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

Olden Yolk - "Vital Sign"

Photo by Daniel Dorsa
The latest single from Olden Yolk, "Vital Sign," is a little more mainstream than "Takes One to Know One." That's not to say it's not still a little odd, but it's not quite as freak folk based as their previous single. Most of "Vital Sign" stays fairly mainstream neo-folk, although as far to the edge of mainstream that a band can go. Musically, it's straightforward. Vocally, the styling is a bit too monotone like a Nico sung song from The Velvet Underground. The late period Sonic Youth influence is all but missing, until we get to the bridge. That's when the song gets into a strange, high pitched organic feedback sound. It could be a guitar, but it could also be a flute or a harp. I'm not 100% sure, but it adds some intrigue to an already great song.

You can watch the video for "Vital Sign" below. Olden Yolk's debut self-titled album will be out February 23 on Trouble in Mind. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Olden Yolk, check out their Bandcamp. Their current tour dates are below the video.

Sat. Feb 17 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
Sat. Feb 24 – Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool
Sat. March 3 – Boston, MA @ Lilypad
Thu. March 29 – London, UK @ Café Oto

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Freebie: Caroline Rose, Talena Bricker, Cold Fronts, and Ramblin' Deano

We usually try to bring you Friday Freebie fairly regularly, but we've really been slacking lately. In fact, it's been over two months since we brought you anything for Friday Freebie. Sorry about that. Here's some of the stuff we've been sitting on during that time.

Caroline Rose - LONER - Singles
To say I've been enjoying the new music from Caroline Rose is an understatement. So far she's released three singles from LONER, and I've loved each one. She's completely reinvented her sound to this DEVO meets the Beastie Boys and Missy Elliott hybrid, andI don't think I could be enjoying it more. We still have to wait until February 23 for the new album, but while we wait Caroline Rose has made the first three singles ("Money," "Soul No. 5," and "Getting to Me") available for free via NoiseTrade.

Talena Bricker - Drowning
Drowning is the debut EP from Talena Bricker. Far too many singer/songwriters (particularly female ones) get labelled as "haunting" and "ethereal," and Bricker definitely is. But when your music hits the same nerves as Elliott Smith and Nick Drake, it's an apt comparison. She gets compared to those right on the NoiseTrade description (where you can download Drowning for free), but from the second I started listening to "Walking Mountain," I had made the Elliott Smith comparison in my head. Do yourself a favor and check this one out.

Cold Fronts - C'est Bon
Cold Fronts are the latest band I'm kicking myself for just discovering now. The Philadelphia band have a new album coming out on 4/20 (of course), and have done the classic NoiseTrade mix of two new songs from the upcoming album, two old songs, and one rarity. Cold Fronts have this great blend of upbeat alt-rock sound. It's just quirky enough to get the obvious Pavement and Archers of Loaf comparisons, but it's like Pavement and Archers of Loaf decided to party with the Strokes. Just check out the first track, "Stayin' In." If that one doesn't do it for you, I don't even know what to say to you any more.

Ramblin' Deano - America's Favorite Folk Singer
Last and certainly not least is an entire free album from Ramblin' Deano. You probably know him as Dean Schlabowske of Waco Brothers, but Ramblin' Deano is his political AF solo folk project. It's twelve great standard sounding folk songs tinged with a biting sense of humor. With titles like "The President is Out of His God Damn Mind," "(It's Hard to Be a) White Christian Man," and "The Racist Barber," it's pretty easy to see what side he's on. It's like 1960's Bob Dylan decided to have a little fun. You can pick up your copy on Dean Schlabowske's website.

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers - "Good As Gold"

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers's Sidelong was my #2 album of 2017. Since they just released an album last year, I assumed we'd have longer to wait for a follow up. Turns out Sidelong was released in 2015 and last year was a reissue (Whoops!), so we have a follow up coming out soon. Right now we can hear the first song from the new album, "Good As Gold."

