Monday, October 31, 2016

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - "It's Only Halloween"

Silly me not assuming that Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys would have a special Halloween song this year. "It's Only Halloween" defies the standard special Halloween songs by actually being really good. A lot of bands might put out a song just for Halloween, but it'll be a rush job that's cute but just a throw away. "It's Only Halloween" is a modern day "Monster Mash," except all the monsters die in their version. Plus, it mentions more modern movie monsters like Freddy Krueger, Predator, Michael Myers, etc. 

You can listen to "It's Only Halloween" below, and get your very own copy at Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toy's Bandcamp. For more on Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, check out their Facebook.

Lady Lamb - "See You"

Photo by Shervin Lainez
Our fandom of Lady Lamb has been extremely well documented here at If It's Too Loud..., so we're thrilled to be able to share a new song with you. "See You," from the forthcoming Tender Warriors Club EP is a throwback for Lady Lamb, of sorts. It's much closer to her more stripped down self released albums back when you could only get her music at shows or Bandcamp. It's not quite as stripped down as her home and video store recordings, though. That seems to be the theme of the entire EP, as it's main focus is on intimacy and vulnerability.

That intimacy seems to be stretching to Lady Lamb's touring, as well. She's just announced dates for her Living Room Tour (although it does include proper club dates as well), and is taking submissions to be a part of it. She's not sticking with just living rooms, so if you have a space that can hold 40-75 people, go here are see if you can host a show!

You can listen to "See You" below. Tender Warriors Club will be out December 1 on Mom + Pop. For more information on Lady Lamb, check out her website. Her upcoming tour dates are below the song.

Thu. Jan. 12 - Charlottesville, VA
Fri. Jan. 13 - Raleigh, NC
Sat. Jan. 14 - Asheville, NC
Sun. Jan. 15 - Atlanta, GA
Tue. Jan. 17 - Florida
Wed. Jan. 18 - Florida
Fri. Jan. 20 - Nashville, TN
Sat. Jan. 21 - Louisville, KY
Sun. Jan. 22 - St Louis, MO
Tue. Jan. 24 - Minneapolis, MN
Wed. Jan. 25 – Chicago, IL ***
Thu. Jan. 26 - Milwaukee, WI
Fri. Jan. 27 - Cleveland, OH
Sat. Jan. 28 - Detroit, MI
Mon. Jan. 30 - Toronto, ON
Tue. Jan. 31 - Montreal, QC
Wed. Feb. 1 – Burlington, VT
Thu. Feb. 2 – Harpswell, ME ***
Fri. Feb. 3 - Portland, ME ***
Sat. Feb. 4 – Portsmouth, NH ***
Mon. Feb. 6 - Providence, RI
Tue. Feb. 7 - Northampton, MA
Thu. Feb. 9 - Hartford, CT
Fri. Feb. 10 – Boston, MA ***
Sat. Feb. 11 – Brooklyn, NY ***
Sun. Feb. 12 – Washington, DC ***
Mon. Feb. 13 - Philadelphia, PA
Wed. March 1 - New Orleans, LA
Thu. March 2 - Houston, TX
Fri. March 3 - Austin, TX
Sat. March 4 - Dallas, TX
Tue. March 7 - Albuquerque, NM
Wed. March 8 - Phoenix, AZ
Fri. March 10 – Los Angeles, CA ***
Sat. March 11 – San Francisco CA ***
Sun. March 12 - Petaluma, CA
Tue. March 14 - Portland, OR
Wed. March 15 - Vancouver, BC
Thu. March 16 - Seattle, WA
Fri. March 17 - Spokane, WA
Sat. March 18 - Missoula, MT
Mon. March 20 - Boise, ID
Tue. March 21 - Salt Lake City, UT
Thu. March 23 - Denver, CO
Fri. March 24 - Omaha, NE
Sat. March 25 - Kansas City, MO
Sun. March 26 - Tulsa, OK

*** means proper club show

Friday, October 28, 2016

Friday Freebie: Jillian Kay - nothing between us

Providence's Jillian Kay is pretty tough to label. I think most people would call it folk, since it's mostly quiet and acoustic. Plus, she's a female singer-songwriter and all. And I guess the label kind of fits. But her new album, nothing between us, is far too challenging to be standard folk fare. First of all, the album is super lo-fi. The entire thing comes across sounded pretty muddled, particularly the vocals. What's weird, is that leads to the entire charm of Kay's sound. Her voice is beautiful, but oddly beautiful. You may first hear it and be pushed back by the sound a bit, but by the time you get halfway through "stay better," the album opener, you're all in. She also doesn't fit into the freak folk movement. Most of that is pretty twee and caught up in being artsy for the sake of being artsy. Kay is vulnerable while still being bad ass and powerful.

You can download your own copy of Jillian Kay's stellar new album nothing between us for free on Bandcamp. If you download it for free, you really should at least do her the courtesy of following her on Facebook. You'll be amazed at how much power can he held in her crackles and distortion.

