Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Winter - "Jaded"

I'm pretty sure 95% of the world can agree that the alternative scene of the early 90's was the best that decade had to offer. But, there are some of us that came of age more in the mid 90's that will always have a fondness for that era. The new song from Winter is perfect for us.

You could have played "Winter" for me and then told me it was from some band in your local scene put out in 1995, and I would have 100% believed you. It has just enough of that slacker vibe while still being fun to make it feel like that decade. Samira Winter's vocals are alter between that mid-90's breathy thing and actual singing, not to mention the guitar solos straight outta when guitar solos could go back to being guitar solos, but just barely. Plus, the song is called "Jaded," which is the most 90's of all buzzwords. Just when you think it can't get more 90's, there a speaking part right in the middle between two people. Oh, and according to the press release, the song is influenced by The Breeders, Weezer, and 10 Things I Hate About You. If you think you're going to like this song, you definitely will.

You can listen to "Jaded" below. The single is available now via Burger Records. For more on Winter, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

First Listen: New Releases for June 23

Album of the Week:

Artist: Meklit
Album: When the People Move, the Music Moves Too
Quick Description: Soul/R&B with some great musicality.
Why You Should Listen: It's unlike anything else you've heard lately.
Overall Thoughts: This just came out of nowhere. I’ve never heard of Meklit before today, but I think we’ve found a new favorite here. I think my best comparison to this, to start, might be Janelle Monae if she spent more time with non-electronic instruments and less time singing about robots, but that doesn’t do this justice. There’s such a high level of musicality to Meklit’s take on R&B, to the styles being explored, that it’s just impossible to ignore. On first listen, it was almost exhausting (in a good way) trying to keep up with everything happening, and all I’ve wanted to do since diving in last week is jump back in. Even if this doesn’t end up being one of my favorite albums of the year, it’s absolutely my favorite this week and absolutely one of the best experiences from a musicality standpoint I’ve heard in some time.
Recommendation: Don't miss this one.

Artist: Bedouine
Album: Beoduine
Quick Description: A surprisingly wonderful folk record.
Why You Should Listen: You like older folk songs and miss that style.
Overall Thoughts: This wasn’t on my initial list of things to listen to this week, but then another site (Stereogum, maybe?) listed this as their album of the week and compared it to Nick Drake. Okay, I hear you. While this isn’t my favorite listen this week, or the best one, it’s pretty close – this is the closest thing to classic folk music I’ve heard in a long time, and seriously has some awesome moments. If “One of These Days” doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what to tell you. I don’t know if Bedouine will become a big star, whether in folk circles or overall, but she’s deserving of it and…
Recommendation: …this is deserving of your time.

Artist: Yonder Mountain String Band
Album: Love. Ain't Love
Quick Description: Latest from the bluegrass royalty.
Why You Should Listen: It's traditional roots music at its best.
Overall Thoughts: This is a band I was aware of before I was aware of the music they did, if that makes any sense. So there is a classic, legacy feel to this latest album that persists throughout and keeps it from being truly great, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some solid moments, most notably “Dancing in the Moonlight.” Overall, a pleasant listen that won’t blow your mind.
Recommendation: Solid, but not great.

Artist: Guerilla Toss
Album: GT Ultra
Quick Description: Aggressive electro-punk.
Why You Should Listen: It's not like anything else you'll hear this week.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this over to me, and I was frankly a little apprehensive to start. Then the album kicked in and I was still a little taken aback, but there’s something very catchy and endearing about this punk-style approach to a more electronic endeavor. I don’t quite know what to make of it except that I know I really like it, and that’s ultimately what matters. I know this might be an acquired taste, but if you’re willing to give this a chance, you might just fall in love with it.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a shot.

Artist: The No Ones
Album: Sun Station
Quick Description: Alt-rock supergroup of sorts with an EP.
Why You Should Listen: The people involved alone make it worthwhile.
Overall Thoughts: It’s probably weird to refer to things Peter Buck does as a side project when all he has is side projects now, but this is a supergroup of sorts that includes him, Scott McCaughey, and more, and it’s…well, it’s okay. It’s very jangly, has a lo-fi feel to it, and, at only four tracks, either hints at things to come or is just a one-off that exists in its own way.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: The Deslondes
Album: Hurry Home
Quick Description: Traditional roots rock.
Why You Should Listen: They are an authentic, fun act that sound well beyond their years.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed the first Deslondes album, and this new album does what you want a sophomore effort to do – it expands on their sound in a solid way without losing what made you love it to begin with. We have a great listen here on a whole, and some songs that could hit my rotation as much as a few songs on their debut did.
Recommendation: For a rootsy affair this week, you can’t do any better.

Artist: Verite
Album: Somewhere In Between
Quick Description: Indie pop on the fringes.
Why You Should Listen: This might cure that taste Lorde left in your mouth.
Overall Thoughts: Verite has been playing around on the indie side of pop for a little while now, and this latest listen doesn’t achieve the heights I would have liked for a proper breakthrough, but is still a solid listen on a whole. Honestly, it’s better than the pop stuff from last week, and that slots it kind of in the middle of recent releases. Not great, but not terrible. If you’re looking for something to scratch that itch this week, give it a shot.
Recommendation: Good for pop fans.

