Friday, August 17, 2018

Forgotten Fridays: Propellerheads - Decksanddrumsandrockandroll

I should preface this by saying that there are a handful of albums that kind of define my love for music, and this is one of them.

It's probably not entirely correct to call this album "forgotten," per se, since there are certain songs like "Bang On" that soundtracked movies for close to a decade after this album was released. But when it came out in 1998, it was the height of the whole "electronica" thing in the United States, and while acts like The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers were hitting it big, purer electronic acts like Orbital weren't getting quite a foothold and the sort of DJ/producer culture wasn't quite resonating the same way.

Then came this album. I'm sure it was "History Repeating" that got my attention, since I've always loved Bond themes and Shirley Bassey is a legend and this song is incredible in its own right. But what sets Decksanddrumsandrockandroll apart is just the whole package effortlessly jumps from breaks and big beat to big band to even a symphonic-electronic hybrid of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" toward the end.

A 20th anniversary version came out earlier this year and I only tripped up on it this week. It largely holds up, and I didn't realize how my knowledge of acts like De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers are rooted in their guest appearances on this album. The duo never did another album again - one of the two battled an illness shortly after the album came out and I guess they both kind of went their separate ways - but this is one of those acts that I really wish had done more together. It's such an iconic album for me, and you probably know more of it than you realize. If you're rediscovering it today, congratulations. If this is the first time you're hearing it, welcome aboard.

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Goon Sax - "Make Time 4 Love"

Photo by Ben O'Connor
Despite breaking the internationally recognized rule that only Prince could use letters as words in song titles, Australia's The Goon Sax's new single is pretty great. "Make Time 4 Love" continues the new fangled Australian trend of throwing back to the 90's for inspiration. This time they go back to '97/'98 when bands were throwing back to the 60's and having a groovy/crooner feel to their songs. Singer Louis Forster (To make you feel old, he's the son of Robert Forster of The Go-Betweens) isn't exactly a crooner, but it gives the song a fun, indie vibe. The song is mostly a fairly sparse groovy indie song, except for the use of horns towards to end to help flesh out the song. It's a fun sound, bordering on quirky without quite going over the edge.

You can watch the video for "Make Time 4 Love" below. We're Not Talking, the new album from The Goon Sax, will be out September 14 on Wichita Recordings. You can pre-order it here. For more on The Goon Sax, check them out on Facebook.


Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Baeilou - "Mourning Mantra"

Photo by Cinque Mubarak
Hopefully you remember when we brought you the haunting, Poe inspired single from Baeilou, "Eleanora." Mia Pixley and her cello Baeilou are back with another single, "Mourning Mantra." The new single seems much more straightforward neo-Americana than the previous one. It's very minimal, and a cello is going to sound a bit out of place in any rock/folk song. But "Mourning Mantra," despite it's tempo changes, is a pretty upbeat pop cello song... for the first minute and a half. After that, the mood shifts dramatically. The song becomes more moody and beautiful, and even when the pace picks back up, it is much more classical than it was previously.

You can listen to "Mourning Mantra" below. Baeilou's upcoming EP, Inside Under, will be out August 24. For more on Baeilou, check out the artist's website and Facebook.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Town and The City Festival Will Be Your October Music Highlight

When I first heard about The Town & City Festival happening in Lowell, MA, I assumed it would be limited to local Lowell area bands, and maybe a Boston band or two with Lowell ties. "A Fall Celebration of Music and Art in Lowell" just gives off a local vibe. When the line up was announced yesterday, to say I was pleasantly surprised would be a huge understatement. There are some local artists playing (Arlen, D-Tension) but there are some huge favorites of ours, also. Playing are "new" favorites like Kingsley Flood and Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys. But somehow the festival are legends Edo G, Damon and Naomi, and Kristin Hersh (!?!?!?!?!!!). And they are throwing in a bunch of artists that we always see listed and mean to check out but never quite get around to it (Abbie Barrett, Analog Heart, Frank Morey, Oldsoul). Of course, there are more to be announced, but you can check out the current line up on the poster to the left.

The Town and The City Festival will take place October 19 and 20 in various venues around Lowell, MA. Early bird two day passes for $35 will go on sale today at noon. For more information, check out the festival's website.

First Listen: New Releases for 10 August

Some great ones this week.

Album of the Week:


Artist: Bear Grass
Album: LEFT
Quick Description: Gorgeous and compelling indie folk.
Why You Should Listen: It's reminiscent of so many things, yet exists as its own unique album.
Overall Thoughts: Wow. I had never heard of this band coming in, but I was intrigued through song one and in love by the end of the second. This album is a weird hit of mid-2000s indie with some folk rock elements and a really fragile-sounding structure that I fell for over and over again. I told Ken how much I liked it early on, and he told me that he nearly presented it as “guaranteed to be in your 2018 top 10,” and… well, he might not be wrong.
Recommendation: An amazing album seemingly out of nowhere, and definitely one of the best of the year.


