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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014
Grab a scotch, light up a cigar, and cozy yourself in the corner booth: James Apollo's "Ho Ho, Ho Hum" is the kind of holiday tune best suited for a '50s noir bar.

There’s a certain artificiality that comes with much Christmas music, due in large part to the over-commercialization of the holiday. After hearing the umpteenth muzak rendition of “Jingle Bells” while shopping for rum to spike your eggnog with, the supposed joviality of the holiday is bound to fade into background noise. For that reason, songs like “Ho Ho, Ho Hum” by the Seattle-based singer/songwriter James Apollo are all the more refreshing. The song’s lounge mood and barroom piano evoke the cigarette smoke and loneliness of a film noir, a feeling that Apollo no doubt intended, given the song’s music video is shot in a melancholy black and white. “Ho Ho, Ho Hum” isn’t the song to play when trying to liven up a holiday party, but it does genuinely capture a feeling that many people experience during the holiday season.


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Wednesday, Dec 17, 2014
With their debut LP Sings for You soon to get its vinyl release, Pinecones have prepared a droll video for the album cut "Sleep is Forget".

While Pinecones vocalist and guitarist Bo Orr also plays in the straightedge grindcore band Dead in the Dirt, one best not go into the music of the former group expecting anything like the latter. As LPs like 2013’s The Blind Hole attest, Orr is more than capable of bludgeoning the ears with brutal riffs. By contrast, with Pinecones Orr, along with bandmates Ben Salie (drums), Brain Atoms (guitar), and Ryan Evers (bass), is writing guitar-centric rock that’s far friendlier to the ear canals.


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Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014
An ace student and connoisseur of American roots music and the blues, Jake Xerxes Fussell shows off his impressive chops on "Raggy Levy", the first track you can hear off his forthcoming self-titled LP.

Try as one may, lumping in the North Carolinian musician Jake Xerxes Fussell in with the contemporary folk revival just won’t do. While bands like Mumford and Sons use folk as a veneer over what is undeniably a rockist songwriting mentality, Fussell is a deeply read student of the blues and American roots music, having studied at the Southern Studies department at the University of Mississippi. That experience is in addition to his years playing music and touring, as well as an appearance on A Prairie Home Companion. His philosophy and praxis is best summed up by this quotation, taken from the press release to his forthcoming self-titled LP: “Fussell recognizes that folk revivalist preciousness about spurious genre boundaries often feels absurdly at odds with the unruliness and restlessly inventive practices of tradition bearers-no revival or reenactment gear is necessary when the music lives and breathes and throws around hips and knees like these.”


Below you can stream “Raggy Levy”, the first track from Jake Xerxes Fussell to be released.


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Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014
Having just released her self-titled EP, Milán (Maria Neckam) has already got people remixing her tunes, including "DK6", here taken on by Stafford in a bouncy reinterpretation.

In early November, PopMatters premiered the self-titled EP of Milán, the latest project by the Brooklyn-based musician Maria Neckham. With these tunes still fresh out of the recording studio, Milán’s music has already attracted artists looking to remix her work. Below you can hear Stafford’s remix of the Milán EP cut “DK6”, here given a sprightly rendition driven by bouncy synth notes.


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Monday, Dec 15, 2014
Legendary folk singer/songwriter Kath Bloom's latest tune, "Criminal Side", aims its sights at corporate greed, with emotive seventh chords emphasizing the song's impassioned pleas.

In his review of the 2009 tribute album Loving Takes This Course: A Tribute to the Songs of Kath Bloom, Matthew Fiander wrote, “Kath Bloom has been around writing beautiful songs for a long time—long enough that she should be known by more people, and should already be remembered for more than just her appearance on the Before Sunset soundtrack.” Bloom continues to prove that sentence right by sticking to the craft she’s been honing since the late ‘70s. If her ninth studio effort Pass Through Here is any indication, none of the passion has faded from her career. Below you can stream the Pass Through Here tune “Criminal Side”, which finds Bloom’s sharp lyrics met by some tastefully played seventh chords on acoustic guitar.


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