Thursday, November 21, 2019

Drive-By Truckers - "Armageddon's Back in Town"

Photo by Andy Tennille
It doesn't feel like it's been three and a half years since Drive-By Truckers released American Band. It could be because they've been nearly constantly touring so it doesn't feel like that album cycle ever ended. Or it could be because the last three years have made that album feel even more current than ever. Well, get ready because they're about to release another album. The first single is "Armageddon's Back in Town," and this might be the first DBT song that we can truly call cowpunk. Sure, any song sung by Patterson Hood is going to sound country, but "Armageddon's Back in Town" is this epic rock song that sounds how we all feel right now: Angry, but tired of constantly being angry while knowing we need to stay angry. Which is exhausting. What really exemplifies this is the fact that the song is just shy of four minutes, but feels much longer. (In an epic/the song just feels huge way, not in an overlong way.)

You can watch the lyric video for "Armageddon's Back in Town" below. The Unraveling, the new album from Drive-By Truckers, will be out January 31 via ATO Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Drive-By Truckers, check out their website.

Live Shows: Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Atwood's Tavern, Cambridge, MA 11/18/19

Photo by Chris Sikich
I'm quickly becoming a fan of the no opener/twenty song setlist trend. This past Monday night saw Sarah Shook & The Disarmers taking the stage at Atwood's Tavern (which is becoming their de facto Boston area home base) shortly after 9:30 pm and playing nineteen songs. Pretty perfect way to see a band these days.

This was my third time seeing Sarah Shook & The Disarmers live since discovering them since May 2018, and the second time I saw them at Atwood's. It was a diehard crowd that came out on a Monday night. We've seen these songs performed live before, and we'll see them again. Sarah Shook & The Disarmers put on an amazing show with their blend of country, rock, and punk. While the songs from their last two albums definitely lean more heavily on the rock side of things, they broke out two new songs ("Night Rumour" and "Black Angels") that came across much more rock than I would have expected. "Black Angels" in particular has a certain feel that it could easily morph into a rock epic once it works its way around their live show for a couple of years.

And then there were the hits. "Fuck Up," "Nothin' Feels Right But Doin' Wrong," "Misery Without Company," "Damned If I Do, Damned If I Don't," etc are all modern country-punk masterpieces. The crowd seemed to be older than the typical hipster Americana fans you'd expect, but that could be that Sarah Shook & The Disarmers play a brand of country that's completely timeless and you don't hear very often these days. Of course, the secret weapon at any Disarmers show is guitarist Eric Peterson. As anyone who has seen the documentary What It Takes: a film en douze tableaux knows, he is quite the unique character. And as anyone who has seen a live shows knows, he's a killer guitarist. There's something truly charming about watching him nod at individual audience members clapping after a particularly great solo.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Gino & the Goons - "She Can Take It"

Based in Tampa, FL, Gino & the Goons are the kind of rock 'n' roll that is rarely made these days, and you don't realize how much your soul needs it until you stumble upon one of the few bands still doing it. Their latest single, "She Can Take It," lands somewhere between the garage rock of the 60's and the proto-punk of The Stooges. It's dirty rock music played with horns and fuzzed out guitar solos. I know I'm making this sound like a total mess, and it is. But it's also somehow incredibly catchy and pleasant to listen to, if that makes any sense.

Plus, they have one of the best press releases to describe the band of all time: 

Gino and the Goons are a American rock n roll band. They are fast and loose, loose and loud. Not so fast you can't dance and not too loose where you'll catch a VD. Gino Bambino started this band in 2007 and he will end it when he sees fit. Goons come and go. Some come and come again. Others don't. Stationed in Tampa, Florida, and traveling all over the world, they want to come to your town and boogie down. They want to make you sweat, dance and laugh all at once. In the spirit of the 50's, 60's and 70's they bring you a fart sound of today. I meant, fresh. A fresh sound of today. Rock n roll is forever! Gino and the Goons are forever!

You can listen to "She Can Take It" below. Off the Rails, the upcoming album from Gino & the Goons, will be out December 13 on Big Neck Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Gino & the Goons, check them out on Facebook and MySpace.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

First Listen: New Releases for 15 November

Artist: Lula Wiles
Album: What Will We Do
Quick Description: Folky, rootsy goodness.
Why You Should Listen: Lula Wiles is doing something pure and lovely.
Overall Thoughts: We missed this one last week and regret it, because it’s great. Think a low-key Wolff Sisters – expertly-crafted folk/roots music with some beautiful harmonies and instrumentation. It’s a great listen for a host of reasons, but mostly because it’s one of those under the radar listens that deserves wider attention and praise. Don’t sleep on this, especially if you’re into folky tunes.
Recommendation: A must-hear.

