Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Plants and Animals to release new album, premiere first single "Lightshow"

With news of new albums from Bowerbirds, Fanfarlo, and Princeton (to name a few), 2012 is shaping up to be a great year for follow ups. Well now you can add Canadian indie rock trio Plants and Animals to the list of anticipated new year album. Their new album, The End of That, will be out February 28th and if their first single "Lightshow" is anything to go off of, it's gonna be a dozy of an album. Can we just forward to February now?

Plants and Animals - Lightshow by SecretCityRecords

(via Under the Radar)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ryan Adams & Laura Marling - "Oh My Sweet Carolina"

You ever have that moment where you don't know why something's happening or how but surpringly don't care? That's how I feel whenever Laura Marling pairs up with someone for a duet. Only in the past, it's usually been with other British folk artists that she's more or less been pals with. When Listen Before You Buy posted this live video of Laura Marling duetting with Ryan Adams though, my mind was abuzz with questions: How do they even know each other?! How is this happening!? When is this!? And then I just stopped thinking about it. Because the fact remains that this is one of the greatest things I've heard/seen in recent memory. Laura doesn't sing much but when she does, it's a thing of absolute beauty. Harmonizing so perfectly with Ryan Adams that you just watch in awe. And Ryan Adams? Well the man is just downright brilliant all the time.

Watch the video for "Oh My Sweet Carolina" with Laura Marling and Ryan Adams:

(Via ListenBeforeYouBuy)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Kishi Bashi is releasing an album

Thanks to Sondre Lerche's awesome talent for picking opening bands, I was introduced to one man band, violinist, and all around cool guy Kishi Bashi. After finishing up the summer tour with Lerche, Kishi Bashi set about working on his debut full length, 151a, to be released in the spring of next year. But before it comes out, he needs a little help. Check out Kishi Bashi's Kickstarter video below, featuring previews at several new songs not featured on his Room For Dream EP.

If you want to help make Kishi Bashi's album a reality, help by donating at his Kickstarter here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Carter Tanton - Freeclouds (2011)

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When I was first introduced to Carter Tanton that fateful night in a room, his album Freeclouds has been on the brain. At the time I had only heard album opener “Murderous Joy” and knew without a doubt that I wanted this album. Never mind that Carter Tanton has a rather impressive set of credits that include guitar duty with Boston dream pop songstress Marissa Nadler and Baltimore’s Lower Dens.

Freeclouds starts off with ”Murderous Joy” arguably the best track on the album. Every singer-songwriter, band, or artist should strive for that one song that’s so great people can’t stop listening to it and this might very well be Tanton’s. It’s emotional without being melodramatic, with a plainsy whisper that recalls the rolling hills of the countryside viewed from the window of a departing train. And just when you think you know what to expect from the album, you get a hazy duet with Marissa Nadler in the form of “Fake Pretend”. Despite all the noise and effects, Tanton and Nadler’s vocals cut clear though – simple and sweet.

Freeclouds makes some reference to David Bowie’s “Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud” (most notably in “Pitch Bent Flute”), but if you’re like me and have merely a passive knowledge of David Bowie’s music you’re certainly won’t be left out of the loop. Tanton combines all the strengths of his other projects to spectacular effect without being upstaged by them. “Murderous Joy” proves right away that Tanton’s a skilled songwriter so the rest of the album you’re not distracted looking for proof. Instead it gives him room to explore and experiment while occasionally grounding it with tracks like “Saturday” and “In Knots”. Each track offers up something new – some new effect or unexpected twist that all come together to make for a diverse but not disconnected album. Freeclouds is a delightful listen that grows better with each listen –as intricacies give way to revelations and yet, it’s an album that’s endearing simple. There’s no grandstanding like some singer/songwriters are sometimes wont to do – instead it’s just a collection of songs that are honest, sincere, and most importantly just plain good.

Get a taste of Freeclouds with the video for "Horrorscope":

The Lost Cavalry - "The Tower" video

In celebration of their EP release and EP launch concert, London folk pop quintet The Lost Cavalry have been releasing a video a day featuring songs from their Snow City Radio EP. Today's happened to one they posted before that I somehow managed to miss, "The Tower". Despite Mark West's decidedly awesome ability to create music videos, "The Tower" actually uses footage from the short film Red & Cyan by Jon Cowen and Marcelo Munhoz that also happens to star none other than the band's own Mark West. It's action packed and awesome and kind of really make me want to check out that short film.

