Thursday, November 15, 2018

Living Hour - "Bottom Step"

Photo by Chelsea Neufeld
Based in Winnipeg, Living Hour have crafted this gorgeously lush and intricate sound. On their latest single, "Bottom Step," the band bring you a quiet, laid back song that is simply a must hear. Sam Sarty's voice is the main focus, as the song slowly builds and other instruments wander in and out at will. "Bottom Step" reminds me a bit of a more organic version of Mazzy Star. Even though the song does build, it never quite reaches a crescendo and instead ends when it feels it should.

You can listen to "Bottom Step" below. Living Hour's new album, Softer Faces, will be out March 1 on Kanine Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Living Hour, be sure to check out their website.

Argonaut - "Girl Talk"

Photo via Facebook
The latest single from the United Kingdom's Argonaut is a bizarre little minimalist indie dance song. The focus of "Girl Talk" are the vocals, which is a rarity in the indie rock world. Particularly the way they have gang vocals swirling around background vocals. The instrumentation is particularly minimalist to the point that you almost stop even noticing it by the end of the song. It's almost like an electronic version of a Beat Happening song. Somehow this works and makes for one of the more fun songs I've heard in a while.

You can watch the video for "Girl Talk" below. It's off the Argonaut's new EP, which is titled The New Argonaut EP, and is available though keymailrecords. You can get your copy here. For more on Argonaut, be sure to check out their website.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

And the Kids - "Champagne Ladies"

It looks like all of those And the Kids songs that haven't sounded familiar live are about to get much more familiar! The Western Massachusetts band has just announced a new album, and with it a new single and video. "Champagne Ladies" could make And the Kids huge very quickly. It's an incredibly fun and quite danceable song with the less than cheerful refrain of "Life is a bastard / Life Wants to kill you / Don't get old." It's bright and sunny and a little more mainstream than most of And the Kids's previous songs but still just odd and fun enough to satisfy their longtime fans. For the video, the band is dressed all fancy-like and traipsing around what might be Northampton, MA with golf clubs, tennis rackets, and other recreational choices of the wealthy.

You can watch the video for "Champagne Ladies" below. When This Life is Over, the new album from And the Kids, will be out February 22 on Signature Sounds. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on And the Kids, check out their website.

Hallelujah the Hills - Against Electricity

There are two things Boston's Hallelujah the Hills do incredibly well: Catchy roots based rock songs and experimental instrumental noise rock. Their sixth album, Against Electricty, was just released yesterday and it fits squarely in the latter category. Against Electricity was created by the band to act as a soundtrack to singer Ryan H. Walsh's book Astral Weeks: A Secret History of 1968. Unlike most noisy, experimental, instrumental music, this album is actually pleasant to listen to (mostly). It also features a killer line up of guest musicians, including Dave Curry (Thalia Zedek Band, Willard Grant Conspiracy), Tanya Donelly, Dana Colley (Morphine), Marissa Nadler, and Fenway Park organist Josh Kantor. Plus, the band is using the funds from Against Electricity to fund I'm You, their seventh album, and the more traditional of the two. 

You can listen to "Against Electricity" below. To get your copy of Against Electricity, head over to Hallelujah the Hills Bandcamp. While you're there, you can pre-order I'm You. Instead of doing the typical pre-order with different bonus tiers, anyone who pre-orders I'm You will be entered into a raffle to win the following rewards:

  • 10 original collages that have appeared as part of HTH releases or show posters (10 separate winners)
  • Signed copies of the Astral Weeks book (3)
  • Handwritten lyrics to any HTH song (3)
  • Acoustic show via Skype (local winners can redeem this in person) (3)
  • One of a kind acoustic recording of any HTH song of your choice (3)
  • 4 guestlist spots (use 1 ticket four times or four tickets 1 time, we don’t care!) any show, any city, never expires
  • HTH Live Show Digital Pack - You’ll get a download of several unreleased HTH shows that span the entire existence of the band (3)
You can also listen to a demo of the new I'm You song "It Still Floors Me" on Bandcamp. I'm You is scheduled for release on January 15.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Live Shows: Lady Lamb, Gateway City Arts, Holyoke, MA 11/10/18

Photo by Shervin Lainez
My absolute favorite time to see an artist perform live is when they are between albums. They don't feel the need to play certain songs to promote the new album, and you get what they feel like playing and what the audience wants. That's exactly what Lady Lamb's solo show at Gateway City Arts was like.

It was called a solo tour, but really it was Lady Lamb playing a few northeast shows. The main difference between this recent show and her performances for Tender Warriors Club is that those shows were acoustic and this tour was electric. Saturday night's show was a packed house, and what seemed like an insanely young crowd. I'm not sure if it was all ages or not, but it certainly felt that way. But, as young as the crowd was, they were die hard fans pumped to be there. It reflected in Lady Lamb's performance, as she played loosely and was having fun on stage, which is what you really want. She went back to her first official album, Ripely Pine, quite a bit, while playing a few songs from an upcoming album and her cover of Elvis Presley's "Can't Help Falling in Love." She also played a non-banjo version of "Regarding Ascending the Stairs," which was the first time I have seen the song performed that way.

