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  1. Mannequin Pussy

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    The third full-length from Mannequin Pussy, Patience is an album fascinated with the physical experience of the body, its songs tracking the movements of mouths and hands and racing hearts, skin and spit and teeth and blood. Deeply attuned to the power of their own physicality, the Philadelphia-based band channels complex emotion in blistering riffs, thrashing rhythms, vocals that feel as immediate and untamed as a gut reaction. But throughout Patience, the Philadelphia-based band contrasts that raw vitality with intricate melodies and finely detailed arrangements, building a strange and potent tension that makes the album all the more cathartic.

    The follow-up to Romantic—a 2016 release praised by Pitchfork for “combin[ing] punk, shoegaze, death metal, and more, with the ferocious push-pull energy of a mosh pit”—Patience came to life at Studio 4 in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania. In creating the album, Mannequin Pussy worked with producer/engineer Will Yip (Quicksand, The Menzingers), shaping an explosive sound that never overshadows the subtlety of their songwriting. “In the past there’s been a chaotic feeling to the recording process, but working with Will put us in a different headspace,” says Dabice. “It helped us show our progression over the past few years and make a very crisp-sounding record, without losing the dirtiness of what Mannequin Pussy really is.”

    Opening with its gloriously frenetic title track, Patience matches Mannequin Pussy’s wild volatility with a narrative voice that’s often painfully vulnerable. On “Drunk II,” for instance, Dabice’s vocals shift from fragile to furious, the track’s stormy guitar work colliding with lyrics capturing the grief of post-breakup inertia. “I wrote that song one night when I was very heartbroken, after I’d been out with friends trying to pretend like I wasn’t feeling so hopeless,” says Dabice. “I went home and just started playing guitar and crying, and stayed up working on that song till about four in the morning.”

    On the delicately sprawling “High Horse,” Patience takes on a more restrained tone but still maintains a devastating intensity, with Mannequin Pussy presenting an intimate portrait of an abusive relationship (“Pushing me up against the kitchen sink/I feel your breath on me/I can taste it in my teeth”). Meanwhile, “Who You Are” shifts into a brightly tender mood, assuming a classic-love-song sweetness in its message of self-acceptance. “I turned 30 as we were working on the record, and it changed my whole perspective on my life and relationships and everything,” says Dabice. “‘Who You Are’ came from thinking about what I’d want to say to myself when I was still in my 20s and wasting so much time not believing in myself.”

    Elsewhere on Patience, Mannequin Pussy transmit an unstoppable fury: the 39-second “Clams” delivers as a brutal blast of vitriol against those who’ve tried to hold them back, while “F.U.C.A.W.” unfolds in unhinged riffs and relentlessly pounding beats. And on “In Love Again,” the album closes out with a magnificently epic anthem driven by dreamy guitar tones, lilting piano melodies, and a particularly elegant performance from Reading (“I’m really proud of the nuanced drum beat and the percussion odyssey at the end,” she notes. “And yes, there are bongos on the track”). The most undeniably hopeful moment on Patience, “In Love Again” telegraphs utter joy and awe in its heart-on-sleeve lyrics. “I always want our records to end in a place of optimism,” says Dabice. “The songs take you on a journey through all these very toxic emotions and traumatic experiences, but what I’m trying to articulate is that something good can come from getting through all that.”

    The push toward transformation has long propelled the songwriting of Mannequin Pussy, who formed as a duo when childhood friends Dabice and Paul reconnected after years apart. At the time, Dabice had recently returned to the East Coast from Colorado in order to help take care of her mother, who’d just suffered a stroke. “It was one of the most trying times of my life, and at some point my mom suggested that I try going to therapy,” Dabice recalls. “But instead I was like, ‘I think I’m just gonna learn to play guitar.’ I didn’t want to talk to anyone; I just wanted to lose myself in the creative process.” Once she and Paul played music together, they discovered a chemistry she now describes as magical. “We created so much in such a short period of time,” Dabice says. “We never even thought of making records or anything—it was just this pure emotional outlet, just us screaming onstage with our guitars.”

     As they continued collaborating, Dabice and Paul later added Reading and Regisford to the lineup, making their debut with GP in 2014 and releasing Romantic in fall 2016. Recently signed to Epitaph, Mannequin Pussy found themselves newly revitalized in the writing and recording of Patience, their creative connection stronger than ever. “I’m so proud of how hard we’ve worked to get to this point,” says Dabice. “This album sounds exactly how I’ve always wanted us to sound—I’ve never listened to something we’ve made and felt so inspired by it.”

