"Are you digging our laid-back vibe?" Band of Horses band leader Ben Bridwell asked the audience during the group's recent concert at Seattle's Moore Theatre. Following their recently released live recording, Acoustic at the Ryman, Bridwell and company chose to perform very loose, rootsy interpretations of their most well-known songs, often gathering the core string players — Bridwell, Ryan Monroe and Tyler Ramsey — around a single microphone, old-timey style.
The instrumental music San Francisco's Scott Hansen makes as Tycho splits the difference between post-rock's melodic architecture and pop ambient's immersive, uplifting environments. Hansen's aims felt a little harder to grasp on the sprawling Dive, the 2011 predecessor of his fourth album as Tycho, Awake. The latter is a slickly constructed album that finds him streamlining both his setup and his aims — the sounds he uses and how he deploys them are more considered and purposeful.
Looking for a new violinist to fall in love with? Meet Augustin Hadelich, the 29-year-old Italian-born son of German parents. On his new album, to be released March 11, he pairs two searching, seemingly disparate violin concertos — one classic and one contemporary.
Heavy psychological difficulty is a hot theme in chart-topping hip-hop these days, with artists like Eminem and Rihanna making Al-Anon worthy testimonies to codependency, and Macklemore vying for soberest man in all of pop. Joining them could be Seattle's Raz Simone — he's part of a scene within the local rap sphere there looking to do national numbers, a new ambition in the city, post-"Thrift Shop."