Mitski

Mitski warmly recalls a quote from sculptor El Anatsui, "Art grows out of each particular situation, and I believe that artists are better off working with whatever their environment throws up."
With this nerve exposed lyrically, and having dived into her new beginning, Mitski chooses her 2014 breakthrough album Bury Me at Makeout Creek to explore uncharted sonic territory, trading in large string arrangements for guitar and bass. While studying composition at SUNY Purchase's music conservatory, she previously recorded music with a full orchestra. However as college graduation inched closer, Mitski moved away from the concert hall and into the campus' active DIY scene. Upon relocating to New York following graduation, she entered stages at Death By Audio, Silent Barn, and Bed Stuy basements, entrenching her songs of love, fear, lust, and brilliant clarity into entirely sympathetic ears.

Since releasing Bury Me at Makeout Creek in November 2014 via Brooklyn-based label Double Double Whammy, Mitski has received international acclaim for her distinct, arresting sound and profoundly reflective lyrics. Pitchfork applauded the release as "inventive and resourceful," while Rolling Stone celebrated her "deep-cutting lyrics." NME said of Bury Me, "it's a record that doesn't tug at your heart-strings as much as it mercilessly pounds at them, taking to your emotions like a lead pipe to a piñata." She has also received widespread attention for her "cathartic" live shows as dubbed by The New York Times' Jon Caramanica.

"I was so young when I behaved 25," Mitski sings on "First Love / Late Spring," "yet now I find I've grown into a tall child." This veritable thesis speaks to sentiments of the poetry and beauty of struggling up the hill to adulthood. Mitski follows El Anatsui's humbling advice, cathartically revealing snapshots from her adventures in youth, and the empowerment found in sharing these stories with others. In 2015 Mitski is poised to continue delivering her particular flavor of soul-baring rock, and tour throughout North America and beyond.

Phoebe Bridgers

Los Angeles based singer songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has been described as Elliott Smith meets Gillian Welch. Her unique voice has been featured on ABC Family's Switched At Birth, Sons of Anarchy and an IPhone commercial. Pasadena Weekly says, "Bridgers has made a name for herself in that scene in relatively short time thanks largely to the quicksilver beauty of her voice; sweetly vulnerable, it also has a tensile strength that beguiles listeners."
Bridgers has played her own brand of alternative folk all over Los Angeles, including the Troubadour, the El Rey, the Roxy, Genghis Cohen, Hotel Café, The Coffee Gallery Backstage, the Claremont Folk Festival and the Grand Ole Echo.  According to LA-Underground, "Phoebe Bridgers' "Waiting Room" was the heartbreaker tune of the year. It's brilliant. She's something special." Music blog American Pancake says, "Phoebe's tender performance mildly freaks you out and breaks your heart at the same time…utterly beautiful."

Since graduating from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts in 2013, Phoebe has performed and recorded both in Los Angeles and Nashville. She has collaborated with friends and mentors including Terra Naomi, Rob Waller, Noah Gunderson and Chad Gilbert. Her latest project is a 7" limited release of three songs, produced by Ryan Adams, released on April 28 and available on PaxAm.

On her first proper album as Jay Som, Melina Duterte, 22, solidifies her rep as a self-made force of sonic splendor and emotional might. If last year's aptly named Turn Into compilation showcased a fuzz-loving artist in flux -- chronicling her mission to master bedroom recording -- then the rising Oakland star's latest, Everybody Works, is the LP equivalent of mission accomplished.

Duterte is as DIY as ever -- writing, recording, playing, and producing every sound beyond a few backing vocals -- but she takes us places we never could have imagined, wedding lo-fi rock to hi-fi home orchestration, and weaving evocative autobiographical poetry into energetic punk, electrified folk, and dreamy alt-funk.

And while Duterte's early stuff found her bucking against life's lows, Everybody Works is about turning that angst into fuel for forging ahead. "Last time I was angry at the world," she says. "This is a note to myself: everybody's trying their best on their own set of problems and goals. We're all working for something."

Everybody Works was made in three furious, caffeinated weeks in October. She came home from the road, moved into a new apartment, set up her bedroom studio (with room for a bed this time) and dove in. Duterte even ditched most of her demos, writing half the LP on the spot and making lushly composed pieces like "Lipstick Stains" all the more impressive. While the guitar-grinding Jay Som we first fell in love with still reigns on shoegazey shredders like "1 Billion Dogs" and in the melodic distortions of "Take It," we also get the sublimely spacious synth-pop beauty of "Remain," and the luxe, proggy funk of "One More Time, Please."

Duterte's production approach was inspired by the complexity of Tame Impala, the simplicity of Yo La Tengo, and the messiness of Pixies. "Also, I was listening to a lot of Carly Rae Jepsen to be quite honest," she says. "Her E•MO•TION album actually inspired a lot of the sounds on Everybody Works."

There's story in the sounds -- even in the fact that Duterte's voice is more present than before. As for the lyrics, our host leaves the meaning to us. So if we can interpret, there's a bit about the aspirational and fleeting nature of love in the opener, and the oddity of turning your art into job on the titular track. There's even one tune, "The Bus Song," that seems to be written as a dialog between two kids, although it plays like vintage Broken Social Scene and likely has more to do with yearning for things out of reach.

While there's no obvious politics here, Duterte says witnessing the challenges facing women, people of color, and the queer community lit a fire. And when you reach the end of Everybody Works, "For Light," you'll find a mantra suitable for anyone trying, as Duterte says, "to find your peace even it it's not perfect." As her trusty trumpet blows, she sings: "I'll be right on time, open blinds for light, won't forget to climb."

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