The If It's Too Loud... 2016 Halloween Playlist

I love Halloween. It's by far my favorite holiday, but musically it always gets the shaft. Sure, you're going to hear "Monster Mash" roughly 1000 times this weekend, but not much else. Last year, I snagged Rodney Anonymous of The Dead Milkmen's Halloween playlist, but this year I decided we needed our own. While metal is always an obvious choice, I tried to keep it to a minimum (Danzig), while focusing on our alternative classics (Jane's Addiction, The Magnetic Fields, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion), classic rock (Alice Cooper, Screamin' Jay Hawkins), and some of our newer favorites (Brown Bird, Speedy Ortiz, Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys). Running at just around two hours, it's perfect to put on in the background for parties this weekend or while you're handing out candy on Monday. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Julia Jacklin Covers Big Thief

Photo credit: Nick McKinlay
Two of my absolute favorite releases of the year (and both strong contenders for album of the year) are Big Thief's Masterpiece and Julia Jacklin's Don't Let the Kids Win. Another thing we love here at If It's Too Loud... are cover songs, so imagine my delight to see that Julia Jacklin has covered Big Thief's "Paul." It doesn't seem like modern artists cover their contemporaries the way that artists in the 50s and 60s used to, so this is a rare choice, but a great one. Jacklin's version of "Paul" stays completely true to the original, and is a complete homage and show of admiration for Big Thief's song. Let's hope this leads to a Big Thief version of "Pool Party" or "Coming of Age."

You can watch Julia Jacklin perform "Paul" below. For more information on Julia Jacklin, check out her website. For more on Big Thief, check out theirs.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Ragweed - "Rust Box"

When I first see a band is named Ragweed, I immediately assume they're going to be one of the more pop-minded bands to come out of the current neo-folk movement, maybe a new Of Monsters and Men or The Lumineers. Surprisingly, Ragweed out of Brighton, UK doesn't fit into that category at all. Instead, their new single "Rust Box" is pure messy, scrappy early 90s era grungey punk. The immediate comparison to make is Nevermind era Nirvana, but it's a bit too polished for that. It's closer to the bands that immediately popped up in Nirvana's wake, so it's more poppy than Nirvana but not as packaged as Bush or Our Lady Peace. I probably would have hated this in 1994, but 20 years later it feels oddly comfortable.

You can watch the video for "Rust Box" below. The single will be officially released on November 4th via Milky Bomb Records. For more info on Ragweed, check them out on Facebook or Twitter.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for October 21

A lot of new releases this week, so we're off to the races! I can't decide on an album of the week because there are SO many different albums out this week and they all fit a different niche.

As I started a new job and haven't quite figured out the whole "balance writing about the new releases" thing, I'll give some highlights this week. Hoping to stay on a better schedule soon!

Albums I Liked a Lot!:

Artist: The Dean Ween Group
Album: The Deaner Album
Quick Description: Dean Ween has a new project...
Why You Should Listen: ...and it's a lot like Ween.
Overall Thoughts: Ween is admittedly an acquired taste. I get that they're not for everyone, but man, when they're on? They're on. In 2016, when I'm on the wrong side of 35? It's not amusing the same way "The AIDS Song" made me giggle in my early 20s, but something needs to be said about the fun juvenile songs that are peppered throughout this record. I spent a good amount of time with a smile on my face while listening to this, and I suppose there's something to be said about that. Yeah, it's not going to win a Grammy or be on many year-end lists, but sometimes stupid fun has its value.
Recommendation: Only for fans of Ween, really.

Artist: Kero Kero Bonito
Album: Bonito Generation
Quick Description: J-Pop meets electro-rap?
Why You Should Listen: The only reason to not listen to this is because you hate fun. And you don't want to be the guy who hates fun, right?
Overall Thoughts: This is a second, more polished album by the British trio, and it's just a lot of joy in one little album. "Graduation" is great if you're not sure what to expect, but the result here is just an album that's just a lot of fun. There's not much else to say about it. It won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I dare you to listen to this and not be smiling most of the way through.
Recommendation: A fun listen that's not for everyone.

Artist: Joan as Police Woman and Benjamin Lazar Davis
Album: Let It Be You
Quick Description: Acclaimed indie artist does an interesting collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: Joan as Police Woman is always an interesting listen.
Overall Thoughts: This sounds like a Joan as Police Woman album, but somehow doesn't (probably due to Davis, who I have no knowledge of). The album itself is typically manic and strange, but also has its accessible qualities, which I guess I could say about most of her work. So what am I saying? I don't even know, except that this is worth the listen.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Letters to Cleo
Album: Back to Nebraska
Quick Description: Reunion EP of new material from the local favorites.
Why You Should Listen: You're an aging hipster like the rest of us here.
Overall Thoughts: We'd be lax if we didn't talk about this, right? There are some reunions that work and some that don't, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear how well this worked. Ken is a much bigger fan of the band than I am, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear Letters to Cleo with an updated sound while not losing what it is that makes them enjoyable. I'm hoping that this EP is the first in what might be more music from the band now, but this is both a welcome return and a great introduction to the group.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Artist: William Hut
Album: Hafnir Games
Quick Description: Latest solo effort from the singer/songwriter of Poor Rich Ones.
Why You Should Listen: This is maybe the most PRO album Hut has done solo.
Overall Thoughts: I won't say William Hut's solo efforts have been poor, because, truth be told, I might like them more than most of his work with Poor Rich Ones at this point. The more folkish elements of his work, though, are put aside for a more modern flair here, and that's not a bad thing albeit a little different. On first listen, it's quite jarring, but then you get songs like "Memorial" that make it all okay. Hut's never really caught on in America, and I don't necessarily expect this album to change that, but he really deserves more attention than he's getting here.
Recommendation: Absolutely give this a shot.

