Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Weezy Ford - Bobbypin Graveyard

Last week Weezy Ford, sister of Sallie Ford, released her debut EP, Bobbypin Graveyard. Interestingly, none of the songs from her Soundcloud that we covered last year are on this five song EP, so we get a completely fresh look at Ford. Bobbypin Graveyard isn't quite as barebones as "Phantom Lover" was. These songs just barely brush into the indie rock meets soul sound that her sister has mastered, but I mean just barely. The opening track, "You Ain't Gonna Find It," might be the closest. It has this weirdly great dichotomy with the instrumentation being heavy blues with Weezy's voice having an almost vulnerable quality. "Shakey Knees" is my personal favorite track of the album, and just amps up the dirty aggressive blues rock aspect. It sounds as if a 60s girl group backup singer took over vocal duties for The White Stripes. It's such a joy to hear music that is so raw and sweet at the same time. The EP is an absolute blast, and completely worth the wait for a proper release.

You can listen to "Shakey Knees" below. Bobbypin Graveyard is available now via Sleepy Volcano. You can get your own copy here. For more information on Weezy Ford, check out her website and Facebook. Right now she only has one show scheduled at the Sou'wester Lodge in Seaview, WA.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Animal House - "Domino"

This one will make you feel old. Apparently the whole neo-rock/garage movement of the early 2000s that brought us The Strokes, The Hives, etc is now due for its own revival. The latest single from Animal House is filled with the type of garage rock that was all the rage back at the turn of the century. "Domino" is fun and catchy as hell, with the kind of attitude that's going to reinvigorate the term cheeky. Although I had assumed they were British, the band is from Australia, so let's hope they're just the start of a new burst of Australian garage rock.

"Domino" is the latest single from the new EP, Sorry, from Animal House. You can watch the video for "Domino" below. For more on Animal House, check out their website.

First Listen: New Releases for November 25

We basically only have a couple weeks of new releases left for the 2016 calendar year, so this week has a few new releases and a few I tripped up on late.

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Polyvinyl Plays Polyvinyl
Quick Description: A Polyvinyl Records celebration for their 20th birthday.
Why You Should Listen: It's current Polyvinyl artists playing past Polyvinyl songs...
Overall Thoughts: ...and it's predictably hit or miss. As someone who has been loving Polyvinyl stuff for most of their existence, I knew I'd love and hate some of this, and it's great for that sort of fun look back, but I wouldn't recommend this to anyone but fans of Polyvinyl's catalog. And the fact that no one covered "Marry Me, Archie" is just criminal.
Recommendation: Fun for fans or those into weird covers.

Artist: Natalie McCool
Album: The Great Unknown
Quick Description: Poppy singer with a weird bent.
Why You Should Listen: You like melodic pop, but with a twist.
Overall Thoughts: I might not have looked twice at this one without it being a short week, and I'm glad I did, because this was a fun listen. I don't know the first thing about Natalie McCool, but I want to know more based on songs like "Magnet" that lodged themselves into my brain rather quickly. This won't be for everyone, but if you're digging what you hear early...
Recommendation:'s worth keeping an eye on. I think it's one of the better releases this week.

Artist: The Weeknd
Album: Starboy
Quick Description: Post-breakthrough album for the R&B/electronic artist.
Why You Should Listen: The Weeknd still has goodwill from his independent releases, even if he's full-on mainstream now.
Overall Thoughts: "Can't Feel My Face" was a jam, for sure, and it appears at this point that we're just trying to capitalize on that, which brings us to Starboy, a moody album that sometimes works, sometimes doesn't, and, overall, leaves a lot to be desired. If you loved the last album (and I thought it was great even though I tired of it really quickly), this is going to work for you. If you've already moved on from this sound, though, I fear there won't be much more there for you.
Recommendation: Be wary.

Artist: Dragonette
Album: Royal Blues
Quick Description: New indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: It's maybe the most traditional pop record of the week even while being super different.
Overall Thoughts: This came out a couple weeks ago and I completely missed it. I've been a fan of this group for some time, and the new album continues to be a little off-center while still having hooks for days. I think this album won me over for good on the somewhat ridiculous (in a good way) "Save Your Neck," but the whole thing is worth a good listen if you like the electronic/pop stuff.
Recommendation: I loved it, and you might, too.

Artist: Sweet Soubrette
Album: Big Celebrity
Quick Description: Singer-songwriter comes back with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: Sweet Soubrette does some interestingly quirky stuff.
Overall Thoughts: I loved her last album, nearly missed this one and I'm glad I didn't. The quirk is still there, but I'm not finding the same sort of hooky craziness that I loved from her previous album. It remains to be seen whether it comes with time, but I feel like we have a weird set of albums like this one this week, and Sweet Soubrette unfortunately fails to stand out.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, but might be second tier for you.

