Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Anna Tivel - "Illinois"

Photo via Facebook
You ever listen to a new song from a brand new artist and just know you're hearing from someone special that's going to be huge in a few years? That's how I feel while listening to the new song from Anna Tivel.

"Illinois" has that rarity in modern folk in that it will work for mainstream music fans and for more indie loving purists, the way Iron & Wine does. Listening to the song, it seems like standard singer/songwriter fare, but something just makes it more vital. Tivel has a quality to her voice that just sucks you in and makes you need to pay attention, much like Tori Amos or Cat Power. "Illinois" is about a friend of Tivel moving away for a toxic relationship and imagining her finally leaving and driving home. It's deeply personal songs like this that lead to audience members breaking out in tears during her sets. Tivel will truly be something special.

You can listen to "Illinois" below. Anna Tivel's new album, Small Believer, will be out September 29 on Fluff & Gravy Records. For more on Anna Tivel, check out her website.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Shods - "Girl I Got You"

Photo via Facebook
Back in March, we got a taste of new music from The Shods. Since then, they've started a GoFundMe to help pay for the recording of a new album. We now know a little of what the new record will sound like with the early release of "Girl I Got You." It's a very rough cut (it's not mixed or mastered, needs some more vocals, and there are some unrecorded string parts), but we'll take any new Shods songs we can get. It's definitely an "Unfinished/Rough Cut," but the foundation for a great power ballad is definitely there. Plus, hearing early, rough, demos for songs always make the finished product that much more interesting.

You can listen to the unfinished version of "Girl I Got You" below. The Shods are still looking for some financial help to finish the song and album, which will be titled Exarchia. You can find their GoFundMe here. For more on The Shods, check out their Facebook.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Duds - "Elastic Feel"

Duds are an odd band that won't be for everyone. The newest song off their upcoming album, "Elastic Feel," is just about as punk as post punk can get, without being heavy. I know I'm the same guy that always mentions that bands called "punk" today don't seem heavy enough to be truly punk, but this just is. Plus, it has some of the same quirky indie rock elements of bands like Archers of Loaf and Pavement, so it should be even further away from punk, but it's not. And then it all ends in a James Chance and The Contortions style squealing noise burst. Like I said, this won't be for everyone, but if it's your thing, you're going to love Duds.

You can listen to "Elastic Feel" below. Duds' debut album, Of a Nature or Degree, will be out September 22 on Castle Face Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Duds, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

First Listen: New Releases for August 11

A solid week!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Matt Pond PA
Album: Still Summer
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rock act.
Why You Should Listen: This is their best effort yet in a series of solid listens.
Overall Thoughts: Matt Pond PA’s continuing to put out high quality records. This might be their third since the band announced they were finishing up, but I’m fine with seeing more releases if they’re this good. The title track is great indie power pop with a light touch, and of course we love “The Ballad of Matt and Laura” around these parts. Truly, they’ve put out three of their best albums in recent succession, and this is continuing along those lines.
Recommendation: A solid listen and the best of the week.

Artist: David Rawlings
Album: Poor David's Almanack
Quick Description: Gillian Welch collaborator with a new album of rootsy goodness.
Why You Should Listen: David Rawlings is responsible for some of the purest roots music going.
Overall Thoughts: Dave Rawlings is probably best known for his collaborative efforts with Gillian Welch. Considering how scant her output is, it’s great to have a new record from Rawlings this week. In a way, it’s more of that gritty, old-style country folk that he and Welch are so skilled at producing, but it does have a more modern feel to it from a production standpoint that ultimately works. Really, you can’t go wrong anyway, but this is a great listen this week regardless.
Recommendation: Make sure this hits your rotation.

Artist: Jeremy Pinnell
Album: Ties of Blood and Affection
Quick Description: Roots rock with a very populist sound.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking to dip your toe in the mainstream, not dive right in.
Overall Thoughts: It’s kind of odd to hear Jeremy Pinnell’s purist country in a week with a Dave Rawlings release. This feels like what you’d expect from so-called “Outlaw Country” a decade ago, which is all well and good, but when you have people like Sturgill Simpson changing the game a bit, this starts being a little less solid. This is not a bad album by any measure – it just feels a little out of place. It’s too traditional to be alt-country, too left-of-center to fit into the modern mold. It’s fine that it stakes its own ground in the modern era, but my takeaway was “yeah, this is great, but I still would rather hear X” during certain songs.
Recommendation: Absolutely give this a listen, don’t get me wrong – this just might not hit the notes you want it to.

