Tuesday, July 31, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for July 27

Lots of EPs this week, but definitely the slowest week in a while.


Artist: Phantastic Ferniture
Album: Phantastic Ferniture
Quick Description: A blog favorite lets her hair down with the help of some friends.
Why You Should Listen: It's great indie rock from an artist who already knows how to write a great song.
Overall Thoughts: A band featuring Julia Jacklin, a favorite around these parts, this is not only the best album in a short week, but one of the better albums of the summer. A solid pace, an indie rock feel while still being accessible, there is very little to complain about other than the band’s name (but I won’t hold that against them too much).
Recommendation: Find time for this in your rotation.


Artist: Various Artists
Album: Sorry to Bother You: The Soundtrack
Quick Description: Soundtrack for the buzzy movie of the summer from Boots Riley of The Coup.
Why You Should Listen: There is absolutely no reason not to saddle up for this release.
Overall Thoughts: It’s absolutely possible that this could slide under the radar the way the movie has for most audiences, but if you’ve seen the movie, know that the soundtrack is not nearly as offbeat and weird as the film is. In fact, this is probably the best soundtrack I’ve heard in a while. It’s odd to consider the concept that the strangest movie of the summer may have birthed the party record of the year, but here we are.
Recommendation: Yeah, listen to this.


Artist: Gia Margaret
Album: There's Always Glimmer
Quick Description: Sleepy dreamy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: This is a very interesting listen even in a busier week.
Overall Thoughts: A strange, soft, stark affair that has a lot of really interesting things going on. The flaw here is that it doesn’t always work, but when it does there is an almost dreamlike atmosphere that surrounds the songs and makes them into something truly unique and wonderful. This is worth a listen anyway, and while it may not work for you, it’s solid enough where you’ll absolutely find something to love, in part or in whole.
Recommendation: Worth a listen even if it were a busy week.


Artist: Deaf Wish
Album: Lithium Zion
Quick Description: Fifth release by the indie veterans.
Why You Should Listen: We only got on board early, and it seems like there's plenty of room on the bandwagon.
Overall Thoughts: Ken is the big Sonic Youth fan in these parts, but I’m also pretty into them. He has written before about how much this act reminds him of Sonic Youth and I don’t disagree on the surface, but this definitely has a harsher, more post-punk vibe than the sort of grunge deconstruction I associate with Sonic Youth. Still, on its own? A good, often great, listen with a few layers to it that I’m looking forward to revisiting.
Recommendation: Definitely the most intriguing listen of the week.

Of note:

* Santigold - I Don't Want: The Gold Fire Sessions (not sure if this is a mixtape or standard release, but very reggae-tinged and pretty good)
* Tony Molina - Kill the Lights (on one hand, great songwriting, but so many songs seem to finish abruptly early?)
* Kevin Gordon - Tilt and Shine

Seven song albums:

* Daniel Bachman - The Morning Star

EPs:

* Underworld and Iggy Pop - Teatime Dub Encounters (Imagine an EP of the BT/Doughty collaboration from the late 1990s. Up to you as to whether that’s a good thing (I think it is))
* Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear - The Radio Winners (some of their best work)
* Pegboard Nerds - Full Hearts
* Andrew Combs - Five Covers and a Song
* Dispatch - Location 13
* Rome Fortune and Toro Y Moi - Toro Y Rome Vol. 1
* Oneohtrix Point Never - The Station

Also out:

* Rough Francis - MSP3: Counter Attack
* Rise Against - The Ghost Note Symphonies: Volume 1


Monday, July 30, 2018

Mary Bell - "Band-aid Baby"

Last year we discovered that there was a punk band out of Paris named after English child murderer Mary Bell. (By child murderer we mean a child who murders, not someone who murders children, although her victims were also children...) They are about to release a six song EP, HISTRION, in October. The first song off the new EP is currently available to listen to. "Band-aid Baby" might be the best 48 second punk song you ever hear. Somehow they manage to cram an entire song into such a short time frame. "Band-aid Baby" brings the same fury and noise that we loved from their previous release, LP, but it's a little more fun. There is still darkness and anger, but almost as if they are channeling it into mockery more than aggression. 

