Wednesday, May 25, 2022

First Listen: New Releases for 20 May 2022

Artist: Subjective
Album: The Start of No Regret
Quick Thoughts: When it comes to British breakbeat/drum'n'bass stuff, few are as great at it as Goldie is. Since he hit the scene in the 1990s, he's put out consistently solid material, and this new collaborative album with James Davidson is rock solid. Different enough to stand out, but familiar enough nonetheless, it hits its mark perfectly. If you're an electronic music fan, you owe it to yourself to listen to this one.
Songs of Note: "Lost," "Breakout," "Reflection"

Artist: Tess Parks
Album: And Those Who Were Seen Dancing
Quick Thoughts: Tess Parks made her debut album in 2013, and we haven't heard much from her solo since then. She has collaborated with Brian Jonestown Massacre singer Anton Newcombe on a few albums, though, and this sophomore individual effort definitely has shades of the stoner drone style and influence. I really and truly loved this listen, and I'm looking forward to going back through her whole catalog, but this is worth your time in a busy week.
Songs of Note:

Artist: Annie Hamilton
Album: the future is here but it feels kinda like the past
Quick Thoughts: To say I've been excited for this record for some time is an understatement. Ever since "Kitchen" from her debut EP dropped, she's been one of my favorites, and this full length effort shows the world that she's far from out of song ideas. A little anthemic, a little crunchy, with hooks upon hooks upon hooks, this is one of my favorites so far.
Songs of Note: "Exist," "Again," "Labyrinth"

Artist: SOAK
Album: If I never know you like this again
Quick Thoughts: Wanted to highlight SOAK in a busy week, as the last album was great and this one is as well. Really stellar indie singer-songwriter stuff here, and absolutely needs to be in the rotation.
Songs of Note: "purgatory," "neptune"

Artist: Jordana
Album: Face the Wall
Quick Thoughts: I liked Jordana's last album quite a bit, and her new effort continues this trajectory of smart and sharp singer-songwriter goodness. She's got a little more polish on this set of songs than what you might expect, but the result is some truly honest music from a pretty unique voice. Give this a listen.
Songs of Note: "Get Up," "Catch My Drift," "Play Fair"

Of note:

* Craig Finn - A Legacy of Rentals (A solid solo effort from the Hold Steady frontman.)
* Charlie Hickey - Nervous at Night (Singer-songwriter stuff that is full of good surprises.)
* mxmtoon - rising (Excellent, understated pop.)
* Sylvia Rose Novak - A Miss / A Masterpiece (Her best effort yet, with a lot of really great songs.)
* Matmos - Regards/Ukłony dla Bogusław Schaeffer (A solid concept album from the experimental act; "Cobra Wages Shuffle" is great.)
* Boldy James and Real Bad Man - Killing Nothing
* Mary Lattimore and Paul Sukeena - West Kensington
* Harry Styles - Harry's House
* Daniel Villarreal - Panama '77
* Horse Meat Disco - Back to Mine
* Thomas Dollbaum - Wellswood
* Porridge Radio - Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky
* Uffie - Sunshine Factory
* Delta Spirit - One is One
* Banditos - Right On
* Ben Talmi - Berkshires
* Mavis Staples and Levon Helm - Carry Me Home
* John Doe - Fables in a Foreign Land
* Body Type - Everything is Dangerous But Nothing's Surprising
* Seth Walker - I Hope I Know
* Rodhad and JakoJako - In Vere
* Lykke Li - EYEYE
* Grant-Lee Phillips - All That You Can Dream
* Nitty Gritty Dirt Band - Dirt Does Dylan
* Bird Language - 625 Days
* Tourist - Inside Out


* Have You Ever Seen the Jane Fonda Aerobic VHS? - Troglodyte
* Birdy - Earth: Taurus' Songs
* Paper Tigers - I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me This Sooner

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* Undercover on the Streets: A Vagrant Records Tribute (Don't miss the "Chips Ahoy" and "At Your Funeral" covers.)
* The Muffs - Really Really Happybr> * Moby - Reprise - Remixes

