Monday, August 31, 2015

Level & Tyson - "No Fun My Head"

Norway's Level & Tyson have their sophomore album coming out in September, and you can check out one of the fuzz pop band's newest songs now. "No Fun My Head" is a beautiful, noisy burst that combines Psychic Hearts era Thurston Moore with early Superdrag. The whole thing sounds like Sonic Youth deciding to take a swing for the fences and craft a top 40 hit. It wouldn't have made it, of course, but the intent was there. With its swirling, fuzzy as hell guitars, it will be the most 90s song you hear all day even if you play your 90s alternative Spotify playlist all day.

Level & Tyson's new album, Gruesome Twosome, is due out September 25 on DIG! Records. You can listen to "No Fun My Head" below. Also, be sure to check out their website and Facebook to keep up with them.

Song Premiere: John Fatum - "Pounding of the Rain"

We're proud to present the premiere of NYC based singer/songwriter John Fatum's debut single, "Pounding of the Rain." This may be John's debut solo single, but he's been kicking around for a while now as the co-founder of Dala Records and the percussionist for both The Rad Trads and Fatum Brothers. While those bands are much more jazz based, he's going in a much for folky direction for his solo album.

"Pounding of the Rain" is a laid back track, definitely on the more mainstream side of the current folk scene. I don't mean mainstream in a bad way, so maybe accessible is a better term. It has a touch of a Willy Mason vibe, and has the rarity in folk where the vocals and verses are just as compelling as the instrumental parts. It's a truly fully fleshed out song, with impeccable production for an independent musician. It's great to see such as accomplished and seasoned musician branching out in a new direction at such a young age. This album will definitely be one to watch.

"Pounding of the Rain" is sue out on September 4th. For more information on John Fatum, check out John's website, and follow him on Twitter. Listen to "Pounding of the Rain" below.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Laura Stevenson - "Torch Song"

What better way to end a rough week than with new music from Laura Stevenson? 2013's Wheel was one of the only albums to show up on both of our best of the year lists, and with good reason. 2011's "Master of Art" is my absolute favorite song of the century, so we're thrilled she has new music coming out.

The first song we can hear off her new album, "Torch Song," is an absolute blast. She's reaching back a little farther than usual, as this one borrows heavily from bands like The Bangles. It's beyond catchy and charming and is sure to hit all the nostalgia buttons you feel for both 80s alterna-pop and mid-90s power pop. What more can you possibly want?

Laura Stevenson's new album, Cocksure, is due out October 30 on Don Giovanni Records. Head on over to her website for more information. She's also heading out on tour with Matt Pond, another favorite of ours. You'll want to check out that show when it comes to your nearest city. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Mountain Man - "Kingdom Came"

Picture via Facebook
I'm kind of all over the place when it comes to metal. I'm by far from a metalhead, but there is a handful of metal that I absolutely love. If their new song, "Kingdom Came," is any indication, Worcester, MA's Mountain Man might be the rare kind of metal that I end up loving.

It's surprising because Mountain Man (not to be confused with the Vermont folk trio of the same name) edge into the screamo genre, which I hate. What saves them is their edging into the realm of Refused, who I love (new album aside). They seem to have a little more in common with hardcore and punk than traditional metal. A lot of metal is very controlled, with musicians focusing more on showing off than emotion. Mountain Man are the pure controlled chaos and feedback you usually see in indie noise rock from the 90s. "Kingdom Came" also has multiple tempo changes throughout its epic 7 minutes. They might be the Helmet or Quicksand of the new millennium. 

Mountain Man's new album, Rumination, is due out September 22 on End Result Productions. You can listen to "Kingdom Came" below, and be sure to check out Mountain Man's Facebook for more information.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Electric Circus - "You Know I Know"

I'm always amazed by how many great bands keep coming out of Minneapolis. The Electric Circus released their EP back on April 1st, and just debuted their first video from it for "You Know I Know." "You Know I Know is a burst of old fashioned heavy 60s psychedelia. It's more on par with Pink Floyd and the Jimi Hendrix Experience than the lighter hippie stuff that normally gets labelled psychedelic. The heavy organ on the track also reminds me a lot of Iron Butterfly. It's perfect for anyone who likes their jam bands heavy and trippy as balls.