Artist: Gillian Welch
Album: Boots No. 1: The Official Revival Bootleg
Quick Description: A series of outtakes and alternates from Gillian Welch.
Why You Should Listen: Gillian Welch is one of the best folk singers out there right now.
Overall Thoughts: This is great, first and foremost. What's interesting is that, even in its stripped down, alternate/demo form, these still feel new and fresh. It helps that Gillian Welch, overall, already has that quality to her work, so these alternates don't feel too different even while having a sound to them that just works. Overall, even though it's not new, it might be my favorite listen of the week.
Recommendation: Mandatory in any week, but especially this week.

Also out this week:

* Sally Shapiro - The Collection (a farewell of sorts from one of my favorite modern disco acts)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Bruising - "Rest In Peace Kurt Donald Cobain (1967-1994)"

Photo by Andrew Benge
Making a song as a pure tribute to a deceased musician is always a tricky thing. The sound has to be similar enough to the subject without purely aping their sound. Plus, it's nearly impossible not to just come across as completely hokey. Bruising somehow pulled it off. I'm going to go out on a limb and assume "Rest In Peace Kurt Donald Cobain (1967-1994)" is about Kurt Cobain. It starts off with some of the feedback that Cobain was notorious for, and then it goes into more of a pop/tribute territory for the rest of the song. The lyrics stay pretty monotone and drone on in that early 90s slacker style, but the chorus (which just barely edges into the loud/quiet/loud dynamic Cobain admits to borrowing from the Pixies) is the type of pure pop that Cobain had a not-so-secret love of. 

"Rest in Peace Kurt Donald Cobain (1967-1994)" will be released as the B-side to the previously mentioned "I Don't Mind" on December 2nd via Beach Coma. You can pre-order your very own copy over on Bandcamp. For more on Bruising, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Alison Clancy - Psycho Tyko

A lot of releases are considered diverse, but Alison Clancy's debut release, Psycho Tyko, truly is. Originally from Nevada City, CA, Clancy now resides in NYC where she dances for The Metropolitan Opera and performs music with her band. The best way to describe her music might be that it's a more poppy version of trip hop, but that barely scratches the surface. You would expect any music described as "a more poppy version of trip hop" that includes synths and post punk guitars would be pretty danceable. And you'll want to dance to it, but you might not be able to figure out how to, exactly. Her songs are filled with scratchy guitars and awkward, uncomfortable beats. A song like "ET Phone Home" starts out like a pretty standard alt-pop song, but by the time Clancy's vocals kick in, the song has twisted into a dark corner that pop music never touches. "Tried2CallUButIDidntHaveUrNumber" is a post punk disco song that could almost get played on top 40 if it didn't make you feel so creepy. That might be the best way to describe her music: Almost pop if it didn't make you feel weird about everything.

You can listen to "Tried2CallUButIDidn'tHaveUrNumber" below. For more information on Alison Clancy, check out her website and Bandcamp.

Spirit Family Reunion - "Goin' Out to Cannon Ball"

Depending on your media outlets of choice, you may or may not be aware of the situation in North Dakota right now. There protesters are attempting to protect Native American lands (and the drinking water used by Native Americans in the area) from having an oil pipeline built by the Dakota Access oil company. Regardless on what side you land on, there have been some pretty disturbing and violent images coming from the standoff, with a militarized police force using rubber bullets, pepper spray, attack dogs, and fire hoses to attempt to disperse the crowd.

Spirit Family Reunion are on the side of the protesters. They've written and recorded a song to show solidarity with the protesters, with all proceeds going to support them. "Goin' Out to Cannon Ball" is written completely about the standoff, and is really a good old fashioned protest folk song. A lot of songs try to be a little too artsy with their lyrics about social issues, but "Goin' Out to Cannon Ball" is more like Crosby Stills Nash and Young's "Ohio" where there is no question as to the subject matter. The opening lines are "Up in North Dakota where the old Missouri runs / Morton County police carry military guns." It's an important, powerful song in a time where there are shockingly few.

You can watch the lyric video for "Goin' Out to Cannon Ball" below. To purchase a copy of the song with all proceeds benefiting the Camp of the Sacred Stones, head over to Spirit Family Reunion's Bandcamp. You can also donate directly at

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Live Shows: Letters to Cleo and Weakened Friends, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 11/19/16

Letters to Cleo is the band I've seen more than any other. It's somewhere around 25-30 times by now. This weekend I realized that I've been going to see Letters to Cleo shows for over half my life now, which is just ridiculous. But they're a band that I used to go see multiple times in one week, including a few back to back nights, so when I haven't seen them for 8 years, there's no way I'm going to be missing a show. You add in Weakened Friends as the opener, literally the band I was hoping would open the show, and it's just an added bonus.

I figured rolling into the venue around 8:30 (15 minutes before showtime) would be perfectly fine. Most people there are going to be 35 and up, we have kids, need to get sitters, and all that. It would probably be a rare night out with people getting dinner before the show, so nobody is going to get there until just before Letters to Cleo go on. How many middle aged people will show up early for an opener they don't know? Looks like I forgot how rabidly dedicated the LtC fanbase is, especially after not seeing the band for 8 years. I ended up getting there just as Weakened Friends took the stage and the Paradise was just packed. Ridiculously packed. The great news is that Weakened Friends took the stage to an almost full house. I don't know what percentage of the crowd knew them before they started, but they won over everybody before it was done. Playing in front of a packed and receptive house is much better for any band than the last time I saw them, and Weakened Friends shone. The band members looked like they were having a blast, and songs like "95" and "I Don't" are becoming absolute epics. Granted, for a band that's around a year old four months is a huge chunk of time, but their growth in that time has been almost immeasurable. Expect huge things from them in the next few years.

