Thursday, August 18, 2022

Nora Brown - "Wild Goose Chase"

Photo via Facebook

It's not every artist that could pull off an instrumental, banjo only song for their latest single, but most artists aren't Nora Brown. The seventeen year old banjo prodigy has released a version of "Wild Goose Chase" that is just her on banjo, and the result is stunning. Just Brown's playing is completely captivating. Somehow with just banjo the song is heartbreaking and haunting, completely sucking in the listener the way most artists fail to with a full band and vocals. It feels kind of corny to say, but "Wild Goose Chase" is a story told through just a single instrument. Nora Brown is set to have a long career, and we can't wait to see where she goes from here.

In a Facebook post, Nora Brown says of her new single:

"Classic #virgilanderson track. A pretty regional tune. In the liner notes of his record, Virgil said he first heard this one as a teenager while at a logging camp. This one sometimes goes by Lost Gander."

You can listen to "Wild Goose Chase" below. Long Time to Be Gone is due out August 26 via Jalopy Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Nora Brown, check out the artist's website.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Luxury Deathtrap - "Evolve"

Photo by Mass Bass Media

Boston's Luxury Deathtrap have released a monster of a single with "Evolve." "Evolve" is a dark, moody alt-rock song that slowly burns for its six minute run time. It's a little too loud to truly be a power ballad, but it's at least power ballad adjacent. It's the kind of song that is such a slow burner that you almost don't even realize when it has erupted into a truly epic burst of noise, at least until it slows back down. "Evolve" is like a less arena ready version of Placebo. This is such a huge sound for a relatively new band that we can't wait to hear more.

Guitarist Nicholas McGowan says of the new song:

“‘Evolve’ is a song that centers around growth and tells a story of a person who has found themselves in a proverbial hell and has to grow to get out. I often write songs that reflect my experience and project it on a character but it always comes back and slaps me in the face. I take an experience and create a story in second person so the audience – ‘you’ – has something to grasp on to, but it’s really about my own personal struggles with falling into a cycle that has negative consequences. My way of reminding myself of where I have been is to sing these songs.”

You can listen to "Evolve" below. The song is a currently available via Bandcamp. For more on Luxury Deathtrap, check out the band's Facebook.

KRS-One, AZ, & O.C. - "Represent the Real"

To celebrate hip hop's birthday, Irish collective Stylistic Murder commissioned legendary MCs KRS-One, AZ, and O.C. on the song "Represent the Real." The song is a perfect tribute to hip hop as an artform. It has a ton of references to the old school days of hip hop (including record scratches and classic hip hop samples) but it doesn't sound like a throwback song. "Represent the Real" is a modern song that pays tribute to the past. Plus, any time we get a new verse from KRS-One is something to celebrate. 

You can listen to "Represent the Real" below. For more on KRS-One, check out his Twitter. You can find AZ's Twitter here, and O.C.'s here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

First Listen: New Releases for 15 August 2022

Artist: The Vandoliers
Album: The Vandoliers
Quick Thoughts: We've been fans of The Vandoliers for a while, and this latest album is yet another great rootsy effort. They're so good at what they do in so many ways that it's difficult to find much fault in it, but it's just such a fun, classic sounding listen in many regards that it's difficult to find much fault in it. If you like the country flavor of things, give this a listen.
Songs of Note: "The Lighthouse," "Bless Your Drunken Heart," "I Hope Your Heartache's a Hit"

Artist: Dead Horses
Album: Brady Street
Quick Thoughts: Dead Horses have been around for a while, but I'm new to them. This album impressed me over and over again, and I loved so many songs from it - it's the sort of listenable folk that should be more popular than it is, and I don't know why it took me so long to discover them. You will fall in love with this album, I'm pretty certain of it.
Songs of Note: "Brady Street," "It's All Good," "Ok Kid," "Under Grey Skies"

Artist: Lauren Balthrop
Album: Things Will Be Different
Quick Thoughts: Lauren Balthrop is also new to me, and I did love what this album is doing. There's a true lo-fi quality to it that is unexpected in a lot of ways, but if you can hear songs like "Get Lost" and "Piece of Shit" and not be enamoured, I don't know what it will take.
Songs of Note: "Get Lost," "Bringing Me Down," "Piece of Shit"

