Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Skye Wallace - "Coal In Your Window"

Photo by Sebastian Buzzalino
The latest single from Toronto, Canada's Skye Wallace may be pure power pop perfection. "Coal In Your Window" imagines a world where The Donnas were more influenced by Cheap Trick than the Ramones, but with plenty of late 90's indie rock guitars. It has plenty of punk attitude and edge, but is more fun and playful than aggressive. Wallace says about the song: "I wrote this song in a building in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland that used to be an old cottage hospital (Bonne Bay Cottage Hospital / Julia Ann Walsh Heritage Center). It was inspired by a story I heard about one of the young folks that used to work in the hospital and the boy that would throw coal at her window at night to beckon her down to their meeting place in the boiler room. 'Coal In Your Window' may be about a specific story, but it’s a truly universal concept of jittery, passionate love and doing whatever it takes to access that fire that another person ignites in you. I wanted to evoke an excited, dangerous, lustful energy that gets the heart pumping."

You can watch the video for "Coal In Your Window" below. Skye Wallace's self-titled debut album will be out June 7. For more on Skye Wallace, check out her website.

Brass Against Covers Rage Against the Machine

Photo via Facebook
If you were to go back to the 90's and tell a young Ken that he'd be more excited about a brass band covering Rage Against the Machine than he would about a RATM/Public Enemy/Cypress Hill supergroup...

Our love of covers is extremely well documented here. The best kind of cover keeps the spirit of the original while adding a band's own spin on a song. Brass Against are nailing the perfect cover with their version of Rage Against the Machine's "No Shelter." The band joins with singer Sophia Urista for the song, and she attacks the song with enough force that you won't miss Zack de la Rocha at all. Brass Against plays with more ferocity than you could think possible for a brass band. Sure, they also have a metal guitar player, but it's the horns (and Urista) that really bring the noise to this song.

You can watch the video for Brass Against's cover of "No Shelter" below. We somehow missed their 2018 self-titled album, which was all Rage Against the Machine covers, with a Living Colour cover and an Audioslave one thrown in. Definitely check that out, as well as their covers of Jane's Addiction, Black Sabbath, Tool, Pantera, etc. For more on Brass Against, check out their website.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Versing - "Tethered"

Photo by Gordon De Los Santos
Back in 2017, Versing came out of nowhere and blew me away when they played with The Courtneys and Weakened Friends, and their album from that year, Nirvana, ended up being my #5 album. Now they're back with a new song. "Tethered" continues the sound that we loved from their previous album. It's a mid-to-late-90's alternative sound, what I keep describing as early Superdrag meets The Dismemberment Plan. But "Tethered" brings a new sound, and a bit more aggression. There's also a little bit of emo (emo as in Sunny Day Real Estate) and an almost DEVO-like hint of New Wave? It's a really interesting addition to their sound, and we can't wait to hear what's next.

You can watch the video for "Tethered" below. 10000, the new album from Versing, will be out May 3 on Hardly Art Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Versing, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

First Listen: New Releases for 15 February

Album of the Week:

Artist: Haint Blue
Album: Overgrown
Quick Description: A debut album from a fully-formed roots act.
Why You Should Listen: This is great for fans of David Wax Museum or other more left-of-center roots/folks acts.
Overall Thoughts: Ken was a big fan of this, and I don’t blame him. This is an independent act on their first full-length, and you’d assume upon listening that they have been at this for ages. There is an aged maturity to this, combined with a very palatable mainstream sound that mirrors some of the breakthrough roots acts of recent years, that really makes this stand out. A solid listen, and one that I would expect many readers here in particular to keep in rotation for a long time, myself included.
Recommendation: My favorite this week.

Artist: Ladytron
Quick Description: First album in a while from the indie synth act.
Why You Should Listen: It's been too long, and Ladytron has been too good.
Overall Thoughts: Ladytron has always been a little off-center in the indie synth world, and I’ve long considered myself a fan. This latest album, their first in around five years, has a very deliberate and straightforward sound to it. The word that comes to mind is almost robotic, but I don’t mean that as a negative. It has such a hypnotizing, trance-like quality that I feel like may have been more evident in the past and has largely disappeared from this genre. I’m liking this album a lot on first listen, and looking forward to spending more time with it.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Hayes Carll
Album: What It Is
Quick Description: Latest from the left wing rootsy troubadour.
Why You Should Listen: Hayes Carll is always a great listen.
Overall Thoughts: Hayes Carll still has one of my favorite songs ever (featuring Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope), “Someone Like You,” so I will always check out new work from him. I didn’t love his last album, but this one feels like more of a return to form. It’s a little light on its feet, a little more fun, and just seems to work on the level I’ve come to expect. Carll has always had a more rocking tendency with his best work, and it’s all over this album.
Recommendation: Definitely worth the listen.

