Tuesday, May 31, 2016

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for May 27

So much good music this week, guys. Another two-parter for your earholes.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Leyla McCalla
Album: A Day for the Hunter, A Day for the Prey
Quick Description: Second album of folk songs from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Leyla McCalla has a distinct sound you won't hear anywhere else, and the care she puts into her compositions is unlike anyone else.
Overall Thoughts: Man, I didn't know this was coming until Ken sent it over, and it's as good as I would have expected. Her first album, Vari-Colored Songs, was inspired by the words of Langston Hughes, and this album is more inspired by her heritage. It creates a soundscape that I can't place anywhere else, and that I truly and invariably love from start to finish. The minute it was over, I wanted to just fire it up again, and the trajectory she is on just makes me wonder what could come next. As a history nerd, as a music nerd, what McCalla is doing is worthy of notice on its own, never mind with the wrinkles woven throughout.
Recommendation: Simply a must listen.

Artist: Mark Kozelek
Album: Mark Kozelek Sings Favorites
Quick Description: An album of covers by the Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Kozelek's work.
Overall Thoughts: At this point, Kozelek is becoming a bit of a divisive figure in his corner of the music community, starting needless fights and being his own version of curmudgeon. I'm typically one to try and separate the man from the art whenever possible, and Kozelek's art here remains the same here as it ever was. It's Kozelek doing songs you probably know in his distinct style, and your enjoyment of this will likely be tied to that perception. If Mark Kozelek doing "Float On" is something you want to hear, you have it. For the rest of us...
Recommendation: A fans only-affair.

Artist: Belbury Poly
Album: New Ways Out
Quick Description: British electronic act with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: It's some really intereting, different-sounding electronic stuff.
Overall Thoughts: Belbury Poly is a group/project very new to me. A friend is into vaporwave and was raving about the album, so I looked it up and found a whole lot to enjoy here. While plenty of traditional instruments exist throughout, this is really more of an electronic project that feels like it's from a different era. "Old Ways In" was my entrypoint, and it might be yours as well. I know I'll be exploring their back catalog, but if you're looking for classic-sounding (as opposed to retro or dated) electronic music, you're at the right spot.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, especially if this is a genre of interest.

Artist: Fujiya and Miyagi
Album: EP1
Quick Description: First of three EPs from the indie electro-rockers.
Why You Should Listen: It's a return to form of sorts.
Overall Thoughts: I've been a fan of theirs since "Collarbone," so to here songs that remind me of their start is pretty great. We should see a few more EPs from them in the coming months, but if they're anywhere as good as this is, we should be in good shape.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Holy Fuck
Album: Congrats
Quick Description: first album in a long time from the somewhat-electropunk act.
Why You Should Listen: Put their name aside and enjoy some wild, schizophrenic stuff.
Overall Thoughts: I have trouble describing this band to people. No one wants to take them seriously due to their name, their music is both inaccessible to a mainstream audience but still fits right in with a lot of the dance-punk stylings we hear, and they've not been around for a while so this ends up being a welcome change from some of the current stuff. I implore you to give this a listen, as it's as good as their preceding albums and is really different than anything else discussed here recently.
Recommendation: Won't be for everyone, but I really liked this.

Artist: The Monkees
Album: Good Times
Quick Description: The Monkees do a comeback(?) album!
Why You Should Listen: Your enjoyment of this will be directly related to your level of nostalgia.
Overall Thoughts: I mean, listen. This isn't bad, it's just unnecessary. Clearly, Rhino has identified a constituency that is seeking out new music from The Monkees, but I am not part of that constituency. There's some interesting stuff here (and as it's produced by Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, that's to be expected), to be certain, but in terms of essential music for this week, there's plenty of other music out there for you.
Recommendation: Only if you really, really need to hear this.

Artist: Kristin Kontrol
Album: X-Communicate
Quick Description: Solo effort from the Dum Dum Girls lead.
Why You Should Listen: Fan of the Dum Dum Girls or not, this will surprise you in all the right ways.
Overall Thoughts: I'm absolutely a fan of DDG, so when Ken sent this one over it was one of the first I wanted to hear. While DDG is big on reverb-laden 1980s fuzzy rock, this is a synthpop album true and true. It feels like it was pinched right from 1986 and thrown into this week's releases, and that sort of sincerity and attempt at authenticity goes a long way for me. If you're looking for the harder stuff, you won't find it here, but if the idea of a modern synth album from a great songwriter appeals, this is one of the better releases this week.
Recommendation: A great listen overall.

