Monday, November 30, 2015

Mothers - "Too Small For Eyes"

Photo by Kristine Leschper
One of the most buzzed about bands at CMJ this past fall were Mothers, a Athens based 4 piece. They are set to release their debut album early in 2016, and you can listen to a track from it right now.

What's slightly odd is you tend to associate the term "buzz band" with something loud, boisterous, and in your face. Instead, Mothers are quite quiet. "Too Small For Eyes" might be too laid back for a coffee shop, but that's what makes it so great. The instrumentation is so sparse, you're forced to truly listen and focus on it. If you just let the song play in the background, you'd just hear a few plinks of strings here and there, instead of the lush soundscape designed by the band. Kristine Leschper's voice adds to this effect, since it's just so damn compelling you want to pay as close attention as you possibly can. I don't believe Mothers are Elephant Six related, but fans of Elephant Six (or Athens bands in general) will have plenty to like, with some small, quirky instrumentation effects, and how instruments seem to just stroll in when they have something to say.

When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired will be available on February 26 via Grand Jury Music. You can listen to "Too Small For Eyes" below. You can find more information about Mothers on their website and Facebook.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Friday Freebie: Locals Covering Locals Volume 2

There are two things we truly love here at If It's Too Loud...: Free music and covers. We're a little late to the party on this one, but Red Line Roots out of Cambridge, MA released Locals Covering Locals Volume 2 back in April. The concept is pretty simple. They have local roots artists covering other local artists. For me, the stand outs are Haunt the House covering Ian Fitzgerald's "Melinda Down the Line," Sarah Borges covering "Ride With Me" (one of my absolute favorite songs by The Lemonheads/Evan Dando), and new favorite Julie Rhodes covering Jonah Tolchin's "Mockingbird." It's perfect as we all lounge around today post-Thanksgiving, even if some of us are stuck working our normal jobs.

To get your copy of Locals Covering Locals Volume 2, go to Red Line Roots' Bandcamp. They also have Locals Covering Locals Volume 1 and Locals Covering Locals (Live @ Passim) available for free.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Julie Rhodes - "In Your Garden"

Photo by Roberto Terrones
I love this woman's voice. Hailing from Somerville, MA, Julie Rhodes will be the surprise hit of the 2016 Newport Folk Festival. That's going to be my super early prediction. She's already involved in the Folk Family, with her to be released debut album produced by NFF alum Jonah Tolchin (who she met through the Festival). "In Your Garden" doesn't break new ground. It's pretty standard soul blues folk rock fare. But holy crap is this good. It's pretty accessible and has some mainstream crossover possibilities, kind of like The Black Crowes and Alabama Shakes. It's her voice that will propel her to breakthrough status next year.

You can listen to "In Your Garden" below. Julie Rhodes' debut album, Bound to Meet the Devil, will be out February 26. For more information, check her out on Facebook, Twitter, and her own website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart Cover Tori Amos

I've been a little cold on the last few releases from The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Nothing has really hit me the way their self-titled debut album and EP did. That being said, their new cover of Tori Amos' "China" is amazing. "China" might be the Tori song I always seem to forget about, but once I hear it again I wonder why I ever listen to anything else. It's a home recorded demo of the song, with very minimal instrumentation. Gone is the indie pop and shoegaze normally associated with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and in it's place is a sound very similar to Buffalo Tom's more laid back covers. It's something you absolutely should listen to today.

Listen to "China" below. For more info on The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, check out their website.

First Listen: New Releases for November 20

A quieter week than normal as we approach the American Thanksgiving holiday. I'd also review the new Adele, but, well...

Album of the Week:

Artist: Sheer
Album: Uneasy
Quick Description: Shoegazey-style indie alt-rock.
Why You Should Listen: You are looking for that nostalgia hit this week, but want something really great
Overall Thoughts: Ken posted about the title track last month and I fell in love with it right away as well. The full album, thankfully, is about as good as the single, and that means great things for a band that I don't think is getting enough attention yet. It's just one of those solid, surprise albums that make it fun to discover new music. It's one you'll want to tell your friends about.
Recommendation: Highly recommended album of the week, and it's not even close.

Artist: Kingsley Flood
Album: The Good Fight
Quick Description: Latest EP from a favorite of ours.
Why You Should Listen: You look for more of a rootsy feel than a pop-rock feel from your local indie stalwarts.
Overall Thoughts: I'm close to the point of saying "Kingsley Flood can do no wrong," as this EP is another winner. Definitely more roots-based, the lead track sets an impressive, pleasant tone and it ends up being pretty solid throughout. A short listen, but a worthy one.
Recommendation: Absolutely something to listen to.

Artist: Freddie Gibbs
Album: Shadow of a Doubt
Quick Description: Latest surprise album from the buzzworthy rapper.
Why You Should Listen: You want to be on the cutting edge of the rap scene.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be honest, I didn't really get this or connect with it at all. It's on the edge of mainstream and strange, which is fine, but it's hard to see this fitting into the other rap/R&B I've enjoyed this year, and what I know of Gibbs seems to be that his persona and activities are almost as important as his music. So I reserve judgement, but this might not be for everyone.
Recommendation: In a short week, it might be worth it, but be wary.

