Friday, January 29, 2016

Rayland Baxter - "Mr. Rodriguez (SOHO EP)"

"Mr. Rodriguez" isn't exactly a new song, seeing as we first heard it on last year's exceedingly great Imaginary Man. Rayland Baxter is set to release SOHO EP next Friday, which revisits some of the tracks on Imaginary Man in a more stripped down version. If this new version of "Mr. Rodriguez" is any indication, this isn't just a collection of acoustic versions of songs you have already heard. The SOHO EP version is stripped down to bare bones, consisting mainly of Baxter's vocals and minimal guitar layered with a background of reverb. I truly can't say either version is the best version, but instead each lives in its own universe that you owe it to yourself to check out.

SOHO EP will be available at Rayland Baxter's current tour dates. If you can't make it, you can also purchase one at the ATO Records webstore. For current tour dates, be sure to check out his website.

The Dead Milkmen - "Song With No Name"

One of my favorite things about this digital age that's supposedly killing music is when one of my favorite bands throws a song up out of nowhere. Yesterday, The Dead Milkmen put out "Song With No Name." According to a Facebook post, "Song With No Name" was recorded back in 1992 during the sessions for what became Not Richard But Dick. It's a demo, but a pretty good recording for a demo. Sung by Joe Jack Talcum, it fits right into the poppier sound The Milkmen were experimenting with during their time on Hollywood Records.

You can listen to "Song With No Name" below. To keep track of The Dead Milkmen's actics, be sure to like them on Facebook.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Bleached - "Keep On Keepin' On"

Photo by Nicole Anne Robbins
Jeff sent over 2013's Ride Your Heart to me, and while I really really liked it, I didn't quite love it. With their next album, I just might start to love Bleached.

"Keep On Keepin' On" lives in a world where female punks look back at The Bangles and The Go Gos with the same reverence they do Bikini Kill and Bratmobile. It's an edgy song, but it's still fun and has killer hooks. Picture if Veruca Salt listened to more Blondie than AC/DC.

Bleached's new album, Welcome the Worms, will be out on April 1 via Dead Ocean. You can watch the video for "Keep On Keepin' On" (which features a bitchin' Captain America shirt) below, and below that are their current tour dates. For more info on Bleached, check out their website here.

Mar. 15 - March 19 - Austin, TX @ SXSW 
Mar. 29 - Santa Barbara, CA @ Velvet Jones
Mar. 30 - San Diego, CA @ Casbah
Apr. 2 - Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Apr. 4 - Austin, TX @ Sidewinder
Apr. 5 - Houston, TX @ Walter’s
Apr. 6 - Dallas, TX @ Three Links
Apr. 8 - Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
Apr. 9 - Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
Apr. 11 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Apr. 13 - Washington, DC @ DC9
Apr. 15 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Apr. 16 - Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz POB
Apr. 17 - Toronto, ON @ Garrison
Apr. 20 - Columbus, OH @ Double Happiness
Apr. 21 - Ferndale, MI @ Loving Touch
Apr. 22 - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Apr. 23 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry 
Apr. 25 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Apr. 26 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Apr. 28 - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
Apr. 29 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Apr. 30 - Portland, OR @ Doug Fir
May 2 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
May 4 - Santa Ana, CA @ Constellation Room
May 5 - Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
May 17 - Manchester, UK @ Gulivers
May 18 - London, UK @ Moth Club
May 19 – Brighton, UK @ The Great Escape Festival @ Horatios
May 20 - Amsterdam, NL @ Bitterzoet
May 21 - Eindhoven, NL @ Stroomhuis

Lissie Has a New Album Coming Out and I'm Super Excited

Lissie has become one of my favorite artist over the last few years, with both of her albums being near/at the top of my best of lists and her songs always getting trapped in my head. "Don't You Give Up On Me" is the lead single from her next album due out in less than a month, My Wild West, and, not only does it sound like the Lissie that I've come to know and love, but this song sounds a lot like some of the more popular stuff we've been hearing over the last few years, and maybe this will be the breakout we're been waiting for.

Don't sleep on this one. If the rest of the album is as close to as good as this song is, it might be an early contender for one of the best albums of 2016. I know I'll be impatiently waiting for its release.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quilt - "Roller"

Photo by Daniel Dorsa
I have no idea how I've gone so long without hearing Quilt. Usually when a Boston band gets up to third album territory, I'd have heard a song or two. I've heard the name Quilt a bunch of times, but just never listened.

