When San Francisco’s Ryan Lynch got laid off from his day job, he decided to spend his free time writing songs. Today, he and compatriot Hannah Hunt perform those songs under the name Dominant Legs. The two work together to turn Lynch’s unpolished pop songs into nuggets of 80s-indebted retro pop—which they’ve been recording since 2010—when they released a four-song EP titled Young at Love and Life.
This week, the band is releasing their debut full-length album, Invitation. The aptly-named LP is as danceable and catchy as their first release, and should hook any music fan upon first listen. Check it out now, and get to know the band by tuning into their “Favorite Songs Right Now” playlist and reading our interview with Lynch himself.
Five Questions with Dominant Legs
Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before? Ryan Lynch: My friends in the band Terry Malts have been heard, but definitely not enough.
If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now? RL: Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde.
Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood? RL: The Jackson 5’s Greatest Hits and Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book
We hope people are ______________ when they listen to our music. RL: Uplifted.
We were thinking about ______________ when we wrote music for the new album. RL: how we would like to introduce ourselves in a way that was fun and exciting yet honest...
Joy Williams and John Paul White are The Civil Wars, a gorgeously haunting folk duo hailing from Nashville, Tennessee. The two met in 2008, at a music studio where they were both attending a songwriting session. Just three years later, following the success of an online-only EP of their live performances in a Georgia music club, The Civil Wars recently released Barton Hollow, their debut full-length of tenderly plucked ditties. We got in touch with them to ask our Five Questions, and to share a playlist of the songs that inspire them.
Five Questions with The Civil Wars
Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before? Joy Williams: Karen Dalton. John Paul White: Jeff Mangum.
If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now? Joy: St. Vincent - Strange Mercy. John Paul: The Band - The Band.
When California punk band The Bronx don their masks and break out the trumpets, they become fascinating alter ego Mariachi El Bronx. It’s no novelty — the band have true mariachi chops. Their second, self-titled album, recorded with former Oingo Boingo member John Avila, is out now, and cements their authentic mariachi style. This month they’re touring with mega-band the Foo Fighters. Before you catch them live, listen to their albums on Rdio, check out their “Music We Are Randomly Blasting On Tour...” playlist, and read their answers to our Five Questions.
Five Questions with Mariachi El Bronx
Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before? Matt Caughthran: GG Allin, the master of chaos and sonic death.
If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now? MC: M.O.D. - U.S.A. For M.O.D. A hidden gem in the thrash world. This record can take any party to the breaking point.
Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood? MC: 7 Seconds - The Crew. This record marked the first time I heard songs that were shorter than 30 seconds. It blew my fucking mind. This classic record was a pilot light that fueled every misadventure of my teenage years.
We hope people are ______________ when they listen to our music. MC: Inspired.
We were thinking about ______________ when we wrote music for the new album. MC: Male strippers.
Hawaii-born singer-songwriter Mason Jennings is a folk troubadour known for his succinct, ear-catching melodies. He certainly caught Jack Johnson's ear — the two met when Jennings opened for Johnson in 2001, and they subsequently toured together. (Years later, Jennings signed to Johnson’s label, Brushfire Records).
Many music fans might be more familiar with Brian Fallon as the singer and primary songwriter for Springsteen-esque Jersey quartet The Gaslight Anthem, but Fallon’s no one-trick pony. At the beginning of 2011 he announced a new project titled The Horrible Crowes, with his guitar technician, Ian Perkins. The Crowes’ soulful sound is distinct from The Gaslight Anthem’s more punk-rock leanings, and showcases a darker side of Fallon’s songwriting — it’s music more influenced by the likes of Tom Waits and Greg Dulli. Fallon mentioned that starting in September, the duo will play a short tour for the album — we’d suggest getting tickets now.
While you’re snagging a pair or two, check out Fallon’s hand-picked playlist, and his answers to our Five Questions.
Five Questions with The Horrible Crowes
Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before? Brian Fallon: I think the most unheard important musician is probably a band from Canada called Lightning Dust.
If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now? BF: Tom Waits - Orphans.
Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood? BF: Bruce Springsteen.
We hope people are ______________ when they listen to our music. BF: Comforted.
We were thinking about ______________ when we wrote music for the new album. BF: Love, truth, death, and poison snakes.
Any American Idol enthusiast will certainly remember Pia Toscano. The Howard Beach, New York-based singer was eliminated too early during the contest’s tenth season, placing ninth, surprisingly low for someone of Toscano’s vocal ability. Judges Randy Jackson, Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez were understandably shocked.
Nevertheless in June, she signed a major label record deal with Interscope, and her first non-American Idol single, “This Time”, dropped in July (watch the video here). Expect a debut album soon; in the meantime check out Toscano’s answers to our questions and listen to her “Summer Playlist” below.
