Friday, July 3, 2020

Half Past Two Covers The Beatles

A ska/pop-punk cover of a Beatles classic is something you already know if you want to hear. Orange County's Half Past Two have chosen to cover "I Will," which is one of the most underappreciated Beatles songs out there. The original is a quiet, slightly upbeat ballad that may very well be the first ever twee song. Half Past Two's version is restrained for ska/punk, but definitely more upbeat than the original. This is a 90's throwback ska song, sounding more like Reel Big Fish or Save Ferris than earlier ska. It's a ska cover of a Beatles song, and in the tradition of ska covers of classic rock songs, this is purely fun.

You can watch the video for Half Past Two's version of "I Will" below. Something Blue, the new EP from Half Past Two, is out today. You can get a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Half Past Two, check out their website.

Friday Freebie: Brenna Lowrie - Loss Leader

Today is the day many people get off work to celebrate America's Independence Day, so why not bring you a free EP from an artist from Alberta, Canada?

Brenna Lowrie recently released Loss Leader. It's a six song collection of psychedelic folk. That is perfectly displayed with the EP's opening song, "Skin." "Skin" is one of the more haunting folk songs I've heard in a while. It completely fits the modern folk template, but there's just something about Lowrie's vocals and playing that will implant itself directly in your soul. "Better Late Than Never" has a slightly off-kilter feel to it. It's both beautiful, but keeps the haunting feel going. "Trapped on the Ground" is a purely gorgeous song that does its own thing while captivating the listener. If you haven't fallen in love with the music of Brenna Lowrie by this point, "Longest Night" will solidify that love for you.

You can listen to "Trapped on the Ground" below. Loss Leader is available now for the "name your price" option on Brenna Lowrie's Bandcamp

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Caitlin Pasko - "Horrible Person"

Brooklyn based artist Caitlin Pasko is tough to describe. Her latest single, "Horrible Person," crafts the listener a true sonic landscape even though it's a very minimal song. Pasko's voice is this soft and lush instrument that is going to suck you straight in no matter how much you may try to fight it.. but why would you? Instruments seem to wander in at their own whim, each taking a brief turn in the spotlight until Pasko's voice takes back its rightful place. 

Caitlin Pasko says of the song: 

"I wrote 'Horrible Person' a cappella, alone in my bed, in the dark. It's the first song Henry [Terepka] and I made that paved the way for Greenhouse. I remember meeting up with him at Pinch just to see if we could make something (anything), and after catching up, Henry asked me what I'd been working on. I told him I was trying a new thing -- writing songs a capella, away from my piano, as a way to bypass my usual songwriting hang ups. I remember describing "Horrible Person" to him as being 'pretty direct,' and laughing nervously. We were in the control room, and he jumped up to get his guitar, and an amp, and some pedals. He asked me to sing the first line (so that he could figure out the key), and we both laughed about it as he created a drone. Then, before I ever even sang the whole song to him, we decided to record a take, with both of us improvising and reacting to each other. Afterwards, we built layers upon layers around it. I imagine that I'm singing from inside a deep, dark, underwater chasm, with neon diatoms darting around me. The final recording is the first and only take of the song, as well as my first time singing it aloud to anyone (and Henry's first time hearing it)."

You can listen to "Horrible Person" below. Greenhouse, the upcoming album from Caitlin Pasko, will be out August 28 on Whatever's Clever. For more on Caitlin Pasko, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Kestrels - "Vanishing Point"

Last month we brought you Kestrels's new single "Grey and Blue." I personally loved it, but I'm going to be predisposed to liking any song that includes a guest guitar solo from J Mascis. With their new single, "Vanishing Point," it turns out they don't need any help to make a killer 90's influenced song. "Vanishing Point" combines just about every one of my favorite 90's genres. There is a ton of grungy guitars with power pop hooks and more than a little Brit pop sprinkled in. And, even without Mascis, there are some insanely great guitar solos in here. 