You can check out The Electric Circus' debut EP on their Bandcamp. Make sure to follow them on Facebook since they should have another release in the next couple of weeks. The video for "You Know I Know" is below.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Motorhead - "Sympathy for the Devil"

Photo via Facebook
Motorhead don't usually fit in with what we cover here, but I'm a huge fan, and it's a cover, so why the hell not, right? To close out their upcoming album, Motorhead are covering The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil." It's the most obvious choice for any metal band due to the nature and title of the song. It's kind of almost a cliche at this point. But Motorhead practically invented every cliche in metal and hard rock, so they can rock this all they want. It's exactly what you would expect in Motorhead covering The Stones', which is a great thing. Even if you only want to listen ironically, you'll probably end up loving this song. That is the power of Lemmy.

Bad Magic is due out this Friday, August 28. You can listen to "Sympathy for the Devil" below. Make sure you go to Motorhead's website for tour dates. They are a must-see live.

First Listen: New Releases for August 21

Another quicker-than-normal week as I'm coming off of another trip.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Gardens & Villa
Album: Music for Dogs
Quick Description: Strange, compelling synth rock/art pop.
Why You Should Listen: You reminisce about some of the weirder pieces of the Elephant Six Collective; you commonly say "this album would be great with more keyboard."
Overall Thoughts: I listened to this and thought it was a little weird, but not long afterward I realized how much of it stuck with me and how ambitious the entire listen was. Taken as a whole, it's a great piece. Some of the individual parts are strange, and I wouldn't recommend putting this on shuffle, but for those who enjoy the Full Album Experience, this is really solid and interesting.
Recommendation: As album of the week, it's definitely worth a listen in what's a strange week overall, but it may not be for everyone.

Artist: Drinks
Album: Hermits on Holiday
Quick Description: I honestly have no idea.
Why You Should Listen: I, again, have no idea.
Overall Thoughts: This is a weird one. A collaboration featuring Cate Le Bon, it just doesn't work. It's all over the place, stark without being interesting enough to cover for it, and just fails on all accounts.
Recommendation: Skip this.

Artist: Method Man
Album: The Meth Lab
Quick Description: Latest album from Wu-Tang legend.
Why You Should Listen: Because the Wu-Tang Clan ain't nothin' to... well, you know.
Overall Thoughts: In terms of what we've seen from Wu-Tang alumni as of late, this is on the upper end of quality for those releases. On one hand, it's solid. On the other, it feels a little dated? I haven't kept up with Method Man's releases on a whole, so more significant fans might get more out of this, but for a more casual listener, I enjoyed this.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, especially on a short release week.

Artist: The Sword
Album: High Country
Quick Description: Latest album from a modern heavy metal act.
Why You Should Listen: You feel the need to bring the rawk.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not much of a metal guy, and this album really felt like a looooong 50 minutes. I'm probably not fully equipped to give this the review it ultimately deserves, but if you're not into metal this might be one to avoid.
Recommendation: Be careful.

Artist: Barrance Whitfield and the Savages
Album: Under the Savage Sky
Quick Description: If The Darkness did rockabilly...
Why You Should Listen: ...but a serious take on it would be appealing to you.
Overall Thoughts: I had never heard of Barrance Whitfield before now, and when I mentioned what they sounded like to Ken, he said that they had been around for ages. That this is a serious take makes it even more awesome, and, while it's maybe a little overpolished, it's a fun listen.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth some time, you're bound to find something to love.

Artist: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
Album: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
Quick Description: Brassy, punchy Americana-tinged R&B
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little more fun.
Overall Thoughts: If "S.O.B." isn't getting you to groove in your seat a bit, I'm not sure what to tell you. This is a fun album from start to finish, and one can only hope it becomes a bit of a breakout.
Recommendation: Absolutely add this to your playlists this week.