Artist: The Beths
Album: Future Me Hates Me
Quick Description: Debut album from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: This is probably the indie rock album of the summer.
Overall Thoughts: If it weren't for Bear Grass, this would be my favorite this week. I got turned onto this band years ago thanks to their EP, where album track "Whatever" first got released and my favorite Beths song, "Idea/Intent," didn't make the new album's cut. This is better produced, louder, more melodic, and just a realization of a band hitting their stride at just the right time. I fear that this isn't quite poppy enough to hook in enough people, which means that a LOT of people are going to miss out on one of the best albums of the summer.
Recommendation: Do not miss this.


Artist: Lola Kirke
Album: Heart Head West
Quick Description: Debut full-length from another folkie type.
Why You Should Listen: Some of her songs will blow your mind.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been fairly obsessed with “Monster” since I first heard it, and the album largely met my heightened expectations. The album gives me a bit of an grittier version of early Tristen vibes in some regards, and songs like “Supposed To” really do a good job of keeping on board. If you like most of what we push here, this should be on your list.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.


Artist: Odetta Hartman
Album: Old Rockhounds Never Die
Quick Description: Follow-up to the solid 222
Why You Should Listen: Odetta Hartman is getting some solid buzz.
Overall Thoughts: I liked this well enough, but this was a much-anticipated release for me that I hoped to love. Instead, we have a rootsy album with a lot of solid moments and many unexpected twists and turns, but a first listen does not provide the sort of throughline I was ultimately hoping for.
Recommendation: Good, just not great.


Artist: Jake Shears
Album: Jake Shears
Quick Description: Solo debut from the Scissor Sisters frontman.
Why You Should Listen: It's solid cabaret-ish pop.
Overall Thoughts: The Scissor singer has a solo album which definitely has a mainstream cabaret feel to it that is fully and completely on-brand in one regard, but also would fit right in on a lot of pop radio stations. This really does not go too far off of the classic SS mold, and that’s perfectly fine.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if you're a fan.

Of note:

* Tomberlin i At Weddings (quiet, haunting folk stuff)
* Lights - Scorpion Side B (acoustic cover of a Drake album I’ve never heard)
* War and Treaty - Healing Tide (bluesy roots for people who might not like bluesy roots)
* The Coral - Move Through the Dawn (their best effort in years)
* Bird Streets - Bird Streets
* The Perceptionists - Low Resolution
* Kathryn Joseph - From When I Wake the Want Is
* Miles Kane - Coup de Grace
* Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis - Wild! Wild! Wild!

EPs:

* Tigerman Woah! - Do It All Again
* FOXTROTT - Meditations II
* Sammy Brue - Down With Desperation

Also out:

* Stella Sommer - 13 Kinds of Happiness
* Shooter Jennings - Shooter
* Liz Cooper and the Stampede - Window Flowers
* Foxing - Nearer My God

Monday, August 13, 2018

Jack Drag - "Hope Revisited"

Photo via Twitter
Last month we were thrilled to share a new single from the recently exhumed Jack Drag. "Little Lies" seemed to lean a bit more towards John Dragonetti's work with The Submarines than his earlier work with Jack Drag, but we were still thrilled to have Jack Drag back.

Now we have a second single, "Hope Revisited." The new single is still poppier than Jack Drag's 90's output, but considering a lot of that were four track home recordings, it's too be expected. "Hope Revisited" has some of the slightly off kilter arrangements I love about Jack Drag. Sure, it's a pop song, but just barely. The these odd driving verses with lines that seem to just run on into each other with virtually no breaks until you hit the chorus, which stops dead just as it starts. Even though it's largely electronic, something about the song feels organic, earning it the moniker "sci-fi folk."

You can listen to "Hope Revisited" below. Jack Drag's new album, 2018, will be out this fall on Burger Records. For more on Jack Drag, check out his Twitter.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Kings of Spade - "Way She Goes"

Kings of Spade will not sound the way you think they sound. First, look at the band picture to the left. Now, realize that they are from Hawaii. To make things even stranger, their upcoming album was produced by Dave Cobb, a well known Nashville producer.

I'm sure even though none of these things match up, you have a general idea of their sound, right? Did you picture a 70's soul fueled barrage of party ready funk with plenty of falsetto vocals? Nope, I didn't think so. I guess the singer has a mohawk and there are some elements of ska in the guitars sometimes? And it does have more of a rock element than top 40 or R&B. But that's about as close as you'll get to what you expected. The chorus is absurdly catchy, and could very well break out into a big enough hit that we're all embarrassed we ever liked it.

You can watch the video for "Way She Goes" below. Kings of Spade's self titled album will be out on October 19 on Soundly. For more on Kings of Spade, be sure to check out their website.


