Willy Mason: Five Essential Albums

Blues, country and folk aficionado Willy Mason is a recent Communion Records recruit and Carry On, his first album for that label, is released today in the States. The native New Yorker will celebrate his August 20 release day with a gig at Rockwood Music Hall tonight. Since Willy Mason has a strong affinity for musicians representing the roots of Americana, many far more seasoned than his 28 years, FUV and The Alternate Side asked him to select his Five Essential Albums.

Samaris: Five Essential Albums

Tags: Samaris

Over a year ago, the Reykjavík trio Samaris was cited by NPR Music as representing the "sound of young Iceland"  — likely younger than most since all three members were still teenagers. A compilation of the band's two EPs and remixes, called Samaris, was finally released last week on One Little Indian. Intrigued by what outside elements might have led to Samaris' stormy sea of stillness on songs like the stunning "Góða Tungl" ("Good Moon"), The Alternate Side asked Samaris vocalist Jófríður Ákadóttir for her Five Essential Albums.

Ethan Johns: Five Essential Albums

Ethan Johns is an acclaimed, Brit Award-winning producer — he's collaborated with Laura Marling, The Vaccines,  Kings of Leon and more — but he's never released his own solo abum until this year. Johns' debut, If Not Now Then When?, is finally released in North America tomorrow, July 30. He's marking the occasion with his first New York show at Rockwood Music Hall on Tuesday night too.The Alternate Side asked Ethan Johns to list his Five Esssential Albums and he came up with a classic and contemporary mix that shines with deft guitarwork and aching lyrics.

Kisses: Five Essential Albums

Tags: Kisses

Los Angeles duo Kisses, who play New York's Mercury Lounge this Friday, July 19, make smart, slinky electro-pop, perfect for indie discos everywhere. Their second album, Kids in LA, came out in late May via Cascine. Yes, choosing a moniker like Kisses is undeniably cute — they're even engaged — but there's a lachrymose angle to the band's sparkling songs. When The Alternate Side asked Kisses' Jesse Kivel and Zinzi Edmundson if they'd write up their Five Essential Albums, we expected '80s-era dance nuggets, but Kivel's choices revealed a far more eclectic record collection.

Ghostpoet: Five Essential Albums

Tags: Ghostpoet

Uneasy electronic beats frame Ghostpoet's introspective songs of disquiet, a haunting style that earned the London producer and singer a Mercury Prize nomination for his 2010 debut, Peanut Butter Blues & Melancholy Jam. His new album, Some Say I So I Say Light, was released in the UK in May and in the States an EP, Meltdown, is available now. The Alternate Side asked Ghostpoet, real name Obaro Ejimiwe, if he'd tell us about five of his essential albums.

Said The Whale: TAS Tour Blog

Vancouver indie rockers Said the Whale have toured with Stars, won a prestigous 2011 Juno Award and have a brand new EP, tenderly christened I Love You, but nothing prepared them for the disappointing tacos, stellar ice cream, desert beers and Vegas debauchery of their swing through the West Coast last month. The Alternate Side asked Said the Whale's Tyler Bancroft to keep a blog for us and he did, even discovering a marvelous bit of Beastie Boys history in Los Angeles.  

The TAS Staff Picks Our Top Albums And Singles Of 2013 ... So Far

Wait, where did the last six months go?The Alternate Side staff, swimming through the .WAV files, MP3s, CDs and vinyl records that arrive daily, is slightly astonished by the abundant bounty of good music released this past winter and spring. Our lists for faves of 2013 — so far — barely scratch the surface. But TAS has selected some notable albums and singles that came out during the first half of 2013 (Stateside or internationally), including releases from Savages, Daft Punk, Phosphorescent, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Queens of the Stone Age, Kurt Vile, Jagwar Ma, Jon Hopkins, Laura Mvula, Waxahatchee and much more. 

Lovefoxxx Of CSS: Five Essential Albums

Tags: CSS, Lovefoxxx

Brazil's CSS Cansei der Ser Sexy — just released its fourth, summer-kissed album, Planta, produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. Led by irrepressible frontwoman Lovefoxxx, the festive dance rockers play New York's Bowery Ballroom on July 8. Intrigued by what might inspire CSS' ebullient, synth-swept sound, The Alternate Side asked for Lovefoxxx's five essential albums — and they're not the party missives you might expect.

The Pastels: TAS Interview

The delightful resurrection of The Pastels has been one of the highlights of 2013, a year already brimming with reunions and overdue returns. After a 16-year studio album silence, the Glasgow band, now the duo of Stephen McRobbie and Katrina Mitchell, released Slow Summits this spring, a breezy collection of smart indiepop perfection spanning the seaons. The Alternate Side caught up with The Pastels' Stephen McRobbie to discuss the new record's unhurried evolution and to ask that inevitable question — what took them so long?

Nadine Shah: Five Essential Albums

Nadine Shah doesn't release her debut album, Love Your Dum and Mad, until July 23 (July 22 in the UK), but the London-based singer-songwriter's disarming, sultry and brutally beautiful vocals have earned her quick critical comparisons to PJ Harvey, Nick Cave and even Leonard Cohen. Intrigued by Nadine Shah's torchy, turbulent music, The Alternate Side asked what might be on Shah's "essential" list when it came to albums and artists she loved  ... and she came back with choices as surprising as her songs.

