From the underground to the inescapable, our roundup of new music that must be heard…

Video: “The Motherload” - Mastodon


Nicki Minaj and Taylor Swift take note: Atlanta metal titans Mastodon have joined the butt-jiggling fray with the new video for their single “The Motherload.” Occult rituals take the stage alongside a bevy of video girls while the band gradually recedes into the background. Purists will definitely tweak the twerk, but after a decade of fending off (and relentlessly challenging) metal’s meathead faction, Mastodon more than deserve a party.

Album: Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes - Thom Yorke

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Music distribution tinkerer Thom Yorke has made his new record, Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes, available to download via BitTorrent in advance of a white vinyl pressing in November. The cost of the album is $6, but the opening track “Brain in a Bottle” can be heard for free and comes with a stark, twitchy video of close-ups on Yorke’s compellingly weathered face. Check it out here.

Here's a preview:

Video: “Crime” - Mayer Hawthorne ft. Kendrick Lamar


Mayer Hawthorne is all dressed up with nowhere to go in the new video for single “Crime.” Director Rashida Jones (better known, of course, for her acting roles on The Office and Parks and Recreation) decks out Hawthorne in a white tux with tails and sends him on a decidedly unglamorous search for L.A.’s “Party of the Year.” It all ends with a phone-delivered verse from Kendrick Lamar and a well-earned hit off the flask when Hawthorne finally, finally gets where he’s going.

Video: “Rock and Roll Weakling” - Spookyland


There’s no shortage of rock and roll classicists these days, but Sydney musician Marcus Gordon, who writes and performs under the moniker “Spookyland,” makes his mark in a crowded field on the strength of a thin, quavering, and powerfully emotive voice. Basically, Gordon sounds like he’s about to cry, and the rebellion of his music lies in his persistent refusal to cry. He may be wailing, but he’s never wallowing. Spookyland channels Gordon’s underdog charm in the video for single “Rock and Roll Weakling,” which, despite being a little on the nose, provides a welcome dose of defiance.

About the author: Spencer Shawcross is a freelance writer in San Francisco. He hearts the TL and its many music venues. 

Whether you're a born and raised local or a lost Bay Area transplant looking to find the best tunes in the city, we've picked out this week's best live shows in our home town of San Francisco for you to check out.

Said the Whale + The Calling Field + Thieves of Malta @ Hotel Utah (Tuesday)

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The happy go lucky pop-rock of Vancouver's Said the Whale fits perfectly in with the unseasonably warm Bay Area Fall vibes. The band's latest takes their fun anthems up a level with a consistently light-hearted album that makes you want to find, construct, and employ an elaborate slip-n-slide amongst the most treacherous of North Beach hills. Check out "I Love You" and "Mother" off Hawaii along with "Out on the Shield" from their earlier days on Islands Disappear.

Pinback + Tera Melos @ Bimbos (Thursday)


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The newest addition to the recent spike in album throwback tours, Pinback is bringing back their excellent 2004 Summer In Abandon. Not only can you witness this album played in its entirety but this is happening at every show: you can write down whatever song you want played, fold it into a paper airplane, and throw it at the band during any part of the set. If the aerial jukebox doesn't do it for you, get there early and enjoy NorCal's own experimental Tera Melos.

K.Flay + Night Riots + Basecamp @ Rickshaw Stop (Thursday)


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Fans of new R&B crooners like How To Dress Well and Sam Smith will love Nashville's Basecamp. Next up, Night Riots have been quickly gaining new fans here in the city with a successful string of trips up from the central coast to Bottom of the Hill and Rickshaw with their synth-laden rock. K.Flay seals the deal with a return to the bay hot off a killer new album, Life As A Dog, which you should start playing by the time you stop reading this sentence. As a bonus, expect a full band to back this hip hop powerhouse.

Ought + Silver Shadows + Mall Walk @ Bottom of the Hill (Saturday)


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Montreal newcomers Ought have a record of full fledged rock jamming balanced between punk and shoegaze. It also helps to be capped off by a vocal leader that can go from David Byrne to Joe Newman to Black Francis. On the other side of the lineup is the new East Bay incarnation Mall Walk. Lo-fi surf sounds pour out of a lineup that includes Rob Miller who formerly fronted the former pop punk of Mister Loveless.

Bombay Bicycle Club + Milo Greene + Luxley @ The Warfield (Sunday)


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Proud to have caught the indie rock Londoners a few years back at The Fillmore, I was unprepared for what took place. Take your time to revisit as much of their catalog as possible since you will quickly find a few new favorite songs in the next few days. That show in question didn't even include their new record which is overloaded with great piano focused songs with elaborate percussion and bouncing bass lines. This music is poised for an equally dance-ready lighting display to complete the entire party atmosphere.

