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

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for April 6

23 new releases plus Wrestling Christmas equals a quick hit version this week.

Album of the Week:

* Jodee Lewis - Buzzard's Bluff: This is some high-quality roots music from someone who has been under the radar far too long. Maybe her best effort yet.

Top Listens:

* No Thank You - All It Takes to Ruin It All: Don’t let the super independent-looking cover fool you, this is a solid surprise of an album with some great songwriting and many sneaky moments.
* Winter - Ethereality: A solid, sometimes dreamy, always fuzzy alt-rock effort. One of the best of the week.
* Eels - The Deconstruction: Eels have been up and down as of late, but this is easily Everett’s best and most accessible effort since Souljacker.
* Hop Along - Bark Your Head Off, Dog: Hop Along does their indie rock thing really well, and this is surprisingly infectious. You will be singing some of these songs later.
* Sarah Shook and the Disarmers - Years: We love Sarah Shook here, and this album tones down a lot of what might not have worked in the first album while turning up what did. The opposite of a sophomore slump.
* Caitlin Canty - Motel Bouquet: Another underrated folky artist who hasn’t gotten her proper due.

Other Highlights:

* Dusted - Blackout Summer
* Fenne Lily - On Hold
* Hinds - I Don't Run
* Sloan - 12
* Dreamend - S/T
* Belle of the Fall - Rise Up
* Goat Girl - Goat Girl
* Wye Oak - The Louder I Call, The Faster It Runs
* Dr. Octagon - Moosebumps
* Flatbush Zombies - Vacation in Hell
* Clever Girls - Luck
* Unknown Mortal Orchestra - Sex & Food

Be Wary:

* Rainbow Kitten Surprise - How To: Friend, Love, Freefall
* The Aces - When My Heart Felt Volcanic
* Alison Wonderland - Awake


* Cate Le Bon - Rock Pool
* Little Boots - Burn
* Zola Jesus - Okovi: Additions
* Owl City - Reel 3

Also Out:

* Gin Wigmore - Ivory
* Various Artists - I Only Listen to the Mountain Goats: All Hail West Texas
* Various Artists - Revamp: The Songs of Elton John and Bernie Taupin
* Kylie Minogue - Golden
* Johnny Cash - Forever Words

Ivan Moult - "Carried Over Water"

I normally try to avoid just repeating how a press release describes a song or an artist's sound. It's pretty easy to parrot whatever they tell you it sounds like, and we try to give you a more personal touch here at If It's Too Loud... But sometimes the press release just nails it, and there's no way to avoid making the same comparison.

Such is the case with the latest single from Ivan Moult. It's being compared to both Nick Drake and Jeff Buckley, and there's no way I can describe "Carried Over Water" without doing the same. It's a heartbreakingly quiet song that will demand that you actually drop what you're doing and listen. Moult's voice combines the pain of Drake and the beauty of Buckley, so listen at your own peril. The entire album follows the path of a romantic relationship, from the joy of the beginning to the heartbreak of a bad break up.

You can watch the video for "Carried Over Water" below. Longest Shadow, the new album from Ivan Moult, will be out April 20 on Bubblewrap Collective. For more on Ivan Moult, follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

Las Rosas - "Christa"

Photo by Adela Loconte
Hailing from Brooklyn, Las Rosas's new single combines multiple standard rock elements in a way I can't remember them being combined. "Christa" is a ramblin' odyssey of a song, combining both Bob Dylan's more country sound and Pavement's laid back indie rock. Yeah, I know. How has that never happened before? They could have just stopped there, but the whole thing is wrapped in a pop sheen, along with a distinct psychedelic groove throughout. Plus, they throw in guitar solos towards the end that come out of nowhere.

You can watch the video for "Christa" below. Las Rosas second album, Shadow By Your Side, will be out May 11 on Greenway Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Las Rosas, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp. Current tour dates are below the video.