If you liked Sidelong, you're going to like "Good As Gold." It's more of the rock n roll country punk that we loved from the previous album. "Good As Gold" is decidedly more mellow than most of our favorites from Sidelong, and it's definitely more melodic. It's showing a definite growth in songwriting, and has us even more curious than we were before. Plus, it's a great way to ease your more mainstream friends into Sarah Shook & the Disarmers.

You can watch the lyric video for "Good As Gold" below. Sarah Shook & the Disarmers's new album, Years, will be out April 6 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more information on Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, check out their website. Their current tour dates are below the video. In other news, Sarah Shook will be a subject of a documentary by Gorman Bechard, director of the great Who is Lydia Loveless? You can watch the trailer here.

3/9 Savannah Stopover – Savannah, GA (w/ Nikki Lane)
3/10 5th & Thomas – Tallahassee, FL
3/11 Callaghan's – Mobile, AL
3/12 Howling Wolf – New Orleans, LA
3/13 Mucky Duck – Houston, TX
3/20 Magnolia Motor Lounge – Ft. Worth, TX
3/21 South on Main – Little Rock, AR
3/22 Proud Larry's – Oxford, MS
3/23 The Basement – Nashville, TN
4/6 Cat's Cradle – Carrboro, NC (w/ Spider Bags)
4/7 Neighborhood Theatre – Charlotte, NC
4/8 Rhythm 'N' Blooms – Knoxville, TN
4/26 Pearl Street Warehouse – Washington, DC
4/27 Dawson Street Pub – Philadelphia, PA
4/28 Berlin – New York, NY
4/29 Atwood's Tavern – Cambridge, MA
5/2 Ace of Cups – Columbus, OH
5/3 Pioneer – Indianapolis, IN
5/4 Empty Bottle – Chicago, IL
5/5 Vintage Torque Fest – Dubuque, IA
5/8 Club Garibaldi – Milwaukee, WI
5/9 Turf Club – St. Paul, MN
5/10 Knuckleheads Saloon – Kansas City, MO (w/ Robbie Fulks)
5/11 Off Broadway – St. Louis, MO (w/ Robbie Fulks)
5/12 The Song Show Concert Series – Evansville, IN
5/13 Willie's Locally Known – Lexington, KY
9/2 - Muddy Roots Festival – Cookeville, TN

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Haley Heynderickx - "Worth It"

Photo by Alessandra Leimer
We were forced to wait four long months between the release of Haley Heynderickx's amazing "Oom Sha La La" and "Untitled God Song." Luckily for us all, it's a mere two weeks later and we already have a new song of hers to check out. "Worth It" is simply stunning. It starts out as this mesmerizing quiet, slightly off kilter folk-ish song, truly driven by Heynderickx's exceptional voice. Out of nowhere, it starts going off into some noisy indie rock until it's pulled back down into its folk beginnings. I could gush and gush about the various twists the song takes, but I don't want to spoil this one for you. I don't think I've been this mesmerized by a new song since I first heard Lady Lamb's Ripely Pine back when she was the Beekeeper. This is the unicorn level rare folk-ish song that's nearly eight minutes long, and you're going to be desperate for more when it's over.

You can (and should) listen to "Worth It" below. Haley Heynderickx's debut album, I Need to Start a Garden, will be out March 2 on Mama Bird Recording Co. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Haley Heynderickx, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Grow Rich - "Cash to Kyodo"

I may be completely wrong here, but I don't equate Jakarta, Indonesia with a great indie rock scene. This is why I'm so pleasantly surprised by this new single from Grow Rich. Grow Rich is a solo project from Abdur Rahim Latada. "Cash to Kyodo" is a fantastically great indie rock song. It blends the bouncier, Goo era Sonic Youth with the pop hooks of Regretfully Yours era Superdrag. Plus, there might just be the slightest hints of The Smiths, but that could also be the Superdrag I'm hearing. It's a fast, noisy pop song with epic swirling guitars. The instrumental parts are far too huge to just be solo bedroom rock. This has arena aspirations, in the best possible way.