     As Dabice explains, the band’s journey toward the making of Patience partly inspired the album’s title. “I think you have to be patient that you’ll find the sound that’s in your head,” she says. “It’s okay to take your time if you can’t figure it out right away—you’ve got to just trust that you’ll get there eventually.” And within that process, Mannequin Pussy have continually found the emotional release that ultimately makes their music so powerful. “Feeling isolated in your most toxic experiences can slowly destroy you from the inside, but going through the motion of creating something can make you feel at peace,” Dabice says. “And the real beauty is that, by sharing your experience, it helps other people to feel less alone as well. That’s what we’ve always searched for with our music, and I don’t think that will ever change for us.”

  2. Y La Bamba

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    Y La Bamba has been many things, but at the heart of it is singer-songwriter Luz Elena Mendoza’s inquisitive sense of self. Their fifth record, Mujeres, carries on the Portland-based band’s affinity for spiritual contemplation, but goes a step further in telling a story with a full emotional spectrum. Coming off Ojos Del Sol, one of NPR’s Top 50 Albums of 2016, Mujeres exhibits the scope of Mendoza’s artistic voice like never before. “Soy como soy,” Mendoza says, and that declaration is the bold— even political— statement that positions Mujeres to be Y La Bamba’s most unbridled offering yet.

    The record exists in the post-2016 landscape of a national identity crisis, and Mendoza explores what it means to be a Mexican American woman by leading us through places we are afraid to go. Mujeres ventures in to the discomfort of the stories we tell ourselves. Those of our past, our futures. We all have these stories somewhere inside of us, but with Y La Bamba, Mendoza forges new narratives from old stories of heritage and family, tracing history while forging modern chicana feminism.

    “Music is an extension of everything I have inside. It’s how I emote,” Mendoza says. The raw honesty of Mujeres is in fact the raw honesty of Mendoza. Armed with the emotionality of traditional música mexicana and the storytelling of American folk, Y La Bamba’s artistry is not just their musical ability but Mendoza’s search for unadulterated truth. It is in an ancestral, spiritual journey in which Mendoza comes to terms with the influence and limitations of her upbringing. Mendoza’s experience of childhood summers in the San Joaquin Valley listening to mariachi, of being raised strict Catholic by immigrant parents, of being a woman having to prove herself to the boys, paints strokes of both melancholy and healing on the tracks. “From the way that my family struggles, to the way they shoot the shit… it’s so different from whiteness,” Mendoza says. “It’s a different dimension.”

    Y La Bamba exists in the dimension of the Mexican American imagination: somewhere cynical and optimistic at the same time. While there is a celebration of the Mexican creativity that has informed Mendoza’s life, there is a darker side to reconcile with. Where do mujeres fit in to the American story? What are the sins for which we are all guilty? How do different generations interact with the world? How can a culture become visible without tokenization? It is no surprise that in Mujeres, Y La Bamba’s first record with Mendoza at the helm of production, Mendoza contemplates these questions to tell her story. But it is not just Mendoza’s story. Challenging a narrative and dealing with the emotionality of that effort— that is everyone’s story.

    Mujeres was recorded by Luz Elena Mendoza and Ryan Oxford at Color Therapy Studios and Besitos Fritos Studios in Portland, Oregon. Mixed by Jeff Bond, with Grace Bugbee on bass, John Niekrasz on drums, Margaret Wher Gibson on keys, and Ed Rodriguez and Ryan Oxford on electric guitar.

    Bio written by Eliza Cossio

  3. MIKE

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    Through his mixtapes Winter New York and Longest Day, Shortest Night, MIKE started to tell the story of his childhood, and with mixtape May God Bless Your Hustle he made a definitive statement on the current state of youth in New York. That project turned heads outside of MIKE’s immediate community in the city, earning praise from The FADER and the New Yorker, and being selected as Best New Music by Pitchfork. Themes about the depression and anxiety that accompany being young and African American abound throughout MIKE’s music, but a muted sense of hopefulness and certainty that he is moving towards ultimate triumph is the motor quietly propelling things forward.

    MIKE had a prolific 2018 which saw him release four projects: Resistance Man, Black Soap, Renaissance Man, and finally War In My Pen, the latest chapter in MIKE’s story.

