Wednesday, July 31, 2013

First Listen: New Releases for July 30

Another slow week for new releases, although we do have a highly anticipated debut, an interesting solo effort, and a solid folky release to note.

AlunaGeorge - Body Music: In an alternate universe, Icona Pop's "I Love It" never becomes an international megahit and AlunaGeorge's debut album would be the most anticipated electronic/dance album of the year. Body Music is more subtle than Icona Pop's offerings are, better matched up as an R&B-tinged MS MR, but no less solid, and, if it holds up for me, could very well make my end of year lists as I expect it to make others.

T. Hardy Morris - Audition Tapes: T. Hardy Morris is the lead singer of indie rock band Dead Confederate, best known for "The Rat," which I loved. I haven't really been into much else that Dead Confederate has done, but I have to admit that I'm surprised by how solid this solo album is. It sounds a little Noel Gallagher, a little indie rock, a little folk rock, and the second track, "Disaster Proof," is an early favorite for song of the year for me. It's worth a listen, for sure, you might find a lot to like from it.

Alela Diane - About Farewell: I'm kind of new to Alela Diane, and the folky stuff she does is accessible enough where I'd expect her to be a bigger name, but unique enough to not fall into the general folk tropes. About Farewell is her latest, and it's getting a lot of positive press for being quite good. It remains to be seen how well it holds up, but if her past work is any indication...

That's effectively it in terms of the new music this week, unless you're interested in the newest release from the Backstreet Boys. Hopefully things will start picking up as the summer comes to a close.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tanya Donelly - "Mass Ave"

God, it's been way too long since we've had new music from Tanya Donelly. She had accidentally found herself on the verge of slipping into retirement when John Wesley Harding asked her to perform at his Cabinet of Wonders, a travelling vaudeville-type showcase he created with Eugene Mirman. I couldn't be happier he did that since it inspired her to collaborate with a ton of other artists (Bill Janovitz, Claudia Gonson, Anthony Saffrey, Chris Toppin, Hilken Mancini, etc) for her first batch of new material in ages. Titled The Swan Song Series, it is being released in batches of 4 or 5 per month, starting on August 6. Right now you can listen to a sampling of the group over on Pandora and watch the new, Naomi Yang Directed video for "Mass Ave" below. For more info, please check out Tanya's website.

The Julie Ruin are giving away a free mp3 every Monday!

Today The Julie Ruin announced they were giving away a new song off of the 1997 solo project by Kathleen Hanna, The Julie Ruin. Back then it was a solo project, now it's a full band. This album is nearly impossible to find, so grab this free mp3 while you can. The best news is they will be doing this every Monday until their new album, Run Fast, comes out on September 3rd! So keep checking back every week, and go to The Julie Ruin's website here.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Fuzzy - Electric Juices

Forgotten Fridays is a weekly 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. Once a week we go back and remind you, and help decide if they were any good.

Fuzzy received a lot of unfair comparisons to the Lemonheads back when this album was first released. Both bands were from Boston; David Ryan, the drummer for Electric Juices, was a former Lemonhead; both were on Atlantic Records; and both had ‘60s cover songs as their lead single. But while the Lemonheads’ cover of “Mrs. Robinson” was an enforced decision by the record company and feels ironic at best, “Girl Don’t Tell Me” is a total homage to the Beach Boys original. The similarities are incidental; what should matter is the music.

I hadn’t listened to this album in years, and I’m pleasantly surprised at how well it has aged. Fuzzy is led by two singers, Hilken Mancini and Chris Toppin, who share vocal duties equally. Each has a completely distinct voice and songwriting style that blends perfectly with each other, particularly while singing together. Electric Juices blends ‘60s girl group harmonies with a Beach Boys style California sound, the occasional twang of country, and ‘90s power pop jangly guitars. Fuzzy is a positive, upbeat band, even on songs of heartbreak like “Glad Again.” “Sleeper” is still my favorite after all these years, with the intense, almost obsessive vocals of Hilken and driving guitar. I think I had dismissed the album’s closer, “Christmas,” as being a dull, drippy ballad. I formally apologize for that, as in my 30s I’m finding it a masterful display of the power ballad, and one of my favorite Christmas songs of all time.

You can find Electric Juices on Amazon for as low as $.01 for the CD. It’s guaranteed to be the best penny you’ve spent on music in a long, long time.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

There's a new Limp Bizkit video, because sure, why not?

