Tuesday, May 22, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for May 18

This was a very weird release week, as the gap between good and bad was very, very wide. Only focusing on the good this week:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Maximilian Hecker
Album: Wretched Love Songs
Quick Description: Dream folky is back with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: Hecker is basically unknown in the United States and should really be a more popular.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if this is meant to be a sequel of sorts to his debut, Infinite Love Songs (which is probably a top 20 album all time for me), but it is certainly reminiscent in a way a lot of his more recent work has not been. This is Hecker at his dreamy, light best, and I can totally see this as one of those albums I send over to my longtime friends and say "hey, remember that guy I was obsessed with 15 years ago?"
Recommendation: A must-listen, and there's plenty of room on this bandwagon to boot.

Artist: Pharis and Jason Romero
Album: Sweet Old Religion
Quick Description: Great rootsy folk in the vein of Welch and Rawlings.
Why You Should Listen: It may be one of the prettiest albums of the week.
Overall Thoughts: Not a ton to say in specifics about this album, except that in a rough release week this was a welcome surprise on a whole. Pitch-perfect folk music with great instrumentation and harmonies, you can't go wrong.
Recommendation: Make time for this.

Artist: Now, Now
Album: Saved
Quick Description: First album in years from the indie duo.
Why You Should Listen: This is a buzzworthy record that mixes a few styles to make an interesting listen.
Overall Thoughts: I tripped up on this act a few years ago, later learning that Jess Abbott of Tancred was in the band. She has since left, but the duo has continued with an album that is quite good, albeit feeling a little too short. But you hear songs like "SGL" and how tight they are and the whole album sounds like a treat. Some of the best in indie music today this week.
Recommendation: Give this a listen

Artist: Parquet Courts
Album: Wide Awake!
Quick Description: Latest from the indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Parquet Courts is anything but dull.
Overall Thoughts: I'll give Parquet Courts this much: they absolutely find a way to be unpredictable while also sounding exactly like what you expect. Putting aside the Milano project, I was wondering if last year's "Captive of the Sun" was going to be a new move for them, but instead we have a new album that feels like Parquet Courts while still having a lot of twists and turns. It's a good thing here, and an album everyone should check out.
Recommendation: You'll probably enjoy this.

Artist: Courtney Barnett
Album: Tell Me How You Really Feel
Quick Description: New album from the indie rock star.
Why You Should Listen: In just a few short years, Barnett has become required listening.
Overall Thoughts: It's hard to believe that this is only Barnett's second proper solo album, considering how prolific she has been since her debut EPs were packaged together. Her songwriting and sound are tight, her skill undeniable, and this is only her second effort? Kind of crazy. It's hard to find a standout track early as, really, most of them are, but this is an album you weren't going to miss anyway.
Recommendation: Mandatory listening this week anyway.

Artist: TT
Album: LoveLaws
Quick Description: Indie pop from part of Warpaint.
Why You Should Listen: It does well with that modern retro feel that sometimes flops when others do it.
Overall Thoughts: Warpaint is pretty great, and the duo have been branching out with solo work recently, and this is one of them. I don't have a ton to say about it except that I really enjoyed it, and if you're into the more electronic reto stuff, it's worth your time.
Recommendation: Won't be for everyone, but it did the trick here.

Artist: Ash
Album: Islands
Quick Description: Latest album from the British rockers.
Why You Should Listen: This is probably their best effort since Meltdown.
Overall Thoughts: Ash has been fairly uneven for a while now, perhaps ever since they made a solid attempt at the American market back in the early 2000s. This album isn't quite back-to-basics, and has a more straightforward rock feel than their previous efforts going back as far as 1977, but for a mature rock record from an established act, this sort of revival is rare. On a whole, a welcome surprise.
Recommendation: Find time for it.

Artist: Remember Sports
Album: Slow Buzz
Quick Description: Longest release yet from the indie pop/punk act.
Why You Should Listen: Hooks for days!
Overall Thoughts: I don't know if this is really their first album or if we're calling some of their early stuff EPs, but regardless, I've been hooked on "Making it Right" for months and this album shows a lot of promise in terms of making their sound a lot more accessible and solid. It's probably one of my favorites this week, and songs like "Temporary Tattoo" might hit one of your playlists sooner rather than later.
Recommendation: A fun listen this week.

Other releases of note:

* Various Artists - Eastern Standard: Some solid independent rap tracks from the East Coast.
* Nedelle Torrisi - Only for You: A good pop record, come for the "Vision of Love" cover and stay for the rest.
* Family of the Year - Goodbye Sunshine, Hello Nighttime
* MC Paul Barman - (((echo chamber)))
* Poster Children - Grand Bargain!
* Nellie McKay - Sister Orchid
* Matthew Sweet - Tomorrow's Daughter
* Wussy - What Heaven is Like
* Beach/Quiet Slang - Everything Matters But No One is Listening
* Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks - Sparkle Hard


* The Front Bottoms - Ann

Also out:

