies to produces psychedelic results. On their first ever North American tour, the band stopped by to play some tunes and talk about their recent releases.
Los Angeles-based together PANGEA began with lead singer-songwriter William Keegan’s teenage 4-track recordings. Over the years, with the addition of Danny Bengston on bass, Erik Jimenez on drums and, later, Cory Hanson on lead guitar, the band grew their garage pop beast from West Coast DIY shows to iconic LA venues and national tours. With previous releases on Lost Sound Tapes and Burger Records, the group’s debut full length is set to premiere this January via Harvest Records. The band stopped by to rock out and chat about their recent 7,” how switching labels has caused delays in releases, and fans with notable ass tattoos.
Charlene Kaye is a New York-based songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Growing up in Hawaii, Kaye developed a background in classical music that creeps into her glam-inflected, high-energy style, with Kaye shredding on guitar and singing her heart out over a tight double-drum and keyboard foundation. Extensive touring, festivals showcases, and praise from major entertainment and news sources all point to big things.
Twin Peaks is a Chicago-based band comprised of Cadien, Clay, Connor, and Jack — four young dudes blasting out fuzzy rock ‘n roll. Catchy hooks, a pile of effects, and blasts of attitude have brought a whole lot of attention to this foursome, based on their demos and hard-touring. After trying to hang it up and go to school, the guys realized they were destined (or doomed?) to rock, and headed right back into their own world of honest garage rock.
Baoku Moses is a Nigerian-born, Cincinnati-based artist specializing in African cultural performance and an Afro-beat musician, singer, songwriter, bandleader, and composer. As the leader of Baoku & The Image Afro-Beat Band, his exhilarating take on the genre is heavily inspired by the legendary Fela Kuti and is used to preach, teach, entertain and educate about the issues facing all of humanity.
Zula are a young Brooklyn band with a West African name and tunes built around the songwriting of cousins Henry and Nate Terepka. Exploring psychedelic sounds with a heavy dose of delay, their songs are pleasingly disjointed, experimental pop jams that makes clever use of groove and melody — not to mention a lot of really weird sounds. What it all adds up to is a deliciously unpredictable blend of jazz, rock, pop, electronica, and ambient bits and pieces, strung together through whatever weird magic these guys possess.
Formed in 2008 in Sheffield, England, the Crookes consist of George Waite, Daniel Hopewell, Russell Bates and Tom Dakin. Heralded as a prominent group in the UK’s New Pop movement, their list of press accolades is extensive and their fan base apparently large and growing. Romanticism is heavy, with soaring melodies and strident lyrics (which even Noel Gallagher has praised), carried out by Waite’s undeniably strong vocal delivery. They stopped by to blast through some tunes and to chat with Maia about their new record.
Emma Louise Niblett, better known by the stage name Scout Niblett, is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. With six albums under her belt, full of sparse, folk-tinged indie rock, Scout is in the middle of a solid music career. She came by with her band to play some tunes and to get down to some serious talk about metal.
Forest Fire, the NYC-based band led by songwriter Mark Thresher, has seen some changes over the years. Though it began as an alternative folk-rock band, these days the group has found more inspiration from the art-rock likes of Joy Division, Laurie Anderson, Suicide, and Kraftwerk, all of which seems to come out in their use of repetition, straightforward melodies, and synths. They stopped by the studio to talk about their recording process and some of the ideas behind their new album. Here, we present a performance of the song “Cold Kind/Fixation” not seen in their original BTR Live Studio Session.
Celestial Shore is a post-rock trio from Brooklyn. Their music can be difficult to unravel, as they wind mathy, jazzy movements through pop structures, laying down some seriously impressive sonic tricks along the way. Here, they share some tunes and chat with Maia about what they did this summer, and how they got such kick ass album artwork (hint: they asked members of another band to make it).
The Pack A.D. (the A.D. stands for “After Death”) is a Canadian garage rock duo from Vancouver, British Columbia, made up of singer/guitarist Becky Black and drummer Maya Miller. With 4 albums on Mint Records and their recent signing to Nettwerk Records, the band is aiming to take their heavy stoner rock grooves to the next level. They stopped by while on tour to rock out in our studio and talk a bit about their latest EP and video.
Sleepy Kitty is a two piece indie rock band from St. Louis via Chicago. Made up of frontwoman Paige Brubeck and drummer Evan Sult (previously of Harvey Danger and Bound Stems), the duo started as an experimental sound project before ultimately morphing into a full on band. An appreciation for indie rock and post punk acts like Pavement and The Fall meets with the bravado of show-tunes to produce the heavy-hitting pop music of Sleepy Kitty. Here, we present a performance of their song “Mockingbird” not seen in their original BTR Live Studio session.