She even took a couple of audience requests for songs she wasn't completely comfortable playing solo. "Bird Balloons" was the first, which didn't suffer in the least from missing the rest of her band. She was hesitant to play "Aubergine," but more because she hasn't played it for a while. She needed to get the opening line from an audience member, and would verify the next line a few times before officially singing it. It just added to the charm and intimacy of the night. 

She also teased information for an upcoming album and spring tour. If the new songs she played at Gateway City Arts are any indication, this new material will be astounding.

First Listen: New Releases for 9 November

Not a busy week for releases, but a number of really good ones nonetheless.

Artist: Laura Jane Grace and the Devouring Mothers
Album: Bought to Rot
Quick Description: Solo-ish record from the Against Me! veteran.
Why You Should Listen: Grace embracing the solo side is a good thing.
Overall Thoughts: Laura Jane Grace has basically transcended Against Me! at this point, having become a poster image for transgender people everywhere while still maintaining punk cred. This is definitely more of an alternative rock record, but it puts aside a lot of punk trappings in favor of fun (and sometimes funny, as with the ode to Chicago midway through) music with a message. It may be easy to sleep on this one, especially if Against Me! has never been your thing, but this is definitely worth your time.
Recommendation: Best record of the week, easy.

Artist: Darren Hayman
Album: Thankful Villages Vol. 3
Quick Description: Hefner frontman's historic project lands its third volume 100 years after the conclusion of World War I.
Why You Should Listen: The music is as good as the sentiment.
Overall Thoughts: Thankful Villages, to recap, were villages in the United Kingdom that had all members of the country's armed forces return home safely. Hayman has been visiting these villages and creating a nice little audio project based around the theme, and the latest is as good as the first two. Not much else to say, but stick around for an appearance by the Lincolnshire Poacher.
Recommendation: Take the time to listen.

Artist: Muse
Album: Simulation Theory
Quick Description: New album from Muse, Brit-rock legends.
Why You Should Listen: This is possibly the best Muse album in close to a decade.
Overall Thoughts: Muse apparently went back to basics a bit on this, recording songs as it suited them rather than trying to sit and write and record an entire album. Overall, it works. Is it cohesive? Maybe not entirely, but when the songs here are as good as they are (with "Pressure" being one of the best Muse songs in ages in particular), it probably doesn't matter. If you were ever a fan of Muse, and especially if you've slipped away a bit? This is as good a time as any to return.
Recommendation: Definitely worth a spot in your rotation this week.

Artist: cupcaKKe
Album: Eden
Quick Description: New album by the raunchy rapper.
Why You Should Listen: Come for the fairly funny moments, stay for some of the better raps going.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know how cupcaKKe is able to successfully navigate not being known as a novelty act when songs like "Garfield" and "Typo" exist, but she somehow pulls it off. It's so ridiculous sometimes, but also so ridiculously good that my second, third, fourth listens are because I want to more than just trying to figure out how far she pushes the envelope. A great listen again this week.
Recommendation: A must-hear.

Artist: Hush Kids
Album: Hush Kids
Quick Description: Another entry in the "find the next Civil Wars sweepstakes," except it's really really good.
Why You Should Listen: You want you sort of folky duo stuff to be a little more complex.
Overall Thoughts: This came out a few weeks ago and we missed it, but I'm glad we got to it before it's too late. Are Hush Kids forging new ground here? Not at all, but that's not the point - it's simply expertly-crafted folk rock with some heart behind it, and it's all I wanted from it.
Recommendation: Find time for this one.

Artist: J. Mascis
Album: Elastic Days
Quick Description: Latest solo effort from the Dinosaur Jr. et al singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Mascis is generally great, this moreso than usual.
Overall Thoughts: Ken is the big Mascis fan around these parts, but I don't dislike him at all. He's a key player in a generation of music that has stuck with me for a long time, and this latest album is a lot quieter than you'd expect while still feeling like a Mascis album. The acoustic treatment here really works and gives a really solid and surprising feel overall. I loved "See You at the Movies" when it first hit my playlists, and the rest of the album just holds up as well.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Tellico
Album: Woven Waters
Quick Description: Rootsy greatness from a Southern act.
Why You Should Listen: You want your gorgeous, lush stuff this week.
Overall Thoughts: I'm always looking for bands that remind me of Hem, a little-known act from the 00's that did really beautiful music alongside a roots-oriented base. Tellico is also rootsy and has its share of great instrumentals to the point where they're nearly scratching that itch for me. It's a great listen if you like the Americana stuff like I do, but even if too much twang is a turnoff, there's going to be stuff here to love.
Recommendation: Highly recommended this week.

