The new Augustines album is out, and it's everything that could be hoped for after dropping "Cruel City," a single that's impossible to play ad nauseum, and still in heavy rotation. Their sophomore release is full of the most joyful earnestness that we've heard in a long time. It speaks to the idea that, yeah, being optimistic can be painful, but it's far better than the alternative.

It's a gritty, life-driven, anthemic charge that hits all of the sweet spot harmonies, and then some. You know when you're listening to a track and you really want it to hit that one pleasing note, but instead the music veers off in another direction? That's not this. This album doesn't just hit the notes you want, it plows throughs them, and then barrages you with melodies you didn't think could even happen in the course of four minutes. Really. There isn't one particular characteristic that dominates Augustines. The vocals, the drums, the build up, the background choir noise – it's perfectly aligned in each song, and doesn't ever feel forced. And it's fueled by passion, that much is obvious. "It's all about being inclusive," lead singer Billy McCarthy says. "Interaction is the lifeblood of what we think music is." Nailed it. [Bowery Boogie]

Recommended If You Like:
The Rural Alberta Advantage, Arcade Fire, Frightened Rabbit, The National



Fat White Family are the greatest young rock band in the UK and this probably extends to the rest of the world as well. What's that? You want to know more? Christ on callipers, ok, let's see what we've got here then… It won't come as news to anyone who has been to one of their regular Slide-In nights at their local pub and HQ, The Queens Head in Brixton, South London but for a band that only really coalesced as the Fat White Family in 2011, the six piece have already got several once-in-a-lifetime/ 'OMG – were you there?' gigs under their belt.

On December 10 2013 they rattled the walls of the legendary 100 Club, thus aligning themselves with the numerous legends who have trod the very same stage. The band summoned up the feral electric skronk blues of The Magic Band and The Birthday Party, the proto-punk pummelling of The Monks and The Modern Lovers and the twisted folk of Charles Manson and The Country Teasers. And as singer Lias Saoudi, clad in nothing but a pair of back to front, skin tight rubber trousers, was carried at head height off stage by a crowd of howling devotees, it was clear that something special had just happened. However, it's not all been plain sailing. When confronted by London's pay to play, indie toilet circuit, the Fat Whites aren't known for toeing the line. They're already adept at sniffing out bullshit. At a recent gig in a down at heel dive that shall remain nameless it took less than three songs for the train to come screaming off the tracks.

Recommended If You Like:
Butthole Surfers, The Fall, The Birthday Party, King Missle, The Horrors



Hook-laden pop with a kaleidoscopic array of worldly influences, The Ragbirds exhibit a gleeful disregard for contemporary folk-rock convention. The five-piece project is clearly built around the multi-talented Erin Zindle, who is not only the singer and songwriter, but is proficient in a variety of stringed instruments. This classically trained violinist can aptly pluck the eight-stringed mandolin, wield a wild accordion, and rock the banjo while maintaining lead vocals. Surrounding Zindle's earthy-sweet voice is the whirlwind of a guitarist T.J. Zindle, dynamic bassist Brian Crist, drummer Loren Kranz, and standout percussionist Randall Moore.

The high energy crew enjoyed a busy 2012. The band released their fourth studio record in January, Travelin’ Machine, that led them onto a three-month national tour. Highlight performances of 2012 included their debut SXSW appearance, Sustainable Touring TED talk at TEDx Grand Rapids, a return to the CMJ showcase in New York City, and a number of national festival appearances. How do you capture the energy of a Ragbirds live show? The positive vibes, high energy, infectious beats, sweat fueled dance floors, and moving introspective lyrics? A tough task, but after 7 years and nearly 150 shows a year, these far traveled road warriors released the much requested live album, We Belong to the Love, on Valentine’s Day 2013.

Birds of Chicago, is a collective based around JT Nero and Allison Russell. Whether touring as a duo or with the full family band, Nero and Russell have emerged as two of the most compelling new voices in North American Roots music. 2012's release BIRDS of CHICAGO has been called "As refreshing and rewarding as morning in the reeds with the Audobon Society" by Thomas Connor of the Chicago Sun Times. This debut offering by Birds of Chicago has garnered Rave reviews on both sides of the atlantic. The album is as beautifully written as it is sung and has been Championed by No Depression, Jambase, Daytrotter, Audio Tree, Americana UK as well as recieving extensive US college radio play.

