Thursday, April 30, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for April 28

This is the week we've been waiting for.

Heather Maloney - Making Me Break: I've been a fan of Heather Maloney for a while now. A Northampton singer-songwriter, she was on the more rootsy/folksy side of things, and this album really has the chance of being a breakout for her. The closest thing I can compare the maturity and sound advances of this album is how I felt about Amanda Shires's most recent album. It keeps the same tone while really feeling like a strong step forward. I knew I'd like this, but on first listen? I think I love it. Highly recommended, arguably the release of the week.

Mew - +/-: Mew is not a band I have a lot of familiarity with, and this is their first album in around 6 years. I think I had always put them in with post-rock bands or other strange stuff from Northern Europe, but wow was I wrong. It turns out Mew is actually a really great listen with some straightforward, sometimes complex, often hooky rock music that fits in well with the current indie landscape. Sometimes the songs feel a little too epic for my liking, but if that's my only complaint on first listen, I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing. Definitely worth a listen.

Brown Bird - Axis Mundi: We've talked about Brown Bird a lot here, and this is the band's final proper album following the passing of David Lamb following his battle with leukemia. It's difficult-to-impossible to not listen to this with the shadow of the illness and death surrounding it, and it's just as difficult to not listen with the idea of what might have been stalking the shadows, but as a piece of art and a farewell letter of sorts, there's a lot to take in here. It's not easy to process, for sure, but as the endpoint for one of our favorite bands here, there's also a lot to like. I'm definitely looking forward to spending more time with this, as the evolution of this band was always interesting and this album is ultimately no different.

Sofia Talvik - Big Sky Country: Sofia Talvik is one of those early Amie Street finds that I've ended up really being a big fan of. A Sweish singer-songwriter heavily influenced by Americana, her new album is probably the most American rootsy one she's done yet, and it goes down that road without losing some of what has made me a fan of hers to start. I can't stress enough how much Talvik deserves more attention, and if you're into a lot of what we share here, she's worth some of your time. It's a great listen.

Blur - The Magic Whip: Blur's first album in 12 years reunites Damon Albarn with Graham Coxon, but don't assume that this is a return to their rocking Britpop ways. This ultimately has more in common with Albarn's numerous non-Blur projects than anything Blur-esque, with a few exceptions here and there. For someone like me, who loved 13 and was (like everyone else) into "Song 2," I don't feel like this has much to offer me on a whole. If you're a hardcore Blur fan, you may very well disagree, though, but this one was a disappointment for me. Really kind of dull.

10,000 Maniacs - Twice Told Tales: So I'm not even sure if 10,000 Maniacs have any original members left, and that Natalie Merchant left the band over 20 years ago is stunning in and of itself, but this is a new album from the band that is a lot of traditional folk songs and, in the surprise of the week, it's pretty good. In a way, it kind of feels like a paint by numbers sort of thing, where we're just inserting a group of musicians to perform traditional songs, but some of the "classic" Maniacs sound does come through at times. This is far from essential, but it's probably worth a listen if you have any curiosity.

Everclear - Black is the New Black: Okay, 1990s alt-rock, it's really time to hang it up now.

The Weepies - Sirens: The Weepies haven't released a new album in some time, so Sirens is a welcome return. The duo sound older, which is...weird to say, I think, but that's just the feel I get. The new album is solid, and has a lot of positives going for it (yes, even the Tom Petty cover), but I struggle to place where it sits. Dark doesn't work right, so it's something else. Regardless, it's something good, and I'm hoping that fans of The Civil Wars find this band now and give them the love they deserve.

Braids - Deep in the Iris: I loved this album so much, Ken sent it over and knew it would be right down my alley. Turns out their previous album, Flourish/Perish, is an album I loved from back in the early days of the blog. The good news is that this continues to be interesting, sometimes challenging/difficult, electronic indie music. I didn't get the same immediate vibe from this that I got from their last album, but it's still really great on a whole. Worth a listen.

Raekwon - Fly International Luxurious Art: Raekwon of Wu-Tang is back with a solo album. Is it good? Yes. Is it grossly overshadowed by more recent rap efforts that feel more current and modern? Probably. A lot of what's great about this is more the guest stars he's still able to call in, although there are plenty of solid moments in the album overall. It's just hard to get excited about this one when, say, you're still trying to wrap your brain around Kendrick Lamar.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Love Love - "I Like You Weird"

Love Love is the latest project from Boston based singer-songwriters Chris Toppin and Jefferson Davis Riordan. After her time in Fuzzy ended, Toppin took 10 years off to raise her kids. After the two met, they began working on music together, and Love Love was born.

