Friday, July 29, 2016

Friday Freebie: Lauren Mann - "Dearestly"

Lauren Mann had a great experience with her previous album being available on Noisetrade for a time, so she's doing the same for a limited time with her latest album, Dearestly. It was my album of the week a few weeks back, so I highly recommend you pick this one up while it's still free, and toss her a few bucks if you're so inclined. One of the best of the year.

Luke Winslow-King - "I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always"

After you've gone through a divorce, you tend to be automatically drawn to people that have experienced the same. It's a very unique and trying experience, even if you consider the end result to be a positive one. I'm not saying I hope friends go through it, but when one tells me they are, part of me gets a little excited that there is another one I can relate to.

Luke Winslow-King just went through a divorce. Not only did he lose his wife, but she was also his musical collaborator. The pain is right there in his new song, "I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always." While it's filled with pain, it doesn't follow the usual country and blues pattern of Girl Did Me Wrong or I'm So Lonely. Instead, it focuses on the positive that this is just temporary and will pass. You get a dirty, fuzzed-out country blues rocker that's actually uplifting. That's a powerful thing.

Luke Winslow-King's next album, I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always, will be out on September 30 via Bloodshot Records. You can listen to the song "I'm Glad Trouble Don't Last Always" below. For more on Winslow-King and his upcoming album, check out his website.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Friday Freebie: Letters to Cleo - From Boston Massachusetts

Normally we wait until Friday for these (hence the name Friday Freebie and all...) but we're really excited about this one and can't wait. Back in 2008 Letters to Cleo reunited for a handful of shows, two if which were at The Paradise in Boston, MA. These two shows were recorded and released as From Boston Massachusetts in 2009. Now, to celebrate their upcoming EP of new material and fall 2016 tour, they're releasing the live album for free via Noisetrade. From Boston Massachusetts is closer to Live Nation's Instant Live series with all mistakes and off tones remaining, but for me that's what a live recording should be. And these two shows were fantastic. Plus, free album!

To download your copy of From Boston Massachusetts, head over to Noisetrade. For more information on Letters to Cleo, check out their website (although I'm not sure how up to date that is) and their Facebook.
Video by YouTube user TheARR:

Live Shows: The Sheila Divine and Weakened Friends, Ralph's Rock Diner, Worcester, MA 7/23/16

Living an hour outside of Boston, that gets factored into the choice to go see a show. There isn't a whole lot that makes it out my way. The closest city with any kind of music scene is Worcester, which is mostly for metal and cover bands. This past Saturday, The Sheila Divine and Weakened Friends made the journey out to the distant suburbs. The chance to see two of my favorite local bands at a venue with a parking lot and I could be home before 1 a.m.? Obviously something I couldn't miss.

Despite The Sheila Divine and Weakened Friends playing together multiple times in the past year, this was my first chance to see Weakened Friends. Live they're just as raw and fun as you'd want them to be. Lead singer/guitarist Sonia Sturino has mastered the art of awkward stage banter, referencing the garbage bags that mysteriously covered the stage amps, the "Time to Fuck" neon light behind the bar, and bringing the fact that both "Worcester" and "Weakened Friends" begin with the letter "W." Despite being fun and great, they never seemed to win over the Worcester crowd. Unfortunately, when a middle aged crowd from the distant suburbs heads out for a night, they're not looking to discover new music. It's a shame, because they missed out on a great discovery. Maybe it was because it followed a particularly awkward set of banter from Sturino, but "Main Bitch" is an absolute beast of a song live, with lyrics like "I'm the worst and you're the best" fitting in perfectly right then.

The crowd was definitely there to see The Sheila Divine that night, and someone doubled in size as soon as Weakened Friends ended. The songs from The Sheila Divine's 1999 album New Parade were met with enthusiastic rejoicing, fist pumps, and shouting along. The crowd didn't seem very interested in the band's output from this century, which lead to lots of side conversations and polite clapping. Even the great "Beautiful Midnight" from the recently released album The Morbs couldn't stir much of a reaction. The crowd was there to shout along to the songs they knew from college, and not else more. "Hum," especially with it's inclusion of lines from "Jessie's Girl" and Tone Loc's "Wild Thing" was definitely a favorite. The set closer of "Automatic Buffalo" had the best shout along chorus of the night. 