Artist: Megafauna
Album: Welcome Home
Quick Description: Some good, straightforward rock music.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a lot more traditional.
Overall Thoughts: Some might call this closer to metal/hard rock, but I think that pigeonholes Welcome Home in the wrong way. Their third album, this album has shades of all sorts of modern rock and roll, and it's done fairly well overall. While I can't say there are necessarily standout tracks to be had here, there might be stuff here for those looking for the more standard rock thing will get something out of this.
Recommendation: A good album, but not for everyone.

Also out this week:

* 50 Foot Wave - Bath White

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Freebie and Forgotten Fridays: Cornelius - Fantasma Remastered Sampler

This week marks return of both Friday Freebie and Forgotten Fridays mixed all into one! Cornelius' 1998 album, Fantasma, is one of the greatest albums recorded in the 90s. It's absolutely ridiculously great. Despite this, it's one of those albums that I seem to forget about for a year or so at a time, and then hate myself for forgetting it. It also never seems to get mentioned in any "Best of the 90s" lists, which is criminal. It's a crazy blend of electronic elements (while still being done with actual instruments). It's basically if Beck and the Beastie Boys decided to be weird.

Fantasma is FINALLY being remastered and reissued on June 10. To remind people of how truly great it is, they've issued a three song sampler for free via Noisetrade. It's only three songs, but it's three absurd songs. Even if you've never heard of Cornelius, if you have kids you'll recognize "Count Five or Six" from Yo Gabba Gabba. Seriously, do yourself a favor and download this sampler now, and then get a copy of Fantasma on June 10. For more information on Cornelius, check out his website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

First Listen, Part Two: New Releases for May 20

A little late today, but here are the rest of this week's new releases!

Artist: B-17
Album: Goodbye
Quick Description: Garage-flavored Canadian punk.
Why You Should Listen: It's brash and loud and quite good.
Overall Thoughts: I liked this a lot, it's got some good melodic instincts to go along with its muddier presentation. The vocals might be the only downer for me, but that's more personal preference than anything else, and those who have a love of this genre will probably find this to be a new bright spot in your collection.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen.

Artist: Tiger Army
Album: V
Quick Description: Genre-hopping alt-rock.
Why You Should Listen: It's a fun, interesting album for this week.
Overall Thoughts: I find that this is an album that defies a lot of description for me. A song like "Firefall" is loud and melodic, while "I Am the Moth" has a more traditional trajectory. The result is an album that kept me on my toes, and that's something I appreciated. I'd recommend giving this one a go. If one part doesn't get you, another part will.
Recommendation: One of the more fun albums of the week.

Artist: Mutual Benefit
Album: Skip a Sinking Stone
Quick Description: Dreamy, ethereal indie folk.
Why You Should Listen: You need more pretty music in your life.
Overall Thoughts: This is beautiful and complicated, and that really makes it great. One of the solid listens of the week, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and if you're looking for something a little on the softer side, this is for you.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Artist: Car Seat Headrest
Album: Teens of Denial
Quick Description: Some solid indie rock from a very prolific band.
Why You Should Listen: It has some great punk elements along with some great melodies.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like I'm repeating myself a bit, but this is another one of those albums that kind of straddles the line between Tiger Army and B-17, which means it's a good thing overall. Songs like "Vincent" might get stuck in your head pretty fast, so be wary, but this is another quality album if you're looking for something like it.
Recommendation: A good listen!

Artist: Misha
Album: All We Will Become
Quick Description: Danceable indie pop music with a lot of interesting influences.
Why You Should Listen: It's sort of like if Thao Nguyen liked dance music.
Overall Thoughts: Misha tries to defy description a bit for me as well, but I loved a lot of what was happening here. It's got a great groove going for it, throws a ton of curveballs our way, and the result is an interesting and challenging album. It's really good, but you need to hear it to be sure.
Recommendation: A great listen, worth your time.

Also out:

* Hacov and The Alchemist - Silent Partner
* Wolf Parade - EP 4 (first EP in a LONG time from this band)

Dinosaur Jr - "Tiny"

Photo by Levi Walton
Yesterday we were greeted with the news that Dinosaur Jr have a new album coming out in August. This will be the fourth since the original line up of J, Lou, and Murph reunited, which is one more than they had on their 1st run. What's truly amazing is that a new Dinosaur Jr album is something to celebrate and look forward to. Most bands that are 30 years into their career are releasing filler material at best and more often than not pure shit. So far all three of their "reunion" albums have been stellar, and their upcoming album, Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not, will most likely be pretty great, too. The first song is out now. "Tiny" is a bit poppier than what you might expect from Dino Jr and is more along the lines of "Feel the Pain," but that's not a bad thing. It's still fuzzy and loud, with two killer J Mascis guitar solos, and Lou is still attacking his bass like a hardcore kid. I can't wait for more.

Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not will be out August 5 on Jagjaguwar. You can check out a live performance of "Tiny" from last night's Later... with Jules Holland below. For more info on Dinosaur Jr, including preorder bundles and their upcoming massive tour, check out their website. There's also a Dinosaur Jr greatest hits playlist on Spotify that includes "Tiny."

TSP - "Splinters"

Ever since last July when I saw Evan Dando join Willy Mason for my last show at TT the Bear's, I've been waiting for a more formal collaboration. The pair has joined with Marciana Jones to form TSP, which stands for The Sandwich Police (either a reference to the meme or the fact that the band is based on Martha's Vineyard, part of the Cape and Islands). TSP have their debut release due out this Friday, and you can listen to the first song, "Splinters," now.

"Splinters" leans much more heavily to the folk side of things. Dando has always been at his best with collaborators, and this group might have injected him with the shot of creativity he's been needing. No one truly takes lead vocals with harmonizing throughout. It's exactly what you'll want from Martha's Vineyard's very own indie folk supergroup.

TSP's debut EP will be available digitally on Friday, with a physical 7" release available in June from Fat Possum. For more information on TSP, check them out on Facebook. You can listen to "Splinters" below, and check out their upcoming dates opening for Courtney Barnett (!) below that.

5/25 – Rams Head – Baltimore, MD
5/26 – Electric Factory – Philadelphia, PA
5/29 – Metropolis – Montreal, QC
5/30 – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, ON
5/31 – Majestic Theatre – Detroit, MI

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Hallelujah the Hills - "Are We Failing?"

Photo by Courtney Brooke Hall
Hallelujah the Hills released their ridiculously great A Band is Something to Figure Out just last month. Usually a band will take some time to bask in the glory of the new album, tour it around some, and not even think about getting back into the studio. Hallelujah the Hills decided to immediately go back into the studio, and now have a new EP, Movement Scorekeepers, due out on July 8.

While A Band is Something to Figure Out is filled with anthems destined for superstardom, "Are We Failing?" is decidedly smaller and more indie. It reminds me of really early solo Lou Barlow, more Sentridoh than Sebadoh, but with better production. It's only 1:20 long, starting off with a blast of feedbacky noise, and the rest of the song is extraordinarily minimalist and sounding looped, even though I don't think it is.

Movement Scorekeepers is due out July 8 on Jealous Butcher Records. You can listen to "Are We Failing?" below, and preorder the EP here. For more on Hallelujah the Hills, check out their website. You can also find their current tour dates below.

July 8 - @ The Sinclair, Cambridge MA (Vinyl LP & EP 7" Release Show) w/ Thalia Zedek Band
July 9 - @ Grumpy's, Falmouth, MA w/ Crooked Coast
July 29th @ Club 603, Baltimore, MD
July 30th @ Fete, Providence, RI 

First Listen: New Releases for May 20

With a glut of new releases this week, this will be a two-parter.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Marissa Nadler
Album: Strangers
Quick Description: Latest album from the dark folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Nadler is criminally underrated.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know exactly when Strangers truly clicked for me, but it was midway through when I realized that this was a definite step up from her previous album and as good as anything else she's put out. There's still the ethereal tones throughout, and her airy, haunting melodies make it worthwhile, but I'll keep coming back to this because it feels a little more accessible in some ways. Will this be her breakthrough? I hope so, but this is a solid listen nonetheless.
Recommendation: A great listen, best of the week.

Artist: Tim Heidecker
Album: In Glendale
Quick Description: A rock album with some comedic undertones from the anti-comedy star.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Heidecker's work in any form.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if there's a way to fully describe this, as it sounds like an earnest rock record in a lot of ways. A lot of common rock themes with a bit of absurdity thrown in (such as some weird murder ballads and a whole thing about seeing Nicolas Cage), it's an interesting record that I think was worth listening to, but probably won't get a listen from me again. I prefer my Heidecker in a full-body cat suit singing about diarrhea.
Recommendation: Worth it for the curiosity factor.