Artist: Suzanne Santo
Album: Ruby Red
Quick Description: Genre-straddling singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: This is a solid and unique listen this week.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t know what drew me to this album or what, but this was a great listen on a whole. Suzanne Santo is making some interesting stuff here, and there’s a bit of a folk/country feel to this while still feeling more like a gritty solo rock record. It’s always difficult to straddle the line this way, but Santo mostly pulls it off in this album. Some of the more soaring vocals might be a turnoff for some listeners, but it wasn’t a negative for me
Recommendation: Overall, a positive listen.

Artist: Dan Wilson
Album: Re-Covered
Quick Description: Semisonic singer and songwriter sings songs he scribed.
Why You Should Listen: Dan Wilson's won Grammy awards for this stuff.
Overall Thoughts: I missed this one last week, and I’m disappointed that I did given how much of a fan I’ve been of Wilson’s post-Semisonic work. His work as a songwriter? He doesn’t write for a lot of acts that I consider myself a fan of, and this album of performances of songs others made famous works for what it is, but since I don’t know a lot of the originals… I will say that his take on “Someone Like You” is really great and I think his voice is better for it than Adele’s (#hottake) but on a whole...
Recommendation: ...I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Artist: Jen Cloher
Album: Jen Cloher
Quick Description: New album from a talented singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Her influences ring proudly and it works really well.
Overall Thoughts: A very interesting release this week. Cloher feels like a cousin of folks like Courtney Barnett who are turning the whole singer-songwriter thing on its ear a bit. This doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into any specific genre, which is to its benefit, but it’s hard not to hear a lot of favorites, from Barnett to Liz Phair, influencing the proceedings. This is a great listen, and was one of my favorites this week.
Recommendation: Definitely worth giving a shot.

Artist: Guided by Voices
Album: How Do You Spell Heaven
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rock superstars.
Why You Should Listen: Guided by Voices may as well be Pavement considering their importance.
Overall Thoughts: GBV has been around forever, Robert Pollard one of the most productive songwriters in modern times, and with the amount of music he puts out, GBV hasn’t had an album full of gems in a while. For this album, there are definitely a few solid tracks (“Steppenwolf Mausoleum” is a true highlight) mixed in with a lot of forgettable stuff, which could probably define GBV anyway.
Recommendation: Listen once, take what you like, and move on. No losses here.

Artist: Downtown Boys
Album: Cost of Living
Quick Description: Political Providence punks with a timely new record.
Why You Should Listen: They're a favorite around here for good reason.
Overall Thoughts: A political punk favorite here at the blog, the new album accomplishes what it seeks to do. There’s a lot of this that isn’t my style, and I don’t think I would agree with much of anything they would have to say within their politically-charged lyrics, but there’s a real fun urgency here that pushes the punk aesthetic they’re putting forward into a different gear than many of their peers. This could be a breakthrough of sorts for them given the climate (especially after this weekend), so if you like your punk rock with a side of ideology, keep your eyes on this one.
Recommendation: Will scratch this itch if you have it.

Artist: Frankie Rose
Album: Cage Tropical
Quick Description: Busy singer-songwriter gives us a new solo record.
Why You Should Listen: It's maybe the best work she's put out.
Overall Thoughts: Another favorite of mine this week. While I’ve really been into the whole 1990s alternative aesthetic as of late, I feel like the synthy stuff has been more hit-and-miss. Frankie Rose has been in a number of solid bands over the last decade, and this solo take is some great songwriting. I feel like the overall tone of it doesn’t always hit the mark, but when it’s clicking on all cylinders it’s arguably better than anything she’s done post-Dum Dum Girls.
Recommendation: You’re doing yourself a disservice if you don’t check this out.

Artist: Oneohtrix Point Never
Album: Good Time Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Quick Description: Movie music from a challenging electronic artist.
Why You Should Listen: Oneohtrix Point Never is doing some of the most interesting electronic music since Aphex Twin's height.
Overall Thoughts: I’m never going to complain about new music from Oneohtrix Point Never, even if it’s in a soundtrack/score form. This is challenging and atmospheric and sparse while maintaining the urgency I’m looking for, and that’s kind of this act in a nutshell anyway.
Recommendation: You should give this a shot.