Artist: Weezy Ford
Album: Sugarcane
Quick Description: Long-awaited debut album from the blues rock indie artist.
Why You Should Listen: Weezy Ford absolutely makes her own sound in a well-worn genre.
Overall Thoughts: We got into Weezy Ford due to her sibling, Sallie, but Weezy’s long-awaited debut album forges her own path. Sure, it’s still bluesy rock, but Weezy feels like she’s performing out of a poorly-ventilated garage rather than a studio, and this grittier, lower-fidelity approach sets her apart in all thee right ways. I won’t pretend this will work for everyone, but I definitely like what I hear here.
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.

Artist: Hallelujah the Hills
Album: I'm You
Quick Description: New album from the local indie rock stars.
Why You Should Listen: Hallelujah the Hills have been great for a long time.
Overall Thoughts: The closest thing to indie rock royalty we have in Boston at present, Hallelujah the Hills is back with maybe their best effort yet. Some truly great songs in here that, in the right circumstance, could let the rest of the world know what those of us in the area already learned. A great listen from a great local band, and some of the best of indie rock in the last few months.
Recommendation: Needs to be on your list this week.

Artist: Odessa
Album: All Things
Quick Description: New album from the roots musician.
Why You Should Listen: Does more than just plays some bluegrass tunes, to its benefit.
Overall Thoughts: This is a really beautiful listen. It’s an album that’s really an interesting one, as it straddles a few musical ideas, but succeeds pretty much across the board. Polished and captivating, this is an album that really shouldn’t be missed, whether you’re looking for a more folky/rootsy effort or something more mainstream.
Recommendation: A favorite this week.

Artist: Slayyyter
Album: Slayyyter
Quick Description: Post-pop goodness.
Why You Should Listen: This is abrasive and weird in all the right ways.
Overall Thoughts: This, on the other hand, eschews any sort of real mainstream appeal, and that’s what makes it great. Slayyyter is at least adjacent to that PC Music aesthetic in many ways, and that may be why I initially missed this September release, but I am glad I tripped up on it – it is one of the odder, more compelling listens of a while, and acts as a bit of a deconstruction of pop as much as a reinvention. This won’t work for everybody, for sure, but if you give it a shot you might appreciate it for what it is, if not fall for it as hard as I have.
Recommendation: A challenging, but worthwhile, listen.

Artist: Pumarosa
Album: Devastation
Quick Description: Off-center indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: This is a hard one to figure out, to its credit.
Overall Thoughts: Trying to highlight this a little more because it is such an interesting listen on a whole. I can’t pin this one down, which is a plus for Pumarosa on a whole, as this ends up being a puzzle of sorts in all the right ways. I kept being surprised by it and it’s worth looking at to see if it surprises you as well.
Recommendation: Give it a spin.

Of note:

* Brass Against - Brass Against II (Brassy covers for the children. (Note: not for the children.))
* Too Many Zooz - Zombie.P (Brassy busking for the children. (Note: fine for children.))
* Emma Jane White - Immanent Fire (Great for fans of Chelsea Wolfe.)
* LIZ - Planet Y2K (More bizarro pop, really solid.)
* Juliana Hatfield - Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police (Does what it says on the tin.)
* Fran - A Private Picture
* Madeon - Good Faith
* Mary Lambert - Grief Creature
* DJ Shadow - Our Pathetic Age
* Great Lake Swimmers - The Waves, The Wake (Acoustic)
* Chadwick Stokes - Chadwick Stokes and the Pintos
* Tei Shi - La Linda
* Pendant - Through a Coil
* Magic Shoppe - Circles


* Boards of Canada - Peel Session
* Ransom Pier - Down the Other End
* Jenny Owen Youngs - Night Shift
* Aphex Twin - Peel Session 2
* Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Squid Eye
* Jeff Rosenstock and Laura Stevenson - Still Young


* Lily Kershaw - Arcadia
* TOY - Songs of Consumption

Lex Leosis - "I Don't Play That"

Photo by Matt Ogilvie
Toronto's Lex Leosis has a new single out which bridges throwback hip hop with a modern sound. "I Don't Play That" can't truly be considered a 90's hip hop throwback. It's too smooth to be early 90's, and it isn't composed out of a single sample, so it's not late 90's hip hop. But there is something about it that feels like the glory days of 90's hip hop, right before it went completely mainstream. 

Leosis explains the song: "To anybody that has witnessed or faced the hands of abuse, we are strong, we are survivors, we don’t play that. I was a witness to abuse at the hands of a man and it brought up for me all the ways that women are so accustomed to taking other peoples’ shit. With “I Don’t Play That,” I wanted to create a song that could make any woman or anyone affected by abuse feel strong and that they’re not alone. I wrote the song right after the experience happened, but didn’t record it until weeks later.Putting myself back into the mindset I wrote it in was difficult because I had to relive it all, but it was necessary. I’m done sitting by idly letting this happen to people, so I wrote an anthem of power."