Artist: Tracy Bonham
Album: Wax & Gold
Quick Description: Fifth album from the Boston rock music elder stateswoman.
Why You Should Listen: You remember songs that weren't "Mother Mother."
Overall Thoughts: I confess to not knowing where Bonham sits in the Boston-area pantheon except that "Mother Mother" was a modest hit and then we all kind of collectively forgot about her. That song was almost 20 years ago, and Bonham hasn't released a ton since then, so this is a welcome surprise even if some of it is a little weird (the first song on the album is not representative). Still, there are some pretty great alt-rock gems strewn throughout the album, so readers of this blog will almost certainly find something to like.
Recommendation: A welcome return of a familiar face, so give it a spin.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Needy Sons - "Too Thin"/"Red Line"

The side project/moderate supergroup featuring Bill Janovitz of Buffalo Tom, Mike Gent of The Gentlemen, and Ed Valauskas of The Gravel Pit already have a new single out. This time around the A-side, "Too Thin," is sung and written by Mike Gent. It's a chilled out, mid-tempo track that's a great foil to Bill Janovitz's contribution, "Red Line." "Red Line" is a much faster, more rockin' song featuring a killer guitar solo. Both songs fit in perfectly with The Needy Sons' straightforward bar band feel. It's great seeing two established musicians and songwriters coming together to just have some fun with music on these songs. Hopefully next month will bring us some more.

You can check out The Needy Sons on Bill Janovitz's Bandcamp. You can also check out his website for all your other Bill Janovitz related needs.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Secret Lover - Secret Lover

Hailing from the greater Worecester, MA area, I'm always a supporter of the local music scene. Unfortunately, most of the Worcester music scene is made up of bad cover bands, bad metal, and Insane Clown Posse fans.

Enter Secret Lover. They're this really hard to define indie band that's part sultry 60s doo wop and crunchy psychedelic noise. I came up with that description and I absolutely hate it. Some of the best ways to describe the band's sound have nothing to do with auditory words. For example, on their Bandcamp they have "graveyard" and "spooked" as tags. And that describes them perfectly. It's both sunny and dark sounding, noisy and beautiful. You need to check them out.

For more information on Secret Lover, check out their Bandcamp and Facebook. Listen to "Sometimes My Wine Becomes My Lover" below.

Friday Freebie: Rayland Baxter - Yellow Eyes Tour EP

We've been pretty gushing in our love for Rayland Baxter's new album, Imaginary Man. In case all that love hasn't been enough to convince you to check it out, Noisetrade is currently offering the Yellow Eyes Tour EP for a free download. On it you'll get "Mr. Rodriguez" and "Yellow Eyes" off of Imaginary Man as well as two songs from his back catalog. It's a perfect primer in case you haven't trusted our immaculate taste yet.

In order to download a free copy of Yellow Eyes Tour EP, go to Noisetrade. Once you realize how fantastic it is, go to Rayland Baxter's website to order your own copy and find out when he'll be coming to a town near you.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Peaches featuring Kim Gordon - "Close Up"

Ever since she mentioned it on Marc Maron's WTF podcast back in March, I've been anxiously waiting to hear Kim Gordon's collaboration with Peaches. It's finally out in the form of the video for "Close Up." The song "Close Up" is nearly a duet between the two. Gordon mostly handles the chorus along with a little more, while the verses are Peaches' duty. The song is a bit more minimal than I would have expected, since usually Gordon is associated with walls of noise. The video shows Peaches as a wrestler battling the wrestlers of Lucha VaVoom and Gordon as her disinterested and annoyed manager. It also has some poopy humor that you probably wouldn't want co-workers seeing you watch, so NSFW. Also, I never thought I'd type "Kim Gordon" and "wrestling" in the same sentence.

Peaches' new album, Rub, is due out September 25 on I U She. Check out her website for more information.

Dead Leaf Echo - "Lemonheart"

Dead Leaf Echo has a new single coming out on September 15, and it's fantastic. On first listen it sounds like your typical neo-shoegaze that we cover the crap out of here. But "Lemonheart" is even more layered than shoegaze, with a glaze of noise over the whole thing and multiple vocals swirling around each other to hold it all together. It truly heightens a genre that's existed for decades now and really deserves a listen.

You can hear "Lemonheart" below, with tour dates below that. Make sure you pre-order the 7" on Dead Leaf Echo's Bandcamp, and check out their website. "Lemonheart" is due out September 15 on Moon Sounds Records.

