Ben Watt: Five Essential Albums

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Yes, it took Ben Watt over 30 years to release his second solo album, Hendra, but he has a perfectly fine excuse. Following the release of 1983's North Marine Drive, Watt immersed himself in Everything But the Girl with longtime partner Tracey Thorn, ran two record labels, toured the globe as a club DJ and wrote two critically-acclaimed memoirs. Watt also combatted a serious illness in the '90s and, more recently, lost his sister to cancer. Her death and Watt's grief prompted him to return to his singer-songwriter roots for Hendra. Ben Watt returns to New York to play Joe's Pub in June and The Alternate Side reached out to him for a list of his Five Essential Albums.

Watch The Premiere Of Lanterns On The Lake's Video Tour Diary

This past winter, dream rockers Lanterns on the Lake braved snow, bitter cold and icy rain touring North America (their first trip here) and Europe in support of the Newcastle upon Tyne band's luminous second album, Until The Colours Run. Along the way, Lanterns on the Lake kept a video tour diary, which they've now edited into a beautiful short feature. Watch Lanterns on the Lake's exquisite little film, premiering on The Alternate Side, and download their song "The Astronomer" for free too.

Jack Barnett Of These New Puritans: Five Essential Albums

These New Puritans' majestic, neoclassical third album, Field of Reeds, might seem far removed from the jagged, post-punk bark of the band's 2008 debut, Beat Pyramid, but the albums are intrinsically linked. Frontman Jack Barnett and his bandmates, including his twin brother George on drums, have traveled one of the more compelling odysseys in contemporary music. These New Puritans received rapturous reviews for their concert earlier this month at London's Barbican Centre, and this Wednesday, April 30, they'll bring the magnificent Field of Reeds to life at New York's Bowery Ballroom. TAS asked Jack if he might select Five Essential Albums for us.

School of Language: Five Essential Albums

During a hiatus from Field Music in 2008, David Brewis, who shares the Mercury Prize-nominated band with his brother Peter, released his first solo album as School of Language, the ambitious Sea From Shore. Six years later, David has returned with a second School of Language album, Old Fears, out now on Memphis Industries. It's a fantastically funked-out, slyly soulful, shapeshifting collection of songs that draws on everything from classic R&B to angular art pop. Intrigued by that fearless collage of sounds, The Alternate Side asked School of Language's David Brewis if he'd pull together his Five Essential Albums for us.

East India Youth: Five Essential Albums

A demo recorded by East India Youth's William Doyle so impressed the powers-that-be at the online British publication The Quietus that they were inspired to set up a record label. In January, Doyle dropped his debut album, Total Strife Forever, and was promptly swept away in a sea of laudatory reviews and inevitable comparisons to James Blake. Given the electronic and emotional impact of his auspicious debut, The Alternate Side asked Doyle, er, East India Youth if he'd reveal his Five Essential Albums for us.

Cymbals: SXSW 2014 Blog

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Cymbals come from London and make effusive dance-rock and electropop that teases at disco while maintaining a wiry edge. The quartet's second album, The Age of Fracture, is a sharp collection of driving beats and glossy melodies framing thoughtful lyrics that reach far beyond perfunctory club anthems. Cymbals made their U.S. debut recently with shows in New York and at SXSW and singer Jack Cleverly kept a blog for The Alternate Side with impressions (and photos) of their long, frenzied week.

September Girls: SXSW 2014 Blog

Big Star fans September Girls, a spirited, rambunctious Irish quintet with a knack for fuzzed-out, ebullient punk pop, recently released their perfectly-christened debut, Cursing the Sea, on the Fortuna Pop! label. The five bandmates tackled SXSW last week for a batch of showcases and September Girls' drummer Sarah Grimes blogged for The Alternate Side about a heady few days of Austin bliss, from catching Debbie Harry sing with Dum Dum Girls to a very close encounter with Jarvis Cocker.

Woman's Hour: SXSW 2014 Blog

Serene, sultry electronic quartet Woman's Hour has plenty to celebrate this month. Back in December they signed to Secretly Canadian and spent last week careening from one SXSW showcase to another, including the BBC Introducing stage. This week, the London-based band has two New York gigs, playing Mercury Lounge tonight and Glasslands this Friday, March 21.  Woman's Hour singer Fiona Burgess agreed to pull together a SXSW blog for The Alternate Side and it's not surprising that a band that hails from Kendal, England, home of the achingly sweet Kendal mint cake, would make a beeline for Texan confectionaries with bacon.

The Mary Onettes: SXSW 2014 Blog

Swedish dreampop purveyors The Mary Onettes released their lush, mellifluous mini-album, Portico, earlier this month on Labrador, a swift followup to last year's Hit The Waves. Although the band was sadly forced to postpone their North American tour this month due to unexpected visa issues, they were able to play SXSW, the group's first U.S. dates in six years. The Alternate Side asked The Mary Onettes' frontman Philip Ekström if he'd pull together a photo blog of The Mary Onettes' peregrinations around Austin last week.

Team Me: SXSW 2014 Blog

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The feisty and fun Norwegian band Team Me won the Spellemannprisen —Norway's version of the Grammy— as best pop group of 2011. They're gearing up for their second album, releasing its first single, "F for Faker," in February, and will play in New York tonight (Mercury Lounge) and tomorrow, March 18 (Glasslands Gallery). Wondering how Team Me would fare in Austin during last week's very non-Nordic SXSW madness, The Alternate Side asked the sextet if they'd keep a blog of their "favorite"  festival moments.