Other albums worth a listen this week:

* Weyes Blood - A Front Row Seat to Earth
* Streets of Larado - Wild
* Crocodiles - Dreamless
* American Football - American Football

These Albums Might Be Worth a Look:

Artist: Jimmy Eat World
Album: Integrity Blues
Quick Description: Alt-rock act gives a surprising new album.
Why You Should Listen: It's not going to be what you think.
Overall Thoughts: You know "The Middle," a slice of emo-tinged alt-rock from the early 2000s. Chances are you don't know anything else from them. So I was wondering what the new album would sound like, and it's a welcome surprise. Jimmy Eat World are doing some alt-rock at a very deliberate pace, and while there isn't a song on here that's going to jump out and grab you, there are songs like "It Matters" that might just stick with you anyway. Ken said he was bored by this, so your mileage may vary, but...
Recommendation: ..this scratched the right itch for me, and I recommend it.

Artist: Ohio Knife
Album: Scalp or Be Scalped
Quick Description: Good old fashioned rock and roll.
Why You Should Listen: This feels really authentic and real.
Overall Thoughts: About 30 seconds in, I was frantically googling this band to figure out who these guys were and why they sounded so familiar. But we don't know them from other bands (as far as I can tell) and their familiar brand of rock music might not be killer for everyone, but I was shocked at how much this stuck with me. I fear it might be a little too on the nose in some regards and for some listeners, but it deserves a shot.
Recommendation: I dug this, but your mileage may vary.

Also worth a glance:

* Mr Little Jeans - F E V E R S
* Ben Lee - Freedom, Love and the Recuperation of the Human Mind
* The Radio Dept. - Running Out of Love
* Leonard Cohen - You Want It Darker
* Saint Motel - saintmotelevision

Do Yourself a Favor and Don't Bother:

Artist: Lady Gaga
Album: Joanne
Quick Description: Latest album from the pop star.
Why You Should Listen: Lady Gaga is one of the most important pop stars in the world...
Overall Thoughts: ...but this still feels like another miss. On one hand, this is absolutely better than the wildly uneven, mostly disappointing Artpop. And, really, Lady Gaga is at her best when she's being a little strange and out there, and, while I'm not clamoring for the return of the meat dress, this feels a little too tidy. And it's got awkward sexual notes, and it's... I dunno. It just doesn't work right. We know what Gaga is capable of and this feels less like the pop album we know she can crank out and more like another passion project.
Recommendation: Skip this one in a week with so many other good things.

Also out this week:

* Planes Mistaken for Stars - Prey

Salem Wolves Cover Screamin' Jay Hawkins

If you're going to call your band Salem Wolves, you're contractually obligated to release some form of Halloween song. One of the more obvious songs to cover around this time of year is the eternal Screamin' Jay Hawkins classic "I Put a Spell On You." Considering Salem Wolves play a version of dark rock n' roll that's more than a little tinged with punk, rockabilly, and surf rock, you'd expect a fairly straightforward cover, but Salem Wolves truly make this song their own. The first half is far more stripped down and bare bones than I would ever expect, but by the second half they break the song open into a noisy power ballad with singer Gray Bouchard sounding like a gospel singer over pure bluesy chaos.

You can listen to Salem Wolves' cover of "I Put a Spell On You" below. You can also get a copy of your very own for free over at their Bandcamp page. If you're in the Boston area, be sure to check them out tonight at ONCE Ballroom in Somerville and December 10 at Great Scott in Allston.

J Mascis Covers The Beatles

Photo via Facebook
Without any true rhyme or reason, Howard Stern put together a 50th anniversary tribute to The Beatles' iconic album Revolver. Airing on his Sirius XM station, the tribute featured the kind of artists you'd expect Stern to recruit: James Taylor, Jewel, Cheap Trick, etc. Sticking out to me apart from the rest was J Mascis. Not being a subscriber to Sirius XM, I figured J's version of "Doctor Robert" would be lost to me. Luckily, Dinosaur Jr archive site has posted it on YouTube. Now... this isn't exactly Mascis' finest work. The song feels just a wee bit overproduced with a string section coming in out of nowhere, and he's trying to harmonize the vocals too much. No one is really listening to Mascis for pretty vocals. But the last minute and a half is just pure J Mascis guitar solo heaven. At the very least, it's an interesting curiosity, and a must listen for any fan of Mascis and/or covers.

You can listen to J Mascis' cover of "Doctor Robert" below. I'd recommend listening ASAP before it goes the way of the Dinosaur Jr tour documentary that briefly popped up and then disappeared last week.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Rodney Anonymous (The Dead Milkmen) - "Billy Wants a Voodoo Doll" and "Her Name is Witch"

Photo via Facebook
As a Halloween treat to us all, Rodney Anonymous of The Dead Milkmen is slowly rolling out "The Halloween Demos." I think I'll do the lazy journalist thing here and use Rodney's own words to explain them:

I’ve probably written fifteen or sixteen songs this year. Of those, I’ve submitted at least a dozen to the Milkmen as demos. Out of those five or six will probably land on the next Milkmen album if I’m lucky.  That’s the way songwriting works in our band: everybody writes and  submits songs (or parts of songs) and we keep a few and the rest are never heard form again. It’s pretty much the same process the Duggars use to decide which of their children they’ll allow to live.
Normally, I don’t share my demos with people outside of the band. This is because the songs always tend to sound better after the other guys contribute to them. Or, in the case of the songs that get scrapped, I relieved that I was sparred the embarrassment.
That said, of all the songs I’ve submitted in the last few months, five were of a particular spooky nature. These I’ve christened “The Halloween Demos”.
The two songs he's released so far are "Her Name is Witch" (about former witches being reprogrammed as witches) "Billy Wants a Voodoo Doll" which is inspired by another song, "Billy Wants a Doll," from a 1970 Marlo Thomas special. Both songs are really stripped down and bare bones. But, for a lifelong Dead Milkmen fan, they're a great look into the band's songwriting process. Plus, they're Halloween themed, so yay!
You can listen to "Billy Wants a Voodoo Doll" and "Her Name is Witch," along with other upcoming releases from "The Halloween Demos," on Rodney Anonymous' website. For The Dead Milkmen, check out their website.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Valley Queen - "High Expectations"

Jeff has had much more luck than I have with Spotify's Discover Weekly playlists. I seem to mostly get bands I listen to regularly, and maybe some ok stuff sprinkled in. This week, I finally found a song I've been obsessed with all week. A Los Angeles band that hasn't released a debut album yet, Valley Queen released a single back in August. While "In My Place" is the A-Side, the B-Side is what sucked me in. "High Expectations" is this laid back, California-style modern folk song. I'm not really a lyrics guy, but that's what actually drew me in. "I'm not going to fake an orgasm in texting conversations" might be a lurid line, but coming out of singer Natalie Carol it's pure poetry. The whole song is an interesting take on modern dating. A line like "Women sending pictures like a resume, hoping that they qualify" shows a side you don't hear much about. Don't get me wrong, "In My Place" is also a great song, but "High Expectations" is the one I'll be obsessing over for a long time.

You can listen to Valley Queen below. For more on Valley Queen, be sure to check out their website.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Le Tigre - "I'm With Her"

Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, I think we can all agree that this election cycle has been an absolute shit show. Most people seem to despise one or both main candidates, and there isn't a whole lot to get excited about politically. That might change, since at least this election has inspired the first new Le Tigre song in over a decade. Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of Kathleen Hanna can probably guess that she's not exactly the world's biggest Donald Trump fan. Le Tigre have chosen to throw their support totally behind Hillary Clinton with the song "I'm With Her." It's an upbeat dance track, exactly what you'd expect from Le Tigre. If this election brings us nothing else, at least we have a new song from Le Tigre. Maybe this whole year has been worth it. 

For everything Le Tigre, be sure to check out their website. Also, check out Kathleen Hanna's more current band, The Julie Ruin, on their website, too. The video for "I'm With Her" is below.

The Claypool Lennon Delirium Covers The Beatles

I don't believe Sean Lennon has previously outright rejected being compared to his father the way other musicians with famous musician parents have, but he never actually encouraged it. That seemed to change earlier this year with the release of The Claypool Lennon Delirium's Monolith of Phobos, his most Beatles-like work yet. Back in August, the band (which also includes Les Claypool, obviously) played at the House of Blues in Boston. I wasn't able to make the show, but luckily WGBH's Front Row Boston did, and they captured an absolutely mind-melting cover of "Tomorrow Never Knows." It's a pure psychedelic showcase for Lennon. He basically has the voice of John, the guitar chops of George, and the noise rock pedigree of someone who's toured with Sonic Youth. It's nearly eight minutes of wonderful, and you need to hear this. What's truly bizarre is that Sean Lennon has been dismissed for just about two decades as just being John Lennon's kid, and not truly taken seriously, which is truly unfortunate as he's been quietly releasing consistently great music all this time. By covering his dad, he might be finally stepping out on his own.

To check out The Claypool Lennon Delirium's cover of "Tomorrow Never Knows," head on over to WGBH's website. And while you're there, check out their archive of fantastic, multi-camera pro-shot live videos. It's the best internet wormhole you'll fall down in a long time. For more on The Claypool Lennon Delirium, check out their website.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Kristin Hersh - "Soma Gone Slapstick"

Photo via Facebook
Kristin Hersh's solo albums tend to be where she explores her quieter, more acoustic music. The noisier more abrasive sounds tend to get channeled into Throwing Muses, and the really noisy stuff becomes 50 Foot Wave. That's not the case with her new song, "Soma Gone Slapstick." 

"Soma Gone Slapstick" isn't that far removed from her other solo work. The intro starts with about 10 seconds of acoustic guitar, but then some drums and a chugging guitar chord comes in. It's still very much in the singer-songwriter realm, but it's a very interesting change. 

Kristin Hersh's upcoming album, Wyatt at the Coyote Palace, will be a two disc set packaged with a book of essays and lyrics. It's due out on November 11. You can watch the video for "Soma Gone Slapstick" below. For more information, check out her website.

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for October 14

And the rest!

Artist: Moby and The Void Pacific Choir
Album: These Systems Are Failing
Quick Description: New album/project from Moby
Why You Should Listen: Moby used to make some fairly essential stuff, and this is a return to interesting form.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like Moby kind of ruined his brand in a way with Play, which was a good album, for sure, but was such a departure from his early work (Animal Rights being the noted exception) that it seemed to set him on a weird trajectory in the longer term. These Systems Are Failing has a bit of a noise/industrial feel to it and thus doesn't feel like a recent Moby album, but still feels like an older one in terms of structure and interest. This was a favorite of mine this week, and I would highly recommend that, if you just saw the name Moby and scrolled on by, to give this a shot.
Recommendation: A really great listen this week.

