Slothrust

With their long-awaited third album Everyone Else, Slothrust deliver ten riveting anthems that reward repeated listens. The songs grab the ear and pierce the psyche with complex arrangements and lyrical depth intensified by guitarist/vocalist Leah Wellbaum's penetrating vocal delivery.

Slothrust is Wellbaum, Kyle Bann (bass), and Will Gorin (drums). The trio first staked out their unique strain of jazz- and blues-afflicted rock as students at Sarah Lawrence College. The band's 2012 debut Feels Your Pain, and its successor 2014's Of Course You Do, established the band as a breed apart, serving up deceptively clever epics that veer satisfyingly between incandescent riffing and pop hooks, winsome anxiety and powerful heft.

"People have always had trouble comparing us to other bands, but someone recently described us as Nirvana meets Wynton Marsalis, and I loved that," says Wellbaum. Even the band's name inspires a beat of thoughtful consideration as the eyes take in the letters and the brain makes its snap judgement: Slo Thrust? Slot Rust? Slo Trust? Sloth-Rust.

We all studied jazz and blues, so I often use chords and voicings that aren't quite as conventional for contemporary rock," she continues. "Certain harmonic movement can get stale, so I try to incorporate colorful notes to give it more depth. The improvisational spirit of blues music is also something we try to always keep with us, even in more composed playing. I am drawn to musicians a bit further outside of the rock tradition, such as John Fahey, Elizabeth Cotten, D'Angelo, and Portishead. Growing up I listened to a lot of R&B and classical music. And musicals."

While Everyone Else clearly shows Wellbaum fulfilling her early promise as a singer, it's where she hits her stride as a lyricist: Pulling the listener under the surface to explore a submerged world brimming with exotic creatures. Water motifs abound, detailing oddly off-kilter observations about floating, submerging and drowning that are anything but morose. Instead, they contort and reflect worldly truths about life on dry land.

Nowhere is this vision clearer than on the slow burn of the album's centerpiece track "Horseshoe Crab." Here, with storm cloud riffs and Will Gorin and Kyle Bann's perfectly calibrated rhythmic undercurrent, Slothrust's erupts in a geyser of emotional and spatial distance, as Wellbaum observes, "I don't have anything in common with myself, except that I came from the sea, like everyone else did."

"Like a Child Hiding Behind Your Tombstone" opens like some bizzarro world lullaby dispensing sage advice: "Drink seltzer, smoke weed when you can't sleep. Think about shooting birds, everyone has got a violent streak." Then, as the guitars explode, the rhythm section dials into stylish, disciplined groove to set up an expansive instrumental break that gently floats to a close with Wellbaum, at peace: "Hold me under the water. My lungs are filling with plankton. But the lake is not lonely. No need for you to come with me."

Above all the overriding ethos of Everyone Else is its sense of inclusiveness: all people, every feeling, quiet, loud, any time signature. With a snap of the neck the band launches into the hyper-adrenalized "Rotten Pumpkin" with Wellbaum singing in a rapid-fire vomit burst, "I'll make you sick because I'm soft water. Reach inside of me, and scoop out my seeds." This midpoint between grunge and art rock is the aesthetic Slothrust elevates: sharp-eyed individualism, serious musicianship, humble intelligence, controlled abandon.

And The Kids

Growing up, often the safest haven to plot your dreams and get a handle on your identity is within the confines of trusted friendships. For the musicians in the critically acclaimed band And The Kids, these bonds have been a life raft.

But as friendships evolve from adolescence to young adulthood, sometimes the lines between friends, lovers and all that comes in between can grow murky. On the Northampton, MA-based band’s latest, Friends Share Lovers (out June 3rd on Signature Sounds), And The Kids examines blurred boundaries in close-knit relationships.

“The friends we grew up with were troublemakers, lost souls, dropouts, and mother figures,” says And The Kids guitarist and vocalist Hannah Mohan. “The title references the incestuousness of friend groups and how things get messy.”

And The Kids channel existential crises into pop euphoria. With this sleight of hand, the quartet manages to conjure chunky indie rock, blissful new wave, chamber folk, jarring avant-garde, and brawny classic rock. Mohan navigates this expansive creativity with aplomb. Effortlessly she swoops heavenly for high tones, digs deep for swaggering rock n’ roll low tones, and manages to mash up sweet sass with new wave bliss for a vocal feel that masks sage wisdom beneath sweet innocence. In addition to Mohan, And The Kids is Rebecca Lasaponaro on drums, Megan Miller on synthesizers and percussion, and bassist Taliana Katz.

The quartet’s beginnings couldn’t be better scripted: Mohan and Lasaponaro met in band class in seventh grade. A few years later, the duo dropped out of school and found themselves at a learning center that provided them with a free rehearsal space. There they practiced everyday, inspired by such diverse artists as Modest Mouse, Rilo Kiley, The Doors, and The Police, among others.

