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Quickdraw: Sweet Spirit, Ex Hex, Car Seat Headrest, The Coathangers, Courtney Barnett

October 8, 2015

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Music.  Enjoy!

:Sweet Spirit – Take Me To A Party:  Here’s the latest catchy pop tune from Sweet Spirit.  I have a feeling I’m going to end up spending a lot of time with their upcoming debut full length.  Cokomo is due out October 16 via Nine Mile Records.

:Ex Hex – All Kindsa Girls (The Real Kids Cover):  Ex Hex randomly tossed out this one-off cover a few days ago.  I dig it.  Probably because it sounds exactly like all of the other stellar songs the band has released.

:Car Seat Headrest – Times To Die:  This nearly seven-minute track from Car Seat Headrest is an all-around weird effort, but I can’t seem to get enough of it.  Been on repeat for days now.  Teens Of Style is due out October 30 via Matador.

:The Coathangers – Watch Your Back:  No one packs a song with attitude quite like The Coathangers.  Crank the volume on this one.  The band’s split 7″ with The Black Lips is due out November 13 via Suicide Squeeze.  See the band at Sidewinder on October 30.

:Courtney Barnett – Shivers (The Boys Next Door Cover):  As I’ve said before, my favorite Courtney Barnett is the wordy, scatterbrained one, but even when she’s the opposite of that – like here with this slow burning cover – I’m still on-board.  The Boxing Day Blues Revisited single is due out October 16 via Third Man Records.

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Stream This

January 24, 2015

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums are released, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Doomtree – All Hands

Cotillon – Self Titled
Emmy The Great – S EP
The Dodos – Individ
Ty Segall Band – Live In San Francisco
Natalie Prass – Self Titled
Jessica Pratt – On Your Own Love Again
Young Ejecta – The Planet
Suburban Living – Self Titled
Invisible Familiars – Disturbing Wildlife
John Reis And The Blind Shakes – Modern Surf Classics

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Ex Hex

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2014 SOTO Staff Picks

December 11, 2014

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I’ve rambled on long enough about the music I liked in 2014.  Here are the staff’s picks.  Enjoy.

Turns out that aside from the crippling bodily ailments and the inability to control my bladder, getting older has made me absolutely awful at listening to music. Don’t hate haters, I’ve just gotten over the hump of 30 and all of sudden I just can’t focus enough to listen to a whole album. Blame it on the SNES I brought home for my girlfriend’s birthday, blame it on the imposition of real life, blame it on the encroaching approach of a potent mix of early onset dementia and Adult ADHD – I’ve just been really bad at music listening this year. Thus, my teensy tiny list of music is culled from a pond not nearly as large as I’d hoped it to be. That said, the music I liked, I loved and that’s the music that ended up below.

Parkay Quarts – Content Nausea
Mac DeMarco – Salad Days
Caribou – Our Love
Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait
Perfume Genius – Too Bright

Since 2010, rock music hasn’t changed all that much. There’s presently a general look back to past niche musics from the 1960′s onward. But through the nostalgia haze, there are a great deal of both old and new artists finding new latitudes. Here’s my major jams this year.

1. Thurston Moore – The Best Day (Matador)
2. David Kilgour & The Heavy Eights – End Times Undone (Merge)
3. Steve Gunn – Way out Weather (PoB)
4. Datashock – Keine Oase in Sicht (Dekorder)
5. William Tyler – Lost Colony (Merge)

I’ve been staring at my 2014 list like a student procrastinating on their end of the semester term paper.  I go back and forth on who to include, who to leave out, and recalling releases (d’oh!) I never got around to checking out. There are also the nagging doubts such as wondering if I gave an album enough listens to put it on my list. Like last year my list focuses on my local Austin favorites. Narrowing it down to the Top 5 wasn’t easy but I stand by my choices of my faves that earned multiple listens. So many good bands to choose from but oh what a problem to have, right?

In no particular order, I present to you :

The Sour Notes – Do What May
Abram Shook – Sun Marquee
Alex Napping – This Is Not A Bedroom
She Sir – Go Guitars
Shivery Shakes – Three Waves and A Shake

Honorable Mentions: The Ugly Beats – Brand New Day, Roger Sellers – Primitives, Genuine Leather – Losers

Compared to last year, 2014 left much to be desired when it comes to the sheer number of amazing releases. 2013 offered probably 15 to 20 “crap your pants while listening best record of the century” type stuff but then after that it sort of fell short in the real meat of the pack by not having a lot to deepen the core of metal. The reverse of which is true this year, I have attached to a few records as rising to the tippy top of the heap, but the real glory came in the form of the fat of the genre, so many decent albums from so many artists, many debuts, but several just continuations on great careers, but few to get all wigged out about.

