Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The Prefab Messiahs - "(Don't Give Up On) Beautiful Things"

Worcester, MA's favorite reunited psychedelic garage rockers are back with a new single! Last week The Prefab Messiahs released a video for "(Don't Give Up On) Beautiful Things." The song, and video, and quite heavy on the psychedelic side of "psychedelic garage." You get some classic 60's style harmonizing, and everything is tied up into a beautifully swirly package. There is even a "Bah bah bah" in the chorus as catchy as anything The Archies ever wrote. But there is a great primal garage rock beat throughout, and some fierce guitars that come in like buzzsaws to draw in the non-hippies.

You can watch the video for "(Don't Give Up On) Beautiful Things" below. The song is available now via Bandcamp. For more on The Prefab Messiahs, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Bis - "Sound of a Heartbreak"

Bis dropped off my radar after 1997's The New Transistor Heroes. Turns out they broke up in 2003 and reformed in 2009. They released a new album in 2014 which I completely missed, and are now set to release a fifth album next month.

I always loved their insanely high energy bubblegum alternative pop music. I'm not sure if that's what I need in my 40s, but neither does Bis. They are also twenty years older, after all. "Sound of a Heartbreak" is still insanely energetic and upbeat. It's completely music to bop around to. But, it's much more mature and adult than anything off The New Transistor Heroes. It feels like a natural progression for the band. They're not trying to recapture their youth or the magic of their earlier albums, but they're hardly becoming an easy listening band, either. This is exactly what aging Bis fans will want from their Scottish heroes, even if they forgot about them for a time.

You can watch the video for "Sound of a Heartbreak" below. Slight Disconnects, the new album from Bis, will be out February 28 on Last Night from Glasgow. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Bis, check out their website.

First Listen: New Releases for 11/18 January

After the holiday lull, it appears we are fully and completely back in the swing of things.

Artist: Pedro the Lion
Album: Phoenix
Quick Description: Reunion album from the indie rock favorites.
Why You Should Listen: One would assume it would be good, but it turns out it's great.
Overall Thoughts: Dave Bazan's solo stuff never 100% grabbed me, and I admit to never quite catching on to Pedro the Lion back in its heyday. This return album may not be a return to form, and might rock slightly harder than expected, but I will say that it was a super compelling release that grabbed me almost immediately. There are a lot of interesting things happening here, and I think it's one of my favorite listens this week. It's just a solid, mature-sounding indie rock record, and I feel like those have been lacking as of late.
Recommendation: A must-listen as one of the best of the week.

Artist: Neyla Pekarek
Album: Rattlesnake
Quick Description: Upbeat-sounding roots stuff.
Why You Should Listen: Different than most releases in this area, it might be the mood-setter you need.
Overall Thoughts: This might be the most fun record of the week in many regards. I did not know Neyla Pekarek by name prior to learning that she was a member of the Lumineers, and this solo release is a raucous, roots-tinged affair with a lot going for it. Reminds me a lot of some of the more upbeat roots stuff that I’ve heard over the years – not quite Lake Street Dive or The Whiskey Gentry, but along those lines. Either way, a fine way to start out the year in this genre.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Guster
Album: Look Alive
Quick Description: New record from the longtime Boston-area natives.
Why You Should Listen: You loved Guster in college, you can admit it.
Overall Thoughts: Guster will always be noteworthy, both coming from New England where the band is from, and how central they were to that early-aughts musical time that peaked with “Amsterdam” 15 or so years ago. The band added a member, changed its sound up considerably, and has never quite been the same as they were with Lost and Gone Forever or Goldfly (both 20 years old now?!) even though they had some minor pop hits. So a band I loved became a band I was just fine with, and now we have a new album and it’s actually kind of weird and wonderful in all the right ways. A lot of the oddball charm that got me to love the band to start is present here even if they’re not a band with two acoustic guitars and a set of bongos anymore. I can’t promise you’ll love this (or even like it), but there are songs here, like “Overexcited” and “Hard Times,” that definitely resonated when I heard them. So don’t miss this one, especially if your original instinct was to skip it.
Recommendation: Worth a spin.

Artist: Dani Bell and the Tarantist
Album: Wide Eyed
Quick Description: Complex, provocative music.
Why You Should Listen: It's got many interesting parts.
Overall Thoughts: Not sure what it is about this one that grabbed me as much as it did, but this is a really solid listen that I feel has a lot of interesting layers and pieces to go with it. Many things set it apart, from the instrumentation to the vocals, but I am sure that, especially in a week as busy as this for releases, that you’ll find something to like in this one.
Recommendation: A top listen this week.

