Thursday, March 31, 2016

Matt Patershuk - I Was So Fond of You

Matt Patershuk's I Was So Fond of You is not a happy album. Dedicated to his late sister (and with all proceeds of the album going to a few charities in her name,) it's a heartbreaking album of loss. It's not a pretty album, but it's absolutely beautiful.

The two songs that deal with death and loss the most are "Harviestown" and "I Was So Fond of You." Playing in the style of old fashioned country-folk creates the perfect setting for these songs, but the album does have a bit more of an edge to it than your typical country or folk album. It reminds me a lot of John Doe or The Nightwatchman mixed with the rootsy sound of Joe Fletcher. I Was So Fond of You is a must listen for anyone reading this blog.

I Was So Fond of You is available now at Black Hen Music. You can listen to the title track below, and for more information check out Matt Patershuk's website.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for March 25

Some very solid stuff out this week.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Margo Price
Album: Midwest Farmer's Daughter
Quick Description: Debut classic country album via Third Man Records.
Why You Should Listen: If you have any sort of love for classic country in the vein of Loretta Lynn, you need to add this to your list.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed this far, far more than I anticipated, as it's the perfect blend of the modern and the old school and results in one of the more fun albums of recent times for me. There's not a missed note on this, and really just further demonstrates that Third Man is putting out just some of the highest quality music out there. Margo Price is a name you need to know, because this might end up blowing up unexpectedly, it's that good.
Recommendation: One of the best things I've heard in 2016 so far. A must listen.

Artist: RJD2
Album: Dame Fortune
Quick Description: Latest album from the electronica producer.
Why You Should Listen: You like electronic music with diverse influences.
Overall Thoughts: RDJ2 is different than most electronic acts I listen to in his unpredictability and the interesting soundscapes he puts out there. What I find interesting about this album, though, is that it feels, on first listen, a little more straightforward than his previous works. I want to spend more time with it, but I didn't find this nearly as sonically interesting as his previous work. Not bad, just different.
Recommendation: Worth it for fans, maybe be wary otherwise.

Artist: The Thermals
Album: We Disappear
Quick Description: Newest album from punk-esque band The Thermals.
Why You Should Listen: The Thermals are typically a good time, and this is a return to form.
Overall Thoughts: I think "Pillar of Salt" might be the song that got me hooked on this band, but their more recent albums have left me a little cold. Thankfully, We Disappear feels like a return to form, a more typical Thermals record with a lot to love here. I felt like this was what I've wanted from this band for a while, and that should say something. So if those golden albums of a half-decade ago are your thing, jump on board, you'll love this.
Recommendation: A great release this week.

Artist: Skating Polly
Album: The Big Fit
Quick Description: Great indie punk-adjacent tunes from a female-led duo.
Why You Should Listen: You miss Be Your Own Pet?
Overall Thoughts: I kind of love this album. It was very nearly my album of the week, but that's not a slag on this, which is such a fun listen and has a lot of fun stuff going on. The softer side with "Cosmetic Skull," the great "Perfume for Now," I just love what's happening here. This tends to be down my alley in terms of the female-fronted stuff, so give this a listen.
Recommendation: Awesome album this week, tons of fun.

Artist: Bob Mould
Album: Patch the Sky
Quick Description: Latest album by the indie legend.
Why You Should Listen: It's Bob Mould, yo.
Overall Thoughts: There's nothing I can say about this that will change anyone's mind, but Bob Mould can still rock as hard 30+ years into his career as anyone, and that's just awesome. Patch the Sky is more of the same, for sure, but when the same is this good, why complain? Great album.
Recommendation: A must listen.

Artist: Birdy
Album: Beautiful Lies
Quick Description: Third album from the British pop singer.
Why You Should Listen: She's only 19 and is hitting a groove.
Overall Thoughts: I figured she was 10 years older than she is given the leaps and bounds made with this album. It sounds a lot like the current pop trends, which is fine, but she's always had a slightly different take on things on a whole, and this does shine through. And, again, she's only 19. We're past the point of cover albums for her and starting to get an idea as to what to expect moving forward and, so far, this is some truly good stuff.
Recommendation: If you like pop music, you need to check this one out. If you don't, you might still find something to love.

Artist: Lee Harvey Osmond
Album: Beautiful Scars
Quick Description: Unfortunately titled band with some fortunate blues-rock.
Why You Should Listen: This will definitely hit those looking for a more deliberative blues rock.
Overall Thoughts: This won't be for everyone, but this has a bit of an old-style, grungy feel to it that sometimes worked for me. I can't say I absolutely loved this, and I have little to say about it, but it's a pretty good release.
Recommendation: Good for those looking for this genre.

Artist: Parker Milsap
Album: The Very Last Day
Quick Description: Solid Americana.
Why You Should Listen: It's more modern but more mainstream than Margo Price.
Overall Thoughts: Another solid Americana release, for sure, and one I definitely enjoyed. Another album I don't have a ton to say about, in part because it's just so well done and perfectly executed that it's just something Americana fans should really just be adding to their lineup this week as well. If the title track doesn't grab you, I honestly don't know what to tell you. A great listen, another one of the best of the week.
Recommendation: A must listen.

