Formerly known as the Wildbunch, the Detroit sextet Electric Six mix garage, disco, punk, new wave, and metal into cleverly dumb, in-your-face songs like "Danger! High Voltage," which reached number two on the British charts early in 2003. Singer Dick Valentine, guitarists Rock and Roll Indian and Surge Joebot, bassist Disco, and drummer M. formed the Wildbunch in 1996 (keyboardist Tait Nucleus? joined the band later), releasing their debut single, "I Lost Control (Of My Rock & Roll)," and the eight-track An Evening with the Many Moods of the Wildbunch's Greatest Hits...Tonight! that year on Uchu Cult Records. They also released 1999's full-length on that imprint. The group switched to Flying Bomb for singles like 1997's "The Ballade of MC Sucka DJ," the Christmas single "Flying Bomb Surprise Package, Vol. 1," and 2001's "Danger! High Voltage," which became an underground hit, particularly in the U.K.
The following year the group signed to XL and re-recorded "Danger! High Voltage," this time adding backing vocals from the White Stripes' Jack White. After the re-release of the single in 2003, Electric Six issued their full-length debut album, Fire, later that spring. Just a few weeks after the album's release, Disco, Rock and Roll Indian, and Surge Joebot left the band and were replaced by Frank Lloyd Bonaventure, the Colonel, and Johnny Na$hinal. In 2004, the band got a new record deal with Rushmore, a British Warner Bros. imprint, and lost Bonaventure and M., whose bass and drum duties were filled by John R. Dequindre and Percussion World, respectively. The second Electric Six album, Señor Smoke, arrived in the U.K. early in 2005. It took another year for the album to be released stateside, on Metropolis Records. Switzerland arrived in fall of 2006 and I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me from Being the Master followed in October of 2007. Early in 2008, Valentine embarked on his American Troubadour solo tour, which included stops in Hamtramck, Michigan, and Portland, Oregon; that spring, Electric Six recorded their fifth album, Flashy, in the Colonel's studio. Metropolis released Flashy that fall, followed by Sexy Trash, a 30-track album of demos and previously unreleased material, and two new studio albums, Kill (2009) and Zodiac (2010). The following year, the band took their sound in a darker direction, shifting slightly from dance-rock to synth pop on the nocturnal Heartbeats and Brainwaves. 2012 saw them bringing their high-energy live shows to fans on their first concert album, Absolute Pleasure. Their tenth studio album, Mustang, arrived in 2013, followed shortly afterwards by Human Zoo in 2014. ~ Heather Phares
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Boasting a mix of Southern pride, erudite lyrics, and a muscled three-guitar attack, Drive-By Truckers became one of the most well-respected alternative country-rock acts of the 2000s. Led by frontman Patterson Hood and featuring a rotating cast of Georgia and Alabama natives, the band celebrated the South while refusing to paint over its spotty past. History, folklore, politics, and character studies all shared equal space in the Truckers catalog, which offered up its first blast of gutsy, twangy rock with 1998's Gangstabilly. However, it was the band's ambitious double-disc concept album, The Southern Rock Opera, that became its unlikely magnum opus. A two-act affair, the album explored Hood's fascination with '70s Southern rock (specifically Lynyrd Skynyrd) while tackling the cultural contradictions of the region, and it helped lay the groundwork for much of the band's later work.
In 1985, college friends Mike Cooley and Patterson Hood (whose father, David Hood, was a Muscle Shoals session player who played bass on the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There") formed a punk-inspired band named Adam's House Cat. The group split up six years later, and Cooley and Hood launched several follow-up projects before moving to different cities. They eventually returned to Athens, Georgia, where they formed Drive-By Truckers in 1996. Gangstabilly announced the band's official debut in 1998, and the follow-up album Pizza Deliverance saw Cooley emerging as a strong songwriter in his own right. (The contrast between Cooley and Hood's songs, as well as those compositions written by bandmembers Rob Malone, Shonna Tucker, and Jason Isbell, would soon prove to be one of the Truckers' biggest strengths.) In 2000, the band documented its strength as a live act with Alabama Ass Whuppin', a concert recording taken from a show in Athens.
