The Math Team
Trails and Ways
Oakland, CA's Trails and Ways is a band built on plurality. Their songs never shy away from personal and political heavy-lifting, while making some of the most compelling pop music we've heard in some time.
The four bandmates (Hannah and Keith on guitar, Ian on drums, and Emma on bass) cast off from the co-op houses at UC Berkeley in the depths of the great recession. They headed to live as far afield as Ceará in Brazil and Galicia in Spain before reuniting in Oakland to start the DIY bedroom recording project that became Trails and Ways.
The sound they cultivated is a fascinating mix of the melancholy of bossa nova, the fearlessness of basement indie rock, driving grooves from the end of disco, and the slick shine of radio pop. Call it what you will; hearing it is like stumbling into the warmth of an intimate dance party among friends.
Empty Cellar Records
First things first: Cool Ghouls are not a retro act. Yes, they dwell penniless in the storied hills of culturally resurgent San Francisco. But these boys have their feet firmly planted in the soil of the now. They look not backwards for approving nods of hipster forebears, but rather skyward, hoping that the "supernatural forces" they yodel for, guide them to all corners of a half-deserving world.
If one were to ascribe to them a 60's-reverent description, one would most likely find an artistic kinship with some the most inimitable, idiosyncratic, yet unmistakably influential bands of the retro-fitting oeuvre. The Troggs, The Monks, Sir Douglas Quintet come to mind immediately (Save your Kinks and Rolling Stones references). Like those that came before, the Ghouls are natural heirs to the folkloric lineage which precedes them, adding dashes of weirdness where needed. And despite their mid-fi leanings and natural fit within the current pantheon of San Francisco rock ‘n roll bands (Thee Oh Sees, Ty Segall, Fresh and Onlys), theirs is a timeless record, which will hopefully transcend the descriptors (garage, psych, etc.) that will undoubtedly plague it. The reason being - they write good SONGS.
These young men have honed their three-headed vocal attack in front of ambitious and unexpected chord progressions, an unrelenting rhythm section, and a keen ear for harmony. Theirs is a trifecta of songwriting styles, ranging from the raspy, rambling psychedelic soul of longhair Pat McDonald ("Grace"), to the high yonder twang of bassist Pat Thomas ("Natural Life"), to the boisterous, fever-pitched, perfect pop of lead guitarist Ryan Wong. Theirs is a truly democratic song-making process, wherein all members are eager to contribute their most zealous performances. Hence, the debut record, an adventurous, colorful romp seen through the eyes of old-souled youths, feels wholly coherent and intentional. The self-assuredness of their songwriting is evident. And no, the Ghouls are not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves; this is partly what makes the record so digestible. It doesn't claim to be anything other than what it is; a record for now, a record for then, and a record for forever.
- Tim Cohen (Fresh and Onlys, Magic Trick)
Castle Peak Music
My Double, My Brother
My Double, My Brother is an alternative indie band based out of Long Beach, California. After meeting in college and playing together in their school's music conservatory, the band started rehearsing at an old church in Whittier. They soon moved into a house in Fullerton to record their debut album What We Found Beneath the Ground and self-released the record in March 2011. After a warm reception, many gigs—including an opening slot for mewithoutYou—and a successful Kickstarter campaign, My Double, My Brother released Infinite Line EP and started recording their follow-up LP with producer Jon O’Brien in Orange County at the Music Box.
The band released their sophomore LP Shelves in February 2015.
Red Bull Records
New Beat Fund
It’s like this: New Beat Fund is more than just a band.
Yeah, the four sun-bleached, good time boys from LA with the colorful hair and the funky clothes play music, travel the country, have a new album called Sponge Fingerz, and are best friends and brothers as well (half of them by blood), but this thing they ride with is way deeper than any of that. It’s who they are, what they think, how they dress; it’s where they come from, and how they live their lives. And, even if you didn’t already know it, New Beat Fund is who you are, and how you live your life, too. But we’ll get to that part.
New Beat Fund birthed when a piggy bank with the words "New Beat Fund" encrypted on it was catapulted into the facade of a corporate building. No joke. Jeff Laliberte, his brother Paul, Shelby and Michael have been at it for a couple years now, releasing an EP Coinz, and touring with the likes of blink-182 and 3OH!3, but they go way deeper than that. They trust each other on a supreme level, and even though their business is that of getting you hyped up, helping you chill, setting the mood to lay back with your girl or guy, or just letting you be you, they take that business seriously. “That’s the whole point and the reason that we’re in this,” says Paul, “to grow with a culture. And to also influence that culture rather than just hit at a surface level.”
“When people meet us, they say, ‘You guys are weird, but it’s fun!’” says Michael. “We want people to be cool with being weird, and thinking about things differently. The name of our record is Sponge Fingerz. What the fuck is that? It’s what we are as a band, there’s no definition—we’re able to be free. We wrote the record in Topanga Canyon—the freest place ever—we live in Southern California…that’s the whole vibe of our band. Just being weird and free.”
