Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Wolff Sisters - "Where I Got Lost"

The latest single from The Wolff Sisters isn't reinventing the modern mainstream folk genre. "Where I Got Lost" is a straightforward modern folk pop song. What sets The Wolff Sisters apart from other artists is just how great they are. "Where I Got Lost" does take a few twists and turns to get where it's going. It starts off as a laid back, heartfelt song, and just keeps getting better as instruments start wandering in. Piano, fiddle, etc. all seem to take their turns adding a little something to the song as it builds with slightly more intensity. Once we get to the electric guitar solo that seems to be done by a country guitarist who grew up on indie rock, the song truly starts hitting its peak, but it hasn't quite. The focus shifts back to vocals, which might just be the finest moment of the song.

You can listen to "Where I Got Lost" below. The song is currently available as a single via Bandcamp. For more on The Wolff Sisters, check out the artist's website.

The Cocker Spaniels - "Family Narc"

Aside from The Cocker Spaniels' (aka forty year old dad, show booker, and multi-instrumentalist Sean Padilla) Prince meets Guided By Voices sound, one of our favorite things he brings to music is a sense of humor. Artists that can have funny songs without being novelty acts are few and far between, but The Cocker Spaniels adds humor into his inventive sound. His latest single, "Family Narc," exemplifies that. It reminds me a lot of someone like Ben Folds who can release funny songs while still being a respected musician. "Family Narc" keeps the groove and funk of Prince with the bouncy noise of Guided By Voices.

Sean Padilla tells the story behind the new song:

"This song was inspired by an inside joke from the 'Cousin Chat Room' about a cousin of mine who has a reputation for snitching on other cousins to our older relatives. This cousin is nicknamed The Feds'; when she enters the chat room, everyone says time to be quiet - here come the Feds.'"

You can listen to "Family Narc" below. The Cocker Spaniels Are Still Alive, and So Are You is due out August 13 on Evil Island Fortress. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on The Cocker Spaniels, check out the band's Facebook.

Live Shows: Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, Julie Rhodes, The Devil's Twins, and Salem Wolves, ONCE at Boynton Yards, 7/31/21

This past Saturday was an interesting one. While all four bands that played are some of my favorites, Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys, Julie Rhodes, The Devil's Twins, and Salem Wolves are four bands I would never have picked to all play together. Sure, any two of them would make perfect sense, maybe even three of them would. But all four just seemed like a strange bill. A fantastic bill, but a strange one. Plus, it was a chance to check out ONCE Somerville's latest chapter. Obviously I was going, no matter what.

ONCE Somerville was/is a beloved local independent venue. Somehow they transformed a restaurant's function room into one of the best places to see a live show in Boston. When it closed last year during the pandemic, it was a huge blow to the arts community, but they vowed to continue in a new location. The temporary new location is at Boynton Yards. Maybe it was the inclusion of the word "yards" in the name, but I pictured a green space with a small field and some trees. Turns out it's in a parking lot in an industrial area of Somerville with the MBTA commuter rail running directly behind the stage. But, this is ONCE we're talking about, and they've somehow transferred the charm and joy of their previous location to this one. No idea how they do it, but JJ Gonson and her crew and magicians.

Salem Wolves took the stage for their first show since the start of the pandemic. They have a completely retooled line up with Grey Bouchard being the only previous member. The band joyously took the stage, and while Salem Wolves shows are always a blast, this one was particularly joyous. They played some new songs that hadn't been recorded yet, but also had the live premier of many songs from their 2020 EP Never Die!!! Along with a new line up came a slightly changed sound. Salem Wolves are still your favorite stadium ready garage rockers, but they've added some 90's style indie rock guitars to that sound. In other words, they took a sound that I already loved and tweaked it towards me even more. Definitely looking forward to seeing where they go from here!

Next up were The Devil's Twins, who I've seen play with both Walter Sickert & the Army of Broken Toys and Salem Wolves before. While Nicole Coogan and Jeremiah Louf have played as a duo in the past few months, this was their first full band set since... well, obviously. The band tour through their set of metal infused garage rock, with Nicole Coogan's powerful and primal soulful vocals grabbing everyone. The Devil's Twins are always a band ready for a party, and the joy the band had along with the crowd made this one a performance for the ages. Looking around the crowd, you started noticing just how many audience members had tattoos of The Devil's Twins "2" logo. If they can inspire that level of loyalty among their fans, you can just imagine the love in the air for their first show back.