Artist: Richard Ashcroft
Album: These People
Quick Description: Latest solo effort from the lead singer of The Verve.
Why You Should Listen: You're still really, really into Britpop.
Overall Thoughts: I, like pretty much everyone else, loved The Verve, and his first few solo albums weren't bad, either. I missed his most recent one, but this "comeback" after a hiatus of sorts sounds uninspired. It's fine, I guess, but I expected to be impressed by this moreso than I really was. It's just kind of strange in its overall mediocrity.
Recommendation: Skip it unless you're a superfan.

Artist: Kate Jackson
Album: British Road Movies
Quick Description: Debut solo album from the Long Blondes singer.
Why You Should Listen: This is some solid indie-rock style music.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know The Long Blondes as far as I can tell, but if it's anything as good as this, I'll have to look them up. While British Road Movies isn't breaking any new ground, it is an album that works extremely well within its confines. On first listen, the album feels whole and was definitely one of the most enjoyable listens of the week, and it's absolutely one I hope to spend more time with.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Mudcrutch
Album: 2
Quick Description: Tom Petty side project gets a second album.
Why You Should Listen: Tom Petty is awesome.
Overall Thoughts: The story of Mudcrutch is that it was Petty's actual first band, but it didn't work out and some of them broke off to become The Heartbreakers instead. Then, randomly, the band got back together and recorded anyway. The first album was a little more garage rocky, but this one sounds a lot more like a Tom Petty album in its basic forms. Perhaps a little more fun/a little less serious, this is something fans of Petty will surely like and might be a worthwhile curiosity piece for the rest of us. Me? I really liked it!
Recommendation: Definitely worth a listen.

Artist: Yuna
Album: Chapters
Quick Description: Modern, off-center R&B.
Why You Should Listen: You want to like FKA Twigs but find her a little too difficult.
Overall Thoughts: I make the Twigs comparison because my brain kept going back there. Yuna is doing something special here that deserves some attention, and it's something that bridges a gap a bit between some truly strange stuff and the more modern/predictable R&B (at least as I perceive it). It's absolutely mainstream sounding, but has a weird and different edge to it that comes across in the first couple songs and doesn't let go. This might not work for everyone, but I didn't realize how much I wanted this until I heard it.
Recommendation: A solid listen, might not be for everybody.

Artist: Braids
Album: Companion
Quick Description: A short EP from the sessions of their more recent album.
Why You Should Listen: Braids are great and you should already want more from them.
Overall Thoughts: While this is effectively what a B-Sides collection would have looked like a decade ago, this is a solid if unassuming listen. A quick hit, it's not going to turn anyone on or off to Braids, but as the companion piece it's supposed to be with Deep In The Iris, it's worth it.
Recommendation: Great for fans.

Also out this week:

* The Posies - Solid State
* Eric Clapton - I Still Do

Friday, May 20, 2016

Big Thief - "Humans"

Photo Credit: Sasha Arutyunova
As we're now a week away from the release of Big Thief's debut album, Masterpiece, we're getting whipped into a frenzy of anticipation. Luckily, we have a third song off the album to obsess about. 

"Humans" starts off with some pretty straight forward Americana laced rock n roll, the kind that Tom Petty has spent the last 30 years perfecting. Then, it slips into some distorted 90s style indie rock. All the while Adrianne Lenker's voice just sucks you fully in, with a feel of lilting vulnerability masking a power that could come out at any moment. "Humans" is pretty much just perfect.

Big Thief's debut album, Masterpiece, will be out May 27 on Saddle Creek. You can listen to it below. To pre-order Masterpiece, head over to Saddle Creek's website. You can get more information on Big Thief here. We're also including some tour dates way down at the bottom. 

Wed. June 1 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club w/ Nada Surf, Birds of Youth
Thu. June 2 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live w/ Nada Surf, Birds of Youth
Sat. June 4 - Boston, MA @ Paradise Rock Club w/ Nada Surf, Birds of Youth
Sun. June 5 - New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge w/ Sam Evian, Twain, Tiny Hazards
Sat. June 11 - St. Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill's Duck Room w/ M. Ward
Sun. June 12 - Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall w/ M. Ward
Mon. June 13 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bluebird w/ M. Ward
Thu. June 16 - Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall w/ M. Ward
Fri. June 17 - Milwaukee, WI @ Pabst Theater w/ M. Ward
Fri. Sept. 23 - New York, NY @ Central Park Summerstage w/ Lucius, JD McPherson  

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Kathleen Hanna Covers Bruce Springsteen

Photo via Facebook
Pretty much anything Kathleen Hanna does musically will get mentioned here, and when she does a cover song, it will definitely get mentioned. For the upcoming soundtrack for Maggie's Plan, Kathleen Hanna covers Springsteen's iconic "Dancing in the Dark." First of all, who knew soundtrack albums were still a thing? Second, this cover is interesting. Since Hanna makes a cameo in the film, and since she's joined by actor Tommy Buck who also appears in the film, I'm pretty sure this is a 100% Kathleen Hanna cover. Listening to the track, it seems more like it's their characters that are performing the song. Hanna doesn't really sound like she normally does when she sings, and Buck's voice seems fairly affected. Plus, it ends with a group of people singing along and clapping at the end. But, hey, it's still Kathleen Hanna singing Springsteen!

