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New Releases from Audio Moonshine, Audra Connolly, Edmond Dantes and Oso Negro

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Fall is a busy time for new music releases, even here at home.

Last week, local quartet Audio Moonshine released its sophomore effort, The Speakeasy Sessions. It's a clear follow-up to AM's 2008 Let's Be, with the Americana/country/'90s rock combination the band has become known for. Check out the video for new track "Check Out" at audiomoonshine.com.

Another new addition on Record Exchange shelves is No. 2 in Edmond Dantes' discography: the five-track Juno, which includes four new songs and a Dirty Moogs remix of "Decade." With Juno, ED's Ryan Peck and Andrew Stensaas deliver a small but multi-directional collection of synth-driven tracks (think Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark meeting Duran Duran in the 21st century) that illuminate their influences, experience and musicianship, as well as their drive to create original, difficult-to-categorize music. Stensaas' vocals are spot-on throughout Juno, adjusting to fit the mood, like in the strangely menacing "Just Drive" as he sings "I call you out / to find out / I break my arms just to hold you down." Todd Dunnigan added some "additional synth magic," and sax-master Andy Rayborn makes an appearance on "Sunset." Listen to Juno at edmonddantesband.bandcamp.com.

Oso Negro's Unkie Ois definitely deliberate. - ILLUSTRATION BY STORIE GRUBB
  • illustration by Storie Grubb
  • Oso Negro's Unkie Ois definitely deliberate.

In mid-September, the prolific black bear of hip-hop, Oso Negro, released Unkie O. Oso Negro, a.k.a. Steve Stein, used soul-music samples and a more deliberate delivery than on previous releases because he wanted to create a "classic hip-hop" album. Stein said with Unkie O, he was striving for something "more fun and accessible than some of the esoteric and psychedelic stuff" he has explored on earlier records, adding "although those latter elements are certainly present." The single "Strawberry Pie" has seen some radio play as far away as the Magic Valley, and on Friday, Oct. 3, Stein leaves on a 10-day tour, sponsored by local custom longboard company Sibbz that will take him and Illumneye crew member Ed Able across four states for nine shows. Listen to and download Unkie O--and check out the cool cover illustration by Storie Grubb--at osonegro.bandcamp.com, where Stein has a message for fans and newcomers alike: "It's your Unkie O here to provide some support, joy, and tough love. Let's take a ride and chop it up for a bit."

Listen to "R U Ready" from Unkie O here:

Yet another new local release out this month actually came from across the world.

In 2011, Audra Connolly was at a place in her life where she needed to make a change--and some money.

"I was performing and touring here," Connolly said. "But I was under this mountain of debt from school, and making records and just ... trying to be an artist. I needed to get a job." She went to South Korea to teach English at the Korea Poly School in Ilsan, about 40 minutes from Seoul. Though the move afforded her a chance to experience a different culture and put a dent in her debt, Connolly thought she would put her music on the back-burner.

"I thought I'd be there a year," she said. "And I thought, 'That's OK. I can take a year off and not lose any ground.'"

Connolly not only didn't lose ground, she gained. As one year turned into two, she had begun playing out, performing in clubs and busking, and as her third year in South Korea rolled around, she had new songs scribbled in her notebook, friends and connections, a cushion of funds and a new CD (plus a Korean distribution deal).

Slowly, which is out on Connolly's own Hole Heart Records label, is her second release and reflects both personal and musical growth--she has added tenor guitar to her repertoire--as well as how influential her time in Korea truly was: two of the song titles on Slowly are in Korean and the first track, "Korean New Year," is children reciting a sing-song chant.

Along with Slowly, Connolly has another chronicle of her time in Korea. While she was there, Connolly met young filmmaker Nils Bouvyer and together they made a short documentary, Seoul Heart (below), which shows Connolly navigating the city and, maybe more importantly, her songwriting process and her feelings about her music. Connolly calls Slowly a "memoir" but it is also a love letter to a city that has forever changed her.

The CD release party for Slowly is Saturday, Oct. 11, at the Sapphire Room. Tickets are $10-$15 and available at brownpapertickets.com. Connolly is also performing a CD release party preview at The Record Exchange on Thursday, Oct. 2, at 6:30 p.m.

Get more info at audraconnolly.com.