Tuesday, June 26, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 22 June

The summer slowdown is here, but we're finding a lot of stuff to listen to anyway.

Album of the Week:


Artist: Oliver the Crow
Album: Oliver the Crow
Quick Description: Edgy, interesting folk music.
Why You Should Listen: You have been waiting for the proper Civil Wars torch taker, and this might be it.
Overall Thoughts: I will preface this by saying that Brown Bird was a unique occurrence that will never be replicated, but boy do OtC come close. A nice, raw, folk record that includes some front-and-center cello to mix it up, this is definitely a favorite of the week due to its unique nature and the interesting songwriting and sounds coming from this record.
Recommendation: A real interesting, pleasant surprise.


Artist: T. Hardy Morris
Album: Dude, The Obscure
Quick Description: Difficult effort from the Dead Confederate lead.
Why You Should Listen: Morris has made enough good music so far that he's earned a listen.
Overall Thoughts: Morris has been doing solo work for a while now, and this latest one definitely feels the most contemplative, but also, sadly, the least dynamic. This album just kind of moves along and does its own thing, and it just isn’t something that requires or even calls for a second listen.
Recommendation: Unfortunately skippable.


Artist: Ruby Rose Fox
Album: Salt
Quick Description: Latest from the enigmatic favorite.
Why You Should Listen: It's absolutely one of the most interesting and challenging releases of the week.
Overall Thoughts: One of the more unique voices on the landscape is back with an intense, interesting listen that has a lot of really attention-grabbing moments to align with messages and music to forward the conversation along. I still feel like Fox is an acquired taste of sorts, but this might be an easier entry point to her work (especially with something like “Lady Godiva”) than her previous efforts.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.


Artist: Juno Reactor
Album: The Mutant Theater
Quick Description: Latest album from the longtime electronic act.
Why You Should Listen: Going into their third decade, they sound as familiar and relevant as they did 20 years ago.
Overall Thoughts: I had a friend back in the 1990s who was very much into Juno Reactor. I was not then, but I saw there was a new album and checked it out. It’s pretty straightforward electronic music, perhaps more aggressive than what I usually feature in this space, but man was it good even beyond the nice nostalgia hit. I hope my old friend is well, wherever he is. And I hope he’s listening to this.
Recommendation: Give this a shot this week.


Artist: Jedi Mind Tricks
Album: The Bridge and the Abyss
Quick Description: New album from the crucial rap act.
Why You Should Listen: They're so good anyway, but this feels especially important right now.
Overall Thoughts: They’ve been around forever, and I loved their last album. This one? More strident, more angry, more current. More enjoyable? Hard to say. It’s not a party record, but it’s a record that has something to say and that many will find value in hearing.
Recommendation: Rap/R&B listen of the week for sure.


Artist: The Pauses
Album: Unbuilding
Quick Description: New album from an indie favorite.
Why You Should Listen: This was a surprise release for me, but was getting a fair amount of Twitter buzz.
Overall Thoughts: This is the first album in a long time from this band (who I was basically unaware of until this release), and it has a very interesting sound to it that has a lot of modern feel to it. It’s a good, fascinating listen that I want to spend more time with, but I do feel like this is something that would be fairly popular if it found an audience.
Recommendation: Worth the effort.


Artist: Lera Lynn
Album: Plays Well With Others
Quick Description: A duets album by a favorite in these parts.
Why You Should Listen: If her True Detective run didn't grab you, this should.
Overall Thoughts: A duets record from one of the best roots musicians out there? Sign me up anyway, but between the duets with people like Rodney Crowell and John Paul White and the selective covers (including a really strong take on TV on the Radio's "Wolf Like Me"), this is just required listening.
Recommendation: A must-hear.

Of note:

* Teyana Taylor - K.T.S.E. (the latest (last?) Kanye-produced record coming from the recent sessions)
* Danny Goffey - Schtick (excellent, poppy stuff)
* The Orb - No Sounds Are Out Of Bounds (feels as fresh and unique as ever)
* The Due Diligence - Life is Hard (a very weird listen, but has a lot going for it)
* The Wave Pictures - Brushes With Happiness (about as contemplative as they get)
* Bag of Tricks Cat and Mega Ran - Emerald Knights 2 (interesting in contrast to JMT. More modern, good but not as solid/essential)
* Ilsa Craig - The Becoming
* Soulwax - ESSENTIAL
* Flasher - Constant Image

EPs:

* Alison Clancy - Psycho Tyko (really good stuff with a trip-hoppy feel)
* Zuzu - Made on Earth By Humans (finally! An EP! And it's great!)
* Nine Inch Nails - Bad Witch
* Ashe - The Rabbit Hole
* Descendents - Who We Are
* Henry Jamison - The Wilds Quartets
* The Mary Onettes - Cola Falls

Also out:

* Dawes - Passwords (a tragic bore)
* Death Grips - Year of the Snitch
* James Williamson and the Pink Hearts - Behind the Shade
* Street Dogs - Stand for Something or Die for Nothing
* Michael Christmas - Role Model
*

Monday, June 25, 2018

Megan Airlie - "Honey"

We last heard from Scotland's Megan Airlie back in February and we're thrilled that we finally have a follow up to "After River." Her latest single, "Honey," isn't quite as bare bones as "After River" is. It's still sparse compared to most songs, but "Honey" has more of a full band sound. The increased instrumentation gives the song a much more lush feeling. It adds to the blues/jazz sound that Airlie started hinting at with her previous song. There is a distinct early Lady Lamb meets Lake Street Dive sound. Plus, we still have her voice which somehow stands out even more with the extra instrumentation. 