With two gifted songwriters, Love Love's songs are tight, poppy showcases of Americana. Their latest video, "I Like You Weird" from their EP released back in September, features Riordan on vocals with Toppin singing back up. It starts off simply enough with a basic guitar/bass/drums mix, and then slowly becomes more lush as extra instruments get added. It's an ideal blend of the mid 90s Boston scene and the contemporary country/folk revival.

You can check out the video for "I Like You Weird" below. For more information on Love Love, you can head over to their website or Bandcamp. Their debut full length is due out in May. If you're in the Boston area, you can see them at The Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain on May 6 or their absolutely stacked record release party on May 30 at The Lizard Lounge in Cambridge with Tanya Donelly,The Needy Sons (aka Bill Janovitz's bar band), and Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Torres - "Cowboy Guilt"

Photo by Shawn Brackbill
We're a week away from the new album from Torres, and this new song has me even more excited for the release. "Cowboy Guilt" is pure indie pop bliss with just enough quirk to keep it interesting. Torres (aka Mackenzie Scott) has grown incredibly as a songwriter between her first and now second albums. She has a new sense of confidence and her vocals are absolutely amazing on this track. The closest artists to compare her to (more as a point of reference would be PJ Harvey or her former tour mate Lady Lamb. "Cowboy Guilt" is pretty much guaranteed to be stuck in your brain all day, which you'll thank us for.

Sprinter is due out May 4 on Partisan Records. Check out her website here, and her tour also starts on May 4. The dates are below.

Mon. May 4 - Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River Ballroom *
Wed. May 6 - Nashville, TN @ The Stone Fox @
Fri. May 8 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada @
Sat. May 9 - Austin, TX @ The Mohawk @
Mon. May 11 - Scottsdale, AZ @ Pub Rock Live @
Tue. May 12 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo @
Wed. May 13 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom Of The Hill @
Fri. May 15 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge @
Sat. May 16 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza @
Sun. May 17 - Vancouver, BC @ Electric Owl
Wed. May 20 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry
Thu. May 21 - Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle @
Fri. May 22 - Detroit, MI @ UFO Factory @
Sat. May 23 - Toronto, ON @ The Garrison @
Wed. May 27 - Brooklyn, NY @ Baby's All Right @
Sun. May 31 – Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound
Thu. June 25 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott
Fri. June 26 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
Sat. June 27 - Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
Sun. June 28 - Washington, D.C. @ DC9
Tue. June 30 - Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
Wed. July 1 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Thu. July 2 - Chattanooga, TN @ Rhythm & Brews
Fri. Sep. 4 – Sun. Sep. 6 – Dorset, UK @ End of the Road Festival
* with Jenny Lewis
@ with Aero Flynn

Monday, April 27, 2015

Smokey - "How Far Will You Go...?"

Photo courtesy of John Condon
Smokey should have been huge. In 1973, John "Smokey" Condon moved from Baltimore (where he partied with John Waters as a teenager) to Los Angeles. There he met with EJ Emmons, who was just starting out as a record producer. Together they formed Smokey. In 1974, they released their first single, "Leather." While most record company executives agreed that it was really, they felt that it couldn't be released since it was exuberantly openly gay. Since Condon had marched after the Stonewall Riots, he wasn't about to change for anyone, so they formed S&M Records to self release their music. Their single "How Far Will You Go...?" features James Williamson right after recording Raw Power with Iggy & the Stooges. The live band featured Randy Rhoads (yes, that Randy Rhoads from Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne). With that kind of pedigree, you should know this. And finally, 40 years after the fact, you will get a chance to.

How Far Will You Go?: The S&M Recordings, 1973-81 is due out June 23 on Chapter Music. You can preorder it here, and listen to the title track, "How Far Will You Go...?" below.

Friday, April 24, 2015

First Listen, Part Two: New Releases for April 21

And we're back with the rest of this week's new release slate!

Mavis Staples - Your Good Fortune: Mavis Staples is a legend in her own right, and this quick hit EP is a great reminder/introduction into why. A good soulful gospel quick hit, it may not be your favorite thing she's done, but it's still a worthwhile listen.

