Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Ken's Best of 2018 - #6: Courtney Barnett - Tell Me How You Really Feel

We've been babbling about our love of Courtney Barnett ever since she covered The Lemonheads's "Being Around" almost five years ago now. 2018 is no exception, and saw the release of Barnett's fantastic album Tell Me How You Really Feel. The new album is a bit more quiet and contemplative than 2015's Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit..., but that quiet brings in a more intense experience on further listens. The album opener, "Hopefulessness," just builds and builds throughout, going from a standard singer/songwriter tune to an indie rock anthem without increasing the tempo. "Need a Little Time" stays quiet throughout (mostly), and shows Barnett moving a bit from the talk-singing she's known for and singing more, quite nicely. Tell Me How You Really Feel showcases Barnett's growth as an artist and songwriter while sticking completely to what we love about her music. 

Songs of note: "Hopefulessness," "Need a Little Time,"  "Nameless, Faceless."

Jeff's Best of 2018 - #6: Tiny Stills - Laughing Into the Void

Sometimes an album comes along that just scratches that itch you didn’t know you had. That was my experience with Tiny Stills, a favorite this year that mixed the sort of indie pop with endearing and emotive songwriting that sets the good apart from the great. From the opening track to some of its most mainstream efforts, this album basically succeeded in everything it tried to do.

The album kicks it off with an opening track that namedrops a variety of things before diving into a hooky poppy number. “Let’s Fall in Love” takes its time in taking off and being the song it shows hints of being from the start. Then you have songs like “Colorblind” that are not forging new ground but are not trying to forge new ground either. The straightforward nature of this record is really why it’s such a joy to hear.

I shuffled this between 8/7/6 this year, and ultimately realized that if I can’t find out where it belongs, it probably belongs closer to the front. I assume it will for you, too.

Songs of note: “Colorblind,” “Let’s Fall in Love,” “When I’m With You.”

First Listen: New Releases for 7 December

A few new to you, a few new to us...

Artist: Viagra Boys
Album: Street Worms
Quick Description: Oddball (post?)-punk.
Why You Should Listen: Defies expectation but might be your favorite anyway.
Overall Thoughts: When one of your favorite authors with solid music taste tosses out a couple songs you’ve never heard of, you take notice and listen. This is a terrible band name by all accounts, but when you listen to a song like “Sports” you realize you’re hearing something really odd and unique, and realize its brilliance once you get to songs like “Frogstrap.” I hate that I likely missed this one back when it came out because of the band’s name, as this is definitely a solid listen.
Recommendation: Make it a point to listen to this one.

Artist: LP
Album: Heart to Mouth
Quick Description: Ambiguous pop music.
Why You Should Listen: LP is a good pop record that you might miss otherwise.
Overall Thoughts: Sometimes the pop stuff can get overlooked when it comes to acts on the fringe trying to break through, and I feel like LP is the type of act that will get overlooked and should not. This album is super catchy with a ton of interesting pieces behind it that surprised me. It’s fun and it’s polished, and pop fans need to give this a listen.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.

Artist: Ice Cube
Album: Everythang's Corrupt
Quick Description: You know Ice Cube.
Why You Should Listen: Guys, it's Ice Cube.
Overall Thoughts: A rap legend in his own right, Ice Cube is back with a solid album. Occasionally dated at times, the highlights more than outweigh any issues I may have had. It kicks off with “Arrest the President,” which is not exactly subtle, and continues along the track of the type of music that made Cube famous. There’s no “Bop Gun” here, but there doesn’t have to be...
Recommendation: ...it’s just a solid rap effort.

Artist: David Benedict
Album: The Golden Angle
Quick Description: Solid instrumental bluegrass.
Why You Should Listen: It's incredibly well done.
Overall Thoughts: Another one we missed, this is high-quality instrumental bluegrass. For whatever reason, I feel like it’s pretty difficult to find solid new instrumental bluegrass (assuming there’s interest in it at all), and this album largely takes the cake. Modern yet classic, this is one that’s worth putting on at your holiday gatherings after you’ve worn out the Christmas music.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Of note:

* The Bevis Frond - We're Your Friends, Man (A little long, but still largely holds up.)
* Mega Ran - A Very Random Christmas (You didn't know you needed rap music over the Charlie Brown Christmas album until now.)
* 10 Years of Mom+Pop

7 song albums:

* The Dazies - Panic All the Time
* Jasmine Guffond - Degradation Loops


* Underworld - Drift Episode 1

Also out:

* Elephant Gym - Underwater

Monday, December 10, 2018

Mega Ran featuring Nick Norris and DJ Dn3 - "Excelsior"

Photo via Facebook
Being a music blog, we couldn't really immortalize Stan Lee. I grew up as a huge comic book fan, and I always will be. I always Made Mine Marvel, and Stan Lee was a huge hero of mine. We've known his health has been poor for a while, and we knew the day was coming sooner than later, but losing Stan earlier this month hit incredibly hard.