You can listen to "Honey" below. The song is available now as a single on Bandcamp via Bloc Music Recordings. For more on Megan Airlie, check out her Facebook and website.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Friday Freebie: The Only Things - Dandelion

The one nice thing about discovering a band almost a year after their most recent release is that you don't have to wait as long for their next release. Back in March we told you about Hitlist, the May 2017 release for The Only Things. While everyone in the know had to wait a little over a year for the follow up, we only had to wait three months!

Dandelion picks up right where Hitlist left off. It's seven songs of loud, clever, and fun rock. A song like "Windows" is a bouncy, hard hitting song with some of the catchiest and most melodic gang vocals we've ever heard. It's right on the line of pop punk, but pop punk you won't be embarrassed to listen to. That seems to be the main theme of the songs on Dandelion: A lot of hard rock can be kind of cringe-worthy. But songs like "Now I Know" and "Arrows" don't end up that way. The Only Things have created an album that rocks, but not in a dumb, childish way. It's a rare thing that we need more of.

You can listen to "Arrows" below. Dandelion, the new release from The Only Things, is available now as a free download via Bandcamp. As always, if you download for free, be sure to give The Only Things a follow on social media. You can find their Facebook here.


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Wilder Maker - "Drunk Driver"

Photo by Chris Weiss
Indie rock bands basically make up 84% of Brooklyn's population, so in order for a band to stick out they have to bring something unique to the table. If we're writing about them, Wilder Maker must be one of those bands. Their newest single, "Drunk Driver," starts out as a quiet, mellow song. It reminds me quite a bit of what I love about Big Thief. A lot of their songs also start out quietly and then just build into an explosion. But "Drunk Driver" never explodes. It stays quiet and mellow while building in intensity. It changes ever so slightly sonically but completely in tone. It reminds me of horror films like It Follows or Hereditary in how they can crank up the mood and tone without a big event or loud noise.

You can watch the video for "Drunk Driver" below. Zion, the new album from Wilder Maker, will be out July 13 on Northern Spy Records. You can pre-order your copy over on Bandcamp. For more on Wilder Maker, check out their website. Tour dates are below the video.


July 11 Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
July 12 Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
July 13 Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool
July 14 Rochester, NY @ Small World Books
July 15 Cleveland, OH @ CODA
July 16 Kent, OH @ Stone Tavern
July 17 Cincinnati, OH @ Northside Tavern
July 18 Detroit, MI @ PJ’s Lager House
July 19 Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village
July 20 Milwaukee, WI @ Company Brewing
July 21 Fort Wayne, IN @ Neat Neat Neat Records
July 22 Columbus, OH @ Brothers Drake
July 23 Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
July 24 Asheville, NC @ Static Age Records
July 25 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
August 10 Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Art Space
August 11 Portland, ME @ One Longfellow Square
August 12 Cambridge, MA @ State Park Bar

BODEGA - "Gyrate"

We've been loving the art rock meets dance music vibe of BODEGA, and their latest single is no exception. "Gyrate" is absolute fun. For us aging Generation-X hipsters, it reminds me a bunch of Bis without the cutesy aspects of that band. Of course, the origin of the song is quite interesting. According to singer Nikki Belfiglio: "When I was a little girl I used to masturbate in public (once at a JC Penny perfume counter). My parents, not wishing to shame me told me I shouldn’t ‘gyrate’ in front of other people. My song uses the language of Top 40 pop to celebrate self-sustainability and female pleasure.” The only complaint I has is that with it's under two minute length, the song is over just as it gets started and you've decided you love it.

You can watch the video (which was also directed by Nikki Belfiglio) for "Gyrate" below. BODEGA's debut album, Endless Scroll, will be out July 7 on What's Your Rupture? You can pre-order your copy via Bandcamp. For more on BODEGA, be sure to check them out on Facebook. Current tour dates are below the video.




Thu. June 21 - Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
Fri. June 22 - Bloomington, IN @ The Bishop
Sat. June 23 - Lawrence, KS @ Jackpot
Sun. June 24 - Iowa City, IA @ The Mill
Mon. June 25 - St. Paul, MN @ Turf Club
TUe. June 26 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Cactus Club

Wed. June 27 - Columbus, OH @ Used Kids Records
Thu. June 28 - Athens, OH @ The Union
Fri. June 29 - Washington, DC @ DC9
Sat. June 30 - Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits
Tue. July 10 - Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen
Wed. July 11 - Birmingham, UK @ The Sunflower Lounge
Fri. July 13 - Beccles, UK @ Latitude Festival
Mon. July 16 - Nijmegen, NL @ Valkhof Festival
Thu. July 19 - Port Grimaud, FR @ Plage de Rock w/ Parquet Courts
Sat. July 21 - Benicassim, ES @ Benicassim Festival 
Sun. July 29 - Richmond, VA @ Strange Matter
Mon. July 30 - Durham, NC @ Pinhook
Tue. July 31 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Wed. Aug. 1 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
Fri. Aug. 3 - Fort Worth, TX @ MASS
Sat. Aug. 4 - Austin, TX @ Austin
Tue. Aug. 7 - Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Wed. Aug. 8 - Los Angeles, CA @ Moroccan Lounge
Fri. Aug. 10 - San Francisco, CA @ Hemlock Tavern
Sun. Aug. 12 - Portland, OR @ Bunk Bar
Mon. Aug. 13 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Tue. Aug. 14 - Vancouver, BC @ Fox Cabaret