Adrianne Lenker - "cradle"

Photo by Shervin Lainez
We've both been huge fans of both of Big Thief's albums, so we're pretty excited that Adrianne Lenker is proving to be absurdly prolific and is releasing a solo album this year. "cradle" is the first single off of her solo album, and it's what I had expected in the best possible way. Big Thief's music isn't exactly hard rock, but it's definitely rock with some fantastic guitar flurries. "cradle" is decidedly more quiet and introspective. Lenker's vocals are barely a whisper above a barely plucked guitar. Harmonizing background vocalization fills out the song to give it not quite a lush sound, but definitely a fuller sound. 

You can listen to "cradle" below. abysskiss, the new solo album from Adrianne Lenker, will be out October 5 on Saddle Creek. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Adrianne Lenker, check out her website.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Thee MVPs - "American Dreamin'"

Sometimes you just want a big, dumb loud rock song. London's Thee MVPs seem to understand that need, and they have delivered with "American Dreamin.'" It has everything you want in a loud garage rock anthem. There isn't a shred of harmony or singing in the vocals. Virtually everything is shouted. It has a loud, plodding beat that seems to hiccup itself along. The guitar trails along in a noisy squall almost the entire way through, with just enough noodling during the solo to make it fun. "American Dreamin'" isn't high art, but sometimes rock shouldn't be. It should just be rock.

You can watch the video for "American Dreamin'" below. You can get the single via your favorite platform here. For more on Thee MVPs, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Kristin Hersh - "No Shade in Shadow"

Even though we brought you a new track from Kristin Hersh's upcoming solo album a short time ago, "Breathe In" was still in the demo stages making "No Shade in Shadow" the first official single. It's not quite what we would have expected. Hersh's solo work usually fits more into the singer/songwriter category, and her noisier and more experimental work is taken on by Throwing Muses of 50 Foot Wave. "No Shade in Shadow" isn't as rock as Throwing Muses or as aggressive as 50 Foot Wave, but it's certainly not a standard singer/songwriter track. It's soaked in reverb and is one of Hersh's more dissonant tracks in recent memory. At the point Hersh is in her career, most of her contemporaries are on the nostalgia circuit and maybe churn out a dull, predictable record every few years. It's so refreshing to have an artist that continues to push herself with every release.

You can listen to "No Shade in Shadow" below. Possible Dust Clouds, the new album from Kristin Hersh, will be out October 5 via Fire Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Kristin Hersh, check out her website.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Caroline Rose Announces Tour with And the Kids!

We don't typically bring you music news or tour announcements over here, but sometimes we get so excited about one that we can't help ourselves. Caroline Rose has announced a November tour, which is exciting enough on its own. However, she is bringing And the Kids out with her for this tour! She's called And the Kids her favorite band, and we aren't arguing that. It's funny, because we still think of And the Kids as a Western MA band, so it's great to see them get love outside of the Pioneer Valley. Whenever two of our absolute favorites go out together, we'll be there.

Tickets for the Caroline Rose/And the Kids tour go on sale today through an artist pre-sale. You can get your tickets here.

J. Allen - "Oh Oblivion"

It's been almost two years since we brought you any new music from J. Allen, but luckily he's back with a new single. "Oh Oblivion" keeps intact the amazing songwriting and melody of previous releases from J. Allen, but tonally it's a huge shift. His previous singles fit much more snugly in the singer/songwriter mold. "Oh Oblivion" is much more spacey and foggy sounding. As Allen himself describes it: "A singer finds his way amidst clouds of swirling cellos in these songs of foggy introspection." It's a beautiful song that is slightly more challenging of a listen than you would have expected from his previous offerings, but we're pretty sure you'll end up loving it.

You can listen to "Oh Oblivion" and its b-side "I've Been Down This Road Before" over at J. Allen's website. The vinyl single can be pre-ordered at Bandcamp.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 3 August

Fall is coming, and not a moment too soon given how slow the release weeks have been.


Artist: Houndmouth
Album: Golden Age
Quick Description: New album from a band with a strong following.
Why You Should Listen: Houndmouth has always been interesting in the very least.
Overall Thoughts: We like this band here, and this new album basically incapsulates my relationship with the act. I never quite know what to expect, I never quite recall what drew me in to start, but by the time it’s over I never know if I want more. This is a very odd rock record with a lot of electronic sounds balancing out the melodies that probably got you on board with this act to start. Truly, this *may* end up being a turnoff to some, but I... didn't hate it?
Recommendation: Be wary.


Artist: Rock Eupora
Album: Rock Eupora
Quick Description: Latest from the rock act.
Why You Should Listen: This is an album you might love.
Overall Thoughts: Power poppy at times and alt-rocky in others, this is a record that is as mainstream as it can be with straining vocals pushing it into the margins. This is weird if only because it is such a straightforward alt-rock record in a time where I feel like we rarely hear them anymore. It’s earnest and sincere and straightforward all at once, and there’s something good about that.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.


