• On The Record: Carry Illinois, Roxy Roca


    Carry Illinois, “Alabaster.” Though the official release date for this record is April 7, the band should have copies for sale at its record-release show this Wednesday, March 25, at Cheer Up Charlie’s. Carry Illinois spotlights the songwriting and vocals of frontwoman Lizzie Lehman, an Illinois transplant whose melodic sound would have fit well into the radio playlists of 1970s and d’80s pop stations. Keyboards and guitars form a flowing framework for Lehman’s rich alto, which colors material that bypasses contemporary trends for a more classic song-centered approach. Much depends on the strength of the writing, and some of these songs end up drifting past instead of luring in. But the opening “Detroit Snow” connects instantly, and the raw emotionalism of “Unmerciful Month” brings to mind some of Amy Ray’s finer Indigo Girls work when Lehman reaches high for the paradoxical concluding line, “Hope this is the last one/ Here’s to the next one.”


  • Berkeley Place Blog Review: CARRY, ILLINOIS-Alabaster

    Dear readers, I bring you the best singer-songwriter album of 2015 (so far). Carry, Illinois is Lizzy Lehman, a woman with a voice like Chrissie Hynde mixed with butter, who writes pop songs in the classic rock styles of Fleetwood Mac. And yes, I did read the same thing from the press release–but I read that after I’d already formed the opinion. The influences are clear, obvious, and wonderful. The songs are so good, in fact, that’s it hard to imagine one person wrote them all.

    “Alabaster” also balances well between plaintive ballads and pop songs that, if there were still good radio stations, would be fighting for space in the top 40. There’s not a lot of room for independent, unique-sounding singer-songwriters these days. Hozier gives me hope, but otherwise everyone seems to be trying to do what Taylor Swift does.

    It is albums like this that make me glad I still run this blog. It’s hard, as blogs are dying off and my readership has dwindled to less than a thousand readers a day, to stay focused. To stay invigorated. But getting to hear albums like this, which I never would have found on my own, and knowing I can play a tiny part in this band’s future success, is why I started this blog way back in 2001….


  • Welcome LILA ROSE to the xo family!

    Welcome LILA ROSE to the xo family!

    Very excited to welcome LILA ROSE to the xo family! 


    for fans of Florence and the Machine, Coco Rosie, Fever Ray, Portishead, Bjork, Little Dragon, Fionna Apple, Regina Spektor, Radiohead, Bon Iver, Eminem, NIN, TOOL

    The Toronto-born, California-based singer-songwriter has grown up with two great passions in her life: music, and an interest in protecting our planet and the millions of creatures big and small that call it home. But with those loves have come pains as well. She was born with a form of hyperacusis, a sensitivity that makes some natural sounds unbearable, and some music even more intense to listen to. Too, there was the seeming indifference of a great many people to the plight of our environment. 

    Rose has already found a way to push back against her discomfort with sound to make some beautiful and challenging music. But she has long wanted to use that same fighting spirit to dare us humans to be better stewards of our planet with an album that vents her frustration and expresses her affection. What she wasn't sure of was whether she could, which is why she sought the services of a clairvoyant, seeking the answer to whether it was time to bring this album to life. 

    "She said, 'No, you have another album in you before the animal album,'" remembers Rose. 

    "Well...she was wrong." 



    The Get Ahead offers strutting neo-soul with a Northern attitude

    By Doug Simpson

    The Get Ahead offers strutting neo-soul with a Northern attitude
    The Get Ahead's Volcano is available now.

    Portland, Oregon may be known as a hipster burb (see “Portlandia”), but it also has a vibrant, many-sided independent music scene. The town boasts indie rockers, first-class jazz players, an Americana/roots music community, and with the five-piece the Get Ahead, one heck of a neo-soul band. On the group’s first full-length album, the 40-minute, self-released Volcano, the Get Ahead showcases a soulful, party vibe dripping with passion, RnB and slowly-simmering rock. On most of the 11 tracks, singer Juliet Howard and guitarist Nathan Earle trade vocals while they sing about couples stumbling into mutual attraction, women rushing into infatuation and kicking out cheating lovers.

    During the pumping, sax-soaked “Little Devil” the Get Ahead manages to echo the sizzle and strut of Sharon Dap and the Daptones while maintaining their own individual style. Urban blues burnishes through the striding “Take a Shine,” where a plea for togetherness turns into a sweaty workout for Steve Johnson’s searing and deep baritone sax, Howard’s stinging guitar licks and a tight rhythm section which mirrors the Rolling Stones’ historic Bill Wyman/Charlie Watts rhythm team. With “Earn It,” the band echoes the early rock-and-soul work of the Bellrays via a wicked, wah-wah guitar intro, a four-on-the-floor drumbeat and Howard’s hard-hitting vocals.

