Shearwater's first release on the Sub Pop label, "Animal Joy," is more aggressive than previous albums, focusing on the moments in life that, as lead singer Jonathan Meiberg describes, "bring your blood to the surface."
It's hard to believe it's already been 13 years since Dr. Dog first started making music. Once considered an extremely underground act playing shows to support their "Easy Beat" album, their first for a record label in the early aughts, they've since gone on to tour alongside The Spinto Band, My Morning Jacket and The Raconteurs.
Often known as "The Screaming Eagle of Soul," soul and R&B singer Charles Bradley has been playing music all his life, but it wasn't until he moved back to his hometown of Brooklyn, New York at the age of 51 after years working as a cook that he began aggressively pursuing his career in music and eventually landing on Daptone Records alongside Sharon Jones and the Budos Band.
Heartless Bastards encapsulates that all too classic story of the small Midwest band who quickly found an audience and rose to prominence. In their case, it was a hard-hitting approach to blues rock and frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom's lyricism which got them their accolades. The niche in music they helped to fill in the early aughts hasn't lost its importance - Heartless Bastards is still on the forefront of a scene which seems to be exploding in popularity.
Holly Newsom describes Zoo Animal's new "Departure EP" as more observational than philosophical, and it's easy to discern how different the band is today compared to a year ago, fully cognizant of major changes which have altered the act's path. The title of the EP is blunt upon deeper inspection: Zoo Animal has dealt with the departure of two members, the addition of two rotating casts of local musicians, and a further departure in sound that Newsom has taken her songs which now find themselves steeped in beautiful minimalism.
Craig Finn has been an integral part of Minnesota music since his work in Lifter Puller during the 90s, and his subsequent turn as the frontman of The Hold Steady in New York created some of indie music's most compelling and critically acclaimed records. Now Finn is taking a short breather from the full band approach to focus on a more personal and reflective style.
Vicious Vicious features the talent of three local music mainstays: Erik Appelwick, Martin Dosh, and James Buckley. When not playing in a multitude of other projects, they reunite to record material, and the past few years have seen them hard at work at their latest self-titled effort. Releasing a self-titled album well into a band's career usually indicates a sort of reinvention of sound, and Vicious Vicious has certainly illustrated how flexible their creative direction can be.
In the past decade, Cass McCombs has recorded six full-length albums, toured pretty much constantly and even got a nod from John Peel who called him, "unobtrusively brilliant." He's an artist that has been able to hover on the verge while staying mysterious and entirely indie and has created a growing base of fans across the world in the process.