5/11: Montreal, QC - L'Esco
5/14: Cincinnati, OH - MOTR Pub
5/15:  Detroit, MI - Marble Bar 
5/18: Chicago, IL - Subterranean Downstairs 
5/21: Denver, CO - Larimer Lounge 
5/22: Salt Lake City, UT - Metro
5/27: Portland, OR - Liquor Store 
5/29: San Francisco, CA - Brick & Mortar 
5/31: San Diego, CA - Blonde Bar 
6/1: Los Angeles, CA - The Echo 
6/5: Dallas, TX - City Tavern 
6/6: Austin, TX - Hotel Vegas 
6/8: New Orleans, LA - Hi Ho Lounge 
6/11: St Petersburg, FL - Paper Crane 
6/12: Miami, FL - Las Rosas 
6/15: Athens, GA - Georgia Theatre (Rooftop) 
6/16: Nashville, TN - 5 Spot 
6/17: Raleigh, NC - Slims 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Salem Wolves Cover The Smithereens

When Salem Wolves were asked to contribute to a Boston based 80's tribute album, they chose to honor the late Pat DiNizio of The Smithereens. Their version of the 1986 hit "Blood and Roses" has been released, and needless to say it's a must listen. As expected, Salem Wolves's version is rougher and a bit noiser than the original classic. They bring their trademark arena anthem ready garage rock noise to the song, but it's somehow more pop sounding while being harder edged? It's a slinky, groove filled romp in noise, with frontman Grey Bouchard giving into his more pop sensibilities, and coming across like a working man's Brian Molko (Placebo) along the way. It does all of this while staying completely true to the original version.

You can listen to the Salem Wolves version of "Blood and Roses" below. The song will be part of BearTone Studios's upcoming 80's tribute album. For more on Salem Wolves, check out their website.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Live Shows: Caroline Rose and Henry Jamison, Great Scott, Allston, MA 4/4/18

Photo via Facebook
What a difference six months and a great new record makes. Back in October (six months to the day!), Caroline Rose opened for Banditos in a modestly attended show at Great Scott. Last week, she came back to the same venue and sold the place out, on a Wednesday no less. I only caught a handful of her songs at the October show, but was intrigued by this new sound and knew I wanted to see more.

Most shows I go to tend to be the ultra serious earnest indie rock kind. A Caroline Rose show is definitely not one of those. The stage was decked out in as much red as possible. There were fake red flowers everywhere, red chili peppers decorating her mic stand, a beat up Elmo pinata, etc. While her band dressed in all (or mostly) royal blue, she took the stage wearing all red, including a fuzzy red faux fur coat, and tossing a rose balloon into the crowd. (The coat only lasted two songs.) Unless I missed one, she ignored her previous album, I Will Not Be Afraid, and only played songs off of the very recent LONER. I completely understand why given the sound change, but I would have loved to have heard an amped up synth-heavy version of "Blood On Your Bootheels."

How synth-heavy is Caroline Rose's new sound? Three out of four bandmembers had some form of keyboard in front of them. The crowd loved every minute of the show, and Rose and her band (although she did announce that she was Caroline Rose and they were Caroline Rose, a la Lydia Loveless) had even more fun. She announced three of the songs she played were her favorite song (the final one was her "real" favorite, which was a cover of the Britney Spears now classic "Toxic") and dared to play "Soul No. 5" and "Money" back to back. She played the opening riff of "Money" for a very extended period of time, delighting in the anticipation from the crowd. Towards the end of the same song, the band abruptly stopped. Fully expecting them to pause for a bit of time and then go back, Rose instead put on the bra that an audience member threw on stage (which was the first bra ever thrown at Caroline Rose! (Luckily, it was cranberry, so it kinda fit the color scheme.) She also needed the audience member's help to put it on, proving that bras are hard!), introduced the crowd to the animatronic cat they had on stage, and announced the rest of the set would be an avant garde noise performance and proceeded to play on a recorder. Only after about 5-10 minutes of this did she drop the recorder and blast back into "Money." It was an insane performance, and the most fun I've had at a show in ages.