About Mike: Habitual Bay Area show-hopper and new music junkie. Currently Artist Relations at DeliRadio and occasional DJ at KALX. Follow the music based ramblings on Twitter.

After seven successful years as China’s biggest music festival, the Modern Sky Festival has imported its eclectic lineup to New York City on October 4 & 5 at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield. Modern Sky Festival brings together some of China’s biggest electronic and rock acts with our favorite indie bands for a fun weekend of musical love and discovery. 

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Check out and listen to the fantastic lineup below:

Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor

Atomic Bomb! The Music of William Onyeabor features an all-star cast of musicians paying tribute to Nigerian synth-funk artist William Onyeabor. Led by Sinkane frontman Ahmed Gallab, this edition of Atomic Bomb! has thus far revealed artists like Jamie Lidell, Money Mark, Hot Chip’s Alexis Taylor and The Mahotella Queens (from South Africa) performing with “many more to be announced soon.” In the past, collaborators have included David Byrne, Pat Mahoney (LCD Soundsystem), The Rapture’s Luke Jenner and Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes. Could they be popping up at Modern Sky, too?


Since their debut in 2001 with They Threw Us All In a Trench and Stuck a Monument on Top, Liars have been successfully expanding their musical horizons while not sacrificing their artistic philosophies. Their album, Mess, released earlier this year continues their experimental, yet catchy exploration of melding punk and synth.

Re-TROS (Rebuilding the Rights of Statues)

After a chance run-in with Brian Eno at a New York recording studio, Re-TROS (Rebuilding the Rights of Statues) intrigued Eno enough to have him guest on keyboards on their debut EP Cut Off!. Their post punk was influenced by bands like Joy Division, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Gang of Four (who they also toured with in Australia).

The Blood Brothers

The Blood Brothers have reunited! They formed in 1997 and broke up after a decade, but now they are back to make your heart explode with their dueling vocals and hardcore ethos.

Zhang Xuan (aka Deserts Chang)

Zhang Xuan (also known as Deserts Chang) is a Taiwanese singer-songwriter whose gentle vocals have won her critical acclaim.

Cat Power

She’s performed at the Modern Sky Festival in Beijing and Shanghai before, and now Cat Power will be making a rare full band performance at the NYC edition of the festival!


Canadian indie pop group Stars are releasing new album, No One Is Lost, this October 14 on ATO, continuing their catchy boy-girl vocals and charm.

The Both

What happens when two solo artists become one? You get The Both starring Aimee Mann & Ted Leo, a perfect marriage of infectious vocal harmonies and playful guitar lines.

Second Hand Rose

Second Hand Rose combines Chinese tradition with modern rock in a highly visual performance where singer Liang Long plays both male and female character roles in their folky rock’n’roll songs.

Shuh Tou

Shuh Tou (formerly Tongue) are the kings of Chinese underground rock, largely influenced by hard rock and metal like Primus.

Queen Sea Big Shark

Queen Sea Big Shark are one of the biggest electronic acts in China. They’ve opened for bands like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and were featured in a Vogue editorial about up and coming Beijing arts.


Aussie singer Lenka has achieved much international attention after her song “The Show” featured in the movie Moneyball had Billy Crystal singing her song at the Academy awards.


Omnipotent Youth Society

Chinese folk rock band Omnipotent Youth Society create epic anthems with soft poetic vocals, soaring trumpets and strings and dramatic electric guitar solos.


Check out the full festival schedule and buy tickets on the Modern Sky Festival website.

About the author: Jin Moon has been affectionately writing about music and the arts since 2002 on her blog, She also currently runs her own agency, On the Moon Arts. Tweet salutations to @jinners.

Music from this week that channels your feelings and speakers from 0-100 like the famous words from your boy, Drake.

“i” - Kendrick Lamar

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Fresh off Kendrick Lamar’s sophomore album, “i” is the lead single produced by Los Angeles producer Rahki. Top Dawg Entertainment posted the track early Tuesday morning and as “i” opens with a sample from The Isley Brothers' “That Lady”, Lamar experiments with various styles besides a typical top 40 rap about self appreciation that asks, do you love yourself?

“Mickie” - Ellie Herring

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Ryan Hemsworth released a label compilation earlier this week under his digital project Secret Songs. The last track featured on the collection is titled “Mickie” and it’s gently crafted by a female producer based in Lexington, Kentucky. Click play above and let each second of “Mickie” weave you into a contemplative dream as every beat bounce and layer beautifully in fluorescence.

