Our pick of music happenings you need to know about. This week, Karen O drowns in self-pity while The Muffs rise from the ashes. 

Video: “Rapt” - Karen O


For a woman who cut her teeth as the queen bee of the Lower East Side’s early-’00s indie revival and went on to become one of her generation’s few recognizable rock stars, Karen O seems to have terrible luck in love. O’s new single, “Rapt”, is the latest in her catalog of low-key, lovesick mini-ballads (earlier entries include Yeah Yeah Yeahs standards “Maps” and “Skeletons”). Lyrically and visually, O takes an unflinching approach to her recent heartbreak, coldly repeating, “love’s a fucking bitch,” while she sinks deeper and deeper into icy blue water. If the end of your summer fling has you in need of a new breakup record, be sure to check out Karen O’s forthcoming solo album, Crush Songs, this September.

Album: Whoop Dee Doo - The Muffs


While Karen O is just the latest in New York’s rich history of punk goddesses, SoCal’s acid-surf and garage scenes have had far fewer female voices. All the more remarkable, then, is the career of legendary Muffs frontwoman Kim Shattuck, whose effortlessly witty and infectious songs have spawned armies of imitators. The Muffs are back this week with their first record of new songs in ten years, and lead singles “Up and Down Around” and “Weird Boy Next Door” deliver the familiar but timeless thrill of the band’s vintage sound.

Song: “Lay-by” - Tennyson


Canadian brother-sister instrumentalists Tennyson have an absorbing new track, “Lay-by”, that furthers their reputation for wringing gorgeous music out of everyday sounds. This time, a looping seat-belt chime--which, just spitballin’ here, may be the defining sound of modern technological angst--paces a jazzy, dreamy synth and piano interlude that, as it happens, makes for excellent driving music.

Album: Hyberborea - Flamingods


You could say Flamingods are out of London, if founder Kamal Rasool hadn’t been kicked out of London two years ago, when changes in the UK’s visa laws prompted him to return to his childhood home of Bahrain before settling in Dubai. Fresh off their first release, 2012’s Sun, Rasool and his bandmates (who refer to themselves as “players”) recorded their follow-up, Hyperborea, by sharing files online. The result is a rich and borderless blend of styles that largely defies categorization. If you can spare them the dreaded “world music” label, you’ll find in Flamingods a fiercely confident fusion of traditional music and contemporary instrumentation. 

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

Not every musician can juggle a record label, international tours, consistent exercise, and motherhood all at the same time. But our Savior of Sound DJ Gina Turner makes it look so easy.

When she's not dropping beats on the big stage or collaborating with her husband Laidback Luke, she manages to be a supermom and a yoga master to boot. 

For this edition of Artist Spotlight, we jumped at the chance to get the inside scoop on Gina's crazy and exciting life. Check out this exclusive interview to see how she really does it all:

Q: What is it like being in a relationship with a music artist while being one yourself? 

It's an amazing blessing. We understand one another and can talk "shop" about work and DJing and ideas, while bouncing creative aspects and personal thoughts off of one another.

Q: How did you get into DJ/Producing? 

Radio is my first passion! I went to school for Audio Production and Radio Broadcasting, and eventually that led to me DJing since I grew up in the NYC house scene as a teen!

Q: What draws you to electronic music and why?  

I guess you can say I am a purist in that I love the community and mutual respect that comes with the underground scene. It's tough to find that these days, as I do find there is a huge pretentious attitude with a lot of artists and that makes me upset. We are all here for the same reasons, the love of MUSIC!

Q: A huge part of music these days is how you market yourself, what approach do you take to stand out from the others?

Hmmm this is a tough one. Honestly, I just try to keep it real and stay true to who I am as a person! So that has a lot to do with how I choose to present myself and my music to the world! I love having fun and making others think!

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

JUST THREE!?! My biggest musical influence as a DJ/producer would be a tie between Derrick Carter and Josh Wink. In terms of non-electronic music, I'd have to say I have been a long time fan of Incubus' music. I love their lyrics, the way they change time signatures, and their percussion! And in terms of Hip-Hop, it's hard for me to choose just one, but I'll go with Wu-Tang Clan for obvious reasons of awesomeness.

Q: Outside of music you teach Yoga, can you explain more about how you got into that and why? 

Yoga has changed and saved my life. I always did it and was passionate about it, but something changed a few summers ago when I was practicing yoga outside on a family vacation. I had just finished doing a headstand and a 60 min yoga class and I decided to hop in a pool to cool off. Not knowing the shallowness of the pool, I dove in and cracked my head and sublaxated a vertebra in my neck. I can hands down say, if it wasn't for yoga and my neck muscles being so strong and warm, I would have been paralyzed, if not dead. From that day forward, I decided to become a teacher to be able to spread the teachings of yoga and the benefits of yoga both physically and spiritually to the world!

Q: With that said, does music play a part in your yoga teaching? 