Next, for the first time in almost 8 years, Letters to Cleo took the stage in their hometown of Boston. It would be almost impossible for them to fuck up a show in front of a crowd this devoted. Of course, LtC have always been an amazing and fun live act. In their time off as an active band, all members have just become such expert musicians that they really are far more tight than they have any right to be. They opened with the usual "Demon Rock" and mostly stuck to the classics. They did squeeze in three songs from their just released (and surprisingly good) EP Back to Nebraska, but mostly stuck to the oldies everyone wanted. They stuck with a setlist that very closely resembled their Live From Boston album (recorded 8 years earlier in the same room), but threw in just enough surprises to keep it fresh. "Get On With It," "Step Back," and "Co-Pilot" were some of my favorite surprises. In fact, "Get On With It" ended a three song mid-set acoustic mini-set with just Kay Hanley and Michael Eisenstein playing, until the rest of the band rejoined for the end of "Get On With It." They also broke out their cover of Scruffy the Cat's immortal "You Dirty Rat." "Here & Now" and "I Want You To Want Me" were played, of course, since they are the biggest hits, after all. Closing with fan favorite "Rim Shak" was the perfect choice. Let's hope this short series of shows is just a warm up for a more active 2017 for Letters to Cleo.

First Listen: New Releases for November 18

We're starting to hit the end of the year doldrums in terms of releases. There are a few more solid weeks coming up, though.

Artist: Justice
Album: Woman
Quick Description: The indie dance act with their latest album.
Why You Should Listen: Indie electronic dance music is sort of a thing right now.
Overall Thoughts: People love Justice, and with good reason. For me, they've never quite connected, and I don't know how this album sits in comparison to anything else they've done, but this is a perfectly good representation of what Justice is in my brain. The songs are catchy, the beat good, and that's all I was looking for. Will it be enough for you, though? That, I don't know.
Recommendation: A good listen, might not be great for longtime fans.

Artist: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
Album: A Little Something More From...
Quick Description: An EP of some odds and ends following their breakthrough this year.
Why You Should Listen: This is probably closer to what you want from this band.
Overall Thoughts: Not a ton to say about what is basically a b-sides collection in any other era, but there is a lot of great stuff here that delves more into the rootsy aspect of what makes this band great. Absolutely worth it for fans, and might be a good entry point for those who weren't turned on by "S.O.B."
Recommendation: A great quick listen.

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Let All The Children Boogie: A Tribute to David Bowie
Quick Description: Does what it says on the tin.
Why You Should Listen: Because these tribute albums, always hit-or-miss, should typically get a shot. But it's for a good cause, which matters.
Overall Thoughts: The Ted Leo song is great, the "Lady Stardust" and "Ziggy Stardust" takes are solid, but this might be more of a hardcore fan effort than anything else. In terms of tribute albums, this is fine, but I can't say I got a TON out of it in the grand scheme of things. Fun fact, though: local-ish children's author/illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka did the artwork for the cover!
Recommendation: Worth at least one listen.

Artist: Zach Jones and the Tricky Bits
Album: Rendezvous With a Comet
Quick Description: Standard indie rock without pretense.
Why You Should Listen: There's nothing else like it this week, and Jenny Owen Youngs guests on a track.
Overall Thoughts: The Jenny Owen Youngs link is what turned me onto this, and the result is a good but not amazing EP from a group that has a lot of potential. Come for "Mushroom Suit," stay for the rest, and keep an eye on this one.
Recommendation: Worth a listen this week.

Artist: Our Girl
Album: Normally
Quick Description: Indie rock EP with a little PJ Harvey and a little 1990s grunge.
Why You Should Listen: The most interesting release of the week.
Overall Thoughts: I preface this by saying it's not perfect. It's also only four songs and not nearly long enough, and I really want to know what Our Girl can do with a full album. For now, we have songs like "No Big Deal" that really scratch a few specific itches for me. There's a quality to this that feels familiar but still really off-center and awkward, and sometimes the best music can come from that.
Recommendation: A top recommendation this week.

Artist: Royal Teeth
Album: Amateurs
Quick Description: Singer-songwritery indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: Ingrid Michaelson-esque music is your thing, but you wish there was more Of Monsters and Men to her stuff.
Overall Thoughts: I should love this. As it is, I only kind of like it. It's maybe too polished, and it's not weird enough, but I can see this really breaking through into something big. Keep an ear on this one, but this might not work for everyone.
Recommendation: A tentative recommendation.

