Monday, March 27, 2017

Mountain Man Covers The Everly Brothers

Mountain Man (the Vermont folk trio, not the Worcester, MA metal band) have joined in on the Our First 100 Days project with a cover of The Everly Brothers' "Love Hurts." "Love Hurts" is one of the most perfect songs to cover, as versions from Gram Parsons and Nazareth can attest to. Mountain Man's version is virtually perfect and keeps in line with the folk/country origins of the song. Solo versions always seem to miss the harmony, but Mountain Man's specialty is harmonizing, and "Love Hurts" is made for their style perfectly.

You can listen to Mountain Man's version of "Love Hurts" below. The Our First 100 Days project is releasing a song for each of Trump's first 100 days in office. It features a new, exclusive song every day, and all proceeds will benefit organizations that work on climate change, immigration, women's rights, etc. It features a diverse and growing group of musicians including Hurray for the Riff Raff, Speedy Ortiz, Surfer Blood, Tim Heidecker, Jessica Lea Mayfield, and more. You can find more information about the project on Bandcamp. For more on Mountain Man, check out their website.

Thurston Moore - "Smoke of Dreams"

Photo via Facebook
For the first single off of his upcoming album, Rock n Roll Consciousness, Thurston Moore is going back to right where he left off from Sonic Youth. Up until now, Moore's post Sonic Youth work has been indulging in his more folky or metal sides, "Smoke of Dreams" is pure late Sonic Youth era Moore. It's a chilled out jam, much more along the lines of a jam band than the punk or post-punk that defined much of Sonic Youth's sound. In the late 90s and beyond, Sonic Youth, especially Thurston, started getting less aggressive and showing off their hippie and beat poetry inspired sound. "Smoke of Dreams" is super trippy and is perfect for anyone missing the 2000s Sonic Youth sound.

You can watch the video for "Smoke of Dreams" below. Rock n Roll Consciousness will be out on April 28 on Caroline International. It's a five song album, so I'm pretty sure this is going to be Moore's hippiest album yet. For more on Thurston Moore, check out his website.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Skating Polly - "Hail Mary"

Photo by Angel Ceballos
I always wonder why more established artists don't collaborate with their up and coming counterparts. It seems like it would help both artists reach a new base of like-minded fans. Plus, it's just cool. You get it sometimes with Trent Reznor and David Bowie, Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples, or Jack White and Loretta Lynn. It always seems to be the younger, hipper artist writing and/or producing for the veteran artist.

That's not the case with the new Skating Polly EP. The duo, comprised of step-sisters Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, joined up with Louise Post and Nina Gordon of the recently reunited Veruca Salt, who co-wrote the EP with them. "Hail Mary" really shows the influence. The song is just heavy and dark, and seems to combine the earlier, more indie rock leanings of Veruca Salt with the heavier, more rockin' side the leaned towards later on. Plus, Gordon and Post really showed Skating Polly how to harmonize. The result is a dark, heavy, but still accessible song perfect for 90s nostalgia nerds, both the ones who lived it and the ones who came after.

You can watch the video for "Hail Mary" below. The new EP from Skating Polly, New Trick, will be released on April 28 on El Camino Media. For more on Skating Polly, check out their website.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Flasher - "Winnie"

Photo by Michael Andrade
The latest single from Washington DC's Flasher seems pretty straightforward, but the song has a few odd elements all mixed together. It includes the band's old school DC emo sound like they had back on "Destroy." "Winnie" pulls in this new funkiness, in an almost glammed out T-Rex style groove. And then the song pulls out this great almost Mascis-esque guitar solo to close. And then there are the lyrics. Sung in a melodic, post punk meets Malkmus fashion, the lyrics are taken mostly from pundits on CNN or pharmaceutical commercials. The chorus of "These feet want to keep the beat moving" is straight out of a diabetes commercial.

You can listen to "Winnie" below. It will be released on Sister Polygon on May 5. You can pre-order your copy of the single here. For more on Flasher, check out their Bandcamp. Current tour dates are below the song.