Luckily for me, I finally got around to them and checked out "Roller." It's not quite folky, and not quite poppy. It's this great chill, slinky track that is the exact opposite of whatever I decided they were in my head. Instead, it lives in this great territory with Jenny Lewis' The Voyager and Liz Phair's Whitechocolatespaceegg. 

Quilt's third album, Plaza, will be released on February 26th on Mexican Summer. Be sure to listen to "Roller" below. You can find them online here, and their current tour dates are below the video.

Feb 26 - Boston, MA @ Museum of Fine Arts

Mar 2 - Brooklyn, NY @ Baby’s All Right
Mar 4 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
Mar 5 - Washington, DC @ DC9
Mar 6 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Mar 8 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Mar 12 - Marfa, TX @ Marfa Myths
Mar 19 - San Diego, CA @ The Hideout
Mar 22 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo
Mar 23 - San Fransisco, CA @ The Independent
Mar 25 - Portland, OR @  Mississippi Studios
Mar 26 - Seattle, WA @ The Sunset
Mar 27 - Boise, ID @ Treefort Music Fest
Mar 29 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Mar 31 - Omaha, NE @ Reverb
Apr 1 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Apr 2 - Madison, WI @ The Frequency
Apr 5 - Iowa City, IA @ Mission Creek Festival
Apr 6 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern
Apr 7 - Lakewood, OH @  Mahall’s 20 Lanes
Apr 8 - Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel
Apr 9 - Montreal, QC @ Divian Orange

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

First Listen: New Releases for January 15 and 22

NOW we're back in the swing of things!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Savages
Album: Adore Life
Quick Description: The much anticipated sophomore album from the Mercury-nominated indie rock band.
Why You Should Listen: Their first album was incredible.
Overall Thoughts: While it lacks the sort of immediacy that their debut had, Adore Life is still a very strong, very loud record in many regards. While a first listen doesn't result in any standout tracks, the cohesive whole easily makes it the best thing released in this two week period, and it might have some staying power to boot. A very strong follow-up. No sophomore slump here.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week. And go back and listen to their debut again, too.

Artist: Eleanor Friedberger
Album: New View
Quick Description: Third solo album from the Fiery Furnaces co-lead.
Why You Should Listen: You like the Fiery Furnaces or you don't like the Fiery Furnaces because they're too weird.
Overall Thoughts: Let me explain. I haven't consciously kept up with Eleanor Friedberger's solo output for a variety of reasons, but much of it being that The Fiery Furnaces, while often good, were also often too conceptual for me. So to hear this album and experience how extremely straightforward it is was a pleasant shock to the system - "He Didn't Mention His Mother" is one of the best songs I've heard in 2016 so far, in particular, and the whole thing comes across as a great, albeit sometimes different, indie folk album. It makes me want to look back at her older output as well.
Recommendation: Don't sleep on this one, a quality listen this week.

Artist: The I Don't Cares
Album: Wild Stab
Quick Description: The debut album from the Juliana Hatfield/Paul Westerberg collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of either of the artists involved.
Overall Thoughts: Honestly? This album sounds exactly like what one would expect from a Westerberg/Hatfield collaboration. It has the sort of strange meandering qualities that I associate with Paul Westerberg, and is definitely more melodic and such from Hatfield. Your enjoyment of this album is going to absolutely be based on whether this description means anything to you, as I can imagine those who don't like Westerberg in particular might be turned off by this.
Recommendation: I liked it, though. Give it a shot.

Artist: The Cactus Blossoms
Album: You're Dreaming
Quick Description: Debut label-released album by the throwback roots act.
Why You Should Listen: You wish The Everly Brothers were still alive and making music.
Overall Thoughts: A lot of bands do the sort of throwback thing that The Cactus Blossoms are doing, but few excel at it the way The Cactus Blossoms are. This is just classic country at its core, and I'm sure you could fool a few people if you put it on in the middle of some Everlys along the way. Just a solid listen across the board. Might be a little too on the nose for you, but you'll know within moments whether that's true.
Recommendation: I think it's worth a listen. Easily the most fun I had listening to anything the last few weeks.