Also out this week:

* Littler - Of Wandering
* The Joy Formidible - Hitch
* Open Mike Eagle and Paul White - Hella Personal Film Festival
* Plague Vendor - BLOODSWEAT

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Claypool Lennon Delirium - "Cricket and the Genie (Movement 1, The Delirium)

You would probably assume that anything that either Les Claypool or Sean Lennon get involved in is going to be weird. Since their debut album is called Monolith of Phobos and the first single is "Cricket and the Genie (Movement 1, The Delirium," you're right. It's weird.

But, it's easy to forget that both Lennon and Claypool have some serious pop sensibilities. Primus have had some moderate hits, and Sean Lennon's Into the Sun was one of the most underrated albums of the late 90s. The song is pretty bouncy, with a killer grooved out bass line (of course,) and while it is trippy, it's trippy in a pretty normal way. If there was still a thing as modern rock radio in 2016, this would be a candidate for song of the summer. So it's weird, but it's not that weird. Except for the flute solos. Flute solos are pretty much always weird.

The Claypool Lennon Delirium's debut album (which also features Money Mark on keyboards,) Monolith of Phobos, is due out June 3 on ATO Records. You can listen to "Cricket and the Genie (Movement 1, The Delirium)" below. For more information on The Claypool Lennon Delirium, check out their website or Facebook.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Courtney Barnett Covers The Grateful Dead

I hate The Grateful Dead. Literally everything about them. I've never liked their music and have always found it grating. I hate that they're more of a merchandise brand than a band. I hate the cult that's formed around it (they're like OG emo kids.) I hate that they duped their fans into traveling across the country to Chicago and buying overpriced concert tickets for their "final" show, only to schedule another "final" show in San Francisco. I hate that after their "final" shows they booked a "final" tour with John Fucking Mayer of all people replacing Jerry Garcia (I don't care what anyone says, I've never heard a shred of this amazing talent Mayer allegedly has, especially when he pulls garbage like this,) and then booking yet another "final" tour this summer, thereby skull fucking any credibility they might have ever had into the ground.

Despite all this, I'm excited for the upcoming 59 song Day of the Dead tribute album. It's curated by members of The National, and it features some of my favorite artists, like The Flaming Lips, Lee Ranaldo, Lucinda Williams, Wilco, Jenny Lewis, and more. They've previewed a few of the tracks, my favorite of which is Courtney Barnett's version of "New Speedway Boogie." Further solidifying her status as the Queen of the Cover, it's a rollicking, groovy track that would have fit perfectly on last year's Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Even if you also hate The Dead, you'll want to hear this cover.

Day of the Dead will be out May 20th on 4AD. It's also a benefit for The Red Hot Organization. You can pre-order a copy here, and listen to Courtney Barnett's cover of "New Speedway Boogie" below.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Charles Bradley Covers Black Sabbath

Charles Bradley is one of those artists I've been meaning to check out for years, but for no real reason I just haven't. I've known he is great for a few years now. I just haven't listened to him yet. In what is an obvious attempt to get If It's Too Loud... to finally give him a shot, he's released a cover of the iconic Black Sabbath song "Changes."

A classic-style soul singer that's been at it for 50 years covering a song by the originators of heavy metal is a bizarre one, to say the least. In theory, at least. Sure, "Changes" is a ballad, and it's not like Charles Bradley chose "War Pigs" or "Fairies Wear Boots." This cover of "Changes" works far better than it should. Listening to it, I'm shocked that I never picked up on the soul of the original. This could be the rare time a cover ends up becoming more meaningful than the original, like Johnny Cash's cover of "Hurt." It's just that good.

Charles Bradley's third album, also called Changes, is due out April 1 on Daptone Records. You can watch the video for his cover of "Changes" below. For more information, check out his website.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Guerilla Toss - Eraser Stargazer

Eraser Stargazer marks a departure not only for Guerilla Toss, but for noise punk as a whole. Noise punk is typically always in your face, loud, and obnoxious. Eraser Stargazer is less punk and more pop. By pop, I don't mean it's a Katy Perry song with a few bleeps, although there is a heavy electronic element. It's not digital hardcore, either, although singer Kassie Carlson's voice does remind me of Hanin Elias of Atari Teenage Riot. 

Guerilla Toss are carving out their own path here. It's almost like dance music that isn't even coming close to trying to be enjoyable. It's not a very pleasant listen, but it's not overpowering you. It's the musical equivalent of when Lisa and Maggie kept poking Bart's bandage after he had his tattoo removed. A song like "Grass Shack" truly reflects this. You might want to try dancing to it. It does have a groove, after all. But you'll have no idea how. I would call it noise punk for a generation raised on American Idol and The Voice, but I think the element that shows the most here is their fandom for The Grateful Dead is finally showing. 