Artist: Rat Tally
Album: In My Car
Quick Thoughts: We like Rat Tally here and there are a number of awesome moments in their long-awaited debut. A nice slice of indie alt-rock, this balances the louder rocking stuff with some introspective softer songs, and I honestly think this would be a highlight in any week, not just a quieter release window. Absolutely take some time with this one.
Songs of Note: "Longshot," "Zombies"

Of note:

* Mariel Buckley - Everywhere I Used to Be (A number of great moments here.)
* Tobe Nwigwe - moMINTS ("'Round here, if it smell funny, onions getting peeled" is a great line.)
* Hudson Mohawke - Cry Sugar
* Tony Molina - In the Fade
* Ohsees - A Foul Form
* Kiwi jr. - Chopper
* Sylvan Esso - No Rules Sandy
* Danger Mouse and Black Thought - Cheat Codes
* Kelsey Waldon - No Regular Dog
* Workhorse - No Photographs


* Your Old Droog - Yodney Dangerfield
* 3l3d3p - PLYGRND
* Amythyst Kiah - Pensive Pop
* Young the Giant - ACT II: EXILE
* Texas Highway Killers - Texas Highway Killers

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* Danny Elfman - Bigger. Messier. (Truly chaotic collection of remixes and collaborations.)

Also out:

* Erasure - Day-Glo (Based on a True Story)
* Collective Soul - Vibrating

Live Shows: Here and There Festival, Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA 8/13/22

When I first heard about the Courtney Barnett curated Here and There Festival, I knew I wanted to attend. Courtney Barnett putting together a travelling festival with a revolving group of artists playing? When I saw our local one was being held at Mass MoCA in North Adams, which is one of my favorite festival venues, and was going to be one of the larger all day ones, and also included Hana Vu, Faye Webster, The Beths, and Lucy Dacus, all of which are artists I'll go see any time they play in the area? How could I miss this?

Despite having a logistical mishap on the way and missing Hana Vu, I was in great spirits. Besides the amazing musical line up, that was one of the great joys of Here and There: Everyone was happy. There was no aggression from everyone, everyone was nice and polite to each other, and everyone was just thrilled to be there. Even in the photo pit the vibe was just chill and friendly. I overheard two young women saying they drove twelve hours to be there because they loved so many artists playing Saturday. The entire day was just a joyful celebration. I feel way too hippy dippy saying that, but it was beautiful.

The first artist I saw of the day was Bartees Strange. I hate admitting this, but I haven't exactly been a fan of his. His albums are fine, but I just haven't connected with them. Maybe it's just been too pop oriented for my personal taste, but seeing him perform live was a revelation. His live show had an edge that is missing on his albums and the performance was still pop but with a lot more indie rock to it. Plus, Strange is one of the most compelling performers I've seen in a long time. You just couldn't stop watching or getting sucked in by his performance. I definitely owe his albums another chance after Saturday.

Next up was supposed to be The Beths, but I had missed the news that Men I Trust had pulled out two hours before due to COVID. Instead of The Beths, out came Caroline Rose, one of my most beloved artists who I was disappointed wasn't playing the North Adams show. Nothing against Men I Trust, but this was an unexpected delight for me. Rose played a brief solo acoustic set, playing mostly new unreleased songs or old unreleased songs. She talked so much between songs that she joked it was more of her stand up set than her musical set, but she's so damn charming no one cared. No matter what she played, this was an unexpected delightful surprise for the day.

The Beths played next, and seeing them play in front of thousands of people was a huge difference from the last time I saw them at the eighty five person capacity Atwoods Tavern, but their show was still special. There's just something about The Beths' music that feels intimate, even at an outdoor festival show. They seemed to be the first band that the crowd was already pumped to see before they started playing, and if anyone wasn't already they were by the end. Their blend of indie pop rock is incredibly well suited to an outdoor festival in a gorgeous setting. Back when I saw them in 2018 I had commented that I was looking forward to seeing the chorus of "Little Death" sung by a field of people. I didn't quite get that at Here and There, but it was close enough.

Playing between The Beths and Lucy Dacus might have been the perfect timeslot for Faye Webster to play in. Her brand of ultra laid back retro hip pop chilled out the crowd without losing anyone's interest. Personally I was starving at this point, so for me it was the perfect soundtrack for grabbing some dinner on top of the hill while watching the sun set behind the stage. Webster has some die hard fans who treated every song like it was the most vital one on the planet. She definitely made some more fans that night.

