Formerly of the band Hail Social, Davye Hawke makes wistful electronic pop as Memory Tapes. After his previous band ended, Hawke began composing two different types of music under two different names: borrowing the title of a Hawkwind bootleg, he issued dance-oriented instrumentals under the Weird Tapes moniker, and atmospheric pieces with vocals as Memory Cassette. He released music from both projects for free, including Memory Cassette's 2008 The Hiss We Missed EP. After signing to the Acephale and Something in Construction labels, he released one more EP, Rewind While Sleeping, as Memory Cassette. In 2009, he combined his projects' names and approaches into Memory Tapes for the critically acclaimed Bicycle single, which was released that July. It was the first taste of Memory Tapes' debut album Seek Magic, which appeared that September. When he began working on Seek Magic's follow-up, Hawke imagined a blend of psychedelic and girl group music; in January 2011, "Today Is Our Life" heralded the slower, trippier sound of that July's Player Piano. In 2012, as chillwave music started to come into its own and expand, so did Hawke, and with his third album Grace/Confusion he attempted to bridge prog rock and atmospheric synth pop to carve out a unique niche for himself in the genre. [All Music]

Sounds like: Memory Cassette, Washed Out, Small Black


Lower Dens are a shoegaze band from Baltimore, Maryland formed in 2010. Formed by Jana Hunter, the band has released three albums: their debut on Gnomonsong records and follow up albums on Ribbon Music. The record as a whole begs for an assessment of all the flaws inherent in our existence, and to imagine a better, more suitable, logical way for humanity to live.” So says Lower Dens leader Jana Hunter about the band's stunning new album Nootropicsi>. It's an ambitious work, and it delivers — heavily metaphorical, the symmetries and concordances of the lyrics run deep; the luminous lines of the music converge at a point in a future just out of view. Lower Dens has made music that reconciles fear and uncertainty by freeze-framing it and turning it into a thing of beauty. Pronounced no-eh-tro-pics, the title refers to a type of drug used to enhance memory or other cognitive functions. That's a reference to Hunter's interest in transhumanism, the use of technology to extend human capabilities. It could just as easily extend to the music itself — even the band's newfound keyboards achieve a human-digital synthesis that aptly mirrors the album's themes. Lower Dens released their beguiling debut album Twin-Hand Movement in July 2010. Like Nootropics, the full depth and range of its formidable charms unfold over multiple listens — it's a grower, and accordingly, Lower Dens' popularity and acclaim grew and grew too. []

Sounds like: Father John Misty, Tobias Jesso, Jr., Courtney Barnett


Chicago-native Michael Eagle went to college at Southern Illinois University and battled everybody everywhere and freestyled all the time. He graduated with a degree in psychology but somehow it never occurred to him to go to Scribble Jam. He moved to LA and linked up with Project Blowed. He toured with Busdriver, Aceyalone, and Abstract Rude. He started a rap group called Thirsty Fish with Dumbfoundead and Psychosiz and the Swim Team with Alpha MC, VerBS, Sahtyre and more. He worked as a teacher during this time and usually had a hangover. He put out his first solo album in 2010 with Mush Records. He put out his second LP with Hellfyre Club/Alpha Pup and his third with Fake Four Inc. He's toured with Blu, Aesop Rock, Dessa, Homeboy Sandman, Ceschi, Moka Only, Louis Logic, and more.

He produced the first “Mike Eagle Show” in January of 2014. It was a night of rap and comedy lauded by LA Weekly ‘as something they look forward to seeing more of'. He too thought they could have written something nicer. His most recent work is alongside Busdriver, Nocando, milo, and more under the guise of Hellfyre Club. Their 2013 mixtape, Dorner Vs Tookie, was praised by Pitchfork, the Chicago Reader, LA Weekly and more. He was named Impose Magazine's Rapper of the Year for 2013. The rapper of the whole entire year. His new album is Dark Comedy. It's 45 minutes of attempting to giggle at the abyss. It features raps from Hannibal Burress and Das Racist's Kool A.D. Beats from Jeremiah Jae, Dibia$e, Busdriver and more. It's his first release on Mello Music Group.