That freedom is the first thing you notice when listening to Sponge Fingerz, which was co-produced by Matt Wallace (Faith No More, Maroon 5) at LA’s legendary Sound City Studios and mixed by Tony Hoffer (Foster the People, Beck.) The band finds inspiration across the musical spectrum, shoving it all in a blender to cook up a colorful mash-up they call “G-Punk.” The vibe jumps from track to track—sometimes within the same song, or even the same verse—covering all the band’s favorite bases, like if you drew a huge baseball diamond over SoCal and swung for the fences. First base might be the surf-rock and dub-heavy vibes of the coastline, while rounding second brings up the hip-hop beats of South Central. Sprint over to third and pick up on the arty, indie hip and punk stuff from the city’s downtown heart. Finally, slide headfirst into the garage pop and heartfelt jams of Ventura County and the Valley, the band’s true home.
“It’s not just punk rock, or indie, or weird ass psychedelic art. We were all exposed to different things growing up, so we didn’t choose to only go in one direction,” says Shelby.
“We don’t claim any certain scene,” adds Michael, “and that’s kind of what we represent as a band, especially for kids who are figuring out who they are and where they fit in this weird ass world. We can hang with all of it and show people that’s OK to do. Let’s play how we play as individual musicians, and let’s write about our lives and go in that direction and not think about it too much. And this is what came out.”
The album blasts off with “Any Day,” a funky breakup anthem about finding your footing. The song itself was an early demo that was cast aside, but finally found its own groove at the last minute during pre-production when the band bought some dancehall albums for 50 cents at a nearby head shop. “The dancehall groove just laid the song out in front of us,” says Jeff. “It’s about when you’re right at that post-breakup thick of it, that moment where you look back and you finally see what it is. That switch when you’re done, you’re not lingering.”
In contrast, “It’s Cool” came together quickly. The song’s creation serves as a blueprint for how the band works best. “At the time, we were in a bedroom so we didn’t have the opportunity to jam it out, and we were fucking around with sampling and just had this mood and started writing to it,” says Jeff. “We all usually come together and build tracks like that. We start pretty simple, lyrics or melodies or beat, and we all color in the picture. If you had a sketch or a pencil drawing, we all come in with colors or additives and finish the painting, and then there’s the song.”
“Sikka Taking the Hard Way” shines, too, with its with its funky dub breakdown and noodling electric guitars, and its celebration of overcoming whatever obstacles life can throw at you: “I tell myself that it’s alright/it’s OK/there’s no way/I’m stumbling back now/I’ll figure it out.”
Then there’s “Halloween Birthdaze,” with its Red Hot Chili Peppers-worthy chorus, and the catchy, stoner shrugs of “Friends in High Places,” which showcases the band’s love of hip-hop. “It paints a picture of someone who is less fortunate but has the support system that they can find happiness in,” says Paul, before his brother finishes his thought: “When you got nothing but you have everything.”
Jeff sums it up like this: “We want everyone to be into our music. The word ‘pretentious’ is the worst fucking word I have ever heard. We want people to feel at home when they come to our shows, like they can do whatever they want at a New Beat Fund show. We want to be an unpretentious band that makes people feel honest emotions. Come to our show and join an experience and let you just be you. Have a good time and relate to our music.”
Yeah, it’s like that.
Rebel America Inc.
The Lower 48
Ben Braden and Sarah Parson began writing and singing music together in the winter of 2009 in Minneapolis, MN. Within a few months they were playing shows in Minneapolis, Chicago and other Midwestern venues, and before summer they had finished recording their first release, the critically praised EP “Everywhere To Go.” Following the release of “Everywhere To Go,” Ben and Sarah headed west, relocating The Lower 48 to Portland, OR. Playing regularly on the West Coast, they developed a more mature sound and wrote a host of new songs. In the summer of 2010, Nicholas Sadler, another Minneapolis native relocated to Portland, and joined the band as percussionist. Soon after The Lower 48 began recording their first full-length album. Titled “Where All Maps End,” this record reveals the band’s collaboration to portray the pain, pleasure and uncertainty of being young and making one’s way in the world. Finding it's strongest influence in music from the 1960’s, "Where All Maps End" will prove The Lower 48 to be a quintessential organic band in the digital age.
Wake Up Lucid
Wake Up Lucid
On their upcoming fourth release Gone With The Night, Los Angeles gutter rock trio Wake Up Lucid puts it simply: “Give us something real, something we can feel, or get fucked…” This statement resounds as both rejection of fakery and pursuit of honest music, which have remained Wake Up Lucid’s only guidelines for writing and performing throughout the half decade’s worth of their existence. The new album was produced by Icarus Line’s Joe Cardamone at his studio, Valley Recording Co. in Burbank and is being released March 31 on WUL Records.