Passion Pit - Kindred: Passion Pit goes back to basics somewhat with this third album. The falsetto is back, the electronica more pronounced, and, while it still feels more mainstream than their debut, it's still strange enough to feel like a return to form. In a way, they feel a lot more like Washed Out than I expected. Otherwise, though, if you were a fan of the first album and couldn't quite get into the second, this one is something you should really give a shot.

Built to Spill - Untethered Moon: Why am I not chomping at the bit for new Built to Spill music all the time? This album continues the consistently great stuff the band has put out over time, and it's hard to believe it's been six years since a new album from the group. I can't point to individual songs yet, but as a whole, this album is just really solid and a must-listen for fans of the band. Well done.

Jimbo Mathus - Blue Healer: It's difficult to separate Jimbo Mathus from the Squirrel Nut Zippers, even though he has a very well-regarded musical career outside of the jazz-swing revival of the 1990s. Blue Healer is a bit confusing on first listen, having some rock elements to go along with what we've expected from the bluesman, including songs that sound like they were written by Jim Steinman, which is just more confusing. It's not a bad album, but it's definitely a weird one that struggles to be defined.

Great Lake Swimmers - A Forest of Arms: Great Lake Swimmers are a band I struggle with on a whole. They hit my sweet spot with Lost Channels, and, much like the airy quality of their music, they've slowly been drifting out of my wheelhouse. I want to love what I'm hearing, but it's almost as if many parts are becoming a little too overdone and a back to basics mentality would be of value. There are highlights in the album, especially in the first half, but what I want and what I'm getting ultimately end up being different things here.

Peach Kelli Pop - III: I should love Peach Kelli Pop, but I feel like it's almost too cute, if that makes any sense. I don't know why it hits that line for me, especially considering the op-punk vibe that is reminiscent of so many other things I love. Still, we've featured their stuff here before and I think you'll know very quickly whether it's for you. At a 20 minute runtime, as well, there's not a huge investment to worry about, either.

Miniboone - Bad Sports: Ken sent this one over, I don't really know how to explain them. It's indie rock, it's got a lot of quirk, but has a tendency to be all over the place. It's still pretty charming, and has a few places to groove with, but I can't say I can get much from it on first listen. This one should be given some time for how interesting it is, and it might just end up being a grower.

Also out this week:

* Beauty Pill - Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Total Babes - "Circling"

Total Babes is a project from Jayson Gerycz of Cloud Nothings with Christopher Brown, his bandmate in Swindlella, as an outlet for pop songs that didn't quite fit into the noise of that band. "Circling," from their second album Heydays, is definitely pop but keeps a lot of the noise intact. It's pop in the way that Archers of Loaf or Parquet Courts are pop. It's funky and has melody, but there is still some noise and quirks kicking around, particularly with the be bop sax from Cloud Nothing's Dylan Baldi. "Circling" is just a rambunctious, fun time. 

Heydays is due out on May 18 on Wichita Records. You can listen to "Circling" below. Also, make sure you "like" Total Babes on Facebook. They also have some dates coming up with Sebadoh. Make sure to look for those below.

TUE 6/02 - CLEVELAND, OH @ Grog Shop
WED 6/03 - PITTSBURGH, PA @ Brillobox or Club Cafe 
THU 6/04 - BUFFALO, NY @ Mohawk Place 
FRI 6/05 - HAMDEN, CT @ Ballroom 
SAT 6/06 - PAWTUCKET, RI @ The Met

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for April 21

This is a ridiculously busy new release week, so let's just go through what we can today, and we'll get to the rest tomorrow.

The Ballroom Thieves - The Wolf in the Doorway: Ken sent this over to me saying he felt it was too Lumineers for his taste, but I can't really agree. Yes, it's got hints of the sort of strident folk/rock hybrids that have been so pervasive in the music culture as of late, but the only real negative thing I can say about this debut is that they don't do enough to set themselves apart. They come across a lot like The Wind and the Wave without being so aggressive, or perhaps a less interesting Civil Wars, and, while being good is fine and all, it misses the mark in possibly being great on first listen. Definitely take a flyer on this, though, it may have a lot of growth potential.

