Indie Roundup | 30 Tracks To Take Your Thursday Up A Notch

Get a head start on the weekend with Julia Stone, Divine Horsemen & plenty more.

Julia Stone breaks with tradition, Divine Horsemen bring back the mystery, Gordon Koang visits South Sudan, Victory Kid step out, Spook the Horses bust open the cell, Safehold are at loose ends and more in your Thursday Roundup. There’s plenty of goodness down below. Pace yourself.



1 | Julia Stone | Break

THE PRESS RELEASE:Julia Stone marks her eagerly anticipated solo return with a striking new single Break and the accompanying music video. In a profound and exciting shift from her folk origins, Stone has shed a proverbial skin to emerge in an entirely new form. With its surreal, metallic synths and horns, the single is reminiscent of David Byrne, and is the perfect introduction to Stone’s compelling new era. Break was produced by none other than St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark, who also plays on the song) and Thomas Bartlett (Yoko Ono, Sufjan Stevens) with contributions from Stella Mozgawa (Warpaint) and Bryce Dessner (The National). Annie Clark reminisces on her first introduction to Break: “I was so floored … The feel, the vibe, it’s catchy but weird — like You Can Call Me Al through the looking glass.” Stone muses that Break is about being alive with the head rush of new love: “It’s when you first meet somebody, and you have that connection, and your chemicals go crazy. It’s about enjoying that first moment, without considering what comes next.”

2 | Divine Horsemen | Mystery Writers

THE PRESS RELEASE:Divine Horsemen, the punk unit that tore up the Los Angeles music scene in the ’80s, return with a vengeance on the rampaging new single Mystery Writers. The song, a prelude to the release of an all-new 13-track collection, Hot Rise of an Ice Cream Phoenix, due later in 2020, reunites the co-founding members of the band, vocalists Chris Desjardins (aka Chris D., also the principal songwriter) and Julie Christensen. Desjardins says, “The lyrics for Mystery Writers began taking shape a couple years ago when I was starting to write songs again for both Divine Horsemen and The Flesh Eaters. The words went through many edits and cross-pollination with other good lyric scraps from songs I couldn’t quite finish or had discarded. I’m a big fan of the cut-up technique anyway, so after getting seven or eight solid lines with that, the rest of it comes intuitively, almost out of thin air. You open yourself up, and the ideas — whether they be musical, verbal or visual — will materialize. In Divine Horsemen songs, I often, too, like to create a dialogue with Julie, like characters in a movie — in this case a film noir. Musically, I told our guitarist, Peter Andrus, that I wanted to go for a kind of Link Wray/Exile-era-Stones/Raw Power-era-Stooges hybrid, and that’s what we came up with.”

3 | Gordon Koang | South Sudan

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Legendary Sudanese pop star Gordon Koang will release his 11th album Unity on Aug. 14. Today, he releases a new single/video, South Sudan. In South Sudan, Gordon sings in Nuer, his native language, and speaks of a leader and aid worker he knew whilst in South Sudan. He shares a story of this man’s wisdom and his efforts to keep Gordon and his community from falling into poverty. The catchy and percussive melodies transcend language barriers and are sure to have listeners across the world dancing! Gordon adds: “I’m so happy to share this song with you, my audience! Even if this song is not in English, God will translate it for you!”

4 | Victory Kid | Stepping Out

THE PRESS RELEASE: “SoCal pop-punk ska-rockers Victory Kid debut their new single and music video Stepping Out. The clip stars America’s Next Top Model winner Jourdan Miller, Charley Rossman (Superbad, CSI) and Claire Montgomery. Vocalist/ guitarist Harrison Nida says, “This is one of our favorite songs on the record, and we’re so excited to release it. Ska Punk is such a fun genre to write and play in, because while it’s intense and can tell a heavy story it sounds so uplifting. Stepping Out isn’t an original concept for the genre, but we look to modernize it while appreciating its roots in a similar way that we approach Ska as a whole. We are proud to be releasing checkered music while we stand as allies with persons of color. America is going through a painful transformation, and we hope to see it resolve as a country that is inclusive of people based on the merit of their actions and ideologies alone.”

5 | Spook The Horses | Cell Death

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Wellington, New Zealand-based post-metal collective Spook The Horses are pleased to unveil their video for Cell Death. “We’ve always been both a heavy and a quiet band. An entire album of our prettier, more bittersweet inclinations demands a reply of our most aggressive and confrontational. The pendulum must swing back the other way,” comments multi-instrumentalist Callum Gay. “Our music videos have, until now, focused on the abstract and surreal, not wanting to insert ourselves into the conversation between sound, image, and the viewer. With Cell Death, coming from our most raw and transparent record yet, the band is out in full force. In this video, we bring an adaption of our live shows to the screen, projecting the energy and sensory overload we bring to the stage, while also respecting the artifice of video production.”

