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.

First Listen: New Releases for June 16

This week was sneaky busy, but a lot of good music!

Album of the Week:

Artist: What Cheer? Brigade
Album: You Can't See Inside of Me
Quick Description: Marching band music for hipster adults.
Why You Should Listen: They may drive your spouse mad, but the musicianship and fun is top notch.
Overall Thoughts: Every so often, while listening to something for First Listen, my wife will provide commentary. What Cheer? Brigade are a bunch of punk types who also play brass instruments, so the result is a bit of a sassy, edgy marching band quality. It turned my wife off right quick, but I was into it. It’s reminiscent of a lot of what made Gogol Bordello so awesome when they had their breakthrough, and there’s just something special and exciting about this. While I don’t think this will make it high on my year end list, this is absolutely my favorite thing that I listened to this week, and is my album of the week because of it. I mean, they do a brass version of a Brain Eno song! It’s a great reminder of how much fun music should be, and how we don’t need to necessarily slot certain acts into a mandatory style.
Recommendation: You might not love this, but I did.

Artist: Fleet Foxes
Album: Crack-Up
Quick Description: Latest from the superstars of indie folk(?)
Why You Should Listen: Fleet Foxes might not be your jam, but this works really well.
Overall Thoughts: Fleet Foxes runs hot and cold for me. A band I've always liked but never loved, this album really resonated with me. A lot of solid stuff here to go on, and it might be their best since their debut. If you've pumped the brakes on them, check this out.
Recommendation: Surprisingly solid.

Artist: The Dustbowl Revival
Album: The Dustbowl Revival
Quick Description: Rootsy party music?
Why You Should Listen: The Dustbowl Revival is a sneaky good festival mainstay.
Overall Thoughts: The Dustbowl Revival makes party music for roots revivalists. I picture this band playing under tents where the cheap alcohol is flowing and there’s an abundance of hay or matted-down grass. It’s a silly perception, but one that carries through the bombastic, fun atmosphere of their music and this album in particular. I really dug this on a whole...
Recommendation: ...and you might as well.

Artist: Darren Hayman
Album: Thankful Villages, Volume II
Quick Description: Hefner singer's second collection of songs about British villages.
Why You Should Listen: Historically important, musically sound.
Overall Thoughts: Hefner’s Hayman continues his project visiting and writing songs about the British World War I “Thankful Villages.” As with the first volume, there’s absolutely a cultural link I’m missing here, but a lot of what makes Hayman such an interesting and successful songwriter continues to shine through on this album. He’s got at least one more volume planned, and it’s a project I’m glad exists.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen.

Artist: Miranda Lee Richards
Album: Existential Beasts
Quick Description: Second album in as many years from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Surprisingly awesome.
Overall Thoughts: The 2016 album from Miranda Lee Richards caught me by surprise when it came out, and the fact that she has a follow-up nearly slipped by me as well. As much as I liked the first record, this one might be better! A more cohesive whole, feels a little better produced, and the end result is a solid listen that I’ll be coming back to a lot.
Recommendation: A favorite this week.

Artist: Sammy Brue
Album: I Am Nice
Quick Description: Debut album by an artist destined to become a favorite around these parts.
Why You Should Listen: A solid listen that shows a ton of promise.
Overall Thoughts: Sammy Brue is 15 years old. You’d never know it from listening to this album, because this feels so authentic and pure in its approach, and that’s probably why this works on its own. Knowing how young he is, it’s easy to kind of nitpick some choices and also easy to recognize that this is just the start of some really solid songwriting rather than the endpoint. For now, though, find some time to enjoy this. If he continues to put out work at this consistency, it’s a name we’re going to know for the next thirty-plus years.
Recommendation: A great listen, can't wait for more.

Artist: Sarah Jane Scouten
Album: When the Bloom Falls From the Rose
Quick Description: Pure rootsy country.
Why You Should Listen: This is the comfy blanket listen of the week.
Overall Thoughts: The surprise of the week is Sarah Jane Scouten, who reminds me a lot of an early Nora Jane Struthers in many regards. The album takes off early and ends up being a fun, albeit standard, rootsy folkish album. I really enjoyed it, and I’m hoping more listens will show it has some staying power to boot.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.