You can listen to "Band-aid Baby" below. HISTRION, the new EP from Mary Bell, will be out in October. You can pre-order it via Bandcamp. For more on Mary Bell, check out their website.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Tom Morello featuring Vic Mensa - "We Don't Need You"

Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Prophets of Rage) has been rocking a solo career for quite some time. This century, he's released solo albums under The Nightwatchman moniker as well as his own name. These have been mostly acoustic folk-rock albums filled for the most part with protest songs. In October he'll be releasing another solo album, but this one appears to be more of a rocker/possible party album. Based on the list of collaborators for the album, we're going to assume Morello takes a step back from vocal duties and takes over the guitar like we all want to. Right now you can listen to "We Don't Need You," his collaboration with rapper Vic Mensa. It gets fairly political with 9/11 conspiracies being spouted by Mensa, and it's way more of a banger than we're used to from Morello. In fact, his guitar almost sounds autotuned at some parts, if that is even possible. At the very least, the new album will be interesting.

You can listen to "We Don't Need You" below. Tom Morello's new album, The Atlas Underground, will be out October 12 on Mom + Pop. It will also feature collaborations with Killer Mike, Big Boi, Portugal the Man, K Flay, Marcus Mumford, Gary Clark Jr., Steve Aoki, GZA, RZA, and more. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Tom Morello, check out his website.

Cordovas - "This Town's a Drag"

It's a Friday during the summer, which is the perfect time for a song like Cordovas's "This Town's a Drag." The song just captures a lazy summer country feel, but is probably a little too rock to truly be considered straight country. Plus, it's fairly funky, despite being a country song. It sort of reminds me of The Deslondes meets Deer Tick with soul. It also has a tiny bit of Wilco's noodling towards the end. In other words, most readers of If It's Too Loud... will end up digging this.

You can listen to "This Town's a Drag" below. That Santa Fe Channel, the new album from Cordovas, will be out August 10 on ATO Records. For more on Cordovas, check out their website.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Molly Burch - "Wild"

Photo via Facebook
Molly Burch's Please Be Mine was one of my favorite albums of 2017, so I'm thrilled that we'll have the follow up this year! The first single, "Wild," continues Burch's fabulous 60's soul meets modern Americana movement, but it's a little bit tweaked. Somehow Burch has added a slightly off kilter quality to the song, bringing it a little away from the oldies sound and has also made it a bit more mainstream. She also adds in some current indie rock vibes, particularly in the chorus. The result is a more modern sound that still hearkens back to a classic sound (both Burch's and pop music in general) while looking more forward and ahead.

You can watch the video for "Wild" below. First Flower, Molly Burch's follow up to Please Be Mine, will be available October 5 on Captured Tracks. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Molly Burch, check out her website.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Kevin Pearce Covers Underworld

Here's something fun for all of us middle aged former hipsters that became obsessed with Trainspotting in our youth and may have even gone through a short lived techno phase we don't talk much about. Kevin Pearce has released a cover of Underworld's "Born Slippy," aka the greatest electronica song ever recorded. All of the dance/techno has been removed from the song, and Pearce does it as a trippy singer/songwriter version. The result is far more captivating than you'd expect, and it completely sidesteps the novelty cover trappings. Also, despite the slowed down feel, Pearce takes a song that was originally nearly 10:00 and cuts it down to 4:20. If you're not completely sold on the concept, you will be by the time you get to the "Shouting lager lager lager lager / Mega mega white thing" portion of the song.

You can listen to Kevin Pearce's version of "Born Slippy" below. For more on Kevin Pearce, check out his website.

Deleter - "Doctor Jonathan Osterman"

Concept albums are usually the territory of prog rock and maybe the occasional hip hop album. Minneapolis's Deleter are set to come out with what may very well be the first post-punk concept album. Levitate the Pentagon isn't about Abbie Hoffman or the Yippies, but instead is, according to the press release, "... somewhat of a concept album based loosely on generations of comic book lore interweaved with social/political commentary on the history of western culture's role in the world today. With nods to Alan Moore's Watchmen, The World's Greatest Detective, Marvel's cosmic universe, the Atomic Age of comics and so much more, Deleter weaves narratives, meaning and connections between a fantasy world and the violence of the reality we all know all too well."

The first song we can hear from Levitate the Pentagon is "Doctor Jonathan Osterman" sounds like a dark DEVO without the synths. It starts off with noises that may be drums or could be just clicks, and then a barely strummed guitar comes in. It's a very slow build until it all devolves into a swirling near-mess that you could dance to if you tried. 