Also out this week:

* Wildheart - Shine
* Metallica - Hardwired... to Self-Destruct (it sounds like Metallica, and that was enough for me.)
* Little Mix - Glory Days
* Prateek Podar - Walking in My Sleep (solid if unassuming folk)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Arlen - "Rescue Me"

It's been just over two years since we've shared anything from Lowell, MA's Arlen with you. Just last week, they shared the first song off their upcoming album. According to a Facebook post, the band was actively trying to put out a better album than their last. Judging by "Rescue Me," they might have pulled it off. "Rescue Me" is an absolute epic while still being grounded in the pop side of alternative rock. Arlen knows that melody isn't always a bad thing, and "Rescue Me" ties Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness era Smashing Pumpkins into Placebo. Not to mention there's a killer guitar solo towards the end of the song that the band never even hinted at in their previous songs. 

The new album from Arlen, Negatives, is due out in the next month or so. You can listen to "Rescue Me" below. For more information on all things Arlen, you can check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Monday Mix: The Whole Shebang!

This week's Monday Mix is a guest playlist from the hosts of The Whole Shebang, a minute-by-minute podcast about the cult glamtastic 1998 film that starred Ewan McGregor and Christian Bale, among others. Hosted by Jenny Anckorn (writer, Untaken and Mike Grasso (of blog-recommended podcast Hold My Order, Terrible Dresser), the podcast deconstructs Velvet Goldmine minute by minute, delving into the culture and politics of the era as well as whatever else might come up. They're currently in the mid-90 minute mark, so you have plenty to catch up on. The playlist reflects some favorite songs from the movie, from the era, and so on. As someone who had his T. Rex phase not too long after this movie came out, I'm looking forward to throwing this playlist on later today.

The podcast updates on weekday mornings, and you can find them on their website, on Facebook, and on Twitter!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Friday Freebie: Boston Sessions Vol. 1: Beast

Seeing as we love free music and all aspects of the Boston music scene, Boston Sessions Vol.1: Beast is a big deal for us. The Record Co. is an incubator for the Boston music scene. Boston breeds musicians in all genres of music and has an insanely large college population. The Record Co. is looking to reestablish Boston as a leader in the music industry, by promoting bands that call the city home and getting younger people involved in the scene. We're all for that, so be sure to check out their compilation that you can download now for free via Noisetrade. It reminds me of the compilations of the 90s, Like Tonnage or DGC Rarities: Vol 1. It has the entirety of Boston represented: hip hop (Michael Christmas, STL GLD, Dutch ReBelle), indie rock (Palehound, Pile), pop (Ruby Rose Fox), Americana (Julie Rhoades, Tigerman WOAH), and more. Plus, these are all new and exclusive songs made for this compilation.

You can download Boston Sessions Vol. 1: Beast via Noisetrade. If you're interested in The Record Co. and want to learn more, check out their website.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Empty Page - "Wardrobe Malfunction"

The Empty Page have timed the release of the video for the third single off their new album, Unfolding, with Trans Awareness Month. "Wardrobe Malfunction" was written to show solidarity with and support for their friends in the trans community that have suffered abuse, both verbal and physical. For a pretty heavy album, "Wardrobe Malfunction" is the heaviest track of the bunch. The most brutal aspect of the song is singer Kel's voice. Alternating between talk-singing and flat out screaming, she is the highlight of the entire song, with her cracking voice showing her full anger at the subject matter. While it's being compared to L7 and Bikini Kill, The Empty Page are a bit more pure rock than those bands and remind me more of The Gits.

You can watch the video for "Wardrobe Malfunction" below. You can order the song or the whole album of Unfolding over at The Empty Page's Bandcamp. For more on The Empty Page, check them out on Facebook.

Sallie Ford - "Get Out"

Photo via Facebook
We've been following the career of Sallie Ford since before this blog existed, so anytime we can bring you new music of hers, we're pretty excited. "Get Out" is the first song released from her upcoming album, and the first with a new ensemble of musicians backing her. It's a pretty straightforward retro rocker, but it still has Ford's trademark bluesy growl. For such a basic rock song, "Get Out" just feels heavy and dark. The new album deals with Ford's struggles with anxiety and depression, as well as band breakups and wanting to quit music. This isn't exactly a party time album, but few truly great ones are.

Sallie Ford's upcoming album, Soul Sick, will be released on February 10 on Vanguard Records. You can pre-order it now via PledgeMusic, along with some great extras (house shows, original artwork, hanging out with Sallie Ford in Portland, etc.) For more information on Sallie Ford, be sure to check out her website.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

No Sun - "Drown In You"

No Sun might be the very first band to come out of Salt Lake City that I've ever heard. Their new song, "Drown In You," is being compared to both grunge and shoegaze, but I'm really not hearing that. What I hear in "Drown In You" is more of a late 90s, post grunge alternative sound. At least, it has those hooks and pop sensibilities that came during that time. But this song is more distorted than most things released during that time period. As in way more distorted. There are some sounds that sound almost like when home demos tapes (or ultra lo-fi albums) used to warp a bit. It's odd because this sounds too well produced to be tape flubs, but it hits this odd little nostalgia button for me that I didn't know even existed. It creates this great mixture of early 90s DIY noise with late 90s power pop.