* BTS - Love Yourself 轉 'Tear'
* Rat Scabies - P.H.D. (Prison, Hospital, Debt)
* Low Cut Connie - Dirty Pictures (Part 2)
* Lords of Acid - Pretty in Kink
* Michael Rault - It's a New Day Tonight

NOVA ONE - "if you were mine"

Photo by Brittanny Taylor
Every so often we're stumble across an artist, and as we hear more from them we can tell we're going to become obsessed with them once the new album is released. The newest single from Providence, RI's NOVA ONE is further cementing the new project from Roz Raskin as one of our fledgling obsessions. I grew up on the oldies my parents listened to, and still listen to a lot of those songs with zero irony. Any artist that combines oldies with indie rock will quickly become a favorite. "if you were mine" leans just slightly more in the direction of indie rock, especially the beginning. It starts out as a lo-fi indie ballad, in the singer/songwriter side of the genre. But, by the time the chorus starts, it edges its way into doo wop territory. For the rest of the song, NOVA ONE weaves between the two sounds perfectly, almost making two songs into one seamlessly more than it is a mash up of styles.

You can listen to "if you were mine" below. NOVA ONE's debut album, secret princess, will be out June 8 on Community Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on NOVA ONE, check her/them out on Facebook and website. If you happen to be in the Providence area, check out NOVA ONE's album release show on July 6 at the Columbus Theater.

Monday, May 21, 2018

She Makes War Covers Culture Club

It's been a little while since we've brought you some new music from She Makes War, but luckily Laura Kidd's project is back with a cover of Culture Club's classic "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me." This cover does go off in its own direction away from the original 80's iconic classic. Instead, this cover goes full 90's with loud, reverb heavy, crunchy guitars. It's not quite industrial and it's not quite grunge. Instead, it lives somewhere in the middle. It genuinely sounds like something recorded in 1996 and forgotten until today. If you know us at all, that is meant to be very high praise.

You can listen to She Makes War's cover of "Do You Really Want to Hurt Me" below. It's available as a single now via My Big Sister Recordings and can be purchased here. For more on She Makes War, check out her website.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - "Wonderful Day for the Race"

Photo via Facebook
For the past few weeks, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones have been teasing a big announcement coming up. Last week, the announcement of new music was made. The Bosstones unveiled a new single, "Wonderful Day for the Race." It continues in the Bosstones's current theme of positive music that truly started with their 2016 cover of "What the World Needs Now is Love." In this case, "race" means "human race," and is a message of love and understanding. "Wonderful Day for the Race" also continues the Bosstones's sound. There is no deviation from vintage Bosstones with their new song, which is pretty much perfect. This feels like the kind of song that we'll all like but not love, until we see them play it love. The Bosstones have always been a band you should see live, and I'm looking forward to getting to see this one played in person. Plus, it boasts one of the best false stops in recent memory.

You can watch the video for "Wonderful Day for the Race" below. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones's new album, While We're At It, will be out June 15. For more on the Bosstones, check out their website.

Friday, May 18, 2018

The Rock'n'Roll HiFives - "Hold On"

I fully expected to hate The Rock'n'Roll HiFives. In fact, I wanted to. Their lead singer, Eilee Centeno, is sixteen. Her thirteen year old brother plays drums. The rest of the band? Their parents. Guitarist/dad Joe Centeno played in bands before he became a dad, and the whole thing sounded like it would be this cutesy family band fueled by the dad's nostalgia. 

But... their new single "Hold On" is actually pretty great. It's not revolutionary by any stretch, but it's good, solid guitar driven power pop. Eilee's vocals have this great attitude to them, most likely because she's actually a teenager and isn't just trying to tap into teen angst. "Hold On" isn't for you if you want something avant garde or groundbreaking. But if you just want some fun throwback rock in the realm of Cheap Trick and The Runaways, you'll find it here.

You can listen to "Hold On" below. The new album from The Rock'n'Roll HiFives, Re-Introducing The RocknRoll HiFives, will be out June 29 on Little Dickman Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on the band, check out their Facebook. Current summer vacation tour dates are below the song.

6/24: New York, NY - Mercury Lounge (record release show)
7/5: Raleigh, NC - Schoolkids Records 
7/6: Wilmington, NC - Gravity Records 
7/7: Charlotte, NC - Oso Skatepark 
7/8: Charlotte, NC - Lunchbox Records 
7/11: Orlando, FL - Park Ave CDs 
7/18: Austin, TX - Waterloo Records 
7/19: Dallas, TX - Good Records   
7/24: San Diego, CA -  M-Theroy 
7/29: Santa Cruz, CA - StreetLight 
8/4:  Boise, ID - Vista Bar 
8/12:  Indianapolis, IN - Luna Music 
8/17: Jersey City, NJ - FM 
8/18: Asbury Park, NJ - Asbury Park Yacht Club

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Michael Jablonka - "Flump"

You always hear about guitar driven music being dead, but then you hear a song like Michael Jablonka's "Flump." Hailing from London, you might know Jablonka from his days playing with Michael Kiwanuka. "Flump" starts off with this driving drum beat and killer riff, and just takes off from there. While it is filled with heavy guitars, it's not exactly a metal or even hard rock song. On its heavier side, it reminds me of the proto punk of MC5 meeting the chugging drive of grunge. However, there is an overwhelming melody to the verses and chorus that bring to mind the 70's power pop of Cheap Trick. My only complaint with "Flump" is that, with it's short just under three minute duration, it ends a little too abruptly and just as it sounds like something brilliant is about to happen. Maybe next time...