Artist: Conor Oberst
Album: Ruminations
Quick Description: Lo-fi, stripped down songs from the Bright Eyes singer.
Why You Should Listen: Conor Oberst has become a more interesting musician in the last decade, and this is a very stark departure.
Overall Thoughts: Oberst has had a rough few years, with some family issues as well as a fabricated claim against him, and it's hard not to hear the emptiness that this album has with these issues in mind. I'll be honest - as a musical endeavor, this didn't connect with me at all, but my favorite moments with Oberst/Bright Eyes are his more straightforward stuff (like "Four Winds") as opposed to the emo folk of "The Calendar Hung Itself." This feels more like the latter informed by the former, so I'm not sure if I'm into it, but this might work for others.
Recommendation: Might be a fans-only project.

Artist: L'Orange and Mr Lif
Album: The Life and Death of Scenery
Quick Description: A short hip hop EP collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: Two talented people in the hip-hop scene working together? Of course you need to hear this.
Overall Thoughts: While I don't know if this is something I'd listen to again, this is an interesting, sort of science fictiony tale told over a 22 minute hip hop EP. The production is great, Mr Lif is great, and the result is an interesting but perhaps inessential listen.
Recommendation: Worth a listen or two.

Artist: JoJo
Album: Mad Love
Quick Description: First album in a decade from the pop singer.
Why You Should Listen: You have some sort of affinity/memory of JoJo.
Overall Thoughts: We're hitting a bit of a pop renaissance of sorts right now, so the return of JoJo is a welcome surprise in theory. The problem here is that the game has been upped so much in recent years that an album like this comes along and, without much to drive it forward, it ends up falling flat and sounding a little old and uninspired. The production feels lifeless and the best song on the album might be a bonus track on the extended edition. That's never a good sign. When Britney Spears can legitimately offer one of the best pop albums of the year, we can expect more from JoJo.
Recommendation: Skip this one.

Artist: Joseph Hein
Album: AM Gold
Quick Description: A soft rock listen.
Why You Should Listen: This feels like a throwback in an era of throwbacks...
Overall Thoughts: ... but I don't know a lot that sound quite like this. I know this is definitely a reference to a musical act I can't quite finger, and that's fine. Someone who recognizes the musical reference might get more out of this, but, for me, this was just a pleasant listen that works on a basic level. The songs are nice, everything is smooth and clear, and it's a nice album for some short escapism.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen.

Artist: Ablebody
Album: Adult Contemporaries
Quick Description: Another throwback, this one doing what it says on the tin.
Why You Should Listen: It feels like a really overwrought 80s album.
Overall Thoughts: The vocals are what do it for me, but the overall sort of off-center instrumentation really sells it for me overall. I don't have a ton to say here except that it sounds very old and familiar, and you'll know how you feel by the time the leadoff track ends.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but if you like this sort of thing...

Artist: Jonny Fritz
Album: Sweet Creep
Quick Description: Classic roots music from an accomplished musician.
Why You Should Listen: Fritz is really good at what he does, but the added bonus of his tongue being firmly in cheek sets him apart.
Overall Thoughts: In a week of throwbacks, it's tempting to say he's aping the classic country sound, but he does bounce around in Americana genres throughout Sweet Creep, and to attempt to pigeonhole Fritz would be a disservice. Focusing on the music alone, this is a really fun, laid back listen with some humor and some classic tropes all rolled into one. Even if it's not your favorite this week, it's going to be a memorable one.
Recommendation: Definitely worth your time.

Also out this week:

* The Orb - COW/Chill Out, World (album is indeed very chilled out)
* Two Door Cinema Club - Gameshow (felt very uninspired)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for October 14

An interesting release week!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Kingsley Flood
Album: Another Other
Quick Description: New album from the local favorites.
Why You Should Listen: Kingsley Flood has near-mastered the indie rock landscape...
Overall Thoughts: ...and if there's any justice, this will be their breakthrough. The band has a collection of songs, some of which we've heard on other EPs, that just flow together really well and show some consistent songwriting chops and, perhaps more importantly, a more robust and consistent sound that hasn't been there for them up to this point. No, there's no "Set Me Off" here, but that's okay - the whole album is a pretty solid achievement and a surprise even for me, who is a genuine fan of this band and who was anticipating a new full length. You owe it to yourself to hop on the bandwagon now before they blow up and become huge.
Recommendation: A must listen this week.

Artist: Swet Shop Boys
Album: Cashmere
Quick Description: Politically-charged rap from a group including Heems of Das Racist.
Why You Should Listen: Even putting the politics aside, there is some great musicianship and rapping here.
Overall Thoughts: Like many, I came to Das Racist because of their more humorous efforts, and Swet Shop Boys, while definitely being more serious in a lot of ways, still has the humor in place. Overall, it creates an album that is good but uneven. "T5" is great, "Zayn Malik" is great, but other songs don't hit the same tones. With that said, Das Racist had a similar issue with their releases, so there's that as well. Overall, a good listen and the best rap-related album out this week...
Recommendation: ...but this might not work for everyone.