Earlier this week I was expressing sympathy for Limp Bizkit. Limp Bizkit just don't seem to be riding that surge of 90s nostalgia that all sorts of other terrible bands from that era are. Sure, they're terrible. But are they really that much worse than Filter, Alien Ant Farm, and other bands on those 90s nostalgia packages. And then this video is released. The first lyrics to the song are literally "Go fuck yourself." It then features Fred Durst sitting on a toilet, bikini clad chicks pretending to fellate garden hoses and leaf blowers, and Fred Durst talking about fucking bitches, all while wearing a hoodie and a backwards red baseball hat. Then Lil Wayne comes out. Please keep in mind Fred Durst is a 42 year old man.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Sebadoh - "I Will"

After releasing the Secret EP last year, Sebadoh are preparing to release their first full length album since 1999’s unfairly maligned The Sebadoh. (To anyone who disliked The Sebadoh, go listen to it again. It’s secretly brilliant. If anything, I’m suspicious the backlash was over how consistently great Sebadoh were. But I digress…). NPR is currently streaming the first song off Defend Yourself, “I Will.” The song has elements of earlier, more indie and twee Sebadoh along with their later 90s material for Sub Pop. “I Will” is their first foray into quirky indie anthems and is ready for next summer’s round of festival appearances the band is sure to make.

Defend Yourself is due out on September 19th. Check out the song on NPR, who will also be streaming the full album a week before it comes out. Also, go to Sebadoh’s official website, and check out their current tour dates below.

Jul 30            Bootleg Theater          Los Angeles, CA
Jul 31            CafĂ© du Nord, Swedish-American Hall          San Francisco, CA
Aug 05          Urban Lounge          Salt Lake City, UT
Aug 09          The Crescent Ballroom          Phoenix, AZ
Aug 10          The Casbah          San Diego, CA
Aug 11          Constellation Room at the Observatory          Santa Ana, CA
Oct 15          Manchester Academy 3          Manchester, UK
Oct 16          Scala          London, UK
Oct 18          Botanique          Brussels, Belgium
Oct 21          Festsaal Kreuzberg          Berlin, Germany
Oct 28          Zoom          Frankfurt, Germany

First Listen: New Releases for July 23

The good news is that we're finally out of the summer doldrums in terms of new releases. The bad news is that, even with a lot of new releases this week, they kind of run the gamut from average to disappointing. Probably best to go in order:

The Mountain Goats - All Hail West Texas reissue: It's weird to do a reissued "remastered" version of an album originally recorded on a boombox, but All Hail West Texas is probably in my top three Mountain Goats albums, and Head Goat John Darnielle apparently found some songs from the session to justify the reissue. At the very least, the reissue provides a good reason to revisit the album, and the bonus tracks are pretty good, too.

Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes - Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes: I may be the only person who wishes Alex Ebert would cease with the hippie rock and go back to Ima Robot, but the reality is that "Home" was a killer song a few years ago, and while I didn't love the second album, the new self-titled album is probably the best thing he's done under the Edward Sharpe moniker. It's a solid folky, rootsy album with a lot of good songs, even if nothing reaches the level of "Home." Brilliantly understated and could possibly find a broader audience in this post-Lumineers landscape.

Gogol Bordello - Pure Vida Conspiracy: I assume you came on board with Gogol Bordello along with everyone else, when "Start Wearing Purple" became a thing a number of years ago. I haven't loved their more recent output, and this album is...better, but still not up to the level of the stuff I fell in love with early. If you're a hardcore fan, this might represent a type of return to form. If you're more casual like me, this might leave you as quickly as it came.

The Love Language - Ruby Red: I loved The Love Language's previous album, Libraries, and this new album was probably my most anticipated release this week. Unfortunately, it feels really out of place and muddled in a way I didn't expect, and I can't quite pinpoint what it is I didn't like except that I really felt turned off by it. I recommend a listen, but you might want to pass.

Fuck Buttons - Slow Focus: Four years after the excellent Tarot Sport, Fuck Buttons comes back with Slow Focus. While it opens with a great song, the whole thing feels a little overlong, and the stuff that's interesting, at least for me, is secondary by feeling like the album is a bit of a chore. This probably won't stop me from listening to it a few more times, and I do reserve the right to change my mind, but for now, this one was a disappointment.

