Friday, September 22, 2017

Mill Pond Falls - "Gone" / "Everyday"

The latest single from Boston's Mill Pond Falls is nostalgic for a very specific retro 90's sound. Back in the early to mid 90's, I hated country. This was back in the days when "Achy Breaky Heart" in all of its terrible glory just couldn't be avoided, so I hated anything that even remotely like country. Or so I thought. As much as I loved bands like Buffalo Tom, The Lemonheads, and Matthew Sweet, my teenage and college self just couldn't pick up on the heavy country influence those bands had. Now I listen to a lot of those songs and all I can hear is country.

That's what "Gone," and its B-Side "Everyday" to a lesser extent, reminds me of. It's that glorious time back when all these alternative bands were playing their 120 Minutes buzz clips for kids that would never have admitted liking country even though their idols were just oozing Americana. Mills Pond Falls play this blend of catchy, post-grunge alternative that has just enough Americana influence to qualify them to be accepted by the Newport Folk Festival crowd.

You can listen to "Gone" below. You can get your own copy of the digital single over at Bandcamp. For more on Mill Pond Falls, check them out on Facebook.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Shame - "Concrete"

The latest single from the UK's Shame, "Concrete," is an intense one. "Concrete" is about being trapped in an emotionally and mentally draining relationship. It's contained in a fairly standard post punk guitar framework. As it starts, it feels familiar, especially if you've been following us for any length of time. And then the call and response verses start, bringing a sense of paranoia. Slowly, it breaks into a harder, more punk edge than you get with post punk. Plus, there's slightly more noise than you would have expected at the beginning. The whole thing is crammed tightly into this wound little ball of a song, feeling like it needs to explode and run free, but just not allowed to. Ever.

You can watch the video for "Concrete" below. Shame's debut album will be released in early 2018. To keep up with Shame, check out their website, and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Their tour dates are below the video.

Sat. Sep. 30 – Margate, UK @ By The Sea Festival
Mon. Oct. 9 – Bristol, UK @ Louisiana
Tue. Oct. 10 – Leeds, UK @ Lending Room
Wed. Oct. 11 – Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
Thu. Oct. 12 – Edinburgh, UK @ Sneaky Pete's
Fri. Oct. 13 – Liverpool, UK @ Buyers Club
Sat. Oct. 14 – Dublin, IE @ Workamn’s Club
Wed. Oct. 18 – London, UK @ Scala
Sat. Oct. 21 – Cardiff, UK @ Swn Festival
Tue. Oct. 24 – Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen
Wed. Oct. 25 – Groningen, NL @ Vera
Fri. Oct. 27 – Amsterdam, NL @ London Calling Festival
Thu. Nov. 2 – Reykjavik, IS @ Iceland Airwaves Festival
Fri. Nov. 10 – Brooklyn, NY @ Baby's All Right
Sun. Nov. 12 – Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA
Mon-Nov-13 – Washington, DC @ DC9
Wed. Nov. 15 – New York, NY  @ Home Sweet Home
Thu. Nov. 16 – Allston, MA  @ The Great Scott
Fri. Nov. 17 – Montreal, QC  @ M for Montreal
Sat. Nov. 18 – Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck
Sun. Nov. 19 – Buffalo, NY  @ Mohawk Place
Mon. Nov. 20 – Arden, DE  @ Arden Gild Hall +

Fri. Dec. 1 – Paris, FR @ Point Ephemere
Sun. Dec. 3 – Frankfurt, DE @ Zoom 
Mon. Dec. 4 – Heidelburg, DE @ Halle O2 
Wed. Dec. 6 – Köln, DE @ Gebäude 9 
Thu. Dec. 7 – Munster, DE @ Gleis 22 
Fri. Dec. 8 – Essen, DE @ Hotel Shanghai 
Sat. Dec. 9 – Dresden, DE @ Groove Station 
Mon. Dec. 11 – Hannover, DE @ Bei Chez Heinz 
Tue. Dec. 12 – Bremen, DE @ Lagerhaus 
Wed. Dec. 13 – Hamburg, DE @ Knust 
Thu. Dec. 14 – Braunschweig, DE @ Eule 
Fri. Dec. 15 – Rostock, DE @ Helgas Stadtpalast 
Sat. Dec. 16 – Berlin @ Festaal Kreuzberg 
Fri. Feb. 2 – Adelaide, AU @ Laneway Festival
Sat. Feb. 3 – Melbourne, AU @ Laneway Festival
Sun. Feb. 4 – Sydney, AU @ Laneway Festival
Sat. Feb. 10 – Brisbane, AU @ Laneway Festival
Sun. Feb. 11 – Perth, AU @ Laneway Festival