You can listen to "Doctor Jonathan Osterman" below. Levitate the Pentagon will be out on August 24 and can be pre-ordered on Bandcamp. For more on Deleter, check them out on Facebook.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Mountain Lions - "In the Valley"

Photo by Matt Brubek
Back in June we brought you the latest single from Chapel Hill, NC's Mountain Lions. It was a fairly straightforward, mainstream modern Americana song. If you pigeonholed them like we did based on that one song, you'd be quite wrong. Their latest, "In the Valley," isn't quite freak folk, but we can hardly call it mainstream, either. "In the Valley" has a distinctly dark feel. The typical words we music journalists like to use are "moody" and "ethereal," and in this instance they fit. The song is about a farmhouse that still stands after the owner's death, which explains the mood. Steven Diaz plays the role of crooner for this song, but without the dreamboat aspect usually associated with a crooner. When an artist has two such differing styles on two singles, we get even more excited to hear the rest of the album.

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

First Listen: New Releases for 20 July

Another slow week, so this does have some catch-up.


Artist: Punch Brothers
Album: All Ashore
Quick Description: Latest from the inventive bluegrass group.
Why You Should Listen: Punch Brothers have yet to do any wrong whatsoever.
Overall Thoughts: Punch Brothers are effectively the 1995-2005 era Radiohead of bluegrass at this point. What they do transcends their early work, transcends their genre, and exists on a plane of its own. This may be their most musically challenging endeavor, and yet it still feels fresh and accessible. I don't know what else to say about it at this point, as they're just too good for words.
Recommendation: Punch Brothers should be automatic at this point.


Artist: Pram
Album: Across the Meridian
Quick Description: First album in ten years from the British act.
Why You Should Listen: You enjoy the odder things in life.
Overall Thoughts: For all my music immersion over the years, I seemingly missed Pram, an experimental group of sorts. They put out a number of albums before going dormant a decade ago and then came back with this album, a strange and weird and compelling listen that basically walks the line perfectly between weird and welcoming. I really loved this, and it’s probably no surprise given my recent addictions, but this deserves a spot in your rotation.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.


Artist: Lori McKenna
Album: The Tree
Quick Description: Latest from the local folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Lori McKenna should be someone who you're following already.
Overall Thoughts: Lori McKenna is basically a staple of the Boston-area roots/folk landscape at this point, and with good reason. She is clearly well ahead of her peers across the board, and this new album is no different. This is simply a confident, well-done record that will slot in very nicely for what you’re looking for.
Recommendation: Worth your time.


Artist: Meg Myers
Album: Take Me To The Disco
Quick Description: Latest from the pop songstress.
Why You Should Listen: Meg Myers has a take on pop music that isn't like anyone else's.
Overall Thoughts: is pretty much why I’m into darkish pop music these days, although I don’t know for sure whether she’d actually classify herself that way. But “Adelade” has been my jam for years, and this new album is similar in tone with solid songwriting and a unique, individual feel. If you have any interest in pop music at all, you should fire this one up.
Recommendation: Solid pop effort.


Artist: Ume
Album: Other Nature
Quick Description: Indie rock with some feeling behind it.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something that is both traditional and challenging.
Overall Thoughts: This is some solid, often angsty, rock music that stays restrained as opposed to going on full blast. It puts out a sort of vulnerability as a result, and that vulnerability usually makes this work in a really compelling way and sets it apart from other albums like it. The overall presentation might be a turnoff for a lot of listeners, but this worked really well for me on a whole.
Recommendation: Worth the risk in a short week.


Artist: Rebekah Rolland
Album: Seed & Silo
Quick Description: Superlative roots effort.
Why You Should Listen: This is a more mature, straightforward rootsy affair.
Overall Thoughts: It’s almost a shame this came out the same week as Lori McKenna and Clay/Jody, as this is probably the most endearing of the alt-country/roots selections this week, but will almost certainly be overshadowed by everything else in its space. This is a mature record in many ways, with the right balance of sparser songs to go along with the type of bluegrass that has a lot of atmosphere and movement to it. Do not sleep on this one, because it should not get lost in the shuffle.
Recommendation: Make this part of your rotation.