EPs of note:

* Jess Penner - Imagination (Jess Penner offers an EP of takes on family-friendly classics. This might be a little *too* on the nose from a quirk standpoint, but I won’t sit here and say I didn’t enjoy it.)

Also out this week:

* The Districts - Popular Manipulations (fairly basic alt-pop/rock)
* Donnacha Denney et al - Tessallatum (interesting modern classical)
* Kesha - Rainbow (as someone who likes pop music, this is Not My Thing.)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Magic Shoppe Covers The Velvet Underground

Photo via Facebook
If you've been paying attention to If It's Too Loud... for any length of time, you're most likely aware of how much we love cover songs, and how much we love free music. That brings us to being huge fans of The Blog That Celebrates Itself and their free tribute albums they put out virtually constantly. Their latest is After Hours, Velvets in Another View, which is a tribute to The Velvet Underground. Immediately we noticed a submission from Boston's Magic Shoppe. For some reason, The Velvet Underground don't really get credit for being an insane psychedelic band, and "Heroin" might be the ultimate example of their psychedelic side. Because of that, Magic Shoppe take on that song. It's a fantastic rendition, staying right along with the original but ramping up the noise and going a little heavier. It's a noisy and perfect way to play "Heroin."

You can listen to Magic Shoppe's version of "Heroin" below. You can get your own copy of After Hours, Velvets in Another View for free thanks to The Blog That Celebrates Itself on their Bandcamp. For more on Magic Shoppe, check out their Bandcamp.

Friday, August 11, 2017

STL GLD featuring Dutch ReBelle, Tigerman WOAH, and Julie Rhodes - "Feels Like Home"

I can't find much about this song, so bear with me. STL GLD had one of our favorite albums of early 2017 with Torch Song back in February. Dutch ReBelle is one of those artists we've woefully overlooked for far too long. STL GLD and Dutch ReBelle collaborating makes perfect sense since they're both Boston hip hop artists right on the cusp of breaking nationally. But then you add in roots rockers Tigerman WOAH and Julie Rhodes for back up, and you create a Boston music scene crossover of the hip hop and Americana scenes that works perfectly. "Feels Like Home" is a tribute to Boston and the music scene, with an accompanying video that highlights some places familiar to anyone who's spent a decent amount of time in Boston without showing the usual tourist friendly landmarks. It's all brought to us by The Record Co., "a non-profit working towards creating a sustainable and equitable music scene in Boston."

You can watch the video for "Feels Like Home" below. For more information on The Record Co. and what they do, check out their website. For more on STL GLD, go here. You can find information on Dutch ReBelle here, Tigerman WOAH here, and Julie Rhodes here.

Forgotten Fridays: Gigolo Aunts - Flippin' Out

Forgotten Fridays is an occasional feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. Once a week we go back and remind you, and help decide if they were any good.

Gigolo Aunts are such a Boston band to me that I always forget that they started out in New York. In 1981. The band was formed by four middle school students under the name Sniper. In 1986 they changed their name to Gigolo Aunts, and in 1987 moved to Boston. Having some of the standard indie band issues (labels folding, self-releasing singles, etc), Gigolo Aunts released Flippin' Out on RCA in 1993.

Unlike many albums I listened to incessantly in college, Flippin' Out remains an absolute masterpiece. The opening track, "Cope," is roughly 1000 times noisier than I remember Gigolo Aunts ever being recorded. The album is a perfect snapshot of the indie rock/power pop hybrid that dominated bands in Boston in the mid 90's. This was the era where grunge was on its 3rd wave of watered down bands and a much of the indie scene was mixing catchy hooks and crunchy guitars. "Bloom" is the song that everyone in Boston will forever associate with the band, but if you're outside of the area you'll most likely recognize "Where I Find My Heaven" from the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack.