Artist: Mike Doughty
Album: The Heart Watches While the Brain Burns
Quick Description: Latest album from the former Soul Coughing lead.
Why You Should Listen: Mike Doughty always has interesting releases.
Overall Thoughts: This is a good album, and maybe the most straightforward of his solo releases in a while. Lead single "I Can't Believe I Found You In That Town" sets a good tone for the album, and the rest of it continues along those same lines. Do I have a complaint? Maybe that I'm so used to Doughty trying on different sounds and ideas that this feels almost too standard in comparison? I'm truly not sure, but this album definitely connects on a musical level.
Recommendation: A highlight of the week.

Artist: Lisa Mitchell
Album: Warriors
Quick Description: Latest album from the Australian pop singer.
Why You Should Listen: Fairly straightforward singer-songwriter pop always deserves a listen.
Overall Thoughts: It's hard to look at this without also looking at JoJo's return album (which we discuss tomorrow). This, especially in comparison, feels vibrant and fresh, without a lot of the dark undertones that a lot of pop music trends toward lately. Lead single "The Boys" gives a good idea as to what's going on with this album, and the result is a pleasant listen that, overall, might lack that standout track that would make it something great, but ends up still being a good album that deserves some attention.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Jeff Rosenstock
Album: Worry
Quick Description: Some grunge-tinged indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: Not quite a throwback but not quite modern, it's the most interesting straightforward release this week.
Overall Thoughts: I only snagged this because his former bandmate, Laura Stevenson (a favorite around these parts), had tweeted about it on Friday. The first song, sort of a weird piano track, didn't pique my interest. The following songs, though, were a very fun listen. Sometimes grungy, sometimes straight rock, and always lyrically interesting, there is a ton to love here. This was nearly my album of the week, but I resist only because I really think this is an album that needs to simmer a little and have some time spent with it. I might end up loving it more and more by the time I get to spend some time with it.
Recommendation: Absolutely a must-listen this week.

Artist: Fvnerals
Album: Wounds
Quick Description: Dark shoegazy rock music.
Why You Should Listen: You need something a little heavier to balance this week out.
Overall Thoughts: I loved this, but of course I did. It's dark and heavy (I think I saw one reference to this group as "doomgaze" which is appropriate), and the overall result here is an album that needs to be taken as a whole. The whole, of course, being a pretty interesting and different adventure. If you like Chelsea Wolfe, this might be up your alley.
Recommendation: Won't be for everyone, but I know I liked it.

Artist: Courtney Granger
Album: Beneath Still Waters
Quick Description: Well-structured Americana.
Why You Should Listen: Probably the best musicianship of all the releases this week.
Overall Thoughts: It's sometimes hard to slot an artist like Granger into a certain genre box, because this is both so much more than just basic roots music. Has a classic country feel, but it's so well-structured and enjoyable that you hate to pigeonhole it. If you've missed having some good new Americana in your rotation, absolutely give this one a shot.
Recommendation: A great album this week.

Also out this week:

* Kings of Leon - Walls
* Sleaford Mods - TCR (just like their older stuff if you're into that)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Jack White & Margo Price - "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)"

This week saw the debut of Chris Thile (Nickel Creek, Punch Brothers) take over as host of NPR staple A Prairie Home Companion. I was always shocked that more "hip" bands didn't do the show back when Garrison Keillor was the host, since it's hokey, old-timey format seemed to be a perfect fit for most of the current crop of Americana artists. That might finally be happening with the new, younger host, as Thile's first show featured the big guns of Lake Street Dive and Jack White. Best of all is Jack White brought out Margo Price for a rendition of The White Stripes' "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)." While the original had more of a gospel feel to it, this version felt like the song might have started out as a Carter Family song. Just add some twang and the beyond classic feel of Price's voice, and any song can be an old standard.

You can watch Jack White and Margo Price perform "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)" below. For more on Margo Price, check out her website. Also, if you're a Margo Price fan, be sure to check out the interview Marc Maron just did with her on his WTF podcast. You'll probably want to be sure to keep up with the new edition of A Prairie Home Companion, which you can here.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

New (and Free!) Dinosaur Jr Tour Documentary

Photo by Levi Walton
This was a very pleasant surprise this morning. Apparently Otis Bperiod was on tour with Dinosaur Jr earlier this year to document the band. He put together a documentary that just went up for free on YouTube. It's really rough black and white footage of the band, shot single camera style, but it's a ton of live footage along with the band fooling around backstage. The backstage footage is great to see as a fan since most Dinosaur Jr coverage tends to focus on the band not really getting along. This is an absolute must for all fans of Dinosaur Jr, and it's free. Like I said, the video is a pretty rough quality, but it's a feature length Dinosaur Jr tour documentary, so who really cares, right?

You can watch the full Dinosaur Jr - Bits and Pieces on YouTube below. I'd personally recommend watching it on your tv if you have the capability. For more on Dinosaur Jr, check out their website, and be sure to follow Otis Bperiod on Facebook.

*Full disclosure: I haven't watched the full thing yet, so there could be something amazing or horrible towards the end that I'm not reporting on.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Stef Chura - "You"

Photo by Zak Bratt
Hailing from Detroit, MI (somehow I'm surprised that there is an underground music scene in Detroit, even though that makes perfect sense), comes Stef Chura. Her new song, "You," might become your favorite song of 2017. It starts out as relatively standard singer/songwriter fair, albeit really fantastic relatively standard singer/songwriter fare. But underneath it all lies this brooding quality. And then the noise starts to kick in, and then drift away, just to come back later. She's along the lines of Colleen Green and Lady Lamb, as an artist who defies the easy folk label by just having this raw edge of punkish indie rock, but with just a hint of Kristin Hersh thrown in.

