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…

SPEAKING FOR THE BREEZE | Sam Amidon

THE BRIDGE-MAKER: The songs on Sam Amidon’s album “I See the Sign” come in like a cool breeze, his voice soft among an elegant rustle of brass and woodwind, arranged by the talented Nico Muhly. It’s so seamless, Amidon makes these eleven intricate and complex arrangements feel as easy as swinging in a hammock. But…

THE DAY AFTER | The Morning Benders

COMING SOON: The Morning Benders won over Bay Area fans and more with two self-released EPs and their 2008 album, Talking Through Tin Cans. Now the band is back with Big Echo, slated for release March 9 through Rough Trade Records. For those in the Midwest, set your dates, as the band makes its rounds…

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…

THE SOUL IN STRINGS | Papercuts

CHARMED, I’M SURE: The Papercuts’ song “White Are the Waves” is awash in lush synth-strings that roll over a stuttered tom beat, fuzzy guitar and fever-dream vocals. Jason Quever, the lead singer, does an intricate job of half-whispering over the instrumentation in just the right way — to produce a hypnotically-seductive popish pillow-song. Its delicate…

OUT OF THE COLD | Frederik

SWEDISH EXPERIMENTAL POP: Fredrik have a new sophomore release coming out this month called Trilogi. This Swedish band released the track “Locked in a Basement” (click to play) a few months ago and now they have a second song called “Vinterbarn.” Apparently, it’s a Swedish word for winter children — those born in the cold…