Run River North – Fight To Keep

I’m a sucker for good alt-folk. I’m also a sucker for sweet vocals and vocal harmonies. I’m also a sucker for camping. So the video for “Fight To Keep”, from Los Angeles six-piece Run River North, seems practically custom made for me. The song opens with soft acoustic guitar strumming under singing (very M. Ward-esque) as the band enthusiastically welcomes friend Diedrich Bader and they set off on their trip to the woods. The road tripping and campfiring lead to all the laughs you’d expect, but as the song kicks into gear with light snares and cymbal crashes, we learn that it turns out the band is a big group of cannibals. And that Bader is what’s for dinner.

For the last three minutes of the video it’s a struggle to determine what’s more entertaining: Bader trying to escape from the murderous group trying to eat him or the toe-tapping rhythms and lo-fi guitar riffs soundtracking his escapades. Does he get away? Or does the band get that long pig they’ve been jonesing for? Watch the video above and see for yourself.

“Fight To Keep” will be on the Run River North’s self-titled debut album, out February 25th on Nettwerk.

STREAM: Run River North – “Fight To Keep”

James Vincent McMorrow – Gold

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James Vincent McMorrow‘s first effort, Early in the Morning, came after six months of isolation in an Irish beach house. The album reflected the minimal production and authenticity of a man wrestling with his thoughts. Its most memorable song From The Woods!!” exemplified his ability to accelerate from a standstill to fevered pitch in heart-racing fashion.

This month he’s releasing his second album, Post Tropical. If the first single, “Cavalier,” was a reminder of his gorgeous, whispered voice, then his second, “Gold,” is a forceful example of his musical prowess. Piecing together varied instruments to make a full-fledged opus, “Gold” soars on a gust of horns, strings and, of course, his voice. Comparisons to Bon Iver are inevitable, but they don’t do justice to the unique spin this Irishman has on songwriting. It’s intercontinental and probably the reason that it feels so transcendent. Stream it below.

STREAM: James Vincent McMorrow – “Gold”

Angel Olsen – Hi-Five

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When it comes to songs about loneliness, it’s easy to fall headfirst into a pit of despair. Thankfully, there’s a newer cadre of songwriters who are here to add some more appeal to the sadness. Just like her Jagjaguwar label-mates Bon Iver and Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen uses her music to milk seemingly simple words for all they’re worth.

In “Hi-Five”, Olsen solves her own loneliness problem with her voice and music, resolving to find another person flying just as solo. At first, the song walks forward comfortably, and throughout, Olsen’s voice gains power and variety. In the high point that sources the song’s title, she sings, “Are you lonely too? Hi-five – so am I!” Rather than wallowing, Olsen is rejoicing, and we’re happy to be along for the ride.

Olsen’s new album, Burn Your Fire For No Witness, is due out on Jagjaguwar on February 18th.

STREAM: Angel Olsen – “Hi-Five”

New Desert Blues – Christoph

First names are unique, even if thousands have the same. They represent something more than the person they identify. They conjure memories and visions that go beyond the moment. The Brits that make up New Desert Blues are taking this concept and using it to great effect. No, they are not the first to title their songs with forenames, but their strict adherence to using them on every song adds a realism to the stories they sing.

Adam/Zachary” was a two part opus plunging into the depths assumed lives and mistaken identity. In the case of Cristoph, NDB uses the old standby format of the live performance music video. Shot in black and white, the dark shadows and plethora of camera angles matches the moody feeling of a song about robbing diamonds and traveling at night. The song is just further proof that they have nailed the noir Americana genre. Give it a watch above.

STREAM: New Desert Blues – “Christoph”

Premiere: Armon Jay – Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed

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In folk music, storytelling is half the battle. Lucky for Armon Jay, he’s got that down pat. The Nashville singer-songwriter is gearing up for the release of Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed, an album which represents, in his words, a two-year journey from “desolation to consolation.” No song better sums up Armon’s style than the LP’s title track, which we’re giving you a first listen to below. Fans of Bright Eyes and Ryan Adams will feel right at home with this one.

Armon Jay’s Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed comes out January 21st.