They Might Be Giants - Glean: I'm perfectly within the wheelhouse of who should be a fan of TMBG. Still, maybe I'm just a little too young to have really remembered when Flood was a big deal, or a little too old to have rediscovered them at the right time. Glean, to me, sounds like a TMBG album in all its awkward glory. It has songs I like, and songs that didn't leave any impression on me. That's largely how I've felt about everything I've listened to with them over the years, and there's nothing wrong with the music equivalent of warm blankets. Worth a listen if you're a fan, probably won't change your mind if you're not.

Turbo Fruits - No Control: Retro sounds are in right now, too, and this is the first Turbo Fruits album I've heard and I'm shocked at how 80s rock (you know, the kind that wasn't all synth and/or reverb) it is at times. It's really there in terms of scratching that particular itch I didn't know I had, and while I could nitpick here and there, this is overall a fairly fun album overall and worth a turn in your new release rotation.

Alabama Shakes - Sound and Color: I know that Alabama Shakes was the Great New Thing a couple years ago, but I could never really get into them. Not sure what it was, perhaps it was a little too bluesy for my liking. The new album, though? Super ambitious, doesn't really stick to any specific genre, and then ends up being really great as a result. It's absolutely one of the most musically interesting albums I've heard this year, and if it has some staying power, might end up being one of my favorites. This is an absolutely mandatory listen this week - it might not do anything for you, but it deserves your time for sure.

Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers - Love Wild Lost: I got into Nicki Bluhm when her last album came out, and it's the sort of accessible roots stuff I like. The new album feels a little more polished than their other efforts, and that's not always a bad thing here. Overall, no songs jump out at me just yet (especially in a crowded release week), but this is still a good effort from a group that deserves more attention than they've been getting.

The Charlatans - Modern Nature: On first listen, this album really felt like a bit of a downer. Reading up a bit afterward, I then learned that the band lost their drummer to brain cancer, which is probably why the first album since that lost has such a somber tone. I feel like I'm always confusing this band with another group, though, and that confusion isn't entirely changed with this album, either. This is probably a more complicated album than one listen can ultimately offer, on a whole.

Speedy Ortiz - Foil Deer: I'm not sure we've written more about many bands other than Speedy Ortiz. A favorite here, I'm continually surprised as their consistency and how fully-formed they've been since their first official releases. The new album is just as high-quality as everything else they've put out; a great blend of 90s-style indie/alt-rock with some modern sensibilities, and, at this point, I'm just waiting impatiently for them to catch fire everywhere else so that they can enjoy the fame and riches they deserve. Easily one of the best albums of this week, plenty of quality songs on the album (I'm partial to "Puffer" right now), and it's just a great listen. Highly recommended.

Joywave - How Do You Feel Now: I don't remember how Joywave ended up on my radar, but in terms of fun albums so far, this one is pretty great. It's not a party record or an electro record, but more like an indie electro-rock record with clear influences from all those areas. Is it breaking any new ground? No, but this is the type of album I know I personally just keep putting on when I'm looking for something to groove to. Absolutely worth your time this week.

Lili K - Ruby: Those of a certain age will remember when Joss Stone hit the scene. Much of it was due to her version of "Fell in Love With a Girl" by The White Stripes, but much of it was also because of her take on the more jazzy/soul stuff that hit the popular radio during that time. I see Lili K in a similar light, fairly or not, as a sort of R&B singer that's hitting at a really specific time and could probably catch fire in the right areas. I'll be honest - this definitely isn't for me, but if the jazz or jazzy-R&B music hits you in the right spot, you should give this a listen.

We'll have the rest of the new releases tomorrow, including the new Mavis Staples EP, Passion Pit, Great Lake Swimmers, Built to Spill, and more.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

liè - Consent

lié are one of those bands you have never heard anything like it before, and you have no idea how that is possible. Hailing out of Vancouver, BC, I only heard about them because they were opening for The Dead Milkmen on a recent West Coast tour. It's dark gothic heavy punk. Imagine straight edge hardcore style punk mixed in with European goth new wave, but it a really melodic way. It's not goth in a "Let's put bats on our merch and wear black eyeliner" way, but just dark. I can't call it catchy, but it's not meant to be. lié take all these elements that have never been mixed together, and especially never like this. It's heavy and groovy all at once. "Saved" just barrels in at this breakneck pace with a chanting call and response gang vocals. If you like any kind of music that is heavy or dark, this will be for you. The band also just premiered a new video for "Sorry," which is just this crazy discordant mindfuck of a song. This is a perfect album.