You can listen to "Flump" below. "Flump" is available now as a single via Lost in the Manor. For more on Michael Jablonka, check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

Only Takes A Day - "Reach"

It seems odd to me that the current resurgence of acoustic music/Americana hasn't been combined with hip hop, since the kids seem to be into both. It surprises me more that a great example of how well this can work is coming from England. Only Takes A Day combines hip hop beats with an acoustic guitar. Their latest single, "Reach," is a laid back song with an intense rhyme provided by Shaanvir Rehal. It reminds me of The Streets meeting the folky side of G. Love & Special Sauce. It's a sound that works surprisingly well even though the combination does have some coarse moments, but those are some of the best parts.

You can watch the video for "Reach" below. For more on Only Takes A Day, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for May 11

A slightly calmer week.

Artist: Illuminati Hotties
Album: Kiss Yr Frenemies
Quick Description: Alt-indie debut from a buzzworthy act.
Why You Should Listen: You wish your indie music was a lot more fun than it has been lately.
Overall Thoughts: This is one of my most anticipated releases of the spring, having been addicted to “(You’re Better) Than Ever” since I first heard it. The album is a fun, raucous debut with plenty of alt-rock notes to go with an indie, almost DIY sensibility. The band isn’t breaking any new ground, but it’s good to hear a band come into the conversation seemingly fully formed. And they have maybe the best band name I’ve ever heard, so there’s that, too.
Recommendation: My favorite this week.

Artist: Aiden Moffat and RM Hubbert
Album: Here Lies the Body
Quick Description: An artsy collaboration from some Scottish music icons.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Arab Strap or contemplative folkish stuff?
Overall Thoughts: This is a collaboration between Aidan Moffat of Arab Strap and another Scottish musician, and it is interesting that it comes out the same week as a Mark Kozalek record, ad there are enough similarities to turn me off, but hardcore fans of either act will likely find something to enjoy.
Recommendation: Not for me, but it might be for you.

Artist: Marian Hill
Album: Unusual
Quick Description: Danceable third album by an established act.
Why You Should Listen: This is an album that isn't afraid to stretch the boundaries of its genres.
Overall Thoughts: This duo is one that’s been on my radar for a bit, and this album has a bit of a mix of radio-friendly electronic/R&B stuff combined with a lot of thoughtful and challenging choices. This won’t be for everyone, and even all of this is not especially for me, but there are some really bold moments here that deserve your attention.
Recommendation: Give this a shot this week.

Artist: Luke Winslow-King
Album: Blue Mesa
Quick Description: Rootsy singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: Luke Winslow-King has been solid so far.
Overall Thoughts: I enjoyed Luke Winslow-King’s previous album, and this feels a little more energetic and fun in a lot of ways. As with many albums in this genre lately, it’s not doing anything new, but there’s an unforced ease and comfort with this record that sets it apart.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: The Lied To's
Album: The Lesser of Two Evils
Quick Description: Solid roots duo with a familiar yet unique approach.
Why You Should Listen: The energy and enthusiasm behind this shines through.
Overall Thoughts: An interesting rootsy record in the vein of Brown Bird, Shovels and Rope, and the like. A little on the inconsistent side at times, but then you hear songs like “Windtalker” and you realize that there’s something special here. This is something longtime readers here will probably love, and it’s one of the better releases of the week.
Recommendation: Make time for this.

Artist: Jess Williamson
Album: Cosmic Wink
Quick Description: Gritty, compelling country folk.
Why You Should Listen: It's going to command your attention from the first few notes.
Overall Thoughts: Music that feels like it belongs in a dark, smoky bar. A total and complete mood piece that just grabbed me from the start and wouldn’t let go. Williamson has a haunting voice with instrumentation that matches the tone and quality perfectly.
Recommendation: A must listen.

Artist: The Sea and Cake
Album: Any Day
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rock legends (of a sort).
Why You Should Listen: I suppose the Sea and Cake are important enough to always give a shot.
Overall Thoughts: I remember when The Sea and Cake were the big indie act that was who indie kids who were “in the know” paid attention to. They never really grabbed me as a band, and this works more of a time capsule of a band from another time than something new and vibrant.
Recommendation: Not really worth it unless you're a big fan.

