Will Holland, better known by his DJ and producer name Quantic, has mastered the art of global citizenship. The U.K. native, one-time Colombian and current New Yorker blends traditional cumbia rhythms with contemporary electronic beats, introducing new sounds to new audiences.
At an intimate gathering at Sonos Studio in Hollywood, Quantic recently performed songs from his most recent album, Magnetica -- including the song heard here, "Duvido."
Throughout her career, punk icon Brody Dalle has embraced her aggressive side. Best known as the lead singer of The Distillers and Spinnerette, Dalle has a sandpaper- and velvet-tinged voice that speaks to rebellious young punks who are curious about the world yet vulnerable to its sharp edges. "I've never understood why there was such a fuss about aggressive women in music," Dalle says. "To me, aggression is a human instinct. ... I've felt provoked for most of my life, especially as a child. I guess I've carried those feelings into my songs."
Truth be told, Holly Williams brought me and many of my hardened colleagues to tears. The singer-songwriter has a magnificent way with words and phrasing, not to mention a country-music lineage that fills her with pride and guides her poignancy and subject matter.
The Brooklyn band The Antlers frequently finds inspiration in dark places: On 2009's Hospice, singer-guitarist Peter Silberman reflects on terminal illness and emotional abuse, while this year's Familiars turns the Buddhist notion of bardo, a state of being between incarnations, into the impetus for a dialog about multiple selves.
John Grant's songs don't mess around: The music isn't complicated, while the lyrics function as darts of retort and thought. His album Pale Green Ghosts is decorated with synthesizers, his voice often drenched in reverb; those tools and textures help make the record strong and everlasting.
The latest video from Pattern Is Movement is up close and personal, featuring the best music this Philadelphia duo has made in 14 years of recording together. Watch Andrew Thiboldeaux and Chris Ward perform "Suckling," with just drums, keyboards and voice. The cut is from the band's self-titled album, released earlier this year on Hometapes.
Sharon Van Etten wrote her latest album Are We There over the course of two years, while touring in support of 2012's Tramp. In the process, she crafted a set of beautiful, slow-burning ballads that emphasize her emotive storytelling and unique voice. For her recent live session on KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, she ran through highlights from the new album, including "Nothing Will Change."
You'll want to dim the lights for this video to accompany "VHS," from composer Christina Vantzou. The title implies a primitive digital universe. But in Vantzou's world, it's more of a void — a pitch-black emptiness where a lone figure chases her own barely perceptible reflection.