Wednesday, February 28, 2018

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for February 23

And the rest!

Co-Album of the Week:


Artist: Screaming Females
Album: All At Once
Quick Description: The latest from a band poised to break out
Why You Should Listen: They're one of the best indie acts going right now.
Overall Thoughts: Co-album of the week comes from one of indie rock’s most steady acts as of late, Screaming Females. If there’s a downside to this album, it’s that the act is almost too tight. Everything feels crisp and deliberate, and your expectation for an act like this is some grit or grunge, but instead the polish allows everything involved with this to be highlighted. I can’t speak highly enough about this, and it’s definitely one of the top musical efforts of the year so far.
Recommendation: A must-listen.


Artist: Anna McClellan
Album: Yes and No
Quick Description: Folkish listen.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something off the beaten path.
Overall Thoughts: This was a weird one, and I’m not sure how I feel about it yet. McLellan gives me the feeling of a lo-fi, anti-folk Amanda Palmer in many regards, so you can understand why this perhaps doesn’t always hit the mark for me. Ambitious music is one thing, but this just did not completely work for what I wanted. Give this a listen, but you’ll know pretty fast if this is what you’re looking for.
Recommendation: You might love it or hate it.


Artist: Dessa
Album: Chime
Quick Description: Female rap from the Doomtree collective.
Why You Should Listen: This is good, as is everything from Doomtree so far.
Overall Thoughts: Rap connected to the folks over at Doomtree, Ken said he wasn’t so into this on a whole, but I really, really enjoyed this. Solid beats behind a good rap delivery goes a long way, and in a time where a lot of the independent rap scene sounds similar, Dessa stood out to me.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.


Artist: Mint Field
Album: Pasar de las Luces
Quick Description: Airy instrumental indie music.
Why You Should Listen: This is an album you didn't know you wanted to hear.
Overall Thoughts: Mint Field gives a definite Mogwai/Sigur Ros vibe throughout this record, and it’s absolutely a highlight of the week. Airy vocals over crashing instrumentation at many points, dynamic volume, this really has a lot of what I was looking to hear right now. If you’re into the more/mostly instrumental side of things, this needs to make your list.
Recommendation: A great listen this week.


Artist: Totally Mild
Album: Her
Quick Description: Twee-esque indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: You have specific nostalgia for the sort of cute, lively indie pop of the early 2000s.
Overall Thoughts: This is some nice indie rock that harkens back to some of Isobel Campbell’s work when she was still with Belle & Sebastian. It’s maybe a little too cute at times and not really what we expect these days, but those who really enjoyed this type of thing and hope for a comeback should give this a listen.
Recommendation: Might be something you love.


Artist: Darlingside
Album: Afterlife
Quick Description: Dreamy male-fronted folk rock.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Bon Iver was a little more normal.
Overall Thoughts: Darlingside does that sort of gorgeous soft folky stuff that some people absolutely go crazy for. For me, it was a solid listen, and songs like “Lindisfarne” really do a good job setting the tone. This is definitely a good listen, reminiscent of a lo-fi Fanfarlo in some regards.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.


Artist: Nive and the Deer Children
Album: Feet First
Quick Description: More twee!
Why You Should Listen: You wanted a little more from Totally Mild.
Overall Thoughts: A lot of this melded into Totally Mild for me, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing musically, but it also means that you have two very similar albums in the same week. On this one, “In Your Head” toward the end is a really solid song, and while the album itself has a hit-or-miss tendency, when it’s on? It’s on.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.


Artist: Psychic Markers
Album: Hardly Strangers
Quick Description: Genre-bending indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: You've got some Doc Martens in your closet, but bought tickets to see Radiohead this summer.
Overall Thoughts: This is an interesting, different listen that refuses to be slotted in a specific genre. Has prog elements, is structured like an electronica record in some regards, and it sort of makes me think about what Spiritualized might sound like if they were a goth act. I’m not convinced 100% that it worked for me, but, for the most part?
Recommendation: This is an interesting listen.

EPs:

* Kero Kero Bonito - NOTEP
* ARXX - Daughters of Daughters
* Charlotte Day Lewis - Stone Woman

Also out:

* Netherfriends - Landscapes
* Reggie and the Full Effect - 41

no hope/no harm - Swimming in the Charles EP

When I first heard Aaron Perrino's latest project, no hope/no harm, I wasn't as into it as I expected to be. I've always preferred his work when he's a bit louder and more rockin', and the first no hope/no harm songs were a little too mellow for my taste, and almost crooners. With their new EP, no hope/no harm have married both sounds perfectly. 