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mountain Lions - "California"

"California," the latest single from Mountain Lions, is mostly straightforward neo-Americana leaning on the more mainstream side of things. It's a pleasant sounding, upbeat track. It could almost be described as "sunny," but not quite. What's definite is there is not a shred of mopey in the song. It sounds like something I would absolutely hate, but I don't. Somehow Steven Diaz takes something could could be ordinary and mundane and instead crafts a song that stops just shy of that. It has something special in it that I wish I could explain properly. Maybe it's charisma or a unique twist in the tune (or it could be that they hail from Chapel Hill, NC), but "California" will draw even the grumpiest of us in.

You can listen to "California" below. We Are, the new album from Mountain Lions, will be out on August 10. For more on Mountain Lions, check out their website and Facebook.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 15 June

A slower week, but one with some pretty impactful releases.

Album of the Week
:


Artist: V. V. Lightbody
Album: Bathing Peach
Quick Description: Debut solo project from a Chicago-area singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Lucy Dacus would tone it down a bit?
Overall Thoughts: This is an album that is a little hard to describe. It's kind of folky, but has some edge to it? The project of Vivian McConnell, she clearly has some great songwriting chops that make you pay attention from the first few notes, and this kind of came out of nowhere for me in terms of how much I liked it. If you like the folky stuff, or even the more contemplative singer-songwriter efforts of late, you should give this a listen.
Recommendation: Best release of the week.


Artist: The Carters
Album: Everything is Love
Quick Description: Surprise-yet-anticipated collaboration between Beyonce and Jay-Z.
Why You Should Listen: Love it or hate it, this is what people will be talking about for the next month.
Overall Thoughts: I'm not one to subscribe to the "it's not for you, so you shouldn't be talking about it" critique of criticism. But with Everything is Love, much like Lemonade, Beyonce and Jay-Z are making musical messages that are both relevant to a specific audience and musically superior. I am sure I'm missing a lot of nuance with this one, but taken solely from the musical parts, this is definitely something special that will mean more to a lot of other people who aren't me.
Recommendation: Required listening (at least until it gets pulled from Spotify).


Artist: Arthur Buck
Album: Arthur Buck
Quick Description: Collaboration between Joseph Arthur and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck.
Why You Should Listen: Both artists are basically must-listen musicians in their own right.
Overall Thoughts: Joseph Arthur has always been an interesting artist to me, and Peter Buck played guitar in my favorite band. I am glad that this collaboration exists, not only because the two very clearly compliment each other, but because there are a number of solid songs here. The album probably never reaches the height that it starts off with again on “I Am the Moment,” but fans of one or both of the artists will absolutely hear what they want from this.
Recommendation: A solid listen overall.


Artist: Petal
Album: Magic Gone
Quick Description: New album from a buzzworthy singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: There is a lot here to love.
Overall Thoughts: The way this album kicks off, you’re almost certain you’ll be off on a ride, especially with some of the great songs from Petal’s previous album. The full effort here? Solid songwriting with a lot of great moments, but it’s just that – a collection of moments rather than a truly cohesive package.
Recommendation: Not a priority listen this week.


Artist: Sun June
Album: Years
Quick Description: Unique-yet-familiar indie songwriting.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something that scratches a specific singer-songwriter itch.
Overall Thoughts: If 2017 was the year of the alt-rock revival, the quality level of female singer-songwriter releases this year cannot be overstated. If Lucy Dacus is leading the charge, albums like this one from Sun June do an amazing job of helping carry the load. If a song like “Young” doesn’t grab you, I’m not entirely sure what to tell you.
Recommendation: You’re missing out if you don’t give this a shot.


Artist: John Parish
Album: Bird Dog Dante
Quick Description: British songwriter with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: Parish has been involved with some very important work in his time.
Overall Thoughts: Best known for his collaborative work w/PJ Harvey, this is a solo album that definitely feels unique and different. Not surprising given the source, but the way it feels out of place and time is especially interesting in the current musical climate, and you don’t expect a man pushing 60 to put out something so weird and different.
Recommendation: It’s a good listen, although it may not be straightforward enough for everyone.


Artist: Mourn
Album: Sorpresa Familia
Quick Description: New album from the heavier-than-expected post-punkers.
Why You Should Listen: If Mourn came into their own in their last album, this one shows how good they can be.
Overall Thoughts: I love this album, unabashedly so. It's got a lot of great moments, some memorable moments ("Fun at the Geysers" is one of the better songs I've heard this year period), and an aesthetic that isn't breaking any boundaries while still feeling unique and fresh. If you're into heavier fare? Check this out.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth your time.


Artist: Melody's Echo Chamber
Album: Bon Voyage
Quick Description: New album from the experimental project.
Why You Should Listen: It's not quite the same, but you're jonesing for new King Gizzard content that isn't coming.
Overall Thoughts: Melody of this project had an accident or illness of some sort that took her out of commission for a time, so this new album achieves a few things beyond being a great album. As a comeback of sorts, it shows an intensity and immediacy that wasn't in her previous efforts (which I also liked), but as a pure work of art? This was nearly my release of the week (I'm already breaking my "7 songs is an EP" rule for this one) because of how interesting and expansive the whole package is. I'm glad they chose to lead with "Desert Horse" in a way, because it really gets the whole thing together in a nutshell.
Recommendation: A must-listen for this week.

