Thursday, September 22, 2016

Forgotten Fridays - Cherry 2000 - Taint

Forgotten Fridays is an occasional feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. Once a week we go back and remind you, and help decide if they were any good.

Cherry 2000 were this unbelievably great Boston band that only lasted maybe three years in the late 90s, and somehow just seem to have faded away from memory. Led by Dave Steele (also of Orangutang) and Leah Blesoff, the two traded off vocal duties through the band's 1998 debut, and only, album Taint. That and the loud/quiet/loud dynamic gives immediate comparisons to the Pixies, but the band also draws heavily from Sonic Youth, especially by closing out the album with the nearly 20 minute drone and art fest "Lungfish." There are also strong influences from metal and grunge, making it one of the more aggressive albums to come out of the Boston alternative scene in at the time.

The album bounces around between sounds quite a bit, to its credit. The first real song on the album, "Rodeo Clown," is really melodic and feels like an intended single. It's an artsier version of a lot of alternative power pop bands around that time. It immediately goes into "Purified," which is the best example of their loud/quiet/loud dynamic, like a pogo frenzied Pixies song. I think I played "Blood Red" on my radio show every week for about three months straight. It's a drone happy song, with Steele and Blesoff sharing vocal duties and one of the hookiest guitar riffs you'll ever hear.

Taint is available for purchase on Amazon in both digital and CD format. 18 years later, it's still worth listening to. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Martyrs - The Great Disturbance

In the age of social media and the internet, it's basically a given that every band will have some form of online presence. Maybe they don't have their very own website, but at the very least they'll have a Facebook or a Bandcamp or a Tumblr, etc. That brings us to Boston's Martyrs. I first wrote about them back in 2014 when they released their debut album. All I knew about them at that point was that Tee Jay from Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys was in the band, but now that he's moved away from the area, I don't even know that. Somehow I know less about a band after being aware of them for two years.

Back on September 8, Martyrs released their second album, The Great Disturbance. This one appears to only be available on YouTube. It somehow manages to cram every single side genre of punk into one sound. It is as heavy as hardcore, but as melodic as emo. (I know a MILLION bands have that in their description, but I really, really mean it here...) There's a thrashy element to it, it's dirty gutter punk, and somehow still sounds polished. I have no idea how they pull it off, but they do.

You can listen to The Great Disturbance below. As far as any other information on Martyrs... I don't know? Word of mouth, maybe?

Drive-By Truckers - "Filthy and Fried"

Photo by Danny Clinch
Next week marks the release of the new Drive-By Truckers' album, American Band. The band has released the lyric video for a third song on the album, "Filthy and Fried." Far less political than the previous two songs we've heard from the album ("Surrender Under Protest" and "What It Means"), "Filthy and Fried" and a Mike Cooley sung song more along the lines of your traditional Drive-By Truckers song. What's most interesting about the song is that it sonically follows a verse-chorus-verse format, but lyrically it just goes in it's own direction with only the final line repeated. The only politics it touches on is the right of a woman to go out looking for a sexual conquest the way men always have been able to (which is for some reason a political issue in this country). Maybe it's the organ, but the "chorus" almost has a gospel feel to it. It also includes what is quite possibly one of my favorite Cooley penned line: "Everyone claims that the times are a changing as theirs pass them by."

American Band, the Drive-By Truckers' latest album, will be out September 30 on ATO Records. You can listen to "Filthy and Fried" below. For more information, check out the band's website, and you can pre-order the album on iTunes

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for September 16

A relatively slow week.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Deap Vally
Album: Femejism
Quick Description: Second album from the bass-heavy indie rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Deap Vally hasn't lost a step from their awesome debut.
Overall Thoughts: The worst thing about this album is its cringeworthy title, which might turn off listeners who would otherwise be really into this sort of proto-Dead Weather/DFA1979-sounding group. There had been some early singles that showed promise, but the whole thing is just a great follow-up to their debut album. Lead track (and lead single) "Royal Jelly" sets the tone for a great listen, and arguably the best of the week.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen this week, a highlight.

Artist: Dawes
Album: We're All Gonna Die
Quick Description: Latest album from the roots-rock act that goes a little less roots and a little more AAA rock.
Why You Should Listen: Dawes knows how to write a good song even if it's not what you expect.
Overall Thoughts: Dawes comes to this fifth album with a lot of baggage. Known as a great live band and having some seriously wonderful songs like "When My Time Comes" and "If I Wanted Someone," they've gone full adult alternative at this point, following a Guster-like trajectory into something a little less interesting. Nothing here especially stands out except for how it ultimately feels somewhat mediocre and mailed-in. For a band with this much going for it and so much talent in songwriting and performing, it's worth setting the bar high, and they unfortunately don't come close to clearing it.
Recommendation: Might be worth trying for a listen, but I doubt you'll want to stick around.

