Thursday, September 16, 2021

Dos Santos - "A Tu Lado"

Photo by Victor Duarte

We don't cover a lot of world music here at If It's Too Loud..., but something about Dos Santos just works for me. The Chicago based alt-Latinx band just released a new single, "A Tu Lado," which translates to "by your side." While the song is obviously a Latinx music song, it doesn't sound like any typical Latinx music I've ever heard. It's takes a traditional Latin groove and gives it a psychedelic alt-rock edge. "A Tu Lado" is an irresistible song, even if you're not a world music fan. 

Bandleader Alex Chavez says of the new song:

We walk, march, and travel across these thresholds so that we may come to know the truth about our pasts—in the hopes of inching closer to futures that are not quite in view, of inching closer to a place being dreamed within the dream, that nonetheless exists outside the dream… And in that unbridled desire we discover the promise of these unknown paths only by walking along them at each other’s side.

You can watch the video for "A Tu Lado" below. City of Mirrors is due out October 15 on International Anthem. You can pre-order the album over at the label's Bandcamp. For more on Dos Santos, check out the band's website.

The Cutthroat Brothers and Mike Watt - "Devil in Berlin"


The trio of The Cutthroat Brothers and Mike Watt released their debut album earlier this year on Record Store Day, but somehow they're already back with new music and a second album due out before the end of the year. (This seems to be fairly standard for The Cutthroat Brothers as this will be their fifth album in just three years.) "Devil in Berlin" is a dirty blues based punk stomper. It has far more groove in it than your standard punk song and is heavy on the fuzz. If your ideal punk is more along the lines of The Cramps or The Stooges, chances are this is gonna be the song for you.

You can watch the video for "Devil in Berin" below. Devil in Berlin, the album, is due out December 2nd on Hound Gawd! Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on The Cutthroat Brothers, check out the band's website.

Honeyglaze - "Burglar"

Photo by Holly Whitaker

South London's Honeyglaze formed as a trio since vocalist and guitarist Anouska Sokolow didn't want to be a solo artist. The band first met at a rehearsal three days before they played a gig at The Windmill in Brixton. The band has drawn comparisons to artists such as Julia Jacklin and Haley Heynderickx. Listening to their new single, "Burglar," those comparisons are fair. But not completely. Sokolow does have some of Heynderickx's vocal delivery, but Jacklin and Heynderickx have more of a folk base while Honeyglaze is a little more indie rock, albeit with some tinges of folk. "Burglar" has this almost hypnotic quality, especially as the song goes on and the instrumental parts kick in. It's a fairly laid back to mid-tempo song while it does gain a bit more pep as it swirls around you towards the ending. If "Burglar" is any indication, Honeyglaze are a band we're going to be paying a lot of attention to!

The band says of the new song:

“Burglar is based around a Bukowski poem. It feels like being half-awake before dawn and waiting alone for the clarity of morning. It drifts between calm and anxiety, between dream and consciousness.”

You can watch the video for "Burglar" below. The song is available now as a single via Speedy Wunderground. For more on Honeyglaze, check out the band on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Carissa Johnson - "The Sound"


Carissa Johnson is officially one of the greatest rock songwriters currently active in Boston. Obviously her latest single, "The Sound," is going to be fantastic, we all know that. The only surprising thing about the new song is how New Wave it is. It starts off with an ominous synth line that sounds like a church organ. From there it's met with a driving beat and Johnson's vocals. Johnson is one of those singers I liked but didn't love at first, but the more I listen to her music the more her voice becomes one of my favorites. Despite how synth heavy "The Sound" is, this isn't an 80's throwback at all. Somehow Johnson has created a synth heavy New Wave song that sounds right at home in 2021.

You can watch the video for "The Sound" below. Blue Hour is due out November 12. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Carissa Johnson, check out the artist's website.

Abby Huston - "Promise"

Photo by Tyler Evans

Normally I wouldn't expect to like a song described as alternative, indie, and easy listening, but then I heard the latest from Abby Huston. The Richmond, VA based artist has released "Promise." The song isn't exactly what you have in mind when you hear the term easy listening, but it's not exactly not easy listening, either. The song has a strong R&B base over a more indie sound. It takes the groove of R&B and mixes it with the feel and edge of indie. It's truly a unique sound, and a song like "Promise" has a nearly unlimited potential to crossover into different fandoms.