Ebony Bones — born Ebony Thomas — is a British singer-songwriter, record producer and actress. Known for her onstage antics and fantastic costumes, her list of credits, collaborations, and accolades is extensive — and for good reason. Her music is as colorful and vibrant as her personality, shapeshifting and genre-jumping all over the place without missing a beat. Ebony stopped by to play some songs and talk a bit about recording in India, the influences that shape her eclectic music, and more.
There’s always been an interesting bond between sad, dark music and dance pop. SISU, fronted by multi-instrumentalist Sandra Vu (Dum Dum Girls, Boredoms, Raveonettes), is a great example of this in action. Sonically entrenched in what Vu calls the “loner sounds” of echo-ridden, cold, distorted synths and paired with irresistibly seductive, breathy vocals, the songs explode with emotion.
Forest Fire, the NYC-based band led by songwriter Mark Thresher, has seen some changes over the years. Though it began as an alternative folk-rock band, these days the group has found more inspiration from the art-rock likes of Joy Division, Laurie Anderson, Suicide, and Kraftwerk, all of which seems to come out in their use of repetition, straightforward melodies, and synths. They stopped by the studio to talk about their recording process and some of the ideas behind their new album.
Sleepy Kitty is a two piece indie rock band from St. Louis via Chicago. Made up of frontwoman Paige Brubeck and drummer Evan Sult (previously of Harvey Danger and Bound Stems), the duo started as an experimental sound project before ultimately morphing into a full on band. An appreciation for indie rock and post punk acts like Pavement and The Fall meets with the bravado of show-tunes to produce the heavy-hitting pop music of Sleepy Kitty.
Previously seen on an episode of Serious Business On BTR (where we all learned how to properly pronounce their name), Howth just couldn’t get enough and had to get back in the studio… Okay, the fact is they’ve got a whole new batch of tunes and want to get the word out about them. Even better, though, these songs are all about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — no joke. Our 80s/90s nostalgia radar went off, too, but the band manages to make better thematic use of the TMNT to cover some serious and personal issues than we knew was ever possible. Take a love for those heroes in a half shell and combine it with an ability to craft ridiculously catchy, mature indie pop songs and you probably still won’t have a sense of how good Howth’s new stuff sounds until you hear it for yourself. Radical.
Los Angeles lo-fi psych trio Tashaki Miyaki don’t reveal much about themselves. Named after a mispronunciation of Japanese director Tashaki Miike’s name and often operating under aliases themselves, the mysterious vibe seems to be working in their favor. With a drummer/singer leading their laid back pop tunes, the band dropped by our studio to share some music and talk about their upcoming record, all in a special black-and-white episode of BTR Live Studio.
Golden Suits is Fred Nicolaus from the band Department of Eagles. His experience co-writing songs for that group, combined with a strange year which included a rat-infested apartment, a painful breakup, an emotional trip to Germany, and other challenges inspired Nicolaus to write a solo album. With a nod to classic pop and the aid of contributions from members of Grizzly Bear, Ava Luna, and Mason Jar Music, Golden Suits’ music combines nostalgia, sentimentality, obscure literary references, and personal confessions. Here, we present a performance of “Under Your Wing” from Golden Suits’ recent session of BTR Live Studio.
Golden Suits is Fred Nicolaus from the band Department of Eagles. His experience co-writing songs for that group, combined with a strange year which included a rat-infested apartment, a painful breakup, an emotional trip to Germany, and other challenges inspired Nicolaus to write a solo album. With a nod to classic pop and the aid of contributions from members of Grizzly Bear, Ava Luna, and Mason Jar Music, Golden Suits’ music combines nostalgia, sentimentality, obscure literary references, and personal confessions.
Dumpster Hunter is the NYC-based quartet of Jeff Taylor, Mark Guiliana, Steve Wall, and Chris Morrissey. Taylor (who has played with artists like Feist, Matisyahu, and Trixie Whitley) leads this gang with an impressively versatile performance style, rasping poetically cyclical lyrics over jazzy grooves. Dumpster Hunter’s carefully executed compositions make maximum use of explosive, cathartic moments of joy, elevating their subtle, fragile indie rock to shimmery dance pop at a moment’s notice.
