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Review

The National Parks Plant ‘Wildflower’ For Spring

Utah quartet The National Parks released their single “Wildflower” in preparation not only for warm weather but also for their upcoming studio album of the same name. Expected to release June 19th 2020 (pushed back from April), the album Wildflower contains fifteen down-to-earth tracks that spread neighborly, home-grown feelings.

Budding talent

The four friends have toured the US from coast to coast since the group’s formation in 2013. Frontman and creator Brady Parks handpicked Sydney Macfarlane, Cam Brannelly and Megan Parks to create a folk pop group that introduces orchestral and electronic elements to create a unique alternative sound. The warmth of a familiar face in juxtaposition with the breathlessness of adventure make up a large portion of The National Parks discography. Their albums “Places” (2017) and “Until I Live” (2015) bring to mind well-known folk favorites who share the genre such as Of Monsters and Men, Young the Giant and Imagine Dragons.

Wildflower(s) in a world of music

In a recent press release, Brady said, “In my mind, a wildflower is something so beautiful that grows and blooms in unexpected places and under the wide-open skies. It’s natural. It breaks free from any mold. That’s how we felt with this song and album – we see ourselves as wildflowers in this vast world of music.”

The album is timely, given the current state of anxiety that has blossomed with the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. “There can be a lot of negative forces that can bring you down, but you can take that and continue to grow and bloom and be authentically yourself through it all,” says Parks. “[Wildflower is] an album about struggles and growth, hard times and faith, but with a message of encouragement that we can all get through anything and everything life throws at us.”

From the great outdoors to your headphones

The single “Wildflower” starts out with four beats of gritty distortion that fall way to a steady rhythmic drumming and hopeful piano. Parks’ gentle vocals carry listeners through the first verse, asserting “I must be planted for a reason.” By the time Macfarlane joins him on vocals at the chorus, the song takes on a buoyant, spirited quality. This is a track that will make fans feel surrounded by mountains even if they’re stuck on their couch during quarantine.


The music video for the track stays true to the group’s roots, shot near the band’s Southern Utah home. Director Jeremy Prusso took great care to embody the Provo quartet’s love of combining nature with music, utilizing wide cinematic shots of the beautiful, harsh landscape. At the end of the video, the four members have planted a cactus, the symbol of The National Parks. They walk away with a sense of finality, knowing their work has been done to plant hope in a barren place.

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Review

Magic Giant Brings HUGE New Single, “Disaster Party”

The new release “Disaster Party” from Magic Giant comes just in time to remind you how chaotic the end of the year can be. Luckily, their sunny indie folk will have you whistling while you work instead of tearing your hair out trying to finish that huge list of To Dos.

With the holidays right around the corner, it’s hard to remember the extreme heat that accompanied the catastrophic wildfires running rampant through LA. Magic Giant commemorates the strength through unity their neighborhood faced during this deadly event with their new single, “Disaster Party.”

A recent press release states, “The band was out in the valley recording at a studio that almost got consumed by flames. The neighborhood got together and created their own mini force and fought the fire themselves when needed.” The trio asserted, “The energy in the air wasn’t static. It was electric. For the first time it was not a neighborhood but a community. That kind of meeting, those real words exchanged, are a Disaster Party.

The boys that make up this frenzied, fun-loving group have made quite the impression since Magic Giant was formed in 2017. Austin Bisnow (lead vocals), Zambricki Li (banjo, violin, harmonica) and Zang (acoustic guitar, cello) may not have all come from the same town but they act just like brothers. In an interview with All Access Music, Bisnow and Li started recording music together before stumbling upon a Youtube video of Zang salsa dancing. “Austin and I were already friends​ when we found Zang. We saw him playing on stage with a mutual friend, looked him up and found videos of him dancing salsa. We were mystified! So we snatched him and we’ve been best friends since.”

With only one album under their belt, Magic Giant has made some serious headway, touring with well-known names such as The Revivalists, Vance Joy, Atlas Genius, and The Lumineers. They have also played at some of the biggest festivals in the United States, such as Coachella, Firefly, Electric Forest, and Lightning in a Bottle, earning them praise from DuJour as “the most festive band in the festival circuit, quickly becoming a must-see.”