Check out "The Tower" video:

And remember, you can preview, buy, and/or order to the Snow City Radio EP at The Lost Cavalry's Bandcamp.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Toh Kay - Streetlight Lullabies (2011)

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I was first introduced to Tomas Kalnoky by a friend at summer camp when I was 15 through his short tenure with Catch 22. Before that, my music taste was a complete mess – bits of hip hop and R&B absorbed from my mother, mainstream pop heard on the radio, video game soundtracks and classical recordings. But when I first heard Catch 22, something woke up in me. I underwent a completely musical rebirth anchored by lyricism. By the time I was introduced to Catch 22, Tomas Kalnoky and half the band had already parted ways and went off to start Streetlight Manifesto and post-Kalnoky Catch 22 did nothing for me and despite how much I enjoyed Streetlight Manifesto’s music , the majority of my listens accompanied my frantic search and review of their lyrics. So when Tomas Kalnoky announced a solo side project last year I was delighted, excited, and ready and willing to hear what he did.

Toh Kay’s first release was a split album with MU330’s Dan Potthast and strangely did very little for me. Why? Expectation. I had assumed when Tomas Kalnoky went solo he would reach previously unreached heights of creativity and deliver dozens of new songs. While it was certainly interesting that his official solo release was a covers album, it wasn’t what I was expecting and I was a bit confused. When I heard Toh Kay would be releasing an actual solo album, I grew excited again…until I saw the tracklisting. Toh Kay’s debut solo album was to essentially be a “cover” album so to speak. True, they were songs that he had personally written but they were songs from his days in Catch 22 and Streetlight Manifesto. I was once again disappointed and unsure of how to feel about the man who introduced me to meaningful lyricism in music. I had no intention of listening to the album. But a friend’s excitement won out and I sat down with it.

Streetlight Lullabies is an album that’s almost guaranteed to be regarded poorly by fans of Tomas Kalnoky’s previous works; namely Catch 22 and Streetlight Manifesto. On it, Tomas Kalnoky strips down completely, more so than his acoustic side band Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution. Gone is the raucous accompaniment and thus his need for his fiery, mostly shouted vocals. He trades in angry, anthemic revolutionary for world-weary troubadour who’s singing to no one in particular and handpicks some of the most resonating tracks in his catalogue.

Once I was able to put my expectations to the side, I was able to really enjoy Streetlight Lullabies. It highlights Tomas Kalnoky in a way you might not have been familiar: As a particularly talented guitarist. With all the horns and drums and miscellaneous cacophony of his bands, it’s something you might have somehow overlooked on top of his brilliant songwriting. Stripped down with more or less new arrangements, this becomes remarkably clear purely because there’s nothing else to distract you. Streetlight Lullabies is just Kalnoky and his guitar singing songs he’s spent lots of time with and strangely that’s okay. So while I hope Kalnoky eventually branches out and sings some new songs, his comfort and brand new take on songs I’ve held close to my heart for years are a welcome appetizer. Here’s hoping Kalnoky serves up a stellar feast that can shatter everyone’s expectations.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Caveman - "Easy Water" video

When I set about to learn about Brooklyn psych-pop quintet Caveman about two months ago, one of the things I noted was a lack of a music video. Not that that's a dealbreaker, I just expected it to be so. The band had such a mature, developed sound and precise way of doing things, I figured they'd have a video. Well, now they do. Directed by Bianca Butti, the video is all about the interplay of light of figures in water. Simple concept for a simple track and yet, done amazingly. The video is stunning to look at and goes along with the otherworldly track just swimmingly.