No Sun's debut album, If Only, is due out on January 20th via The Native Sound. You can listen to "Drown In You" below. If Only is available for pre-order in digital as well as black or pink vinyl formats over at Bandcamp. For more on No Sun, check them out on Facebook.

Moon Duo - "Cold Fear"

Photo by Howard Wise
The first song off Moon Duo's upcoming album, Occult Architecture Vol. 1 is weird. "Cold Fear" is a very stripped down electronic song, almost minimalist. But it's not post punk or new wave at all. It's the kind of electronic music an old hippie would come out with, which means it's both minimalistic and trippy as hell. That combination is not an easy feat. Plus, there's just enough noise kicking around throughout the entire song to remind me of Sonic Youth's late 90s psychedelic period. That's a lot to pack into a five minute song, but it works.

You can listen to "Cold Fear" below. Moon Duo's fourth album, Occult Architecture Vol. 1, is due out February 3rd on Sacred Bones. You can pre-order the album via Bandcamp. For more on Moon Duo, check out there website here. We've also thrown in the dates for their upcoming late winter tour below the song.

Wed. Feb. 22 – Santa Cruz, CA @ Don Quixote’s
Fri. Feb. 24 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Sat. Feb. 25 - San Diego, CA @ Casbah
Fri. Mar. 3 - Seattle, WA @ Sunset Tavern
Sat. Mar. 4 - Vancouver, BC @ Cobalt
Wed. Mar. 15 - Newcastle, UK @ Northumbria University
Thu. Mar. 16 - Manchester, UK @ Band On The Wall
Fri. Mar. 17 - London, UK @ Heaven
Sat. Mar. 18 - Paris, FR @ Le Trabendo
Sun. Mar. 19 - Nancy, FR @ L’Autre Canal
Mon. Mar. 20 - Zurich, CH @ Mascotte
Thu. Mar. 23 - Budapest, HU @ A38
Fri. Mar. 24 - Graz, AT @ Orpheum Extra
Sat. Mar. 25 - Vienna, AT @ Chelsea
Mon. Mar. 27 - Leipzig, DE @ UT Connewitz
Tue. Mar. 28 - Berlin, DE @ Bi Nuu
Wed. Mar. 29 - Copenhagen, DK @ Pumphuset 
Thu. Mar. 30 - Oslo, NO @ Bla 
Fri. Mar. 31 - Stockholm, SE @ Kagelbanan
Sat. Apr. 1 - Gothenburg, SE @ Pusterviks
Mon. Apr. 3 - Groningen, NL @ Vera Club
Tue. Apr. 4 - Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Noord
Wed. Apr. 5 - Eindhoven, NL @ Effenaar
Thu. Apr. 6 - Brighton, UK @ The Haunt
Fri. Apr. 7 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club 
Sat. Apr. 8 - Glasgow, UK @ Stereo
Fri. Apr. 21 - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Sat. Apr. 22 - Detroit, MI @ El Club
Sun. Apr. 23 - Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern 
Tue. Apr. 25 - Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rossa 
Wed. Apr. 26 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Thu. Apr. 27 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
Fri. Apr. 28 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s 
Sat. Apr. 29 - Washington, DC @ DC9 
Sun. Apr. 30 - Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for November 11

After a crazy election day and a crazy post-election week, we have new releases! Unfortunately, time is still not on my side, so here's a quick highlight list so you all know what to seek out.

Best Releases of the Week:

* David Wax Museum - A La Rumba Rumba (Surprise release of Mexican folk, excellent listen)
* The Wave Pictures - Bamboo Diner in the Rain
* A Tribe Called Quest - We Got It From Here... Thank You... (LISTEN TO THIS. SO GOOD.)
* Sad13 - Slugger (Speedy Ortiz singer's... dance album? It's great.)
* Emeli Sande - Long Live the Angels (Such an underrated singer)
* Matt Pond PA - Winter Lives (surprise! They're still around!)

Albums That May Be Worth Your Time:

* Nouvelle Vague - I Could Be Happy
* Luke Temple - A Hand Through the Cellar Door
* Wolf People - Ruins
* s a r a s a r a - A m o r F a t i
* Martha Wainwright - Goodnight City
* Sleigh Bells - Jessica Rabbit (As much of a departure as you can expect from Sleigh Bells)

Other Albums Out This Week:

* Wakrat - Wakrat
* Katie Kim - Salt
* Body/Head - No Waves
* Simian Mobile Disco - Welcome to Sideways
* E - E
* Okilly Dokilly - Howdilly Doodilly (Ned Flanders-inspired metal. Yeah.)

I will get my timetables sorted out soon. But at least accept this list as my penance for now. We will Make First Listen Great Again, or something.

Shovels & Rope Curate the High Water Fest

The summer music festival season keeps creeping earlier and earlier every year. Some announcements just started popping up yesterday, and one of them has us ecstatic. Shovels & Rope have put together a weekend festival in their hometown of Charleston, SC (well, NORTH Charleston, but close enough) and the line up might be one of the best of the year. Besides the obvious choice of Shovels & Rope to play their own festival, they're also bringing along some of our favorites including The Avett Brothers, The Shins, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Dawes, Lucius, Margo Price, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, Deer Tick, JD McPherson, The Suffers, Matthew Logan Vasquez, The Deslondes, and more! If you've been a regular reader of this blog for any amount of time this is pretty much a dream line up for all of us. It's going to be a challenge for any other festival, particularly Americana and roots based ones, to come close to matching High Water this year.