Artist: Helena Hauff
Album: Qualm
Quick Description: Latest from the experimental indie electronic artist.
Why You Should Listen: Hauff is known for some really interesting releases.
Overall Thoughts: What’s kind of interesting about this electronic release is how really straightforward it is. Its excellence comes in its ability to play it straight and not reinvent the wheel beyond having already upended the whole thing on previous releases. The constraints on this feel deliberate and make this album into something really special.
Recommendation: One of the better listens this week.


Artist: Amanda Shires
Album: To the Sunset
Quick Description: Latest from one of the top alt-country artists going.
Why You Should Listen: Amanda Shires can do little wrong.
Overall Thoughts: Down Fell the Doves is still an album I pull out every couple of months, and is one of those defining albums for my love of modern alt-country. I won’t say that this latest effort is the Kacey-fication of Shires, as it feels more influenced by spending time in the 400 Unit than anything else, but there is a definite distancing of sorts from the twang that made Amanda famous. This is a good album that is absolutely worth the listen, as is most everything Shires has put forth so far, but it will also absolutely (and rightfully) be viewed as a departure of sorts.
Recommendation: Good, but might not work for everyone.


Artist: Free Cake for Every Creature
Album: The Bluest Star
Quick Description: Buzzworthy release from the indie folk pop act.
Why You Should Listen: They're good anyway, and this is really fun.
Overall Thoughts: There’s a reason why this group, while not doing anything especially new, has charmed so many people. This is a fun, peppy little indie folk thing largely in the vein of some of the anti-folk stuff of last decade while being much more sincere. This is a solid listen that most people would probably like to some extent.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.

Of note:

* Michael Nau - The Mighty Thread (60s/70s tinged folk rock, like Josh Rouse’s AM radio vibes)
* Demi Mitchell - The Overflow (Sleepy, compelling alt-country/folk)
* The FatRat - Warrior Songs
* S U R V I V E - RR7400:LA041717
* The Love Language - Baby Grand

Seven Song Wonders:

* Moody Beaches - Weird Friends: Maybe my favorite "album" of the week, a seven song affair with infectious harmonies to go along with the clear anger lingering behind a lot of the songs. If the first song doesn't grab you, I'm not sure what will - this is a brilliant listen.
* Sinjin Hawke and Zora Jones - Vicious Circles: This is a really fun electronic record. Different in a lot of ways from Fatrat or Haufff, but that's okay. IT's really a weird, distortive listen with a real Aphex Twin feel in some regards.

EPs:

* H.E.R. - I Used to Know Her
* Givers - Movin On
* Iggy Azalea - Survive the Summer

Also out:

* Lucero - Among the Ghosts
* James - Living in Extraordinary Times
* Spider Bags - Someday Everything Will Be Fine
* Travis Scott - ASTROWORLD
*

Monday, August 6, 2018

Cypress Hill - "Band of Gypsies"

Photo via Facebook
At this point in their career, Cypress Hill should be a nostalgia act. Their last big release was 2000's Skull and Bones, and has "(Rock) Superstar" really aged that well. They've released a few albums since then, but can anyone name any?

That's what is so shocking about their new single, "Band of Gypsies." It's a great song. They were right on the line of being a nostalgia act, but then they release their best song since Black Sunday. It's a slow burning (no pun intended) track that focuses on hip hop and not R&B, which is increasingly rare nowadays. It has an Eastern feel to it that bridges back to early 90's hip hop that always had a touch of dissonance to it. 

You can watch the video for "Band of Gypsies" below. Elephants on Acid, the new album from Cypress Hill, will be out September 28 on BMG. You can pre-order it here. For more on Cypress Hill, check out their website.


The Pull of Autumn - "Laurasong"

2018 is turning out to be a very busy year for Fred Abong. A founding member of Throwing Muses, he recently released his solo debut. Turns out he's also been working on a new project, The Pull of Autumn. The new band also features members of British New Wave band Fashion and fellow Rhode Island band Johanna's House of Glamour. Right now we can check out their first song, "Laurasong." 

"Laurasong" is much quieter than early Throwing Muses. It's a very chill, fairly atmospheric song. It manages to be a beautiful, mellow song without being easy listening. It has some elements of New Wave and a little touch of some of the odd tunings of Throwing Muses, but it isn't obviously from either world. Years ago this might be considered "adult contemporary," but in the good way.

You can listen to "Laurasong" below. The Pull of Autumn's self titled debut will be out August 24 on RBM Records. It can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on The Pull of Autumn, check out RBM Records's Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Grim Streaker - "Mojito"

Photo by Rick Perez
You wouldn't think that a song about drinking too many mojitos while travelling to a cave in Cuba would be a great topic for a punk song. It sounds more like a Jimmy Buffet song, or something that a band opening for a Sublime cover band would sing about. But Brooklyn's Grim Streaker pull it off. "Mojito" is this noisy, aggressive punk song that somehow keeps enough of a pop sensibility to it to make it accessible. It's almost as if a band like Metz or Downtown Boys decided to have a hit song without watering down their sound or selling out. "Mojito" lives in the middle ground between Yeah Yeah Yeah's Fever to Tell and Show Your Bones.