Also out:

* Anvil - Impact is Imminent
* Merzbow - Animal Liberation - Until Every Cage is Empty

Andrea Gillis featuring Tanya Donelly - "About a Girl"

If you're not excited about Andrea Gillis and Tanya Donelly working on a song together, I don't know what to tell you. "About a Girl" is a perfect song for both Gillis and Donelly. It's a mainstream singer/songwriter, folk adjacent pop/rock song. It's right on the edge of being fully pop, but Gillis keeps just enough edge in her voice to keep it rock. Plus, I don't think anyone could ever complain about hearing Tanya Donelly's vocals for back up. Gillis's grit and Donelly's dream like harmonies make a stellar combination.

Andrea Gillis says of her new single:

"This song is about a girl; a girl in your world likely to forget...
"I wrote this tune not only with myself in mind, but also for all the girls that never really wanted to do the whole 'gotta be sexy so people will pay attention thing.' Though it is unavoidable, we all go through the phase, uncomfortably. We just do our thing.
"Hanging with our pals, rockin' out, getting 'real' jobs, having families, going out on weekends, etc.
"About A Girl is completely about what you hear on the recording, there are no hidden meanings or weird underlying things that I didn't want people to hear in case it wasn't 'cool.' This tune is from me to you ladies!
"My sister pal Tanya Donelly (Belly, Loyal Seas) finished this tune with her incredible voice, she took it to another place. I'm still pinching myself..
"No one is as lucky as I am. I love my band. There are no greater humans, EVAH."

You can listen to "About a Girl" below. The song is available as a single on Red On Red Records, and can be downloaded via Bandcamp. For more on Andrea Gillis, check out the artist's Facebook.

Dehd - "Window"

Photo by Atiba Jefferson

Chicago's Dehd are absolute masters of that newfangled punk that is infused with a ton of pop hooks without being even remotely pop punk. Their latest single, "Window," is this song that slowly builds into an absolute epic. It starts off slow and just builds and builds with all the power of a band like Pulp or U2, but a lower scale punk pop version. It's as catchy as possible without being too saccharine, and even had more than just a hint of an edge. And it does all this while remaining mostly a ballad. Dehd are the kind of band that are going to be huge by this time next year.

Emily Kempf says the new song is about "... “being obsessed with true love and the construct of ‘the one.’ I wrote it to address my addition to the terrible and wonderful pursuit of perfect love.”

You can watch the NSFW-ish video for "Window" below. Blue Skies is due out May 27 on Fat Possum. You can pre-save/pre-order the album here. For more on Dehd, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

