There's a whole bunch of full albums currently streaming by artists that will be playing the Twin Cities stops during the next few months. Give 'em a listen below to help plan your Spring concert schedule:
Since her outstanding debut Neptune City in 2007, Nicole Atkins has continued to push boundaries creatively, pairing her warm, distinctive vocals with varied levels of instrumentation and never shying away from catchier, upbeat tunes. When Atkins announced her latest work Slow Phaser, we got a taste of the new material with the infectious “Girl You Look Amazing.” Like the song, the album itself employes catchy beats without lacking in lyrical depth. “Slow Phaser is a dark, desert disco rock album made during a year of wandering about in city alleys, broken shores and snowy Viking lands,” said Atkins. “I wanted to turn the lights up just enough to dance through the darkness.”
Singer-songwriter Noah Gundersen has three EPs to his name — 2008's Brand New World, 2009's Saints and Liars, and 2011's Family — but the 24-year-old has yet to put out a proper full-length. That changed on February 11, when the Washington native released Ledges, his debut album.
The new LP was recorded in Seattle's Studio Litho, the homebase of Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, and was crafted with the help of Gundersen's sister, Abby (who supplies violin, cello, and piano), and his younger brother, Jonathan, who plays drums. Ledges spans 11 tender tracks and weaves together tales of faith, temptation, redemption, death, and doubt, offering the kind of perspective usually found in much older tunesmiths. "I'm not a religious person anymore," says Gundersen, who grew up in a rigidly religious household. "But I've learned that spiritual energy transcends religion and that's something I've attempted to incorporate into my music."
Augustines return with a self-titled second album, Augustines, the follow-up to 2011's Rise Ye Sunken Ships. Augustines is an album about exploration and moving on from the past, a regeneration after touring their first album, Rise Ye Sunken Ships, for over two years. “By the end of that tour we had people at festivals dancing and singing words back to us. It was incredible. I don’t think we were fully expecting that," explains drummer Rob Allen. "But by the end of it, it was so inspiring that, after two and a half years, we were able to look at the past with a positive attitude. And that’s really what this new record is about – capturing those feelings and positive energy. It made us a unit. It made us a band.”
Sam Roberts Band is set to release their latest full-length Lo-Fantasy next week. The album, which is comprised of 12 songs (one of which is vinyl-only), was produced by Youth (Beth Orton, The Verve) and comes after a series of overseas travel. In album track “Human Heat,” you get a sense for the depth and the content of the album as well as the years of collaboration in the making. “The riff for this song goes back at least 15 years to when we were a band called Northstar,” said Roberts. “I could never figure out how to write a melody for it or what the song was supposed to be about. Then I heard the phrase ‘human heat,’ referring to that rise in temperature we all feel when we’re pressed together like sardines on a crowded street, and thought it would make a good match with the frenetic energy and discord of the music.”
SKATERS spew out windswept pop-punk that salutes (and skewers) the foursome's adopted home of New York City. Vocalist Michael Ian Cummings and drummer Noah Rubin grew up together outside Boston, and guitarist Josh Hubbard hails from England, but, as Rubin tells it, the band (which includes bassist/New Yorker Dan Burke) was founded on a mutual love of late '70s NYC punk. "We moved here excited for New York to be that place," he says, "and instead it was a very competitive and fragmented artistic environment." Enter Manhattan, SKATERS' debut album, an 11-track portrait of life in the Big Apple. Recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios and due out February 25 via Warner Bros., the upcoming effort splices together bits of found sound (the mechanized rumble and automated announcements that echo through the subway system, children yelling in Brooklyn, girls talking way too loudly in a café) with hooky critiques of rich kids who pretend to be broke, memories of late nights lost in bars, and more.
It's been a long few years for fans of Theresa Wayman, Emily Kokal, Jenny Lee Lindberg, and Stella Mozgawa, who last filled our ears in 2010 with their acclaimed debut The Fool. Since then they've been honing their sound on the road before escaping to The Joshua Tree to record their eponymous second, co-produced by the band and Flood (PJ Harvey, New Order, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds) and mixed by Flood and Nigel Godrich. Artist and director Chris Cunningham also worked closely with the band to create artwork for the album, as well as a forthcoming documentary - nutsack monster hopefully not included. Alongside previous single Love Is To Die, Warpaint bring beefed up electronics to their tracks to sculpt their woozy shoegaze into something sinisterly sexy. "I don't know if this is TMI or something," Wayman told the Guide this weekend, "but if you really fall into music while you're playing, it's the same space as when you are with a lover. You can see guitar players in the way that they're playing that they're in some ecstatic moment and it could equally be a sexual moment where they're alone with someone. So if I were to actually put it all into a pot and think about it, playing music can take you closer to that same kind of state of ecstacy as an orgasm. Sometimes that can be very alarming if you're onstage."
Just to Feel Anything, the last album Emeralds ever released, had song titles like “The Loser Keeps America Clean” and “Search for Me in the Wasteland.” A little over a year later, guitarist Mark McGuire is releasing his first solo album since the Cleveland trio split up (read one of the final interviews the band gave here), and it kicks off with the gently percolating, one-two-three roll of “Awakening,” “Wonderland of Living Things,” and “In Search of the Miraculous.” To call his Dead Oceans debut a “happier”-sounding album wouldn’t be right; it shuttles through way too many moods, just as it’s got way too much going on musically—including, but not limited to, vox, live percussion, piano and mandolin—to be described as the sort of drone-dude-with-a-guitar affair that his fans have come to expect from him. Still, there’s a newfound hopefulness and openness to Along the Way, which follows a semi-autobiographical narrative McGuire included in the liner notes about one young man’s quest for self awareness as he passes into adulthood.
War Room Stories is South London five-piece Breton’s second full-length album and showcases their signature combination of lush orchestration and meteoric electronic beats. The ten-track follow up to their debut Other People’s Problems crosses a lot of territories. It kicks off gently with “Envy” from their Force of Habit EP, which has a plinky retro 1980s studio jam, almost Steely Dan feel before launching into more cinematic indie pop. After that, anything goes, from the moody superspy pop of “Got Well Soon” to the atomized IDM-meets-slow jam of “S Four.” The conflict at the center of War Room Stories has all of the trappings of an epic romance gone brutal, leaving unhealed emotional wounds. Breton’s members are also filmmakers who have been nominated for awards from the London and East London film festivals, so they know how to render a story with pathos.
"Hello people. Welcome to the stream of our forthcoming album Rave Tapes. We wrote and recorded the record last year, starting writing in January and finishing mixing just before Halloween. It was written between our scabby, rat-infested rehearsal space in the Gorbals Glasgow, mine and John's home studios and Barry's practice space in Berlin. Before going in to record in our Castle Of Doom studio in Glasgow (neither scabby nor rat infested, thankfully) we rehearsed together for a few weeks to work on arrangements. The album was recorded by Paul Savage who we worked on for our early single Summer as well as our first record Mogwai Young Team and our most recent Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. Paul was also a member of The Delgados, the owners of Chemikal Undergound Records who released our first two records. He's a great guy and very good at keeping us in check. That said I'm still pissed off at him for taping over the original 22 minute take of Mogwai Fear Satan as it had too many mistakes. We could have fixed those mistakes with computers these days! Though that might be the musical equivalent of that awful digital muppet dancing scene they added to Return Of the Jedi. The album has ten songs and features drums (both real and electronic), guitars, synthesizers, piano and singing (both vocodered and human). We hope you like it!"