You can listen to "Cash to Kyodo" below. The single is available now on Bandcamp. For more on Grow Rich, check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Rebecca Lou - "Bitch u look Good"

It's easy to call Rebecca Lou's new single, "Bitch u look Good," riot grrrl. It's crunchy, loud, in your face female fronted rock. But it's way too smooth and not abrasive enough to be truly riot grrrl. That's not meant as an insult in any way. "Bitch u look Good" is a great rock song. While the opening guitars reminded me of Bikini Kill's stellar classic "Rebel Girl," this song has a much bigger sound. It's more like if Joan Jett and Lita Ford decided to cover some Veruca Salt songs. It has Jett's punk/rock n roll feel with just a hint of Ford's 80's metal days. And, seriously... how can you go wrong with that?

You can watch the video for "Bitch u look Good" below. The single is out now on We Are Suburban. For more on Rebecca Lou, follow her on Facebook.

Sabine McCalla - folk

It would be easy to compare Sabine McCalla's music to her sister's. Both Sabine and Leyla MaCalla do stripped down folk music that feels like it's from another era. The both have a specific New Orleans sound, but they're both from New Orleans. While both of their music may have the same basic structure, they both have completely unique versions of it. 

On her new ep, folk, Sabine McCalla does the most stripped down version of folk you might ever hear. You can't get more stripped down than just a voice and acoustic instrument, but somehow her music is even more bare than that. "I Went to the Levee" and "Anyhow" may be a cappella, but those might be the most full sounding songs on the EP. The only instruments on the EP listed are piano and drums, and those don't appear in the same song. The sparseness of a song like "Stole My Heart" could be disturbing, and while the songs are dark, they are gorgeous in their intricate simplicity.

You can listen to "Stole My Heart" below. Sabine McCalla's new EP, folk, is available now on Bandcamp

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

no hope/no harm - "Toxic Baby"

The same week that Aaron Perrino played an experimental improvised show with his most well known band, his newest band released a new single. no hope/no harm have mostly released some fairly mellow alternative rock. "Toxic Baby" is their liveliest release yet. Complete with "Valentine, your blood turns quick / You love me like a jihadist" it steers dangerously close to emo, but doesn't quite go there. Ok... sure... it does, but in the best possible way. It's a great pop song with catchy guitar riffs, vocals that almost fall into abrasive but keep you sucked in, and shouting background vocals nearly hidden, it's the perfect song for those of us ashamed to admit to our guilty emo pleasures.

You can listen to "Toxic Baby" below. For your own copy of the song, head over to Bandcamp. For more on no hope/no harm, check them out on Facebook.

First Listen: New Releases for 2 February

An interesting new release week...

Album of the Week:

Artist: Sunny War
Album: With the Sun
Quick Description: Lovely, edgy folk music.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Cold Specks's album from last year was more like her earlier ones.
Overall Thoughts: On initial listen for this, I was surprised at how the vocal quality and delivery reminded me of Erin McKeown, but the stark nature of a lot of the music also gave me a lot of thoughts to the earlier Cold Sparks albums. This is a really gorgeous folk album with some light strings, great harmonies, subtle guitar work, the whole thing. This might have legs, so here’s hoping this is a breakthrough effort that gets the attention it deserves.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: Bat Fangs
Album: Bat Fangs
Quick Description: A side project of sorts that is as fun as it is aggressive.
Why You Should Listen: You like your guitar rock with every distortion pedal turned up.
Overall Thoughts: A compressed blast of fuzzy alt rock is probably the most pleasant surprise of this week. The songwriting is above average, the sound familiar yet unique, and the result is a really interesting listen that you’ll likely know whether you’ll love within the first minute.
Recommendation: Definitely worth the time this week.

Artist: The Wood Brothers
Album: One Drop of Truth
Quick Description: Interesting country-folk.
Why You Should Listen: You like some liveliness with your roots.
Overall Thoughts: Country-tinged music here with a bit of what feels like theatrical vocal flair made this not work for me as much as I wanted it to work. I expected something perhaps a little more traditional on this one and didn’t quite get it, which may be my problem more than the album itself. If you’re reading this mostly for coverage of our more rootsy stuff, give this a more wary look, but don’t just say no outright.
Recommendation: This could be your new favorite thing if it’s hitting the right spots for you.