Consent is available now via lié's Bandcamp. You can also "like" them on Facebook. Watch the video for "Sorry" below. For some upcoming West Coast tour dates, go here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Dead Milkmen - "Prisoner's Cinema"

This was a pleasant surprise this morning. I woke up to a Spotify notification for a brand new Dead Milkmen song! Weathervane Music has an online documentary series where they have musicians come in and record a song in 2 days. The Dead Milkmen are featured in the upcoming season, which means there's a new Dead Milkmen song. "Prisoner's Cinema" is probably the closest that they'll ever come to an adult contemporary song, complete with a chorus sung by what sounds like a female folk trio. Of course, knowing the Dead Milkmen, this just makes the song that much more political and dark. It's a call to arms for a fair wage and worker's rights, which is a pretty perfect topic for Rodney Anonymous.

You can hear "Prisoner's Cinema" below. To download a free copy, head over to Weathervane Music's Bandcamp. As always, for more info on The Dead Milkmen, go to

Monday, April 20, 2015

Live Shows: Neutral Milk Hotel, Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, RI 4/19/15

This is the one show I've been the most nervous for. Like many people, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea is one of my most beloved and cherished albums. Reunion shows can be dicey, with many being obvious cash grabs by bands looking for a quick nostalgia payday, and just walking through the hits. Because of this (and my hatred of the Orpheum Theater in Boston), I had missed their first run of dates. Since this appears to be their final run, I had to suck it up and head down to Providence.

I'm thrilled to say I had no reason to be nervous. Holy shit was this an amazing show. It was literally everything I could have hoped for as far a a reunion goes. The band, including the notoriously performance shy singer Jeff Mangum, seemed genuinely thrilled to be there. As the other members went through one of the greatest assortments of instruments I've ever seen on a stage (and the only time I've ever seen a banjo played with a bow and used as a noise instrument), they would sing along to the songs with as much gusto as the audience while waiting for their next part to come up. It was truly a celebration of the music. The payday was nice, I'm sure, but they were just ecstatic to be back at it. 

The setlist was split between both On Avery Island and In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, which seemed surprising since Aeroplane is so widely beloved while On Avery Island is liked but not held in anywhere near the same regard. Live, the On Avery Island songs completely stood up on their own, particularly "Song Against Sex." If you had told me that I would have been riveted for an extended song Avery stretch ("Song Against Sex," "A Baby for Pree/Glow Into You") I never would have believed it. I was wrong. Absolute highlights of the set were "Holland, 1945," "King of Carrot Flowers" (all 3 parts in a row!), and the instrumental "[untitled]." 

Also, wow was that a young crowd. I'd be willing to wager that the majority were still in diapers, if even born, back when Aeroplane came out in 1998. You want to know how young they were? There was a mini mosh pit during "The King of Carrot Flowers, Parts II & III." I'm pretty sure this was the first show any of them had been to that cameras were banned. Many seemed lost without being able to take a selfie with the stage in the background during "Two Headed Boy." [Gets off old man soapbox]

If there are any remaining dates coming up in your area, you're going to need to see this. Head over to their website to check. I'm hoping this won't be it, but will Mangum you never know.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Green River Festival Has a Smaller, Mini Version

As if the organizers of the Green River Festival weren't absurdly busy enough putting together one of the best line ups we've seen in years (Steve Earle! Lydia Loveless! J Mascis! Polaris!), they've announced a brand new one day mini-festival called Amourasaurus! Basically, they took a bunch of bands that they wanted for Green River but couldn't book, and booked them for August 30 instead. Amourasaurus will feature Lake Street Dive, JD McPherson, Parsonsfield, Winterpills, and And the Kids. It's perfect if you've already made plans for the weekend of July 10-12, or just want to keep the fun going. 

The inaugural Amourasaurus will take place August 30 at Pines Theater at Look Park, Florence, MA. You can get more details and tickets here. Today is also the final day for Early Bird tickets for this year's Green River Festival. You know you're going to want to go, so you should just suck it up and buy them now.

Sally Dige - "Hard to Please"

If you love the early 80s synth scene, you're in luck. Sally Dige is truly a disciple. She recently released the (fairly NSFW) new video for the title track of her upcoming album, Hard to Please. The song and clip would have fit right in with anything shown on the early days of MTV or 120 Minutes. It's a cross between bands like early Depeche Mode and Workforce with a hint of Madonna thrown in. Dige gives off the vibe of a true performance artist turned musician, and I mean that as a compliment. If she was around in the 80s, I'm sure she would have been named in The Dead Milkmen's "Instant Club Hit (You'll Dance to Anything)."

