Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Night Flowers Cover The Pretenders

London's Night Flowers have released a cover of The Pretenders's 1983 Christmas classic "2000 Miles" for charity, however it's also for a personal reason. The band has dedicated the song to the memory of Sandeep "Sonny" Heer. He was a Night Flowers fan that recently passed away. As the band wrote in their press release for the single:

"We’re just a small band - we don’t have many tools at our disposal but what we do have is our love and our music. With this in mind, for Christmas this year we have recorded a cover of The Pretenders 1983 hit ‘2000 Miles’ ourselves, which we would like to dedicate to Sonny’s memory. Any proceeds from the single will be going to CALM, as per his families wishes. More infomation on CALM here - www.thecalmzone.net"

Night Flowers's version of "2000 Miles" is absolutely spot on. The song has a sense of melancholy under normal circumstances, and knowing the meaning behind the cover makes this version devastating. You can listen to it below, and to get your copy of the song head over to the bands's Bandcamp.


Ken's Best of 2018 - #5: Haley Heynderickx - I Need to Start a Garden

I Need to Start a Garden is one of the very rare albums that both Jeff and I included in our top 10 for 2018, so that says huge things about this one. Haley Heynderickx came out of nowhere back in September 2018 with "Oom Sha La La" and I instantly knew I needed to hear more. There aren't a lot of truly unique artists in folk. but Heynderickx is one of the most unique ones. From her odd and interesting way of arranging songs into long epics like "Worth It" to her stunning voice that is just slightly off kilter enough to keep interesting, I Need to Start a Garden is one of the more mesmerizing releases of the year. Take a song like the aforementioned "Oom Sha La La." It starts off as this lovely little pretty song, with the chorus of "Oom sha la la/Oom oom sha la la" just sucking you in, and then the near repeated screaming of "I need to start a garden" kicks in. I'm sure some listeners would be repelled as this can shatter the beauty and pleasantness of the song. But for some of us, it just adds to the song, sucking us in and making us completely obsessed. 

Songs of note: "Worth It," "Untitled God Song," "Oom Sha La La."

Jeff's Best of 2018 - #5: Lucy Dacus - Historian

Lucy Dacus is an artist I found with a debut I enjoyed even though we somewhat overlooked it in these parts. When “Night Shift” landed a year ago, anyone who heard it knew we were in for something special, and the full album doesn’t disappoint. Equal parts tender and muscular, Historian provides an album that, instead of being a sophomore slump, shows an artist growing into her own and excelling at what she does best.

The album kicks off with one of the best songs of 2018, “Night Shift,” and never leaves that high. The album is certainly better experienced as a cohesive unit, but it’s hard to find fault in any of these songs. I just wonder when Dacus is going to peak as an artist, as she clearly is far from at her full power.

Songs of note: “Night Shift,” “Addictions.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ken's Best of 2018 - #6: Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel

We've been babbling about our love of Courtney Barnett ever since she covered The Lemonheads's "Being Around" almost five years ago now. 2018 is no exception, and saw the release of Barnett's fantastic album Tell Me How You Really Feel. The new album is a bit more quiet and contemplative than 2015's Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit..., but that quiet brings in a more intense experience on further listens. The album opener, "Hopefulessness," just builds and builds throughout, going from a standard singer/songwriter tune to an indie rock anthem without increasing the tempo. "Need a Little Time" stays quiet throughout (mostly), and shows Barnett moving a bit from the talk-singing she's known for and singing more, quite nicely. Tell Me How You Really Feel showcases Barnett's growth as an artist and songwriter while sticking completely to what we love about her music. 

Songs of note: "Hopefulessness," "Need a Little Time,"  "Nameless, Faceless."

Jeff's Best of 2018 - #6: Tiny Stills - Laughing Into the Void

Sometimes an album comes along that just scratches that itch you didn’t know you had. That was my experience with Tiny Stills, a favorite this year that mixed the sort of indie pop with endearing and emotive songwriting that sets the good apart from the great. From the opening track to some of its most mainstream efforts, this album basically succeeded in everything it tried to do.

