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“I lost the place, lost the girl, and lost my mind” is the obvious pull-quote in an immensely enjoyable Pitchfork interview earlier this year with Phosphorescent’s Matthew Houck. He’s describing the mess his life had become after a stretch of hard touring in support of his 2010 album, Here’s to Taking It Easy, and it’d be a whole lot sadder if all that turmoil didn’t ultimately result in Muchacho, his breakout sixth album and one that’s sure to show up high on year-end lists everywhere. His knack for combining the achingly tender with the sneeringly upbeat has always been one of his greatest strengths, especially in a live setting.
Even with a coveted longtime spot on the Merge Records roster and a 2012 album, Mr. M, that was met with an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the press, Lambchop remains one of indie rock’s most underrated bands. With his sad, deep voice, frontman Kurt Wagner specializes in stately, old-sounding songs that have one foot in classic country and another in an extraordinarily seedy lounge.
Ivan & Aloysha
The Seattle-based duo formed in 2007 and have been turning heads everywhere with their pristine harmonies and their keen ear for classic pop melodies. Unobtrusive, yes, but also wholly charming.
Along with Real Estate and Titus Andronicus, Julian Lynch stood at the forefront of the Ridgewood, New Jersey, scene that started picking up steam a few years back. His most recent album, Lines, is a head-spinning collection of songs that are most easily categorized as electronic folk, a label does no justice to the vast knowledge and wide array of influences on display.