Artist: Malibu Ken
Album: Malibu Ken
Quick Description: Tobacco and Aesop Rock team up.
Why You Should Listen: If you know both of these guys, it works as well as you'd imagine.
Overall Thoughts: Aesop Rock is a great rapper. Tobacco does some truly original music, and handles distorted and compressed instrumentation unlike anyone else. Aesop Rock's voice lends itself perfectly as a result, and this turns into a really rock-solid album without a bad moment and with a lot of truly good ones. This is a keeper, and one that might linger for a while.
Recommendation: Should be a mandatory listen this week for anyone who likes rap music.

Artist: Maggie Rogers
Album: Heard It In a Past Life
Quick Description: Long-awaited debut album from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: "Alaska" was a legitimate hit way back whenever.
Overall Thoughts: So I truly feel as if we have been waiting for this album forever. "Alaska" came out in 2016, and it felt like Rogers could be the next big thing, and then we only got a trickle of music out from her over time. The final result of this album? It's as good as we may have expected. On first listen, the best songs are the ones we already know, but that doesn't take away from this being an album that feels a lot more confident and sure than one may expect. I really look forward to spending more time with this, and not only because I've been waiting two years for it.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.

Artist: Sharon Van Etten
Album: Remind Me Tomorrow
Quick Description: Latest from the popular indie singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Sharon Van Etten hit "must listen" status a while ago.
Overall Thoughts: So I've liked Sharon Van Etten from the start, she has a lot of great songs and albums, and so on. This is absolutely her most musically ambitious effort, and feels like a cohesive unit rather than finding any sort of specific songs. For me, the question is out there as to whether the ambition here is as successful as I want it to be. This is a complicated listen that I'm definitely looking to spend more time with, but it definitely didn't uncover all its secrets on a single exposure. Either way, Van Etten is so good that I will want to hear this a few more times anyway, and I can't say that about all the musicians out there.
Recommendation: Might not work for everyone, but I reserve the right to change my mind.

Artist: Deerhunter
Album: Why Hasn't Everything Already Disappeared
Quick Description: New album from some indie favorites.
Why You Should Listen: Deerhunter remains pretty popular with a lot of audiences.
Overall Thoughts: Highlighting this because Deerhunter has never totally grabbed me, but this one absolutely has. There's a quiet-yet-urgent feel to this album that connected to me on first listen, and I do not want to ignore that.
Recommendation: Could be up your alley.

Of note:

* Toro Y Moi - Outer Peace (I liked it a lot, but definitely feels like a Toro Y Moi record. Not much else to say about it.)
* Juliana Hatfield - Weird (Has its moments (like "Do It With Music") but I wanted this to be better than it was.)
* The Delines - The Imperial (interesting listen on a whole with a lot of potential. Looking forward to spending some more time with this one.)
* Steve Gunn - The Unseen In Between (Superlative folk music.)
* Mike Posner - A Real Good Kid (Not quite my thing, but some interesting efforts here.)
* Ultramarine - Signals Into Space
* Liz Brasher - Painted Image
* Frances Cone - Late Riser

Seven song albums:

* Dodie - Human (Youtuber with a really, really solid effort here. I kind of love this.)


* Mattiel - Customer Copies
* Ea Kaya - Fragile But Strong as Hell

Also out:

* Angelic Milk - Divine Biker Love
* Mom and the Mailman - Mom and the Mailman
* Alice Merton - Mint
* Little People - Landloper
* Crane Like the Bird - Crane Like the Bird
* MC Chris - #MCChrisIsGoodMusic

Monday, January 21, 2019

Pickathon Announces Insane 2019 Line Up!

Last night Pickathon announced their 2019 line up, and it has us seriously considering an early August trip out to Oregon. They've always pushed the boundaries of what is considered Americana music, and this year they're pushing them the hardest yet, and it has made for an amazing line up. You get some more traditionally folk/country artists like Nathaniel Rateliff (doing two separate shows with two different bands), Mountain Man, Mandolin Orange, Tyler Childers, Julia Jacklin, Black Belt Eagle Scout, and more. This year they push the boundaries with the indie rock of The Beths, the doom metal of YOB, the North African Tuareg guitar of Mdou Moctar, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the freak dance of Bodega, the folk-ish dance of Lucius, and more!

