Thursday, July 27, 2017

Alex Lahey - "Every Day's the Weekend"

Photo by Giuilia McGauren
Alex Lahey has one true amazing talent that's perfect for a singer/songwriter. Despite the ability to sing and rhyme words, she's is brilliant at writing fantastic cheesy love songs. You know the type of song that's just goofy and corny enough that you're embarrassed by how much you love it, but you can't help it because it's just so much fun and just so... good? Her latest single, "Every Day's the Weekend," is basically if Taylor Swift started out with indie rock instead of country. And was Australian. Being a middle aged man, I shouldn't love this song as much as I do. But it's just so good that I can't help it. It's fast and happy and just soaked in sugary love. And that's what makes it so perfect.

You can watch the video for "Every Day's the Weekend" below. Alex Lahey's debut full length album, I Love You Like a Brother, will be out October 8 on Dead Oceans. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Alex Lahey, check out her website.

The Huntress and Holder of Hands - "Borealis"

Somehow it feels like it's been forever that we've been waiting for a full length album from The Huntress and Holder of Hands with just an occasional song here and there to tease us along. Finally, we have news that MorganEve Swain's debut album will be released in September. Along with that news is the first single off Avalon, "Borealis." Judging just by this one song, it has been well worth the wait. 

"Borealis" starts off as a quiet, haunting folk song, the kind of sound that has dominated Swain's solo work. About mid-way through, the song switches moods and becomes the kind of upbeat Eastern European influenced folk song Swain and her husband Dave Lamb mastered in Brown Bird. Towards the very end, the track devolves into a metal meets Sonic Youth blast of noise before going back to haunting folk. As anyone that's been reading this blog for a decent amount of time, songs swerving off into unexpected directions is kinda my sweet spot, so "Borealis" is far more than I ever could have hoped for.

You can listen to "Borealis" below. The Huntress and Holder of Hands' debut album, Avalon, will be released on September 15. You can pre-order your copy now via Bandcamp. For more on The Huntress and The Holder of Hands, check out her website.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Coltana - "Waiting for the Storm"

Back in April, we brought you "Break Her," which was the latest single from Coltana. I ripped off their press release to describe that song as "Bikini Kill meets Arctic Monkeys." (Fun fact from their latest press release: Back when they were called Poeticat, Coltana shared a stage with everybody's favorite Game of Thrones cameo Ed Sheeran!) Their latest single, "Waiting for the Storm," doesn't quite fit that description. "Waiting for the Storm" is both more melodic and epic. Vocally, singer Catherine Martindale takes on a bit of a pop punk sound, and the song starts off with the bouncy feel your typical pop punk song would have. But then the vocals drop out for a bit, and you can feel Coltana's metal leanings breaking through. If this song had come out in the early 00's, Coltana would have been the breakout band of that year's Warped Tour.

You can listen to "Waiting for the Storm" below. It is out today via Poeticat Presents. For more on Coltana, check out their website.

Jessica Lea Mayfield - "Sorry Is Gone"

Photo by Ebru Yildiz
With her earlier sound, Jessica Lea Mayfield combined 90's alternative with country (if I was into bad jokes I'd say that she put the alt in alt-country, but I'll spare you that one), and with 2014's Make My Head Sing... she wore her grunge influences on her sleeve and pushed the country into the background. She has a new song out, "Sorry Is Gone," that goes just slightly back towards her country roots. Sonically, it's a little closer to 2011's Tell Me, but with some killer early 90's indie guitar work. Despite the song's light sound, Mayfield says “The whole record is about me taking my life back, without really realizing it. I realized I’m the only person that is going to look out for me. I have to be my main person. No one else.” The album features notable guest musicians Seth Avett (who Mayfield collaborated on 2015's Elliott Smith covers album) and Steve Shelley formerly of Sonic Youth.