Other releases of note:

* Mumford and Sons - Spotify Sessions
* Baroness - Live at Maida Vale

Live Shows - Outside the Box Festival with Buffalo Tom and The Lemonheads, Boston Common, 7-20-13

To close out the main stage at the inaugural Outside the Box Festival, a week-long event that took over the Boston Common and City Hall Plaza celebrating art in almost all forms, festival organizers brought out three heavyweights of Boston alternative rock: Buffalo Tom, The Lemonheads, and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Thousands of children of the 80s and 90s, many with families in tow, braved the final day of a heat wave and the threat of severe thunderstorms and were rewarded with three headliner worthy sets of music.

Bill Janovitz, Buffalo Tom
Chris Colburn, Buffalo Tom
Buffalo Tom is one of the most underrated live acts from Boston. I’ve seen them in small clubs, in a theater doing acoustic and electric sets, and Bill Janovitz performing solo sets in tiny spaces. This was my first time seeing them on an enormous outdoor stage complete with cameras on cranes and giant video screens, and they made the transition perfectly. Granted, they headlined the local outdoor shed in the Boston area before, but that was nearly 20 years ago. They immediately brought the hits, as “Summer,” “Sodajerk,” “Taillights Fade,” and “Rachel” were included in the first five songs of the set, which drew focus more to their 80s and 90s output than their still fantastic releases from this century. They looked completely at home with guitarist/singer Janovitz getting to break out his rock star moves in a non-ironic setting. To close their set, they brought out friend and Lemonheads front man Evan Dando for a cover of Big Star’s “Thirteen.” As that ended, they realized they had a few minutes left, so they tore through “Tangerine” to officially close it out.

Evan Dando, The Lemonheads
Chris Brokaw and Ben Deily
The Lemonheads
Evan Dando returned with the current touring line up of the Lemonheads, which while it didn’t include Juliana Hatfield, Ben Deily, and Ryan Adams on drums, it did have Chris Brokaw on guitar (on a break from a Come reunion tour) and Todd Philips from Bullet LaVolta and Juliana Hatfield’s band on drums. While they did play the hits like “It’s a Shame About Ray” and “Into Your Arms,” they did break out a number of more obscure fan favorites like “Style” and “Frying Pan.” The Lemonheads set was when I realized the Creepy Old Guy Factor was nonexistent, as a random fellow fan in her 30s pointed out three college aged girls (presumably planting themselves up front for the Bosstones) and asked, “How old were they when this came out? Nine?” The highlight of the set was founding member Ben Deily joining the band onstage for three songs: “Don’t Tell Yourself,” “Uhhh,” and “Amazing Grace.” This was the personal highlight and low point for me, as I was thrilled to finally see the Dando and Deily play together in person, but disappointed it was only for three songs. I was hoping for a longer set, but that might have just been a personal preference. What was also an odd set list choice was following the more punk, old school material with stripped down versions of “Frying Pan” and “Outdoor Type,” with just Dando and Brokaw on stage. The inclusion of Deily did seem to breathe more life into the set, as they played better versions of “Stove” and “Rudderless” than I have seen in years. 

Unfortunately I had to miss the Bosstones since I had a tired preschooler with me, but by all accounts they put on a fantastic show, as they always do. Hopefully this will be an annual event and the organizers continue to mine my favorite Boston bands from the 80s and 90s (Letters to Cleo? Belly? Throwing Muses?) for years to come.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Live Shows - Carolina Chocolate Drops at the Prescott Park Arts Festival 7-17-13

Carolina Chocolate Drops are one of the best live bands out there today. I had heard great things about them, but their albums never really grabbed me. It wasn’t until I stumbled onto their set while waiting for Wanda Jackson at the 2011 Newport Folk Festival that I truly understood them. Once I heard they were playing in a park on the river in Portsmouth, NH, I knew I had to go.