Enjoy the video for Caveman's "Easy Water":

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Dodos release new track "So Cold"

Until recently I had forgotten how much I enjoyed San Francisco duo The Dodos latest album No Color. How exactly that happened, I have no clue but I have since seen the error of my ways and been playing it pretty periodically. Considering how much I enjoy the album, when new track "So Cold" showed up today, I knew instantly that I would be posting it here. Big thanks to Listen Before You Buy for bringing this track to my attention and allowing me to steal it unashamedly from them. Enjoy the previously unreleased track "So Cold":

Fleet Foxes - "The Shrine/An Argument" video

If you had asked me what tracks Fleet Foxes were going to make videos for off Helplessness Blues, I wouldn't have picked "The Shrine/An Argument". Clocking in a 8 minutes, it seemed a bit too long for the video treatment. And then the teaser for the video came out almost a month ago and I felt so many emotions in the short 26 second run time. It was clear the video was going to be something special.

The video for "The Shrine/An Argument" is by far one of the most epic things I think I've seen in my short life. It's less of a music video and more of a deeply engaging short film. There's more plot in it than most of your standard mainstream films. I won't bore you with a description of the plot, just know that you should definitely watch it.

The Shrine / An Argument from Sean Pecknold on Vimeo.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

The Tallest Man on Earth - "A Field of Birds" live video

Since the release of "Weather Of A Killing Kind" this summer, I've been awaiting the news of a new album from Swedish folk troubadour Kristian Matsson aka The Tallest Man on Earth. And while no such announcement has been made, I stumbled upon this live video of Matsson playing a new song called "A Field Of Birds". It's The Tallest Man on Earth you've come to love - intricate fingerstyle guitar work and that husky vocals that spawned two albums and an EP. So while there's no news yet of a new album, I'm grateful for these videos that pop up every once in awhile that prove that Matsson takes no rest from writing amazing songs. Enjoy this live video for "A Field of Birds":

"A Field of Birds" is part of the Live on KEXP compilation alongside artists like Florence + the Machine, The Head and the Heart, Sharon Van Etten, and more.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hospitality releases new version of old track "Betty Wang"

When Hospitality played ARMS record release party they announced they were going to play an old song they hadn't played in awhile. That song was "Betty Wang". The way they talked about it, I assumed it was some sort of treat that we were lucky to get that one time. So color me surprised when a new reworked version popped up today from their soon to be release self-titled Merge Records debut. There's not a whole lot to say about it since the song is from Hospitality's six song EP except the new version is great. A fan of the old version, the new version isn't that drastic of a change - just a bit more fire in Amber Papini's vocals and a quicker delivery.

Listen to the new version of "Betty Wang":
Hospitality - Betty Wang by MergeRecords

ARMS - "Three Mile Island" live video

I don't need much of a reason to post about ARMS but every once in awhile a reason helps. A week ago, the Brooklyn quartet of my dreams celebrated the release of their sophomore album Summer Skills with a record release party at Glasslands Gallery. I was there and it was awesome. But just in case you weren't or want to take a trip down memory lane, Big Ugly Yellow Couch (who was also there) posted some goodies from the celebration. So meander over there when you're good and ready. Or you can watch this video of ARMS playing "Three Mile Island" right here. That works too.

ARMS - "Three Mile Island" (live at Glasslands) from Big Ugly Yellow Couch on Vimeo.

And if for some reason you haven't picked up a copy of ARMS' new album Summer Skills, do so. Like right now. On Amazon, iTunes, or Spotify. Or preview some tracks at their Bandcamp.

Princeton to release sophomore album

Today, Los Angeles indie pop band Princeton made the announcement I've been anticipating for the better part of the year. After the release of "To The Alps"/"The Electrician" single in February, and "Clamoring For Your Heart" this summer, the time has come for Princeton to release their sophomore record. The record, Rememberance of Things To Come, will be out February 21st of next year. So now that the mystery behind Princeton's tumblr name has been solved, we can all wait in anticipation for the album to come. Well that and enjoy this teaser, they were nice enough to prepare for us.

Princeton: "02.21.2012" from Hit City U.S.A. on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Two new Lord Huron tracks

I have missed Lord Huron every time he's come to New York. When Lord Huron was at CMJ playing the Paste Magazine day party at The Living Room, I was just next door at Pianos getting my face rocked off by ARMS. Do I regret my decision? No. But it is pretty unfortunate. So when I saw these live-ish videos that Lord Huron did for Rollo & Grady, I could just imagine that I was watching Lord Huron live and all is right with the world.