Tickets for the inaugural High Water Fest go on sale Friday November 18 at 10:00 a.m., and the festival itself will take place April 22-23 at Riverfront Park in North Charleston, SC. You can find out more information, including ticket prices at the festival's website or Facebook.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Tristen Covers Edgar Allen Poe

Photo via Facebook
We've been fans of Tristen for quite some time here at If It's Too Loud..., and it's been far too long since we've been able to share any new music of hers. While she does have a collection of poetry coming out this week, that doesn't necessarily scream "Here comes some new music!" Luckily, we do have a new song to share with you. Logic would dictate that to help promote a collection of poetry Tristen would take one of her poems and put it to song. Instead, she has taken one of Edgar Allen Poe's poems and put it with music. "A Dream Within a Dream" may not be as well known as "The Raven," but it's still a poem by Poe. Tristen avoids the obvious, gothed out direction, and makes this song her own. It's bluesy and funky (but with fuzzy as hell guitars), leaning much harder on the songs from her more roots sound of her album Charlatans At the Garden Gate than her more recent, pop-focused album Caves. It's an odd and bad ass experiment that works perfectly.

Tristen Gaspadarek's debut poetry collection, Saturnine Pocket Poetry Series: Volume 1, will be available on November 15. You can get your copy here. For more on Tristen, check out her website. You can watch the video of her version of Edgar Allen Poe's "A Dream Within a Dream" below.

Friday, November 11, 2016

First Aid Kit Covers Woody Guthrie

Photo by Neil Krug
On election night, First Aid Kit appeared on what appears to be a Swedish talk show for their US election coverage. In what might be the best choice for the evening, First Aid Kit and their dad did a cover of Woody Guthrie's immortal "This Land is Your Land." Seeing this post election is even more poignant, although their upbeat take on the song defies most of the nation's current mood, and the fury that inspired the original song. Although I don't know if it is possible for the Soderberg sisters to have anything but beauty in their voice, so anger might be out. They also did an amazing cover of Bob Dylan's "With God On Our Side" on the same night.

You can watch First Aid Kit's cover of "This Land is Your Land" below, although if you're trying to avoid American politics, you might want to listen and not watch since there is a huge banner of both Clinton and Trump behind them for most of the performance. For more information on First Aid Kit, check out their website.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Van T's - "Fun Garçon"

The forthcoming single from The Van T's isn't particularly unique. "Fun Garçcon" isn't going to usher in a new era of music and kill an entire genre the way Nevermind did. In fact, the blueprint for their sound is in bands like The Donnas and Veruca Salt's Eight Arms to Hold You. But that doesn't mean it's not fucking great. It's just a big, loud rock sound. It's big, loud rock for the sake of being big, loud rock. And you know what? That's been missing lately. There's a hint of bratty punk lyrically. and the whole thing is drenched in feedback. Do yourself a favor: Play this in your car. Loud. While driving fast. 

You can listen to "Fun Garçon" below. The single will be available commercially on November 25th on Bloc+Music. For more on The Van T's, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for November 4

Happy election day! Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.

But we're all distracted by the election today (and rightfully so) and I really need to learn to do these on the weekend, so a quick hit today:

Great Listens This Week

Artist: STRFKR
Album: Being No One, Going Nowhere
Quick Description: Electro-rock from an underrated group.
Why You Should Listen: It'll get your butt moving.
Overall Thoughts: I just loved this listen and can't wait to go back to it. It's a really solid piece of electronic music that doesn't feel nearly as angry or angsty as the group's name would suggest. A solid listen on a whole, and I feel like it's on par with their other work.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: American Wrestlers
Album: Goodbye Terrible Youth
Quick Description: Solid indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: They sound familiar, but have a great way of putting together some hooky songs.
Overall Thoughts: There's the gut instinct to compare any power-pop sounding group to Fountains of Wayne in my head, and American Wrestlers aren't that, but there's something completely endearing about this album. Full of well-crafted poppy indie rock, it just hit me on all the right levels and was up there as one of my favorites this week. Definitely worth a listen if you have an indie rock itch that hasn't been scratched in a while.
Recommendation: One of the better ones this week.

Also some highlights that you should listen to:

* Adrian + Meredith - More Than a Little (solid folk/roots listen)
* Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions - Until the Hunter (more esoteric than you're expecting, but still solid)
* Slow Hollows - Romantic (I need more time with this, but I loved it on the first shot)

Might Be Worth Your Time

Artist: Jim James
Album: Eternally Even
Quick Description: New solo record from the My Morning Jacket singer/songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: This is easily the most buzzed about album in months.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be honest - this didn't do it for me at all. I feel like all the songs sound mostly the same, and I feel this way about most of Jim James's solo work and, frankly, a lot of MMJ. Honestly, I just think this is less "this is bad" and more "this is not for me." With the amount of acclaim this is getting out there, I would say give it a listen if you're into his work, but if you're looking for an entrypoint, some My Morning Jacket might be where to go first.
Recommendation: Be wary.

