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Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015
North Carolina singer/songwriter Chris Stamey got a chance to play around with unreleased Ryan Adams track. The result is the straightforward alt-rock of "Universe-sized Arms".

As the opening track on Chris Stamey’s latest studio outing, Euphoria, “Universe-sized Arms” is a clear statement of intent for the rest of the record. The album ties into Stamey’s long legacy as a musician for many reasons, not the least of which is the guitar he plays on the songs: “I found these songs inside the same dilapidated old Silvertone lipstick guitar that I’d written my first records on. Maybe that’s why it sounds a bit like those records in some ways.” Dilapidated or not, there’s definitely verve in Euphoria, and in particular “Universe-sized Arms”, an unreleased Ryan Adams track given to Stamey by the man himself.


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Wednesday, Apr 1, 2015
With a late '60s/early '70s bluesy rock 'n' roll style that brings Creedence Clearwater Revival to mind, "Brown Dog Blues" is a cool throwback tune.

The San Diego-based Triumph of the Wild, a roots rock duo consisting of Christy Barrett and Ryan Schilling, created their sophomore LP, We Come With the Dust, after a five month trip that stopped off in locations such as Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, and Tennessee. The influence of these states shows itself clearly on the album; drawing from both Americana and classic rock influences (the press release for the LP cites Woody Guthrie and Janis Joplin), Barrett and Schilling create a brand of rock ‘n’ roll that’s warmly familiar, but not so beholden to the fast that it feels like a mere act of copy and paste.


Below you can stream one fine example from We Come With the Dust, the ragged, bluesy number “Brown Dog Blues”.


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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
With Ephemeral, the Minneapolis group Umami has concocted a mad scientist's stew of synth-pop, dance rock, and a smattering of other sounds.

Ephemeral is a fitting title for the new album by the Minneapolis outfit Umami. Although identifiable pop song structures are featured throughout the LP, the smorgasbord of sounds that Umami brings to the table constantly keep the listener on edge. One idea will suddenly give way to something else entirely without a moment’s notice, foregrounding a psychedelic, more free-form take on synth and electro-pop. Yet for all of the ephemeral moments throughout this Ephemeral LP, there’s a clear core to the songwriting. Contrast is one of the main constants that keeps the experimentation fresh throughout: see the juxtaposition of sharp buzzsaw synths and airy, reverb-laden vocals on “Living in a Nightmare”.


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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
As a tie-in to the recent release of the 40th anniversary edition of Physical Graffiti, Led Zeppelin have released an "interactive video" for "Brandy and Coke", the initial rough mix of the classic "Trampled Under Foot".

In my 8 out of 10 PopMatters review of the deluxe reissue of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, I wrote, “Released 40 years to the day since its initial release [24 February], this deluxe edition confirms what critics have long said about this… ‘summative’ recording: this is an album that gives a lot, and then keeps on giving.” As it turns out, this principle not only applies to the revered double album itself, but also to the video media that accompanies it. Led Zeppelin have now released a swanky “interactive” video for one of the deluxe edition’s bonus tracks, the “initial rough mix” of “Trampled Under Foot” entitled “Brandy and Coke”. As you watch the video, you can click through the many windows of the iconic building that makes up the record’s sleeve art.


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Tuesday, Mar 31, 2015
Angelic vocal harmonies and a wintry mood make the Staves' "Make It Holy" a stunner of a live track.

Recorded in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, at Justin Vernon’s April Base studio (where he recorded his highly acclaimed second Bon Iver LP), English trio the Staves’ new album, If I Was, is layered with intoxicating vocal harmonies. The influence of Vernon, who produced the record, is more than obvious, especially considering that the Staves have opened for Bon Iver in the past. However, the trio—comprised of sisters Emily (vocals), Jessica (vocals, guitar), and Camilla (vocals, ukulele) Staveley-Taylor—took Vernon’s famed Wisconsin space and made it their own, creating an album of beautiful, contemplative reflection.


Recently, the Staves took to the stage of London’s Wilton’s Music Hall with Vernon, playing through If I Was in its entirety as a lead-in to its stateside release. Below you can watch the trio and Vernon perform the captivating “Make It Holy”.


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