What's interesting is that these songs have a feel like a crooner decided to take on emo inflected 90's alt rock. The fact that you get an anthem like "I Know That You Don't Care" next to the almost country tinged "Punch a Nazi in the Face" and they both flow together in a completely seamless way is magical. Plus, "Punch a Nazi in the Face" might be the angriest power ballad of all time. While the EP is very ballad heavy, it's by no means a quiet or mellow release. The ballads have the most intensity on Swimming in the Charles EP. 

You can listen to "I Know That You Don't Care" below. Swimming in the Charles EP is available now on no hope/no harm's Bandcamp. For more on the band, check them out on Facebook.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for February 23

A really busy week, so a two-parter with two albums of the week. One today, one tomorrow:

Co-Album of the Week


Artist: Frigs
Album: Basic Behaviour
Quick Description: Awesome post-punk debut.
Why You Should Listen: You're upset we only got one Screaming Females album this week,
Overall Thoughts: A co-album of the week, very interesting to listen to in the context of an excellent Screaming Females album. A little angsty, a little anxious, and has a heavy, dark feeling behind it that suggests a number of layers below the initial surface. This is quite simply a must-listen, especially for fans of Screaming Females. Definitely a release that shouldn’t be overlooked.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.


Artist: Computer Magic
Album: Danz
Quick Description: Latest from the indie electronic act.
Why You Should Listen: A little more mature, a little more interesting.
Overall Thoughts: I have expressed my love for Computer Magic before, and this new album definitely feels like a shift for the act. Different, but not at all bad, it feels a little more complicated than the pop-adjacent blips and bleeps I’ve come to expect. This is one I will need to spend more time with, for certain, but on first listen, this was definitely one of the more interesting listens of the week.
Recommendation: Good listen this week.


Artist: Holly Miranda
Album: Mutual Horse
Quick Description: The latest from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You like your music a little off-kilter.
Overall Thoughts: Holly Miranda has danced alongside the odd corners of the pop world for a while. Her latest does the same, but might be one of her more interesting and yet more accessible efforts so far. A few songs on here are strangely addictive, and the whole thing is one that kept drawing me in throughout the first listen.
Recommendation: I can’t wait to get into this one more.


Artist: Public Access T.V.
Album: Street Safari
Quick Description: Retro 1980s rock music.
Why You Should Listen: You stopped listening to Duran Duran before "Ordinary World" happened.
Overall Thoughts: There is nothing at all wrong with acts that pick an aesthetic and stick with it. Looking at the album cover, you expect a sort of 1980s synthy rock show, and Public Access T.V. delivers. Whether you’ll like it is entirely up to whether this sort of era of music is in your wheelhouse or not, but it succeeds at what it tries to do.
Recommendation: Worth a listen; you'll know if it's for you pretty quick.


Artist: Caroline Rose
Album: LONER
Quick Description: New album from a favorite around these parts.
Why You Should Listen: Her debut album was truly great.
Overall Thoughts: I hate that I don’t like this. I hate that Rose’s debut album was a favorite of mine, with songs trapped in my head years later, and that the lead single “Money” was certainly off the beaten path but still catchy, and yet this album just flops for me. Rose is a talented enough songwriter that I chalk this up more to a choice I just do not like as opposed to a failure of an album.
Recommendation: Your mileage may vary, but I wasn’t into this.


Artist: The Low Anthem
Album: The Salt Doll Went to Measure the Depth of the Sea
Quick Description: Latest from the localish act.
Why You Should Listen: The Low Anthem always makes gorgeous, demanding music.
Overall Thoughts: We love the Low Anthem here, and this latest effort by the Providence act has a more ethereal quality to it than I expected. This is not a bad thing at all, but it does suggest that there is a change of pace for this album that might get some fans off the bandwagon. For me, this was a pretty solid listen on a whole even as it remained a bit unexpected, but those looking for a more traditional effort might be disappointed.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.


Artist: Pageants
Album: Forever
Quick Description:
Why You Should Listen:
Overall Thoughts: Another favorite of mine this week, Pageants does a sort of indie pop with a strange bent that mostly works. Great harmonies and instrumentation makes me think of this more along the lines of if First Aid Kit was an Elephant Six act, so it should absolutely get some time in your rotation this week.
Recommendation: A solid listen in a busy week.


