Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Torres - "Helen in the Woods"

Photo by Ashley Connor
This might be the song that makes me obsessed with Torres. "Helen in the Woods" isn't exactly a pleasant listen, but for those of us obsessed with bands like Sonic Youth, unpleasant isn't a bad thing. The song is very discordant and haunting. Mackenzie Scott's vocals are harsh and brash, oftentimes straining to get her emotion out. Listening to "Helen in the Woods" can be disturbing at times, like something is being done to you. Somehow, the instrumentation keeps it all centered. I wouldn't say the music is beautiful, but it comes oddly close to it at times. I never quite got when people compared Torres to PJ Harvey, but this song clears that up for me. "Helen in the Woods" won't be for everyone, but for those of us that it is for will end up loving it.

You can watch the video for "Helen in the Woods" below. The new album from Torres, Three Futures, will be available September 29 on 4AD. For more on Torres, check out her website.

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for September 15

Another busy week of releases, so this'll be a two-parter.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Lenore.
Album: Lenore.
Quick Description: Debut album from a new favorite duo here.
Why You Should Listen: You wish First Aid Kit was more musically adventurous.
Overall Thoughts: Easily my favorite of this week, and it doesn’t even come close. Sort of a more complex First Aid Kit, there’s gorgeous harmonies to go along with interesting songwriting and a haunted sort of feel. I was continually surprised by this throughout my listen, and I simply can’t wait until I get another opportunity to dive back in.
Recommendation: This is my favorite album of the week, and it should be yours, too.

Artist: Deer Tick
Album: Vol. 1/Vol. 2
Quick Description: Two releases from the somewhat twangy indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: There's enough good here to give some time to it.
Overall Thoughts: Deer Tick is officially in “we’re releasing a double album” territory with an acoustic and electric set. Honestly, the acoustic is much more interesting with much better songwriting than the electric, but Deer Tick is very good at what they do and there’s enough good here in both releases to make the time investment worth it. “Card House” in particular feels like a song straight out of another era to the point where I was convinced it was a cover, and may be the best thing they’ve ever recorded.
Recommendation: Regardless, give this a shot.

Artist: The Huntress and Holder of Hands
Album: Avalon
Quick Description: Gorgeous, haunting post-Brown Bird project.
Why You Should Listen: It's Brown Bird associated, which should be enough.
Overall Thoughts: We loved Brown Bird here, just like everyone else who got a chance to listen to them, and this album from MorganEve Swain's new project is just wonderful. It is unique in and of itself, much like Brown Bird was, but doesn’t occupy the same space, and that’s not a bad thing. It’s an interesting, wonderful record that I think has a lot of layers left to uncover on future listens.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, nearly my favorite of this week.

Artist: Open Mike Eagle
Album: Brick Body Kids Still Daydream
Quick Description: Rap music with some great backing music.
Why You Should Listen: You want something a little different in your rap music.
Overall Thoughts: The rap offering for the week, I don’t have a ton to say about this one. On one hand, his rapping is fine, with some pretty solid lines here and there but nothing that blew my mind. On the other, though, what he opts to sample throughout is some of the more interesting stuff I’ve heard in hip-hop/rap lately, and it makes it more than just a standard rap album as a result.
Recommendation: A listen that’s worth giving a shot, for sure.

Artist: The Lone Bellow
Album: Walk Into a Storm
Quick Description: Latest from the radio-friendly rootsy act.
Why You Should Listen: The Lone Bellow are probably at their best here.
Overall Thoughts: The Lone Bellow is near the top of the heap these days when it comes to pop Americana, and with good reason. The musicianship is solid, the songwriting tight, and the total package is really accessible. For us around here, it’s almost too perfectly constructed, but that’s also a weird criticism in a genre that often relies on sharp musicality. So the polish may be too much for some, but if it’s not, you’re in for a real treat on this one.
Recommendation: Definitely worth some time this week.

Artist: Prophets of Rage
Album: Prophets of Rage
Quick Description: A full-length from the Rage Against the Machine/Public Enemy crossover event.
Why You Should Listen: You're really, really angry about Trump and the only way you can express it is by listening to mediocre protest music.
Overall Thoughts: Considering how unfortunate their EP was last year and how generally terrible modern protest music is, I had extremely low standards for this. The good news is that the album cleared said standards with ease, and this is a pretty okay record. I mean, if you really liked Rage or Chuck D, there’s plenty of both that works here, but this also isn’t groundbreaking like either act was in their prime. It is what it is, and that’s fine – just temper your expectations and you should be fine.
Recommendation: Meh.

Artist: Rostam
Album: Half-Light
Quick Description: Debut solo album from a Vampire Weekend alum.
Why You Should Listen: Vampire Weekend is/was a good enough band where this should at least pique your interest.
Overall Thoughts: The proper solo debut of the former Vampire Weekend multinstrumentalist, it borrows from basically every influence he has gathered up over a lifetime and is bundled into a chaotic album that is absolutely going to speak to a number of listeners. Whether or not this is going to work for you may be a different story on a whole – as for me, this didn’t feel cohesive enough to match up with its ambition, and it’s not something I’m terribly excited about, but a lot of people are raving about it so I may be a minority here.
Recommendation: Your mileage ultimately may vary.