Strange Talk are an Australian foursome making summery dance music. A live band that commands the dance floor with more beats and synths than your favorite club DJ, they’ve got the right pedigree to do the genre justice. With the requisite classically trained musician, a dance producer/DJ, and an array of funk/soul musicians, all the elements are there to make the kind of catchy, upbeat dance music that fits right in at festivals and headlining gigs on the international circuit.
Birds in Weather is a Brooklyn indie rock trio whose meteorological moniker is more than just an excuse to put birds on their artwork (though that does tend to happen). Comprised of a painter, an opera singer, and an alcohol distiller who were brought together by floods in both Brooklyn and Denmark, BiW craft dynamic, Velvety art-pop songs. Here, we present an additional video from their recent session, featuring a performance of their “Internet Song.”
The Box Tiger is an international indie rock band from the outskirts of Toronto, Ontario, led by songwriter Sonia Sturino; however, as one member lives in Portland, Maine, surely they can be considered international. The band clearly has a lot of heart, as dramatically displayed in their performances, which blast through huge hooks and spirited choruses for an overwhelming experience. Though still a young band, their rigorous tour schedule and opening slots for some popular, like-minded bands such as The Joy Formidable are a clear indicator that they’re on a mission.
A playful rock trio from Long Beach, California, Tijuana Panthers don’t waste time with overwrought effects or needlessly lengthy tunes. They have a surf vibe that makes every 2-minute tune sound extra poppy and fun — and appropriately, thankfully, these guys actually do surf. The guys dropped by to play some tunes and talk about the Fellini-inspired music video for their catchy single, “Boardwalk.”
Brooklyn-based songwriter Leah Siegel is Firehorse. Like her performance moniker, Siegel and her music are appropriately independent, assertive, and free-spirited. An early interest in music through classical violin and self-taught guitar and singing brought Siegel to songwriting at an early age. Add to this mixture the inspiration of heavy musical legends like Nick Drake, Joni Mitchell, the Velvet Underground, Led Zeppelin and both Tim and Jeff Buckley, and you’ve got the formula for a powerful, dramatic take on rock. Not content to rest on the ever-growing-laurels of this project, Siegel also fronts Brooklyn Boogaloo Blowout and sings in the Citizens Band, not to mention a new collaboration with Dave Hodge (Broken Social Scene, Bran Van 3000, Basement Jaxx) called Leisure Cruise which features guests from Metric, Blondie, Stars, Broken Social Scene, and more.
Emily Bell is a Texas musician who belts out soulful rock n’ roll that effortlessly incorporates elements of delta blues, ’60s rock, and girl-group glam. Raised in musical theater and taught by seasoned performers, her power is clearest onstage, where she delivers what she likes to call “technicolor rock ‘n’ soul” with the help of her partner and musical companion John Evans. Gaining popularity in Austin through riveting SXSW performances and her performing-arts fests, Summer Camp! and Winter Camp!, Bell is set to continue making a name for herself in both the local and national scenes.
Atlanta’s Mood Rings tread in enjoyably murky musical territory. While it’s clear that pop music has been a strong influence, the band’s output is heavier on vibe and feel than hooks and choruses. The group might be communicating some far out astral messages that we’re just not ready to understand, but in the meantime, dig into the mood. Here, they play some tunes and chat with Maia about the evolving sound of the group and their intense love for Enya.
Tawiah is a South Londoner who attended The BRIT School, laying the foundation for a strong early start to her musical career. After going on to collaborate and perform with Mark Ronson, Erykah Badu, Cee Lo Green, Wale, and others (in case new listeners need some idea of the ridiculous level of talent she exhibits) she’s now focusing on her own music. Tawiah’s own alternative soul has all the promise of the contemporaries she’s been known to fill in for, like Amy Winehouse and Lily Allen.
Horsehands are a Boston-based post-punk trio. Not necessarily the post-punk you may be thinking of, though, with “angular guitars” (we never really knew what that meant either) and off-key yelps, but truly something AFTER punk rock. More in line with Guided By Voices — who the band is quick to identify as a key influence — than Fugazi, Horsehands weave weird, whirling, winding melodies and grooves into a jazzed-up, spazzed-out take on pop.
Previously seen in one of our favorite episodes of BTR Hear & There, Brooklyn/Philly band The City And Horses are back for a visit to the studio to share more tunes. Lead by songwriter Marc Louis, this genre-hopping project gets compared to the likes of The Velvet Underground, Belle and Sebastian, and Jonathan Richman for its smart, twisting indie pop songs — along with the inevitable Jethro Tull tags thanks to the presence of a flute. Currently weaving tales of “the sadomasochism of anxiety disorders, the real or imagined simplicity of the 1990s, and lovingly loveless relationships,” the group rarely performs live and never tours, but when they do, it’s well worth seeing in action.
