Monday, May 21, 2018

She Makes War Covers Culture Club

It's been a little while since we've brought you some new music from She Makes War, but luckily Laura Kidd's project is back with a cover of Culture Club's classic "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me." This cover does go off in its own direction away from the original 80's iconic classic. Instead, this cover goes full 90's with loud, reverb heavy, crunchy guitars. It's not quite industrial and it's not quite grunge. Instead, it lives somewhere in the middle. It genuinely sounds like something recorded in 1996 and forgotten until today. If you know us at all, that is meant to be very high praise.

You can listen to She Makes War's cover of "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" below. It's available as a single now via My Big Sister Recordings and can be purchased here. For more on She Makes War, check out her website.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - "Wonderful Day for the Race"

Photo via Facebook
For the past few weeks, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have been teasing a big announcement coming up. Last week, the announcement of new music was made. The Bosstones unveiled a new single, "Wonderful Day for the Race." It continues in the Bosstones's current theme of positive music that truly started with their 2016 cover of "What the World Needs Now is Love." In this case, "race" means "human race," and is a message of love and understanding. "Wonderful Day for the Race" also continues the Bosstones's sound. There is no deviation from vintage Bosstones with their new song, which is pretty much perfect. This feels like the kind of song that we'll all like but not love, until we see them play it love. The Bosstones have always been a band you should see live, and I'm looking forward to getting to see this one played in person. Plus, it boasts one of the best false stops in recent memory.

You can watch the video for "Wonderful Day for the Race" below. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones's new album, While We're At It, will be out June 15. For more on the Bosstones, check out their website.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Rock'n'Roll HiFives - "Hold On"

I fully expected to hate The Rock'n'Roll HiFives. In fact, I wanted to. Their lead singer, Eilee Centeno, is sixteen. Her thirteen year old brother plays drums. The rest of the band? Their parents. Guitarist/dad Joe Centeno played in bands before he became a dad, and the whole thing sounded like it would be this cutesy family band fueled by the dad's nostalgia. 

But... their new single "Hold On" is actually pretty great. It's not revolutionary by any stretch, but it's good, solid guitar driven power pop. Eilee's vocals have this great attitude to them, most likely because she's actually a teenager and isn't just trying to tap into teen angst. "Hold On" isn't for you if you want something avant garde or groundbreaking. But if you just want some fun throwback rock in the realm of Cheap Trick and The Runaways, you'll find it here.

You can listen to "Hold On" below. The new album from The Rock'n'Roll HiFives, Re-Introducing The RocknRoll HiFives, will be out June 29 on Little Dickman Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on the band, check out their Facebook. Current summer vacation tour dates are below the song.

6/24: New York, NY - Mercury Lounge (record release show)
7/5: Raleigh, NC - Schoolkids Records 
7/6: Wilmington, NC - Gravity Records 
7/7: Charlotte, NC - Oso Skatepark 
7/8: Charlotte, NC - Lunchbox Records 
7/11: Orlando, FL - Park Ave CDs 
7/18: Austin, TX - Waterloo Records 
7/19: Dallas, TX - Good Records   
7/24: San Diego, CA -  M-Theroy 
7/29: Santa Cruz, CA - StreetLight 
8/4:  Boise, ID - Vista Bar 
8/12:  Indianapolis, IN - Luna Music 
8/17: Jersey City, NJ - FM 
8/18: Asbury Park, NJ - Asbury Park Yacht Club

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Michael Jablonka - "Flump"

You always hear about guitar driven music being dead, but then you hear a song like Michael Jablonka's "Flump." Hailing from London, you might know Jablonka from his days playing with Michael Kiwanuka. "Flump" starts off with this driving drum beat and killer riff, and just takes off from there. While it is filled with heavy guitars, it's not exactly a metal or even hard rock song. On its heavier side, it reminds me of the proto punk of MC5 meeting the chugging drive of grunge. However, there is an overwhelming melody to the verses and chorus that bring to mind the 70's power pop of Cheap Trick. My only complaint with "Flump" is that, with it's short just under three minute duration, it ends a little too abruptly and just as it sounds like something brilliant is about to happen. Maybe next time...

You can listen to "Flump" below. "Flump" is available now as a single via Lost in the Manor. For more on Michael Jablonka, check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

Only Takes A Day - "Reach"

It seems odd to me that the current resurgence of acoustic music/Americana hasn't been combined with hip hop, since the kids seem to be into both. It surprises me more that a great example of how well this can work is coming from England. Only Takes A Day combines hip hop beats with an acoustic guitar. Their latest single, "Reach," is a laid back song with an intense rhyme provided by Shaanvir Rehal. It reminds me of The Streets meeting the folky side of G. Love & Special Sauce. It's a sound that works surprisingly well even though the combination does have some coarse moments, but those are some of the best parts.