YES! I love making my yoga playlists, because I have such a diverse taste in all genres of music I get to play things that I sometimes don't get to play in my DJ sets! Stuff like Burial, James Blake, Portishead, etc.

Q: What does a day in the life of Gina Turner look like? 

Wake up, feed baby, drink coffee, stay up to date on music, record some radio IDs, go to yoga and or workout, and cuddle with my baby as much as possible... sometimes this will vary if I have a travel day or a DJ day ;)

Q: You and Luke just had a baby girl, congratulations! How is it balancing that with your crazy schedule? 

She's great, she's an amazing flyer! And it's tough but to be honest we are very lucky as we can go to work at night and get back before the baby even wakes up! I'm lucky and not many working moms can do that!

Q: What artist today really grab your attention and why? 

Artists that challenge your way of thinking such as James Blake. His music has been the soundtrack to my life over the past few years and he's an amazing performer.

Q: What advice would you give to up and coming artists and why?

Stay true to who you are and don't ever try to fit someone else's mold

Q: What was it like working on a record with Luke for the new EP?    

The upcoming track "Bae" with Luke was really Luke's brain child. He wanted to do something more tech/deep/future house and wanted to really touch on the fact that the "kids" these days are calling each other "bae." He wrote the lyrics and I put my spin on them, and did some ad-libs here and there and the rest is history! I'm really happy with how it's turned out and it's nice to be able to fit a new school Luke track in my sets. His tracks had been "too hard" for me to play since I play deep techno stuff, so this worked out perfectly. I am really excited for this single to come out!


Stay tuned for more updates and music from DJ Gina Turner by following her on Facebook and Twitter

This Spotlight is a new monthly feature showcasing some of our favorite independent record labels. For the month of July, we spoke to Brooklyn producer Dre Skull about the label he started, its developments including how Popcaan’s Where We Come From album came together and the best way of submitting demos to Mixpak.

First, here's a little taste of Mixpak artist Popcaan:

While you're listening, check out the series of Q&A below: 

B: What made you decide to start your own label?

I founded Mixpak because I thought there were projects that could be conceived and created that weren’t getting support from other labels. I still think that’s true and I’m excited to keeping pushing the envelope with Mixpak, I think it’s barely scratched the surface of what I set out to do with it.

B: How many people are your team and what do they do?

The Mixpak crew is pretty tight knit. At its core on the label side, it’s me and Susannah Webb. She is the label manager and jack of all trades, involved with day to day, creative decisions and creative direction of different kinds. From there we have a close relationship with our artists who are involved across the spectrum on everything from A&R ideas, design ideas, putting together events and more. Additionally, there is a constellation of people we interact and work with from video directors, designers and people who can get things done. The label is definitely in a growth phase so we are currently bringing on more people.

B: Can you tell me how your relationship with Popcaan developed? From how you first heard of him, your first meeting to this releasing this incredible album?

I first heard of Popcaan through his song "Dream", which I immediately loved. I first met Popcaan the night I was in the studio with Vybz Kartel recording “Ghetto Youth”(the last song on his album Kingston Story). Popcaan came by the studio with a few friends right as we finished recording. He kept rewinding the track by hitting the spacebar in Pro Tools. We listened back to the track for about 45 minutes, just vibing out until he had learned the words and was singing along. That was my introduction to Popcaan. About a year later, I went down to Kingston to work with Popcaan and we did the songs “Get Gyal Easy,” “So We Do It,” and “The System” on that trip. From there the relationship grew and Popcaan eventually signed to Mixpak to do several albums and Where We Come From is the first.

B: Out of all the Mixpak releases, which is your personal favorite? The one that just made so much sense to you.

That’s a hard question to answer. Each release has so many stories attached that make them all meaningful to me. I’m still so touched that Vybz Kartel cut such an incredibly romantic love song with “Yuh Love” and to see the life it’s had, getting played at weddings in Jamaica and all around the world is pretty special.

B: What's in store for Mixpak for the rest of 2014?

I’m really excited about the Palmistry single “Protector SE5” that we just released. 

Watch the official video here:

Jubilee is working on a new EP and I’m currently working on a Dre Skull EP that will hopefully be out this fall. Beyond that we have a few surprise things on the way, so stay tuned.

B: Between your busy schedule of producing, DJing and taking 
care of Mixpak, how do you discover music now?

I hear new music everywhere…from friends, online, radio, in the club. Music flows more freely than it ever has.

B: What are some things you consider before signing an artist, 
like a list of questions you ask yourself?

In this crazy world with so much music being made and shared all the time, you have to think, what makes a particular artist compelling? If there is difficulty in answering that question, then it might not make sense for the label to take on that artist even if they have a great track or song.

B: What is the best way for an artist to submit demos to you/get 
noticed by you?

The best way to submit demos is through Mixpak’s SoundCloud.