Artist: Black Kids
Album: Rookie
Quick Description: Second album from a band I assumed we had all completely forgotten.
Why You Should Listen: Their first album was a buzzworthy event.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if people remember how crazy the whole thing with Black Kids was back in 2008 with "I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance With You." They were doing Hefner covers at concerts, and then just... disappeared. And then all of the sudden songs started popping up and we have a new album. It's weird and feels a little out of sync, but if you can move outside of the context of where they came from and how they went away, this is actually a fairly solid record. I love "Obligatory Drugs," there are a lot of other fun songs here...
Recommendation: ...give this a shot. Really.

EPs of note:

* Antibalas - Where the Gods are in Peace
* Michael Nau - The Load EP

Also out this week:

* Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross - The Vietnam War score
* The Texas Gentlemen - TX Jelly

Monday, September 18, 2017

Alex Lahey - "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself"

Photo by Giulia McGauran
We've been loving every track from Alex Lahey's upcoming debut full length album, and for good reason. The Australian singer/songwriter specializes in the type of pop rock that used to be called alternative back in the mid-90's. Her latest, "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself," is this pleasant happy medium between her previous two singles from I Love You Like a Brother. It's not quite as poppy as "Every Day's the Weekend" and it's not as grungey as "Lotto in Reverse." Instead, "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself" fits snugly in between both of the previous songs. It has the insanely catchy pop hooks and upbeat chorus along with fuzzed out guitars. It's reminds me a ton of Letters to Cleo's Go! Plus, there's Lahey's amazing lyrics. I'm not usually much of a lyrics guy at all, but hers always just suck me in. "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself" centers around a possibly obsessive relationship and poor lifestyle choices, both of which tend to go hand in hand. Despite the negative subject matter, the song doesn't dwell on the negative and seems to be a declaration to turn things around, much like Colleen Green's I Want to Grow Up.

You can watch the video for "I Haven't Been Taking Care of Myself" below. Alex Lahey's debut album, I Love You Like a Brother, will be out on October 6 on Dead Oceans. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Lahey, check out her website. Her upcoming tour dates are below.

Tue. Oct. 26 - Brussels, BE @ Botanique Witloofbar
Fri. Oct. 27 - Rotterdam, NL @ V11

Mon. Oct. 30 - Cologne, DE @ Blue Shell

Tue. Oct. 31 - Hamburg, DE @ Molotow Musikclub

Wed. Nov. 1 - Berlin, DE @ Privat Club 

Wed. Nov. 3 - Munich, DE @ Kranhalle 

Sat. Nov. 4 - Stuttgart, DE @ Keller Klub 

Sun. Nov. 5 - Fribourg, DE @ Espace culturel Le Nouveau Monde 

Mon. Nov. 6 - Paris, FR @ La Mécanique Ondulatoire

Wed. Nov. 8 - London, UK @ Boston Music Room 

Tue. Nov. 9 - Bristol, UK @ The Louisiana 

Fri. Nov. 10 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club 

Sat. Nov. 11 - Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute 

Sun. Nov. 12 - Glasgow, UK @ King Tut's Wah Wah Hut 

Wed. Nov. 15 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott

Thu. Nov. 16 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg

Fri. Nov. 17 - Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe Live

Sun. Nov. 19 - Washington, DC @ DC9

Wed. Nov. 22 - Toronto, ON @ The Drake Hotel - Underground

Fri. Nov. 24 - Chicago, IL @ Subterranean

Sat. Nov. 25th - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry

Wed. Nov. 29 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada

Thu. Nov. 30 - Austin, TX @ Barracuda

Sat. Dec. 2 - Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge

Sun. Dec. 3 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court

Tue. Dec. 5 - Phoenix, AZ @ The Rebel Lounge

Wed. Dec. 6 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah

Fri. Dec. 8 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo 

Sat.Dec. 9 - San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill

Mon. Dec. 11 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios

Tue. Dec. 12 - Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt

Wed. Dec. 13 - Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey

Monday Mix (and more!): The Roadhouse Is Proud to Welcome... Music and Twin Peaks!

The finale of Twin Peaks: The Return was two weeks ago and my brain is still busted wide open from the entire series. No television show has exercised my brain the way The Return did, and the mysteries that were solved during the season being replaced by new ones has just kept me so engaged in the entire mythology of the Peaks universe up to this point that I see no signs of stopping. I am looking for books that are like Twin Peaks, shows that will somehow fill the orb-shaped void inside of me.