It was a great show from two bands that deserve better. But, I did get home before 12:30 a.m., so I hope they come back out this far again soon.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for July 22

We're definitely in the slow period for new releases right now.

Co-Albums of the Week:

Artist: Look Park
Album: Look Park
Quick Description: Side project from Chris Collingwood of Fountains of Wayne.
Why You Should Listen: Collingwood is an underrated songwriter in his own right, and this is a nice indie pop album.
Overall Thoughts: Named after a park in Northampton, MA, this side project has flashes of FoW without feeling like a retread, and has some really high quality moments throughout. Rarely, when listening to it, do you feel like you're listening to Fountains of Wayne (which can't be said for a lot of other side projects) and the result here is just a quality record.
Recommendation: Worth your time even in a busy week.

Artist: Weakened Friends
Album: Crushed
Quick Description: Quick EP from the indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: Weakened Friends are great anyway, but this is a short listen with great songs.
Overall Thoughts: "95" might quickly become my song of the summer, but blog favorites Weakened Friends blow through six songs in 20 minutes and the end result is an EP that I just wanted to fire up again as quickly as I had turned it on. I still hate that I couldn't hit their live show last weekend.
Recommendation: A great EP by a great band.

Quick Description: Canadian dance punk.
Why You Should Listen: This is their first album in five years in a genre that's gotten some attention lately...
Overall Thoughts: ...but, unfortunately, this comes across as stark and dated as opposed to something that is well-anticipated in this area. On first listen, I kept waiting for things to take off and it instead feels like it stays in a holding pattern. I wanted more and ultimately didn't get it. It's a good album, but it felt like it was lacking things to make it great.
Recommendation: It's a slow week, so sure, but be wary.

Artist: Max Shrager
Album: Thoughts of You
Quick Description: Retro indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: If 1960s pop is your thing...
Overall Thoughts: This is a debut EP that's just soaked in reverb and a 1960s poppy slow song mentality. Different from a lot of the retro stuff we feature here, I truly think that your enjoyment of this EP will be in line with your tolerance for the style. For me, though? This really worked. If the title track doesn't get you, I fear nothing will.
Recommendation: A solid, quick listen.

Artist: These Wild Plains
Album: Distant Ways
Quick Description: Local favorite's new album.
Why You Should Listen: Some classic rock-tinged goodness is perfect this week.
Overall Thoughts: Ken covered the opening track from this album back in April, but having a whole album is great nonetheless. It's an album that feels older than it is from a band that's very good at covering the style. Especially this week, I recommend this one if only because of how different it is to what's released, but it's great that this is one of the more solid releases recently nonetheless.
Recommendation: Highly recommended.

Also out this week:

* Salem's Pot - Pronounce This!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Friday Freebie: Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts - "High Street"

In celebration of his birthday and as a thank you to his fans for the reception of his newest album Heavy Metal, Miles Nielsen has released a new song for free. "High Street" is a bit more new wave than I had expected, but it keeps the Americana sound we expect from Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts. We're not talking A Flock of Seagulls new wave, but maybe some early MTV era Tom Petty. There's also a great Morphine style discordant horn blast in the middle of the song, so there's something for virtually everyone.

You can download "High Street" for free on Miles Nielsen and The Rusted Hearts' Bandcamp. You can watch the video below, and be sure to pick up a copy of Heavy Metal (if you haven't already) on the band's website.

Friday Freebie: Ruby the RabbitFoot - New As Dew

Ruby the RabbitFoot is a favorite around these parts, and in celebration of her new album coming out in a few weeks, her last album, New As New, is free on Noisetrade for a limited time bundled with the first two songs released off of her new album. An album I liked quite a bit when it came out, the new singles are pretty solid and an interesting tonal shift for her.

I didn't mention it here, but she put out a split single a while back that includes a cover of one of my favorite guilty pleasure songs, Madonna's "Take a Bow." Even if you don't take advantage of this offer above (and you should!), enjoy the cover below:

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

lié - "Truth"

Photo via Facebook
I first became aware of lié last year when I saw their name as the opener for a Dead Milkmen west coast tour. I became fairly obsessed with their album Consent, so I was truly thrilled when I saw they have a new album due next month, along with a new single/video. "Truth" is heavy. Almost metal heavy. lié have discovered this amazing way of mixing gothic punk with thrashy indie rock that is custom made for any fan of heavy music. It's one of the most discordant songs I've heard in years that's not purposefully being experimental. It just is.

lié's new album, Truth or Consequences, will be out on August 12 on Monofonus Press. You can watch the video for "Truth" below. For more information on lié, check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook. You can preorder Truth or Consequences here.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for July 15

Another slowish week, but not without its gems.