My Top 5 you can see here are pretty clear choices though when you look at what they accomplished on these albums, Devn Townsend Project made two albums into one, and continued the story or Ziltoid the Omniscient, Anaal Nathrakh did what they do, but better, Job for a Cowboy somehow made bass a relevant instrument in death metal, At the Gates reunited after 900 years and proved they still have it, and Black Crown Initiate stole the show with their debut mixing death metal and melodic anthems into something technically proficient and sufficiently mind blowing. I was not let down this year, but I know I will be surprised in a few years with what I actually retained from 2014, not sure if you would agree, but that’s how I see things …

5. Devin Townsend Project – Ziltoid 2 (Century Media)
4. Anaal Nathrakh – Desideratum (Metal Blade)
3. Job For A Cowboy – Sun Eater (Metal Blade)
2. At The Gates – At War With Reality (Century Media)
1. Black Crown Initiate – The Wreckage Of Stars (eOne Entertainment)

I guess I’ll start by saying that 2014 hasn’t been an amazing year for hip hop, but it hasn’t been a completely terrible one either.  Here are my choices for the best releases this year, in no particular order:

Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy
Run The Jewels – RTJ2
Vince Staples – Hell Can Wait
Big K.R.I.T. – Cadillactica
Shabazz Palaces – Lese Majaesty

T’was a solid year for melancholy songs. Albums that truly destroyed the center of the cardiovascular system were aplenty. We’re living in a golden age of audio misery! There were SO MANY great releases that dehydrated our tear ducts but since you, the readers, are demanding a definitive ranking of the saddest albums of the year, so be it. I’ve done the requisite soul searching and came up with this predominantly lady-heavy list of my fav weepers of the year. They are full of gut wrenchers, soul crushers … and they are all fantastic. Way to bring the pain this year, ladies!

1: Beck – Morning Phase
2. Lykke Li – I Never Learn
3. Divorcee – Self Titled
4. Jenny Lewis – The Voyager
5. Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness

Best Reissue: American Football – Self Titled

Narrowing down my top albums is a tortuous process. I’m an old-school guy. I still listen to entire albums from start to finish and only occasionally opt for a playlist of singles. Immersing yourself in an album is the most satisfying way way to connect with the music. So I get really dialed into my favorite albums each year, which makes narrowing down the lot a difficult task.

Before we get to my top five, let’s take a minute to recognized the amazing amount of quality music released this year by 12XU. It was far and away the top Austin label in 2014. They featured not only one of my top artists (The Dead Space) and but also three others in my top 10 (Flesh Lights, Jonly Bonly, The Gotobeds).

1) Ghetto Ghouls – Self Titled
2) The Dead Space – Faker
3) Protomartyr – Under Color of Official Right
4) Ex Hex – Rips
5) OBN IIIs – Third Time To Harm

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Top 25 Albums Of 2014: Part 1

December 9, 2014

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Well friends, I’m just about done with posting the site’s year-end music lists.  Today I have the first part of my Top 25 Albums of 2014 (25-11, plus various Honorable Mentions), tomorrow I’ll have my Top 10 selections, and then on Thursday I’ll have Top 5s from each of SOTO’s contributors.  Whew!  Anyhow, on with the rambling.  Enjoy.

PS – This year’s list is very heavily influenced by how often I revisited an album.

25) Swans – To Be Kind

There’s nothing about Swans’ To Be Kind that’s easy (or it would be ranked way higher), but if you can fully immerse yourself in its sprawling sound, you’ll find that it’s a rather rewarding album.

:Swans – A Little God In My Hands:

24) Interpol – El Pintor

While it’s no Turn On The Bright Lights, I do think that El Pintor is the best thing to come from Interpol in a long while.  Who knew that parting with Carlos D would turn out to be good for the band?!

:Interpol – All The Rage Back Home:

23) Future Islands – Singles

Future Islands’ Singles is one of those albums that I burned out on and then ending up excitedly coming back to.  It’s a pretty great effort, especially if you need something to dramatically dance to.

:Future Islands – Seasons (Waiting On You):

22) Sylvan Esso – Self Titled

Sylvan Esso’s self titled debut is an easily accessible effort that’s loaded with some of the year’s best electronic pop songs.  I often just put it on and let its warm sound fill the room.

:Sylvan Esso – Coffee:

21) Thee Oh Sees – Drop

Just when it looked like Thee Oh Sees were going to take a lengthy break, they released the lively Drop.  I approve of such indecisiveness.  Here’s hoping they continue on maybe going on hiatus.

