Bonnie Whitmore has a ridiculous musical pedigree. She started out in a band with her parents and sister (Eleanor, now one half of The Mastersons), has played with Hayes Carll, John Moreland, Jimmie Dale Gilmour, and more, and has kept up a weekly residency at the Continental Club Gallery in Austin. Her latest single, "Right / Wrong," is a blend of mainstream folk singer/songwriter, country, and a little blues thrown is, particularly in Whitmore's voice. The song is infinitely compelling, bordering on multiple genres and combining them into a hybrid without committing too deeply into any of them. It's both unique and familiar at the same time. You can listen to "Right / Wrong" below. For more on Bonnie Whitmore, check out her website.
We knew there would be songs written about COVID-19 and the quarantine, but luckily most have been pretty good. The latest is from Boston's The Jacklights. "Bad Memory" is a pop punk song without the overproduced sheen covering most pop punk. It's catchy and fun, but with a little bit of grunge covering it. This could be since it's still at the demo phase, but it's nice to see a pop punk song that's more punk than pop. As far as the pandemic, the song may be stuck in how miserable everything is currently but stays hopeful with the lyrics "Someday this will all be a bad memory / But today is just another shitty day." You can listen to "Bad Memory" below. The song is currently available for the "name your price" option on The Jacklights's Bandcamp. For more on The Jacklights, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.
I have to admit that I was completely unfamiliar with Mary Margaret O'Hara before listening to Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters's cover of her song "You Will Be Loved Again." The original, from her 1988 album Miss America, is a gorgeously stripped down song, that is mostly just O'Hara's vocals with less instrumentation than you could believe possible. For Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters's version, it's still a gorgeously stripped down song, with just the slightest increase in instruments, and purely mesmerizing harmonies between the group. It's the kind of cover that is so compelling, you'll be almost forced to go back and track down the original. Tanya Donelly says of the song: “I first heard Mary Margaret O’Hara on the Throwing Muses tour bus in 1988. When Ivo from 4AD gave us a cassette of her album Miss America ~ we instantly fell in love, and it’s my favorite to this day. ‘You Will Be Loved Again’ is one of the purest and most loving messages in song, and The Parkington Sisters and I wanted to end our album with it for this reason.” You can listen to Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters take on "You Will Be Loved Again" below. The self-titled album will be out August 14 on American Laundromat Records. You can pre-order a copy here. Since traditional touring or release parties are impossible right now, there will be two listening parties on the 14th. The first will be at 3:00 pm on Newbury Comics's Twitter. The second will be at 8:00 and will be hosted by ONCE Somerville. You can get into that one here.
There's just something about Izzy Heltai that we simply can't get enough of. The Northampton, Massachusetts singer/songwriter expertly balances mainstream roots and Americana with a more alt-folk sound. His latest single, "The Stranger You've Become," shows just how true that is. The song blends alt-country and modern folk expertly, sometimes sounding a little more country and other times a little more folk. But "The Stranger You've Become" has the intensely personal and intimate feel of a bedroom recording even though it's a fully fleshed out full band song. Izzy Heltai explains the meaning of his new song: "The majority of us choose to engage in the realities of other people with the best of intentions, not wanting to deceive. We aren’t faced day to day with the reality of how malleable our words and truths can actually be. Our realities are just collectively agreed-upon terms, rules, and conditions. The fact that I can look at a rubber duck, point to it, and claim that it is a rubber duck is only possible because we have all agreed that that is in fact what the physical object is. But what happens if someone comes along, points at that same object and tells you with absolute certainty that you’re wrong, and that object is indeed a hat? If no one else is there to tell you otherwise, who are you to believe that your interpretation of this object is based in more truth than theirs? When you’re intimately involved with someone, it is often difficult or nearly impossible to identify when this is happening. When you finally get out, it can be earth-shattering. The idea that you’ve been with a stranger, that you’ve been tricked. It’s a type of trust that can be extremely difficult to recultivate." You can listen to "The Stranger You've Become" below. Father, the debut album from Izzy Heltai, will be out October 9. You can pre-order the album via Bandcamp. For more on Izzy Heltai, check out his website.
The lack of anything resembling summer this year has caused me to latch onto anything even remotely summery. This might be why I love the latest single from Vancouver's Jenny Banai so much. "Gold" is a refreshing little slightly off-kilter folk/pop. It lands almost completely squarely into the mainstream side of things, except for the slightest feel of whimsy. It stops just shy of twee, but that's mainly because of the power of Banai's vocals. She has something inherently soulful about her voice without singing soul music. Jenny Banai explains her song "Gold":
"The first lyrics of my
latest single, 'Gold,' are I'm returning. What does it mean to return? In one ancient context, it means
to repent. To repent also means to change direction.