Other releases of note:

* Gin Blossoms - Mixed Reality (This would be the hottest indie record of 1989 if it weren’t 2018. Instead, it feels like a band in continual regression.)
* The Mighty Mighty Bosstones - While We're At It ("Pretty good for a modern ska/punk record” sounds like an insult, but it’s really a compliment for a solid listen.)
* Mad Caddies - Punk Rocksteady (This is a cover album that sounds like a trendy beach bar band trying to be a little too cute. This is not necessarily a bad thing.)
* English Beat - Here We Go Love (You won’t expect this to be as fun as it is.)
* Johnny Marr - Call the Comet (You already know whether you'll like this or not.)
* Fantastic Negrito - Please Don't Be Dead
* Girls Names - Stains on Silence
* Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever - Hope Downs

EPs:

* Blushh - Thx 4 Asking (Give this a listen)
* Nas - NASIR (This week's Kanye collaborative release)
* King Princess - Make My Bed (Another goodie)
* Protomartyr - Consolation EP (Featuring Kelley Deal!)
* Nick Lowe - Crying Inside
* Deaf Poets - Change and Bloom
* Foxtrott - Meditations I
*

Also out this week:

* Wilko Johnson - Blow Your Mind
* Madball - For the Cause
* Chromeo - Head Over Heels

Monday, June 18, 2018

Phantastic Ferniture - "Gap Year"

We were pretty huge on Julia Jacklin's 2016 debut Don't Let the Kids Win. While she doesn't have a new solo album on the horizon, she's involved in another band that does! Phantastic Ferniture started back in 2014 when Jacklin and ten friends pledged to start a band together on her birthday. The next day four of them remembered, so a band was formed. The band played what was supposed to be their first and last gig four months later, but ended up getting together when they could to play together. Thus, Phastastic Ferniture was born. Jacklin describes the new band this way: “I’d gone straight into folk music, so every experience I’d had on stage was playing sad music with a guitar in my hand. I thought, I would love to know what it’s like to make people feel good and dance.” Their new song, "Gap Year," definitely fits that description. It's far more upbeat and rocking than anything from Don't Let the Kids Win, and is just fun rock music that happens to be pretty great. Especially right after the two minute mark when the guitars truly kick in. Somehow Jacklin's voice is perfectly suited for her solo folk music and this new fun rock style. I can't wait to hear more.

You can watch the video for "Gap Year" below. Fantastic Pherniture's self-titled debut album will be out July 27 on Polyvinyl. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Fantastic Ferniture, check out their website.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Downtown Boys Cover Selena Covering The Pretenders

Photo by Michael Baca
Our love of covers is pretty well known here at If It's Too Loud..., but this may just be a first for us. We've been loving Providence's Downtown Boys for a while now. Their cover of Bruce Springsteen's classic "Dancing in the Dark" is a personal favorite, and now they're back with another cover. They've recently unveiled their cover of Selena's "Fotos Y Recuerdos" which is a Spanish language cover of The Pretender's "Back in the Chain Gang." It was originally recorded during the sessions for Cost of Living, their most recent album, but didn't make it on that album. One of our favorite artists releasing a cover of a cover? Happy Friday, everyone!

You can listen to Downtown Boys's cover of "Fotos Y Recuerdos" below. For more on Downtown Boys, check out their Facebook.

Fred Abong - Homeless

The same week we get a new song from Kristin Hersh, we can hear new music from another member of Throwing Muses! Once (and possible current?) Throwing Muses bassist Fred Abong is taking some time off from his college professor duties and has recorded his first solo release, Homeless. It's a six song collection of stripped down, just slightly off kilter solo singer/songwriter music. It's almost fairly standard, but just the slightest bit off to keep things interesting. "Rattler" is almost an epic, and could easily be turned into a large venue filling rocker, but it works equally well as a stripped down solo song. "Equinox" is a painfully quiet song that draws the listener inward in a way I haven't heard since Elliott Smith. 

You can listen to "Rattler" below. Homeless will be available on June 29, although you can listen to (and pre-order) the entire thing at Fred Abong's Bandcamp. For more on Fred Abong, check out his website and Twitter.

Bear Grass - "Unawake"

There's something so familiar about Bear Grass's new song, "Unawake," yet something so completely unique and special. The song brings in some of our favorite musical elements, but mixes them up in a way we've never quite heard before. At it's very core is some fairly standard singer/songwriter kind of stuff, with some of these amazing melodies and hooks. Singer Katie Hammon's voice is this fresh from the dryer blanket feeling instrument that just draws you in. But there is this odd distortion throughout the song that pulls you away and further in at the same time, along with some shoegaze style swirls. It's a majestic indie rock song while still almost being a pretty mainstream folk style song. You're pretty guaranteed to love this one.

