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Super Magic Hats – Pepper

April 1, 2014

Massive album release weeks like this often tend to leave me a bit overwhelmed. Part of me wants to take the “kid in a candy store” approach and get a taste of everything at once, but the key is all about pacing yourself. Some of the more exciting releases this week come from the likes of Mac Demarco, S. Carey, Caught A Ghost, and Timber Timbre, but as has become a bit of a theme in 2014, it’s often the lesser known acts that have been coming through with the most impressive stuff. Acts like Melbourne producer Rob Masterson, aka Super Magic Hats, with his brand new More Than Words EP definitely had me doing a double-take with songs as gorgeous as this cover of Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper”. It’s got an eerily reminiscent feel to The Chemical Brothers’ “Where Do I Begin”, but as the melody expands and evolves Masterson’s unique vision for this rendition becomes quite clear. So as you make your way through the big new releases of this week, be sure not to neglect some of those other artists like Super Magic Hats that are in the waiting to break out.

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Akkilles – Pale

March 27, 2014

Akkilles “Pale” is one of those tracks that can have a strong impact on you if you’re willing to let it. But the typical casual listen isn’t going to cut it for this one. I presume the folks that this track hits the hardest are the ones that allow themselves a certain degree of vulnerability when they listen. This brand of self-described “downer pop” seems like a relatively fresh take on a combination of a bunch of different genres. Sometimes I hear lo-fi folk elements from acts like Wickerbird, and other times there’s traces of groups like The Radio Dept. who can pull off some deeply intimate tunes when they want to. But whatever “Pale” tends to remind you of, there’s a glaring sense of originality to Akkilles, aka David Bennett’s work. We’re excited to hear more upcoming tunes from Akkilles as more folks continue to discover his entrancingly gorgeous sound.

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Arrange – Alumni (w/ Ricky Eat Acid)

March 10, 2014

Arrange, along with Ricky Eat Acid, are two artists I have just picked up on since the start of the new year. They have both put out new albums within the last couple months, both of which I’ve been enjoying quite thoroughly. Arrange’s might be a bit more accessible to the casual listener, but both can be characterized by featuring a sort of ambient minimalism to them. But after hearing a track as amazing as “Alumni”, it’s obvious these two are at their absolute best when collaborating together.

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Now I’ll preface by saying you’ve got to be patient with this track. It wasn’t until the second and third time around that I was able to fully acknowledge this song’s greatness. But as you’ll see it’s just one of those tracks that when it clicks, it really clicks, sticking with you long after the fact. I’m definitely grateful to have come across these two exceptional emerging talents, and I’m going to remain hopeful that there will be more collabos between Arrange and Ricky Eat Acid in the coming future.

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Death Vessel – Island Vapors

March 5, 2014

When I first heard Death Vessel, I figured I was listening to another exceptional up and coming Icelandic neo-folk act. I assumed this because the track I had heard, “Ilsa Drown”, features none other than Icelandic hometown hero Jónsi (also the Sigur Rós frontman). However it turns out Death Vessel, aka Joel Thibodeau, is actually from not-too-far-away Providence, Rhode Island. But hanging on the Icelandic note, his sound tends to remind me of a cross between Sigur Ros, Sin Fang, and Germany’s The Notwist. “Island Vapors” has been the epitome of what you call an acquired taste for me. The first time I heard it I wrote it off as a solid track, but nothing especially special. And then inexplicably I began to play it over and over again — until it emerged as one of my favorites on the year so far. The new album Island Intervals is complex collection of songs varying between the folk and rock genres, with this one featuring a nice blend of both elements. The next step on my agenda is to check for an upcoming tour schedule. Because if the tracks translate live as well as I think they might, Death Vessel is bound to put on one hell of a show.

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Sun Kil Moon – Carissa

February 13, 2014

Lyrics have never been a crucial factor in determining a good track for me. But every once in a while a song comes around that forces you to pay attention to what’s being said. Sun Kil Moon’s “Carissa” is one of these unique type of tracks where the lyrics are just as crucial as the accompanying instruments. Throughout the course of this absolutely heartbreaking track, Sun Kil Moon’s Mark Kozelek tells the grim story behind the untimely death of his second cousin, Carissa. The entire Benji LP is a fascinating collection of tales from Kozelek’s life, but it’s not so much the content as the way he chooses to tell his story that so deeply affects his listeners. If you’re like me then by the end of “Carissa” you might be feeling a bit existential, if not a bit somber as well. These are feelings that only a select group of songs can bring out. And while it might take its emotional toll, this is a song I will be coming back to often in the months and years ahead.