The Volga is the largest river in Russia. Say it twice, and it is the title of a musical film from 1937. It is also the name for the current musical group led by songwriter Ivan Kuraev, performing gentle folk pop songs with a compelling touch of humor (see the featured track, “Up My Ass”). Since early 2013, Kuraev has been joined by some of his most talented and accomplished musical friends in the band: Kristin Mueller on vocals and electric guitar, BTRtv VIP Brian Kantor on drums, Ian Riggs on bass, and Karen Waltuch on viola and backing vocals (her work can also be found on albums by Wilco, The Walkmen, Beth Orton, Yellowbirds, and many more).
Still Corners is the duo of Greg Hughes and Tessa Murray. Hughes — from Austin, Texas, but residing in London for the past decade — is constantly developing his production and songwriting through the project. With a minimal setup of drum machine, guitar, and synth, the duo pours tons of emotion into their dreamy, cinematic pop songs. They stopped by the studio to play some tunes from their latest release, and to talk about the unlikely way they got together.
Plume Giant is a chamber folk trio of Yale graduates who use viola, violin, guitar, and their voices — among a few other instruments to fill things out — to make a huge, beautiful sound. Beginning in their college town of New Haven, Connecticut, the group recently packed up and moved their acoustic instruments (and presumably some clothes and furniture, etc.) to Brooklyn, where they seem to be settling in just fine.
Stephen Kellogg, last seen in the music scene fronting his band, The Sixers, had a rough 2012. Last year saw change and hardship for his family and home, as well as the end of a decade-strong band, and now Kellogg is endeavoring on the next step in his musical evolution. Based in Southern Connecticut and drawing influence from the songwriting sensibilities of folk music and the showmanship of classic rock, he’s set out with a simple mission, in his own words: “Using words and intention in the hopes of a positive legacy for my family.” Despite his claims to have stumbled accidentally into making a living singing songs and playing guitar, it looks like that legacy is going to turn out just fine.
Jesse Woods only moved to Austin, Texas, a few years ago, but his adopted city’s trademark blend of musical genres (blues, rock, country) comes through clearly in his lo-fi folk music. Recording in his own all-analog studio and enlisting the aid of some of his local scene’s heavy hitters, he’s diving deep into his smoky take on twang with the upcoming release of his debut LP. Accompanied by a drum machine and cellist, Jesse brought the tunes to life in our studio, and sat down with Maia to chat about his songwriting process, and making the jump from recording to playing live.
Body Language is a Brooklyn foursome — though with the addition of that all-too-important 5th member, Computer, the band members’ names conveniently spell out M-A-G-I-C, an appropriate description for the particular way all their moving parts work together. The keyboard, glockenspiel, shared vocal harmonies, and percussion-driven tunes they create have just the right touches of rock, soul, funk, r&b, and dance to make a fresh blend of pop music. The band stopped by to play their new single, talk about being mistaken for body language (as in the form of non-verbal communication) on Facebook, and more.
Left to her own devices, Julia Easterlin is easily a one-woman band. Aided by a tight live rhythm section, her songs — based around complex vocal loops and effects — take on a new life that further explores her rich history as a student, musician, and curious explorer of the world. While the technical aspects of her performances can feel like a novelty at first, the complexity of her rhythms, melodies, and songwriting quickly shine through and transport the listener to a much deeper place. Fans of Bjork, St. Vincent, or Tune-Yards will likely find their new favorite songwriter and performer in Easterlin.
Brooklyn band Friend Roulette’s name alone brings to mind a very particular image: a group of friends hanging out, swapping stories and instruments, stringing together fun, lively tunes into a huge, beautiful racket. With six members and some of the most unusual instrumentation going (counting two drum sets, violin, bass clarinet, and ewi — that’s an electronic wind instrument for the curious — among its arsenal) plus the occasional addition of a string quartet, this is a concoction truly deserving of being described as dreamy chamber pop. Don’t let the break with rock conventions scare you, though; this is catchy, accessible, lively music that’ll grab any listener and hold on tight.
Weekend began as a notoriously noisy shoegaze band in San Francisco, but a recent move to Brooklyn marked a shift in both their location and their sound. Shedding some of the wall of noise without sacrificing any of their anxious rhythms or ominous creeping bass, they’ve grown into a band whose dark tales come through with a new clarity on their upcoming release, Jinx.