You can watch the cat heavy video for "Vanishing Point" below. Dream or Don't Dream, the upcoming album from Kestrels, will be out July 10 on Darla Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Kestrels, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Carmanah - "Stand Up"

If you're like us and have a soft spot for modern folk songs that bring in some oldies sounds, the latest from Carmanah will do it for you. "Stand Up" starts off fairly straightforward. It's modern folk with just a little hint of 60's soul, and that's nearly impossible to mess up. Luckily, Carmanah pair these up perfectly. As "Stand Up" goes on, the band lets loose with these little almost twee flourishes that heighten how much you end up loving the song.

Carmanah says that the song "... was intended to be a little cheeky, but was also written as a simple wish for love to prevail and for all the haters to just sit down and listen."

You can watch the video for "Stand Up" below. For more on Carmanah, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Le Ren - "If I Had Wings"

Photo by Mariah Hamilton
Le Ren is the name Lauren Spear performs under. The Montreal based musician is set to release her debut EP later this month. Her new single, "If I Had Wings," is a modern day version of classic folk artists like Marianne Faithful and Joni Mitchell. The song has an undeniable sense of loss and melancholy, for good reason. Two years ago, Spear's ex-boyfriend was killed in a car accident. "If I Had Wings" is about that loss and the sense of feeling responsible for keeping their shared memories alive. The song is perfectly beautiful, and we can't recommend this enough.

You can watch the video for "If I Had Wings" below. Morning & Melancholia, the debut EP from Le Ren, will be out July 31 on Secretly Canadian. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Le Ren, check out the artist's Facebook and Instagram.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

First Listen: New Releases for 26 June

Artist: Young Ejecta
Album: Ride Lonesome
Quick Description: Latest effort from the synthy electronic duo.
Why You Should Listen: Part art project, part musical project, all awesome.
Overall Thoughts: I've enjoyed everything musically that we've gotten from Young Ejecta, and Leanne Macomber (perhaps better known for her work with Non Indian) exudes a presence in this project that just works really well. This is decidedly more mainstream sounding than the previous efforts, and while it's been a while, it's clear the overall conceit behind the project (think of an alien observer) has taken a backseat, the musical efforts have not. I really enjoyed this, and it's absolutely an interesting take on what many might think is a tired subgenre.
Recommendation: A favorite this week.

Artist: Gordi
Album: Our Two Skins
Quick Description: Sophomore singer-songwriter effort.
Why You Should Listen: While her first effort was more direct, this is more successfully scaled back.
Overall Thoughts: There is a lot of singer-songwritery stuff out this week, and there's definitely no dearth of it in the overall release schedule, but Gordi's latest effort stood out because of how deliberately and unexpectedly stark and reserved it was. There's quite a bit to like here, and even the parts that do not fully succeed still exude an effort and style that fits with the whole. In a week where it might be easy for things like this to get lost in the pile, this deserves a closer look.
Recommendation: Worth the time.

Artist: The Rentals
Album: Q36
Quick Description: Full-length presentation of new material and singles from the last few years.
Why You Should Listen: The Rentals are usually great.
Overall Thoughts: In a sense, this is ultimately no different than other Rentals releases outside of the fact that many of these songs date back nearly three years. Still, while it's great to have in one package and contains a lot of great songs, the only downside is that it doesn't feel like a cohesive whole, instead seeming to have a compilation vibe. This isn't a bad thing overall: you're likely to find plenty to love here, and I can't wait to go back for a few of the songs ("Elon Musk is Making Me Sad," "Teen Beat Cosmonaut") as well as sort out what I may have missed on a whole.
Recommendation: A great return after a six year full-length gap.

