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Premiere: Icona Pop's "Girlfriend (The Chainsmokers Remix)"

We've been obsessed with Icona Pop since their badass, Charli XCX-penned, femme hero anthem "I Love It" held the world hostage.

And now our girls are back with their new song "Girlfriend"! We are proud to premiere this dope remix by The Chainsmokers which will be available on Beatport via Big Beat Records on 10/21.


"Girlfriend" is off Icona Pop's full-length debut, This Is…Icona Pop, available now on iTunes.

Time for a jam party alone in your bedroom... NOW! —Alex

Camilla Skovgaard AW12 Boots

You might end up with a bit of a wicked squared suntan after wearing these Camilla Skovgaard snakeskin boots for a few days but it's totally worth it to look this awesome, right? X - Jen

LSTN 16

LSTN 16 is here! Download 25 free tracks from artists like Grimes, Beach Fossils, Dr. Dog, Young Magic, Tennis and more. Plus, listen to streaming on UO Radio.

Wooden Shjips "Lazy Bones"

First you heard Wooden Shjips's "Lazy Bones" on our LSTN #15 and now you can watch the video too.

LSTN 15

LSTN 15 is here!  Download 20+ free tracks from M83, The Rapture, Neon Indian, Blood Orange, Washed Out, High Places, and more.  You can also stream them from UO Radio!

Music Mondays

Post-holiday weekend double shot. Enjoy!

LSTN 14

LSTN 14 is here! Download 25 free tracks from Zola Jesus, Gang Gang Dance, Panda Bear, Fleet Foxes and more. Plus, listen to streaming UO Radio.

LSTN 13

LSTN 13 is here!  Download 23 free tracks from Toro Y Moi, Papercuts, Dream Diary, Dom and that Arcade Fire band no one's ever heard of. Plus, listen to streaming UO Radio.

LSTN 12: Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow is the one man enterprise of George Lewis Jr., with big hair, that mustache, dramatic choruses and deep, rich voice. We caught up with him as he was hanging out in Berlin, and he tells us about the creepiest moments of twindom. 


Forget seems to have some heavy ‘80s pop influence in there, was that at all intentional? 
It wasn’t really intentional, I love synth-pop from the ‘80s but I didn’t have any one sound I was going for on the record. I happened to be borrowing some synths and just wanted to indulge a bit. 

What have you been up to? 
Hanging out in Berlin. 

What track are you most proud of? 
"Forget," because I feel like it wrote itself…it just came out. 

What was the music scene like growing up on Florida? 
There was no scene in my town aside from a little ska and punk spot, but I used to travel to Tampa to see concerts: hardcore, metal, jam– whatever we could get in to see. I would mostly hang at a dance club called Da Vibe. Oh god. I would also dance to Atlanta’s hip-hop and R&B. 


Who are some of your favorite new bands? 
Tame Impala, Hooray for Earth, Bear in Heaven, Ariel Pink, Glasser, Fever Ray, Mathew Dear and The Dream. 

The name Twin Shadow comes from having a twin sister. Do you ever have weird twin moments? 
Oh yeah, we both had a dream about a school shooting on the same night, which was creepy. 

Since you were named one of Time Out New York’s most stylish New Yorkers, what fashion rules do you live by? 
Change it up when your pocket’s thick. 

What’s a favorite recent purchase? 
I bought a sick black leather jacket in a letterman jacket style, and some roper boots. 

What does your apartment look like? 
A mess! It needs some serious TLC. 

What has been your most frightening or fun touring experience? 
Well telling you would put us in a weird place. Facebook has made the gossip world too small, so let’s just say we met some creeps out there in old America.  "The 13th Floor" at the Circus Cirus in Las Vegas was also genuinely scary.

Download LSTN #12
Twin Shadow

LSTN 12: Crystal Stilts

With whispers of organ and monotone vocals, Crystal Stilts make the kind of stripped down music that sounds like it was recorded in someone's garage...and that's the whole idea. According to bassist Andy Adler, while the band name might be meant in jest, the strong influence of '60s British beat bands is certainly not.  

Your album doesn’t drop until the beginning of the new year, but do you have a tour planned yet? 
We have a single coming out in a week or two, so the records are all done. I’m sure we’ll figure it out. We went to Europe a few times and it would be fun to go back. 

How were you received abroad? 
Pretty well. There were a few times we played big festivals, but we weren’t the big draw. I think it was probably Neil Young. 

How is touring abroad different from touring in the U.S.? 
It’s really different. In Germany especially, there’s a lot of state sponsorship of venues. The hospitality level is a lot higher. Maybe you’ll get some food in a bar here, but a lot of places over there they’ll make you a nice, sit-down meal. We also have a driver there. 