Wed. May 25 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom ! - SOLD OUTThu. May 26 - Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall !Fri. May 27 - Montreal, QC @ Theatre FairmountSat. May 28 - Toronto, ON @ Lee’sPalaceSat. Jun. 4 - Chicago, IL @ Metro * - SOLD OUTSat. Jun. 11 - New York, NY @ Governor's Ball Music FestivalSat. Jul. 9 - Chicago, IL @ Square Roots FestivalSun. Aug. 21 - Hasselt, BE @ PukkelpopMon. Aug. 22 - Rotterdam, NL @ RotownWed. Aug. 24 - Utrecht, NL @ Tivoli De HellingFri. Aug. 26 - London, UK @ All Points EastSun. Aug. 28 - Edinburgh, UK @ Connect FestivalSat. Aug. 30 - Birmingham, UK @ The Castle & FalconSun. Aug. 31 - Cambridge, UK @ Junction 2Fri. Sep. 2 - Wiltshire, UK @ End of the Road FestivalThu. Sep. 4 - Maastricht, NL @ Bruis FestivalWed. Sep. 21 - Madison, WI @ Majestic TheatreThu. Sep. 22 - Omaha, NE @ SlowdownFri. Sep. 23 - Denver, CO @ The SummitSat. Sep. 24 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The DepotTue. Sep. 27 - Portland, OR @ Crystal BallroomWed. Sep. 28 - Vancouver, BC @ Rickshaw TheatreFri. Sep. 30 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox at the MarketSat. Oct. 2 - San Francisco, CA @ August HallWed. Oct. 5 - Los Angeles, CA @ Belasco TheaterThu. Oct. 6 - San Diego, CA @ Observatory North ParkFri. Oct. 7 - Tucson, AZ @ Rialto TheaterSat. Oct. 9 - Austin, TX @ ACL FestWed. Oct. 12 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine TheaterThu. Oct. 13 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Van BurenSun. Oct. 16 - Austin, TX @ ACL FestFri. Oct. 21 - Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn SteelSat. Oct. 22 - Philadelphia, PA @ The FillmoreSun. Oct. 23 - Washington, DC @ Black CatTue. Oct. 25 - Boston, MA @ RoyaleWed. Oct. 26 - Montreal, QC @ Corona TheatreThu. Oct. 27 - Toronto, ON @ Opera HouseWed. Nov. 2 - Milan, IT @ MagnoliaThu. Nov. 3 - Aaru, CH @ KiffMon. Nov. 7 - Copenhagen, DK @ LoppenTue. Nov. 8 - Stockholm, SE @ KristallenWed. Nov. 9 - Oslo, NE @ John DeeFri. Nov. 11 - Hamburg, DE @ MolotowSat. Nov. 12 - Brussels, BE @ Grand SalonWed. Nov. 16 - Bristol, UK @ The LanesThu. Nov. 17 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social ClubFri. Nov. 18 - Sunderland, UK @ Pop RecsSat. Nov. 19 - Glasgow, UK @ Oran MorSun. Nov. 20 - Dublin, IE @ Button Factory *  w/ Pixel Grip! w/ 81355

Frances Chang - "support your local nihilist"

Photo by Em Joseph

Brooklyn's Frances Chang just released one of the most sonically interesting songs of the year. "support your local nihilist" is either an art punk song masquerading as a pop song or a pop song masquerading as an art punk song. Chang's vocals are pure pop, almost like the Top 40 kind but probably a little too indie pop... most of the time. But this single couldn't be considered pop by any stretch of the imagination. It's an absurdly noisy song that's structure devolves completely by the end. It's just buzzing guitars that eventually just implode. What's bizarre is how much harmony exists in "support your local nihilist." This is the kind of song you're going to either love or hate, but you'll at least find it intriguing either way.

You can watch the video for "support your local nihilist" below. The album support your local nihilist is due out July 22 on destiny is a dog and can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on Frances Chang, check out the artist on Instagram and Twitter.

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Mamalarky - "You Know I Know"

It's been a little while since we've heard from Mamalarky. On their new single, the band keeps a little bit more of the psychedelia meets R&B sound they had on "Will I See U?," last year's collaboration with Benet. "You Know I Know" is a little but more pop than the previous single, and goes towards psychedelic pop. There is still enough noise in here for indie rock fans, particularly in the clangy guitar. Yeah, that's right, Mamalarky makes guitars clang in a pop song. It's a truly unique sound coming from a band that's starting to be known for surprising us over their short two year span of being a band.

Livvy Bennett says of the new song:

"'You Know I Know' was never supposed to come out, but my bandmates told me it would make for a great single. I accidentally wrote a rock banger that sounded like it could have come out in 2007, like MGMT meets Weezer meets Sheryl Crow. "The song is about growing up in Texas and having really overwhelming dreams of playing music and takin' it on the road. Having those dreams come to fruition recently has been exciting and has further grounded me in appreciating how much Texas, and Austin specifically, gave us the proper nutrients to do what we're doing now."It's also a bit about, ya know, death and impermanence. Having all your accomplishments and high notes framed by mortality is a good way to make sure you're taking it all in."