Other releases of note:

* Simian Mobile Disco - Murmurations (It’s great when it picks up, but fails in getting off the ground a good amount of the time.)
* Wajatta - Casual High Technology (Ken sent this over as Reggie Watts is apparently involved with this. It’s weird and different, but basically an electronic record with some interesting beats and choices.)
* Las Rosas - Shadow By Your Side (A solid indie rock record with hints of a lot of things I love. A good listen overall.)
* Ament - Heaven/Hell (Another Pearl Jam side project, this is frankly just okay, with a couple moments that shine a little brighter.)
* La Luz - Floating Features
* Beach House - 7


* Sarah Louise - Deeper Woods
* Andre Costello and the Cool Minors - Resident Frequencies
* The Ballroom Thieves - Paper Crown

Also out this week:

* Dog Chocolate - Moody Balloon Baby
* Arctic Monkeys - Tranquility Base Hotel and Casino (wow this is not good)
* Mark Kozalek - Mark Kozalek

Friday, May 11, 2018

Porchfest 2018 Begins This Weekend

This weekend in the Boston area, and in a bunch of weekends to come, Porchfest arrives! Porchfest features local artists - musical and non-musical alike - performing in yards and porches in various Boston-area neighborhoods. I don't know if I'll be able to make any of them, but the lineups are stacked with so many acts that, if you have an afternoon to stroll around town, you're bound to find something you enjoy.

Porchfest kicks off in Somerville this weekend with dozens of acts all over the place. Friend Of The Blog Travels With Brindle will be performing tracks from her Alex Lahey ukulele cover album, a video from which is below:

The whole idea of a Porchfest is new to me and kind of neat, and I would personally love to see one happen in the Worcester/Central Mass area in the future. Maybe next year?

Porchfest dates are below:

May 13: Somerville, MA
May 19: Plum Island, MA
June 2: Newton, MA
June 9: Arlington, MA
June 9: Brookline, MA
June 16: Boston Fenway, MA
June 23: Quincy, MA
July 7: Jamaica Plain, MA
Sep 8: Belmont, MA
Sep 8: Hull, MA
Sep 15: Roslindale, MA
Sep 22: Milton, MA

You can find more information on each Porchfest at the official(?) site.

The Beths - "Future Me Hates Me"

Photo by Mason Fairey
I have no idea what is going on in Australia and New Zealand, but those two countries just keep on giving us amazing 90's inspired guitar bands. The latest is The Beths, who hail from Auckland. Their new single, "Future Me Hates Me," is the perfect song to drive around to in the summer. It's energetic, bouncy, and has some of the most perfect fuzzed out guitars you've heard in ages. Of course, there is the title, so that means it's a fun song about sadness, which is my favorite kind of song. As singer Elizabeth Stokes says: " There’s a lot of sad sincerity in the lyrics... That relies on the music having a light heart and sense of humor to keep it from being too earnest."

You can watch the video for "Future Me Hates Me" below. The Beths' debut album also called Future Me Hates Me will be out August 10 on Carpark Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on The Beths, check out their website. Their current tour dates can be found below the video.

May 12th - London, UK - The Victoria Dalston
May 14th - Bristol, UK - The Louisiana
May 15th - Manchester, UK - 57 Thomas Street
May 16th - Newport, UK - Le Pub
May 20th - Exeter, UK - The Cavern
May 21st - Leeds, UK - Wharf Chambers ^
May 22nd - Glasgow, UK - Bar Bloc ^
May 23rd - Edinburgh, UK - Henry's Cellar Bar ^
May 24th - Durham, UK - Empty Shop ^
May 25th - Portsmouth, UK - Wave Maiden ^
May 26th - Paris, FR - Le Popin
May 27th - Lille, FR - CCL
June 1st - Berlin, DE - Bei Ruth
June 3rd - Langnau im Emmental, CH - Kaeptn Holger
June 6th - Munich, DE - Kulturstrand
June 7th - Hamburg, DE - Astra Stube
June 9th - Kiel, DE - Secret Lake House Party
June 11th - Brooklyn, NY - Alphaville *
June 13th - Philadelphia, PA - Ortlieb's
June 14th - Washington, DC - Loves Me Not
June 16th - Chicago, IL - Charm School
June 20th - San Francisco, CA - The Battery
June 22nd - Los Angeles, CA - Make Out Music
^ w/ Fresh
* w/ Peach Kelli Pop

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Photo Gallery: And the Kids, Nu Muse Festival, Nashua, NH 5/5/18

Normally I would do a decent write up for a live performance I attended, but I wasn't able to stay for a huge chunk of And the Kids's set during the Nu Muse Festival in Nashua, NH last Saturday night. I had my daughter with me, and it was a late night for her. Plus, kids these days aren't used to being subjected to smoking, so she started to feel a bit nauseous. If you're curious how they are live, I go into much more detail with my review of their double bill with Lucy Dacus last month. But, I took some pretty great pictures Saturday, so please check them out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Nikkie McLeod - "Deep Cry"

Photo by Liz Maney
For white Americans, Nikkie McLeod's "Deep Cry" is going to be an interesting listen. The most prevalent instrument is a steelpan, and when we hear the steelpan we reminisce about Caribbean vacations and happy times. Nikkie McLeod is originally from Trinidad & Tobago, so they don't have the same connections. "Deep Cry" is an intense song about the loss of McLeod's mother. The feeling the song captures is the duality of celebrating and grieving life at the same time. "Deep Cry" isn't a quiet, reflective song about loss and death. At times, it is deeply noisy, and almost violent. But that's how grief can work. It's a beautiful song about an intensely personal and difficult time in McLeod's life. It's a song we all need to truly listen to.