Artist: Holly and Ken Stringfellow
Album: The Record
Quick Description: A "country opera" project from Holly and Posies singer Ken Stringfellow.
Why You Should Listen: Stringfellow's involvement should be enough, but even so, this is an enjoyable record.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't know what to expect going in. I don't know Holly at all, and I know Stringfellow more through his connections to R.E.M. than his Posies work, but this is a really pleasant homage to classic country that probably deserves a bit of your time. Really interesting, really well-done.
Recommendation: A definite recommendation this week.

Artist: Arca
Album: Mutant
Quick Description: Latest album from the R&B producer.
Why You Should Listen: Weird electronica's your thing; you've really enjoyed the music from FKA Twigs more than perhaps the total package.
Overall Thoughts: I liked Xen from last year, but I'll be honest in saying that this didn't grab me the same way. It's along the same lines, but I'm wondering if a longer, weirder electronic experiment is within my bounds these days. I know a lot of people who might dig this, but, like the last album...
Recommendation: wary.

Artist: Foo Fighters
Album: Saint Cecelia
Quick Description: Free surprise EP from Foo Fighters!
Why You Should Listen: Free surprise EP from Foo Fighters!
Overall Thoughts: At this point, you know whether you're interested in this. With that said, they're going a little harder than usual with this one, so if you're expecting Sonic Highways, you might be surprised.
Recommendation: A listen I enjoyed, and you might, too.

Artist: Punch Brothers
Album: The Wireless
Quick Description: A new EP from bluegrass heroes Punch Brothers.
Why You Should Listen: The group typically tries different things on their EPs and this isn't any different in that regard.
Overall Thoughts: I won't say this is my favorite release of theirs by a longshot, but their sort of prog-grass really shines through on this EP. As extras from the Phosphorescent Blues sessions, they sometimes feel like throwaways, but your enjoyment of this will ultimately come down to your enjoyment of that album, I think.
Recommendation: Punch Brothers are always worth the time, especially for an EP.

Artist: Shovels and Rope
Album: Busted Jukebox Volume 1
Quick Description: A covers album from Shovels and Rope. Need I say more?
Why You Should Listen: Covers album + sassy alt-country duo = perfection.
Overall Thoughts: I only wish I knew more of these songs. The duo teamed up with favorite acts to record favorite songs, and it's great. If you can't get with the version of "Patience" featuring the Milk Carton Kids, I don't know what to tell you.
Recommendation: Highly recommended this week. Lots of fun.

Also out this week:

* Pure Beauty - Pure Beauty

Monday, November 23, 2015

Farewell to Newbury Comics

I've been shopping at Newbury Comics for 20+ years now. It had always had the advantage of being a local, indie store even though it has had a ton of locations throughout New England. Even while stores like FYE have sold new release cds for $20, they have mad the vast majority of their new releases for $7.88 to $12.88. But, I think I'm done after all these years.

Why, you ask? It's not because I've moved to digital music. While I may do some, I still like physically owning albums. I have a collector's/pack rat's sensibilities, and I really like being able to show off my music collection. I also prefer the experience of walking into a record store to shopping online.

Lately (ok, for the past few years now), they just haven't been carrying what I want. Back in my 20s, every album I wanted to buy could be found at Newbury Comics, no matter how obscure. Ok, fine... maybe they didn't have the new 7" from that one band I saw opening a show at the Middle East Upstairs that played that one show and that was it, but nowadays I open up my weekly newsletter from them, and I don't see any of the releases I want on there. This year alone has seen them fail to carry albums from Colleen Green, The Deslondes, Brown Bird, David Wax Museum, Hop Along, and more. And even when they list an album, I often get to my local location that day to find they sold the single copy they were sent. 

I know they've cut back on their music to fit in more "lifestyle" items, like action figures and t-shirts. I'm ok with that. You gotta do what you gotta do to stay in business, and I like checking out all the additional items. What I don't like is, as they move into malls and become the "big and boring mall stores" their ads used to mock, having associates stop you every six feet to ask if you want to try on the $40 t-shirt you brushed up against, like I'm shopping at an Abercrombie & Fitch.

To be fair, they do sell music still. If I needed 300 copies of the new Adele album, I would have been in luck. But a single copy of the new Shovels & Rope? Nope. I remember in 2000 I would have a cashier openly roll their eyes while ringing up a Dropkick Murphys cd. Just a few years ago they had giant Taylor Swift ads in their display windows. They seem to be openly courting teenagers that don't buy physical music anymore.