:Thee Oh Sees – Penetrating Eye:

20) Ty Segall – Manipulator

Manipulator is the culmination of all the various sounds that Ty Segall has churned out over the last few years, and it’s great.  Way to bring everything full circle, Mr. Segall.

:Ty Segall – Susie Thumb:

19) Phantogram – Voices

I can’t say that Voices dominated my time the way that Eyelid Movies did (way back in 2010), but it’s definitely a high quality effort.  Phantogram craft great hooks.

:Phantogram – Fall In Love:

18) S – Cool Choices

Jenn Ghetto (formerly of Carissa’s Wierd) is S, and Cool Choices is her very sincere, introspective album.  She’s got the sort of voice that I can’t help but get hung up on.

:S – Vampires:

17) Mono – Rays Of Darkness/The Last Dawn

Technically, Rays Of Darkness and The Last Dawn are two separate releases, but I still consider them to be a two-disc effort.  As for the actual LPs themselves, I really dig how neither of them feel like the Mono that made the over-orchestrated For My Parents.

:Mono – Recoil, Ignite:

16) Jack White – Lazaretto

I can’t ever make any sense of the things that Jack White says and does these days, but I sure do like his music.  Lazaretto is a boisterous experience.

:Jack White – Lazaretto:

15) Abram Shook – Sun Marquee

Austin’s own Abram Shook put out the immensely pleasing Sun Marquee back in January, and it’s been a favorite of mine ever since.  It’s the kind of breezy, relaxed pop music that’s impossible to not get lost in.

:Abram Shook – Coastal:

14) Tune Yards – Nikki Nack

Nikki Nack is exactly what we’ve all come to want and expect from the talented Merrill Garbus (aka Tune Yards) – it’s creative and a whole lot of fun to listen to.

:Tune Yards – Real Thing:

13) Ex Hex – Rips

I miss Wild Flag, but their disbandment delivered Mary Timony’s equally catchy and rocking Ex Hex AND put Sleater-Kinney back together.  I’ll take that deal any day.

:Ex Hex – Hot And Cold:

12) The Dead Space – Faker

If you are even the slightest fan of post-punk, then you need The Dead Space’s Faker in your life.  There’s not a track on it that isn’t rad.

:The Dead Space – Behind The Wall:

11) Tacocat – NVM

I didn’t pay much attention to Tacocat’s NVM until kind of late in the year, but once I “discovered” it I was forever hooked.  It’s total surf-rock bliss.

:Tacocat – Crimson Wave:

Come back tomorrow for my Top 10 Albums of 2014!

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

To be honest, I could have easily detailed 50 albums this year, but since the bottom 25 slots would have been occupied by the various releases that I liked but didn’t listen to a whole super lot, I figured it was best to hold back.  For fun though, here are the LPs that more than likely would have made an expanded list.

A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Sea When Absent
Alex Napping – This Is Not A Bedroom
Alvvays – Self Titled
Angel Olsen – Burn Your Fire For No Witness
Ariel Pink – Pom Pom
Coathangers – Suck My Shirt
Cymbals Eat Guitars – Lose
Deerhoof – La Isla Bonita
Equals – Tracts
Eternal Summers – The Drop Beneath
FKA Twigs – LP1
Flesh Lights – Free Yourself
Literature – Chorus
Men – Tomorrow’s Hits
OBN IIIs – Third Time To Harm
Owls – Two
Pompeii – Loom
Ramesh – The King
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Thurston Moore – The Best Day
Tontons – Make Out King And Other Stories Of Love
Warpaint – Self Titled
We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling
Wye Oak – Shriek
Yellow Ostrich – Cosmos

Also, for even more fun, here are my five favorite EPs of 2014.

Speedy Ortiz – Real Hair EP
Diarrhea Planet – Aliens In The Outfield EP
White Reaper – Self Titled EP
Otis The Destroyer – Dark Arts EP
Whiite Walls – Self Titled EP

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Stream This

October 17, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums are released, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Thurston Moore – The Best Day

Christian Bland And The Revelators – The Unseen Green Obscene
Tennis System – Technicolour Blind
Unwound – No Energy
Nude Beach – 77
Dope Body – Lifer
Jesse Ware – Tough Love
Girlpool/Slutevers – Split EP
Mall Walk – Self Titled EP
Spookyland – Rock And Roll Weakling EP
Icewater – Self Titled EP
Triathlon – Lo-Tide
Roomrunner – Separate EP
Neil Diamond – Melody Road

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Tennis

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Stream This

October 3, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

Please note that the majority of the streams expire as soon as the albums come out, so don’t wait too long to check them out.