Eraser Stargazer is available now on DFA Records. You can get more information on Guerilla Toss, and get your own copy of the album, on their Bandcamp.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Charming Disaster - "What Remains"

The first line describing Charming Disaster on their Bandcamp is "Murder ballads and love songs involving death, crime, and the supernatural." For me, that's kind of my dream description for just about anything. Their new single, "What Remains," fits that description perfectly, and is absolutely haunting in how sparse it is. What is truly interesting is how much dissonance they muster using traditional instruments. It evokes the feelings of not just a song but an old fashioned radio play, with some of the instruments so far in the background that they almost feel like sound effects and are ingrained in the story itself. 

"What Remains" will be officially released on April 1. Between now and then, you can download a copy for free (or name your own price) through their Bandcamp. For more information on Charming Disaster, check out their website. Listen to "What Remains" below, and check out their upcoming tour dates below that.

Wed 4/6, 7pm: It’s Modern Art (Lancaster, PA)
Thu 4/7, 8pm: Blue Moon Diner (Charlottesville, VA)
Fri 4/8, 9pm: Slim’s Downtown with Drowning Lovers + Curtis Eller (Raleigh, NC)
Sat 4/9, 6pm: French Broad Brewery (Asheville, NC)
Sun 4/10, 8pm: Red Light Café with Joe McGuinness (Atlanta, GA)
Tue 4/12, 7pm: The Nest at Songbirds Studios with The Lady Comes First (Gastonia, NC)
Wed 4/13, 8pm: Common Grounds with Eric Sommer (Greensboro, NC)
Thu 4/14, 7pm: Work | Release (Norfolk, VA)
Fri 4/15, 7:30pm: Germano’s Piattini & Cabaret (Baltimore, MD)
Sat 4/16, 3pm: Private House Concert – by RSVP (Philadelphia, PA)
Sun 4/17, 9pm: Pete’s Candy Store (Brooklyn, NY)

First Listen: New Releases for March 18

What a strange week this one is.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Steven Page
Album: Heal Thyself Pt I: Instinct
Quick Description: Latest solo album from the ex-Barenaked Ladies singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Page always has a knack for a good melody, and this album is full of them.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not sure Page will ever be able to shake the hows of his split with BNL (a drug arrest, lawsuits on royalties, and so on), but while Page One from nearly six years ago made a pretty good effort, this album, which has a bunch of songs that bits and pieces of have been floating around for ages, is a pretty solid unit on a whole. Songs like "Manchild" and "Linda Ronstadt in the 70s" feel like classic Page, and the rest shows a continuing evolution. I expected to enjoy this, but I didn't think it would be quite this good, so it's definitely worth a spot in your rotation this week.
Recommendation: Best release of the week, you're almost guaranteed to find something you'll love.

Artist: Dog Chocolate
Album: Snack Fans
Quick Description: Noisy British punk rock.
Why You Should Listen: You miss mclusky.
Overall Thoughts: Ken wrote about them earlier this year, and I can't say he's wrong. Whatever you're expecting, throw it out the window before firing this one up. It has a lot of interesting moments throughout, and while I didn't love this, it absolutely has the sort of sharp punkish vibe that I don't hear enough of.
Recommendation: Might not be for everyone, but worth a spin.

Artist: Sean Watkins
Album: What to Fear
Quick Description: Nickel Creek guitarist's latest solo effort.
Why You Should Listen: Anything Nickel Creek-adjacent is worth the time, and this is maybe Watkins's best solo effort yet.
Overall Thoughts: I sometimes feel bad for Sean Watkins. His sister has a successful solo career, his bandmate Chris Thile has his hands in a dozen things, and he's the undeserved odd man out. I didn't love love his solo album from last year, but this one is more beautifully complex with a lot going for it. The title track sets the tone well, and the whole thing is a pleasant listen overall. I look forward to spending more time with this, but it's absolutely one of the better releases this week.
Recommendation: Worth a listen no matter what.

Artist: Underworld
Album: Barbara, Barbara, We Face a Shining Future
Quick Description: Sixth album (and first in six years) from the electronica legends.
Why You Should Listen: You're a big Underworld fan...
Overall Thoughts: ...because, truly, this isn't great. Underworld has some true classics, and they're generally at least on top of things, but this feels like a dated, plodding piece that doesn't quite work for me. In an era where there's a lot of interesting things happening in this genre, Underworld isn't updating itself the way, say, The Prodigy or Crystal Method or The Chemical Brothers have. Pretty disappointing.
Recommendation: Only if you're a huge fan.

Artist: Damien Jurado
Album: Visions of Us on the Land
Quick Description: New album from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Damien Jurado sounds a lot different than many of the singer-songwriters out there.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not a huge fan of Jurado, but I've always found his music to be that sort of off-center thing that defies description even though it's pretty melodic and straightforward. No one else is quite like Damien Jurado, and this album feels a little bit like a step back for him. It's a little gritty, a little slow at times, and there's not a ton that's memorable from it on first listen. If you're new to Jurado, I'd throw Maraqopa out there first before this, but we'll see if this sticks with me on future listens.
Recommendation: Not a recommendation, but not terrible, either. Be wary.