I've said before that Lucy Dacus might have the most dedicated fans in music today, and Saturday proved that die hard fanbase continues to grow. As an artist gets bigger, they seem to attract more casual fans who like a few songs and are more there out of curiosity. Not with Dacus. Each new fan is just as die hard as the ones before. I haven't seen thousands of people as transfixed on a single performer like this since Tori Amos in the 90's. At this point in her career, Dacus' set was like a best of album. Songs like "VBS," "Hot & Heavy," "Brando," "Thumbs," "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore," and the closer of "Night Shift" are all from just three albums released in just a five minute period. For a cover, she performed her recent dreamy cover of Cher's "Believe," and to close out the show "Night Shift" became a sing-a-long/shout-a-long for the thousands of people in attendance. Walking around the crowd after the set, I overheard a large number of people talking about just bursting into tears during "Night Shift," even people who had never heard it before. "Night Shift" is a gorgeous, moving song, but there was just something in Dacus' performance that night. It's very rare to think you just watched someone become a true star in one performance, but that's what Lucy Dacus did Saturday night.

Closing out the evening was festival curator Courtney Barnett. Playing after such amazing sets by Lucy Dacus, Faye Webster, and The Beths should have been a rough task, but Barnett nailed it. Her 90's style loud slacker indie rock was the perfect thing to keep a tired crowd going. Her entire vibe was completely different from anyone else playing. That was what worked best about Here and There: Every artist was completely different but they all fit perfectly together. Songs like "Avant Gardener," "Elevator Operator," and "Depreston" are just perfect live. Towards the end of her ninety minute set, Barnett was joined by Faye Webster for "An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)" and then by Bartees Strange for "Pedestrian at Best" and "Nobody Really Cares if You Don't Go to the Party." It was an epic set of music for sure.

What might have summed up the night perfectly happened after the concert ended. Courtney Barnett walked off to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," and while the majority of the crowd started filing out, hundreds of indie rock fans danced wildly to the music in the field without a trace of irony. Just music fans celebrating a joyful day of music in the happiest way possible. And that's what Here and There was all about.

Bailey Miller - "222"

Photo by Vy Pham

Cincinnati, OH's Bailey Miller has a unique take on the electronic/ambient musical genre. Her latest single, "222," is a laid back sonic soundscape of odd noises and her vocals. Miller keeps a much more organic sound than you typically hear with electronic music. A lot of the instrumentation sounds more acoustic and folk than computer generated, which gives "222" a more organic feel. It almost lands more in the experimental folk category, but not quite. As beautiful as Miller has made this song, it's still a challenging listen at times. It's great to hear the beauty of experimental music and not just the noise.

You can listen to "222" below. Still Water is due out September 2 on Whited Sepulchre Records. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Bailey Miller, check out the artist on Instagram.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Live Shows: Grizzlies, Tysk Tysk Task, JVK, and Car Girlfriend, News Cafe, Pawtucket, RI 8/12/22

On a fairly last minute whim, I ended up heading down to Pawtucket, RI to see Tysk Tysk Task at the News Cafe. Sure, this would be the... fifth (?) time I've seen them since April, but Samantha Hartsel and Danni Gannon just keep improving with every show while still tinkering with songs each and every time. If I had a free Friday night, how could I miss it?

Opening the show was Car Girlfriend. They had a very raw funk meets metal and alt-rock sound. Some songs were almost pure funk while others were almost pure metal, with other songs being nearly every step in between. Plus, with vocalist Garrett Hopkins mostly rapping during songs, it reminded me of a very, very early Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not many bands can pull off the party band vibe while still blasting an angry song called "Cop Killer" (not a Body Count cover, by the way), but Car Girlfriend pulled it off.

Next up was JVK, which I can't tell if it's a solo project or a band based on their social media. JVK play this interesting mix of straightforward alt-rock with a much noisier sound and an almost pop meets goth vibe. They continued the aggressive yet fun theme of the night. It's definitely music that's somewhat mosh friendly while still being nearly pop, even if no brand of pop is quite this noisy. It's always fun to see younger bands play around with styles and sounds to make their own.