You can listen to "Deep Cry" below. Quarrel, the new EP from Nikkie McLeod, will be available on October 30, their mother's birthday. For more on Nikkie McLeod, check out their Facebook.

Andre Costello and the Cool Minors - "Kinda (Makes You Feel Good)"

Photo by Kathryn Stabile
The latest single from Andre Costello and the Cool Minors is the perfect song just as we start summer. "Kinda (Makes You Feel Good)" is drenched in lazy summer vibes. It has a retro cool classic rock feel, in that southern California 1960's way. That gives it a little bit of a folk texture, but in the way that Neil Young can be kind of folk. You also get some soul in there, but mostly in singer Andre Costello's vocals. Slowly the song builds, while keeping its laid back feel, and starts going into indie rock territory, in the Wilco way. It goes into some great melodic noise, and some absolutely killer guitar solos. All while remaining completely chilled out.

You can watch the video for "Kinda (Makes You Feel Good)" below. Resident Frequencies, the new album from Andre Costello and the Cool Minors, will be out on May 11 on Misra Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Andre Costello and the Cool Minors, be sure to check out their website.

Kinda (Makes You Feel Good) (Official Video) by Andre Costello and the Cool Minors on VEVO.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for May 4

Just a lot out this week, so we'll do highlights.

Artist: Skating Polly
Album: The Make It All Show
Quick Description: New album from the indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: Skating Polly is similar to Speedy Ortiz in some regards, and they are poised to break out.
Overall Thoughts: I liked Skating Polly’s last effort, which was a sort of car crash of musical sounds and styles that had me hooked. Even still, it wasn’t without its flaws, but that was more than okay – it was still a great listen. This new album feels a lot more organized and structured, and the result (while a little less chaotic) is something that really shows growth as a band without losing the sort of manic quality that sets them apart.
Recommendation: A favorite this week.

Artist: Parker Milsap
Album: Other Arrangements
Quick Description: New album from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for a little more adult alternative in your life.
Overall Thoughts: We’ve liked him so far, but this feels very adult alternative, and his voice has a real Paul McCarthey flair to it on this effort that just sat the wrong way. Not a bad listen, but definitely not the compelling effort I had been hoping for.
Recommendation: Maybe give it a listen, but it's far from essential.

Artist: Jessica Risker
Album: I See You Among the Stars
Quick Description: Light, airy folk music with a distinct sound.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something more along the lines of early Marissa Nadler.
Overall Thoughts: At only eight tracks, this mini-album feels less like a complete piece and more like a sampling, but if this is the Jessica Risker sample pack, sign me up for a subscription. It’s stark, distant folky music with a super-compelling feel to it that reminds me of why I fell for the music of people like Laura Veirs and the like early on.
Recommendation: Really solid listen.

Artist: Trampled by Turtles
Album: Life is Good on the Open Road
Quick Description: New album from the favorites of the newgrass set.
Why You Should Listen: TBT is finally finding its footing.
Overall Thoughts: This is a group that, for a time, was bluegrass for people who weren’t so into bluegrass. They’ve toned down their sound a bit, and while it’s still not traditional at all, it is definitely more accessible, and I feel like this might be the first album in a few years where it’s truly come together in a cohesive way. Really enjoyed this listen, and I see myself heading back to it sooner rather than later.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Kitten Forever
Album: Semi-Permanent
Quick Description: Noisy, sloppy punk of the best kind.
Why You Should Listen: You need a little angst in your afternoon.
Overall Thoughts: I unabashedly love this group, and it’s just loud and brash and fun the way this type of music should be. It’s not going to work for everyone, and the presentation/band name almost feels like they could be dismissed as some sort of adorable Whirlwind Heat or Oh-OK, but they deserve more than that. This is a solid, enjoyable listen and one of my favorites this week.
Recommendation: You should make time for this.

Artist: Joel Levi
Album: Joel Levi
Quick Description: Perfectly cromulent alt-country.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for that early-2000s era alt-country revival.
Overall Thoughts: Joel Levi absolutely comes from the Ryan Adams school of alt-country, and it’s pretty solid. He’s not reinventing the wheel, and perhaps we can fault this record a bit for not taking many (if any) risks, but that's not a terrible thing overall. It's a decent record, it just won't blow your mind.
Recommendation: Worth finding some time if you're into this.

Artist: Belly
Album: Dove
Quick Description: The highly-anticipated return of the early-1990s alt-rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Truly, we shouldn't have to hype you up for this.
Overall Thoughts: Belly was great. We all know and accept this. Reunion records can be a crapshoot, though, and this one? A winner by all accounts. I was on board early on with "Shiny One," and the whole record just delivers. Great return, great entry point, great everything.
Recommendation: Nearly my album of the week. Rock solid.

