In an underground music landscape where 140 characters equals 'journalism' and lone MP3s propel bands to momentary internet stardom, bands are here today and gone tomorrow.

Califone is a band that defies this blueprint. Their albums are full of layers and textures, offering endless depth, entire universes to lose yourself in - and beyond the thick spectrum of sound, they do something even more important: They write great songs. Califone is a band that will stand the test of time.

The band is at the peak of its powers on All My Friends Are Funeral Singers, its sixth song based album. The long-awaited follow-up to 2006's acclaimed Roots and Crowns, the album is the strongest collection of songs in a career with no shortage of strength. The subtlety and detail of Califone's previous work is present here - the atmospheres are carefully nuanced, the percussion is both rattling and melodic, the melodies are rich and soulful, interspersed throughout softly strummed folk and electrified blues. All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is a dense collage of sounds, expertly formed into fully realized pop songs.

Roots and Crowns brought a newfound immediacy in Califone, most notably on their cover of Psychic TV's 'The Orchids.' They had never recorded a song that would function as an obvious single before this, and the results were spectacular. All My Friends Are Funeral Singers expands upon these explorations - the hook on 'Funeral Singers' is urgent and undeniable; the melody in 'Polish Girls' is pop perfection. 'Buuel' is as epic as it is catchy, while 'Evidence' and 'Krill' are both absolute studies in beauty.

This pop exploration runs through the album, but it's not at the expense of Califone's vast musical vocabulary. The band's multi- instrumentalists (Joe Adamik, Jim Becker, Ben Massarella, Tim Rutili) and several notable guests utilize an orchestra's worth of instruments on the album, from the more typical (guitar, bass, piano), to the unusual (optigan, prepared piano, stylophone). Throw in more strings (fiddle, mandolin, banjo, baritone ukulele, cello), percussion (mbira, marimba, steel drum, thumb piano), some horns (bass clarinet, clarinet, French horn) and a whole mess of other oddities (ring modulators, loops, 'effects,' synth bass, electronics) and the careful production and mixing of longtime collaborator Brian Deck, and you've got the perfect ingredients for Califone's finest and most ambitious album to date.

Califone's music has often been described as cinematic, and the band has been known to contribute live improvised soundtracks to silent films. Many of these performances have been released on Califone albums Deceleration One and Deceleration Two. Primary songwriter and vocalist Tim Rutili's artistic endeavors stretch beyond music, and include the creation of surreal short documentaries, music videos and experimental films.

From the same font of inspiration--and on the same theme--as the songs on All My Friends Are Funeral Singers comes Rutili's first feature-length film. Also titled All My Friends Are Funeral Singers. The screenplay for the film and many of the songs were written at the same time and incorporate many of the same images and characters.The movie was shot in an old, rickety house in Indiana in the spring of 2009 and stars the respected cult actress Angela Bettis (Girl, Interrupted , May, Carrie). The band will be performing a live, interactive soundtrack to the movie for many of their performances supporting the album, adding a new element to the band's live show. It will be a truly special and ambitious event, and unlike anything Califone has done to date. A stand alone edit of the movie will be submitted to film festivals come 2010.

All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is the record that the great Roots and Crowns hinted at. The songwriting is fleshed out, the musical vision is boiling over, the sonic experimentation is indulgent and dense, yet there's a great cohesion, a sense of purpose and a newfound focus to this Califone effort. Never has the band felt so vibrant, so alive, on one of their albums. All My Friends Are Funeral Singers is built for the long haul. Make space on your record shelf, because this one is here to stay.

Radar Brothers

Radar Brothers return with Eight, a very special new release only available on LP and digital beginning January 29. Featuring an expanded band of brothers including Stevie Triechel and Be Hussey from The Illustrated Garden as well as new members Dan Iead (formerly of The Broken West) on guitar/pedal steel, Brian Cleary on keyboards and Ethan Walter on piano and synthesizers. Between the two keyboards and Iead and Putnam's guitars, the band orchestrates a swirling fervor that glides over Triechel and Hussey's rhythmic aggressions.

The band called the record Eight (being their eighth), and it may well be Radar Brothers' darkest, hardest rocking, most psychedelic, and yet most intensely personal album to date. From Putnam's tribute to Joni Mitchell's cover art (The Hissing of Summer Lawns) to the surreal, picturesque lyrics to the unidentifiable textures and sounds that pour from your speakers like liquid paintings?this may also be the band��s most visual album to date.

So forget everything that you know or have ever thought about Radar Brothers. From the very start, Eight explodes with newness and bold, otherworldly jaunts. While paying tribute to their past on several songs, the band retains its swagger in this new territory throughout the rest.

Dana Falconberry

Dana Falconberry suffuses the majesty of nature in the orchestral pop-folk she elegantly crafts in Leelanau, her inaugural release for Oakland' Antenna Farm Records.  Citing influences ranging from the prints of artist Gwen Frostic, the books of Willa Cather, and the stark, childs-eye beauty of the Swedish film Let The Right One In, Falconberry finds lyrical inspiration in her idyllic childhood retreats to the Great Lakes State's Leelanau peninsula. The result is a set of eloquent verse reflecting upon the region to which she has returned almost every summer since she was born.

Being born and raised in Michigan, Dana moved to Austin, TX several years ago.  She is thriving musically in her new hometown, heralded by the Austin Chronicle as one of the city's "most arresting female vocalists" and in 2011 she starred in the critically-lauded documentary on the Austin music scene, Echotone, a New York Times Critics' Pick. In addition to her solo work, Dana has worked extensively with her contemporaries, frequently collaborating with Matt Bauer (Brooklyn) and most recently providing backing vocals for the Heartless Bastards (Austin) for some of their 2012 tour dates. She has shared stages with Okkervil River, Shearwater, Megafaun, Father John Misty and Dr. Dog, captivating audiences with her powerful live shows. In addition to extensive tours through the US, Europe, and Japan, Dana has recorded two Daytotter sessions and a Laundromatinee session for My Old Kentucky Blog.

For Leelanau, Falconberry was determined to push herself as a songwriter while staying true to the sound and aesthetic that had earned her a growing fan base in Austin and beyond. While previous recordings emphasized the sparse and delicate, on Leelanau, Dana's fairy-like voice is bolstered by the exquisite orchestration of a six-piece band (Gina Dvorak, Karla Manzur, Matthew Shepherd, Christopher Cox, Lindsey Verrill) who are central to the bountiful soundscapes Falconberry creates. The newly developed string arrangements (arranged by bandmember Cox and performed by Austin's Tosca String Quartet) match the growth in Falconberry's songwriting approach. Leelanau was recorded by Grant Johnson, mixed by Danny Reisch (of Shearwater), and produced by Johnson, Cox, and Falconberry.

Black Whales

The riotous rock quintet is celebrating the release of their 2011 album Shangri-La Indeed, a collection of 60′s-inspired mid-fi psych-pop jams that sound like they've been imported directly from your garage. It's the band's obvious sincerity and homegrown production that's endeared them so much to the Seattle community, built on a basis of hooky riffs and danceable beats. As much Kurt Vile as The Beatles, Black Whales are cementing their place in Seattle's scene as the foremost purveyors of down-and-dirty rock 'n roll.
- Nick Heinlein, The KEXP Blog

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