I've essentially been doing aural shots of Lord Huron's Mighty EP and Into the Sun EP so it's nice to hear something a little different. New track "Man Who Lives Forever" throws off the obvious world influence while still maintaining Ben Schneider's entrancing layers of sound and there are occasional hints of globe-trotting tropical pop sytlings with bongos, amped ukulele, and balmy open riffs.

Lord Huron - Man Who Lives Forever from Rollo & Grady Sessions on Vimeo.

Lord Huron - She Lit A Fire from Rollo & Grady Sessions on Vimeo.

Feist - "How Come You Never Go There" video

There should probably be some sort of rule against having any sort of expectations when it comes to Feist. Regardless of what you think about her new album Metals, "How Come You Never Go There" is one of its best tracks. And when she was doing album teaser videos I thought I had a fairly good idea what the video was going to be about. Wrong. That charming gentleman who danced his way into my heart in the teaser? Gone. Instead, Feist dons her longest, scruffiest wig and embarks on a forest adventure. There she spins and twirls - but in the Feist-y way where she's not actually putting much effort into it and the wind and trees bend to her will. Yup. Feist goes into the forest and gets in touch with her inner Earth mother. Expectations shattered.

Watch the video for Feist first single and video off Metals, "How Come You Never Go There":

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

North Highlands - "Benefits" video

When North Highlands released their debut album last month, there was far less of a big hurrah than I expected. The group kept busy playing various CMJ shows but there was no real record release, no press push, and that kind of saddened me.

But North Highlands' brand new video for "Benefits" kind of makes up for all that. It's one of the most entrancing videos without a plot I've ever seen. Directed by Nate Buchik, the video features a flickering image of the band's singer Brenda Malvini before small bits of the band playing get superimposed and thrown into the mix. It's some pretty artsy handling on a pretty hypnotic track.

Watch the video for "Benefits":

And don't forget you can still preview/buy North Highlands' debut album Wild One on their bandcamp here.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers - On Being (2011)

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I mentioned in my intro post that Michigan folk-rock band Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seekers were a completely unplanned discovery for me. My CMJ was supposed to start at Spike Hill with a show by Baltimore duo Lands & People and then take me wherever good music beckoned me. But Joe Hertler and his band took the stage first, playing to a mostly empty crowd consisting of me, two of their friends, and then fashionable latecomers. From their first song, I was instantly captivated; they were energetic, fun, and had a blindsiding wealth of songwriting talent. So when I met them afterward and they told me of their upcoming album release, I added it to the definitely buying pile. A decision I couldn’t regret less than any in recent memory.

On Being is a soul-stirring set of wonderfully well played and even more wonderfully well-written songs. Hertler’s vocals are downright caressing but also jumping to heart-rousing highs that pack one hell of an emotional punch. Aided all the more by these absolutely fantastic vocal harmonies peppered throughout at all the right moments.

Considering how great On Being is, it seems to only get greater when you discover the fact that it is in fact a concept album: on existence. That’s some pretty heavy subject matter right there which Joe Hertler and his band do an amazing job of utilizing. The songs aren’t the kind that make grandiose statements on what it means to live but rather with are subtly colored with a feather-light touch that makes them all the more likely to resonate with listeners. There’s some religious themes but they’re juxtaposed with these sort of slice of life moments on the album (like “Devil, Don’t Steal My Bicycle” or “Carbon C-14”) that manages to both give them a bit of weight while also equalizing them a bit. On Being is an album that though it deals with all these big ideas doesn’t aspire to be much more than a good album. And that’s exactly why it’s so effective. An unbelievably great debut from delightfully talented group of musicians.

You can stream Joe Hertler & The Rainbow Seeker's debut album On Being on their Bandcamp and buy it on most major online retailers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

ARMS - Summer Skills (2011)

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This year there has been no more greatly anticipated album for me than ARMSSummer Skills. I was inadvertently introduced to ARMS via “Emily Sue, Pt. II” on online clothing website ASOS and immediately set up to know more about them. That was in February when their free five song EP had already been out for about a year and there was talk of the album being released in May. I can’t tell you how many repeat listens to this short EP occurred within the period of February and May but it could only be described as a certifiably unhealthy amount. Each milestone like my first ARMS concert, the release date announcement, the album trailer, first single, etc. has only added to the intense anticipation I had for the album.