While the music of the original series is iconic in its own right, The Return stepped up in an interesting and unexpected way. While the series itself played around considerably both with ethereal whooshing soundscapes and the use of silence, most episodes ended with a scene in the bar, where the music venue, "The Roadhouse," was hosting all sorts of indie artists. It was almost a game in and of itself to see who would be featured along the way.

Also related were some of the interesting musical discoveries that have come about from my immersion into the whole Twin Peaks thing. So our mix is 20 or so songs from the series, and some extras:

* The playlist. Included in this playlist are some highlights from the show and from semi-related acts...
** Julee Cruise - "Falling": The original theme song, just as strange and haunting today as it was when it was first used.
** (The) Nine Inch Nails - "She's Gone Away": Trent Reznor has noted that he wrote this song specifically for The Return
** Lissie - "Wild Wild West": One of a few "Roadhouse versions" released following the end of the show.
** "Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima": One of the most striking moments of The Return was during the infamous episode 8, and was soundtracked by this modern classical masterpiece.
** Flesh World - "To Lose Me": A band we've highlighted here before, named after the adult publication from the original series.
** James Hurley - "Just You": Proved what many knew for 25 years - James was always cool.
** Sky Ferriera - "Night Time, My Time": Where I hope she cured that rash...

* I also recommend checking out the following:
** Chrysta Bell - We Dissolve: Bell played FBI Agent Tammy Preston on the show, and she's primarily a musician that David Lynch considers a muse. Her album is haunting and weird and wonderful - a lot like Twin Peaks is.
** Dean Hurley - Anthology Resource Vol. 1: The joke among Twin Peaks fans was the amount of "ethereal whooshing" throughout The Return, and the musician/sound designer who was responsible for much of it has released an ambient score from The Return that is worth your time if you're into it.
** Xiu Xiu - Plays the Music of Twin Peaks: The indie act here released this in 2015, but it's a fun little diversion that's also surprisingly true to the original music.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Julia Jacklin - "Cold Caller"

Photo by Nick McKinlay
Today is the release date for the latest single from Julia Jacklin, which also means that we get to check out the b-side, "Cold Caller." The song is extremely sentimental, and Jacklin began writing it after her older sister told her she was pregnant, and started recording it on the day she went into labor. The song starts off with exactly what we've come to expect from Jacklin at this point. It's a groovy, sunny Americana song. But ever so slowly the tiniest bit of noise starts to creep in, which she might have picked up from touring with Marlon Wayans so much. By the end, the song is in full on brilliant power ballad territory. If you weren't as obsessed with Julia Jacklin as we are yet, this one might do it.

You can listen to "Cold Caller" below. The "Eastwick"/"Cold Caller" 7 inch is out today on Polyvinyl Recording Co. For more on Julia Jacklin, check out her website, and be sure to see her live next time she comes around your way.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Moviestar - "Stupid People"

Photo by Suzanne Nyhuus
So... this is an interesting one. Moviestar are a three piece band that comes to us from the planet Fenris in the future. The members are Infinity Vik, The Octopus Goddess, and The Anaconda. When they first came to Earth, they were shocked at how badly people treated the Earth and each other. They are currently on a mission to save the planet, and are staying in Norway since it's "the safest nation in the world."

Their debut song, "Stupid People," is about stupid people. It's a not too serious song, filled with a ton of synth sounds and attitude, with rapping vocals. It feels like what people in the early 80's thought futuristic music sounded like, mixed with mid 90's rap rock. I should say I mean pre-nu-metal rap rock, and more like 2 Skinnee J's. It's all a bizarre mix that shouldn't work, and might not actually work, but for right now I'm enjoying it. At the very least, it's just fun music, which we could all use right about now.

You can listen to "Stupid People" below. Moviestar's debut album, Stupid People / Happy Days, will be out February 9 (speaking of the future) on Oh Yeah! For more on Moviestar, check out their website.

Elizabeth and the Catapult - "Underwater"

Photo by Shervin Lainez
While reading some of the press materials for the latest single from Elizabeth and the Catapult, I wasn't shocked to learn that Elizabeth Ziman, aka the Elizabeth in Elizabeth and the Catapult, incorporates her dreams into her music. "Underwater" feels like a dream. It's not exactly part of the genre of dream pop, but instead it's just dreamy. "Underwater" is definitely a pop song, but it straddles the world of indie Americana. It's not the more mainstream pop side of Americana, like The Avett Brothers or Houndmouth, but it's really a mash up of pop music and Americana, like if Tristen kept just a bit more of her country side on her last two albums. It's an interesting mix that has me looking forward to her new album.

You can watch the video for "Underwater" below. Elizabeth and the Catapult's new album, Keepsake, will be out October 20 on Compass Records. For more on Elizabeth and the Catapult, check out their website.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for September 8

Artist: Ted Leo
Album: The Hanged Man
Quick Description: Latest from the indie punk.
Why You Should Listen: At his worst, he's still worth a shot.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t have a ton to say about Ted Leo, who is definitely in the “old punk” stage of his career, and this record feels more like a concept record that dabbles in prog than what launched him into the indie stratosphere however many years ago. As someone who is a marginal fan of his on a whole, this didn’t do much for me, but your mileage may vary. Personally, I can’t recommend in a week as busy as this one.
Recommendation: Skip this one.