Nerdcore rapper Mega Ran, Nick Norris, and DJ Dn3 have joined together to immortalize Stan "The Man" Lee in song. What's truly great about "Excelsior" is that it's not just about Stan Lee's creations but it's about Stan the human being. It goes over his entire life and career, and gets into why Stan made such a connection with his fans. It's a tribute to a man who impacted so many of our lives, why and how he did, and is a testament to fandom in general. Warning to all of us truly affected by Stan's death: It ends with a sample of Stan's final message to his fans, so be prepared for it to get quite dusty where you are.

You can listen to "Excelsior" below. For more on Mega Ran, be sure to check out his website.

Ken's Best of 2018 - #7: Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers - Bought to Rot

While I've always had an appreciation for Against Me!, I never would have considered myself a fan. When I first heard that Laura Jane Grace was releasing a solo album, I was more intrigued that it would be on Bloodshot Records since I've been a huge fan of their output, but Laura Jane Grace seemed heavier than their typical output. I assumed Bought to Rot would be the typical punk singer goes country/folk kind of album.

I was wrong. Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers have released one of the louder punk records of the year, despite still being a roots based album. Bought to Rot bounces between more laid back singer/songwriter style songs and some straight out thrash ones. The back and forth of this album is strongest in the difference between "Valeria Golino" and "The Apology Song," which close the album out back to back. "Valeria Golino" is a loud thrash song that builds and builds tension before erupting, while "The Apology Song" is a rambling near-folk song. You even get an almost novelty song with "I Hate Chicago," a song about how much Grace hates Chicago until she finally breaks down at the end and admits it's because of her divorce.

Songs of note: "Amsterdam Hotel Room," "Manic Depression," "Valeria Golino."

Jeff's Best of 2018 - #7: Illuminati Hotties - Kiss Yr Frenemies

Illuminati Hotties has the best band name in the world right now. It doesn't hurt that the debut from the Sarah Tudzin-led project (Tudzin has production credits ranging from Macklemore to Hamilton) is one of the most refreshingly fun listens of the year. “(You’re Better) Than Ever,” the song that got me interested in the act, is a perfect blend of indie and pop and punk, and songs like "Cuff" and "Pressed 2 Death" show a range of ideas that even the most popular acts fail to replicate.

This is a crazy fun record, perhaps moreso than anything else out this year. It catches a lot of the current millennial zeitgeist without being completely cringey, and the result is a listen that I continually went back to since its release. As someone addicted to alt-rock styles and who doesn't mind a good laugh now and again in his music? This absolutely works.

Songs of note: "(You're Better) Than Ever," "Pressed 2 Death," "Paying Off the Happiness."

Friday, December 7, 2018

Forgotten Fridays: Schtum - Grow

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. We go back and remind you of their existence, and help decide if they were any good.

This might be the most forgotten release we've done on Forgotten Fridays. Schtum have virtually no web presence. No Facebook, Twitter, or even Wikipedia page. The most I can find about them is that they were from Northern Ireland, were managed by Paul McLoone of The Undertones, and broke up while touring America. That's it. I've been able to find more about singer Christian McNeil, so apparently moved out to the Boston area and sang with Sea Monsters and Orchestra Morphine, even winning a Boston Music Award for Best Male Vocalist in 2011.

I remember Schtum's "Skydiver" being played a bunch on the Boston meathead radio station back in 1996, and the video being played on a local video show a lot. I haven't listened to anything of theirs in over twenty years. I was shocked at how weird this album is. I remember it being loud alternative rock, but Grow is quirky without being twee. McNeil's vocals and delivery are a weird combination of G. Love, Mike Doughty back in his Soul Coughing days, and John Doe of X. Schtum are quite a bit different from anything else I remember from that day, since most bands weren't combining G. Love with post grunge hard rock. Grow isn't all hard rock. Songs like "Follow (1989)" are almost downright Britpop. It's worth a listen, though. Even if you don't remember ever hearing "Skydiver."

Ken's Best of 2018 - #8: Superchunk - What a Time to Be Alive

2018 has been a great year for new albums from some of our favorites from the 80's and 90's. We've seen good to great alums from J Mascis, Belly, Jon Spencer, Cypress Hill, Poster Children, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Buffalo Tom, and more, but the one that I keep going back to the most has been Superchunk's What a Time to Be Alive. While most of their peers have released more mellow music as they've aged, Superchunk have gotten louder and angrier in 2018, presumably amped up by the current political climate. You get these intense changes between songs like when the hard, angry rocker "Lost My Mind" goes into the much more upbeat and poppy "Break the Glass." It's increasingly rare to have a band that has been around for over twenty years to release an album that you not only love, but doesn't make you jsut want to go back and listen to their releases from your youth. It's such a great, solid album that Stephin Merritt and Katie Crutchfield guesting on "Erasure" is one of the least interesting aspects. This completely stands up with Superchunk's entire catalog.

Songs of note: "What a Time to Be Alive," "Break the Glass," "Reagan Youth."

