Friday, February 26, 2021

Wild Powwers - "...Sucks"

If you're a certain age, you have an expectation for any band that comes out of Seattle. On their latest single, Wild Powwers do not disappoint. "...Sucks" has a unmistakable grunge feel to it. It's loud and heavy guitar based rock. But as huge and noisy as the instruments are, it's the vocals that are going to determine if this is your thing or not. The majority of the vocals are screamed in a much more metal/thrashy way. At least, for the verses. The choruses have more of a groove, and are more mellow, despite the music not changing. The whole mixture sounds like Refused meets Dinosaur Jr. It's a giant sound that may make a disciple out of you.

You can watch the video for "...Sucks" below. What You Wanted is due out April 23 on Nadeline Records. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Wild Powwers, check out the band's website.

The Blips - "Throw Me Around"

Photo by Justin Pembrook

The Blips are a new band made up of members of established bands in the Birmingham, AL scene. (Members have been/are in Timber, Dead Fingers, Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band, Holy Youth, Bad Hops, etc.) The press release for their first single, "Throw Me Around," describes their music as pop punk. "Throw Me Around" isn't not pop punk, but it's hardly what you know as pop punk. There's a distinct Southern feel to the song, sounding like if Tom Petty went pop punk, or some of the Drive-By Truckers more straightforward songs. It might just be me, but I'm hearing some Brit pop around the edges, too. All descriptions aside, "Throw Me Around" is a killer rock song with unique vocals and killer guitar riffs.

You can watch the video for "Throw Me Around" below. The Blips' self-titled album is due out April 9 on Cornelius Chapel Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on The Blips, check them out on Bandcamp.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Kate Dressed Up - "Ride Home"

Philadelphia/New Jersey artist Kate Dressed Up just released their first new music in three years. The band's new single, "Ride Home," starts off as a beautiful, quiet little folk song. It's just Katie Miller's vocals and a lightly strummed guitar with some added strings, and that alone makes it a perfectly great song. After about a minute, the song truly kicks in, turning into a faster paced, more mainstream neo-folk song. It's a truly fun, upbeat song that is going to have you longing for warmer weather and (hopefully) outdoor musical performances returning this year.

You can watch the video for "Ride Home" below. For more on Kate Dressed Up, check out the artist on Facebook.

Janet Simpson - "I'm Wrong"

Photo by Jared Swafford

A lot of artists do the country rock thing, but few do it as well as Janet Simpson. Her latest single, "I'm Wrong," is exactly what you want from the genre: It's a little too rock to be country, and a little too country to be rock. While it's hardly pop country, it nuzzles itself into the pop side of outlaw country, reminding me of other favorites of ours like Nikki Lane or Tristen. It's also the perfect song for this time of year, as we're all longing for winter to finally end and warm weather to return. "I'm Wrong" is the perfect summer driving song, where you do have someplace you're going but why rush to get there? In five months or so, this song is going to end up on a whole lotta playlists.

You can listen to "I'm Wrong" below. Safe Distance is due out March 19 on Cornelius Chapel Records. You can pre-order a copy of the album here. For more on Janet Simpson, check out the artist's website.

Hit Like a Girl - "Boardwalk"

Image via Facebook

We've been digging Hit Like a Girl ever since we discovered the band back in 2019. Their new single, "Boardwalk," continues everything we've been loving about them. For an indie rock/alt-pop song, it sounds absolutely huge in the best possible way. It's wonderfully upbeat and bouncy, with a feeling of excitement and anticipation. The song is about a date singer Nicolle Maroulis went on at Christmas Town in Busch Gardens, so it's not quite a Christmas song, but Christmas adjacent enough to go on a playlist later this year. The song is ridiculously fun and beautiful, despite it being a fairly quick rock song.