What can you expect to see at a Magic Giant show? High energy, radiant positivity, and instruments upon instruments upon instruments. This group is difficult to classify as any one genre because onstage you’ll find (in no particular order) orchestral drums, banjo, trumpet, saxophone, harmonica, synthesizers, electric bass, cello, viola, violin, dobro, lap steel, mandolin, and more. It’s a lot to follow in addition to the near-acrobatics being performed by each member. Magic Giant is a group of performers and the audience is guaranteed entertainment.

Want to catch a show? You’re in luck because the boys begin co-headlining their United States tour with American Authors January 16th. Check out the following dates to see if they appear in a town near you:

12/4 – Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour (“Disaster Party” Release Show)

1/16 – Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club

1/17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer

1/18 – Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle

1/19 – Charlotte, NC @ The Underground

1/21 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West

1/22 – Knoxville, TN @ The Mill & Mine

1/23 – Charleston, SC @ Music Farm

1/24 – Orlando, FL @ The Beacham Theatre

1/25 – Tampa, FL @ The Orpheum

1/27 – Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live

1/28 – Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater

1/29 – Austin, TX @ Scoot Inn

1/31 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Van Buren

2/1 – Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory North Park

2/3 – Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades

2/4 – Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues

2/5 – San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore

2/7 – Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom

2/8 – Seattle, WA @ The Showbox

2/9 – Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory

2/10 – Salt Lake City, UT @ The Unino Event Center

2/11 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre

2/13 – Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater

2/14 – Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Hall Ballroom

2/15 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant

2/16 – Grand Rapids, MI @ Elevation at The Intersection

2/18 – Chicago, IL @ Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall

2/19 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement East

2/20 – Cincinnati, OH @ Bogart’s

2/21 – Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall

2/22 – Akron, OH @ Goodyear Theatre

2/23 – Pontiac, MI @ The Crofoot Ballroom

2/25 – Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club

2/27 – New York, NY @ Webster Hall


You can check out a video of Zang’s salsa here (we knew you were curious):

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Review Video

Bill Abernathy Releases Beautiful Single “Can’t Go Back” With Accompanying Lyric Video

Singer songwriter Bill Abernathy has just released a new single titled “Can’t Go Back” and has come out with a lyric video to accompany the track. The Kansas City, Missouri based artist has been rising in popularity with each song he releases. Bill grew up loving music, writing many songs as a teenager before taking a long break from it to raise a family and pursue a business career. After his kids were grown, he dove back into his passion for music and his dedication is really paying off! 

In 2017 his album Find A Way hit #5 on the Roots Music Report Traditional Folk Songs Chart. His most recent album Crossing Willow Creek is on the Itunes Top 100 chart. With an ever growing fanbase, Bill Abernathy has an important message to share with them in this new single “Can’t Go Back.”

“Can’t Go Back” Is A Feel Good Gem Of A Song

The new lyric video features cursive writing across a series of photographs and animated images that help tell his story. With very rich vocals and exceptional song writing, it is hard to not play this new track on repeat! Bill’s voice is majestic to listen to, as it’s both soothing and animated in a way that is beautifully complemented by the heavily featured guitar.

Bill Abernathy’s Music Is Undeniably Relatable

 The song has a very nostalgic feel to it with memories that feel very raw. He discusses revisiting your past, embracing it and learning from it, without trying to go back to it. He sings “I’ve been sitting around thinking about the good old days. All the good times we had and all the games we played. We didn’t know what we had then and our ignorance makes me laugh. I’m so glad that we can never go back.” This song is a true gem with a wonderful relatability to anyone who hears it! If you love it as much as we do, be sure to follow Bill Abernathy on social media. You can find him on Youtube, Twitter, Facebook and Spotify. You can also check out his official website!