Jeff's Best of 2018 - #8: Tomberlin - At Weddings

Sarah Rose Tomberlin's debut album is a record I have no recollection of learning about, yet find it to be one of the more endearing and sticky listens of the year. Getting a lot of (IMO wrong) comparisons to Bon Iver, this sleepy-yet-sneaky folk record kicks right off with a great song and continues with a quiet and introspective intensity that has some haunting instrumentation and vocals to go along with the compelling lyrics. In many ways, it's the total package - it succeeds in being an accessible folk record while seemingly defying what you expect from it over and over. It was so sneaky that I barely mentioned it upon release (10 August alone saw the release of three of my top ten albums this year), but it really shouldn't be overshadowed more than it already has.

The leadoff track, "Any Other Way," starts off with a gentle-yet-firm burst of chords before launching into the vocals, setting the tone for the entire album. It is best, in many ways, when it stays in its established lanes, but then there are songs like the closer, "Self Help," that provide an extra air of mystery while being completely different. This is what sets Tomberlin apart from her peers - it's an album that feels heavy and important, with lots to say, and yet still provides a lot of compelling moments throughout its runtime.

Songs of note: "Any Other Way," "Self Help," "I'm Not Scared."

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Ken's Best of 2018 - #9: Caroline Rose - LONER

I know Jeff couldn't get into LONER when it was released way back in February, but he's wrong about this one. While LONER is quite different to Caroline Rose's 2014 release I Will Not Be Afraid, the more I've been listening to both the less it feels like an abrupt change. No one can deny that LONER is far more synth heavy (her live show features three members playing synths during some songs), but both albums are incredibly pop heavy and fun. LONER just wears its fun on its sleeve a bit more. Ok... a LOT more. But these songs are so incredibly well written and all eleven songs have been stuck inside of my brain multiple times in the past ten months. If I Will Not Be Afraid was all about twang and LONER is all about synths (sonically at least, for both), I don't think anyone has even the slightest idea of what we should expect out of Rose in the future.

Songs of note: "Money," Soul No. 5," "Getting To Me."

Jeff's Best of 2018 - #9: SOPHIE - OIL OF EVERY PEARL'S UN-INSIDES

Even though I've accepted the mantle as the resident pop music fan in these parts, listening to SOPHIE was mandatory even if I wasn't so into the genre. SOPHIE's genius is in deconstructing the expectations of what comes from pop music into its requisite parts and making an album that is as confusing as it is revolutionary. While some artists go fully into making weird, impenetrable electronic music and others (like Sia or Charli XCX) keep what might be their more strange instincts in check while producing radio-friendly hits, SOPHIE successfully straddles that line and instead creates something both with parts you'll grasp and parts that leave more questions than answers.

No song does this better than "Faceshopping," which has a standard throughline to follow and a beat you can (mostly) keep up with, and is yet still as weird and absurd as anything else on the album. While it is not the strangest, or the most pop, or the most interesting, or the most endearing release of the year, its overall impact and how well it moves from idea to idea in its execution makes it one not to miss in 2018.

Songs of note: "Faceshopping," "Ponyboy," "Whole New World/Pretend World."

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Ken's Best of 2018 - #10: Salem Wolves - Shake

I've been fairly gushing in my adoration for Salem Wolves pretty much since we started If It's Too Loud... Shake could have been the kiss of death for me with the band. It's definitely more mainstream and almost pop sounding than their previous releases. But Shake ended up working for me and is one of my favorite releases of the year. It's big, loud garage rock, but as loud and as harsh as it is, there are amazing songs and harmonies here. Part of the reason is that singer Gray Bouchard is secretly a crooner despite this being a full out rock album. This album has the crossover appeal of a band like The Hives without changing too much around. I'm still shocked no one has used "B.D.F." in a commercial. This has me waiting to hear what's next, which could be even more different since Harrison, the bass player, is leaving the band and is being replaced by Cat Verlicco of The Knock Ups.

Songs of note: "Die Like Dogs," "B.D.F.," "Shake."

Jeff's Best of 2018 - #10: Haley Heyndrickx - I Need to Start a Garden

It's that time again where we arbitrarily decide what the ten or so best records of the year are. I'm kicking my list off with Haley Heyndrickx's I Need to Start a Garden. A folk record at heart, this has a little more oomph behind it than you'd initially think it would. My favorite song, "Oom Sha La La," shows (and releases) a bit of the grit and passion that feels held back throughout the affair, making the entire listen not only a great one, but slightly uncomfortable as if you're waiting for that tipping point to happen. In a year with a lot of really superlative folk efforts, it's that added bit of something that sets I Need to Start a Garden apart.

Heyndrickx collaborated on a second album that's worth hearing, but, of all the debuts from this year, this is probably the one I'm most excited to hear about what's coming next. It's a testament to the strength of this new voice on the scene.

Songs of note: "Oom Sha La La," "Untitled God Song," "The Bug Collector."