Fenster: SXSW 2014 Blog

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The New York/Berlin quartet Fenster just released its delicately-crafted, lo-fi second album, The Pink Caves, earlier this month and brought their gentle new songs to noisy Austin for SXSW. Although Fenster makes beautifully spare music—the vocal interplay between J.J. Weihl and Jonathan Jarzy is sublime—that doesn't mean they are incapable of having a somewhat rowdy time (well, some drinks, some cider and brazen blonding), as Weihl, a native New Yorker, proved when she blogged about Fenster's SXSW adventures for The Alternate Side. 

Roman Remains: SXSW 2014 Blog

Liela Moss and Toby Butler of Duke Spirit have branched out of late with a side project, the darkly propulsive Roman Remains. Earlier this month they released a debut album, Zeal on Dhani Harrison's H.O.T. Records, Ltd. The duo has been touring North America with Gary Numan—they'll be at Webster Hall opening for the electronic music legend this Saturday, March 22—and earlier this week found Roman Remains traipsing around Austin for SXSW. The Alternate Side asked Liela Moss of Roman Remains if she'd blog about her Texas adventures for us—which involved Blondie, big hats and broken elevators.

Thursday, March 13, At SXSW 2014

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Team FUV's Laura Fedele blogs about a tragic night and a heartbreaking morning in Austin. FUV's crew found it tough focusing on work today, but they managed, filming performances by The Strypes, Hozier and Spanish Gold at Hotel San Jose (videos to post shortly).

SXSW 2014 Day One: Russ Borris' Blog

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FUV and The Alternate Side's Russ Borris arrived in Austin, Texas yesterday and will be blogging from SXSW this week. On Day One, he saw St. Vincent, Hozier, Benjamin Booker and others. Russ is gearing up for the Public Radio Rocks showcase this Friday, March 14, broadcast live on FUV starting at noon with Damon Albarn, The Hold Steady, Temples, Phantogram, Jeremy Messersmith and Lucius.

Lanterns On The Lake's Hazel Wilde: Five Essential Albums

Earlier this month, Lanterns on the Lake made a confident New York debut at Mercury Lounge in support of the quintet's dreamy, radiant and tempestuous second album, Until The Colours Run. Hailing from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Lanterns on the Lake is adroitly fronted by singer and keyboardist Hazel Wilde, a willowy presence with a bold, beautiful voice. The Alternate Side asked Wilde if she'd write about her Five Essential Albums for us and she did, finding inspiration in everything from the poetry of Bob Dylan to the Manchester swagger of the Gallagher brothers.

Peggy Sue: TAS Tour Diary

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London-based trio Peggy Sue has gone through subtle and more overt changes over its decade-long history. Smartly taking the time needed to craft their third studio release, the folk rockers, who have supported Jack White and Mumford & Sons in the past, recently released their finest and most soulful album, Choir of EchoesPeggy Sue find themselves in snowy New York this week and will play Glasslands Gallery tomorrow, February 13. The Alternate Side asked one of Peggy Sue's two singers, Katy Klaw, if she'd keep a diary of the band's recent UK tour celebrating Choir of Echoes' release and she cheekily conveyed the joy (and exhaustion) of promoting a brand new album.

FUV Dance Party Takes Over Webster Hall On March 1

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Saturday, March 1st at Webster Hall, 7-10:30pm is the next FUV Dance Party!  Whether you loved the last one or missed it (bummer), this is your chance to redeem yourself and support your favorite radio station at the same time. Get out and celebrate with fellow music lovers, whether you're a dancer or a listener.  We'll make it easy - your first drink is on us, and there's giveaways galore for the first 100 people through the door. FUV DJ's Rita Houston and Corny O'Connell and The Alternate Side's Russ Borris and Alisa Ali will be spinning the tunes.Tickets are $35 in advance/$40 at the door and are on sale now through Ticketweb.com or at the Webster Hall Box Office, with all proceeds benefiting WFUV.  

 

Simon Raymonde: Five Essential Albums

Since the dissolution of Cocteau Twins in 1997, Simon Raymonde has focused on running his Bella Union label, the UK home of eclectic artists like John Grant, Beach House and Midlake. Back in 2006, Raymonde began collaborating with Wisconsin singer Stephanie Dosen and they eventually co-founded Snowbird in 2009. The dream pop duo will release their elegant debut, Moon, on January 28 in the States, a recording which also features members of Radiohead, Midlake and Lanterns on the Lake. FUV and The Alternate Side asked Simon Raymonde, a tireless champion of so many bands over his storied career, if he'd compile his Five Essential Albums for us.

Fanfarlo: Five Essential Albums

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Fanfarlo's blissful EP of last year, The Sea, was a sparkling pop prelude to the London band's bold third album, Let's Go Extinct, due out on February 11 via Blue Horizon. The group unearths more danceable grooves on this latest release and has a lengthy North American tour this spring, including two New York dates in late April. FUV and The Alternate Side have been longtime fans of Fanfarlo, visitors to Studio A in 2009 and 2012, so we asked bearded bassist Justin Finch if he might list the Five Essential Albums that have influenced him and his Fanfarlo cohorts.

Breaking Bands 2014: TAS Staff Picks New Faces To Watch

The Alternate Side staff chose our breakout bands carefully last year with Chvrches, Savages, Public Service Broadcasting and AlunaGeorge among the names making our list. So we're feeling a bit of pressure picking the artists we firmly believe will captivate the world in 2014, like Eagulls, Courtney Barnett, Wild Cub, Haerts, Wolf Alice (pictured), Empress Of and FKA Twigs. Read about our individual picks for those musicians we feel — and hope — are at the start of an amazing year.

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