Artist: Algiers
Album: The Underside of Power
Quick Description: Bombastic mainstream rock.
Why You Should Listen: You're really looking for something large and mainstream.
Overall Thoughts: Algeirs is going big and bold on this album, and honestly? It feels like it’s all too much. I get what the attempt is here, but the result is a very loud-sounding, almost muddy listen that doesn’t really work for me. This might make some waves on the radio, but I can’t imagine liking this much if you’re really into the stuff we feature here.
Recommendation: Skip this one.

Artist: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Album: Murder of the Universe
Quick Description: Prog rock insanity.
Why You Should Listen: Either this is really solid and reverential, or it's a really involved spoof. Either way, it's worth it.
Overall Thoughts: Their third album in the last year or so, this is quite simply a straightforward prog rock record in all its glory, complete with fantasy literature elements and over-the-top narration and lyrics. It’s absurd, and that’s what makes it work. At this point, anything this group comes out with is worth a listen – even if it doesn’t make a lot of sense, you have to reward the ambition and appreciate the attempt. They might be the closest thing to classic Flaming Lips we have right now.
Recommendation: You have to try this.

Also out this week:

* Lydia Lunch and Cypress Grove - Under the Covers: A very interesting covers record. Parts are better than the whole.
* Crash Ensemble - Ghosts: Very solid modern classical music. Not for everyone, but might be worth a listen.
* TOPS - Sugar at the Gate: It doesn’t fit into any of the existing molds, which is both a benefit and a drawback.
* Mutual Benefit - Skip a Sinking Stone
* Unkle - The Road, Part 1: This is probably better than I’m giving it credit for, but I can’t stop wishing they would go back to the Psyence Fiction stuff.
* Jeff Tweedy - Together at Last: Tweedy goes acoustic. I’ve been cold on Wilco for a while, but this acoustic take on Wilco tracks is a fun listen on a whole.
* Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas - Telephone: Very solid modern classical music. Not for everyone, but might be worth a listen.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Petite League - "Sun Dogs"

Petite League now reside in Ridgewood, Queens, but started out in the DIY show scene in Syracuse. Lorenzo Gillis Cook started out playing solo under the name Spark Alaska, once he met drummer Henry Schoonmaker, Petite League were formed.

Petite League's latest single, "Sun Dogs," might be the jangliest pop song you ever hear. The opening guitar riff is reminiscent of early Strokes, but in a much more lo-fi way. It somehow sounds like the most polished and produced basement recording of all time. It's all gritty and lush, with one of the greatest uses of "la la la" in a chorus I've heard in years. It's the NYC ooze of The Strokes mixed with the sunshine pop of The Beach Boys, which is one of those combinations you never new how badly you needed it until you hear it for the first time.

You can listen to "Sun Dogs" below. Petite League's third album, Rips One Into the Night (the last two were called Slugger and No Hitter), will be out September 1 on The Native Sound. For more on the band, check out their Bandcamp and Facebook.

Monday Mix: Recent Female-Fronted Rock

If you've noticed from my reviews as of late, I've become somewhat obsessed with a certain revival of 90s-era Juliana Hatfield/Veruca Salt-sounding acts. There's a lot of great stuff out there, and I was going to make a playlist for myself before I realized that I could just share it with you guys. So here's a fun mix for your Monday - don't consider this representative, but just a fun start.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Drab - "Well, I Wanna Die"

Somehow it's been over two years since we've brought you anything from Boston area based Drab. Yesterday they came back into our radar with a new single, "Well, I Wanna Die." "Well, I Wanna Die" is an absolutely perfect song for you if you have a fondness for a certain mid-90's realm of just under the mainstream but right on the edge of creeping out alternative. The song starts off almost painfully slowly, and it slightly builds to a crescendo that never quite comes. You keep waiting for this explosion to be the big pay off at the end, but it just never happens. This builds this insane tension throughout, which is only aided by strings and some odd percussion towards the end. The whole song feels like that dog started hanging out with Rasputina.

"Well, I Wanna Die" is available on Spotify and iTunes. For more on Drab, check them out on Facebook.

Forgotten Fridays: SKAndalous: I've Gotcha Covered

Forgotten Fridays is an occasional feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. Once a week we go back and remind you, and help decide if they were any good.

1996 was the height of the 90s ska resurgence. It was also the height of the 90s covers compilation craze. Since ska and covers went together beautifully, you got roughly a million albums of ska bands doing wacky covers. 

SKAndalous: I've Gotcha Covered is one of the wackier ones. There's not really any consistent theme. Sure, there are a bunch of tv and cartoon theme songs covered (Perfect Thyroid cover "Sanford and Son," The Jinkies cover "Scooby Doo" because you couldn't do anything in the mid 90s without including Scooby Doo somehow) but there are just as many legitimate songs from the 60s covered (Magadog do "Brown Eyed Girl," Bim Skala Bim cover "Sunshine of Your Love" in virtually unrecognizable fashion). But then Ruder Than You do Black Sabbath's "Paranoid," which blows out any ongoing theme they might have had.

