Square Peg Round Hole

Elegant, articulate, and expansive, Juniper, the new record from instrumental percussion trio Square Peg Round Hole manages to convey – and evoke – an entire range of human emotions despite its lack of a single sung word. “Because we are an instrumental group, our hope is that people connect with the songs and assign their own meanings to them,” says Evan Chapman. ”Without lyrics telling the listener how to feel, it leaves the music as an open-ended question.” A sonic mirror reflecting the listener’s subconscious emotional state back at themselves, Juniper engages with the fundamental and primeval.

When it came time to write Juniper, the follow up to 2013’s Corners, the group made a conscious effort to compose together as an ensemble. Evan Chapman, Sean M. Gill, and Carlos Pacheco-Perez split writing sessions between a cabin in rural western Maryland and a remote area of Wisconsin called Egg Harbor at farm-turned-music center Birch Creek. “There is a large, resonant space where we performed at Birch Creek called Juniper Hall,” explains Chapman, “which is actually where we came up with the name for the album.”

To put the new songs to tape, the band teamed up with Evan’s brother Justin Chapman. With a battalion’s worth of gear in tow they converted their shared house in Manayunk, PA into a proper, modern recording studio. Listening to Juniper it’s almost impossible to imagine that the bulk of the recording was done live in full takes.

In the years prior to Juniper, the band spent time honing their instrumentation and specific roles within the band. As a result, Juniper feels like it was written holistically, by a cohesive creative unit; drum set, vibes, and Rhodes being the primary sound palette. The band also dove deeper into sampling and analog synthesizers with Juniper, adding further dimensionality and nuance to their work. Together Gill, Pacheco-Perez, the brothers Chapman, and mix engineer Bryan Laurenson (Copeland) created a record that speaks without words, taking listeners on a journey through the self.

The ultimate headphone record, luxurious with the energy of unison drums, or the serenity of bowed vibraphone, and the fascinating timbres of found objects/scrap metals, Juniper is a bold artist statement from a fearless creative force, at once expansive and intimate. “This is a dynamic record, with moments that are heavier, grittier, and faster than we've ever written, and others delicate, fragile and introspective,” says Chapman. “We strive to make our music stimulating and intelligent. At the same time, we’ve found that people connect with percussion on a very primitive level, and therefore we think that there is something for all types of listeners on this record.”

Square Peg Round Hole formed in 2011 while studying music at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music, in Bloomington, Indiana. The band has shared bills with Built To Spill, The Album Leaf, Mae, This Will Destroy You, and The Joy Formidable, and has been featured at major venues across the country including the Electric Factory, Le Poisson Rouge, Old National Centre, and the World Café Live.

"Her music is like an aging racetrack greyhound; graceful, but still kind of sad."

Us and Us Only

Us and Us Only, a genre hopping indie rock act from Baltimore, formed in 2009 around the core members of vocalist/guitarist Kinsey Matthews, drummer/producer Sean Mercer, and violinist Mike Suica. An initial release of early demos titled “Denim Everything”, led to the music video for “Rapture”, which has since taken on a life of its own, being used for everything from memes, restaurant menus, and presumably one or two band t-shirts. These early demos gave way to their first official release, “Dark Cloud Past”. A few member changes later the band expanded their sound on “Lifting Lake Eerie”, bringing in more layered harmonies and orchestral arrangements. Following this record, the band grew to include bassist Nick Hughes as well as guitarist Dan Windsor. This lineup change brought about their most emotionally charged and sonically concise recordings to date. “Bored Crusader”, an EP released in early 2015 (now re-released on Top Shelf Records), found the band experimenting with loops and vocal arrangements, as well as more melodically driven songs.

The band has since added John Toohey on guitar (of Teen Suicide) and are currently working on their full length debut which will be out in 2017 on Topshelf Records.

Johanna Warren

Johanna Warren writes heart-stoppingly beautiful songs in weird time signatures and open tunings. Her unique and adept finger-picking is interwoven with effortless vocal acrobatics and masterfully crafted poetry. Her debut album "Fates" (Proliferate 2013) is a collection of nine songs, entirely acoustic yet lush with eery ambience, recorded in a spooky attic in Hudson, NY.

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