Since the venue is a public park that only charges a modest “suggested donation” of $8.00 for live concerts, you get a really interesting mix of hipsters, families with small children, and retired folks having discussions about spending the day “having a sail.” The Creepy Old Guy factor was, thankfully, non-existent. It’s a very diverse crowd, and I was worried it wouldn’t be in a good way. Carolina Chocolate Drops encourage a certain amount of energy and participation from the crowd. They’re the kind of folk band you need to move to. Once they started playing the first of two sets that night, I realized the crowd was dominated by the type of people that dominated Newport when I first started going: the retired crowd that just wants to sit quietly in their folding chairs and have a pleasant day with no one standing in the way of their view. It wasn’t until the fourth song in the set, the Hubby Jenkins song “Let’s Go Dancin’” that a young boy and his mother wandered out into the walkways leading up to the stage and started dancing. This encouraged others, and soon the walkways and the area directly in front of the stage were filled with dancing hipsters and families. In response, Rhiannon Giddens announced they were adjusting the setlist to reflect the fact that people were now actively listening, and we were all better for it. Throughout the two sets they played that night, the crowd was rewarded with as much energy from the band as they put out. After newest member Leyla McCalla played a traditional Creole song, the dancers took over every area not filled with a blanket or lawn chair. The closing combination of “Hit ‘Em Up Style” and a cover of Johnny Cash’s “Jackson made coming out in the middle of a week-long heat wave well worth it.

One of the best parts of a Carolina Chocolate Drops show is that it’s not just a musical performance but a history lesson. Original songs cover periods stretching from the mid-1800s to 1920s, each accompanied by an explanation of their origins. While introducing one such song, they explained its roots in minstrel shows, and how it would originally be sung in blackface. Sensing the crowd’s unease, they further explained that just because it had dubious origins, it shouldn’t be completely discounted because then you lose the beauty of the song. They also diverged from the traditional southern folk style they typically play. Rhiannon sang a traditional Scottish Highlands folk song, and their hit single “Country Girl” merges a more modern country style with current R&B and hip hop that LL Cool J and Brad Paisley would kill for.

Since this was my first time at the Prescott Park Arts Festival, I have to discuss the venue. It’s absolutely stunning. Located right on the shore of the Piscataqua River, you get views of island parks, boats floating by, and a perfectly maintained garden. Even the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard across the river has its own charm. If you’re low on cash and don’t feel like walking by without making the suggested donation, there are still plenty of areas to listen to the music for free, and even watch the show in some cases.

If you’re in the area, check out the remaining schedule for the Prescott Park Arts Festival here. There is a shockingly good selection of bands. Also, please check out the Carolina Chocolate Drops website for more info on them, including tour dates.

Monday, July 22, 2013

A Handful of Songs I'm Kind of Embarrassed to Love Right Now

Five or six years ago, it was kind of the "in" thing to be into a song from a video game. In this case, it was the truly brilliant "Still Alive" from Portal, written by Jonathan Coulton. It was the right mix of nerdy and fun, you didn't necessarily need to know the game to enjoy it (although that didn't hurt), and while it didn't really cross over into mainstream success, it was near-impossible not to be current with video games and not know the song.

I bring this up only to highlight a few songs that have caught my ear as of late that I'm not exactly proud of loving, but don't fall into the realm of guilty pleasure, either. I hope you like them, and I won't judge you if you promise not to judge me, either.

I actually found the album from Mark Crozer and the Rels at some point last year, and this song, "Broken Out of Love," jumped out at me as something pretty special. It's got a good southern rock feel to it, the chorus is catchy as all get out, and the bridge portion in particular is near-perfect.

Why am I somewhat ashamed by this song right now? It turns out it's been the entrance theme for now-WWE wrestler Bray Wyatt for almost a year now. Whoever found this song and decided it would be a good match for the Wyatt character deserves a sizable bonus check, because the song matches perfectly with his cultlike southern theme. The WWE has signed Crozer to their label and repackaged "Broken Out of Love" as "Live in Fear" for their own purposes. I'm of two minds of it - as a wrestling fan, I'm glad to see an independent artist get discovered no matter what, but as someone in the real world, listening to wrestling themes in your spare time doesn't earn you many cool points.

I spent much of the last week playing the game Bastion, and while there is a lot that's unique about the game on its own (from the overall setting to the constant narrator), the music in the game really stood out for me in a way that video game music typically does not. The soundtrack itself complements the game very well, adding perfectly to the mood and tone of the game, and the pseudo-folk/electronic instrumentation meets up with the fantasy/not-quite-steampunk-but-definitely-influenced-by-steampunk setting of the game.