Album of the Week:

Artist: PJ
Album: Rare
Quick Description: Groove-heavy R&B.
Why You Should Listen: PJ might be a name you'll be hearing more lately if there's any justice in the world.
Overall Thoughts: Either I'm just becoming more aware of it, or there has been an uptick in releases by young women doing some R&B that relies a lot on interesting instrumentation. PJ's the best of the recent lot, sounding familiar while still being different than a lot of what we're used to hearing. This is primarily R&B, but there's a lot here that jumps between genres and bounces around a bit, and none of it is bad. Even in a busy week this would be a highlight, but this is a great listen nonetheless.
Recommendation: Best release of the week for sure.

Artist: Jack and Amanda Palmer
Album: You Got Me Singing
Quick Description: Passion project of cover songs by one half of the Dresden Dolls and her father.
Why You Should Listen: Depending on your tolerance for Palmer, this will be an interesting listen.
Overall Thoughts: On one hand, this does feel like an "Amanda Palmer does what she wants" record, which is fine. On the other, this is actually pretty great for what it is. It doesn't feel contrived at all, there's great musicianship on the album, and there's even a Kathleen Edwards cover in here for good measure. Palmer is understandably divisive, but as a casual fan of hers (we exist!), I enjoyed this.
Recommendation: You should give this a shot, but don't be surprised if it's not your thing.

Artist: The Earls of Leicester
Album: Rattle and Roar
Quick Description: Traditional bluegrass.
Why You Should Listen: The pedigree of this group alone demands it.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say I have a ton to detail regarding this album except that it's really some of the best straightforward bluegrass you'll hear this year. As they're basically an Americana supergroup, this should come as no surprise, but don't let this slide under your radar.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Artist: Michael Kiwaunuka
Album: Love and Hate
Quick Description: Quiet, introspective soul music.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing like it this week anyway, but there's plenty to love here for any listener.
Overall Thoughts: This is not my typical genre at all, but that didn't stop me from finding a lot to like here. Part of it is that much of the album is just Kiwaunuka and his acoustic guitar, but the other part is the really strong songwriting throughout. It's an album that demands some attention, which is not a universal trait, so check in on songs like "Place I Belong" for an idea of its strengths.
Recommendation: Highly recommended this week.

Artist: Heliotropes
Album: Over There That Way
Quick Description: Hazy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: While they're not forging a new path, the songs are tightly put together.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know why I can't recall learning about this band before. Their first album doesn't look familiar to me, but I must have caught it at some point. Either way, though, this is an on-trend hazy indie-pop album that has a lot of memorable songs ("Easy" and "Normandy" especially) worth your time. Whether this will have lasting power remains to be seen, but for now it's a solid listen.
Recommendation: Worth a spin.

Artist: The Temperance Movement
Album: White Bear
Quick Description: 90s alt-rock excess in a 2016 form.
Why You Should Listen: You kind of wish Buckcherry was still in their prime.
Overall Thoughts: I'm being unfair to The Temperance Movement, who, on first listen, sounds a little more serious than who they sound like. In terms of what they're accomplishing, we may see their name come up a lot in the future, but I was honestly unable to not hear just a lot of mainstream alternative rock from it that I just haven't cared for in close to two decades. Your mileage may vary.
Recommendation: Be wary of this one.

Also out this week:

* Steven Tyler - We're All Somebody From Somewhere (yes, that Steven Tyler)
* Friendships - It's Vermentino, Dickheads
* Hallelujah the Hills - Movement Scorekeeping (eight songs in nine minutes, more a curiosity than anything)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Julia Jacklin - "Leadlight"

Photo credit: Nick McKinlay
I have no idea how there is so much great Americana coming out of Australia and New Zealand lately, but I'm thrilled about it. After being blown away by Julia Jacklin's "Pool Party," I've been impatiently waiting to hear some more. Luckily, we now have "Leadlight." "Leadlight" is in the same vein as pool party, with a chilled out groovy take on Americana and country. What truly makes Jacklin stand out is her voice. It's tender without being fragile, and has this haunting quality to it. She's familiar and unique at the same time.

