Matt Pond

Matt Pond has already accomplished what fewrarely do. A career musician with a die-hard following that continues to grow with each album, and a resume that includes the title song for a motion picture soundtrack, a long running Starbucks holiday commercial with a hook that's always stuck in our heads, selling over 100,000 albums to date; his success is matched only by his prolific outpouring of talent. But Matt takes those things with a grain of salt, in 'Lives' he shows us what's really important.

With the new album, The Lives Inside the Lines in Your Hand, Matt Pond is stepping forward with striking honesty and humbling optimism and delivers his strongest work to date. And with this transformative record comes some distinct changes- removing the 'PA' that has accompanied his name for nearly a decade, his first official 'solo' release, and partnering with new label and longtime publishing partner, BMG.

Matt Pond is able to slough off the dead skin, radiantly revealinghimself in his purest form- a feat many artists strive for, but rarely accomplish. The change symbolizes more than just coming out as an official solo act, it is also perhaps a symbol of letting go. Letting go of the places he's called home; he no longer belongs to Pennsylvania, or Brooklyn, or even thecabin in Bearsville, he is distinctly free from any earthly chains and whatremains is just Matt Pond. His final frontier is to "run wild within our clear blue minds" ('Human Beings'). The graceful departure gives Matt Pond both the freedom from, and acceptance of the limitations of being alive. The result is 'The Lives Inside the Lines in your Hand'.

'Lives' is an upbeat antidote to the pessimistic shift in the collective consciousness. It's an ode to the bittersweet reality that we are human, we are finite, and we are flawed. But in each song on this album, Matt Pond sources the beauty in all of it, even when it's not pretty, and delivers an indie rock album that's brimming with authenticity; Pond captures the sentiment perfectly in "Starlet": 'I know I know there's so much I don't know'. The album's first single "Love to Get Used", is a notably playful departure from what we've seen before. "Let's hang on to abandon and hope we lose control" Pond insists in the uptempo indie-pop track, "to be out in the open baby and let go of the ropes".

…And let go, he does. In a free-fall of spirit, Matt gets to the core of his own humanity, and we can't help but listen intently to see what he finds, because after all, it can sometimes be a frightening journey, a risk many of us aren't willing to take. "Hole in My Heart" strips down the frivolities and formalities that water down most songs about heartbreak, leaving us with a chillingly accurate, almost childlike description of the pain it causes, and a glimpse into the places he's stumbled in his own journey, when, as he puts it, "with eyes closed we dove into unknown". In the end, "The Lives Inside the Lines in your Hand" is a triumph against the paltry conditions we've all been forced to reckon with as a society. When times are tough though, art flourishes, and 'Lives' is ademonstration in how Pond is transcended by his art. "Someday I'll stop breathing," he says, "but I'll never stop singing."

Ex Cops – Daggers
Out October 2014 via Downtown Records

Ex Cops, a nomadic duo featuring Amalie Bruun and Brian Harding, brings the hook-heavy blast of ‘90s alt-rock into a new era on their second album Daggers. Executive produced by icon-of-form Billy Corgan and produced by Justin Raisen (Sky Ferriera, Charli XCX, Kylie Minogue), the record rescues guitar-pop from the bedroom, returning it to the stage it deserves.

Formed in 2011, the group’s first album True Hallucinations, released in early 2013, was a critically-acclaimed collection of sprawling indie-pop. From the exuberant “Spring Break (Birthday Song)” to the band’s dreamy debut “You Are A Lion, I Am A Lamb,” the John Siket-produced record (Blonde Redhead, Yo La Tengo) was a genre-jumping opening salvo and its wall-to-wall guitars set the tone for their new album.

Daggers is a musical about-face, though. “We are not afraid of our favorite music anymore,” says Harding. “It’s pop.”

Billy Corgan, in addition to sharing the band’s love of ABBA and taking them to their first wrestling match, provided form and texture to the new tracks over a two-week period in Chicago. The band then took the material to LA for tracking with Raisen and continued collaborating with artists like Ariel Pink, who co-wrote “Burnt Out Love” and features on “Tragically Alright.”