Artist: Folly and the Hunter
Album: Awake
Quick Description: Radio-friendly folk-rock.
Why You Should Listen: This ever-popular genre explosion has been working for you.
Overall Thoughts: I listen to a lot of new music for this blog, and what's interesting/unfortunate about Folly and the Hunter is how similar it sounds to so much of what I've heard and featured up to this point. This is definitely becoming a genre of sorts all its own, and so many of these groups sound the same that Folly and the Hunter can't begin to break out of. You've heard this album before in a lot of different ways, and, unless this is the best thing you've ever listened to, you'll find nothing new or exciting here.
Recommendation: Skip it.

Artist: Bent Shapes
Album: Wolves of Want
Quick Description: Second album by the indie rock favorites.
Why You Should Listen: Bent Shapes does a fun style of indie rock that demands a listen.
Overall Thoughts: Ken saw Bent Shapes live last year, and we're both fans, so the new album was something I was excited to hear. While I didn't feel like it broke any new ground on first listen for them in comparison to their previous album, they didn't exactly have to. I'll need to spend more time with it to see if there are true highlights here like with their first album, but a good listen nonetheless.
Recommendation: A highlight of the week, check this one out.

Artist: Eliza Shaddad
Album: Run
Quick Description: Ethereal indie singer-songwriter EP.
Why You Should Listen: Another becoming-standard genre, this from a voice that may get some buzz.
Overall Thoughts: It's one thing for me to complain about the pseudo-adult-alternative stuff two entries earlier, but be okay with this, but... I'm okay with this. Shaddad has an interesting voice, the EP is drenched in great production, and songs like "Run" and "Wars" give a taste of what might be coming. It's a good listen, and worth 15 minutes of your time.
Recommendation: A solid, quick listen.

Artist: Winterpills
Album: Lovesongs
Quick Description: Latest album by the enigmatic indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: Winterpills does some interesting stuff and it always feels like they're changing things around.
Overall Thoughts: This album feels a little more conceptual than their other stuff, perhaps, and the stark nature of a lot of these songs might be a turnoff, but this was definitely one of the more interesting releases of the week for me. I don't know how to describe this except that it's something that deserves a listen as some interesting indie rock.
Recommendation: A good listen, and worth a shot in a weird week.

Artist: Cullen Omari
Album: New Misery
Quick Description: Ex-Smith Westerns frontman goes solo.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for some more straightforward stuff.
Overall Thoughts: I wasn't ever a big Smith Westerns fan, so I can't say how this might compare to his old band, but what I find interesting about this album is how it's trying for that retro thing that's so in right now, but still sounds more like The Killers at times anyway. It's a different album in that it's a pleasant listen and gives off a good, enjoyable listen, but I found it to be kind of forgettable by the time I was moving onto something else. This might resonate with some listeners, but it didn't work for me.
Recommendation: Give it a try, you'll know fast if it's for you.

Artist: The Bonnevilles
Album: Arrow Pierce My Heart
Quick Description: Awesome blues/garage rock.
Why You Should Listen: You wish old White Stripes were still a thing, but The Black Keys never do it for you.
Overall Thoughts: MAN, this is good. I kind of saved the best for last here because this was such a good listen, some just really nice, grungy guitar-based blues rock. I can't even say more about it except that it's an album I didn't know I wanted until I heard it, and it needs to get into your rotation as soon as possible.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Also out this week, albums that I mostly couldn't get through. Some weeks I can do it, but wow, some of these...:

* Iggy Pop - Post Pop Depression (collaboration w/Josh Homme and others, it's...weird)
* Joell Ortiz - This is Hip Hop
* The Body - No One Deserves Happiness
* Soul Asylum - Change of Fortune (yes they still exist)
* James - Girl at the End of the World (these guys too)
* Primal Scream - Chaosmosis
* Baauer - Aa (the "Harlem Shake" guy)
* Grant-Lee Phillips - The Narrows

Monday, March 21, 2016

Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts - "Strangers"

Photo courtesy Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts
I always try to make it a point to listen to a song that's sent to us before reading the accompanying press release and band bio. While listening to "Strangers" by Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts, I started making connections, like we music reviewers do. You know what I'm talking about. "It sounds like Band X hung out with Band Y at a drugged up rave," etc. The comparison I made for this song was that it sounds like Cheap Trick meets the current crop of more pop Americana that's all the rage these days. Turns out Miles Nielsen is the son of Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, so maybe some things are just hereditary.

All family connections aside, you should give "Strangers" a chance. It's a great blast of pop Americana, but more in line with Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers than The Lumineers. It's a confessional song about being able to open up to strangers instead of close friends and family. 

Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts' new album, Heavy Metal, is due out April 29 on Rotown Records. You can listen to "Strangers" over on Soundcloud. For some more information on the band, you can find their website here, and find some tour dates below.

4/15 - Chicago, IL @ Cobra Lounge
4/16 - Champaign, IL @ Cowboy Monkey
4/29 - Rockford, IL @ Memorial Hall
4/30 - Mineral Point, WI @ Mineral Point Opera House
5/5 - St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
5/6 - Green Bay, WI @ Lyric Room
5/7 - Maquoketa, IA @ Codfish Hollow Barnstormers
5/13 - Memphis, TN @ Lafayette's Music Room
5/14 - Knoxville, TN @ Jig and Reel
5/18 - Nashville, TN @ The Basement
5/20 - Newport, KY @ The Southgate House Sanctuary
5/21 - Louisville, KY @ Zanzabar 
6/19 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern
6/21 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
6/22 - Cambridge, MA @ Club Passim
7/28 - Grand Rapids, MI @ Tip Top Deluxe
7/29 - Three Oaks, MI @ Acorn Theater

Friday, March 18, 2016

The James Rocket - "We Are Here for You" b/w "Derby Girl"

Brooklyn's The James Rocket are back with their first release since 2012's Launch. It's just a 7" single and not a full length album, but new music is always welcome. The A-side is "We Are Here for You" is 90s style power pop at it's finest, with the sweet melodies of Big Star mixing with the fuzzy guitars of Guided By Voices. The B-side, "Derby Girl," is an ode to roller derby girls, possibly the best kind. It's all just power pop perfection, highly polished with just enough grit to make it interesting. Hopefully they won't be waiting four years between releases for the next one.

"We Are Here for You" b/w "Derby Girl" is available today. You can download a digital copy for free on The James Rocket's Bandcamp. You can also order a physical copy there, too. If you live in or around NYC, the band is playing a release party tonight at The Bitter End on Bleeker Street. For more info, check out their website

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mr. Lif featuring Del The Funky Homosapien - "World Renown"

Considering 90% of what I listened to in high school was hip hop, I'm always a little disappointed by how little I listen to now. Del the Funky Homosapien was huge for me back then (I still want to refer to him as "tha Funkee,") so I'm thrilled that he's still making quality music, which is more than I can say for most old school rappers. Also, I know I'm old because I also consider this a collaboration with one of my favorite "new" rappers, who I've been listening to for at least 14 years now. 

"World Renown" is taken from Boston based Mr. Lif's upcoming LP, Don't Look Down. Both MCs' styles mesh perfectly well. I never noticed how similar their flows are, with that laid back but intense delivery. Plus, musically the track has that slightly futuristic sound that both Lif and Del have made careers on. This is a true duet, not just a quickie guest appearance. This song will have you dreaming of an entire collaborative album and tour.

You can listen to "World Renown" below. You can download it for free on Mr. Lif's Bandcamp, where you can also preorder Don't Look Down,  which is due on April 15.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

KOLARS - "Beyond the World of Man"

Photo via Facebook
It's been a while since we've heard from He's My Brother She's My Sister. In the meantime, Rob Kolar and Lauren Brown (aka the married couple in He's My Brother She's my Sister) have started a new project called KOLARS. They've released a video for their first song, "Beyond the World of Man." We obviously have to compare them to their other band, so here goes! While HMBSMS are the rootsier sound of more mainstream neo-folk acts like Houndmouth and The Felice Brothers, KOLARS seem to be a more rootsy version of a dance pop Americana act like Lucius. "Beyond the World of Man" is just pure laid back California pop glory, in the best way it could be.

For more information on KOLARS, including their California and Nevada tour dates, check out their Facebook page. You can also watch the video for "Beyond the World of Man" below. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for March 11

A solid week on a whole.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Aurora
Album: All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend
Quick Description: Gorgeous, addictive Nordic synthpop.
Why You Should Listen: Straddles the line near-perfectly on traditional pop and strange synthpop.
Overall Thoughts: I first learned of Aurora via "Running With the Wolves," and this has been a long-awaited full-length from her for me. I'm liking where the style is going, here - it's very accessible, but doesn't try to push the pop angle too too much. It means that it doesn't work 100% of the time, but when it does, it's memorable. This won't be for everyone, but those who love pop music will find a lot to love here. And she's only 19?!
Recommendation: Best release of the week, so it's worth a spin.

Artist: Lucius
Album: Good Grief
Quick Description: Second album by the throwback band.
Why You Should Listen: Lucius likes to ape certain musical eras, and they do so better than most.
Overall Thoughts: If Wildewoman was a love-letter to girl pop groups from the 1960s, Good Grief is saturated in 1980s nostalgia from top to bottom. While I was a little skeptical hearing the lead single, "What We Have (To Change)," hearing it in context of the full album makes a lot more sense and provides a good baseline for the entirety of what they're looking for. If you're looking for more stuff along the lines of "Turn It Around," you might be disappointed, but don't keep your mind closed. There's a lot to love here.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Little Green Cars
Album: Ephemera
Quick Description: Second album from the Irish rock group.
Why You Should Listen: You like some radio-friendly rock.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed the first album from this group, and the second album is a pleasant return for the group. While this feels a little adult alternative at times, there's plenty here to enjoy, especially if you're looking for more traditional stuff this week.
Recommendation: Worth a spin if you have the time.