08.22 New Haven CT @ Cafe Nine w/ Landing
08.23 Brooklyn NY @ Alphaville w/ Single Lash
09.19 New York NY @ Berlin 7" Release / Desert Stars Pre-Party
09.25 Pioneertown CA @ Desert Stars w/ The Lemonheads
09.26 Pioneertown CA @ Desert Stars w/ Swervedriver
09.27 San Diego CA @ The Hideout
09.28 Fullerton CA @ The Continental Room
09.30 San Francisco CA @ Hemlock Tavern w/ Cruel Summer
10.01 Seattle WA @ Highline Bar w/ VibraGun, Black Nite Crash
10.02 Vancouver BC @ Hindenburg w/ Did You Die
10.03 Portland OR @ Doug Fir Lounge w/ The Prids
10.14 New York NY @ CMJ Festival
10.15 New York NY @ CMJ Festival
10.16 New York NY @ CMJ Festival
11.07 Boston MA @ TBA w/ Magic Shoppe
11.08 Albany NY @ TBA
11.14 Mexico City @ Festival Ajusco

11.15 Mexico City @ TBA

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bikini Kill - "Playground"

With the upcoming re-release of Bikini Kill's debut album, Revolution Girl Style Now!, we were promised three previously unheard songs. One of them can now be listened to! "Playground" starts off slow and ultra-sludgy, more like Dinosaur Jr's first album or Mudhoney than Bikini Kill. Around the 2:30 mark things really kick in with a thirty second blast of hardcore. It all ends after 3:33 seconds, and legend has it that's because the tape ran out, which is the punkest thing I've ever heard. And, of course, it has Kathleen Hanna's brilliant vocals throughout.

The reissue of Revolution Girl Style Now! is due out on September 22, which is the old school Tuesday album release date. You can pre-order it now in various packages on

Grey Season - Undercover

There are two things we truly love here at If It's Too Loud...: Free music and covers. That means when a band releases a free album of covers we're all over that. Boston's folky quartet Grey Season just released one, and it's pretty terrific. For a folk band, there are some pretty obvious and classic choices like Bob Dylan and The Band, along with some other classic artists not usually associated with folk, such as The Rolling Stones ("Sweet Virginia," one of my personal favorites) and The Doors. They also selected some newer, contemporary covers (Father John Misty and Iron & Wine). For folk purists, they even do some traditional folk covers like "Moonshiner." Grey Season has that more mainstream rock-ready folk sound you hear from bands like Houndmouth and The Felice Brothers, but that's meant in the best possible way.

You can get your very own copy of Undercover by joining Grey Season's mailing list. To try it out before you make such a serious commitment, you can listen below.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Talib Kweli - Fuck the Money

Over the weekend, Talib Kweli joined the ranks of legacy artists releasing surprise free albums. It's been a great move for longstanding artists who may have fallen out of the public eye a bit and haven't really had much excitement surrounding their last couple albums, like Nine Inch Nails and Wilco. Plus, the album is called Fuck the Money, so it kinda needs to be free.

Fuck the Money isn't a great album. "Echoes" and "Baby Girl" delve a little too far into R&B territory with their choruses. But it's a really good album, particularly for free. It's too bad what's dull is really dull, because what is good is really good. "Leslie Knope" is just pure minimalist rape gold. "Fuck the Money" starts off with this odd autotune blast of the phrase "Fuck the Money," but redeems itself with fantastic verses by Kweli and Cassper Nyovest. "Fall Back" reminds me of vintage Public Enemy, but an ultra-chill party version. 

The true victory of Fuck the Money will be bringing fans back that have dropped off as work and family intervene. It will also get Kweli some attention from younger fans that might not have heard of him before. He pretty much invented backpack rap (I hate that phrase, but what can you do?), and with the current success of the genre, he really deserves some much due attention.

You can download Fuck the Money for free at You have to go through Paypal, which is odd, but hey, it's free!