Artist: Deerhoof
Album: Mountain Moves
Quick Description: New album from the artsy indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: You're up for a challenge.
Overall Thoughts: Deerhoof is not Deer Tick. This is what I realized about 1 minute into this album, which is a complex and (mostly) difficult record that defies expectations on every turn and is among the weirder recent releases. There’s one song, the name of which I cannot currently recall, that definitely feels like the mainstream attempt, but the rest of this is complex and fascinating in a really compelling way, and I know that it will turn off a lot of listeners, but it didn’t turn me off.
Recommendation: If you’re up for the challenge, you should absolutely give this a shot.

Artist: Anna of the North
Album: Lovers
Quick Description: Debut full-length from the indie artist.
Why You Should Listen: If you're looking for a retro-type affair...
Overall Thoughts: I know this isn’t my first exposure to Anna of the North, but the way this album revealed itself to me certainly felt like it. One of my favorite albums from a few years ago was the debut from HAERTS, a layered and synthy affair. Anna and the North’s latest is definitely along those lines, and it attacks the concept with a much lighter touch. The result here is one that ends up being a really pleasant listen, even if it doesn’t take that leap into something really life-changing on first listen. Definitely one to look out for this week, and definitely one I’m looking forward to spending more time with.
Recommendation: Really loved this one.

Artist: Zola Jesus
Album: Okovi
Quick Description: The actual new Zola Jesus album.
Why You Should Listen: Same reasons as a few weeks back.
Overall Thoughts: In the corrections department, I erroneously thought that a release I found for 2017 was the new Zola Jesus and reviewed it as such, but it was actually a rerelease of an older album. So here is the real new Zola Jesus record, and… well, a lot of my thoughts remain the same. She’s doing a dark, complex pop thing that harkens back to PJ Harvey in some ways, and I really enjoy it. There are some chances taken on this that I appreciate as well, and the end result is that Zola Jesus continues to challenge herself and her listeners with each new release. I hope this ends up being a breakthrough of sorts for her.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Susanne Sundfør
Album: Music for People in Trouble
Quick Description: Return to form for the acclaimed singer.
Why You Should Listen: She always deserves some of your time.
Overall Thoughts: The Nordic folky has dabbled successfully in electronic music (including a turn in one of my favorite Royksopp songs last year), and this album is more of a return to form for her. There’s still some out-there sonic concepts floating to the surface, but Sundfør is ultimately allowing the music to speak for itself here, and it’s truly great.
Recommendation: One of the best listens of the week.

Artist: Alvvays
Album: Antisocialites
Quick Description: Indie darlings with a sophomore effort.
Why You Should Listen: Alvvays is, well, alvvays fun. Right?
Overall Thoughts: Alvvays splashed onto the indie scene a few years back with the absolutely amazing “Marry Me, Archie,” and this has been a fairly long-awaited follow-up, What do we get here? Another dose of reverb-heavy indie pop with perhaps some sharper and more pointed songwriting. Overall, I don’t sense a sophomore slump here at all, and if you were a fan of their debut, you’ll probably like this, too.
Recommendation: A solid listen on a whole.

Artist: SOAR
Album: dark / gold
Quick Description: Moar 90s rawk!!!!11
Why You Should Listen: Moar 90s rawk!!!!11
Overall Thoughts: SOAR is one we missed from a few weeks back, and fits in wonderfully with the 1990s-era aesthetic that seemingly everyone is taking part in. On first listen, this is a great record that tries to set itself apart. Does it always succeed? I don’t know, but I plan on going back to this a few times to find out.
Recommendation: A good listen if you have the time.

Artist: Charlie Parr
Album: Dog
Quick Description: New one from a folky favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: He's just too good, guys.
Overall Thoughts: We’ve enjoyed Charlie Parr here so far, and this latest release is of similar quality. It's your folky effort of the week and that's great. I don't have a ton to say about it, it feels dirty and gritty and... right.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Also out this week:

* Tori Amos - Native Invader
* The National - Sleep Well Beast

Elle Mary & The Bad Men - "Behave"

The two genres we cover the most tend to be indie rock and modern folk. Knowing that, Elle Mary & The Bad Men is an absolute perfect choice for us. Elle Mary previously was a folk artist, but for her band's debut album, the sound has shifted to what she calls "heavy noir." "Behave" is a break up song (in fact, the whole album was written in response to a break up, chronically the grief and moving on process), and is written directly to an ex-lover. It starts off in pretty standard indie rock singer-songwriter territory, albeit the top tier of that genre. And then the anger and louder side comes barreling in for just pure perfection. If I were to compare this song to anyone we cover regularly, it would be Lady Lamb, with it's loud/quiet/loud changes.