You can watch the video for "Boardwalk" below. Heart Racer is due out April 2. You can pre-order the album via Bandcamp. The digital pre-order is only $1.00, so it's more than worth it! For more on Hit Like a Girl, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

The Natvral - "New Moon"

Ex-The Pains of Being Pure at Heart frontman Kip Berman has released a new single from his new project The Natvral, and it continues his movement away from his previous band's sound to a more folky one. In fact, "New Moon" is pure folk. "New Moon" is just vocals and acoustic guitar, leaning heavily on vocals. It's a lovely, quiet song that's definitely a strong divergence from his previous band's sound. The rock band frontman goes acoustic/folk solo act is a pretty standard trope, but no one is going to complain when it's done this well.

Kip Berman explains the meaning behind the new song:

"A friend of mine used to date a kind-hearted, but poor musician. At some point, their relationship ended and she went on to marry someone that offered a bit more stability - and asked me to sing a song at their wedding. I gladly sang the song she asked me to, but that experience led me to write another.

"I didn't mean to sympathize with her ex - though it's hard not to. And I didn't mean to say she chose something wrong for herself, because she’s better suited to her new person. But I just wanted to get at that moment when you know love isn't going to be enough, and it's time to say good-bye."

You can watch the video for "New Moon" below. Tethers is due out April 2 on Kanine Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Natvral, check out the artist's website.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Evan Greer - "Back Row"

Image via Twitter

Last year, Evan Greer opened my last show before live music went away for at least a year. Fittingly, their new single is an ode to live music. "Back Row" is a mournful alt-rocker about regretting watching shows from the back row and letting friendships fade. It's about missing mosh pits and screaming every word from the front row. Almost a year later, it's amazing how long ago this feels. "Back Row" goes from being a quiet, intimate song to an almost Springsteen sized anthem. And it's going to make you desperately miss live music, even more than you already do.

You can listen to "Back Row" below. Spotify is Surveillance is due out April 9 on Get Better Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Evan Greer, check out the artist's website.

Dinosaur Jr - "I Ran Away"

Photo by Cara Totman

It's official: Dinosaur Jr have finally slowed down. Considering they've been a band (off and on) for nearly forty years, it's expected. But, judging by their new single "I Ran Away," slowing down isn't a bad thing. "I Ran Away" is a mid-tempo gentle rocker. While it doesn't have the mind scrambling guitar solos and volume of previous Dinosaur Jr songs, you're not going to miss it. The song also features Kurt Vile on a twelve string guitar, which gives it a little bit of a twang and finally earns the band the "ear splitting country" moniker they've previously used. While this new song may be more tame than their output in the 1980's, this is distinctly a Dinosaur Jr song. 

You can watch the video for "I Ran Away" below. Sweep It Into Space, the long COVID delayed album from Dinosaur Jr, will finally be released April 23 on Jagjaguwar. You can pre-order the album in various killer bundles here. For more on Dinosaur Jr, check out the band's website.

Horsegirl - "Ballroom Dance Scene"

Photo by Sun Picture Music

Teenagers shouldn't be making music this great. The members are still in high school, and are all seventeen and eighteen. Their debut single, "Ballroom Dance Scene," was written during a Chicago teachers' strike. But it's such a truly great song. The song is this slowly building track that starts off folky and just shy of twee. Penelope Lowenstein and Nora Cheng's vocals start off together, but are going in their own directions. It creates this nearly hypnotic, dreamy effect, so much so that you hardly even notice the song building behind them. The noise crescendos behind them as it rises into something you'd expect to hear from Mogwai or Spiritualized, overtaking the song. And this is all from teenagers. This younger generation is going to be all right.

You can watch the video for "Ballroom Dance Scene" below. The song will be available as a 7" via Sonic Cathedral on April 2. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Horsegirl, check out the artist's Twitter and Bandcamp.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

First Listen: New Releases for 19 March

Artist: Psymon Spine
Album: Charismatic Megafauna
Quick Description: Fun indie-psych.
Why You Should Listen: Psymon Spine bring a fresh coat of paint to a tough genre.
Overall Thoughts: Outside of the Elephant Six stuff from the turn of the century, psych rock is a hard sell for me. Psymon Spine is not a band I should like, but Charismatic Megafauna is absolutely an album I enjoyed this week. Songs like "Channels" and "Jumprope" jumped out at me almost immediately, and this is probably the first album I'll head back to this week. Just a wonderful listen, with lots going for it.
Recommendation: Worth your time this week.