That's where I stand now. I've been pushed to being forced to buy music through Amazon now, even though I prefer physical record stores. That's where I end up buying most of my albums, anyway. Why keep making the special trip only to keep walking out empty handed? Let's hope that Turn It Up! or Bull Moose Music expands into my area sometime soon, so one of my favorite activities isn't lost forever.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Forgotten Fridays: The Ivory Coast - Clouds

Forgotten Fridays is a [hopefully more regular] 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 first discovered The Ivory Coast when they opened for Ben Lee at The Middle East in Cambridge, MA back in 1996 (?). Back then, they were called The Puddle Jumpers, and the later The Puddle Jumpers Ltd. After renaming themselves The Ivory Coast, presumably to have a less silly name, they released a couple albums in the late 90s/early 200s. Clouds was the second, released in 2001.

The Ivory Coast would probably fall into the emo category based on their sound, but they always seemed like more than that to me. While most emo in that time period was more polished, Clouds has a more noisy, aggressive sound to a good chunk of it, resulting in a more The Promise Ring meets Superchunk sound. My personal favorite, "Swope," might be the noisiest, with crunching guitars emo would have ignored. "Sixty-five Percent" starts off like a ballad, but turns into a power pop masterpiece the mid-90s were filled with. From there it goes into a quirky blitz at the end and is just a brilliant song. The closing track, "There Will Be Clouds," is the one weak spot, going on for almost 15 minutes without having any real reason to.

Overall, Clouds is still worth a listen. You can get it for a penny over at Amazon, and listen to "Sixty-five Percent" below.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bedroom Eyes - "Lorraine"

Boston's Bedroom Eyes (not to be confused with the Swedish act of the same name) may just reinvent shoegaze. Next week they will release Honeysuckle, their sophomore album. The first song on the album, "Lorraine," has the swirling guitars and fuzz usually associated with shoegaze, but it's aggressive in a really fun way that the genre usually doesn't have. They call it "sneakergaze," which basically does my job for me. It's like the swirl of My Bloody Valentine mixed with the noise and aggression of early 90s Sonic Youth and then some pop punk added into the mix. It's trippy as hell music you can pogo to, if you weren't pushing 40. 

Honeysuckle will be released on November 24 on Midnight Werewolf Records. You can pre-order it on Bandcamp. Be sure to check out their Facebook for more info.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Casket Girls - "Western World"

A favorite of both of us here at IfItsTooLoud..., The Casket Girls are releasing a new single this week. "Western World" is a little cheerier than most of the songs on last year's True Love Kills the Fairy Tale, but it's right along with the Casket Girl's sound of droned out eerie alternapop. If they ever make another Addams Family movie, they should get The Casket Girls to provide the soundtrack.

"Western Girls" will be available as a split 7" with Stardeath and White Dwarves on Graveface Records, to be released as part of Record Store Day's Black Friday on 11/27. For more info on Casket Girls, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for November 13

An unlucky day for some, but not for those interested in some solid music from this week:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Boots
Album: Aquaria
Quick Description: Debut album from the acclaimed R&B producer.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing like this has been released in some time; his resume requires at least a look.
Overall Thoughts: Boots has done production most notably on songs for Beyonce, Run the Jewels, and FKA Twigs, and this is definitely more Twigs than Beyonce. It's a really weird, interesting release, equal part rap, hip-hop, and electronica that results in an album that's less about the hooks and more about the overall atmosphere. A very modern record, and one that I really enjoyed.
Recommendation: Best release of the week.

Artist: The Wainwright Sisters
Album: Songs in the Dark
Quick Description: First full-length collaboration between Martha Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche.
Why You Should Listen: Anything with a Wainwright attached to it is probably a good bet at this point.
Overall Thoughts: The first thing I noticed was how quiet this album is. While the Wainwright Sisters come from a folk background for sure, Martha's activity in particular has been closer to her brother's work than her father's, and this might have shaded my overall feelings on the matter. This is a very good album, though, with some seriously strong songwriting and lyricism, and that alone should be enough to give this a go, never mind their pedigree.
Recommendation: A solid folk listen for this week.

Artist: Rocket From the Tombs
Album: Black Record
Quick Description: Latest album from the seminal punk act.
Why You Should Listen: You already know if you want to listen to this.
Overall Thoughts: I had never knowingly heard Rocket From the Tombs before. This album, to be blunt, sounds like old people making punk music, and that... didn't do much for me. It's not bad, but I can't imagine looking this up again unless I was really, really into the band.
Recommendation: Listener beware.

Artist: The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Album: Mini Album Thingy Wingy
Quick Description: Latest thingy wingy from the Dandy Warhols-adjacent band.
Why You Should Listen: If you like BJM, this is going to be weird and different. If you do not, this might be up your alley because of how weird and different it is.
Overall Thoughts: Overall, this is a strange listen, with a lot of interesting choices that, on first listen, I'm not entirely sure worked for me. I'm a fan on a whole, so this is generally a good listen for me, but I understand why this band is divisive and this album isn't going to change that.
Recommendation: Be wary.

