Category Archives: AOTW

AOTW: Chico Mann

While guitarist Chico Mann takes a break from his band, Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, he has developed a multi-layered, electronic fusion sound that’s been blowing up dance floors in New York City and Miami. Mixing Afro-beat, freestyle, Latin, and synth-heavy electronic beats, Chico Mann has brought sounds of far away and far past, with music of the future, just beyond our reach, and called is “electropical.”

Born in NYC to Cuban parents, Marcos Garcia was exposed to music and the business from birth. His father owned a Cuban music record label and his mother often wrote compositions for the artists whom he signed. Garcia was involved in piano and guitar lessons from very young, and though he was told to steer clear of the music industry, it seemed to be his fate. In 2002, after a few jam sessions with Antibalas, he was asked to join the band permanently and has been developing his sound ever since.

The new artist Chico Mann released his first solo album, Manifest Tone, Vol. 1, in 2007, and the following two volumes in May and June of 2009. In doing this, he introduced the world to a fusion of sound as blended as the city he hails from. “It’s an expression of uniquely American music in the sense that it has all these different elements hooked together in one stew. It’s also very urban, very Latin and very multicultural in that it draws from African and funk music,” he says in an interview with James Rawls for Spinner.

Now signed to Wax Poetics records, Chico Mann is releasing his second full-length album, called Analog Drift, on November 16th. These twelve club-tronica, Latin-Afro-freestyle tracks are impossible not to dance to, his cover of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime” is just one example.  He recently wrapped up the promotional tour, which included a stop at South By Southwest, and plans to be back on the road in 2011. For the time being, check out to buy the digital CD, join the mailing list, and keep up to date on this revolutionary new artist.

Link to this article:

– Carly Shields


AOTW: Adam Haworth Stephens


Adam Haworth Stephens is a hard working singer songwriter. He is an ambitious West Coast native who is on the move and looks like a cross between Kurt Cobain and Beck, but sounds nothing like either. Stephens is best know for his part in the San Francisco bluesy-folk duo Two Gallants but has spread his wings and struck out on his own (at least for the time being).
After much touring and a barrage of recorded material (4 albums in all), Stephens took a break in 2007 to brainstorm ideas for his first solo endeavor. After the critical success of his band’s last two albums; The Scenery of Farewell and the self-titled Two Gallants, there arose a fair amount of anticipatory expectation surrounding his new solo work. Luckily for him his first solo album, We Live on Cliffs proves to be an impressive output in its own right, though of a somewhat different breed. 

We Live on Cliffs was released this past September by indie darling Saddle Creek Records. Recorded at Sunset Sound and Kingsize studios in Los Angeles the album features a slightly more subdued Stephens on vocals, guitar and piano. It also boasts a long list of impressive guest musicians including Bo Koster of My Morning Jacket and Cody Votolato of Blood Brothers. The whole scene is illuminated no doubt by the presence of producer Joe Chiccarelli, who is responsible for the likes of The White Stripes and The Shins, amongst others.

The track “Elderwoods” offers up an interesting mix of forms, seeming to cross between two ideas. Slow and melodic hooks ascend into hard, alt-pop eruptions revealing an unconventional complexity for pop music. This guy is apparently not afraid to allow one song to set off several different emotional charges. A choice that portrays Stephens with a deep confidence in himself, his appearance of weather-worn humility aside. And just as important, one gets the impression that the singer trusts his audiences’ intellect enough to not dumb down his music and lyrics, or stifle his detail-driven creativity. A disposition his fans will be sure to appreciate.

Quite possibly the best song on the album, “The Cities That We’ve Burned” begins on a dour note reminiscent of Gary Jules’ maddeningly sadly beautiful “Mad World”, but soon takes an upward turn into not exactly brightness but at least some kind of self- contented state of social critique.  Here Stephens sounds very much like Connor Oberst in his Mystic Valley Band days. While Stephens first solo attempt is not exactly catchy, it provides something else for listeners in its patiently metered folk ballads reflecting largely unspoken undercurrents of the minutiae of American culture.

In early October Stephens and his new outfit (members include Jen Grady, Matt Montgomery, and Omar Cuellar) embarked on a seven-week tour of the South and Midwest that will be wrapping up in late November. Folk/country partners in crime The Felice Brothers will be accompanying them on all dates.