Hooded Fang: TAS Tour Blog

Hooded Fang might possess a thrashing, heavy metal-ish moniker — and a somber title for their third album, Gravez — but there's an exuberant sparkle to the Toronto band's fuzzed-out, kaleidoscopic, sometimes surf-pop songs. The Polaris Prize-nominated Hooded Fang has been touring North America this spring and the band launches a string of Canadian and West Coast dates tonight, June 12. The Alternate Side asked bassist April Aliermo if she'd keep a tour blog for us and she did, covering gigs, a visit to frontman Daniel Lee's mom and noshing on loads of Chinese food.

Lucy Rose: North American Tour Blog

Fans of Bombay Bicycle Club became familiar with Lucy Rose as the fetching vocalist backing Jack Steadman, but the 23-year-old, flame-haired singer has struck out on her own. She signed, impressively, with Columbia Records last year and released her tender and wistful debut, Like I Used To, in September in the UK. Her EP, Middle of the Bed, is out now in the States. Lucy Rose, who begins a UK tour tomorrow, April 19recently embarked on her first North American road trip — including a stop at SXSW — and blogged about her adventures for The Alternate Side.

Field Report: SXSW 2013 Blog

Along with Bon Iver and Megafaun, Milwaukee's Field Report came from the ashes of DeYarmond Edison. Christopher Porterfield, formerly of that group, and his Field Report bandmates Travis Whitty and Jeff Mitchell conquered SXSW last week and kicked off a mostly East Coast tour this week, slated to reach New York's City Winery on March 26. The Alternate Side asked bassist Travis Whitty if he'd keep track of Field Report's Austin mischief, from tattoos to Ice Cold Perm, via a photo blog.

K.I.D.S.: SXSW 2013 Blog

Tags: K.I.D.S.

K.I.D.S., the duo of London's Charles Cave, bassist for White Lies, and Stockholm's Rosanna Munter, made its live debut at SXSW in Austin last week, bringing along former members of Ipso Facto and M.I.A.'s band to fill out their live lineup. The electro-pop pair, still recording their debut album, pulled together a SXSW photo blog for The Alternate Side, capturing the glory of K.I.D.S. very first live show — ever — at Clive Bar.

Broncho: SXSW 2013 Blog

Tags: Broncho

Tireless Oklahoma garage punks Broncho not only made it through SXSW, but they sacrificed much-needed sleep to play the Spillover Festival in Dallas on St. Patrick's Day. The Alternate Side asked Broncho bassist Johnathon Ford if he'd keep a SXSW blog for us, tracking the band's towing terrors, showcases and much needed BBQs.  

Alpine: SXSW 2013 Blog

Tags: Alpine

Alpine's 2012 debut album, A is For Alpine,  isn't even out in the States until May 21 of this year, but the Melbourne sextet has emerged as one of Australia's most praiseworthy young bands. Alpine has toured with The Naked and Famous, Kimbra and Cloud Control and has racked up Aria nominations and iTunes honors. Their busy SXSW journey includes the Aussie BBQ on Saturday afternoon, March 16. Alpine drummer Phil Tucker has been faithfully keeping a SXSW blog for The Alternate Side, a trip that's included a memorable meeting with Billy Bragg.

Blaudzun: 2013 SXSW Blog

Tags: Blaudzun

Blaudzun, aka Johannes Sigmonds, just completed his SXSW adventure tonight, March 15, at the Cedar Street Courtyard. The Dutch singer-songwriter's third album, Heavy Flowers, is out now. Blaudzun, who has been dubbed the Ryan Adams of the Netherlands, kept track of his SXSW adventures for The Alternate Side and even managed to get his photo splashed across the front page of the Austin American Statesman. Read Blaudzun's SXSW blog here.

TAS Interview: The Maccabees' Orlando Weeks

The Maccabees' third album Given to the Wild heralded a new chapter for the UK quintet. The confident, expansive nature of the 2012 record earned The Maccabees a 2012 Mercury Prize nomination and tours with Florence and the Machine and the Black Keys. The Maccabees embark on their first headlining tour of North America this week, arriving in New York next week  for two gigs at Bowery Ballroom and Music Hall of Williamsburg. TAS caught up with the Maccabees' frontman Orlando Weeks to discuss their imminent domination of the States and what Mötley Crüe nearly left behind at a venue.

Mission Of Burma: TAS Tour Blog

The great American punk band Mission of Burma has spent the last decade not only relishing its reunification, but reinvigorated by it. The band's last year has been especially fecund with fresh material via the release of Unsound, the group's fifth studio album, and a retrospective collection, Learn How. TAS asked singer/guitarist Roger MIller if he'd keep a tour diary of Mission of Burma's December jaunt through Europe and, even better, the guys' return to New York to play Bowery Ballroom on January 18.

Breaking Bands 2013: TAS Staff Picks This Year's New Faces To Watch

As The Alternate Side staff sifts through EPs and singles on a daily basis, discovering up-and-coming bands — especially those without a debut album yet —  there are always a few that we find ourselves championing tirelessly to anyone who'll listen to us. It's difficult to ascertain the chance of a new name breaking in a big way, but the bands and artists we'd like to take over the world in 2013 include Chvrches, Savages, AlunaGeorge, Public Service Broadcasting, Hunters, Pins, Angel Haze, Guards, Fidlar, Milk & Biscuits and Indians. Read the TAS Staff picks after the jump.

The Alternate Side is a proud part of WFUV Public Radio from Fordham University,
90.7 FM on your New York dial and online at wfuv.org.