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True hip-hop bands are rare birds today, as the genre continues to be dominated by solo artists, DJs, producers and remixers. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but it's always good to get new, hard-hitting and exciting hip-hop from a big band like Sidewalk Chalk. On "Grocery List," a celebratory track from the album "Leaves," the Chicago collective raises a toast to the joyous sound of live, funky, urban music.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014 11:20

Song of the Day: 'So Obscure' by Mappa Mundi

Brooklyn, New York singer and songwriter Adam Levine, leader of Mappa Mundi, has no fear of sentiment. He knows that feelings need not be filtered through irony, even in the context of indie rock. On the lushly-arranged and folksy "So Obscure," he lays his heart on the line between bathos and beauty.

Chicago band of brothers (as in literally three brothers) the Safes channel all their love for classic Brit-Invasion rock like the Kinks and the just as classic American garage rock of the Sonics into their slightly poppy, always tautly-written songs. "Hopes Up, Guard Down" is a rock 'n' roll anthem for these guardedly hopeful days.

In the hard-charging, strummy, slightly skewed music of Chicago band the Handcuffs you'll hear echoes of the Killers and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. But in the new track "Baby I Love You" you'll also hear glam-punk shot through with made-for-radio hooks.

Thursday, 11 December 2014 08:15

Song of the Day: 'Hush' by HAWK

Building from a whisper to a roar and then unbuilding back again, "Hush" by HAWK challenges everything you think you knew about the classic '90s shoegaze sound.

Veteran alternative-rock band the Verve Pipe returned this year with its first studio album in over a decade and a revived feel for songwriting by founder Brian Vander Ark. Case in point, the catchy single "Crash Landing."

"I hope you know this song is all I've got left," sings Matthew Squires on "Echo," and you almost believe him. "It's the final thread tying down my mind." But the song, while serious about the meaning of music, is also relentlessly giddy, even silly, with the quirkily rhythmic sound of his band the Learning Disorders suggesting that if this tune really is the end, they'll all go down smiling.

Austin, Texas' Charlie Belle, a teenage folk-pop trio, seems to have a clear mission: to get audiences singing and clapping along. The band's new single, "Get to Know," will do just that.

With echoes of Arctic Monkeys and Oasis, South Wales-based band the Marks Cartel turn up the Brit-rock sound with the new track "Where Do I Go?"

Written by Dave Hamilton and Clarence Paul, and recorded by Marvin Gaye in 1964, "Purple Snowflakes" isn't known as a holiday classic, even though it really should be. St. Louis band Rough Shop updates the dreamy, jazzy, psychedelic sound with a cover that's both faithful and fully inspired.

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Karate Bikini - A Simpler Sugar

Wed November 26
Karate Bikini is an eight piece ensemble who's members hail from St. Louis and the metro area. They are a large band with a large sound. Their latest album A Simpler Sugar is full of upbeat pop songs,…