We also finally have information on Julia Jacklin's debut album. Don't Let the Kids Win will be out on October 7 on Polyvinyl. You can watch the video for "Leadlight" below. A good chunk of it was filmed on the stage she performed musical theater on in high school. For more information on Julia Jacklin, check out her website. You can find her current, and quite extensive tour dates, below the video.

Jul. 27 – Brisbane, VIC @ Black Bear Lodge
Jul. 28 – Sydney, VIC @ Newton Social Club
Jul. 29 – Melbourne, VIC @ Northcote Social Club
Aug. 3-7 - Appleton, WI @ Mile of Music Festival 2016 (solo)
Aug. 9 - New York, NY @ Berlin (solo)
Aug. 10 - Los Angeles, CA @ Resident (solo)
Aug. 31 - London, UK @ The Lexington
Sept. 1-4 - Vlieland, Netherlands @ Into the Great Wide Open
Sept. 2-4 - Stradbally, Ireland @ Electric Picnic 2016
Sept. 4 - Salisbury, UK @ End of the Road Festival 2016
Sept. 6 – Stockholm, Sweden @ Bar Brooklyn (solo)
Sept. 7 – Oslo, Norway @ Revolver Upstairs (solo)
Sept. 8 – Copenhagen, Denmark @ Himmeriget Bar (solo)
Sept. 9 – Berlin, Germany @ Dodo Beach Record Store (solo)
Sept. 10 – Haldern, Germany @ Pop Bar (solo)
Sept. 11 – Belgium, Leffinge Leuren Festival (solo)
Sept. 17 - Ottawa, ON, Canada @ Cityfolk
Sept. 18 - Toronto, ON, Canada @ Toronto Urban Roots Festival
Sept. 20 - Chicago, IL @ Martyrs' $
Sept. 21 – Madison, WI @ The Frequency
Sept. 22 - Champaign, IL @ Pygmalion Music Festival w/ Freightened Rabbit, Alvvays, Car Seat Headrest & Lucy Dacus
Sept. 23 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom w/ Nada Surf
Sept. 24 - Washington, DC @ DC9 Nightclub $
Sept. 25 - New York, NY @ The Bowery Ballroom $
Sept. 27 - Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle $
Sept. 29 - Montreal, QC, Canada @ Divan Orange $
Sept. 30 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott $
Oct. 4 - West Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour $
Oct. 6 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge $
Oct. 7 - Vancouver, BC, Canada @ Biltmore Cabaret $
Oct. 8 - Seattle, WA @ Neptune Theatre w/ Okkervil River
Oct. 24 - Berlin, Germany @ Maze
Oct. 25 - Cologne, Germany @ Blue Shell #
Oct. 26 - Munich, Germany @ Unter Deck  #
Oct. 27 - St Gallen, Switzerland @ Palace  #
Oct. 29 - Zwolle, Netherlands @ Let's Get Lost Festival
Oct. 30 - Brussels, Belgium @ AB Club  #
Oct. 31 - Rotterdam, Netherlands @ Rotown
Nov. 3 - Brighton, England @ The Haunt  #
Nov. 4 - Nottingham, England @  Bodega   #
Nov. 5 - Glasgow, Scotland @ CCA   #
Nov. 6 - Newcastle, England @ The Cluny  #
Nov. 8 - Manchester, England @ Manchester Gorilla  #
Nov. 9 - Bristol, England @ Thekla #
Nov. 10 - London, England @ Koko #
Nov. 11 – Dublin, Ireland @ Grand Social
Nov. 25-27 – Queenscliff, VIC @ Queenscliff Music Festival
$ w/ Marlon Williams
# w/ Whitney

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Alex Cameron - "She's Mine"

Photo by Cara Robbins
I'm going to challenge you all to give Alex Cameron a chance. I couldn't stand "She's Mine" the first time I listened to it, but now I'm nearing obsession. Alex Cameron is weird. It should be noted that Alex Cameron is a character, much like Father John Misty or pretty much everything David Bowie did. Musically, "She's Mine" is as minimalist as it gets with synths and some saxophone. I also implore you to actually watch the video, not just listen to it in the background. It features Alex Cameron dancing and singing, but is somehow hauntingly mesmerizing. It's like some weirdo David Lynch dance video. This isn't music you put on when you're heading to the beach with your family. This is what you put on when you're driving alone at night trying to figure out all the mistakes you've made in the last 1-30 years.