Artist: Aoife O'Donovan
Album: In the Magic Hour
Quick Description: Latest album from the New England bluegrass/roots artist.
Why You Should Listen: O'Donovan's projects are quickly becoming a must-listen.
Overall Thoughts: Following her touring/working with people like Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins, this latest album definitely feels more advanced musically (unsurprising given her work with Crooked Still) and also a little more introspective. While this means nothing outright jumps out at me on first listen, O'Donovan's voice is still arresting and the structure behind the sounds kept lingering with me hours after listening. Probably a mandatory listen for most readers here.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a slot in your rotation this week.

Artist: Promise and the Monster
Album: Feed the Fire
Quick Description: Dreamy indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little different this week.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this one over to me, and I had no prior knowledge of this artist/group at all. It's really pretty solid although it's definitely a little different than most of what's been out the last few weeks. If there's a complaint, it might feel a little too light and samey to some, but I'm glad I heard this and it's something I'll be looking into for a back catalog listen as well at some point.
Recommendation: If you have some time, give this one a listen.

Artist: Tricky
Album: Skilled Mechanics
Quick Description: Latest effort from the pioneering trip-hop artist.
Why You Should Listen: Tricky is a legend in his genre.
Overall Thoughts: This is apparently a collaborative project and he has a lot more front-and-center vocals here than what I'm used to, but this isn't Angels With Dirty Faces, either. It's a little more subdued, it's more accessible in some ways and not quite what I expected in others. This isn't bad at all, and it's probably worth a listen based on Tricky's legacy alone.
Recommendation: Be a little cautious, it's far from mandatory.

Artist: Anderson .Paak
Album: Malibu
Quick Description: Second album by the hip-hop jazz artist.
Why You Should Listen: There is no lack of hip-hop artists trying to branch out a bit into other genres to mix it up, and this is one of the more interesting efforts.
Overall Thoughts: This sort of mixing doesn't always work. For Anderson .Paak, this is definitely more subdued than, say, the Wu Tang jazz collaborations we've seen recently. I didn't love this, honestly, and it just felt a little too light on the stuff I was hoping to hear. It's not necessarily bad, but it just wasn't for me.
Recommendation: Be wary.

Artist: Brooke Waggoner
Album: Sweven
Quick Description: Latest album from the Jack White collaborator.
Why You Should Listen: Brooke Waggoner has traditionally done some interesting folk-style music over the years.
Overall Thoughts: Most people, if they know Waggoner at all, know her from Jack White's band during his solo stuff. The downside to having two weeks of music here is that this will certainly be overlooked in favor of some more interesting releases, as this was a January 15 release and January 22 ended up being fairly stacked. Still, if you want to play it a little safer, this is actually a pretty solid album on a whole even if the parts don't jump out.
Recommendation: If you have the bandwidth this week (or coming up), give this a shot.

Artist: Eliza Hardy Jones
Album: Because Become
Quick Description: Solo album from the longtime Philadephia musician.
Why You Should Listen: More dreamy folk/rock music!
Overall Thoughts: The production on this album is ultimately the driver, as it has a very airy quality to go along with the melodic songwriting. I was turned onto this due to the song "Criminal," and that does have a representative quality to it overall. The album definitely works as a highlight for me, and it's something I'll be spending some more time with in the coming weeks.
Recommendation: Worth your time if you have an opening, one of the better releases of the last few weeks.

Artist: Daughter
Album: Not to Disappear
Quick Description: A new album that dabbles more in a post-rock style.
Why You Should Listen: Easily the most different thing released this week.
Overall Thoughts: If you like interesting song structures and instrumentation while still being accessible, this might be for you. This was close to my album of the week because it's so interesting and unique in a sense while still feeling familiar. You'll know by the end of the opening song as to whether this is something you'll love or not, so I highly recommend giving a shot.
Recommendation: One of the best releases of the week.

Artist: Octagrape
Album: Aura Obelisk
Quick Description: Blog favorite back with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: Looking for something a little noisier than what we've highlighted this week.
Overall Thoughts: Octagrape is a band we've discussed before, and this full-length is, well, loud and long. It's art-rock at its finest, I guess, but I'll be honest and say that this, at an hour plus length, is a bit much for me. This is not easy listening and might only have a niche audience at the end of the day.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, for sure.