In 2000, Dave Gibbs and Phil Hurley moved out to Los Angeles and started writing music for films and television. 2004 saw the release of Pacific Ocean Blues, which is currently the final Gigolo Aunts album. Gibbs has contributed music to Josie and the Pussycats, Alias, and That Thing You Do! He has played bass for the recent Tom Morello projects Street Sweeper Social Club and The Nightwatchman. Hurley did music for Weeds, and has played with Tracy Bonham, Lisa Loeb, and Fountains of Wayne. Recently he's been a member of the South Austin Moonlighters and Jimmy LaFavre's touring band.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Jake McKelvie & the Countertops Cover Glen Campbell

I've been surprised by how few Glen Campbell tributes there have been since the country legend passed away earlier this week. Maybe it's because we've known he was sick for years and it wasn't exactly unexpected, but it just seems like it's already been forgotten. Luckily, Jake McKelvie & the Countertops are here with a cover of Campbell's "Gentle On My Mind." Originally recorded back in December during their Converse Rubber Tracks session, this is everything you want in a cover song. It's definitely Jake McKelvie & the Countertops doing their 90's alternative throwback thing, but there isn't even the slightest hint of irony here. It reminds me a lot of Pavement's more rambling songs where they just dip the tiniest bit into country. Considering that Jake McKelvie called his solo release The Rhinestone Busboy EP, he's obviously a Glen Campbell fan.

You can listen to Jake McKelvie & the Countertops' version of "Gentle On My Mind" below. It's available as a free download on their Bandcamp. For more on the band, head over to their website.

Narco States - Temples Into Tombs

Garage rock is one of those genres that will never die. There always seem to be new garage bands popping up, all copying that classic lo-fi 1960's sound to varying success. It's hard to explain why some garage rock throwback artists work and some don't. Narco States are one that works.

Narco States are back with their new album, Temples Into Tombs. While the new album fits right into the classic garage rock sound, they've brought in a slightly more aggressive, more unhinged sound. It's a little less ? and the Mysterians this time around, and a little more The Stooges and MC5. "Fascist Fashionistas" is a great example of this sound. It's pure classic garage rock, complete with an organ and a fuzzy groove, but there's a menace lurking in the song. "Met Tet," the album opener, is an absolute rager that feels like the band are barely in control of the song, and it might get away from them at any moment. The title track, "Temples Into Tombs," is pure Stooges spoken word jam freakout heaven.

You can listen to "Met Tet" below. The latest album from Narco States, Temples Into Tombs, is available now on Narco States' Bandcamp. For more on the band, check out their Facebook.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Marlon Williams - "Vampire Again"

We absolutely loved Marlon Williams' debut solo album last year. In fact, it was my #9 album of 2016. You can imagine how thrilled I am to have new music from the New Zealander. Sure, it's only one song for now, but it's quite the song. 

"Vampire Again" starts off like even more of a torch song than we're used to from Marlon Williams. After the initial opening, it goes into what we're expecting from him: a combination of 60's doo wop and current folk. Then the guitar starts changing and evolving as the song goes on, to the point that at the end it's more of a squelching almost noise rock sound, which is Williams' trademark and what I absolutely love about his sound. Somehow the noisy guitar adds an almost funk element to the song, which was an unexpected and welcome addition.

You can watch the video for "Vampire Again" below. The single is available now via Dean Oceans. You can get a copy here. For more on Marlon Williams, check out his website. His current tour dates are below.

Fri. Aug. 11 - Boulder, CO @ Triple A Festival

Sat. Aug 12 - Sun. Aug. 13 - Edmonton, AB @ Edmonton Folk Festival
Tue. Aug. 15 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant #
Wed. Aug. 16 - Omaha, NE @ Slowdown #
Fri. Aug. 18 - Denver, CO @ Paramount Theatre #
Sat. Aug. 19 - Bellevue, CO @ Mishawaka Amphitheatre #
Mon. Aug. 21 - Kansas City @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland #
Tue. Aug. 22 - Springfield, MO @ Gillioz Theatre #
Thu. Aug. 24 - Tulsa, OK @ Cain's Ballroom #
Fri. Aug. 25 - Dallas, TX @ House of Blues #
Sat. Aug. 26 - San Antonio, TX @ Aztec Theatre #
Mon. Aug. 28 - Houston, TX @ House of Blues #
Tue. Aug. 29 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's #
Sat. Sep. 2 – Rutbeek, NE @ Tuckerville Festival
Tue. Oct. 24 – London, UK @ Omeara
Wed. Oct. 25 – Paris, France @ Espace B
Thu. Oct. 26 – Berlin, Germany @ FluxBau
Sat. Oct. 28 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ London Calling Festival
Mon. Oct. 30 - New York, NY @ Rough Trade
Wed. Nov. 1 - Toronto, ON @ The Drake
Thu. Nov. 2 - Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge
Fri. Nov. 10 – Auckland, NZ @ Point Chev RSA
Sat. Nov. 11 – Welllington, NZ @ San Fran
Sun. Nov. 12 – Christchurch, NZ @ Blue Smoke
Wed. Nov. 15 – Sydney, Australia @ Oxford Art Factory
Thu. Nov. 16 – Melbourne, Australia @ Howler
Fri. Nov. 17 – Mullumbimby, Australia @ Mullumbimby Music Festival
# = with City and Colour