Nature Cruise are the trio of Eric, Laura, and Steven: high school buddies from Long Island, NY, who’ve grown up and reunited to take a fresh approach to making music together. Their approach is clear — a tight, forceful rock band crafting meticulously composed and arranged pop songs — so it’s no surprise that they often put their spin on covers of classic pop gems from the likes of Tears For Fears and Michael Jackson at live shows. They stopped by BTR Live Studio to share a first look at their music – both revived material and brand new songs – and to share some of the background on this fresh project.
Songwriter Matt Bauer was born in Kentucky — though he recently lived in Brooklyn and currently calls Austin home — and the music of the region makes itself apparent in his work. Drawing on traditional mountain music, bluegrass, and folk, his songs tell carefully crafted tales with heavy tones and fantastically crafted orchestration.
Shades of classic rock and 50’s/60’s pop permeate The Blank Tapes’ stoner/pych-rock vibes. Hailing from San Francisco, Matt Adams is a prolific songwriter — not to mention a talented visual artist — with a timeless approach to music. Now in perhaps its leanest and strongest form yet, The Blank Tapes are a trio these days, featuring Adams along with girlfriend/resident-Moe Tucker-style-drummer Pearl Charles, and D.A. Humphrey on bass, and they’re ready to spread their songs across the land, taking us all on Vacation.
Nature Cruise are the trio of Eric, Laura, and Steven: high school buddies from Long Island, NY, who’ve grown up and reunited to take a fresh approach to making music together. Their approach is clear — a tight, forceful rock band crafting meticulously composed and arranged pop songs — so it’s no surprise that they often put their spin on covers of classic pop gems from the likes of Tears For Fears and Michael Jackson at live shows. Here, the band plays “The Crush Of A Crowded City,” one of the songs from their recent session — make sure to check back soon for their full episode with more music and interview.
Brass Bed is a four-piece band from Lafayette, Louisiana, that’s been busy finding its way over the past few years. Brushing off the sheen of studio perfection and pop shine, their sound has grown more raw, showing off all its bare, psychedelic soul. There’s a certain haze to their new sound that perfectly suits the new approach, taking on the confusion and uncertainty of life in song, and making a big, beautiful sound along the way. Here, they play a few tunes and chat with Maia about growing into their sound and getting feedback from longtime friends and fans on new directions.
David Wingo, a film composer from Austin, developed his group, Ola Podrida, from a recording project to a live band while living in NYC. Though their time in New York was brief — only about 3 years before Wingo took it back to Texas — it was a productive time that saw the band sharing stages with some big names, from Fleet Foxes and Beach House to a spot at All Tomorrow’s Parties, curated by Explosions In The Sky. Now a fully-collaborative four-piece band, Ola Podrida continues to craft catchy indie rock with cinematic touches.
Toubab Krewe are a true musical phenomenon. Hailing from the jam-friendly city of Asheville, North Carolina, they blend rock, folk, and West African influences into a psychedelic, instrumental blend of original grooves. Hard-touring, with a heavy foot in the festival circuit, the band is coming up on a decade of spreading their sound throughout the global music community. Here, they play some of their unique music and chat with Maia about how they came to incorporate their various influences into one sound.
Psychic Twin is the project of Erin Fein, an Illinois native from the Champaign/Urbana area who recently moved to New York. Writing and recording in solitude over the past two years, Fein doubled her vocals to create the ghostly mood of what would become Psychic Twin. Joined by Brett Sanderson and, later, Jonny Sommer to flesh out the music’s mysterious synth-rock atmosphere, Psychic Twin is expecting to release a new record later this year.
Dana Falconberry — a Michigan native currently based in Austin, TX, whose songwriting is distinctly inspired by visual art, books, and film — has come a long way from her early days studying classical ballet and modern dance. Her early recordings relied on a sparse and delicate touch, but, with her latest release, she brings on orchestration from a six-piece band to expand on her nostalgia-laden, orchestral pop-folk. Taking lyrical inspiration from idyllic childhood retreats to Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula, the band gives life to Falconberry’s stripped-down songs inspired by dreams, memories, and landscapes both real and imagined.
Blood Red Shoes is a rock n’ roll band from Brighton, England, made up of the duo of Laura-Mary Carter on guitar and Steven Ansell on drums, with both contributing vocals. Big riffs, impossible drumming, and epic pop songs about mortality, alienation, escape, and hope, all bolstered by a fierce live show and a dry sense of humor, have grown the band’s reputation over the past few years. Here they play a few songs and chat with Maia about an encounter with the Rolling Stones, among other things.
