Friday, April 27, 2018

Live Shows: Margo Price and Aaron Lee Tasjan, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 4/25/18

Since Margo Price had my #3 album of 2016 and my #1 album of 2017 and her set was the highlight of the 2016 Green River Festival, I've been dying to see her perform her own show, but it's just never worked out until this past Wednesday, when her Nowhere Fast tour came to Boston at the Paradise. Knowing it's only a matter of time until she moves out of clubs, I had to go out too late on a work night.

Playing her own set in front of her own adoring fans and not a shortened festival set in front of a crowd gave Price more freedom. She moved from guitar to keyboards and even drums in a way that felt organic and not just showing off. If she did showing off, she did it in her absolute mastery of a live performance. She and her band are impossibly polished for clubs, and it showed in each and every song. Songs like "A Little Pain" and "All American Made" just take on a whole new life live. My favorite song at Green River was once again my favorite at the Paradise, despite being reworked. "Four Years of Chances" previously was done with Price putting down the guitar and just singing. At the Paradise, she played some punk rock guitar over the song, giving it a fresh sound and a fitting edge. Even on extended jams the band seemed poised for greatness (and showed off Price's jam band heritage). At the end of "Cocaine Cowboys," price manned a second drum set at the end of the song in what could have been a little self serving. Instead the band found in intense groove in what could have been the end of Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down a Dream." The only reason I'm not convinced it was a secret Petty tribute is that four songs later she brought up opener Aaron Lee Tasjan to help her with "Mary Jane's Last Dance."

Aaron Lee Tasjan is another artist that's about to leap into the mainstream. Years ago, I'd go to a show with little to no knowledge of the opener, just the name, if that. I could then be blown away out of nowhere. Nowadays, I'm going to at least check out a few songs, so the only way an artist can blow me away is by blowing their recorded output away live. That's what Aaron Lee Tasjan does. His 2016 album, Silver Tears, is a solid album on the mainstream side of alt country. Live? The two can't even be compared. Tasjan has mastered the art of rambling storyteller in between songs, and he's just so charming that he can even make the goofiest dad jokes hilarious. ("I'm Aaron Lee Tasjan... I hope I'm saying that right.") Plus, any male country singer that can rock a checkered and floral print dress on stage is a-ok in my book. Songs like "Memphis Rain" and "12 Bar Blues" benefited from his telling the stories behind them. While Margo Price is alt country meets jam band, Aaron Lee Tasjan is alt country meets indie rock. Anyone can, and will, enjoy his performance, but if Arlo Guthrie fronting Built to Spill sounds like a dream come true, you could very well become obsessed if you see him live.

If this tour comes to your city, you need to check it out. There is no way you'll be seeing these two in venues this small after this.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Flasher - "Pressure"

Photo by Jen Dessinger
Last year we brought you a few of Flasher's singles, and since then we've been waiting to hear more from the Washington DC band. We're finally in luck since June will see the release of their debut album. While we wait, we can check out "Pressure," the first single from the album. 

Everything we loved about Flasher is on display here. "Pressure" is fairly straightforward modern alt rock with a bouncy, danceable flair. Maybe it's just the DC connection, but I hear some influence from bands like Rites of Spring or Fugazi. But, you know, fun. Most people are probably going to hear more DEVO or B-52's than those other bands, and they're probably right. It's a manic mixture that sounds fresh while drawing from the past.

You can watch the video for "Pressure" below. Constant Image, the debut album from Flasher, will be out June 8 on Domino Recording Co. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Flasher, check them out on Facebook. Their current tour dates are below the video.

Thu. Apr. 19 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sunshine Theater w/ The Breeders
Fri. Apr. 20 - Norman, OK @ The Opolis
Wed. Apr. 25 - Birmingham, AL @ Iron City w/ The Breeders
Mon. Apr. 30 - Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel w/ The Breeders
Wed. June 6 - Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits w/ Dehd
Fri. June 8 - Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere w/ Dehd, Public Practice
Sat. June 9 - Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre w/ Dehd
Sun. June 10 - Allston, MA @ Great Scott w/ Dehd
Mon. June 11 - Winooski, VT @ The Monkey House w/ Dehd
Tue. June 12 - Montreal, QC @ Brasserie Beaubien w/ Dehd
Wed. June 13 - Toronto, ON @ The Baby G w/ Dehd
Thu. June 14 - Detroit, MI @ El Club w/ Dehd
Fri. June 15 - Chicago, IL @ Schubas w/ Dehd
Sat. June 16 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St. Entry w/ Dehd
Mon. June 18 - Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon w/ Dehd
Tue. June 19 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop w/ Dehd
Thu. June 21 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl w/ Dehd
Fri. June 22 - Durham, NC @ The Pinhook w/ Dehd
Sat. June 23 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat w/ Dehd
Fri. July 20 - Seattle, WA @ Capitol Hill Block Party