Artist: Frankie Cosmos
Album: Fit Me In
Quick Description: Synth-happy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: A fun, different appetizer to her upcoming album.
Overall Thoughts: This one is both hard to describe and easy to describe. It's definitely an interesting listen for its less-than-eight-minute runtime, with some catchy aspects while still being a little off-center. Such a short listen makes it hard to judge on its merits, but I enjoyed this.
Recommendation: Worth some time in your rotation. You have eight minutes to do it.

Artist: A Sunny Day in Glasgow
Album: Planning Weed Like It's Acid/Life is Loss
Quick Description: New album from the dream pop act.
Why You Should Listen: A Sunny Day in Glasgow too often has some interesting, maddening stuff going on.
Overall Thoughts: Last year's album felt challenging, but this new album has a lot of positives going for it, along with some truly catchy songs. At a short runtime, it's also not a huge investment, so this should probably be something worth hearing. They're a different band, for sure.
Recommendation: Definitely recommended for this week.

Artist: Gavage
Album: Gavage
Quick Description: Debut album from the Providence punk act.
Why You Should Listen: You like your punk with some ska sounds involved; you want to listen to the Rocket From the Tombs album and can't get through it.
Overall Thoughts: I surprisingly enjoyed this. It's rough around the edges, but punk music should be that way. Also, the introduction of a saxophone is a nice little touch as well, making this a pretty fun party punk record on a whole. Not much else to say.
Recommendation: Listen to this! It's a lot of fun!

Artist: Oneohtrix Point Never
Album: Garden of Delete
Quick Description: Glitchy electronic music that feels both modern and retro.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing else like it this week; you wish there was more weird electronic stuff with chiptune elements out there.
Overall Thoughts: Man, this is a strange record, but really great regardless. Sometimes it feels like a videogame boss fight, other times it feels like a glitchy Aphex Twin homage. No matter what, this is something I didn't expect and certainly didn't expect to love. Very close to an album of the week for me, it's that different and fresh-sounding.
Recommendation: This won't be for everyone, but wow is this good.

Artist: Alessia Cara
Album: Know-It-All
Quick Description: Much-anticipated debut R&B album.
Why You Should Listen: "Here" is a legitimately great track, so hearing more along those lines is always a good thing.
Overall Thoughts: The good news is that Know-It-All builds on the greatness that is "Here." The bad news is that the album ends up sounding very samey by the time you hit the end, which is a bit of a challenge. There's a nice singer-songwriter angle to Cara's brand of R&B that's worth exploring, for sure, and this album ends up being good, but not great. Still, a ton of potential is here.
Recommendation: Perhaps worth a listen this week if anything about this piques your interest.

Artist: Anna Von Hausswolff
Album: The Miraculous
Quick Description: Third dark folk album from this singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Chelsea Wolfe wasn't so loud/Marisa Nadler wasn't so quiet.
Overall Thoughts: I really loved this album, it's got a nice dark tone to it with some heavier parts mixed in. This won't be for everyone, but Von Hausswolff's attempt on this album is something that's deserving some attention overall. If you're into Chelsea Wolfe or even some of the brooding stuff Nadler has done over the years, this is absolutely for you.
Recommendation: Should get some time in your rotation this week.

Also out this week:

* Kurt Cobain - Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings (really a fans-only affair)
* Panda Bear - Crossroads EP
* Squeeze - Cradle to the Grave

Monday, November 16, 2015

Rachel Haden - "Devil's In Me"

Rachel Haden (That Dog, The Rentals, The Haden Triplets, and Weezer's "I Just Threw Out the Love of My Dreams") has just released her debut solo single, which is surprising since she's a 20+ year music veteran. "Devil's In Me" isn't as traditionally folky as her work with The Haden Triplets and not as 90s alternative as That Dog, but instead stands with a foot in both sides. It's probably closer to the more laid back side of That Dog, especially since That Dog was always shockingly good at harmonizing for a noisy 90s band. "Devil's In Me" starts off quite quietly and folky, but slowly picks up intensity without becoming a rocker. 

"Devil's In Me" is currently available in limited editions from Greenway Records. You can pick up a copy here, and be sure to check out Rachel Haden's website for any upcoming info.

Friday, November 13, 2015

The Huntress and Holder of Hands - The Water Street Demos

Earlier this week, I was checking out the website for Brown Bird to see if there was any new word from The Huntress, MorganEve Swain's new project. I hadn't heard anything since "Call to Arms" was released in the summer of 2014, and I didn't discover it until this past March. A day or two later, and The Water Street Demos was released. Now named The Huntress and Holder of Hands (presumably to avoid confusion with the metal band Huntress, which I did when they released an album earlier this year), there are now three songs to check out. "Call to Arms" is represented on here, along with "These Hands," which has the most haunting violin I've ever heard, and mostly instrumental "Etude." All three songs are moody and dark. They're absolutely beautiful and I highly urge you to listen, but this is definitely a departure from the dance worthy songs of Brown Bird. 