You can listen to Kathleen Hanna and Tom Buck's version of "Dancing in the Dark" below. The Magie's Plan soundtrack is due out May 20. For more information on Hanna's current band The Julie Ruin, check out their website.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Live From Nowhere Starts Off With a Performance from Bent Knee

Since I co-run a music blog, it's obvious I love music, especially discovering new artists. If you've been reading this blog with any regularity, you'll know that I particularly love the Boston music scene. My other huge obsession is discovering abandoned crap way out in the woods. Atlas Obscura has guided far too many weekends and day trips of mine.

Apparently I'm not the only one with these two obsessions. Live From Nowhere is a new video series where they take an artist and have them perform out in the middle of nowhere, usually at an abandoned site. So far we've been promised videos at an abandoned railroad tunnel, an abandoned state hospital, and an abandoned railroad bridge. They've just premiered their debut video which features experimental collective Bent Knee performing in the snow at an abandoned 17th century stone house. I had no idea I wanted this series until today.

You can watch Bent Knee's performance below. For more information on Live From Nowhere, "like" them on Facebook. Bent Knee have a new album coming on on Friday. You can find out more about them on their website.

First Listen: New Releases for May 13

A pretty solid week this week:

Co-Albums of the Week:

Artist: Kaia Kater
Album: Nine Pin
Quick Description: Latest album from the Canadian folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Kaia Kater has been good so far, but this is a big step forward.
Overall Thoughts: I liked her previous album, Sorrow Bound, and I did end up continuing to spend time with it and enjoyed it. Nine Pin, as a comparison, feels like a significant step forward both in terms of songwriting and in sound. The album really grabbed me from the start and it's the rare album that, once I finished it, I just wanted to fire it up again immediately. If you like folk music in any form, this is a must-listen, but I'll go as far as to say this might be one of my favorites in this space since Leyla McCalla's a couple years ago. Just absolutely brilliant.
Recommendation: A must listen for everyone.

Artist: Adia Victoria
Album: Beyond the Bloodhounds
Quick Description: Blog favorite finally has an album out.
Why You Should Listen: This has no business being as good as it is.
Overall Thoughts: We've highlighted a little bit of Adia Victoria's work before, but Ken and I were texting back and forth on Friday about how ridiculous this album is. From songs we already knew like "Sea of Sand" and "Dead Eyes" to new-to-me songs like "Out of Love," the music on this is second to none even if there's deeper stuff to mine within the songs themselves. Adia Victoria's music refuses to fit into any specific box, which is why I must like it so much, but whether you're into the more indie/alt-rock stuff or want something more R&B flavored, you're going to find something to enjoy here.
Recommendation: A great album from a name you're going to know at some point.

And the rest of the week...

Artist: 3OH!3
Album: Night Sports
Quick Description: Fifth album from the brotastic alt-rap/electro act.
Why You Should Listen: At this point, whether you want to listen to this or not has nothing to do with me.
Overall Thoughts: So I liked Want, and I really liked a lot of their debut, but 3OH!3 has been a little mixed for me since they hit it big with "Don't Trust Me" nearly a decade ago. Night Sports is interesting because the first half of the album actually feels somewhat mature and interesting, and then they come at us with a song called "My Dick." So, needless to say, your perspective on this album is going to be based more on your perspective of this act. I think this is the best album they've put out since Want, but it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to change your mind.
Recommendation: You already know whether you want to hear this or not.

Artist: Modern Baseball
Album: Holy Ghost
Quick Description: Latest album from the indie rock band.
Why You Should Listen: If you're seeking out the stereotypical indie experience, this is it.
Overall Thoughts: Modern Baseball works for me because it's exactly what I expect from an indie rock band right now. Fast-paced album (under 30 minutes) with some interesting sounds even while it remains fairly straightforward. I think it's ultimately difficult to dislike this even while it might not have a ton of stuff to love within its runtime, either. It's a solid listen, but it's not a mindblower.
Recommendation: Should get some of your time.