You can watch the video for "Sorry Is Gone" below. Jessica Lea Mayfield's new album, also called Sorry Is Gone, will be out September 29 on ATO Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Jessica Lea Mayfield, check out her website.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Live Shows: The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Met Cafe Courtyard, Pawtucket, RI 7/22/17

This past year's Hometown Throwdown was the first I had missed in about five or six years. I felt like taking a break, none of the opening bands were all that intriguing to me, and I felt the money for my ticket should probably be going to Christmas presents. Of course, once the shows came I was filled with regret and missed going. When it was announced that The Mighty Mighty Bosstones were going to be touring this summer, I knew I had to go. 

Being a music snob, Let's Face It would be the album I'd want to see The Bosstones do from start to finish. It's the big hit album, and they have other albums that mean a lot to me. Plus, I'm a music snob. But, 2017 is the 20th anniversary of Let's Face It and it makes the most economic sense to do this album over their others. A funny thing happened as I went back to listen to the album in the weeks before the show. I remembered how great it really is, and how much I love so many of these songs. Plus, a good chunk of these songs are ones that rarely get played live.

And that's exactly what happened. Once The Mighty Mighty Bosstones started playing, all music snobbery was gone, and I was thrilled for ever single song that night. Sure, anytime you see the Bosstones you're going to get "The Rascal King" and "The Impression That I Get," but "That Bug Bit Me" or "Nevermind?" Those are special songs to see live.

Of course, Let's Face It is only a twelve song album that has a 33 minute running time, so there was a lot more than that album to fill up the show. Most of the remaining main set was made up of songs they'll always do at every show ("Simmer Down" and "Someday I Suppose") and a lot of their newer material from this century. That might sound a bit disappointing until you realize that their newer songs hold up live just as well as their classics. "Nah Nah Nah Nah Nah" has quickly become a live staple, and "Everybody's Better" could very well be their best song. Since we were right by Dicky Barrett's birthplace of Providence, they broke out rarity "Providence Is" and "Sunday Afternoons On Wisdom Ave" to mark the occasion. For the encore, they broke out the underrated "The Old School Off the Bright," the classic "Dr. D," and "A Little Bit Ugly." It was the perfect night that satisfied both casual fans that wanted the hits and us snobs that wanted the pre-fame hits and rarities.

First Listen: New Releases for July 21

I feel like this was a slow release week, and yet I wanted to listen to most of what came out.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Nicole Atkins
Album: Goodnight, Rhonda Lee
Quick Description: Pitch-perfect classic country-pop.
Why You Should Listen: Nicole Atkins is always solid, and this is her best yet.
Overall Thoughts: Nicole Atkins is always great, and she goes full retro-country with a pitch-perfect love letter to singers of old. It’s such a fun and refreshing listen with a lot of really great songs on it, and is easily my favorite listen of the week.
Recommendation: Just give this a shot. You won't regret it.

Artist: Dizzee Rascal
Album: Raskit
Quick Description: UK grime rapper's latest.
Why You Should Listen: I've never really listened before, and if I'm this glad I did...
Overall Thoughts: I missed the boat on Dizzee Rascall, so I don’t know how this compares with his albums from his popular prime, but if this is anything close to his best, wow. Fans of Run the Jewels will love what’s here, it feels like a good blend between older rap and more modern stuff, and just the tone and quality are top-notch. Just a great listen, and I think this week I’ll be looking up some of his other albums.
Recommendation: Solid rap music.

Artist: Dead Man Winter
Album: Furnace
Quick Description: Electric folk rock?
Why You Should Listen: You wish your folk music had some edge?
Overall Thoughts: The best description I can give this album is that this is basically what I’ve always wanted Fleet Foxes to be. This is folk rock, but they know how to turn it up/down more when needed and the result is a pretty great listen from top to bottom that doesn’t break much in the way of new ground but still feels fresh and different. It’s a difficult path to navigate, but I’m looking forward to spending more time on the journey with this band. And as I researched the stuff for this post, it turns out that it's the Trampled by Turtles lead singer's "electric" band, so it all makes sense.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: Katie Ellen
Album: Cowgirl Blues
Quick Description: Debut album from members of Chumped.
Why You Should Listen: Chumped was great, and this is a good time for a band like this.
Overall Thoughts: A band sprung from the ashes of Chumped, a band we absolutely loved and hated that they went away too soon, this feels like a poppier, more mainstream version of what Chumped was doing and feels like the correct evolution for everyone involved. It’s a good time for a sound like theirs, and I’m glad to see this continuing.
Recommendation: Loved this, and you should, too.