Sally Dige's new album, Hard to Please, is due out May 11 on Night School Records. It can be pre-ordered here. You can watch the video for "Hard to Please" below. Like Sally Dige on Facebook, and/or follow her on Twitter.

Clementine - Crooked Brain

Minneapolis's music scene is stuck in the very best parts of the 90s. It's pretty amazing that the scene keeps churning out bands that are heavily influenced by that decade but still sound modern. The latest is Clementine with their recently released album Crooked Brain. Their sound is reminiscent of bands like Spiritualized and Slint, but a little more poppy. "Blood Diamonds" borrows a lot from Spiderland, with it's spoken/shouted word parts. "Float" might be my favorite, reminding me quite a bit of Pablo Honey and The Bends era Radiohead. Basically, if you went to the 1998 Radiohead/Spiritualized tour, you'll be very happy with this album. "The Leaves Are Changing Brown" is one of the most unexpected and fantastic ballads I've heard in years. With the majority of the album packing a much stronger punch, this track is just nuanced enough to stand out.

Crooked Brain (the name is what seems to be an obvious homage to Pavement's Crooked Rain) is available now on Camaraderie Records. You can listen to it/order it on their Bandcamp. To follow the band, "like" their Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for April 14

Much better than last week, for sure, but the gap between the good and not so good is very vast this week.

Ava Luna - Infinite House: I shouldn't really trash this week's release slate and then come around with Ava Luna first, as the album is actually pretty decent if not a little/lot difficult. It reminds me as a good extension of their previous stuff, but it's still not entirely for me, if you get my gist. Worth a listen this week, though, you'll know very quickly if it's your cup of tea.

Kym Warner - Everything That Brought Me Here: One of the best releases of the week is the debut album by Greencards member Kym Warner, basically an instrumental bluegrass affair that is simply beautiful from start to finish. Balances the stark and the full sounds completely, and is just a really pretty record that is surprising to me in how high-quality it ended up being, especially as I tend to trend a little negative on instrumental stuff overall. It's not a classical or newgrass-style thing like recent Chris Thile efforts, but that shouldn't stop you from giving this one a spin. Just excellent.

Spirit Family Reunion - Hands Together: Release of the week, and early favorite for the year so far, is the new release from Spirit Family Reunion. I fell in love with them seeing their opening slot for David Wax Museum back in 2011, and they were definitely a more gritty and less together band then. This new album shows a significant increase in ability and maturity that is impressive from start to finish. Much like David Wax Museum, no one else sounds quite like them, whether they're doing folk standards or their own sort of rootsy folk interpretations of original songs. Simply an essential album for anyone who enjoys a lot of what we recommend on this blog, no question. Make some time for this one, and see them live if they're in your neighborhood. You won't be disappointed.

Calexico - Edge of the Sun: I first learned of Calexico around the time they opened for Wilco on one of their Yankee Hotel Foxtrot tours. I've always enjoyed their output, and this album is no difference, a great mix of Spanish/Mexican-influenced folk rock that just works for me on a lot of levels. This feels like it might have more of an edge to it than others on first listen, but still pretty solid. Give this one a shot.

Kathryn Calder - Kathryn Calder: Kathryn Calder's claim to fame is her work with the New Pornographers, and this is her third solo album. I don't know why I struggle to connect with her solo work, but this album in particular is a very quiet affair that just doesn't work for me in any way. Might just be for fans of hers or for real hardcore New Pornos fans.

Local H - Hey, Killer: I'll come right out and say it - if the Spirit Family Reunion album hadn't come out this week, this would be a runaway favorite album for me, and it wouldn't even be close. A rock solid, heavy, grungy affair that feels new and fresh even when scratching that familiar itch from the mid-1990s. I don't even know how they came out with an album this solid, it's just that good. Is there anything as catchy as "Bound to the Floor?" No, but that's not the point, either. Just listen to it, it's great.

The Wombats - Glitterbug: Like everyone else, The Wombats hit my radar with the great "Let's Dance to Joy Division." The new album is a significant shift for them soundwise, feeling more like a mainstream act than ever before and it's just not a great fit for them. I hate constantly bemoaning bands that radically change their sound, but as you get to the end of this album and begin hearing songs that sound more like classic Wombats, you start to get the idea as to exactly why this doesn't work as a complete album. Give it a spin, you might like it, but you're probably more than likely to wish it was something else.