Artist: S. Carey
Album: Hundred Acres
Quick Description: Some light folky stuff from a member of Bon Iver.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for that more direct folk sound this week.
Overall Thoughts: There's some low-key folk-leaning music here that, if I’m being blunt, somewhat failed to resonate with me. This is probably more me than S. Carey, as folk and folkish male singers rarely work for me, but in a pretty busy week there is just a lot more better stuff out there instead. You probably won’t miss much skipping this.
Recommendation:

EPs of note:

* Stella Donnelly - Thrush Metal (don't sleep on this; great for fans of Courtney Barnett)
* Ratboys - GL
* The Regrettes - Attention Seeker

Also out:

* Starchild and the New Romantic - Language
* Grant-Lee Phillips - Widdershins

Monday, February 26, 2018

War On Women featuring Kathleen Hanna - "YDTMHTL"

I gave up on the Warped Tour after 2002 when I felt I had aged out of it. It was at the point that I had only gone to that one for four bands and just sat there bored for the rest of it. Since then it's just gotten poppier and more mainstream, only making the news due to the shitty behavior of one band or another. Last year brought the first punk event out of the Warped Tour in years: A band called War On Women, who refused to let misogyny happen while they were on the tour. (You can read more about their run in with The Dickies over at Noisey.)

The band is set to release their second album in April. The first single off that album is available to listen to now, and, in case you need more of a reason to listen, it features Kathleen Hanna on back up vocals. "YDTMHTL" is as loud and punk as it could possibly be, with some of the greatest gang vocals you've heard in years. But it's also thrashy metal, which is always welcome. So if you feel your life has been missing loud feminist punk/thrash metal, this song is 100% for you. And we all could definitely use more Kathleen Hanna.

You can listen to "YDTMHTL" below. War On Women's new album, Capture the Flag, will be out April 13th on Bridge Nine. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on War On Women, check out their Facebook and Bandcamp.

Megan Airlie - "After River"

The debut single from Scotland's Megan Airlie is truly something special. "After River" meets somewhere between traditional and alt folk. It reminds me of Lady Lamb's early more bare bones work (or her Tender Warriors Club EP) but mixed with a little jazz/soul. Her voice is truly the focus of the song. Airlie says of the song: "It was birthed from one of the hardest times of my life and was the first song I had written in a year. I had been in hospital, arrested and dumped and I thought to myself what best to do other than sing?"

You can listen to "After River" below. The single is available for free via Megan Airlie's Bandcamp on Bloc Music Records. For more on Megan Airlie, check out her Facebook and website.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Belly - "Shiny One"

Knowing full well that Belly are reunited and have a new album coming out this year, you'd think that we'd be know and expect a new song from them any day now. But this morning, when word of the first song from Belly's first album in 23 years broke... well, we had to drop everything and listen repeatedly. "Shiny One" is and isn't what we'd expect from Belly. It's a glorious alternative pop song that sounds like Belly, but the sound is tweaked just slightly. Tanya Donelly's voice is front and center and mesmerizing as always, but the guitars have a slightly grungier feel, and the song is a bit more groovy than I would have expected. But it still sounds like Belly, and what else could we possibly want at this point in our lives?

You can listen to "Shiny One" below. Belly's new album (typing that will never get old), Dove, will be out May 4. You can pre-order it now in various bundles via PledgeMusic. For more on Belly, check out their website.

Friday Freebie: Grave School, Lauren Ruth Ward, Polly Woods Ordinary, and The Milky Way

We're back this week with another multi-band Friday Freebie that spans multiple genres. As always, if you download any of this music, consider throwing the band a few bucks, buy some merch, or at least give them a follow on their social media.

Grave School - Strange Routine
It's been a little over a year since we've had any new music from Grave School, but luckily they're back with a new EP. Strange Routine is still the 90's inspired indie rock we love from Grave School, and I hate to use tired cliches, but the new EP seems a bit more mature and weary. A song like "Strange Routine" feels like working your first adult job, and even a big, fun, upbeat song like "Jason" feels a bit more melancholy. Strange Routine is available now for free via Grave School's Bandcamp.