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Jennie Vee - "Hospital Bed"

Photo by Corinne Schiavone
Jennie Vee has one of the more unique musical backgrounds I've seen. She grew up in a small town in Ontario, which she left for England. After England, she moved to Nashville and then NYC, where she made her debut album. Back in 2015, she played bass for Courtney Love on the Endless Summer Tour. After that, she's played with Echo & The Bunnymen, Manic Street Preachers, and The Darkness. Currently she's living in LA and a member of Eagles of Death Metal. Somehow, even with all of that, she had the time to write and record an EP of her own music.

"Hospital Bed" doesn't sound like any of the bands Jennie Vee has played with. It's more along the lines of what is now called "dream pop." It has a dreamy, wistful feel, but with a biting guitar, and some of the best hooks you've heard in years. It's just shy of being true pop, with the slightest bit of edge holding it back.

You can listen to "Hospital Bed" below. Jennie Vee's new EP, Suffer, will be out September 22 on WaxRomantix Records. For more on Jennie Vee, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

First Listen, Part 2: More New Releases for September 15

Artist: Foo Fighters
Album: Concrete and Gold
Quick Description: Latest from the alt-rock legends.
Why You Should Listen: I suppose it's not to the point where the Foos are a nostalgia act, right?
Overall Thoughts: Oh, Foo Fighters. On one hand, you have one of the premier alt-rock bands of the post-grunge era with a new album. On the other, I’m not sure they’ve had a truly great (or even good) album in well over a decade. This feels like a mess of rock excess that’s trying too hard, and that might be generous. It makes me wonder whether The Colour and the Shape is actually good at all, given the taste this left in my mouth.
Recommendation: Don’t make my mistake, just pretend this didn’t happen.

Artist: Angus and Julia Stone
Album: Snow
Quick Description: New album from the Aussie duo.
Why You Should Listen: These two continue to be some of the better mainstream acts running.
Overall Thoughts: A favorite of the coffee shop folk music set, this album is as rock-solid as the rest of their work. No, there’s probably no “Big Jet Plane” here, but it doesn’t need it – this duo continues to put out mainstream-friendly folk music that’s still appealing to those of us who rarely listen to the radio, and that’s a feat.
Recommendation: In a weird week, this is certainly deserving of your time.

Artist: Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton
Album: Choir of the Mind
Quick Description: First Emily Haines solo project in 10 years.
Why You Should Listen: Metric is so good that the side projects deserve notice.
Overall Thoughts: Her first album credited to The Soft Skeleton in a decade, the Metric frontwoman goes a little weird and a little repetitive here, and the result is a bit of a methodical affair that feels a lot longer than its overall runtime. As someone who is really a big fan of Metric, this was a major disappointment for me. I think there’s a class of people who will find a lot of this to be solid and deliberative, but for me? More of a drag than anything else.
Recommendation: Skip this.

Artist: Seth MacFarlane
Album: In Full Swing
Quick Description: Latest swing album from the Family Guy creator.
Why You Should Listen: He still has the right voice for this.
Overall Thoughts: Love him or hate him, his swing efforts have been solid, and Seth MacFarlane has such a reverence for this era of music that this is difficult to ignore. If you like the genre, listen to this. If you like MacFarlane, listen to this. If you can't stand him, you will be annoyed by this release. As for me? It works like all his others.
Recommendation: I enjoyed this!

Artist: Dee Dee Bridgewater
Album: Memphis... Yes, I'm Ready
Quick Description: Latest album of jazz music from the longtime singer.
Why You Should Listen: If MacFarlane is just playing at his stuff, this is much more pure.
Overall Thoughts: As someone who's not much of a jazz guy, I don't have a lot to say about this on a whole except that I did enjoy this listen. There are a lot of solid takes on this album, and it's a pleasant listen even if it's not really groundbreaking. It doesn't have to be, though - the quality in this is in the authenticity, and that's what you're getting here.
Recommendation: Great for jazz fans, good for those who aren't really into it.