Wed. Mar. 22 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn 
Fri. Mar. 24 - Durham, NC @ Duke Coffeehouse w/ NE-HI
Fri. Apr. 14 - Cincinnati, OH @ MOTR Pub w/ Leggy
Sat. Apr. 15 - Bloomington, IN @ Dunn Meadow (Culture Shock Festival)
Sun. Apr. 16 - Chicago, IL @ Township
Mon. Apr. 17 - Detroit, MI @ UFO Factory
Wed. Apr. 19 - Toronto, ON @ The Baby G (Canadian Music Week)
Thu. Apr. 20 - Montreal, QC @ Matahari Art Loft
Fri. Apr. 21 - Winooski, VT @ The Monkey House
Fri. Apr. 28 - Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong w/ Split Single, R. Ring
Thu. June 22 - Washington, DC @ Luce Foundation Center ("Luce Unplugged" Series)

Charming Disaster - "Sympathetic Magic"

Charming Disaster are a band, but there is this odd almost theatrical element to their music that gives them a touch of art project to their sound. Their songs are ..." stories about love, death, crime, ancient mythology, and the paranormal." Comprised of Jeff Morris and Ellia Bisker, the duo is about to release their new album, Cautionary Tales, next month.

The album opener, "Sympathetic Magic," starts as a pretty standard folkish, Americana song, with Morris and Bisker trading off vocals, and then intertwining separate verses over each other. And then the orchestration and theatrics come in, much more than the usual Charming Disaster song. Lyrically, the song seems to be about falling in love at a seance, sung from both sides of the meeting.

You can listen to "Sympathetic Magic" below. Cautionary Tales will be released April 21. The album "... ." You can get your copy via Bandcamp in both standard and deluxe digital formats. There is also a second song from the album, "What Remains," available to listen to on Bandcamp. Charming Disaster are also about to go out on tour. Dates are below the song. For more on Charming Disaster, check out their website.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Pega Monstro - "Partir a Loica"

Portugal's greatest garage punk sister duo are back with a brand new song! We first discovered Pega Monstro with the release of Alfarroba back in 2015. "Partir a Loica" is the first song off their upcoming album Casa de Sima, their third overall.

Not being a lyrics guy, I'm completely ok with songs done entirely in other languages that I, as an ignorant American, don't understand a single word of. In case you're curious, "Partir a loica" is a common Portuguese phrase that roughly translates to "break all the dishes," and is used to mean shake things up. "Partir a Loica," the song, is pretty much a perfect garage punk song. It's catchy as can be, with crunchy sounding guitars, but yet it still has a pretty melody you'll sing even if you don't understand a single word. And then the bridge comes in just as hard as The White Stripes at their most punk.

You can listen to "Partir a Loica" below. Casa de Sima will be released on June 2 on Upset the Rhythm. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Pega Monstro, check them out on Facebook.

First Listen: New Releases for 17 March

An interesting release week.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Frances
Album: Things I've Never Said
Quick Description: Compelling singer-songwritery tunes.
Why You Should Listen: You like arresting music that surprises you.
Overall Thoughts: I went in blind on Frances for the most part – I feel like I heard a song once upon a time, but that’s neither here nor there. This album really surprised me, which is why it’s my pick for album of the week. Haunting is the wrong word, because I feel like there’s a connotation to that idea that goes with a darker tone or a more ethereal take on the music. It’s not traditional folk, but it’s not standard/modern singer-songwriter fare, either. On first listen? It just feels different. And immediate. And essential. It’s an album that didn’t want to be in the background and kept commanding my attention, which doesn’t happen a whole lot in this way. I truly loved this, and I look forward to spending more time with it to see where its staying power ultimately resides, but do not sleep on this album. It’s truly a special one.
Recommendation: Easily my favorite of the week.

Artist: Spoon
Album: Hot Thoughts
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rock stalwarts.
Why You Should Listen: You're a big fan, and/or you realize they have enough credentials at this point to give a shot no matter what.
Overall Thoughts: Everyone is all about this Spoon album, which is the most buzzworthy release of the week and one of the most anticipated releases of this quarter. Hot take coming in, though – this album is just kind of weird. The lead single didn’t grab me, and there’s a lot of strange, somewhat experimental stuff here. I haven’t read any interviews or anything about this release, so I don’t truly know what Spoon is trying to do here, but this is really just an album that doesn’t impress. While musically fascinating, it ultimately feels weird and disjointed. Hardcore fans might love this, and maybe 25 year old Jeff might like this, but this is such a weird change of direction that I’m not at all convinced it works.
Recommendation: Be really wary. Didn't love this one at all.

