A DEBUT | Cashes Rivers

LOCALLY GROWN: It’s not often I get to plug a local Iowa band. Des Moines’ own Cashes Rivers has a new self-titled record coming out October 26, 2010 and I’ve got a single here for you. Last year, the band signed with Aqui Estamos Records, after releasing a debut EP, “The Trees Will Clap For…

GARAGE ROCK | Downtown/Union

ON THE RUN: Los Angeles’ Downtown/Union play music without a fuss. “Keep the Engines Running” is the fifth track off their 2010 August release, “Astral Turf”. It’s garage rock about leaving suburbia and heading into the city for a good time, “I don’t wanna go home / I just wanna stay out late / Until…

A BUTTERFLY’S GRACE | The Powder Kegs

HAPPINESS IS A LIT FUSE: The Powder Kegs’ new 5-song EP “Empty Side” (2010) is decidedly pop-based, but not in the way you might think. It overflows with Beatlesesque melodies, and soft phrasings. Lyrically, on a track like “Shake Me Down”, it’s easy to see John Lennon singing: “Your world is mapped out on a…

A DIVERGENCE | Between Two Waves

FREE EPIC WORK: Net-label EardrumsPop just finished up with its fourth compilation-project — entitled “Between the Waves”. The idea behind the massive project is bringing together one band with another to see what kind of music they can create together. “Between the Waves” is a 3-disc, 40-song affair featuring musicians you may not know, but…

LONG TIME COMING | Blur

NEW TRACK: Blur released their first single in seven years, “Fool’s Day”, in conjunction with Record Store Day on April 17th, 2010. The band released it as a limited edition one-sided 7-inch vinyl single through Parlophone Records. “Fool’s Day” is the first song the entire group of Blur have recorded together since their 2003 album…

ONE IS THE LONELIEST NUMBER | Elliott Smith

Article by David D. Robbins Jr. Reissues: “Roman Candle” and “From a Basement On the Hill” There’s so much emotion devoted to the process of making or listening to great music — but even more-so when an artist dies young. For good reason, Elliott Smith’s fans are as religiously devoted to his music as the…

ANOTHER WORLD | Secret Mountains

A SEARCH FOR INFINITY: Secret Mountains’ debut EP begins with white noise that sounds halfway between the din wash of machines and the ocean’s dull roar. Morning bird chirps join in, then a soft drum brush, a drowsy electric guitar and the spacey cooing of lead singer Kelly Laughlin. It’s the building of atmosphere in…

UNEARTHED BEAUTY | Dinosaur Bones

CANADIAN ABUNDANCE: There really is something in the air in Canada these days. Our northern neighbors are kicking out good music like some giant factory of cool. Add Dinosaur Bones to the list. In late 2009, the band joined producer Jon Drew (Tokyo Police Club, Fucked Up) in the studio to work on their debut…

GOOD TO BE BACK | Tokyo Police Club

OH YEAH!: Tokyo Police Club have released a track from their upcoming 11-song album “Champ”, while the record is being polished up in the studio. There’s something very Smashing Pumpkins-meets-Pixies about their new song “Breakneck Speed”. Since when did Dave Monks sound like Billy Corgan? Nothing wrong with that — it’s just an observation. Besides,…

HIGH ROMANCE | Dark Mean

ONE OF THE BEST BANDS YOU’VE NEVER HEARD: It’s so easy to like this band from Ontario, Canada. They mix beautiful melodies with a number of traditions, including indie-pop, rock and folk. Dark Mean follow up their four-track EP “Frankencottage” (2009) with another four-song EP, “Music Box” — the band’s second record. It’s impressive how…

ALL IN THE DETAILS | Inlets

CLEAR WATERS: Wisconsin’s Sebastian Krueger, who normally plays in the band My Brightest Diamond, is quite a singer and multi-instrumentalist. He has also been working under the moniker Inlets — first creating a soft and intimate experimental EP entitled “Vestibule” — which mixed pretty harmonizing and folk acoustic with a hint of classical instrumentation. The…