Artist: Holiday Gunfire
Album: Holiday Gunfire
Quick Description: Debut from an act pulled directly from your time capsule buried in the backyard 25 years ago.
Why You Should Listen: It's wonderfully anachronistic and perplexing.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like I want to love this more than I do, but enjoyed this a lot more than I thought? That may be the eternal struggle surrounding Holiday Gunfire, which is a band that was teleported directly from college radio circa 1992 and deposited in the current day with no apparent irony. It’s a sound that we all know and love, but maybe it’s the production that needs to be louder or maybe less muddy that would turn this from being “pretty solid” to “truly great.” Still, the production values do not take away from some classic songwriting and musicianship that should last far beyond the initial nostalgia hit.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Bloodshot Bill
Album: Come Get Your Love Right Now
Quick Description: Acid rockabilly?
Why You Should Listen: It's the most uniquely familiar music I've heard in ages.
Overall Thoughts: I try not to look up these bands/groups/artists until after I’ve listened, if not after I write up a review, but this is so out there in some regards that I had to figure out what was going on. The production on this is so muddy it feels like an early rock record, but this is really just gritty rockabilly in all its glory. Is this guy Chris Isaak drunk on moonshine? Is he the roots equivalent of Wesley Willis? I have no idea. This is so weird, but it’s so compelling.
Recommendation: Needs to be heard.

Artist: Heartstreets
Album: Why Make Sense
Quick Description: Soul-based rap music.
Why You Should Listen: This will consistently surprise you.
Overall Thoughts: This is a surprise rap entry this week. I didn't realize, looking at the cover, that we would be getting some solid rap with soul/R&B instrumentation behind it, but here we go. There are a lot of solid moments here, and when I look for interesting rap music this definitely fits the bill. It won't work for everyone - this much I know for sure - but if you're willing to take a risk...
Recommendation: Worked well for me, so it might work for you.

Of note:

* Daniel Steinbock - Out of Blue (Quiet, often impressive, folk music)
* Gemma Ray - Psychogeology (as beautifully confounding as always)
* Women's Hour - Ephyria (Very enigmatic.)
* the dates - ask again later (Fun, often Byrds-ian indie rock.)
* Czarface and Ghostface Killah - Czarface Meets Ghostface
* Bilge Pump - We Love You
* The Long Ryders - Psychedelic Country Soul
* Anenome - Beat My Distance
* Elena Setien - Another Kind of Revolution
* Piroshka - Brickbat
* Pye Corner Audio - Hollow Earth
* Betty Who - Betty


* Bec Stevens - Why Don't You Just ("10 Minute Drive" is one of the best songs of the early year.)
* Broken Social Scene - Let's Try the After Vol. 1 (As someone not too into BSS, this is good.)
* Stepbrother - Nearest and Dearest (Great alt-indie, not a bad song in the batch.)

Also out:

* Lenny Lashley's Gang of One - All Are Welcome
* Carsie Blanton - Buck Up
* Tedeschi Trucks Band - Signs
* Bodega - Witness Scroll

Monday, February 18, 2019

Julia Jacklin - "Comfort"

Photo by Nick Mckk
The new album from Julia Jacklin will be out this Friday, but she's released one last single while we desperately wait. So far all three singles have been quite different. "Head Alone" felt like it could have been a lost track from her previous album, Don't Let the Kids Win, but with more confidence. "Pressure to Party" was more of a rock song. The third, "Comfort," is an almost painfully quiet folk song. It's only Jacklin's voice in its most delicate possible version with a just barely strummed guitar. (There's also a tiny bit of backing vocals, but just barely and used rarely). With all three of the previewed songs being so completely different from each other (but obviously from the same universe), we can't wait until Friday. 

You can watch the video for "Comfort" below. Crushing, the new album from Julia Jacklin, will be out February 22 on Polyvinyl. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Julia Jacklin, check out her website.

Live Shows: The Devil's Twins, Diablogato, Salem Wolves, Opus, Salem, MA 2/16/19

Saturday night was an absurdly packed night for live music in the Boston area. Of all the options available, I had to trek way out to Salem, MA for a fantastic loud and local triple bill: The Devil's Twins, Diablogato, and Salem Wolves.

Considering how long I've been writing about Salem Wolves on here, and considering that they're a local band that plays in the area a lot, this was somehow the first time I had gotten around to seeing them live. It definitely won't be the last. Their arena ready garage rock anthems are crafted specifically for a live show, even if the "arena" is a tiny brick walled basement. The band was breaking in two brand new members (guitarist Charlie MacSteven (who also plays in Diablogato) and bassist Cat Verlicco), but you would never have known it. They played insanely tightly, and with an incredible infectious energy. Singer Gray Bouchard is a much more theatrical frontman than I expected. We're not talking about an Alice Cooper type spectacle, but he was extraordinarily expressive while singing and is completely taken over by the rock. Let's hope it takes less time for me to see them a second time.