Artist: Preoccupations
Album: Preoccupations
Quick Description: The band formerly known as Viet Cong improves on an already-solid post-punk sound.
Why You Should Listen: Easily the most interesting listen this week.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't love this band's debut, and some issues with the band's admittedly misguided name (both real world and internet) prompted a change to Preoccupations, and with that change seems to be a renewed focus of sorts on some music that is really an interesting listen from start to finish. Nine tracks with single word titles, a lot of fascinating musical choices, and the result is a really solid listen.
Recommendation: A favorite this week. Definitely give this a spin.

Artist: AlunaGeorge
Album: I Remember
Quick Description: Second album from the duo struggles to find its spot.
Why You Should Listen: Their first album was great, and when this is working it is working.
Overall Thoughts: This is an album I really want to take more time with. Even though the first listen did not make a huge impact on me on a whole, their debut album was a really solid album that mixed electronica and R&B in a pretty great way. Since then, a lot of acts are doing a similar thing, and AlunaGeorge hasn't really stepped forward to capitalize until now. The result is an album that I didn't hate, but didn't feel like it did much to stand out, either. We'll see if this is more of a grower, but for now I'm withholding significant judgement.
Recommendation: Certainly worth a listen.

Artist: Amanda Shires
Album: My Piece of Land
Quick Description: Latest album from the folkie turns the acoustics up to eleven.
Why You Should Listen: Shires has yet to produce a bad album.
Overall Thoughts: Down Fell the Doves came out three years ago and it still holds up (as well as still sits in my "saved music" lineup in Spotify even now). In an era where bands and artists tend to abandon the folk for the more mainstream, Shires succeeds in staying true to her sound while still feeling like she's evolving. The comparisons to her husband, Jason Isbell, will surely persist, but I'll come right out and say that this album cements my belief that Shires is the superior artist. This is a great album and should deserve all the recognition it's sure to get.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week. A great listen.

Artist: The Handsome Family
Album: Unseen
Quick Description: Latest album by the folk artists, first since True Detective.
Why You Should Listen: Their dark, brooding folk music hits a lot of our favorites here.
Overall Thoughts: After "Far From Any Road" got picked up as the season 1 theme for True Detective, The Handsome Family got some overdue attention. Unseen continues along the same workmanlike quality that their older albums provide, and their sound continues to have a lot of solid appeal even if there aren't necessarily individual standout songs.
Recommendation: Still a good listen for this week.

Artist: Against Me!
Album: Shape Shift With Me
Quick Description: Latest album from the punk act.
Why You Should Listen: Against Me! continues to be great even with the added attention.
Overall Thoughts: Transgender Dysphoria Blues was a creative feat following Laura Jane Grace's gender transition, and she has quickly become an LGBT icon following that release. It was a valid question as to whether the newfound attention and such would be a creative drag, but the opposite appears to be true. "333" was a great lead single, but the rest of the album is just as solid and urgent. While longtime fans might still think it's too mainstream compared to their earlier work and while it's not perhaps as significant as Transgender Dysphoria Blues, it also means that it's not necessarily letting itself get too dragged down in the gender politics. Overall, a really, really great listen at first blush, and one I look forward to listening to again.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Also out this week:

* Phantogram - Three
* Meat Loaf - Braver Than We Are
* Mykki Blanco - Mykki

Hallelujah the Hills Cover The Velvet Underground

Photo by Courtney Brooke Hall
As you've probably noticed, we love cover songs here at If It's Too Loud..., and we're also pretty big fans of Hallelujah the Hills. Imagine my joy when over the weekend, Hallelujah the Hills sent out a link to their email subscribers that included a cover of The Velvet Underground's "Run Run Run." It's a great choice for the band, since Hallelujah the Hills stylistically are quite different from The Velvet Underground. "Run Run Run" is one of The Velvet Underground's more rambunctious covers, and Hallelujah the Hills does is perfectly. The cover is from a live show recorded at the Black Cat in D.C. earlier this year, and you can definitely tell it's a live show based on the quality, but it makes me miss the muddled bootlegs of ye olden days. They do it a little louder and noisier than the original, but it chugs along with the perfect mix of tribute and their own style.

You can listen to Hallelujah the Hills' cover of "Run Run Run" below. To make sure you don't miss out on the fun of being on their mailing list, head on over to their website and sign up. If you happen to be in the Boston area this weekend, they'll be playing as part of The Concert Across America to End Gun Violence at Brighton Music Hall on Sunday. The show also includes Tanya Donelly, Bill Janovitz, Mike Gent, Vapors of Morphine, Marissa Nadler and more.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Wayne Hancock - "Slingin' Rhythm"

Throwback country can almost be a dirty word. Sometimes artists that get stuck with the throwback country label can be pretty hokey and cartoonish. Luckily we have Wayne "the Train" Hancock. He's been at it for over 20 years even though he sounds like he's been at it for at least twice that. His latest single, "Slingin' Rhythm," is an ode to being a traveling, working class struggling musician. It's a bouncy, bare bones track that celebrates the hardships of the road.

Wayne "the Train" Hancock's newest album, also called Slingin' Rhythm, will be out on October 28 via Bloodshot Records. You can order a copy through their website, and listen to "Slingin' Rhythm" below. For more information on Wayne Hancock, be sure to check out his website.