Lauren Ruth Ward - Back Pocket EP
Lauren Ruth Ward just released her first full length, Well, Hell. It might be a weird choice for us to start with a B-sides and demos, but hey... we love free music. Back Pocket EP is a collection of four songs that blends the funky dance friendly sound of Florence and The Machine with a harder, more alt-rock sound and just the slightest hint of roots. "Heart in the States" is the perfect starting point, with it's singer/songwriter beginning, danceable middle, and rock epic end. Back Pocket EP is available for free via Noisetrade.


Polly Woods Ordinary - self-titled
As much as we love innovation here at If It's Too Loud..., there's something to be said for bands that take a genre and just nail it perfectly. Polly Woods Ordinary do that with roots/Americana. It's pretty straightforward neo-folk with some rock edges here. What elevates them above the rest of the pack are the vocals. I don't think either member has a traditionally great voice, but they have a unique quality that makes you want to listen. Somehow together, they make something magic. You can download their new EP for free via Noisetrade.


The Milky Way - Vapor Trails: A Retrospective
Too much hip hop seems to follow the same cookie cutter format. It's a shame, but it helps the truly good stuff really stick out. Hailing from Los Angeles, The Milky Way have a fun but edgy, unique branch of hip hop pretty much all to themselves. If I'm going to compare their sound to anyone it would be Outkast and The Coup, which is just about the pinnacle of what you'd want. Vapor Trails: A Retrospective is a four song collection that includes two songs from The Milky Way and two songs from Milky Way member Sum. The EP is available for free via Noisetrade.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Violet Kind - "Speakeasy"

The upcoming debut EP from Scotland's The Violet Kind is a concept album that's tough to write about seriously enough. According to the press release, the release "...is a concept EP, which acts as a poignant reminder of the reality of rape culture and a means of catharsis for the survivor of sexual violence." They've released the first single, "Speakeasy."

Even without the subject matter, "Speakeasy" just feels heavy. It's equal parts singer/songwriter fare (it reminds me of quieter 90's Lilith Fair artists without being folk at all) and louder 90's indie rock without being noisy. It fluctuates between the quieter, introspective parts and these gorgeously uplifting, louder parts. I don't typically use uplifting as a compliment, but the Violet Kind pull it off.

You can watch the video for "Speakeasy" below. OXTR, the debut EP from The Violet Kind, will be out March 16 via Kindness Records. For more on The Violet Kind, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Speedy Ortiz - "Lucky 88"

Speedy Ortiz are one of our earliest discoveries since starting If It's Too Loud... almost five years ago, and they have been a favorite of ours ever since. Luckily for us (and everyone, really) they have a new album due out in April, and with the announcement of a new album comes a new song!

"Lucky 88" is quite different from what we've come to expect from Speedy Ortiz. The 90's infused indie rock sound is virtually gone, and it has a more pop/dance sound, which is closer to singer Sadie Dupuis's solo work as sad13. Now this isn't quite as far as Gwen Stefani reuniting No Doubt just to make them play her solo work, but it's definitely leaning more strongly towards pop than we've become used to for Speedy Ortiz. It's an interesting change in sound that has been hinted at for a bit. It definitely has us intrigued for the new album.

You can watch the video for "Lucky 88" below. The new album from Speedy Ortiz, Twerp Verse, will be out April 27. You can pre-order various bundles here. For more on Speedy Ortiz, check out their website.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Maff - "Desfile"

Photo via Facebook
Hailing from Chile, Maff have a new EP coming out in April. Chile is not where I'd expect fantastic indie rock to be coming from, but considering the diversity of South American rock festivals, I'm truly showing my American ignorance on that one. "Desfile" is a great song. Like, really great. It's everything indie rock should be. It's loud and noisy, but still filled with great hooks and catchy moments, although the guitars are the catchiest parts over the vocals. The guitars are equal parts crunchy and swirling, creating this gorgeously lush layer. Although it edges slightly more into the shoegaze territory, this could be perfect for those of us that miss Sonic Youth.

You can listen to "Desfile" below. Maff's new EP, MelaniƱa, will be out April 2nd. You can pre-order a copy on Bandcamp. For more on Maff, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

MC Paul Barman - "((( leapfrog )))"

Not only are we in the middle of a two day February heat wave here in New England, we now have a new song from MC Paul Barman! The previously MIA (at least, according to me) MC just released "((( leapfrog )))." It's perhaps his most traditionally hip hop track to date. It feels decidedly old school in a Gang Starr kinda way. Somehow Barman raps about twice as fast as we're used to from him, but it still has a relaxed vibe. And, just in case you were worried about Barman changing his entire outlook, it ends with a mention of soot sprites.