6 | Safehold | Loose Ends

THE PRESS RELEASE:Safehold is an upcoming emo-pop/emo-rap artist from Chicago who began experimenting with early releases on Soundcloud in 2017. Safehold’s upcoming album titled Boyish effortlessly blends emo and rap into a first-class debut, for fans of: Lil Peep, Iann Doir & Lil Lotus. Boyish will be released July 24. Safehold says, “Loose Ends lyrically was supposed to represent partying and young lust. I think this story represents my years in high school, when I would desperately try to cling on to cool people who did not care about me in the slightest.”


7 | Aladean Kheroufi | Take A Step

THE PRESS RELEASE:Aladean Kheroufi, the Canadian by way of Algeria multi-instrumentalist and producer is sharing his new single Take A Step, the first track to be lifted from his forthcoming three-track EP, Beauty Beyond Grief, due on Aug. 7. The new EP is a collection of covers that Kheroufi has adapted and evolved into something of his own making. The pandemic arrived into Kheroufi’s life at the time of turbulent personal change with the ending of a longterm relationship and the following relocation that had to take place, a task that is made all the harder when friends and family are unable to help due to social distancing measures. Beauty Beyond Grief and the tracks on it presented a purpose to Aladean and now the listener, they were there to gift a sense of escapism.”

8 | Dave Specter | March Through the Darkness

THE PRESS RELEASE:Blues From The Inside Out is the most expressive project of Dave Specter’s 35-year career. Featuring his debut as a vocalist, the album is an exciting and timely celebration of blues, soul, jazz, funk and gospel. Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna fame, who also co-wrote one of the album’s 12 original tunes, plays guitar on two original songs. Specter has released an inspiring new video for his protest song, March Through the Darkness. The song was influenced by Mavis Staples, Chicago’s guiding light of spirit and soul. “What she has sung about over her career is so important, “Specter said. “There’s alot of darkness that we are living through and we’ve got to get through it. It’s not what this country stands for regardless of your political party. I like the idea of going high when they go low, but sometimes when a bully confronts you, you gotta stand up and speak out.”

9 | Crown Lands | End Of The Road

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Mission-driven Canadian rock duo Crown Lands just released a powerful new single/video paying tribute to the Indigenous womxn, girls, and two-spirits who have gone missing or been murdered on Yellowhead Highway in British Columbia, known as the Highway of Tears. Co-produced by Sage Nokomis Wright, choreographed by Mi’kmaq artist Teineisha Richards and narrated by Canadian Inuk singer Tanya Tagaq, the video features a cast of all Indigenous dancers. As lead vocalist/drummer Cody Bowles expressed: “I am half Mi’kmaw and violence against Indigenous people is something I have witnessed firsthand throughout my life. I identify as Two-Spirit and dream of a better world for the brilliant Indigenous womxn, girls and 2SLGBTQ+ people who face adversity every day for their very existence.” The track is off the band’s debut self-titled album, announced for release on Aug. 13 and produced by Dave Cobb (Rival Sons, Chris Stapleton, etc).”

10 | Shamir | I Wonder

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Philadelphia-based indie rock figurehead Shamir announced the title and release date of his upcoming album, Shamir out Oct. 2. He also dropped his 2nd single from the self-titled record, I Wonder. Inspired by the imagery in a Keith Haring video, Shamir explains, “The song is about the feeling of love taking over your heart, even when you don’t want it to. It also alludes to climate change and how humans (‘love’) can be the most toxic thing to the planet (‘the heart’), but also the only thing that can fix it.”

11 | Sameer Cash | This City

THE PRESS RELEASE:Sameer Cash is announcing his upcoming LP, This City, due out Sept. 11, and sharing the title track from the album. This City is a powerful anthem about the realities of working, living, and trying to thrive in a metropolis that seems to have abandoned its heart, its community, and its artists. Throughout the song, Cash is coming to terms with his love-hate relationship with the city that has shown him the beauty of multicultural co-op housing, alternative public schools, and community activism, and has also shown how quickly those things can be cast aside. Of the song Cash says, “sometimes it feels like I’m fighting with this place I love, just to merely remain, to stay in the city that raised me, and attempt to flourish in it.”