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Yumi Zouma – The Brae

February 12, 2014

Yumi Zouma is a hazy indie pop three piece originally from New Zealand and currently collaborating between NYC/Paris. By the retro-lensed, self-portrait album cover you might think their debut EP was a collection of cheesy 80’s love songs mistakenly labeled as a 2014 release. But once you dive into the record you realize rather quickly that this is quite the special compilation of tracks. I’ve noticed on multiple blogs their sound referred to as “disco dream pop” and while there’s definitely something old school about their tracks, I don’t know if “disco” pop is the most fitting of descriptions. If I had to pick an artist to compare their sound I’d go with the likes of Ariel Pink or perhaps an act like Twin Sister, but it might be more fitting to let Yumi Zouma stand on their own in this discussion. My favorite track off the EP might be the dreamy and elegant “The Brae”, but honestly they are all pretty damn good and worth checking out. Here’s to a big year for Yumi Zouma and (hopefully) a few more new tracks along the way.

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iamamiwhoami – Fountain

January 24, 2014

iamamiwhoami is the moniker for Swedish synthpop wonder Jonna Lee. If you have yet to hear her 2012 debut LP kin or 2013’s Bounty then it’s definitely worth your while to check them out. I’ve been playing tracks like “t” consistently since their release because frankly they are that good. I have a difficult time placing her into one particular genre, but I think classifying iamamiwhoami as an electro dreampop artist does her enough justice for the time being. If you notice with her sensational new track “Fountain” she’s got a constantly evolving sound that builds off her older material. This one seems to feature a slightly more retro-synthy approach than her previous tracks, but fortunately the results are the same as this one is turning out to be one of my favorites of 2014 so far. Keeping my fingers crossed that there’s more amazing iamamiwhoami tunes set to be released in the near future.

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Tigerz – Loose You

January 7, 2014

Tigerz is a bit of an enigma at the moment. As I have no clue who they are or where they’re from, I’m only going to speak to the awesomeness of their debut self titled EP which came out today. “Loose You” has a bit of an Odesza feel with the precise, high pitched vocal sampling and fine synth work. While this is my favorite off the EP, all three tracks bring something special to the table. Where Tigerz goes next we don’t know, but I’ll be sure to keep a close eye in hopes of more amazing material like this.

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Germany Germany – All of Your Love (feat. Kotomi)

January 3, 2014

2012 was an epic year of electronic discovery for me. Genres and sounds I never even knew I could appreciate were introduced via seemingly unknown acts from around

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the globe. Although no album had me more fully engrossed than synth mastermind Germany Germany’s Blank Mind Empty Heart. It’s fitting that since I discovered this guy through Bandcamp, it turns out he works as a software engineer there when he’s not producing incredible electro melodies. Well Drew Harris, the man behind the moniker, is back at it with his third LP titled Reconnect out just a couple days ago. It’s nearly impossible to live up to an album as epic as BMEH, but he’s put forth another exceptional effort with this stylistic, yet noticeably more pop-oriented LP. Seeing as our first posted track of the new year is a Loved track, I’d say we’re off to an epic start to 2014.

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Galimatias – Pretty Thoughts (feat. Alina Baraz)

December 16, 2013

The dictionary defines Galimatias simply as “nonsense; gibberish.” I’m not sure of the inspiration behind the moniker, but I do know the intriguing sounds this Danish producer has been generating are nothing of the sort. His newest track featuring the lovely Alina Baraz is something of a chillstep masterpiece. It’s reminiscent of acts like Sun Glitters, especially when the deep-screwed vocals come in to complement Baraz’s amazing voice. With tracks as exceptional as “Pretty

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Thoughts”, it’s apparent this innovative producer has a crystal clear vision going forward — and with that 2014 is primed to be the biggest year yet for Galimatias.

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