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Review

Pezzettino Lays On The ‘Resin’


Resin by Pezzettino (the recording name for Margaret Stutt), with all respect is a brilliant album of compositions you just won’t find every day. Strutt is an amazing artist with so many ways to describe her voice and musicianship it’s a story all its own. This is her 11th album, so it’s really no surprise to finally hear such a high-quality artist. It takes a lot of time and effort to get around to the ears that appreciate such great talent. Making her way from Wisconsin to Oakland, CA with roots also planted in Milwaukee and Brooklyn, it’s a long way to the masses and I’m glad to be one of them.

These songs all have substantial melodies and fantastic lyrics, some dark, some bright but nothing offered is of filler status. Pezzettino takes you inside the mind from the outset with “Home” and right away you know this is a classical pianist underneath it all, and it’s important to have skills but it doesn’t mean anything without meaning and feeling, of which Strutt possesses bucketloads of as the track builds as it commands your attention, complete dreamy vocals and all. The piano flurries are a thing of beauty as well as the crashing cymbals on this fabulous opener.

“wikiHow” comes from another place altogether with the vocals fooling at first, before things pick up with amazing bridges of musical excellence beyond description. This also contains a trippy outro and goes down as one of the tracks worth the most exploration once heard. “If You’re listening” that is, and it’s an epic follow-up with an outdoorsy vibe. The lyrics own this track first and foremost, but its slightly percussive also does wonders on the senses and leaves you mesmerized. And don’t forget what she’s saying, “depends on who you are” and serves as the message.

By the time “Falling Down” comes into the picture, you’re fully captivated by the hypnotic quality of this album. This lovely track even contains some incendiary language to get the point across, that being one of pain which her music soothes and heals without question, especially on this stand-out number. At this point, it’s time for more fun with lyrics and storytelling about forgetting “How To” with one of the more uplifting tracks. Everything about it is jubilant and musically exciting with more crashing cymbals in the outstanding percussion.

“Virginia” comes along at just the right time as well, with a straight forward, traditional storytelling ballad that takes you even deeper inside the mind of Pezzettino with some basic musical backing around her showcased voice. And it seems to never end with “Shower Song” coming in to wash away more of the white noise of the world with a remarkably wry look at herself in a song that could be the second part of the previous track, even reflecting upon the first track on the album. By now the concept is clear and the last two tracks go to show you’ve been at home all along, with “Sleepless” resulting in “Cloudy Covers” on this well-crafted release.

You can find the album by Pezzettino on I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/resin/1448104204

-review by Scottie Carlito   

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Review

Mark Mathews Puts the Fizz in Folk with Upcoming EP

The recipe for success has long been an elusive formula to dreamers and doers alike. Abstract by nature and open to interpretation, there is frequent debate surrounding the vast and varying means to go about achieving one’s goals. Though a tangible guide to greatness has yet to be composed, perhaps the one key ingredient that can be universally agreed upon is a foundation of hard work and dedication. Picking up his guitar and putting these qualities to use, Mark Mathews stands out as a story of success in the quest for musical notoriety. Currently described as “arguably the hardest working solo artist in the UK right now”, Mathews is living up to this lofty title in preparation for his upcoming EP “Fizzy Beasts”.

Embracing Unexpected Inspiration

Set to release on April 5th, “Fizzy Beasts” is a prime example of the great things that can emerge from chance—and a little spring cleaning! Starting out with the intent to organize his London flat, Mathews chose to sell an old acoustic guitar he had acquired on a North American tour in 2017. Fatefully picking it up to play one last time, Mathews soon found himself with an emerging melody and the sparks of inspiration. Deciding to keep the guitar for a little longer, he set out to create a new and simplistically acoustic EP. Through a process of collaboration with friends and fellow musicians, Mathews began to add other instruments and electric flares resulting in a characteristically indie folk-pop sound.

In addition to the gentle acoustic twang featured in each of the six songs, listeners are also presented with uniting lyrical themes in the form of Mathews’ soothing vocals. Titles such as “Not Falling” and “In A Perfect World” hint at a sense of idealism and perseverance which gives “Fizzy Beasts” a mellow yet effervescent flavor that is undeniably uplifting. Continuing upon the journey to seek a greater good, the EP’s spring release date seems to highlight the concept of light triumphing over darkness in the season of rebirth. If you can’t wait until April 5th to get a taste of Mathews’ tranquil tunes, his previous releases will surely appease your anticipation throughout the wait. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that “Fizzy Beasts” will encourage Mathews to hold onto his guitar so it may continue to ignite inspiration well into the future.