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Housewives - "Speak to Me"

Photo by Tom Glencross
Hailing from London, Housewives may have just released the most challenging song we've ever covered here at If It's Too Loud... "Speak to Me" is nearly impossible to define, so I'm going to lean on their press release a bit. The press release describes the song as "... a synthesized junkyard collage...," which I do agree with. However, while the song is very synth heavy, and it is quite electronic, there is a bit more of an organic noise element to it. I try to describe it that way, since while I'm not a big electronic music guy, I do find quite a bit to enjoy here. Don't get me wrong: "Speak to Me" is not a song for everyone. In fact, it's most likely not for most people. But even if you hate this song you won't be able to deny that it's at least unique and interesting. And sometimes that's just what you need to listen to.

You can watch the video for "Speak to Me" below. The video will mess with your reality as much as the song, so try to give both a shot. The single is out now on Blank Editions and will be included on a new album due out in early 2019. For more on Housewives, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

First Listen: New Releases for 30 November

Things are definitely slowing down...

Artist: Marie Davidson
Album: Working Class Woman
Quick Description: Superlative electronic music.
Why You Should Listen: This is the best of all worlds when it comes to techno.
Overall Thoughts: Hoo boy this was really great. This may be a late entry in my best of lists (starting tomorrow), because it is the perfect mix of the weird Holly Herndon/Kelly Lee Owens vibe with more traditional beats-driven dance stuff. So, so much of this had me moving at my desk, and it feels both straightforward and complicated in ways I did not anticipate. Do not ignore this one if you’re up for a challenge or into more electronic stuff.
Recommendation: It’s one of the best out there this week.

Artist: Sarah Longfield
Album: Disparity
Quick Description: Odd, off-kilter guitar porn.
Why You Should Listen: This is inventive and ambitious, and really solid.
Overall Thoughts: This is an admittedly weird one that I’m highlighting because I love the ambition and the ideas behind it even though it’s probably a little too out there for most listeners. Remember Marnie Stern? There’s a decent amount of similarities there, although this is less a love letter to 80s guitar rock and more a musical adventure with great guitar chops. Give it a shot – you’ll know quickly if you’re on board.
Recommendation: This is the most interesting listen this week.

Artist: Alessia Cara
Album: The Pains of Growing
Quick Description: Buzzworthy follow-up album from the R&B singer.
Why You Should Listen: This is the album people will be talking about this December.
Overall Thoughts: “Here” was a real jam a few years ago, and this follow-up is long-awaited. What I’ll say is that Cara has succeeded in sounding a little more mainstream and this means I’ve lost my interest to a point. However, even with a more polished approach, a lot of the charm remains, especially early in the record and with “Comfortable” (a favorite song in this genre for me this year). It’s worth a listen, but my first experience with it was not the same as where I ended up with her debut.
Recommendation: Might not work for you.

Artist: Holy Now
Album: Think I Need the Light
Quick Description: Dreamy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: They had an awesome EP that preceded this.
Overall Thoughts: We missed this one earlier this year, and it’s one of those quiet and dreamy indie pop records that never fails to disappoint. I can’t say for sure this has the sort of standout tracks I’ve come to love from their earlier EP, but it’s a very pretty cohesive whole that I’m glad I tracked down before the year was out.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Of note:

* Jeff Tweedy - WARM (As someone who hasn’t loved Wilco for a long time, this was fine.)
* Alex Dezen - \\\ (Third solo effort, parts better than the sum.)
* Reverend Screaming Fingers - Music for Driving and Film: Volume III (Solid country-tinged instrumentals)
* Ghostface Killah - Ghost Files (Bronze Tapes)
* The Reverend Horton Heat - Whole New Life


* House of Harm - Coming of Age
* Pizzagirl - Season II
* Kid Doe - Lucky Wheel

Also out:

* Neil Young - Songs for Judy
* Dolly Parton - Dumplin'
* The 1975 - A Brief Inquiry into Online Relationships

Monday, December 3, 2018

Eerie Wanda - "Moon"

Photo by Raphael Irie
Eerie Wanda is the creation of Marina Tadic. She was born in the former Yugoslavia, leaving the country during the Bosnian war. Her family sought asylum in the Netherlands, and is where Tadic still lives.

Her second album, Pet Town, was recorded with her other two bandmates all being separated from each other. Instead of convening in a studio, each member of the band recorded in their own homes. "Moon" comes from these sessions. It may just be knowing the backstory of the recording, but "Moon" feels lonely. I could see some describing it as haunting, but to me it feels more lonely. However, it's not sad lonely, but more factually lonely. While there is some sadness in the song, it's also positive and confident.