Adams Haworth Stephens

November 8 – The Social –  Orlando, FL
November 9 –  Florida State University –  Tallahassee, FL
November 10 –  One Eyed Jacks –  New Orleans, LA
November 12 –  Emo’s –  Austin, TX

Link to this article:

– Amanda Decker

AOTW: Murder

Ever wonder what really good, super gloomy Danish folk sounds like? Well ponder no more, Murder is here. The duo hailing from Copenhagen, Denmark are taking neo-folk to new increasingly despondent levels. The culprits are vocalist Jacob Bellens and guitarist Anders Mathiasen. Reportedly friends for fourteen years, the two began making music together in the early 2000’s. The band’s first recording made in 2005 was a montage of electronica, acoustic and synthetic instrumentation entitled One Year From Now It’s My Birthday. The album was followed in 2006 by the highly acclaimed acoustic Stockholm Syndrome (GoodTapeRecords) which was proceeded by extensive touring of Europe.

Now, four years later, the Gospel of Man has arrived. The band’s most recent accomplishment was released October 11th of this year, courtesy of Devil Duck Records. The album is a study in seriously somber guitar pickin’ and ultra slow drawn-out melodic configurations, all canvases for Bellen’s deep prophetic vocals. The best song on the album is probably “Aqueduct” which offers more momentum than the others. With a soft-floating quality that is given to it by an Asian sounding flute that creeps along just below the surface of the song. The track “Picker of Cotton” is a strange number that seems to ride around a circular track like a line of jaunted mechanical toy figurines. There’s something Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-esque about the whole thing, a vision that is made all the more peculiar by the brooding lyrics; “I’m a picker of cotton, I’m what’s left of the Earth, Like a priest in a graveyard, I’m in search of the truth.”

Whether Murder intends to come off as reflective and deep, or morbid and dark the listener feels unsure. But the latter often reigns as the final product and when listening to their music, one can appreciate the melancholic melodies in the vein of Nick Cave.

The highlight throughout Murder’s work is Bellens’ voice which is bone-deep with a classically ageless element to it. His gospel like vocals could have come from an early 1900’s recording. A preacher turned agriculturalist passing on his bits of wisdom acquired through a life of passing over the temptations of man. Sound peculiar? Give these guys a thorough listen and you’ll understand. Yes, all this and more emanates from the indie- Danish duo. So if you like your music thick, heavy, somber, and prophetic then Murder will do well to fulfill your listening needs.

Check em’ out live and see for yourself…

Murder Tour Dates

November 3- Stoberihallen- Hillersd, Denmark
November 4- Gimle- Roskilde, Denmark
November 5- Templet- Kungens, Denmark
November 6- Forbraendingen- Albertslund, Denmark

Link to this article:

– Amanda Decker

AOTW: Tricky

“This is the most uptempo album I’ve done. I wanted something that could be played in a club maybe! Which is unusual for me. Because I don’t give a shit about clubs.”
– Tricky on his latest release – Mixed Race

Name: Adrian Nicholas Matthews Thaws 

Alias: Tricky, Tricky Kid

Hometown: Knowle West, Bristol, England

Birth Date: January 27, 1968

Occupations: vocalist, actor, producer

Got his start: The Wild Bunch and Massive Attack (two hip-hop groups)

Album Releases:
Maxinquaye (1995), Nearly God (1996), UKPre-Millennium Tension (1996), Angels with Dirty Faces (1998), Juxtapose (1999), Blowback (2001), Vulnerable (2003), Knowle West Boy (2008), Mixed Race (2010)

Famous Collaborations Include:
Björk, Neneh Cherry, Alanis Morissette, Ed Kowalczyk (Live), Cyndi Lauper, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Current Label: Domino Records

You May Recognize Him From: The 1997 film, The Fifth Element. He played a character named “Right Arm”.

Why is he BTR Artist of The Week?:

Tricky has had an undoubtedly amazing career. Some consider this man the founder of trip-hop. To be an innovator and one who defines a genre is quite an accomplishment and it seems as though this man should be a household name. We are hoping to do what we can to make that a reality.

The release of his latest record, Mixed Race (Domino Records) marks 15 years since his first solo-album Maxinquaye. In those 15 years the talented musician has collaborated with many famous artists and dabbled in every genre under the sun. Mixed Race which was recorded in his current home of Paris, France, may be Tricky hitting his stride. The elements of trip-hop which made him famous are still present. However, Tricky moves into a more accessible, uptempo, electronic field that is quite irresistible.

Now What?: Listen to BreakThru Radio for tracks off or Tricky’s new album and get out to one of his tour dates listed below.

Tricky Live!!!

Nov 1  –   Glav Club  –  St. Petersburg, Russia
Nov 2  –  Milk Club  –  Moscow, Russia
Nov 4  –  Palladium  –   Warszawa, Poland
Nov 5  –   Fabryka   –  Krakow, Poland
Nov 7  –  ETER Club  –  Wroclaw, Poland
Nov 8  –  Lucerna Music Bar  –  Praha, Czech Republic

Link to this article:

– Emily Smith

AOTW: Dark Dark Dark

It’s a dark rainy night on the streets of Paris circa 1910 and your love has just left you for good…no wait! That’s not right… it is America and it is 2010. But there’s no reason to nitpick about such things when the music you’re hearing has you so enraptured in a time and place gone by. The experimental sextet Dark Dark Dark is so effective at painting a forlorn dripping canvas of antiquated beauty  that it is easy to get wrapped up in the reflection. And one can imagine that that is precisely what Dark Dark Dark wants.

