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


* 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.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Monday Mix: A (Re)Introduction to Kathleen Edwards

With Kathleen Edwards releasing her first album of new music in nearly eight years later this summer, I felt like now was as good a time as any to take a look back at some of her best work so far, so a new Monday Mix for your American Memorial Day is cookout appropriate even if you're socially distancing, and the irony that it highlights a Canadian artist on a national holiday is not lost on me.

Edwards has released four albums up to now, and this mix covers all four plus her new release, "Options Open." The mix is best listened to in order, at least the first time around...

Failer: Edwards's debut album is represented by five songs here. "Six O'Clock News" put her on the map, "One More Song the Radio Won't Like" kept her there, and the rest show some decent range. Don't sleep on "12 Bellevue," which remains a favorite of mine. After listening to this set, make sure to check out this highlight from her debut (and long-lost) EP, Building 55, which has some elements of both "Lone Wolf" and "Bellevue" while giving an early sense of her range.

Back to Me: The follow-up to Failer does not expand things out too too much with one exception in the title track, which is much more of a rock experience than the alt-country we came to expect. Even still, it's a heck of a song. "In State" is the spiritual, if not literal, sequel to "Six O'Clock News," and "Copied Keys" far too often makes things a little too dusty if you catch my drift...

Asking for Flowers: That this album wasn't a serious breakthrough record for her, I have no idea. The title track is gorgeous, lead single "The Cheapest Key" is a lot of fun, but the highlight in a near-perfect album is "I Make the Dough, You Get the Glory," which has so many great lines (I'm always back and forth between "You're the Great One/I'm Marty McSorley" and "Heavy rotation on the CBC/Whatever in hell that really means") and maybe the best, most Canadian music video you can imagine.

Voyageur: This album was the mainstream play, was famously produced in part by Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, was less country and more indie/adult-alternative, and... it has a lot of great moments. As a huge fan, I gave this a lot of time and listens, but a lot of the charm and the wit that made Kathleen Edwards different than every twangy gal with a guitar was a little lost here. And a lot of the baggage that came with this album is why she quit music to begin with, so it's hard not to look back at this album and find a lot of offramps along the way. Still, "Change the Sheets" was a great song, "Empty Threat" probably the most Kathleen Edwards song on the record ("I'm moving to America/It's not an empty threat"), and "Mint," although unlike much else that she has offered up, is an underrated classic from her catalog.

The mix closes with her new song, "Options Open," and it deserves to be among this canon of songs after a week of repeated listens. I'm more excited than ever for the new album, Total Freedom, and hopefully this gets you in the mood for it as well.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Sugar Snow Covers Goffin & King

Sugar Snow is the solo project of Kid Gulliver's Simone Berk. According to the Bandcamp bio, Sugar Snow is "dreamy, melodic, pretty, sad, honest and raw," which sums up the project's latest single. "He Knows I Love Him Too Much" was written by the songwriting pair of Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and popularized by The Paris Sisters. It's a classic early 60's oldie, and the Sugar Snow version stays quite true to the original, with maybe a little more hint of modern folk than the pre-Beatles invasion music scene sound of the original. Interestingly enough, Berk recorded her vocals at Zippah Studios while in her minivan due to social distancing.

You can listen to Sugar Snow's take on "He Knows I Love Him Too Much" below. The song is currently available via Bandcamp. For more on Sugar Snow, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Wilco - "Tell Your Friends"

Late show live performances are obviously a challenge these days. Most talk show hosts are hosting solo from home with guests on video conference, so it's pretty impossible to actually do any live performance. Wilco were on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert this week with their new single, "Tell Your Friends." Instead of a live performance, the band is shown in home recordings lip synching with their families. Not super cool, but check out the Mass MoCA shirts! "Tell Your Friends" is a laid back, chilled out dreamy folky kind of song that includes a killer lazy electric guitar solo. So... a pretty standard Wilco song these days. The lyrics are a little hokey ("Don't forget to tell your friends / When you see them again / O' I love you"), but we can all use some hokey positivity these days. "Tell Your Friends" may not go down as one of the greatest Wilco songs of all time, but it's the Wilco song we need right now.