You can watch the video for "Moon" below. Pet Town will be released on January 25 on Joyful Noise. For more on Eerie Wanda, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

The Prefab Messiahs - "Bring On the Robots"

According to their Bandcamp, Worcester, MA's The Prefab Messiahs's are "Micro-legendary DIY Garage-Pop-Psych provocateurs!," which might be one of my favorite brand descriptions ever. They've released a brand new single, "Bring On the Robots," that asks the increasingly important questions of whether or not humanity sucks and if we should welcome the robots taking over. While we can't answer that question, we can describe the song. "Bring On the Robots" fits right in The Prefab Messiahs's brand of psychedelic garage rock, this one leaning more heavily into the psychedelic side of things. It's slower, and kind of like a power ballad without the power ever really kicking in. It has the intensity of a couple of stoners sitting around and discussing the upcoming robot revolution, which may be the perfect song for this subject.

You can watch the video for "Bring On the Robots" below. It's currently available as a free download over at The Prefab Messiahs's Bandcamp. For more on The Prefab Messiahs, be sure to check them out on Facebook.

Friday, November 30, 2018

The Beths Cover "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

Photo by Mason Fairey
Jeff is more of the Christmas music guy here, but every so often there will be one that I enjoy thoroughly. We've both been huge on The Beths (expect them to do quite well in our best of 2018 recap coming soon), so of course we're going to drop everything when they release a Christmas song. They've released their take on the classic "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas." The song starts out as traditionally and quietly as possible, complete with strings. But, seeing as it clocks in at over five minutes, it slowly turns into an indie rock epic without losing any of its old timey charm. It's a brilliant version of a classic by a band very quickly becoming one of our favorites.

You can listen to The Beths's version of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" below. For more on The Beths, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter. Current tour dates are below the song, including some early spring North American dates!

Fri. Dec. 14 – Wellington, NZ @ Meow
Sat. Dec. 15 – Warkworth Town District, NZ @ Leigh Sawmill Café 
Wed. Dec. 19 – Sydney, AUS @ Lansdowne Hotel
Thu. Dec. 20 – Northcote, AUS @ Northcote Social Club 
Sat. Dec. 22 – Fortitude Valley, AUS @ Black Bear Lodge 
Wed. Jan. 23 – Dublin, IE @ The Grand Social
Thu. Jan. 24 – Dublin, IE @ Olympia Theatre (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Fri. Jan. 25 – Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Jan. 26 – Glasgow, UK @ O2 Academy Glasgow (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Mon. Jan. 28 – Nottingham, UK @ Rock City (w/ Death Cab for Cutie)
Tue. Jan. 29 – Leeds, UK @ O2 Academy Leeds (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Wed. Jan. 30 – Bristol, UK @ O2 Academy Bristol (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Thu. Jan. 31 – London, UK @ Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen 
Fri. Feb. 1 – London, UK @ Eventim Apollo (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Sat. Feb. 2 – Paris, FR @ Le Trianon (w/ Death Cab for Cutie)
Sun. Feb. 3 – Antwerp, BE @ De Roma (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Tue. Feb. 5 – Utrecht, NL @ TivoliVrendenburg, Grote Zaal (w/ Death Cab for Cutie)
Wed. Feb. 6 – Cologne, DE @ Live Music Hall (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Thu. Feb. 7 – Berlin, DE @ Astra Kulturhaus (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Sat. Feb. 9 – Hamburg, DE @ Große Freiheit 36 (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) (SOLD OUT)
Sun. Feb. 10 – Copenhagen, DK @ VEGA Musikkens Hus - Store Vega (Main Hall)
Mon. Feb. 11 – Stockholm, SE @ Cirkus (w/ Death Cab for Cutie) 
Tue. Feb. 12 – Oslo, NO @ Sentrum Scene (w/ Death Cab for Cutie)
Thu. Feb. 21-Sun. Feb. 24 – Orere Point, NZ @ Splore 2019
Tue. Feb. 26 – Toronto, ON @ The Garrison (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Wed. Feb. 27 – Montreal, QC @ Casa Del Popolo (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Thu. Feb. 28 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Fri. Mar. 1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg (w/ Bad Bad Hats)
Sat. Mar. 2 – Washington, DC @ Union Stage (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Sun. Mar. 3 – Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church (w/ Bad Bad Hats)
Tue. Mar. 5 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Wed. Mar. 6 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Thu. Mar. 7 – Nashville, TN @ The Basement (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Fri. Mar. 8 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Sat. Mar. 9 – Savannah, GA @ Savannah Stopover (w/ Bad Bad Hats)
Mon. Mar. 11-Fri. Mar. 15 – Austin, TX @ SXSW (w/ Bad Bad Hats)
Sat. Mar. 16 – Dallas, TX @ Not So Fun Wknd (w/ Bad Bad Hats)  
Sun. Mar. 17 – Houston, TX @ Satellite Bar (w/ Bad Bad Hats) 
Thur. May. 16 - London, UK @ The Dome 

Mykele Deville featuring Daryn Alexus - "Type Love"

Photo by Zakkiyyah Najeebah
The latest single from Chicago's Mykele Deville sounds like something I should hate. It's an uplifting rap song that, according to the press release, "... imagines a world where we are taught to fall in love with ourselves before we fall in love with others." Plus, it's quite heavy in R&B, which I hate in modern rap. The difference is that "Type Love" is a truly great song.