The vision for Drive-By Truckers' heralded rock opera took shape as Hood began to address his own Southern roots. Recorded during a September heat wave in Birmingham, Alabama -- and boasting the band's three-guitar attack (à la Skynyrd) -- the album veered from nervy, powerful rock & roll to a bruised, jagged tone that recalled Neil Young & Crazy Horse. It was also an underground success, receiving a four-star rating from Rolling Stone and catching the ear of roots rock label Lost Highway, which reissued the album in 2002. Unfortunately for the label, many people who would otherwise have purchased the album already owned a copy; unfortunately for the Truckers, they were released from their contract just as their first album for Lost Highway was finished. After several months of between-label limbo, the band was picked up by New West Records, a Texas-based label that released Decoration Day in mid-2003. The album featured several songs by newcomer Jason Isbell, a young singer/guitarist who had replaced Rob Malone two years prior.
Tour dates and further lineup changes followed the album's release, with bassist Earl Hicks departing and studio musician Shonna Tucker (who was also Isbell's wife) climbing aboard to join Hood, Cooley, Isbell, and drummer Brad Morgan. The new lineup made its debut on 2004's The Dirty South, a concept album that spun Southern tales of small towns, violent sheriffs, and legendary record producers. A concert DVD, Live at the 40 Watt: August 27 & 28, 2004, arrived in 2005, followed one year later by Isbell's final album with the group, A Blessing and a Curse. In light of Isbell's decision to quit the band in favor of a solo career, pedal steel guitarist John Neff officially joined in 2007, having contributed to several Drive-By Truckers albums in the past. Brighter Than Creation's Dark introduced the revised lineup in 2008; additionally, it showcased Shonna Tucker's abilities as a songwriter, marking the first time that any of her contributions had appeared on record. Drive-By Truckers returned to the road that summer to support the record's release.
Although the band remained on tour well into 2009, the Truckers also found time to release their second concert album, Live from Austin TX,
as well as a collection of unreleased material entitled The Fine Print: A Collection of Oddities and Rarities. Patterson Hood rounded out the year by recording his second solo record, Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs), and gathering his bandmates back together after its release for another round of recording sessions. Two albums resulted from those sessions, 2010's The Big To-Do and 2011's Go-Go Boots, both of which were released by ATO Records, and featured the group's new keyboard player, Jay Gonzalez, who also contributed to Hood's third solo effort, 2012's Heat Lightning Rumbles in the Distance. Meanwhile, New West Records combed through the band's first decade of material to help compile Ugly Buildings, Whores, and Politicians: Greatest Hits 1998-2009, which marked the band's final release for New West in August 2011. In 2012, Mike Cooley followed Hood's lead with his debut solo effort, The Fool on Every Corner, drawn from a pair of solo acoustic performances. Returning to the studio in 2013 with longtime producer David Barbe, the group (now a five-piece with the departure of John Neff and the addition of new bassist Matt Patton, who replaced Tucker after she left for a solo career) opted for a stripped-back sound for its 12th album, 2014's English Oceans. ~ Andrew Leahey & Erik Hage
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From the swamps of southern Louisiana comes the apocalyptic folk rock of Dax Riggs: starting with the teenage death metal of Acidbath on through the gothic dixie-fried trash rock of deadboy and the Elephantmen, Dax has opened for artists as diverse as Queens of the Stone Age to Leon Russell. Like Leadbelly with a devil on his back…
Outsider music, for your dying radios, in the basement at the end of the world
"As if Jeff Buckley covered Ziggy Stardust on the banks of the Mississippi Delta" --ROLLING STONE
"His low Delta howl is the pretty, pained yelp of a wounded swamp animal" --THE NEW YORKER
"Music as much informed by Southern gothic country blues as it is by metal" --ESQUIRE
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"We have long and serious conversations with our mothers about our lyrics and the image we are portraying. We talk to them about the importance of respecting women."
The Beans is raw, gritty, and powerful blues-based rock. Drawing inﬂuences from delta blues, 60"s jazz and psychedelia, The Beans present vintage rhythm based music in a modern context. The band met in late 2010 and immediately agreed on the desire to melt faces with their music in the manner (and with the craftsmanship) of Wilco, Junior Kimbrough, Jimi Hendrix, Lightnin' Hopkins, Charles Mingus, and Townes Van Zandt.
