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August 22, 2014

Listen Up! BANKS

The definition of chanteuse is a songstress—more specifically one who sings in a nightclub. It’s that extra distinction that conjures up dimly lit, smoky venues where a beautiful woman slinks onto a tiny stage and delivers a tour de force performance to a select few.

Jillian Banks—aka BANKS—is most definitely a chanteuse. Even though she’s performing for much larger audiences, like the ones at a little festival called Coachella or at a recent mini set on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” she brings that sultry, mysterious energy that undeniably earns her the label.

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August 15, 2014

Listen Up! Lace Curtains

Music, like fashion, is pretty cyclical. Trends and sounds resurface, sometimes in new ways, and sometimes as a straight-up knockoff of their originators. We’re all about the well-executed homage, whether it’s a scrunchie cut from pretty new fabric or a contemporary band reaching back several decades to mine the minimally cool sounds of the early ’80s—like this track “I Can’t Wait” from Lace Curtains (the brainchild of Michael Coomer).

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O Canada, we’re on our way! On September 19, we’ll open our first-ever Canadian location just east of the Rocky Mountains, in the stunning city of Calgary.

As we eagerly anticipate that day, we’ve been checking out all kinds of things that make Calgary cool. Take, for instance, singer-songwriter Chad VanGaalen. The Calgary native is a creative juggernaut; not only does he have several mind-expanding albums to his credit—the latest, Shrink Dust, was released on Seattle’s very own Sub Pop Records—he’s also an illustrator, filmmaker and producer. (His home studio is brilliantly named “Yoko Ono.”) Oh, AND he directed a video for label-mates The Head and the Heart earlier this year. So, yeah… NBD.

Read on for our concise yet illuminating interview with the hyper-productive VanGaalen.

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After a 4th of July weekend filled with sun, fun and crazy-loud fireworks, we’ve been in mellower mood lately, including our listening habits. So we were pretty thrilled to stumble upon Woman’s Hour. The stylish British quartet—fronted by gamine beauty Fiona Burgess—crafts smart, modern music that’s been aptly described as swoon-pop.

We asked Fiona a few questions about their sound, the very cool video for their single “Conversations” (also the name of the soon-to-be released record) and what it’s like to be in a band with your brother.

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Long, long before the phenomenon of fashion vlogging gobbled up our YouTube feeds, there was the fashion “cinemagazine,” that quirky little newsreel that preceded a feature film in theaters. Devoted to the leading fashion trends of the day, these vignettes mixed campy with quaint to break down high-society style for those without a Vogue subscription. Viewers, nestled in their seats to relish Breakfast at Tiffany’s, could brush up on their sartorial savvy with the latest intel on chaste sleepwear, novelty swim caps and all-year tweed.

Although any vintage fashion vid carries some degree of charm, we especially loved this particular footage showcasing a killer bounty of shipboard-chic ensembles. From metallic pointed-toe flats and baroque-print ankle pants to caped floral ball gowns and deep-cuffed capris (who knew you could stow your sunnies there?), it’s everything Holly Golightly would have packed for an ocean liner if she’d set sail for Brazil.

Emma Zaratian

Whether you’re getting out of town for the weekend or clocking some hammock time in your backyard, here’s hoping you have a fun, festive (and most importantly safe!) Independence Day filled with friends, family, great food and even better tunes.

And while we realize there are plenty of obvious songs to choose from—apparently some are even regional—we wanted to celebrate with something a little… less expected. Something you can dance to, something everybody knows the words to (or at least they’re easy to learn) and maybe something that also has a video with a healthy dollop of slick ‘80s style.

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We love a good cover song. Hearing an artist’s take on something you already know (and possibly love) is always interesting, especially when the original tune gets turned on its head.

So we were super-excited to check out country singer Sturgill Simpson’s cover of “The Promise” by When In Rome. The song is one of those ’80s one-hit wonders, a synth-driven dance track that put the band on the charts in the latter part of the decade.

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June 13, 2014

Listen Up! Passenger

When you’re planning your wedding, there are a million and one details to check off your list, from where to have it to what to eat to whom to share the day with and so on. So in an effort to help out all those overwrought brides and grooms who’re getting close to the big day (’tis the season, after all), we’ve found the PERFECT song for your first dance: “Heart’s on Fire” by English singer-songwriter Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg).

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All-female bands—like where they actually play their instruments—are a bit of a rarity in the rock world, but all-female bands that formed when its members were in middle school? And are still playing together six years later? File that under “crazy rare.” So we were extra impressed when we heard about SF quartet the She’s.

As we mentioned, the ladies started playing together as tender adolescents with an affinity for another youthful Bay Area girl band, the Donnas. Fast-forward to today and the She’s have blossomed into polished musicians whose latest EP, Dreamers, is full of sparkly, ’60-infused pop that’s as magical as a sunlit afternoon in Dolores Park.

We grabbed a moment with Sami, Hannah, Eva and Sinclair (yes, their first initials spell out their band’s name!) to talk a bit about music, San Francisco and the rad Christin Turner-directed video for their single, “Dream Girl”.

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May 23, 2014

Listen Up! Tom Vek

Tom Vek likes to take his time. The London-based multi-instrumentalist has been recording music, DIY-style, for over a decade but has only released three proper records—the latest of which, Luck, drops on June 10.

Fortunately for us, that old adage “good things come to those who wait” is very much in play here. For the first single, “Sherman (Animals in the Jungle)”, Vek draws upon and deftly combines a range of influences, such as Entertainment-era Gang of Four, Gary Numan and early Talking Heads—culminating in a super-catchy, bass-anchored track that’s punctuated by bold synth blasts and topped by Vek’s bratty baritone vocals.

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