With four songwriters, four singers, and 11 tracks of guitar-saturated rock & roll, Avers’ second album, Omega/Whatever, is proof that there’s strength in numbers.

The record shines new light on a band that made its first splash with 2014’s Empty Light. Avers supported that debut release by leaving their hometown of Richmond, VA, and crisscrossing the country on tour, opening for bands like Foo Fighters and J. Roddy Walston along the way. They made a national splash during the 2015 SXSW Festival, too, with everyone from Esquire Magazine to The Daily Beast listing them as one of the week’s breakout bands.

Two years after Empty Light’s release, Omega/Whatever finds them returning to their unofficial headquarters — Montrose Recording, a modern studio located on a historic Richmond plantation and operated by bandmate Adrian Olsen — and creating another self-produced album of rumbling rock, shot through with pop hooks, layers of percussion, and coed melodies from four different vocalists. It’s a mix of old and new, much like the studio that birthed it.

It’s an album about balance, too, centered around the struggles of living in the modern world. There are songs about divorce, technology, late nights, corrupt politicians, and societal norms, all delivered by a group of songwriters who share their creative duties equally. Olsen, Alexandra Spalding, James Mason, and JL Hodges trade off vocal duties, too, with multi-instrumentalist Charlie Glenn pitching in on keyboards, harmonies, and swells of electric guitar. There’s no consistent frontman, no singular leader, no main guitarist. Those roles are fluid, which makes Omega/Whatever very much the product of a band, not just one bandmate’s vanity project.

Like the album that came before it, Avers’ second release came together during a series of inspired sessions at Montrose, with each song beginning as a fledgling idea brought to the table by one of the band’s four writers. The entire group would then pitch in, turning that idea into something nuanced and layered. Avers would ultimately finish each song as a collective unit, recording the track the same day it was written. The result is an “infectious” and “ebullient” (The AV Club) sound that not only reintroduces the band, but not also offers an insider’s look at their creative process.

Mixed by Peter Kadis (The National, Kurt Vile) and mastered with Greg Calbi, Omega/Whatever is a battle cry from a band that’s fighting the good fight.

Direction. Motion. Progress. These words aren’t typically used to describe a rock band, but it’s the best way to break down Wizard of the Eye, the new album from Busses. The Philadelphia trio’s latest expands on the genre-slashing ambitions of its debut, charting new destinations on the post-rock spectrum. Dave Brett, Jason Bachman and Nick Apice continue to hone their collective gift for writing complex yet concise arrangements. Paint-pealing guitars and cavernous drums remain trademarks, but a heightened attention to dynamics defines these songs, and a reflective haze softens the edges.

It’s tempting to say Busses is experimenting with different textures, but the 10 tracks on Wizard of the Eye don’t sound like experiments. Decisive shifts in mood provide a kaleidoscopic backdrop for harmonies that are rich and layered. Even the most fragmented compositions feel meticulously plotted and carefully arranged, yet never overlabored. Nautical themes are folded into a jagged frame on “Bubbles,” which opens with restless bass-driven post-punk streaked with ear-splitting howls before simmering into gentle chords spread over a soothing rustle. “Rain” and “Big Surprise” are underpinned by lush horns that thicken and elevate the melodies, broadening the group’s tonal palette.

At the helm is singer-guitarist Brett, whose elastic voice reflects the band’s range. On the drifting, weightless reverie “Overload,” he works in a delicate, tentative whisper, a giant leap from the ecstatic release he delivers on the powerful title track. Thick and intricate countermelody comes from bassist and keyboardist Bachman, who locks in effortlessly with Apice’s polyrhythmic drumming, rooted in an unwavering pulse that also breathes organically. Busses wring multi-faceted ideas from a few key components, but ultimately this is music to get lost in. Brett sums it up best on the terrestrial drone of “Radio”: “These are the words, and here are the chords/This is how it goes.”

-Areif Sless-Kitain, July 2014

Rosu Lup

Pennsylvania is as equally famous for its cities as it is for its country side. The northeast hub between New York and DC is fertile ground for a new generation of indie music artists. Philadelphia is the ground zero for this rebirth of east coast sound, and at the epicenter of this renaissance is Rosu Lup. Culling from a rich history of artists that spans a spectrum of genres from rock, to bluegrass, to roots that run deeper than soil, decades of history that have embedded themselves in the change of the color of the leaves that live within the seasons.

Rosu Lup is a culmination of all PA is, and represents the best of its future. There is an excitement in the air as they look to release their debut album “Is Anything Real”. Pulling from the best there is, but also putting their unique spin on it. “In Dreams” and it’s reverb heavy guitar and gentle brass bring out the best in the group, reminiscent of giants like Band Of Horses and The National. “Halloween Ghost” is a back roads tour of the country side in the fall with Bon Iver and Ryan Adams at the wheel. Hell, just to keep things regional, the Boss throws his ghost in to the machine on the guitars behind “Is Anything Real”

Having toured throughout the Northeast, and on the brink of expanding across the continental US, Rosu Lup is the best that the future of music has to offer. Originally recording project for Philly musician Jonathan Stewart, the ideas melded with Josh Marsh as they collaborated via a Craigslist meet up. The world of music is ever expanding, and the coincidental meet up of the like minded musicians has resulted in an album as embedded in the past as it is in the future.

-Matt Shaver

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