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After the breakup of Floor in 2004, Torche vocalist/guitarist Steve Brooks decided to carry on the thundering tradition of his former band, recruiting guitarist Juan Montoya (also formerly of Floor), drummer Rick Smith, and bassist Jonathan Nuñez. This lineup evolved the sonic template Brooks had created with Floor into a lush and more fully realized sound. In 2005, the Miami four-piece released their eponymous debut Torche on Robotic Empire, introducing the world to a new brand of doom/stoner metal that replaced the bleakness and despair typical of the genre with a more triumphant and anthemic sound: the heavy metal equivalent of Chariots of Fire. Combining de-tuned, droning guitars reminiscent of doom luminaries Earth and Sunn 0))) with soaring, harmonic vocals, Torche created a new take on the genre that is best described as "doom pop."
After the album's release, the band began extensive cross-country touring, sharing bills with the Sword, Mouth of the Architect, Jesu, Isis, and Mogwai. In March of 2007, Torche released a remastered version of their self-titled album featuring the bonus track "Make Me Alive." In the summer of 2007, Torche released the beautifully packaged EP In Return on Robotic Empire, featuring a jacket designed by John Baizley of Baroness. Late in 2007, the band announced that they had finished recording their second album, Meanderthal, which was released in 2008. Later that year, guitarist Juan Montoya left the band due to creative differences. The remaining members carried on a a trio, touring with bands like Harvey Milk and Coheed and Cambria. In 2010, the band released the EP Songs for Singles on Hydrahead. ~ Gregory Heaney
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In 2009 rapper Freddie Gibbs set out to be the Midwest's unofficial street poet, releasing a series of mixtapes that were as complex as they were thuggish. Influenced by the likes of 2Pac, Biggie, UGK, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Gibbs filled his lyrics with honest and compelling stories of his hometown's demise, a steady decline to which he helped contribute while a drug dealer. He dealt out of a Gary, Indiana recording studio, absorbing a steady stream of uninspired rhymes while pushing product. Figuring he could do better, Gibbs began writing his own lyrics and cut some demos that would eventually land in the hands of Interscope. When the label signed Gibbs in 2006, he moved to Los Angeles and recorded a debut album, but a year later the management of Interscope changed hands and the rapper was dropped. He returned to Gary, and then moved to Atlanta until producer Josh the Goon convinced Gibbs to return to L.A. for one more try. In early 2009 he released the Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs mixtape to critical and message board acclaim. The Midwestgangstaboxframecadillacmuzik mixtape soon followed, as did a feature in The New Yorker that found writer Sasha Frere-Jones declaring Gibbs "the one rapper I would put money on right now." Late in the year he released the 81-song mixtape The Labels Tryin' to Kill Me. As the mixtape's title inferred, Gibbs had, like Jay Electronica, become a 21st century Internet-age hip-hop star, able to draw press and earn a loyal following via downloads and mixtapes instead of the usual industry channels. He finished 2009 proudly unsigned but in 2010 he made a rare aboveground appearance with the Str8 Killa EP, released on the Decon label. Two years later he released two collaborative efforts: Piñata with Madlib, an album on the underground producer's Madlib Invazion label; and The Tonite Show with DJ Fresh, an entry in the West Coast producer's collaborative series. ~ David Jeffries
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Though Joshua Radin enjoyed singing during his childhood, the Cleveland native never intended to be a professional musician. Instead, he studied drawing and painting at Northwestern University, following his college years with stints as an art teacher, screenwriter, and art gallery employee. Eventually, Radin took a stab at songwriting and played one of his earliest compositions, "Winter," for his friend Zach Braff. The burgeoning actor/director took an immediate liking to the song, and "Winter" eventually found its way onto Braff's hit television show Scrubs in early 2004. After fans began to request more of his music, Radin decided to pursue a songwriting career and signed with Columbia Records, which issued his debut album, We Were Here, in 2006.
