TUESDAY: Jack Ladder & The Dreamlanders

Three years after the acclaimed Hurtsville and a move from the inner city of Sydney, Australia to the Blue Mountains, Jack Ladder returns with his new album Playmates. The album is produced by Kim Moyes of The Presets, and mixed by David Wrench (Jungle, FKA Twigs, Caribou,Seekae). The Dreamlanders – Kirin J. Callinan (whose own album Embracism was released last year on Terrible / XL) Laurence Pike (of PVT) and Donny Benet – reunite to play on the record, with Sharon Van Etten contributing vocals to two tracks. Playmates [is] Jack Ladder’s fourth album, and his first on Fat Possum. It’s been a long journey to this point, and Playmates finds Jack Ladder at a creative apex, moving on from the darker roads into the curious, bold komische synthesizers which backlight Playmates. Ladder’s latest work cogently recalls a time when albums were made to the parameters of the encroaching technology of the compact disc. But this album is where songs take precedence over an idea. Playmates songs are muscular, raw – yet polished to the texture of a skyscraper. The lyrics themselves are haunting; they possess the poetic slur of a black-pupilled vision of romantic despair, love’s unsure footing and a palpable air of Ballardian discord beneath the surface. The songs pulse with life. Synthesizers and drum machines rub shoulders with glam guitars and pedal steel, while above all, Ladder’s granite baritone slashes at love and darkness like a heavy blade. He is a tender, persistent lover; a despairing prince at the battlements. There is also the notable presence of Sharon Van Etten. On working with Jack Ladder, she says, “When I first saw Jack Ladder…it blew me away. He’s got a darkness to his vocals and lyrics but with a wink. It was really fun and an interesting challenge and his songs are killer.  I feel lucky to have been a part of it.” Playmates breadth of ideas, its sinister anxiety-dream lyrics and particular vision of the world offer us as complete a view of this unfathomable Jack Ladder character as we are ever likely to observe in this dimension.

Sounds like: Mercy Arms, Dick Diver, The Paper Scissors

WEDNESDAY: J Fernandez

A concocter of lo-fi experimental pop from Chicago, Arkansas native Justin Fernandez aka J Fernandez settled in the city for a day job in the early 2000s and spent several years performing in friends' music projects while making his own rough home-studio recordings in his spare time. His first two releases, the EP Olympic Village and 7" No Luck, were released on local music labels Teen River and Lake Paradise, then issued as a compilation by Morning Ritual Recordings in 2012. The Memorize Now EP followed in 2014 on Atelier Ciseaux. With a doleful, anachronistic tone generated from building (some) arrangements around a Vox Jaguar organ and incorporating delay, the bedroom intimacy of his productions are sweetened by Robyn Hitchcock-reminiscent melodic tendencies and engaging, exploratory songcraft. During a string of tour dates in support of Unknown Mortal Orchestra, his debut LP, Many Levels of Laughter, was released by Joyful Noise Recordings in June of 2015. [Billboard]

Sounds like: Au.Ra, Nic Hessler, Beach Moon/Peach Moon

THURSDAY: Bongzilla

Since the seeds were planted in the mid-90s, Bongzilla have been sowing Madison, Wisconsin's rich soil with their homegrown, psychedelic sludge-core. Cultivating an extremely thick and heavy harvest of powerful mega-rock, Bongzilla have fertilized their sound tenfold over time, and the results of their bumper-crop harvest speak for themselves. Releasing pounds of material over the course of the last few years, Bongzilla have raised consciousness in regards to their existence, and have kept their musical fires burning non-stop. Having toured the U.S. multiple times, playing gigs with the likes of Today is the Day, Unsane, Noothgrush, Logical Nonsense, Dystopia, Grief, Zed, El Dopa, Cattlepress, Ire, Cave-In and the mighty Spazz, Bongzilla love to perform live. The band's live show is not to be missed as crushing heaviness blends perfectly with tortured, intense vocals and tripped-out passages of mellowed, experimental jamming. Bongzilla support the cause of legalization, regularly playing national Hemp festivals such as Weedstock (Bongzilla contributed a track to the Weedstock Vol. 1 CD) and Harvestfest.