Artist: The Wild Feathers
Album: Lonely is a Lifetime
Quick Description: Second album by the buzzworthy act.
Why You Should Listen: The band pivots from more roots-oriented rock to a more classic rock tone with ease.
Overall Thoughts: This is an album that is both Very Good and Not For Me. Definitely nodding to a lot of 1970s rock acts, this ends up being a solid listen that might have a lot of appeal to people looking for this sort of thing, they're a very well-tuned band that might make a breakthrough this year.
Recommendation: If you're into what they offer, it's worth a listen.

Artist: Emmy the Great
Album: Second Love
Quick Description: Latest album by the favorite singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Emmy the Great is a favorite here, and should be your favorite, too.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know why Emmy the Great hasn't become, like, the biggest singer-songwriter going right now. Her songs are accessible, her lyrics fun, her musicianship top-notch. Second Love is her first album since landing the Mystery Show theme (and why that's not on here, I don't know), and hopefully this will be the deserved breakthrough for her we're waiting on.
Recommendation: One of the top listens of the week.

Artist: Pete Yorn
Album: ArrangingTime
Quick Description: First album in six years from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Pete Yorn is always above-average if not better, and it's been far too long.
Overall Thoughts: When I first started reaching out on music beyond what's on the radio, I hit upon Pete Yorn. I've seen him live a few times, and he's put out a lot of good music over the years. This album is just as high quality as some of his other stuff even if this isn't quite to the heights of his debut or his work with Scarlett Johanssen. Overall, a good listen, though.
Recommendation: A solid release this week.

Artist: Shooter Jennings
Album: Countach (For Giorgio)
Quick Description: The legendary Shooter Jennings does a tribute to Giorgio Moroder?
Why You Should Listen: It's going to be the most interesting thing you'll hear in a while.
Overall Thoughts: I mean, the idea of a country rock disco tribute album is insane on its face, and this mostly doesn't work. The cover of the theme for The Neverending Story is maybe the most redeeming part, but it's still so weird. This needs to be heard, but I know I won't be listening to it again.
Recommendation: One and done. It's a curiosity piece.

Artist: Jeff Buckley
Album: You and I
Quick Description: Another vault release from Jeff Buckley.
Why You Should Listen: Jeff Buckley's legend has only grown since his passing 20 years ago, and this is the first release of newish material in some time.
Overall Thoughts: At this point, we know how we feel about Jeff Buckley from a musical standpoint, so your interest in this release is going to be based solely on that. As a fan of Buckley's work, there are some true gems in here, with his haunting voice on "Everyday People" in particular being an enjoyable experience, but this is not what I'd call essential in the way his first two albums are. So this does exist, though, and may be of interest.
Recommendation: Probably a fans-only affair, but worth noting.

Artist: Star & Micey
Album: Get 'Em Next Time
Quick Description: Latest album from the roots-rocky indie band.
Why You Should Listen: Star & Micey definitely sounds different than most of the stuff we feature in this genre, and they're worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: I first found Star & Micey some time ago with their song "Salvation Army Clothes," a song that takes a quick residence in my head every few months. I was surprised to see a new album if only because I hadn't heard from them in so long, but their continued consistency is a plus for this group. Songs like "#1" and "Lucky" were standouts for me, and I'm glad to hear they're still trucking along.
Recommendation: Worth it if you have the time.

Artist: Glint
Album: Inverter
Quick Description: Electro-tinged rock.
Why You Should Listen: Definitely an interesting listen on the stranger side of things.
Overall Thoughts: If Aurora is handling the pop side of this genre, Glint comes across as someone pushing the envelope into a rock side. It doesn't always work, and it's not always the sort of electro-rock stuff you expect (like with "Daydreamers"), but, when it does, it's spot-on, and those who like the more electronic rock stuff will find a lot to like here, but I recognize it won't be for all. For me, though, this really works well on a whole. Reminds me of Vast, for those who remember the mid-1990s.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but worth a look.

Also out this week:

* Information Society - Orders of Magnitude
* Holy Wave - Freaks of Nurture

Monday, March 14, 2016

The Huntress & Holder of Hands - "Shake Off Your Flesh"

Normally I wouldn't post about a YouTube clip for an unreleased song, but I'm really excited about any new music from The Huntress & Holder of Hands. Plus, they linked to this clip from their Facebook page, so it's obviously approved by them. Recorded live at a house show in Vermont on March 5, "Shake Off Your Flesh" captures some of the sense of foreboding in Brown Bird's Axis Mundi, and even though it still falls into the folk/Americana category, you get a hint of the metal influences that were finally explored on Axis Mundi. This might be due to the hypnotic base line that goes throughout the song. Also, since the band is composed of six members, it's hardly a MorganEve Swain solo project.