You can listen to "Mojito" below. For more on Grim Streaker, check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook. Tour dates are below the song.



Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis - "I Just Lived a Country Song"

Photo by Andy Goodwin
We're a week away from the release of Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis's collaborative album, Wild! Wild! Wild!, and we can listen to a new song from it today. "I Just Lived a Country Song" is a Robbie Fulks sung ballad about how he grew up listening to his father's outlaw country like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard, and how his life ended up mirroring those songs. He sings about starting out playing bars at 16, not being able to remember the early 90's, and the ups and downs of the honky tonk bar lifestyle. It's one of the very few songs about being a musician that actually works since it's still about universal themes about regrets and struggle. Plus, he isn't one of those country artists playing arenas across the country, so his tales of living a hard life in the music industry has some legitimacy. 

You can watch the lyric video for "I Just Lived a Country Song" below. Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis's album, Wild! Wild! Wild!, will be out August 10 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on the collaboration, check out Robbie Fulks's website. Tour dates are below the video.



9/11/18 NashvilleTNAmerican Legion Post 82
9/16/18 AshevilleNCThe Grey Eagle
9/18/18 ViennaVAJammin Java
9/19/18 Philadelphia PAWorld Cafe Live
9/20/18 New YorkNYHill County Live
9/21/18 Boston MACity Winery
9/22/18 AlbanyNYThe Linda - WAMC Performing Arts
9/23/18 BuffaloNYSportsmen's Tavern
9/25/18 ClevelandOHBeachland Ballroom and Tavern
9/26/18 ColombusOHNatalie's
9/27/18 NewportKYSouthgate House Revival

10/19/18 BerwynILFitzGerald's
10/20/18 UrbanaILC-U Folk and Roots Festival
10/21/18 SpringfieldILBar None

Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Stubborn Lovers - "Drivin' 22"

Photo by Taylor Barnes
The new single from The Stubborn Lovers isn't the kind of song you'd expect to be associated with Portland, OR or NJ. "Drivin' 22" is the kind of bluesy country song you typically associate with states further south, or at least midwest. But the band hails from Portland, and is a tribute to Route 22, the Route 66 of NJ. It's Jenny Taylor's (bass, vocals) tribute to the highway of her youth and all the lost landmarks and businesses that used to be on it. It's an upbeat, fast paced track that reminisces about the days of riding along in the back of the family car for endless summer days.

You can listen to "Drivin' 22" below. The new album from The Stubborn Lovers, Mother Road, will be out on August 17. For more on The Stubborn Lovers, check out their website. Current tour dates are below the song.


08.20 Mississippi Studios (Album Release Show), Portland, OR
09.14 Pengilly’s Saloon, Boise, ID
09.20 White Eagle Saloon, Portland, OR
09.21 Boon's Treasury, Salem, OR
09.22 Sam Bond's Garage, Eugene, OR

Doe - "Heated"

Photo by Andrew Northrop
It's been a couple of years since we heard new music from London's Doe, but we currently have a new single, "Heated." The new song keeps up the heavily 90's influenced sound that made us adore Doe in 2016. It still has the classic loud/quiet/loud set up with verses just barely above a whisper and a loud, clanging chorus. But there is something smoother with "Heated." It has a more mature and less bratty sound. Doe has definitely grown as a band and this song is a huge step forward. Instead of a punk song, they have released a single that is just shy of being an anthem. It still has guitars that don't sound quite right and parts that stumble around, but that's part of the charm of indie rock. 

You can watch the video for "Heated" below. Grow Into It, the new album from Doe, will be out September 28 on Big Scary Monsters in Europe and Topshelf Records in the US. For more on Doe, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Calvin Johnson featuring Michelle Branch - "Kiss Me Sweetly"

Photo by Sarah Cass
Anything the legendary Calvin Johnson does is guaranteed to get our attention here at If It's Too Loud... Between founding K Records and being a member of Beat Happening, Halo Benders, and Selector Dub Narcotic, the man has built up enough credibility that everything he does will be at least interesting. His latest project is under his own name and is a collaboration with Patrick Carney of The Black Keys. According to the press release, Johnson recorded in Nashville, TN with the phrase "Rock'n'Roll Will Never Die" as a starting point, and yes, "Kiss Me Sweetly" is more rock than a project like Selector Dub Narcotic, but it's not completely a rock song. Johnson croons throughout the song, and harmonizes shockingly well with Michelle Branch. The whole song almost has a 1960's spy movie theme feel to it. It's not really a rock'n'roll song, but it is cool as hell and a must listen.

You can listen to "Kiss Me Sweetly" below. A Wonderful Beast, Calvin Johnson's new album and collaboration with Patrick Carney, will be out October 12 on K Records. For more on Calvin Johnson, check out the K Records website.