Artist: Moby and the Void Pacific Choir
Album: More Fast Songs About the Apocalypse
Quick Description: A surprise second release from Moby's uber-political rock effort.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoyed the first effort.
Overall Thoughts: Moby continues his work with the Void Pacific Choir, and the same urgency and sound shift for Moby is evident on this shorter record. This post-punk effort feels more like a collection of b-sides than some of the great listens of the first record, but it’s also a deliberately messy affair that requires a little more time to really register. I’ll give it that, but I still question whether this resonates with Moby fans, or post-punk fans, or what audiences it’s for at all.
Recommendation: A little iffy, but not a waste of time at all.

Artist: Alison Moyet
Album: Other
Quick Description: Chamber pop? Sure!
Why You Should Listen: This is the most interesting release of the week.
Overall Thoughts: Because we haven’t had our share of theatrical singer-songwriter efforts as of late, here is Alison Moyet providing a record that is lacking in a significant focus, but has so many high-quality moving parts that we can largely avoid criticizing it too much. What I wish it had in a standard, cohesive effort, it replaces in what is actually a pretty interesting listen on a whole, complete with some standout tracks and memorable moments. If you like ambitious pop records, this might be worth some of your time.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Palehound
Album: A Place I'll Always Go
Quick Description: The hit sound of the moment with a band we love.
Why You Should Listen: This is right in the current wheelhouse.
Overall Thoughts: Palehound is a favorite here, and for good reason – they fit into a lot of the sound we love for acts like these, and considering the renaissance of sorts we’re experiencing in this genre, Palehound is hitting their stride at the right time. Is this as good as, say, the Diet Cig or Charly Bliss records this year? I don’t know yet, but it’s making a case for itself with this effort, one that feels both more mature and more urgent. I expected to like this, and I’m hoping that I find as much to love in it as I did in other albums like it this year.
Recommendation: Lots of fulfilled potential here.

Artist: Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit
Album: The Nashville Sound
Quick Description: Isbell's first album with The 400 Unit in some time.
Why You Should Listen: It's Jason Isbell, come on.
Overall Thoughts: Jason Isbell has pretty much reached “institution” status at this point, and I think what makes him great, whether it’s solo or with the 400 Unit, is that he’s able to evoke a lot of gravity in his songs that other artists cannot. That weight can make listening to his albums a different experience on a whole, but that’s not bad – this latest album continues along the vein of the high-quality material we expect, and the addition of his backing band gives a slightly different tone to the proceedings.
Recommendation: Overall, a solid listen.

Artist: Lorde
Album: Melodrama
Quick Description: Long-anticipated second album from the pop singer.
Why You Should Listen: Lorde is absolutely one of the more interesting popsters going.
Overall Thoughts: I’m into “Green Light,” I (like everyone else) was into “Royals,” and so this album was definitely one I was looking forward to. I hate to say that it just did not connect for me in a meaningful way. Lorde is a talented songwriter, but we’re getting something that’s ambitious and different while lacking that interest piece to keep you hooked. Leading with “Green Light” didn’t help, as it means we hit the high water mark immediately. I’ll give this a little more time, but in a time with a lot of solid pop efforts available, this doesn’t appear to make the grade.
Recommendation: Give Katy Perry another listen instead.

Other releases of note:

* Portugal the Man – Woodstock: Still a weird band making a lot of good music. Not sure how I feel about this one.
* Hundredth – RARE: A dark metal band goes more shoegaze, and the results… well, you’ll either like this or you won’t.
* Ride – Weather Diaries: First album in a long time from this comeback act. It works, but probably doesn’t rate with their classics.
* Beth Ditto – Fake Sugar: I had high hopes for this, but it ends up being a bad pop album instead of channeling anything that resembles the best of The Gossip.
* Big Boi – BOOMIVERSE: Big Boi is really good at rap music, but not so good at keeping his sound current. Good for me, but not necessarily for those on, say, the Kendrick/Drake/Future trains.
* Dead Heavens - Whatever Witch You Are
* Jason Loewenstein - Spooky Action

EPs of note:

* Bernice – Puff: Fuzzy, airy singer-songwritery stuff. A good taste of what might be to come.
* Anya Marina – Serious Love: Latest EP from the increasingly-chameleonlike singer. Honestly a mixed bag, but the highs are very high.
* Frankmusik – Ss17: Frankmusik has been doing this sort of introspective pop for a while now, and I’m starting to lose a little interest, if I’m being frank (heh).
* Magic Shoppe – High Goodbye: Magic Shoppe channels their inner 1997-era Oasis with solid results.