  4. Radkey

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    Radkey does whatever they want. Whether it’s hard and fast, or slow and groovy as fuck. Radkey does whatever they want, and that’s what rock and roll is all about. You can hear it in the music and it makes you want to fucking party. Radkey doesn’t cater to one sound by calling themselves a “Punk Band”.

    Radkey is: Dee, Isaiah and Solomon. Dee, the lead singer, guitarist and the oldest of the 3, has a powerful baritone voice, badass guitar solos and an equally powerful love for Japan.
    Isaiah is the Bassist with a fucked up dark mind, and a sexy way with words. Solomon is the Drummer and youngest brother. He’s a lover of hot sauce and video games, and he takes it seriously.

    Radkey all grew up in a shitty little pink house in St. Joseph, Missouri. Homeschooled. Bored with nothing to do but listen to their Father’s records and start a band. Radkey is a rock band.

    – Vinny Dingo

  5. Lando Chill

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    Experimental hip-hop artist & social activist Lando Chill is known for incorporating elements of funk, gospel, jazz, indie rock, psychedelic, and folk into his production work. A Chicago native, Lando (real name Lance Washington), first started rapping under the Star Wars-inspired moniker Lando Chillrissian, and later shortened it to Lando Chill. Bringing to mind groups like Spearhead and The Roots, his lyrics are highly introspective, reflecting on personal struggles and posing existential questions for his listeners, but even at his most cathartic he has maintained a positive, encouraging outlook. In 2012, he returned to the gift his mother bestowed upon him, writing poetry to help deal with chronic depression from never actually coping with death at an early age. A warrior-poet by nature, Lando’s goal has always been to bring the issues of political freedom, mental health, and police brutality to the forefront of his work and to the national conversation. Aimed at giving a voice to marginalized communities throughout the U.S., he is perceived as a man with one ear to mother nature and one to the plight of humankind.

    Lando began writing material for his debut full-length album, For Mark, Your Son, in late 2014, with its final release appearing on Mello Music Group in 2016. The album was an intense self-examination inspired by the loss of his father, who died of a heart attack when the rapper was just four years old. For Mark was swiftly followed by Madera Canyon, an eight-song EP featuring line band recordings of tracks from the full-length as well as additional material.

    His second full-length album, The Boy Who Spoke to the Wind, appeared in 2017 and represented a personal tribute to self-actualization, spiritual acceptance and social activism. Named #26 on Bandcamp Daily’s “100 Best Albums of the Year,” the project was heavily influenced by Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist, and contained more of an abstract, experimental sound than his prior releases. Musically, the album was a movement forward from his previous work, harmonizing the internal and external in a cathartic symphony. The instrumentation, unlike anything else, sprawled from classic lo-fi hip hop to high production scoring. As reminiscent of James Blake and Bon Iver as it is of Frank Ocean or Kendrick Lamar, Lando collaborated with producer The Lasso, bassist Chris Pierce, as well as other key session musicians, to bring the album to life.

    His most recent release, Black Ego, explores the nuances of the black experience, touching on themes of cultural appropriation, privilege, and intersectionality. Drawing from a vast expanse of influences, this third album is equal parts hip-hop, indie rock, funk, psychedelic, and gospel. An impressive and intoxicating follow-up to his 2017 release, Black Ego combines seemingly equal parts of west coast funk and desert trip-hop, ultimately threaded together by Lando’s bold vision.

  6. Greet Death

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    Greet Death is a three piece post-rock band from Flint, Michigan. They initially made waves with their infectious debut album “Dixieland” (Flesh and Bone, 2017). The album was well received, with Pitchfork giving it a “7.7” rating and stating “…This is a remarkably tuneful, forthright pop-rock band that just so happens to play six-minute songs at bradycardic tempos”.

    “New Hell” is the latest album from Greet Death. It was recorded by Nick Diener (The Swellers) at Oneder Studios. Additional recording was done by Jake Morse. It was all mastered by Jay Maas at Getaway Recording, and artwork for the release was created by illustrator Liam Rush.