Also out this week:

* Beth Hart - Better Than Home

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Peach Kelli Pop - "Princess Castle 1987"

Photo by Bekah Cope
With their new album, III, coming out April 21 on Burger Records, Peach Kelli Pop have just released a video for "Princess Castle 1987." The song clocks in at right around 1:30, and is a perfect slice of sugary pop punk that's very light on the punk. The video features all four members of the band dressed in Princess Toadstool dresses, running around Los Angeles looking for a castle (Spoiler alert: They find one!). If "Princess Castle 1987" and the previously discussed "Plastic Love" are any indication, III is going to be a fun as hell release next week.

III will be released April 21 on Burger Records. You can preorder it here, and check out Peach Kelli Pop's Bandcamp here. The video for "Princess Castle 1987" is posted below, along with their current tour dates. 

Peach Kelli Pop - Princess Castle 1987 from Eddie R on Vimeo.

Wed. April 15 - Toronto, ON @ Smiling Buddha

Fri. April 17 - Ottawa, ON @ Gabba Gabba Hey

Sat. April 18 - Montreal, QC @ l'Escogriffe Bar Spectacle

Sun. April 19 - Boston, MA @ TT Bears (Matinee show)

Sun. April 19 - Brooklyn, NY @ Palisades (Night show)

Tue. April 20 - Philadelphia, PA @ Golden Tea House

Wed. April 21 - Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery

Thu. April 22 - Asheville, NC @ Tiger Mountain

Fri. April 23 - Atlanta, GA @ 529

Sat. April 24 - New Orleans, LA @ Siberia

Sun. April 25 - Houston, TX @ House of Creeps

Mon. April 26 - Austin, TX @ Hotel Vegas

Tue. April 27 - Dallas, TX @ Three Links

Wed. April 28 - El Paso, TX @ Monarch

Thu. April 29 - Las Vegas, NV @ Bunkhouse

The Sheila Divine - Fossils From the Future

The Sheila Divine have been fairly active in their reunion recently, releasing a few singles here and there on their Bandcamp. At the very end of March, they released an EP, Fossils From the Future, their first release since 2012's The Things That Once Were. It's starts off a little rocky, with "Weightless" falling into the Nada Surf-esque Adult Contemporary emo doldrums. It's not a bad song, just more of a personal preference kinda thing. The second track, "Indie Rock Ranger," starts to turn it around with a great middle ground of their late 90s scream heavy cuts and their more current, mature sound. This is middle aged alternative power pop at its finest."I Love You Yeah" is more of a power ballad, but goes more in the direction that I prefer The Sheila Divine to go in with their more mellow tracks. They are best when they have more of an edge to their melodic side, which this EP really shows off.

Fossils From the Fire is available now on The Sheila Divine's Bandcamp. They also have some tour dates coming up, and you can see those below.

April 25, Sportsmen's Tavern, Buffalo, NY
May 3, Harvard Square Mayfair, Cambridge, MA (free show!)
June 19, The Sinclair, Cambridge,MA

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Book Review: Kim Gordon - Girl In a Band: A Memoir

Let's just get this out of the way: Kim Gordon's memoir deals with her divorce from husband and bandmate Thurston Moore quite extensively. It was a long, drawn out process, with issues dating way back further than any of us would have guessed or assumed. It would be easy to see someone criticizing this as harping on the divorce or bashing Thurston, but, as someone who has been through one of his own, it's nearly impossible to discuss without coming across as bitter and angry even if you have come to the point of understanding and acceptance. Plus, she was with him for the entire run of Sonic Youth, so it's pretty much impossible to not bring up. As someone who has always idolized Sonic Youth, it's a hard thing to accept any of your heroes as flawed, so I'll reserve judgment on the divorce, knowing there are always two sides and assume both were unhappy for a while. However, it is hard to ignore the most damning fact about Thurston: He remained friendly with Courtney Love even after she sucker punched Kathleen Hanna.