Leisure Tank - "Higher"

I have an odd fondness for rock duos. There's just something refreshing about music stripped down to its bare essentials while still having a full, fleshed out sound. London's Leisure Tank bring a sense of groove and melody to the rock duo genre. Their latest single, "Higher," has a driving beat along with an incredibly danceable rhythm and bass line. The song passed catchy within the first few seconds, and it will sound and feel familiar while twisting and turning into multiple unexpected directions. "Higher" is fun and inventive, and I truly can't imagine a listener that can't find something to like here.

You can listen to "Higher" below. The single is available now via Goddamn Records. For more on Leisure Tank, check out their website.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

MC Paul Barman featuring Masta Ace - "((((((antennas))))))"

Photo by Sasha Lytvyn
May is shaping up to be an amazing month for new music, and part of that is the long awaited new album (by me, at least) from MC Paul Barman. "((((((antennas))))))," the latest single, keeps up Barman's slow move from novelty songs like "Cock Mobster" to more serious songs. That's not to say there's no humor in the new material. "((((((antennas))))))" includes the line "Don’t hyperfocus on your diaper crocus. Just change your drawers and wipe your tochus," but it's a more mature humor. Plus, he is joined by hip hop legend Masta Ace for the song, which automatically gives it an insane amount of cred. The two styles of rappers gives the song this chill but still intense feeling.

You can listen to "((((((antennas))))))" below. (((echo chamber))), the upcoming album from MC Paul Barman, will be out May 18 on Mello Music Group. You can pre-order the album here. For more on MC Paul Barman, check out his website.

The I Want You - "All Beat Up"

For about a year now, we've been singing the praises of The I Want You. They have this great retro power pop/indie rock feel which is pretty much our thing here. Their latest single, "All Beat Up," was recorded as part of February's RPM Challenge, where artists try to write and record an album's worth of material in a month. "All Beat Up" is on the laid back, ballad side of things in the best possible way. It's about being your own worst enemy and emotionally beating yourself up worse than anyone ever could. With that subject matter, somehow it's still a fun song.

You can watch the video for "All Beat Up" below. "All Beat Up" is available now as a single on Bandcamp with two b-sides: "Come On" is inspired by the Parkland students fight for gun control and "The Rise and Fall" is about the life of David Bowie. For more on The I Want You, check out their website.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for April 20

Blaze it responsibly with new music!

Album of the Week:

Artist: My Indigo
Album: My Indigo
Quick Description: Nordic metal singer goes... not metal.
Why You Should Listen: It's a gorgeous and interesting listen.
Overall Thoughts: My favorite listen of the week, a slightly poppy, sometimes folky, but always-endearing listen that stretches some boundaries while still feeling safe and familiar. This hooked me by the second track and didn’t care to let go, and that says a lot in a busy week. I can’t wait to spend more time with this one.
Recommendation: Bump this to the top of your list.

Artist: Chilly Gonzales
Album: Other People's Pieces
Quick Description: An unconventional covers record.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little different, but still want those sweet, sweet covers.
Overall Thoughts: If you like The Bad Plus but hate jazz, you might want to give this Chilly Gonzales record a try. The instrumental medleys are interesting, the rest a pretty interesting conversation piece.
Recommendation: Worth at least one listen.

Artist: Joshua Hedley
Album: Mr. Jukebox
Quick Description: Classic-sounding music.
Why You Should Listen: You wish you were in a country bar in the 1950s.
Overall Thoughts: Everything about the cover here screams classic, and the album itself reinforces that presentation. Solid, if unassuming, listens that never quite take off yet feel very comfortable and safe, this is a good listen but is unlikely to blow anyone’s mind.
Recommendation: Worth a shot if you're into it.

Artist: The Longshot
Album: Love is for Losers
Quick Description: Green Day side project!
Why You Should Listen: This is a lot more fun than you'd think.
Overall Thoughts: After a teaser EP last week, Billie Joe Armstrong’s new punk project is surprisingly great. It’s not “Green Day in their prime” great, but there’s an energy and enthusiasm here that can’t be faked or ignored. Might not work for everyone, but this was absolutely a favorite of mine this week.
Recommendation: Definitely worth a listen.