The whole thing goes down August 2-4 at Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley Oregon. You can get more information over at their website. They've put together a Spotify playlist, which you can find below. The complete line up is below the playlist.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
Mandolin Orange
Nathaniel Rateliff
Tyler Childers
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
Fruit Bats
Mountain Man
Damien Jurado
Laura Veirs
Julia Jacklin
The MarĂ­as
Miya Folick
Sudan Archives
Bonny Light Horseman
Mdou Moctar
Courtney Marie Andrews
Lido Pimienta
Cedric Burnside
Town Mountain
Jupiter & Okwess
The Beths
B Boys
Our Girl
Young Jesus
Sam Evian
Black Belt Eagle Scout
Mike and The Moonpies
Nap Eyes
Soft Kill
H.C. McEntire
Helena Deland
The Cordovas
Lauren Morrow
David Nance Group
The Po' Ramblin' Boys
Virginia Wing
Garrett T Capps
Martha Scanlan
Gold Star
Colton Turner
&more (Chill Moody & Donn T)
David Bragger & Susan Platz 

Funeral Advantage - "Black House"

I first discovered Funeral Advantage at the 2015 Harvard Square Mayfair
Back then, I described them as sounding like just about every song was a Smiths cover, and since I've compared their recorded output to The Cure.

They have a new song out, which is going to lead to some new comparisons. "Black House" might be their peppiest song to date, which may be strange since it's from a band called Funeral Advantage and the song is called "Black House." There is a strong early 80's New Wave sound to the song reminiscent of early Depeche Mode and really early Ministry. This is definitely a dance song that has some throwback elements but still sounds fresh and current. The vocal effects, which are very Autotune-esque at some points, help add to that. It's an interesting slight change of sound, which makes the upcoming album that much more intriguing. 

You can listen to "Black House" below. Nectarine, the new album from Funeral Advantage, will be out February 22 and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on Funeral Advantage, be sure to check out their website.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Piroshka - "Everlastingly Yours"

I've always loved a good supergroup. Piroshka might have one of the better pedigrees we've seen in quite a while. It features Miki Berenyi of Lush, KJ "Moose" McKillup of Moose, Mick Conroy of Modern English, and Justin Welch of Elastica.

Their single, "Everlastingly Yours," is exactly what you'd want it to be. It has a distinct shoegaze vibe, but in this almost groovy tropicalia kind of way. It's a smooth, chilled out song. It's definitely the sound shoegaze/Brit pop/New Wave bands should be making now, 20-30 years into their careers. Piroshka are the rare supergroup that have taken all their parts and blended them perfectly together into a more mature and modern sound.

You can listen to "Everlastingly Yours" below. Piroshka's debut album, Brickbat, will be out February 15 on Bella Union. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Piroshka, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Potty Mouth - "22"

Photo by Nazrin Massaro
Los Angeles's Potty Mouth have this 90's infused blend of alternative pop rock that we can help but get into. Their new single, "22," is an absolute blast. It's a fun pop punk song, leaning very heavily onto the pop side of things. It has the catchiness and the crunchy guitars of early Letters to Cleo, but the punk attitude of The Donnas, especially with singer Abby Weems's vocal delivery. A warning to all of us old fogies out there: The song is about being nervous about turning twenty two. Not thirty. Not even twenty five. Twenty two. Just let that sink in for a bit... Regardless, if you can get past that, there is no way you won't love the song.

You can listen to "22" below. SNAFU, the new album from Potty Mouth, will be out March 1 on Get Better Records. Pre-orders of the album on blue vinyl will come with a comic book titled Potty Mouth: Situation Normal All Fucked Up that was written and illustrated by Abby Weems. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Potty Mouth, check out their website.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Allie Crow Buckley - "Cherry Stems"

Allie Crow Buckley is a singer/songwriter from Malibu, and her latest single, "Cherry Stems," definitely reflects what you'd expect from a singer/songwriter from Malibu (in the best possible way). The song is light and breezy, not really folky but not quite pop, either. It's pretty laid back. You can't quite dance to it, but you could get a really great sway going on. But it does have this unexpected intensity to it, like a darkness just under the edges. Plus, there is some unexpected killer crunchy guitar work that comes in like an unexpected attack. It takes a mainstream sound and turns it just slightly in an unexpected direction enough to help keep it interesting.

You can watch the video for "Cherry Stems" below. Allie Crow Buckley's debut EP, So Romantic, will be out on February 5. It will also feature Jason Boesel and Dylan Day from Jenny Lewis's band and Mike Viola as her backing band. For more on Allie Crow Buckley, be sure to check out her website.

Priests - "The Seduction of Kansas"

Photo by Drew Hagelin
Fans of Priests's debut artsy noise rock album Nothing Feels Natural might be shocked by the first single off their new upcoming album, "The Seduction of Kansas," is pure shimmering pop, but with an insanely dark side, and it's just off enough to suck in those of us that hate pop music. It's 100% a song you can dance to (and you should), but it also has a disturbing edge. Plus, the song gets far more highbrow than pop music gets. From the press release for the song: "As journalist Thomas Frank explored in 2004’s What’s the Matter With Kansas?, the ideological sway of Kansas has often predicted the direction in which the U.S. will move—whether leaning socialist in the 1800s or going staunchly conservative in the 1980s." Yeah, this isn't mindless Swedish produced pop music. This is pop music for the art rock crowd, and we should all be thankful for it.