Eastern Hollows is a Brooklyn quintet led by Travis DeVries, whose previous solo efforts and work with The Turn-ons received critical acclaim. Drawing on strong shoegaze and brit pop influences, the band has been blasting through the Brooklyn scene with moody, psychedelic jangly guitar pop.
Not Blood Paint are quite possibly robots, or maybe aliens, or, at the very least, four musicians with a serious penchant for completely over-the-top theatrics. Musically, the quartet treads heavily in pop of the bizarre, glammy art-rock territory (strains of Bowie, Of Montreal, Dirty Projectors, etc), pumping out tightly constructed gems solid enough to blast past all the makeup and costumery. Every show is a different experience — “experience” being the key here — and their reputation absolutely precedes them. Take a trip with the band for some extreme eye contact, guitar-shredding silver humanoids, and an introduction to the New Suit Methodology.
Chalk and Numbers is the indie pop duo of Sable Yong and Andrew Pierce, based in Brooklyn, NY. Joined live and here in the studio by a keyboardist, bassist, and guitarist to fill out their sound and drawing heavily on the famed Phil Spector-style girl group sound, the band has a knack for carefully crafted pop songs with a timeless quality.
Shades of classic rock and 50’s/60’s pop permeate The Blank Tapes’ stoner/pych-rock vibes. Hailing from San Francisco, Matt Adams is a prolific songwriter — not to mention a talented visual artist — with a timeless approach to music. Now in perhaps its leanest and strongest form yet, The Blank Tapes are a trio these days, featuring Adams along with girlfriend/resident-Moe Tucker-style-drummer Pearl Charles, and D.A. Humphrey on bass, and they’re ready to spread their songs across the land, taking us all on Vacation.
Conor J. O’Brien — whose Dublin-based band, Villagers, has been nominated for a Mercury Prize, won an Ivor Novello Award, and shared stages with some of the biggest names in music — delivers an intimate, solo performance of his songs here on BTR Live Studio. In a departure from his previous effort, O’Brien embraces collaboration, instrumental music, and a whole lot of symbolism and poetic storytelling to achieve something that he feels is secular yet spiritual, and which sings the things that he can not say.
Fear of Men are a band from Brighton, England, born of an art school project by vocalist/guitarist Jessica Weiss and her home recordings of ambient soundtracks to short films. Now a four piece and drawing their inspiration from art and philosophy, Fear of Men deliberately juxtaposes iconic museum imagery and lyrical themes of loneliness and fragmentation with buoyant pop melodies, resulting in songs with often bleakly nihilistic subject matter swimming in hummable pop tunes.
The music of Xenia Rubinos is uniquely dependent on beats in a big way; drummer Marco Buccelli contributes much more than just your standard percussion, crafting entire soundscapes from a mish-mash of drums and effects, tirelessly modified and honed into one of the most impressive music-making machines we’ve had the pleasure of seeing in action. Xenia, herself, is a force to be reckoned with, culling enormous vocal power into dramatic tunes that she propels through her keyboard. Somehow, these two have tapped into a deep well of energy and passion that pleasantly comes across in every move they make.
Arms is a project led by former Harlem Shakes guitarist Todd Goldstein. Now in its ninth year and having undergone personnel and stylistic changes, it continues to revolve around Todd’s songwriting alter-ego. On record, Arms has evolved from its lo-fi roots into a fully-realized — though still-developing — pop music venture.
The London-based quartet of Roxanne Clifford, drummer Patrick Doyle, guitarist James Hoare, and bassist Marion Herbain make up Veronica Falls, an often misunderstood pop band. The gothic elements of their pretty, pristine pop songs have often overshadowed the band’s pure musical prowess. These days, they seem to be dead set on reclaiming their reputation — shedding their morbid roots, maturing and proving themselves to be a fully-formed indie guitar pop act. They’re not just talking about death and sadness, but rather the more existential matters of a fading twenty-something existence, something we’re sure their audience can relate to.
Songwriter Sam Cohen — previously of the band Apollo Sunshine — has been developing his psych-pop style for years now, gaining a strong following along the way. The band features Josh Kaufman, Brian Kantor, and Annie Nero, all friends and regulars of the Serious Business world whom play in such bands as Rocketship Park, Higgins, the Bandana Splits, and Balthrop, Alabama, among others. With this illustrious company, Cohen’s sunny, timeless pop songs attain an outsize, cinematic quality that easily conjures vivid imagery.