Artist: Sleep
Album: The Sciences
Quick Description: Stoner metal for the masses?
Why You Should Listen: You might be as surprised by it as I was?
Overall Thoughts: I didn’t know of Sleep prior to Ken sending this over as a surprise reunion album. For a first exposure, this was pretty good as a deliberative-style rock thing. It would feel well ahead of its time in its initial release, and there’s a lot to like here as well.
Recommendation: It's an album with a song called "Marijuananaut's Theme" released on 4/20, what do you think?

Artist: Archie and the Bunkers
Album: Songs From the Lodge
Quick Description: Keyboard punk virtuosos!
Why You Should Listen: They have a heck of a pedigree, and no one sounds quite like them.
Overall Thoughts: Keyboard punk that may or may not be inspired by Twin Peaks? This was fine – I listened once and probably don’t need to go back, but if this scratches that specific itch for you, you’ll probably enjoy this and the EP they released this week as well.
Recommendation: Give it a chance.

Artist: Del the Funky Homosapien and Amp Live
Album: Gate 13
Quick Description: Concept album of sorts from some underrated rappers.
Why You Should Listen: A nice balance of sounds here.
Overall Thoughts: Del is always good, and this album is no different. Still feels new and fresh even with his style remaining similar to when he started out, and the collaborative effort with Amp Live only makes it that much better. On a slow rap week, give this a spin.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: Old Crow Medicine Show
Album: Volunteer
Quick Description: Latest from the Americana mainstays.
Why You Should Listen: OCMS is one of the best acts around.
Overall Thoughts: OCMS’s last album was a bit of a miss for me, but the top bluegrass act of late is back on top with this one, as far as I’m concerned. This feels back to basics in many ways that I didn’t expect, and is a great listen on a whole.
Recommendation: Will definitely come back to this one.

Artist: A Perfect Circle
Album: Eat the Elephant
Quick Description: Newest album in some time from the Tool frontman's side gig.
Why You Should Listen: Ehh, well...
Overall Thoughts: A Perfect Circle had one of the great alt-rock debuts of the early 2000s. This album, among other things, has a song inspired by a bad Yelp review of singer Maynard James Keenan’s vineyard. Take that as you will.
Recommendation: Skip this.

Artist: Lord Huron
Album: Vide Noir
Quick Description: New album from the indie act.
Why You Should Listen: This is definitely one of the more interesting efforts this week.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed their previous effort, and this one is very ambitious in its own right, with some interesting soundscapes and musical choices to go along with this album. The result is often unpredictable but generally redeeming, and it’s one that deserves a few listens to ultimately soak in.
Recommendation: Should grab some of your time.

Artist: Kimbra
Album: Primal Heart
Quick Description: New album from the New Zealand pop artist.
Why You Should Listen: This comes back to a more accessible sound.
Overall Thoughts: Kimbra has been trying to break from “the female singer from that Gotye song years ago” for a while now, and her last album was not something I liked and felt extremely experimental. This is definitely more of a return to form, and balances out the weird with the more poppy efforts. The result is a really accessible album that is still strange enough to keep out the less adventurous of us.
Recommendation: Definitely worth some time.

Other releases of note:

* Cold Fronts - Fantasy Du Jour
* Young Valley - Young Valley
* Shuggie Otis - Inter-Fusion
* Charmer - Charmer (probably deserves a closer look)
* Thievery Corporation - Treasures From the Temple


* Sera Cahoone - The Flora String Sessions
* Gang of Four - Complicit (a...little on the nose there, guys...)
* AMNLPLNET - Fall Asleep
* Bessie Turner - 22:22
* Archie and the Bunkers - Play the Damned
* Ellevator - Ellevator

Also out:

* Jesus Jones - Passages (no one asked for this)
* Sting and Shaggy - 44/876 (or this)
* DRINKS - Hippo-Lite
* Pennywise - Never Gonna Die
* Lume - Wrung Out

Monday, April 23, 2018

Rat Scabies - "Chew On You"

Despite being actively musically since leaving The Damned back in 1996, Rat Scabies has never gone the solo artist route. That changes next month when he releases his first ever solo album. Judging from the lead single, "Chew On You," Scabies is avoiding the typical singer/songwriter country/folk solo artist route. "Chew On You" is a rocking garage punk blast, filled with amped up buzzsaw guitars and crashing drums. It's loud, and noisy, and not the kind of song you usually hear from an artist that's been making music for forty years. 