You can listen to "Unawake" belong. LEFT, the new album from Bear Grass, will be out August 10 on Five Kill Records. You can pre-order it via Bandcamp. For more on Bear Grass, check out their website.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Rayland Baxter - "Strange American Dream"

Photo by Shervin Lainez
Rayland Baxter seems to be one of those artists that is intent on changing up his sound with every new album. With his new song, "Strange American Dream," he's dropped most of his folk/Americana/country sound in favor of a more 90's singer/songwriter feel along the line of Ben Lee. In the past year or so, we've seen a bunch of our favorite folky artists experimenting with a more mainstream, sometimes even pop, sound, to varying levels of success. "Strange American Dream" is one of the better experiments. It still keeps enough of Baxter's folk charm. While it veers off in a different direction from Imaginary Man, it's not a complete change of direction. If you've been a fan of his, I can't imagine this knocking you off the bandwagon.

You can listen to "Strange American Dream" below. The latest album from Rayland Baxter, Wide Awake, will be out July 13 on ATO Records. For more on Rayland Baxter, check out his website.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Kristin Hersh - "Breathe In"

Any time we can bring you new music from one of Kristin Hersh's projects is an exciting time for us all. With an album upcoming later this year, Hersh has released a new single off it, "Breathe In." One thing we know from "Breathe In" is that the new album won't be one of her quiet acoustic releases. The track is dripping with what sounds like a tremelo effect on the guitar. When it doesn't have the effect, the guitar has a distinctly crunchy feel, and just about every element of the song, including Hersh's voice, has it's turn to distort. The song has a hypnotic and not entirely pleasant feel, although it's not entirely unpleasant, either. 

You can listen to a rough mix of "Breathe In" below. The song features Fred Abong of Throwing Muses on bass and Wyatt True (aka Hersh's son) on drums. The new album from Kristin Hersh, Possible Dust Clouds, will be out later this year via Fire Records. For more on Kristin Hersh, check out her website. Current tour dates are below the song.


June 14  Tel Aviv - Zappa Club 
June 17  Bristol - Redgrave Theatre
June 18  London, Cecil Sharp House 
June 21  London, Meltdown Festival  SOLD OUT
June 24  Glasgow, Mackintosh Church
June 25  Halifax, Square Chapel
June 26  Newcastle, Cluny 2 SOLD OUT
June 27  Newcastle, Cluny 2 
June 28  Cambridge, Storey’s Field Centre
June 29  Ramsgate, Ramsgate Music Hall SOLD OUT
June 30  Brighton, Duke of York’s Cinema
July 1     Ramsgate – Ramsgate Music Hall

Service - "Be Alright" and "Cold Light" [Rough Mixes]

Photo via Facebook
We first became aware of Service, the newest band from Russell Simins, drummer from Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, back in August 2016. That's when they released three demo songs on their Soundcloud. Almost two years later and we still don't have an official release, but there are two more rough demos kicking around. "Cold Light" is my personal favorite of the two. It's a little more hypnotic and driving of the two, while being more mellow if that makes sense. It's somehow post-punk and psychedelic at the same time. "Be Alright" is a little more straightforward. It's catchier and a bit more groovy, but still a loud, fuzzed out garage rocker.

You can listen to "Be Alright" and "Cold Light" in their rough demo forms over at Service's Soundcloud page. For more on Service, check them out on Facebook and Twitter. And let's all hope they move from rough demos to first official release in the near future.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for June 8

A slower week after last week's big one.


Artist: Soft Science
Album: Maps
Quick Description: Shoegazey pop rock.
Why You Should Listen: This is the best release from last week that we missed?
Overall Thoughts: We missed this from last week, and I’m glad I tripped up on it. It has some alt-rock elements mixed with some shoegaze, and there are simply hooks for days on this. In a week where I liked a lot of things but didn’t love anything, this would otherwise be my album of the week. As it stands, though, this is a stellar listen that should have some real longevity in my rotation, and it’s different than a lot of what I’m hearing lately.
Recommendation: Worth your time.


Artist: Lykke Li
Album: so sad so sexy
Quick Description: The European alt-popper is back with something truly great.
Why You Should Listen: Lykke Li has always pushed boundaries and made some great music.
Overall Thoughts: It’s been a while since we heard from Lykke Li, and this is a fun, interesting pop album that leans in on a few themes she has been playing with over the last decade. The result, if I’m honest? This is the album Lily Allen should have put out this week. A good album with some fascinating bits to it that I hope to spend more time with.
Recommendation: A good option this week.


Artist: gobbinjr
Album: Ocala Wick
Quick Description: Twee-ish anti-folk(?)
Why You Should Listen: This is pretty different from what we've typically seen.
Overall Thoughts: I’m not sure if this qualifies as alt-folk in the current climate, but I would have absolutely been in love with this in college. It’s cute, weird folk music with some humor and lightness along with the bite it offers.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen.


Artist: Erin Rae
Album: Putting on Airs
Quick Description: Mature, thoughtful rootsy music.
Why You Should Listen: It sounds familiar while still being different.
Overall Thoughts: A lot of these songs give me a “Lucy Dacus, but with twang” feel to them. The album itself doesn’t stray too far from the traditional country folk a lot, but there are moments here that really forced me to stop what I was doing and really listen, which says a lot.
Recommendation: A great listen this week.


Artist: Laura Jean
Album: Devotion
Quick Description: Solid singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: This is better than most stuff out recently.
Overall Thoughts: This is the type of record that is on one end pretty solid and serviceable, but also doesn’t move out of its lane much to be as transcendent as you feel it has the potential to do. You will likely listen to this and feel like it’s a good album, because it is. Just in a week with has some pretty great stuff while we still recover from the double whammy of Neko Case and Tancred last week?
Recommendation: This just isn’t essential.