“Living Gud, Eating Gud” - Cakes Da Killa

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In preparation of his 2 Cunts 1 Whip tour with Mike Q, New Jersey rapper Cakes Da Killa paired visuals to his track “Living Gud, Eating Gud” from the Hunger Pangs mixtape. With a fierce trap beat and siren setting the track off, the camera follows Cakes Da Killa as he goes to various #turnt scenes spitting lyrics about living the lavish life.

“Club Going In” - Ynfynyt Scroll

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It didn’t take long before Makonnen’s “Club Going Up” became a radio hit and it won’t take long before Ynfynyt Scroll’s island edit becomes a club hit. Brooklyn’s Ynfynyt Scroll added sriracha to the original hip hop banger by speeding it with spicy dance incisions that will leave you gasping for air once the four minutes of fire is over.

About the author: Briana Cheng has a lot of feelings that she sometimes writes about but mostly she takes twitter screenshots of online dating apps, follow her @banacrisp.

It takes true determination and musical prowess to do what Savior of Sound M4SONIC does. With a background in classical piano, this 21 year old Australian producer discovered the Launchpad when he read an interview with his music idol Deadmau5 entitled “Dance DJs are Glorified Button Pushers," in which he bluntly states that no DJ truly produces original tracks on the fly during live sets. To prove him and all skeptics wrong, M4SONIC sought out to create live performances that truly replicate the experience of live music production. 


We got together with this mashup king and producer prodigy to talk about his production methods, his favorite artists, and more. Check it out:

Q: You have a very unique method of DJ'ing. Unlike most other producers out there, you're actually performing your music live. Can you explain why you took this approach?

I just enjoyed the live performance aspect more with controllers than what conventional DJ’ing allowed me to do, that and I wanted the tools I used in the production to be the same as the performance.


Q: For those of our readers who are not familiar with Launchpad, can you explain what a Launchpad is and what makes this different than traditional forms of DJ'ing?

The Launchpad is a control surface with 64 LED buttons. When I perform my music, I play a drum kit with my left hand and play one shot melodic samples, simultaneously. Then there is the DJ’ing aspect where I have buttons representing preloaded songs that I mix in my set. There’s a lot of work in building the set that I’m about to play, so it’s quite different from rolling up and playing on CDJs.


Q: How did you get into producing/performing and why?

I learned to play piano at school and was restricted to classical studies until I switched to using synthesizers and MIDI keyboards to produce electronic music. Since then I’ve experimented with many different types of MIDI controllers and am now known for my use of the Launchpad.

Q: Many of your fans don’t know you play piano, can you tell us when you started playing, and how this has influenced your current musical style?

I first started playing when I was 5, my mum taught me my first song. I then taught myself a few bits until I started school where I learnt classical piano. Learning the piano taught me the technical and theoretical aspects of musical composition and performance. I really struggled to ‘read’ sheet music, so I would force myself to memorize how to play the music rather than rely on my ability to read notes. The same applies to the Launchpad, there’s no logic or sheet music as to how I use it…it’s just a memory game.


Q: What are your top 3 artists of all time and why?

Suprisingly, none that are in the top 10 on Beatport:

1. Michael Jackson - Still get the chills when I hear one of his records (who doesn’t right?). I also had the honor of working at Westlake studios where he recorded ‘Thriller’, it was also pointed out to me that there were a separate set of monitors in the ceiling that were requested by the king himself so could lie on the studio floor to listen to the mix. I do that, just with headphones…and the floor is cold.

2. Joel Zimmerman (Deadmau5) - He’s a super nerd in all aspects of what he does. There are plenty of ‘technicians’ in the electronic world that can create custom patches for hardware and software synths but none would know how to write a chord progression or melody to save themselves. I admired Joel’s production before I knew he was the one wearing the Mau5head or trolling on twitter.

3. Sonny Moore (Skrillex) - his sound design made a new sub genre of ‘dubstep’. The dude is just crazy talented and I’ve never been more exhilarated and excited to see anyone perform live. I’d kill to look over his shoulder as he produces music.

Q: What is the craziest thing you have seen a fan or artist do at a show?

Hmm, I think Deadmau5 trolling on stage at Ultra Miami this year was probably the craziest thing I’ve seen. Had a few laughs over that.


Q: We heard that you'll be performing at Life is Beautiful festival this year alongside Kanye, Outkast, Foo Fighters, and Skrillex! What are you looking forward to the most and what makes Life is Beautiful unique?

I’m so excited to be part of such a super star line up! I think once I stop annoying Skrillex, I’ll probably be out in the crowd watching Panic! At the Disco, or Ok-Go, or trying to take a selfie with Kayne (joking) then I’ll be stuffing my face with amazing food from all these crazy celebrity chefs while I watch Cirque Du Soleil do crazy acrobatics. You know, just usual festival antics. It’s definitely unique. I am honored to be apart of something so special. 