First Listen: New Releases for August 14

A very interesting week. This will be quicker than normal, though.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Rayland Baxter
Album: Imaginary Man
Quick Description: Well-crafted Americana/folk music.
Why You Should Listen: When Ken praised two of the songs on this album, he wasn't kidding - the rest of the album is just as good.
Overall Thoughts: Seriously, I can't say enough good things about this album. Whether it's an album of the year candidate remains to be seen, but it's a pretty perfect piece of work and I've listened to a lot of folk music this year.
Recommendation: If you listen to one album this week, make it this one.

Artist: FKA Twigs
Album: M3LL155X
Quick Description: New EP by strange off-center artist FKA Twigs
Why You Should Listen: You liked her previous album; you enjoy challenging music.
Overall Thoughts: I mean, it's an FKA Twigs EP, so you know what you're getting. It's weird and different and it deserves a lot of time, but this is true of everything she releases.
Recommendation: Demands a listen anyway, but a good quick EP regardless.

Artist: Grace Potter
Album: Midnight
Quick Description: First proper solo album from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Grace Potter or mainstream pop-rock in general.
Overall Thoughts: I really liked "Ah Mary" from a few years back and I confess to not having kept up with Grace Potter since then. Her first solo album has a definite possible starmaking quality to it that will appeal to a pretty wide audience that, ultimately, won't include me. Heavily polished and pretty straightforward.
Recommendation: It's probably not for you if you read this blog, but it's not bad for what it is. Proceed with caution.

Artist: All Walls
Album: All Walls
Quick Description: Quick hit indie rock album.
Why You Should Listen: You have nostalgia for 15 years ago, you want something complete and short.
Overall Thoughts: This album is something I enjoyed as I listened. The first song felt sort of like early Beulah, the rest more standard indie rock, but at 26 minutes it's still worth your time.
Recommendation: Worth a listen as a pretty solid album.

Artist: Gangrene
Album: You Disgust Me
Quick Description: A collaboration that includes iconic producer The Alchemist.
Why You Should Listen: You appreciate good hip-hop and don't mind a reliance on interesting samples.
Overall Thoughts: This is good, but not great. It's better than a lot of the rap/hip-hop features as of late, but some might be turned off by how this is produced. The Alchemist in particular has been deep in with Eminem's label and I haven't listened to him in years, so I can't say much else about it in terms of how it compares.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if you're into this genre.

Artist: Palehound
Album: Dry Food
Quick Description: Boston-area indie rock in the vein of Speedy Ortiz, but more straightforward.
Why You Should Listen: The indie rock revivalists are your jam; female lead singers are something you look out for.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like I've heard this band before, but it might just be that they have a super-familiar feel to them. It's a great record in any regard, so I'm really in favor of it.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, so give it a spin.

Artist: Various
Album: Wondaland Presents: The Eephus
Quick Description: A quick EP of Wondaland Records acts.
Why You Should Listen: Janelle Monae is awesome and you want to see if her labelmates are, too.
Overall Thoughts: It's an EP meant to showcase some new artists, so treating this as a cohesive whole is probably an error. I found some new things I liked here, though.
Recommendation: Definitely should listen and take what you like from it.

Artist: Flesh World
Album: The Wild Animals In My Life
Quick Description: Modern punk with a bit of other genres mixed in.
Why You Should Listen: You like modern punk but wish it was more interesting.
Overall Thoughts: Songwriting feels good but this wasn't entirely my cup of tea on first listen. It's an interesting piece of work in any regard.
Recommendation: Worth it for a try, you may love it.

Artist: The Waifs
Album: Beautiful You
Quick Description: A pleasant, mainstream folk record.
Why You Should Listen: You want a good, unchallenging folk record; you like things a lot more straightforward.
Overall Thoughts: I almost wish this album didn't come out at the same time as Rayland Baxter's, because the differences are fairly stark here. The Waifs, however, have been around for years and the polish and experience shines through. It's a good record, for sure, but nothing stands out that doesn't feel like it might be trying a little too hard.
Recommendation: Definitely listen to it, but it's not the first thing you should pick up.

Also out this week:

* Sweet Baboo - The Boombox Ballads

Monday, August 17, 2015

Summer Twins - "Demons"

Sisters Chelsea and Justine Brown make up the core of Summer Twins. The desire to form a band came before actually forming a band, and in October they have their sophomore album due out.

