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Now based in Birmingham, AL, producer and singer/songwriter Armand Margjeka originally grew up in communist Albania, and although his native country’s regime was brutally oppressive, a young Margjeka grew up on American music — in particular rock music on cassette tapes that were smuggled into the country.

As a producer and singer/songwriter Margjecka has developed a reputation for his fascination for the process of making a great album — after all, the great albums are a combination of the intentional, the incidental, and the accidental sounds that wind up capturing the essence and soul of an album. His sophomore effort, Hummingbird which will see a June 10th release through PIPEANDGUN and Communicating Vessels not only continues Margjecka’s reputation for concerning himself with the entire recording and writing process, it was originally conceived as an exhibition of ten very different recording sessions with different musicians, produced by the three-time Grammy winner, Darrell Throrp, who has worked with the likes of Radiohead, Beck, Outkast and Gnarls Barkley. 

"Hummingbird," the album title track, is a hushed but sincere love song that somehow reminds me a little bit of Pete Yorn’s fantastic Music for the Morning After in the sense that it sounds like a bit like a waking dream, tinged with a bit of nostalgia for a past that now is becoming increasingly distant. 

The number of emailed requests from PR firms, labels, bands, artists and record labels I’ve received from all over the world have gone up exponentially over the last few months, providing proof — to me, at least — that I’m on the right path with this site. Plus, I have to admit that having your hard work be recognized by so many people, is pretty fucking cool…

In any case, I recently heard from the Gold Coast, Australia-based indie electro pop artist San Mei. The project started last year, as a bedroom recording project that has quickly grown. Her first single, “Brighter” was released last year to a great reception by new-found fans and the blogosphere, and she follows the success of that song with her latest single, “Wars.” Although she still retains the DIY-production style, the track has an icy, minimalist sheen thanks to the sparse percussion, swirling electronics and layers of subtly pulsating synths. Lyrically, the song describes a somewhat dysfunctional attachment — the love interest at the heart of the song is intriguing and yet enigmatic, to the point of frustration. 

The London-based label, Tidal Wave Sounds will be officially releasing the single on May 12th, so if you dig it — and I think you will — you should cop it. 

While I was covering John Brown’s Body and the Easy Star All Stars at Brooklyn Bowl, I received an email from an Argentine reggae musician, producer and promotor, who recently released a three album reggae tribute to the Beatles titled Hemp! : A Reggae Tribute to the Beatles, Vol. 2. The three disc album. is the follow-up to El Album Verde: A Reggae Tribute to the Beatles, released back in 2005, an album that had reggae bands across Latin America covering Beatles tunes, and included the legendary pioneers of Ska music, Jamaica’s the Skatalites

Hemp! includes Beatles covers from 56 reggae bands from 16 different countries including the likes of the world-renowned Steel Pulse, Don Carlos, Ali Campbell, Groundation, Sly and Robbie, Yellowman, Mad Professor and others, as well as some of Latin America’s most popular reggae crews, including Los Cafres, Cultura Profetica, Los Pericos and others. 

The Argentine reggae outfit, La Zimbabwe, along with Los Pericos are considered the pioneers of the reggae movement in their native Argentina. And from listening to La Zimbabwe’s breezy cover of one of my favorite Beatles songs, “Back in the USSR,” a couple of things should be reaffirmed in your mind: the Beatles are universally beloved; that reggae has a message that’s universally applied and beloved; and that the world needs a few more good reggae versions of the Beatles. 

And interestingly enough, the compilation does contain a message — that hemp is a wonderful, wonderful plant and it’s variety of uses can solve many of the world’s big problems. But more importantly, the proceeds of the album will be used to help build a water well for the Shipibo people in Pucallpa, Peru, the heart of Amazon — in particular, the well will be build for a soup kitchen to feed the children of that community. How can anyone go wrong? We’re talking about the Beatles, hemp and clean, potable water to help feed children. All pretty cool to me. 

For more information check this video out: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jdI22TM-4g

It might help if you know a little Spanish. 