The end theme, "Setting Sail, Coming Home," is a juxtaposition of two themes in the game combined together. Taken alone, the two themes are stark and beautiful, but when they're combined with the expanded instrumentation, it becomes something more special. I found myself singing along to "Mother I'm Home" while I was playing, and when I found the entirety of the Bastion soundtrack (written by Darren Korb) on Spotify, well...

I think 8-bit remixes of songs can be fun, but, as a whole, I don't really enjoy bitcore music. The nostalgia of old video games doesn't really translate over to wanting to hear glitchy stuff on a regular basis. Sure, I might have had the opening song for Mega Man 2 as my ringtone for a while, but that's an exception, not a rule.

Another exception to the rule is Anamanaguchi, who (if you know them at all) are responsible for the theme song to the Nerdist Podcast. That song is addictive enough on its own, but what you don't get from the theme is that they don't just go with bitcore for the sake of trying to emulate your old Nintendo, but rather use those limitations for a more interesting sound. I don't always want to listen to it, but I certainly can't with a lot of people around.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Forgotten Fridays: Judgment Night soundtrack

Forgotten Fridays is a weekly 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. Once a week we go back and remind you, and help decide if they were any good.

I think the thing that annoyed me most about the whole rap metal movement of the late ‘90s was hearing report after report that this was the first generation of kids that were raised on both rock and rap. Apparently none of this “critics” ever heard of the Anthrax and Public Enemy team up for “Bring tha Noise” or Rage Against the Machine’s 1992 debut album. Hell, the first cassettes I ever bought with my very own money were Appetite for Destruction and He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper. The album that best personifies the early ‘90s rap/rock hybrid was 1993’s Judgment Night soundtrack.

This album – the soundtrack for the Emilio Estevez and Denis Leary action movie – was revolutionary at the time for featuring rock groups teaming with rappers. Some of these songs worked insanely well, and some just fell flat. The worst of the batch is the Fatal and Therapy? song “Come and Die,” which is as bad as its title. I’m pretty sure Fred Durst had this track on endless repeat. One of the most promising tracks is also one of the most disappointing. House of Pain and Helmet team up for “Just Another Victim,” which sounds like a producer took a Helmet song and a House of Pain song and split each in the middle, adding some ‘90s rap sirens over the edit to make it seem whole. It’s too bad, because each half is great. The Faith No More and Boo-Ya Tribe song is single handedly saved by Mike Patton’s screaming and OHHHHHHs. The track from Living Colour and Run DMC sounds exactly like what you’d expect, but somehow not as good. Ice-T drops the rap for his team up with Slayer and instead goes full on Body Count for one of the best of the metal songs. Onyx and Biohazard take on the title track, and shockingly kill it. The unhinged madness of both bands is one of the most unlikely dream pairings.

Even though the late ‘90s were dominated by rap/metal, Judgment Night also offers the little heard combination of rap and alternative rock. Cypress Hill appears twice, pairing with Pearl Jam for “Real Thing” and Sonic Youth for “I Love You Mary Jane.” Each song is as different as both acts, with “Real Thing” more of a stadium pumper and “I Love You Mary Jane” as a laid back, quirky stoner song. It also has De La Soul teaming with Teenage Fan Club (perfect) and Mudhoney being fronted by Seattle rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot which is way more fun than it sounds. My favorite song, the bananas combo of Del the Funky Homosapien and Dinosaur Jr. “Missing Link,” is the direction I wish rap and rock would have merged. The late ‘90s would have been much more fun.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

First Listen: New Releases for July 16

After a few meh weeks, it's good to get some interesting new releases from all corners. We have three eras represented this week:

Pet Shop Boys - Electric: From the "80s Pop Royalty" era we get the newest album by the Pet Shop Boys, who haven't quite sounded like they've belonged in close to a decade, but finally seem to match up the electronic styles popular today with their more classic sound. This is definitely my favorite album of theirs in some time, and while there isn't a track that jumps out at me yet as a "don't miss," the fact that the Pet Shop Boys have made an album that sounds relevant is a great reveal on its own.

Darren Hayman and the Short Parliament - Bugbears: From the "British Indie Rock Royalty" era, we have the new album from Darren Hayman, former frontman for all-time favorite of mine, Hefner. His post-Hefner work has been dominated by more folky material that doesn't really fit into Hefner's oeuvre, but that's really not a negative, as Hayman's strength has traditionally been in the songwriting and lyrics. In that regard, this album is no different and is maybe more accessible than a lot of his recent work under his own name. If you've been off the Hefner bandwagon for some time, this is a great opportunity to jump back on.