You can watch the video for "Tell Your Friends" below. The song is available on Wilco's Bandcamp, with all proceeds going to World Central Kitchen. For more on Wilco, check out their website.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Sharon Van Etten featuring Joshua Homme Covers Nick Lowe

Photo by Ryan Pfluger
It premiered last week on the Hulu show The Great, but now we can listen to this cover on its own. Sharon Van Etten and Joshua Homme (Queens of the Stone Age) have joined together to cover Nick Lowe's iconic "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" The duo slows the song way, way down into a nearly haunting version with lots of country guitars. Instead of the joyful sound of the original, Van Etten and Homme's version sounds more like a tearful plea.

Homme explains the collaboration: 

I went to a Courtney Barnett Valentine's Day concert that Sharon Van Etten was playing as one of a veritable buffet of musicians. She opened her mouth and my mind exploded—that voice, like fresh cream... with a hint of fine grit. When a week later the opportunity arose to sing with her, I jumped at it. This was of course  before we had any idea that the world would be going into hiding for months. Recording this song had nothing to do with what we’d be going through... until we started going through it. In these times, it’s a blessing to feel lucky even for a moment... and I feel lucky to have been able to work with Sharon, Zach Dawes, Michael Shuman, Matthew Siskin and our families.
When you’re shooting at home you start out shooting only what you love. Then you get tired and stop. This video doesn’t deal with anything outside of what’s happening within its own little world we created -- only what’s happening inside two households connected by what they love the most, nothing more.”

You can watch the video for Sharon Van Etten and Joshua Homme's cover of "(What's So Funny 'Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding?" below. You can purchase of copy of the song here. For more on Sharon Van Etten, check out her website.

JEUCE - "Hangover"

Photo by Ben Jackson
JEUCE are the kind of band we know we're far too old to love, but when the music is this much fun... how can we not? "Hangover" is this out of control burst of joy trapped in a minute and a half. It's all about having a hangover and the problems this causes. The song is brought in this bundle of garage punk blended with some 60's hipster groove. Plus, the delivery has a more than a little in common with neo-riot grrrl, but more party than politics. "Hangover" is absurdly fun, and it's well worth the ninety seconds it will take to listen.

You can listen to "Hangover" below. introJEUCEing, the debut album (and album title of the year) from JEUCE, will be out May 29 on Delicious Clam. You can pre-order the album on Bandcamp. For more on JEUCE, check out their Bandcamp.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

RMBLR - "Machine Gun"

Sometimes you just wanna drop the pretense and just listen to a rock song. Atlanta's RMBLR have you covered. "Machine Gun" was recorded just before quarantine, "Machine Gun" is the kind of garage rock 'n' roll that would have been huge during the garage rock revival of the early 2000's. It's no frills (except for some slick sounding production) punk infused rock without gimmicks. The members have all done time in various Atlanta bands over the years (The Heart Attacks, Ravagers, The Barreracudas, Dinos Boys, and Biters) which makes RMBLR an Atlanta supergroup.

You can watch the video for "Machine Gun" below. RMBLR have a six song EP due out later this year on Spaghetty Town Records. For more on RMBLR, check them out on Bandcamp.

Phoebe Bridgers - "I See You"

Photo by Frank Ockenfels
I was a little late to jump on the Phoebe Bridgers bandwagon, which is something I've been regretting for quite a while now. Luckily, I'm firmly onboard for album two which is due out next month. "I See You" fits right into what we expect from Bridgers while pushing forward. This new single is simply an epic indie rock/folk song, despite being intensely personal. The song feels like being stuck in this intense and otherworldly dream, in the best possible way.

Bridgers explains the song: "It’s about my breakup with my drummer. We dated for a few years, made music every day, and were extremely codependent. We became like family to each other, so our breakup was extremely tough. But if this tells you anything about our relationship, we wrote this song together, just like everything else.” 

You can watch the video for "I See You" below. Punisher, the new album from Phoebe Bridgers, will be out June 19 on Dead Oceans. Bridgers will also be launching her "Phoebe Bridgers' World, Tour" next month, with her playing in different parts of her house, streaming, of course. Dates for that are below the video. For more on Phoebe Bridgers, check out her website.