Of note:

* Sofia Talvik - Paws of a Bear - Unplugged (The sign of a good album is when it's just as gorgeous when stripped down to its acoustic base.)
* Prateek - The Band's All Gone (Live album from a favorite here.)
* Corb Lund - Agricultural Tragic (Great country rock. Don't sleep on "I Think You Oughta Try Whiskey.")
* Hum - Inlet (First album of new material since 1998. It's pretty heavy.)
* Becca Mancari - The Greatest Part
* Arca - KiCk i
* ionnalee, iamamiwhoami, Barbelle - KRONOLOGI
* Bassnectar - All Colors
* Country Westerns - Country Westerns
* Elbow - elbowrooms
* Bad Moves - Untenable
* Daniel Avery - Love + Light


* Carissa Johnson and The Cure-Alls - The Good EP (Probably my favorite release this week.)
* Ellie Moon - MOONiSMS (Another great EP this week. Four awesome songs.)
* Kitty - Charm and Mirror
* Pye Corner Audio - Where Things Are Hollow 2
* Dirty Projectors - Flight Tower
* sarya - take care of yourself
* Grand Pax - PWR
* ALMA - Acoustic EP
* The Venomous Pinks - I Want You

Also out:

* Dan Drohan - You're a Crusher/Drocan! (Not sure what to make of this one.)
* HAIM - Women in Music Pt. III (The first two tracks are quite good.)
* Bananagun - The True Story of Bananagun
* Ego Ella May - Honey for Wounds
* Iron Wigs - Your Birthday's Cancelled
* Jessie Ware - What's Your Pleasure
* Sofie - Cult Survivor

Immaterial Possession - "See Through Stares"

Photo by Ben Rouse
Athens, GA is one of the few towns that I'll give a chance to any band from there based on its rich musical history. Our latest discovery is Immaterial Possession. In keeping with Athens tradition (and not just the fact that Kiran Jeremy Fernandes is a descendant of Elephant 6's John Fernandes), Immaterial Possession have a sound truly their own. Their latest single, "See Through Stares," has an avant-garde, theatrical, psychedelic, gothic feel, all without sounding anything near as pretentious as that description sounds. The song has a true Southern roots and Americana feel while still containing all of those other elements. It's the kind of sound that could have truly only come from Athens.

You can watch the video for "See Through Stares" below. Immaterial Possession's self-titled debut is due out on July 31 via Cloud Recordings. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Immaterial Possession, check them out on Facebook.

New Fries - "Arendt / Adler / Pulley Pulley Pulley Pulley"

New Fries are truly a band without a genre. Their latest single, "Arendt / Adler / Pulley Pulley Pulley Pulley" has elements of No Wave, trip hop, experimental noise rock, indie... etc. It starts out as a jazzy trip hop song, and slowly as the song progresses it keeps evolving and adding new elements. "Arendt / Adler / Pulley Pulley Pulley Pulley" sounds like the same song at the end as it does as the beginning despite how much it grows and adds as it goes on and on. It's an impossibly compelling song that will suck you in even if you hate it.

New Fries say of the song: "Something about the women obscuring their gender and traditional roles (intentionally or otherwise) to do their work without interruption or expectation. Being contrarians, shrill. Seeking truth without taking care of emotions. Often their work is forensic, razor-sharp, and bright with clarity."

You can listen to "Arendt / Adler / Pulley Pulley Pulley Pulley" below. Is the Idea of Us, the upcoming album from New Fries, will be out August 7 on Telephone Explosion. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on New Fries, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Monday, June 29, 2020

Jack the Radio with Lydia Loveless - "Getting Good"

Photo via Facebook
Raleigh, NC's Jack the Radio have a new album coming out next week, and what got our attention is a newly released single featuring Lydia Loveless. Lydia Loveless has been a favorite around here for years, and new music from her has been pretty scarce lately. Obviously we're going to jump all over anything new featuring her. "Getting Good" is a killer roots rock ballad. It's classic alt-country goodness, the kind of song that made us fall in love with Lydia Loveless. "Getting Good" is a near perfect duet between singer George Hage and Lydia Loveless, the kind that rarely get made these days but will make you need to hear more. This is old school country with some indie rock elements, and hits so many of our musical sweet spots.

You can listen to "Getting Good" below. Creatures, the upcoming album from Jack the Radio, will be out July 10. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Jack the Radio, check out their website. For more on Lydia Loveless, check out her website.