12 | Dempsey Hope | Time Flies

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Seattle-based emerging artist Dempsey Hope just released his new track Time Flies. Leaning heavily on a sound that he calls nostalgic, Dempsey crafts poignant melodies with pop and R&B influences that will make you a fan after just one listen. Dempsey Hope has been a singer and performer since an early age. In 2009, Dempsey began recording his YouTube videos, gaining fans by doing covers and creating content with his childhood friend Kateel. He then got started with a local community based recording program in South Seattle, releasing his first original song Game Time, and started busking at local festivals and on the streets of Seattle.”

13 | Geist & The Sacred Ensemble | Closed Eye

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Doom-folk collective Geist & The Sacred Ensemble release their video for Closed Eye. The entrancing track comes by way of the band’s Waning Hymns full-length, set for release on July 31. Says Geist’s M. Sauder, “This video was made using 8mm and 16mm film footage from Iceland by filmmaker James Hollenbaugh. It is the visual narrative to an inward journey influenced by the natural world. We hope its meditative pace will lead the listener to new pathways inside their mind and spirit. This music first appeared in the short film Searching Skies by Vivian Hua which I scored, as part of the Seventh Art Stand film series. The series seeks to expose and end bigotry, specifically Islamaphobia.”

14 | Soft Set | Never Die

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Toronto-based dreampop melodic indie rock duo Soft Set present their debut single Never Die, mixed in Oxford, UK by Ride frontman and celebrated producer Mark Gardener in his recently launched world-class OX4 Sound Studio. The accompanying video was created and edited by Heidi Athay. This is the lead track from their forthcoming debut EP Love and Dancing. Soft Set is a songwriting and music collaboration between James Gray and Nathan Athay, two life-long friends who became musical collaborators years after growing up together in Barrie and then Toronto, Ontario. Laced with dayglo dream-inspired sonic glee of ’90s indie rock royalty such as shoegaze icons Ride, Soft Set’s brand of melodic pop-rock is earnest and natural. Cloaked in the finest realm of nostalgic reverie, this debut single Never Die is equally stunning and infectious.”

15 | Cave States | The End Is Around The Corner

THE PRESS RELEASE:Cave States is an American indie-band, formed by Chris Grabau, Danny Kathriner and Todd Schnitzer. The St. Louis-based band often interweaves introspective lyrics, orchestral restraint and experimental soundscapes. Cave States is poised to reemerge in 2020 with a new collection of songs. First up is their three-song EP The End Is Around The Corner, including the title track as the first single. Written by Kathriner, the title track originated from a songwriting process where he and fellow songwriter Grabau randomly drew from a series of prompts to help kick-start song ideas. Grabau states, “Danny and I will sometimes write prompts on pieces of scrap paper and put them into a cup. He drew the phrase and it resonated with us immediately. We talked about how the absurd concept of ‘the end times’ had an influence on our upbringing and the people around us. We both grew up in semi-rural communities informed by the Book of Revelation. The ‘end of days’ were always just around the corner.”

16 | Protoje | Same So

THE PRESS RELEASE:Same So, the new single and video by Protoje, is the Grammy-nominated artist’s first solo release in over a year. Protoje’s track, produced by Sean “Ziah” Roberts and himself, is an early look at his forthcoming major label debut album. “I wrote this song just being in a situation and feeling ‘a type of way’ about someone — but because of the type of relationship, there are things I can’t do or say. However, at the same time, I’m hoping that she feels the same way for me regardless. This video was one of the easiest shoots I’ve ever been a part of. I honestly just did and followed everything Jrdn Mars asked of me because I trusted his vision. The lead actress Celene was a dream as well and it’s a different side and very original video especially in the Jamaican space.”

17 | X-Empire | Hard to Breathe

THE PRESS RELEASE: “The Brazilian band X-Empire launch their first work after a three-year hiatus. The single Hard to Breathe has a modern and refined production made by Michel Villares (vocalist and founder). With a polished and more modern sound, the new single brings a band detached from daring, mixing melody and weight, strong characteristics of the beginning of X-Empire. Formed in 2012 by the musician and producer Michel Marcos, the idea was to make a production to show his studio’s level of professionalism in relation to heavy music. What was supposed to be just a demo single turned into a project and later a solid band that was named X-Empire. After three years, the band is back with a new formation to release the single and video.”