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If you’ve read the blog on a regular basis, you’d know that I’m an incredibly busy man, who rushes around to get around town for all the various shows and people I want to see. But it’s a fun life, so I can’t really complain … In any case, I took the Q59 bus to Williamsburg as i was heading to Brooklyn Bowl to catch John Brown’s Body and the Easy Star All Stars. And with the weather being nice, I decided to get off at the intersection of Metropolitan Avenue, Havermayer Street and North 5th Street, and walk to Brooklyn Bowl, when i came across this portion of a mural advertising a local cleaner’s that I believe may not even exist anymore. 

Apparently, at the last show i covered I left the settings on Black and White, and forgot that I hadn’t changed them. But I think that you can still see why this mural caught my eye. 

And here we are in glorious color.

This is a portion of a mural on the corner of North 8th or North 9th Street and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. I pass by the mural every single time on my way to Brooklyn Bowl, and this particular portion is something that i’ve always found incredibly inspiring. May we all live our lives so simply, eh?

For these photos and more, check out the Flickr set here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/yankee32879/sets/72157631312447628/

The Brooklyn-based duo of Denitia and Sene have been praised here and across the blogosphere for a sound  that effortlessly meshes elements of electronica, hip hop, R&B and soul, and in many ways it sounds comfortably familiar,  while managing to posses a minimalist, chilly air, similar to Beacon — completed with flashes of cymbal, finger snaps and languid synths thanks to the sibling production team of Christian Rich. (It’s a first for the duo as Sene has normally taken up production duties.)

Much like their previous single “Cassanova,” “Divided’ deals with affairs of the heart — in this case, a couple that’s been divided by rumors, innuendo and miscommunication. The official video is a gorgeously shot black and white video that manages to be modern and incredibly artistic, while evoking a sense of lonely heartache. 

Les Big Byrd was formed in Stockholm, Sweden a few years ago by Joakim Ahlund and Frans Johansson. Ahlund was raised by an immigrant mother in Bagarmossen, a rough and tumble suburb of Stockholm, while Johansson was raised in a very small village in northern Sweden — the sort of village where they experiences 9 months of winter and darkness. 

Both Ahlund and Johansson were in a number of bands. including a couple of bands that were recognized internationally — Johansson was a member of Fireside, a band that had been signed on Rick Rubin's American Recordings label and Ahlund was a member of the garage-pop band Caesars and he had an electronic-based project Teddybears. All of these various outfits had broken up thanks to drugs, infighting, bad management or lack of management and road burn out. 

Ahlund and Johansson eventually met up again and recognized that despite several incredibly embittering experiences that they still had a desire to create music. So they recruited one of Ahlund’s former bandmates Nino Keller and Konie, and they began writing material and rehearsing. 

Interestingly, Les Big Byrd met Anton Newcombe and the Brian Jonestown Massacre when BJM was on a tour stop in Stockholm. As the story goes they ran into each other at a local record shop and after having a lengthy conversation about music, Newcombe interview Les Big Byrd to his studio in Berlin. After jamming for a few days, the band recorded their debut effort They Worshipped Cats with Newcombe’s assistance. 

And as you’ll hear on “Back to Bagarmossen,” one of the first singles from the forthcoming album, the band specializes in a melancholy and very dreamy psych rock that evokes the sense of a languid and seemingly unending boredom. 

Formed in San Francisco back in 1988, the Brian Jonestown Massacre have a long-held reputation for material that has spanned the gamut of psych rock, folk, acid rock, experimental rock, shoegaze and electronica, as well as being notorious for the band’s tumultuous working relationships and founder and sole consistent member Anton Newcomb’s struggles with drug addiction. But what seems to be forgotten in all of this is the fact that Newcomb and the Brian Jonestown Massacre have managed to be incredibly prolific. 

The band’s forthcoming Revelation which is slated for a May 20th release, is the first album that the band completely recorded at Newcombe’s Berlin-based recording studio. And interestingly, as you’ll hear on “What You Isn’t,” the first single off the new album, the band manages to refine their sound slightly — but in some way the track also manages to be reminiscent of the Psychedelic Furs, thanks to the seductive saxophone in the background but as always, incredibly trippy. 