Artist: Sims
Album: More Than Ever
Quick Description: Doomtree-related rap goodness.
Why You Should Listen: Are you really not on board with the Doomtree folks yet?
Overall Thoughts: So this won't be for everyone who likes the more indie rap, as Sims is a little more raw and a little more stilted. For me? That's why I loved it. Not the best album of the week but absolutely my favorite, it's something that feels fresh and new without reinventing the wheel, which is very difficult to do. If you like rap, you owe it to yourself to give this one a shot.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but worth your time if it might be.

* The Darcys - Centerfold (Would be better if they went all in on the pastiche)
* Lee Fields and the Expressions - Special Night (Solid soul)
* Tyvek - Origin of What (Uneven punk-adjacent stuff, has its moments)
* Jessica Williamson - Heart Song

Also out this week:

* Common - Black America Again
* Lambchop - FLOTUS
* Futurebirds - Portico I

Duke Garwood - "Coldblooded the Return"

Photo by Steve Gullick
Folk music can be pretty varied nowadays, but it usually has one thing in common: It sounds nice. It's a pleasant, non-abrasive genre of music. Well... that's not really the case with Duke Garwood's "Coldblooded the Return." That's not to say Garwood sounds bad. His voice is pleasant enough, and it's not like he's mixing folk and noise punk. But... there's just something uncomfortable in his music. It's brooding and dark and just... unpleasant. But it's so good. You want to know how unpleasant his music can feel? Another song, "Sleep," draws from the writings of Werner Herzog. Garwood himself refers to this album as "Beautiful apocalypse love music."

Duke Garwood's new album, Garden of Ashes, will be out February 3 on Heavenly Recordings. You can listen to "Coldblooded the Return" below and pre-order your copy of the album here. For more information on Garwood, check out his Facebook and Twitter.

Punctual - "Eva"

I don't tend to cover much dance music here. It's just not really my thing. Most of the electronic music I listen to is from the late 90s mainstream boom, or at least that time period. That's why I was pleasantly surprised by "Eva," the new single from Punctual. Punctual are a collaboration between Bristol based DJ/producer Will Lansley and John Morgan. It's a great mix of non-whatever they play at raves nowadays, and feels more like an actual creative dance song from the 90s. It has exotic vocals over this upbeat array of music. "Eva" reminds me oddly of Pogo, the guy who mixes a ton of Disney movies into dance tracks. For someone who has barely listened to dance music for 20 years, Punctual are a welcome discovery.

You can listen to "Eva" below. For more on Punctual, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Kingsbury - "Easy"

Photo via Facebook
When we last heard from Caroline Kingsbury back in 2014, she was known as The Red-Headed Indian and had released an EP we both loved, Honey. It was one of the surpisehits of that year, with a surprisingly great mix of soul and folk. Shortly after that, she decided to drop the moniker of The Red-Headed Indian (a decision I approved of, since I always felt a wee bit awkward saying it), and was going by Kingsbury instead. Looks like besides just the name change, she decided to become more of a band and start collaborating with Will Hess. Gone is the folky sound of The Red-Headed Indian, and in its place is a decided more poppy, electronic sound. It's not a sound you normally associate with a Nashville band, but it's a great one. It's close to dream pop, with this lovely and lilting synth riff (if that's a real thing) throughout. 

You can listen to Kingbury's debut single, "Easy," below. For more information on Kingsbury, check out their website and Facebook.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Huntress & The Holder of Hands Covers Michael Hurley

Photo by Mikael Kennedy
In all the Halloween excitement, I almost missed out on this completely. MorganEve Swain's father used to have a Halloween mixtape (which makes him a super cool dad, in my opinion) that included songs like "Bad Moon Rising" and spooky sounds. It also included a song called "The Werewolf," but no one knew who sang the song. Decades later, MorganEve Swain, aka The Huntress & The Holder of Hands discovers that the song is by Michael Hurley, who I am completely unfamiliar with. This Halloween, she recorded her own version of the song, complete with wolf howls. It's an incredibly creepy and somehow beautiful cover, and I just wish I had been able to listen on Halloween itself. I guess there's always next year.

You can get The Huntress & The Holder of Hands' version of "The Werewolf" over on her Patreon page. While you're there, you should also consider donating.

Flasher - "Destroy"

Washington D.C. is kind of the birthplace of emo, if you define emo as "emotional hardcore" and not "whiny pop punk bands singing about their diaries." Flasher are a throwback to old school emo. A chorus that includes "I just want to be your boy" definitely lands in the realm of emo, but musically "Destroy" lands much closer to the old school definition of emo. That's not to say it's hardcore by a long shot. But it's quirky and noisy, with just enough aggression to make the song interesting. It perfectly captures both the sadness and anger of being alone when you don't want to be. Plus, it has a killer false ending.