You can watch the video for "Reach" below. For more on Only Takes A Day, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for May 11

A slightly calmer week.

Artist: Illuminati Hotties
Album: Kiss Yr Frenemies
Quick Description: Alt-indie debut from a buzzworthy act.
Why You Should Listen: You wish your indie music was a lot more fun than it has been lately.
Overall Thoughts: This is one of my most anticipated releases of the spring, having been addicted to “(You’re Better) Than Ever” since I first heard it. The album is a fun, raucous debut with plenty of alt-rock notes to go with an indie, almost DIY sensibility. The band isn’t breaking any new ground, but it’s good to hear a band come into the conversation seemingly fully formed. And they have maybe the best band name I’ve ever heard, so there’s that, too.
Recommendation: My favorite this week.

Artist: Aiden Moffat and RM Hubbert
Album: Here Lies the Body
Quick Description: An artsy collaboration from some Scottish music icons.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Arab Strap or contemplative folkish stuff?
Overall Thoughts: This is a collaboration between Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap and another Scottish musician, and it is interesting that it comes out the same week as a Mark Kozalek record, ad there are enough similarities to turn me off, but hardcore fans of either act will likely find something to enjoy.
Recommendation: Not for me, but it might be for you.

Artist: Marian Hill
Album: Unusual
Quick Description: Danceable third album by an established act.
Why You Should Listen: This is an album that isn't afraid to stretch the boundaries of its genres.
Overall Thoughts: This duo is one that’s been on my radar for a bit, and this album has a bit of a mix of radio-friendly electronic/R&B stuff combined with a lot of thoughtful and challenging choices. This won’t be for everyone, and even all of this is not especially for me, but there are some really bold moments here that deserve your attention.
Recommendation: Give this a shot this week.

Artist: Luke Winslow-King
Album: Blue Mesa
Quick Description: Rootsy singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: Luke Winslow-King has been solid so far.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed Luke Winslow-King’s previous album, and this feels a little more energetic and fun in a lot of ways. As with many albums in this genre lately, it’s not doing anything new, but there’s an unforced ease and comfort with this record that sets it apart.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: The Lied To's
Album: The Lesser of Two Evils
Quick Description: Solid roots duo with a familiar yet unique approach.
Why You Should Listen: The energy and enthusiasm behind this shines through.
Overall Thoughts: An interesting rootsy record in the vein of Brown Bird, Shovels and Rope, and the like. A little on the inconsistent side at times, but then you hear songs like “Windtalker” and you realize that there’s something special here. This is something longtime readers here will probably love, and it’s one of the better releases of the week.
Recommendation: Make time for this.

Artist: Jess Williamson
Album: Cosmic Wink
Quick Description: Gritty, compelling country folk.
Why You Should Listen: It's going to command your attention from the first few notes.
Overall Thoughts: Music that feels like it belongs in a dark, smoky bar. A total and complete mood piece that just grabbed me from the start and wouldn’t let go. Williamson has a haunting voice with instrumentation that matches the tone and quality perfectly.
Recommendation: A must listen.

Artist: The Sea and Cake
Album: Any Day
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rock legends (of a sort).
Why You Should Listen: I suppose the Sea and Cake are important enough to always give a shot.
Overall Thoughts: I remember when The Sea and Cake were the big indie act that was who indie kids who were “in the know” paid attention to. They never really grabbed me as a band, and this works more of a time capsule of a band from another time than something new and vibrant.
Recommendation: Not really worth it unless you're a big fan.

Other releases of note:

* Simian Mobile Disco - Murmurations (It’s great when it picks up, but fails in getting off the ground a good amount of the time.)
* Wajatta - Casual High Technology (Ken sent this over as Reggie Watts is apparently involved with this. It’s weird and different, but basically an electronic record with some interesting beats and choices.)
* Las Rosas - Shadow By Your Side (A solid indie rock record with hints of a lot of things I love. A good listen overall.)
* Ament - Heaven/Hell (Another Pearl Jam side project, this is frankly just okay, with a couple moments that shine a little brighter.)
* La Luz - Floating Features
* Beach House - 7


* Sarah Louise - Deeper Woods
* Andre Costello and the Cool Minors - Resident Frequencies
* The Ballroom Thieves - Paper Crown

Also out this week:

* Dog Chocolate - Moody Balloon Baby
* Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino (wow this is not good)
* Mark Kozalek - Mark Kozalek

Friday, May 11, 2018

Porchfest 2018 Begins This Weekend

This weekend in the Boston area, and in a bunch of weekends to come, Porchfest arrives! Porchfest features local artists - musical and non-musical alike - performing in yards and porches in various Boston-area neighborhoods. I don't know if I'll be able to make any of them, but the lineups are stacked with so many acts that, if you have an afternoon to stroll around town, you're bound to find something you enjoy.