Artist: Snail Mail
Album: Lush
Quick Description: A debut album from an early favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Snail Mail is something special, and is only going to get specialer (yes, I'm making that a word).
Overall Thoughts: Ken is a big fan of Snail Mail, and this super young act is making music far beyond what you’d expect from a debut here. It’s definitely raw and deliberately sparse, but it’s also absolutely gorgeous. When you hear a song like “Anytime,” you realize that this is a talent that isn’t to be missed.
Recommendation: A great debut album, looking forward to more.


Artist: M. Ward
Album: What a Wonderful Industry
Quick Description: Latest from the busy indie guitarist.
Why You Should Listen: M. Ward is always worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: no one is quite like M. Ward. An indie guitar virtuoso in a genre that doesn’t generally reward virtuosity, an interesting songwriter in a space that doesn’t always reward interesting songwriting, his new album plays up his best aspects and diminishes the stuff that doesn't always work. I'll go as far as to say this is my favorite effort of his since Hold Time, if ever.
Recommendation: A definite one to add to your rotation.


Artist: Hilary Woods
Album: Colt
Quick Description: Darkish folk stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Marissa Nadler was a little lighter on her feet.
Overall Thoughts: Dark, brooding music with a bit of a folk bent but often sounds like it belongs at The Roadhouse in Twin Peaks. It’s kind of haunting in a lot of ways, and that isn’t a bad thing at all, but I do not know for sure if everyone who listens to what we recommend would like this, but I sure did.
Recommendation: Might not work for everyone, but this should get a shot.


Artist: Kingsley Flood
Album: Neighbors and Strangers
Quick Description: Latest from a local favorite.
Why You Should Listen: At some point, this band is going to break out and you'll be kicking yourself that you didn't get in on the ground floor.
Overall Thoughts: What more can I say about Kingsley Flood? They're a band in their prime making essential independent alternative music, and too many people don't know about them. It's a shame, as they may be one of the best bands your friends have never heard, and this album is an accessible shot in the arm that, with any justice, would result in their getting on rock radio and being on television and being that band everyone is talking about. So don't miss out.
Recommendation: An obvious listen.

Of note:

* Palm Ghosts - Architecture (your good 80s retro of the day, trying to be like The Cure in some ways)
* Busdriver - Electricity is On Our Side
* Poptone - Poptone
* Ana Egge - White Tiger

EPs:

* Twisted Pine - Dreams (my favorite covers EP in a long time)
* Kids See Ghosts - Kids See Ghosts (Kanye/Kudi collaboration; it's better than ye)
* Gabrielle Marlena - Easier Love (very solid)
* Nova One - Secret Princess
* The Charlatans - Totally Eclipsing
* The Get Up Kids - Kicker

Also out:

* Lily Allen - No Shame (a real disappointment)
* Will Turpin - Serengeti Drivers

Odetta Hartman - "Sweet Teeth"

Odetta Smith might just be re-writing the rules for the traditional female singer/songwriter with a banjo genre. Sure, she's playing a banjo, but I wouldn't call "Sweet Teeth" folk, bluegrass, or even really Americana. There is a bit of a mainstream feel to the song, and it is beautifully done mesmerizing harmonies in the vocals, but I couldn't call it pop or rock, either. Plus, it's banjo music and something about it is distinctively badass. I guess this is the music that comes when an artist grows up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan surrounded by punk and hip hop, going to shows at CBGB's, and being raised on her parent's soul and classic country records. 

You can listen to "Sweet Teeth" below. Old Rockhounds Never Die, the new album from Odetta Hartman, will be out on August 10 on Northern Spy Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Odetta Hartman, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Rough Francis - Don't Look Back EP

Considering this came out way back in January, we kinda dropped the ball on this one, but better late than never, right? Even without that delay, it's been four years since Maximum Soul Power came out, so we're thrilled to have any new music from Vermont's finest proto punk band comprised of the offspring of Death. On Don't Look Back EP, Rough Francis seem a little bit slower and mellow, but only just a little. The opening title track feels a tiny bit restrained but is still a rocker just waiting to break free live. "Hangin' On" almost channels The Stooges covering The Kinks. "Waiting" is where Rough Francis finally breaks free and break out like a cartoon train furiously careening down the track, but towards a party, especially halfway through once the guitar solo kicks in. It's the song on the album that almost captures the joy and energy Rough Francis exude when you see them live. Almost.

You can listen to "Waiting" below. Don't Look Back EP is available now via Bandcamp. For more information on Rough Francis, check out their website and Facebook.

Friday, June 8, 2018

The Beths - "Happy Unhappy"

Photo by Mason Fairey
After seeing yet another article claiming that people stop discovering new music after the age of 30, I listened to this new song from The Beths and I'm thrilled that doesn't apply to me. Seriously, those people are hardcore missing out. "Happy Unhappy" is this brilliant slice of sunshine filled alternative pop, the kind they used to make in the mid 90's. It starts out with this bouncy guitar riff and even bouncier "Oh oh oh"s. It's all incredibly glorious harmonies and crunchy guitars. What more could we possibly want? Oh, right. Killer fuzzed out, swirlking guitar solos, which we get later on. Anyone that misses out on checking out this song should be pitied.