Deville has the laid back flow of someone like Snoop Dogg, and "Type Love" has an uplifting, near hippie vibe of Arrested Development. The accompanying video was directed by McKenzie Chinn, and has a message all its own. According to Chinn: " "By using imagery and improvised choreography outside of a traditional narrative, we were able to create a dynamic and expressionistic portrait of black, masculine tenderness and softness - a mode in which black men are not often portrayed, but which is critical to dismantling toxic masculinity and advancing mental wellness for black men.” This are all themes not usually heard in hip hop, but it's about time hip hop caught up to modern America.

You can watch the video for "Type Love" below. Mykele Deville's new album, Maintain, will be out February 22 on No Trend Records and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Mykele Deville, check out his website.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Julia Jacklin - "Head Alone"

Photo by Nick Mckk
We were huge fans of Julia Jacklin's 2016 debut album Don't Let the Kids Win. It narrowly missed being in my top 10 of that year, and if I could redo my top 10 it would probably make it. Despite releasing a new album with her band Phantastic Ferniture earlier this year, she's already back again with new solo music.

"Head Alone" is mesmerizing. It's everything we loved about the Americana meets indie rock sound of Don't Let the Kids Win, but with a newfound sense of confidence. You can just hear it in her voice. While the songs off the previous album had a sense of fragility, Jacklin sounds empowered in "Head Alone."

You can watch the video for "Head Alone" below. Julia Jacklin's new album, Crushing, will be out February 22 on Polyvinyl. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Julia Jacklin, check out her website. She'll be touring the US with Black Belt Eagle Scout next year, so you'll definitely want to check that out.

Durand Jones & The Indications featuring Aaron Frazer - "Don't You Know"

Photo by Rosie Cohe
We're quietly in the middle of a soul revival, and no one is doing it quite like Durand Jones & The Indications. Their latest single, "Don't You Know," features Aaron Frazer on vocals and sounds like it's straight from the 60's or 70's. Seriously. If the press release that came with this declared it was from a lost Motown session we'd all believe it. It's an impossibly smooth classic soul song, the kind we all need to hear every so often regardless of what style of music we prefer. As much as we loved their debut album, this new song feels like a step forward even though it's a throwback to half a century ago.

You can watch the video for "Don't You Know" below. American Love Call, the new album from Durand Jones & The Indications, will be out March 1 on Dead Oceans/Colemine Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Durand Jones & The Indications, check out their website. Their upcoming tour dates are below the video.

Tue. Jan. 22 - London, UK @ Dingwalls
Wed. Jan. 23 - Paris, FR @ La Maroquinerie
Fri. Jan. 25 - Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso-Noord
Sun. Jan. 27 - Cologne, DE @ Artheater
Mon. Jan. 28 - Berlin, DE @ Lido
Mon. March 18 - Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
Tue. March 19 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Thu. March 21 - Santa Fe, NM @ Tumbleroots
Fri. March 22 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
Sat. March 23 - San Diego, CA @ Casbah
Mon. March 25 - Tustin, CA @ Marty’s On Newport
Wed. March 27 - Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
Thu. March 28 - Santa Barbara, CA @ SOhO Restaurant & Music Club
Fri. March 29 Oakland, CA @ The New Parish
Sat. March 30 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
Mon. April 1 - Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
Tue. April 2 - Seattle, WA @ Neumos
Thu. April 4 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The State Room
Fri. April 5 - Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theater
Sat. April 6 - Kansas City, MO @ recordBar
Sun. April 7 - Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room  
Tue. April 9 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Wed. April 10 - Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
Thu. April 11 - Chicago, IL @ Thalia Hall
Fri. April 12 - Columbus, OH @ A&R Music Bar
Sat. April 13 - Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Sun. April 14 - North Charleston, SC @ High Water Festival
Tue. April 16 - Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel
Wed. April 17 - Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall of Williamsburg
Fri. April 19 - Philadelphia, PA @ First Unitarian Church
Sat. April 20 - Uncasville, CT @ Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun Resort
Sun. April 21 - Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
Mon. April 22 - Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
Wed. April 24 - Cincinnati, OH @ The Woodward Theater
Fri. April 26 - Nashville, TN @ The Basement East
Sat. April 27 - Oxford, MS @ Double Decker Arts Festival
Sun. April 28 - Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
Sat. May 11 - Bloomington, IN @ Indiana University w/ Neko Case

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Way Too Early 2019 Festival Preview

It's not even December yet. Winter has barely begun (unless you're in the northeast like us) and the summer festival season is a far distant thought. Don't tell that to the following festivals, who have already started to announce their line ups. Last year some outlets began asking if festivals were dead. If these are any indication, this may be a crazy packed year.