Artist: Super Best Friends Club
Album: Loveblows
Quick Description: A weird, wonderful indie pop rock album.
Why You Should Listen: This is probably unlike anything you've heard lately.
Overall Thoughts: The best way I can describe this album is if The Hidden Cameras were trying to get on the radio. Overall, this is meant to be a compliment, as this is a solid album that’s on the weird side of the aisle without being inaccessible, and the result is a listen that I feel has some layers I missed on first listen.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth your time.

Artist: Goldfinger
Album: The Knife
Quick Description: Classic punk act with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: If you know Goldfinger, you already know you wanna.
Overall Thoughts: Goldfinger has been around seemingly forever, and while they were never my cup of tea during my ska/punk phase in high school, this album is a bit of a throwback and actually a lot of goofy fun. It’s as eyerolly as some punk can get, and knowing how old these guys are it’s maybe a little hard to take seriously, but so what?
Recommendation: Music should be fun and this is a fun record.

Artist: Cornelius
Album: Mellow Waves
Quick Description: A weird and wonderful record.
Why You Should Listen: You like more challenging stuff overall.
Overall Thoughts: Cornelius is our strange listen of the week, with a lot of ethereal instrumentation to go along with challenging songwriting and soundscapes. It’s not weird in an inaccessible way, but it could be a little much for those who enjoy straightforward things. For me, though, I look for less straightforward stuff in this space, so it feels pretty mainstream (in context) to my ears. On a whole, though, this is one of the better listens this week from an act I’ll be looking for more from.
Recommendation: Great listen this week.

Artist: Tyler, The Creator
Album: Flower Boy
Quick Description: New album from the odd Future rapper.
Why You Should Listen: Tyler is divisive, but that's a reason to check it out.
Overall Thoughts: I've never actually liked any Tyler before, and this album is... well, it's something. I feel like it might be more accessible than his other stuff? I don't know, but I also never know what to expect. So with this in mind, and knowing that the Dizzee Rascal album is so good...
Recommendation: can probably pass on this.

Artist: Lana Del Rey
Album: Lust for Life
Quick Description: Latest from the indie-but-not-really singer.
Why You Should Listen: This is the album people are going to be talking about for the next couple weeks.
Overall Thoughts: Lana Del Rey is effectively trolling us at this point. She knows it, we know it, and we eat it up anyway. I like her aesthetic, even if I don't love all her songs, but she's not trying to mess with the product (for the most part). It's pointless to review this, in any case - either you like her or you don't, and this album won't change that.
Recommendation: Just listen to it.

Artist: The Hayman/Kupa Band
Album: The Hayman/Kupa Band
Quick Description: British supergroup of sorts gives a solid debut album.
Why You Should Listen: Darren Hayman leads this one up, so you know to expect some good songwriting.
Overall Thoughts: Darren Hayman of Hefner and Emma Kupa of Standard Fare head the Hayman/Kupa band, who provide a folky, sometimes twee little record that finally got a United States release. This is maybe the most peppy I can recall hearing Hayman in some time, and the album is honestly mixed at best - some numbers are great, others are a little wanting, but I find that even with the Hefner records I love, so that's no surprise. Overall, though, this is a nice little slice of British indie you should give some time.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

EPs of note:

* Nine Inch Nails - Add Violence (some of Reznor's best work in a while)
* Holy Fuck - Bird Brains (this is awesome)
* King James and the Special Men - Act Like You Know

Also out this week:

* Foster the People - Sacred Hearts Club (what even is this)
* A L L I E - Nightshade
* Chris Robinson Brotherhood - Barefoot in the Head (really only worth it if you're really into Black Crowes)

Friday, July 21, 2017

J.R. Roach Covers Jimmy Reed

Based on what we write about on here, you most likely wouldn't guess that either one of us would be obsessed with Sam Black Church. Hardcore typically isn't my thing, but they just do this bizarre, unhinged version of it that has always resonated with me. Plus, if you were coming of age in central Massachusetts in the early to mid 90's, Sam Black Church stickers covered virtually every road sign, drive-thru menu, etc. It was viral marketing before there was such a thing.

Even odder is this first solo offering from J.R. Roach, Sam Black Church's drummer. (He also drums for Goddamn Draculas.) It's a cover of the Jimmy Reed 1961 classic blues song "Bright Lights, Big City." It's a pretty standard cover while being amped up just slightly. It avoids the middle aged white guy doing the blues thing you'll hear at your local BBQ and Blues fest this summer, and maybe it's just my assumptions based on who Reed is, but the guitar licks have just the trace hints of a metal riff. 

You can listen to J.R. Roach's cover of "Bright Lights, Big City" below. You can get your own copy of the song at Roach's Bandcamp. For more on J.R. Roach, check out his website.

Stalagmites - "Binary"

Photo by James Byrne
If you're from Manchester, starting a band is a damned if you do/damned if you don't proposal. How do you not start a band when your city has such a rich and legendary history? But... how do you start a band when your city has such a rich and legendary history? I'm not saying Stalagmites are the next legendary Manchester band, but based on "Binary," they're off to a good start.

"Binary" borrows pretty heavily from multiple genres. It could just be that the opening (and repeated) riff is very reminiscent of "Bastards of Young," but there's more than a hint of The Replacements here. You're going to hear a ton of modern post punk, but the more palatable Interpol variety than Gang of Four. When the guitar isn't sounding like The Replacements, it swirls around on the line between shoegaze and psychedelia. It's a great blend that takes a few of the most copied genres but puts them together in a way we're not quite used to.

You can watch the video for "Binary" below. The single is available now on Veta Records. For more on Stalagmites, check them out on Facebook.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Melkbelly - "Kid Kreative"

The latest single from Chicago's Melkbelly will hit a perfect retro button if you were an indie rock fan in the 1990's. Right from the use of a "K" to spell creative in the name "Kid Kreative," you'll know the level of 90's you're getting. It's crunchy, droning guitars that just chug along with a stylistically half done guitar solo, plus fairly monotone vocals (and I mean all of that in the best possible way). It never gets quite as noisy as you want it to get, but it's a great alternative pop song in the vein of The Breeders and Cake Like.

You can watch the video for "Kid Kreative" below. Melkbelly's debut album, Nothing Valley, will be out on October 13 via Wax Nine Records (aka Sadie Duspuis' (Sad13, Speedy Ortiz) label!) It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Melkbelly, check out their Bandcamp and Facebook.

Lee Ranaldo - "New Thing"

Photo via Facebook
At this point in his career, you should know what to expect from Lee Ranaldo. He's the guy formerly of Sonic Youth that brought in the psychedelic noise and was the master of the ten minute solo heavy jam. That's why his latest single, "New Thing," is so surprising. It's a fairly straightforward mainstream almost folk song. I've always said that he was the George Harrison of Sonic Youth, but for this song he's John Lennon. It includes melodic guitar and piano (the piano is very reminiscent of "Imagine"), Ranaldo harmonizing with Sharon Van Etten, and pretty standard verse/chorus/verse format. Sure, every so often there's a burst of feedback followed by some psychedelic guitar, but this is kept to a very minimum. After a 30+ year career, Lee Ranaldo can still surprise, this time by being so normal.

You can watch the video for "New Thing" below. Lee Ranaldo's latest album, Electric Trim, will be out September 15 on Mute Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Ranaldo, check out his website.