You can listen to "((( leapfrog )))" below. The song is currently available for free via Mello Music Group's Bandcamp. For more on MC Paul Barman, check out his website.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 16 February

A really busy week of releases, and I have to do this the quick hit way today.

Must Listens This Week:

* Polica/s t a r g a z e - Music for the Long Emergency (weird and wonderful)
* Geowulf - Great Big Blue (sort of like an edgier Wolf Alice at times)
* Car Seat Headrest - Twin Fantasy (Car Seat Headrest is easily the most perpetually underappreciated act going right now)
* Kellen of Troy - Posthumous Release
* Fischerspooner - Sir (produced by Michael Stipe, might be my favorite of the week)
* Loma - Loma

Other Solid Releases:

* Kronos Quartet and Laurie Anderson - Landfall
* Walter Martin - Reminiscence Bar and Grill (Walkmen lead singer, pretty interesting listen)
* Horsehoes and Hand Grenades - Ode
* U.S. Girls - In a Poem Unlimited
* Shannon and the Clams - Onion
* I'm With Her - See You Around
* Superchunk - What a Time to Be Alive

Be Wary:

* Born Ruffians - Uncle, Duke, and The Chief
* Brandi Carlile - By the Way, I Forgive You
* Ought - Room Inside the World (biggest disappointment of 2018 so far)
* Marlon Williams - Make Way for Love

EPs:

* Pinky Pinky - Hot Tears
* Valerie June - For the Loved and Loveless
* Ride - Tomorrow's Shore
* Belle & Sebastian - How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 3)
*

Also Out:

* Netherfriends - Threesome

Monday, February 19, 2018

Night Flowers - "Losing the Light"

Photo by Josh Moore
There's a lot of bands delving into the world of shoegaze and dream pop lately. The better ones keep the structure of shoegaze alive while adding in their own element. Knowing my own personal tastes, I would have assumed I'd hate a more pop infused style of shoegaze/dream pop, but then Night Flowers came along to prove me wrong.

The London band's new single, "Losing the Light," has the light, jangly guitars we have come to expect and want with dream pop. But they definitely add a slightly more mainstream, pop sound to the genre. I don't mean they go full on Taylor Swift with swirling sounds, but this is definitely a song that can help ease your kids into shoegaze. Plus, for us old fogies that have been listening to this style for 20+ years, it's always a good thing to bring in a new element, even if it's not one we'd expect to like.

You can watch the video for "Losing the Light" below. Night Flowers will be releasing their debut album this year. For more on Night Flowers, check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Dr. Octagon - "Octagon Octagon"

Way back in 1996, Kool Keith, Dan the Automator, and DJ Qbert blew everyone's minds with their project, Dr. Octagon and the album Dr. Octagonecologyst. It was some of the most unique hip hop that had ever been heard, before or since. Dr. Octagon just released that one album. Every so often there would be rumors of a follow up, but nothing ever came of those.

Until yesterday. We have a new album, Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation, due out in April, and a new song, "Octagon Octagon." The song is fantastic. It's the type of hip hop I've been missing and craving for 22 years. Somehow Kool Keith works the word "octagon" into virtually every line, a feat literally only he could pull off. We had no idea this album was actually coming, and now we don't think we can wait for this to be released. 

You can listen to "Octagon Octagon" over at The Fader. Moosebumps: An Exploration Into Modern Day Horripilation, the new album from Dr. Octagon, will be out April 6 on Bulk Recordings.

Squirrel Nut Zippers - "Beasts of Burgundy"

Squirrel Nut Zippers were always unfairly lumped in with the swing revival scene. While most of that scene seemed more focused on the scene and the look, Squirrel Nut Zippers always seemed more legit and about the music. They were always more roots than flash.

So it makes sense that Jimbo Mathus would resurrect Squirrel Nut Zippers with the current roots revival going on right now. I'm not sure how many members from the 90's are back for this era of Squirrel Nut Zippers, but it's still a returned Squirrel Nut Zippers, so we're not complaining. Their new song, "Beasts of Burgundy," is more reserved than their previous hit singles like "Hell" or "Suits Are Picking Up the Bill." It's also less swing than you would expect. Instead, it's a quiet song without being a ballad. It's moody and fairly dark while still being fun. This could have gone horribly wrong, but Squirrel Nut Zippers found a perfect spot between being a nostalgia act and moving their sound forward.

