Monday, January 24, 2022

E - "Any Information"

E, the band of Boston indie rock legends Thalia Zedek (Come, Uzi, Live Skull), Jason Sanford (Neptune), and Gavin McCarthy (Karate), is back with a new single. "Any Information" is just as odd and intense of a song as you would expect from this trio. It's obviously going to be discordant, and this particular song has a guitar riff that sounds like it's driving straight into your skull, but it's also oddly lovely. It might not be at first, but as the song goes on and through repeated listens, you start noticing a strange beauty within. It may be an intensely noisy indie rock song, but there is beauty inside of it if you take the time to look. 

You can watch the video for "Any Information" below. The song is the title track of an upcoming EP which is due out April 22. For more on E, check out the band's Facebook.

No Nations - "Queso"

No Nations are a kind of Boston supergroup, with members that have been in bands like Mean Creek, Cocked N Loaded, I am become Death, Suffer on Acid, etc. The band's second single is out now, and it's one of the more unique rock songs out there right now. "Queso" is as melodic as it is heavy. Their press release refers to their sound as "post-hardcore/shoegaze/grunge," but there is definitely more to "Queso" than just that. It's a song that can sound oddly disjointed at times as it plows through different tempos and styles. It combines the heavier side of indie rock with melodic hardcore into a song that is quite simply irresistible... for those of us that love such music, that is.

You can listen to "Queso" below. The song is available as a download and a two song cassette via Bandcamp. For more on No Nations, check out the band's Facebook and Twitter.

Muzzins - "Invisible Wounds"

Way back in September (seriously, how was that only 4 months ago?) we brought you the debut single from Boston's Muzzins. It was an alt-rock song that brought in elements of electronic, funk, and hip hop. The band is back with "Invisible Wounds," which is even harder to categorize. This new single starts off as an electronic/tropicalia jam, and just kind of meanders its way around in its own funky way. It's this chilled out, laid back song that hides some intensity. And then it just breaks out in this bizarre indie rock squall of noise. That seems to break the tension, because when it leaves "Invisible Wounds" is even more laid back and just pure tropicalia. Muzzins are definitely unique, in one of the more interesting ways.

You can listen to "Invisible Wounds" below. The song is available as a single via Light of Day Records. For more on Muzzins, check out the band's Facebook.

Monday Mix: An Introduction to Meat Loaf

I am a big Meat Loaf fan.

Bat Out of Hell II, alongside Ace of Base's The Sign, was the first album I bought at the Greendale Mall Lechmere with my own money back in 1994. "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" was one of the first music videos I ever remember seeing on VH1.

As a nerdy theater kid, Meat Loaf's (and, to a further extent, Jim Steinman's) flair for the bombastic and dramatic definitely appealed to 13-year-old me, and the fact that it was loud and often-profane rock music in an era where I was finding Weezer to be a little too heavy for my tastes made it feel like a little rebellion with every listen.

Meat Loaf probably hasn't aged well, musically speaking. Yeah, there's Rocky Horror, but Bat Out of Hell, a debut solo album that went neck-and-neck with Thriller in lifetime sales for a while, sounds very old in particular (and "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" especially couldn't get made today). The albums between Bats are largely forgettable and often contractual obligations. When Jim Steinman wasn't involved, a little bit of the magic was lost. When Jim Steinman was involved, the magic was there in songs that were 6-to-12 minutes long but never felt like it. He somehow made a Chuck D feature seem cringeworthy. He's dead today almost certainly because he, an overweight 70-something, wouldn't get vaccinated against COVID-19.

And yet.

Meat Loaf transcends the idea of "cool." Bat Out of Hell II, a breakthrough comeback effort, did not win me any friends in eighth grade (except for Brian, who memorized the "Wasted Youth" monologue and would snarl it on the playground at recess), but I didn't care. Goodness knows I listened to plenty of embarassing stuff in my years, but I never felt embarassed about my love of Meat Loaf. How could I? It seemed self-aware that it was ridiculous and over-the-top, and, after all, the albums had dragons and demons and flaming motocycles on the covers. They knew exactly what they were doing, and while it poked fun at metal excess, it also revered it in its own operatic way.

Meat Loaf and Steinman had a falling out of sorts in the mid-to-late 1980s, patched it up for Bat Out of Hell II and a handful of songs on Welcome to the Neighborhood before falling apart again and reuniting for Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, which was a solid coda to their professional relationship. The last few albums were largely forgettable, which was unfortunate, but man, when Meat Loaf was good? There wasn't a lot that was better, and nearly every significant moment that will forever be etched in my brain is when he worked with Jim Steinman, and now they're both gone.

The disputes with labels and Steinman means that about a decade of work is missing from streaming services, including Meat Loaf's version of "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," (which was a megahit for Celine Dion a decade earlier) and his last truly solid song, "Couldn't Have Said It Better." It makes any sort of effort at a retrospective incomplete, but consider this a bit of a start - if you want to explore further, anything with Bat Out of Hell or Neighborhood in the title are worth your time, but this should also be a reason to explore Jim Steinman in a more substantive way (I'd start with [his version of "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through"] ( Either way, RIP Meat Loaf, and thanks for the music. And get vaccinated, please.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Las Calakas - "Morena"

Cumbia fusion band Las Calakas were voted best party band by the Phoenix New Times in 2020. Normally we'd tend to avoid a band a paper voted best party band, but most bands aren't Las Calakas. Their new single, "Morena," is definitely a Latinx song, but this is hardly world music. This is music rooted in Latinx culture that is also infused by hip hop, punk, and metal. This is a ridiculously fun song that is truly great for fans of virtually every genre of music. It combines traditional Latin American music with late twentieth century American styles seemlessly. 