Porchfest kicks off in Somerville this weekend with dozens of acts all over the place. Friend Of The Blog Travels With Brindle will be performing tracks from her Alex Lahey ukulele cover album, a video from which is below:

The whole idea of a Porchfest is new to me and kind of neat, and I would personally love to see one happen in the Worcester/Central Mass area in the future. Maybe next year?

Porchfest dates are below:

May 13: Somerville, MA
May 19: Plum Island, MA
June 2: Newton, MA
June 9: Arlington, MA
June 9: Brookline, MA
June 16: Boston Fenway, MA
June 23: Quincy, MA
July 7: Jamaica Plain, MA
Sep 8: Belmont, MA
Sep 8: Hull, MA
Sep 15: Roslindale, MA
Sep 22: Milton, MA

You can find more information on each Porchfest at the official(?) site.

The Beths - "Future Me Hates Me"

Photo by Mason Fairey
I have no idea what is going on in Australia and New Zealand, but those two countries just keep on giving us amazing 90's inspired guitar bands. The latest is The Beths, who hail from Auckland. Their new single, "Future Me Hates Me," is the perfect song to drive around to in the summer. It's energetic, bouncy, and has some of the most perfect fuzzed out guitars you've heard in ages. Of course, there is the title, so that means it's a fun song about sadness, which is my favorite kind of song. As singer Elizabeth Stokes says: " There’s a lot of sad sincerity in the lyrics... That relies on the music having a light heart and sense of humor to keep it from being too earnest."

You can watch the video for "Future Me Hates Me" below. The Beths' debut album also called Future Me Hates Me will be out August 10 on Carpark Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on The Beths, check out their website. Their current tour dates can be found below the video.

May 12th - London, UK - The Victoria Dalston
May 14th - Bristol, UK - The Louisiana
May 15th - Manchester, UK - 57 Thomas Street
May 16th - Newport, UK - Le Pub
May 20th - Exeter, UK - The Cavern
May 21st - Leeds, UK - Wharf Chambers ^
May 22nd - Glasgow, UK - Bar Bloc ^
May 23rd - Edinburgh, UK - Henry's Cellar Bar ^
May 24th - Durham, UK - Empty Shop ^
May 25th - Portsmouth, UK - Wave Maiden ^
May 26th - Paris, FR - Le Popin
May 27th - Lille, FR - CCL
June 1st - Berlin, DE - Bei Ruth
June 3rd - Langnau im Emmental, CH - Kaeptn Holger
June 6th - Munich, DE - Kulturstrand
June 7th - Hamburg, DE - Astra Stube
June 9th - Kiel, DE - Secret Lake House Party
June 11th - Brooklyn, NY - Alphaville *
June 13th - Philadelphia, PA - Ortlieb's
June 14th - Washington, DC - Loves Me Not
June 16th - Chicago, IL - Charm School
June 20th - San Francisco, CA - The Battery
June 22nd - Los Angeles, CA - Make Out Music
^ w/ Fresh
* w/ Peach Kelli Pop

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Photo Gallery: And the Kids, Nu Muse Festival, Nashua, NH 5/5/18

Normally I would do a decent write up for a live performance I attended, but I wasn't able to stay for a huge chunk of And the Kids's set during the Nu Muse Festival in Nashua, NH last Saturday night. I had my daughter with me, and it was a late night for her. Plus, kids these days aren't used to being subjected to smoking, so she started to feel a bit nauseous. If you're curious how they are live, I go into much more detail with my review of their double bill with Lucy Dacus last month. But, I took some pretty great pictures Saturday, so please check them out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Nikkie McLeod - "Deep Cry"

Photo by Liz Maney
For white Americans, Nikkie McLeod's "Deep Cry" is going to be an interesting listen. The most prevalent instrument is a steelpan, and when we hear the steelpan we reminisce about Caribbean vacations and happy times. Nikkie McLeod is originally from Trinidad & Tobago, so they don't have the same connections. "Deep Cry" is an intense song about the loss of McLeod's mother. The feeling the song captures is the duality of celebrating and grieving life at the same time. "Deep Cry" isn't a quiet, reflective song about loss and death. At times, it is deeply noisy, and almost violent. But that's how grief can work. It's a beautiful song about an intensely personal and difficult time in McLeod's life. It's a song we all need to truly listen to.

You can listen to "Deep Cry" below. Quarrel, the new EP from Nikkie McLeod, will be available on October 30, their mother's birthday. For more on Nikkie McLeod, check out their Facebook.