Artist: Kyle Craft
Album: Full Circle Nightmare
Quick Description: Unexpected power poppy stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You like Fountains of Wayne, but also have some Doc Martens in your closet.
Overall Thoughts: If you look at Kyle Craft’s photo on Spotify, you would not expect this to be the sort of gleeful-sounding power pop that it ends up being. It’s an interesting listen on a whole, with some really hooky choruses and bright guitars throughout. I look forward to going back to this one just because the first listen was so positive and unexpected.
Recommendation: Find some time this week.

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Standing at the Gates: The Songs of Nada Surf's Let Go
Quick Description: You love, or even like, this seminal indie record.
Why You Should Listen: All cover albums are worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: A compilation celebrating 15 years of Nada Surf’s Let Go, an album everyone loves and is likely on the bottom half of Nada Surf albums for me, as I got on board at The Weight is a Gift. Still, as a covers record, this is pretty decent and has a few really interesting takes on the Let Go tracks. Overall, though? It just made me want to hear the originals again instead.
Recommendation: Good for fans of Nada Surf or the acts covering them here, but not for much else.

Artist: Anna Burch
Album: Quit the Curse
Quick Description: Soo debut from the indie rocker.
Why You Should Listen: One of the best of the week.
Overall Thoughts: This was a fairly anticipated release for me this year, and it more than met my heightened expectations. Burch is combining a few folk and rock elements together to provide one of the more interesting listens of the week even as it has a fairly mainstream and accessible feel. If I have any complaints, it’s that the nine tracks go by much too quickly on a whole. Either way, it’s one of the great releases of 2018 so far and needs some time in your rotation.
Recommendation: A mandatory listen this week, nearly my favorite.

Artist: Field Music
Album: Open Here
Quick Description: The latest chamber poppy record from this act.
Why You Should Listen: This is one of the more ambitious releases of the week.
Overall Thoughts: Field Music tries very hard to be a more orchestral band working in interesting soundscapes more than anything else, and the result for me, historically, has been mixed. There’s something about this record, though, that is working for me where previous Field Music records did not. It might be the tone, it might be how the songs are structured, but this was a really solid listen this week.
Recommendation: It’s not going to be for everyone, but this deserves your time.

Artist: Rhye
Album: Blood
Quick Description: New album from the soulish indie act.
Why You Should Listen: This band consistently stands out when they have a new record out.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve liked Rhye for some time now, and the new album continues the sort of precious, fragile falsetto pop that they do so well. I wish I had more to say about it, but this is simply an album that should be heard anyway, and an act that has been putting out consistent music for a few years now.
Recommendation: Don't sleep on this.


* Childish Gambino - EP (re-release of his 2011 EP, a highlight of that year)
* EMA - Outtakes from Exile

Also out this week:

* Justin Timberlake - Man of the Woods (this is legitimately awful)
* Rae Morris - Someone Out There
* D-Tension - Violence of Zen (think Wesley Willis without the mental illness)

Monday, February 5, 2018

Live Shows: Hallelujah the Hills and The Sheila Divine, Lilypad Inman, Cambridge, MA 2/3/18

Photo via Facebook
This year I'm making a point to try to go to more unique shows. Sure, the two or three band bill of bands I know playing songs from their albums at a rock club will happen, but I'm seeking out more one time experiences this year. Last Saturday, I found one when Hallelujah the Hills and The Sheila Divine played the absurdly tiny Lilypad Inman for an evening of improvised music.