The Minneapolis-based group has members from New York and New Orleans. Arguably two of the most musically inclined cities in the country. With the Big Apple’s theatrics and the beauty of the Big Easy’s multi- tentacled musical history Dark Dark Dark is a show within a show. Appropriate to the atmospheric melancholia, piano and violin are writ large here. Phantom of the opera-esque melodies drive vocalist Nona Marie Invie down meandering pathways. The curious thing about these guys (and gal) is that they somehow sound simultaneously heartfelt and offhanded. Invie sings like the words are just occurring to her. It’s like a sing-song inner monologue on a slow lazy walk home. But trust there is nothing spontaneous or haphazard going on here. The precision, like placement of creeping piano keys and stirring violins is all meticulously preconfigured to be sure. It is a commonly annoying trait of the talented to make their work seem effortless.

The group has just released a new album entitled Wild Go courtesy of Supply and Demand records. The second in their discography belt. The band’s first album The Snow Magic was released in 2008 and somewhere along the line they also put out a self-titled 7” of remixes. The track “Daydreaming” evokes a less electronica inclined Radiohead with clear evenly- strewed female vocals, somewhat reminiscent of Bat For Lashes’ Natasha Khan.

Dark Dark Dark doesn’t mask their intent, they are moody, cinematic, at times bordering on tragic. They are a contemporary melancholic study on all things missed, lost, or shrouded in the light of every day. The commonplace becomes remarkably infused with weight. Dark Dark Dark is probably best characterized as psychedelic folk, or weird America if you prefer. However, labels can be limiting and this band is better heard than described.

And, here’s your chance (to hear their sound live)…  Ahhh, sorry New York, just missed em’ but for the rest of the free world…

Dark Dark Dark Tour Dates

October 18- Space Gallery- Portland, ME
October 19- The Temple- Boston, MA
October 24- AS220- Providence, RI
October 28- Helter Skelter- Pittsburgh, PA

Link to this article:

– Amanda Decker

AOTW: Nobunny

Nobody told Nobunny that punk is dead. Never the matter, he probably would not accept it anyway. Grown men dressed as maniacal rabid bunny rabbits tend to march to the beat of their own drum… and bass, and wily guitar riffs. The Oakland, California born one-man-band Nobunny certainly does just that.

The artistic expression of Justin Champlin (the man behind the moniker) takes the form of raucous Dada spewing live shows that showcase all pertinent forms of punk, power pop, and garage rock. A tidy little package of brittle tunes that scoff at the idea of music as a soothing agent. Champlin instead embraces the much beloved but not often enough enacted essence of the true birth of rock n’ roll as raw, unadulterated (sometimes) melodic catharsis. And while some might view his costume choice as too kitschy to swallow without indigestion his obvious appreciation for the tenets of light- hearted and socially subversive rock n’ roll are hard to refute. It is precisely this well-executed sensibility that keeps Nobunny buoyed in his self-flooded ocean of shtick.

For those already loyal to Champlin’s work his recently released second album First Blood should come as a pleasantly skewed follow-up to his first LP Love Visions (2008). Put out by Goner Records this new recording displays thickly 70’s influenced backbeats woven into dirty pop- driven melodies. The record’s track “Blow Dumb” brings to mind the beautifully original, poignant yet understated style of Lou Reed with an even-paced walk-boppin’ rhythm. While “Gone For Good” is a grade-A road song bringing to the minds-eye visions of flying down open highways with its motor revving bass and drum sinews.

While First Blood is officially Nobunny’s second album the band has released many singles and random collections of outtakes over the past few years, including a 2009 Burger Records little ditty by the name of Raw Romance that was released on cassette only (!) with the first 500 copies hand-numbered. The band also played at Third Man Records studio in Nashville, Tennessee in May of this past year, in a live concert that was recorded to analog tape and released on vinyl by Jack White’s label Third Man Records.

Citing such clearly felt influences as The Ramones, The Cramps, and another one-man-show, Hasil Adkins; Nobunny combines garage punk and pop induced chaotic but cohesive harmonies via lo-fi recordings. And yes, the warbled resonance of purposefully shitty recording materials has the desired effect of putting an even grimier face to the band’s already soot- streaked sound.