You can listen to "Happy Unhappy" below. Future Me Hates Me, the debut album from The Beths, will be out August 10 on Carpark Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on The Beths, check them out on Facebook and Twitter. Tour dates are below the song.


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/ Peach Kelli Pop

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Deaf Wish - "FFS"

Photo by Ela Stiles
Australia is in such a guitar rock revolution that we'll literally give any band from that country a shot. As soon as I saw Deaf Wish were from Melbourne, I knew I wanted to listen, and we should all be glad I did. "FFS" is a revelation. The song just drips with attitude and groove. The guitars are ripped straight out of a early 90's Sonic Youth song, and guitarist/vocalist Sarah Hardiman sounds like Joan Jett doing her best Bob Dylan impression. It's a combination of pure intensity and one I simply can't seem to get enough of. My only complaint of the song is it abruptly ends at two minutes nineteen seconds, which doesn't feel like nearly enough.

You can watch the video for "FFS" below. The new album from Deaf Wish, Lithium Zion, will be available July 27 via Sub Pop. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Deaf Wish, check them out on Bandcamp and Sub Pop's website.

Bill Janovitz - "Mar-A-Lago"

I think it's fairly safe to say that Bill Janovitz isn't a fan of Donald Trump's. He's released a song on his Bandcamp called "Mar-A-Lago" which is about our current President and his favorite weekend vacation destination. As Janovitz says about the song: "'Mar-A-Lago' seemed like it should be the title of a yacht rock/soft rock/country rock song from the 1970s, so I wrote and recorded one." It might be the most mellow and soothing protest song ever recorded. It includes references to Robert Mueller and how Melania Trump was possibly missing for a month. Of course, the song was released the same day Melania made her first public appearance in nearly a month. It's most likely a coincidence, but we're going to go ahead and give Janovitz credit for finally forcing her to come out of hiding. 

You can listen to "Mar-A-Lago" below. The song is currently available on Bill Janovitz's Bandcamp for $1 with all proceeds going to the ACLU Legal Defense Fund. For more on Bill Janovitz, check out his website.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Sobs - "Telltale Signs"

Photo by Christopher Sims
Hailing from Singapore, Sobs are set to release their debut album and just might take the dream pop world by storm. Their new single, "Telltale Signs," is more indie than pop, but has a sunny, bouncy feel that is missing in a lot of other music in the genre. Those of us that were around in the 90's are going to hear a more lush version of The Sundays. While The Sundays were a little more on the acoustic/folk side of things, Sobs have much more gorgeously swirling noise throughout "Telltale Signs." Celine Autumn's vocals are a perfect accompaniment to the music, with neither fully taking focus from the other for more than a few seconds. This song is truly a must listen.

You can watch the video for "Telltale Signs" below. The debut album from Sobs, also called Telltale Signs, will be out June 22 on Middle Class Cigars. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Sobs, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

lié - "Can't Get Enough"

Photo by Lauren Ray
Exactly a week ago we brought you the latest single from Vancouver's purveyors of dark punk lié, and we already have a new one to bring to you. While "Country Boys" was more tense and never quite erupted the way songs tend to, the new single, "Can't Get Enough," is virtually all explosion. It starts off with 37 seconds of what would be the breakdown in a hardcore song, and then just bursts from there. For the rest of the song's nearly three minutes, it just never lets up the fury. "Can't Get Enough" is noisy chaos that seems barely contained, if it ever truly is.

You can watch the video for "Can't Get Enough" below. Hounds, the new album from lié, will be out on July 6 via Mint Records in Canada and Monofonus Press elsewhere. It can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on lié, check out their Facebook.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 1 June

This was probably one of the more consequential release weeks of the year.

Album of the Week:


Artist: Neko Case
Album: Hell-On
Quick Description: Latest from the alt-country favorite.
Why You Should Listen: Neko Case has been required listening for 15+ years already.
Overall Thoughts: My favorite album from Neko Case is probably Middle Cyclone, which is weird because I was into her for the alt-country stuff and that album might have been the diversion that fully sent her into her own personal genre. Case has released plenty of music since 2009, but this new album is so ridiculously good and so far beyond anything else that she has done that it is absolutely stunning that an artist entering her third decade of recording music as a solo artist can put something together like this. The album got me from the starting track, but the Crooked Fingers cover to the opening song all span that sort of connection those of us who listen to hours of music a day seek out. Best album of the week, and has absolutely shot toward the top of my list for the year.
Recommendation: You cannot miss this one, period.


Artist: Tiny Stills
Album: Laughing Into the Void
Quick Description: Solid independent power-pop.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something really fun this week.
Overall Thoughts: This was a ton of fun. I don’t know anything about this band, but they do a very fun power-pop/alt-rock thing that was really working for me. While I fully believe that many listeners might find this a little too sugary, it’s honestly too good to ignore on a whole. If you’ve enjoyed the alt-rock revival of the last few years, it’s pretty likely that you’ll find something in this to love.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.


Artist: American Aquariums
Album: Things Change
Quick Description: Workmanlike alt-country.
Why You Should Listen: You love everything these guys are influenced by already.
Overall Thoughts: This album in particular kind of feels like the love child of Jason Isbell and Dawes, which overall works for me. It doesn’t let up on the gas for most of the album, and has a solid roots feel without losing that outlaw/alt-country vibe.
Recommendation: A solid, dependable listen.