The Water Street Demos is being sold to help finance a full band album and tour. You can pick up a copy over on Bandcamp.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Green River Festival Announces Next Year's Dates, Early Bird Tickets

I know, I know. It's way too early to start thinking of the summer festival season. But here we are. Last year's Green River Festival was amazing, and I was lucky enough to be able to attend and cover the fest. In just one day it quickly became my favorite local festival, and I'm hoping to expand to going at least two days this year. If you're planning on attending, you might want to act now since early bird tickets are currently on sale. A three-day festival pass is only $79.99 until December 31. A one-day pass was $59.99 last year, so this is a huge bargain. With their 30th anniversary this year, you know they'll make this one special. They're also including a camping option this year, which is $139.99 with a three-day festival pass. Next year it will be running July 8-10 at Greenfield Community College in Greenfield, MA. While there is nothing even close to a line up yet, now might be the time to buy tickets, which you can do here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Ripper - "On the Curb"

Ripper are punk rock. The band lists their influences as Dead Kennedys, Germs, Sonic Youth, and The Beach Boys. The first three make sense together, but The Beach Boys may sound like an odd one until you listen to "On the Curb." It's hard, fast, and ferocious (you know, like punk), but there is a sense of melodies and hooks in there, too. But that doesn't make it pop punk. Not even close. This is one of those rare occasions where a band lists their influences and they actually listened to them AND are influenced by them! They don't rewrite the rules of punk at all, nor are they a throwback act. It's just good, solid punk. And sometimes, that's what you need.

Ripper's second EP, A.D., will be released on December 4th on Land Ski Records and Lawn Chair Records. You can listen to "On the Curb" below, and be sure to check them out on Bandcamp, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

First Listen: New Releases for November 6

Let's dive right in!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Ellie Goulding
Album: Delirium
Quick Description: Third album by the British pop singer.
Why You Should Listen: This is allegedly her Big Pop Record, but it's better than that.
Overall Thoughts: I've been a fan since "Lights," and this album worried me a bit given some of the advance stuff on this. She's always straddled the EDM line a bit, and I was hoping that she wouldn't stray from that, and, mostly, she doesn't. She definitely brings a Big Pop Record feel to this, but it mostly just feels like an Ellie Goulding album, and one that brings the best parts of her previous work and improves on it. Well done.
Recommendation: Probably my favorite album of the week.

Artist: Darren Hayman
Album: Florence
Quick Description: Solo album from the former Hefner frontman, his second this year.
Why You Should Listen: Darren Hayman should be required listening for anyone at this stage.
Overall Thoughts: So this is being billed as Hayman's first true "solo" record, but he's been solo for a while now and this is just the first that he's done all the instrumentation for. The result is a sometimes stark, very folky affair that is good, but not great. If you're looking for recent Hayman solo work, Chants for Socialists is more interesting, but this is still a quality record from an artist who hasn't put out anything bad yet.
Recommendation: Should be in your rotation this week.

Artist: Sara Bareilles
Album: What's Inside: Songs From Waitress
Quick Description: In which pop-pianist Sara Bareilles goes Broadway.
Why You Should Listen: The quick description sounds intriguing.
Overall Thoughts: So I minored in theatre in college, so I'm always intrigued by this sort of thing. It's hard to hear songs from musicals out of context, but Bareilles makes it pretty easy here. This is an interesting listen, and one I'm glad I checked out even if the context is sometimes lacking. If you like piano pop and musicals, take a gander.
Recommendation: A good listen!

Artist: Grimes
Album: Art Angels
Quick Description: Latest album by the pop anti-star.
Why You Should Listen: You like interesting pop music; the aesthetic of Grimes is as interesting as the music for you.
Overall Thoughts: Grimes is probably the bearer of the most interested and buzzed-about album of the week. It's not an easy listen, but it's not a difficult one, either - it's just different. And even when she goes full-on pop (like with "Kill V. Maim"), it's not at all feeling like a mainstream song. Very strange, but that's what makes Grimes so appealing.
Recommendation: A must listen, was close to being album of the week for me.

Artist: Made of Oak
Album: Penumbra
Quick Description: Atmospheric EP from a Sylvan Esso side project.
Why You Should Listen: It's a short EP with an interesting sound.
Overall Thoughts: This won't be for everyone, and what's interesting is how it feels sort of like what Sylvan Esso is good at, but with a heavier, darker tone. I can't describe it much in any other way, but I really enjoyed this.
Recommendation: Worth a slot in your rotation this week.

Artist: Noun
Album: Throw Your Body On The Gears And Stop The Machine With Your Blood
Quick Description: New album from Noun, a(nother!) side project from the Screaming Females lead.
Why You Should Listen: Anything Marissa Paternoster is gold.
Overall Thoughts: I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop and it doesn't. Everything Paternoster has done up to this point has been gold, and this is no different. Some dark punk here that is a nice change from the Screaming Females stuff, and, overall, this is just a great, quick listen overall.
Recommendation: Highly recommended.