The Sheila Divine have crafted some of the greatest alternative rock in the history of Boston. When you see them live, it's just hit song after hit song from my college years. Since they tend to be such a straightforward rock band, I was curious how an all improvised set would work. I worked surprisingly well, with some trainwrecky moments, of course. Instead of going the experimental noise rock route, The Sheila Divine crafted Sheila Divine songs on the fly, with actual singing and lyrics from Aaron Perrino. This kept the experimentation reined in a bit, with some great jam sessions in between verses. The band announced made up song titles in between songs, such as "Everybody Hates Their Dad." It felt more like the audience had been invited into a practice/songwriting session. Surprisingly, what worked the best was when the band asked for a music style for their last song, and an audience member suggested bossa nova. That led to the loosest, most fun the band seemed all night.

Hallelujah the Hills have had a few weirdo, experimental releases through the years, so their delving into a set of improvised music made more sense, and was what I expected. They embraced the "experimental" aspect of the night, complete with looped sounds and pre-recorded audio. While there were some gaps, Hallelujah the Hills basically played one extended jam session for their forty minute set. Ryan Walsh joked that he had watched the recent Grateful Dead documentary and was now legally obligated to play an improvised set. He also played up the improv aspect of the show by asking the audience for things like a city in Connecticut, a canned food, etc. and then announced they would now play a song using all those elements. Most likely it wasn't the greatest performance by either band, but it was a fun, unique way to see each one that satisfied the bands' die hard fans and experimental music fans alike.

Thurston Moore - "Mx Liberty"

Photo via Facebook
A lot of Thurston Moore's post-Sonic Youth work has been on the mellower side. With his new single, "Mx Liberty," that is changing in a big way. "Mx Liberty" is the heaviest Thurston has been in years, Twilight excluded. It's an incredibly punk sound, but not in the way Sonic Youth could be considered punk. His guitar playing will always sound like his guitar playing which will give off a certain Sonic Youth vibe. But it's... different this time. He hasn't played with this sense of urgency in decades. It's a heavier, crunchier sound to it, and the riffs are simply ferocious. Plus, the vocals are somewhere between chanting and shouting, giving off an almost hip hop feel. This is the most interesting thing Thurston Moore has recorded in a long, long time. According to the label, the song is "... a punk rock broadside to the current man-boys of the USA government in response to their mockery of democracy," in case you were unaware of Moore's feelings on the current U.S. government.

You can listen to "Mx Liberty" below. It will be released as a 7" on February 19 (President's Day, not coincidentally) through Blank Editions. You can get your copy here. For more on Thurston Moore, check out his website.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Gray Bouchard - Dedication Songs

Salem Wolves are known for their blend of bombastic, arena rock ready rock n' roll/punk anthems. You would assume that when their lead singer, Gray Bouchard, released a solo album, it would be more on the quieter end. You'd be right with that assumption, but this isn't your typical rock/punk frontman releasing an album of introspective acoustic songs. Instead, Dedication Songs still has a large sound of less heavy but still big, earnest songs. It's almost as if Billy Bragg took over U2 for an album in the 90's. "Nothing From Nothing" starts off the album with some quiet music box tinkering but builds into this huge power ballad. "You're No Better" might be the angriest power ballad of all time, with it's jerky rhythm and Pinkerton style confessional vibe. "Chasing After Honey" has a distinct 80's pop vibe, like a more rootsy Rick Springfield. There's enough of Salem Wolves's make up on Dedication Songs to satisfy their fans, but Gray Bouchard reaches out enough to bring in a whole new audience. This album can't be recommended enough.

You can listen to the album opener, "Nothing From Nothing," below. Dedication Songs is available now via Bandcamp. For more on Gray Bouchard, follow him on Facebook.

Luke Reed - "I'm Dreaming"

Luke Reed records the kind of bedroom pop I miss from the 90's. While his other bands, Bent Shapes and Mini Dresses, release more energetic rock, his solo material is decidedly more chill. It could be that he does record at night in his Somerville, MA bedroom, but the results are a style of dreamy pop music with summery vibes, which we could use in New England right now. His latest single, "I'm Dreaming," fits this perfectly. It sounds like the kind of music that would be playing in your head while you're in that dream filled haze between being awake and asleep. 

You can listen to "I'm Dreaming" below. The single is available for free via The Native Sound. You can get your copy over at Bandcamp. For more of Luke Reed's music, check him out on Soundcloud.