To keep the tradition going, I missed most of Henry Jamison's performance. He was joined by a backing band called the Babies, and mentioned that it was their second ever live performance together. It showed, but in the best possible way. Back when I saw him play with Lady Lamb in 2017, I mentioned that he shows great promise and would be great in a few years. Make that one year. He seemed much more comfortable and polished than he did last time, and had a command of the stage I didn't expect. Plus, there was a good portion of the crowd that were die hard Henry Jamison fans, singing along with every song. Maybe in six months he'll be selling out Great Scott on his own.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Nova One - "Your Girl"

Photo by Brittanny Taylor
I first became aware of Nova One back when they opened up for Deer Tick back in November. They've recently released their first single, "Your Girl." Turns out Nova One is the newest project from Roz Kaskin of Roz & The Rice Cakes. "Your Girl" expands on the ultra lo-fi 60's girl group sound they showed at Lupo's, but the recorded version is much cleaner sound. The majority of the song features just Raskin's voice and guitar, but it's about as far from singer/songwriter as you can get. Slowly the song gains backing vocals and drums, and the guitar gets a little noisier, but it never loses the beauty and lushness it started out with.

You can listen to "Your Girl" below. Nova One's debut EP, Secret Princess, will be out June 8 on Community Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Nova One, check out their/her (?) website

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Kirby Forest - "Acid Jazz"

I've always found it odd that I gravitate so strongly to British hip hop when most American hip hop doesn't interest me any more. Maybe since it's because many British rappers skip the whole verse/R&B chorus/verse format that has plagued US hip hop for 25+ years. My latest discovery/obsession is London's Kirby Forest. His new single, "Acid Jazz," isn't entirely pleasant. The main sample used is a little off kilter and almost disturbing. But music, especially hip hop, shouldn't always be nice. It's a laid back song that dabbles in trippy at times. That being said, it's definitely not as weird as I'm making it sound. It's a great, solid hip hop song perfect for those of us who just don't get most modern hip hop but like to hear something that isn't 20 or more years old every so often.

You can watch the video for "Acid Jazz" below. For more on Kirby Forest, check him out on Twitter and Instagram.

Vital Idles - "A Premise"

Photo by Edwin Stevens
The newest single from Glasgow's Vital Idles is a little too primitive to be post punk, but it's nearly perfect. "A Premise" is filled with both guitars and vocals that drone off just slightly off tune enough to be interesting. Jessica Higgins's voice is front and center over an almost barely heard and incredibly fuzzy bed of instruments. It's a little too full to be truly minimalist, but it's as filled out as you can get and still be considered minimalist. It all clocks in at 1:45, which will leave you needing more but satisfied that it's such a perfect length.

You can listen to "A Premise" below. Vital Idles's debut album, Left Hand, will be out June 1 on Upset The Rhythm. You can pre-order a copy here. Fore more on Vital Idles, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Archie and The Bunkers - "Laura"

Photo by Ruben Kincaid
When you call your band Archie and The Bunkers, you're pretty much guaranteed that I'll give you a shot. Luckily for us all, their new single, "Laura," is completely worth it. Hailing from Cleveland, Archie and The Bunkers consist of brothers Emmett and Cullen O'Connor. They describe their sound as "hi-fi organ punk," and they basically nail it. "Laura" is an insanely fun little song, and is punk in the veins of Dropkick Murphys or Gogol Bordello. In fact, to me it sounds like a couple punk kids were inspired by the oompah band from the Jimmy Kimmel/Adam Carolla incarnation of The Man Show. Like I said, they're an insane amount of fun.

You can listen to "Laura" below. Archie and The Bunkers's second album, Songs From the Lodge, will be out April 20 (a very popular release date this year) via Dirty Water Records. You can pe-order a copy here. For more on Archie and The Bunkers, check out their website.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for March 30

We're already a quarter of the way through the year! What?!