This song was birthed from a
direction switch I needed in my own heart; a reminder that my breath is for
peace and truth. This is my source and my hope.
One day, driving around the
city, I had this image pop into my head of golden streets above our own, an
existence that is unseen yet somehow covers our reality.
I imagined a reality
existing at the same time as our own, where peace and truth come from, where
ancient and ageless hands are working, softening, moving, molding."
You can listen to "Gold" below. The song is currently available as a single via Jenny Banai's Bandcamp. For more on Jenny Banai, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.
This is definitely not a song written for two cis, straight, middle aged dads, but I have a feeling we're going to be loving this band for a while. The latest single from England's Dream Nails is called "Vagina Police 2.0." It's the exact kind of punk I truly love. It's loud, and brash, and catchy as possible. It's more mocking in its tone than destructive, and fits right in with the current riot grrrl revival, but with British accents which just adds to the whole feeling. Drummer Lucy Katz explains that the song is... “our battle-cry against the persistent and pathetic-yet-insidious obsession of the state to police our bodies at any cost. It’s a song about reproductive rights and (in)justice in all its forms.” Bassist Mimi Jassson also says: “From abortions being illegal, to forced sterilization of trans people. We stand in solidarity with our trans siblings in the face of the UK’s repression of trans rights.” You can watch the video for "Vagina Police 2.0" below. Dream Nails's self-titled debut will be out August 28 on Dine Alone in North America and Alcopop! everywhere else. You can pre-order the album via Bandcamp. For more on Dream Nails, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.
To celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of Elliott Smith's 1995 self-titled album (and the deluxe reissue, of course, Kill Rock Stars has asked MAITA to cover Smith's "Coming Up Roses." MAITA's version is an obviously faithful cover, albeit a little more grungey than Smith's original. She absolutely nails the "... and I don't need your permission" line in a goosebumps producing way. Our favorite covers are the ones that balance staying true to the original while still adding something unique, and MAITA does that perfectly here. You can listen to MAITA's take on "Coming Up Roses" below. Elliott Smith: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition will be out August 28 on Kill Rock Stars. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on MAITA, check out the artist's website.
In a better world than ours, King Buzzo's latest acoustic album would have come out back in June, I would have gone to see him at Great Scott (RIP Great Scott), and we'd all be filled with the joy from both experiences. Instead, Gift of Sacrifice was delayed until August 14, and we're just hearing the third song off the album. "Delayed Clarity" is a six and a half minute song that goes about three minutes before there are any vocals. And (in a word that may never have been used with anything Melvins related before) it's beautiful. Granted, King Buzzo's vocals could never be described as beautiful, but once he starts singing, the menace you get in his voice complements the beauty of the music surprisingly well. And then the song ends in thirty seconds of electric squall to cleanse the palate of any Melvins fans listening. You can listen to "Delayed Clarity" below. Gift of Sacrifice, the upcoming album from King Buzzo with Trevor Dunn, will be out August 14 on Ipecac Recordings. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on King Buzzo, check out The Melvins's website.
By now we should all know the sound of Tricky. He's been making some of the world's finest trip hop for multiple decades, and he's a living legend of the genre. His newest single, "Thinking Of," moves back towards his classic sound than the previous single's ("Fall Please") more pop leaning sound. This isn't quite Tricky's dark trip hop of the 90's, but a lighter, more positive sound. Like "Fall Please," "Thinking Of" also features vocalist Marta, who Tricky discovered before a concert in Poland where he was left without a vocalist. The promoter suggested Marta, who was working in a nearby bar. You can listen to "Thinking Of" below. Fall to Pieces, the upcoming album from Tricky, will be out September 4 on False Idols. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Tricky, check out his website.
Recently Riley Pinkerton popped up in my mind. It's been a couple of years since we heard any new music from the unique roots artist, so I went to her Facebook to see what she's been up to. The most recent post, dated August 15, 2019, said "Riley Pinkerton will be continuing forth for the foreseeable future as the frontwoman of Castle Rat..." Intrigued, I checked out Castle Rat. According to Castle Rat's Bandcamp, the band isn't fronted by Riley Pinkerton but by Rat Queen. She's joined by The Count, Dr. Mouse, and Sgt. Young. To say Castle Rat presents a departure for the now Rat Queen is to put it mildly. Their debut single, "It Isn't Clean," is a Black Sabbath meets early Alice Cooper style metal. It's heavy, but in that 70's style, with some glam thrown in for good measure. It's an unexpected sound, but one that we aren't arguing! You can listen to "It Isn't Clean" below. The song is currently available via Castle Rat's Bandcamp. For more on Castle Rat, check out the band's Facebook.