Alex Cameron will release his debut album, Jumping the Shark, August 19 through Secretly Canadian. For more information, and to be reminded of what the internet looked like in 1996, check out his website here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Live Shows: Green River Festival, Greenfield, MA 7/9/16 and 7/10/16

Shakey Graves
Photo by Ken Sears
Here in New England, we're in the middle of a pretty terrible drought. We need rain desperately, and would take any rain that we can get. Unfortunately, rain finally came during this year's Green River Festival. Saturday was just cold and wet all day, while Sunday offered a short break before the downpour took over the day. Hooded sweatshirts aren't the usual clothing of choice at an outdoor music festival in July, but they dominated the weekend. The weather was so bad all hot air balloon rides were cancelled, which hasn't happened in decades, if ever. Luckily, the music was stellar enough to save the weekend. Here are some of the best things we saw.

Leland Sundries
Photo by Ken Sears
Leland Sundries
Leland Sundries' new album, Music for Outcasts, didn't connect with Jeff when it was released last month. To be honest, it didn't really work for me, either. I was surprised to find out that the songs work much better live. It's great retro rock with a folk edge to it that, while they have a sense of humor to them, aren't too precious to be taken seriously. Maybe it's just that frontman Nick Loss-Eaton has a great indie rocker stage presence, but I'll definitely be giving Music for Outcasts another shot.

And the Kids
After previously seeing And the Kids in a small Allston club, I was a bit hesitant to see if they could make the transition to a giant outdoor festival stage. Turns out they were the highlight of Saturday, making the most of their set with their upbeat, quirky take on indie dance folk. Maybe it's because they are local heroes around Western MA and had their diehard fans packed right up front singing along with all the words, but I don't think I've ever seen a band that beloved play so early. 

Shovels & Rope
Photo by Ken Sears
Shovels & Rope
It took three attempts, but I finally got to see a full set by Shovels & Rope. I had seen the last three songs of two sets at Newport, so I had an idea of what to expect. They started off a bit slower than I would have expected, with Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent both switching off between guitar and drums, but they were just building. By the time they got to the set closer "Hail Hail," which I'm pretty sure they closed with the other times I had seen them, they had mesmerized the crowd with their hyped up countrified rockabilly. Completely worth the wait.

The Suffers
I always mean to listen to more soul, and The Suffers are a huge reason why. It's rare to see such a young band just own a stage like they did, but... wow. Singer Kam Franklin worked the crowd with more confidence than most lead singers twice her age. They are a must see live act.

Oh Pep!
Photo by Ken Sears
Oh Pep!
I didn't want to leave the stage during The Suffers, but I really wanted to check out Oh Pep! Sometimes the folk/pop thing can get a bit too cutesy for me, but Oh Pep! just nail it perfectly. Using the obvious comparisons, they fall right in the middle of Lucius and Tegan & Sara. While they have the perkiness and upbeat side of Lucius, they lean very strongly on the folk side, like when Tegan & Sara play as an acoustic duo. That being said, maybe it's their Australian roots, but in their beautiful, happy sounding songs is a true sense of heaviness. As hard as it was to leave The Suffers, I was glad I did.

Photo by Ken Sears
Winterpills are just mature, adult indie rock at it's absolute finest. Back in the 90s they would have straddled the middle ground between "alternative" and "adult contemporary." I think now we just call it Americana. They weren't folky at all in the normal sense, but combined American rock and roll with indie hooks perfectly. They are one of those bands that should be far bigger than they are, but somehow aren't.

Mal Devisa
As the only main stage performer on Sunday that wasn't part of the Wheels of Soul Tour, Mal Devisa was at a disadvantage. Taking her spot on a stage that was filled with the plastic covered instruments of the larger bands, she could easily have been dismissed as a time filler. But then she started singing. Playing solo with a bass and occasional drum, she blew away everyone that showed up before the stars of the day. She has the kind of voice that only comes around every so often, but she didn't constantly belt it out to show it off. Instead, by using the true power of her voice sparingly, it just brought this whole new texture to her performance. I'm thrilled I saw her perform, but I wish she had more than 20 minutes.