    The album as a whole is a creative intermingling of lush melodic atmosphere with melancholic lyrical content. Within that haze their personal subject matter is cleverly cloaked amid beautiful vocal deliveries and dreamy guitar work. This is the case in songs “Circles of Hell”, “Do You Feel Nothing”, “Let It Die”, and “You’re Gonna Hate What You’ve Done”. This not-so-subtle vitriol continues to spread through self reflection in unforgettable songs like “Entertainment”, “Strange Days”, as well as the tone-soaked “Strain”. While “Crush” plays as a complex outpouring disguised as a hook-laden pop number. All of this leads to “New Hell”, a nearly ten minute epic of towering proportions. Lovingly constructed before ominously swaying in the wind and collapsing under its own emotional weight.

  7. Glitterer

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    Glitterer was born in August of 2017, when the eponymous Glitterer EP appeared on Bandcamp. To some, Glitterer seemed to manifest the parallel identity, something between an alter-ego and a superego, of Ned Russin, who wrote, sang, and played every note of the EP’s eight songs. Ned Russin is a New Yorker, by way of Northeastern Pennsylvania, a 29-year-old bassist and singer who made his name in music by playing in a band called Title Fight.

    Glitterer features spartan instrumentation — bass, drum machine, synths, and a familiar voice — and its compositional ethos, such as the listener can grasp, lies in hyper-efficient deployment of discrete harmonic and melodic ideas, also known as verses, choruses, and bridges. The introspective but gnomic lyrics address the kinds of ontological, existential, epistemological, ethical, and moral questions one would expect might occur to a 20-something liberal-arts college student (which Ned was, at Columbia, at the time of Glitterer’s release) all while wryly acknowledging the predictability of such heady questions arising under such heady conditions.

    Not Glitterer, a five-song follow-up, appeared eight months later. As is suggested by the antinomic title, the newer EP is even more preoccupied with contemplating the exigencies and implications of regarding oneself and of regarding oneself regarding oneself and, of course, of regarding oneself regarding oneself regarding oneself. And, as with the first record, no song extends a second beyond what’s necessary to deliver the minimally viable aesthetic and intellectual goods. One would be hard-pressed to name an artist that conveyed a higher concentration of stimulation and aural pleasure in 2017 and 2018.

    At this point in the story, Glitterer was all but bound to be forced into certain boxes. Here we had what appeared, at a casual glance, to be an erstwhile rock musician’s inevitable solo-electro project, consisting as it did of cleverly written songs whose principal subject was the very self that had conceived them. And this at a time when the most talked-about independent musicians were radically self-involved “Soundcloud rappers,” a time whose zeitgeist, engineered in large part by Silicon Valley’s oligarchs and their data-harvesting social networks, produced and nurtured the most narcissistic individuals in the most narcissistic moment in the history of the most narcissistic society in the history of the world. In this context, Glitterer must be a low- or no-stakes novelty exercise in recreational solipsism. Or else one disingenuous man’s cynical bid for a slice of the post-Lil Peep streaming-revenue pie. Or else a bit of self-serious critical-theory cosplay meant to flatter the intellectual vanity of budding coastal elites. Or maybe a toxic mix of all three?

    But anyone harbouring such suspicions was disabused of them as soon as they saw Glitterer play live during this period. Recordings are plastic objects (in more senses than one) onto which listeners project their biases: A musician who tries to convey vulnerability, earnestness, or self-effacement solely through records is at the mercy of those who would superimpose onto them their own cynicism. (This is, after all the most narcissistic moment in the history of the most narcissistic society in the history of the world.) Live performance is different: A musician who goes out of his way to commune in good faith with people who themselves have gone out of their way to stand together in a room — such a musician is not so easily dismissed. And so it was that, accompanied only by a microphone stand and a Mac laptop perched on a stool like a standup comic’s glass of water, Ned performed 42 U.S. shows from 2017 to 2019, mostly opening for punk and hardcore bands. His dad called it his karaoke act.

    But the live show, too, was a contingency, a temporary means to an end that, like the EPs, occluded an essential paradox: Glitterer is a solo project, Glitterer is Ned Russin — but Glitterer is, and has always been, a band.

    Hence Looking Through The Shades, Glitterer’s debut full-length album, out on Anti- in summer 2019. Recorded in the cozy carpeted basement of the Russin family home, in Kingston, Pa., and co-produced by indie-rock prodigy Alexander Giannascoli and theArthur Rizk (Code Orange, Power Trip, Sumerlands, the 2018 Grammy Awards), the album not only contains Glitterer’s best-yet sonics and songs; it has been constructed in such a way as to evince a spirit — co-operative, semi-schizophrenic, greater than the sum of its parts — that is proper to rock bands and that is inaccessible to even the least self-involved Soundcloud rappers and bedroom artists.