For several years Russell and Nero’s respective bands, Po' Girl (Vancouver, BC) and JT and the Clouds (Chicago, IL), have collaborated extensively, but on 2011’s Mountains/Forests, released under the JT Nero banner, they tapped into the true, bewitching power of their voices together on an entire record. It also featured the full cast of characters that would round out the Birds of Chicago ensemble -- the Clouds and Michelle McGrath, the luminous singer and picker from the hidden hills of Southeast Ohio. The record Mountains/Forests received critical raves and won them new fans on both side of the Atlantic, and created a great deal of excitement for the self titled debut which was released in October of 2012. 

Nero’s fractured country-soul voice wrapped in Russell’s silver and gold tones, is a fine thing. Not too perfect, not at all saccharine, you’ll hear echoes of mountain gospel, street corner doo-wop, and classic soul. Accompanied by just a banjo and a guitar, it’s haunting. Fired by the band, it’s a full tilt revival. Nero and Russell are most at home on the road - pick almost any night in the next two years and you can bet they will be in some festival, theater, pub, VFW hall, roller rink (they wish) or living room, dovetailing their voices, singing their songs of hope, despair, love.... and electric seahorses. And honey bee apocalypses. And ice cream. It's familiar and strange stuff - the everyday and the magical. Come see ‘em, they won't be hard to find.

Recommended If You Like:
Ani DiFranco, Cat Power, Chastity Brown, Hem, Ben Harper, The Duhks



Beware of Darkness is a bold new power trio of old souls, pissed at life in the modern age. They are ready to frighten your children, sleep with your daughters, and make you shake, scream, and contort like it's a Depression-era, Southern exorcism. They play fast moving rock songs with exploding key and rhythm changes mid-song. They also play slow-cooked, sexed-up, bluesy things. Imagine Bowie's "Hunky Dory" with low, detuned, primal, Zeppelin-esqe guitar riffs.

Recommended If You Like:
Wolfmother, The White Stripes, The Black Keys, Pickwick, Kitten



Over 60 electronic music artists converge on First Avenue Danceteria this Friday 3/21/14 for Bassgasm 10. Bassgasm is a cutting edge multi-genre electronic music DJ and live act festival in First Avenue that happens twice a year in all areas of the club on 5 stages featuring artists from all over the world.

"The completely bonkers DJ event features new school, chart-topping and classic rave-era headline talent as well as the time tested local DJs creating a past-present-future dynamic," says Woody McBride aka The Genius of Fun, a veteran First Avenue DJ/promoter who coordinates Bassgasm. "The no-holds-barred environment and 5 simultaneous stages of music creates a swirling audience that literally is running stage to stage all night long getting a good listen in and then racing to the next stage. I love that people in minneapolis love and support all styles of electronic music - junglists jamming to techno, house heads jamming to bass music, dubsteppers jamming to... well we are still coaching them a little on the fine open hearted traditions here in minneapolis - lol."

Recommended If You Like:
TWRK (Mad Decent), Tommy Four Seven, Lady Faith, DJ ESP, Wall of Bass



Georgia-raised, Brooklyn-based. Ron Pope is an independent musician who has found success not only on American soil, but abroad as well [he sold out shows on his first European and Australian tours]. Press comparisons stretch from Mumford and Sons to Bruce Springsteen, but no one else is doing quite what he is doing at the moment. Ron has built a base of loyal fans who passionately follow him and the music - and he's done it all on his own. What started as a demo-recording in his bedroom a few years ago has turned into 9 full length albums, hundreds of live shows, and hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide.

Recommended If You Like:
Brendan Benson, Jack Johnson, Matt Nathanson, Andrew Belle, Parachute



The Crash Bandits are a Rock trio based out of Minneapolis. In the last year and a half, the band has released two EPs and a full length, Better Off, produced by local veteran Knol Tate (Killsadie, Deleter, Dan Mariska). In 2014 the trio plan on releasing their EP, Closer, at the renowned 1st avenue/7th st. The Crash Bandits boast an expansive songwriting catalogue that harkens back to the late 70s roots of punk, tips its hat to the DIY hardcore scene of the 80s, and salutes the nostalgic pop punk of the late 90s and early 00s.

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