The album kicks it off with an opening track that namedrops a variety of things before diving into a hooky poppy number. “Let’s Fall in Love” takes its time in taking off and being the song it shows hints of being from the start. Then you have songs like “Colorblind” that are not forging new ground but are not trying to forge new ground either. The straightforward nature of this record is really why it’s such a joy to hear.

I shuffled this between 8/7/6 this year, and ultimately realized that if I can’t find out where it belongs, it probably belongs closer to the front. I assume it will for you, too.

Songs of note: “Colorblind,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” “When I’m With You.”

First Listen: New Releases for 7 December

A few new to you, a few new to us...


Artist: Viagra Boys
Album: Street Worms
Quick Description: Oddball (post?)-punk.
Why You Should Listen: Defies expectation but might be your favorite anyway.
Overall Thoughts: When one of your favorite authors with solid music taste tosses out a couple songs you’ve never heard of, you take notice and listen. This is a terrible band name by all accounts, but when you listen to a song like “Sports” you realize you’re hearing something really odd and unique, and realize its brilliance once you get to songs like “Frogstrap.” I hate that I likely missed this one back when it came out because of the band’s name, as this is definitely a solid listen.
Recommendation: Make it a point to listen to this one.


Artist: LP
Album: Heart to Mouth
Quick Description: Ambiguous pop music.
Why You Should Listen: LP is a good pop record that you might miss otherwise.
Overall Thoughts: Sometimes the pop stuff can get overlooked when it comes to acts on the fringe trying to break through, and I feel like LP is the type of act that will get overlooked and should not. This album is super catchy with a ton of interesting pieces behind it that surprised me. It’s fun and it’s polished, and pop fans need to give this a listen.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.


Artist: Ice Cube
Album: Everythang's Corrupt
Quick Description: You know Ice Cube.
Why You Should Listen: Guys, it's Ice Cube.
Overall Thoughts: A rap legend in his own right, Ice Cube is back with a solid album. Occasionally dated at times, the highlights more than outweigh any issues I may have had. It kicks off with “Arrest the President,” which is not exactly subtle, and continues along the track of the type of music that made Cube famous. There’s no “Bop Gun” here, but there doesn’t have to be...
Recommendation: ...it’s just a solid rap effort.


Artist: David Benedict
Album: The Golden Angle
Quick Description: Solid instrumental bluegrass.
Why You Should Listen: It's incredibly well done.
Overall Thoughts: Another one we missed, this is high-quality instrumental bluegrass. For whatever reason, I feel like it’s pretty difficult to find solid new instrumental bluegrass (assuming there’s interest in it at all), and this album largely takes the cake. Modern yet classic, this is one that’s worth putting on at your holiday gatherings after you’ve worn out the Christmas music.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Of note:

* The Bevis Frond - We're Your Friends, Man (A little long, but still largely holds up.)
* Mega Ran - A Very Random Christmas (You didn't know you needed rap music over the Charlie Brown Christmas album until now.)
* 10 Years of Mom+Pop

7 song albums:

* The Dazies - Panic All the Time
* Jasmine Guffond - Degradation Loops

EPs:

* HXXS - MKDRONE
* Underworld - Drift Episode 1

Also out:

* Elephant Gym - Underwater

Monday, December 10, 2018

Mega Ran featuring Nick Norris and DJ Dn3 - "Excelsior"

Photo via Facebook
Being a music blog, we couldn't really immortalize Stan Lee. I grew up as a huge comic book fan, and I always will be. I always Made Mine Marvel, and Stan Lee was a huge hero of mine. We've known his health has been poor for a while, and we knew the day was coming sooner than later, but losing Stan earlier this month hit incredibly hard.

