Sufjan Stevens - No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross

My most anticipated record of the year is Carrie & Lowell, the long-awaited new album from Sufjan Stevens. It’s set for release on March 31 via Asthamatic Kitty Records. He announced the album last month which included a teaser trailer.

Today he’s shared with us the first track from the record: “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross.” It’s just Sufjan singing while strumming an acoustic guitar, but he’s able to summon so much out of so little. He paints a picture for us with his lyrics, which he whispers just as much as sings.

Pitchfork posted a very informative interview with Sufjan, where it’s learned that childhood trips to Oregon had heavy influence on the album – maybe a loose continuation of the 50 states project if you will (but Sufjan probably won’t like that).

I’ve had “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” on repeat all day. I’m itching to hear the full product, one that I’m sure will be one of the best of the year. Stream it below (and find Sufjan’s upcoming tour dates).

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2014 saw Wisconsin group Phox release their delightful (self-titled) debut album (which made our honorable mentions for albums of the year) and tour throughout the country opening for acts like The Head and The Heart, Paolo Nutini, as well as a headlining tour of their own. Things are just getting started for the band, who have embarked on yet another tour, with many major festival dates already lined up.

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1_Father John Misty_Bowery Ballroom

Josh Tillman, better known as his stage name, Father John Misty, has been making solo records for years. Long before and during his time drumming for Fleet Foxes, he released records as J. Tillman. Ever since coining the FJM moniker, Tillman’s popularity has soared. Not only because his records are great, but because he’s an engaging performer who is often hilarious, but always very much a showman. You don’t get that package very much from an artist, so when you do, you better appreciate it.

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1_The Cabana Kids_Rough Trade

On Friday night New York group The Cabana Kids headlined Rough Trade NYC along with openers and fellow Brooklyn-based acts Desert Stars and Winstons.

Last fall The Cabana Kids released their delightful debut EP The Birds & the Bees via the always great Small Plate Records. Led by guitarist/vocalist Joseph Lee and keyboardist/vocalist Kiki Karamintzas, the group call to mind the classic harmony-driven songs of the 50’s/60’s.

The combination of male/female vocals is worked to total wonderful effect live, with tracks like “You and Me” jumping out in the most pleasing manner. While a lot of The Cabana Kids material is easy going, they closed out the 9-song performance with a smokey psychedelic performance of their best song, “Sortida,” with strobe lights and all.

The Cabana Kids will return to Baby’s All Right next Sunday (February 22) for a special matinee acoustic performance. We’ll be co-hosting so come out, say hi, eat some brunch, and slug down some Blood Mary’s. It’s going to be a good time. More on that soon.

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Mary J. Blige Signed Vinyl Sweepstakes

By Will Oliver, February 14th 2015 Contest

Mary J. Blige is an artist that needs no introduction. The 9-time Grammy winner returned with her new album The London Sessions last November.

She’s teamed up with Walmart Soundcheck for an exclusive Soundcheck session on the site, performing album cuts “Right Now” + “Family Affair” live, as well as giving some insight into the recording sessions. You can check out the entire session by clicking the video widget posted below, or the image on the top of the sidebar.

Soundcheck in also giving away a signed copy of the album on vinyl, you can enter the sweepstakes by clicking the widget above (or on the sidebar) and entering right there. Good luck!

Best Albums of 2014

By Will Oliver, February 12th 2015 — with 1 comment 2014 Best Of List


(artwork by Dana Pacifico)

We are almost a month and a half into 2015, but I finally got around to publishing a full list of my favorites albums of 2014. There was a lot of great music released, so much so that I had to make a separate honorable mentions list of records that just missed the cut. Which makes the 50 records that did make it even more impressive.

If anything, these albums are more so my favorites of the year than “the best” as it’s all totally objective. But these were the albums that defined the 12 months of 2014, soundtracking endless drives into the cities, summer festivals, moments of solitude, as well as parties and celebrations of all kind. Looking back, it really was a pretty damn good year.

With that said, here are my 50 best albums of 2014:

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1_The Districts_Bowery Ballroom

There’s a lot about the music industry today that is, discouraging, to say the last. But every once and a while a young band like The Districts comes around and restores your faith. They remind you that there is still a glimmer of hope out there. It’s encouraging to see that a young band can rise through the ranks the right way, playing authentic rock and roll that speaks to your soul. People keep saying rock and roll is dead, but it’s clear that they’re just looking in all the wrong places.

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Plastic Handgun

Plastic Handgun is the project of Toronto musician Mark Di Giovanni. As Plastic Handgun, he makes dreamy otherworldly instrumentals, effortlessly blending together elements of ambient rock and electronics.

Such is the case of “Capillary Vessel” the dreamy juggernaut of a track taken from his recently released album Involuntary Memories. The beautiful journey and scope is similar to what you’d come to expect from Explosions In The Sky, which makes the power of the track even more impressive.

Enjoy “Capillary Vessel,” which is posted below.

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Hot Chip

Oh yes. Hot Chip are back, set to release a brand new album titled Why Make Sense? on May 18 via Domino Records.

It’s the sixth album, and their second released with Domino. The band recorded it in both Oxfordshire and London, producing it themselves, along with producer Mark Ralph (who also helped them with 2012’s In Our Heads)

Along with the announcement came the music video for the album’s opener, “Huarache Lights.” The video is based around a light installation by artist Robert Bell and filmed in one take by director Andy Knowles. As for the song, it see Hot Chip dive deeper into the murky waters of synths, finding a new avenue for their always welcome dance-rock infusion. This one has a different feel to it, a little bit darker, but still very much Hot Chip. I can’t wait to hear this one played at Governors Ball.

Check out the video below.

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