Do you have any favorite roadside stops? 
Kyle is pretty good about finding better, out-of-the-way places. We do a little research to find good, cheap, local cuisine. 

How did you get involved with Crystal Stilts? 
JB and Brad had been playing for a while and they had recorded most of the record and then they were looking to play live more. I knew Brad from working at the same record store together. We were all friends, so it was pretty casual. They wanted more of a regular, solidified band for live shows and recording. 

JB and Brad grew up in Florida, so where are you from? 
Right outside of Boston. The music scene was good because I had access to record stores and some great pre- and early- internet college radio. Most places didn’t seem to mind if a 15-year-old went to a show if you said you wouldn’t drink. So many college and good bands were around. 

What about now, do you see a lot of live shows? 
Not as many as I once did, due to aging. I still go to a lot of shows.  I just went to see Van Dyke Parks, which was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a while. 


Where does the name Crystal Stilts come from? 
Brad came up with it as a goof, sort of meant in jest to a certain degree. I’m not sure how we came up with it really. It’s not meant as a totally joke, but it’s a ridiculous image I guess. 

Having an organ player is pretty unique. How did that come about? 
I think it just outgrowth of liking the sound, and liking records with that sound. A lot of ‘60s records, and we thought we could use that quality. 

Which records? 
Bob Dylan, The Animals…British beat bands. 

Is that the sound you’re going for? 
That’s definitely part of it, we like the Blue Orchids and later bands that use the organ. I think a lot of bands throw out references to describe their songs and then everyone uses that to compare them to. There are a lot of influences that we take from and try to put our own spin on: Thirteenth Floor Elevators, country records, Lee Hazelwood. 

Where do you get your album art from? 
A lot of old magazines and weird old books. One of our 12-inch singles had an image that came form an old psychology textbook. 

What do you enjoy when you aren’t playing music? 
I like to go to movies–I’m a film nerd. I eat a lot and watch sports. I’m pretty hum-drum and run-of-the-mill. 

Are you a film snob or will you watch anything? 
I don’t think so! I’ve always been interested in it. I take it all, I see a lot of obscure avant garde films but I’m not snooty about my choosing. I just went to the New York Film Festival and saw a film by Raul Ruiz, “Mysteries of Lisbon.” It’s four and a half hours but it’s worth it. 

Where are some cool places to check out in Brooklyn? 
Prospect Park is better than Central Park. It’s more park-y and Frederick Law Olmstead designed it too. Stay away from Williamsburg and come to Park Slope instead, it’s better. I quite like Great Jones Café in Manhattan, they do excellent Cajun food, but I’ve been trying to cook more lately. My girlfriend and I made mussels in a white wine cream sauce and it came out so well! It’s a slow process learning how to cook properly.

Crystal Stilts
Download LSTN #12

Exclusive Blonde Redhead Video and Album Stream


We're stoked to have this exclusive clip of Blonde Redhead performing "Not Getting There" off their new album Penny Sparkle. Sitting in on the session with them is Hendrik Hertzberg from Fever Ray and Glasser. Listen to a full stream of Penny Sparkle on UO Radio

LSTN 12: James Vincent McMorrow

James Vincent McMorrow grew up loving the tales spun by 
Hans Christian Anderson, so it's only too appropriate that the past few months have been like a fairytale for him: A young man locks himself up alone in a house by the sea, records a beautiful album and is whisked off to tour in strange new land.  Obviously, this story will have a very happy ending.

When is your debut album released? 
The record comes out at the end of January, I'm not sure on the exact date, but I think its the 28th! I have an EP that just came out this last week, sort of an introduction to the album. 

Where are you right now on your U.S. tour, and where are you most excited to go?
 Right now I'm in Ann Arbour with Bell x1 playing tonight at The Ark, then off to Toronto tomorrow. I'm quite excited to play in Canada, as it'll be my first time there, but I'm also really looking forward to New York for CMJ.  It's going to be an insanely busy few days, which is exactly how it should be in New York! 

Is this your first U.S. tour? 
This is my first US tour alright, I put the record out myself in Ireland earlier in the year, so I've spent most of the time since then at home playing. My first trip over here was only a couple of weeks ago. So much has changed in the last few months for me– pretty crazy. 

You've said that you sound like a "really bad impression" of all your favorite singers.  Who are they?
They're are a lot of people I admire as singers: Donny Hathaway, Solomon Burke, Neil Young, Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses, Jim James, Fiona Apple. Donny Hathaway was the one that made me want to start singing; his voice is incomparable. 