You can listen to "Chew On You" below. P.H.D. (Prison, Hospital, Death), the first solo album from Rat Scabies, is due out May 18 on Cleopatra Records. You can pre-order a physical copy through Cleopatra Records and digitally on Bandcamp. For more on Rat Scabies, follow him on Twitter or Facebook.

Belly - "Starryeyed"

To say we're excited for the release of Belly's first album since 1995's King is an understatement. The Belly reunion feels more like an organic reunion than a cash grab, and the new music they've been releasing reflects that. Their latest single, "Starryeyed," is an absolutely gorgeous alternative ballad. It is fairly similar to Tanya Donelly's more recent solo work, but it still has that Belly edge to it, while still being soft and beautiful. Without looking at the track list for Dove, "Starryeyed" sounds like the closing song for an early/mid 90's alternative album. (If you were around back then, you know exactly what that sounds like.)

You can listen to "Starryeyed" below. Dove, the first Belly album in 23 years, will be out May 4. For more on Belly, check out their website.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Spritzer - "Little Mystery"

Photo via Facebook
Apparently nobody told Spritzer that indie rock isn't supposed to be fun. We know, we know. We're embarrassed for them, too. Their new single, "Little Mystery," is an absolute blast of a song, with bouncy guitars with just enough jangle but enough of a shimmer throughout the entire song to make it poppy. Everything in this song is catchy, from the verses, to the chorus, to the rhythm guitar, to the "woo-oo"s, to the guitar that infrequently pops in seemingly out of nowhere. Even if you demand that your indie rock be very serious and earnest, you're going to love this song.

You can listen to "Little Mystery" below. Spritzer's debut album, Love. Lies. Decay., will be out April 27. For more on Spritzer, check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook.

The Sheila Divine - "Time To Set It Off"

Last time we saw The Sheila Divine, they were performing an all improvised experimental rock set at Lilypad Inman. In case you thought they might be going in the art rock direction, they're back to the poppy alt rock that we've come to love for 20 years now with their latest single. "Time To Set It Off" has a slightly different sound than vintage Sheila Divine, maybe a little funkier than we're used to? It's still a Sheila Divine song with loud, driving and swirling guitars and Aaron Perrino's trademark just short of emo vocals, though, so we're 100% on board. 

You can listen to "Time To Set It Off" below, and get your own copy of the song at The Sheila Divine's Bandcamp. If you happen to be in Belgium, you're in luck since they'll be touring your country in May. For all things The Sheila Divine, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Labor Hex - Lost In Calling

Boston's Labor Hex may be our spiritual brothers. According to their Bandcamp bio, "Labor Hex is four middle aged dudes still trying to figure out how to live their lives. Music helps." Same, guys. Same.

Their debut EP, Lost In Calling, is wonderfully loud and noisy, the kind of music we're supposed to have stopped listening to, let along making, at our age. Their main sound seems to combine Rites of Spring and Fugazi with Cave In and Converge. Like I said, this is far too loud for people our age to listen to, much less make, but that might be why I love this so much. The title track just grabs you the second it starts, and from there the only break you'll get is the few seconds between songs. Even "Valentine Coast," the closest thing to a ballad, is louder than most bands' heavy songs. Somehow, Labor Hex does keep it all under control with some semblance of song structure, and maybe even some melody, so Lost In Calling never devolves into a complete and utter trainwreck.

You can listen to "Lost In Calling" below. The EP Lost In Calling is available for a "name your price" option over on Bandcamp. If you choose $0.00, be sure to at least give Labor Hex a follow on their social media. You can find them on Facebook and Instagram.

Lotic - "Hunted"

I'm struggling to find ways to describe "Hunted," the latest single from Lotic, but I'll try my best. The Houston born and currently Berlin based artist has some ties to the trip hop world of Tricky. They share Tricky's groove and chill. But there is a strong sense of tension and noise throughout, reminding me a lot of Atari Teenage Riot. I never thought I'd be hearing a trip hop/digital hardcore hybrid, but I'm also not complaining. With the majority of the lyrics are the barely whispered "brown skin, masculine frame / head's a target / actin' real feminine / make 'em vomit" repeated throughout the song, I doubt there's little question to the subject matter.