Album of the Week:

Artist: Kasey Musgraves
Album: Golden Hour
Quick Description: Latest from country music's... uh, bad girl? I don't know.
Why You Should Listen: Kasey Musgraves is the most interesting mainstream country singer going.
Overall Thoughts: Kasey Musgraves is pretty much known as the mainstream country artist that people who hate mainstream country listen to. And while she’s making some serious waves with “Space Cowboy,” songs like “High Horse” suggest a Swiftian pivot in the near future. It’s a great album, all things considered - a lot of the attitude that I always read about finally shows its face for me here in ways her previous records did not but if you listen to Musgraves for her outlaw-adjacent attitude, it’s possibly missing here for you. Still, this is a sneaky great record, and if you've resisted jumping on the bandwagon...
Recommendation: ...plenty of room for now. Easily the best of the week.

Artist: Jukebox the Ghost
Album: Off to the Races
Quick Description: Happy poppy fun.
Why You Should Listen: It's like a Jack Antonoff jam, but better.
Overall Thoughts: Jukebox the Ghost is a band I’ve liked for a while. For whatever reason, this album just clicked for me immediately. It’s an album that does not appear to have an immediate theme, yet dances through ideas and styles almost effortlessly. The theatrical flair behind it reminds me of fun. in some ways, but this feels more sincere than that. I felt a lot of joy throughout this listen, and if there’s any justice, this would work as a great breakthrough for them. We’ll see, but for now?
Recommendation: Bump this to the top of your list.

Artist: Anna and Elizabeth
Album: The Invisible Comes to Us
Quick Description: Challenging folk music.
Why You Should Listen: Nothing else like it this week.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed the debut from this duo, which had a stark folky feel throughout. Anna and Elizabeth absolutely stretch things out a little here, combining what made their first album great with some experiments that result in a listen with a much different feel. Definitely worth a listen, but this may be off the beaten path more than many can tolerate in some ways.
Recommendation: Add this to your rotation.

Artist: Naked Giants
Album: SLUFF
Quick Description: Unchallenging pop rock.
Why You Should Listen: You need an otherwise-inoffensive party record.
Overall Thoughts: Some fairly standard pop rock stuff with some solid moments interspersed throughout. I liked this a lot more than I assumed I would, and you might have the same reaction.
Recommendation: It's fine.

Artist: Bettye Lavette
Album: Things Have Changed
Quick Description: An album of Bob Dylan covers?
Why You Should Listen: Levette has a great voice, and Dylan is, well, Dylan.
Overall Thoughts: The soul singer does a Bob Dylan covers album, and, as someone who does not know a ton of Dylan, you’d never know it was Dylan from this effort and that’s fine. Lavette’s voice is still great at 72 and she treats these songs with the care they deserve, and that’s what matters.
Recommendation: Worth the listen.

Artist: !!!
Album: Megam!!!x Vol. 1: Shake Shake Shake
Quick Description: Dance mix of originals from your favorite dance rock act.
Why You Should Listen: It's a party in a box!
Overall Thoughts: Less a proper album and more a mixtape of sorts, this is a fairly straightforward dance record that even those who have been less than enthralled by !!! can find something to love if you’re into the genre.
Recommendation: I really enjoyed this one quite a bit.

Artist: Queen of Jeans
Album: Dig Yourself
Quick Description: Indie rock with an original feel.
Why You Should Listen: It's unique to this week and might have a few favorites here for you.
Overall Thoughts: Queen of Jeans is a very twee-feeling name with an album cover that feels the same way. What I got, however, was a pretty smart indie rock record that has a somewhat-retro feel while still feeling new and fresh. One of the top releases of the week, it’s great for just about anyone, but will work especially well if you’re not burnt out on the female-fronted alt-rock stuff yet.
Recommendation: Listen to this!