Artist: Gabriella Cohen
Album: Pink is the Colour of Unconditional Love
Quick Description: Adventurous, left-of-center folk.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for stuff off the beaten path.
Overall Thoughts: This is an interesting listen, for sure. Ken highlighted an advance track from this, and Cohen is commended for definitely thinking outside of the box. I can’t say this always works for me, but there are a lot of underrated gems on here, and if you’re looking for a more mainstream-sounding folk record with some psych-folk elements, this might work for you.
Recommendation: May not work for everyone, but you'll know quickly if it's for you.


Artist: Laura Carbone
Album: Empty Sea
Quick Description: Dark, heavy independent rock.
Why You Should Listen: You want something a little heavier this week.
Overall Thoughts: Darkish rock music with some different rootsy pieces underneath at times. For whatever reason, it reminded me a lot of Melissa Auf Der Maur’s solo debut as well as some early Carissa Round, and I’m not sure if that’s fair or even representative, but there is a lot of interesting stuff happening in this album that deserves a listen.
Recommendation: Absolutely one of the more interesting listens this week.


Artist: Oneohtrix Point Never
Album: Age Of
Quick Description: Latest from the electronic innovator.
Why You Should Listen: This is very different from what put Oneohtrix on the map, so take that as it were.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t remember what it was that got me into Oneohtrix, but whatever it was, I’m totally in now. That makes this new release that much more disappointing, as it is probably thematically something that just doesn’t feel like it works with what I love about the glitchy, strange stuff in his catalog. I’m not saying skip this, and I’m not sure I’m actually not into this, but be wary on this one. It might just be an experiment that doesn’t work.
Recommendation: Not a top priority in a busy week.


Artist: Father John Misty
Album: God's Favorite Customer
Quick Description: Latest from the indie folk artist.
Why You Should Listen: Father John Misty is anything but typical.
Overall Thoughts: I liked FJM’s debut a lot, but his follow-up efforts haven’t really grabbed me. He’s an interesting dude as well, so I know that his musical adventures have more to do with my taste than his talent. This new album, though, may be his best effort since that debut, as he reins in some of the weirdness while still being unique. This might be the type of album that propels him into finding that sweet spot, so we’ll see...
Recommendation: ... but this is definitely one to find time with this week.


Artist: Tancred
Album: Nightstand
Quick Description: Highly-anticipated release from a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: Tancred is leading the independent charge in many ways and is poised for a breakthrough.
Overall Thoughts: In one sense, it’s a shame that Jess Abbott needed to share a week with Neko Case. I loved the last Tancred record, and this one is a great mix of the sound that made Out of the Dark work while better retaining the style and substance of the earlier albums. Most other weeks, this would by far be my favorite, and a song like “Queen of New York” or "Something Else" is going to get stuck in your head for days. Just don’t sleep on this simply because that Neko Case album is justifiably taking up so much space.
Recommendation: A must-listen, and one of the best of the week for sure.


Artist: Natalie Prass
Album: The Future and the Past
Quick Description: Retro R&B goodness.
Why You Should Listen: You miss the 1990s something fierce.
Overall Thoughts: Natalie Prass hit my radar because of a great Song Exploder episode about “Short Court Style.” The song feels like a weird 90s R&B hybrid, and the album continues along that same line. It doesn’t wear its influences on its sleeve, as the influences ARE the sleeve. I really liked this, and it gives me a similar vibe to the Kitty album from last year in terms of exceptional retro music.
Recommendation: Give this a look.


Artist: Joan of Arc
Album: 1984
Quick Description: More off-kilter folky stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You listened to Gabriela Cohen and thought it wasn't odd enough.
Overall Thoughts: Definitely one of the weirder releases of the week, Joan of Arc is doing some sweeping instrumentation with some interesting melodic choices. This is probably more “not for me” than “not good,” but if you’re into a lot of the tradition of left-field vocals and the like, this is worth exploring.
Recommendation: Worth a listen if you have the time.


Artist: The Sea The Sea
Album: From the Light
Quick Description: Calling them "just another folky male/female duo" doesn't do this justice.
Why You Should Listen: You have a Civil Wars-shaped hole in your heart.
Overall Thoughts: It’s tempting to compare this to other dream-folk style duos, but this one just has a different and unexpected feel to it. Sometimes a little more epic sounding, perhaps? But in an era where it feels like everyone is trying to find a replacement for The Civil Wars, this is definitely an entry that deserves to be near the top of the list.
Recommendation: Definitely a top release this week.

Of note:

* Sam Evian - You, Forever
* Nicki Bluhm - To Rise You Gotta Fall
* Juliana Dougherty - Light
* Cœur de pirate - En cas de tempête, ce jardin sera fermé

EPs:

* Kanye West - ye (I refuse to call a 7 song release an album, but this is a super interesting, super weird listen)
* The Milky Way - Shiva the Destroyer (who thought prog rock-inspired instrumentation could work so well with rap)
* LUMP - LUMP (a project featuring Laura Marling! Quite good.)
* Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson - Apart ("Bad Dreams" is one of the best songs in recent memory.)
* Mazzy Star - Still
* Photocomfort - Understudy
* Kitten - Pink Champagne
* Chris Barrows/The Queers - Split EP

Also out:

* Slapshot - Make America Hate Again
* Owl City - Cinematic