Friday Freebie: Matt Pond PA - Free the Fawns!

So much for Matt Pond PA being done and over with. Sounds like their label issues are worked out and things are on track for another album later this year. To celebrate, however, they're offering a bunch of demos up on Noisetrade for free download, and they're playing some east coast gigs toward the end of the year (including Great Scott in Allston).

So hop on over to Noisetrade for free music and tour dates, and I'll be looking forward to the new music, given that last year's album was a highlight.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hoots and Hellmouth - "Diction"

Photo by Melissa Madison Fuller
The name Hoots and Hellmouth tells you everything you need to know about a band, right? They're obviously throwback rockabilly with imagery of skeletons and 50s horror movies. Well... this isn't the first time I've been wrong. Hailing from Philadelphia, Hoots and Hellmouth craft beautiful, soulful Americana. Their new song, "Diction," dances on the line between folk and soul. It's definitely not enough of soul to be considered soul, but it's too groovy to be folk. The obvious comparison I'm going to make is Band of Horses, but maybe a little less rock. Somehow Hoots and Hellmouth have taken two of the most common genres of music that get blended, but are just enough in the middle of both to have made a unique sound of their own.

Hoots and Hellmouth's fourth album, In the Trees, will be out October 28. You can watch the video for "Diction" below. For more information on the band, check out their websiteTour dates are also below.

10/05 Beachland Tavern - Cleveland, OH
10/06 Club Cafe - Pittsburgh, PA 10/07 The Ark - Ann Arbor, MI
10/08 Ignition Garage - Goshen, IN
10/09 The Tonic Room - Chicago. IL
10/13 Hi-Dive - Denver, CO
10/15 Rose Music Hall - Columbia, MO
10/16 The Bootleg - St. Louis, MO
10/19 The Basement - Nashville, TN
10/21 Purple Fiddle - Thomas, WV
10/22 The Abbey Bar - Harrisburg, PA
11/11 Gypsy Sally's - Washington, DC
11/17 Atwoods Tavern - Cambridge, MA
11/18 Brooklyn Bowl - Brooklyn, NY
11/20 Musikfest Cafe - Bethlehem, PA
12/02 The Ardmore Music Hall - Ardmore, PA

Selector Dub Narcotic - "Hotter Than Hott"

Selector Dub Narcotic is a new project from the legendary Calvin Johnson. In case you don't immediately recognize the name Calvin Johnson, he founded K Records as well as the highly influential bands Beat Happening, Halo Benders, and Dub Narcotic Sound System. Selector Dub Narcotic is his collaboration with hip hop producer Smoke M2D6. Calvin Johnson doing hip hop sounds like a weird, weird combination, and you'd be right. I can't say that "Hotter Than Hott" is a good song. Odd is probably a better description. But it is fun. And highly infectious, especially as it goes on. It's worth at least a few listens. It is Calvin Johnson, after all. But there's also a good chance you'll become obsessed with the song after the third listen. You might thank me (or be furious with me) later.

Selector Dub Narcotic's album, This Party is Just Getting Started, will be out September 16 on K Records, of course. You can watch the video for "Hotter Than Hott" below.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for September 9

Here are the rest of the releases from this week!

Artist: Psychic Twin
Album: Strange Diary
Quick Description: Debut synth pop from Polyvinyl.
Why You Should Listen: Aspects of this stand out in a crowded genre.
Overall Thoughts: Synth pop is so flooded right now that it's hard to break through, but Psychic Twin makes a solid effort this week. While nothing dives out as exceptional at first listen, this does have a raw indie quality to it that's often lacking from a lot of like acts. Definitely worth a shot if this is your genre.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Okkervil River
Album: Away
Quick Description: Latest album from the popular indie act.
Why You Should Listen: It's probably the best thing they've done since "Lost Coastlines."
Overall Thoughts: I cannot admit to being a huge Okkervil River guy, but I have lots of friends who are really into them. "Lost Coastlines" is a classic, but this album is, I feel, the closest we've gotten to that since that era for the band. So I like it quite a bit in that regard, although I don't really know where it stands in the canon. So it's worth your time, but might not be for all.
Recommendation: Worth your time this week.

Artist: Allah-Las
Album: Calico Review
Quick Description: Retro goodness.
Why You Should Listen: Another crowded genre, the Allah-Las know how to stand out a little better.
Overall Thoughts: This is the third album from the band, and this clearly feels like they've found their form and come out with a superlative album. Seriously, if "Could Be You" can't grab you, nothing will, and this is a rollicking record that's unlike anything out this week or recently. You owe it to yourself to give it a listen.
Recommendation: One of the better releases this week.

Some quick hits to round this out, because I don't have much of anything to say about them:

* KT Tunstall - KIN: Radio-ready adult contemporary music. I miss the old KT, personally.
* Local Natives - Sunlit Youth: Radio-ready, unchallenging. Not worth the listen.
* Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds - Skeleton Tree: I don't know much Nick Cave, but this is interesting and weird. Worth a shot.

Also out this week:

* Grouplove - Big Mess
* Jack White - Acoustic Recordings (surprisingly inessential)