Also out this week:

* Royal Blood - How Did We Get So Dark
* Hey Violet - From the Outside
* The Drums - Abysmal Thoughts
* The Cold Stares - Head Bent

Friday, June 16, 2017

Live Shows: Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, Hayden Planetarium, Museum of Science, Boston, MA 6/15/17

Photo by Dave Green
A Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys show is always an event. They're a band that truly puts on a performance, not just a concert. Seeing them live is as much a visual experience as it is an auditory one. Last night, the band took over the Hayden Planetarium at the Museum of Science for a one night only event.

I had expected something more on the lines of the old style laser light shows last night. Back in my youth, the planetarium was always hosting Laser Floyd or Laser Zeppelin shows on weekends. (The only one I ever went to was Laser Nirvana back in 1996...) Instead Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys were accompanied by computer animation projected across the screen of the planetarium. It was a slightly odd experience. Usually when at a concert you watch the band and not a screen. The band members circled the projector in the center of the room and played, so any audience member could only see the band by leaning forward in the chair, and then they could only see about half of the performers. It was interesting experiencing such dynamic live performers with the attention drawn away from themselves.

The animation was perfectly suited to the music the vast majority of the time. Visuals such as floating through a castle, odd green creatures, and swirling psychedelic graphics worked the best. One odd choice was the use of animated snowflakes during "Old Skin," which I'm pretty sure isn't about snow. The best use of visuals along with music was during "Baba Yaga," which featured Walter Sickert's artwork, animated and moving about. As great as the experience was, I do wish more had been like this.

As for the actual musical performance, it truly was a unique Army of Toys show. The band was much more reserved, and traded in their more bombastic songs for more restrained ones. There were quite a number of choices that I didn't fully recognize, and I consider myself to be somewhat of an obsessive fan. Even the louder songs were played a bit more calmly, most likely in reverence for the setting. The songs can really be allowed to stand for themselves in this setting, unlike a rock club where the band has to be loud and attention grabbing. The entire audience's attention was already held by the visual experience. One unique highlight was a medley that contained Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun" and Motorhead's 'Ace of Spades."

The Museum of Science is putting on two more concerts this summer, with Niki Luparelli & The Gold Diggers July 20 and Hallelujah the Hills August 17. For more information, check out their website.

Guerilla Toss - "Betty Dreams of Green Men"

Being a grumpy old man in the world of indie rock, to me noise rock should be something loud and most likely aggressive. If it's loud enough, like Lightning Bolt, maybe people can do some kind of moshing to it, but it's most likely music that you listen to while stroking your chin and paying attention. It's certainly nothing that you could possibly dance to. That would be preposterous.

Guerilla Toss continue to prove me wrong. "Betty Dreams of Green Men" is the noisiest dance song you might ever hear. It has a groove throughout that Deee-Lite would be envious of. There's a perfect chant along chorus about aliens that will be driven into your skull as deeply as anything Taylor Swift has ever put out. Luckily, "Betty Dreams of Green Men" is just discordant enough to be interesting, but it might be your daughter's entry away from top 40 into actual good music.

You can listen to "Betty Dreams of Green Men" below. Guerilla Toss's new album, GT Ultra, will be released on June 23 and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on Guerilla Toss, check out their website.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Banditos - "Healin' Slow"

Just when I has Banditos pigeonholed as a psychedelic southern garage rock band, their new song goes in a completely new direction. "Healin' Slow" features Mary Beth Richardson on vocals, and her vocals are the star for this track. It's a southern rock blues slow jam, with the instruments holding off as minimalist as can possibly be for the genre. Richardson's voice is the main focus, and once you hear this song, you'll understand why. I wouldn't say she has a spectacularly beautiful voice, but she has this odd power behind it that just draws you in and makes you want to pay attention. "Healin' Slow" is a song that could have ended up as a pretty generic ballad, but Richardson's seemingly effortless vocals and the rest of the Banditos' ability to remain in the background makes this one a must listen.

You can watch the video for "Healin' Slow" below. Banditos' newest album, Visionland, will be out June 23 on Bloodshot Records. For more on Banditos, check out their website.