Artist: Colleen Green
Album: Colleen Green
Quick Description: A quick, stripped down, self-titled EP from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Colleen Green is great, and this is a bit of a nod back to her more lo-fi roots.
Overall Thoughts: While it feels strange to say that Colleen Green's last album felt a little polished, this EP is definitely a return to an older sound, and reminded me very quickly how much I liked her early work as well. This has a solid DIY punkish quality to it that's going to appeal to a lot of readers here, and, at 20 minutes, even if one song doesn't quite do it, the next will. A solid, fast listen.
Recommendation: Definitely worth a spin.

Artist: David Bazan
Album: Blanco
Quick Description: A collection of songs from the ex-Pedro the Lion singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Bazan is good, and this is the only way to get these songs without a record player.
Overall Thoughts: This isn't a cohesive album and isn't meant to be, instead being a collection of some monthly singles Bazan issued, but for what it is, it's a good collection of folkish indie rock songs that fill a good spot. If you've never been into his work, this is unlikely to be what changes that, but if you're a fan or have come off the bandwagon a bit, this might be worth your time.
Recommendation: Give it a shot if it seems interesting.

Artist: Jessy Lanza
Album: Oh No
Quick Description: Electronic music from a Junior Boys collaborator.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing else quite like it this week.
Overall Thoughts: In a week without a lot of electronic stuff, and with some fairly impressive albums out recently (both that we've covered and that we haven't), Jessy Lanza does stand out. On one hand, it has a traditional electronic feel to it, but something about it still feels weird and different. I missed her first album, so I don't know how it compares at this point, but as a fan of electronic/dance music, this certainly worked for me.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if you like the genre.

Artist: Vudu Sister
Album: Mortis Nervosa
Quick Description: Old-style folk storytelling with local interest.
Why You Should Listen: In a way, this feels like folk music from 50 years ago with a touch of modern darkness.
Overall Thoughts: This didn't always work for me, truth be told. An act from Providence, RI, with a lot of collaborative influences from acts we've covered here before, I wasn't sure of the point right away. For a lot of the same reasons Mark Kozalek doesn't always do it for me, so did this, but then you hear a song like "The Wendigo" and it all seems to make sense. Ken called it "If Placebo made a folk album," and there's definitely something to that sonically. Overall, an interesting listen this week.
Recommendation: Absolutely the most distinct and different listen of the week.

Artist: Gordi
Album: Clever Disguise
Quick Description: Debut EP from a 22-year old singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: This is a new voice that we might be hearing a lot more about in the future.
Overall Thoughts: On one hand, the sort of dreamy singer-songwritery stuff isn't especially new. Why is Gordi a little more compelling? Perhaps it's because she's so young, perhaps because the songs are simply solid, maybe it's the overall aesthetic. Overall, though, this is a great introduction and I look forward to hearing more from her.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Those Pretty Wrongs
Album: Those Pretty Wrongs
Quick Description: Collaboration between Luther Russell of The Freewheelers and Big Star's Jody Stephens.
Why You Should Listen: The pedigree alone is worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: This sounds like an old 1960s rock record, and that's great. A definite Big Star/Byrds feel in a lot of places, it feels like an album out of time a bit. This might not be for everyone as a result, but I certainly thought it was an interesting one.
Recommendation: If the description is interesting for you, this might work.

Artist: Michaela Anne
Album: Bright Lights and the Fame
Quick Description: Rootsy, classic-sounding country/Americana.
Why You Should Listen: It's some straightforward classic Americana.
Overall Thoughts: I think what's most surprising about Bright Lights and the Fame is how straightforward it is. A solid album that does exactly what you'd expect, the only chance it's taking is that it doesn't really take chances in an era where so many country-tinged acts are branching out. Kudos to Michaela Anne for channeling her inner Emmylou in that regard, but it results in an album that feels vaguely anachronistic in the wake of other similar acts. It might leave you a little cold, but that's not a reason to not give it a shot.
Recommendation: A good album, as different in its sameness as it may be.

Artist: Twin Peaks
Album: Down in Heaven
Quick Description: Modern psych-folk/rock.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing else like it this week, although a little wilder than what one might expect from this.
Overall Thoughts: This is not an album I have a ton to say about, except that we've seen a fair number of these acts come about recently and Twin Peaks has a slightly more raw and wild sound than the others. You'll know from the opening track whether this will work for you, but it deserved to be highlighted this week.
Recommendation: Not mandatory.