Also out this week:

* The Besnard Lakes - A Coliseum Complex Museum
* Charles Lloyd & the Marvels - I Long to See You
* Megadeth - Dystopia
* Half Japanese - Perfect
* Ty Segall - Emotional Mugger
* Tortoise - The Catastrophist
* The Temperance Movement - White Bear

Friday, January 22, 2016

Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear Cover Fleetwood Mac

Photo by Ken Sears
Back in December, I headed out on a Sunday night to see Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear at Brighton Music Hall. The show was being taped by Front Row Boston, a show on WGBH, our local PBS affiliate. Some videos of the show have been trickling out, and yesterday they posted their cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Dreams."

This version of "Dreams" might be what it takes to give Fleetwood Mac another shot. Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear's version is slowed down to about half the tempo of the original, and it truly gives "Mama Bear" a chance to shine. It's much more folk than Fleetwood Mac's rock, but this version is truly lovely and heartfelt. 

To watch the video for Madisen Ward and The Mama Bear's version of "Dreams," you'll have to head over to Front Row Boston's website. While you're there, be sure to check out some more of their live videos. It's all professionally shot, multi-camera recordings of concerts in and around Boston, including some of our favorites like Lady Lamb, Punch Brothers, Rubblebucket, First Aid Kit, and Dropkick Murphys.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Dumptruck - Live at CBGB's '86 & '88

For a fan of the Boston music scene, I'm embarrassingly unfamiliar with Dumptruck. Formed in 1983, the band is considered to be one of the original college rock bands (I have such a bizarre fondness for that label.) After a string of bad luck, the band broke up in 1991, and released their final album in 1994. Seth Tiven released a couple more albums under the name Dumptruck in 2000 and 2001, and Rykodisc reissued the band's first three albums, and a compilation was released in 2006. Not much has seemed to happen since then.

That's why I was so pleasantly surprised today, when way down at the bottom of an email from Noisetrade I saw a link for a free live Dumptruck album. Everyone knows how much we love free music here at If It's Too Loud..., and this album is no exception. I always meant to check out the reissues when they came out, but for some reason they just slipped my mind. Live at CBGB's '86 & '88 is the perfect way to introduce yourself to the band, or reacquaint yourself. Hailing from the days of REM, Dumptruck remind me a ton of what we now would call alt-country, and they paved the way for Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo. Basically, if you read this blog, you'll need to hear this. In other great news, this is to prep us for a new Dumptruck album due this spring!

To get your copy of Live at CBGB's '86 & '88, head on over to Noisetrade. For more info on Dumptruck, check out their Facebook.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Magic Shoppe - "City Alight (Yeah)"

"City Alight (Yeah)," the first single from Boston's Magic Shoppe's upcoming EP, is the very best kind of psychedelic rock. It's the kind of psychedelia that both the indie rock fans and the hippies can like. It's trippy as hell, but has this weird sense of darkness behind it. With its swirling guitars, it sounds like if shoegaze was filled with hippies. It also reminds me a lot of The Beatles' "Within You Without You" minus the sitars.

Interstellar Car Crash is due out on February 5. You can listen to "City Alight (Yeah)" below, and be sure to check out Magic Shoppe's Bandcamp, Facebook, and Twitter for more information. They also have a few tour dates below the song.

Feb 03, Kung Fu Necktie, Philadelphia, PA
Feb 04, Palisades, Brooklyn, NY

Feb 06, Great Scott, Allston, MA

Monday, January 18, 2016

Guerilla Toss - "Diamond Girls"

Photo by Ken Sears
It's very rare that you can ever use the terms "noise" and "party" to describe music, but that's exactly what Guerilla Toss do. With "Diamond Girls," the first single off their upcoming album Eraser Stargazer, they own that distinction. The song opens up with a tribal beat and a looping electronic squeal, then Kassie Carlson's vocals kick in as a taunting chant of "Who do you know?/ Ha ha ha." There is so much going on in the song it's nearly impossible to keep it all straight, but you'll want to try. It's the kind of song that might give you a headache the first time you listen, but it's completely worth it. And you'll happily listen again almost immediately.