Of note:

* Clay Parker and Jodi James - The Lonesomest Sound That Can Sound (Above-average traditional roots record)
* Dentist - Night Swimming (A solid, dependable record in the vein of acts like Dum Dum Girls)
* 10 String Symphony - Generation Frustration (A fascinating combination of genres)
* Cornelia Murr - Lake Tear of the Clouds
* Eisley - I'm Only Dreaming... Of Days Long Past
* Champagne Superchillin' - Beach Deep

EPs:

* Elias - Walk With Elias (A pro wrestler with a folk singer gimmick puts out an EP in character. Need I say more?)
* Kayla Guthrie - Falling Star
* Katie Ellen - Still Life

Also out:

* The Internet - Hive Mind
* President of What? - And What If After I'm Gone None of It Matters?
* Negative Scanner - Nose Picker
* Ty Segall and White Fence - Joy

Monday, July 23, 2018

Live Shows: Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys and The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing, ONCE Ballroom, Somerville, MA 7/21/18

Every performance by Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys is truly unique and special. Saturday night's show at ONCE Ballroom in Somerville was unique in that it was a pretty straightforward rock show. The eight piece band took the stage and played a collection of audience favorites as well as new songs. The three new songs the band played seemed to sum up the evening the most. While a lot of Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys's newer material has been on the quieter, more moody and ethereal side of the spectrum, the new songs are much more loud and thrashy. The band is definitely letting their metal flag fly on a few of these. The political climate is influencing the band quite a bit, as they brought back a song that they haven't played in eight years ("No Room") and one of the new songs contemplated the fear of bringing up a child in the current world that includes near constant school shootings ("War Gospel" may have been the name.) 

It wasn't all doom and gloom for the evening. Well, it was, but also in the fun way. Any performance by the Army of Toys is uplifting in the way that it brings all the weird kids together for a night of community. There's literally no wrong way to attend a live show of theirs, and everyone is accepted. Plus, there is no possible way to not enjoy their performance of "Dull Boy," which is their ode to The Shining. The only disappointment of the night is that Sickert teased a cover of Bell Biv Devoe's classic "Poison," which wasn't followed through on. Maybe next time...

The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing advertise themselves as "the UK's biggest, loudest, heaviest SteamPUNK band." Not being an expert on the UK's SteamPUNK scene, I'm going to assume they are correct since I can't imagine it getting much heavier. Their music comes across as sea shanties filtered through punk and metal, the way Motorhead played it. If that sounds like something you'd enjoy, you're going to love them. Their show was an insane amount of fun, despite songs about babies being thrown into rivers instead of being adopted ("Baby Farmers") and more angry politics. "Baby Farmers" was used as an example of what happens when women don't have access to reproductive rights, and a very anti-Trump theme was expressed throughout the night. (Of course, unless you're going to see Kid Rock or Ted Nugent, I'm sure that's a pretty standard theme.)

Apologies to Frenchy and the Punk and Radiator Kings. I meant to get there early enough for all four bands, but unfortunately didn't make it. 

Blair Jollands - "I'll Remember You"

Not too many artists take their inspiration from the 1940's and 50's these days. The latest single from Blair Jollands is the increasingly rare exception. The London artist just released his latest single "I'll Remember You." The song is a torch song in the best possible way. It's a duet with singer Iraina Mancini and it sounds like a bridge between singers like Frank Sinatra and Roy Orbison. It's a gorgeous song filled with lush string arrangements. It's a kind of cool we don't usually see any more.

You can listen to "I'll Remember You" below. 7 Blood, the upcoming album from Blair Jollands, will be out on September 14. For more on Blair Jollands, be sure to check out his website.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Major Murphy Covers The Kinks

Photo by Michael Newsted
I was completely unfamiliar with Grand Rapids's Major Murphy before we were sent their cover of The Kinks's 1970 classic "Strangers." But, we also didn't know about Courtney Barnett until she covered a Lemonheads song, so they're in great company. While The Kinks's original version of "Strangers" is a very slow piano heavy ballad, Major Murphy speeds the song up a little and turns it into a fairly upbeat Americana track. It's one of those rare cover songs that perfectly straddles the line between staying true to the original but still making the song its own.

You can listen to Major Murphy's version of "Strangers" below. The song is currently available for a "Name Your Price" option with all purchases donated to the Fianza Fund which supports immigrants being detained on the southern border. You can get your copy here. For more on Major Murphy, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Beths - "Great No One"

Photo by Mason Fairey
If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that we have a soft spot for the current crop of 90's influenced indie rockers, especially ones hailing from Australia or New Zealand. This is why we've been adoring the singles being released by The Beths, and "Great No One," their latest, is more of the same. It's incredibly upbeat, catchy as can be with just enough dirty fuzz to keep it interesting. Plus, we love sad songs that sound happy, and The Beths are proving themselves to be masters of that. This new album can not come quickly enough.