You can watch a performance of "Shake Off Your Flesh" below, courtesy of YouTube user nnmvt vidoes. There are also more videos of the performances on their YouTube page, so check those out. For more info on The Huntress & Holder of Hands, check out their Bandcamp and the Brown Bird website.

Big Thief - "Real Love"

Photo by Sasha Arutyunova
When I shared Big Thief's song "Masterpiece" with you last month, we didn't have a release date for their debut album. Now we do (May 27th on Saddle Creek,) and we also have a new song, "Real Love." 

"Real Love" is a brilliant hodge podge of styles that should never be mixed, but thank god they did. First off, it's the kind of power ballad that the 80s were filled with. It seems like 80s power ballads are starting to make a bit of a comeback, and I never realized how much I missed them until this. It's not quite a pure hair metal power ballad in the Motley Crue vein, as it's just countrified enough to slip it into the Americana category. Plus, there are flashes of indie rock guitar, especially towards the end. I can not wait for this album.

Big Thief's debut album, Masterpiece, is due May 27 on Saddle Creek. You can listen to "Real Love" below. Be sure to check out their website, and pre-order Masterpiece via Saddle Creek. There are also some tour dates below.

Tue. Mar. 15 - Austin, TX @ 3Ten Austin City Limits Live (Pre SXSW Party) - 9:20PM
Wed. Mar. 16 - Austin, TX @ Clive Bar (Showtime Roadies House) - 4PM
Wed. Mar. 16 - Austin, TX @ The Sidewinder Inside (Ground Control Showcase) - 12AM
Mon. Mar. 21 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom w/ Yuck, Sunflower Bean
Tue. Mar. 22 - Las Vegas, NV @ The Bunkhouse Saloon w/ Yuck
Wed. Mar. 23 - San Diego, CA @ Soda Bar w/ Yuck
Thu. Mar. 24 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echoplex w/ Yuck
Fri. Mar. 25 - Visalia, CA @ The Cellar Door w/ Yuck
Sat. Mar. 26 - San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall w/ Yuck
Mon. Mar. 28 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios w/ Yuck
Tue. Mar. 29 - Vancouver, BC @ Fortune Sound Club w/ Yuck
Wed. Mar. 30 - Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile w/ Yuck
Thu. Mar. 31 - Boise, ID @ Neurolux w/ Yuck
Fri. Apr. 1 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Metro Bar w/ Yuck
Sat. Apr. 2 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge w/ Yuck
Sun. Apr. 3 - Omaha, NE @ Lookout Lounge w/ Yuck
Mon. Apr. 4 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry w/ Yuck
Tue. Apr. 5 - Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon w/ Yuck
Wed. Apr. 6 - Chicago, IL @ The Empty Bottle w/ Yuck
Thu. Apr. 7 - Ferndale, MI @ The Loving Touch w/ Yuck
Tue. Apr. 12 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg w/ Yuck
Fri. Apr. 15 - Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel w/ Yuck

Friday, March 11, 2016

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - "Write Back"

Photo by Jamieson Moore
The new song from Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever might be the most British sounding song we've ever covered, even though they're not British. Hailing from Melbourne, their new song "Write Back" has some pretty strong similarities to the British wave of bands that came before punk (The Jam, The Kinks) but still had the same attitude, just a bit more polite. It's filled with catchy verses and jangling guitars, which are two of our most favorite things. Even the subject matter of a "... hapless internet romance that will never be consummated" feels impossibly British.

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever will release their mini-album Talk Tight on Ivy League March 25. You can listen to "Write Back" below. Also, be sure to check them out on Twitter and Facebook for more information.

Friday Freebie: Julie Rhodes - Bound to Meet the Devil: B-Sides

Just in case both me and Jeff praising new music from Julie Rhodes wasn't enough to get you interested, she's offering a new EP through Noisetrade. Bound to Meet the Devil: B-Sides is much like Frank Turner's recent Mittens EP, in that it's basically what used to be a maxi-single or import that we'd pay $10-$20 for with a couple songs from the new album and a couple b-sides that didn't make the album.

For free you can get a copy of "In Your Garden" and "See the Sun," two standout tracks from Bound to Meet the Devil that show her more boisterous rock 'n' roll side and her more quiet, soulful side. Both are perfect choices for a sampler. There are also the unreleased songs "Chains" and "Crossroads," both of which would have been perfect for the album. And, yes, "Crossroads" is a Robert Johnson cover, and you all know how we feel about covers.