Summer Skills makes good on the almost year-long promise of greatness. The concept – a sci-fi supernatural break up album was creative gold; innovative and if handled with the proper amount of care a feat of surefire genius. There was never any doubt. Beginning with energetic “Emily Sue, Cont’d”, you can’t help but marvel at ARMS talent for creating the odd, eerie mood that is so essential to the album's effectiveness. It’s your first introduction to their precise, cohesive style and features some rather grizzly visuals presented with throwaway concern and an eyebrow-raising sense of elation. It sets the stage for the emotional double-guessing positively bursting from each song.

Summer Skills is a rich, layered album with a permeating sense of mystique that gives the album much of its momentum; it’s deeply visceral but also an intensely intelligent endeavor. The songwriting is unbelievably nuanced filled with terrific shifts in emotions and a mind-blowing array of great musical moments on both a grand and minor scale (the return of the riff from “Emily Sue, Cont’d” in “Curtains“ was unexpected and deeply pleasing). The work of a talented group of musicians with an artist’s keen eye for details and a novel writer’s set of literary chops, ARMS blends diverse textures with such style and finesse they’re practically incomparable. There’s no struggling for words or identity here. Summer Skills shows a band fully at ease with their sound and unafraid to take risks. I don’t normally rate albums but ARMS' Summer Skills might very well be the greatest album of the year. For me at least. And it should be for you because the thing’s a freaking gem.

Make sure and grab ARMS Summer Skills, out today, here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Isaac Graham - "Nomads" video

I have many a musical weakness and everything that Australian singer/songwriter Isaac Graham does seems to fit the bill. Punk-inspired folk, recording simply but masterfully on a Tascam 8 track player, being Australian; there's not much to dislike about Graham. His new video for the debut single "Nomads" off his debut album Empty Vessels is just lovely. Scenes of Graham alone with some recording equipment are featuring alongside him in a record store, walking around as his band members form more-or-less around him. It's the same simplicity that had me regretting my decision to ignore Graham for the better part of a year. Never again.

Enjoy the video for Isaac Graham's "Nomads":

Telekinesis - "Country Lane" video

Every band does it. At least once during a band's life they will make a video of a live performance or showcasing their tour if they make a video at all. But that inevitability aside, Telekinesis' new video for "Country Lane" puts all those other videos to shame. Beginning as a sort of scrapbook, Polaroids of the bands travels become videos of the band playing, traveling, and just having a good time. It's fun and a new take on the tour video that every band seems to do. It's short, sweet, and accompanied by a great song that I had almost forgotten about.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Lost Cavalry - "Snow City Radio" video

With the release of their new EP about two weeks away, British chamber pop group The Lost Cavalry offered up a new video for title-track "Snow City Radio" earlier today and it's absolutely beautiful. Directed by jack-of-all-tradesman Mark West, the video is wonderfully minimalistic featuring Bryan O'Neil slowly thawing out in a arctic radio tower, only to be frozen again immediately following the energetic shout-chorus. It's simple but not lazy and really allows you to focus on the track which just happens to be great as well. Catch the video for "Snow City Radio":

Don't forgot you can listen to Snow City Radio EP here.

Sondre Lerche - "Domino" video

When Sondre Lerche announced the premiere of video for "Domino" earlier today on Spin, I had a sense of deja vu. This has happened before. About six months ago, actually. Several months before the release of his self-titled album, friend Katie Barker-Froyland directed the video for the first single off the album. And while Lerche slowly sets to create videos for almost every track on the album a la a indie-pop Beyonce, remaking videos is apparently fair game. The remake of "Domino" is directed by Sondre's wife Mona who first flexed her directing skills in the video for "Go Right Ahead".