The 8th Annual Jamaica Plain Music Festival is Insane

Back in my younger days, Jamaica Plain wasn't exactly a hotbed of cool. It was kind of the neighborhood you never went to, and never had any reason to want to. Since the 90's, the neighborhood has completely reinvented itself, and there is nothing that proves this more than the 8th Annual Jamaica Plain Music Festival. The festival "... assembles a convergence of musical genres, drawing upon the wide-ranging artistic community living in this part of Boston." You would think that might handicap a festival as to what kind of artists they could book, but the line up is bonkers great. It includes blog favorites/must see every time we can bands like Hallelujah the Hills, The Sheila Divine, and Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys. Those three would be enough, but then they include bands we always mean to get around checking out like Merrie Amsterberg (who I have somehow managed to never see), Andy California, and Sidewalk Driver. Plus, there are a ton of other bands that we'll need to check out before the festival.

The 8th Annual Jamaica Plain Music Festival will take place September 8th from 12:00 to 7:00 at the Pinebank Baseball Field at Jamaica Pond. For more information, check out their website.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for July 27

Lots of EPs this week, but definitely the slowest week in a while.


Artist: Phantastic Ferniture
Album: Phantastic Ferniture
Quick Description: A blog favorite lets her hair down with the help of some friends.
Why You Should Listen: It's great indie rock from an artist who already knows how to write a great song.
Overall Thoughts: A band featuring Julia Jacklin, a favorite around these parts, this is not only the best album in a short week, but one of the better albums of the summer. A solid pace, an indie rock feel while still being accessible, there is very little to complain about other than the band’s name (but I won’t hold that against them too much).
Recommendation: Find time for this in your rotation.


Artist: Various Artists
Album: Sorry to Bother You: The Soundtrack
Quick Description: Soundtrack for the buzzy movie of the summer from Boots Riley of The Coup.
Why You Should Listen: There is absolutely no reason not to saddle up for this release.
Overall Thoughts: It’s absolutely possible that this could slide under the radar the way the movie has for most audiences, but if you’ve seen the movie, know that the soundtrack is not nearly as offbeat and weird as the film is. In fact, this is probably the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a while. It’s odd to consider the concept that the strangest movie of the summer may have birthed the party record of the year, but here we are.
Recommendation: Yeah, listen to this.


Artist: Gia Margaret
Album: There's Always Glimmer
Quick Description: Sleepy dreamy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: This is a very interesting listen even in a busier week.
Overall Thoughts: A strange, soft, stark affair that has a lot of really interesting things going on. The flaw here is that it doesn’t always work, but when it does there is an almost dreamlike atmosphere that surrounds the songs and makes them into something truly unique and wonderful. This is worth a listen anyway, and while it may not work for you, it’s solid enough where you’ll absolutely find something to love, in part or in whole.
Recommendation: Worth a listen even if it were a busy week.


Artist: Deaf Wish
Album: Lithium Zion
Quick Description: Fifth release by the indie veterans.
Why You Should Listen: We only got on board early, and it seems like there's plenty of room on the bandwagon.
Overall Thoughts: Ken is the big Sonic Youth fan in these parts, but I’m also pretty into them. He has written before about how much this act reminds him of Sonic Youth and I don’t disagree on the surface, but this definitely has a harsher, more post-punk vibe than the sort of grunge deconstruction I associate with Sonic Youth. Still, on its own? A good, often great, listen with a few layers to it that I’m looking forward to revisiting.
Recommendation: Definitely the most intriguing listen of the week.

Of note:

* Santigold - I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions (not sure if this is a mixtape or standard release, but very reggae-tinged and pretty good)
* Tony Molina - Kill the Lights (on one hand, great songwriting, but so many songs seem to finish abruptly early?)
* Kevin Gordon - Tilt and Shine

Seven song albums:

* Daniel Bachman - The Morning Star

EPs:

* Underworld and Iggy Pop - Teatime Dub Encounters (Imagine an EP of the BT/Doughty collaboration from the late 1990s. Up to you as to whether that’s a good thing (I think it is))
* Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear - The Radio Winners (some of their best work)
* Pegboard Nerds - Full Hearts
* Andrew Combs - Five Covers and a Song
* Dispatch - Location 13
* Rome Fortune and Toro Y Moi - Toro Y Rome Vol. 1
* Oneohtrix Point Never - The Station

Also out:

* Rough Francis - MSP3: Counter Attack
* Rise Against - The Ghost Note Symphonies: Volume 1


Monday, July 30, 2018

Mary Bell - "Band-aid Baby"

Last year we discovered that there was a punk band out of Paris named after English child murderer Mary Bell. (By child murderer we mean a child who murders, not someone who murders children, although her victims were also children...) They are about to release a six song EP, HISTRION, in October. The first song off the new EP is currently available to listen to. "Band-aid Baby" might be the best 48 second punk song you ever hear. Somehow they manage to cram an entire song into such a short time frame. "Band-aid Baby" brings the same fury and noise that we loved from their previous release, LP, but it's a little more fun. There is still darkness and anger, but almost as if they are channeling it into mockery more than aggression. 