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Interview

WHO ARE THE WOLVES OF CHERNOBYL?

When a band like The Wolves of Chernobyl describes their music as “Post Apocalyptic Folk/Weirdgrass,” it makes you curious about how it might sound. This is the creation of Tyler Nafe (vocals), Jon Seals (banjo), Michael Hauser (guitar, vocals), Ben Jobe (bass), Sean Fung-a-fat (drums), Victoria Olivares (vocals) and Dan Williams (mandolin, horns, accordion). These musicians have created something that is captivating, not just with their songs but also with their live performances too.

 

Nafe sat down with IBG to answer some question about the band. This is what he had to say:

 

Indie Band Guru: How did you all come together and is there a story behind the name?

Tyler: I was coming out of a project and a marriage at roughly the same time. I had spent years filtering my personal pain through song and I wanted to try a different way to do songwriting.

 

I’d watched this documentary called “Radioactive Wolves” about the resurgence of the black wolf in the Chernobyl fallout zone, and I took this metaphor away that in the darkest of times there is the potential to adapt and thrive. I folded that into the idea of writing folk songs written after the apocalypse.

 

It felt like apocalyptic thinking weighed on people; whether it was a nuclear holocaust, zombie apocalypse, celestial, religious, or environmental it seemed all over the zeitgeist. In the world of Days’ End (the world of The Wolves), that all went down essentially.

 

The first iteration of The Wolves was different with four vocalists and very sparse instrumentation. Those relationships fell apart, and I was left with commitments to meet, so I sought out talented or good people without much concern for what their style or instrument was. Had I found a strong toy pianist and glockenspiel player, that would’ve been The Wolves. So we adapted and thrived. Our banjo player encouraged me to keep it alive in his way, I found a drummer at a wedding and with him came our other vocalist. Through them, we found our upright bass player. Our guitarist I ran into at a grocery store; we’d grown up together in bands as kids, and after trying out a lot of people, he was the fit. Our utility guy was a friend who’s longtime band was dissolving, and he came in to add elements that were both intuitive, like mandolin and mold breaking.

 

So The Wolves of Chernobyl is a tongue in cheek look at existential anxiety that turned into a real look at my problems through the lens of this fictional character. There is a narrative and a story for these characters we portray that has evolved as the band has evolved. I think we became the concept at some point.

 

Which musicians have helped to influence your music and it’s sound?

As a writer, I got back into music because of “The Hazards of Love” by The Decemberists. That way of storytelling changed my thinking and led me away from that pure bloodletting style of songwriting eventually.  As a young man, I was greatly influenced by TOOL and other ’90s alternative acts. In my later years it was Coheed and Cambria and Circa Survive, then I loped back towards ’70s rock and ’80s pop.

 

Jon on banjo listens to Justin Townes Earle and Stringbean, Sean learned drums from reggae and punk, Victoria loved Gwen Stefani, Ben had been in big swing bands and country western outfits, and wedding bands, and he’ll listen to it all. Mike’s guitar owes something to his pop punk roots, but also prog rock ideas. Dan loves ska, and ’90s pop alt and he and I sometimes play games related to these bands. There is tension in all this, but it’s the tension on the string that when released plays a note.

 

You have recently released the album Eschatologies, can you tell us a little about it?

Eschatologies is all about the endings of things. It was meant to tell one large story, a problem we may redress in an Eschatologies special edition, in which the narrative is laid out in order. Thematically the songs stick together while bringing you very different types of songs while still sounding like a Wolves song. Most of the songs tell their own story and have their own morality.