Radin relocated to Los Angeles and aligned himself with the Hotel Cafe, a unique Hollywood venue specializing in performances by singer/songwriters. He soon found himself playing national tour dates with a number of Hotel Cafe regulars, including Ingrid Michaelson, Sara Bareilles, and Meiko. Meanwhile, he issued a pair of digital EPs while readying the release of his sophomore album, Simple Times, which arrived in late 2008. The album was released in the U.K. two years later. Meanwhile, Radin placated his American fans by issuing a short EP, Songs Under a Streetlight, and putting the finishing touches on The Rock and the Tide, which appeared in October 2010. In 2012, Radin returned with the album Underwater, featuring musical contributions from such musicians as pianist Benmont Tench (Tom Petty), drummer Jim Keltner (Bob Dylan), and others. ~ Marisa Brown & Andrew Leahey
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Ishi is a high energy electronic band with influences of Soul, Funk, & Folk to Electro, Techno & House. They thrive on creating a positive atmosphere that encourages their audience to be themselves & let loose.
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Whether they're tearing it up in a basement, rocking a festival crowd or hard at work in a studio, The Districts are a band that exists in the moment.
The Pennsylvania four-piece channels its long-forged bonds into visceral, explosive rock and roll. You'll hear hints of Americana, moments of the blues and folk, but written into songs so expressive that those labels are transcended. Their second LP, A Flourish and a Spoil, is out on Fat Possum Records in February of 2015.
Founding members Rob Grote (guitar, vocals) Connor Jacobus (bass) and Braden Lawrence (drums) have been friends since childhood and formed The Districts in high school. You can hear that closeness in their effortless chemistry onstage and off, the way their songs build and grow, the way instrumental bits intertwine and the compelling command they have of whatever square footage they occupy behind microphones and a PA.
The band self-recorded and self-released its Kitchen Songs EP in 2012, followed that summer by their full-length debut Telephone (also a self-release, and all the more impressive for it). By their senior year, the band had already begun to make inroads beyond their small Lancaster County hometown of Lititz, and were performing on the regular in Philadelphia, Delaware and New York ("4th and Roebling" from Flourish is named after the intersection in Brooklyn where they parked their car for their first New York gig at the now-defunct Big Snow Buffalo Lounge).
In 2013, they were being played in regular rotation at WXPN in Philadelphia and were a featured performer at the station's XPoNential Music Festival. That fall they signed to Fat Possum, which released their self-titled EP in January of 2014; the five-song 10" contained two new songs – "Rocking Chair" and "Lyla" – along with three tracks from their self-releases.
With the momentum behind the EP and their buzzed-about live show, The Districts had a tremendous showing in Austin for SXSW 2014, named "the band who owned SXSW" by the NME. They've since taken the show to Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits, Reading / Leeds, Outside Lands, Haldern Pop Festival and many more fests in the U.S. and Europe.
That's not to say the band hasn't experienced its share of setbacks. In early summer of 2014, its van was broken into during a tour stop in St. Louis and all of its gear was stolen. Shortly after, founding guitarist Mark Larson left the band to pursue college, performing as a District for the last time at the 2014 XPoNential Music Festival (where they shared the stage with Band of Horses and Beck). But the band persevered, recruiting new guitarist Pat Cassidy and recording their second full length with producer John Congleton in the fall.
A Flourish and a Spoil is built about those ideas of transition. As Rob puts it, it's a record about "change and loss, the fact that everything sours in time, but also the beauty that can be found in that." It's reflected in the cover art the band made in collaboration with photographer Joanna Ference: a halved grapefruit, dried and decaying, but still attached to a bright green stem.
Sonically, Flourish is a vibrant, eclectic rock record, collecting sounds from toe-tapping fuzz-pop ("Peaches") to contemplative folk ("Suburban Smell") and driving, impressionistic soundscapes ("Young Blood" is well worth 9 minutes of your time) into a whirlwind 45 minute set. The Districts credit John Congleton with shaping their sound on this outing. While the band is used to writing and producing on its own, Congleton "gave us an objective ear that helped us find and refine what we were trying to accomplish with this album."
Rob recalls that, toward the end of the recording process, he had a song stuck in his head: the old Doris Day tune "A Bushel and a Peck," which his mother used to sing to him as a childhood lullaby. "The title was born from that," he says. "A Flourish and a Spoil is our attempt to reconcile lullabies with reality."