Margo Price
Photo by Ken Sears
Margo Price
Margo Price was the absolute highlight of the weekend for me. Her blend of down home 70s country is perfect to see live, and despite the downpour that started just before her set, she thrilled the audience. She doesn't feel like you're watching a modern day country singer. She has the poise and sound of a more seasoned, old school performer. It's great seeing a true country performer who is right on the verge of breaking out. When she broke her guitar string during her first song, she just did a Loretta Lynn cover while it was being fixed. While she closed with "Hurtin' On the Bottle," the big hit song she's playing on every tv show available, the true highlight was "Four Years of Chances." Seeing that song live was just next level amazing. Her performances are what will make her a household name in the next five years.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for July 8

Another slow week with the holiday, but there's some great stuff. But why isn't the new Avalanches on Spotify yet?!?!?:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Lauren Mann
Album: Dearestly
Quick Description: Much-anticipated surprise release by the Canadian folkish singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: If you knew her previous album and how good it was, you'll likely love this.
Overall Thoughts: Lauren Mann has been hinting at this album for some time now, and while the last few years have been slow due to illness and what have you, a surprise release on Friday was welcome for this album, and the fact that it's also really, really good doesn't hurt. Mann has a very distinct, recognizable style for me, and it comes clear in songs like "New Beginning" and "Make Smooth." For a year where there have been a lot of highly anticipated releases that didn't quite meet the expectations, it's great to hear an album that exceeds them. For a lot of readers, this will be your first exposure to Lauren Mann, and you're truly in for a treat.
Recommendation: A great listen, must have for this week.

Artist: The Julie Ruin
Album: Hit Reset
Quick Description: Second album from the Kathleen Hanna project that literally does what it says on the tin.
Why You Should Listen: If you liked their first album, you'll like this. If you didn't care for the first album, you might love this.
Overall Thoughts: Kathleen Hanna is rock royalty, especially around these parts. So when I didn't love Run Fast, I felt a little heretical, especially since I basically love everything else like it. So coming in on this new album, I had my expectations tempered a bit. Needless to say, though, this is a much more polished, highly listenable affair with a lot going for it. If you're looking for a lo-fi punk-style album, this might not be it for you (although it has shades of that theme), but in terms of a more accessible listen that really fits into the overall sounds we're getting from acts like them. It truly is a reset button of sorts, and that's maybe exactly what they needed.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: ScHoolboy Q
Album: Blank Face LP
Quick Description: Fourth album from the indie rapper (if he's even really indie anymore).
Why You Should Listen: ScHoolboy Q remains one of the more underrated rappers I'm aware of.
Overall Thoughts: I don't have a ton to say about this except that it's a pretty solid listen (not as good as Habits and Contradictions, better than Oxymoron, in my opinion) and could probably be a little shorter than its nearly 75 minute runtime. Guest spots from Kanye West, Anderson Paak, and (album highlight) Jadakiss will probably give this some extra clout, but this is one of the better recent rap albums I've heard, but might get lost in the shuffle.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Emily Jane White
Album: They Moved in Shadow All Together
Quick Description: Darkish folk music.
Why You Should Listen: Emily Jane White is excellent, and this album is a nice change of pace from similar releases this year.
Overall Thoughts: Emily Jane White, in my mind, has gotten a little forgotten with the rise of Chelsea Wolfe and Marissa Nadler. Not to take away from either of them, but the emergence of female singer-songwriters with this sort of darkish tone in their songs has been great and yet makes us miss out on albums like this one. The opening track, "Frozen Garden," is both gorgeous and sets the tone incredibly well, and the full album deserves your attention even in a busier week.
Recommendation: You won't regret giving this one a spin.