Blank Range - "Seemed Like Word Got Around"

Photo by Don VanCleave
I first discovered Nashville's Blank Range way back in 2014 when the opened for Benjamin Booker at TT the Bear's (RIP TT the Bear's). In the past three years, they've floated in and out of my consciousness, and became one of those bands I forgot about and rediscovered. They're finally releasing their debut album later this month, so hopefully they'll stay rooted in my brain from here on.

One of the songs from the new album, "Seemed Like Word Got Around," is this intense mid-tempo country/southern rock burner. Drive-By Truckers are an obvious comparison, but it's a slight bit more folk than DBT's harder sound, so I'll say it's more of a Drive-By Truckers/Kingsley Flood hybrid. Of course, towards the end it goes into a slightly quirkier territory than either of those bands in a way that reminds me of Archers of Loaf.

You can listen to "Seemed Like Word Got Around" below. Blank Range's debut album, Marooned With the Treasure, will be out on August 25. For more information on Blank Range, and to pre-order the album, head over to their website.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for August 4

The lazy release schedule of summer continues.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Mermaidens
Album: Perfect Body
Quick Description: Haunting, dreamy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something gorgeous and unsettling.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know what spoke to me so much on this one. Maybe I'm just into their aesthetic, maybe my current Twin Peaks obsession is driving me toward strange and wonderful music, but this album just connected immediately. The musicality is great, the melodies catchy and attention-grabbing. There's nothing like it this week, and it's one of my favorites.
Recommendation: Give this one the time to percolate. You won't regret it.

Artist: Russkaja
Album: Kosmopoliturbo
Quick Description: Austrian ska-punk with a side of Russian.
Why You Should Listen: This continues to be what you wish Gogol Bordello was.
Overall Thoughts: I loved their last album, which literally came out of nowhere for me. This new album is more of the same, and that is absolutely fine. It's unique in that it's so reliant on what it derives its sound from, but it's just such a fun listen that you can't help but get excited.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.

Artist: Tyler Childers
Album: Purgatory
Quick Description: Debut Americana produced by Sturgill Simpson.
Why You Should Listen: Straddles the line between classic and modern nearly perfectly.
Overall Thoughts: This was nearly my album of the week. Just a solid slice of Americana, a great voice with some great lyrics, and instrumentation that feels both old and modern. The Sturgill Simpson influence is absolutely here, but as someone who hasn't 100% "gotten" Simpson on a whole, this isn't really the same. Still, you like roots/folk music? Make this part of your listens this week.
Recommendation: One of this week's best.

Artist: Amy O
Album: Elastic
Quick Description: Latest from the Austin-based singer songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: A fairly anticipated album, it mostly delivers.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know why I feel like this is sort of like the less bluesy cousin of Margaret Glaspy's Emotions and Math, but I kept thinking back to that album from last year while listening to this. It's a great record with a number of great songs, and has a solid pop sensibility that feels like it's going to grow on me the way many of the songs have. This is a good record, and perhaps a great one, but it might need some time before it really hits its stride.
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.

Artist: Briana Marela
Album: Call It Love
Quick Description: Synthy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: Marela is well-loved in the indie set.
Overall Thoughts: I liked her last album well enough, but I'm trying to figure out what it is about this album that didn't connect on first listen. It never really takes off the way you might expect, but it's also not a quiet affair (like, say, Au Revoir Simone) either. So where to place this is an issue, and the fact that it doesn't appear to really ebb and flow or have a real climax takes away from the experience, especially with all the other stuff out this week. I'm not saying this is bad...
Recommendation: ...just that there's a lot of better stuff out this week.

Artist: Girl Ray
Album: Earl Gray
Quick Description: Debut album from three indie teens.
Why You Should Listen: Because they're only 18 but sound like they've been around forever.
Overall Thoughts: This is a fun and interesting record. I don't have a ton to say about it on a whole, but finding out that they've only been at this a few years and that they're only 18? Come on now. This is a good listen, and will hit a lot of the indie pop chords you're seeking out.
Recommendation: Listen to it.