The strangest part of SKAndalous: I've Gotcha Covered is how much fun it is. Sure it's as dated as it could possibly be, and covering "The Flintstones" as a ska song is cheesy as hell, but it's a weird little slice of nostalgia. I know the 90s wave of ska is widely considered to be a national embarrassment barely even worth an eye roll of recognition, but it's still far better than hair metal, Bush, nu metal, and anything else that can be appreciated for the nostalgia factor nowadays.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

HVMM - "Lacerate"

The new song from England's HVMM is one of the few songs that sounds unlike anything you've heard before by combining a bunch of familiar sounds. "Lacerate" probably shouldn't work, but it does. The intro is more than a little reminiscent of Gorillaz's "Clint Eastwood." It also skews heavily into Jack White's trademark noisy roots based blues sound. But then come Andy Teece's vocals. He doesn't quite rap, but he's not exactly not rapping, either, which gives the song the sound of a more roots based Sleaford Mods. It all has a Johnny Rotten trying to imitate a preacher feel to it. I know a song that combines Jack White, Sleaford Mods, and The Sex Pistols sounds like too much of a hodgepodge of sounds, but "Lacerate" somehow does.

You can watch the video for "Lacerate" below. HVMM's new album, Talk to Me Like I'm Dead, will be out September 1st on ILA. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on HVMM, check out their website.

Pinkerton/Black - How's the Weather Over There

It's been over a year since we first discovered Riley Pinkerton and her amazing debut Do You Have a Car EP. Seemingly without warning, last week she released a new EP as a duo with Henry Black: Pinkerton/Black.

Seeing as how I'm completely unfamiliar with Henry Black's solo work, I can only use Riley Pinkerton's solo release as a base for How's the Weather Over There. The new EP runs a wee bit more on the mainstream side of the whole acoustic singer/songwriter genre than Pinkerton's previous release did. Her vocals once again elevate the genre to a completely different level. She just has such a unique voice that is just simply captivating. Even on Black's songs when she's singing back up, you just get pulled in by her harmonizing. That's not to take away from Black's own vocals, but hers are just stunning. The pair seem to work best when harmonizing together. "In His Image" has dual vocals throughout, and it may just be the song of the entire EP. Stylistically, How's the Weather Over There stretches itself all over the folk spectrum. A song like "Weeping Willow" has a quiet intensity that drives it. "Looked Like Eve" has a friendlier, rambling quality. 

You can listen to "In His Image" below. How's the Weather Over There can be purchased at Bandcamp. While Pinkerton/Black doesn't appear to have their own site, for more information you can check out Riley Pinkerton's website and/or Henry Black's.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Friday (on a Wednesday) Freebie: Hallelujah the Hills - Collective Psychosis Begone LIVE 1​/​4​/​2008 @ The Middle East

Usually we try to hold onto these until Friday (Friday Freebie and all...) but we couldn't wait for this one for two more whole days. Hallelujah the Hills decided to celebrate the ten year anniversary of their album Collective Psychosis by releasing a live recording of the album from 2008 for free! Collective Psychosis Begone LIVE 1​/​4​/​2008 @ The Middle East isn't the world's greatest live recording, but I tend to hate live recordings that are overproduced. Keeping in any mistakes, voice cracks, etc makes a live album more like a live performance than a studio recording, and that's exactly the point. Plus, it's a great snapshot at where one of our current favorites were ten years ago, and a reminder that delving into their much more robust than I remember back catalog is something we should all do more often.

You can get your own copy of Collective Psychosis Begone LIVE 1​/​4​/​2008 @ The Middle East for the "name your price" option over at Bandcamp. For more on Hallelujah the Hills, be sure to check out their website. Tomorrow night (June 22) they'll be playing at the News Cafe in Pawtucket, RI, and are promising to play a bunch of songs off Collective Psychosis. On August 17 they'll be playing a one night only show at the Hayden Planetarium, and will have Josh Kantor (Fenway organist), Marissa Nadler, Will Dailey, and more as special guests. You can get your tickets here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Brilliant Beast - "Star Of"

It's been a little over a year since we've heard from our favorite Minneapolis shoegaze band led by a brother and sister, but luckily Brilliant Beast are back with a new song in advance of a new release.

There have been roughly 4762 new releases from reunited shoegaze royalty this year, so it would be easy for the new crop of up and comers to get hidden. That would be a shame, since this new song from Brilliant Beast is so perfect. A lot of these reunion albums seem to forget what made the bands so great and they keep trying to update their sound to a more modern sound. They forget what we loved about them. "Star Of" is closer to the classic shoegaze sound than classic shoegaze bands sound like now. It's all swirling, fuzzed out guitars in a lush blend with vocals caught in a dream. 

You can watch the video for "Star Of" below. The new EP from Brilliant Beast, Jelly, will be out digitally and on cassette on July 7. You can pre-order the EP via Bandcamp. For more on Brilliant Beast, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.