With the release of “Ship to Wreck”, the art-pop outfit Florence and the Machine, helmed by chanteuse extraordinaire Florence Welch, have given the public a first taste of their forthcoming album How Big How Blue How Beautiful. This follows 2011’s Ceremonials which placed at number 25 on PopMatters’ Best Albums list of that year. In his 8 out of 10 review of Ceremonials for PopMatters, Arnold Pan writes, “Elevating their idiosyncratic style to an even grander scale, Ceremonials makes Florence and the Machine’s captivating debut Lungs seem quaint and charming in comparison.”
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This summer, the Denver indie rock sextet Instant Empire will release its debut full-length, Lamplight Lost. The LP was recorded and produced by John Vanderslice, who has also worked with Spoon, Death Cab for Cutie, and the Mountain Goats. The influence of the former two of those groups can be heard in the music of Instant Empire, along with a smattering of others such as The Hold Steady, Bright Eyes, and Phantom Planet. Quite wisely, Instant Empire avoids the navel-gazing lo-fi stylistics that are still en vogue in the indie world, and instead does well in emphasizing the rock in “indie rock”.
This May, the husband and wife duo called the Grahams (Alyssa and Doug Graham) will release two brand new works of art: an album, Glory Bound, and a musical documentary film, Rattle the Hocks. The latter is a visual document of the relationship between the railroad system and American roots music. The former is a joyous musical celebration of roots music, a genre that the Grahams have a strong grasp over. Need proof? Give the wry and charming “Biscuits” a spin, which, as the Grahams explain it, is an exercise in euphemism.
With years of sharing the stage with artists like Neko Case, Rachael Yamagata, Gillian Welch, Linda Rondstadt, and Amos Lee on her résumé, the Woodstock, New York singer/songwriter Adrien Reju has built an impressive career in music. Now she’s expanding her art into new realms with the release of her latest studio outing, Strange Love and the Secret Language. This album, which is being billed as “a collection of unconventional love songs”, finds Reju joined by artists such as A.C. Newman and Marco Benevento. In addition to her striking originals, Reju also covers tunes by David Bowie, Elliot Smith, and Prince.
theSHIFT may be a new band, but individually each member of this trio—comprised of John Shannon (vocals/guitar), MJ Lambert (drums) and Ben Geis (bass)—already has a strong performance pedigree. Shannon has both recorded and toured with artists such as John Mayer, Ben Harper, and Lauren Hill; Lambert and Geis have opereated largely in the world of hip-hop, playing in backing bands for Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick. Bringing together their extensive musical experiences, the group has recorded a six-track EP entitled 7th Direction.
“theSHIFT is about altering your consciousness through the sheer power of rock ‘n’ roll,” declares Shannon. “Our lyrics don’t question the government; they question the nature of your reality.”