You can listen to "I Don't Play That" below. For more on Lex Leosis, check her out on Twitter and Facebook.

Hot Shorts - "Summer of 2012"

We can all officially feel old now that bands are reminiscing about 2012. Out of Manchester, England, Hot Shorts have a new single, "Summer of 2012." The song is a fast paced indie rock jam that's as discordant as it is catchy. It's hanging on barely by a thread and threatens to fall apart at any moment, which is what makes songs like this so great.

Singer/guitarist Chris Killen says of the song: "'Summer of 2012' is a song about owning your "first real iPhone" and also about how a smartphone can possibly be a ticket to numbness if you just stare at it all the time. It also contains a stupid Bryan Adams joke intro. The video is made out of various things we filmed (on our iPhones) while recording the album over five days at Big City Jacks with Michael Whalley."

You can watch the video for "Summer of 2012" below. I Understand & I Wish to Continue, the new album from Hot Shorts, is out now via Icecapades. You can pick up a copy here. For more on Hot Shorts, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Secret Sisters - "Cabin"

Since we last heard from The Secret Sisters, they've been through quite a bit. As they announced their upcoming album in a Facebook post, they explain:

"After a long hiatus, we’re proud to announce our newest collection of songs coming February 28, 2020. These songs were conceived in a season of grief, transformation, identity crisis, and observation. For the first time, we channeled our individual emotions as we faced the loss of our grandmothers, struggled with infertility, and found the joy that comes with new life. Now, on the other side of it all, we present this work to you as new mothers, new musicians, new women. We accept and stand unafraid of the pain that leaves permanent marks, and we are not without hope."

With the new album comes a wildly different sound. Gone is the purely traditional folk we loved with their previous two albums. "Cabin" has a much more modern and mainstream folk sound. Plus, and I never expected to describe a Secret Sisters song this way, it straight up rocks. The Sisters kept the gorgeous harmonies they've always had, but "Cabin" adds discordant electric guitars. It's a new and powerful sound that I would never have expected from the duo, or thought I wanted for that matter, but now that we have it, it's a welcome change.

You can listen to "Cabin" below. Saturn Return, the new album from The Secret Sisters, will be out February 28 on New West Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Secret Sisters, check out their website.

Valley Queen Covers Pavement

Photo by Mark Cluney
We've been digging the laid back California folk vibes of Valley Queen for a few years now. Last year when Supergiant came out, Jeff described it as "10,000 Maniacs, but kind of weird." You can imagine how excited I was to find out they were covering one of my favorite weird California bands, Pavement. Their version of "Spit On a Stranger" doesn't sound like a Pavement song at all, except for when singer Natalie Carol mimics Stephen Malkmus's unique vocal delivery. Instead, Valley Queen's version of "Spit On a Stranger" is a completely stripped down acoustic not-quite-folk song. Sure, "Spit On a Stranger" is relatively quiet for a Pavement song, but Valley Queen reduces the song to barely more than just vocals and guitar.

You can watch the video for Valley Queen's take on "Spit On a Stranger" below. You can get your copy of the song here. For more on Valley Queen, check out their website.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Andrew Hibbard - "Changes"

Photo by Robert Paul Simpson
Andrew Hibbard first started playing guitar when he was only six years old. He'll be releasing his third album next year, and the first single, "Changes," is a perfect slice of Americana. The song leans heavily into country and blues, and is a laid back straightforward example of both. Hibbard straddles the fine line between being too traditionally rootsy to be mainstream and being too mainstream to be traditional, and somehow is perfectly both at once. It's a song that could propel Hibbard into superstardom, so make sure you jump on board his bandwagon with us now.

You can watch the video for changes below. Andrew Hibbard's self-titled third album will be out in April via Sofaburn Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Andrew Hibbard, check out his website.

Hit Like A Girl - "It's Not Me"

If you've been loving New Jersey's Hit Like A Girl as much as we have, get ready for their latest single. "It's Not Me" is an ode to failed relationships, and it's absolutely epic. It's an indie rock/emo/pop song with giant, jangly guitars and even bigger choruses. It follows the loud/quiet/loud template to perfection, and even the quiet parts feel huge while still being intimate. The loud parts feel like such a release that Nicolle Maroulis is guiding us through a healing process to benefit all of us. "It's Not Me" is one of the best singles we've heard this year.

You can listen to "It's Not Me" below. It's currently available now on Hit Like A Girl's Bandcamp. For more on Hit Like A Girl, check them out on Facebook.