Isaac Delusion are three Paris-based multidisciplinary artists, on a mission to explore the movement of light through their musical world. An evolving experiment, they continually seek to explore new musical landscapes through simple, sweet pop songs, catchy beats, and touches of hip hop loops, electronics, and dreamy folk. Their work has allowed them to tour internationally, playing festivals around the world
Clementine & The Galaxy is the NYC-based duo of vocalist Julie Hardy and producer Mike MacAllister. Sparked by a commercial project collaboration between the two experienced musicians, the pair bring together their vastly different styles to craft a unique sound with soaring vocals and glam-tinged electronic pop.
Ryan McPhun is the driving force of The Ruby Suns. Previously seen behind the drums with Aussie group Architecture in Helsinki and Kiwi singer Lawrence Arabia, this California native via Oslo, Norway, headed to New York to craft his latest record into a flawless piece of hi-fi pop with the help of engineer Chris Coady (Beach House, Grizzly Bear, Gang Gang Dance). A breakup record at heart and a pop record through and through, this is music for headphones, dance parties, and everything in between.
Brooklyn post-punk trio Fan-Tan began in 2007 when Ryan Lee and Sandee K moved from Chapel Hill, NC to Brooklyn, NY, and solidified when they met drummer Mike Sherburn while on the road to SXSW in 2011. Drawing on the best of shoegaze and post-punk to create a long-developing sound that’s both sprawling and jagged, Fan-Tan are finally ready to take off with their debut LP.
Big Harp is the duo of Chris Senseney and Stefanie Drootin-Senseney (who have performed with The Good Life, Bright Eyes, and She & Him.) The band formed in December 2010, after a three-year whirlwind where the two met, had a baby, moved halfway across the country, got married, moved halfway across the country again, and had another baby. Once out of the baby haze, the two holed up together for a week and crafted a record full of intimate, low-key folk-rock. In the time since that initial spark, they’ve toured and made another record (Parallels), pushing those mellow roots towards an even more lively, inspired act both on stage and in the studio. Here, they sit with Maia for a special session of in the backyard of the house where the BTR crew was stationed in Austin, TX, during the recent SXSW music festival.
JuiceBox began in 2009 as the brainchild of NYC saxophonist Nick Myers and more recently solidified their soul/jazz party style with the addition of singer Lisa Ramey. The talented group of young musicians cut their teeth with parties and regular club nights to hone their explosive funk style, which has since taken them to a wide range of venues both at home and far away (they just returned from a tour of Italy). The group stopped by the studio to share their music and to talk about their beginnings, including how they made sweaty hipsters dance.
Fletcher C. Johnson is conveniently the leader of the band, Fletcher C. Johnson. Based in Brooklyn, his group blazes through the distortion-heavy garage rock genre with catchy vocals and big hooks. Currently on their first national tour and coming off SXSW adventures promoting their debut LP on Burger Records, the band is on the West Coast spreading their good vibes through the end of the month.
Bowmont began as a studio project in 2012 by Danish born singer & multi-instrumentalist Emil Bovbjerg and Grammy award-winning engineer & producer Jeremy Loucas. Now a five piece eclectic electro-rock collective based in Brooklyn, NY, the band evolved from those first songs written as demos by Bovbjerg to turn out lush, simply crafted pop songs.
Leaving behind the more aggressive group The Twees, Jason Abrishami started Brooklyn indie band Lazyeyes with the intention of creating a more dynamic form of pop music in a positive environment. Coming from the Brooklyn art scene, this group makes major use of delay effects (among others) to turn out a constantly evolving batch of fresh songs.
October Gold works with a simple formula: folksy acoustic guitar plus classically informed violin playing, combined with great pop songwriting equals great, catchy tunes. It’s the latest collaboration of Montreal-based singer/songwriter Kit Soden and his partner in music (and life), violinist Aliza Thibodeau. On record, the duo is backed by a full band, producing a lush soundtrack to their tales, but live they keep it simple, with just their go-to acoustic instruments and voices.
Endless Jags is a Portland, Maine-based rock band, comprised of members of Brenda, Gully, Foam Castles, Haru Bangs, Jaw Gems, Astronautalis, and more. With jangly guitars, dual lead singers, killer pop melodies, and a uniquely collaborative approach to songwriting, they’ve quickly made a name for this group with potential to eclipse even their existing — and well-established — other groups. The guys stopped by the studio on a recent tour to play some songs, and to chat with guest host Bryan Bruchman (of Portland music blog, HillyTown, and BTRtv) about their songwriting process, and how they’re not a supergroup, despite being a pretty super group.