Also out this week:

* Oddisee - The Odd Tape
* A. Sinclair - Get Out of the City

Monday, May 16, 2016

Quilt Live at the Museum of Fine Arts

Normally we post about new releases and music you might not have heard. We don't usually cover live performances of music we've already reviewed. But this is a pretty special recording. Quilt did their official release show for Plaza at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. The album is ridiculously good, so you should really check it out. Shows at the MFA are always unique and special, and based on these videos they shared, this one was no exception. Three performances (for "Padova," "Hissing My Plea," and "Your Island") have been posted as a series on YouTube. It's going to make you wish you were there, or at least immediately check to see the next time they're playing near you. The videos also include some really good interview footage with the band, or you can just skip forward right to the performances. 

You can watch Quilt's video series below. After that are their current tour dates. For more information on Quilt, including their just released new album Plaza, be sure to check out their website.

Mon. May 16 - London, UK @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen
Tue. May 17 - Antwerpen, BE @ Het Bos

Wed. May 18 - Paris, FR @ Batofar
Thu. May 19 - Lausanne, CH @ Le Romandie
Fri. May 20 - Koeln, DE @ King Georg
Sat. May 21 - Berlin, DE @ Kantine am Berghain
Mon. May 23 - Copenhagen, DK @ Ideal Bar @ Vega
Tue. May 24 - Goeteborg, SE @ Pustervik
Wed. May 25 - Oslo, NO @ Internasjonalen
Thu. May 26 - Lund, SE @ Mejeriet
Fri. May 27- Hamburg, DE @ Aalhaus
Sat. May 28 - Brugge, BE @ Cactus
Sun. June 5 - Hunter, NY @ Mountain Jam
Sat. June 18 - Dover, DE @ Firefly Music Festival
Thu. June 23 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom w/ Widowspeak
Fri. June 24 - Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair w/ Widowspeak
Sat. June 25 - Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace w/ Widowspeak
Sun. June 26 - Portland, ME @ Blue
Fri. July 22 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Club Cafe
Sat. July 23 - Detroit, MI @ Mo Pop
Tue. July 26 - Akron, OH @ Musica
Wed. July 27 - Rochester, NY @ Lovin’ Cup

Friday, May 13, 2016

Alternatives to the Newport Folk Festival

Let's face it. Nobody you know got into the Newport Folk Festival. Putting tickets on sale just before Christmas pretty much guarantees anyone with kids or over the age of 30 got shut out. Plus, while there are some fantastic artists playing this year, some of the announced bands seem kinda questionable. Unfortunately, some other festivals are out this year: Tweed River called it quits, Gathering of the Vibes is taking the year off, Solid Sound only runs on odd years. So what else can you do with your festival going time this summer?

One Providence Experience
Where: Providence, RI
Dates: June 4
Tickets: Free!
Why you should go: First of all, it's free, and we all love free! It takes place in the "shadows of the ruins of the Providence National Bank," which is about the most Providence way you can describe a venue. For a free show the line up is ridiculous, with Screaming Females, What Cheer? Brigade, Rough Francis, Last Good Tooth, The Low Anthem, Death Vessel, and more! Did I mention this is all free?
Official website: I don't think there is one, but there is a Facebook event

Mountain Jam
Where: Hunter Mountain, NY
Dates: June 2-5
Tickets: Four day pass $235, single day $55-$90
Why you should go: Mountain Jam used to be much more jam bandy, and while the jam bands are still front and center, they've brought in enough alternative and indie folk acts to get our interest. This year features Beck, Wilco, Gov't Mule, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Courtney Barnett, Houndmouth, And the Kids, Quilt, and more. Yeah. Pretty insane.
Official website: mountainjam.com

The Thing in the Spring
Where: Peterborough, NH
Dates: June 9-12
Tickets: Weekend pass $50, individual events $8-$15
Why you should go: The tiny town of Peterborough hosts its own SXSW style show, with stages set up outside and in various venues around town. While there are no big name headliners, they always get a shockingly great array of artists. 2016 is no exception, with appearances by Pile, Julie Rhodes, Sunburned Hand of Man, O'Death, Coke Weed, The Huntress & The Holder of Hands, Bunnys a Swine, Vapors of Morphine, and more!
Official website: www.thethinginthespring.com