Sounds like: Milo, Busdriver, Nocando


Cayucas is the project of Zach Yudin and includes his twin brother Ben, Banah Winn, Casey Wojtalewicz, as well as Christian Koons for live shows. Influenced by '60's and '70's-era rock, Zach Yudin describes how the album's development was, in part, inspired by re-imagination: “I was using old rock albums – by bands like the Beach Boys, the Tornadoes, the Animals – trying to put together these quirky little songs. We spent a lot of time re-imagining the old samples with live instrumentation, organs and so on; the samples ended up acting as inspirational starting points.” [Dead Journalist] After signing to Secretly Canadian Records, Yudin collaborated with producer Richard Swift, who added more original instrumentation to Cayucas' songs. The results were Bigfoot, a set of eight summery tracks that arrived in April 2013. It appeared in the Top 50 of Billboard's Independent Albums chart, and extensive touring in support of acts including Lord Huron and Young the Giant followed. A sophomore album, which credited both Zach and Ben Yudin as bandmates, was recorded with Ryan Hadlock (the Lumineers, Brandi Carlile) at Bear Creek in Woodinville, Washington. Dancing at the Blue Lagoon arrived in June 2015. [All Music]

Sounds like: Generationals, Reptar, Caveman


Lazyeyes is a three-piece from Brooklyn, New York formed in the summer of 2012 by guitarist and vocalist Jason Abrishami (The Twees), Paul Volpe (Triple Cobra) on bass, and Jeremy Sampson (Eastern Hollows) on drums. The band self-released their sophomore EP, New Year, in January 2015, which was quickly picked up and reissued by Burger Records cassette imprint, Wiener Records. Lazyeyes was a featured artist in the November 2014 issue of NME Magazine and, in December, Stereogum described their sound as "a muscular, riff-happy brand of guitar-based dream-pop," going on to proclaim, "their songs burst with angular hooks and polished melodies." Their single, "Adaptation" also received high praise from Interview Magazine, who wrote, "'Adaptation's" fast-paced, garage-tinged guitar riff draws the listener in, propelling you through chorus and verse. It is both urgent and reassuringly familiar."

Sounds like: Yellow Fang, The Marigolds, Blood Sound


Yoni Wolf, the frontman of WHY?, is heading out on a rap-only tour this May. Sponsored by his podcast, THE WANDERING WOLF, the eclectic lyricist, singer, and rapper is bringing an MC/DJ show to the Midwest and Northeast. Best known for his unique range of styles and themes as the lead singer in WHY? Yoni is returning to his roots as a rapper. He will perform songs spanning his entire career: early to new WHY?, cLOUDDEAD, Reaching Quiet, guest spots on songs by Alias and Themselves, remixes by Boards of Canada, Dntel, and more. But don't expect a WHY? show or a crooning Yoni next to a piano. This is straight-up rap. Yoni will be joined on the tour by his friend and collaborator Serengeti, the Chicago rap visionary whose 2014 albums Sisyphus and Kenny Dennis III showed up on many year-end favorite lists.

Sounds like: Miss Ohio's Nameless, Astronautalis, WHY?


Happyness are a 3 piece band from South London, formed of multi-instrumentalists Ash Cooper, Benji Compston and Jonny Allan. After forming in early 1973, the band went on hiatus pending their births and the sufficient progress of the affordable digital audio interface market. Regrouping in 2013, the band spent Saturday nights playing under a railway bridge in Bermondsey. By mid-2013, having written “most of an album” they rented out an unused church with the intention of setting up a studio and finishing the record there. That ended after less than a week with only one song tracked - they were driven out by “the bitter cold and an unconvinced congregation of the dead”. (Unintentionally significantly the song was “Baby, Jesus (Jelly Boy)”).

Relocating to their affectionately named “Jelly Boy Studios” (a one-time carpentry warehouse and butterfly commune an hour or so outside of London), the band self-produced their debut album and the songs that would become their debut EP. Before the recording sessions, the band had played a handful of shows under a variety of names (“something to put on the flyers”), but the name Happyness wasn't used until November 2013, when the band started playing live in the build up to the release of their eponymous EP – mixed by Ed Harcourt. The album – Weird Little Birthday - was mixed by Adam Lasus (Yo La Tengo, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah) and features Ed Harcourt singing on "Pumpkin Noir". They have made various attempts to spread the rumour that Jonny Allan is the forgotten son and heir to the Terry Richardson empire, but those have all failed pretty conclusively. Their approach to writing and recording music means that roles within the band are fairly fluid, but Jonny Allan and Benji Compston do lead vocals and Ash Cooper does drums. [Bar None Records]

Sounds like: Honeyblood, Childhood, Menace Beach

Blog by Gina Reis