EPs of note:

* The Claypool Lennon Delerium - Lime and Limpid Green (this is a really solid covers EP)
* Henry Black - Folk is Dead

Also out this week:

* Caroline Says - 50,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong (proper release of a 2014 cassette, an excellent listen)
* A$AP Twelvy - 12 (not great)
* Dead Cross - Dead Cross
* Quiet Riot - Road Rage

Monday, August 7, 2017

Jackie Shane - "Any Other Way"

Photo courtesy Numero Group
We don't cover anywhere near enough soul here at If It's Too Loud..., and it's safe to say that we're fairly ignorant about the history aside from the giants. It's always great when we get to discover some of the more legendary underground performers. Jackie Shane wasn't well known outside of Toronto back in the 1960's, and her last public performance was in December 1971. Jackie Shane was a transgender pioneer, born in a male body and living her life as a woman. Knowing the challenges and controversy facing transgender individuals in 2017, I can't even imagine what it could have been like 50 years ago, especially for a public figure who never hid her identity. 

On October 20, Numero Group will be issuing the first ever artist approved collection of Jackie Shane's work, including all six of her 45s and a live performance from 1967. This collection includes extensive liner notes telling Jackie Shane's story in her own words. It's the first communication she's had with her fans in almost fifty years. Based on the first song released so far, "Any Other Way," Shane was simply an amazingly talented singer and performer. If you love soul music and want to expand past the big names we all know, this is a great place to start.

You can listen to "Any Other Way" below. You can pre-order a copy of Any Other Way here.

Surf Rock Is Dead - "As If"

Although Surf Rock Is Dead call Brooklyn their home, the duo come from Chicago and Melbourne, Australia. None of those three locations are southern California, but the band's sound distinctly is. "As If" isn't quite The Beach Boys, but there is a dreamy, sun soaked sound to it. It has a strong shoegaze quality, if there was a version of shoegaze you could listen to while hanging out on the beach. The song doesn't sound as lackadaisical as I'm making it sound. While there is a definite laid back quality, there is an energy behind it. Maybe it's the sound of being stuck in a concrete city like Brooklyn and longing for the sun and social scene of a beach community.

You can listen to "As If" below. The new EP from Surf Rock Is Dead, We Have No Friends?, will be out September 22 on The Native Sound. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Surf Rock Is Dead, check out the band's website.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Live Shows: Nikki Lane, Prescott Park Arts Festival, Portsmouth, NH 8/2/17

Photo by Ken Sears
Nikki Lane has been one of the artists I've always appreciated and liked, but was never completely into her. When I saw that she was playing the Prescott Parks Arts Festival this year, I decided that would be one of the shows I made it to. It ended up being one of the better musical decisions I've made in years.

Playing with her backing band the Tennessee Dirtbags, Nikki Lane played two fantastic sets of her fairly poppy style of outlaw country. Only a small handful of the crowd seemed familiar with Lane's work, with most of the audience more there out of curiosity and something to do on a beautiful August night. (I'm sure the $8 suggested donation brings in a lot more people than an ordinary show, too.) That and the public park setting caused a fairly subdued crowd, spending the entire show sitting on blankets. That didn't faze Lane at all, as she played amazing versions of new songs like "700,000 Rednecks" and "Highway Queen." Older favorites like "Right Time" received an appreciative response from the crowd when they
Photo by Ken Sears
were introduced.

The first set was definitely the highlight. It could have been that Lane changed the setlist at the last minute, so the band were kept more fresh and seemed to be having a great time. Nikki Lane and the Tennessee Dirtbags struggled a bit to capture the magic during the second set. It started off with Lane plagued by guitar issues, to which she blamed the sea air in Portsmouth. I'm not sure if it was because of technical issues, the two hours of total playing time, or if it's a usual part of their show, but Lane left for a bit and let her guitar player (who I apologize to for forgetting his name) sing a few songs. This isn't meant as a negative on him, but he doesn't quite have the stage presence or vocal chops of Lane.
Photo by Ken Sears

The thing that must be mentioned with any discussion of a Nikki Lane show is how much natural charisma she has. A lot of musicians can get chatty between songs and slow the momentum of the show to a screeching halt. With Lane, you just want to hear more of her stories. Whether she's introducing songs about her divorce and bad roommate situations or praising the lobster rolls in the northeast, it just made you love her show more. Hearing the stories behind her songs makes you listen to the songs more closely. That's a rare quality in a performer.