High Water Festival
Riverfront Park, North Charleston, SC
April 13-14
Shovels & Rope have been curating this hometown festival for a few years, and each year seems more ridiculously stacked than the previous one. How stacked is it, you ask? Shovels & Rope are third billed. Ahead of them on the poster is Leon Bridges and The Head & The Heart. Add to that such If It's Too Loud... approved artists like Jenny Lewis, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The War & Treaty, Durand Jones & The Indications, The Secret Sisters, Michael Nau, and Lilly Hiatt and the first festival of 2019 may be the one of the year.

Punk Rock Bowling
Las Vegas, NV
May 24-17
I have literally zero interest in ever going to Vegas, but the 11th edition of Punk Rock Bowling actually has me wishing I could go. This year's festival features bowling (of course) but the line up is beyond crazy for aging punks, with a handful of newer bands thrown in. You get Rancid, Descendents, The Specials, The Hives (who may be playing every US festival this year), Refused, The Damned, Fear, Shame, Dead Boys, Street Dogs, The Pietasters, The Coathangers, The Toasters, and a ton more.

Muddy Roots Music Fest
Nashville, TN
August 29-September 1
Put on by Muddy Roots Records, Muddy Roots Music Fest might be the smallest. It's limited to 3000 tickets, but you would never know it from the line up. It hasn't been fully announced yet, but so far they've announced Fear, The Damned, MC50, Fishbone, The Adicts, and more! Early bird tickets are sold out, but three day passes are only $125 including camping and hot showers. Plus beer is only $3.00. I'm not a huge beer guy, and I rarely drink at shows, but $3.00 beer shows that these guys truly care about the music and aren't just trying to gouge fans for a quick buck.

Jeff Tweedy - "I Know What It's Like"

Photo by Whitten Sabbatini
At this point in his career, you already know if you're going to listen to a new song or album that Jeff Tweedy is involved in. His work with Wilco and his solo work has a certain feel to it, and there are plenty of fans that have jumped off the bandwagon calling his newer output "dad rock," and there are plenty still on that love that he puts out dad rock. His newest solo single, "I Know What It's Like," is really worth a listen even if you're in the former category. Sure, the song is 100% dad rock, and it certainly isn't rewriting the Jeff Tweedy formula at all. But the man can write an amazing song, and if you just give "I Know What It's Like" a chance, you might end up falling back in love with his music. 

You can watch the video for "I Know What It's Like" below. Jeff Tweedy's solo album, WARM (which is somehow his first solo album (?)), will be out November 30 on dBPM Records. It can be pre-ordered here. On December 1 Jeff Tweedy will be performing songs from WARM via a livestream, which you can find here. For more on Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, check out Wilco's website. His current tour dates are below the video.

Thu. Jan. 3 - Los Angeles, CA @ Largo at the Coronet Theatre [SOLD OUT]
Fri. Jan. 4 - Los Angeles, CA @ Largo at the Coronet Theatre [SOLD OUT]
Sun. Jan. 6 - Los Angeles, CA @ Largo at the Coronet Theatre [SOLD OUT]
Mon. Jan. 7 - Los Angeles, CA @ Largo at the Coronet Theatre [SOLD OUT]
Wed. Feb. 27 - Iowa City, IA @ Englert Theatre w/ Buck Meek
Thu. Feb. 28 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant w/ Buck Meek
Fri. March 1 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Page Woodson theater w/ Buck Meek
Sun. March 3 - Dallas, TX @ Majestic Theatre w/ Buck Meek
Mon. March 4 - Austin, TX @ Paramount Theatre w/ Buck Meek

Thu. March 7 - Germantown, TN @ Germantown Performing Arts Center w/ Buck Meek
Fri. March 8 - Birmingham, AL @ Lyric Theatre w/ Buck Meek
Sat. March 9 - Macon, GA @ Hargray Capitol Theatre w/ Buck Meek
Mon. March 11 - Ponte Vedra, FL @ Ponte Vedra Concert Hall w/ James Elkington
Thu. March 14 - Tampa, FL @ Tampa Theatre w/ James Elkington
Fri. March 15 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ The Parker Playhouse w/ James Elkington
Sun. March 17 - Orlando, FL @ The Plaza Live Theatre w/ James Elkington
Tue. March 19 - Asheville, NC @ The Orange Peel w/ James Elkington
Wed. March 20 - Nashville, TN @ James K. Polk Theater w/ James Elkington

Thu. March 21 - Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room @ Old National Centre w/ James Elkington
Fri. April 12 - Savannah, GA @ Lucas Theatre for the Arts
Sat. April 13 - Decatur, GA @ Amplify Decatur Music Festival

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Dani Bell & The Tarantist - "Mystery"

Photo by Kristy Walker
Dani Bell & The Tarantist don't sound like a band from San Diego should sound. I couldn't tell you what that sound should be (Sublime, maybe?), but these guys certainly aren't it. Their latest single, "Mystery," is this odd blend of dreamy pop music. Sure, "Mystery" is pop, but it's hardly top 40 style pop music. There's just enough of a rock element to the song. Plus, it's just a little too... weird? It sound more like Bjork collaborating with Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, but trying to make a megahit song. (Also, fun fact for fellow history nerds: According to their press release: "During the Italian Renaissance, tarantism was a phenomenon of psychological hysteria attributed to the bite of a tarantula spider. Those bitten would experience a short period of extreme apathy, followed by prolonged bout of unrestrained dancing ecstasy, which would temporarily remit the illness."

