Milk Crate #59

It's gonna get rocky.

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1“Brazil” – Declan McKenna (Live on Conan)

Genre: One-man Band

Bless Conan’s heart (or the person on his staff who digs this kid) for featuring Declan McKenna. The 17-year-old British singer-songwriter is emerging rapidly in well-deserved fashion. Some people can play the guitar. Some know how to sing. Others know all about looping and sampling. Declan is the wunderkind who made us all jealous all at once. Golf claps ensue.

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2“Spider in the Roses” – Sonia Leigh & Daphne Willis (ft. Rob the Man)

Genre: Blues Rock

You cannot ask for anything more from a song than what you get with “Spider in the Roses.” It’s one thing to hear dirty, grungy rock. It’s another thing to be wrapped up tightly in a web of Joan Jett style vocals and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club guitar hooks.

The song has that sound. It’s as though it was there all along, it just needed to be rediscovered and unfolded — like finding a $20 in your jacket pocket 2 years after it went through the wash. It’s magic, man.

Behind its haunting energy is an undisturbed poise that makes this a perfect wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing Nashville-bred track from just outside the box.

Sonia Leigh Official          ——————         Daphne Willis Official 

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3“Mockingbird” – The Quaker City Night Hawks

Genre: Rock

Crack a Budweiser — you’re officially a witness to a wonderful American marriage of 70’s blues rock (think Skynyrd, ZZ Top) with today’s southern rock (think My Morning Jacket). These Texas natives took rock music and added their own tinge of psychadelia and experimentation for an off-the-wall mix of heavy and light.

Hearing this literally made me get in my grandpa’s ’64 Dodge Sweptline pickup and drive through the Nevada desert with the windows down at a full bore 45mph, dammit. And it doesn’t stop with “Mockingbird.” Their latest album El Astronauta includes more eccentric hip shaking and head bobbing, and can be purchased here or here.

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4“Work” – Hotel for Strangers

Genre: Alternative

Hotel for Strangers are an L.A. band. I realize the stigma that phrase has. This is not cookie-cutter L.A. pop-rock, despite the head-turning hooks and candy-coated choruses. This is non-invasive, engaging alternative rock that pulses electronically and breathes organically.

Layer after layer, the song gradually builds while maintaining composure and reservation –something we’d expect from a veteran band. Hotel for Strangers makes it happen in one EP.

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5“Flowers In July” – Johnny Ashby

Genre: Singer Songwriter

Johnny Ashby is the hero of this Milk Crate — through the angsty “Flowers In July,” he takes on the back pain of the day so you can kick off your shoes and give the couch a good ol’ trust fall. This perfect alt-country painkiller rounds out our setlist like the final straightaway of a roller coaster that decelerates you into nauseous-free safety.

The song is his latest release, following his Cannonball EP. Check out his acoustic in-studio version of “A Life Ahead” here. It’s a stripped down Ryan Adams style performance, offering no room for deception — just talent.

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