    While most tunes aren’t moody or restrained, the band effectively ebbs down to a muted smolder on the late-night number, “Moonstricken,” where Howard and Earle sing about how desire can make anyone get a bit crazy. But by the record’s conclusion, the Get Ahead put their forceful energy where it counts, with the commanding “Dollars to Doughnuts,” a modern rock/soul treatment reminiscent of Black Joe Lewis. While the Get Ahead is probably best experienced in a live setting, Volcano is the next best thing to a sweaty Saturday night of grooving, dancing and throwing back some of your favorite drinks.

    The Get Ahead's Volcano is available now.

    Grade: B+

    - See more at: http://www.campuscircle.com/review.cfm?r=21306&h=The-Get-Ahead-offers-strutting-neo-soul-with-a-Northern-attitude#sthash.S9uFRMVJ.dpuf



    St. Louis acoustic folk trio Pawns Or Kings has come a long way since its formation in 2010. But after several releases, these guys are still going strong. They have a new video for “Light Over The Ridge,” from 2014 album Pomme De Terre. The clip tells a basic story of life, the simple way. We are proud to premiere the video today on magnetmagazine.com. Check it out below.


    Rocket 3
    Street: 11.04.14
    Rocket 3 = Karen O + 
The Dum Dum Girls

    Burn is a sweet, sassy pop rock album that has the capacity to make your heart flutter. Using simple, resonating bass and guitar lines as the core of their tracks, Rocket 3 layer subtle synths, lively keys and drums, and daydreamy vocals to create a compelling soundscape. “Good Enough” kills it both with spunky musical composition and adorable lyricism: “You are better than good enough.” Burn features a few covers of classic rock songs, including The Velvet Underground’s “All Tomorrow’s Parties,” which they make their own with groovy bass and a cheery tempo. Rocket 3 have got dynamics of sugar, spice and everything nice dialed in. –Kia McGinnis 


  • PopMatters - Kool Stuff Katie - "Cars" (Premiere)

    The beautiful and hip environs of Portland, Oregon, a catchy tune, and a duo with real chemistry... Kool Stuff Katie's "Cars" has it all. 

    And who says Craiglist has to be completely sketchy? It certainly wasn’t in the case of the Portland, Oregon garage rock/pop duo Kool Stuff Katie, helmed by Shane Blem and Saren Oliver. The two met over the website, and have since then forged a creative union that’s as playful and quirky as the city in which they live. With a few curveballs added, the music video to the track “Cars”, taken from the duo’s self-titled debut, could be a Portlandia sketch in the waits. But, alas, the video chooses (wisely) to focus on the rapport between Blem and Oliver—and their pretty sweet ride, too.
    This video finds the pair attempting to escape the crowded, frustrating noise of the city in order to find a serene setting away from it all.  Fitting for “Cars”, the majority of the video’s attention is on what they are driving: a ’66 Lotus Cortina, which should have fans of vintage autos salivating in jealousy.

    The duo tells PopMatters this about the video: “Working on this video was a blast. How often do you get to cruise around in a Cortina for three days and call it work? We definitely got a lot of stares, honks, and people who stopped to ask us about our ride. At one point, we stopped traffic on the St. John’s Bridge in Portland with a ‘breakdown’ in order to clear cars out and get the shot of us going over. Bryson, one of the directors, hung out of the back of a van while driving through tunnels, and we all braved freezing cold wind at points—everyone working on this video was dedicated to do whatever it took to get the shot, which left us with some pretty funny stories. Overall, it was an awesome experience.”

    Kool Stuff Katie is out now.

  • the deli - Video Premier: Kool Stuff Katie's "Cars


    Video Premier: Kool Stuff Katie's "Cars"

    Like most textbook romances, garage pop duo Kool Stuff Katie formed when Shane Blem and Saren Oliver met over Craigslist. The rest is history. Well, history in the making for now I suppose. The duo's debut self-titled album released this past October doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel per se, but they create an infectious blend of pop infused primitive rockers, reminiscent to the White Stripes. 

    Today, we're proud to present the world with Kool Stuff Katie's brand new music video for the track "Cars." Get a load of the car they're noodling around in! It's a Ford / Lotus collaboration that was 1 of 200 ever sold in the US. The specific car in the video was was actually purchased and restored on the tv show Fast N Loud and then sold for $115,000 - how KSK lined up borrowing the rig for this shoot is completely beyond me, but totally awesome. At any rate, enjoy their tune and the cool footage of the duo driving around various landmarks of Portland and the surrounding areas. 

    Written by Travis Leipzig

    Photo by Jon Currier