Abby Huston says of their new single:

"It's kinda funny, but this song came out of me in a vision where I imagined myself as a TV-drama, brokenhearted, boy band type character. At the time Cam and I were watching a lot of Gilmore Girls during studio meal breaks, and watching the show as a kid, I'd always loved this bad boy character, Jessie, which cracks me up now...Cam stepped out for a minute to catch up with his sister and the mood and lyrics came over me. When he came back and I sang it for him and he brought in these keys that hit like the change of the seasons and the song developed from there. It reminds me of slow sunny days in our Richmond outskirts and finding things we can eat growing outside and playing pokemon emerald for the first time and tall grass and dogs and cats and our cars failing in rainstorms or sunshine."

You can listen to "Promise" below. AH HA is due out October 22 on Egghunt Records. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on Abby Huston, be sure to check out their Facebook.

Marissa Nadler - "If I Could Breathe Underwater"

Photo by Nick Fancher

We're obviously huge Marissa Nadler fans here at If It's Too Loud..., and her latest single is making us even more rabid. "If I Could Breathe Underwater" is this brilliantly lush and cinematic song. It's an unbelievably gorgeous song that feels like floating. It's spacey and ethereal, with the music perfectly fitting Nadler's dreamy vocals. Plus, there is this odd, disjointed almost surf like guitar helping to tie the whole thing together with harp. Nadler's music has always been painfully beautiful, but "If I Could Breathe Underwater" is a whole new level.

Marissa Nadler says of the new song:

When I wrote ‘If I Could Breathe Underwater,’ I was contemplating the possibilities of possessing various superhuman powers: teleportation, shapeshifting, energy projection, aquatic breathing, extrasensory perception, and time travel to name a few. As a lyrical device, I married those powers with events in my life, wondering if and how they could change the past or predict the future. I loved working on the melody for this song and bringing the choruses to their climaxes. Mary’s [Lattimore, harpist and friend of Nadler's] layered, hallucinatory shimmers really echo the netherworld of the story.”

You can watch the video for "If I Could Breathe Underwater" below. The Path of the Clouds is due out October 29 on Sacred Bones/Bella Union. You can pre-order or pre-save the album here. For more on Marissa Nadler, check out the artist's website.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

First Listen: New Releases for 10 September

It definitely feels like everyone saved their new releases for this week...

Artist: Dntel
Album: Away
Quick Thoughts: For better or for worse, Dntel will be aligned with Ben Gibbard and The Postal Service. His second effort this year feels very familiar and very modern, with a number of highlights sprinkled throughout that make this one of the more interesting listens in a busy week.
Songs of Note: ""Shell," "From the Window"

Artist: Venus Hum
Album: Kindness Rages On
Quick Thoughts: Venus Hum's first album in about five years is one great song after another. There's a lot to love here, and while the band doesn't quite sound like anything else out there at present, this record doesn't sound out-of-place in the modern music landscape. This is absolutely an album I'm looking forward to getting back to, as it's one of the better recent rock albums.
Songs of Note: "Lonely," "Where You Are," "A Crown in My Hand"

Artist: Elvis Costello and The Attractions
Album: Spanish Model
Quick Thoughts: We love Elvis Costello here, and this semi-tribute to This Year's Model with Spanish language lyrics and musicians deserves a listen. It's stunning how well a lot of this works, and "Pump It Up" in particular is a really well-done effort. Don't miss this one.
Songs of Note: "Pump It Up," "La Chica De Hoy (This Year's Girl)"

Artist: Dori Freeman
Album: Ten Thousand Roses
Quick Thoughts: This is close to rootsy perfection. Dori Freeman offers some tight, polished bluegrass in Ten Thousand Roses, and it's worth highlighting even in a busy week. It's hard for me to think of more to say except "this is awesome and you should listen to it," so do that. In a busy week, you'll be glad you did.
Songs of Note: "I Am"

Artist: Slothrust
Album: Parallel Timeline
Quick Thoughts: Slothrust is consistently great, and I'd argue is one of the more underrated acts in the modern indie landscape. Parallel Timeline feels a lot brighter and accessible than their previous efforts, and I'll go as far as to say that it's to their benefit - that presentation changes this from a good album to what might be a favorite of mine this summer. If you're not on the bandwagon yet, there's still room, but don't sleep on this.
Songs of Note: "Cranium," "Once More For the Ocean," "White Rabbits"

Artist: The Vaccines
Album: Back in Love City
Quick Thoughts: I wanted to highlight this one if only because this band has changed so much since their debut and yet it still works. Melodic indie rock has transformed into synthy dance pop, but it's hard to listen to the title track and not enjoy it. I too long for the days of "Sex With an X," but this will more than do.
Songs of Note: "Back in Love City," "Jump Off the Top," "XCT"