You can watch the video for "Beasts of Burgundy" below. Squirrel Nut Zippers's new album, also called Beasts of Burgundy, will be out on March 23. For more on Squirrel Nut Zippers, check out their website.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Courtney Barnett - "Nameless, Faceless"

Photo via Facebook
The best news so far this week is that Courtney Barnett is back with new music! "Nameless, Faceless" takes on internet trolls anonymously posting their vile hate, while wishing love upon them. The song also discusses the fear of violence women live in at all times with the line "I wanna walk through the park in the dark / Women are scared that men will kill them / I hold my keys between my fingers." It's definitely a much heavier subject than the personal stories told in her previous album Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit. Along with the more serious subject matter is a slightly lighter sound, more jangle pop than her crunchier previous songs. It's just enough of a change to keep it interesting while still being what we love about Barnett.

You can watch the video for "Nameless, Faceless" below. Courtney Barnett's new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, will be out May 18 on Marathon Artists/Milk! Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Courtney Barnett, check out her website.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Cover Big Star

Photo via Facebook
Big Star's beyond classic "Thirteen" is a quiet little anthem about young love, and it might just be the most perfect song of all time. It seems completely impossible to mess this song up, and I've loved every version of it I've ever heard. The latest is from Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and it's the first new music from them in five years. They stopped by the Spotify Studious in New York City to record a Spotify Single. This one is a live version of their monster hit "Maps," and "Thirteen" is the b-side. As with all truly great covers of "Thirteen," they didn't overthink it and kept it a stripped down version completely true to the original. It's just about perfect.

You can listen to Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover of "Thirteen" below. For more on the band, check out their website.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Disgraceland - A True Crime Rock 'n' Roll Podcast

I've been waiting months for Disgraceland to premier. It's billed as the first ever rock n roll true crime podcast. That might be catered directly to me.

Hosted by Boston musician Jake Brennan, Disgraceland finally premiered on February 13 with its first episode, "Jerry Lee Lewis: The Killer and Getting Away with Murder." Brennan uses a narrative style, more on the line of Lore than My Favorite Murder. He really gets into the entire history of Lewis's known violence and erratic behavior, and how he had two wives die under mysterious circumstances in a very short period of time. It's an unbelievably brutal look at a man who has created some of the greatest music on the planet, and that he's probably one of the biggest monsters walking it today.

Future episodes will include tales of The Rolling Stones, Beck, and 2pac. You can find it on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts. To keep up to date with Disgraceland, check out their website.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lucy Dacus - "Next of Kin"

To say we're highly anticipating the new album from Lucy Dacus would be a complete understatement. The latest song from the album, "Next of Kin," could very well turn Dacus into a superstar. It's that blend of 90's infected alternative pop that's huge right now, but still rooted enough in rock for us. "Next of Kin" is dangerously close to landing in top 40 territory, but a lot of the bands I loved in the 90's would most likely be considered mainstream now, like Letters to Cleo. "Next of Kin" does have louder and crunchier guitars than Cleo's version of 90's alt-rock, so it sounds more like a poppier version of The Lemonheads or Buffalo Tom. Plus, it's about anxiety, so that's always fun!

You can listen to "Next of Kin" via Spotify below. The new album from Lucy Dacus, Historian, will be out March 2 on Matador Records. You can pre-order your copy on your preferred outlet hereFor more on Lucy Dacus, check out her website. Tour dates with And the Kids and Adult Mom are below the song.


3/2: Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg
3/7: Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
3/8: Charleston, SC @ Pour House
3/9: Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
3/10: Nashville, TN @ High Watt
3/19: Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
3/20: Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
3/21: San Diego, CA @ Casbah
3/22: Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
3/23: Santa Cruz @ Crepe Place
3/24: San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
3/26: Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
3/27: Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
3/28: Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern
3/30: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
3/31: Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
4/2: Omaha, NE @ Reverb Lounge
4/4: Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry
4/5: Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
4/6: Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
4/7: Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi
4/8: Columbus, OH @ The Basement
4/9: Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
4/11: Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
4/13: Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
4/14: Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel

First Listen: New Releases for February 9

A busyish week this week.