"Domino" has considerably less plot than "Go Right Ahead", "Private Caller", or any other Lerche video in recent memory. There's shots of Sondre in the suburbs and some girls acting progressively weirder throughout the video. There's seances, clown makeup, wedding veils, and a random black-clad crone. It's strange, creepy, surreal but beautifully shot and a lot more interesting to watch than Lerche's first attempt. So kudos to the Lerche duo for one-upping themselves pretty much effortlessly.

Enjoy the video for "Domino":

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Pitstop: Carter Tanton

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My discovery of Carter Tanton is a testament to how awesome still is despite it's minor brush with irrelevance. Max Blau of Paste Magazine put the track "Murderous Joy" up and I was immediately sold. Before he even mentioned that Carter Tanton was actually the guitarist from Baltimore's Lower Dens and had a track featuring Marissa Nadler. Sold and Sold. That was enough for me promise I would check out Tanton's debut album Free Clouds out November 15th.

And yet if the slow, folksy whisper of "Murderous Joy" isn't enough to win your favor, Tanton has two other tracks available for consumption. There's bristling, raucous "Horoscope" and the aforementioned track featuring Marissa Nadler, "Fake Pretend".

The constant between these three rather different songs is Tanton's silky, evocative vocals - comforting and caressing even amid the stormy, bustling "Horoscope" and "Fake Pretend" and doubly so in downtempo "Murderous Joy". The ease at which Tanton switches moods is all the assurance I need that Free Clouds in a sure fire must listen.

Free Clouds is out November 15th on Western Vinyl. Get a taste of Carter Tanton:


You can listen to "Fake Pretend" at Spin here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Little Tybee - Humorous to Bees (2011)

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About two months ago when I was first introduced to Atlanta folk group Little Tybee, I used their sophomore album Humorous to Bees as a reference point and measure of how great my like of them was. It’s not only because Little Tybee juggle a mass of instruments or craft the delightful kind of orchestral pop that seems to be my Achilles heel but because the album is just plain good.

Each song on Humorous to Bees is not only an incredibly well written and spectacularly arranged but also intensely strong. That’s a pretty impressive feat for a 12 song album. Even the 30 second eponymous album opener is a worthwhile bit of composition. I mentioned in my intro that what separates Little Tybee from the other folk pop collectives around is their musical egalitarianism and that’s still true but it’s also the fact that Little Tybee has a talent for remarkable stunning arrangements. Everything from the miniscule – the smile-inducing glockenspiel and pizzicato in “The Wind Will Blow You Love” or those unexpected little blue notes that color so many of the album's songs to the grandiose moments of unfettered flights of fancy right after subtle build ups.

In a year that’s been characterized with spectacular debuts and so-so follow ups, it’s a real treat to get to hear an album like Little Tybee’s Humorous to Bees – it’s finely tuned and wonderfully polished but not overly so, mature without being condescending, and just filled with fantastic musical moments all around. It both sets my expectations high for their next outing as well as sets a brand new standard for the folk orchestra I love so much. Humorous to Bees in an absolute music marvel filled with just the right mix of unpredictability, sincere, and well-crafted songwriting. A definite must listen for anyone claiming to listen to music with substance.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pitstop: Vanaprasta

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One of the greatest surprises at CMJ was a band I almost didn't see. When Headless Horseman dropped out of We Listen For You's day party, Silverlake rock quintet Vanaprasta stepped up to fill in on incredibly short notice and put on a absolutely great live show. Energetic beyond measure, one of the highlights of the performance was when guitarist/sampler Cameron Dmytyrk jumped off stage with a sleigh bell, ran out of the room, and returned with interested folks to watch their previously sparsely attended opening set. A band after my own heart. Not only were they inventive and charismatic but their tunes were just good. That special kind of good where you throw all care to the wind and toe-tap, head-bob, and eventually cut completely loose. Their music is part arena rock, part energy-fueled slow jams and full of infectious good vibes and great musicianship. And sleigh bells. A band after my heart, indeed. Since the release of their debut album today, I've listen to it an almost embarrassingly great amount of times and it doesn't get any less greater with each listen.

Check out Vanaprasta, you'll be glad you did.

Vanaprasta's debut album Healthy Geometry is out today so make sure you grab it if you like what you hear. You can stream the album here.