Gone With The Night is a sampling of the fruits of the group’s determined efforts to develop further as song-writers, offering songs that are much more focused and realized, and diversely dynamic — a departure from the band’s usual m.o. of grit and groove hammered-out at high volumes — while still maintaining the inimitable Wake Up Lucid vibe that has crept around L.A. for the past few years.
Their authenticity and immediacy as writers and performers is rooted in their experience of growing up together in the same extended family—a musical one to boot. After pursuing their respective musical aspirations in other outfits, they formed their own some six years ago, distilling their now matured, ripened abilities into the woozy sound that is Wake Up Lucid.
Early on, cousins Ryan, Ian, and Jamie set up home base at Silverlake Lounge, honing their writing and performance skills in front of one of the most demanding audiences in the world. What resulted was…being offered an album release party, then a residency, followed swiftly by media acclaim from the likes of Rolling Stone, LA Times, Vice/Noisey, Filter, Nylon, MOKB, KEXP… and plenty of others!
After making repeated rounds in Los Angeles, a few West-Coast tours and a slot on a SXSW Urban Outfitters Series bill, Wake Up Lucid began landing TV placements, with songs being featured on Discovery Channel’s Weed Wars, Carson Daly Show (NBC), Nashville (ABC), and a two-song live performance on AXS.tv. They teamed up with VonZipper Sunglasses providing the soundtracks for several short films and have had their music feaured in Oakley, Patagonia, Hurley, Fox, Quicksilver, Me Undies and Under Armour ads.
Much of their crucial development as a band has been facilitated by Joe Cardamone who has acted as producer and assisted in the fine-tuning of the band’s sound on three releases. Joe has this to say about Wake Up Lucid:
“Each production that I have been a part of with Wake Up Lucid is proving to be exponentially more expansive than the previous. I heard a confidence in their sound this time that was really exciting. Providing them with an environment to take chances has paid off and Gone With The Night is a testament to that. This EP is a warning to what will be coming on the new LP. One of the best bands with guitars in their hands.”
Rebel America Inc.
California rock & roll with a 60's tone. A true pearl pulled from the depths of a psychedelic time warp. Powered by a mixture of psychedelia, garage and R&b. Fueled and fronted by a wild man's haunted soul!
Castle Peak Music
Alexi Glickman began performing and releasing music as Sandy's in 2012 after fronting the Botticellis and touring with Little Wings. In Summer of 2014 Thomas Campbell put out Sandy's debut record, Fourth Dementia, via Um Yeah Arts.
On his new EP, Prom, he wraps five melodic gems with layers of vintage tape echo and open tuned Stratocaster shimmer for a dreamy late summer slow dance. Alexi recalls, “my first memories of music were in these big echoey rooms watching my Dad and his dance company rehearse. I wanted to make an EP that had a presence like that.” Prom features album art by Nat Russell that depicts a lone guitarist playing for a seemingly vast, empty landscape— save for the multitude of glowing stars in the cosmos. It’s a lonely image but also a transcendent one in the same spirit as the opening lines of Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos, “Every Night I tell myself I am the cosmos / I am the wind / But that don’t get you back again.”
Lyrically, Prom deals with a similar kind of social desolation— when friends drift away after school or turn their backs on their old friends as they pair off to get married. “Sometimes there’s an openness of spirit that begins to fade in people as they grow older— songs like "Consolidated Identity" are a kind of last dance with that person before they become someone else.” Recorded mostly live to a 1960s Scully 4-track in a house in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California, Prom centers around Alexi’s guitar— an on old Fender, open tuned, echoplexed—reverberating in the old wood panels of the forest dwelling turned recording studio.
Sandy’s band, made of Burton Li (the Botticellis), Nick Aives, (The Range of Light Wilderness, Vetiver), Dave Muller, and Jeremy Black (Apollo Sunshine), blend into one instrument— winding through rich harmonic passages like they were riding a wave.
“I decided to keep two tunes on the EP instrumentals to invite folks to listen to them in a different way. Vocals can sometimes steal the show—when there’s an intricate composition underneath you wonder if anyone notices. I have vocal versions that I’d like to put out someday but I thought opening with an instrumental on each side of the EP was a fun way to welcome folks into this little world.”
A man of few words - Dutch producer making music that sounds like Hudson Mohawke's sampler died in the forest and gave life to fresh, natural, and earnest beats.
Third Side Music
We Are Wolves
The now mythic trio, We Are Wolves, presents an honest and uncatchable sound; a bit like celestial lightning hitting a sacred mountaintop. Mainly inspired by visual arts, they paint a post-punk landscape, scattered with analog trees. Their primitive approach remains true to their animal of predilection: untamable. Disciples of rock and electronica - it’s at the junction of those two movements that We Are Wolves made their den.