Some of the Nobunny collection has a 60’s Brit-pop/more neatly compacted precursor to punk feel. Whether to or not to interpret these as tongue-in-cheek performances is up to you. At any rate perhaps we shouldn’t put too much pressure to be serious on a performer who regularly takes to the stage in his underwear wielding firecrackers. Heck, we let Christina Aguilera get away with it… The thing to do while listening to a Nobunny song at home on your sound system or at one of his wacky shows is to sit back and enjoy the free-wheelin’ anthropomorphic ride. Yeehaw !

Nobunny Tour Dates

October 14-Uptown- Oakland, CA

October 31- Thee Parkside- San Francisco, CA

November 10- Spaceland- Los Angeles, CA

– Amanda Decker

AOTW: Grinderman

I dreaded writing this article.

Not because Grinderman isn’t amazing, boundary-pushing, urgently relevant music but because it means attempting to write about the music legend Nick Cave.  Nick Cave belongs to a category of musicians that I have filed in my mind as “The Dark Daddies” (just humor me) whose melodic and lyric talents paint the underbelly of human experience with masterfully vicious strokes. Cave is joined in this category by the greats you might expect to find there:  Waits, Cohen, Cash and, more recently, Taylor Kirk (aka Timber Timbre) and Bonnie “Prince” Billy.  These men are, along a sliding spectrum, seedy prophets of the condition of our collective human soul.

But what, you might wonder, does this have to do with Grinderman? Grinderman is the relatively new musical project of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds. Same members, very different sound. Where The Bad Seeds can be woeful and even gentle in their examination of the darker impulses, Grinderman’s tools are feedback, heavy guitar, blending ‘70s psychedelia a la Jefferson Airplane with hints of metal. Less in the music itself, the metal influence shows most clearly in the band’s lyrics, visual persona and identity.

Just watch their latest video for the single “Heathen Child,” from their sophomore release Grinderman 2, out Sept. 13th on Mute, and you will be immersed in an extended series of ghoulish, grizzly scenes, anchored in the self-discovery and sexual/spiritual awakenings of a young girl. With references to Oprah Winfrey, Mickey Mouse, JFK and Marilyn, and a host of other cultural icons, Cave turns pop fodder into scenes of domestic disturbance packing, as always, a critical punch to mankind.

Cave has always had a taste for writing about passion, loss and obsessions or, as he puts it, “Chicks.  Death.  Love.” With Grinderman, those themes take a turn for the (more) twisted, as though the band needed to release pent-up angst that simply couldn’t be contained within the ballads of The Bad Seeds. The new project also seems to allow them musical freedom to step outside the bounds of The Bad Seeds’ sound, throwing all rules out the window and seeing how much they can get away with. Cave even strapped on an electric guitar for the first time with Grinderman, a move that resulted in an uneasy strengthening of his guitar talents. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cave voices concern that:  “… the better you get, the more you just start sounding like an ordinary guitarist…  I think I had actually more of a ‘sound’ when I didn’t know how to play guitar than I do now that I kind of know how to play.” He then moves on to reassure that, lest things get too normal, the new album’s tracks also include experimental noise created with mandolin, violin and tenor guitar.

All in all, this no longer side, but secondary project of Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds seems to provide these already talented musicians with a new playground on which to discover, disturb and electrify their audience. The men seem to view their work as Grinderman with a certain delicious mischief, going so far as to open for themselves during the Australian leg of Grinderman’s first tour in 2007 (achieving the secret dream of all musicians inclined towards ironic audacity). While they may not be doing back-to-back sets on this tour, it’s still certain to be an unforgettable concert experience. I mean, come on, Nick Cave.  What more do I have to say?

Stay tuned to BTR’s programming for tracks from Grinderman all week long!

Grinderman LIVE!!
Oct 4 – Les Docks – Lausanne, Switzerland
Oct 5 – Volkshaus – Zurich, Switzerland
Oct 6 – Live – Milan, Italy
Oct 7 – Atlantico – Rome, Italy
Oct 9 – Krizanke – Ljubljana, Slovenia
Oct 10 – Gasometer – Vienna, Austria
Oct 11 – Muffathalle – Munich, Germany
Oct 13 – Haus Auensee – Leipzig, Germany
Oct 14 – C-Halle – Berlin, Germany
Oct 15 – E-Werk – Cologne, Germany
Oct 17 – Ancienne Belgique SOLD OUT – Brussels, Belgium
Oct 18 – Ancienne Belgique SOLD OUT – Brussels, Belgium
Oct 20 – Muziekcentrum Vredenburg – Utrecht, Netherlands
Oct 21 – Docks – Hamburg, Germany
Oct 23 – Falkoner Theatre – Copenhagen, Denmark
Oct 24 – Vaerket – Randers, Denmark
Oct 26 – Cite de la Music – Paris, France
Oct 28 – Groningen De Oosterpoort – DA Groningen, Netherlands

Click to hear “Palaces of Montezuma” from Grinderman II:

– Britt Sondreal