Oddly enough, Julie Rhodes might have been the oddball of the night. She and her band, The Electric Co., play a straightforward style of blues rock. They were definitely the most mainstream band of the night, and while black would be the chosen color for most in attendance, Julie Rhodes was selling tie dye shirts. But Julie Rhodes & The Electric Company are great. Like... ridiculously great. Her vocals are always compared to Janis Joplin, and while that's obviously the singer all female blues rockers are compared to, Rhodes lives up to the comparison. Her guitarist (I apologize, but I haven't been able to find his name online) may have been one of the best guitar players I've ever seen. Derek Trucks is the obvious comparison here, not for musical style but for the way he effortlessly pulled off some of the best solos you'll ever see. Somehow Julie Rhodes is just our little secret here in Boston, but if there's any justice in the universe she'll be rocking stages worldwide very soon.

Finally, Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys closed out the night with their highly anticipated return to the stage (although they did play a family friendly matinee show hours earlier). The band pulled out all the stops for their return, opening with the brilliant "Dino Domina" with Walter Sickert and Mary Widow starting the song of singing in the middle of the crowd. That set the tone for the entire night, as performing in the crowd or the crowd performing themselves was the theme of the night. Each song had a friend of the band performing burlesque or other arts on offshoots of the stage, coming straight up from the crowd instead of the backstage area. Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys have always included their fans and friends in their family, and this night truly showed that. The adoration the band has for each other, their art, and their fans was on full display, and it doesn't sound like they've missed a single step during their year and a half off. Even their The Shining inspired song, "Dull Boy," was a pure celebration when played live. They even crammed their fan favorite (and always requested) cover of the Ghostbusters theme into the end of the night.

The night was a perfect welcome back for all four bands and even ONCE. Let's make sure it's not another year and a half next time.

Monday, August 2, 2021

Phantom Ocean - Secondhand Ghosts

According to their Bandcamp bio, Salem's Phantom Ocean play "Blues and punk infused alt-rock." What's fantastic about their debut EP is how all five songs sound wildly different versions of that. "Notice Me Senpai" is an upbeat, almost poppy song about a very unhealthy relationship (to put it mildly). "Jersey Devil Blues" is a dirty blues stomper, like the noisier side of early White Stripes. That's immediately followed by "First & Always" which I previously described as discordant as hell and along the lines of bands like Shellac and Mission of Burma. "Tricky Ricky" sounds like it Charming Disaster decided to be noise rock. The EP closes with the noisiest version of "In the Pines" that you can imagine. As wildly different as these songs are, they all somehow form a cohesive release.

You can listen to "In the Pines" below. Secondhand Ghosts is now available via Bandcamp. For more on Phantom Ocean, check out the band's Instagram.

Dori Freeman - "The Storm"

Photo by Kristen Crigger

According to a press release, Dori Freeman's upcoming album is a "'grunge country' opus." I don't know if I'd call it grunge country personally (I think early Deer Tick nailed that perfectly), but "The Storm" is a fantastic slice of alt-pop country. "The Storm" goes down a little too smoothly to be aligned with grunge, but has far too much of an edge to be mainstream country. Putting an edge on any music that contains Freeman's voice can't be an easy task. "The Storm" shows that she could easily be the next country superstar, but she's far too cool for it. The song also has just enough of a retro cool feel to it to really make it something special. If I had to compare it to another current artist, I'd go with early Tristen. (And if you know what kind of Tristen fans we are, you know that's high praise.)

Dori Freeman says of the new song:

"I wrote 'The Storm' as an anthem for women who've been put through the ringer by men who didn’t deserve them. Storms and floods are powerful imagery for tumultuous relationships so I wanted the song to have a big swelling chorus to reflect that."

You can watch the video for "The Storm" below. Ten Thousand Roses is due out September 10. You can pre-save/pre-order the album here. For more on Dori Freeman, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the song.