Artist: Frank Turner
Album: Be More Kind
Quick Description: Latest from the English folkie.
Why You Should Listen: If he's been a little too aggressive for you so far, this might be the record for you.
Overall Thoughts: We're fans here, but Ken is about ready to jump off the bandwagon. For me, this album lost me at "Make America Great Again," not because it's a protest song or because I have any issue with the message, but because this is such a bland, on-the-nose attempt at protest music that it just feels sanitary. Folk punks shouldn't be boring, but I fear Frank Turner has turned a corner.
Recommendation: It's unfortunately not worth it.

Quick Hits:

* Tropical Fuck Storm – A Laughing Death in Meatspace: Not the sort of sound you’d expect from a band with this name, but it is kind of a messy rock effort that some will love but didn’t work for me.
* Matt and Kim – Almost Everyday: They have always tried to balance the indie with the big sound of the moment, and this does the same, but I really felt this didn’t work. Weird fake drops, odd electronic stuff. It has its moments, but…
* Venetian Snares + Daniel Lanois – Venetian Snares x Daniel Lanois: Weird, ambient, off-center electronic music. Has a movie score feel to it. Kind of an unexpected turn from Lanois, perhaps best known for his production work with U2.
* Leon Bridges – Good Thing: We enjoyed Bridges’ debut, and this is a great modern soul record that deserves a more mainstream look than Bridges has been getting so far. Rock solid.
* Shakey Graves - Can't Wake Up: An interesting shift in musical tone for Shakey Graves. I don't know how well this will hold up, but if you're a fan you owe it to yourself to give this a try even if you don't end up liking it.

Other Highlights:

* Lake Street Dive - Free Yourself Up
* Horse Feathers - Appreciation
* Black Moth Super Rainbow - Panic Blooms
* Eleanor Friedberger - Rebound
* Holy Now - Think I Need the Light


* Johnnyswim and Drew Holcomb - Goodbye Road
* Mr. Tophat - A Memoir From the Youth

Also Out:

* The Goldberg Sisters - Home: A Nice Place to Visit
* Gaz Coombes - World's Strongest Man
* Missy Higgins - Solastalgia
* D.O.A. - Fight Back
* Tove Stryke - Sway

Monday, May 7, 2018

Wicked Good Festival is Simply a Must Attend for Everyone in Boston

Boston used to be a great city for free live music. Back in the 90's, both modern rock radio stations, WFNX and WBCN, used to host free shows at the Hatch Shell and City Hall Plaza multiple times each summer. There was the notorious Green Day show in 1994, and shows featuring Letters to Cleo, Folk Implosion, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Amazing Royal Crowns, and more, all for free. The last big free show was the Outside the Box Festival back in 2013 that featured Buffalo Tom, The Lemonheads, and Mighty Mighty Bosstones. There have been a few smaller free live shows since then, but those have been pretty sparse, and have featured bands like Smashmouth. It's made me dream of cities with great, free live music like NYC, or even Portsmouth, NH's Prescott Park Art Festival.

Thanks, to WERS, free live music is coming back to Boston this summer. Somehow a college radio station has put together the show of the summer, all for free on the Boston Common. They've announced four bands so far, and all four are fantastic. For newer artists, they have Bleachers and Air Traffic Controller. For vintage, classic alternative, they've booked Buffalo Tom and Juliana Hatfield. Yes, that's right. Bleachers, Buffalo Tom, Juliana Hatfield, and Air Traffic Controller. All for free on Boston Common this summer. Seriously, what more could you want? Oh, and there will be more, because the show is running eight hours.

A Wicked Good Festival will be held August 18 from noon to 8:00 on Boston Common for free. For more information, check out the festival's website.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Gabriella Cohen - "Music Machine"

Our newest favorite Australian export, Gabriella Cohen, has released the latest single off of her upcoming album. "Music Machine" isn't quite as much fun as "Baby" was, but we're still digging it. Cohen's 90's slacker style vocals are even more monotonous on "Music Machine," and we mean that in the most complimentary way possible. The part that will suck you in is when the backing vocals, which have been merely peeking in here and there throughout the song, come in full force in the second half of the song. I could describe the song in more detail, but I think Cohen's words about the song basically nail the vibe:

"'Music Machine' was born about the time when I came back from my first U.S tour and found myself down and out crashing on a friends couch in West Brunswick, Melbourne. It was a strange patch of time, where I felt comically displaced, coming from the glitz and glamour of New York straight to desolate suburbia and Centrelink queues.

"Maybe it was the weather, or the jet lag, but in that short time I felt drugged, hazy; I got lost far too many times on bike paths, dry gusty December heat blowing me through parks and scrubland.... In my delirium, I went on my first Tinder date and, thank g-d, because I made a very good friend who led me to a farmhouse where I would record Pink Is The Colour Of Unconditional Love. All in all, "Music Machine" was written out of a delirious boredom, and in turn became a song I'm grateful to have written."

You can listen to "Music Machine" below. Gabriella Cohen's new album, Pink Is the Colour of Unconditional Love, will be out June 1 on Captured Tracks. You can pre-order it here. For more on Gabriella Cohen, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Forgotten Fridays: Frogpond - Safe Ride Home

Forgotten Fridays is an occasional feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. We go back and remind you of their existence, and help decide if they were any good.