"Demons" reminds me of the retro girl groups that seem to come out every few years, like The Pipettes or Those Darlins'. "Demons" comes across as a more polished version of that, throwing back to 50s sock hop music and 60s garage rock. And then the guitar comes in, and it's just a dirty noise rock blast. While Summer Twins might look back at the past, they're not a retro act at all. It's a perfect mixture of retro and today.

Summer Twins' second album, Limbo, is due out on October 2 on Burger Records. You can listen to "Demons" below. For some more information on Summer Twins, check out their website and Bandcamp.

Friday, August 14, 2015

He's My Brother She's My Sister - "Easy Days"

It's been a while since we've heard from He's My Brother She's My Sister. In the past couple years the members have welcomed a baby and a couple got married. They're back to making music, and have just come out with their first new song in years! "Easy Days" is literally the perfect summer song, particularly for late summer when it seems 80% of everyone you encounter is on vacation, and no one seems to really want to do anything remotely productive. It just oozes southern California in a way no band has since the Beach Boys. It seems a little more straightforward than some of He's My Brother She's My Sister's previous songs, but it could represent some serious growth for the band.

"Easy Days" is available for download on Bandcamp. Sure it's $2.00 for one song, but all money it brings in goes to Musicians on a Mission, which helps disadvantaged kids learn to play a musical instrument. You can listen below, and if you're in California, you have a few chances to see He's My Brother She's My Sister live soon. Also, be sure to check out their website for more info.

Friday, September 18th: SOHO, Santa Barbara
Saturday, September 26th: Teregram Ballroom, Los Angeles
Friday, October 2nd: The Independent, San Francisco 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

David Wax Museum - "Guesthouse"

Photo by Ken Sears
With the release of their 5th album scheduled for release in October, blog obsession David Wax Museum have unveiled the title track. "Guesthouse" is a wonderfully positive tribute to all the people that have welcomed the band into their homes while on tour. It has a carnival vibe to it, and also celebrates the Mexican culture that, while embracing it fully in their music, the band has never been fully a part of, but a welcome guest. "Guesthouse" has a very slight growth in it, which shows that Guesthouse will be another step in David Wax Museum's constant evolution. From album to album there isn't a huge shift in band direction, but when you go back two or three you see an impressive array of growth. I can't wait until October for Guesthouse to be released officially.

Guesthouse is due out October 16 on Thirty Tigers. You still have four days to pre-order on their Indie Go Go campaign, and get some very cool bonuses. Make sure you head on over to their website for some pretty extensive touring they have planned. Their live show needs to be experienced. NPR currently has an exclusive first listen to "Guesthouse." You can find that here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Ransom Pier - If They Can't Take a Joke

Queens, NY's Ransom Pier blew me away with their first single, "Turn Your Head," and quickly threatened to become a blog favorite, which is pretty amazing for a band that formed earlier this year. Well, they're about to release their debut EP, and I'm pretty sure they've reached blog favorite level. They mix this great combination of indie roots and soul, which is something I didn't know I needed in my life. 

The album starts off with "I Must Say," which is a mixture of The Black Crowes' The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion and Sallie Ford. They have this great classic folk-rock sound while sounding completely modern. It's perfect for anyone who likes any portion of the Americana genre. "Love's a Bitch" might be one of the best soul anthems of the year, second only to Leon Bridge's album. This is a great debut, even if how recently the band formed drives me a little insane.

If They Can't Take a Joke is due out on August 13. You can pre-order and preview two tracks on Ransom Pier's Bandcamp. Also, be sure to check out their website.

August 13 - Arlene's Grocery, NYC w/Psychobaby

August 18 - Wellfleet Harbor Actor's Theater, Wellfleet, MA w/Eleanor Dubinsky
September 26 - The Bitter End, NYC

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for August 7

Looks like we might be exiting the summer doldrums.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Langhorne Slim and the Law
Album: The Spirit Moves
Quick Description: Latest album from the folk revivalist.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoy upbeat folk music with a retro feel.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not sure I'm willing to call this Langhorne Slim's best album yet, but it might be in the discussion. "Strangers" in particular is a bit of a barnburner and the whole album feels cohesive and modern while retaining that sort of retro touch. Langhorne Slim doesn't get enough credit for what he's doing, and this should be a mandatory listen.
Recommendation: Absolutely the best listen of the week, highly recommended.