EPs of note:

* Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions - Luck of a Lady

Also out:

* Philip Selway - Let Me Go soundtrack
* Lee Ranaldo - Electric Trim (legitimately the weirdest release of the year)
* Son Little - New Magic

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Torres - "Helen in the Woods"

Photo by Ashley Connor
This might be the song that makes me obsessed with Torres. "Helen in the Woods" isn't exactly a pleasant listen, but for those of us obsessed with bands like Sonic Youth, unpleasant isn't a bad thing. The song is very discordant and haunting. Mackenzie Scott's vocals are harsh and brash, oftentimes straining to get her emotion out. Listening to "Helen in the Woods" can be disturbing at times, like something is being done to you. Somehow, the instrumentation keeps it all centered. I wouldn't say the music is beautiful, but it comes oddly close to it at times. I never quite got when people compared Torres to PJ Harvey, but this song clears that up for me. "Helen in the Woods" won't be for everyone, but for those of us that it is for will end up loving it.

You can watch the video for "Helen in the Woods" below. The new album from Torres, Three Futures, will be available September 29 on 4AD. For more on Torres, check out her website.

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for September 15

Another busy week of releases, so this'll be a two-parter.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Lenore.
Album: Lenore.
Quick Description: Debut album from a new favorite duo here.
Why You Should Listen: You wish First Aid Kit was more musically adventurous.
Overall Thoughts: Easily my favorite of this week, and it doesn’t even come close. Sort of a more complex First Aid Kit, there’s gorgeous harmonies to go along with interesting songwriting and a haunted sort of feel. I was continually surprised by this throughout my listen, and I simply can’t wait until I get another opportunity to dive back in.
Recommendation: This is my favorite album of the week, and it should be yours, too.

Artist: Deer Tick
Album: Vol. 1/Vol. 2
Quick Description: Two releases from the somewhat twangy indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: There's enough good here to give some time to it.
Overall Thoughts: Deer Tick is officially in “we’re releasing a double album” territory with an acoustic and electric set. Honestly, the acoustic is much more interesting with much better songwriting than the electric, but Deer Tick is very good at what they do and there’s enough good here in both releases to make the time investment worth it. “Card House” in particular feels like a song straight out of another era to the point where I was convinced it was a cover, and may be the best thing they’ve ever recorded.
Recommendation: Regardless, give this a shot.

Artist: The Huntress and Holder of Hands
Album: Avalon
Quick Description: Gorgeous, haunting post-Brown Bird project.
Why You Should Listen: It's Brown Bird associated, which should be enough.
Overall Thoughts: We loved Brown Bird here, just like everyone else who got a chance to listen to them, and this album from MorganEve Swain's new project is just wonderful. It is unique in and of itself, much like Brown Bird was, but doesn’t occupy the same space, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s an interesting, wonderful record that I think has a lot of layers left to uncover on future listens.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, nearly my favorite of this week.

Artist: Open Mike Eagle
Album: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Quick Description: Rap music with some great backing music.
Why You Should Listen: You want something a little different in your rap music.
Overall Thoughts: The rap offering for the week, I don’t have a ton to say about this one. On one hand, his rapping is fine, with some pretty solid lines here and there but nothing that blew my mind. On the other, though, what he opts to sample throughout is some of the more interesting stuff I’ve heard in hip-hop/rap lately, and it makes it more than just a standard rap album as a result.
Recommendation: A listen that’s worth giving a shot, for sure.

Artist: The Lone Bellow
Album: Walk Into a Storm
Quick Description: Latest from the radio-friendly rootsy act.
Why You Should Listen: The Lone Bellow are probably at their best here.
Overall Thoughts: The Lone Bellow is near the top of the heap these days when it comes to pop Americana, and with good reason. The musicianship is solid, the songwriting tight, and the total package is really accessible. For us around here, it’s almost too perfectly constructed, but that’s also a weird criticism in a genre that often relies on sharp musicality. So the polish may be too much for some, but if it’s not, you’re in for a real treat on this one.
Recommendation: Definitely worth some time this week.

Artist: Prophets of Rage
Album: Prophets of Rage
Quick Description: A full-length from the Rage Against the Machine/Public Enemy crossover event.
Why You Should Listen: You're really, really angry about Trump and the only way you can express it is by listening to mediocre protest music.
Overall Thoughts: Considering how unfortunate their EP was last year and how generally terrible modern protest music is, I had extremely low standards for this. The good news is that the album cleared said standards with ease, and this is a pretty okay record. I mean, if you really liked Rage or Chuck D, there’s plenty of both that works here, but this also isn’t groundbreaking like either act was in their prime. It is what it is, and that’s fine – just temper your expectations and you should be fine.
Recommendation: Meh.