I actually owned the book for weeks before I could even try reading it. I felt that I almost shouldn't start it, as if reading it would violate Kim Gordon's privacy. For any Sonic Youth fan, it is beyond a must read. You find out so much about her childhood, growing up with an unstable brother, her past loves (she dated Danny Elfman!), and her involvement in arts, dance, and music. One of the reviews on the cover stated that she writes like she plays, which made me roll my eyes. But it's true. The text is blunt, matter of fact, and somehow poetic at the same time. It doesn't really follow a completely linear path from event to event in perfect order. It is more written almost like a series of essays set up in an almost linear path, but with some bleeding over, repetition, and going back in time. For example, her daughter Coco gets mentioned during Gordon's telling of her X-Girl clothing line. It's brief, so you assume her daughter is almost off limits, until she is brought up in greater detail in a later chapter. 

Girl In a Band is an amazing, intimate look at the life and career or true indie rock royalty. If you think you might want to read it, you'll need to. You can order it on Amazon. Also, she recently did a fantastic episode of Marc Maron's WTF podcast. The two work amazingly together. As always, keep on eye on to keep up to date on what all former SY members are up to.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Brown Bird - "Adolescence"

Every time we get a new track from Brown Bird, I have such mixed emotions. I love having these new songs, but there are a finite number left. There is a sense of sadness with every one, and with "Adolescence" it's really apparent. It's a song about loss and aging, with lyrics like "Lay me down on sacramental ground," which is even more powerful since Dave Lamb, the man singing the lyrics, is gone. Listening to the song at work was a bad move last week, as it's not quite acceptable for a man in his late 30s to be tearing up at work to a song. But it's such a touching and powerful song. It has Brown Bird's trademark Eastern European tinged folk, but it also showcases their hard rock influences much more strongly than anything else they've done. 

Axis Mundi, the final Brown Bird album, is due out April 28 on Supply and Demand Music. You can listen to "Adolescence" below. For more information, and to pre-order the album, head over to their website.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Murder Shoes - "Maybe You Can"

Photo credit: Aaron Fenster
Murder Shoes are described as "surf" in their profile. Maybe this is what surfing sounds like in their hometown of Minneapolis, MN, because this sounds nothing like any surf I've ever heard before. That's a good thing. While they might have a slight surf rock base, they also bring in elements of 60s French pop, indie rock, gothic rockabilly, and just a hint of the shoegaze trend that's been taking over Minnesota lately. "Maybe You Can" showcases Tess Weinberg's haunting vocals being surrounded by this out of control, swirling rock track. It's a bunch of stuff we've all heard before, but never put together like this. It's both familiar and strikingly unique.

Murder Shoes' debut self-titled EP is due out May 1 on Land Ski Records. You can find out more information on their website. You can listen to "Maybe You Can" below, and check out their Bandcamp to pre-order.

Live Shows: Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Iron Horse Music Hall, Northampton, MA 4/9/15

If you were at the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion show at the Iron Horse Music Hall Wednesday night, you would have forgotten that you were in a tiny, half filled club. That's not meant to be a knock on the band at all. When you're a band that appeals mostly to the 30+ crowd, and you're playing a college town on a Wednesday night that just happens to be the last snowy/icy night of an already shit show of a winter, getting anyone to come out is a feat. A JSBX show starts of like any ordinary show does: The band gets up, starts playing a few songs in the way they do off their albums, and that's a show, right? Something starts to happen during any JSBX show. About halfway through, the band hits this insane groove where the entire audience gets completely swept up in what's happening. Jon Spencer turns from rock frontman to blues revival preacher. You would start to wonder if the band was using some of the tricks you hear youth pastors use to work kids in religious frenzies if you weren't already wrapped in one yourself. 

The setlist drew largely from their fantastic new album, Freedom Tower - No Wave Dance Party 2015. They broke out a couple covers, the Beastie Boys' "She's On It" and Dead Boys' "What Love Is" (sung by drummer Judah Bauer), and played some shortened versions of classics like "Sweat" and "2 Kindsa Love." No one cared that the classics were shortened, since at the religious fervor section of the show, not even the biggest die hards could tell if they were playing actual songs or just punked up blues jams. The night wasn't dedicated to all new material, and the encore (which was almost as long as the entire first set) featured their punk anthem "Identify" and the Russell Simins sung "Fuck Shit Up." If this is how tight and wild the first night of their tour was, the rest of the country may not survive. Or will at least have a mini baby boom.

To find out when the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is coming to your town, check out their website. You can also download a live medley that includes "What Love Is" on their Bandcamp