Watch & Listen

Miniature Tigers

The sound is important but nothing is more important than the feeling of the sound. When Charlie Brand (vocals, guitar) was writing the newest Miniature Tigers record, he looked to the sum of his musical influences for inspiration. “I wanted to make something like Weezer’s Blue Album—not exactly the album, but the feeling of listening to that album at age whatever. Something with that feeling that could connect with people.” That’s how the band had started, after all: When he and founding member Rick Schaier (keys) connected over Myspace in the mid-’00s through their love of the same bands. After a few albums, they brought on Algernon Quashie (guitar) and Brandon Lee (bass) to complete the band.

The resulting record, Cruel Runnings, is something halfway between nostalgia and the ecstatic now, an album that yearns for the recent past while staring open-hearted at what the present dares to bring. Songs about swimming pools remembered on sticky summer nights, lovers meeting at discotheques, streets where you used to live. Let’s just try to be as much of us as possible, Brand decided during the recording process. In that, Miniature Tigers have written a record that’s eminently relatable, passionate but not without a healthy sense of perspective. Recorded in Jamaica with producer Chris Zane (The Walkmen, Passion Pit) the album sounds as freeing as the process felt. “There was just a different energy there, a different energy in such a relaxing environment,” he says. “Everything came very naturally.” That’s fitting of a record where Brand wanted to capture the way a relationship—and through that, life—really felt. “Not necessarily something that was good and got bad,” he says, “but the ups and downs of it.”



The Chain Gang of 1974

"My brothers and I were surrounded by music growing up," explains Kamtin Mohager, the genre-jumping singer/multi-instrumentalist behind The Chain Gang of 1974. "Not Beatles albums or anything like that; more like the Persian records our parents played all the time. And when we got older, it was up to us to discover everything."

Born in San Jose and raised in Hawaii, Mohager spent his first 13 years playing inline hockey and dreaming of being drafted by the NHL. His thoughts shifted to music soon after a move to Colorado, however. All thanks to the sinking feeling he felt after seeing the final scene in Real Genius. That'd be the part where "Everybody Wants To Rule the World" kicks in, tugging at the audience's collective heartstrings like only the finest Reagan era records can.

"That's definitely been the goal with my music all along," says Mohager. "The emotion isn't just in the vocals or the lyrics. It's in the songwriting itself."

That's abundantly clear on Wayward Fire, a record that's nearly as restless as The Chain Gang of 1974's last two self-released LPs, White Guts and a collection of early cuts called Fantastic Nostalgic. The way Mohager sees it, his debut was "all over the place, from a piano ballad to songs that sound like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Primal Scream or Justice." And while White Guts funneled three years of instrument-swapping, sample-splicing experience into a lean, focused listen, Wayward Fire melds the standout moments from that release onto Mohager's most fully-realized vision yet.

"From Phil Collins to Fleetwood Mac to the Stills, all of my favorite artists have put out albums," explains Mohager. "I wanted to do the same thing, not just release a record you kinda skip through."

No wonder why the laser-guided synth lines of "Undercover" and the rather epic "Hold On"—crowd pleasers that hint at everything from LCD Soundsystem to Talking Heads—make perfect sense alongside such shifting soundscapes as the shimmering keys of "Don't Walk Away," the hands-in-the-air hooks of "Taste of Heaven," and the choruses that cut through the rain clouds in "Matter of Time." Of course, it doesn't hurt that Mohager balances his minor-key melodies with bold, bloodletting lyrics.

"Lyrically, it's a dark record—all about fear, jealously and love," he says. "Even the parts with hints of happiness have some doubt thrown in."

Some closure came with the final cut, though, as Mohager moved to L.A., severed the ties of the two-year relationship that fueled Wayward Fire, and raised the curtain on what's next, proving that this particular film has just begun.

In the summer of 2005, after a series of deaths in the family, Michael Deni left his hometown in New Jersey for San Francisco. He spent the next several months with his guitar and a synthesizer, turning that tragedy into the songs that would soon become the foundation for Geographer. With the additions of cellist Nathan Blaz and drummer Brian Ostreicher, Geographer spent the next year cutting their teeth in the Bay Area, winning over crowds with the heart-pounding epics that make up their debut record, 'Innocent Ghosts'. After being selected one of three 'Undiscovered Bands You Need To Hear Now' by SPIN Magazine and garnering considerable word-of-mouth praise from their energetic live shows, the band signed to San Francisco-based label Tricycle Records, releasing a 7" single for the song 'Kites' in October 2009. 'Animal Shapes' follows up 'Kites', building on the synth-driven aesthetic of the single, while

Pretty & Nice

Tucked away in a basement somewhere on the outskirts of Boston, there is a secret lair filled with motley recording equipment, and a neatly organized cache of guitars, synths and other flashing electronics. The stockpile of gadgetry is owned and operated by three young gentlemen who call themselves Pretty & Nice. Hardly art (Sub Pop)

$10.00 - $13.00

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