Drummer Rafa Calaka says of the new song:

“The theme of this song is about a girl who is very dangerous. Like, you know she is dangerous but we as men don't care and we fall for her physical beauty. We know her energy is not good at all but the gorgeousness of her eyes put us in a trance. Matt (the video director) and I stayed at a coffee shop for 5 hours coming up with this story. We are super surprised because everything that we visioned, came out exactly on camera. All the scenes we had in our mind came to life. That's a pretty hard thing to do. But we both are super content with the final product. It was a lot of hard work and shooting In different locations but it's all worth it. We shot 10 hours per day. There is so much love and passion put into this. We love it!”

You can watch the video for "Morena" below. Hechizo is due out in the Spring via My Grito Industries. For more on Las Calakas, check out the band's website.

BODEGA - "Thrown"

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

It feels like I just discovered BODEGA, despite the fact that their debut album Endless Scroll came out in 2018. The Brooklyn band are back with a new single that shows off everything there is to love about them. "Thrown" is a beyond dance friendly post punk jam. This song is relatively laid back by BODEGA standards, but it's a three minute party by itself. This is one of the most fun live bands around today. "Thrown" might not perfectly capture all of the fun of their live show, but it comes close enough for a solo party in your car or cubicle. 

Founding member Ben Hozie says of the new song:

‘Thrown’ was an attempt at a self-portrait track. The older I get the less I trust my own thoughts and perceptions of self  ——> I realize most of my values and judgments come from the records, films, books, and advertisements I have consumed my whole life. Recognizing this ‘thrown-ness,’ while slightly disturbing, has been a source of inspiration for my creative mind. If the mind can only output what has been presented —> provide it with the proper input. You can remake yourself entirely at the drop of a (top)hat. The inputs I selected for this lyric: James Joyce and Bob Dylan. The music, to me, is a synthesis of many of the stylistic motifs our group has developed over the past few years : syncopated bass over a slow-shifting sea of guitar harmonics, violent guitar spasms with machine influenced but human-played drums; plus male/female vox alternating between spoken text raps and melody.

You can watch the video for "Thrown" below. Broken Equipment is due out March 11 on What's Your Rupture? and be can pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on BODEGA, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram.

Wet Leg Covers Madonna

Photo via Facebook

Wet Leg have released a grand total of four songs so far, and I've listened to those four songs at least once a day for more days than I care to admit to. However, for them to truly work their way into my heart they'd need to release a cover song. Apparently they read the blog and know that, because here they are covering Madonna's "Material Girl!" Wet Leg's take on "Material Girl" is a sonic clusterfuck in the best possible way. It's like if The Melvins decided to record shoegaze. It's almost unbearably sludgy, although Rhian Teasdale's vocals keep the original's upbeat pop sound. The closest Madonna cover comparison I can make is Sonic Youth's version of "Into the Groove," aka "Into the Groove(y)."

You can listen to Wet Leg's take on "Material Girl" below. The song was recorded as part of SiriusXMU Sessions. For more on Wet Leg, check out the band's website.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Perennial - "In the Midnight Hour"

Photo by Omari Spears

I don't think there's a punk band in 2022 as exciting as Perennial. The Connecticut band just released the title track off their upcoming album. "In the Midnight Hour" is a lightning speed burst of minute and a half long punk. It's fast, and heavy, and discordant, but also mysteriously melodic. It's not quite noisy enough for noise punk, but it's definitely not standard sounding punk. It resides right in the middle of both, dancing its way towards both. If I'm going to make a comparison to other bands, "In the Midnight Hour" has the excitement and energy of a band like Lightning Bolt with the attitude and groove of Downtown Boys. It's impossible for me not to become smitten with a band like Perennial. 

You can listen to "In the Midnight Hour" below. The album In the Midnight Hour is due out February 1 and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on Perennial, check out the band's Instagram and Twitter.

Salem Wolves - "Hostile Music"

Photo via Facebook

Salem Wolves have been one of my local favorites for quite a while now throughout their tweaked line ups. Their latest configuration has also allowed for a changed up sound which is very apparent on their latest single. "Hostile Music" is still that arena rock ready garage rock that we know and love from the now Rhode Island based band, but the band has injected a tiny bit of metal into their sound. While the song is still rough, it has a slightly smoother sound than we're used to. That could also be because singer Gray Bouchard is almost crooning in the verses. Add in an equal amount of New Wave, and "Hostile Music" is one of the heaviest and oddly pleasant songs to come from Salem Wolves to date!

You can listen to "Hostile Music" below. The song is available as a single via MegaHex Records and can be downloaded along with some killer merch bundles over at Bandcamp. For more on Salem Wolves, check out the band's website

Sierra Ferrell Covers Ray LaMontagne

I've only known about Sierra Ferrell for a little over a year now, but I've already been converted to a die hard fan. One of my favorite things about Ferrell is her love of releasing cover songs. Her latest is a cover of Ray LaMontagne's "Hey Me, Hey Mama." LaMontagne is one of those artists that I'm not too familiar with, but you definitely don't need to be to appreciate Ferrell's cover. The original is a downhome folk song, and obviously that's Ferrell's specialty. The cover is just Ferrell and her guitar stripping the song down to it's bare essentials. The original is only about twelve years old, so it's great to see an artist covering their contemporaries and/or peers. If you tend to like the folkier side of what we cover here, this is definitely for you.

You can listen to Sierra Ferrell's cover of "Hey Me, Hey Mama" below. The song is available now as a download via Bandcamp. For more on Sierra Ferrell, check out the artist's website.