Album of the Week:


Artist: Ruby Boots
Album: Don't Talk About It
Quick Description: Roots-adjacent music from someone who could be your new favorite.
Why You Should Listen: You haven't heard anything like this in a little while, even though you probably think you have.
Overall Thoughts: If Lydia Loveless and Margo Price had a baby and gave it to Kathleen Edwards to raise in her coffee shop, you might end up with Ruby Boots. A wonderful listen from start to finish that has a rock sensibility with the roots base behind it without sounding too much like either of them, it feels both raw and polished, dirty yet deliberate. I have no complaints here at all, and if you’re not hooked by “Infatuation,” I may need to ask what’s wrong with you.
Recommendation: Easily my favorite of the week.


Artist: Various Artists
Album: Black Panther soundtrack
Quick Description: Probably the most anticipated rap collaboration in years.
Why You Should Listen: The names involved alone make it worthwhile.
Overall Thoughts: The soundtrack to the heavily-anticipated movie is heavy on the current rap trends and there is really a lot here to like if you’re into what’s going on in rap music currently. Kendrick Lamar has a strong effort here, I’m predictably into the Schoolboy Q track. If I have any complaints, it might be that it feels uneven to someone like me who is a little more particular with his rap tastes, but if you’re into all the styles you’ll find enough to love here.
Recommendation: You'll find something to like here.


Artist: Yasutaka Nakata
Album: Digital Native
Quick Description: Electronic music with a Japanese flair.
Why You Should Listen: If you like electronic music, you'll probably find this refreshing.
Overall Thoughts: Japanese electronic music! The track that features Charli XCX was one I knew from a while ago which is why this landed on my radar, but it is interesting to hear the J-Pop influences throughout this album. I really enjoyed this as a bright, poppy effort.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen.


Artist: Holy Motors
Album: Slow Sundown
Quick Description: Beautiful, lush indie record.
Why You Should Listen: It's definitely the most unique listen of the week.
Overall Thoughts: Lovely droney record with some Peaksy guitar and some nice shoegaze elements at times. Might not impress every listener, but this was one I truly didn’t expect to enjoy as much as I did.
Recommendation: Definitely worth the time.


Artist: Joan as Police Woman
Album: Damned Devotion
Quick Description: Latest from a severely underrated indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Joan as Police Woman always make something essential.
Overall Thoughts: You can never expect a typical record from Joan as Police Woman, and this is certainly no different. Constantly-shifting genres and intentionally slightly-off instrumentation make for a weird and awkward listen that I certainly loved. Not as solid as her last album, which had a more accessible flavor to it, but still a very great listen that reminds me why her albums are always among the first I go for when a new release is out.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.


Artist: Brigid Mae Power
Album: The Two Worlds
Quick Description: Off-center folky stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You want something a little different and quiet.
Overall Thoughts: I wanted to like this a lot more than I ended up liking it. Sort of folky, sort of slow, it felt a little more like a meandering album than something I truly enjoyed. This isn’t to say it may not work for any number of listeners, but this definitely didn’t do enough for me in a somewhat-busy week.
Recommendation: Didn't work for me, might for you.


Artist: Ahbi the Nomad
Album: Marbled
Quick Description: Independent rap music from an unfamiliar voice.
Why You Should Listen: He definitely has a lot going for him.
Overall Thoughts: An Indian rapper who does his share of dabbling in a lot of different genres, this may not be something that wins you over due to the mic skills as much as the way it dances around in tone and provides a different perspective on how rap can be approached. This isn’t going to necessarily win over someone who is really into, say, what’s on the Black Panther soundtrack this week, but if you’re looking for something a little different on the rap side of things, give this a spin.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.


Artist: David Duchovny
Album: Every Third Thought
Quick Description: Latest album from the a-list celeb.
Why You Should Listen: Actors-turned-musicians is often an embarrassing disaster. This is not.
Overall Thoughts: I still can’t believe this works. I enjoyed Duchovny’s previous album more than enough to give this new one a shot, and, believe it or not, it gets better. It’s incredibly difficult to take the fact that this is David Duchovny out of the equation, but his voice has a Mike Doughty tonality to it and the music itself is an homage of sorts to the sort of 1990s/2000s adult alternative alt-rock that it all comes together fairly cleanly. I promise this is worth your time. If “When the Whistle Blows” doesn’t work for you, I truly don’t know what to say.
Recommendation: Listen to this, legitimately one of the better listens this week.