Did you write "If I Had a Boat" for someone in particular?
I'm not really sure that I could tell you, I'm not even sure that I know myself. Inspiration for me is pretty hard to define, I tend to write lyrics over the space of weeks and months. I usually have a first line and the melody, and I take it from there. I like telling stories, whatever they may be about. 

You recorded alone back in Ireland.  What was the process like?
It wasnt a heavily thought out thing, to be honest. My initial thought was to move somewhere out of the way, where I'd have no option but to work, and then I'd record some demos. As the weeks went by I really started to enjoy how it all sounded, so I kept working. I decided early on to keep it to myself and no one heard a thing until it was finished. That way it would be 100 percent mine, for better or for worse. As for the house being by the sea, well it was what it was: cold and bleak in January, warm and inviting in June! The feel of the place is all over the album I think. 

Was the decision to record alone a conscious one or did it just work out that way?  
The decision to work alone was a conscious one. I'd spent time in studios before and not enjoyed the process. How I started in music was by recording in my bedroom, so I wanted to bring it back there, to when it was just me and a room of instruments– really simple. 


How have you had to adapt to playing those songs live?
Initially it was tough, as almost all of these songs were written while I was recording, with all the parts coming together at the same time. Stripping all that back to just a guitar was challenging, but it helped me understand the songs at their most basic level, something I'd have missed had I jumped straight in with a band. It is a full record though, I've put together a group of players back home now.  It's something else to hear the songs the way I first imagined them. Having both options is a gift. 

How does the Irish music scene compare to that of the U.S.? 
I mean, my exposure to the American music scene is pretty limited, so I'm not sure if I could speak on any differences. What I would say is that it's great to be part of both right now. Irish music is in the best state it's been in years, and in America so far the audiences have been amazing to me. 

You came to play in the U.S. before your album even drops, so how has the reception been so far? 
I've had a couple of songs featured in some TV shows, so there are a few people here who know who I am.  I've been so fortunate getting to play with the Bell x1 gents, they're playing beautiful rooms to really attentive audiences. I couldn't have asked for a better way to introduce myself. 

You met Akon recently, right?
Yes I did meet Akon, very surreal! Was at an iTunes show I played in San Francisco. I have to say I'm not very familiar with his songs, but he was really friendly and we just chit-chatted for a few minutes, all very civilized! 

A lot of your music plays out like a story, so what's your favorite fable or fairytale?
I was a big Hans Christian Anderson fan as a kid– the musical based on his life and stories was watched many, many times in my house. Thumbelina, The Little Mermaid...all beautiful stories. I have a book of fables I carry around with me when I'm on my travels, The Emperor's New Clothes and The Scorpion and The Fox being my current favourites. 

If someone is traveling to Ireland, what meal do they have to try and where should they visit
If you're looking for really good Irish food, there's a place called the Winding Stair that I love.  Kind of pricey so I can't afford to go there that much, but the food is always fantastic. As for where to go, there are ridiculous amounts of things to do and see in Ireland, you could fill a book with them, as I'm sure many people have. I went to Kerry during the summer in the south of the country, it is stunning. I live by the canal in Dublin as well, so if you're in town and it's a warm sunny day, sitting on the bank is pretty hard to beat.

Download LSTN #12
James Vincent McMorrow

Music Mondays: White Sea

Instead of bringing you five tracks from five different artists, we're devoting this week's Music Monday to White Sea's fantastic new EP, This Frontier



Morgan Kibby is White Sea, and after returning from a tour as the female vocalist for M83, Kibby sat down and taught herself Pro Tools so that she could write and produce a record entirely on her own. Here, she tells us about the process.

Tell us a little about yourself.
I was born in Alaska and I grew up in San Francisco.  I went to the Le Lycée Français de Los Angeles, which is a French school.  I played piano classically up until the time I was 15, and I started writing music in my late teens.  I kind of had some projects here in L.A. and acted in some short films.

How did you meet Anthony and start working with M83?
My friend is a French director named Eva Husson.  She was directing her first feature and Anthony was the composer—that's how they met.  She wanted to involve me in the film and asked him if he could use my voice. Ultimately, it didn't work out for the film, but he ended up asking me to come and record Saturdays=Youth with him!


How is your solo work a departure from the music you two worked on?
The biggest departure is that I'm writing and producing everything on my own. Sonically, there are a lot of influences that are specific to me and to what I've been listening to over the past year.  I was really inspired by disco, which is this big thing that you won't find a lot of in M83 for sure.  ABBA, Donna Summer, the Bee Gees...that's one of the unique things about White Sea.

