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While living life as an expat in Stockholm, John Gladwin—also known as the Last Tycoon—found himself longing for a place a bit removed from the chilly north: the state of Arkansas, his place of birth. No wonder, then, that upon returning to the United States, Gladwin took to Nashville to record Death by Dixie EP, whose Americana roots make Gladwin’s fondness for the South quite plain.

For Death by Dixie, Gladwin was joined by Jim White, who brought to life what were otherwise fairly straightforward Americana tunes through the use of atypical instruments like hammers, gas cans, and children’s toys. With White’s involvement, the tunes on this EP took on another dimension, with Gladwin’s lyrics given additional texture through the varied instrumentation throughout.

For one example of this, stream the Southern ghost story of “Ballad of the Bloodstained Bible” below.

Dimensions, the debut recording by singer and guitarist Dustin Lovelis, was born out of rocky circumstances. Following the disbanding of his former musical outlet Fling, he began starting to piece together what would become Dimensions, through nights of “whiskey, guitar, [and] tape rolling”, to use the words of the L.A. Record. This break-up happened at the same time as Lovelis split off with a romantic partner and lost his job. Thus, it’s easy to understand why when asked by L.A. Record what his most “t-shirt ready positive lyric” is, he replied, “I’m an idiot”. After tough times like that, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve done something wrong.

Fortunately, the music of Dimensions proves that idiocy is no such problem for Lovelis. In fact, the tune “Idiot” itself is one of the brightest moments on the LP. With a ‘60s rock aura that sounds like it could have only been written in Southern California, “Idiot” balances its cynical lyrical matter with the beach-y mood evoked by its music.

With their new LP The Bower, the indie rock outfit Pigeons moves from a duo to a trio configuration, with Rob Smith (drums and harmony vocals) joining the core duo of Wednesday Knudsen (guitar, woodwinds, vocals) and Clark Griffin (bass). To say Pigeons have rounded out their sound is redundant after hearing a dreamy, multi-layered tune like “Two Years on Land”, whose slightly dated sounding production coats the music in nostalgia. There’s also a starkness to the song, perhaps owed to the spare recording space of The Bower, which is the name of the Austerlitz, New York studio where the LP was recorded.

Wharfer’s new tune “Crumble” is the best kind of bittersweet. The tune is a sepia-tinted reminiscence led by acoustic guitar that’s accented with plinking piano notes and a pensive fiddle coda. With a gravelly voice Kyle Wall, the brains behind the Wharfer name, sings of the paradoxes of moving on from a difficult time: “A lie is why my smile thrives” is later contrasted with “A lie is why my smile fades”.

A lyrically evocative track that’s complemented by its nostalgic music, “Crumble” comes from Wharfer’s forthcoming LP, Acadia. The ten-track album includes contributions from recent collaborators of Sinkane, David Byrne, Lewis & Clarke, and Stephane Wrembel, in addition to sonic finishing touches from Josh Bonati (Sufjan Stevens, Mac Demarco, Phosphorescent). Three of the musicians on “Crumble” (Roy Williams, Shane O’Hara, and Ian O’Hara) come from the Scranton, Philadelphia band the Minor White, which also featured Wall (the group disbanded in 2010).

A regular in the San Francisco rock scene for two decades, Michael Shaw is now taking a distinct step forward for himself as a solo artist, following years of writing and playing music in bands like Petrol and the Aktion. Under the name An Intimate Evening With Michael Shaw, he will release his debut LP This Is It., a collection of tunes that tips its cap to the legacy of groundwork artists such as the Beatles and the Beach Boys. The music of the former plays a particularly strong role in This Is It.‘s lead number, “Floating Away”, which derives its catchiness from smartly layered vocal harmonies.


Is Black Widow Still a Hero? Dissecting the Misogynistic Outrage Against the Avengers

// Short Ends and Leader

"Black Widow may very well be the pinnacle of the modern action heroine, so why is there so much backlash about her role in the new Avengers film?

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