You can watch the lyric video for "Great No One" below. (I know, lyric videos are completely boring 95% of the time, but this one is totally worth it and a ton of fun.) Future Me Hates Me, the new album from The Beths, will be out August 10 on Carpark Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Beths, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

The Perceptionists - "Bait"

We loved the return of Mr. Lif and Akrobatik to the Perceptionists project last year. Their album, Resolution, was definitely a highlight for us. While they have previously taken huge breaks between releases, they're already back with new music. The duo decided to "rough the edges up" on their previous release, and paired with producer Paten Locke to do so. The result will be the remix EP, Low Resolution: The Paten Locke Remixes. There will be one new track, which we can already listen to. "Bait" is definitely rougher than anything on Resolution. It's a stripped down song that's about as far away from today's mainstream rap as you can get and is a relic from the days where hip hop was rough and not always pleasant to listen to. I personally don't usually have any interest in repackaged remix albums, but this one I'll be waiting for.

You can listen to "Bait" below. Low Resolution: The Paten Locke Remixes will be out August 10. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Northeast Festival Round Up Update

Back in May we brought you a handful of some of the smaller music festivals you should be checking out. It's been a couple of months, so we have some updates for you! Here are three late summer/early fall festivals that should be worth your time!

The Cranking and Skanking Fest
August 25, Worcester, MA
If you're like me, you spent many years attending the Warped Tour, only to quit as you seemed to age out. My last year was 2002 (?), when I realized I was only there to see four bands (The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Bad Religion, Circle Jerks, The Damned). When they announced that this would be the final year of the tour, I hoped they'd reach out to some of the more classic bands that have played in the past, and maybe they did, but you'd never know it by looking at it. This might be why I'm so excited about The Cranking and Skanking Fest. Sure, it's in the parking lot of the Palladium in Worcester which isn't the most glamorous location, and I prefer when festivals mix it up a bit instead of just multiple hours of ska and reggae, but when you have the best of the best, you can't go wrong. Right now it's The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Toots & The Maytals, The Bouncing Souls, Fishbone, The Pietasters, The Planet Smashers, with more to be announced. Seriously stacked line up already, and somehow they're cramming more in!
https://www.thepalladium.net/event/1691410-cranking-skanking-fest-worcester/

Rubblebucket's Dream Picnic
September 8, Holyoke, MA
I've been trying to get around to seeing Rubblebucket again ever since I saw them a few years back at the Green River Festival, and this might be the year I finally do it. They've put together an amazing festival with multiple blog favorites. I'll happily go see Diet Cig, Caroline Rose, Mal Devisa, and Kalbells any night of the week, but a festival that lets me see all of them with Rubblebucket headlining? We're in. Plus, somehow tickets are currently under $30, which doesn't seem feasible. 
https://www.gatewaycityarts.com/live-on-race-street




Freshgrass Festival
September 14-16, North Adams, MA
We told you about the initial line up for Freshgrass with bands like Trampled By Turtles, Rhiannon Giddens, Yonder Mountain String Band, Indigo Girls, and more. If that somehow wasn't enough, they've added even more! The highlights of the new additions are Flogging Molly, Bela Fleck, and Twisted Pine! Bela Fleck and Twisted Pine make perfect sense, and Celtic punks Flogging Molly may make sense on a more open folk festival, but for a mostly traditional bluegrass leaning Americana festival like Freshgrass, it's a huge stretch. Although, one I'm looking forward to quite a bit.
http://freshgrass.com/

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 13 July

Album of the Week:


Artist: Jenn Champion
Album: Single Rider
Quick Description: Latest from the longtime singer-songwriter; first album under the Jenn Champion moniker.
Why You Should Listen: You like intense, mature songwriting.
Overall Thoughts: I’m racking my brain trying to really describe the experience of this album. It’s very direct, yet still feels ethereal and haunting. It has an urgent aggression to it even in its almost airy and quiet nature. It is especially interesting for the lyrics to stand out and be so blunt when we’re focused on a sound that lends itself to a more metaphoric/allegorical approach. This is my favorite listen of the week because of how it upends the expectations it carries with it, and there’s something kind of cool about that.
Recommendation: The best listen in a while.


Artist: Cowboy Junkies
Album: All That Reckoning
Quick Description: Latest from the well-known act.
Why You Should Listen: It feels a lot like what you've come to expect.
Overall Thoughts: This act has been around seemingly forever, have a very dedicated and loyal fanbase, and does something I’ve never truly and fully connected with. This new album? Really, really good. Really good. The songs are interesting, with a lot of solid pieces throughout, and this is one I’ll not only come back to, but will probably inspire me to give their back catalog a second look.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.