You can listen to "Band-aid Baby" below. HISTRION, the new EP from Mary Bell, will be out in October. You can pre-order it via Bandcamp. For more on Mary Bell, check out their website.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Tom Morello featuring Vic Mensa - "We Don't Need You"

Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage) has been rocking a solo career for quite some time. This century, he's released solo albums under The Nightwatchman moniker as well as his own name. These have been mostly acoustic folk-rock albums filled for the most part with protest songs. In October he'll be releasing another solo album, but this one appears to be more of a rocker/possible party album. Based on the list of collaborators for the album, we're going to assume Morello takes a step back from vocal duties and takes over the guitar like we all want to. Right now you can listen to "We Don't Need You," his collaboration with rapper Vic Mensa. It gets fairly political with 9/11 conspiracies being spouted by Mensa, and it's way more of a banger than we're used to from Morello. In fact, his guitar almost sounds autotuned at some parts, if that is even possible. At the very least, the new album will be interesting.

You can listen to "We Don't Need You" below. Tom Morello's new album, The Atlas Underground, will be out October 12 on Mom + Pop. It will also feature collaborations with Killer Mike, Big Boi, Portugal the Man, K Flay, Marcus Mumford, Gary Clark Jr., Steve Aoki, GZA, RZA, and more. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Tom Morello, check out his website.

Cordovas - "This Town's a Drag"

It's a Friday during the summer, which is the perfect time for a song like Cordovas's "This Town's a Drag." The song just captures a lazy summer country feel, but is probably a little too rock to truly be considered straight country. Plus, it's fairly funky, despite being a country song. It sort of reminds me of The Deslondes meets Deer Tick with soul. It also has a tiny bit of Wilco's noodling towards the end. In other words, most readers of If It's Too Loud... will end up digging this.

You can listen to "This Town's a Drag" below. That Santa Fe Channel, the new album from Cordovas, will be out August 10 on ATO Records. For more on Cordovas, check out their website.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Molly Burch - "Wild"

Photo via Facebook
Molly Burch's Please Be Mine was one of my favorite albums of 2017, so I'm thrilled that we'll have the follow up this year! The first single, "Wild," continues Burch's fabulous 60's soul meets modern Americana movement, but it's a little bit tweaked. Somehow Burch has added a slightly off kilter quality to the song, bringing it a little away from the oldies sound and has also made it a bit more mainstream. She also adds in some current indie rock vibes, particularly in the chorus. The result is a more modern sound that still hearkens back to a classic sound (both Burch's and pop music in general) while looking more forward and ahead.

You can watch the video for "Wild" below. First Flower, Molly Burch's follow up to Please Be Mine, will be available October 5 on Captured Tracks. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Molly Burch, check out her website.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Kevin Pearce Covers Underworld

Here's something fun for all of us middle aged former hipsters that became obsessed with Trainspotting in our youth and may have even gone through a short lived techno phase we don't talk much about. Kevin Pearce has released a cover of Underworld's "Born Slippy," aka the greatest electronica song ever recorded. All of the dance/techno has been removed from the song, and Pearce does it as a trippy singer/songwriter version. The result is far more captivating than you'd expect, and it completely sidesteps the novelty cover trappings. Also, despite the slowed down feel, Pearce takes a song that was originally nearly 10:00 and cuts it down to 4:20. If you're not completely sold on the concept, you will be by the time you get to the "Shouting lager lager lager lager / Mega mega white thing" portion of the song.

You can listen to Kevin Pearce's version of "Born Slippy" below. For more on Kevin Pearce, check out his website.

Deleter - "Doctor Jonathan Osterman"

Concept albums are usually the territory of prog rock and maybe the occasional hip hop album. Minneapolis's Deleter are set to come out with what may very well be the first post-punk concept album. Levitate the Pentagon isn't about Abbie Hoffman or the Yippies, but instead is, according to the press release, "... somewhat of a concept album based loosely on generations of comic book lore interweaved with social/political commentary on the history of western culture's role in the world today. With nods to Alan Moore's Watchmen, The World's Greatest Detective, Marvel's cosmic universe, the Atomic Age of comics and so much more, Deleter weaves narratives, meaning and connections between a fantasy world and the violence of the reality we all know all too well."

The first song we can hear from Levitate the Pentagon is "Doctor Jonathan Osterman" sounds like a dark DEVO without the synths. It starts off with noises that may be drums or could be just clicks, and then a barely strummed guitar comes in. It's a very slow build until it all devolves into a swirling near-mess that you could dance to if you tried. 