Artist: Tommy Genesis
Album: goldilocks x
Quick Thoughts: Tommy Genesis is perhaps better known for her modeling, but this hyperpop-infused rap effort is, on first listen, one of my favorite rap albums of the year. It's bold and angry and feels different from start to finish, and is yet still accessible in the "WAP" era. A really great listen that you shouldn't miss if rap is your thing.
Songs of Note: "kamikaze," "a woman is god," "manifesto," "fuck u u know u can't make me cry"

Artist: Lissie
Album: Watch Over Me (Early Works 2002-2009)
Quick Thoughts: Lissie remains a favorite of mine, and this collection of early, pre-Catching a Tiger efforts is a great reminder at how good she not only is, but arguably always has been. As an album, it's uneven, but as a collection of songs that never quite made the cut, there's something here for everyone. I loved hearing this, and I love that it exists.
Songs of Note: "Hey Boy," "On My Chest," "Wishing On a Star"

Of note:

* Rosie Tucker and Wolfy - sucker supreme to study and relax to (A lo-fi beats version of Rosie Tucker's latest.)
. * Matthew Fowler - The Grief We Gave Our Mother (Shades of early-2000s Ryan Adams at times.)
* Andrew W.K. - God is Partying (This is a fun love letter to operatic metal excess.)
* Sleigh Bells - Texis (A solid overdue return.)
* Kacey Musgraves - star-crossed (As anticipated as this was, the parts are greater than the sum.)
* Manic Street Preachers - The Ultra Vivid Lament (They've still got it.)
* Akiko Yano - Music is a Gift
* Julia Bardo - Bauhaus, L'Appartamento
* Heartless Bastards - A Beautiful Life
* Martina Topley-Bird - Forever I Wait
* Low - HEY WHAT
* Kero Kero Bonito - Civilisation
* Saint Etienne - I've Been Trying to Tell You
* Sarah Davachi - Antiphonals
* Psychic Graveyard - Veins Feel Strange
* Colleen Green - Cool
* Matthew E. White - K bay
* Sneaker Pimps - Squaring the Circle
* We Were Promised Jetpacks - Enjoy the View
* The FatRat - PARALLAX
* Blind Adam and The Federal League - An Act of Desperation
* Great Aunt Ida - Unsayable

EPs:

* Lorde - Te Ao Mārama (Songs from Lorde's Solar Power in Māori)
* Annie - Neon Nights
* mxmtoon - true colors
* Flossing - Queen of the Mall
* Julien Baker - Little Oblivions (Remixes)

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* Various Artists - The Metallica Blacklist (Four hours of Metallica covers. Some solid stuff in here.)
* Lady Gaga - Dawn of Chromatica
* Wild Pink - A Billion Little Lights (Live)
Also out:

* Samantha Fish - Faster

Slow Crush - "Swoon"

Photo by Kat De Laet

Last month I brought you "Hush," the latest single from Belgian shoegaze band Slow Crush. I absolutely gushed about it, which I was hesitant to do. As much as I loved the single, there are many, many bands that I'll feverishly praise a single of, and then am less than impressed by the second single. And even less once the album comes out. Luckily, "Swoon" is more than worthy of my gushing praise. "Swoon" is this huge wall of shoegaze noise type of song. It starts off like a disjointed Sonic Youth breakdown, but once the song takes off, it does at a pace not typically associated with shoegaze. This is loud and fast shoegaze, but with Isa Holliday providing the almost ASMR level soothing vocals you usually find in the genre. Now that we have two fantastic singles from Slow Crush we can officially start fanboying out over their upcoming album.

You can watch the video for "Swoon" below. Hush is due out October 22 on Quiet Panic. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Slow Crush, check out the band's website.

Live Shows: Boston Fuzzstival, Charles River Speedway, Boston, MA 9/11/21


Fuzzstival is one of those festivals I've been meaning to get to for years now, but it just has never worked out for me. In its eighth year, it moved to a new location and with the promise of NOVA ONE and Cliff Notez playing on Saturday night, I was finally going to be able to go. The new venue was amazing. Charles River Speedway is a multi-use property on the grounds of a former bicycle racetrack. The event was held in Garage B, a concrete and metal garage with six or so open garage doors along the side of the venue, keeping the inside nice and cool and well vented. The sound engineers deserve a medal for keeping such a show sounding this well. The stage was the widest I've ever seen at a smaller venue, allowing ample room for one band to set up on one set while another band played on the other. Every band had thirty minutes to play, giving the entire show an early Warped Tour feel, except a lo-fi ultra-indie version of the Warped Tour. Eight bands played Saturday night, but I'm going to cover just my favorite performances.