Soft Metals - Lenses: Soft Metals brings up the rear with Lenses, a sophomore effort that I'm really enjoying so far in terms of indie electronic stuff. Similarly to the new Pet Shop Boys album, nothing significant jumps out at me yet, but it also does the trick in terms of what I'm looking for in this genre. Definitely worth a listen.

Other interesting releases this week that are of note:

* David Lynch - The Big Dream
* Frank Black - Oddballs

J Mascis Covers Mazzy Star, and New Mazzy Star

Vegan shoe manufacturers Keep have just released a special Dinosaur Jr edition shoe. They’re purple (of course) and have a design mirroring J Mascis’ guitar strap on the back. As far as collector shoes go, they’re pretty rad. You can get them in a limited run of 360 for $75 a pop, with proceeds to benefit the humanitarian projects of Amma. Even cooler is the shoe comes with a picture disc featuring J Mascis covering Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You.” It sounds like it would be a gigantic clash of styles and more of a novelty hit than anything else, but it’s a completely faithful cover almost as striking as the original. Obviously J’s voice doesn’t quite compare to Hope Sandoval’s, but it’s a song every 90s viewer of “Alternative Nation” needs to hear. Check out a stream of "Fade Into You" over at Pitchfork.

In other Mazzy Star news, the band just announced the release of their first album in 17 years (17? Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck!). Seasons of Your Day will be released September 24 on their own Rhymes of an Hour label. This adds to a September release schedule that may destroy me financially, but this may have to be done. You can hear the first single, “California,” below. It’s breathtaking. Tour dates for Mazzy Star should be announced soon. Fingers crossed it’ll be a co-headlining tour with Dino Jr!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Free Caitlin Rose Live Session

Caitlin Rose's new album from this year is another winner, and Noisetrade, best known for offering up free music that's awesome, has started up their own Daytrotter-esque series. Caitlin Rose is offering up the inaugural entry in this series, and it's absolutely worth a listen.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Someone's Making a Documentary about Mojo Nixon?!??!!?!?!?

I never would have thought of the possibility of a Mojo Nixon documentary, but now that one is on its way, I can't think of anything else. The politically charged and always hilarious hillbilly punk cult icon, who sang such classics as "Tie My Pecker to My Leg" and "Debbie Gibson is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child" will be the subject of The Mojo Manifesto in 2014. Freedom Records & Films released a two-minute teaser for the film. Right now there is a website for the film with the promise of a Kickstarter to come shortly. To keep updated on the progress of this project, "like" them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. Make sure to check out the preview at the official website for The Mojo Manifesto, and for more info on Mojo, check out his website.

Best Music of the Second Quarter 2013

As I'm prone to do four or so times a year, I like to highlight some of the best music to come out in recent months. While I was really high on the first quarter of the year, the spring season of releases honestly left quite a bit to be desired. While we got a great song out of Daft Punk's "Get Lucky," I feel as if it's been slim pickings on the music front as of late. Even if the new Jay-Z and Kanye albums are interesting, that doesn't necessarily mean I rank them as great, after all.

With that said, some highlights:

* Allison Weiss - Making It Up: I'll usually give any female-fronted alt-rock a listen, and Allison Weiss is a total 90s power-pop throwback. She's toured with Jenny Owen Youngs, which makes sense, and she makes some of the catchiest songs I've heard in some time. If you're a fan of Fountains of Wayne, or Veruca Salt, or excellent guitar-based rock with a female singer (or heck, even a good singer), you're not going to do much better than this. An early favorite to be near the top of my year-end list, for sure.

* !!! - Thr!!!er: I've loved !!! for some time, and while their more recent album didn't wow me, Thr!!!ler is a step in a great direction for them, in my mind. It's great, groovy dance-worthy rock with more than a few hooks that stay stuck in my head for days and days and days.

* Portugal. The Man - Evil Friends: Portugal. The Man is exactly the type of band Spotify is made for, I think. I've never really liked a lot of what they did, it felt like alt-rock that wasn't going anywhere for me, but in a slow new release week, I added their new album and fell in love. "Creep in a T-Shirt" in particular is super-catchy, and the rest of the album has a lot of staying power. If this is a band that needs a breakthrough, this might be it for them.