There are certain events of our lives that can seem to us as though they were preordained by a higher power and not by the randomness chance that pervades most other aspects of our lives. In fact, the formation of the Glasgow, Scotland, UK-based trio the Amazing Snakeheads may equally seem as preordained — Dale Barclay and William Coombe have been childhood friends and Jordan Hutchinson was Dale Barclay’s next door neighbor. And although each man knew each other and they all played music, they never really harbored major ambitions to play in bands as the trio, like most bands were fearful of aiming high and failing big; however, they’ve clearly overcame that fear with the forthcoming release of their debut effort, Amphetamine Ballads

Slated for a July 22nd release, Amphetamine Ballads was recorded at night at The Green Door Studio in their native Glasgow, and as you’ll hear on the the first single “Flatlining,” the band has crafted the soundtrack to the desperate, bruised, broken and lonely souls in the darkened corners of nightclubs, dimly lit, smoke-filled, seedy bars and alleyways, and the recesses of the human heart. I’ve played the single — and in turn, it’s official video — and immediately, I can smell the years of spilled alcohol, sweat and vomit of an old haunt and feel the splinters of its beaten up bar. as though i were there right this second…

Or in other words, sonically speaking the song is comprised of wailing saxophones, ragged guitar and bass chords and a vocalist who sings his lyrics with an snarl that sounds as though his vocal chords had been dipped in acid, whiskey and burned with cigarette butts. it’s intensely visceral and reminds us that rock should always have a sense of unpredictability and danger. 

Okay, so I think that the Glasgow, Scotland, UK-based trio, the Amazing Snakeheads may well be one the best new bands this year in my opinion as the band’s forthcoming album Amphetamine Ballads is the soundtrack to the desperate, bruised, broken and lonely souls in the darkened corners of nightclubs, dimly lit, smoke-filled, seedy bars and alleyways, and the recesses of the human heart. On the previously mentioned “Flatlining” and on the band’s second single from the album “Here It Comes Again,” the band manages to evoke a visceral sense of danger and unpredictability with an incredibly badass swagger. And it helps that their sound is generally comprised of ragged guitar and bass chords and a vocalist who sings his lyrics with an snarl that sounds as though his vocal chords had been dipped in acid, whiskey and burned with cigarette butts.

Last year, the Canadian quartet, the Darcys released Warring, the third album of a related trilogy, and the album gained quite a bit of attention across the blogosphere for it’s heady meshing of art rock, indie rock, jazz, pop, R&B and electronica, among others. In fact, as a result, the band was nominated for a Juno Award (which is the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys for those who are unfamiliar). 

The Canadian quartet has followed their successful third album with a 22 minute instrumental composition heavily influenced by Cormac McCarthy's Cities Of The Plain, titled “Hymn for a Missing Girl,” just in time for Record Store DayThe composition starts off with swirling and soaring electronics and distorted vocal harmonies that create the sense of hearing a hymn in a large room before you begin to hear the distant ringing chimes of guitar and fuzzy feedback and dissonance. And then sudden silence — a sort of apocalyptic silence that’s broken by pulsating synths and industrial sounds. In some way, the composition seems to be the soundtrack of the inevitable and horrifying end of civilization as we know it. 

The battery on my Macbook Pro was near it’s last gasps and it finally gave up the ghost — while working on a post. But the great folks at Tekserve were able to replace the battery within 15 minutes. And now we’re back with a minor delay but back all the same … 

Although both Sarah Aument and William Shore have known each other for some time, they have have been making music both as solo projects under a variety of monikers and in a number of bands; however, last year, the duo finally joined together to collaborate as Tomboy. As you’ll hear on “Roll Out,” the first single off the band’s forthcoming self-titled EP, the duo specialize in an electro pop sound that’s sensual and coquettish but with synths that glisten. In some way their sound has a similar slickness to their fellow labelmates at Captured Tracks, Soft Metals's impressive 2013 release Lenses

Originally from Manchester, UK and now currently based in London, electronic music artist and producer Clancy has been building up a following since starting out in 2011 with remixes of Little Dragon, the Magician, Yousef and Wilfred Giroux and his original material, which he has released through several different labels including Dirt Crew, S P I E L, and Kitsune thanks to a sound that fuses elements of house, electronic dance music and deep disco.

"Take it Slow," is Clancy’s latest single and it bears a bit of a resemblance to the work of many of the 100% Silk artists — in particular, the track reminds me a little bit of Octo Octa’s ridiculously impressive Between Two Selves and of ShamsPiano Cloud. In other words, the synths pulsate and glisten almost as though they contain dew while being both trippy and danceable.