18 | DK-Zero | Replicate

THE PRESS RELEASE:DK-Zero tap into their industrial metal roots in their new music video Replicate, the latest single off their album Cyber Sex Inc, which will be released July 31. Vocalist D-Punk expands upon what inspired Replicate: “In Replicate, I am singing from the perspective of one of the Replicant Clones in the middle of a drug test … and you get to see from his perspective how he goes from free-flowing, sexual thoughts in the verses, to the drugs kicking in during the pre-chorus, to the reality that the doctors are going to Replicate him. The bridge takes you on a spaced-out, drug-induced journey that feels almost like a sci-fi alien landscape, only to drop you back into the horrors of the operating room and the life of perpetual hell as a test subject.”

19 | 0171 | Photograph

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Hackney, London based duo 0171 release their new single Photograph, the third track to be shared from upcoming EP Change Nothing. Consisting of producers/singers Joe Bedell-Brill and Georgie Hoare, 0171 are breaking down societal conundrums and complexities; all played out to a backdrop of innovative, technology-warped pop. Photograph pushes those musical boundaries further once more. “Photograph is inspired by looking at a photo of an ex,” the band said. “A photo that records a moment when everything seemed perfect, but now it’s a lie, and it makes you feel strange, like you can’t really remember who you were in that photo, when you loved that person. Like a life that never happened.”

20 | Lewis Knaggs | Hold On

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Emerging British singer Lewis Knaggs shares Hold On — the punchy first single from his upcoming debut EP. The London based cinematographer has forged his own path over the years as an in-demand creative, producing stunning visuals for a variety of household acts. With Hold On, Lewis uses his celebrated talents and skills as a visual storyteller to bring his own music to life. Lewis explains: “Those big four chords for Hold On have been knocking around the voice note realm for some time, so when I sat at the piano, it felt only right for it to give birth to something, so this was the tune that was officially born.”

21 | Thurisaz | The Veil

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Belgian doom-metal collective Thurisaz have just shared a lyric video for a brand new track off the band’s forthcoming fifth album Re-Incentive, due out on Sept. 1. The follow up to 2015’s The Pulse of Mourning shows a band in full command of their craft, perfectly balancing a dark, heavy atmosphere with some poignant and beautiful melodies. Overcoming the trials and tribulations of a seasoned band, this album really showcases Thurisaz in the best shape of their career.”

22 | Romare | Heaven

THE PRESS RELEASE:Romare —real name Archie Fairhurst — releases the euphoric and uplifting single Heaven, the third and final from his forthcoming album Home. The new album also marks his first since 2016’s critically acclaimed Love Songs: Part Two. The idea of ‘collective joy’ is something that inspired Fairhurst when working on the album. Heaven follows this theme, “it took shape after playing a live version at Printworks in London at the end of 2018,” Fairhurst reminisces, reflecting on the atmosphere of the London venue. “Originally the song started as a whistle or a hum, and then different harmony lines and bass lines were added.”

23 | Expander | Megacorp

THE PRESS RELEASE:Megacorp is the capitalist-decapitating new single from Austin, Texas thrash marauders Expander. The track is a warning shot fired from their incoming second album, Neuropunk Boostergang, nearing August release. Expander declares: “The future where Earth-society is ruled by powerful, multinational corporations is here. Using their advanced data-mining networks and extended lifeblood contracts, the titans of industry have nearly completed their ultimate power play: dehumanize and reduce the workforce to pure energy commodities for maximum value extraction. Expander attacks with old-school guerrilla tactics to erase the vile ManageHand software, dismantle all infonests, and disperse the power back to the citizenry!”

24 | The Naked High | Jewel of The Crowd

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Emerging from the underground of Montreal comes The Naked High. Joining forces in the summer of 2015, connected by a love of similar music ranging from blues to rock to metal, the dauntless quartet brings an electric chemistry to their music, amplified when they are on stage. Releasing their latest EP Tap Into The Evil this past May, the band is sharing with fans their new video for the first single they unleashed Jewel of The Crowd. The video captures live clips from the band’s December 2019 performance in Montreal at Club Soda. When asked about the track, the band comments: “Lyrically and even musically this song takes love from Aerosmith’s style of writing. Sexual innuendos and just dirty fun lyrics. The way rock n’ roll used to be before everyone became so tame. The song is about wild nights and wild shows. It has a sleaze metal sound like riffs from a Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row, or Aerosmith record.”