You can listen to "Behave" below. Elle Mary & The Bad Men's debut album, Constant Unfailing Night, will be out October 20 on Sideways Saloon. For more on Elle Mary & The Men, check out their website.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for September 8

Another busy release date means we're splitting this one in two.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Partner
Album: In Search of Lost Time
Quick Description: Stoner chicks with a fun and funny debut.
Why You Should Listen: This is definitely the most fun you'll have this week from a musical standpoint, but stay for the sharp songwriting.
Overall Thoughts: To say that this is probably collectively the most anticipated release of the week for both Ken and I is probably an understatement. Ken has noted that we’re way too old to enjoy this band as much as we do, and this debut album? Basically a direct hit of nostalgia and humor directly into the bloodstream. This duo knows exactly what they’re doing – from the framework of the album itself to their sound to the humor to even the fact that they have skits, this is a heck of a nostalgia trip that still works in a modern context. In terms of solely what they are as a band, this is a great release. Whether the humor and ridiculousness of the proceedings keep it from making some year-end lists remains to be seen, but this is a band that demands your attention.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, if not the year.

Artist: ODESZA
Album: A Moment Apart
Quick Description: New album from the electro act.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for that happy medium between house music and whatever the popular brostep is, I guess.
Overall Thoughts: This dance act is one that I’m only recently a convert to as I’ve slowly started catching up with old episodes of Song Exploder. This new album is pretty sonically similar to their previous album, and that’s not a bad thing – their take on electronic music is pretty straightforward and it’s one that works well. There’s a breezy soundscape to go along with its overall-accessible nature, and that’s perfectly fine – these aren’t Calvin Harris-style club bangers, and I can’t say that’s what I’m looking for most of the time from this genre. The guest spots are fine, and they won’t set the world on fire, but I do think this is a pretty great album deserving of your time if you have a tolerance for the style.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: David Wax Museum
Album: Electric Artificacts
Quick Description: Rarities collection from a regional favorite.
Why You Should Listen: David Wax Museum is our favorite collective band here, and for good reason.
Overall Thoughts: B-sides/odds and ends albums are always a mixed bag. I think the relevant gold standard remains R.E.M.’s Dead Letter Office, but even if it weren’t, it doesn’t mean I don’t compare albums like this to that one. David Wax Museum, over their tenure, have always been at their best when they’re not doing the slower, more deliberate stuff (with “Unfruitful” the obvious exception to the rule). This collection definitely has some of their more contemplative work on it, and isn’t lacking for its share of stuff that you understand why it wasn’t included on any of their major releases, but when a band is as good as David Wax Museum, enough of these continue to stand on their own that I’m just glad they opted to share them. Especially considering how long it’s been since we got some new English-language music from the group, I’m definitely not going to complain about some good stuff from one of our favorites here.
Recommendation: You may not love everything here, but this is still worth your time.

Artist: Infinity Girl
Album: Somewhere Nice, Someday
Quick Description: The final album from the indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Infinity Girl has always done some interesting stuff.
Overall Thoughts: Infinity Girl will be no more soon, and this album is their swan song. I’ve always generally enjoyed what this group has put out when I’ve heard it, but they’ve never been on my radar quite long enough to know how this lines up with their previous work. With that said, this is a very solid, consistent record and it’s far from a bad way to go out – Infinity Girl doesn’t sound like anyone else, but they also have an aesthetic that fits in with a lot of the better indie stuff of late. This serves as a good introduction to a band on its way out if you’re new to them, and I expect fans will probably be pleased on a whole with this finale.
Recommendation: Worth a spin.

Artist: Sparks
Album: Hippopotamus
Quick Description: Latest from the weird-yet-legendary band.
Why You Should Listen: Sparks is a really fascinating band.
Overall Thoughts: I am not equipped to talk about Sparks. I have a friend who is really into Sparks and has tried to get me into them, and… I mean, I get it, but I don’t get it. They’re a band from another time playing music from a time they’re not actually from. This album is a fun romp, but I know I’m missing something along the way, and that’s more than okay. Throughout listening, I kept thinking “yep, this is a Sparks album,” and that’s about all I can say. It’s a Sparks album, and you either know what that means or you don’t. And if you don’t, there are probably other albums to start with first.
Recommendation: It is what it is.

Artist: Chad VanGaalen
Album: Light Information
Quick Description: New album from the indie Artist (with a capital A).
Why You Should Listen: VanGaalen is an interesting musician.
Overall Thoughts: Chad VanGaalen would have probably been 2004 Jeff’s favorite artist had I learned of VanGaalen at the time of his debut release. As it stands now, he is still doing some weird and wonderful music that is scratching a very specific itch for me, but won’t be for everyone. VanGaalen is an artist, and that artist sensibility shines through in his music as well as his artwork, and this album definitely takes some risks others would not.
Recommendation: This might not work for you, but if the weirder side of mid-aughts indie does it for you, give this a listen.

