Exclusive Album Premiere: Folk-Bluegrass Trio Judah & the Lion’s ‘Kids These Days’

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Folk-bluegrass band Judah & The Lion will release their debut full-length disc, Kids These Days, on Sept. 9. And Billboard.com is exclusively premiering the album, the follow-up to their 2013 EP, Sweet Tennessee, which reached the No. 2 spot on the Bluegrass Albums chart.

Click below to hear the album:

kids these daysThis time around, the trio — singer/guitarist Judah Akers, mandolin player Brian Macdonald and banjo player Nate Zuercher — was able to take more time during the recording process. “Making the album was great because we had two weeks to do it where in the past we had two or three days,” Macdonald tells Billboard. “It took a lot of stress off of the process and allowed us to write some songs in the studio and really take our time to make sure it was done right!”

And teaming up with producer Dave Cobb, known for his work with Shooter Jennings and Jamey Johnson, made for a solid partnership. “Working with Dave was awesome,” says Macdonald. “He was really able to take the songs to the next level by opening our minds and creating a new sound that still encompassed the Judah & the Lion feel.”

The album, which Macdonald says has a “‘young and free’ kind of feel behind it,” also has a lighthearted lyrical focus. “Like our previous music, the new album also has strong themes of hope and love,” he adds. “Kids These Days is just about making the choice to be happy and content with our current situations.”

Among Macdonald’s favorite tracks, “Water” is “kind of the wild card out of all the songs, but we got really experimental and had a lot of fun being creative,” he explains. And “Rich Kids” speaks to Judah & The Lion’s economic status. “We are young, don’t have a lot of money to spend, but we are doing what we love and we are loving every second of it regardless,” says Macdonald. “The simple things in life really are the things that matter most!”

Judah & The Lion will soon be hitting the road to promote the album: Their first date is Sept. 13 at Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., as part of the Starry Night Festival. And the trio — who first met during their days at Nashville’s Belmont University — are counting down the days. “All of us are dreaming big for the tour this fall. We will be putting on the best show we possibly can,” says Macdonald. “This may or may not include a lot of dancing, a lot of crowd participation, rapping, and maybe even some flips if you’re lucky.”

Judah & the Lion, ‘Mason-Dixon Line’ Exclusive Premiere

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Judah & the Lion are premiering the song ‘Mason-Dixon Line’ from their upcoming album, ‘Kids These Days,’ which will be released on Sept. 9 on Good Times Records.

“The song was just an honest way of talking about going up north and traveling for the first time,” lead singer Judah Akers explains. “I, like many Southerners, was a true homebody when I was young. Now that I’m getting to travel, it has been so amazing. But with that being said, my heart and home will always be in the South. Call it redneck, call it pride … I just love it down here.”

The song is one of several on the new project, which shows a maturity and emotional vulnerability among the bandmates.

“Wearing your heart on your sleeve can definitely be the hardest thing to do as a songwriter,” vocalist and mandolin player Brian Macdonald tells CMT Edge. “There are some things about our lives that you would just rather not share with everyone. However, it sometimes creates the most enticing songs, and I think it can be very rewarding if we are able to get to that point as songwriters.”

Judah & the Lion originally formed to be a Christian worship band, before realizing their music could reach a much wider audience while still holding to their core beliefs. They previously released their ‘First Fruit’ EP in 2012, followed by last year’s ‘Sweet Tennessee,’ which landed at No. 2 on Billboard’s Bluegrass chart.

To celebrate the release of ‘Kids These Days,’ the group is heading out on their first headlining tour this fall. Their six-week trek will kick off on Oct. 1 in Asheville, N.C.

“We are so excited about ramping up our tour schedule this next year,” Macdonald says. “We are planning on nothing less than a very energetic set. You will see a lot of colors, lights, a lot of dancing and maybe even some flips if you’re lucky.”

Listen to ‘Mason-Dixon Line’ below.

Premiere: MisterWives’ Mega Fun “Reflections” Will Make You Want To Start A Dance Party Immediately

If you haven't added MisterWives' ridiculously fun jams to your playlist yet, then you need to get on it ASAP. The NYC-based group has only been together for two years, but their unique, soulful pop tunes will have you addicted immediately.