Maybe disco will have its revival soon.
I hope so!  It's the perfect soup of fun and musical challenge: great bass lines, great beats, amazing vocals. I took a lot of inspiration from it.

There is such a diverse sound track-to-track in This Frontier.  Was that intentional or was it something that happened organically?
It's something I was concerned with at first.  A lot of the time, when people make records, they are totally concerned with the cohesiveness of the sound.  I felt really strongly that I didn't want to be constrained by that, mainly because when I tried to bring it all together I lost the original impetus of the inspiration.  If I sat down and was like, 'this song has this sound to it, so I have to put that in this song,' it would just kill me.  So I had to stop over-thinking it because it made everything I was writing seem subpar.  I decided that I love a million different genres of music so I'm just going to go for it and see how it turns out.

So you've got your drama and your dance beats.
I have this bad habit of making sad, heavy music.  So I wanted to make some fun songs, too.  A lot of times you can make a record to listen to and then you can make a record to tour with.  I know after touring with M83, toward the end of our tour we wanted more dance stuff, just because we had fun engaging the audience that way.  It was a huge step for me to back away from brooding all of the time.  


You've said writing "Cannibal Love" was a visual experience.  What did you mean by that?
I wrote this song towards the end, layering vocals and experimenting using my voice as an instrument.  So as I built this song it really conjured up these images of the American West–canyons, the sun setting–which then triggers movie and song references. As I finished the song, I pulled up images from the Internet of the West and I was able to finish crafting the sounds and vocals accordingly. 

Where does the name for White Sea come from?
Trying to think of a band name has got to be one of the most annoying, frustrating experiences.  I didn't just want to come up with something off the cuff– it had to be meaningful.  I looked up my name meaning and this baby website popped up, and it said the meaning of my name is "white sea dweller." So it comes from Celtic origins, and it just made sense.  It fits the music.

You sing about teenage dreams in "The Mountaineer."  What were you like as a teenager?
I was kind of a misfit I guess.  I wasn't popular, and on top of that, in the 10th grade I ended up being home-schooled, so I was pretty much alone.  I didn't have very many friends and I just existed in my own universe.  I read a lot and I listened to my music.

Hey, it turned out well though!
Ha, I guess so.  Being a teenager is rough, man! I loved it and hated it at the same time.

Do you ever revisit songs you wrote during that time?
The songs I wrote back then were so dark and melodramatic! I haven't listened to them in a while, but from what I remember, "cringe-worthy" is an apt description.  I spent so much time in books as a teenager, I think I got a little lost and forgot I was growing up in the 1990s, not 1800s.  But hey, we all have our own flavor of teen angst. 

What did your room look like back then?
I decorated it to look like a forest.  My ceiling was a midnight purple color, and I spray-painted all these branches silver and hung them on my wall and draped Christmas lights through them to look like a forest ceiling.  I was a romantic.

What about now?
Very, very simple.  I live in the tiniest apartment ever.  Like, on the face of the planet. There's no room for anything.  I have a lot of M83 posters everywhere and my boyfriend has band posters as well.  We keep it to music and photographs.


Besides music, what do you enjoy?
I love to cook.  I'm kind of a hedonistic gourmande I have to admit.  I love to cook lots of dishes full of butter, cream and wine.  I love French cuisine and Moroccan food.  There's so much amazing food here in L.A.  I live right down the block from a small wine and cheese store, which thank God I can't afford to visit everyday or I'd be 1,000 pounds!  Did I mention I'm obsessed with cheese?


What about when you're not cooking?
I love to skateboard!  Actually, I just broke my elbow skateboarding, which is really frustrating.  I love to discover new music, which is totally corny.  I love to go to little record shops and just listen to new music.



LSTN 11: Neon Indian

Neon Indian is Alan Palomo, a Texas native whose joke band eventually became a real, and a really successful, one. Neon Indian's track "6669" is featured on LSTN #11, and is also playing this Sunday's Secret Generator Series show in Boston. We caught with Palomo recently, right after he'd picked up keys to his new apartment in Brooklyn. 



What prompted you to move to NY? 
Psychic Chasms was written in Austin, and it was this bizarre alienating year. The nature of what I wanted to do after writing that record and being on the road for a while was to be somewhere where I could facilitate my creativity a little better. It made sense because a lot of the people I work with are out here. It’s kind of bizarre in that half the things that have happened for this record wouldn’t have come to fruition if I had already been in New York. 