Artist: New Manners
Album: Give Me Your Bones
Quick Description: A quick hit of straightforward indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: Sometimes you just need a pleasant palate cleanser.
Overall Thoughts: This isn't going to end up on any best-of lists, but as a tight indie rock EP, this is certainly worth some time. I just wish it wasn't in such a good week overall.
Recommendation: Try to find some time for this.

Artist: Kate Boy
Album: One
Quick Description: Debut album from the electro artists.
Why You Should Listen: You wanted the Grimes to be more edgy.
Overall Thoughts: This was a Discover Weekly thing for me a while back, and I anticipated this album for a while. It's mostly good, often great, and the biggest flaw is also its greatest strength - with nothing to set it apart, it somewhat sits alone in what it's trying to do, and you just keep waiting for that extra oomph to push it forward. It's one I hope to keep in my rotation for a while, but this might not be for everyone.
Recommendation: In a crowded week, it's not essential, but still a good listen.

Artist: Billy Gibbons and the BFGs
Album: Perfectamundo
Quick Description: First solo album from the lead singer of ZZ Top. Yup.
Why You Should Listen: I mean, ZZ Top has earned your time.
Overall Thoughts: What's interesting about this album isn't so much that it's from the lead singer of ZZ Top, or that it's a really well-done slice of classic rock, but just that it exists at all. It's a good listen, although it's probably not going to knock your socks off at all, but I don't think we need to pretend that this is essential listening, either. It fills a nice little niche, but perhaps that's it.
Recommendation: Maybe a fans only affair in a week like this.

Artist: Moonsocket
Album: Eurydice
Quick Description: A solo album from a Canadian artist with a long resume.
Why You Should Listen: There's not really enough quiet (for the most part) singer-songwritery stuff out this week.
Overall Thoughts: Another album that might get lost in the shuffle when it shouldn't, this (with one exception toward the end) is a quiet affair that is really pretty and contemplative, but might not offer much in the way of anything new compared to other albums like it. If this week is too poppy and electronic for your liking, give this a spin, but it might just disappear into the noise.
Recommendation: A solid listen, but not essential.

Artist: Talib Kweli and 9th Wonder
Album: Indie 500
Quick Description: Collaborative album from the hip-hop legend and well-regarded producer.
Why You Should Listen: Talib Kweli is basically a must-listen.
Overall Thoughts: I've spoken about how I like old style rap music a lot here, and this has that feel while keeping a modern flair to it. Like always, those with a better perspective on hip hop that existed prior to, say, 2007, might have different feelings on this, but Indie 500 scratched an itch for me.
Recommendation: A good listen!

Artist: Philosophical Zombie
Album: Loneliness is Blue and Not Blue
Quick Description: Introspective independent rock music.
Why You Should Listen: It's a sort of lo-fi project that has a tendency to grab you and make you pay attention.
Overall Thoughts: Since this was recorded in the Boston area, I suppose this is "local," but the information about this release is scant. What I can say is that it's brash at times, difficult at others, and is surely the weirdest release of the week. We love most things Vanyaland here, so this is at least worth a look.
Recommendation: A solid, if different, listen.

Monday, November 9, 2015


GOSH!'s debut album, GOSH!, is a truly intriguing first listen. It's totally an 80s/90s throwback, but with all these bizarre little elements that make it unique. Hailing from Rock Island, IL, GOSH! make minimalist noise rock, combining pieces of sparse sound of Beat Happening with melody of Violent Femmes and the noise of Archers of Loaf. "Hangin' Out" has these wonderfully melodic, harmonized vocals over a staccato drum beat and just the fuzziest guitar you can imagine. "Beach Fuzz" is exactly what you are imagining: Dick Dale style surf rock that just never stops what is virtually the same blast of feedback throughout the entire song. It's as if The Moldy Peaches were more interested in the music than being clever or strange.

GOSH!'s debut album, GOSH!, is available now vi Guilt Ridden Pop. You can purchase the album on Bandcamp in digital, cd, or cassette. Watch the video for "Hangin' Out" below, and below that are the band's upcoming tour dates.



Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday Freebie: The Suffers and Submarine Lights

This week, First Listen features some free music that we missed earlier this year. Released back in January, The Suffers slipped right by us. I only first noticed them when they were announced for the 2015 Newport Folk Festival, and immediately became a fan. Their debut EP, Make Some Room, is part of the new soul revival that is going on right now. Basically, if you're into Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Leon Bridges, or Alabama Shakes, this is for you. Their debut full length is due next year. If these four songs are any indication, they're do for a breakout year in 2016. You can get Make Some Room via NoiseTrade. be sure to check out their website while you're at it.

Also free through NoiseTrade, you can get The Dangerous Pleasures of Uncommon Curiosity, the debut album from Submarine Lights. We also missed this one back in September, somehow. Submarine Lights are comprised of
members of St. Vincent and The Polyphonic Spree. To compare them to their previous bands, they're more symphonic than St. Vincent and less bombastic than The Polyphonic Spree. It's not quite twee, but fans of The Magnetic Fields and Belle & Sebastian will be happy. It's all pretty trippy with a wide variety of non-rock instruments, so there are of course shades of The Beatles, The Flaming Lips, and Pet Sounds. It appears that NoiseTrade is only offering 7 of 9 songs on the album, cutting off the 1 minute opener and the 7 minute closer (and reordering the songs on the album), but hey... free is free. You can download your own copy of most of The Dangerous Pleasures of Uncommon Curiosity here. Submarine Lights' website can be found here.