You can listen to "Hunted" below. Lotic's debut album, Power, will be out on July 13 on Tri Angle Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Lotic, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Kitten Forever - "Hell Hole"

It's been well over three years since we brought you any new music from Kitten Forever. (Somehow we missed their 2016 album 7 Hearts. WHOOPS!) For a self-described "minimalist punk band," they are loud. The Minneapolis based trio play this incredibly fast brand of punk that owes a ton to riot grrrl bands of the past. "Hell Hole" is all driving guitars and bashing, cymbal heavy drums, and gang vocal choruses. The crazy thing is, as loud and noisy as I'm describing it, "Hell Hole" is fun and groovy. There's just enough of a pop hook in the song to make it danceable, which is a rare feat. 

You can listen to "Hell Hole" below. Kitten Forever's fourth album, Semi-Permanent, will be self-released on their own Rat Queen Records label on May 4. You can pre-order your copy via Bandcamp. For more on Kitten Forever, check out their website.

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for 13 April

And the rest!

Artist: Bryde
Album: Like an Island
Quick Description: First proper album from half of Paper Airplanes.
Why You Should Listen: It's tricky indie rock with a folk bent.
Overall Thoughts: Nearly my album of the week, this is sneaky great. Bryde takes the quiet->loud dynamic and sits directly on the edges of both, providing a surprising style that feels unpredictable even as you hear certain songs multiple times. The entire approach here is familiar, yet has a unique enough spin that you won’t feel bored.
Recommendation: Really worth giving a shot.

Artist: Mr. Fingers
Album: Cerebral Hemispheres
Quick Description: The return of a house legend.
Why You Should Listen: It's like a time capsule of 1980s dance.
Overall Thoughts: It’s been 20-odd years since this important house music artist put anything new together, and this album feels like a dose of retro dance music from start to finish. The problem with it is the overall lack of evolution in the sound – I personally expected something a little more evolved, but I am also not completely up on the current house trends, so this may be fairly representative. So from my completely uninformed perspective, you may be bored if interesting electronic acts do it for you today, but may love it if house music is your thing.
Recommendation: Be wary, but worth a listen.

Artist: Wood and Wire
Album: North of Despair
Quick Description: Great bluegrass music.
Why You Should Listen: You like a well-polished roots act.
Overall Thoughts: I knew from the moment I saw this act that I would love it. Their label does a tremendous job of getting crisp, pure roots music out there for the masses, and this is the best I’ve heard as of late. Bump this to the top of your list.
Recommendation: A must listen.

Artist: War on Women
Album: Capture the Flag
Quick Description: Latest from the punk act.
Why You Should Listen: Resistance rock is somewhat lacking these days.
Overall Thoughts: On one hand, it's a solid record from a band known to make solid records. On the other? In a really busy week, however, not much here stands out.
Recommendation: There are better options, to be frank.

Artist: Manic Street Preachers
Album: Resistance is Futile
Quick Description: Latest from the legendary British rock act.
Why You Should Listen: It's the Manics. Come on.
Overall Thoughts: The Manic Street Preachers were the first live band I ever saw back when they opened for Oasis on the Morning Glory tour. They’ll always hold a spot in my heart, but they have been at this for a looooong time and this definitely feels like an album from an act that had its better days earlier on.
Recommendation: Good for fans, but not really worth the time otherwise.

Artist: Tinashe
Album: Joyride
Quick Description: New R&B album from a popular artist on the brink of taking off.
Why You Should Listen: Good R&B can sometimes be hard to find.
Overall Thoughts: Cardi B has sucked a lot of the air out of the room for rap/R&B, and what’s left is being grabbed by Janelle Monae, so Tinashe’s buzz-worthy release runs the risk of being overlooked because it doesn’t offer a ton to gain notice at the moment. Servicable feels like a bad word to use due to the implications, but without a specific stand-out moment or theme...
Recommendation: ...this just floats there under the radar for me.

Artist: John Prine
Album: The Tree of Forgiveness
Quick Description: New album from the longtime roots legend.
Why You Should Listen: John Prine should be an automatic for anyone who likes Americana.
Overall Thoughts: John Prine is one of the elder statesmen of the roots movement today, and his latest album isn’t afraid to put his age right on display for everyone to see. This sort of vulnerability doesn’t often come across in the roots music, but it does the trick here and creates an album that needs to be heard. Less a great roots record and more of a piece of art, everyone should hear it at least once.
Recommendation: Give this a spin.

Artist: Mouse on Mars
Album: Dimensional People
Quick Description: Latest from another legendary act, this time on the electronic side.
Why You Should Listen: Mouse on Mars revolutionized what electronic music can be.
Overall Thoughts: On one hand we had Mr Fingers this week. On the other, a new album from Mouse on Mars comes about, and a lot of the strangeness we come to expect from them feels similarly blunted when put up against acts like Ben Frost or Jenny Hval. This is excellent, don’t get me wrong, but if you were previously into Mouse on Mars for a weirdness quotient, you may find it wanting.
Recommendation: Try it out.