Stef Chura's debut album, Messes (which is definitely going on my most anticipated albums of 2017 list), will be out January 27 on Urinal Cake Records. You can listen to "You" below. You can pre-order the album at Urinal Cake's website. For more on Stef Chura, check out her Bandcamp and Facebook.

The Wave Pictures - "Pool Hall"

Photo by Mike Rozycki
The new single from The Wave Pictures strikes pretty close for us all in the Boston we've lost a ton of legendary music venues in the last couple of years, so a song about losing a beloved hangout to development strikes a chord with us. "Pool Hall" is this groovy 90s tinged indie rock song. Dave Tattersall's vocals come across like a crooning Stephen Malkmus or a less rock star version of Jarvis Cocker. It's a chilled out, bluesy sound that is really unique in the world of indie rock, and I'm really looking forward to hearing more from these guys.

The upcoming album from The Wave Pictures, Bamboo Diner in the Rain, will be out November 11 on Moshi Moshi. You can watch the video for "Pool Hall" below. For more information on The Wave Pictures, check out their website and Facebook. You can pre-order Bamboo Diner in the Rain here.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for October 7

Aaaaaaaaaand we're back!

Artist: Julia Jacklin
Album: Don't Let the Kids Win
Quick Description: Debut album from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: She's a modern throwback in all the best ways.
Overall Thoughts: We've spilled a lot of digital ink on Jacklin over the last year, so to finally have a solo album is great, and the fact that it's meeting and exceeding expectations is just icing on the cake. This was very nearly my album of the week, and the promise that came with "Pool Party" and "Leadlight" was fulfilled, plain and simple.
Recommendation: Listen to this album. It's a must.

Artist: Springtime Carnivore
Album: Midnight Room
Quick Description: Second album from another retro-styled duo.
Why You Should Listen: When the melodies are on, they are on.
Overall Thoughts: I fell in love with this act with "Name in the Matchbook" from their debut, so seeing a new album was exciting. This continues the same sort of dreamy, poppy sound that we started out with, but with some more modern(ish) inflections. Overall, a fun listen for anyone who likes the sort of indie pop that harkens to an earlier time.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Joyce Manor
Album: Cody
Quick Description: Punk act takes it a little slower.
Why You Should Listen: A song like "Fake ID" will grab you, but there's a lot more to it here.
Overall Thoughts: Looking this up a bit, I was surprised to hear they're traditionally punk, because "Fake ID" (a recent Discover Weekly find) felt more indie rock and this album doesn't scream punk to me on first listen (especially in a week where NOFX has an album out). So the surprises within this quick hit of an album are great in and of themselves, but the full listen is absolutely worth it.
Recommendation: Should make your list this week.

Artist: Pony Hunt
Album: Heart Creak
Quick Description: Lo-fi country-folk.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Hooray for the Riff Raff wasn't so polished.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if there are any drawbacks to this album. It's quiet and lovely, with singer/songwriter Jessie Antonick's melodies just flowing over everything so beautifully. There are so many wonderful, gorgeous things going on here that I can't wait to get back to the album because it's that good. The Julia Jacklin album is likely to get a lot of the press, but do not sleep on this, as it was also an album of the week contender. Just really amazing stuff here for an independent folk artist that wasn't on a lot of radars.
Recommendation: Another must-listen in a week full of them.

Artist: Hiss Golden Messenger
Album: Heart Like a Levee
Quick Description: The indie folkster comes back with something barebones.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan and somehow the other folk offerings aren't doing it for you.
Overall Thoughts: It's almost a shame that this was the release date for Heart Like a Levee. On one hand, Hiss Golden Messenger is pretty well known, but when you have such great folk albums out this week, it's hard for this to break through. It may be good on its own, but next to Pony Hunt and Jacklin, it feels more uninspired.
Recommendation: Might work, but maybe save it for later.

Artist: Lewis Del Mar
Album: Lewis Del Mar
Quick Description: Glitchy alt-rock.
Why You Should Listen: You can't wait for the next Alt-J record.
Overall Thoughts: I make the Alt-J reference very specifically because, frankly, I don't think this album exists without them. There's the bass-heavy beats, the stilted melodies, the strange instrumentation, and it all works. It definitely has a major label/production sheen over it where Alt-J leaves a little of the rough patches, but that's really the only downside on what's easily the most interesting release this week. You can get a good idea from single "Loud(y)" as to whether this will work for you, but it worked for me.
Recommendation: Definitely worth a shot.

Also out this week:

* NOFX - First Ditch Effort (this is really good, I just have nothing to say about it)
* Brookzill - Throwback to the Future

Wolf People - "Ninth Night"

Photo by Cat Stevens
The lead single from Wolf People's upcoming album, Ruins, might be the creepiest thing we've covered here at If It's Too Loud... On first listen, "Ninth Night" is a heavy blast of psychedelia. It's trippy, but it rocks at a medium pace while being oddly, almost hypnotizing in a weird pop way. The song is almost fun. But... there's something uncomfortable about the song. Turns out the song takes its lyrics from an old incantation from the 1700s that burglars would use to lull victims into a deep sleep. Oh, and they did thins while holding a Hand of Glory, which was the stolen hand of a hanged man dipped in wax. Knowing that gives the lyrics “Let those who rest more deeply sleep / Let those awake their vigils keep / Oh hand of glory shed thy light / Direct us to our spoils tonight" a whole new meaning.

