One of my favorite qualities about Brooklyn based experimentalists SOFTSPOT is their tendency to always be working on something new. Though they’ve released their sophomore album MASS just last year, it’s no surprise to find out that the foursome absconded soon after into the wilds of North Carolina to begin working on a brand new set of songs. “Abalone” just happens to be one of those songs and it finds the group leaning more heavily into the nascent pop flourishes peppered throughout their past two records.

That’s not to say that SOFTSPOT have abandoned their occasionally atmospheric experimental rock but rather expanded their dynamic vision in a direction that’s downright infectious in its New Wave recalling sweep. Sarah Kinlaw’s lyrical power remains at an all time high – featuring complex cerebral arrangements but relateable nonetheless a proper love song. While you could argue that Kinlaw’s vocals are often the most compelling part of SOFTSPOT’s song construction, “Abalone” finds the band operating at full efficiency. There’s a veritable smorgasbord of musical offerings – from Kinlaw’s bewitching coo, the sultry swirl of Jonathan Campolo’s synths and Bryan Keller Jr’s guitar interweaving ornamental riffs, to even the soft pitter-pat of Blaze Bateh on drums, it all blends together to form an effective siren song; luring you into its casually rolling waves, coasting into the band’s wonderful outro jam before everything’s swallowed up in a wash of noise.

“Abalone” might only be a teaser of more to come but it’s a damn good one proving SOFTSPOT’s creative impulses are to be trusted. Here’s hoping it’s not too long before SOFTSPOT offer up more of their innovative art rock but until then “Abalone” is a more than sufficient placeholder.

Zu Shapes

After a little bit of a false start with a demo last year, Lands & Peoples’ Beau Cole is pursuing his Zu Shapes solo project in earnest. For lovers of the smooth, intimate bedroom pop of Cole’s Merigold EP, the new single “Tired Swing” might come as a bit of a surprise. It’s a rather turbulent piece of aggro-pop that eschews the hushed tones of Zu Shapes’ past for the grander roar of raw emotion. Part of the shift in sound is due to Cole teaming up with producer Mickey Freeland (Flock of Dimes, Sharon Van Etten) and another is Cole just leaning into the emotions the song attempts to convey – the sense of mounting frustration in an increasingly complicated relationship.

It’s that nugget of truth that imbues the change of aesthetic with real emotion and a sincere stylistic push. Cole’s always worn his heart on his sleeve but with “Tired Swing” you get a peek at the sweltering storm of a man discontent with the way life is playing out and intent on doing something about it. “Tired Swing” pushes Zu Shapes further away from the Panda Bear comparisons of Merigold and onto something wholly other. There’s an arena-ready rock grandeur without losing any of that intimacy of emotion that’s the most winsome part of Cole’s oeuvre.

“Tired Swing” hints at more from Zu Shapes and hopefully we won’t have to wait another four years for Beau Cole to make good on that promise. More here »

luke reed - rivers of love

It’s been a few years since Luke Reed released his hazy, lo-fi pop debut single “Rivers of Love”, but the man from Somerville MA has been tinkering and sporadically releasing new material, including this pair of jangly gems released three weeks ago. Perfect for your summer playlists:


Quickly establishing themselves as one of the most dynamic young live bands I have seen, Hudson, NY-based quartet Palm have very little in the way of released material and even less in the way of released material that does their frenetic live show any justice. Even with a full length on the horizon recorded and slated for release sometime in the not-so-distant future, the band can’t seem to keep up with themselves.

Ostrich Vacation, a cassette released on the newly distributing JMC Aggregate, is perhaps the most reliable peek at the foursome in their present form and yet, so ruggedly experimental it’d be easy to diminish the band as some sort of indulgent mess. Palm are anything but. Each part of Palm’s playing is carried out with mathematical precision and yet with a totally human delivery. Complex rhythms and interweaving guitars are the name of the game and Palm are destined to be champions – pairing up their ardent desire to create music that is challenging and different with comparable instrumental mastery and guileless cool. Palm has plenty of ideas to spare and the title track in particular gives every indication of the brilliant alchemy achieved when Palm allow themselves to create without limits. Future releases are guaranteed to demonstrate their ability to refine but Ostrich Vacation proves Palm have a winsome amount of raw material.

You can listen to the cassette in full now and snag the cassette if that’s your bag here »

Posted By Dante at

FILED: Listen, Palm

gilligan moss

Chicago producer Gilligan Moss, whose excellent song “Choreograph” we’ve shared before and are sharing again now, is finally, finally dropping a more proper debut. Via AMF Records comes his Ceremonial EP, out August 14th. “Choreograph” was one of our absolute favorite tracks of 2013, so re-live the glory below and hope the additional three tracks can make similar waves.

Preorder the vinyl (and other goodies) here »