Artist: HEALTH
Album: Death Magic
Quick Description: First album in close to 6 years from the noise rock group.
Why You Should Listen: Noise rock is your thing; You like music that tries to push boundaries but doesn't really do it.
Overall Thoughts: This album will be thrown out there are weird and jarring and too far off the beaten path, and that's not entirely wrong. It's not an easy album but it's decidedly more mainstream than their past work and it's a nice jolt of often-melodic noise rock that might end up being your thing if you're feeling like a change.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but worth a listen for the adventurous types.

Artist: Agent Fresco
Album: Destrier
Quick Description: Icelandic rock effort that is equal parts interesting and attention-grabbing.
Why You Should Listen: You like your rock music a little off-kilter but don't mind a challenge.
Overall Thoughts: This was close to my album of the week. I find this album hard to describe, as it's sometimes rock and sometimes lighter and I too often feel Icelandic music attaches a Sigur Ros/Bjork connotation to the whole thing that doesn't apply here. I look forward to spending more time with this album anyway, but this is one that needs more than one listen to fully grasp.
Recommendation: Give it a spin, you'll know pretty quickly if it's for you.

Artist: La Luz
Album: Weirdo Shrine
Quick Description: Retro-styled rock with solid harmonies and female vocals.
Why You Should Listen: You like a lot of the retro acts out there but wish the production values and songwriting was better.
Overall Thoughts: This was a nice, pleasant surprise for me. I loved most of this album, and it's one that's catchy and fun without feeling dated or derivative. It's a tough line to walk, but La Luz does it really well.
Recommendation: A fun listen that's worth your time.

Artist: The Mynabirds
Album: Lovers Know
Quick Description: Highly-anticipated third album from the indie pop project.
Why You Should Listen: You loved "Generals" along with everyone else on the planet; you like a bit of edge to your indie pop.
Overall Thoughts: "Generals" was such a good song (and the album it came from so solid) that it's not fair to expect Lovers Know to reach those heights, but it comes pretty close from time to time. My only negative for this album is how it feels a little longer than it needs to be, but the overall result is a solid record that may get overlooked given what else came out this week.
Recommendation: A good fun record that deserves a listen.

Artist: Ultimate Painting
Album: Green Lanes
Quick Description: A summery indie rock album.
Why You Should Listen: You've worn yourself out on the latest Real Estate album.
Overall Thoughts: This is a fun album but ultimately one that was instantly forgettable. I know I liked it, but I can't remember much about it, and, in a packed week like this one, that's a death knell.
Recommendation: If you still have time, give this a listen, but don't prioritize it.

Artist: Lindi Ortega
Album: Faded Gloryville
Quick Description: More rootsy folk-rock from the Canadian singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: The words "rootsy folk-rock" pique your interest.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be honest: while this album is good, it's a shame it's not better, especially given the continued roots revival and with the attention given to singers like Lera Lynn as of late. Little Red Boots was a high point in that Ortega appears to be mellowing out a bit, and that's not always what I'm looking for from her work.
Recommendation: Give it a listen if this week's offerings aren't generally your style, but be wary.

Artist: Chelsea Wolfe
Album: Abyss
Quick Description: Latest album of goth folk/rock from the acclaimed singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You've loved her previous efforts; you're an emo kid who hates the whole emo thing; you like dark, brooding complicated songwriting.
Overall Thoughts: I realized midway through listening to this that Chelsea Wolfe gives me the same feelings I had when I discovered PJ Harvey about 15 years ago. The songwriting is a little different, the brooding tone and such have a lot wider appeal than you'd think, and, again, in a different week this might have been my favorite. Really solid listen, and easily her best so far.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but it's absolutely one of the better releases of the week.