Those formative moments in friendship and music have been everlasting. In 2012, the fledging duo met Meghan when the three were interns at the Institute for the Musical Arts in Goshen, MA, and soon after welcomed her into the band. Recently, Miller has battled visa problems as a Canadian citizen and has been forced out of the United States for five years. To show the strength of their bonds as friends and artists, And The Kids chose to record Friends Share Lovers in Montreal so that Miller could participate. Recently, the trio added bassist Taliana Katz, a close and trusted friend who also attended IMA, to maintain a full sound live in Miller’s forced absence from American touring.

For four years, And The Kids has worked tirelessly to nurture its artistic vision and finesse its live performances. The band has gone from basement shows, open mics, and gigs at pizza joints to becoming an “on the verge” artist. And The Kids has released two EPs, two full-length records, and shared the stage with Rubblebucket, Sallie Ford, Lake Street Dive and Mother Falcon. Recent and upcoming live performance highlights include SXSW and a tour with Ra Ra Riot and PWR BTTM. The band will head out on a headlining tour in June bookended by summer festival dates. Along the way, And The Kids has garnered acclaim from NPR Music, The Wall Street Journal, and The Boston Globe, among many others. Indie tastemakers Pitchfork enthuse: "And the Kids are among the Western Mass. indie scene’s brightest creative lights."

Friends Share Lovers is an epiphanic entry in the band’s catalog as it showcases the group’s roiling emotionality in wider artistic palette settings. This album explores the power of sound sculpting with studio effects like reverb, majestic keyboard passages, and stacks of pillowy vocal harmonies.


Ironically, the songs on Friends Share Lovers began as compact compositions with spare instrumentation. With keyboardist and percussionist Miller stranded in Canada, Mohan and Lasaponaro workshopped their new material as a duo. But, when it came time to record, they chose Canada as a show of solidarity to their bandmate Miller. With Miller on board and their sights set on Canada, they tapped producer Jace Lasek, a member of The Besnard Lakes who has produced albums from Suuns and Land of Talk, and has mixed and recorded for Wolf Parade, Sunset Rubdown and Patrick Watson. Lasek came on as a co-producer, collaborating with And The Kids and helping the band realize its sonic aesthetic on the album.

Friends Share Lovers bursts forth with the pent-up emotionality of the opening track, aptly titled “Kick Rocks.” Here drum climaxes interlock with hypnotic harmony vocals, building a tension that crashes like a wave cresting, leaving in its wake glassy flowing melodies. The thematic thread of relationships imbues the new wave elegance of “Friends Share Lovers” and “I Can’t Tell What The Time Is Telling Me.” The title track evokes a Smiths-like juxtaposition of balmy musicality set against poetic turmoil as Mohan wrestles with the complexities of a friendship sliding into a romance. The stunning “I Can't Tell What The Time Is Telling Me” envelops the listener with chiming guitars, oceanic synth textures, and sidesteps into classical melodic motifs. “That track is about getting through tough times with a new partner. It’s about being true to yourself after you’ve fallen in love,” Mohan explains.

Closing the album is the ethereal “Pennies, Rice.” It’s a meditative track that rolls out slowly with measured grace. In some ways, it’s something of a conceptual centerpiece. “This track is about having all the freedom in the world, but the only thing holding you back is your indecisiveness,” Mohan reveals.

Friends Share Lovers is that pivotal release, the follow up to a well-received album from a promising young band. The new album showcases And The Kids’ considerable powers manifesting into a triumphant record that justifies the earlier praise. However, for the members of And The Kids, the impact that matters the most to them is the bonds they make with their audience. To that end, Mohan says: “What’s been most meaningful is realizing what a big influence a small band can have. We see women at the shows who say they want to play music and that we inspired them to do what they love.”

Pine Barons

Born among the pitch pines of southern New Jersey, Pine Barons is a brotherhood of four artists aiming to find their rock n roll destinies. With a wide spectrum of influences, from classic rock to folk, jazz, and punk, Pine Barons is an amalgamation of four personalities and visions whose friendship and respect shape their craft.  After many half-magical high fives, this troupe of ultra-pals have scribed their plans to spread their music to the thinkers, friends, lovers, and magicians of the world and combat forces of malice.

“Their clever, playful name got our attention, and their snappy music held it.”
-John Vettese, The Key WXPN

“Although their name is rooted in the forest, Pine Barons’ music travels across wide open ranges and some rather rocky terrain, offering an interestingly mixed, yet fully organic, bag of influences and surprises.”
-Peter Quinton, Monmouth University

“The glum tapering of the summer season in songs that feel more alive than you’re probably thinking right now.  Listen and you’ll hear the triumphant graveyard shifting of Creeper Lagoon or some mutant, less mahogany-covered version of the capital Beachwood Sparks.  You’ll hear in them musky warmth, the smell of a toasty, wood-smoked flannel, rainbowed Autumn trees and a night cut wide open by a spitting orange bonfire.”
-Sean Moeller, Daytrotter


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