What do you mean when you say it was an 'alienating year' when you were Austin? 
Well, I’m not dogging on the town itself, but it was weird year for me. I had a lot of friends, and when I moved I thought I had a lot of connections, but I felt like I stepped into a situation where everyone was already established in their own rhythm. I had the sensation of being the fifth wheel and on top of that, I didn’t have a car, so I was just taking the bus to class or spending copious amount of time in my room. From that spawned this lull that eventually came to spawn Neon Indian.

Do you think a period of boredom is necessary for creativity? 
Oh, absolutely. There’s this situation where people perpetuate who you are back at you, and you hang out with your friends, who are always sort of reminding you how you fit into this community. So when you lose that, you’re thrown into your own head for a while and are forced to rummage around. 

What kind of influences do you have? 
Todd Rundgren is one of then. He’s one of those guys that personifies perfect knowledge between writing pop singles but then also having this other side who writes this 30-minute epic synth/instrumental track. To have that dichotomy in sounds is really impressive to me. More contemporary influences are Ariel Pink and the Doldrums. When I listened to that stuff in high school, it got me thinking about recording lo-fi music and how it’s really more of a narrative process–that idea of creating that other dimension where the music isn’t dictated by the lyrics. There is something weird about the sound that makes you feel like you’re listening to it from some lost AM radio broadcast or hearing a song reverberating from another room.


And the name Neon Indian came from one of your friends' joke band? 
Right around the time I had my project Ghosthustler, almost in mock retaliation, my friend was like, “Oh well, if you have a band called Ghosthustler, I’ll have one called Neon Indian.” If I had to theorize, it would be a reference to that Indian festival “holi.” What resonated with me was that so much of the subject matter when I was writing was centered around that time in my life lyrically, so it only made sense to name it after this high school band that was conceived as a weird inside joke. 

Were you making music in high school? 
Not really. I bought an acoustic guitar like everyone did in high school. I was more of a film guy, which is what I studied in college before I went on my permanent hiatus touring with Neon Indian. I remember my main frustration in film school was that I was picking up theory and not using creative concepts. You never get to do anything until you have the resources, and my school definitely wasn’t giving me those, so music had this immediacy that let me finish a song in a week and gave me a feeling of accomplishment. I ended up needing that sensation all the time.


How do you name your songs? 
There’s always a play on words I guess, because punning is something I do with my friends. My band and I rip on anything from porno-parody movie titles to seeing street signs and ripping with it. So titles are some all-inclusive short phrase that summarizes all the feelings in that song. “Terminally Chill” is so sarcastic. If I can coin it, then it becomes a song title. It’s a summation that sets up what’s going to happen. “6669” is an inside joke about the most brutal of sexual positions. 

Your album Psychic Chasms was recently re-released with new tracks. What prompted that? 
It was never really all that available to begin with, it was always on backorder on Amazon.com. There’s nothing more frustrating than playing Jimmy Fallon and then anyone who’s seen that has no idea where to buy the album. So you’re forced to type in “Psychic Chasms + rapid share” on Google. I always wanted to have a proper tangible packaging for it because it's such an intimate thing. With the remix record, it’s really the result of a year of travelling and meeting bands and creating connections there, and having a communal friendly approach to let these people I love rework these songs. That’s really to me the purpose of this. Everyone’s already heard the record, so that’s not really my objective. To have it be in this particular incarnation that also comes coupled with all these remixes–I’m excited about it.

Neon Indian
Download LSTN #11

EchoMix 2 on UO Radio

Don't forget to check out Christopher Chu's EchoMix2 on UO Radio. The lead singer of The Morning Benders, Chu is our first DJ to create a special guest playlist for UO Radio, but trust us, we've got plenty more stellar DJs lined up for the future.

LSTN 11: S. Carey

We caught up with Sean Carey, a former member of Bon Iver, days before he headed out on his first solo tour to promote his debut album All We Grow. Though he writes music so beautiful it's almost haunting, Carey is still as down-to-earth as they come– he'll even teach you how to play the drums if you ask nicely.  

So are you ready to head out on tour?  Are you anticipating it to be much different from tours with Bon Iver?

Oh yeah, I'm excited.  It'll be a lot like when Bon Iver first started.  When we started out we were touring in a van sharing a hotel. By the time we ended the last Bon Iver tour, we were on a bus and spoiled rotten. So we're back in the van, back to square one.


Where are you most excited to play?

I'm really into the first week of it; we start in Vancouver and we'll work our way down the West Coast and I just love playing out there. Also looking forward to Montreal, Chicago and New York.

Are you bringing anything with you from home?

Well I have a puppy, she's a three-month-old Golden Retriever and I really wish I could take her. My wife will have to stay behind to finish her degree this fall and she'll hang out with the puppy. We might bring a tent and camp out on our way to Vancouver.  

