Belle and Sebastian

Next week beloved Scottish band Belle and Sebastian return with new album Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance via Matador Records.

“The Cat With The Cream” is the last preview cut released ahead of the album. It’s one of their most poignant moments of late, highly orchestrated with delicate string arrangements that are simply beautiful.

Stream it below and pre-order the album right here.

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Boston Calling

Last fall I made my first visit to the Boston Calling Music Festival, and had a blast. It’s one of my new favorite festivals, with only two stages you’re able to catch as many acts as possible and do it in a intimate fashion.

The spring edition of the festival has been announced, and it’s a good one. The May lineup features Beck, Pixies, My Morning Jacket, Tenacious D (!), Tame Impala, St. Vincent, TV On The Radio, Run The Jewels, Sharon Van Etten, Mo, Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals, Marina and The Diamonds, Vance Joy, Jason Isbell, Gerard Way, Tove Lo, Chet Faker, The Lone Bellow, Jungle, Krill, Grizfolk, DMA’s and The Ballroom Thieves.

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Learning an Instrument: Yes You Can

By Jane Brown, January 14th 2015 Editorial

learning a musical instrument

Don’t lie: you’ve always dreamed of starting your own rock band. If you’ve read our post on that subject, you know that the first thing you need to do when you want to start your own band is learn how to play an instrument. Sorry, for the purposes of this post, being able to hit a tambourine against stuff doesn’t count…unless you’ve found a way to do it really really creatively.

Learning to play an instrument doesn’t have to be an ordeal. In fact, like with most goals, once you break it down into its individual components, it’s totally achievable.

Find a Good Teacher

For some of you, that teacher is going to be a book or a series of YouTube videos and that’s okay, especially if you are shy or haven’t even held an instrument before. Videos and books are great for helping you get a basic feel for how an instrument works. Eventually, though, you are going to want to find a real human to help you progress and develop your skills. Music isn’t just about memorizing a few finger positions. There is math and theory involved and learning those things will help you with everything from how well you play to how well you compose your own songs.

Finding a good teacher can take time. You might even meet with a few candidates before you settle into a good groove with someone. A lot of people start their search with classified ads or at their local schools. The internet is also a great source. Just like there are sites that allow students to “grade” their classroom instructors, there are sites like that allow music students to grade and review their lesson teachers. These reviews can help you narrow down your candidate field.

Develop a Routine

No matter what Amanda Palmer might wail in her song “Ukulele Anthem,” if you actually do want to get good at your instrument, you have to practice it every day. This is true whether you’ve chosen guitar, voice or (your poor neighbors) drums. Set aside at least an hour and a half every day to practice your music lessons. Yep. Ninety whole minutes. Most music teachers will tell you thirty minutes to an hour is fine but we say ninety. Here’s why: for the first sixty, you need to focus on all of the boring feeling scales and songs your teacher has given you to develop your dexterity, sheet music reading skills, etc. Then for the last thirty, just jam. Play around on songs you love. Try to write something new. Just have fun. Sitting down for the hour of focused work is easier to do every day when you know you have dedicated fun time waiting at the end of it.

Be Patient

Scales are boring. Warm Ups are boring. We all feel like that when we start out. It’s frustrating that the first few things you learn how to play on the piano are scales and simple things like “Auld Lang Syne” and “Ode to Joy.” Your heart is ready for symphonies and rock and roll! When you’re starting out, though, your muscles aren’t. These drills and simple songs are just as much about training your muscles as they are developing your mental skills. Plus, trust us on this: as you progress, you’ll find that the simple things you learn now are actually incorporated into the more complicated and fun stuff, a LOT. Think about all of the guitar shredding you’ve listened to over the years: isn’t most of it just running scales? Sure there’s some theatrics tossed in for show, but it’s mostly just fancy versions of the exact drills you’re learning now.

You will get there. It takes time and a good teacher and some real dedication, but you will get better. If you don’t believe us, think about this: Dave Grohl started his music career by playing fake drums in his bedroom at night years before he joined Nirvana.


1_Dr Dog_MHOW

My introduction to Philadelphia rockers Dr. Dog came nearly a decade ago when they opened for The Raconteurs at Roseland Ballroom way back in 2006. It’s hard to believe that happened so many years ago, but what’s even crazier is seeing how far Dr. Dog have come in that period of time. They’re now a beloved act that is fully capable of playing eight consecutive shows in New York City, and selling them out. Now they’re the ones able to carefully select bright up-and-coming bands such as The Districts to open up for them, giving us a little glimpse of the future along the way. This is what went down at Music Hall of Williamsburg this past Saturday night, during the 2nd of Dr. Dog’s 4×4 shows at both Music Hall and Bowery Ballroom.