Artist: Rostam
Album: Half-Light
Quick Description: Debut solo album from a Vampire Weekend alum.
Why You Should Listen: Vampire Weekend is/was a good enough band where this should at least pique your interest.
Overall Thoughts: The proper solo debut of the former Vampire Weekend multinstrumentalist, it borrows from basically every influence he has gathered up over a lifetime and is bundled into a chaotic album that is absolutely going to speak to a number of listeners. Whether or not this is going to work for you may be a different story on a whole – as for me, this didn’t feel cohesive enough to match up with its ambition, and it’s not something I’m terribly excited about, but a lot of people are raving about it so I may be a minority here.
Recommendation: Your mileage ultimately may vary.

Artist: Black Kids
Album: Rookie
Quick Description: Second album from a band I assumed we had all completely forgotten.
Why You Should Listen: Their first album was a buzzworthy event.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if people remember how crazy the whole thing with Black Kids was back in 2008 with "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You." They were doing Hefner covers at concerts, and then just... disappeared. And then all of the sudden songs started popping up and we have a new album. It's weird and feels a little out of sync, but if you can move outside of the context of where they came from and how they went away, this is actually a fairly solid record. I love "Obligatory Drugs," there are a lot of other fun songs here...
Recommendation: ...give this a shot. Really.

EPs of note:

* Antibalas - Where the Gods are in Peace
* Michael Nau - The Load EP

Also out this week:

* Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Vietnam War score
* The Texas Gentlemen - TX Jelly

Monday, September 18, 2017

Alex Lahey - "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself"

Photo by Giulia McGauran
We've been loving every track from Alex Lahey's upcoming debut full length album, and for good reason. The Australian singer/songwriter specializes in the type of pop rock that used to be called alternative back in the mid-90's. Her latest, "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself," is this pleasant happy medium between her previous two singles from I Love You Like a Brother. It's not quite as poppy as "Every Day's the Weekend" and it's not as grungey as "Lotto in Reverse." Instead, "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself" fits snugly in between both of the previous songs. It has the insanely catchy pop hooks and upbeat chorus along with fuzzed out guitars. It's reminds me a ton of Letters to Cleo's Go! Plus, there's Lahey's amazing lyrics. I'm not usually much of a lyrics guy at all, but hers always just suck me in. "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself" centers around a possibly obsessive relationship and poor lifestyle choices, both of which tend to go hand in hand. Despite the negative subject matter, the song doesn't dwell on the negative and seems to be a declaration to turn things around, much like Colleen Green's I Want to Grow Up.

You can watch the video for "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself" below. Alex Lahey's debut album, I Love You Like a Brother, will be out on October 6 on Dead Oceans. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Lahey, check out her website. Her upcoming tour dates are below.

Tue. Oct. 26 - Brussels, BE @ Botanique Witloofbar
Fri. Oct. 27 - Rotterdam, NL @ V11

Mon. Oct. 30 - Cologne, DE @ Blue Shell

Tue. Oct. 31 - Hamburg, DE @ Molotow Musikclub

Wed. Nov. 1 - Berlin, DE @ Privat Club 

Wed. Nov. 3 - Munich, DE @ Kranhalle 

Sat. Nov. 4 - Stuttgart, DE @ Keller Klub 

Sun. Nov. 5 - Fribourg, DE @ Espace culturel Le Nouveau Monde 

Mon. Nov. 6 - Paris, FR @ La Mécanique Ondulatoire

Wed. Nov. 8 - London, UK @ Boston Music Room 

Tue. Nov. 9 - Bristol, UK @ The Louisiana 

Fri. Nov. 10 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club 

Sat. Nov. 11 - Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute 

Sun. Nov. 12 - Glasgow, UK @ King Tut's Wah Wah Hut 

Wed. Nov. 15 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott

Thu. Nov. 16 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Fri. Nov. 17 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live

Sun. Nov. 19 - Washington, DC @ DC9

Wed. Nov. 22 - Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel - Underground

Fri. Nov. 24 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean

Sat. Nov. 25th - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry

Wed. Nov. 29 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada

Thu. Nov. 30 - Austin, TX @ Barracuda

Sat. Dec. 2 - Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge

Sun. Dec. 3 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court

Tue. Dec. 5 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge

Wed. Dec. 6 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

Fri. Dec. 8 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo 

Sat.Dec. 9 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill

Mon. Dec. 11 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios

Tue. Dec. 12 - Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt

Wed. Dec. 13 - Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

Monday Mix (and more!): The Roadhouse Is Proud to Welcome... Music and Twin Peaks!

