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The ShondesThe Red Sea: Formed in 2006 after violinist Elijah Oberman and bassist Louisa Rachel Solomon’s former band broke up, they recruited guitarist and friend Ian Brannigan while the three attended The New School in NYC. Then, while protesting the Republican National Convention in 2004, drummer Temim Fruchter was added and the band became solidified. On a summer national tour in 2006 and a spring tour in 2007 two demo EPs were sold and distributed until the self release of their debut album The Red Sea in 2008 hit the ground. Recorded at Studio G in Brooklyn and produced by Tony Maimone of Pere Ubu and They Might be Giants it was met with gobs of positive reviews and even featured a guest performance by Brian Dewan on keyboards. The album features the song, “I Watched the Temple Fall,” one of the first original songs the band wrote collaboratively arising from conversations about the meaning of the Jewish holiday Tisha B’Av. The members of the band work closely with NYC activist group Jews Against the Occupation that is an organization that advocates peace through justice for Palestine and Israel. Their mix of confrontational political punk and Jewish music created a new sound and Heeb Magazine called it the “most anticipated Jewish record of the year.” The band stirs controversy for its members’ outspoken radical politics especially those centered around the Israeli-Palestineian conflict. www.shondes.com 4.0 McRiprock’s

The Avett BrothersLooking for I and Love and You: This is their big label debut with a its 13 songs that are delivered in a style that defies stereotyping, but could be described possibly as a roots amalgam of folk, country, bluegrass, rock and pop with even a jab of punk thrown in between. Their songs have a naked honesty about them and their shows are rousingly intense and because of this, legendary Rick Rubin signed the Avett Brothers (consisting of brothers Scott and Seth, plus bassist Bob Crawford) to his American Recordings label in 2008.  Rubin says, “As soon as I heard the depth in the singing and songwriting, I was in for the ride. Their songs have such a sincere emotional resonance. The purity of the messages stops you in your tracks. It’s unusual to hear such open-hearted personal sentiment from young artists today.” Before Rubin, the Avett Brothers had done quite an impressive job— already issuing five full-length albums and two EPs on their manager’s Ramseur Records label. They debuted in 2001 with a self-titled 6-song EP and then went for a full-fledged album. Their latest release pre-Rubin, an EP called The Gleam II reached an impressive #82 on the Billboard’s Top Albums chart in 2008—not too shabby for an independent CD with little marketing and promotion behind it. Formed in 2001 in Charlotte, NC when banjoist Scott Avett and guitarist Seth Avett joined forces with standup bass player Bob Crawford. They began with a neo-punk band called Nemo. They eventually began to feel the tug of acoustic music they’d heard growing up and in 2001 they launched the Nemo Back Porch Project for which they added upright bassist Crawford.  Their Avett Brothers, Rubin backed release is out late September, but in early July they released a snippet of their record with “I Love and You,” an astounding track that is heartfelt and simply beautiful. www.theavettbrothers.com

5.5 McRiprock’s.

A Bad ThinkSimple Rhymes: Based in Virginia beach, the band is a studio-only project that delivers richly crafted musical texturing with airy and heartfelt vocals. The conceptual basis of the band is the exploration of the bittersweet sides of love, death and sadness with the intent of making the listener see these things in a positive light. Three years after their self-title debut, the band has released a new collection of songs. They rely on a highly polished production aesthetics covering a broad spectrum of sounds with an energetic progressive rock and new wave sounds that harkens back to the best moments of the 80’s, but they also have mellow flashes of acoustic guitar and acappella vocals. www.myspace.com/abadthink

3.5 McRiprock’s

Nine EvenSeamsan Over: Defying convention and drawing on elements and influences from across the spectrum of the modern, they hit hard with unique sounds and arrangements that pay homage to may of the greats while in the process creating a sound of their own. The word “Seamsan” is Gaelic for hesitation, appropriately named after spending over seven years writing and producing this debut release. They are a tight group of players that each add their own flavor to the mix. Guitarist Mike Lauchli and drummer Scott Garrett hold down the core of the group while the dynamic front man Chris Chard has a vocal sound that fuses the inflection of Tool and Incubus. He also assists with the keyboards and programming for the record. They also draw influence from groups like System of a Down with complex arrangements, epic buildups and unexpected song forms. They include an industrial bite to their tracks that are similar to Nine Inch Nails and the create use of sound design similar to Radiohead. Songs like “Search” and “SKRape” are full-force musical assaults, but there are also more mellow track such as psychedelic ballads like “Bumblebea” and “Friend of Friend” bringing the band’s full spectrum out. www.myspace.com/nineeven

4.0 McRiprock’s

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