Artist: Beaches
Album: Second of Spring
Quick Description: Newest album from the Australian psych-rockers.
Why You Should Listen: This is an album with a lot of variety and interesting parts to it.
Overall Thoughts: The only complaint I have about this album is that it’s simply too long. At an hour-long-plus run time, the variety that Beaches puts forward in its sound does tend to lean more toward the exhausting than the exhaustive, and that’s a shame. This is a really solid listen with a lot of great moments throughout, and it fits itself rather snugly between the sort of 1990s alt-rock trend and the more modern indie rock sensibilities of the day. If this was just chopped up a bit, I’d probably consider this one of my favorites of the week, but even with that one flaw, you shouldn’t avoid it.
Recommendation: This is absolutely deserving of your time.

Artist: Samantha Parton and Jolie Holland
Album: Wildflower Blues
Quick Description: Collaborative effort from members of the Be Good Tonyas.
Why You Should Listen: It's a solid, interesting folky collaboration.
Overall Thoughts: Of the members of the Be Good Tonyas, I’m definitely more familiar with Jolie Holland than Samantha Parton, but this sort of pseudo-reunion/collaborative effort is just a really crisp, pleasant release. It gives a nice end-of-summer feel to the proceedings while still sounding sweet and airy throughout, and I just really enjoyed this one. Of all the releases this week, this is honestly the one I’m most excited to get back to, as this just sounds really nice and comfortable.
Recommendation: Great for folkies and those who are kind of allergic to it alike.

Artist: Death From Above 1979
Album: Outrage! Is Now
Quick Description: New album from the indie rock duo.
Why You Should Listen: They're just so good, guys.
Overall Thoughts: DFA1979 was kind of the anti-White Stripes for me when You’re a Woman, I’m a Machine landed – a duo of drums and guitar/bass, but with a more aggressive attitude? Yeah, I was in. Then they broke up about as fast as they came around, and that was that. Then they came back, had a great comeback album, and now we officially have more comeback-era albums than original? Music is weird, but here we are – “Freeze Me” is a legitimate song of the year candidate, and there are a number of other solid songs on here even if I feel like we’re getting a little more of a shift in tone from the group on a whole. Overall, though? Growth is good, and a year with a new DFA album is a good year to be in.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

EPs of note:

* Me Not You - Reckoning 1 (if this were a full-length, and the quality was as good as this handful of songs, it would be my release of the week. The last two songs in particular are two of the best of this year.)
* The Veils - Swimming With the Crocodiles
* Mourn - Over the Wall

Monday, September 11, 2017

Nots - "Cruel Friend"

While sulking that I had to miss Nots' show in Somerville last night, I stumbled onto the fact that they released a 7" back in June that I somehow missed completely. "Cruel Friend" is exactly what we expect, and want, from Nots. It's aggressive and fast post punk in the vein of Sonic Youth and Bikini Kill, but with an underlying groove throughout. The b-side, "Violence," is where things get interesting. It's much more synth heavy than what we've heard from Nots in the past. Before you start thinking that they're going all New Wave on us next, this is a much darker and foreboding song than most synth tracks. It's more along the lines of something from the It Follows soundtrack with lyrics.

You can listen to "Cruel Friend" below. The digital version of "Cruel Friend" and "Violence" can be purchased via Bandcamp. For more on Nots, follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Neaux - "Stuck Like A..."

When a press release claims a band is "... Influenced by the likes of Sebadoh, Mudhoney, and Sonic Youth," it's a guarantee that I'm going to be paying attention. The latest song from Neaux, "Stuck Like A...," delivers on that lofty promise. It has the artsy noise of Sonic Youth, the driving aggression of Mudhoney, and the quirky pre-emo hooks of Harmacy era Sebadoh. "Stuck Like A..." is one of those rare songs that feels much more epic than its just over 4:00 length, and despite feeling much longer than it is, you're still wishing it was longer. It's a rare band that can pull off artsy, heavy, and catchy, so we give the biggest compliment possible to Neaux.

You can listen to "Stuck Like A..." below. Neaux's sophomore album, Chain Up the Sun, will be out October 13 on The Native Sound. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Neaux, check out their Facebook and Bandcamp.

Mourn Covers The Replacements

This has been a very covers heavy week at If It's Too Loud..., but we consider that to be a great thing. Barcelona's garage punk band Mourn have a new EP coming out today (maybe?), and it features a version of The Replacements' "Color Me Impressed." Mourn's version somehow does two seemingly separate things at once: It's both noisier and more poppy. It might be since while there is a lot more noise behind the song, it's a far more produced and polished version than the original. Plus, they speed it up just a bit more. It keeps the song their own while still being true to the original. Sure, it may not have the same raw power as The Replacements version, but this one is just pure pop punk fun.