The finale of Twin Peaks: The Return was two weeks ago and my brain is still busted wide open from the entire series. No television show has exercised my brain the way The Return did, and the mysteries that were solved during the season being replaced by new ones has just kept me so engaged in the entire mythology of the Peaks universe up to this point that I see no signs of stopping. I am looking for books that are like Twin Peaks, shows that will somehow fill the orb-shaped void inside of me.

While the music of the original series is iconic in its own right, The Return stepped up in an interesting and unexpected way. While the series itself played around considerably both with ethereal whooshing soundscapes and the use of silence, most episodes ended with a scene in the bar, where the music venue, "The Roadhouse," was hosting all sorts of indie artists. It was almost a game in and of itself to see who would be featured along the way.

Also related were some of the interesting musical discoveries that have come about from my immersion into the whole Twin Peaks thing. So our mix is 20 or so songs from the series, and some extras:

* The playlist. Included in this playlist are some highlights from the show and from semi-related acts...
** Julee Cruise - "Falling": The original theme song, just as strange and haunting today as it was when it was first used.
** (The) Nine Inch Nails - "She's Gone Away": Trent Reznor has noted that he wrote this song specifically for The Return
** Lissie - "Wild Wild West": One of a few "Roadhouse versions" released following the end of the show.
** "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima": One of the most striking moments of The Return was during the infamous episode 8, and was soundtracked by this modern classical masterpiece.
** Flesh World - "To Lose Me": A band we've highlighted here before, named after the adult publication from the original series.
** James Hurley - "Just You": Proved what many knew for 25 years - James was always cool.
** Sky Ferriera - "Night Time, My Time": Where I hope she cured that rash...

* I also recommend checking out the following:
** Chrysta Bell - We Dissolve: Bell played FBI Agent Tammy Preston on the show, and she's primarily a musician that David Lynch considers a muse. Her album is haunting and weird and wonderful - a lot like Twin Peaks is.
** Dean Hurley - Anthology Resource Vol. 1: The joke among Twin Peaks fans was the amount of "ethereal whooshing" throughout The Return, and the musician/sound designer who was responsible for much of it has released an ambient score from The Return that is worth your time if you're into it.
** Xiu Xiu - Plays the Music of Twin Peaks: The indie act here released this in 2015, but it's a fun little diversion that's also surprisingly true to the original music.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Julia Jacklin - "Cold Caller"

Photo by Nick McKinlay
Today is the release date for the latest single from Julia Jacklin, which also means that we get to check out the b-side, "Cold Caller." The song is extremely sentimental, and Jacklin began writing it after her older sister told her she was pregnant, and started recording it on the day she went into labor. The song starts off with exactly what we've come to expect from Jacklin at this point. It's a groovy, sunny Americana song. But ever so slowly the tiniest bit of noise starts to creep in, which she might have picked up from touring with Marlon Wayans so much. By the end, the song is in full on brilliant power ballad territory. If you weren't as obsessed with Julia Jacklin as we are yet, this one might do it.

You can listen to "Cold Caller" below. The "Eastwick"/"Cold Caller" 7 inch is out today on Polyvinyl Recording Co. For more on Julia Jacklin, check out her website, and be sure to see her live next time she comes around your way.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Moviestar - "Stupid People"

Photo by Suzanne Nyhuus
So... this is an interesting one. Moviestar are a three piece band that comes to us from the planet Fenris in the future. The members are Infinity Vik, The Octopus Goddess, and The Anaconda. When they first came to Earth, they were shocked at how badly people treated the Earth and each other. They are currently on a mission to save the planet, and are staying in Norway since it's "the safest nation in the world."

Their debut song, "Stupid People," is about stupid people. It's a not too serious song, filled with a ton of synth sounds and attitude, with rapping vocals. It feels like what people in the early 80's thought futuristic music sounded like, mixed with mid 90's rap rock. I should say I mean pre-nu-metal rap rock, and more like 2 Skinnee J's. It's all a bizarre mix that shouldn't work, and might not actually work, but for right now I'm enjoying it. At the very least, it's just fun music, which we could all use right about now.

You can listen to "Stupid People" below. Moviestar's debut album, Stupid People / Happy Days, will be out February 9 (speaking of the future) on Oh Yeah! For more on Moviestar, check out their website.