Check out the Life is Beautiful Festival Trailer:

Q: What’s next for M4SONIC?  Can you tell us about any upcoming tours, releases, etc.?

My computer is overheating as we speak from doing the final render of a new Launchpad video that I’m about to release. This is the first official original release ever done on a Launchpad. It’s what my fans have been waiting for, and there’s a surprise that no one knows about (about some other tracks) that will all be released shortly!  I’m also preparing for a new tour and designing some modifications to my equipment which will hopefully be ready in time for my shows in the US and Canada. It’s a very exciting time for me right now.

Q: Get ready for a real head scratcher: Cat, Dog, or Bacon?


Q: If you weren't a musician, what would you be doing career wise?

Every time I’m on a plane, I think back to when I was young and would geek out playing Microsoft Flight Simulator. I’d like to think I could land the plane in an emergency. So yeah, I’d be a pilot…I love planes.

Stay tuned for more updates and music from M4SONIC by following him on Facebook and Twitter.

When Trent Reznor first began Nine Inch Nails in Cleveland in 1988, we wonder if he ever thought he’d be a Grammy and Oscar winning artist soundtracking a major motion picture starring an another Oscar winner over 25 years later? Either way, Reznor has built quite a career for himself through his intensely dark, industrial aesthetic.

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From his influential debut album, Pretty Hate Machine, to his upcoming soundtrack release with Atticus Ross next week for the David Fincher-directed film Gone Girl, let’s take a look at his progression as an artist over the years…

There’s a subversive tone to the first Nine Inch Nails 1989 single, “Head Like a Hole,” when Reznor screams, “I’d rather die than give you control.” This tone would continue on throughout his NIИ work, and the single propelled Pretty Hate Machine to be one of the first indie albums to go platinum.

In 1992 Reznor moved into the infamous Los Angeles home where Sharon Tate and her friends were murdered by followers of Charles Manson. Nicknamed Le Pig by Reznor, this is where Nine Inch Nails recorded their Broken EP, releasing singles “Happiness in Slavery” and “Wish.” The explicit and twisted video for “Happiness in Slavery” was banned from MTV, but Reznor did win a Best Metal Performance Grammy for the second single, “Wish.”

Nine Inch Nails’ second full length, The Downward Spiral, was anything but for the artist in 1994. In fact, the album became NIИ’s biggest selling release. The band also performed at Woodstock ‘94 during the tour for this album. Popular songs included “Closer” and “Hurt,” the latter of which was covered in 2002 by Johnny Cash in a haunting version released the year before his death.

Reznor’s brutal music got jacked up to another level when he wrote “Burn” for Oliver Stone’s film Natural Born Killers, a cold disturbing movie about a serial killer couple.

“The Day the World Went Away” on the double album Fragile reached the Top 20 at #17 on the Billboard 100. They never released the original video, but a version with live music appeared as a bonus And All That Could Have Been DVD.

Though much less aggressive than most of his previous songs, you can still sense Reznor’s edgy frustration in “Every Day Is Exactly the Same,” one of the top singles off With Teeth. You can also hear the influence of his struggles with drug and alcohol addiction as he began the album while in rehab.

The single “Survivalism” is from the album Year Zero in 2007, which included songs that spoke of the politics of a bleak, terrifying future world in 2022 (we’re not too far off from that now!). The album was part of a larger concept project that also included an alternate reality game of the same name.


In a true departure, Nine Inch Nails released Ghosts I-IV in 2008 -- an album of four nine-track EPs that were mostly instrumental -- that got nominated for two Grammys. Reznor then released his next album The Slip for free digitally via the NIИ website. Both Ghosts and The Slip were released under the Creative Commons license.

Taking a break from touring, Reznor then started working with longtime NIИ producer Atticus Ross on original scores for director David Fincher’s The Social Network in 2010 and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo in 2013. They won an Oscar for The Social Network and a Grammy for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. No wonder Fincher tapped the winning duo again for the soundtrack to his latest highly anticipated film, Gone Girl, an adaptation of the popular novel by bestselling author Gillian Flynn.

Nine Inch Nails returned in 2013 with Hesitation Marks, releasing the single, “Came Back Haunted.” The song seems to reference Reznor’s return to NIИ after his adventures in film scoring. The music video for this song is directed by the one and only creepy and mysterious David Lynch!


Bands (probably) influenced by Nine Inch Nails: Marilyn Manson, Filter, Massive Attack, Smashing Pumpkins, Tool

About the author: Jin Moon has been affectionately writing about music and the arts since 2002 on her blog, She also currently runs her own agency, On the Moon Arts. Tweet salutations to @jinners.