You say you started writing your own music while on tour with Bon Iver because you were "pining for your soulmate."  Is that your wife?

We met in November of 2007 and the first Bon Iver tour was three months after that. A lot of the songs on this album are about her and the whole writing process kind of happened over the span of our relationship: dating, engagement and marriage.  It all happened quickly, and at the same pace as the record was written and recorded.

What track are you most proud of on this album?

I really like "In the Stream," the last one I wrote.  Especially for the lyrics–I think they are really meaningful to me and really adaptable to the listener–they can make their own meaning or just think about what I was trying to get through.  It's about a lot of stuff that all ties together: falling in love and finding yourself, finding that you have to be humble through the whole process, connecting to Mother Earth.


You were trained in classical percussion and jazz drumming, so what were you going to do with that before the album happened?

I studied at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire. I was just planning to be a freelance drummer, mostly jazz, so I was going to move to Minneapolis or Chicago and break into the music scene and just play gigs while teaching lessons.  I never planned on going on tour and doing the folk-rock thing but I always had a passion for music.  I just didn't think it was attainable.

You should teach some lessons now and make fans really happy.

I still have one student actually! He stuck it out and he's really great, writing his own music and it's pretty good.  I really like teaching.  I wouldn't turn anyone down, but no one has approached me in a while.

What do you wish more people knew about you?

Uh oh, that's a hard one for me.  I'm just a regular guy I guess...should I lie and say something extraordinary?

No, there's nothing wrong with that. How about hobbies then?

Ok, I have a lot of hobbies! I do a lot of fly fishing which is in relation to "In The Stream."  I like basketball and I run a lot– my wife and I ran a half marathon this spring which was really fun.  I just like being outside, taking my dog for a walk.  

S.Carey
Download LSTN 11 here.

LSTN 11: Magic Kids

The members of Magic Kids seem young, almost too young to have produced the clean, retro hooks peppered throughout their new album named after their hometown of Memphis.  But read on, because Bennett, Ben, Will, Alice, Michael and Alex aren't that innocent, after all.

Magic Kids gets compared to the Beach Boys a lot–are they actually a big influence? What are some of your favorite Beach Boy songs? 

Will: Of course we love the Beach Boys, but it seems like a lot of comparisons like that can stem from lazy journalism or people just not having many points of reference outside other recent indie stuff they're used to. We definitely didn't have the Beach Boys in mind when writing and recording most of the album, but when bands like Animal Collective and Eat Skull get that comparison, it's definitely not surprising that we do. Beach Boys are such a pure distillation of certain ideas that they're like a color, or "cold" or "spicy"...lending themselves so well to describing things, almost to the point of being totally useless. The chicken of music flavors. Evocative in the most vague way. Our real favorite song is "I Live for the Sun" by the Sunrays. Pretty much every idea on our album was stolen from it.  

Are you really all as cheerful as your music can make you sound? 

Will: It's interesting that our music comes off as being so cheerful since that hasn't really been a conscious goal, but I think that impression might still say something about what we put into the music. Obviously we're not always happy people, and the songs on our album actually deal a lot with uncertainty, longing, loss, etc.  Hopefully it's the fun we have making music that's exciting to us that still comes through.  Just like how a dessert leaves a bad taste in your mouth if it's made only of sugar, hopefully it's everything else we've put into our music that lets the sweetness come through. We are really as good of cooks as the music makes us sound. 


Who does most of the song writing in the band? 

Will: This album was mostly me and Bennett obsessing over everything, with Bennett contributing the basis of more of the songs and me focusing a little more on arrangements, just as a matter of happenstance. We both had a lot to say about everything though, and there's no set status quo; there are a lot of great songwriters in the band. Al came up with "Good to Be" and between all the bands we've been in together we've seen everyone in different roles, so as this particular project is taking up more of all our lives, I'm excited about the possibilities of the next album being a less insular affair, and more representative of Magic Kids the band. 

By the way, where’d the band name come from? 

Will: A movie poster I got ten years ago at a junk store, in a mostly empty suburban outlet mall on its way out of business. The owner warned me that it was enchanted and would someday lead me and my friends on endless adventures across the globe in search of nonexistent treasure, but I ignored him and stole it when he wasn't looking.

What has been your favorite stop so far on tour? 

Michael: I really enjoyed visiting City Lights Book Store in San Francisco. There was a community swimming pool in DC that was really cool. 
Will: Yeah, anywhere with air conditioning was the best. 

Any crazy fan stories?   