NOVA ONE

Despite discovering NOVA ONE almost four years ago when they opened for Deer Tick and the fact that they're a Providence based band, I hadn't seen them since the Deer Tick show. The band played as a duo on Saturday with a sole guitarist accompanying Roz Raskin. As stripped down and mellow as their 2020 album lovable is, as a duo the songs are even more so. They took the Fuzzstival name quite literally and included heavy guitar effects, giving their music an otherworldy aquatic feel. Mixing that sound with Raskin's doo-wop meets indie folk vocals was completely enchanting and spellbinding.

SEED

I don't know if you could have found a band more the opposite of NOVA ONE to follow them than SEED. According to their Bandcamp profile, SEED is "Anti-fascist, Queer Forward, Boston Based, Experimental Doom." As amazing as the rest of the band was, vocalist Lex Lucidi was truly the star of their thirty minutes. Choosing to perform on the floor instead of the stage, Lucidi commanded the attention of the entire audience as they paced the floor. You had to remind yourself to actually look at the stage every so often, but you couldn't for very long. Ellsworth's vocals were absolutely stunning, whether they were sung in a vocal style more traditional than you normally get in metal/doom/sludge, or just plain out screamed. I'm not normally a metal guy, but SEED are an absolute must listen.

Honey Cutt

Honey Cutt were my favorite discovery from Saturday night. Their Bandcamp prfile describes them as "Dreamy Indie Rock with Surf Sensibilities." If you've been reading If It's Too Loud... for a while, you know that's a sweet spot for me. Honey Cutt filled their set with these gloriously fuzzy and bouncy indie rock songs bordering closely on pop. It's just jangly guitar pop, and sometimes that's all you really need. It's been a while since I've been to a festival and come home with a New(est) Favorite Band, but Honey Cutt are definitely one now!

Cliff Notez

Cliff Notez set shouldn't have been good, and maybe it wasn't. He had driven in all the way from Mass MOCA in North Adams for the show, and forgotten a cable he needed. He ended up having to do his set with just a laptop to play his music, which is my very least favorite kind of live hip hop. This caused the music to have a muted sound and feel. It's just weird to have music sound like it's just in the background at a live show. Plus, he was trying out mostly new songs, so audience participation was limited. But Cliff Notez is such a charming and compelling performer that he was able to overcome issues that should have completely derailed him. I went from being disappointed and about to head towards the back for a drink to entirely compelled to do my awkward middle aged dad dancing towards the front of the stage. I can't even imagine what his live show is normally like.

Sweeping Promises

Sweeping Promises' blend of DIY dance friendly post punk was perfect to close out the evening. Unfortunately there was an incident that I didn't completely see so for legal reasons I won't comment on, but it left one audience member unconscious on the floor in front of the stage. This happened two songs into their set, and caused a long delay while he was attended to. I can't imagine what stopping a set for such a scary incident would do to the psyche of a band, but Sweeping Promises came back and did it expertly. Hinger for a Way Out is an amazing album, and is the type that is just begging to be heard live with an excited crowd. And it was. Despite the scary moments at the start of their show, the band won the crowd back into a frenzy of bopping along and dancing.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Live Shows: Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, Arnold Arboretum, Boston, MA 9/11/21

Photo by Ken Sears

I've seen Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys a lot over the last nine or so years. In fact, I just saw them a little over a month ago, so you'd think I'd be able to skip a performance so soon. But when it was announced that the Toys would be playing a special acoustic set at the Bradley Rosaceous Collection at the Arnold Arboretum as part of the A.R.T. Arboretum Experience, I knew I would be dragging my family into the city for an afternoon of nature and live music!

The show wasn't entirely acoustic. Brother Bones was playing an electric guitar. Aside from that, the only amplification was for vocals. Even drummer Matt Zappa was stripped down and playing a single drum and cymbal. It was about as far off from a standard Toys show as you could get, but that's what helped make this such a unique and special experience. The band brought as much noise as they possibly could, and still had their intensity. Not being plugged into anything allowed the band members freedom to roam around the audience giving a more immersive experience for everyone. They may not have been able to rock as hard and loud as they normally do, but they did in spirit.

Walter Sickert seemed especially chatty for this performance, telling a story about a conversation they had with a squirrel earlier in the day throughout the set. One of the more interesting aspects of Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys was sprinkled throughout the set. While playing songs about a witch that eats children ("Baba Yaga") and another inspired by The Shining ("Dull Boy"), the band's message is of love and family. It was a gorgeous afternoon of live music with one of the most unique and special bands around for an especially unique and special performance.