Diablogato is the band I was least familiar with of the three, but expect more from them here at If It's Too Loud..., hopefully sooner than later. They play this dirty as hell punked up almost rockabilly sound that hits such a sweet spot for me. It's not quite a throwback to early rock 'n' roll, but only because it's just too loud. That's not to say it's purely just crushing doom and noise. Diablogato plays with a swinging groove to keep the audience moving. They're definitely a party just waiting to happen, and even had Nikki Marie of The Devil's Twins join them for a song, just to keep the family like vibe going all night. If you want to check them out, I'd recommend "Gasoline." That's a perfect example of what to expect with Diablogato.

The nearly legendary The Devil's Twins closed out the night. It might be a small local legend, but for those of us that have been ensnared by their claws, The Devil's Twins are legends. It was also my first time getting to see them, and it was a setup that included a horn section, which I'm told is the best way to go. They also have a throwback old school rock 'n' roll sound, but by far the darkest and heaviest of the evening. The dual frontperson siblings of Jeremiah Louf and Nikki Marie are absolutely perfect together. It's just insanely big and loud rock. They busted out a cover of "Twist & Shout" for the second song of their set, and from then on all of Opus was hooked. This seems like a triple bill that happens every so often, and let's hope I can make it to the next one.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Modern Nature - "Supernature"

Photo by James Sharp
If you've been wondering what Jack Cooper (formerly of Ultimate Painting) was going to do next, then you're in luck. Modern Nature is his latest project, and it's quite different from his previous one. Cooper has this to say about his new band: "The band is so new, it's hard to say who's in and who isn't. At the moment it's myself and Will Young (Beak) with Aaron Neveu on drums (Woods/Herbcraft) Rupert Gillett on cello and then Jeff Tobias on saxophone (Sunwatchers). The band started as a vehicle for a wider project that Will and I spent the year putting together so it feels very exciting to be an actual band now. Every song we record or musician we gain, another door seems to open on a route that's worth pursuing.”

Their first single, "Supernature," is a nearly twelve minute long song that dabbles in folk and free jazz equally. It has a chilled out (but strangely intense) vibe throughout, and sort of plods along with its tempo. It's one of those songs where the saxophone is used almost as a second voice, taking solos that are almost verses and harmonizing with Cooper. This song could have easily overstayed its welcome by lasting twelve minutes, but it will keep you sucked in throughout the end.

You can listen to "Supernature" below. Nature, Modern Nature's debut EP, will be out March 22 on Bella Union. For more on Modern Nature, check out their website.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Yawpers - "Child of Mercy"

Photo by Megan Holmes
Every so often we come across a song that completely blows our minds and doesn't sound like anything we've heard before. This new song from The Yawpers is that type of song.

Jeff described their 2017 release Boy in a Well as "A somewhat schizophrenic effort that has a foundation in the rootsy genres." That did not prepare us for their new song at all. For their new album, The Yawpers recorded together in a single room, helping to give "Child of Mercy" an energy. The Yawpers are on Bloodshot Records, so you know it will fall into the alt-country category. But "Child of Mercy" is alt-country meets Goo and Dirty era Sonic Youth, but metal. You get a great intense alt-country song with a killer groove throughout, and then these absurd noise bursts kick in. But these are intensely heavy noise bursts. The song clocks in at just over three minutes, but it feels like an eight minute epic considering everything you've been put through. 

You can listen to "Child of Mercy" below. Human Question, the new album from The Yawpers, will be out April 19 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Yawpers, check out their website.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

City Rivals - "Intoxicated"

With Letters to Cleo only doing a small handful of dates, the members have lots of non-LTC time on their hands. With most members out in Los Angeles doing production and television work, that leaves guitarist Greg McKenna remaining in their hometown of Boston. Turns out he has another fantastic band with City Rivals. McKenna's newer band also features Michael Coen and Matt Diekman of The Bleedin Bleedins, and while their sound is Letters to Cleo adjacent there is definitely a sound all their own here. With "Intoxicated," City Rivals go for a late 90's alternative power pop vibe, but the guitars have more of an edge to them. It's catchy as hell, with an almost Uncle Tupelo tries (and mostly fails) to lose their country sound to it.

You can listen to "Intoxicated" below. City Rivals just released their debut EP, which you can purchase via CD Baby. For more on City Rivals, check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Mykele Deville - "Free Soul"

The latest track from Chicago's rapper, poet, educator, actor Mykele Deville's upcoming album is a throwback to a very specific period of late 90's hip hop. "Free Soul" combines the jazz inspired rap of Guru with the positive throwback vibes of Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5. It's a fantastic song with looping horns throughout and the closest thing to an R&B chorus is the scatting in its place. The song is a tribute to Chicago but also calls out the clique mentality of the city's arts scene. I can't think of any other modern day rapper that has a diss track for his city's arts scene, but that is one of the reasons we love this song.

You can watch the video for "Free Soul" below. Maintain, the new album from Mykele Deville, will be out February 22 on No Trend Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Mykele Deville, check out his website.