Artist: Mikaela Davis
Album: Delivery
Quick Description: First proper full-length from a buzzworthy singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Davis, a harpist by trade, takes a different route than the other major harpist on the scene.
Overall Thoughts: This reminds me a lot of an Abi Reinhold album from last year. A lot of dynamic sounds here with some songs that definitely stand out on first listen; this is certainly one to keep an eye on and something I’m looking to revisit.
Recommendation: A truly top listen this week.


Artist: Rayland Baxter
Album: Wide Awake
Quick Description: Latest roots record from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: This could be the album that propels him into fame.
Overall Thoughts: We’re fans here, and this one was a surprise at how mainstream it sounds. What I thought would be another solid roots outing from someone with a good track record instead sounds like an album that could propel him into the mainstream, or at least into the Sturgillsphere.
Recommendation: Make some time for this one.


Artist: Amy Shark
Album: Love Monster
Quick Description: Debut full-length from the alt-pop songstress.
Why You Should Listen: This fits right in with a lot of the more interesting pop stuff out there.
Overall Thoughts: Is it fair to put her in dark pop territory? I don’t know, but this is a decent pop record with a lot of great moments nonetheless. A misstep with Mark Hoppus of Blink 182 aside, this might scratch the pop itch you have, especially given how desolate the landscape has been lately.
Recommendation: Might work for you.


Artist: Valley Queen
Album: Supergiant
Quick Description: Long-awaiting debut album from a buzzy act.
Why You Should Listen: Few bands sound like this one right now.
Overall Thoughts: This is a great album, first and foremost. “Breaking the Muse” has been in constant rotation for me since I tripped up on it, and there’s just a great mix of interesting vocals and great instrumentation that sort of gives me a “10,000 Maniacs, but kind of weird” thing, if that makes sense. I had high hopes for this album, and it not only meets them, but exceeds them.
Recommendation: A must-listen.


Artist: Marlowe
Album: Marlowe
Quick Description: L'Orange/Solemn Brigham collaboration.
Why You Should Listen: It's the best rap album of the week/month.
Overall Thoughts: There's something really special about this album that shows itself even moreso compared to a good Kool Keith album and an okay Future effort. The music is great, the lyrics and flow seemingly effortless. It's what you want in a rap album even if you don't know it.
Recommendation: Listen to this.


Artist: Tanukichan
Album: Sundays
Quick Description: Dreamy, gazey singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for that more transportive effort.
Overall Thoughts: I find this to be a difficult album to describe in many ways. It is easy to just call this a superlative shoegaze effort, but that doesn't do the effort a service. It's more than that, and probably more than what it presents itself as at the end of the day. It's one of the best of the week, and something that deserves some attention for its songwriting and musical superiority.
Recommendation: Give this the time it deserves.


Artist: Luluc
Album: Sculptor
Quick Description: Great folk music.
Why You Should Listen: Luluc isn't reinventing the wheel, but just doing their best to perfect it.
Overall Thoughts: There's a bit of a reflex in discussing folkish efforts in trying to compare them to other acts. I'm as guilty as anyone. Luluc can be compared in similar ways, but that would do them a disservice in particular because of how special this effort is. It's a truly gorgeous affair with a lot of subtle things happening that I loved on first listen. If you're looking for a good folky record, you're not going to do better than this one this week.
Recommendation: Put this in your rotation.

Of note:

* Lydia - Liquor (successfully straddling the line between indie and mainstream)
* Wet - Still Run (no one sounds like Wet, and this is a solid listen from a band that is truly unique)
* Kool Keith - Controller of Trap
* Dirty Projectors - Lamp Lit Prose
* Suffers - Everything Here
* The Ophelias - Almost
* Lemuria - Companion

Not EPs but Not Albums (since these 7 song things are apparently here to stay):

* Matt Muse - Nappy Talk
* Deafhaven - Ordinary Corrupt Human Love
* Wilder Maker - Zion
* Collections of Colonies of Bees - Hawaii

EPs:

* Body/Head - The Switch

Also out:

* Cliff Westfall - Baby You Win
* Smokescreens - Used to Yesterday
* Future - BEASTMODE 2

Summer Magic - "Hey!"

We're huge fans of big, catchy as hell power pop. When you're covering a lot of indie rock and folk, the music tends to be pretty serious and important, so it's great to inject a little bit of fun in what we listen to. Summer Magic might be the best example of that. Their new single, "Hey!," is this burst of both 60's and 90's inflected power pop. It has that sugary, upbeat feel of something like The Archies, but also the sound of early Fountains of Wayne without the snark. "Hey!" is guaranteed to get crammed straight into your brain and be stuck there for a few days at least, but you won't be complaining.

