After several years abroad, Australia’s Boy & Bear announce their much-anticipated return to North America to support their sophomore effort and Nettwerk debut Harlequin Dream. Known for their remarkable live performance, Boy & Bear made their first appearance on North American shores in 2011 at Lollapalooza, where they impressed the crowd with beautifully crafted songs infused with guitar riffs, mandolins, keys, banjos and lush vocal harmonies. Lead single “Southern Sun” is a shining example of that dreamy pop panache and vivid storytelling. Coasting along on a lilting acoustic guitar, it builds into an undeniable hook. “It’s a really simple song,” says lead singer Dave Hosking. “I was always fascinated by something like America’s ‘Horse with No Name’. The song is only two chords, but it’s completely captivating. That was in my mind. The longer I do this, the more I appreciate subtlety in music.” [November 15, 2013]

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New York City’s Michael Grubbs aka Wakey! Wakey! joins heartfelt lyrics and emotive vocals to create artful, explosive pop music. It’s something Grubbs learned from playing keys in New York’s anti-folk scene on the Lower East Side – not far from where the creator of One Tree Hill loved a Wakey! Wakey! set so much he tapped their sun-stroked track “War Sweater” for season 6’s finale and recruited Grubbs for a recurring role. That’d be the tale of a bartender/musician named, err, Grubbs-a strangely familiar life story hinted at in such standout Wakey! Wakey! songs as “Almost Everything,” “Twenty-Two,” and “Light Outside.” Since their breakthrough, W! W!’s music has been heard all around the world in film, television and advertising campaigns as well as in their acclaimed live shows. Hard at work in the studio for the past year, the band will release their highly anticipated new album in early 2014. [Pledge Music]

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On their new album, Violent Light, Brooklyn-based new school New Wave quartet Milagres aim for the skies. Singing about such airy concepts as rainbows, moonlight and clouds, they even feature a balloon on the album's cover (albeit a black balloon, which should warn listeners that it might not all be sunny under Milagres' heavens). Sonically they also seem to be inspired to lofty heights by using Bowie's eerie Scary Monsters-era space age funk as a model for their own 80s-flavored tunes. Big gated drums and sharp synth stings lend a decided retro flair to Milagres' spacious landscapes. I hear echoes of Peter Gabriel's distorted vocal screams on tracks like "Another Light," or the pounding rhythm of Kate Bush's "Running Up That Hill" in "The Black Table." Perhaps you'll hear riffs that remind you of Talk Talk or Naked Eyes or even Robert Plant's "In the Mood" elsewhere on the record. But they are embraced and incorporated with such class and augmented with a post-Radiohead sense of dramatics and pathos that it sounds as fresh of an album as you are likely to hear in 2014. [KCRW]

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San Francisco’s Weekend recently wrapped an East Coast tour with Nothing, a fairly well-matched live pairing since both acts make blaring guitar noise that’s tough to pin down. The lo-fi video for “It’s Alright,” a song from Weekend’s 2013 full-length Jinx, follows a predictable, homespun, young-people-on-the-beach narrative. It works here, though, if only because the sunrise-hued footage functions as an interesting contrast to the overcast, almost gothic-sounding track; I would never think to call Weekend “beach music” but there is something kind of tidal about their expansive post-punk song structures. [The Fader]

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It’s always a glorious feeling whenever a band you’ve been obsessing over for quite a while finally releases that anticipated debut album. The Colourist is one of those bands, and their self-titled debut doesn’t disappoint. Released this week, fans are finally getting their fix of happy synthpop with a little zest of the unexpected. Fan favorite, “Little Games,” gets the party started with familiarity and glee while “Wishing Wells” delights with lyrical metaphors (“I found the beat to your heart and I’ve been dancing to it night and day”) and positive vibes that will have you wanting to get up off your butt and go tell that person you like how you feel. [Buzznet]

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Making music continues to be a family affair for Wheeler Brothers. The Austin, TX quintet traces a personal lineage of rock, folk, roots, Americana, and blues on its second full-length album, Gold Boots Glitter [Bismeaux Records], cooking up an irresistible and inimitable gumbo of styles in the process. Marching forward from 2011′s critically acclaimed Portraits, the group—Nolan Wheeler [vocals, guitar], Patrick Wheeler [drums], Tyler Wheeler [bass], A.J. Molyneaux [guitar, lap steel, back up vocals], and Nathan Rigney [guitar, backup vocals]—opens the door even wider for everyone to join the family.


If Desert Noises doesn’t sound familiar to you yet, it won’t be long. Touring almost constantly and supporting artists that span multiple genres, the Utah-based group has brought their winsome melodies and thunderous instrumentals to stages all over the country within the past few years. But their reputation for a raucous live show isn’t the band’s finest attribute, and even a cursory listen to their studio work says that the accolades will only continue to pile up in 2014. The band is set to release their SQE Music debut 27 Ways later this spring, an ode to their adventurous departure from their hometown to pursue music on the road. [Paste Magazine]

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SPIN said “The melodic grace of singer Danielle Sullivan is undeniable, while the band’s mix of buoyant synth-pop and familiar indie-rock keeps things moving ever forward.” Time Magazine hailed Wild Ones as a Band to Watch in 2014, saying of the album”Keep It Safe is filled with impeccable arrangements and a mature pop sensibility that hits you from the first note. The songs are anchored by Danielle Sullivan’s distinct voice, which brings to mind both The Cranberries’ Dolores O’Riordan and Harriet Wheeler from The Sundays. Her mesmerizing vocal melodies work well with the inventive synthesizer compositions of Thomas Himes — fused with supple guitar and bass work you get a grandiose and melancholy pop sound that is both novel and retro, innovative and comfortable. [Hellhound Music]

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