You can watch the video for "You Know I Know" below. The song is available now as a single via Fire Talk Records. For more on Mamalarky, check out the band's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

7/5 - Asheville, NC - the Grey Eagle*7/6 - Atlanta, GA - Aisle 5 *7/7 - Nashville, TN - Third Man Records* 7/8 - Memphis, TN - Hi-Tone Cafe* 7/10 - Dallas, TX - Deep Ellum Art Company* 7/11 - Austin, TX - Antone's* * = w/ Jerry Paper

Live Shows: Bob Mould and J. Robbins, Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center, Greenfield, MA 5/22/22

Bob Mould and J. Robbins are both legendary punk rockers who have been doing solo work as of late. The two are currently on a tour together showing the different ways punk rockers can go solo in different styles. Sunday night they came to Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center, and I could not resist checking it out.

First of all, I have to say that I love how fantastic music venues are popping up in cities and towns not really known as huge music hubs. Places like Hawks and Reed and NOVA Arts in Keene are great alternatives to every concert being in Boston or Providence. Not dealing with traffic and having plenty of parking is never a bad thing, and these venues are first class and not just a PA in the corner of a rec center.

I'm much less familiar with J. Robbins, either as a solo artist or with Jawbox. (I know, I know... I need to listen to Jawbox more.) Robbins is doing the more traditional punk goes solo thing. His set was seated with an acoustic guitar. He even brought along cellist Gordon Withers for the tour. The cello was a great addition, adding some intensity to the music. Odd that a cello adds some punk to a show, but here we are! Robbins had a great set mostly taken from his 2019 album Un-becoming. I'll have to fall down a Jawbox/J. Robbins rabbit hole this week.

I've seen Bob Mould as Bob Mould Band before, but never solo. Turns out there's not truly a difference between the two. Instead of a more traditional solo show on acoustic guitar, Mould attacked his electric guitar like he had a full backing band. His songs don't lose any intensity with just him, and he certainly isn't playing them in a more relaxed manner. Mould got just as sweaty and his glasses just as foggy as any full band show you've ever seen. He bounced around the stage so much his microphone was swaying along with him. He made full use of the stage, stalking it and moving around the full area when he wasn't singing. Not only were Husker Du classics like "I Apologize" and the show closing "Something I Learned Today" highlights, but a newer song like "Siberian Butterfly" off 2020's Blue Hearts held right up with his classics. No matter what form Bob Mould takes next tour, be sure to get out to see him.

Officer X - "Moon Man"

Photo by Lauren Mangini

I'm not a huge metal guy, but I grew up in the 1980's so I have to have at least a little bit of an appreciation for the genre. Every now and then, a band just clicks with me. Officer X are one of those. The Boston band's new single, "Moon Man," sounds like classic heavy metal. This song is back when metal could be fun instead of trying to be scary and lacking anything resembling melody. Maybe it's just that singer Rodrigo van Stoli (who was also in Bang Camaro, which makes perfect sense) sounds a lot like Joey Belladonna, but "Moon Man" reminds me a lot of classic 80's Anthrax. It has that epic sound is a little but more fun that trying to be badass.

Rodrigo van Stoli says of the new song:

“I wrote the lyrics after reading The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall, an 1835 short story by Edgar Allan Poe. It's about a businessman from Rotterdam who runs into all kinds of trouble with clients and creditors, and decides to build a balloon and escape to the moon. The lyrics take that as a launchpad. There are lots of references to the original story in the lyrics – the whole trip took 19 days, for example. Once the idea took shape it all became more abstract, and like most of my lyrics it was more about words that sounded good and worked with the music.” 

You can watch the video for "Moon Man" below. For more on Officer X, check out the band on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, May 23, 2022

Live Shows: Sleaford Mods and Sorry, The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA 5/20/22

Even though I knew it was coming, when Sleaford Mods cancelled their September 2020 show at The Sinclair, it was devastating. Not only was it my last cancelled show in a long, long series of cancelled shows, Sleaford Mods never come to Boston. I think they played Great Scott once, but that was many years ago. When they finally announced a return to the States and a show back at The Sinclair, of course if was a night that wouldn't work for me. At the very last minute, my plans changed and a sold out show suddenly had tickets available. I was finally going to get to see Sleaford Mods.