I recently discovered I could use the Google to look up old top 30 lists for my old college radio station, so there went a huge amount of productivity. It brought back this insane flood of memories of bands and albums I adored but had forgotten about. But then I saw the name Frogpond, which did not sound familiar at all. Their album Safe Ride Home was up in the top three albums of the week way back in 1999, but the name didn't sound familiar at all. I decided to do some research.

Frogpond formed in 1994 in Warrensburg, Missouri. They took local opening slots for Everclear and the Toadies. Mike Mills became a fan and Frogpond played R.E.M.'s tour wrap party for the Monster tour. Art Alexakis from Everclear produced their 1996 debut, Count to Ten. 1999's Safe Ride Home was the band's second, and last, album, and featured Louise Post from Veruca Salt on backing vocals for "Whatever." Frongpond broke up in 2000.

Safe Ride Home is a pretty great album. It has that sound that was fairly big in the mid 1990's with bands like Veruca Salt and Letters to Cleo, and seems bigger now with current favorites Weakened Friends and Speedy Ortiz. It's a female fronted band with loud, crunchy guitars and plenty of fuzz, but with insanely catchy hooks and pop melodies that we never would have admitted to back then. It's late 90's power pop that hearkens back to grunge just slightly. This all fits right into what I was into back in 1999, and, to be fair, 2018.

Spaceland Covers The Beatles

One of our favorite things about Matt Pond PA were their love of covers, since, as we always remind you, we're pretty fond of cover songs here at If It's Too Loud... Matt Pond's love of cover songs remains intact with his new project, Spaceland (name subject to change). The latest cover he's given us with this name is a great version of The Beatles' "Here Comes the Sun." Covering The Beatles can be tricky since die hard fans will freak out about any change or just the fact that an artist is daring to try. Spaceland do a fantastic job, slowing down the song slightly and giving it a bit of a spacey feel. It's the perfect kind of cover song since it stays completely true to the original while adding just enough of their own sound to it to make it worthwhile. Plus, the song comes at the perfect time since the extended winter we've been experiencing in the Northeast United States appears to finally be over.

You can listen to Spacelend's version of "Here Comes the Sun" below. For more on Spaceland, check out their Patreon (which is still under the name Matt Pond PA).

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Film Review: What it Takes: film en douze tableaux

We're obviously huge fans of Sarah Shook & The Disarmers here at If It's Too Loud..., and I've been gushing about Gorman Bechard's Lydia Loveless documentary for the past two years. Once I saw that his new documentary about Sarah Shook & The Disarmers was having its world premiere at the Boston Independent Film Festival, I knew I had to clear out my plans to check it out. 

It's going to be pretty easy to draw comparisons to Who is Lydia Loveless? and What it Takes: film en douze tableaux as it is to compare Lydia Loveless and Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, so let's get that out of the way now. Both are directed by Gorman Bechard. Both are about bands fronted by a female with mostly older male band members. Both play a version of alt country heavily infused with rock and punk. Both are on Bloodshot Records. The main difference between these films is structure and subject matter. Who is Lydia Loveless? had three acts: The first focused on Lydia herself, the second on the rest of the band, and the third on what it is like to be a young, up and coming band in the streaming age on a small indie label. What it Takes: film en douze tableaux is set up in twelve chapters and was intended on focusing on a songwriter.

While intending to focus on a songwriter, Bechard takes some interesting turns. He profiles each member of the band, but mostly their musical history. He goes into when they got into music, what made them want to play music, what other bands they've played with, etc. He does this in individual interviews with the band members and by asking them all a series of questions (Beatles vs Stones, who would you want to open for, who plays the best music in the van). You really get to know them on a personal level (guitarist Eric Peterson was the favorite of the screening, mainly since he chose to conduct his interviews in a swimming pool wearing a hat with a cigarette in hand), and the band as a whole was truly focused on, which seemed strange since the focus of the film was supposedly the songwriter, Sarah Shook. A good portion of the film is made up of self shot clips of Shook as she went through the process of writing the song "What it Takes." As the film went on, you began to understand that while Sarah Shook may be the principal lyric songwriter, it's the band as a whole that truly is responsible for the musical output of Sarah Shook & The Disarmers.

What makes Gorman Bechard's documentaries truly work for my is that he takes these high falutin' film concepts and uses them for film documentaries. Film documentaries are typically put out by a record company as a way to cash in on an artist and are little more than fluff pieces, or they focus on drama within a band. What it Takes: film en douze tableaux doesn't do any of that. While Bechard is an obvious fan of his subject, he shows them as is, and doesn't try to show them glossed over or hyped up. The only real drama is their hesitation to sign to Bloodshot since the touring will take the members of the band away from their children for extended periods of time. What it Takes: film en douze tableaux is inspired by the works of Godard. The second part of the title and interview jump cuts are lifted right from Godard, which Bechard freely admits. It gives you a final piece that is accessible to both music fans and film fans.