August 6 - Appleton, WI - Miles of Music Festival
August 18 - Philadelphia, PA - City Winery
August 19 - New York, NY - City Winery
August 21 - Round Hill, VA - B-Chord Brewery
September 23 - Asheville, NC - Isis Music Hall

Typhoid Rosie - "All I Need"

Photo by Mark Doyle

Brooklyn's Typhoid Mary are back with the latest feminist anthem from their upcoming album. "All I Need" takes the usual punk sound we've come to expect from Typhoid Mary and slowed it down and changed it up a bit. Instead there's a very 60's doo wop or crooner sound to the song. Of course, this is still a punk song. It's a bizarro doo wop song dripping with attitude, gang vocals, and warped guitars. "All I Need" is the sonic equivalent of being given a candy apple with razor blades just jutting out of it. Plus, it features vocals from Coolie Ranx formerly of The Toasters and currently with Pilfers.

In a press release, Rosie Rebel says of the new song:

"Ninety percent of the songs dudes write that we thought were love songs are really about sliding a girl's panties off. Maybe its time we mix sh*t up. This is the song that happens when a grown-ass woman rips the mic out of some douchebag's hand who's held that mic for way too long."

You can listen to "All I Need" below. Queen of Swords is due out August 13. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on Typhoid Rosie, check out the band's Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, July 30, 2021

Gustaf - "Book"

Photo by Felipe Torres

Late last year we brought you a pair of singles from Brooklyn based post punks Gustaf. The band recently announced a debut album and released a new single! "Book" is everything we loved about their previous releases. It's an absurdly upbeat and highly danceable version of post punk. It's more B-52's or DEVO than Gang of Four, but it still has a bit more of a punk edge to it while still being as pop as it possibly could be. "Book" is the kind of song that is making me long for packed divey clubs, because this song is going to be such a blast live.

Singer Lydia Gammil explains the new song:

"'Book' is a song about the fallacy and fight of getting ahead vs being a head. It is seeking validation in the wrong places and from the wrong people. The hook, “I got ahead, I got a head” is a fun little taunt that we find either being thrown in our face or coming out our mouth. Everyone gets their moment up on the pedestal and everyone gets their turn falling off of it. Whether it’s up or down, ‘Book’ is about accepting whatever level you’re on."

You can watch the video for "Book" below. Audio Drag for Ego Slobs is due out October 1 on Royal Mountain Records. You can pre-order/pre-save a copy here. For more on Gustaf, check out their Facebook and Twitter. Upcoming tour dates (some with Idles and Pillow Queens) are below the video.

10/1 - Charlotte, NC - Snug Harbor
10/2 - Knoxville, TN - Mill and Mine 
10/3 - Cincinatti, OH - MOTR Pub
10/4 - Cleveland, OH - Beachland Tavern
10/6 - Milwaukee, WI - Cactus Club
10/7 - Saint Paul, MN - Palace Theatre #
10/8 - Chicago, IL - Riviera Theatre #
10/9 - Detroit, MI - Saint Andrew's Hall #
10/10 - Columbus, OH - Newport Music Hall #
10/12 - Boston, MA - House of Blues #
10/13 - Philadelphia, PA - The Fillmore #
10/15 - New York, NY - Terminal 5 #
10/16 - New York, NY - Terminal 5 #
10/17 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club #
10/18 - Washington, DC - 9:30 Club #
10/20 - Asheville, NC - The Orange Peel #
10/21 - Nashville, TN - Cannery Ballroom #
10/22 - Atlanta, GA - Masquerade - Heaven Stage #
10/25 - Austin, TX - Stubb's #
10/26 - Dallas, TX - Granada Theater #
10/27 - San Antonio, TX - Paper Tiger #
11/2 - Birmingham, UK - The Sunflower Lounge $
11/3 - Bristol, UK - Rough Trade Bristol $
11/4 - London, UK - The Dome $
11/6 - Brighton, UK - Mutations Festival @ The Green Door Store
11/8 - Leeds, UK - Hyde Park Book Club $
11/9 - Manchester, UK - YES (Pink Room) $
11/10 - Liverpool, UK - Arts Club Loft $    
11/11 - London, UK - The Windmill, Brixton
11/13 - Utrecht, NL - Le Guess Who Festival    
11/14 - Kortrijk, BE - Sonic City Festival
11/14 - Brussels, BE - Witloof Bar
11/16 - Berlin, DE - Cassiopeia      
11/17 - Haldern, DE -  Haldern Pop Bar
11/18 - Paris, FR - Les Femmes S'en Melent @ Petit Bain
11/19 - Lille, FR - The Black Lab
11/20 - Luxembourg City, LU - Rotondes Klub
12/09 - Portland, OR - Bunk Bar (headline)