STREAM: Armon Jay – “Everything’s Different, Nothing’s Changed”

Introducing: The Phoncurves

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Some voices are just meant to be together. Such is the case with the Phoncurves‘ Abbie Roberts and Naomi Burrell. The two ladies behind the Brisbane project sing with a harmony rivaled only by the Staves (and they have it down perfectly). On their latest single “Heartstrings,” Roberts and Burrell raise a nice but simple folk backing to immaculate status with those pipes of theirs. Listen for yourself below.

STREAM: The Phoncurves – “Heartstrings”

Introducing: The Feather

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For fans of Fleet Foxes, Bon Iver and Lord Huron, you have permission to skip the rest of this post. Just click PLAY on the Soundcloud link below; there’s no way you won’t completely adore what you’re about to hear. You’re welcome.

For those who aren’t yet convinced,  The Feather is the solo project of Dan San’s Thomas Menard. The Belgian musician took the DIY concept to the next level — he sings every harmony and plays every instrument on “What If” and the rest of his recent work, producing and mixing all of those elements into one mesmerizing song. Bookended by wintry bells, “What If” is replete with texture and taste, despite being filled with a number of elements that may seem over the top. Handclaps, harmonies, multiple iterations of your standard four-piece band instruments — it’s all there, and it’s all curated so well that you’ll want to dive into the dreamworld created by this song and never leave. As its name implies, “What If” lends itself to repeat listening; you’ll discover something new every time.

STREAM: The Feather – “What If” 

Eliza And The Bear – It Gets Cold

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I’ve just been informed that there is no Eliza. There is no bear. In fact, Eliza and the Bear  is actually the title of a collection of poems by Eleanor Rees. People do find inspiration in unexpected places.

So is the case with the London based quintet. Their most recent single “It Gets Cold” is instantly likable, with an animated sound reminiscent of bands such as Arcade Fire, The Lumineers and The Head and the Heart. The song is formulated for success, laden with jubilant drums, spirited strings, chord-happy keys and an always-welcome trumpet. Do I even need to talk about the vocals from James Kellegher, Callie Noakes and Martin Dukelow? Sexy accents aside, the pipes on these gentlemen are impressive. Their harmonies are right on point. Even the breaks in their singing are climactic.

I think what I’m saying is that Eliza and the Bear sound good even when they aren’t doing anything. They have that je ne sais quoi that would make me put all my chips in to see them live. Good news – they have a concert December 5th. Bad news – it’s in London. So until they come stateside, we’ll keep streaming “It Gets Cold” below.

STREAM: Eliza and the Bear – “It Gets Cold”

#TBT: Fossil Collective – Do You Realize?? (Flaming Lips Cover)

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This Throwback Thursday we bring you a cover of the Flaming Lips’ “Do You Realize??,” masterfully arranged by Leeds-based duo Fossil Collective. The song is off the Lips’ 2002 album Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, and is probably their most famous song, having been featured on 3,430,287 breakup/I love you mixes over the years. Interestingly enough, the song was written by lead singer Wayne Coyne as he witnessed his drummer, Steven Drozd, battle withdrawal from a heroin addiction.

Fossil Collective’s rendition of the tune is very stripped-down compared to the original, replacing the climactic crescendos with relaxed, harmonious acoustic guitar. Give it a stream below.

DOWNLOAD: Fossil Collective – “Do You Realize?? (Flaming Lips Cover)”

New Desert Blues – Zachary

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New Desert Blues are finally getting the recognition they deserve. It feels like ages ago that we first premiered their debut single “Thom.” Two years later and Zane Lowe is revealing their latest track “Zachary” as Next Hype on BBC Radio 1. “Zachary” is another taste of the South Coast five-piece’s nu-wild-west sound (now self-dubbed “noir americana”), a chilling mix of indie rock, folk and red-blooded country. Although unlike their previous work, there’s something hopeful — and dare we say poppy — about this one. Nothing wrong with that though; even the bleakest cowboy stories have their bright spots. Give “Zachary” a listen below.

STREAM: New Desert Blues – “Zachary”