Four Questions with Pia Toscano
Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before? Pia Toscano: My sister... She taught me a lot about work ethic and works harder than anyone I know and she is very talented. People should go and see the Tucson Symphony.
If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now? PT: Alicia Keys - The Element of Freedom. She is so soulful and I can relate to a lot of her songs.
Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood? PT: Whitney Houston - The Bodyguard. This was the album I used to sing to when my father first discovered I could sing!
We hope people are ______________ when they listen to our music. PT: Inspired.
Alessi Laurent-Marke is the 21 year-old wunderkind behind Alessi’s Ark, the vehicle for her folk-tinged songs of truth, joy, anxiety and despair. At just 17 Laurent-Marke released her first album, which she recorded with Bright Eyes’ Mike Mogis; in subsequent years she toured with fellow folk-influenced acts such as Laura Marling, Mumford & Sons and the Willkommen Collective. Despite only releasing two studio albums, Laurent-Marke is already a veteran — the songs on Time Travel ring with her mellifluous, whispery voice that sounds as natural as it does achingly beautiful.
Time Travel is the sound of a musician coming into her own, at the tender age of 21. Her songwriting belies her age, and her lyrics—mostly a collection of Laurent-Marke’s homespun musings—broach subjects of emotional depth with subtlety and maturity not often found in music so sweetly melodic. This month, enjoy Rdio's exclusive Time Travel stream —add it to your collection and share it with your friends. Alessi’s Ark is an act that simply must be heard.
Brooklyn indie rock quartet Milagres' new album, Glowing Mouth, was born of solitude and confinement. Singer-songwriter Kyle Wilson wrote the album after a back injury left him bedridden for months, and provided the spark necessary for his return to songwriting. Back in New York, Wilson met up with the rest of the band and added instruments and power to his demos, which now make up their debut LP.
Glowing Mouth officially drops September 13, but it's exclusively available on Rdio right now. Grizzly Bear and Arcade Fire fans should find something to love here, as should fans of any music that’s as affecting as it is grandiose. Check out the album now, as well as Wilson’s responses to our Five Questions:
Five Questions with Milagres
Who do you think is an important musician that most people have never heard of before? Kyle Wilson: I could make a long list: Harry Partch, Arvo Pärt, Stanley Jordan, Scott Walker, Krysztof Penderecki... In particular I think there are a lot of musicians in the jazz and classical world who are really influential and important, but very obscure.
If you had access to any record in the world, what would you listen to right now? KW: I would probably be more excited to have access to any unrecorded music in the world, but since I don’t, I’m listening to an album by Linda Perhacs that I stumbled on while I was putting together this playlist. It might be a stretch to say that the internet gives one access to all recorded material, but it seems to come pretty close.
Which album or artist do you most associate with your childhood? KW: My earliest memories of music are pretty random: Leon Redbone (I listened to this on cassette when I went to bed), ZZ Top, Chuck Berry, and Raffi (I have his autograph somewhere!). But the Beatles' Please Please Me was the first album I actively sought out. From there I explored my father’s vast record collection and learned the classics fairly well. Nirvana’s Nevermind was probably the first album I spent my own allowance on, but my adolescence was filled with stuff like Pavement, Neutral Milk Hotel, Tom Waits and Husker Du - as well as classical music which I had begun to study academically.
We hope people are ______________ when they listen to our music. KW: Captivated.
We were thinking about ______________ when we wrote music for the new album. KW: Life.
Schwartzman’s first band, Phantom Planet, preceded his acting career by four years, and provided the theme song to the early 2000s teen-soap The O.C. in the form of their single, “California.” He left the band to pursue acting, and his first lead was in Wes Anderson’s Rushmore — which, incidentally, had a pretty great soundtrack — but Schwartzman continued making music thereafter. He assisted in the making of Ben Lee’s 2005 album Awake is the New Sleep, and in 2006 formed Coconut Records, the name under which he’s since recorded two albums.
Schwartzman’s been the star of numerous films and TV shows, for which he’s also consistently provided the music. He contributed to the soundtracks for both Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Bored to Death, and wrote the score for 2009's Judd Apatow film Funny People. Lastly, Schwartzman has written tracks for the film Slackers and the television show Smallville.
He has a number of more distant connections to the music world as well—his brother Robert is the California pop quintet Rooney's lead singer, and his cousin, filmmaker Sofia Coppola, is married to the lead singer from French rockers Phoenix.
Obviously Schwartzman’s got a wide variety of musical connections and has dabbled in a number of areas, but have we missed any? You can add who else you think deserves to be included in our collaborative Six Degrees of Jason Schwartzman playlist below. And is Schwartzman the only person whose musical connections run this deep? What musicians do YOU think warrant a Six Degrees exploration?