 

“The Dragon of Round Rock” is about coveting the wrong things and dying alone in a bunker for it. “Persuasive Bullet” says that even in an advanced society power ultimately emanates from those who can apply force or violence, while continuing the tale of these lovers who try to escape their past. “w/half a disease” is about falling in love with someone in their manic phase and realizing that your rock is unstable, and that people aren’t even what they believe themselves to be. “This Terrible It’ is about how much I hate the cold and love shown through mercy killing, while also forwarding the narrative. Our “hero’s” friends die in that snow.

 

“Beloved Bones” is a song people contextualize for themselves so I am reluctant to talk about. It is about grief, holding on to grief, and letting go and building on the past. It also makes other statements about that, that’s mine to know. “All We’re Offered” is about taking care of each other, and it’s come to speak to me about the fleeting nature of that comfort. Love it while you got it. “Safe Harbor” is about knowing you are the threat to someone, but feeling safety with them where you don’t elsewhere. They are unattainable and were briefly attained. Those words exchanged still have a resonance.

 

“Clumsy Tongue” is about the lies in storytelling that actually tell a better truth. “Small Enough to Fit In Your Pocket” is a song that begs to be relevant after being left behind. “We Lucky Few” does a lot to build the world and worldview of the project; it’s the most Wolves song on the record from where I sit. “Eschatology” is a song about dreams lost, the lies in our prophecies, and being excluded from helping the people you love. All throughout the songs are about the endings of things big and small.

 

The band has been gaining an impressive reputation for your live shows. What can people expect when coming to see you perform?

I think our live performances are all about energy. In some shows, they have the fire of a revival service and sometimes it’s just circus theatrics, but when we do both it is electric. I think there is also the sense that with so much going on, the audience is wondering when the wheels are going to come off, and when they don’t, they’re a little stunned.

 

But as we develop more into the characters and give more to that side of things, I think it’ll frame the ideas behind the songs better. You’d think people wouldn’t get it, but folks are way nerdier about pop culture than any time in my reckoning. They get it. But we have to be the choir leaders and give the audience their cue that it’s alright to dance, sing out at us, cry, laugh, mosh, whatever. Let them know that here they’re free.

 

Talking about performing live, which is the bands favourite song to play at shows.

It depends on the night, but most consistently it’s “The Dragon of Round Rock” for its big intros and tribal outro. I’m usually up high by then. “We Lucky Few” is so raucous by the end and is so emblematic of us that it is fun. “Small Enough to Fit In Your Pocket” can be beautiful when the crowd sings it back, especially if they feel it the way they do. Lately some newer stuff like “Fresh Meat,” a song about cannibal ghouls, or this song “Numbers Lie Too” bring a ton of energy to the party and those are great live songs to perform, as the lyrics often dictate motion.

What are the future plans/goals for you and your music?

The current idea is to create EPs in the form of story arcs that tell one specific story and generally are consistent in musical style. We have five of those planned out. One of those might be wrapped up in the Eschatologies special edition format. But we’ll be looking to crowdfund these arcs that follow the four horseman analogs after the worst has already happened. We tell those stories and show off the different versions of what The Wolves can do, but in such way that it allows people to pick and choose.

 

I’m interested in expanding access to the fictional universe through podcasts and graphic novels, but that’s meant to enhance the songs. We’re looking to do a music video very soon and are preparing for a U.S. tour in 2019 to support those arcs. We’d love to get overseas; our British friends tell us Europe would love what we’re up to, and I’d like to see that for myself.

 

The Wolves of Chernobyl are not just a band, they are a musical experience.

 

During the interview, it was clear to see how important stories are to the band. This is one of the standout elements from their latest album Eschatologies.  They are beautifully told by Nafe who is supported at times by Hauser and Olivares. The emotion and the range they bring makes these songs even more captivating. “Beloved Bones” shows off this magic at work.

 

Another element that makes The Wolves of Chernobyl stand out is their music. They bring a big sound which varies in tempo, which helps to keep the listener engaged. “Small Enough To Fit in Your Pocket” is a great example of this as you can hear a party like atmosphere. It also features some sublime work on the banjo by Seals. Not only that but as it slows down towards the end, you get treated to some more sublime vocals.