If you haven’t added MisterWives’ ridiculously fun jams to your playlist yet, then you need to get on it ASAP. The NYC-based group has only been together for two years, but their unique, soulful pop tunes will have you addicted immediately.

Hitting up one of their shows is basically like joining one giant dance party—so energetic and fun that you’ll never want it to end. And not only are their original tracks super-fun, but you’ll be equally obsessed with their epic covers.

Oh, and you might recognize their tune “Vagabond” as the theme song on MTV’s new hit show Finding Carter.

But most importantly, we’re debuting the music video for their insanely good single “Reflections.”

But most importantly, we're debuting the music video for their insanely good single "Reflections."

Get a first look at the awesome new video, below!

Watch video here!

Brazilian band Wannabe Jalva releasing new EP (streams) and playing NYC/CMJ shows in October

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Brazilian band Wannabe Jalva make self-described “uterus space-groove rock” and have been doing so since 2010. There’s pop smarts and big hooks in that space groove uterus of theirs, as can be heard on their new EP, Collecture, which will be out October 15. We’ve got the premiere of “One Way Street” from it and you can stream that, along with a few other tracks, below.

Wannabe Jalva will be heading up to NYC in October for some shows, including dates during CMJ. While no shows during the fest have been announced yet, a couple immediately after are on their schedule: Trash Bar on 10/26 and Pianos on 10/28.

UPDATE, their CMJ schedule now looks like this:

10/20 @ School Night at Brooklyn Bowl (TBD)
10/23 @ Passenger Bar (10:10PM)
10/25 @ Arlene’s Grocery (10:45PM)
10/26 @ Trash Bar (8:00PM)
10/28 @ Pianos (8:00PM)

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Listen to the album here!

Judah & the Lion Run “Scared” Into the Studio

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Judah Akers and Brian Macdonald of Judah & the Lion are not afraid to pounce on a cool idea.

Macdonald explains: “I was sitting by myself eating dinner and Judah said to me, ‘Why are you eating by yourself, bro?!’ Then I said, ‘I’m not scared of being alone, brah!!’ Immediately Judah and I got big eyes. We looked at each other and said simultaneously, ‘We have to write that song.’ It was kind of a random occasion, but we just knew that lyric had power to it, so we wrote the song the next day.”

The resulting song, “Scared,” is a highlight of Kids These Days, a new album arriving on Sept. 9.

“Recording was very organic and raw. This was the first song we recorded, and it was recorded the day that we wrote it,” says Macdonald. “Our producer Dave Cobb is the king at this type of recording, and we are very happy with how the album turned out. I think there were four or five songs that we ended up recording this way — write it, then lay it down soon thereafter.”

The self-assuring message of the song will be relatable to anybody in their 20s and even folks with a few more decades of life experiences under their belt. Regardless of age, admitting you’re afraid — or vulnerable — isn’t always easy.

“Wearing your heart on your sleeve can definitely be the hardest thing to do as a songwriter,” Macdonald says. “There are some things about our lives that you would just rather not share with everyone. However, it sometimes creates the most enticing songs, and I think it can be very rewarding if we are able to get to that point as songwriters.”

The band’s heading out on the road in October with dates scheduled through mid-November. Akers sings lead and plays guitar, while Macdonald plays mandolin and Nate Zuercher rounds out the trio on banjo.

“We are so excited about ramping up our tour schedule this next year. We are planning on nothing less than a very energetic set. You will see a lot of colors, lights, a lot of dancing and maybe even some flips if you’re lucky,” McDonald says with a wink.

Check out the CMT Edge premiere of Judah & the Lion’s “Scared.” Listen to it here!

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Song Premiere “A Room Of Her Own” and Stockholm Travel Guide by Like Swimming

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Like Swimming is a fresh trio (Claes Carlström, Ida Hedene, and Petter Wesslander) from Sweden that somehow feels familiar. Think of a clear, crisp Sunday morning that feels nostalgic and uplifting. That’s the sound of Like Swimming.