Also out:

* Derek Smalls - Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing) (no one was asking for a Spinal Tap solo album, but here we are)
* A Place to Bury Strangers - Pinned

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Live Shows: Amanda White Band and The James Rocket, Lilypad Inman, Cambridge, MA 4/14/18

After ten years of following the musical exploits of The James Rocket, one of their rare trips up to the Boston area finally worked out for my schedule. Not to mention that our new discovery Amanda White was also playing the show, and I knew I had to head out, despite unseasonably cold temperatures and showtime confusion made worse by whoever was working the door.

Amanda White started off the show with her backing band, which also includes Joe Elliott, drummer for The James Rocket. She had some sound issues for the first two songs, which is a little disappointing since her classically trained vocals are one of the main selling points. She stuck mostly to songs off her latest album, Kittens Give Zero Fucks, mostly so she could say "Kittens give zero fucks" as much as possible. (Her own admission, not my speculation.) As someone who tends to go to very earnest indie rock shows, sometimes it's just fun to see an artist that just rocks out and has fun with it. And live, the Amanda White Band shreds. There is more than a little of an 80's metal feel to it, but in the best possible way. They're like a less hokey Darkness or a Steel Panther without feeling dirty.

Next was The James Rocket's mixture of songs about frontman James William Roy being a "big, fat liar" and a "big, fat failure." (Once again, his words, not mine, but I suddenly get why I'm drawn to his music...) Live, The James Rocket come across as a mix of Elvis Costello and Superchunk, or like a fun loving Fugazi on other songs. A song like "Paper Valentines" is far better than I remember it, and "Derby Girl" was just a great, fun indie rock song. Seeing as Amanda White is local, she was the bigger draw , and it was a late, late night for us old timers, so the crowd slowly thinned out as The James Rocket's set went on. (Since most of the early leavers made sure to personally stop to say goodbye to Amanda White and wish her a happy birthday, I can't imagine it had anything to do with The James Rocket's performance.) The odd thing is, as the crowd got smaller, they got much more into it, until it was a small but enthusiastically dancing crowd. 

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for April 13

Nothing unlucky about 20 new releases to cover this week.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Many Rooms
Album: There Is a Presence Here
Quick Description: Dreamy folk-adjacent music.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little more meditative this week.
Overall Thoughts: Ethereal, deliberative tones, heavy on the reverb and vocal trickery. Feels like if Bon Iver and Band of Horses had a daughter, and that is not a bad thing at all. This will absolutely not be for everyone, but this is an album that demanded my attention by the third song, and I see myself going back to this a lot in the coming months.
Recommendation: Really made me sit up and take notice this week. A must listen.

Artist: Night Flowers
Album: Wild Notion
Quick Description: Retro-styled alt-pop.
Why You Should Listen: You've been looking for a continuation of sorts from the trend we saw last year.
Overall Thoughts: I loved this! A little alt-poppy, sometimes has that hazy quality to it, but in terms of some super-melodic stuff that’s happening here, this album rarely misses. If last year was the mid-1990s alt revival, this is trying to revive the time that followed, and it just might work.
Recommendation: Really solid listen.

Artist: Josh Rouse
Album: Love in the Modern Age
Quick Description: Rouse goes retro, sort of.
Why You Should Listen: Josh Rouse is consistently excellent.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Rouse for close to 15 years now, and it is tempting to call this album another change in style for him, but the album title does reflect the attitude that it approaches even if the album feels decidedly Rousian in its execution. It’s definitely a good listen from an artist that rarely stumbles.
Recommendation: Give this a shot this week

Artist: Brazilian Girls
Album: Let's Make Love
Quick Description: An interesting, complicated record from a long-standing act.
Why You Should Listen: Brazilian Girls always keeps it fresh.
Overall Thoughts: This act is very, very different than what they were when I first got into them a decade-plus ago. What is interesting is that they are severely aping Talking Heads quite a bit on this effort, which was unexpected. It doesn’t always work, but when it does, it’s a fun listen.
Recommendation: Worth a look.

Artist: Laura Veirs
Album: The Lookout
Quick Description: First solo record in years from the indie folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Laura Veirs has made some truly iconic songs over the years.
Overall Thoughts: It’s been a while since we got a proper Veirs solo album. Her songs on the case/lang/veirs project were the highlights, but the new solo album feels a little more contemplative and a little less adventurous. This isn’t a bad thing, but when the things that draw me to Veirs are more along the lines of “Rapture” and “The Cloud Room,” hearing a more traditional effort can be jarring. It’s still a welcome return, in any regard...
Recommendation: ...but just might not be what you were hoping for.