Forgotten Fridays: Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project

With Sceptre out in the United States today (hooray!), I thought it might be fun to revisit this little piece of nostalgia from 1997, David Arnold's Bond theme cover project, Shaken and Stirred.

Remember, 1997 was the height of the electronica boom, and David Arnold had scored a number of films in the past and was a big Bond fan. So he reworked some of the Bond themes and songs electronically, added some interesting vocalists to the mix, and released this compilation. The album itself became a hit, especially in the United Kingdom, and led to David Arnold being tapped to score a number of Bond movies following this release.

This wasn't on Spotify back when Skyfall came out, so I'm glad that it's finally been posted. The whole thing might feel a tad bit dated nearly 20 years later, but I'll say this much: Aimee Mann's take on "Nobody Does it Better" rivals the original, Leftfield's contribution to "Space March" still holds up today, Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) has the perfect voice for "Live and Let Die," and The Propellerheads taking on "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" remains an all-time favorite interpretation of any song period, never mind in the Bond canon.

So let this get you a little hyped up. It's definitely a fun Friday piece to mix into the day's new releases.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Deleter - "Seclusion"

Photo by Deleter
I didn't know how much I needed a band like Minneapolis' Deleter before I heard them. I also have no idea how I have never heard a band with this sound before. It seems like a pretty obvious pairing. They start off with a backbone of Gang of Four minimalist but danceable post punk and then throw the noise crescendo of Sonic Youth behind it. "Seclusion" basically combines "Damaged Goods" with "Teenage Riot." Somehow they cram all that into 2 minutes and 13 seconds, making it one of the few songs I wish went on much longer. 

Deleter's debut album, Oblique Seasons, is due out December 7 on Land Ski Records. You can listen to "Seclusion" below. For the time being, be sure to check out Deleter on Bandcamp, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - "Where's Your Ghost"

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys are set to release their third proper album in late winter/early spring, and have just released a video for a track, "Where's Your Ghost." "Where's Your Ghost" isn't one of the Army of Toys' most bombastic songs, and is pretty quiet, at least at the beginning. It very slowly builds into a slightly more raucous song, but still, by Army of Toys' standards, pretty mellow. "Where's Your Ghost" seems more about atmosphere, and the result is this creepy, desperate sounding track that might end up haunting you as an earworm.

You can download "Where's Your Ghost" right now from Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys' Bandcamp. For their third album, Come Black Magic, the band has started a Kickstarter to help with funding and promotion. You can find the usual things, such as digital and physical copies of the album and your choice of a cover song, but since it's Walter Sickert, there are some more unique offerings. You can play a song with the band, get an illustration of yourself done by Walter Sickert, nude photos, etc. To check out their Kickstarter, go here. Also, keep in mind that this is a band that usually releases an album for free each year, so they really deserve some crowdfunding help.

First Listen: New Releases for October 30

This is a real feast or famine week, let me tell you.

Album of the Week

Artist: Laura Stevenson
Album: Cocksure
Quick Description: Fourth album from a favorite here at the blog.
Why You Should Listen: Just outright saying it, this is one of the best indie rock singer-songwriter albums of the year.
Overall Thoughts: This shouldn't be happening. Laura Stevenson's first album was okay. Second album solid with two incredible songs. Her third album was great from start to finish, and there was no way, I thought, that Cocksure could get even better. Yet it does. The lead singles ("Torch Song" in particular) were solid, but the album as a cohesive whole ends up being truly outstanding. In the last few albums I feel like she's found her footing, and the album title is just as much a truism as it is a double-entendre.
Recommendation: Album of the week, will certainly feature on my end of year list.

Artist: Gems
Album: Kill the One You Love
Quick Description: Debut album from the electronically-tinged indie group.
Why You Should Listen: You've enjoyed some of the similar stuff I've posted; you like a retro feel to your songwriting structure.
Overall Thoughts: A lot of bands try to do the 1980s thing by playing it straight. A lot of the songs on this album feel like they have the sort of melodic structure we've come to expect from 80s music, but with a definite modern theme. Bass-heavy electronics, some glitchy stuff. "Soak" and "w/o u" really won me over the moment I heard them, and the whole album is a really solid listen that I look forward to spending more time with.
Recommendation: Definitely should be near the top of your list this week.

Artist: British Sea Power
Album: Sea of Brass
Quick Description: Latest album by the British art rock group.
Why You Should Listen: British Sea Power isn't always great, but they are always interesting.
Overall Thoughts: I've enjoyed British Sea Power on and off since their debut. A band I never saw live, I've found their albums to be interesting and different. Sea of Brass has a very cinematic scope and thus mostly works for what it is as a cohesive whole, even if it may be a little overlong. Do you like film scores? Shoot this to the top of your list, for sure.
Recommendation: A good listen, but not for all.