What it Takes: film en douze tableaux - TRAILER from What Were We Thinking Films on Vimeo.

Oliver the Crow - "Ashes of a Day Gone By"

The new single from Nashville's Oliver the Crow is truly something special. "Ashes of a Day Gone By" is modern folk. This isn't a throwback by any means. Oliver the Crow make unique, progressive folk/bluegrass, but it's still recognizable as folk/bluegrass. With Kaitlyn Raitz on cello and Ben Plotnik on fiddle (and both providing vocals), they play a very stripped down, minimalist version of modern folk, but somehow still have a full, lush sound. The music isn't truly beautiful or abrasive. Instead, their sound is compelling. In its quiet, it will make you want to listen and focus on what is going on. That's rare and is a gift in a song.

You can watch the video for "Ashes of a Day Gone By" below. Oliver the Crow's self titled debut album will be out June 22. You can pre-order their album on Bandcamp. For more on Oliver the Crow, check out their website.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Kingsley Flood - "Find Me Out"

Photo via Facebook
It feels like it's been forever since we heard any new music from Kingsley Flood, but a lot has happened in the world since Another Other was released in October 2016, so that's probably it. The band has been on the threshold of superstardom for a while now, and every release just seems to be the one that will bring them there. If "Find Me Out" is any indication, their new album could be the one to do it. The song starts off in typical (aka great) Kingsley Flood fashion, with their blend of Americana infused indie rock. Although it's a pretty straightforward mid-tempo rock song, something about it just feels more urgent. It builds on this and becomes this mini epic that feels built for the huge fields of the summer festival circuit. We've said this before, but if there is any justice, this will be their breakthrough.

You can watch the lyric video for "Find Me Out" below. Neighbors and Strangers, the new album from Kingsley Flood, will be out on June 6. For more information on Kingsley Flood, check out their website

First Listen Part Two: More New Releases for April 27

And the rest!

Artist: Dr. Dog
Album: Critical Equation
Quick Description: The latest from the popular indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Dr. Dog is pretty consistent and loved for a reason.
Overall Thoughts: People love Dr. Dog and I’ve never 100% understood them, but this record feels like a pretty solid effort from the band. The opening track really grabbed me, and I found the rest of it to be fairly listenable on a whole. I don’t know how fans will feel, but I dug this.
Recommendation: Worth a shot.

Artist: Forth Wanderers
Album: Forth Wanderers
Quick Description: Latest from a group I'm really fond of.
Why You Should Listen: This is an act that you should know if you don't already.
Overall Thoughts: I've enjoyed this band for some time, and the new album is the same sort of sneaky quiet great stuff that I’ve come to expect. This is one of those bands where you listen to a couple songs and start to wonder why this band isn’t more popular.
Recommendation: Check them out.

Artist: Janelle Monae
Album: Dirty Computer
Quick Description: Latest from the R&B androidsexual.
Why You Should Listen: This is maybe the most buzzworthy release of the spring.
Overall Thoughts: I unabashedly love Janelle Monae and still hate that I skipped out on her double bill with Of Montreal way back whenever. Dirty Computer is decidedly less about robots than her previous records, and this is definitely a statement record in many ways, but I'm not hating it - I just don't love it on first listen the way I have her other music. It's a solid album, though, and probably worth the time, but if you're into Monae for the sci-fi elements more than the straight R&B, you might miss the boat.
Recommendation: Listen, but be wary.

Artist: Speedy Ortiz
Album: Twerp Verse
Quick Description: Another batch of great songs by a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: Speedy Ortiz should still be more huge than they are.
Overall Thoughts: I don't honestly know what to say about Speedy Ortiz that hasn't been said already. They're a great band with a great sound, and poised to break out at any moment. This record continues along their consistent track, and it's both a great addition to their body of work and a great entry point.
Recommendation: Just listen to it.

Artist: Half Waif
Album: Lavender
Quick Description: Chamber-esque indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: No one sounds quite like Half Waif, and that's a great thing.
Overall Thoughts: It's hard to describe Half Waif. Chamber pop doesn't do it justice, but there are dreamy aspects to this with some interesting and challenging choices throughout. This probably needs to be heard to be understood, which is a cop-out, but as one of the better albums of the week, is there any other option?
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: Giraffes? Giraffes!
Album: Memory Lame
Quick Description: Instrumental indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: This is a baffling, challenging listen.
Overall Thoughts: I can't honestly make heads or tails of this. It's something where I know I didn't like it, but it may be more because of my own tastes rather than what this act is doing. If instrumental indie rock does the trick for you, try this...
Recommendation: ...but you'll know pretty fast if it's not for you.

Artist: Okkervil River
Album: In the Rainbow Rain
Quick Description: Latest from the popular indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Okkervil River has a sound all their own.
Overall Thoughts: The opening track, "Famous Tracheotomies," feels insanely familiar within the first few seconds, and the album itself feels like an Okkervil River album through and through. Good for fans, good for newcomers.
Recommendation: It's just good.

Also out:

* Anne-Marie - Speak Your Mind