Artist: Sofi Tukker
Album: Treehouse
Quick Description: Modern pop.
Why You Should Listen: It's the only thing like it this week, and has a lot of pluses.
Overall Thoughts: This is a pretty modern dance/pop record, and I’ll admit – it’s a little hit-and-miss, but man, when it hits? Songs like “Best Friend” are a kicker and really make the lower parts of the record more tolerable. In a shorter week, this is likely worth the time if you’re interested in a more pop record. I wanted to like this a lot more than I did, but the good far outweighs the bad.
Recommendation: Might be your thing.

Artist: A Hawk and a Hacksaw
Album: Forest Bathing
Quick Description: Elephant Six meets the Eastern Bloc.
Why You Should Listen: This is great, gorgeous instrumental stuff.
Overall Thoughts: The Eastern Europeanish branch of the Elephant Six collaborative, this is some really gorgeous and interesting stuff. I don’t pretend to know the first thing about this type of music, but I really enjoyed the experience and I’m glad to see we’re getting a proper album from this duo for the first time in a while.
Recommendation: Absolutely should find some time this week even if it's not your genre.

Artist: The Damned
Album: Evil Spirits
Quick Description: Hard rock for people who might not like hard rock.
Why You Should Listen: Steel Panther is too much for you.
Overall Thoughts: I really would have dug this a decade ago. As it stands, though, I didn’t care much for this effort, which is sort of like a more serious sounding Darkness or something. There’s too much good music out this week for this, so try something else.
Recommendation: In a busy week, skip this.

Artist: L. A. Salami
Album: The City of Bootmakers
Quick Description: Sometimes singer-songwritery, sometimes poppy, sometimes rocking.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little more unique this week.
Overall Thoughts: At times this reminds me of early Langhorne Slim, at others a fairly standard pop-leaning rock singer-songwriter effort. L.A.S has an interesting voice and makes a really solid effort here that I definitely liked. Give this a shot, you might find a lot here to love.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Juliana Hatfield
Album: Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John
Quick Description: Juliana Hatfield sings Olivia Newton-John.
Why You Should Listen: Juliana Hatfield sings Olivia Newton-John.
Overall Thoughts: This does exactly what it says on the package. It's fine. "Physical" is the obvious highlight. The more you love Olivia Newton-John, the more you'll love this.
Recommendation: Yeah.

EPs of note:

* Rachael Cantu - Love Rush
* The Longshot - The Longshot EP (Billie Joe Armstrong project)

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Fabulous Minx - "Party Till We're Dead"

Photo via Facebook
Sometimes you don't want a band to reinvent rock. Sometimes you just want a good, old fashioned, fun rock n' roll song. That's where the new single from Tulsa, OK's The Fabulous Minx comes in. "Party Till We're Dead" is a 94 second burst of rock n' roll fun. It definitely has more than a bit of a rockabilly throwback feel, but in the best possible way. You've definitely heard a band mix the Ramones's stripped down rock sound with punk sing-alongs in a rockabilly blend before, but it's still something you should love and listen to. Plus, the song is about being over thirty in a scene filled with youngsters in their early 20's, so we can most definitely relate.

You can listen to "Party Till We're Dead" below. While you're at it, you should also check out the b-side "Baby Baby Baby." For more on The Fabulous Minx, check out their website.

Friday, April 13, 2018

New Boston Based Music Podcast Worth Checking Out

As someone very active in the local Boston music scene in the late 90's (as an audience member, at least), I'm obviously very nostalgic for anything to do with that time/scene. That's why I've become enamored with Christian Campagna's new podcast, Talk About the Passion. It's only 23 episodes in, so now is a great time to get on board. According to the description, "Talk About the Passion is a podcast where I will be talking with friends and strangers about their passions in creativity. There’s a slight slant towards people from the punk and hardcore scenes, but of course I want to stretch way past those boundaries." He's not kidding about the slant towards punk and hardcore, as episodes have featured Scott Helland (Deep Wound), Nate Newton (Converge), Jonah Jenkins (Only Living Witness), etc. He does branch out from time to time, and has episodes with comedian Allison Dick, Kevin Patey (Raging Teens, Jittery Jack), and radio DJ Angie C. (The Angie C episode is highly recommended.) If you love hearing old friends hang out and reminisce about TT the Bear's, The Rat, and dozens of bands you forgot existed, check out Talk About the Passion.