* Jason Isbell - Southeastern: Of the albums on this list, this was almost certainly the most anticipated for me, and I'm extremely glad I got to hear it. It's great folky/rootsy music, just the right balance between the slower stuff and more rock-oriented stuff. Easily my favorite thing Isbell has done so far, and it's absolutely worth a listen if this is your genre.

* Aoife O'Donovan - Fossils: Coming out of nowhere for me was this solo debut from Aoife O'Donovan. It's a great folky Americana album, and only when I was doing a little research for this post did I realize that she is the lead singer of one of my favorite bluegrass groups, Crooked Still. Thus, it makes sense that this album is so good. It's got the perfect mood, the melodies are beautiful, and O'Donovan has a great voice. Highly recommended.

Friday, July 12, 2013

The Julie Ruin - "Oh Come On"

Kathleen Hanna’s return to music is well on its way with the release of her new band’s, The Julie Ruin, first video for “Oh Come On.” It’s been 9 long years since Le Tigre released an album (17 for Bikini Kill, but who’s counting) which was caused by Hanna’s struggle with Lyme disease. For The Julie Ruin, Hanna reunites with Bikini Kill bassist Kathi Wilcox, which sets the tone for the album. That’s not to say you should expect the in your face edge of “Rebel Girl.” The Julie Ruin perfectly combine both Bikini Kill and Le Tigre. In other words, they sound like Bikini Kill reimagined as a party band. Hanna is extremely expressive with her vocals and is having a blast with her comeback. Run Fast is quickly rocketing to the top of my must buy records in an already stacked September.

Check out The Julie Ruin’s website here. Run Fast is due out on September 3 on the band’s own TJR Records label, with distribution by Dischord. They have some tour dates coming up, so check them out after the video.
Sep 03             BOWERY BALLROOM         NEW YORK, NY
Sep 05             UNION TRANSFER              PHILADELPHIA, PA
Sep 07             BLACK CAT                       WASHINGTON, DC
Sep 12             TBA FESTIVAL                   PORTLAND, OR
Sep 15             NEUMO'S                          SEATTLE, WA
Sep 17             SLIMS                              SAN FRANCISCO, CA
Sep 19             THE ECHO                        LOS ANGELES, CA
Sep 22             IRENIC                             SAN DIEGO, CA
Nov 08            FUN FUN FUN FEST            AUSTIN, TX  
Nov 09            FUN FUN FUN FEST            AUSTIN, TX  
Nov 10            FUN FUN FUN FEST            AUSTIN, TX

New Mike D Music!

It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything from any of the Beastie Boys, so forgive me if I freak out a bit that MIKE D JUST RELEASED A NEW SONG! “Humberto Vs the New Reactionaries (Christine and the Queens Remix)” was recorded for Kenzo’s Spring/Summer 2014 fashion show, which isn’t exactly a very punk reason to record music, but I’m 100% ok with anything I get from Mike D. It’s a 10 minute epic that was designed to update American hardcore. At first I didn’t get it, as it’s very electronic, but after a few minutes it just clicked. It’s American hardcore for the 21st century, complete with guitars and electronica blended together perfectly. Astute Beastie Boys fans will recognize the New Reactionaries’ name from  "Too Many Rappers (New Reactionaries Version)” on Hot Sauce Committee Part Two. It’s obviously not a Beastie Boys song, but it makes me desperate for whatever he or Ad Rock have coming up next.

Check out "Humberto Vs the New Reactionaries (Christine and the Queens Remix)" below via Soundcloud. Hopefully this is just the start.

Forgotten Fridays: BS 2000 - Simply Mortified

Forgotten Fridays is a weekly 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. Once a week we go back and remind you, and help decide if they were any good.