You can listen to "Hey!" below. Sharks and Other Dangers, the new album from Summer Magic, will be out August 31. For more on Summer Magic, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, July 13, 2018

Friday Freebie: J Eastman and The Drunk Uncles - Pleasing Some of the People None of the Time

Somehow Pleasing Some of the People None of the Time, the new album from Minneapolis's J Eastman and The Drunk Uncles, slipped by me when it was released in late spring. I know I heard it, and enjoyed it, but it slipped off my radar. The good news about that is that the album is now available for a free download! The opening song, "Don't Listen to Me," is a bit more straightforward hard rock than I expected it to be. It seems to be the oddity of the bunch, because after that we're back to the boozy haze of country twangified loud power pop that we expect from J Eastman and The Drunk Uncles. Pleasing Some of the People None of the Time has this amazing Uncle Tupelo meets The Replacements sound that we all need in our lives.

You can listen to "Holding On" below. Pleasing Some of the People None of the Time is now available for the "Name Your Price" option on J Eastman and The Drunk Uncle's Bandcamp. As always, if you download it for free, at least help the band out by giving them a follow on Facebook.

Dentist - "Upset Words"

Photo by Matthew Lyons
Despite hailing from Asbury Park, NJ (one of my personal favorite destinations), Dentist don't sound much like other New Jersey bands. They get called surf rock a lot, but maybe in that way the Pixies kind of had a little bit of a swirling surf rock sound. On their latest single, "Upset Words," Dentist have this incredibly upbeat, bouncy sound. It's pure indie pop rock, but with swirling guitars and a driving force propelling it forward faster than it sounds. It's a blissful fuzzed out romp with instruments seeming to be taking their own routes throughout the song. 

You can listen to "Upset Words" below. The new album from Dentist, Night Swimming, will be out July 20 on Cleopatra Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Dentist, be sure to check out their website.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Lonnie Holley - "I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America"

Photo by Tim Duffy
I don't know if it's truly possible to describe Lonnie Holley's "I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America." I think the closest thing we have to it is free jazz, maybe? Except this song is loud, noisy, and dissonant. It might kind of be like some of the more experimental improvisational side projects of Sonic Youth, but this feels more controlled and like it has an actual purpose. From the song title alone I think we can all assume that this is an intensely political song, so you might be able to compare it to Childish Gambino's "This is America," but "I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America" would be like Childish Gambino on crack. I'm also getting the slightest hints of P-Funk here, but very slight. I'm pretty certain that none of that makes any sense, but this is definitely a song worth listening to.

You can watch the video for "I Woke Up in a Fucked-Up America" below. MITH, the new album from Lonnie Holley, will be out September 21 on Jagjaguwar. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Lonnie Holley, check out his website. His current tour dates are below the video.



Tue. July 17 – Atlanta, GA @ Atlanta Symphony Hall (w/ Animal Collective)
Mon. July 23 – Austin, TX @ Paramount Theater (w/ Animal Collective)
Wed. July 25 – Denver, CO @ Ogden Theatre (w/ Animal Collective)
Fri. July 27 – Chicago, IL @ The Vic Theatre (w/ Animal Collective)
Sat. July 28 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Broad
Sun. July 29 – Seattle, WA @ Moore Theater (w/ Animal Collective)
Mon. July 30 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater (w/ Animal Collective)
Tue. July 31 – Wed. Aug. 1 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Theater at the Ace Hotel (w/ Animal Collective)
Fri. Aug. 3 – Sun. Aug. 5 – Portland, OR @ Pickathon
Fri. Sept. 7 – New York, NY @ Metropolitan Museum of Art
Thu. March 21 – Sun. March 24, 2019 – Knoxville, TN @ Big Ears Festival

Bear Grass - "Wash Over Me"

Last month we brought you "Unawake," the new single from upstate NY's Bear Grass. Thankfully, we have another new song of theirs to check out, and it's equally as stunning. "Wash Over Me" is a little more shiny and pop-sounding than "Unawake," but they somehow achieve this with dirtier guitars. It starts off as a pretty standard Americana inflected indie rock song, but slowly these swirling and grinding guitars begin taking over until it's an intense mess towards the end. Katie Hammon's vocals keep the entire thing grounded in harmony. We can't wait for this new album.