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Multimagic are a Cincinnati-based band led by Coran Stetter. Their latest release is a demo of a song titled “Control,” a jittery piece of music that showcases energetic bits of synth-rock that is one word: joyful. It gets off to a great start but its the blissful finish that won me over.

It If this is just the demo, I’m worried about how good the final cut will turn out.

For all you New Yorkers, you can get a first look at the band when they come to Brooklyn to play at Baby’s All Right on Saturday February 21 with Monogold, New Myths and Yonaton Gat.

For now, enjoy “Control,” as well as the equally enjoyable “Let Go,” which is the first demo they released last year.
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[new]: Oscar – Daffodil Days

By Will Oliver, January 13th 2015 Alternative Indie Listen New Stream


Oscar is one of my favorite young artists to emerge within the last year, so it’s amazing to see how far his career has come in such a short period of time. It’s no surprise, as anyone who attended his performance at our CMJ showcase last fall would have been able to tell you that he’s going places.

It’s exciting to announce that he’s officially been signed to Wichita Recordings. With the announcement comes his excellent new single “Daffodil Days,” which will of course be his first release on Wichita. Oscar’s trademark vocals lead the way for what’s ultimately an uplifting pop-tune. Oscar is already an expert at creating songs that feel so intimate yet have a yearning of wanting to break free into something much more.

Oscar spoke to The Fader (who premiered it) about the song’s creation, telling them:

It all started out on one of those dark winter evenings, when everything felt wrong. I was having a pretty bad day and as I was texting a friend, the word ‘difficult’ turned to ‘daffodil’ by a stroke of autocorrect genius. It really made me laugh and somehow made a lot of a sense.

The song represents that day for me. The melancholy in knowing that it won’t work but that there is always hope and future, of the Daffodil Days ahead. Something which is easily forgotten.

If there’s any right in this world of ours, the masses will discover the amazing music of Mr. Oscar Scheller and spread the word, because he deserves it.

It’s early, but we already have one of the best songs of the year with  “Daffodil Days.” Stream it below, and be sure to purchase it when it’s released. It’s out digitally on March 2, and will be released on a limited edition 7″ that will be available to pre-order on Wednesday.
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Death Cab for Cutie Announce New Album: ‘Kintsugi’

By Will Oliver, January 13th 2015 — with 2 comments Album News News

Death Cab for Cutie - Kintsugi

It’s strange to think about Death Cab for Cutie without Chris Walla, the former co-founding member who officially left the group last year after playing one final show. But before he quit, he helped record the band’s next album, which is entitled Kintsugi and will be released March 31 via Atlantic Records.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, bassist Nick Harmer gave insight into the meaning of the album’s title:

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The Amazing - Picture You

Like so many bands out of Sweden, The Amazing make music that sounds universal no matter where you’re from. This is the case with their delightfully pretty new single “The Headless Boy.”

Part Red House Painters, a little Badley Drawn Boy, it’s a delicate understated folk song delivered with plenty of heart. It’s off their upcoming album Picture You, due out February 17 via Partisan Records.

Enjoy it below.

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Sufjan Stevens - Carrie & Lowell

Believe it or not, it’s been five years’ since Sufjan Stevens released his last album, Age Of Adz. So it’s exciting news that Sufjan Stevens has announced a new album titled Carrie & Lowell. It will be released on March 31 via Asthmatic Kitty.

The album was named after Steven’s mother and stepfather, and features 11 songs about “life and death, love and loss, and the artist’s struggle to make sense of the beauty and ugliness of love.”

Longtime fans of Stevens may be pleased to learn that the album is being called a return to Steven’s folk roots. Age Of Adz, while a great album, dabbled into electronic territory, which may have turned some fans away who were used to his more folk-oriented work. And who knows, maybe he can work in some special Illinois shows with the eventual tour for the album, consider it’s the 10th anniversary of the classic.

Carrie & Lowell was recorded by Stevens along with Casey Foubert, Laura Veirs, Nedelle Torrisi, Sean Carey, Ben Lester and Thomas Bartlett.

Check out a beautiful album trailer that the label released below, featuring presumably a new track off the record. The album tracklist follows.

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