    Simply put, Looking Through The Shades is the sound of a group of people playing music, together, in a room. Now we have live drums (Ned’s brother Ben does the honours) and dopamine-releasing fuzzy guitars (Ned’s other brother Alex contributes a solo) to go with the synths, the bass, and the voice. Now we have a 14-song-long thematic arc, carefully sequenced. Meanwhile, the lyrics are still reluctantly but rigorously self-aware, the choruses are still habit-formingly catchy, and the arrangements still carry not an ounce of excess fat. From the saturated distortion of the opener, “The Race” (“I wish I could look at your life and know it’s mine”), through the road-weary “1001” (“I sang 1,000 songs / Didn’t want to sing again”) and the vox-and-bass-only Side B outlier “The News” (“I used to be original”), listeners are invited to join the album’s team of creators in wrestling with the defining psychological and social conditions of our age. And thus we discover that Glitterer invokes solipsism not to glorify or revel in it but to understand and rise above it, and that Glitterer knows that no individual can accomplish such a task alone, which is why Glitterer is a rock band and always has been, even when only one person’s name was attached to it.

    Glitterer was born in August 2017 and now, with Looking Through The Shades, Glitterer has come of age.

  8. Madeline Kenney

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    Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Madeline Kenney keeps a soil-tethered root to the natural world in her art. A move to the Bay Area in 2013 plus a chance encounter with Chaz Bundick (Toro Y Moi) led to their collaborative recording of her Signals EP, followed by Kenney’s debut album, Night Night At The First Landing. Both works are marked by Kenney’s huge voice and unexpected lyrical knots. In October 2018, Kenney released her sophomore work, Perfect Shapes, with help from Jenn Wasner (Wye Oak). Dealing with subjects of femininity, societal pressures, expectation, value and self-worth, Kenney and Wasner presented a deeply collaborative work that resulted in a critically acclaimed moment of musical bravery and harmony.

  9. Mothica

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    Mothica is the audio / visual project of McKenzie Ellis. Like a moth, nocturnal yet drawn to the light, her lyrics balance clever wordplay doting on intimate and often dark life experiences.

    Growing up in the suburbs of Oklahoma, McKenzie was a part of a classical guitar ensemble at an arts-focused public high school. At home, she would write original songs over arpeggios she learned in guitar class and uploaded her original songs and covers on YouTube. She was determined to trade the great plains for a more populated skyline. After receiving a scholarship to Pratt Institute for visual web programming, McKenzie moved to Brooklyn, New York in 2013.

    Between classes, McKenzie wrote music as a form of catharsis from rigid school assignments. During the second semester, she showed a classmate some of the songs she had been making and her classmate introduced her to several electronic music producers on Soundcloud, lent her a midi keyboard, and encouraged her to buy a real microphone. Her first released on Soundcloud, ‘Starchild’ (prod. by melodrama) received 100,000 plays in 24 hours.

    McKenzie learned to produce in Ableton and released an EP called Mythic in 2015. Her somber song about self-empowerment, “No One” reached No. 6 on the US Viral Spotify Charts. Soon after, she released the smash hit “Clear” with Canadian producer Pusher. The song currently sits at 14 million plays on Spotify and put her on the radar for everyone from Spotify execs to Teen Vogue. In the following couple of years, Mothica released 2 more EPs and collaborated with artists like Crywolf, Tennyson and Said The Sky.

    Now, in 2019, Mothica is preparing to release her debut album ‘Blue Hour’.

  10. Husbands

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    Danny and Wil are Husbands. They got their start releasing 23 home-recorded lofi beach pop singles in a year. In 2015, they released Golden Year, a sunny, reverb-drenched collection of beach punk accompanied by Brian Wilson-esque melodies.

    Now, for their new LP, After the Gold Rush Party (Cowboy 2.0 Records), Husbands adds no-wave, garage punk, and a little tropicália into the Husbands blend. Lyrically, After the Gold Rush Party soberly looks at life at 30, as Wil and Danny settle into jobs and ponder what it means to be punk rock (if at all) in 2019. In ATGRP, Husbands creates a grab bag of new, unreliable narrators and weaves in pop culture allusions in a fun yet unsettling postmodern mélange.

    So far, “Mexico” has been featured on NPR’s Heavy Rotation and added to Spotify’s Fresh Finds and Feel-Good Indie Rock playlists.