Artist: Rhett Miller
Album: The Messenger
Quick Description: Latest solo effort from the Old 97s frontman.
Why You Should Listen: Rhett Miller's solo work has been nearly as good as his work with the Old 97s...
Overall Thoughts: ...and in this case, perhaps better. There's something truly special about this solo effort that I can't quite put my finger on, and I very nearly listed this as my favorite of this week. There's super strong songwriting here, and it feels fresh and new in a way many efforts after 20+ years going do not. There's nary a flaw here, and this ends up being superlative from the very start.
Recommendation: Don't miss this one, another one of the best.

Artist: Hero Fisher
Album: Glue Moon
Quick Description: Sophomore effort from a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: Hero Fisher is better than most of her contemporaries, plain and simple.
Overall Thoughts: I have a tough time categorizing Hero Fisher, and the fact that Ken is such a big fan only adds to it. She's a classic singer-songwriter capable of working in multiple genres, and there's just something both endearing and addictive to her music that just catches me right. I can't pinpoint exactly when this grabbed me, but "If I Die and Nothing Happens" is an instant classic, and I know I'll be spending more time with this. We missed it last week and it would have been one of those top listens...
Recommendation: don't ignore it this week.

Of note:

* Masta Ace and Marco Polo - A Breukelen Story
* Liela Moss - My Name is Safe in Your Mouth
* Free Love - Luxury Hits
* The Wave Pictures - Look Inside Your Heart
* Public Memory - Demolition
* Johnny Mafia - Princes de L'Amour
* Daisybones - Gold
* Possum Moods - Northern Times


* Goodbye Honolulu - More Honey

Also out:

* Various Artists - Songs That Saved My Life
* The Revivalists - Take Good Care
* Jeff Goldblum and the Mildred Snitzer Orchestra - The Capitol Studios Sessions
* Charles Bradley - Black Velvet
* Jon Spencer - Spencer Sings the Hits!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Friday Freebie: Lauren Balthrop - This Time Around

Lauren Balthrop started out in Alabama before moving to New York, and now resides in Nashville. What makes This Time Around, her debut solo album so great is that she doesn't follow the typical singer/songwriter mold at all. Going from song to song, you could make the mistake that you're listening to a compilation of multiple artists instead of one individual. Take the first three songs: "Down" sounds like a rootsy Mazzy Star, "Don't Ever Forget" has a much more upbeat, almost pop sound similar to Tristen's recent work, and "Tumbleweed" is a quiet, thoughtful folk song. That's just the first three songs. This Time Around is filled with great songs, none sounding quite like the last one.

You can watch the video for "Don't Ever Forget" below. This Time Around is available for free on NoiseTrade. If you do download the album for free, be sure to follow Lauren Balthrop on Facebook and Twitter. For more on Lauren Balthrop, check out her website.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Deer Tick Cover The Pogues

Photo via Facebook
We've been on board with virtually everything Deer Tick have put out, and, since our love of covers is quite documented here at If It's Too Loud..., we were thrilled to hear that Deer Tick's upcoming album was going to feature a handful of cover songs. The latest is a version of The Pogues's "White City." "White City" is one of those songs by The Pogues that I wasn't too familiar with, so I checked it out. It's one of their more straightforward rock songs with just the slightest hints of the Celtic sound that makes them so beloved. Deer Tick's version is mostly faithful to the original, except that it's a teensy bit faster and they substitute their Americana laced rock for The Pogues's Celtic laced rock. In other words, it's basically everything we would want it to be.

You can listen to Deer Tick's version of "White City" below. Mayonnaise, the new album from Deer Tick, will be out on February 1. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Deer Tick, be sure to check out their website.

Deep State - "Under the Gun"

If there's one rule Jeff and I both follow when it comes to music it's always listen to a band from Athens, GA. The latest we've come across is Deep State. As with all truly great bands from Athens, they're not the easiest to describe. Their latest single, "Under the Gun," is based squarely in punk and garage rock without really being either. The song keeps this almost start/stop movement pretty much throughout the entire length. It's a very basic groove and has bursts of aggression based noise or just noisy distortion for the fun of it. But the thing with this song? It's hook filled and insanely catchy. Just listen to this song once and you'll have the chorus jammed straight into your head (in the best possible way).

You can get "Under the Gun" jammed into your head by listening below. Deep State's new album, The Path to Fast Oblivion, will be out in February on Friendship Fever. To make sure you know about the new album when it comes out, make sure you follow them on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Legal Immigrants - "Hang On"

The latest single from Grand Rapids, MI's The Legal Immigrants is a pure garage rock throwback. "Hang On" skips over the garage rock revival of the early 00's and sticks with the 60's and 70's vibes of ? and The Mysterians and The Lyres. You'll get a little bit of the hippie vibe with it, but the song pounds on just a bit too ferociously for that. "Hang On" is almost the missing link between The Mamas and The Papas and MC5. The second half of the song, in particular, seems to really take off. It's pure rebellion wrapped up in a shiny package.

You can listen to "Hang On" below. For more on The Legal Immigrants, be sure to check out their website. They do have a few live shows coming up: 11/16 PJ's Lager House, in Detroit, MI, 11/21 Unruly Brewing in Muskegon, MI, and 1/05 Grand Armory Brewing in Grand Haven, MI.