Artist: Nataly Dawn
Album: The Coldplay EP
Quick Description: Pomplamoose singer covers classic Coldplay.
Why You Should Listen: The quick description isn't enough?
Overall Thoughts: Half of Pomplamoose doing an EP of Coldplay covers? Sign me up. Coldplay’s first couple albums were truly legitimate affairs, and that’s where this EP smartly pulls from. Her take on these albums is solid, and her voice lends itself well to Chris Martin’s melodies on these songs. A solid listen with minimal investment time.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Lindi Ortega
Album: 'Til the Going Gets Gone
Quick Description: Quick EP from an underrated act.
Why You Should Listen: If you don't know her already, you should introduce yourself here.
Overall Thoughts: Lindi Ortega is one of those sneaky great alt-country acts, and I’m as guilty as anyone else by not talking about her more. This is a short EP that serves as a great taste of what she offers and has some solid songs even though I don’t know if it’s necessarily representative of her overall work. Still, if you’ve been behind on what she offers on a whole, this is as good a moment as any to jump on board. Plenty of room on the bandwagon.
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.

Artist: Real Estate
Album: In Mind
Quick Description: Indie rockers sit in the 1960s/70s.
Why You Should Listen: You miss the Byrds/R.E.M./jangle pop in general.
Overall Thoughts: As a crazy R.E.M. fan, there are countless bands aping the sound that they appropriated and made famous. In Mind is the best recent listen I can remember that's tossing that sound out there. It's just such a pleasant, relaxing listen that it just evokes a lot of the sort of laid back music that it's in tribute to. This isn't going to blow your socks off, but it's not designed to do that. It's sort of that kind of album you picture on a pleasant spring day.
Recommendation: Nice listen overall.

Artist: CJ Ramone
Album: American Beauty
Quick Description: New solo album from the Ramone.
Why You Should Listen: I mean, you know what you're getting here, right?
Overall Thoughts: CJ Ramone, one of the secondary Ramones I guess, had one of my favorite songs of a few years ago, “Carry Me Away.” The new album continues having some of the similar punk sensibilities taken from his tenure with the Ramones and with his solo work. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but it’s got that firm familiarity behind some solid songwriting. By no means is this an essential listen or terribly important in the punk canon, but you’ll find a good amount to like here nonetheless.
Recommendation: Solid poppy-punk effort.

Artist: Pinback
Album: Some Offcell Voices
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Pinback's been around for a long, long time.
Overall Thoughts: Pinback is a band I’ve been aware of for close to 15 years now, but I’ve never really gotten into them. This latest album is not what I expected from them, but I don’t know for sure whether it’s because it’s a shift or because they’ve always done the more quiet, introspective listen that this album appears to reflect. I didn’t love this, and I didn’t hate this, but in a week with a lot of interesting and important albums out, what was surprising to me was the complete lack of impact this album had on me by the time it was done. In an era where it’s easier than ever to get your music to the masses and it’s cheaper than ever to consume music, a band like Pinback needs a bigger splash than this.
Recommendation: It's fine, just doesn't stand out in a busy week.

Artist: Divisionists
Album: Daybreak
Quick Description: London-based indie act's debut.
Why You Should Listen: You like interesting music with tons of upside.
Overall Thoughts: Divisionists is a band we’ve spent some time with before, and this is their first full-length album. Calling this a mixed bag is not something I would necessarily do because of the negative connotations, because this is truly a solid album, but there are essentially two types of songs on here. Some of them are incredibly solid and compelling, and others feel like filler, and there’s no middle ground. Plenty of great albums have some songs that are merely okay, but the one flaw with Divisionists so far is just the size of the gap between the two. This should not dissuade you from checking out this album, though – when Divisionists is on, they are on, and that makes this album a great listen and one of the best of the week. It also speaks well to how bright their future is as a band, so get in on the ground floor.
Recommendation: A mandatory listen.

