Friday, May 29, 2020

Skullcrusher - "Day of Show"

Photo by Silken Weinberg
Skullcrusher (aka Los Angeles based musician Helen Ballentine) is back with another single that doesn't fit the name of the project at all. "Day of Show" starts off disguised as an indie folk song... until the synths come in. Slowly it morphs into a more dream pop infused with shoegaze song. It creates this dreamy, hazy feel which is kind of perfect for laying around the house in the summer heat while under quarantine.

Ballentine says of the song: "I wrote ‘Day of Show’ on a hot day last summer in my roommate’s bedroom because mine didn’t have AC," explains Ballentine. “I felt dazed and restless from sitting around in the heat all day. It is a song about feeling trapped in yourself, unable to help yourself and reluctant to let others in. It explores the fragmented behavior and thoughts that arise from this feeling: a kind of daydreaming that can be really creative but also the darkness that also exists there. It’s musically inspired by a lot of the shoegaze music I listen to.”

You can watch the video for "Day of Show" below. Skullcrusher's debut self-titled EP will be out June 26 on Secretly Canadian. You can pre-order it here. For more on Skullcrusher, check out the artist's Bandcamp and Instagram.

Eye Witness - "Miss Me"

I've become enamored with Massachusetts's own Sapling this year. Their album No Sequoia is a strong contender for my best of 2020 list, so when I heard that Sapling's Rainy Maple Sugar Candy had another project, I obviously had to check it out. Eye Witness is that project, and it's an indie folk duo consisting of Rainy and Milo. I personally wouldn't have pictured Rainy being in an indie folk duo, but once you listen to "Miss Me," you'll get it. Milo takes vocal duties on the song, and the first thing you'll notice is that he doesn't have a traditional folk voice. It's unique in the way that someone like J Mascis has a unique voice. You wouldn't enjoy him doing karaoke, but his voice fits the music perfectly. "Miss Me" has an intensely dark feel, and despite being indie folk, it simply rocks. 

You can listen to "Miss Me" below. Miss Me is also the name of Eye Witness's upcoming album which will be out on June 3. You can pre-order it now via Bandcamp. For more on Eye Witness, check them out on Facebook.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Katie Malco - "Fractures"

"Fractures," the latest single from Katie Malco, is one of the most lovely songs you'll hear all year. It's not reinventing any genre of music. You've heard songs like "Fractures" before, but none have been done this well. It's a modern day neo-folk/indie rock masterpiece, staying at mid-tempo throughout but somehow feeling more intense as it goes on. Despite not having the cheeriest subject matter, the song comes across as uplifting and as a quiet anthem.

Malco says of the song: 

"Fractures is about coming face to face with a version of yourself you don’t even recognise, and growing into and understanding your true self and figuring out your own needs in life. My ex partner's girlfriend before me was an extremely beautiful, intelligent and, by all accounts, incredibly nice person. She was from the coast and she surfed, skated, hiked, climbed and she was a scientist. I grew up in a rough midlands industrial town and didn't do that well in school, and I always had insecurities about my academic intelligence, so if my partner ever joked about gaps in my knowledge, I didn’t take it well. I just felt like other people seemed to find things easier than I did, like they were all surpassing me in their achievements, him included. All of these things put such a massive strain on our relationship at the time and made me want to make myself into this person I thought he wanted. Someone exactly like his ex – graceful, clever, outdoorsy and good at everything. Someone I didn’t know or recognise in myself, and who just wasn’t me and wasn’t representative of my story up until then, which was a hard thing to explain to him."

You can watch the video for "Fractures" below. Failures, the new album from Katie Malco, will be out June 5 on 6131 Records. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Katie Malco, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Bee Bee Sea - "Daily Jobs"

Photo by Chiara Gambuto
Hailing from Italy, Bee Bee Sea play a hyped up, fast version of garage-psych rock. Their new single, "Daily Jobs," is as bouncy as it is blistering. It's fast without being heavy. Instead it's just fun. While most alt-rock for the past thirty years alternates between quiet and loud, "Daily Jobs" bounces from fast to slow. It's like The Hives mixed with Arctic Monkeys. 

Bee Bee Sea say of "Daily Jobs": "The prospect of having a shitty job for the rest of our lives can be suffocating. This song, and the album as a whole, are basically the summary of our lives in the last couple of years, split between working in a factory during the day and playing our music at night. Night is a dream and a day... Day Ripper!"

