Gus Englehorn "Dungeon Master"
Dungeon Master, Englehorn’s Secret City Records debut, is an outsider opus that sparkles with Dada spirit — a playful juxtaposition of isolation, alienation and mildish OCD. Surprising, paranoid, and studded with synths and strings, Dungeon Master is deeper than a cellar and blunter than a club — a shivering introduction to an artist who’s finally arrived. “I let my subconscious do the driving,” Gus admits, and as you listen to these 10 tunes, it’s difficult not to do the same: to sit back like a dog with a two-legged daydream; like a fisherwoman with her net; like a snowboarder with a mouth full of powder.
Before he made the record in a cabin in the woods, he lived in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he fell in love at first sight with a woman from Québec, a girl named Estée Preda, who plays drums like Moe Tucker on salvia. In those days, Gus was a professional snowboarder — crisscrossing the world as a weird and world-class talent, kick-flipping through videos, shredding the gnar, posing in corporate-sponsored sunglasses. Before that he lived in Hawaii — on a lava field off-grid, with his folks. And before that in Alaska — in a hamlet called Ninilchik, where his parents fished for salmon and he and his brothers ate moose and pizza, played Nintendo, and also pretended to be wizards.
For almost all of Gus’s life — from Big Island’s sunsets to snowy Utah pistes — he dreamed of being a songwriter. If he couldn’t be Dylan, maybe he’d be Daniel Johnston, or Frank Black and The Pixies, or maybe Darby Crash and The Germs. And when he finally emerged — first on 2020’s Death & Transfiguration and now here on the 34-year-old’s label debut — he had found a sound that was dark and delightful, fun and demented, packed with dynamics and the chug of a hysterical guitar.
David Quinn "Country Fresh"
David Quinn’s third album was born from a logo on a decades-old ashtray he found in a corner nook at Nashville’s Sound Emporium while tracking his previous record. The amber glass piece had seen better days, but it was the words “Country Fresh” imprinted on the side in its vintage font that grabbed Quinn’s attention. “I never stopped thinking about it and started using the phrase ‘country fresh’ to describe how I was living and all the things that I like. It just stuck with me and once I wrote the song ‘Country Fresh’ it ended up being the whole theme of the record.”
Armed with a dozen new songs after soaking up his new life in the woods, Quinn decided that for this album he’d up the ante and produce it himself. Returning to Sound Emporium with handpicked players, including Laur Joamets (Drivin N Cryin) on slide guitar and solos, Micah Hulscher (Emmylou Harris) on piano, Fats Kaplin (John Prine) on fiddle, dobro, banjo and harmonica, Miles Miller (Sturgill Simpson) on drums, Jamie T. Davis (Margo Price) on guitar and Brett Resnick (Kacey Musgraves) on pedal steel, the album was engineered and mixed by Mike Stankiewicz (Willie Nelson, Shooter Jennings, Jason Isbell) and mastered by John Baldwin Mastering (The Rolling Stones, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristopherson).
Alongside this star-studded ensemble, Quinn recorded a love letter to the midwest with tunes that tell stories of lost love, the open road, and finding one’s place in the world. Country Fresh is a collection of country-fried Americana gems corralled by Quinn’s singular voice and expertly-spun tales of heartache and triumphs amidst a vast midwestern landscape.
New Norde "Whatever’s Clever"
The members of New Norde used to make relatively shiny pop songs as 2000s New Hampshire seacoast stalwarts, The Minus Scale. This new project is a power-pop trio who shamelessly wear influences like Matthew Sweet, Nada Surf, Teenage Fanclub, and Guided by Voices on its collective sleeve.
Forming in the fall of 2019, the band spent 18 months remotely wood-shedding dozens of songs. On April 15th, 2022, New Norde will release their debut EP, Whatever’s Clever (Trash Casual / Mint 400); a selection of carefully crafted power-pop songs about growing up, getting out, taking a damn minute, and cake.
Tim Kasher "Middling Age"
Middling Age is the new album from indie rocker Tim Kasher, also known as the front man for Cursive and the Good Life. On his anticipated follow up to No Resolution, Kasher dives head on into the painful realities and struggles of navigating life as the years climb. Featured artists on the album include; Laure Jane Grace (Against Me!), Jeff Rosenstock, Jayson Gerycz (Cloud Nothings) and Macy Taylor (Bright Eyes, The Mystic Valley Band).