Artist: Jean Grae x Quelle Chris
Album: Everything's Fine
Quick Description: Solid independent rap.
Why You Should Listen: Jean Grae is criminally underrated.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like Jean Grae has been around forever, but has never truly crossed over into the sort of stardom she deserves over a lot of more popular rap acts. This is a collaborative effort, for sure, but Grae takes center stage over Quelle Chris on it for a rap effort that feels a lot different than many of the recent efforts put forth as of late.
Recommendation: You owe it to yourself to give this a shot.

Artist: Her
Album: Her
Quick Description: Weird, compelling indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: There's a lot going on here worth hearing.
Overall Thoughts: This is a shapeshifter of a record that reminds me of a lot of different things but refuses to be nailed down. The vocals are often haunting, the instrumentation unpredictable, and yet the album still feels like it’s something you’ve heard before. This has a lot of potential to grow on me, so I’m hoping that this has the staying power I want it to have so I can figure this album out.
Recommendation: Worth the effort.

Artist: Kate Nash
Album: Yesterday Was Forever
Quick Description: First album in a while from the breakout star.
Why You Should Listen: It's a return to form of sorts.
Overall Thoughts: Kate Nash is having a pretty good time lately, having a solid turn on Netflix’s GLOW and having a few solid singles. This new album is probably the most fun I’ve had with a Kate Nash record since her debut. It’s fun yet mature, and has a lot of good, poppy moments to go along with some adventurous choices. Can’t ultimately go wrong with an album like this, especially in a busy week.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Lindi Ortega
Album: Liberty
Quick Description: Pure roots music.
Why You Should Listen: Lindi Ortega is consistently excellent.
Overall Thoughts: Back when I finally got myself hooked on roots music however long ago, Lindi Ortega was part of that initial batch of artists I loved. She has put out a number of albums since then, but this new one feels the most pure and classic in many regards. A little slower in parts, it ends up being a very positive listen on a whole but, I fear, unlikely to create many converts. Ortega has been a sneaky-good listen for some time now, and this is just another example of how solid an entertainer she is.
Recommendation: Good, but it won’t blow your mind.

Artist: The Vaccines
Album:Combat Sports
Quick Description: Latest from the alt-rockers.
Why You Should Listen: Their first album was good?
Overall Thoughts: This album ultimately made me sad, as this is another band that had a great opening single and a solid debut and has just gone downhill since then.
Recommendation: It’s a busy week, don’t bother with this.

Artist: MF DOOM and Czarface
Album: Czarface Meets Metal Face
Quick Description: A bizarre rap collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: MF DOOM is pretty great.
Overall Thoughts: MF DOOM has a strong following in the indie rap world. I don’t know Czarface, but maybe should. This is the comic book team-up version of independent rap, and, as long as you can tolerate the conceit, there’s a lot to like here. For many (most?) listeners, though, it may be a big ask.
Recommendation: Be wary.

Artist: Frankie Cosmos
Album: Vessel
Quick Description: Short, quick indie hits.
Why You Should Listen: This act has figured it out.
Overall Thoughts: Frankie Cosmos’s new album is better than the previous, and while the songs are still way too short, this is a much tighter and substantial listen. My biggest complaint is that it doesn’t stick around long enough – if these songs were all a little longer, this might be one of the greats of the year.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: The Wolff Sisters and The Last Calvary
Album: Cahoon Hollow
Quick Description: Sneaky good roots music.
Why You Should Listen: Perfect blend of grit and gold.
Overall Thoughts: In opposition to Kasey Musgraves you have The Wolff Sisters, who are basically First Aid Kit in cowboy hats. This is a compliment, as there is a rough edge to this that goes along with the gorgeous melodies and traditional instrumentation. This was nearly my album of the week for a lot of reasons, but mainly because of how great all the songs are. Definitely an album I didn’t realize I needed until I heard it.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

EPs of note:

* Graneros - The Bull: '65
* The Weeknd - My Dear Melancholy,
* No Joy/Sonic Boom - No Joy/Sonic Boom

Also out:

* The Voidz - Virtue (legitimately awful)
* Hayley Kiyoko - Expectations
* Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite - No Mercy in This Land