Eraser Stargazer is out March 4 on DFA Records. Listen to "Diamond Girls" below. For more info on Guerilla Toss, check out their Bandcamp or Facebook.

Mothers - "Copper Mines"

Photo by Erez Avissar
After raving about "Too Small for Eyes" and calling their forthcoming album When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired one of my most anticipated albums of 2016, we have another new song from Mothers to check out.

"Copper Mines" isn't quite as sparse or minimal as "Too Small for Eyes." In fact, it's a fairly straightforward mid-tempo indie rock song. What truly sets it apart from standard indie rock fare is Kristine Leschper's voice. It lives in this world between a traditionally beautiful voice and the discordant-but-interesting voices of the J Mascis' and Marissa Paternoster's of the world. When she's not singing, the swirling guitars keep you sucked in.

When You Walk a Long Distance You Are Tired is due out February 26 on Grand Jury Music. Listen to "Copper Mines" below, and be sure to check out their website and Facebook.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Saying Farewell to David Bowie

In the three days since the death of David Bowie, virtually everything that could possibly be written about him has. I was going to make a pass on writing, because what could I possibly add? I'm definitely a fan, but by no means am I the biggest fan. But... how can I not?

Like most people in my age range, I first really discovered David Bowie through the 1986 film Labyrinth. Of course I knew that David Bowie existed before that, but not much more. Even surrounded by Muppets and kidnapping a baby, we all just knew that The Goblin King was cool. I'm not going to say I was rooting for The Goblin King to win, but if Sarah had decided to stay in the dreamworld, I would have been 100% cool with it.

As a child in the 80s, I knew the hits of the day like "Let's Dance" and the duet of "Dancin' in the Streets" with Mick Jagger. Those kind of kept me away, until I first heard The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. Finally, the music I heard matched the coolness of the man. That's also when I discovered 1997's Earthling, his foray into jungle and 90s industrial music. He is the main reason I love when am artist completely switches genres between albums.

Blackstar, what we now know is Bowie's final album, was a bit weird when we all first listened to it last week. We've always been so used to Bowie playing characters or writing from another perspective. A line like "Look up here / I'm in heaven" was searched for meaning, when the real meaning was right there in the words. There has been a lot of speculation and clickbait headlines asking if Bowie meant this as a goodbye to his fans and if he wrote it about his impending death. I can't imagine anything but. 

The death of David Bowie hurt a lot of people even more than they expected. I know I certainly felt it, and still do. On Monday morning, I reached for my phone while still in bed, and started to check Facebook like all grown adults should. I had a number of notifications, and I clicked on the first to see a headline announcing David Bowie's death. I couldn't believe a friend had fallen for such an obvious hoax, and that the local NBC affiliate posted what was obviously not real. It wasn't until the second, and then third, and then just dozens of other posts that I realized it was real. David Bowie was gone from us at the age of 69. Whenever I had read his age, it always shocked me that he was that old. Every single time I read it I was shocked. At the same time, if someone had told me that Bowie was involved in the WWI Christmas Day soccer game, I would have probably believed it. He just seemed timeless and eternal, like he always had been and always would be. Sadly, I was wrong.

It's not just that it was completely unexpected. When Lemmy died last month, it was sad but not entirely shocking. He had been having health problems for a while, and cancelled a number of shows in the past year. But Bowie kept an 18 month battle with cancer completely out of the public eye. That's an amazing feat in today's share all/TMZ culture.

Seeing as it's impossible to truly put together a tribute playlist that will make everyone happy, I decided to share some of the more interesting David Bowie covers I've heard through the years. What's truly special about this list is how diverse the artists on it are. You'll find 90s alternative, 80s new wave, goth, metal, punk, emo, folk, today's up and coming bands, and more here. It just shows the reach his music truly had, and still has. I finished it off with "Sector," a song by Maine band Rustic Overtones that Bowie appeared on. If you're interested in the story of how one of music's biggest icons came to appear on an album by a little known band from Maine, check out the story in the Portland Press Herald.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Marlon Williams - "Dark Child"

Photo by Justyn Strother
As we get closer to the US release of Marlon Williams' debut album, we have a new song to check out. While "Hello Miss Lonesome" was more of a raucous Americana track, "Dark Child" is more slower paced traditional singer-songwriter fare, albeit in a very dark way. It starts off pretty minimal and quiet, with nothing really making it stand out besides Williams' striking vocals. Around the 3:00 mark, chaos starts forcing its way out. The song is still slow, but gets loud and surprisingly aggressive for a bit. Based on how "Hello Miss Lonesome" ended, this might be his trademark.