Also out this week:

* Aphex Twin - Cheetah EP (barely an EP, but lots of RDJ-style mixes throughout make it worth hearing)
* Left Lane Cruiser - Beck in Black (excellent roots-rock remastered hits)
* Big Business - Command Your Weather (some very hard rock, not for everyone)

Friday, July 8, 2016

Doe - "Sincere"

Photo by Emma Garland
Based in London, Doe draw heavily from their 90s influences such as Sleater-Kinney and Weezer. The band formed in 2013 when Nicola Leel and Jake Popyura met through a classified ad (which I don't think has happened since 1996) and bonded over a love of horror films. After releasing various singles and EPs, and expanding to a three piece, Doe are set to release their debut album. "Sincere" is such an homage to the mid-90s you'll think it's some obscure song you heard on a CMJ sampler. It's pure 90s indie rock tinged with just the slightest hint of punk.

Doe's debut album, Some Things Last Longer Than You, will be released on September 9 via Old Flame Records. For more information on Doe, check out their official website. You can listen to "Sincere" below. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for July 1

A slow week with the American 4th of July holiday:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Bat for Lashes
Album: The Bride
Quick Description: Newest album from the indie songwriter, more conceptual than her past work.
Why You Should Listen: Bat for Lashes is always interesting even if she doesn't absolutely hit it right.
Overall Thoughts: A concept album revolving around love and marriage (I suppose), this album is ultimately great not so much because of the nature of the music on its own, but on the quality of the execution. You get the tone almost immediately on the first track, and then you get the full flow of the thing as "In God's House" hits. This is absolutely an album I need to spend more time with, but it's still a strong highlight nonetheless.
Recommendation: The only true must-listen this week.

Artist: Sara Watkins
Album: Love in All the Wrong Ways
Quick Description: Latest solo album from the Nickel Creek violinist/vocalist.
Why You Should Listen: Sara Watkins still deserves your attention even if her solo work is increasingly a far cry from what put her on the map.
Overall Thoughts: I think what this album ultimately suffers from is that we come to Watkins with a very clear idea as to what to expect due to her work with Nickel Creek, and her solo work isn't it. It's not a fair assessment, since she is an artist in her own right and can do as she wishes, but with little violin on this album and songs like the lead single, "Move Me," sounding like they could use some twang, there's just a disconnect that I don't feel like I'd have if these songs were written and performed by someone just coming around for the first time. It's not a bad album at all, just unexpected.
Recommendation: It's okay, and might be better served if you're unfamiliar with her work overall.

Artist: Grace
Album: FMA
Quick Description: Pop music!
Why You Should Listen: Pop music!
Overall Thoughts: All I can really say about this is that there's a reason why pop music gets a bit of a bad rap, and it's when albums come about that sound way too much like a lot of music that has come before it without much of a twist. There's something to be said about trying to branch out a bit and FMA falls due to its overall safety.
Recommendation: Skip this one.

Artist: Durand Jones and the Indications
Album: Durand Jones and the Indications
Quick Description: Old fashioned soul/R&B.
Why You Should Listen: Really well done within this genre.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not one to know a lot about this genre, but this has an old style grit to it that really resonated with me and is something that I'll be revisiting. While I'd recommend it overall, it's especially worth your time in a slower release week.
Recommendation: Definitely give this a listen.

Also out this week:

* American Authors - What We Live For
* Martha - Blisters in the Pit of My Heart

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday Freebie: Rock Eupora - Soon the Sun Will Come

You'll have three questions when you listen to the new-ish album by Rock Eupora:

1. Where did this guy come from? (Nashville)
2. How is he not completely gigantic? (No idea)
3. Are you sure this is free? Seriously? You're sure? (Yes!)

Recorded in a basement, Soon the Sun Will Come is far lusher than your usual home basement recordings. The obvious comparison for Rock Eupora is Weezer, but the Weezer comparison is tricky. It has the hooks and pop sensibilities of current Weezer but with the spirit of The Blue Album and Pinkerton. It's as if instead of 2016 Rivers Cuomo working with the 2016 Monkees, 1994 Rivers Cuomo worked with the 1965 Beach Boys. The album opener, "Sally Kate," is the perfect intro point. It's starts off pretty and lush, smoothing you into the band. By the end it's pure mid 90s power pop distortion. "How to Love" reminds me of the more mellow side of The Dismemberment Plan. My personal favorite, "I Wanna Be Alone," feels like the noisiest power pop from 1996, in the best possible way.

You can download a copy of Soon the Sun Will Come for free via Noisetrade. For more information on Rock Eupora on their website. The video for "I Wanna Be Alone" is below.