Check out the video for "Destroy below. Flasher originally released their self-titled EP on cassette back in April, but are reissuing it on vinyl on November 18 on Sister Polygon. You can get your copy via their Bandcamp

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Bruising - "I Don't Mind"

Photo by Andrew Benge
It's been about a year since we last heard from Bruising, so luckily they are back with a new single, "I Don't Care." "I Don't Care" is a great mix of being laid back but still kind of noisy. The vocals are super chilled out, with fuzzy guitars swirling around the chorus. The sound seems as if it's a California/UK hybrid, but instead it was written while singer Naomi Baguley studied in Berlin. She and the rest of the band would swap demos over email until the songs became whole.

"I Don't Mind," with the B-Side "Rest In Peace Kurt Donald Cobain (1967-1994)," will be released digitally December 2nd via Beach Coma with a physical release in January. You can pre-order a copy here. For more info on Bruising, check out their website.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Grave School Cover Cock Sparrer

When you're named Grave School, you legally have to release something on Halloween. Plus, it's a cover, so you know we're on board. Grave School do a version of Cock Sparrer's "We're Coming Back" that just might be perfect. The original is pretty melodic pop punk, especially for the time it was released (which surprised me, so I guess I need to familiarize myself with Cock Sparrer more) and Grave School take that blueprint and 90s jangle the hell out of it. This song is an absolute joy and makes me desperately hear more from both bands. 

You can listen to Grave School's version of "We're Coming Back" below. You can also get a copy of the song for free on Bandcamp. For more on Grave School, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

First Listen: New Releases for October 28


Albums I Loved:

Artist: Mannequin Pussy
Album: Romantic
Quick Description: Multi-genre indie stuff with a lot of intensity.
Why You Should Listen: It's short enough where, even if there's parts you don't like, they won't last long.
Overall Thoughts: I think there's one thing keeping Mannequin Pussy from being a great band or Romantic being a great album, and that's the fact that this album ultimately can't decide what it is. Sometimes it has alt-rock trappings, sometimes punk, sometimes hard rock, sometimes emo, but none of it especially flows together. Why, then, did I love this so much? It's so intense and so unlike anything else that it ends up being a really awesome musical adventure. I do hope future albums of theirs picks a sound and sticks with it, but, for now? This is just simply excellent.
Recommendation: Definitely give this a listen.

Artist: The Brian Jonestown Massacre
Album: Third World Pyramid
Quick Description: Latest album from the indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: This is a return to form for the band.
Overall Thoughts: There's a lot of time in the documentary DiG!, about The Brian Jonestown Massacre's inability to make it big while similar band Dandy Warhols take off to international superstardom. There's a lot of their music that sounds alike, and the last decade or so has seen TBJM going a little weirder (the Dandys have done the same, but they can afford to). Third World Pyramid is the closest to "classic" Brian Jonestown Massacre that we've seen in some time, with a lot of solid songs throughout this while still having an edge. It's the album I've been waiting for from them for some time now.
Recommendation: Definitely give this a shot, especially if you were ever a fan.

Artist: Jack Grelle
Album: Got Dressed Up to Be Let Down
Quick Description: Classic country sounds from a solid singer songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: It's the most authentic album of the week.
Overall Thoughts: I don't have a ton to say about this, honestly, but I did want to highlight it because something Jack Grelle is doing really, really resonates. This is a special album and one that really needs to be heard. It's getting some modest buzz in Americana circles, as well, so there's a lot of reason to check this out, especially if you're a fan of the genre.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

* Lori Cullen - Sexsmith Swinghammer Songs
* Magic Shoppe - Wonderland

Albums That Might Be Worth a Listen, But Might Not Work for Everyone

Artist: Tove Lo
Album: Lady Wood
Quick Description: Darkish pop with a sexier side.
Why You Should Listen: You're into this sort of pop music, you don't mind some faux-edge.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed Tove Lo's first album, and since then she's been sort of on the forefront of girl power sexuality and such. Lady Wood is an extension of that, and, frankly, feels a little embarrassing with the entendre and the script of her name in the album cover. I get what she's aiming at, but this sort of thing isn't working the same way it may have worked for others, and I can't pinpoint why. As this is the first of two albums (the second due in the new year), the complete piece might make some more sense. For now...
Recommendation: ...tread softly.

* Slothrust - Everyone Else
* CRX - New Skin
* Nina Diaz - The Beat is Dead
* The Hidden Cameras - Home on Native Land
* Snowapple - Tracks
* Olafur Arnolds - Island Songs
* Priscilla Ahn - La La La

EPs of Note:

* Wakey!Wakey! - Wakey Wakey Covers - Episode One
* Wichita - The Following
* Lou Barlow - Apocalypse Fetish
* Allie Moss - The Other Side
* Muuy Bien - Age of Uncertainty

Also Out This Week:

* Nada Surf - Peaceful Ghosts (A live album with some symphonic instrumentation - surprisingly great)
* Happy Place - Northfield
* Helmet - Dead to the World

Hoping my schedule shakes out better soon! Sorry for the quick hits!