I should be bored with seeing Tysk Tysk Task by now. A lot of bands will come around once a year and I'll skip it since I just saw them the year before. But something just connects me to their music. Hartsel seemed much chattier than normal on Friday evening and explained the stories behind a few songs. "Flies," which is quickly becoming a favorite, was written at the beginning of the pandemic when she was afraid to leave the house to bring out trash. The pairing of "Working On It" and "Working It Out" is starting to insert itself into my brain permanently and is haunting my waking hours. It was also the first time I saw "On My Own" live, which is just mesmerizing. When performing live, Tysk Tysk Task are developing a connection similar to The White Stripes, but more of an equal partnership. Their songs have a specific structure to them, but Hartsel and Gannon improve off each other with a comfort that you usually only see with musicians that have played together for years.

Closing the night out was Grizzlies, another band that had a familiar yet unique sound. They had a standard blues rock sound but mixed with indie rock. It was like Tedeschi Trucks Band and Lake Street Dive if they were filtered through 120 Minutes. To keep the Tedeschi Trucks band comparisons going, Grizzlies' singer had a voice far superior to what you typically get in an indie rock band, and their guitarist blew out these insane solos with an ease I've only ever seen with Derek Trucks. It's a great night when you can see four local bands all taking the familiar and transforming it into their own unique sounds.

Chico Romano - "Who Said"

Photo by Harry Sklans

Chico Romano, the New Jersey based artist formerly known as Professor Caveman) has released a new single under his new moniker. "Who Said" doesn't quite sound like anything else being made in 2022... or really any time at all. If I was forced to choose a decade, I'd go with the 1970's, but that's mostly because "Who Said" has a strong 70's funk meets Motown R&B feel. It's also fused with Tropicalia and vintage soul, with the whole thing giving off a bedroom pop texture. Chico Romano has crafted this wonderfully classic and vintage jam that still retains a modern indie/DIY vibe.

Chico Romano says of the new single:

"Have you ever been mistaken for somebody else? Chico tells his tale of love and confusion in this fantastical prog-funk ballad."

You can listen to "Who Said" below. Vol. 5 is due out October 7. For more on Chico Romano, check out the artist's Bandcamp.

Friday, August 12, 2022

beabadoobee Covers The Sundays

Photo via Facebook

We're fans of beabadoobee here at If It's Too Loud... Pretty sure Jeff is the bigger fan as I'm still pretending I don't love pop, even Bea Laus' blend of alt-pop. But even the most curmudgeonly aging Gen-Xer won't be able to resist beabadoobee's cover of The Sundays' iconic "Here's Where the Story Ends." Recorded for SiriusXM's Alt Nation, it's just beabadoobee's vocals and two acoustic guitars, and my dear lord... this is just dreamily perfect. I'm not sure if beabadoobee is doing it purposefully or not, but her voice almost perfectly matches Harriet Wheeler's on the original, right down to her inflections. The best part about this is The Sundays might get a little resurgence as The Kids go and check out the original.

You can watch beabadoobee cover "Here's Where the Story Ends" below. For more on beabadoobee, check out the artist's website.

Mightmare - "Easy"

Photo by Jillian Clark

While the previous single from Mightmare, the indie rock/dark pop project from Sarah Shook, was decidedly more indie rock, their latest single lean much harder into pop. "Easy" is a laid back indie pop song. It's relatively bare bones in the world of pop, and much more synth heavy than anything we've heard from Shook previously. It kind of sounds like an unreleased demo from one of your favorite 80's synth bands, recorded while they were just writing the song and before the huge hit sound was built into it. Of course, "Easy" is much more polished than a demo, but it has that stripped down and laid back vibe.

Sarah Shook says of their new single and video:

“[The single] is easily the most lighthearted song I've written. I felt like anime was the perfect way to tease the innocence and agony of exploring a new love interest.”

You can watch the video for "Easy" below. Cruel Liars is due out October 14 on Kill Rock Stars, and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on Mightmare, check out the band's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

October 19 – Charlotte, NC – Snug HarborOctober 20 – Atlanta, GA – 529October 21 – Greenville, SC – Radio RoomOctober 22 – Nashville, TN – The BasementOctober 23 – Knoxville, TN – Pilot LightOctober 24 – Columbus, OH – Rumba CaféOctober 25 – Pittsburgh, PA – Club CaféOctober 27 – Cincinnati, OH – Southgate House RevivalOctober 28 – Urbana, IL – Rose Bowl TavernOctober 30 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle