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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.
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.
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.
Here’s what you need to know about Hector’s Pets: this rag tag band of rocker dudes could totally play the house party of your dreams, and decked out in shorts, hawaiian shirts, leather jackets, and shades, they totally look the part as much as they sound it. The guys also happen to have great “pet” nicknames, and in this interview they managed to do the unthinkable and push Travis to the limits of his comfort levels with ass talk. But wait, we’re getting distracted here (appropriately). Think garage rock n’ roll with serious pop undertones, bolstered by the presence of a tambo man (always a plus in our book).
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.

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