For the second set closer, Lane played the repeatedly requested "Jackpot Queen." Maybe it's just a tradition at Prescott Park shows this year, but that finally brought a crowd down to dance in the front of the stage. Lane seemed so thrilled by this that they ended up playing two more songs, including a Bob Dylan cover (covers by Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings came during the first set.) Lane even jumped off the stage to dance with a few members of the audience at the end of the final song. She is simply an artist you need to experience live.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Flesh World - "Into the Shroud"

Photo by Roxanne Clifford
The new song from Flesh World is punk, but not quite a style of punk we've seen before. "Into the Shroud" is not really hard or heavy. Instead, it combines elements of some of the most popular retro genres to borrow from currently. It has the quirky, slightly off beats of post punk, plus the drone and monotone style of shoegaze, and then the jangle of dream pop. That doesn't exactly sound like a blend that would make for punk, but it somehow mixes together just that way. Not to mention that the entire thing reeks of England, but the band resides in California.

You can watch the video for "Into the Shroud" below. It might just be me, but the video seems very Information Society. The new album from Flesh World, also called Into the Shroud, will be out September 8 on Dark Entries Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Flesh World, check them out on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Lenore. featuring Eric Bachmann - "Sharp Spine"

Photo by Kim Smith-Miller
There seems to be a deluge of female folk duos lately, so let me bring you one more: Portland, OR's Lenore. Lenore. are described as "witch-folk," which I can't really argue. When Rebecca Marie Miller and Joy Pearson harmonize, the effect can only be described as haunting. It's still a fairly pop folk style, with a strong Stevie Nicks feel to it. It does have just the slightest hint of an eastern European feel to it, so it's more like Stevie Nicks meets Rasputina. Plus, they add in Eric Bachmann (Archers of Loaf, Crooked Fingers) who takes over lead vocals about a third of the way in, and you add some of the best indie cred you could possibly have.

You can listen to "Sharp Spine" below. Lenore.'s debut self-titled album (which also features Paul Rigby and Dan Hunt from Neko Case and Dave Depper from Death Cab for Cutie) will be out September 15. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Lenore., check out their website.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for July 28

I spent most of my Sunday at a wrestling show instead of working on a new music post, so this has to be abbreviated. That’s a shame, too, for some reasons to note. Anyway:

Album of the Week:

Arcade Fire - Everything Now: Album of the week, album of the quarter, and probably my frontrunner for album of the year if it holds up as well as the first listen did. Maybe their best effort even if it won’t be iconic the way their first album is or so universally praised like Neon Bible. If you’re avoiding this for any reason at all, don’t.

Great Listens This Week:

Little Silver - Somewhere You Found My Name: Features members of Hem in some form, this is a really brilliant listen and one that throws some folksy curveballs.
Mr. Lif and Akrobatik- Resolution: Absolutely the rap album of the moment for me.
Katie Von Schleicher - Shitty Hits: Tongue-in-cheek title, but this is much better than it lets on.
Japanese Breakfast - Soft Sounds From Another Planet: Technically out a couple weeks ago, but a pleasant surprise and a quiet, unassuming listen worth your time. Feels exactly as the title would indicate.

Releases of Note:

Benjamin Gibbard - Bandwagonesque: While the instinct here is that “no one was asking the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie to cover the entirety of a Teenage Fanclub album,” what is fascinating about this album is how safe it feels. The comp for me is Ryan Adams doing 1989, which at least felt like a subversion as opposed to more of a tribute. Then again, I don’t have the sort of bond with this album that I know other people do, so there’s ultimately a lot going on here.
Vic Mensa - The Autobiography: Not for me, but I am sure there are others who will love this.
Sweet Apple - Sing the Night in Sorrow: Indie supergroup of sorts puts out another solid power pop record.
Manchester Orchestra - A Black Mile to the Surface: Interesting, somewhat conceptual record. Not their best, but still pretty good.
Passion Pit - Tremendous Sea of Love
Joywave - Content

EPs of Interest:

Margo Price - Weakness: Surprise release that’s unsurprisingly great.
Sylvan Esso - Echo Mountain Sessions
Julia Michaels - Nervous System
Helvetia - Sun Chasers

Also out this week:

Cover Your Ass Volume 1 (Planned Parenthood benefit)
Cage the Elephant - Unpeeled
Amanda Palmer - Piano is Evil

Billy Strings - "Turmoil & Tinfoil"

Photo by Michael Weintrob
As much as we might love the whole bluegrass/Americana revival thing here at If It's Too Loud..., a lot of it can end up sounding pretty similar. New takes on the genre are always welcome, although if you tweak it too much, it ruins the whole point. That might be why I love the new song from Billy Strings. "Turmoil & Tinfoil" is definitely bluegrass with some hints of psychedelia. That alone doesn't exactly make it unique. Lots of bands have discovered mixing bluegrass and psychedelia gives you a great career on the jam band circuit. What makes Billy String unique is that he plays it like he's in a thrash metal band. Bluegrass/psychedelia/thrash might sound like a trainwreck of a combination, and it very well might be, just not when Billy Strings plays it.

You can listen to "Turmoil & Tinfoil" below. Billy Strings' debut album, also called Turmoil & Tinfoil, will be out September 22. You can pre-order it now via PledgeMusic. For more on Billy Strings, check out his website.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Lilly Hiatt - "The Night David Bowie Died"

Photo by Alysse Gafkjen
For most music fans, we remember exactly where we were when we heard the news that David Bowie had passed away unexpectedly at the age of 69. I just woke up and was checking Facebook notifications. I saw a friend had posted an article to me, and when I checked I saw a story that David Bowie had died. I thought my friend was a complete imbecile that can't tell a fake article from a real one, and scrolled through my feed. The vast majority of the posts that I saw reported that Bowie had, in fact, died. It took maybe five or six before I believed it.

Lilly Hiatt heard the news the night before. In a press release she says: "The night David Bowie died, I was in disbelief. I wanted to talk to someone, but it was too late to make a phone call. I cried quietly and went to bed. The next day, I picked up my guitar and hit record on Garage Band. I started to sing and those were the first words that came out. I felt like Bowie was giving me a little gift."

The song "The Night David Bowie Died" is more of a country rock stomper and not a glammed out obvious tribute to Bowie, but it works perfectly. There are some Bowie-esque moments in here, but more in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it way, which are always the best kind of tributes.

You can watch the video for "The Night David Bowie Died" below. Lilly Hiatt's new album, Trinity Lane, will be out August 25 on New West Records. For more on Lilly Hiatt, check out her website.

Matt Pond PA featuring Laura Stevenson - "The Ballad of Laura and Mike"

The combination of Matt Pond PA and Laura Stevenson is pretty much a dream for us, and an unexpected one. Apparently we need some kind of indie rock version of TMZ, since the song, "The Ballad of Laura and Mike," is about a long distance relationship between Laura Stevenson and a member of Matt Pond PA. (Funny, I know far more about the love lives of celebrities I couldn't care less about...) The song is an upbeat, slightly faster than mid-tempo song about love, but with plenty of melancholy, being about long distance love and all. It's the kind of just shy of epic power pop we want from Matt Pond PA, with the added bonus of Laura Stevenson's vocals.

"The Ballad of Laura and Mike" will be included on Matt Pond PA's upcoming album, Still Summer. The album is due on August 11, and reports are that it will be the final Matt Pond PA album. It can be pre-ordered in various bundles here. You can listen to "The Ballad of Laura and Mike" below. Matt Pond PA are running a contest to make a video for the song. You can find details on the contest and enter here. For more on Matt Pond PA, check out their website.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Alex Lahey - "Every Day's the Weekend"

Photo by Giuilia McGauren
Alex Lahey has one true amazing talent that's perfect for a singer/songwriter. Despite the ability to sing and rhyme words, she's is brilliant at writing fantastic cheesy love songs. You know the type of song that's just goofy and corny enough that you're embarrassed by how much you love it, but you can't help it because it's just so much fun and just so... good? Her latest single, "Every Day's the Weekend," is basically if Taylor Swift started out with indie rock instead of country. And was Australian. Being a middle aged man, I shouldn't love this song as much as I do. But it's just so good that I can't help it. It's fast and happy and just soaked in sugary love. And that's what makes it so perfect.

You can watch the video for "Every Day's the Weekend" below. Alex Lahey's debut full length album, I Love You Like a Brother, will be out October 8 on Dead Oceans. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Alex Lahey, check out her website.