Bound to Meet the Devil: B-Sides is available on Noisetrade now for the minimum price of an email address. If you like it (and you most likely will,) you should also pick up a copy of Julie Rhodes' full album, Bound to Meet the Devil. Be sure to check out her website for more info.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Julia Jacklin - "Pool Party"

Photo by Nick McKinlay
Julia Jacklin's debut single, "Pool Party," is good. Really good. In fact, it's ridiculous how good this is. A 25 year old from Australia shouldn't be able to nail the Americana thing this well, but she somehow has. It's this stunningly smooth alt-pop-country song, that just mesmerizes for its entire four minute length. I've listened to this song about thirty times over the past few days, and I can't quite define what makes it so good and captivating. It's completely familiar and isn't truly breaking any new ground, but somehow it sounds completely fresh and unique. It just is good, and that's all it needs to be.

For more information on Julia Jacklin, check out her website and Facebook. Make sure you watch the video for "Pool Party" below, or, at the very least, listen to the song. I can't imagine you regretting it.

First Listen, Part Two: New Releases for March 4

And here we go with the other half!

Co-Album of the Week:

Artist: Thao and the Get Down Stay Down
Album: A Man Alive
Quick Description: Latest album by the criminally underrated indie rock act.
Why You Should Listen: It's an album that deserves a lot of attention and not to get overlooked.
Overall Thoughts: I was a latecomer of sorts to Thao Nguyen. Her songwriting didn't grab me right away with her "breakout" of sorts, "Bag of Hammers," but every album she's done since then has improved on the blueprint she brings, and A Man Alive might be the best one yet. It takes some time to truly get off the ground, but by the time "Nobody Dies" hits I was completely and totally on board. It's a challenging record, for sure, but in a good way - if you're not a fan yet, this album might take a few spins to get you on the bandwagon, but I promise there's plenty of room. This is a great release.
Recommendation: Awesome album for this week.

Artist: Wussy
Album: Forever Sounds
Quick Description: Latest album by the cult alt-country/rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Wussy is a band you either already love or is the next band you're going to love.
Overall Thoughts: I should love Wussy. Why they haven't fully connected with me, I don't know, but their continued evolution is here with Forever Sounds, an album that has a lot of solid things going for it on a whole. They're becoming a more traditional rock band in a lot of ways while still retaining the thing that makes them who they are, so if you liked Attica!, you might love this.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Greg Laswell
Album: Everyone Thinks I Dodged a Bullet
Quick Description: First album in a long time by the underrated singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Greg Laswell has a voice and style that you should already be listening to if you aren't already.
Overall Thoughts: On one hand, it's totes awkward to know that this is a breakup album of sorts when you're in a highish-profile marriage and then you title the album this. I mean, with that in mind, this is a darkish but interesting album that cements Laswell as a voice to hear in the singer-songwriter space. I hope this breaks him through for his original work in the way his covers have in the past.
Recommendation: Definitely worth some time this week.

Artist: M. Ward
Album: More Rain
Quick Description: New album from the indie singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: M. Ward's 60s/70s-inspired songwriting has always been a must listen...
Overall Thoughts: ...but this album feels like a bit of a miss. My issue with it is more one of how restrained it feels, which is different from a musician that always seems to put the musicianship and music first. Atmosphere is one thing Ward does well, and this is full of it, but this almost feels more like a concept album than anything else. On one listen, I can't really judge it on its merits, and I need more time with it.
Recommendation: Passing judgement for now, an interesting release for sure.

Artist: Wintersleep
Album: The Great Detachment
Quick Description: New album by the breakout rockers.
Why You Should Listen: It's really one of the better rock albums out lately.
Overall Thoughts: So I thought this band was a different band when I lined this up this week. I don't know who I thought they were, but this was still a pleasant surprise and listen across the board. It's got the sort of quality, polished-yet-crunchy quality I feel is missing from a lot of rock music as of late, and I definitely think this deserves a bigger look.
Recommendation: Definite recommendation this week.

Artist: Methyl Ethel
Album: Oh Inhuman Spectacle
Quick Description: Debut album from Australian indie act.
Why You Should Listen: This is a buzz band for 2016 that might be poised for some breakout success.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say I lovedlovedloved this, but it had a lot of hints of the sort of odd-center indie acts I fell in love with a decade ago. In that sense, they're very much a modern throwback of sorts that scratches a very specific itch for me. I think we'll be hearing more from them soon, so get in on the ground floor.
Recommendation: Definitely worth a listen this week.

Artist: Rob Crow's Gloomy Place
Album: You're Doomed. Be Nice.
Quick Description: Solo effort from the Pinback lead.
Why You Should Listen: Power pop for daaaaaays!
Overall Thoughts: It's a shame this came out at the same time as Nada Surf, because this deserves a better look. It's a solid effort with a lot to love and some different themes throughout (I'm more partial to some of the poppier stuff, but songs like "Business Interruptus" are just as solid), and it's just a fun listen from start to finish. Don't sleep on this one.
Recommendation: Make it part of your rotation.

Also out this week:

* The Suitcase Junket - Dying Star (solid blues rock EP)
* Face to Face - Protection (straightforward solid classic punk)