You can listen to "Doctor Jonathan Osterman" below. Levitate the Pentagon will be out on August 24 and can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp. For more on Deleter, check them out on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Mountain Lions - "In the Valley"

Photo by Matt Brubek
Back in June we brought you the latest single from Chapel Hill, NC's Mountain Lions. It was a fairly straightforward, mainstream modern Americana song. If you pigeonholed them like we did based on that one song, you'd be quite wrong. Their latest, "In the Valley," isn't quite freak folk, but we can hardly call it mainstream, either. "In the Valley" has a distinctly dark feel. The typical words we music journalists like to use are "moody" and "ethereal," and in this instance they fit. The song is about a farmhouse that still stands after the owner's death, which explains the mood. Steven Diaz plays the role of crooner for this song, but without the dreamboat aspect usually associated with a crooner. When an artist has two such differing styles on two singles, we get even more excited to hear the rest of the album.

You can listen to "In the Valley" below. We Are, the new album from Mountain Lions, will be out on August 10. For more on Mountain Lions, check out their website.

First Listen: New Releases for 20 July

Another slow week, so this does have some catch-up.


Artist: Punch Brothers
Album: All Ashore
Quick Description: Latest from the inventive bluegrass group.
Why You Should Listen: Punch Brothers have yet to do any wrong whatsoever.
Overall Thoughts: Punch Brothers are effectively the 1995-2005 era Radiohead of bluegrass at this point. What they do transcends their early work, transcends their genre, and exists on a plane of its own. This may be their most musically challenging endeavor, and yet it still feels fresh and accessible. I don't know what else to say about it at this point, as they're just too good for words.
Recommendation: Punch Brothers should be automatic at this point.


Artist: Pram
Album: Across the Meridian
Quick Description: First album in ten years from the British act.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoy the odder things in life.
Overall Thoughts: For all my music immersion over the years, I seemingly missed Pram, an experimental group of sorts. They put out a number of albums before going dormant a decade ago and then came back with this album, a strange and weird and compelling listen that basically walks the line perfectly between weird and welcoming. I really loved this, and it’s probably no surprise given my recent addictions, but this deserves a spot in your rotation.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.


Artist: Lori McKenna
Album: The Tree
Quick Description: Latest from the local folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Lori McKenna should be someone who you're following already.
Overall Thoughts: Lori McKenna is basically a staple of the Boston-area roots/folk landscape at this point, and with good reason. She is clearly well ahead of her peers across the board, and this new album is no different. This is simply a confident, well-done record that will slot in very nicely for what you’re looking for.
Recommendation: Worth your time.


Artist: Meg Myers
Album: Take Me To The Disco
Quick Description: Latest from the pop songstress.
Why You Should Listen: Meg Myers has a take on pop music that isn't like anyone else's.
Overall Thoughts: is pretty much why I’m into darkish pop music these days, although I don’t know for sure whether she’d actually classify herself that way. But “Adelade” has been my jam for years, and this new album is similar in tone with solid songwriting and a unique, individual feel. If you have any interest in pop music at all, you should fire this one up.
Recommendation: Solid pop effort.


Artist: Ume
Album: Other Nature
Quick Description: Indie rock with some feeling behind it.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something that is both traditional and challenging.
Overall Thoughts: This is some solid, often angsty, rock music that stays restrained as opposed to going on full blast. It puts out a sort of vulnerability as a result, and that vulnerability usually makes this work in a really compelling way and sets it apart from other albums like it. The overall presentation might be a turnoff for a lot of listeners, but this worked really well for me on a whole.
Recommendation: Worth the risk in a short week.


Artist: Rebekah Rolland
Album: Seed & Silo
Quick Description: Superlative roots effort.
Why You Should Listen: This is a more mature, straightforward rootsy affair.
Overall Thoughts: It’s almost a shame this came out the same week as Lori McKenna and Clay/Jody, as this is probably the most endearing of the alt-country/roots selections this week, but will almost certainly be overshadowed by everything else in its space. This is a mature record in many ways, with the right balance of sparser songs to go along with the type of bluegrass that has a lot of atmosphere and movement to it. Do not sleep on this one, because it should not get lost in the shuffle.
Recommendation: Make this part of your rotation.

Of note:

* Clay Parker and Jodi James - The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound (Above-average traditional roots record)
* Dentist - Night Swimming (A solid, dependable record in the vein of acts like Dum Dum Girls)
* 10 String Symphony - Generation Frustration (A fascinating combination of genres)
* Cornelia Murr - Lake Tear of the Clouds
* Eisley - I'm Only Dreaming... Of Days Long Past
* Champagne Superchillin' - Beach Deep

EPs:

* Elias - Walk With Elias (A pro wrestler with a folk singer gimmick puts out an EP in character. Need I say more?)
* Kayla Guthrie - Falling Star
* Katie Ellen - Still Life

Also out:

* The Internet - Hive Mind
* President of What? - And What If After I'm Gone None of It Matters?
* Negative Scanner - Nose Picker
* Ty Segall and White Fence - Joy