Listen to the premiere of their brand new track “A Room Of Her Own” from their forthcoming album Structures, due September 9. Then let Claes guide you to fully enjoying the band’s hometown and capital of Sweden. Frankly, we think that sipping wine on one of the beautiful archipelagos of Stockholm is already a legit reason for a trip.

Listen to “A Room of Her Own”  and read interview here!

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Self Returns! Watch the Alt-Rockers Perform on ‘Jimmy Kimmel Live’

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July 31, 2014

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Coming off the release of their Super Fake Nice EP, ’90s alt-rock vets Self stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live Wednesday night to perform some songs, including the single “Runaway.”

It’s an exciting step for the band and Matt Mahaffey — Self hasn’t released a full album since 2005′s Porno, Mint, & Grime. Catch up with the band and watch below:

 

 

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by  • My first time seeing this Norwegian band was at a fairly soulless convention center in Austin, Texas. They transformed that big, open room into an intimate affair. So having them perform at the Tiny Desk, an already intimate space, was a thrill. It was also the first appearance of a flugabone here. Kristoffer Lo plays that mournful horn and Ingrid Helene Håvik compliments the yearning with words that are mysterious, somewhat dark and contain surprising twists.

The song titles on their 2014 album Silent Treatment seem more like chapter headings in a crime novel“Leaving No Traces,” “I, The Hand Grenade,” “The Man on the Ferry,” “Science & Blood Tests” — you get the picture. But this band has a powerful pop side filled with drama made of drums, synths, guitar and the aforementioned flugabone and voice. So glad I get to turn you on to a new favorite of mine.

Set List

  • “The Man on the Ferry”
  • “Since Last Wednesday”

Wannabe Jalva Song Premiere: “Miracle”

August 4, 2014

Wannabe Jalva by Biel Gomes and Guilherme Netto

One of the great side effects of World Cup fever has been a focus on Brazilian bands.

Wannabe Jalva formed in 2010 and is taking full advantage of the extra attention.

The quartet released a track earlier this summer called “Mainline” that got written up in the NY Times and even opened for Pearl Jam.

They recorded their new album “Collecture” (due Oct 15) in their hometown Porto Alegre and we’ve got a sneak peek at the track “Miracle”.

It’s a late night type of jam.

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First Listen: Sarah Jaffe, ‘Don’t Disconnect’

NPR MuiscAugust 3, 2014

Sarah Jaffe's new album, Don't Disconnect, comes out Aug. 19.

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When Texas singer-songwriter Sarah Jaffe released The Body Wins in 2012, it functioned as both a high-profile introduction and a radical left turn. Jaffe had spent a few years as an under-the-radar up-and-comer, but her best-known songs (“Clementine,” “Even Born Again“) tended toward brooding folk-pop balladry. It’s a craft she’d virtually perfected, but competition in that field is steep and notably plentiful.

Guided by perfectionist producer John CongletonThe Body Wins reinvented Jaffe as a vaguely otherworldly figure a la St. Vincent‘s Annie Clark, with whom she shares a gift for busy, springy, fussily arranged reflections on humanity, machinery, and their many conflicts and similarities. The Body Wins could be almost overwhelmingly stormy, while still letting in trickles of the warm coffeehouse balladeer Jaffe once was.

Enter Don’t Disconnect, which follows a break Jaffe spent dabbling in hip-hop, and which furthers her exploration into impeccably produced Technicolor electro-pop. Jaffe has said that this is the direction she’d envisioned all along — that the more straightforward singer-songwriter fare in her early career was a product of low budgets rather than limited ambitions — and Don’t Disconnect‘s quality and assuredness backs her up.

Though it lacks The Body Wins‘ high-concept analysis of human impulses and their effect on behavior, Jaffe sounds even more at ease in these songs. Her lyrics here often tether themselves to uncomfortable realities — in the album-opening “Ride It Out,” she’s fixated on surviving the everyday consequences of “running out of money, reaping what I sow” — but her assured arrangements are still those of a ferociously intelligent artist who never stops inventing, reinventing, exploring and reflecting on her (and our) place in a forbidding, foreboding world.