Marlon Williams' self-titled debut is due out in the US on February 19. You can pre-order it through Amazon. For more info on Marlon Williams, check out his website, Facebook, and Twitter. Check out the video for "Dark Child" below, and you can find his current tour dates below that.

Mon. Jan. 18 – Brussels, BE @ Ancienne Belgique
Thu. Jan. 21 – London, UK @ St. Pancras Old Church
Fri. Jan. 29 – Vancouver, BC @ Media Club – SOLD OUT
Sun. Jan. 31 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern
Mon. Feb. 1 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Tue. Feb. 2 – San Francisco, CA @ Brick & Mortar
Wed. Feb. 3 – Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Bar
Fri. Feb. 5 – New York, NY @ Mercury Lounge
Sat. Feb. 6 – Toronto, ON @ Dakota Tavern
Mon. Feb. 8 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement
Tue. Feb. 9 – Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
Wed. Feb. 10 – Chicago, IL @ Schubas Tavern
Thu. Feb. 18 – Paris, FR @ La Maroquinerie (Festival Les Nuits De L’Alligator)
Sat. Feb. 20 – Nantes, FR @ Le Stereolux (Festival Les Nuits De L’Alligator)
Sun. Feb. 21 – Mérignac, FR @ Krakatoa (Festival Les Nuits De L’Alligator)
Mon. Feb. 22 – Rouen, FR @ Le 106 (Festival Les Nuits De L’Alligator)
Sun. Feb. 28 – Perth, WA @ Perth International Arts Festival
Sat. March 5 – Melbourne, AU @ Melbourne Zoo
Wed. March 9 – Auckland, NZ @ Powerstation
Fri. March 11 – Sydney, AU @ Taronga Zoo
Sat. March 12 – Lonestar Valley, TAS @ A Festival Called Panama
Sun. March 13 – Mon. March 14 – Adelaide, SA @ Womadelaide
Tue. March 15 – Sun. March 20 – Austin, TX @ SXSW

First Listen: New Releases for January 1 and January 8

Combining a few weeks due to the slow release start. I will likely do the same for the next two weeks as well.

Album of the Week:

Artist: David Bowie
Album: Blackstar
Quick Description: Final album by the rock icon.
Why You Should Listen: David Bowie is a must listen anyway, but as the final bow in his career, it takes on a little more weight.
Overall Thoughts: I listened to this on Friday and texted Ken that the album was strange, but we expect strange from Bowie. It's got some jazz infusion, it's a quiet album while still having some strength and purpose to it. I didn't love The Next Day, and Bowie has always been hit or miss anyway, but it's hard to consider this album on its merits alone now that we basically know that this was a farewell to those of us who had the honor of listening to him. I saw David Bowie live about a decade ago and he was an absolutely wonderful performer, and, while I don't have the sort of love for Bowie that a lot of my friends do, the world absolutely feels a little darker without his being part of it. This is the type of album I wish all my favorite artists could say goodbye with.
Recommendation: As if I could choose anything else, but in terms of something deserving on its own merits, it still qualifies.

Artist: Lost Film
Album: Temporary EP
Quick Description: Dreamy folk-pop.
Why You Should Listen: The folks at The Native Sound continue to offer quality, listenable music, and this is no different.
Overall Thoughts: This is a little more stripped down than perhaps I'm looking for, but as a four-song EP, it's just the type of nice quick hit I was actually happy to hear when it came in on the first of the year.
Recommendation: Definitely worth a listen for the new year.