It also announces the arrival of The Districts as a captivating voice in contemporary rock: a young band crafting heartfelt music that's honest, raw, energetic and unforgettable.
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At the heart of Jamestown Revival is a friendship that spans over a decade.
Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance grew up together in the small Texas town of Magnolia.
From a young age, they shared a love for music as well as the outdoors. About an hour
of Magnolia TX, there was some old family land with a dilapidated ranch house
where they spent the better part of their adolescence.
At one point or another, music from Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Everly
Brothers, to fellow Texans Willie Nelson,
Guy Clark and Stevie Ray Vaughan found it's
way through an old pair of speakers that sat on the back porch. The pair spent the day
exploring that thousand
acre plot of land, and when the sun went down they took to the
records of the songwriters and bands
that inspired them. At the age of 22, they moved to
Austin and began to craft a sound of their own. Deeply rooted in harmony, they merged
the sounds of the South with classic American and Western rock.
Looking for adventure, as well as a change of pace, t
hey eventually made the decision
to head west and make the move to Los Angeles, CA.
Throughout the course of the next 12 months, they wrote what is Jamestown Revival's
length album, UTAH. It's heavily autobiographical, telling the stories of th
adventures, their discomforts, and their observations. In order to capture the spirit of the
music, the two found a log cabin high within the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. The pair,
along with their band and engineer, set out to convert it in to a tempora
studio. With wild moose right outside the window, and aspen leaves spinning in the wind,
they tracked the 11 songs that make up UTAH. Performed live, with no headphones, and
entirely to tape, the process captured the moments in the room.
than Clay and Zach Chance have since moved back to Austin and signed a record
deal with Republic Records. Adding to the already soulful album, the band has since re
released UTAH to feature three brand new arrangements of the signature tracks.
tant touring, the songs took on a life of their own, and these arrangements
better reflect the songs as they are today. Teaming up with Republic gave Jonathan and
Zach the chance to add to the album without sacrificing what was special about the
TAH. It was a chance to go back and record the growth that has occurred over
the past year, and add to an already strong collection of recordings.
Heading out on the road somewhere... exploring far more than just that thousand
plot of land Jonathan an
d Zach look towards the future with UTAH.
From their beginnings as Brooklyn-based experimenters to one of the most acclaimed bands of the 2000s and 2010s, TV on the Radio mixed post-punk, electronic, and other atmospheric elements in vibrantly creative ways, and are both visual artists as well as musicians. The group began when multi-instrumentalist/producer David Andrew Sitek moved into the building where vocalist Tunde Adebimpe had a loft; each of them had been recording music on his own, but realized their sounds worked well together. Sitek's brother Jason began playing drums and other instruments with the pair during their recording sessions, which resulted in OK Calculator, a self-released disc of four-track recordings. Jason Sitek left the band for a short time due to other musical commitments but returned to the band when it recorded its Touch & Go debut, the Young Liars EP.
After the EP was completed, TV on the Radio added guitarist/vocalist Kyp Malone to their fold. Young Liars, which also features the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Brian Chase and Nick Zinner, was released in summer 2003 to critical acclaim, coinciding with their gigs opening for the Fall. Their first full-length release, Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, arrived in spring 2004. The band remained busy for the rest of the year, embarking on its own tours as well as dates with the Faint and the Pixies. That fall, they released the New Health Rock EP and won the 2004 Shortlist Music Prize.
In 2005, the band kept busy with touring and returned to Sitek's Stay Gold studio to work on its second album. They also made an MP3 criticizing President George W. Bush, "Dry Drunk Emperor," available on their website. TV on the Radio signed with 4AD for European distribution of their albums and moved to Interscope in the U.S. In summer 2006 they resurfaced with Return to Cookie Mountain, a more polished but still searching collection of songs that featured David Bowie on backing vocals. The band went in a sleeker direction on 2008's Dear Science, which featured cameos from Antibalas and Celebration's Katrina Ford.