25 | The War & Treaty | Hearts Town

THE PRESS RELEASE: “On Sept. 25, the husband-and-wife team of Michael Trotter Jr. and Tanya Blount-Trotter — known to music aficionados as The War And Treaty — will release Hearts Town, the followup to 2018’s critically lauded Healing Tide. The buoyant, uplifting single Five More Minutes is available today. Michael Trotter explains, “That song’s saying, ‘if I have five more minutes to love you, it’s going to be the best damn five minutes of my life.” The video for Five More Minutes offers a nuanced take on the song’s heartrending but ultimately redemptive origin story. Michael reflects, “After years of falling in and out of financial and mental depression, I had finally had enough. I was ready to take my own life. But in my darkest moment, where I was ready right then and there to end it all, my wife Tanya asked one last thing of me: ‘Just give me five more minutes. Stay with me. Just five more minutes to love you.’ And something in her eyes, something in her hands convinced me to give her that five more minutes.”

26 | Brett Naucke | Hallucinations IV

THE PRESS RELEASE: “You never know what’s going to happen at a residency.” That’s Chicago electronic artist Brett Naucke musing on his residency at Stockholm’s Elektronmusikstudion aka EMS. EMS was founded in 1964 as a public studio primarily for electro-acoustic and electronic music, and is one of few places where musicians can access and record on two rare, foundational synthesizer systems — Buchla 200 and a Serge Modular — through their artist-in-residency program. Naucke traveled to EMS with the express purpose of creating an album in the spirit of ’70s academic synthesizer music, but knew he was going to build it out of exploration. When he thought about EMS residencies, he didn’t think of albums recorded entirely there, and for his tenure, he wanted to flip the script. For EMS Hallucinations, Naucke recorded a meditative, immersive collection imbued with the pioneering ethos of artists like Pauline Oliveros, Ruth White, Morton Subotnick, and others, but draws from a more contemporary palette — dance music, especially.”

27 | Local Natives | Dark Days (Foals Remix) ft. Sylvan Esso

THE PRESS RELEASE:Local Natives have shared Foals’ remix of Dark Days (ft Sylvan Esso), which showcases an incredible crossover of the iconic, endlessly danceable alt-rock bands. The new, springing version of the track replaces Local Natives’ warm bass with bouncing electronics. Local Natives and Foals were due to be on tour co-headlining together this summer before shelter-in-place came down. The remix will be accompanied by the launch of a 7” out Aug. 28. Earlier this year, Local Natives revamped their classic Dark Days single from their beloved 2016 album, Sunlit Youth, by adding Sylvan Esso’s Amelia Meath to the track. In early March 2020, the band performed the song accompanied by Amelia on Jimmy Kimmel Live!’s outdoor stage – one of the last outdoor performances before the shelter-in-place order.”

28 | Sparkle Division | To The Stars, Major Tom

THE PRESS RELEASE: “Following the success of opening single Oh Henry! (feat. the late legendary jazz bassist Henry Grimes), Sparkle Division quickly return with new album cut To The Stars, Major Tom. A vibrant electronic fusion of lounge, jazz, and disco is maybe not the first (or fifth) thing you would expect to hear from one of the world’s most renowned modern composers and ambient tape loop pioneers, but upon first listen, it makes so much sense that one wonders why it didn’t happen sooner. Conceived and nearly completed in 2016, the increasing environmental and political infernos gave Sparkle Division cold feet about unleashing a record intended to be fun, loving, and prone to bouts of euphoria. But as they exclaimed, “Well, damn it, if the time ain’t right now, it never will be! Let’s do this!”

29 | Yo La Tengo | Georgia considers the two blue ones

THE PRESS RELEASE: “If you’ve spent any time hanging out with us at our rehearsal space in Hoboken — that pretty much covers none of you — you’ve heard us playing formlessly (he said, trying to sidestep the word “improvising”). Most of the songs we’ve written in the last 25 years have begun that way, but often we do it for no other reason than to push away the outside world. In late April, with the outside world weighing on everybody, we determined that the three of us could assemble in Hoboken without disobeying the rules laid out by Gov. Murphy, and resumed … “practicing” hardly describes it, because we’ve done no practicing per se, and anyway what would be practicing for … playing. James set up one microphone in the middle of the room in case we stumbled on something useful for the future. Instead we decided to release something we did right now.”

30 | X.Y.R. | Black Monk In The Dunes

THE PRESS RELEASE:Vladimir Karpov’s questing Soviet synthesizer designs as X.Y.R. evoke desolate landscapes, lost worlds, and labyrinthine inner realms but his latest is less destination than journey: Pilgrimage. Comprised of two simmering, serpentine side-long compositions – Black Monk In The Dunes b/w Echoes Of Time – the album summons a sense of pensive processions across shifting sands, “an internal dialogue with reflections and obscure images,” twilit horizons dimming to starlit mirage. Karpov likens these long-form voyages to temple meditations, “trips in search of something,” looking in as looking out.