Tall Tall Trees, an NYC-based band formed in 2008, is the musical project of multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Mike Savino. Though typically performing as a quartet, Savino often — as during this session of BTR Live Studio — performs solo, utilizing only his banjo, modified by an arsenal of effects and looping pedals. Even without the accompaniment of his bandmates, the sound is full and dynamic, from booming drum hits to playful banjo runs and perfect vocal melodies. Mike played a few songs and sat down with Maia to talk a bit about his — and the project’s — musical trajectory.
Dynasty Electric is an internationally-touring Brooklyn band making psychedelic electronic dance rock. Built on the foundation of Jenny Electrik’s seductive vocals and featuring the production of Seth Misterka, their retro-futuristic pop sound falls somewhere between Madonna, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Jefferson Airplane. With the help of hip-hop mogul Damon Dash, the duo recorded with producer Ski Beatz and crafted an album of dance-pop gems, perfect for the New York nightlife scene. Hot off a massive remix project for their song “Golden Arrows,” via Indaba Music, the band hit our studio to share some songs, and to chat with Maia about making the transition from an electronic duo to a larger group with more live elements, and the surreal experience of performing at Burning Man.
Union Street Preservation Society is an Americana/bluegrass band based in Brooklyn, NY (yes, on Union Street). This quintet is most at home around a single mic, slinging harmonies and strumming folk instruments with remarkable skill. The result is lively roots string music in the truest sense, and though the songs are new and original compositions, they feel immediately familiar and timeless.
Vandaveer is the song-singing, record-making, globetrotting project of alt-folk songwriter Mark Charles Heidinger. Currently situated in Washington, DC, the band exists in many forms, featuring a rotating cast of characters with Heidinger always at the core of its Americana rumblings. Here, as a trio with Rose Guerin and J. Tom Hnatow, the band plays some tunes and chats about the Federal Reserve Collective and recording murder ballads in a farmhouse.
EMEFE is a lively 10-piece afro-rock band from New York City whose members boast some impressive history: Antibalas, Sharon Jones & the Dapkings, Soulive, Charles Bradley, TV on the Radio, Medeski Martin and Wood, etc. Their music is all about being free from worry and, with strong funk, soul, hip-hop, and rock influences in the mix, they also have a way of making audiences move. Here, packed into our studio, the group makes a great racket and chats with Maia about their band name and the philosophy behind the project.
Originating in what they call “a small town with no future and one stoplight,” Slam Donahue felt they had to move to NYC. Focusing on songwriting and their devotion to melody, the band signed to Cantora Records and just kept on writing, winning critical praise and an ever-growing audience. The songwriting team of David Otto and Thomas Sommerville have developed a style of anthemic pop inspired equally by Bowie and the Beatles that has a way of tricking a listener into singing along before they even know the words. Relatable lyrics, familiar chords progressions, and a heavy helping of oohs and aahs make it all work nicely. For this episode of BTR Live Studio, the band left their comfort zone, performing with just an acoustic guitar and piano, and telling stories about the dangers of speedballs, making friends at SXSW, and the culture shock of moving to NYC.
Millionyoung is the Florida-based indie/electronica musical act of Mike Diaz. No matter the form – from DJ to duo to full band – the project covers everything from downtempo chillwave to sunny guitars and upbeat grooves. There’s a straightforward, sweet quality to Diaz’s lyrics and, with his latest batch of songs, things get downright sexy, thanks to the inspiration of soul music. Here, Millionyoung appears as a duo, leaning heavily on keyboard and sampled elements, as well as electric guitar.
Parks are a Boston-based indie pop band formed by songwriter Brian E. King. Leaving behind his previous project, Oranjuly, and enlisting Matt Girard, Liz McBride, Stu Dietz, and Brian Fitch — all of noteworthy Boston-area acts themselves — King’s distinct vocals head up the group’s instantly catchy pop hooks. Fans will hear the new line-up’s fresh songs and sound when their debut full-length record (engineered by Grammy Award-winner Ducky Carlisle) is released later this year. But the band stopped by to preview the new direction for BTR Live Studio and chat with Maia about getting band names wrong and why you should never interview your musical heroes.
Hailing from Sydney, Australia, Winter People manage a lush and remarkable post-rock/folk sound, creating a charming blend of styles that fits right alongside modern bands like The National, Arcade Fire, and Ra Ra Riot just as well as it might on a tape of appalachian folk songs. Citing the solitude of coming from an island nation as a prerequisite for creativity, here the band offers advice on being a democracy of six people and gives their recommendation for the perfect time to listen to the featured track, “Gallons.”

recommendations