The band went on hiatus following Dear Science. Malone worked on his own project, Rain Machine, and appeared on Iran's 2009 album Dissolver, while Sitek formed the collaborative pop project Maximum Balloon, which released its self-titled debut in 2010. As planned, their hiatus ended the following year, and TV on the Radio released their fifth album, Nine Types of Light, early in 2011. In March of that year, the band announced that bassist Gerard Smith, who had joined the TV on the Radio lineup in 2005, was suffering from lung cancer; the following month, on April 20, 2011, Smith passed away at the age of 34 as a result of the disease. Later that year, the band released World Cafe Live, taken from a set recorded for National Public Radio. Late in 2014, TV on the Radio returned with Seeds, a hopeful, streamlined-sounding set once again featuring production by Sitek. ~ Heather Phares
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Building on the rapping style of eccentrics Kool Keith and Del the Funky Homosapien, Def Jux headliner Aesop Rock became one of the hottest MCs in the post-millennial underground. After a pair of self-released LPs (Appleseed, Music for Earthworms), he recorded Float for Mush in 2000. The former Ian Bavitz then issued a pair of singles -- "Coma" and "Boom Box" -- for another underground rap label paragon, Definitive Jux. His second full-length, 2001's Labor Days, earned positive reviews and featured production from El-P and Blockhead. The Daylight EP kept his name in the papers, and his Def Jux follow-up, Bazooka Tooth, was released in September 2003. A seven-track EP, Fast Cars, Danger, Fire and Knives, followed in early 2005.
In early 2007 Aesop Rock composed a 45-minute piece for Nike's Original Run series, a continuous track meant to be listened to while jogging (other artists included LCD Soundsystem and the Crystal Method), and by September his much-anticipated full-length, None Shall Pass, which included guest appearances from El-P and John Darnielle (from the Mountain Goats), came out. A year later, Def Jux would be put "on hiatus" by label head El-P, but Aesop would remain busy, producing major works like Felt's 2009 effort Felt 3: A Tribute to Rosie Perez and working on a collaboration with the Moldy Peaches' Kimya Dawson dubbed the Uncluded. He would return to his solo career in 2012 with Skelethon, released by the Rhymesayers label. The album featured a guest appearance from Dawson along with Rob Sonic and Allyson Baker of Dirty Ghosts. ~ Greg Prato
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Though South Florida doesn't have the tides to shoot the curl, West Palm Beach's Surfer Blood fuse sunny surf rock charm with indie rock cool. Guitarist/vocalist John Paul Pitts and drummer Tyler Schwarz had known each other since high school; they started playing together and connected with guitarist Thomas Fekete, bassist Brian Black, and percussionist Marcos Marchesani at an Ultra Music Festival after-party, officially becoming Surfer Blood in spring 2009. They began recording and touring almost immediately, laying down tracks in Pitts' apartment and embarking on four tours in their first five months together. The buzz around the band began in late August after Surfer Blood played a show at the Brooklyn venue Bruar Falls; when they returned to New York that fall for the CMJ Music Marathon, they played ten shows. Tours with Art Brut and Japandroids kept Surfer Blood busy for the rest of 2009, and their debut album, Astro Coast, was released in early 2010. Later that year, the band signed to Warner Bros., but released the Tarot Classics EP on Kanine in 2011. The band's polished major-label debut Pythons appeared in June of 2013. ~ Heather Phares
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Rather than the usual bombast or snooze-inducing "relaxation music," the U.K. six-piece known as Clean Bandit mash classical music and pop forms for an airy and dreamy yet driven sound that's like the chamber music version of house music. The group's four core members were known as the Chatto Quartet, a classically trained string quartet that performed J.S. Bach and cited Jacqueline du Pré as an influence, but their post-show, wind-down music often consisted of garage, 2-step, Craig David, and Arcade Fire tracks. The quartet members were aware of both producer Jon Wandeck and MC Ssegamic through the duo's work in photography, and when Wandeck suggested they play on one of his house music cuts, Clean Bandit were born. With MC Ssegamic on the mike, they released the classical-meets-house-meets-hip-hop-meets-heartbreak song "Telephone Banking" in the summer of 2011. Their Dance Armstrong mixtape followed in 2012, while 2013 saw the release of their Mozart's House EP. "Mozart House," the song, also landed on their album New Eyes, which was released by the major label Atlantic in 2014. ~ David Jeffries