Artist: Your Old Droog
Album: Packs
Quick Description: Buzzworthy rap music.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoy 90s-style rap.
Overall Thoughts: Your Old Droog finally offers up an album after years of EPs and one-offs. I only learned of Your Old Droog after a podcast that explored the theory that Droog was actually Nas, but that’s long gone now and what we have now is a listen that evokes the best of that 1990s rap music while still feeling new and fresh. If Drake/Future is your speed these days, this might not excite you, but I have to say that this album caught me in just the right way and I’m absolutely looking forward to spending more time with it on a whole.
Recommendation: A great rap listen this week.

Artist: Zara Larsson
Album: So Good
Quick Description: New pop album from a European contest winner.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for some pop to round out the week.
Overall Thoughts: Zara Larsson seeks to be the New Big Thing in pop music. I enjoyed this album, but I’m not sure she 100% succeeds at setting herself apart on first listen. There’s absolutely a lot to like here, but if you’re looking for a pop album that transcends a bit the way people like Tove Lo or Charli XCX try, this might not work for you. Still, if you’re into pop music, you owe yourself a listen on this.
Recommendation: Maybe worth it if you're at all interested.

Artist: Conor Oberst
Album: Salutations
Quick Description: Latest from the indie folkie.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan and continue to be even after his recent output.
Overall Thoughts: Conor Oberst is fully and completely channeling Bob Dylan now. While I didn’t mind this album all that much, it’s frankly difficult to really take seriously in that context. His delivery and, often, the songwriting – his song about losing so many famous thinkers feels especially wrought – just feels far too derivative at this point for someone with his history. Granted, he’s had a struggle of sorts over recent years and that might be informing some of this, but there’s part of me that just wants Bright Eyes/”Four Winds” again.
Recommendation: Meh.

Also out this week:

* Depeche Mode - Spirit
* Jarvis Cocker and Chilly Gonzalez - Room 29

Monday, March 20, 2017

Benjamin Booker Covers Howlin' Wolf

Photo by Ken Sears
Benjamin Booker covering Howlin' Wolf is a complete no brainer. Booker's hyped up delta blues and gravelly voice is perfect for covering the blues legend. Booker's version feels a bit more stripped down than the original, even though it seems to be using the same instrumentation. It could be that Howlin' Wolf's is produced to sound more slick, and Booker's is meant to sound raw. Either way, it's a perfect cover.

You can listen to Benjamin Booker's cover of "Spoonful" below. It will be available on the Resistance Radio: The Man in The High Castle Album compilation, which features modern day artists covering classics. The album will also feature covers by Beck, Sharon van Etten, Angel Olson, The Shins, Karen O, and more, so you know we'll be all over it. The album will be out on April 7. To pre-order it, head over to Amazon. Benjamin Booker will release his new album, Witness, on June 2. Check out his website for more information.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Inhalt - "Walking on Glass"

Hailing from San Francisco, Inhalt (German for "content") defy the city's hippie reputation and instead offer dark, driving synth music. "Walking on Glass" offers just the slightest hint of the electronic post punk that was all the rage 10-15 years ago, but this is stripped way back. It's a little too nicely produced to truly be called minimalist, but it's right on the line of minimalism. You get this dark, brooding, and foreboding sound, that you can still dance to. 

Inhalt's upcoming album, Part Time Punks Sessions, was recorded live in a collaboration with the Part Time Punks radio show out of Los Angeles. It will be available April 14 on Cleopatra Records. You can pre-order your copy on Bandcamp. The video for "Walking on Glass" is below. For more on Inhalt, check out their website.

Fuzzystar - "Telegraphing"

One of the highlights of 2017 has been the discovery of Fuzzystar, led by Andy Thomson of Edinburgh. We've had one song per month from Fuzzystar, and since this is March, here is the third song from the upcoming Telegraphing.

The title track, "Telegraphing," is Fuzzystar's most accessible song yet. It's just a perfect little mid to late 90s indie power pop song. Thomsen's droning vocals seem to be the main focus of this particular song. The guitars seem to be taking a bit of a backseat and are there to help lead and support the singing. Vocally, it's a bit of an odd mix of J Mascis and Lou Barlow. Musically, it's like J Mascis wrote a song for Ash, who didn't dare try to pull of the typical Dinosaur Jr batshit guitar solo.

Next month we'll finally get to hear the entire album for Telegraphing. It will be out on April 28 via Satellite Sounds. You can listen to the song "Telegraphing" below. For more on Fuzzystar, check them out on Twitter and Facebook.