BS 2000 was a side project of Ad Rock of the Beastie Boys and Amery Smith, aka AWOL.Simply Mortified was their third release, and was also the final release from the Beastie Boys’ vanity record label, Grand Royal records. Since they lived on opposite coasts, the two members would take pieces of songs they had been working on and pass them back and forth. What you get is a fun record that sounds very little like a Beastie Boys project. It’s very lo-fi and synth-heavy. Cute would be an accurate description. While it doesn’t feel like it should be taken all that seriously, it’s hardly a novelty release. “Sick for a Reason” rails against former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani. “Boogie Bored” sounds like old school Beastie’s thrash punk, but put through an 8-bit video game. The two stand-out tracks, “The Side to Side” and “The Scrappy,” are Casio keyboard dance jams.
Simply Mortified is not a great album by any means. But it’s an absolute blast that harkens back to simpler times, when the Beastie Boys were a party band, while still keeping their trademark political beliefs. It’s a must-have for any Beastie Boys die hard.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Speedy Ortiz - Major Arcana

I’m pretty sure we’ll lose our music blog license if we don’t review the latest from Western Massachusetts Speedy Ortiz. The blogosphere has been going nuts this week over this album. So far it has received universal praise for being one of the top releases of the week.

Major Arcana has an incredibly 90s indie rock sound. I hate making the comparisons because they are so easy to make, but there’s really no getting around it. They sound like Liz Phair formed a supergroup with members of Pavement and Dinosaur Jr. You get all the noise, quirky instrumentation, loud-quiet-loud moments, and aggression you would expect with this configuration, but with one huge difference: this record is fun. The pop sensibilities running behind everything is what truly connects it all and makes it unique. The opening track, “Pioneer Spine,” starts like an homage to Exile In Guyville and slowly starts snowballing with force until it erupts into chaos out of nowhere, all the while singer Sadie Dupuis doesn’t maintains a constant tone. If anything, she starts bringing more melody into the track. “Tiger Tank” begins with a bluster and turns into power pop not unlike Velocity Girl. Closer “MKVI” runs at an epic 8 minutes and could almost pass as “Teenage Riot”s long-lost cousin, with guitars that are somehow both plodding and swirling before falling apart towards the end.

I can’t seem to find an official website for them, but Speedy Ortiz does have a Facebook, Bandcamp, and Livejournal (just to prove how 90s their influences are). Check out their tour dates and a video for “Tiger Tank” below.

07/11 – Detroit, MI @ Magic Stick
07/12 – Kalamazoo, MI @ Milhouse
07/13 - Chicago, IL @ Coach House
07/14 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cause Bar
07/15 – St. Louis, MO @ Melt
07/16 – Kansas City, MO @ Czar Bar
07/17 – Omaha, NE @ The West Wing
07/18 – Denver, CO @ UMS Festival
07/19 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Salt Haus
07/20 – Boise, ID @ The Red Room
07/21 – Portland, OR @ Habesha
07/22 – Olympia, WA @ Hot Tub House
07/23 – Seattle, WA @ The Comet
07/25 – San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
07/26 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Bar
07/27 - Los Angeles, CA @ Pehrspace
07/28 – San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar
07/29 – Phoenix, AZ @ Last Exit Live
07/31 – Oklahoma City, OK @ The Conservatory
08/01 – Denton, TX @ J&J’s Pizza

08/02 – Austin, TX @ Mohawk

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Newport Folk Festival 2013 - The If It's Too Loud... Guide

Last weekend the schedule for the 2013 Newport Folk Festival was finally released. As always there are major decisions to be made (Feist vs The Mountain Goats? Jason Isbell vs Father John Misty?), and we're here to help guide you. Of course, no matter how well I plan my schedule in advance, I always end up missing half of one band's set and another's entirely. This is merely a suggestion as to how to spend your day.

Fort Stage, 2:30-3:15
Kingsley Flood

Fort Stage, 3:35-4:40
JD McPherson

Harbor Stage, 4:45-5:40
The Mountain Goats

Quad Stage, 6:10-7:05
John McCauley

Fort Stage, 6:30-7:45
Old Crow Medicine Show

Quad Stage, 11:45-12:45
Hurray for the Riff Raff

Harbor Stage, 1:35-2:30

Quad Stage, 2:30-3:30
Shovels & Rope

Harbor Stage, 4:15-5:15
Jason Isbell

Harbor Stage, 5:40-6:40
Justin Townes Earle

Fort Stage, 6:15-7:30
The Avett Brothers

Quad Stage 11:45-12:45
Cold Specks

Quad Stage, 1:10-2:10
Spirit Family Reunion

Fort Stage, 1:55-2:55
Ramblin' Jack Elliott

Harbor Stage, 4:20-5:20
Beth Orton

Quad Stage, 5:25-6:25
Andrew Bird

Fort Stage, 6:15-7:30