You can watch the video for "Daily Jobs" below. Day Ripper, the upcoming album from Bee Bee Sea, will be out October 9 on Wild Honey Records. For more on Bee Bee Sea, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Jess Cornelius - "Kitchen Floor"

Photo by Rachel Pony Cassells
Jess Cornelius started out in Australia as the lead singer of Teeth and Tongue, but now resides in Los Angeles and is set to release her debut solo album. The first single, "Kitchen Floor," hits a lot of our musical sweet spots. The song lives firmly in the current indie rock singer/songwriter world, but Cornelius also dabbles into some 60's doo wop to give it a unique feel. Plus, the song has its very own unique groove. It all feels familiar and fresh at the same time. 

You can watch the video for "Kitchen Floor" below. The video was recorded at 5 a.m. to show an empty Los Angeles. Jess Cornelius says of the video:

I have a weird fascination with Hollywood Blvd — it’s such a grotesque place most of the timeBut I knew we’d have the chance to experience it deserted and empty, and it was like a different place. I’d been watching a lot of  ‘last human on earth’ apocalypse-type films. Mostly, the concept behind the clip was to have this character just owning it. There are so many things pregnant women are not ‘supposed' be doing, like having casual sex with strangers. There’s a loneliness, too, that I wanted to get across in the clip, but ultimately she’s in a state of friendliness with herself and the world.

Distance, the upcoming album from Jess Cornelius, will be out July 24 on Loantaka Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Jess Cornelius, check her out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Tanya Donelly Covers Yazoo

As we continue our march towards this becoming a Tanya Donelly fansite, this week she has covered Yazoo's classic "Only You." This was one of those songs I didn't immediately recognize by title or band name, but once I listened to the original I recognized it. "Only You" might be one of the lost New Wave classics. It doesn't get the attention or modern day airplay that many of its peers get, but you'll know it once you listen.

Tanya Donelly enlisted Andrea Gillis for vocals on this week's cover. The main difference you'll notice is less synths, more guitar (electric, acoustic, and slide), toy piano, and accordion. It's a gorgeous and fun version of a song that was already gorgeous and fun. 

In the Bandcamp post, Donelly explains the song's meaning to her: "Upstairs At Eric’s was easily one of the most played albums of my late teens, shared with the people I spent every possible waking hour with back then — dancing to it in Dave N’s attic, lying on the sand listening on a Walkman with shared headphones, a boom box on the cliffs at night. The songs on that album hit so many heartstrings: love (of course), hurt (obviously), confusions, kinships, finding a place to land for a while."

You can listen to Tanya Donelly's take on "Only You" below. This week proceeds of the song go to Horizons for Homeless Children. You can get your copy over at Bandcamp. For more on Tanya Donelly (and to suggest a cover you'd like for her to do), check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Vangarde - "The New Normal"

Vangarde is going to be pure bliss for many of us. It's the pairing of Mr. Lif and Stu Bangas. According to a Facebook post, the project is "In honor of the love we both have for Gang Starr, we have come together to keep the classic combo of MC & Producer alive and well in modern hip hop culture." Mr. Lif working on a project that is in honor of Gang Starr? I'm officially on board. Their first single, "The New Normal," will give you a strong Gang Starr vibe. It's a laid back hip hop song Gang Starr perfected in the 90's. It's almost like Vangarde came together as a Gang Starr tribute band, but are doing originals and not covers. That is not a bad thing.

You can listen to "The New Normal" below. For more on the upcoming Vangarde project between Mr. Lif and Stu Bangas, check ouhttp://www.brutalmusic.org.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

First Listen: New Releases for 22 May


Artist: Indigo Girls
Album: Look Long
Quick Description: New album from the folk legends.
Why You Should Listen: I'm not someone who has ever really liked them, and I really liked this.
Overall Thoughts: Everyone likes "Closer to Fine," and I'm very partial to 1994's "Least Complicated," but this is not a duo I've ever really gotten into. No specific reason, just not my style. This, however, is my style. This is a bit of a fun romp in some places, and a serious piece in others, and there are songs like album opener "Shit Kickin'" that just really do it for me. Don't skip out on this one, especially if you have some preconceived notions about the act.
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.


Artist: Steve Earle and the Dukes
Album: Ghosts of West Virginia
Quick Description: Another new album from another legend.
Why You Should Listen: Steve Earle is basically showing us how classic, outlaw country is done.
Overall Thoughts: This album feels like it's from a generation ago, and I assume that's the point. Just pitch-perfect country folk with a message and some heart, and it's probably what we generally expect from Steve Earle at this point. If you were on the fence for whatever reason, give this a spin.
Recommendation: Another great listen this week.


Artist: Badly Drawn Boy
Album: Banana Skin Shoes
Quick Description: First album of new music in nearly a decade.
Why You Should Listen: Badly Drawn Boy had one of the best debuts of the last 30 years, and this is probably his best effort since then.
Overall Thoughts: I was an unabashed fan of Badly Drawn Boy when The Hour of Bewilderbeast came out, and to this day, so much of that album continues to resonate. A solid About a Boy soundtrack, a few middling follow-ups after that (and granted, there was no following up that debut) and then he kind of disappeared to the point where I had no clue this was even coming out. The title track is great, there are some great tunes on here that rival some of his best post-Bewilderbeast stuff... I'm just glad he's back.
Recommendation: A welcome return.


Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen
Album: Dedicated Side B
Quick Description: A new album/collection of music from Canada's best pop star.
Why You Should Listen: It's Carly Rae. Just do it.
Overall Thoughts: Dedicated was pretty great, but I can't say that it was the long-lasting, transformative effort her prior album was. This collection has a lot more stuff I like (although one-off single "Let's Be Friends" isn't here?) and perhaps a couple more memorable bits, but at the end of the day, it's bonus Carly Rae. With that, I am more than okay.
Recommendation: Make time.


Artist: The Mammals
Album: Nonet
Quick Description: Fun, accessible roots music.
Why You Should Listen: This straddles a few genres along the way, and never stops being surprising.
Overall Thoughts: There's a lot to love here, and you can tell The Mammals love what they're doing and what they're making here. There's a lot of competency here throughout this listen, but also a lot of clear joy to go along with it. Good for fans of a lot of the more classic acts we feature around here regularly.
Recommendation: A fun one to put in the rotation.


Artist: Jetstream Pony
Album: Jetstream Pony
Quick Description: Classic indie rock sounds featuring members of some classic indie rock acts.
Why You Should Listen: This is retro in some senses but still feels fresh.
Overall Thoughts: I was not surprised in the least that I enjoyed this. Initially felt like they were channeling Shame About Ray-era Lemonheads, but there's a lot of good stuff here that jumps around to a few concepts and musical ideas. It's maybe the most fun I had with an album this week in terms of the nostalgia hit, but I am very glad this exists.
Recommendation: A great one to add to your list.

Of note:

* Carpenter Brut - Blood Machines - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (Awesome synthwave score.)
* Kidbug - Kidbug (Sludgey, grungy goodness. Lots of solid moments here.)
* Damu the Fudgemunk, Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic - Ocean Bridges (Jazzy hip-hop.)
* Marie Dahlstrom - Like Sand
* Katie Von Schleicher - Consummation
* Owen Pallett - Island
* Darren Hayman - Home Time
* Jeff Rosenstock - NO DREAM
* Milk Teeth - Milk Teeth
* Tove Lo - Sunshine Kitty (Paw Prints Edition)
* Emily Keener - I Do Not Have to Be Good


SevenSix Song AlbumsEfforts:

* Old Man Gloom - Seminar VIII: Light of Meaning
* Shaqdi - Daydreaming
* Best Ex - Good At Feeling Bad

EPs:

* Henry Jamison - Tourism (A bunch of good collabs.)
* Zola Blood - Two Hearts
* Cuddle Magic - Working On Me

Also out:

* The 1975 - Notes on a Conditional Form
* Vitskär Süden - Vitskär Süden

Coriky - "Too Many Husbands"

Fugazi fans are obviously going to want to hear anything by Coriky, the supergroup featuring Amy Farina, Joe Lally, and Ian MacKaye. But they're really going to want to hear their latest single, "Too Many Husbands."

The guitar riff that starts "Too Many Husbands" is the most Fugazi thing I've heard since Fugazi went on indefinite hiatus. It's just so Fugazi, it sounds like it could be a lost song from 13 Songs. You know that start stop/jerky feel? Yeah... it's here. But that doesn't mean Coriky are just copying their former selves here. "Too Many Husbands" has a definite Gang of Four post punk feel to it. Plus, there are some elements of soul and some mainstream aspirations hidden deep inside, maybe? 

You can listen to "Too Many Husbands" below. You can pre-order their upcoming self-titled debut album, on Bandcamp. Physical copies will start to ship on May 29. It will be available to stream or download on June 12, and will be available in physical stores on June 26. This is all via Dischord Records, naturally.

ILS - "Whitemeat"

If more metal was like ILS, we'd cover metal a lot of a lot more. The Portland, OR "disaster chic" band has a new single out. "Whitemeat" is this weirdo metal song. It exists in a world where metal isn't trying to posture as being tough guys. ILS don't seem to care about an image. "Whitemeat" is just an impossibly heavy song that doesn't stick to the metal-by-numbers template, which makes it even more metal than most. I'm going to compare it to Refused, but mostly because it makes me feel like the first time I heard "New Noise." And that inspires the thoughts "What the hell is this?" and "Why isn't there more of it?"

You can listen to "Whitemeat" below. Curse, the new album from ILS, will be out July 4. You can pre-order it on Bandcamp. For more on ILS, check them out on Facebook.