Nerdcore rapper Mega Ran, Nick Norris, and DJ Dn3 have joined together to immortalize Stan "The Man" Lee in song. What's truly great about "Excelsior" is that it's not just about Stan Lee's creations but it's about Stan the human being. It goes over his entire life and career, and gets into why Stan made such a connection with his fans. It's a tribute to a man who impacted so many of our lives, why and how he did, and is a testament to fandom in general. Warning to all of us truly affected by Stan's death: It ends with a sample of Stan's final message to his fans, so be prepared for it to get quite dusty where you are.

You can listen to "Excelsior" below. For more on Mega Ran, be sure to check out his website.

Ken's Best of 2018 - #7: Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers - Bought to Rot

While I've always had an appreciation for Against Me!, I never would have considered myself a fan. When I first heard that Laura Jane Grace was releasing a solo album, I was more intrigued that it would be on Bloodshot Records since I've been a huge fan of their output, but Laura Jane Grace seemed heavier than their typical output. I assumed Bought to Rot would be the typical punk singer goes country/folk kind of album.

I was wrong. Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers have released one of the louder punk records of the year, despite still being a roots based album. Bought to Rot bounces between more laid back singer/songwriter style songs and some straight out thrash ones. The back and forth of this album is strongest in the difference between "Valeria Golino" and "The Apology Song," which close the album out back to back. "Valeria Golino" is a loud thrash song that builds and builds tension before erupting, while "The Apology Song" is a rambling near-folk song. You even get an almost novelty song with "I Hate Chicago," a song about how much Grace hates Chicago until she finally breaks down at the end and admits it's because of her divorce.

Songs of note: "Amsterdam Hotel Room," "Manic Depression," "Valeria Golino."

Jeff's Best of 2018 - #7: Illuminati Hotties - Kiss Yr Frenemies

Illuminati Hotties has the best band name in the world right now. It doesn't hurt that the debut from the Sarah Tudzin-led project (Tudzin has production credits ranging from Macklemore to Hamilton) is one of the most refreshingly fun listens of the year. “(You’re Better) Than Ever,” the song that got me interested in the act, is a perfect blend of indie and pop and punk, and songs like "Cuff" and "Pressed 2 Death" show a range of ideas that even the most popular acts fail to replicate.

This is a crazy fun record, perhaps moreso than anything else out this year. It catches a lot of the current millennial zeitgeist without being completely cringey, and the result is a listen that I continually went back to since its release. As someone addicted to alt-rock styles and who doesn't mind a good laugh now and again in his music? This absolutely works.

Songs of note: "(You're Better) Than Ever," "Pressed 2 Death," "Paying Off the Happiness."



Friday, December 7, 2018

Forgotten Fridays: Schtum - Grow

Forgotten Fridays is an occasional feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. We go back and remind you of their existence, and help decide if they were any good.

This might be the most forgotten release we've done on Forgotten Fridays. Schtum have virtually no web presence. No Facebook, Twitter, or even Wikipedia page. The most I can find about them is that they were from Northern Ireland, were managed by Paul McLoone of The Undertones, and broke up while touring America. That's it. I've been able to find more about singer Christian McNeil, so apparently moved out to the Boston area and sang with Sea Monsters and Orchestra Morphine, even winning a Boston Music Award for Best Male Vocalist in 2011.

I remember Schtum's "Skydiver" being played a bunch on the Boston meathead radio station back in 1996, and the video being played on a local video show a lot. I haven't listened to anything of theirs in over twenty years. I was shocked at how weird this album is. I remember it being loud alternative rock, but Grow is quirky without being twee. McNeil's vocals and delivery are a weird combination of G. Love, Mike Doughty back in his Soul Coughing days, and John Doe of X. Schtum are quite a bit different from anything else I remember from that day, since most bands weren't combining G. Love with post grunge hard rock. Grow isn't all hard rock. Songs like "Follow (1989)" are almost downright Britpop. It's worth a listen, though. Even if you don't remember ever hearing "Skydiver."