LIFE’S BIG TOP | Drive-By Truckers

Words by David D. Robbins Jr. Album: The Big To-Do •  Release Date: March 16, 2010 The Drive-By Truckers’ newest release “The Big To-Do” is mostly an album of gritty narratives about murder, holding a shit  job, strippers, drunken lost weekends, a dead preacher and dragging a lake for a body. It’s an album about…

A MOODY-BLUE BLAZE | Seabear

WARMING TREND: Seabear, a seven-piece Icelandic band, softly swirl their hushed powers around the voice of lead singer Sindri Már Sigfússon. The band will release its 11-track sophomore effort, “We Built a Fire” sometime soon, as a follow-up to 2007’s “The Ghost That Carried Us Away”. It’s no wonder the new album was recorded in…

A MYSTIC MIND | Gonjasufi

Artwork & Words by David D. Robbins Jr. Album: A Sufi and a Killer •  Release Date: Today, March 9, 2010 IN HIS MIND: Gonjasufi is the latest musical invention from Sumach Ecks. He’s a Bikram yoga practitioner, devout Muslim, hip-hop beatsmith, spiritual seeker, and mysterious mystic living somewhere out in the Mojave. Seriously. Gonjasufi…

GREAT EXPECTATIONS | The Radio Dept.

Artwork & Words by David D. Robbins Jr. Upcoming Album: Clinging to a Scheme •  Release Date: April 21, 2010 The Radio Dept. has been around for almost two decades. The music on their breakthrough album, 2006’s “Pet Grief”, was a euphoric night on barbiturates — sounds filling the cloudy ether with piano and synth…

HEART AND SOUL | Portugal. The Man

AMERICAN GHETTO: Well, something good can come from Wasilla, Alaska. I can’t help but hear a little Citizen Cope in the band Portugal. The Man’s style of indie-groove, neo soul. Both create highly addictive sounds. The band is set to release its fifth album “American Ghetto” on March 2, 2010 through Equal Vision Records. Portugal.…

A MASTER’S LAST BOW | Chocolate Genius

NEW MUSIC ON THE WAY: I still can’t believe this news is flying so low under the radar. The eclectic Marc Anthony Thompson, is ending his long run as alter ego Chocolate Genius Inc., with an album due out sometime this month called “Swansongs”. Chocolate Genius first entered the scene with the gorgeous and melancholic…

IN DEFENSE OF ART | Xiu Xiu

PICKING SIDES: Mention the band Xiu Xiu (pronounced shoe-shoe) among indie fans and you’re bound to get a passionate response. Love them or hate them, they’re not an easy band to understand. But Xiu Xiu fans will tell you the band is easy to love. Theatrical frontman Jamie Stewart is a masterful shape-shifter. A sly…

ON THE VERGE | Mesita

MELODY MAKER: Why stop the one-man band vibe now, eh? Mesita is the project of a 21-year-old guy named James (a self-described paranoid about throwing his full name out there in digital-land), who records music in his Littleton, Colo. basement. He uses a laptop hooked up to what he calls a “slightly broken” Roland digital…

LAID-BACK VIBES | Toro y Moi

SUNBEAMS & SHORELINES: Toro y Moi’s new album “Causers of This” is finally here. (Feb. 2, 2010 release date.) It’s been written about as one of the most anticipated albums of the year by many bloggers and music lovers. A few of you may remember me writing about Filipino/African-American wunderkind Chaz Bundick last year. He…

ETHEREAL TEXTURES | Sharon Van Etten

IT MADE ME LOVE: Sharon Van Etten has written one of the best songs I’ve heard in 2010. “Love More” (a new single) may seem simple at first listen, but its sorrowful elegance comes from a lot of intricate work. The song opens with the resonating drone of a portable harmonium reminiscent of the violin…