Alice: Pedro? 
Bennett: Pedro got so crazy that he hit me in the eye with the base of my mic stand. 


Best food to have with you on tour? 

Bennett: Addy? 
Alice: Apples–they keep well and you can make them into other useful devices.
Ben: Weed cookies 
Will: Nuts, dried fruit and Xanax 
Michael: I'm with Ben. Veggie burgers are good too. 
Alex: Instant hummus and dramamine. Muscle relaxers. 

What’s the best karaoke song of all time? 

Alice: "Always Be My Baby" by Mariah Carey 
Will: that's what I was gonna say. 
Ben: "Forever in Blue Jeans" by Neil Diamond 
Michael: "Turn to Stone" by Electric Light Orchestra 
Alex: Any Lou Christie song 
Bennett: "So In Love" by O.M.D.

In that vein, if you could only play one song for the rest of your lives, what would it be?

Will: A flawless cover of "Purple Rain" would be a pretty cool party trick: "I don't really play music... come on, you know I only know one song... well, ok, I'll play it." 
Michael: I could listen to "Luzia Luluza" by Gilberto Gil over and over because it's perpetually mindblowing. 
Bennett: Let's just hope we're never in this hypothetical situation.   

What’s the dumbest story you’ve ever told your parents?  
 
Will: That I was dropping out of school to focus on music.

LSTN 11: Cotton Jones

Cotton Jones is front porch music, the perfect soundtrack for fall’s first chilly evening, whiskey on the rocks in coffee cups, and friends who know all your flaws and somehow manage to love you anyway. Fronted by high-school sweethearts Michael Nau and Whitney McGraw, Cotton Jones release their impeccable second album, Tall Hours in the Glowstream, this month. We recently caught up with McGraw as the band and their van were making their way to an Oregon festival. 




Where are you guys right now?
We just stopped because it’s so loud in our van when we’re driving. We’re in West Oregon, heading to Pickathon, a festival outside of Portland. We’ve never been there before, but it has a pretty cool lineup. Some of our friends in These United States are playing, and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, and it’s kind of like a little rock festival with some folky roots. We’re camping. We camp as much as we can, it’s fun in the summer and better than hotel rooms every night. 

How did you and Michael meet? 
We were really young when we met. We didn’t go to the same high school, but we met through a mutual friend. I was in the 8th grade and he was in the 10th grade. We were friends for about a year, and then we started dating when I was in 9th grade, and we’ve been together ever since. 


So you were totally high school sweethearts. Did you make music together when you were teenagers? 
We started playing music together pretty quickly after we met. We would just sit around and sing songs that we knew, then we started doing the Page France thing, which started with just Mikey having some songs and we just laid them down. He has a really musical family, and his dad had a recording studio in his house, so we would go in and his dad would run the board and we would sing some vocal tracks and Mikey would play guitar. It just evolved, and we started loving it more and more and it became what we do now. 

Did you ever write anything that’s totally mortifying now? 
Mike definitely, definitely did! We always laugh, because I have all these old demos that he gave me, when we were young, of songs that he wrote, and it’s really funny. I personally don’t have any old stuff like that because I didn’t write all that much, and even now, I build on the skeletons that Mike brings to the table and make them grow from there. 

You and Mike recently moved out of your hometown, Cumberland, Maryland. What prompted the move? 
It’s a small town, it’s a really old city. It was one of the biggest cities in Maryland in the ‘50s, but it gradually died off. There is still all of this beautiful old architecture, but there’s not a lot happening. Both of our families still live there, and we have a lot of tight-knit groups that we’re attached to and attracted to, but there’s not a big music scene. It’s really pretty aesthetically, beautiful mountains and scenery, but other than that, not a lot to offer. 


You ended up in Athens, Georgia. Why there? 
We wanted to go somewhere to record this album that we just finished, and wanted a change of scenery and a place where we could go and be just the two of us and build these ideas. Eventually, we realized that we wanted everybody there, so all the band, would take trips down for a weekend and we would record and we would have these nice little sessions of small groups of the people that we’d always worked with. There wasn’t really a specific reason to go to Athens, we just pointed it out and went there. We probably won’t even stay there much longer, it was just a place to go to have a different frame of mind. 

What’s your favorite thing about touring? 
I like the traveling, I like the different city every day. Touring, more than anything, just kind of reaffirms your faith in human kindness. We have van trouble all the time, we’re a really haphazard group, and we have so many people who just pop out of nowhere and help us out, it’s really amazing. 


