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NYC Record of the Month: Cuddle Magic - "Info Nympho"

Cuddle Magic, a 10 piece avant-pop orchestra split between Philly and Brooklyn, is about to celebrate the release of their third album "Info Nympho", which is available for streaming here. The band offers an array of soothing instruments (including glockenspiels, toy piano, and various strings and winds) along with the more standard guitar, bass, and drums. At once playful and haunting, the record thrives on the dual male and female vocals spinning intricate counter-melodies. The rhythm section provides a steady but never banal backdrop, while the less conventional instruments are allowed to take the forefront and guide the listener through truly stellar compositions. The variety of sounds, textures, and arrangement ideas, and the quality of the material showcase a band in its full maturity, mastering an impressive musical vocabulary, ranging from classical counterpoint to math rock influences, without disdaining occasional jazz chords and electronic elements. From opener "Disgrace Note"'s semi-robotic mallets in six fourths, to "Jason" (streaming below) and "Hadwrit", with their beautiful melody and organic arrangements featuring almost any instrument you can imagine, this is a record that manages to be original, moving and memorable - what else can you ask? Catch Cuddle Magic in Bushwick on July 13th, at a new venue named Muchmore. - Bob Raymonda

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Weekly Feature: Clouder - live at The Grand Victory on 07.14

Eric Gilstrap (vocals), Steve Spinella (guitar), Matt Revie (guitar), Max Goransson (bass), and Jim Wood (drums) unite under the name Clouder. The band has been quite prolific, releasing their EP, "Serious Business," last September and full-length record, "Freakin’ Out the Squares" in February. The Brooklyn-based quintet rustles up the sounds, auras and cover art inspirations of music’s decades past, saturating the already-spacey musical atmosphere with even more psychedelic effects, and injecting them with elements of surf and garage rock. Live, they are a force to be reckoned with - see them at The Grand Victory on July 14. - Read Meijin Bruttomesso's interview with the band here.

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Weekly Feature: The Ludlow Thieves - Live at Mercury on 07.12

It seems kind of random that an Iowa gospel guy, a classically trained musician and a Manhattan hippy got together in a band that actually makes sense. The Ludlow Thieves have been playing in NYC for less than a year with a sound that is hard to pin down: Alt-Folk? Classic rock with a rustic Americana feel to it? Whatever you call it, all that matters is that it sounds good - and fun. Dan, the lead guitarist and composer, brings a classical foundation, weaving in string elements and some of the harder hitting stuff. Danny, lead singer, carries the heart of the band’s sound in his voice. And Walker, the drummer, brings a tribalism to the band that you can hear in almost every song. See them at The Mercury Lounge on July 12. - Read Keith Putnam-Delaney' sinterview with the band here.

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NYC Artists on the rise: House of Blondes play Spike Hill on July 08

Here come House of Blondes. A groove-based synth trio, the band owes a heavy debt to ambient purveyor Brian Eno. Singer John Blonde especially sounds like the innovator from 'Here Come the Warm Jets' in the slow build of 'Do It Yourself (Landscape).'

As I understand it, Eno's ambient music works equally well when played in the background of a room as it does when closely payed attention to. This is the spirit behind tracks like 'Come Running'and 'Supermoon' (streaming below). These are songs that exist in their own universe of synth-generated noise and persistent drum machines that take on a life of their own as they evolve and develop over the space of over 9 minutes in some cases ('Love 2 B Looped'). A band that doesn't fit in with conventional pop formats, the time it takes to discover their soaring soundscapes is well worth the wait. See the group play this Sunday at Spike Hill at 7:30 pm with Photoreal. - Mike Levine

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Team Spirit plays 4Knots fest on July 14 with The Drums, Hospitality and Devin

The free all ages 4Knots music fest will kick off in high gear on Saturday July 14 from 1-8 pm downtown at the South Street Seaport. Browsing through the NYC based acts performing, we decided to focus on Brooklyn’s Team Spirit, since we covered all the other acts abundantly in the past (Devin, Hospitality, The Drums). This band's repertoire comprises boisterous and disorderly stompers that have the potential to inflame any rock'n'roll craving crowd. "Jesus, He's Alright!" (streaming below) merges 80's era Clash with the farfisa organ sound of Elvis Costello & The Attractions. The vocal phrasing and overall timbre, however lean more towards Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels of the mid 1960's. "Teenage Love" careens along at a similarly frantic pace, as a tale of initial love found inevitably derails and crashes. While "Fuck the Beach" (video here) weaves between the hard riffs and harsh lyrics of the verses to a bouncier surf-rock chorus. Headliners Archers Of Loaf, and Crocodiles round out an excellent day of free music in this (insane) NYC summer heat. - Dave Cromwell

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