Green River Festival
Where: Greenfield, MA
Dates: July 8-10
Tickets: All weekend $119, single day $30-$65
Why should you go: The bands are amazing this year. In its 30th year, Green River has just outdone themselves. Throughout the weekend, you'll see favorites like Peter Wolf, Dawes, Shakey Graves, Shovels & Rope, The Suffers, Margo Price, The Felice Brothers, And the Kids, Oh Pep, and more. Plus, there are bands I wouldn't normally go see like Tedeschi Trucks Band and Los Lobos, but am still looking forward to. Last year Green River was the highlight of my summer, and I'm thrilled to go again.
Official website: www.greenriverfestival.com

XPoNential Music Festival
Where: Camden, NJ
Dates: July 22-24
Tickets: $140-$296 (Pricing seems confusing)
Why you should go: Put on by Philadelphia's WXPN (who knew radio station festivals still existed?), XPoNential seems to be blatantly targeting Newport fans who got shut out or are looking for alternative to Newport. It's taking place the same weekend, and it has a ton of artists that are playing or have played Newport. This year includes Ryan Adams and The Shining, Tommy Stinson, Alabama Shakes, Gary Clark Jr., Brandy Carlile, Old Crow Medicine Show, case/lang/veirs, Father John Misty, Colvin & Earle, The Felice Brothers, David Wax Museum, The Suffers, and more!
Official website: xpnfest.org

Amourasaurus II
Where: Northampton, MA
Dates: August 27-28
Tickets: Both days $90, single days $50
Why you should go: It's put on by the team behind Green River. Amourasaurus started off last year as a way to still have bands that couldn't play Green River, and they're at it again this year. Lake Street Dive curated the event and headline both nights. They also booked Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band, Thao & The Get Down Stay Down, The Suitcase Junket, and a special guest that is unannounced (although I'm pretty sure she was in some previous announcements, if you want to do some research.) 
Official website: www.amourasaurus.com

Where: North Adams, MA
Dates: September 16-18
Tickets: Weekend passes $96, single day TBA
Why you should go: Mass MOCA is an amazing art museum that's worth the trip alone. But every September they host a festival that while it's rooted in bluegrass, it still has a varied enough line up to make it one of the best of the summer. This year includes Old Crow Medicine Show, Glen Hansard, The Devil Makes Three, Roseanne Cash, The Infamous Stringdusters, Aoife O'Donovan, and more, with more to be announced next week.
Official website: freshgrass.com

Grand Point North
Where: Burlington, VT
Dates: September 17-18
Tickets: Both days $79, one day $59
Why should you go: I've never really been able to get into Grace Potter, but she can sure curate a festival. Grace Potter and The Nocturnals headline both nights, and the other bands include Old Crow Medicine Show, Guster, The Wood Brothers, And the Kids, and more.
Official website: grandpointnorth.com

Prescott Park Arts Festival
Where: Portsmouth, NH
Dates: Various dates June-September
Tickets: Suggested donation of $8-$10
Why you should go: This isn't a true festival that takes place over the course of a weekend, but a series of shows throughout the whole summer. Since Prescott Park is a public park, they can't officially charge admission. Instead they charge a suggested donation of $8-$10 at the gate. Since most of the bands playing normally charge $25 and a lot more, you'll happily pay the donation. This year is just an absurd line up with shows by Sara Watkins, The Tallest Man on Earth (with Lady Lamb!), Shovels & Rope, Dawes, Shakey Graves, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Felice Brothers, and a lot more. Seriously, plan a day to hit the beach, head to Prescott Park for a show, and wander Portsmouth in between.
Official website: www.prescottpark.org

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Brilliant Beast Cover Galaxie 500

This is starting to look like a very heavy covers week for us. Galaxie 500 are a pretty underrated band. Sure, they're beloved by most people who know them, but I always feel like they should be Neutral Milk Hotel level beloved. This is why I'm pretty excited about Blue Thunder, a Tribute to Galaxie 500. It's a free tribute album put out by The Blog That Celebrates Itself. To be honest, I'm not very familiar with the vast majority of bands on the album (some have great names, though: Lorelle Meets The Obsolete, Slow Down Molasses, The John Candy, etc), but Brilliant Beast are one of our favorites here, and they're doing "Another Day," which is one of my favorite Galaxie 500 songs. It's a pretty faithful version, with maybe a little more noise and aggression than the original. Maybe the bass is a bit heavier? Regardless, it's pretty great.

You can listen to Brilliant Beast's version of "Another Day" below. To get your very own copy of Blue Thunder, a Tribute to Galaxie 500, check out The Blog That Celebrates Itself's Bandcamp. For more on Brilliant Beast, check out their website.