FACS - "Skylarking"

Photo by Zoran Orlik
Bad news, everyone. I just discovered that Disappears are no more, and that this happened roughly a year ago. The good news is we now have FACS, which is comprised of three members of Disappears: Brian Case, Noah Leger, and Jonathan van Herik. The new grouping has put out a first single, "Skylarking." Much like with Disappears, FACS is not going to be for everyone. It's extraordinarily sparse for a rock song, falling squarely into the "art rock" category while still maintaining a song structure. There's something very uncomfortable about "Skylarking." Despite how quiet it is, there's a disconcerting feeling of anxiety throughout the song. It's building this odd anticipation, which never quite fully pays off. There are a couple of moments when it feels like the whole thing might finally explode into chaos and noise, but, if anything, it seems to implode in upon itself. Like I said, not for everyone, but truly great stuff for those of us into it.

You can listen to "Skylarking" below. Negative Houses, the debut album from FACS, will be out March 30 on Trouble in Mind. For more information on FACS, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Caroline Rose - "Getting to Me"

Photo by CJ Harvey
Over the past couple of years there have been a bunch of folky/Americana artists switching up their sounds to varying degrees of success. The biggest change in sound has been Caroline Rose. Her follow up to 2014's country leaning I Will Not Be Afraid has all but abandoned that album's sound, at least from the two songs we've heard so far. Instead, we've been treated to her fantastic new DEVO meets the Beastie Boys crazed frenzy of a sound. The third song from LONER, "Getting to Me," goes back to the previous album's feel. It's not quite as Americana sounding, but compared to "Soul No. 5" and "Money," this song might as well be a Hank Williams cover. It's a ballad that's definitely not country or folk, but has the feel of both. It makes me wonder how it's going to fit into the rest of LONER, and which Caroline Rose will dominate this album.

You can listen to "Getting to Me" below. Caroline Rose's new album, LONER, will be out February 23 on New West Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Caroline Rose, check out her website. Her current tour dates are below the link.

Fri. March 2 – Woodstock, NY @ The Colony *
Sat. March 3 – Pittsburgh, PA @ The Smiling Moose *
Mon. March 5 – Columbus, OH @ Rumba Café *
Tue. March 6 – Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlie’s *
Thu. March 8 – Athens, GA @ Caledonia Lounge *
Fri. March 9 – Savannah, GA @ Savannah Stopover Music Festival
Sun. March 11 – Macon, GA @ Creek Stage
Wed. March 14 – Sat. March 17 – Austin, TX @ SXSW
Fri. March 23 - Austin, TX @ Antone’s #
Sat. March 24 - Dallas, TX @ Dada #
Sun. March 25 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa #
Tue. March 27 - Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
Wed. March 28 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Thu. March 29 - Asheville, NC @ The Mothlight
Fri. March 30 - Chapel Hill, NC @ Local 506
Sat. March 31 - Washington, DC @ Songbyrd
Tue. April 3 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
Wed. April 4 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Thu. April 5 - Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brendas
Fri. April 6 - New Haven, CT @ Cafe Nine
Sat. April 7 - South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Showcase Lounge
Fri. April 11 – Buffalo, NY @ Buffalo Iron Works ^
Sat. April 12 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Tavern ^
Sun. April 13 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Pyramid Scheme +
Mon. April 14 – Kalamazoo, MI @ Bell’s Eccentric Café – Back Room +
Tue. April 15 – Indianapolis, IN @ Hi-Fi +
Thu. April 17 – Davenport, IA @ Redstone Room +
Fri. April 18 – Chicago, IL @ The Hideout +
Sat. April 19 – Detroit, MI @ El Club +
Sun. April 20 – Toronto, ON @ The Dakota Tavern +
Sun. April 21 – Toronto, ON @ The Dakota Tavern +
Fri. May 18 - Gulf Shores, AL @ Hangout Music Festival
* = co-headline with The Nude Party
# = with The Weeks
^ = with Marco Benevento
+ = co-headline with The Go Rounds