# - supporting Idles

$ - supporting Pillow Queens

Bambies - "Summer Soon"

Tri-lingual and tri-national (but based in Montreal) band Bambies have a new song off of their upcoming album. "Summer Soon" hits two of my musical loves. It's dirty garage rock mixed with the kind of 90's punk that was heavily inspired by the Ramones (The Queers, Mr. T Experience, etc.) It's fast and loud and noisy, but also oddly melodic. It's all buzzing guitars and a frenzied beat that makes you want to dance around a bit. You know, just the kind of good old rock 'n' roll that went out of style a ways back, but you know you still love unashamedly.

Sami Stern says of the new song:

"Summer is always a blast for folks in Quebec. That feeling at the end of winter when the sun is out, the snow is melting and last season’s accumulated garbage appears below! It’s a promise for better days. The feeling is wonderful." 

You can listen to "Summer Soon" below. Summer Soon is due out August 20 on Spaghetty Town Records in the US and Wanda Records in Europe. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Bambie, check out the band on Facebook.

(Green River) Festival Friday - Cloudbelly

With the Green River Festival returning August 27-29, we're going to highlight some of the lesser known artists playing that we're most excited to see. The bottom of the poster at any festival contains some gems you don't want to miss, and especially so this year at Green River!

If you like to discover lesser known bands at festivals, Cloudbelly is for you. From what I can tell, they only have one song out currently with a new album on the horizon at some point. "Crayon" is folk, for lack of a better term. It even has some elements of traditional folk, but the overall sound is hardly folk. There's this oddly dark and trippy element, and the song is both sparse and full. It's as hypnotic as it is captivating, and is guaranteed to suck you in. As you try to fall into the internet rabbit hole of Cloudbelly, just a warning. There isn't a whole lot out there. I think we'll all be looking forward to finding out more about Cloudbelly, especially other songs.

Cloudbelly is playing Sunday at the Green River Festival. Saturday and weekend passes are sold out, but you can get Friday and Sunday tickets at www.greenriverfestival.com/tickets.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Lorkin O'Reilly - "Pelé Pelé"

Photo via Facebook

Lorkin O'Reilly was born in Edinburgh (his mother is a native of Ireland) in 1994 and immigrated to upstate New York to work on a farm in 2012. To make his backstory even more folky, he found an acoustic guitar in a basement and started writing songs. His latest single, "Pelé Pelé," is quiet modern folk with a traditional base. The song is almost painfully fragile sounding. This is bedroom Americana at its finest, sounding like we just walked in on a confessional from O'Reilly. It's a beautiful song in its simplicity. 

In a press release, Lorkin O'Reilly explains the song and video:

"One of my rituals during quarantine was to take long baths in the evening and watch Youtube highlights of old soccer games. I think a lot of immigrants can relate to the comfort in submerging oneself in cultural pastimes. At least, hearing the commentators' accents, seeing the faces of the fans and hearing the songs really helped me when feeling homesick.

"I find sports really fascinating. These men and women, dressed in beautiful matching outfits with 'Marvel'-esque physiques are effectively superheroes in all but a cape. They unite countries, cities and families. We applaud their genius when they succeed and shout and curse when they fail. Anyways: I enjoyed the juxtaposition between 'superhero' and man in the bath feeling self-conscious about his weight."

You can watch the video for "Pelé Pelé" below. Marriage Material is due out August 20 on Team Love Records. You can pre-order the album through Bandcamp. For more on Lorkin O'Reilly, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.