Sounds like: Weedeater, Electric Wizard, Church of Misery

FRIDAY: System 5 Year Anniversary ft. Ben Sims

From early formative days earning his stripes spinning hip hop, house and rave on pirate radio, and at parties around Essex and East London, through the 90’s as an ever more in demand DJ, and on into the new millennium as a label boss, producer and internationally recognised techno legend in his own right, Ben Sims has spent all his conscious life exploring all facets of underground dance music. Throughout that time, the man has honed his reputation as a tight, energetic mixer who skilfully weaves together his own distinctive blend of tough funk and hardgrooves, often using three-deck wizardry and plenty of dexterity. [...] Sims has put his name to more than 50 releases in the last two decades. During those years, there has also been a steady stream of high profile remixes of scene heavyweights, including Jeff Mills, Adam Beyer, Kevin Saunderson and Chris Liebing, on labels du jour like AXIS, KMS, CLR and Drumcode, all of which have won as much critical praise as they have crossover success. Despite his veteran status in the scene, Sims has always been keen to evolve. Alongside Kirk Degiorgio, he is co-founder & curator of Machine - a clubnight which focuses on new, unreleased, & upfront music; it’s primary home in London, but with editions all across Europe each year. Ben also hosts Sims & Friends events and stages at top clubs and festivals across Europe. Such shows incorporate Killa Productions sets with long time associate Paul Mac and feature regular appearances from like-minded talents such as Surgeon and others. [Last.fm]

Sounds like: Adam Beyer, Marco Bailey, Oscar Mulero

System is an event series framed around classic Midwest warehouse style parties from the early to late 90s. Techno to house played by the best performers on a giant sound system in a dark atmosphere with serious intensity. System started in January of 2010 in the Record Room of the famous Minneapolis night club First Avenue.

SATURDAY: HiGH MiNDS at 7th St: Baby Shel | Manny Phesto | The Rotation (Finding Novyon, Devon Reason, Dwynell Roland and Travis Gorman)

Coming at you with guns blazing from Red Lake Reservation is Baby Shel (Sheldon Cook Jr.), northern Minnesota’s hottest new rapper. His Killing Time EP features his fiery verses dropped over some seriously cold beats. Offering two mixtapes that are rife with bones thrown to artists across the board – from DMX to Die Antwoord – this high-energy spitfire MC is entertaining and aggressive.

In 2015, Manny Phesto has been busy. He's been featured on the bill at Soundset Music Festival (now the worlds largest all Hip-Hop festival), toured throughout the islands of Hawaii on the Intra island Music Tour in June. He played Summerset Music and Camping Festival in Somerset WI, Saturday In The Park 4th of July in Sioux City, and co-headlined the 5-state, 14-date HiGH MiNDS Tour in July-August. He was one of the first American rappers to to play a sold out event in Havana, Cuba in this October. Many is also booked for Festival Ajusco November 14th-15th in Mexico City, Mexico. Manny has performed on Sway Calloway's Sway in The Morning show, and interviewed or appeared in pieces with Pitchfork Media, XXL, SKEE TV, Hip Hop DX, FOX TV, and many more. As both a believer and ardent practitioner of social capital and hard work paying off, Manny is no stranger to paying his dues. Focus, dedication and talent have allowed him to grow and develop his fan base, reputation and career. From basement house parties and after-show ciphers, to headlining events, playing international festivals and touring, Manny has matured into one of the most highly regarded artists from the state. 

SUNDAY: Sarah White | Aym Telos (Album Release) | Guante | EJ

Sarah White is a nationally recognized singer / songwriter known for her previous projects including Black Blondie and Shiro Dame. Sharing stages and collaborating with artists including Yasiin Bey, K-OS, Macy Gray, King Britt, J*Davey doing everything from live bands & dj sets to vocal soundscapes & acoustic harmonies, her neon soul sound blends sultry electro and afro-futurism. Sarah has independently released 2 solo albums, her voice is range of featured on record label releases from the Midwest to Tokyo and won Scion’s Best Electronic Vocalist Competition. Sarah is currently working on her new solo album, a resident dj at Public Functionary and hosts hi.a.tus - a night of future soul curated by Greenroom Magazine.

Rooted in Hip-hop, and augmented by choral elements. What’s left is a journey, filled with rich harmonies, deep bass, and introspective lyricism. Live performances feature experimentation with live band, loop pedals, and acapella form. Aym Telos (pronounced 'aim tee-lohs') is the embodiment of where my mind has been recently. Aym, or, aim spelled with a 'y', is a symbol of my inquisitive nature, less about the 'i' and personal interest, more about the 'we' and questions that deal with us all. Telos is a Greek word meaning ultimate end/ultimate objective. In unity, Aym Telos is a calling to breech difference with love and non-judgement. The visual artwork to be be released in conjunction with the first project embodies moments of aesthetic similarity while contextually different.

Guante is a hip hop artist, two-time National Poetry Slam champion, social justice activist, educator and writer. His work, which explores the places where progressive politics, magical realism, working-class identity and the power of perspective intertwine, has been featured in URB Magazine’s “Next 1000” list, City Pages’ “Artists of the Year” list, CMJ, Feministing and the Progressive, and he's shared bills with Talib Kweli, Atmosphere, Andrea Gibson, Dead Prez, Sage Francis, Brother Ali, Mr. Lif, P.O.S., Zion I and many more. Guante also founded the MN Activist Project, writes a weekly column at Opine Season, curates the Hip Hop Against Homophobia concert series and facilitates writing and performance workshops for youth.

Blog by Gina Reis