 

Overall, Eschatologies is a flawless album crafted by the love for the art. From a band, who love what they do.

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Review

ADMIRE THE ‘LANDSCAPES’ CREATED BY THE LONG WAR

2017 saw The Long War grab a lot of people’s attention after winning CBC Searchlight Music competition. Their entry “Breath in Breathe Out” wowed the judges with its captivating emotional tone and sublime vocals.

 

The band wanted to prove that they were no one hit wonder and went to work on their new album. This was inspired by the landscapes and environments that influenced singer/songwriter Jarrett Lee throughout his life. So the releases name Landscapes seemed a perfect choice. Together with Chad Gilmour (vocalist/guitarist), vocalist/keyboardist Jess Lee, vocalist/drummer Neil Williamson, and bassist Carson Webber they created something that would exceed fans expectations.

 

Starting off with the title track, this is a great introduction to those who are not aware of the music from The Long War. It brings back those wonderful vocals and emotional tone that was featured on their winning song. It also highlights the lyrical talent that is on offer. Especially with lines such as “I don’t fear truth / Lies are see-through / Why did I leave you? / When I still need you” which close the song.

 

 

The Long War has created an album that you not just hear, but feel too.

 

The album is built on an indie-folk foundation with a delicate soul. “Breath In Breathe Out” is a wonderful example of how their sound may be familiar but it is how it feels which makes this band stand out. There are times when they step away from these tender moments by injecting some energy. “Ghosts That Follow” highlights this different side.

 

If there is one reason to give this band a listen, it would be because of the vocals that are flawless during each track. Either from Jarrett Lee or when you get his interweaving duets with Jess Lee. There are many great moments when you hear these two at work, including “Lightning and Thunder”, as well as “Abigail”. Neil Williamson and Carson Webber also add some backing vocals.

 

Landscapes is an impressive album. If you are looking for one track to get you hooked, then listen to “Downtime”. It begins with an attention-grabbing acoustic guitar intro. The tender emotion throughout is stunning and one of those that you feel as well as hear. The delicate vocals from Jarrett Lee help to take this song to another level.

 

The Long War is a band to watch and we predict they will go from strength to strength.

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Review Video

Speak, Brother is ‘Young and Brave’ in Upcoming Debut Album

If you’re looking for indie folk rock music with meaning, Speak, Brother is it. They’re a new group from the UK giving gospel-influenced folk anthems a fresh face, and their debut record is dropping April 13.

 

Made possible by crowdfunding efforts, Young and Brave has been long-awaited, and it’s not going to disappoint. Speak, Brother channels their emotion and honesty into music with a welcoming sense of vulnerability.

 

As you listen to Speak, Brother, it’s understandable why their crowdfunding efforts were successful. They have that sound that made Mumford and Sons so popular, wrapped up in songs that are energetic and emotionally charged.

 

Speak, Brother’s Young and Brave Explores Stories Through Powerful Music

 

For Young and Brave only being their first album, Speak, Brother has an impressive understanding of the sound they are aiming to produce.

 

The record opens with “Magnificent,” a track that transports the listener somewhere else entirely. At the beginning, the melodies are gentle and faded while the vocals enter strong and take the lead. Within a minute, the voice propels the song’s energy to a new level, and it swells to a swinging and upbeat groove.

 

It only continues to grow in intensity and passion throughout, embodying the “magnificent” spirit that it’s all about.


“Magnesium Burn” is a track that’s brimming with energy from the first moment. It’s a declaration of strength, proven by both the strong vocals and instrumental layers alike. “I’m not afraid,” the lyrics repeat, becoming stronger and more declamatory with each iteration.

 

A high point of the record is their single “Lions Roar,” which was actually featured as the official song of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Years later, it has found its place on Young and Brave.

 

The chorus is an anthem at its strongest, creating the motivation to stay strong and keep trying “as lions roar.” Polished for the full-length album, “Lions Roar” represents the musical journey that has led Speak, Brother to this upcoming release.


Speak, Brother’s debut full-length record, Young and Brave, is due out April 13.

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