Artist: Beach Slang
Album: The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us
Quick Description: Buzzworthy debut indie rock album.
Why You Should Listen: You want to be on the cutting edge of what the kids are listening to.
Overall Thoughts: Honestly, I would have skipped this if it weren't for every blog I read for music raving about this. Overall? It's okay. Nothing special, perhaps a little more lo-fi than I'm into these days. I would have loved this 12 years ago, but today? It's just okay.
Recommendation: Give it a shot, but be wary.

Artist: Seth MacFarlane
Album: No One Ever Tells You
Quick Description: Latest album of standards and standards-style singing from the Family Guy guy.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Frank Sinatra was still alive.
Overall Thoughts: I guess when you have Family Guy money, it all works out where you can indulge in passion projects and everyone's okay with it. I slag on this a bit (mostly because I live in a world of books where celebrities think they can moonlight and it just doesn't work), but MacFarlane does have the voice for this. It works really well, the songs are pleasant and it's a good enough thing to throw on in the background of your dinner party and have a bit of a conversation starter. Another solid surprise overall.
Recommendation: A good listen as long as you can move past the novelty.

Artist: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell
Album: So Familiar
Quick Description: Follow-up to their well-regarded album from a couple years ago.
Why You Should Listen: Steve Martin is an auto-listen anyway, and their first album was so good that this needs to be heard too.
Overall Thoughts: I mean, listen. You've already made up your mind on this. Either you know this will be just as good as their first effort, or you didn't like their first try and you're wrong and failing as a human being. It's that simple.
Recommendation: If this isn't the album of the week, it's a definite #2. A must hear.

Artist: G Love and Special Sauce
Album: Love Saves the Day
Quick Description: Tenth album from the blues rock favorites.
Why You Should Listen: G. Love and Special Sauce should be automatic...
Overall Thoughts: ...but not generally for me, actually. I've never really gotten into them even though I have a friend who really liked them. This is a good album, but it's nothing that will blow your mind and probably isn't a good introduction to the band on a whole.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if you're into it.

Artist: Car Seat Headrest
Album: Teens of Style
Quick Description: Debut release from a new artist on Matador.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoy lo-fi indie rock that borrows from a variety of sources.
Overall Thoughts: This is a compilation of old re-recorded songs, which may explain why I felt like this felt disjointed and exhausting. I am more interested to see what comes next, but this really won't be for everyone.
Recommendation: If you have the time.

Artist: El Vy
Album: Return to the Moon
Quick Description: Debut album from a side project of The National and Menomena.
Why You Should Listen: If you like these two bands and enjoy well-crafted rock music...
Overall Thoughts: I'm not a huge National guy, and Menomena are all well and good but have never truly grabbed me outside of their live show. This, however, is a rock-solid album with a lot going for it. The songs are memorable at times, the music really enjoyable. This was a great palate cleanser for me after a few listens this week, so it's worth your time.
Recommendation: A good listen!

Artist: Consuela's Revenge
Album: Mercy
Quick Description: A debut mishmah of roots-ish genres from a Providence-area band.
Why You Should Listen: They have one of the more interesting sounds of the new music of the moment.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this one over, and I was skeptical based on the name alone. The female lead, however, has a very familiar-sounding voice, and the band is sort of like a weird cross between David Wax Museum and Black Prairie that works surprisingly well. The first song really grabbed me and I stuck with it the whole way through, and I look forward to hearing more.
Recommendation: Definitely should make your cut this week.

Artist: The Neighbourhood
Album: Wiped Out!
Quick Description: Second album from the buzzed-about rock band.
Why You Should Listen: I... I don't know.
Overall Thoughts: Here's the thing. This band has a couple good songs (one is on this album, "R.I.P. 2 My Youth," and the other is "Sweater Weather" from their debut), but on a whole, I don't know who they're trying to appeal to. Too dark for traditional alt-rock, too weird for pop. And I'm not even sure any of it works. Maybe someone can explain it to me.
Recommendation: Skip it this week.

Artist: Puscifer
Album: Money Shot
Quick Description: Latest album from the Tool frontman's side-project.
Why You Should Listen: It's the closest thing to a new Tool album we're going to get for a while, it appears.
Overall Thoughts: For a long time, I took part in a Tool discussion list that really went in deep for a lot of philosophy stuff, a lot of musical discussion, and so on. I remember when Puscifer actually became a thing, and it was juvenile and weird and I think I wrote it off. I don't know if this will bring me back into the fold a bit, but this actually feels like a good album with a lot going for it as opposed to, well, whatever it started out as. I'm not saying this is for everyone at all, but if you, up to this point, are missing Tool and/or want to try something different, you should take a flier on this.
Recommendation: Worth a look. I enjoyed it!

Also out this week:

* We Love Disney