You can watch the video for "Mystery" below. Dani Bell & The Tarantist's new album, Wide Eyed, will be out January 18 on The Redwoods Music. For more on Dani Bell & The Tarantist, be sure to check them out on Facebook.

First Listen: New Releases for 23 November

The record labels are too busy shopping to release much new music this week, so this also covers some interesting ones we missed.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Various Artists
Quick Description: Charity compilation from a Boston label that provides emo-esque covers of Carly Rae Jepson's E-MO-TION
Why You Should Listen: This is a solid effort around a solid album, and you may even see this as benefiting a solid cause!
Overall Thoughts: The pop album of our era gets a rock treatment, with great efforts for "Boy Problems," for "I Didn't Just Come Here to Dance," and "Making the Most of the Night." I am all about this and you will likely be as well whether you're a fan of Carly Rae, of the associated acts, or none of the above. It's great fun.
Recommendation: A must hear.

Artist: Moving Units
Album: This is Six
Quick Description: Latest from the dance-rock vets.
Why You Should Listen: Moving Units has somehow figured out how to make their sound current while not losing what makes them great.
Overall Thoughts: At eight songs, this is a shorter effort for the act, but no matter - the music is still solid and they are staying well within their lane while still feeling fresh. I am continually impressed that this band has stayed relevant even as this style has faded, but that should not be an indication to skip this one. Instead, either enjoy the nostalgia of a decade ago or enjoy something new.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: My Brightest Diamond
Album: A Million and One
Quick Description: Latest dancey effort by the singer.
Why You Should Listen: This is an interesting and ambitious listen on a whole.
Overall Thoughts: I can't say I'm terribly familiar with My Brightest Diamond on a whole, but this album made me want to hear a lot more. This is a pretty danceable record with some interesting-but-poppy efforts on songs like "Champagne" that make this work on a whole.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Oldsoul
Album: Coy
Quick Description: Solid indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: This has a deliberative quality to it that's often lacking in indie rock like this.
Overall Thoughts: One of two bands this week I found through the Carly Rae tribute, Oldsoul is a band I've come to really like and the fact that they have two songs on the album referencing Twin Peaks doesn't hurt. There is a lot of great stuff happening on this album ("Good Girl" a solid highlight), and while it doesn't have a grungy quality like many of the current indie acts out there, this has an early Death Cab feel that I am finding very appealing right now.
Recommendation: Don't let this one slip under your radar the way it slipped under ours.

Artist: Art Brut
Album: Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!
Quick Description: A return to form for the British indie act.
Why You Should Listen: They have some stone cold classics, and this album is very reminiscent of them.
Overall Thoughts: I've loved Art Brut from the day I first heard them. The delivery is weird, they're not quite like anything else (except perhaps a nerdy Blur's "Parklife" all the time), and yeah. They haven't produced new music in years, but this is like they haven't missed a beat. A favorite this week, for sure.
Recommendation: Art Brut has always been a must-listen, this week is no different.

Of note:

* Ed Harcourt - Beyond the End (Gorgeous, quiet instrumentals.)
* Holly Golightly - Do the Get-Along (Solid listen from a British vet.)
* Surface to Air Missive - Surface II Air Missive
* Cheer Up - Sleep Debt
* Big Jay McNeely - I'm Still Here - Big Jay Sings the Blues


* Rachel Baiman - Thanksgiving
* Oneohtix Point Never - Love in the Time of Lexapro
* Death From Above 1979 - Heads Up Demos
* Cults - Offering B-Sides and Demos
* The Room in the Wood - The Mars EP
* Lake Street Dive - Freak Yourself Out

Monday, November 26, 2018

Matt Pond & Chris Hansen Cover Led Zeppelin

One of my favorite things about Matt Pond is the frequency that he releases cover songs. For Thanksgiving he decided to give us all an early gift (even though he's been spoiling us recently by offering us free downloads of his first and brand new albums) and cover Led Zeppelin's "Thank You" with Chris Hansen. I've been developing an appreciation for Zeppelin late in life (most of my college years were spent despising anything that could be considered classic rock because I just had to be that guy...), so this cover is right up my current alley. The Matt Pond & Chris Hansen version of "Thank You" is shockingly close to the original. Pond even does an amazing Robert Palmer on the vocals. They do inject the dreaminess that we would expect from anything Matt Pond related, so it's basically everything we ever want in a cover song.

You can listen to Matt Pond & Chris Hansen's cover of "Thank You" below. It's also available as a free download. For more on Matt Pond & Chris Hansen, be sure to check out Matt Pond's website.