Artist: Frank Turner
Album: Positive Songs for Negative People
Quick Description: Newest album fro the folk punk favorite here at the blog.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of his previous work; you've looked for a place to dive in and haven't found it yet.
Overall Thoughts: Ken's been trying to get me into Frank Turner for a while. This is an album I really, really liked - "Get Better" hit me right away and I loved it, and the rest of the album is also pretty solid. It actually reminds me quite a bit of The Hold Steady in a few ways, with the sort of immediacy that we got from the earlier albums.
Recommendation: Find time for this. Even if you don't like the whole thing, there will certainly be parts you'll enjoy.

Also out this week:

* The Prodigy - The Night is My Friend EP

Monday, August 10, 2015

Lou Barlow - "Moving"

Photo by Rachel Enneking
With his 3rd album bearing just his name coming out next month, Lou Barlow has shared the first single, "Moving." It's a very minimal song, with instrumentation consisting of a detuned ukelele and some keyboards. It's a moody song (presumably) about his decision to uproot his life and move from Los Angeles back to western Massachusetts. If 2013's Sebadoh album Defend Yourself was Barlow's divorce album, Brace the Wave could be his moving on with life album. It's very fitting that this would be one of his more minimalist semi-acoustic offerings. 

Brace the Wave is due out September 4 on Joyful Noise Recordings. You can listen to "Moving" below. For more information, including tour dates, head on over to

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for July 31

The dog days of summer are truly upon us.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Have Gun, Will Travel
Album: Science From an Easy Chair
Quick Description: Interesting indie rock album with roots influences about Shackleton's excursion 100 years ago.
Why You Should Listen: You like concept albums or albums that tend to subvert typical expectations.
Overall Thoughts: In what is a very short week for releases, this is a lot of fun but would likely be overlooked otherwise. It's got a lot of really great moments that make it worth your while, though.
Recommendation: Probably the one essential album for this week.

Artist: Titus Andronicus
Album: The Most Lamentable Tragedy
Quick Description: New album by indie art rockers.
Why You Should Listen: You're enjoyed Titus Andronicus before; challenging indie rock is sometimes your thing.
Overall Thoughts: Titus Andronicus hasn't ever really done it for me, and this album has a lot of good moments mixed in with some really strange conceptual stuff. You'll know pretty quickly how long your tolerance is for this - mine was about an hour.
Recommendation: Probably for fans only, and you'll get a better idea of what this band is about with their debut.

Artist: Lianne La Havas
Album: Blood
Quick Description: Second album by Prince-associated alt-R&B artist.
Why You Should Listen: You don't mind more groovy R&B but tend to look for something more.
Overall Thoughts: I grabbed this solely because she has toured with Prince/in his touring band. This is a very unique and different album that, in a way, defies characterization, and when it works, it is rather brilliant.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, you're very likely to find something you'd like.

Artist: Joss Stone
Album: Water For Your Soul
Quick Description: Latest reggae-inspired album by the young soul singer.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of her previous work and embarrassing lyrics don't bother you.
Overall Thoughts: This is not so bad musically, but, especially as someone who rarely notices lyrics, this is really painful to listen to. "Star" in particular is especially ridiculous.
Recommendation: Skip this. Even fans might find this a little hard to bear.

Artist: Albert Hammond Jr
Album: Momentary Masters
Quick Description: Strokes guitarist with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: You like your indie rock straightforward; The Strokes and his previous work did it for you.
Overall Thoughts: I liked "Born Slippy" a lot when I first heard it and offered it up here at the blog. What's stunning about Momentary Masters in particular is how momentary the album truly is. I listened to this and promptly forgot basically all of it shortly after. I think I liked it? It's just not memorable.
Recommendation: Give it a listen.

Artist: Russkaja
Album: Peace, Love, and Russian Roll
Quick Description: Russian ska-punk band with their influences front and center.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Gogol Bordello was more like a 1950s/60s rock band; you enjoy well-crafted ska-punk.
Overall Thoughts: I really enjoyed this album. It's imperfect for sure, and perhaps too all-over-the-place to really have any lasting qualities, but when I hear some old-school rockabilly breakdowns in the middle of a ska song, or when the acoustic love song hits in the middle? It's hard not to be charmed.
Recommendation: A must listen for this week, if only for the experience. You might even end up loving it.