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Ex Hex – Rips

We Were Promised Jetpacks – Unravelling
NehruvianDOOM – Self Titled
Wampire – Bazaar
Roger Sellers – Primitives
Allo’ Darlin – We Come From The Same Place
Foxygen – … And Star Power
Iceage – Plowing Into The Field Of Love
Tomorrows Tulips – When
Caribou – Our Love
Minus The Bear- Lost Loves
Field Report – Marigolden
Single Mothers – Negative Qualities
Godflesh – A World Lit Only By Fire
Dark Blue – Pure Reality
Young Mammals – Alto Seco
SBTRKT – Wonder Where We Land
Zola Jesus – Taiga
Populous – Night Safari
Peaking Lights – Cosmic Logic
Fiance – EP1
Vashti Bunyan – Heartleap
Weezer – Everything Will Be Alright In The End
Prince – Art Official Age & Plectrumelectrum
Stevie Nicks – 24 Karat Gold: Songs From The Vault
Johnny Marr – Playland

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Mastodon

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Quickdraw: Blonde Redhead, Saint Pepsi, Ex Hex, Ty Segall, I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness

August 14, 2014

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Blonde Redhead – The One I Love:  Here’s the third single off of Blonde Redhead’s upcoming album.  It’s a minimalistic gem.  Look for Barragan to be released on September 2 via Kobalt.  See them at the Mohawk on November 17.

:Saint Pepsi – Fall Harder:  Saint Pepsi has transitioned from being a producer (remixer? masher upper?) to turning out really catchy pop tunes, and I’m digging it.  I hope he (Ryan DeRobertis) has more of the same on the way.  The Fiona Coyne/Fall Harder single is out now via Carpark.

:Ex Hex – Beast:  I feel like it’s taking an eternity for the Ex Hex album to come out.  I need it!  Mary Timony is the best and I just want to ride around in my car and blast a bunch of hooky pop rock tunes like this one.  Rips is due out October 7 via Merge.

:Ty Segall – Susie Thumb:  Even if you’re not a big fan of Ty Segall, you at least have to appreciate the way he non-stop churns out albums.  I guess downtime isn’t really his thing.  Anyhow, this track is rad and riffy.  Manipulator will be released on August 26 via Drag City.  See Ty at the Mohawk on September 5.

:I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness – Faust:  I thought I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness had called it quits, but here they are – eight years since their one and only album – with a new effort.  They still sound like a moody bunch.  Dust is due out October 28 via Secretly Canadian.

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Quickdraw: Interpol, We Were Promised Jetpacks, The Rural Alberta Advantage, Ex Hex, Death From Above 1979

July 10, 2014

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Music!  Enjoy.

:Interpol – All The Rage Back Home:  If you’ve been waiting around for Interpol to rally up and become impressive again, then I think you’re going to be really happy with this stellar single. Here’s hoping that the rest of their new album is just as good.  El Pintor is due out September 9 via Matador.  See the band at ACL in October.

:We Were Promised Jetpacks – Safety In Numbers:  Those of you who love the super moody, post-rock-leaning early days of We Were Promised Jetpacks may not immediately latch onto this track, as it’s packing a clean, mathy sound.  Different but good, I think.  Unraveling will be out at some point later this year on FatCat.  See the band at the Mohawk on November 11.

:The Rural Alberta Advantage – Terrified:  After a bit of a break, the Rural Alberta Advantage are ready to get back to it.  Judging by this song, they’re still somewhat tortured and too intense for their own good.  Hooray!  Get Mended With Gold on September 30 via Saddle Creek.  Catch the band at Red 7 on November 5.

:Ex Hex – Don’t Wanna Lose:  It took a bit longer than I expected, but Mary Timony has finally wrapped an album with her new act, Ex Hex.  I expect it to fill the gap in my soul that’s been present ever since the last group she was in, Wild Flag, decided to not continue forward.  Look out for Rips on October 7 via Merge.

:Death From Above 1979 – Trainwreck 1979:  The actual members of DFA 1979 may not be thrilled about reforming, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to this energetic number.  It’s good to have them back (even if they only sort of want to be around).  The Physical World is due out September 9.  See the band at Fun Fun Fun Fest in November.

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Stream This

March 21, 2014

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From the depths of the SOTO inbox, I present to you your weekly serving of the latest and greatest album streams and videos.  Enjoy.