And what a show. I've watched a ton of live performances of theirs and their documentary Bunch of Kunst, and I was still unprepared for Sleaford Mods live. Jason Williamson is a captivating performer and a true rock star. You can't help but watch him as he stalks the stage moving between being the best punk rock frontman you've ever seen and preening around like this generation's Mick Jagger. Every video I've seen shows laptop controller Andrew Fearn standing by his laptop with a hand in his pocket and a drink in the other, lightly bopping to the music. I'm going to assume he's sober, since there was no beer in sight Friday night. Instead Fearn did Punk Rock Aerobics for the entirely of their ninety minute set. The energy level was insane, and after pogoing for half a song and wearing out my calves, I was quite jealous.

One thing I wondered was how they would pull off a hit song like "Mork n Mindy." That song features vocals from Billy Nomates, and I doubted they'd have a second vocalist just for one song. They played it, and her vocals just played on the laptop, because of course they did. 

Sleaford Mods also included their cover of Yazoo's "Don't Go," and ended with the one-two punch of "Jobseeker" and "Tweet Tweet Tweet." Once that was done, Fearns unplugged his laptop and they walked off the stage. No encore, and none was needed after ninety minutes. It was the most punk rock show I've seen in years.

A couple of notes: Two years into a pandemic, and those spit droplets that come out of Williamson's mouth as he vocalizes are less punk rock cool and more foreboding. Also, the crowd skewed much older and laid back than I expected. t was more of an NPR crowd than a punk rock one. One audience member seemed shocked by their liberal use of c-bombs, and others seemed horrified when the crowd got slightly rowdy in their dancing. 

Since I bought a ticket a few hours before the show, I didn't have time to research the opening band, Sorry. This was the first time that's happened in years, and it was a fun throwback experience. Sorry plays a darker version of the more pop oriented indie rock that's all the rage right now. It was definitely not what I expected opening for Sleaford Mods, both genre-wise and energy level. They were much more laid back than the headliner, but they won over a good majority of the crowd by the end of their set. We'll be revisiting them sooner than later, hopefully!

Workhorse - "Chain"

Photo by Chelsea Farquhar

Workhorse is the musical project of Adelaide based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Harriet Fraser-Barbour. Her new single, "Chain," is a gorgeous mixture of dream pop and country/folk. The entire song, particularly Fraser-Barbour's vocals, have that dreamy haze of dream pop, but "Chain" has just enough twang in its fuzzed out guitar and violin to give it roots in Americana. As perfect as it is, the styles do clash with each other at times, but all that truly does is give "Chain" even more of its charm and creates a truly compelling song.

Harriet Fraser-Barbour says of the new song:

“‘Chain’ is about mourning the loss of friends within the constant exodus and migration to bigger cities. It’s about craving change, resenting a sense of conservative stagnancy, and seeking an ever illusive sense of belonging and of community.”

You can listen to "Chain" below. No Photographs is due out August 12 on Dinosaur City Records, and can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on Workhorse, check out the artist's Facebook and Instagram.

The Early Mays - "The Ballad of Johnny Fall"

Photo by Kristi Jan Hoover

The Early Mays have released a new single that you will swear is a traditional, classic Appalachian murder ballad, but it's an original written by Ellen Gozion. "The Ballad of Johnny Fall" is just Gozion and Emily Pinkerton providing vocals with banjo and cello. It doesn't sound anything like 2022. This is just pure classic folk. Haunting gets thrown around a lot with songs like this, but The Early Mays truly pull off haunting on this one. The Pittsburgh duo have delivered a folk classic with "The Ballad of Johnny Fall."

Ellen Gozion told Folk Radio UK about the band's new song:

A woman falls deeply in love when she is young, with a man whose eyes are the ‘prettiest blue.'" As the years wear on, he is consumed by alcohol; their love frays under his abuse. She resolves to escape her suffering by shooting her husband. But the very night she sits on the porch with her gun, he does not come home. Fate had intervened. He was taken down by a train as he walked along the railroad tracks, You feel the tragedy of abuse, of death, and of a love–once beautiful and bright– that was extinguished by addiction.”

You can listen to "The Ballad of Johnny Fall" below. Prettiest Blue is due out July 1. For more on The Early Mays, check out the artist's website.