You can hear Mourn's cover of "Color Me Impressed" below. You can pick up your own copy of their new EP, Over the Wall, here. For more on Mourn, check them out on Facebook.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Margo Price - "A Little Pain"

Photo via Facebook
We were huge fans of Margo Price's 2016 solo debut, Midwestern Farmer's Daughter. In fact, it was the only album that made both my and Jeff's top ten lists of 2016. (I had it at #3, while Jeff had it at #6, fully proving my better taste...) Back in July, she released a surprise EP, so you'd think we wouldn't be getting anything new from Margo Price until 2018 at the earliest. Well, looks like she has a brand new album coming out in October, and we can already hear a new song from it. "A Little Pain" keeps Price's wonderful old school 70's sequined country sound, but it brings in a bit more of a soul feel to it. It's a bit of a throwback to her old band, Buffalo Clover. It seems like this might be the year of country/soul hybrids, and there won't be any complaints from us.

You can listen to "A Little Pain" below. Margo Price's new album, All American Made, will be out October 20 on Third Man Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Margo Price, check out her website. Be sure to check out her tour dates while you're there. Seeing her live is something you will thank me for.

Matt Pond PA Covers The Cars

Photo via Facebook
Matt Pond PA might love covers as much as we do. As they wind down, they're giving us another great cover song. This time it's for The Cars' classic "Drive." "Drive" might be my least favorite of The Cars' hit songs, but that being said, it's still a great song. Matt Pond PA's version of it keeps it completely true to the original, which is hard to do without synthesizers. Instead, it's a dreamy folk ballad version with pedal steel standing in for the synths. Somehow, this makes it an absolutely perfect cover song.

You can listen to Matt Pond PA's cover of "Drive" below. For more on Matt Pond PA, including what appear to be their final tour dates, check out their website.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Jeffrey Martin - "Billy Burroughs"

The latest song from Portland, OR's Jeffrey Martin isn't your typical singer/songwriter fare. Sure, there is quite a bit of today's Americana/roots music that can have a dark subject matter. But "Billy Burroughs" goes a bit further. "Billy Burroughs" tells the story of how William S. Burroughs accidentally shot his wife while trying to shoot a highball glass off of her head. That's dark enough, but the song also explores the theory that this incident is what lead Burroughs to become one of the most respected authors of his generation, and if such personal tragedy is worth it. It's all packaged in a stripped down acoustic song, the majority of which is built on Martin's vocals and guitar. It's a fairly dark but mainstream sound that masks the subject matter.

You can listen to "Billy Burroughs" below. Jeffrey Martin's upcoming album, One Go Around, will be released October 14 on Fluff & Gravy. You can pre-order a copy on Bandcamp. For more on Jeffrey Martin, check out his website.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

First Listen: New Releases for September 1

Not gonna lie, guys - this was a disappointing release week.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Mogwai
Album: Every Country's Sun
Quick Description: Latest from the ochestrally(?) tailored rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Is it really post-rock? Who knows, but Mogwai is good and this is good.
Overall Thoughts: Yes, this is probably my favorite album of the week in a very weak one, but that’s not to say Mogwai isn’t still as good as they typically are here. If you’re a fan, you’re getting more of the same here, and that’s certainly worthwhile. What they do is so unique and so solid that you don't want to miss it.
Recommendation: Worth a listen even in a busy week.

Artist: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
Album: The Echo of Pleasure
Quick Description: A departure from the standard from these indie favorites.
Why You Should Listen: You wanted more 80s throwback in your life.
Overall Thoughts: One of the first bands both Ken and I fell for at the same time when we first started working together a decade ago is The Pains of Being Pure at Heart. Now they’re a synth-pop band, and not a terribly interesting one? I’m personally all for bands switching up their sound and trying new things, but this really doesn’t work well at all on a whole.
Recommendation: Might be a big-fan-only affair.

Artist: Starsailor
Album: All This Life
Quick Description: New album from the Britpoppers.
Why You Should Listen: They've had enough in the way of solid songs to give this a spin.
Overall Thoughts: I was surprised to see this band was even still around, given that they never broke past the second tier of the Britpop Revival of the early aughts. There is no “Good Souls” or “Crossfire” here, which means that there’s not much in the way of music to highlight, and that’s a shame.
Recommendation: An unfortunate no from me.

Artist: LCD Soundsystem
Album: American Dream
Quick Description: Reunion album from a great band we barely had time to mourn.
Why You Should Listen: It's LCD Soundsystem, man!
Overall Thoughts: The reunion album after a five-year layoff. I am a late arrival to this band, but this album feels more like their later work than the earlier, and thus it feels… old? There are some solid songs here, for sure, but this is not what I would call a great LCD Soundsystem album, and arguably not even really a good one.
Recommendation: Listen once for the songs you like, save those, and move on. Unexpectedly less than stellar.