Artist: Villagers
Album: Where Have You Been All My Life
Quick Description: A live-ish reworking of old Villagers tunes.
Why You Should Listen: Hearing some old songs in a new light is always fun if you're familiar with these songs, but even if you don't know the songs, some are really beautiful.
Overall Thoughts: I had heard their second album last year but didn't have anything to say about them. The songs are equally familiar and different on this recording. Sometimes it's a little haunting, other times optimistic, but I really like this on a whole. There are a number of solid highlights here worth finding, and it's great that this could probably be recommended even in a busier release week.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Hinds
Album: Leave Me Alone
Quick Description: Is garage pop a thing?
Why You Should Listen: You like gritty pop rock; female-fronted bands are your thing.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say this is perfect, or even great. But it's great at times, with a lot of high points, and when it's on it's absolutely on. It's an interesting listen for a debut from four young Spanish women and will absolutely appeal to a lot of people who like the grungier side of things.
Recommendation: Might not be for everyone, but an interesting listen nonetheless.

Artist: The Grascals
Album: and then there's this...
Quick Description: A new album from an award-winning bluegrass act.
Why You Should Listen: Traditional bluegrass is rarely bad.
Overall Thoughts: For someone who considers himself a bluegrass fan, I'm surprised this is not a group I was aware of, especially given the awards they've won and such. This is a very straightforward, traditional bluegrass record, and that's perfectly fine. I really enjoyed it even though it might not be something with a lot of lasting power for me, but it's always great to find a new gem.
Recommendation: Essential listen for bluegrass fans this week.

Artist: The Duke of Norfolk
Album: Three Days From the Wolf Month
Quick Description: An at-folk musical adventure.
Why You Should Listen: You like the atmospheric and the difficult at times.
Overall Thoughts: This is definitely the weirdest of the releases this week, and even then, it's a fairly centered effort. Vast in spite of its acoustic instrumentation, it definitely feels Scottish in some ways and is something I did like even if it's one I need more time with. It definitely has the opportunity to be a grower.
Recommendation: Take some time with this one.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Octagrape - "Hightropics"

I first discovered Octagrape opening up for Sebadoh back in 2013. It was one of those increasingly rare times that I go into a show completely blindly to the opening band and ended up being blown away. Now they're back with a new album due next month, and a new song called "Hightropics." It's a perfect introduction to art rock/psych/no wave/noise sound of Octagrape, complete with droning vocals, and tinny, crunching guitars. It's a straightforward song, albeit one that's hiding behind a ton of noise and distortion. Somehow the guitar riff ends up being the catchiest part of the whole shebang. 

The new Octagrape album, Aura Obelisk, is due out February 15. You can pre-order it now through Bandcamp. Be sure to listen to "Hightropics" below.

Monday Mix and Song Debut: The Dandy Warhols - "You Are Killing Me"

I'm a big Dandy Warhols fan. At some points, they might be in my top five bands of all time, and at others they do some really strange stuff that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense (looking at you, Odditorium). So hearing this new song from the band that was sent over to us, what's fascinating about it is the straightforwardness of the whole affair. On one hand, it feels like a lot of bands could churn this out (which is something you can't say about "Not If You Were The Last Junkie on Earth," for a contrast), but this still has a very compelling attitude and structure to it that I've kept going back to.

They have a new album on a new record label coming out later this year, and I'm absolutely looking forward to it. For now, though, consider Monday Mix an introduction to one of the more underrated bands out there:

Friday, January 8, 2016

The Dazies - L O V E / J O Y EP

I first heard of The Dazies when they were booked to play my last ever show at TT the Bear's place. I had never heard the name, and I wondered how they ended up with the post Evan Dando timeslot. It ended up being one guy with a guitar, and he played a couple quick acoustic songs and was done. 

Well, turns out that guy was M. Holland, the former drummer of Mean Creek. The Dazies are his power pop project, and it turns out they are virtually perfect. Their band bio is the thing music bloggers love because it lets us avoid being clever: "Drummer extraordinaire M. Holland taking a break from smashing drums and focusing on smashing your little heart to pieces with power-pop gold." 

On their L O V E / J O Y EP, they have three songs that are perfect Big Star-style power pop. "Hi-Frequency Wire" and "Idiot" are furious, happy little ditties, while "What You Do to Me" is the kind of ballad that hasn't existed in 40 years. 

To check out L O V E / J O Y EP, head on over to The Dazies' Bandcamp. They also have a Facebook, and you can listen to "Hi-Frequency Wire" below. If you happen to be in the Cambridge, MA area, they play The Middle East on January 13, and then a Wednesday night residency at The Plough and Stars.