Any particular examples? 
Just a couple of days ago, we were on our way to Fargo, in North Dakota, and woke up at our hotel with a flat tire. We changed it and put on the spare, then got on the highway and were going to stop and get another spare when we blew another tire. Then this man and his wife pull of the road in this converted camper van, and offered to drive us in to town and bring us back. He ended up being the most amazing person, he was a musician as well and played stand-up bass when he was young, and he said that he worked with all these people like Gram Parsons. And now he and his wife are just traveling, making documentary films, like they filmed all of these missions in India. 

You’re about to release your second album, Tall Hours in the Glowstream. How have you evolved since your debut? 
This new record is a nice transition from Paranoid Cocoon. Our first album was mostly Mike and I writing and recording and doing most of the tracking, and this one has a lot more people involved. And it was nice to learn how to hand some things over to other hands, and it’s nice to look back on this communal feeling of when we made that. Usually the writing and developing of songs is pretty informal. We’ll usually have some guys over and just sit around and play music in the evenings. 

What’s usually the first thing you do when a tour ends? 
Laundry!

LSTN 11: First Aid Kit

After their beautiful cover of Fleet Foxes' "Tiger Mountains Peasant Song" won them instant Internet fame, Swedish sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg formed the folk duo First Aid Kit and haven't looking back since. We caught up with the sisters after their American tour and had Johanna fill us in on their travels, their crazy fans and why they can't get enough of Alfred Hitchcock.

How did you two first get interested in music?

Well, I think we've always been interested in music, we grew up in a very musical family.  Our parents played records all the time and our dad was in a band in the '80s, so we had that background. It was always a distant dream, but it wasn't until we heard Bright Eyes that we knew we wanted to make music and just how we would do it. It was the song "First Day of My Life," so I guess that was the first day of our musical lives. We were struck by the honesty and simplicity of it and we felt like we could do it ourselves and we didn't need producers or anyone else telling us what to do.


What other bands are you into right now?

When you're a nine-year-old, you listen to stuff like Britney [Spears] because it's everywhere, but we don't passionately enjoy it anymore! We listen to a lot of American and British folk music like Bright Eyes, Joanna Newsom and older stuff like Bob Dylan and The Carter Family.

So who has the biggest influence on your music?

Every song has its own special influence. When we're really into one artist and we're inspired by them, it doesn't have to sound like them. There's just something in their songs we're trying to recreate in our own way. Jenny Lewis is a big influence though.

Did you ever end up meeting Fleet Foxes?

We sang with them live in Holland at a festival in November of 2008, so it was pretty soon after we had put out the cover of their song. They were some of the first people who heard that cover because we posted it to their Myspace page, and the next day they replied and they put it up on their profile. I was screaming and crying tears of joy because it was so crazy to get recognition from a band we loved.

Was that when you decided to really go for a career in music?

We were in Sweden and the thought of making music was already there, but that opened the door internationally and in the U.S. It made us realize we had something special when everyone loved our take on that song. It was like a big, warm hug and we just got more confident.


So how did your June tour go?

It was our first American tour, so just driving around the country and having people come to shows and be so supportive and loving was great. Coming to a country where so many artists we love are from, to a new place, and being met by such love is a big thing.

Any crazy fan stories?

We do have some crazy fans. One girl drove from Canada to Chicago to see us, she's wonderful, crazy in the best way. She was there with her First Aid Kit t-shirt looking so cute.

Where did the name First Aid Kit come from?

We were young and naive and saw it in a Swedish-to-English dictionary and liked the sound of it.  Now we like the meaning of it, that music can be a consolation and can help people, because we write music as a way to help ourselves.  We would like to be able to live on some kind of income, but touching people is the most important goal so we'll keep doing music even if it doesn't work financially.  

What do you do when you're not making music?

We did the artwork on the album. We used old pictures of girls with mandolins from the Internet. We're movie junkies, we're obsessed with films, that's our nerdy thing.


Favorite movie?

Oh god, don't have one.  I love Alfred Hitchcock films, they are all masterpieces. 

Sisters can get catty, so how do you two get along?

We argue from time to time. We know each other so well that if we fight we know we'll work it out and be friends again soon, so we work really well together.

What did you originally want to do career-wise before your music took off?

For me at least, when I started music I was so young I didn't have a plan. I wanted to be a dolphin trainer but I was, like, seven. We didn't think music would happen but we made it before the age where we had to decide what we wanted to be when we grew up.  It happened so fast and just became so obvious. There's a lot of things I can imagine doing, but nothing compares to this.

What do you wish more people knew about you?

That we put a lot of effort into our songs.  We wish everyone knew how much it means that people actually listen to our music and say such kind words.  

First Aid Kit
Download LSTN #11