The result reinvents modern rock. “White Noise,” with its addictive chorus, merges guitars that could make your teeth ache and a motorik electronic pop pulse. The impeccably-produced “Teenagers” brings club-ready downtown pop to an anthemic peak, while “Black Soap” shifts shoegaze textures to stadium status and “Rooms,” one of the album’s emotionally-resonant ballads, packs a substantial punch.

1. Black Soap
2. White Noise
3. Teenagers
4. Daggers
5. Pretty Shitty
6. Burnt Out Love
7. Modern World
8. Wanna Be (feat. L.P.)
9. Tragically Alright (feat. Ariel Pink)
10. Rooms
11. Weird With You

Laura Stevenson

Laura Stevenson is finally learning not to worry. After more than a year of national and worldwide touring following the release of her critically acclaimed album Wheel, both headlining, and alongside such varied acts as Against Me!, The Go-Go’s, Kevin Devine, Tim Kasher of Cursive, and The Gaslight Anthem, the songwriter made the move from her between-tour home base of Brooklyn, to upstate New York’s Hudson River Valley. There, she rented a nineteenth-century Victorian, a former brothel in a cement-mining town-turned hippie-enclave, and converted the attic into a makeshift studio. It was in this space that she and her band went to work arranging and demoing the eleven songs she had written that would make up Cocksure, Stevenson’s fourth album. The record features musicians Mike Campbell, Alex Billig and Peter Naddeo, who in various incarnations have performed with her for over seven years, as well as newcomer Samantha Niss, a long-time Hudson Valley resident and the veritable go-to drummer of the region.

Where 2013’s Wheel was full of lingering uncertainty, harkening to Stevenson’s folk and country leanings, Cocksure is a straightforward, to the point, emboldened rock and roll album. Although some existential dread still peaks through the cracks, Stevenson treats themes as heavy-hearted as sudden and tragic death, self-imposed exile in small windowless rooms, and that back-of-your-mind anxiety that the road you’re on may not be the right one, as their own signs of life; a life that is brightly colored by those realities.

With influences ranging from The Lemonheads, Liz Phair, and The Replacements, to early Weezer and the Smoking Popes, Cocksure maintains Stevenson’s unique vulnerability, and steadfast devotion to a solid and honest melody. In the writing process, she challenged herself to be true to whatever was going to come out of her, with many of the tracks featuring melodies that were purely stream of consciousness. “I felt like over-working it would suck some of the spirit out of the songs… this record needed that spontaneity. Spending so much time editing and second guessing yourself takes all the life out of it.”

This sense of spontaneity was maintained in the way Cocksure was recorded. In May of 2015, Stevenson and her band traveled city-bound to Room 17, a studio located in her old neighborhood of Bushwick, Brooklyn. “It’s this very positive and amazing space, and Joe Rogers, the engineer, was so enthusiastic about what we were doing. Everyone was comfortable enough to just really play and not get caught up in anything else.” All the main instrumentation on Cocksure was performed live, no clicks/no punches, under the watchful eyes of Rogers and producer Jeff Rosenstock, Stevenson’s long-time friend and collaborator. “Jeff was the perfect person for the job. All of his Bomb The Music Industry! and solo recordings have this energy to them, they’re like living things. I wanted to capture some of the magic he has.” The album was later mixed and mastered by Jack Shirley (Joyce Manor, Deafheaven, Tony Molina) at Atomic Garden Studios in Palo Alto, CA.

Self-assurance is a new hat for Stevenson, and on Cocksure she confronts her usual tendencies toward self-deprecation head-on. “It’s freeing to stop being so hard on yourself, and to quiet down all of the outside noise,” she says. “Once you’re able to do that, you can actually write what you should be writing.”

Tickets Available at the Door

FREE download to Matt Pond's EP, 'Hole in My Heart.' https://soundcloud.com/mattpondpa/sets/hole-in-my-heart-ep/s-IoTzH $10 at the door. Cash Only.

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