FULL ALBUM STREAMS

ALBUM OF THE WEEK ➡ Tony Molina – Diss And Dismissed

Owls – Two
The Hold Steady – Teeth Dreams
Future Islands – Singles
Liars – Mess
Tokyo Police Club – Forcefield
The Range – Panasonic
Withered Hand – New Gods
Ages And Ages – Divisionary
Lavendar Country – Self Titled
Howler – World Of Joy
Mr. Little Jeans – Pocketknife
Gang Wizard – Important Picnic
Horseback – Piedmont Apocrypha
Hiro Kone – The Unmoved Mover EP

MUSIC VIDEOS

⬆ VIDEO OF THE WEEK ⬆
Ex Hex

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5 Bands You Should See At SXSW

March 4, 2014

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For years I’ve tried to figure out the best way to preview the music part of SXSW, and I think I’ve finally got it – the less coverage the better.  I know that seems counter intuitive given the size of the festival, but let’s face it, if you’re coming then you probably already have an epic list of artists to see.  Why should I try to add 50 acts on top of that?  And what if you’re not even going to be at the damn thing?  Well then every post isn’t SXSW related and you’re not burned out on something you’re not attending.  It’s just better for all parties that I keep it short.  So, without further adieu, here are the five bands I think you should try to see at SXSW.  Enjoy.

PS – I recommend searching around Do512, Sched.org, and the SXSW page for when these bands will be playing.

THE SUFFERS

The majority of 2014 has seen me in love with Houston’s The Suffers, and SXSW will be the perfect time for you to go see exactly why I’ve been championing them so much.  They’re definitely a must-see for those of you who have ever even remotely liked any sort of soul music.

:The Suffers – Giver (Live):

EX HEX

Betsy Wright (Fire Tapes) and Laura Harris (The Aquarium) are with the great Mary Timony in Ex Hex.  I hate that Wild Flag are no more, but Ex Hex seem like a more than suitable replacement.  Also, it’s Mary Timony!  No matter the project, she deserves all of our attention.

:Ex Hex – Hot And Cold:

MAS YSA

And my wild card pick for the festival is Mas Ysa.  Admittedly, there’s an overly intimate edge to him that may not work well within the chaos and noise of SXSW, but I still want to give him a shot.  Who knows, maybe it will end up being one of those unforgettable SXSW sets.

:Mas Ysa – Shame:

ABRAM SHOOK

There are just around 100 Austin acts that I could recommend, but since it’s SXSW 2014 I figured it made the most sense to give you Abram Shook (formerly of The Great Nostalgic), the guy responsible for the local scene’s first great album of the year.  He makes the sort of pop music that’s endlessly pleasing to the ears.

:Abram Shook – Coastal:

CURTIS HARDING

I’m excited about soul music in 2014, so in addition to The Suffers, I’m also going to tell you to see Curtis Harding.  He seems like he would put out a sweaty, wild show, and that’s always a good thing to experience in the midst of SXSW.  On a side note, I love that the guy is on Burger Records, home to a zillion punk rock acts.

:Curtis Harding – Keep On Shining:

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Quickdraw: The Men, Tony Molina, Ex Hex, Owls, Phantogram

February 10, 2014

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Music!  Enjoy.

:The Men – Different Days: Last week The Men released two tracks. This one is a snarl-filled effort, and I really dig it.  The other song, to be honest, kind of sounds like a White Denim track and it largely just weirds me out.  Sacred Bones will release Tomorrow’s Hits on March 4.

:Tony Molina – Nowhere To Go:  Here’s another super short pop gem from Tony Molina.  It’s pretty incredible how catchy and awesome the guy can be in just 48 seconds.  Dissed and Dismissed will be available on March 25 through Slumberland.

:Ex Hex – Hot And Cold:  Wild Flag may be dead, but that’s not stopping Mary Timony.  She’s gone and started Ex Hex with Betsy Wright (Fire Tapes) and Laura Harris (The Aquarium), and this rocking track is their first single.  Grab the Hot And Cold 7″ when Merge releases it on March 18.

:Owls – Ancient Stars Seed:  ”The line ‘We’ve never had nice stuff’ feels good to sing because we really are still a grubby foursome with broken equipment and no money and I see these shitty young bands every day with pedal boards and no ideas.”  Any song that comes with a quote like that from Tim Kinsella gets my seal of approval.  The apparently very inspired Two will be out on March 25 via Polyvinyl.

:Phantogram – Bill Murray:  This is a rather pretty, slow burning track from Phantogram.  I think it’s a good change of pace for them, but I will admit it’s a little odd to not hear their usual aggressive swirl of sounds.  The band will release Voices on February 18 via Republic.

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