RBTS WIN is Javier Bolea and Cliff B. Worsham - a sample-based/psych-pop production duo heavily influenced by the sounds of soul and R&B. The band is known for their emotionally charged live performances using a feast of analog synthesizers, drum machines, guitars and vocals. The music they create has also been described as dark wave or chill-hop.
The group formed in 2008 shortly after Javier moved from his hometown of sun-drenched Miami, FL to the mountain oasis of Cliff's origins in Asheville, NC. After meeting through mutual friends the two quickly began exchanging song ideas and found that they had a special musical relationship. Javier speaks on their chemistry: "I feel like the juxtaposition of our worlds has everything to do with our sound and the energy we put out. The tropical beaches and these mystical mountains have truly met halfway within these creations."
The band has played with the likes of Toro y Moi, Future Islands, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Prefuse 73, Nite Jewel, Lazer Sword, Mount Kimbie, Blue Sky Black Death, Tanlines, MillionYoung, The Sounds, Marley Carroll, Foreign Exchange, Otto Von Schirach, Polyphonic & Serengeti and Foxy Shazam. They have also performed at Miami’s Winter Music Conference, Hopscotch Festival and Moogfest 2010, 2012 & 2014.
Spaceman Jones and The Motherships
Born of a shared creative vision, Spaceman Jones & the Motherships is the project of Davaion Bristol and Cliff B. Worsham, whose continuously evolving, collaborative sound comes out of a partnership in which talent meets resilience.
Both natives of Asheville, NC, the artists met after developing mutual respect for one another’s music. Although they didn’t grow up together, they share experiences of becoming adults in a broken system, where education often goes hand in hand with punishment and inequity. From these transformational fires emerged intelligent, acerbic, and ultimately hopeful rhymes, and sauntering, confident, and darkly joyful beats.
Kid Trails (of Toro y Moi)
As the bassist for Toro y Moi, Patrick Jeffords is accustomed to weaving in and out of richly textured guitars, hip-hop-inflected beats, boogie-down synths and precisely-organized chaos. But his main focus these days is Kid Trails, a songwriting moniker he started up years ago, back when he still lived in South Carolina and MySpace was a thing. He released a few songs, but nothing terribly formal or well produced.
That changed in 2014, when Toro y Moi finally stopped with its nonstop touring schedule. Jeffords released three EPs in two years, and, put out his first full-length album in 2016 and the outfit's latest effort Displace, which arrived this summer
There was a time when Jeffords did everything but play drums — a duty that always fell to Andy Woodward, also of Toro y Moi — but he calls Kid Trails a fully-formed band now. With Kid Trails Rising, Jeffords still handles the writing, singing, guitar, synthesizer, and much of the bass. But he lends out keys to Casey Mattson, and some basswork to Joe Costantini, who both also join for live gigs.
The result sounds like sunny, shimmery, California pop in a stereotypical-but-not-annoying sense. It jangles with lo-fi, psychedelic guitar, recalling the Kinks, Kurt Vile, and the Beatles.
Carolina dreamo quintet Pure Ghost floats a huge dark sound with a phantasmic aura that belongs in the streets of a major metropolitan city that never sleeps.
Heartfelt and hurried, sunburned and slouched, Daddy’s Beemer brings a classic college, slack rock vibe from their new home (and garage) in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Slow and Steady
Singer and guitarist Jacob Lawter strums sad chords as he croons sad songs — no dissonance, no noise, no knowing smirk. When his Nashville band Slow and Steady released 2015 debut, In Time We Belong, it felt like an emo revival — but It’s Alright, their most recent EP, feels different. More mature, or maybe just straighter, simpler. Certainly, all three songs reverberate with vague nostalgia as Lawter’s guitars glisten with a chorus-like shimmer.
If nothing else, Lawter’s lyrics seem more serene. In the first lines of “Without Thinking,” the EP’s opening track, he sings, “Now and then, I think back / To my worst year wistfully / And I wonder how I got here.” Before the end of the very first verse, however, he admits, “But I don’t think about those things much anymore,” and it becomes clear that Slow and Steady’s melancholy has burned off. “Without Thinking” is a satisfied sigh, a song about seeking and finding comfort, and it feels that way; though his guitar rambles like a long-lost friend desperate to catch up, Lawter sings at a patient, contemplative pace, his melody bright and sweet.
Though the rest of the EP’s seems a little more solemn, It’s Alright never loses this serenity. Take “Couple Gigs of Ram,” which tells a story of someone who loses a job after twenty loyal years. Despite these circumstances, its ornamental piano and amiable drumbeat keep the song from feeling too dire or desperate—and, like a Randy Newman or Andy Shauf song, keeps it focused on the characters, the conflict, the story. By contrast, the title track is all electricity and momentum — all mood — with its Rhodes piano and persistent bass, its skewering guitar lead. Here, Slow and Steady sounds more curious and unconventional than ever before.
Led by Miller Pelton, Gold Wave is a lo-fi surf rock outfit from Florence, Alabama via Greenville, South Carolina. The band released their stunning debut single, "Wrong Crowd", to critical acclaim in the summer of 2018 and promise more new material in the coming weeks ahead.
Tides In Transit
Last year, Greenville sextet Tides In Transit released five singles that displayed such a wide range of styles that you’d be forgiven for not realizing they were all done by the same band. They played everything from tricky mid-’80s-Rush-style time signatures (“Me & Monogamy”), to straightforward anthems (“The Words”), to synth-spiked progressive rock (“Lady In White”), to electronic funk-rock (“Slightly Dirty”).
The choruses might be all big hooks and catchy riffs, but the rhythms through the verses twist and turn in unpredictable directions. They’re a three-guitar band, but rather than trade in show solos, they prefer to explore complex melodic ideas, weaving riffs and melodies around one another with the occasional touch of icy synths.
More like a family than a band, Curfue is a soaring indie pop outfit led by Upstate musician Clarke Bolt that takes on lyrically depth songs full of comfort, doubt, life and beyond.
The title of the new EP by Upstate band Finding Freedom is “Genre Is a Social Construct" — and it’s a concept the band spends the five songs on the EP espousing. While there's certainly familiar elements in play, like big, warmly strummed electric guitar chords, moments of crunching hard rock, and even a touch of progressive rhythms and song structures, every song on the EP sounds entirely different from the one before it.
That’s not to say it doesn’t hang together. In fact, thanks to the production efforts of Andrew Oliver (from another Upstate band, Brother Oliver) and the mixing skills of Marshall Hewett of Charlotte, N.C.’s Transit Recording Studio, the sound is seamless and crisp, sounding for all the world like it was recorded, mixed, and mastered on a six-figure budget over several months rather than on a shoestring in a few weeks.
There’s an intricacy to the band’s songs that comes out with repeated listens, particularly with Hutson and Lindblad’s guitars. The two weave chords and solos so effectively that it often sounds like three or four guitars playing instead of two. And because Finding Freedom started as a trio with no drummer (and, in fact, the band still doesn’t have a full-time percussionist), the band’s arrangements have more breathing room than most traditional four-piece groups.