You can watch the video for "The Seduction of Kansas" below. The new album from Priests, also called The Seduction of Kansas, will be out April 5th on their own Sister Polygon Records. For more on Priests, check out their website. Their current quite extensive tour dates are below the video.

Fri. March 8 - Savannah, GA @ Savannah Stopover Music Festival
Sat. March 9 - Birmingham, AL @ The Firehouse
Mon. March 11 - Fri. March 15 - Austin, TX @ SXSW
Sun. March 17 - Nashville, TN @ Exit / In
Mon. March 18 - Knoxville, TN @ The Pilot Light
Mon. April 15 - Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Tue. April 16 - Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere
Thu. April 18 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
Fri. April 19 - Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo
Sat. April 20 - Toronto, ON @ The Garrison
Sun. April 21 - Detroit, MI @ El Club
Mon. April 22 - Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
Thu. April 25 - Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
Fri. April 26 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Sat. April 27 - Omaha, NE @ Reverb
Sun. April 28 - Des Moines, IA @ Vaudeville Mews
Tue. April 30 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
Wed. May 1 - Columbus, OH @ Ace of Cups
Sat. May 11 - Brighton, UK @ The Great Escape
Sun. May 12 - Bristol, UK @ Rough Trade
Mon. May 13 - Manchester, UK @ YES (Pink Room)
Tues. May 14 - Glasgow, UK @ The Hug and Pint
Wed. May 15 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
Thu. May 16 - London, UK @ 100 Club
Fri. 17 May - Lille, FR @ Aeronef
Sat. 18 May - Paris, FR @ Supersonic
Mon. 20 May - Brussels, BE @ Botanique (Witloof Bar)
Tue. 21 May - Cologne, DE @ Bumann & Sohn
Wed. 22 May - Munich, DE @ Import/Export
Thu. 23 May - Zurich, CH @ Rote Fabrik
Fri. 24 May - Heidelberg, DE @ Queer Festival (Karlstorbahnhof)
Sat, 25 May - Amsterdam, NL @ London Calling
Mon. 27 May - Aarhus DK @ Tape
Tue. 28 May - Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen
Wed. 29 May – Berlin, DE @ Kantine am Berghain
Thu. 30 May - Hamburg, DE @ Hafenklag (Goldener Salon)
Fri. 31 May - Hilvarenbeek, NL @ Best Kept Secret Festival
Sat. 1 June - Neustrelitz, DE @ Immergut Festival
Sat. June 15 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Sun. June 16 - Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
Mon. June 17 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
Tue. June 18 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
Thu. June 20 - Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
Fri. June 21 - Austin, TX @ Barracuda
Sat. June 22 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Mon. June 24 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Tue. June 25 - Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Wed. June 26 - San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
Thu. June 27 - Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
Sat. June 29 - Oakland, CA @ Starline Social Club
Mon. July 1 - Portland, OR @ Polaris Hall
Tue. July 2 - Vancouver, BC @ The Bitmore
Wed. July 3 - Seattle, WA @ Neumos
Sat. July 6 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Sun. July 7 - Denver, CO @ Lost Lake
Tue. July 9 - Kansas City, MO @ The Record Bar
Wed. July 10 - St. Louis, MO @ Off Broadway

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Hot 8 Brass Band Covers Joy Division

Few songs are as iconic as Joy Division's immortal "Love Will Tear Us Apart." It's just one of those songs that stays with you forever, and all covers I've ever heard are faithful, even if they're more on the emo/pop punk spectrum.

Well, New Orleans's Hot 8 Brass Band will change all of that. Of all the "Love Will Tear Us Apart" covers I've heard, I don't believe I've ever heard a brass band rendition. This is a complete and utter reworking of the gothic/post punk classic as a boucy, joyous celebration, so Joy Division purists beware. It's mostly instrumental, and you will definitely recognize the song through just the music. All verses are completely removed from the song, with the only lyrics being the occasional "Love will tear us apart again." It's not what you'd expect, but it's quite fun if you can get into this sort of thing.

You can listen to Hot 8 Brass Band's version of "Love Will Tear Us Apart" below. It will be included on their upcoming EP, Take Cover, which will also include covers of The Jacksons, George Benson, and Michael Jackson. It will be out on February 22. For more on Hot 8 Brass Band, check out their website.