Artist: Corvair
Album: Corvair
Quick Description: Husband-and-wife duo with their first music together.
Why You Should Listen: The band has enough individual history to make this worth hearing...
Overall Thoughts: ...but the tag team we get here is great on its own. Corvair does fun, poppy rock that reminds me of Bleachers in some forms, although I like this a lot more. I'm especially into "Unsubtle Lake," but the whole album is worth a listen. Corvair is a solid act, and I look forward to seeing more.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Artist: Kinlaw
Album: The Tipping Scale
Quick Description: Dark, experimental-feeling songs.
Why You Should Listen: This won't be for everyone, but it scratches a few itches for me.
Overall Thoughts: I like a challenging album, and Kinlaw has one with The Tipping Scale, an album that feels like it has a lot of angles and pointy bits. It's hard to describe, really, but it's weirder than you think but not so odd in which it's impossible to find something interesting. Kind of needs to be heard to be understood, but it's worth the time.
Recommendation: Give this the investment it deserves.

Artist: The Hold Steady
Album: Open Door Policy
Quick Description: Long-time indie rockers with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: This is probably their best album in over a decade.
Overall Thoughts: Everyone loves Boys and Girls in America, but I won't lie - a lot of the more recent output has left me cold, cold to the point where I nearly skipped this one. I'm glad I didn't, because this is as close to a return to form that I can think of. The sort of talky storytelling Craig Finn is best at is front and center, and the songwriting in particular is definitely more memorable than on recent records. This is rock solid, and if you've jumped off the bandwagon, I highly recommend giving this a shot.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Wild Pink
Album: A Billion Little Lights
Quick Description: Indie rock with a sprinkling of roots.
Why You Should Listen: It somehow feels epic and restrained at the same time.
Overall Thoughts: I won't lie, the only reason I sought this band out to start was because the song title "The Shining But Tropical," made me laugh. But the song was so good, so sprawling and interesting, that I knew I had to check out the album. I'm glad I did, as it's probably my favorite release this week. It's just got so much happening, and every song feels essential and purposeful. Give "The Shining But Tropical" a listen, and when you love that, check the rest out. You won't regret it.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Lael Neale
Album: Acquainted With Night
Quick Description: Fragile, sparse folk music.
Why You Should Listen: It's a voice and an Omnichord, which is perfect for these times.
Overall Thoughts: I don't have a ton to say about this release except that I really enjoyed it. It's not quarantine-based, but it is a very isolated effort that has a real sort of feeling to it that is missing from a lot of musical efforts. It's a busy week, but this deserves your energy.
Recommendation: Make time for this one. Of note:

* Pearly Drops - Call for Help (We missed this 2020 release; it's great, offbeat, dark indie pop.)
* Divide and Dissolve - Gas Lit (Solid, sludgy, noisy.)
* Indigo Sparke - Echo (Great folk-adjacent music, really interesting in a lot of ways.)
* Mogwai - As the Love Continues (Mogwai continues to be great.)
* David Gray - Skellig (Don't sleep on this, it's surprisingly good.)
* Philip B. Price - Oceans Hiding in Oceans
* Your Old Droog and Tha God Fahim - Tha YOD Fahim
* Pauline Anna Strom - Angel Tears in Sunlight
* Catherine Britt - Home Truths
* Katy Kirby - Cool Dry Place
* Biosphere - Angel's Flight
* Edie Brickell and New Bohemians - Hunter and the Dog Star
* Another Michael - New Music and Big Pop
* Ryan Dugre - Three Rivers
* June Jones - Leafcutter
* Shura - forevher
* The Lasso - 2121


* Glassjaw - Coloring Book (Reissue of their debut EP.)
* Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
* Tindersticks - Distractions
* Hand Habits - dirt
* Hologram Teen - Geometries Insensibles

Live albums/Compilations:

* Spoon - Girls Can Tell ("Deluxe Playlist" with inspirations of songs from the album peppered between.)
* Anya Marina - Live and Alone in New York

Also out:

* Alabama Slim - The Parlor
* John Paul Keith - The Rhythm of the City