Ruins is due out on November 11 via Jagjaguwar. You can pre-order it here, and watch the video for "Ninth Night" below. For more information on Wolf People, check out their website.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

You People - "Deliver Me Home"

Photo by Johnny Anguish / Daykamp Music
Boston's You People have been kicking around for four years and are just about to release their debut full length album. The first song from that album, "Deliver Me Home," is this burst of jangly power pop that we just don't quite get enough of. The band's vocals would probably have labelled them as a "slacker" band back in the 90s, but the music is far too hyper to truly earn that label. Overall, "Deliver Me Home" is a little too fast for indie rock, but not quite heavy enough to be punk. It's almost as if members of Pavement and Belle and Sebastian got together and decided to rawk.

You can watch the video for "Deliver Me Home" below. You People's debut album, Dropouts, is due later this year on Custom Made Music. For more information on You People, check them out on Facebook.

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for October 7

A two-parter this week. Here is the first half:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Glen Phillips
Album: Swallowed By the New
Quick Description: First full album of original music in a decade from the Toad the Wet Sprocket lead singer.
Why You Should Listen: Glen Phillips is great, and this is his best output since Winter Pays for Summer.
Overall Thoughts: To say it's been a decade for Phillips doesn't tell the full story, as Toad the Wet Sprocket has reunited and Phillips has been involved with multiple side projects over this time. But it's been forever since he's done a straightforward solo album, and whether these are new songs or songs he's had in the hopper, they're some of his best work. It's an album I listened to shortly after having the best day I've had in ages, and it resonated fully from the start. Not a bad song to be found, and not a bad point stands out. The lack of a standout track on first listen might be a drawback long term, but, for me? Easily the best of the week.
Recommendation: A welcome return, and one that should hit your rotation.

Artist: Phantogram
Album: Three
Quick Description: Long-awaited new album from the commercial/electro act.
Why You Should Listen: Probably the most buzzworthy album of the week.
Overall Thoughts: Phantogram is really, really good at what they do, but I've always preferred their early stuff, which felt more stark and had a lot of interesting things happening. Plenty of acts are working in that space now, so Phantogram evolves positively in this new album. Sometimes it works, like in "Same Old Blues," sometimes it's a miss like with "You Don't Get Me High Anymore," but as a full album, it feels more cohesive and thematically sound. If you jumped off the bandwagon recently, it might be worth your time to hop back on here, or at least give it a shot. I found a lot to love.
Recommendation: Worth your time this week.

Artist: Lizzo
Album: Coconut Oil
Quick Description: A quick-hit major label debut EP from the indie rapper.
Why You Should Listen: Lizzo is great! And this is great!
Overall Thoughts: Not a lot to say, Lizzo's previous album was one we liked here and the EP continues on that quality, but with a little more polish. Really well done, and not a lot more to say except it deserved a highlight.
Recommendation: Probably the R&B/rap release of the week.

Artist: Electric Six
Album: Fresh Blood for Tired Vampyres
Quick Description: The rock band goes a little 1980s?
Why You Should Listen: I suppose it depends on how much you enjoy their shtick....
Overall Thoughts: ...because, for me, it's gotten tired. "Danger! High Voltage!" is a great song, Fire a solid album for its time, but Electric Six, as a band, is like a shape-shifting beast that can't be pinned down and that isn't always great. They're good at shifting genres, but I'm not sure if this genre fits this band, and the result is a weird album that never quite clicks.
Recommendation: This is a busy week. Skip it.

Artist: Placebo
Album: Life's What You Make It
Quick Description: Positive(?) EP from the alt-rock favorites.
Why You Should Listen: Placebo has set a high bar for themselves.
Overall Thoughts: Placebo is well-known for plenty of reasons, most of them good. Their recent output has tried to update their sound and I can't say I loved their last album (or even liked it), and this EP is a further shift in sonic directions. It's hit or miss. "Twenty Years" is a good song, but we don't get a studio version, for example, and the songs they cover here aren't known to me. I don't know what this is going to lead to for the band, but it's an interesting enough listen.
Recommendation: We'll see what comes of this, but it might be worth your time.

Artist: Shovels & Rope
Album: Little Seeds
Quick Description: Blog favorite duo is back with a rollicking good time.
Why You Should Listen: Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent continue to make some of the best alt-country music out there.
Overall Thoughts: I think this album won me over with "Botched Execution," and I heard that weeks before the album came out. This one has a nice tonal position that their previous albums do not, and is both a lot of fun while still having its serious moments. There aren't the type of sing-a-longs like on Swimmin' Time, but the darker tone here gives it a southern noir feel. Don't sleep on this one.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Computer Magic
Album: Obscure but Visible
Quick Description: Another quick EP from the prolific electronic artist.
Why You Should Listen: Computer Magic is great, full-stop.
Overall Thoughts: My favorite thing about Computer Magic is how fun she is with her songwriting. A song, "Alien Friend," dropped a while back, and this album continues a slightly weirder trajectory, but what's impressive is that the album shows some impressive songwriting chops that increase the complexity of the music in a way we haven't seen yet from Danz Johnson. I'm wondering if this might be the release that finally gets her a little more American mainstream attention.
Recommendation: Definitely try this one this week.

Also out this week:

* Kaiser Chiefs - Stay Togerher (If you can't say anything nice...)