Other releases of note:

* Petite League – Rips One Into the Night (This album tries really hard, and it ends up being very hit-or-miss.)
* Jake Bugg – Hearts That Strain (We liked his first album here, and that is not to take away from this sophomore effort at all, but the release also fails to signal the type of growth that I know I was personally hoping for.)
* Hercules and Love Affair – Omnion (I really liked their earlier stuff, but this feels like a hard flop in a lot of ways, as they never quite hit anything resembling the apex of what they’re capable of.)
* Madeline Kenney - Night Night at the First Landing
* Daughter - Music from Before the Storm
* Orchestral Manoeuvers in the Dark - The Punishment of Luxury

Albums we missed:

* Zola Jesus - Stridulum (Weird and wonderful as always. Zola Jesus gives me a PJ Harvey vibe for a modern audience.)
* Caroline Reese and the Drifting Fifth - Tenderfoot (Fans of Laura Stevenson or Lauren Mann should really give this one a listen.)
* Jenny O - Peace and Information
* Tricot - 3

EPs of note:

* Ellen Allien - Nost RMXS Vol. 1

Also out this week:

* Thumpers - Whipped and Glazed
* Motorhead - Under Cover

Monday, September 4, 2017

Sara Radle Covers Dolly Parton

Photo via Facebook
I first discovered Sara Radle way back in 2005 when she joined The Rentals. I loved her contributions to that band so much I started picking up her solo work, and even went back to her previous band, Lucy Loves Schroeder. She's been taking a break from music lately to focus on her first film, but she's now back and dipping her toes into the music world again.

Even though she originally hails from San Antonio, she's never dabbled in country music before. Her newest project is going to lean a little on the country side of things, and she recently launched a YouTube series called "Sara Serenades Her Cats." The first in the series is Radle covering Dolly Parton's "Little Sparrow." It's a fantastic and simple cover, and I think you all know how we feel about covers here at If It's Too Loud... Plus, there's a cat in the video, and that's always a plus.

You can watch the video for Sara Radle's take on "Little Sparrow" below. For more on Sara Radle, check out her website

Friday, September 1, 2017

Weakened Friends w/ J Mascis - "Hate Mail"

Photo via Facebook
Over the past couple of years, Weakened Friends have played with a bunch of 90's era Boston area bands, with opening slots for Letters to Cleo, Juliana Hatfield, and The Sheila Divine. On their latest single, their loyalty is repaid with J Mascis coming in to play guitar on "Hate Mail." Having J Mascis play on your song is a huge burst of cred for Weakened Friends, but they've definitely earned it. Hearing Mascis' trademark guitar sound reigned in a bit over Weakened Friends' more pop-filled 90's tinged alternative sound is a great mixture. Mascis uses his more laid back style of guitar playing on the song, and even though it's a relatively faster song than you'd expect with that style, it works perfectly. I had heard of this pairing earlier in the week, and couldn't get to today's release fast enough.

You can listen to "Hate Mail" below. Weakened Friends debut album will be out sometime in the fall. For more on Weakened Friends, check out their website.

David Wax Museum - "Your Mother, the Ghost"

Photo via Facebook
This month, David Wax Museum are celebrating their 10th year as a band and their 1000th show. Part of the celebration includes the release of Electric Artifacts, a ten song collection of unreleased songs that didn't make the cut on their previous albums or were never quite finished before. One of those songs, "Your Mother, the Ghost," is now available to listen to. Clocking in at just under seven minutes, "Your Mother, the Ghost," is David Wax Museum's most epic song since "Unfruitful." While much more slower paced than its predecessor, the new song brings back some of the noisier aspects and odd instrumentation of Everything is Saved. It creates this great mixture of a slower, folk power ballad and an old school indie rock song. 

You can listen to "Your Mother, the Ghost" below. David Wax Museum's new collection, Electric Artifacts, will be out September 8 and can be pre-ordered here. For more on David Wax Museum, including current tour dates, check out their website.

Kay Hanley and Greg Behrendt Have a Podcast

I already listen to far too many podcasts, and I try to do everything I can to avoid adding any more to my subscribe to list. Every now and then, one pops up that I have to start listening to despite already being about two months behind. Recently, comedian/musician Greg Behrendt and musician Kay Hanley have joined forces on a podcast dedicated to one of my favorite things, rock documentaries. Greg Behrendt started podcasting way back in 2010 with Walking the Room, is a member of The Reigning Monarchs, and is an avid music fan. Kay Hanley is the singer of Letters to Cleo, and while new to the world of podcasting has always been great in an interview or anytime she gets to talk into a microphone. The podcast is called Rock Out With Your Doc Out and is currently three episodes in. The pair have done a fairly wide variety of subjects so far. Episode #1 was Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage, #2 was The Wrecking Crew about the anonymous session musicians that played on every album from the 1960's that you love, and #3 The Dicks From Texas about The Dicks, an early punk band from Austin, TX. Episode #1 is fairly rough, so if you're short on time you might want to skip that one unless you're a huge Rush fan. By #2 and #3, Hanley and Behrendt have settled down a bit and these episodes are far more entertaining.

You can get Rock Out With Your Doc Out on iTunes or your preferred podcast provider. You can find some more information on the podcast here, or their Twitter.