Artist: Alela Diane
Album: Cusp
Quick Description: First solo album in close to five years from the folky.
Why You Should Listen: Alela Diane is very good, and not enough people know it.
Overall Thoughts: Alela Diane has been a favorite of mine for a while, and it’s been a minute since we got new music from her. The new album is a stark, gorgeous affair with a lot going for it – the songwriting is good, Diane’s voice as strong as ever. Good for those who are looking for something a little stripped down.
Recommendation: An essential listen this week.


Artist: Son Lux
Album: Brighter Wounds
Quick Description: Hard-to-categorize music from a group that is good at what it does.
Why You Should Listen: Think if Grizzly Bear was more adventurous?
Overall Thoughts: While my brain will always wrongly go to Son Volt initially on this act, the reality of Son Lux is that they make some challenging, complicated music that I always look forward to hearing even if I don’t always enjoy it. This album felt a little long at times, but the deliberate uncomfortableness that surrounds this listen ultimately makes up for it.
Recommendation: This won’t be for everyone, but it hit the right tone for me this time around.


Artist: The Wombats
Album: Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life
Quick Description: Latest sadsack indie rock effort.
Why You Should Listen: They had such a strong debut that it's worth seeing if they can light that fire again.
Overall Thoughts: Ah, the Wombats. Another one of those late-aughts indie-like acts that struck it big (in this case, it was “Let’s Dance to Joy Division”) and have been trying to break through again ever since. This latest album, well, it doesn’t quite get there for me, and there is enough good here to at least give this one go, but it is unlikely to provide most listeners with anything of significance.
Recommendation: Good for fans, but, in a busy week, skip this one.


Artist: Ezra Furman
Album: Transangelic Exodus
Quick Description: New album from the solid singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Ezra Furman makes music that forces you to pay attention.
Overall Thoughts: Ezra Furman has been a condundrum for me ever since I discovered him, and this new album, in a way, is a really brutal and honest listen in a good way. There’s a lot of raw energy and confession in here that I love love love, and even on the songs that didn’t quite land for me, the overall feeling and effort here is second to none.
Recommendation: Absolutely one of the best listens of the week.


Artist: Franz Ferdinand
Album: Always Ascending
Quick Description: Latest from the British rock act.
Why You Should Listen: You too remember "Take Me Out."
Overall Thoughts: Listening to this, it’s hard to remember why this band was one of the biggest going for a while.
Recommendation: Skip this one entirely.


Artist: MGMT
Album: Little Dark Age
Quick Description: New album from the indie pop act.
Why You Should Listen: "Kids" was awesome and MGMT always does interesting music.
Overall Thoughts: MGMT had their huge smash with “Kids,” and then followed it up with some really odd duds. This is a return to form(?) for the group, which is back to doing some weird, accessible poppy stuff. It’s a decent listen, but not their best – it’s still something that may trigger a few positives for you.
Recommendation: Worth a shot if you're into it.


EPs of note:

* Shakey Graves - The Sleep EP
* The Oh Hellos - Euros
* OK Sweetheart - Far Away

Also out:

* Moviestar - Stupid People/Happy Days (reissues!)
* Legend of the Seagullmen - Legend of the Seagullmen

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Place to Bury Strangers - "Never Coming Back"

Photo by Clemens Mitscher
Goddamn, how am I not completely obsessed with A Place to Bury Strangers? Their latest single, "Never Coming Back," is just about everything I love about music. 

First: It's loud. And noisy. Like, really loud and noisy. The song is filled with barely controlled chaos, like the band is trying to reign it in, and failing. When it does explode... it's just glorious.

Second: It doesn't really fit into any one particular genre. It's too metal to be punk, and it's too punk to be metal. Plus, it's artsy as hell, so it can't be either one of them anyway. But, it's also structured, so it can't just be art rock. It's a mess. In the best way.

Third: Did I mention that it's loud?

Fourth: There is a sense of danger and foreboding that's missing with most music now. Punk, metal, hip hop... it's all safe sounding. Rap is more of a fashion statement, and metal bands name themselves after Meryl Streep movies. A Place to Bury Strangers have a dark name, and the music sounds like one of their shows could be the story of how you ended up in jail/hospitalized.

Fifth: LOUD.

You can watch the video for "Never Coming Back" below. A Place to Bury Strangers's new album, Pinned, will be out April 23 on Dead Oceans. For more on the band, check out their website