B: This one is just for fun but if you can describe Mixpak as 
a plate of food, what would it be and how would it be arranged?

Mixpak is like a straw in a coconut on a hot summer day.

You can follow Dre Skull on Twitter @DreSkull and his label @Mixpak.

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.

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

“Chimes" - Hudson Mohawke

Last weekend, there was a very rare moment when I was alone and found clarity at Pitchfork festival during Hudson Mohawke’s set. During the middle of the Scottish electronic engineer’s performance, Mohawke dropped the first track “Chimes” from his EP on Warp Records that’s coming out on September 29th. “Chimes” is a surreal journey through a forest with glistening rays of sunlight as steady drums rally you up for the heavy and melodic bass descents.

“Protector SE5”- Palmistry

Mixpak’s sensitive South London producer/singer Palmistry finally has another single for us since his solo debut “Catch” from last winter. This new track entitled “Protector SE5” features intimate vocals that guide you through a delicate production with soft melodic traces of dancehall, just enough tropical warmth for a comfortable hip sway to this tender pop song--sprinkle a little bit of flirty romance in your summer playlist.

“New Dorp. New York.” - SBTRKT Feat. Ezra Koenig

The first teaser from Young Turk’s masked producer SBTRKT’s upcoming Wonder Where We Land is a dream collaboration with Ezra Koenig, the lead singer and guitarist in Vampire Weekend. Dedicated to the city that never sleeps, “New Dorp. New York.” is a funky experimental club track with multiple sampled vocals and Koenig’s gracefulness as each beat takes us on the hustle and flow of The Big Apple.

“Summer” (UNIIQU3 Remix) - Calvin Harris

Appropriately named “Summer”, this season’s EDM banger from Calvin Harris recently received a different twist by Jersey Club goddess, UNIIQU3. Easing into the track until 0:25, your booty will immediately bounce to UNIIQU3’s steamy edits and the experience intensifies when the repetitive words of “in the summer” comes in, making the entire club loose control. Don't forget to catch her set at P.S.1 for their series of Warm Up parties this Saturday, July 26.

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.

Hold on tight as DJ SLiink takes this SOL REPUBLIC Podcast deep into the realm of Jersey Club and booming underground sound systems. Although this genre-bending New Jersey native is known for his signature blend of Jersey/Philly/Baltimore Club, he is no stranger to experimentation, often incorporating elements of Pop, Hip-Hop, Moombahton, and House. You name it, he's got it.

Tune in to his podcast takeover for a speaker blasting night at the club:

Check out DJ SLiink on Facebook and Twitter for more updates.

Our pick of music happenings you need to know about…Scottish newcomers Honeyblood make a strong addition to the power-pop ranks while the band that wrote their playbook returns with a retro single. 

Album: Honeyblood - Honeyblood


Glasgow duo Honeyblood’s self-titled full-length brings the band’s sound into fresh focus without compromising the bratty charm of their 2012 Thrift Shop EP. Back then, lead singer Stina Tweddale’s voice was barely audible under the grit of echoey distortion (Honeyblood’s bandcamp page for Thrift Shop describes the recording process as having happened “in a bathroom with a 4-track tape-deck"). In the years since, the pure power of Tweddale’s vocals and her hook-heavy songwriting with drummer and vocalist Shona McVicar have given the band pop ambitions that far outpace their lo-fi origins. Lead singles “Killer Bangs” and “Super Rat” distill Honeyblood’s natural sarcasm into a fizzy, soda-pop punk that still bites just enough.

Song: “Progress” - Francisco the Man


LA shoegaze fledglings Francisco the Man have a new single, “Progress,” ahead of their debut album, Loose Ends, which arrives in September. The new song starts with dreamy synths that quickly build to a mid-tempo and surprisingly anthemic rocker. This band has confidence to burn.

Video: “Hulluu”- Austra


Lyric-averse Austra single “Hulluu” gets the interpretive-dance treatment in the band’s latest video. The only person with less to say about it is frontwoman Katie Stelmanis, who confesses over and over: “I took your microphone. It’s in the river.”

Song: “Back to the Shack” - Weezer


Power pop elder statesmen Weezer have a new single, “Back to the Shack,” in anticipation of their upcoming album, Everything Will Be All Right in the End. As usual, frontman Rivers Cuomo’s relationship travails take center stage, but this time it’s his own fans who have turned and left. The song bounces along on a great opening riff while Rivers wonders out loud what’s become of all the good will from Weezer’s mid-90s golden age. (Hint: he spent the last decade obsessively developing an algorithm for the Perfect Pop Song.) While it’s still a far cry from the likes of “My Name Is Jonas” and “The Good Life,” “Back to the Shack” is at least a welcome acknowledgement of the old-school fans Cuomo has kept at arm’s length since Pinkerton flopped. For those of us still hoping to reconcile with the band we remember, it’s a positive first step--but hang on to your hopes ’til the record drops in September.  

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