You can find Talk About the Passion on your podcast app of choice. For more on the podcast, check them out on Podbean.

Live Shows: Lucy Dacus and And the Kids, The Sinclair, 4/11/18

Photo by Pooneh Ghana
When this show was first announced, I knew I had to go. I only knew Lucy Dacus from her song "Night Shift," but based on that one song I was completely obsessed. Plus, And the Kids were opening, and I haven't gotten around to see them for a couple of years. Turns out, it was one of my better decisions I've made in years.

And the Kids are by far one of the more fun live shows I've seen in years. When they took the stage, I was more than a little confused. Bass player Taliana Katz was missing and replaced by a bearded man. This substitution was never explained during the show, and considering Megan Miller (percussion, synthesizers) has been missing from American live shows due to visa issues, I was a bit apprehensive.

Turns out 2/3 (or 1/2) And the Kids is still fantastic. Hannah Mohan always appears to be having the time of her life with every show, and made up for their missing member. Their blend of dance friendly indie rock is always an excellent choice for a night of entertainment. Despite having an opening slot, And the Kids were obviously a huge draw for the show with a majority of the crowd quite familiar with their material, especially songs like "Glory Glory" and "Cats Are Born." Even their two brand new songs were quite well received.

Lucy Dacus was a bit of a slow build. While And the Kids are dynamic and energetic performers, Dacus is more of a stand still and play and sing performer. What she lacked in energy she more than made up for in sheer talent and amazing songs. Live her band has more of a guitar heavy sound than on her albums, while her voice is just as laid back and captivating. What could have been two sounds butting against each other instead crafted a true sonic delight. Much like her songs build from quiet, singer/songwriter fare, her live show slowly built into celebratory anthems. She focused mainly on songs from the recently released Historian, playing only three songs from 2016's No Burden, which included the beyond great "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore." She closed the main set with the previously mentioned "Night Shift," which is just a revelation live. I think "In five years I hope these songs feel like covers/Dedicated to new lovers" might be my favorite line of the year.

And then there was the crowd. Maybe it because of the L7 show across the river at The Paradise, but the audience skewed young. But that's what helped make this show so amazing. Dacus's audience ADORES her. They sang along with every word for an album that's been out just over a month. There was virtually no chit chat during her performance. For all us old people complaining about kids and their phones, there was barely a cell phone pulled out while she was playing. (Sure, a picture here or there, but no watching through their screen or checking Instagram, Tindr, etc). In fact, the only person using their cell phone was one of my fellow Creepy Old Guys. I honestly haven't seen such an adoring and dedicated audience since Weezer or Tori Amos shows in the 90's. Their enthusiasm was infectious, and for once, I was glad to be one of the few old guys in the room.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

BODEGA - "Can't Knock the Hustle"

Photo by Mert Gafuroglu
Sometimes you just want a fun dance song. But, when you're a music snob like me, you tend to retreat from most dance friendly music. BODEGA might just be our perfect band. On their new song, "Can't Knock the Hustle," they continue on their mixture of " punk, contemporary pop, hip-hop, kraut rock, and folk-derived narrative songwriting" that we heard with "How Did This Happen!?" It's basically is post punk ever decided to not be as intensely serious as old school punk and wanted to throw a party.

You can watch the video for "Can't Knock the Hustle" below. BODEGA's debut album, Endless Scroll, will be out on June 1 via What's Your Rupture?. For more on BODEGA, check out their website. Current tour dates are below the video.

Wed. May 2 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Bazaar w/ No Age
Tue. May 15 – London, UK @ The Social
Wed. May 16 – London, UK @ Lock Tavern
Thu. May 17 – Brighton, UK @ The Great Escape
Fri. May 18 – Brighton, UK @ The Great Escape
Sat. May 19 – Leeds, UK @ Gold Sounds at Brudenell Social Club
Sun. May 20 – Glasglow, UK @ The Poetry Club
Tue. May 22 – London UK @ Electric Ballroom w/ Rolling Blackouts C.F.
Wed. May 23 – London, UK @ The Lexington w/ Amyl and the Sniffers (SOLD OUT)
Fri. May 25 – Leffinge, BE @ De Zwerver
Sat. May 26 – Amsterdam, NL @ London Calling at Paradiso
Sun. May 27 – Brussels, BE @ AB Club w/ Moaning
Tue. May 29 – Berlin, DE @ ACUD