You can watch the video for "Wash Over Me" below. LEFT, the new album from Bear Grass, will be out August 10 on Five Kill Records and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Bear Grass, check out their website.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

William Elliott Whitmore Covers The Magnetic Fields

Photo by Doug Ewing
Doing a country/Americana version of a Magnetic Fields song might seem strange, but William Elliott Whitmore may have chosen the perfect one to cover with "Fear of Trains." With lyrics like "It was the army train that took her daddy from her / It was the bible train that took her momma too / And that high loud whistle made her horse run away / But the straw that broke the camel's back was you," the song was meant to be a country song. Unless you're incredibly familiar with the lyrics of Stephin Merritt, you'd most likely never pick up on this being a Magnetic Fields song since it's such a unique take, that somehow just feels correct.

You can listen to William Elliott Whitmore's take on "Fear of Trains" below. It will be included on his upcoming all covers album, Kilonova. That will be out on September 7 via Bloodshot Records, and feature covers of songs by Bad Religion, Johnny Cash, ZZ Top, Captain Beefheart, and more. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on William Elliott Whitmore, check out his website.

Jack Drag - "Little Lies"

I first discovered Jack Drag sometime in the mid to late 90's opening for Letters to Cleo, and was immediately smitten. They had this incredible lo-fi sound, but in a groovy, huge sounding way I had never heard before. I was shocked when they signed to A&M, and thrilled with the release of Dope Box. It was an expanded sound: More polished but in a great way. The band released a few more indie albums after that, but John Dragonetti moved from Boston to LA as part of the great exodus. He got more into producing and released a few albums with The Submarines.

Now, Jack Drag is back! There is a new single and a forthcoming album. "Little Lies" is far more polished and pop than anything Dragonetti has released as Jack Drag previously. It's nowhere near as pop as The Submarines, but lies in the middle of later period Jack Drag and The Submarines. There is definitely much more orchestration, and a far more lush sound. But that could be because home recordings are now much more advanced than they were in 1995. Plus, he brought in Aimee Mann and Dylan Gardner for backing vocals!

You can listen to "Little Lies" below. The new album from Jack Drag, 2018, will be released on Burger Records in the fall. For more on Jack Drag, be sure to check out his/their website.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

lié - Hounds

I've been fairly (ok, ridiculously) obsessed with Vancouver's lié ever since stumbling on them when I saw they were opening for The Dead Milkmen in that area of the continent. Their self described "three piece dark punk" sound just hits me in a sweet spot. Luckily for us, they just released their latest full length, Hounds.

Let's attempt to describe lié besides just "dark punk." lié play punk, no question about it. It's an insanely fast, loud version of the genre, which, quite frankly, most punk bands seem to lack these days. But, holy shit is this noisy. It's basically if Bikini Kill and Sonic Youth got angry. Hounds is filled with songs of pure chaos. Usually I love noisy bands like this because they have a controlled sense of chaos, but I don't think lié is completely in control, in all honesty. It sounds as if they plugged in their instruments and were overtaken by some sort of malevolent spirit. If that sounds like your thing, congratulations. You're going to love this.


You can watch the video for "Fill It Up" below. Hounds, the brand new album from lié, is out on. You can pick up your copy over at their Bandcamp. For more on lié, follow them on Facebook. The band is just about to go on a tour that luckily includes some Northeast US dates. Those can be found in the links above.


First Listen: New Releases for 6 July

More American holiday summer doldrums...

Album of the Week:


Artist: SOPHIE
Album: OIL OF EVERY PEARL'S UN-INSIDES
Quick Description: Weird pop deconstructions.
Why You Should Listen: SOPHIE is a sought-after producer and buzzed-about musician.
Overall Thoughts: Album of the week here is sort of a strange, nearly impenetrable one in many regards. Seemingly the result of taking a bunch of pop music, pouring it into a blender full of David Lynch movies, and letting it run for a few minutes, this is an artistic and musical achievement that I fully and completely enjoyed even though I don’t know if I can truly recommend it to anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good, challenging listen. My recommendation? It’s a slow week anyway, and this might open up a whole new genre for you. It’s that good.
Recommendation: A challenge, but a good one.


Artist: Onlyness
Album: Onlyness
Quick Description: More retro rock, but without the pretense.
Why You Should Listen: You miss the 1990s, but not in the way everyone else apparently does.
Overall Thoughts: This is the most early 1990s-sounding record that wasn’t trying to specifically ape the sound that I’ve heard in a while. For me, this is a big ol’ nostalgia hit, and it’s different enough where you should give this a listen even if you don’t have a soft spot for this era.
Recommendation: It’s good!


Artist: BODEGA
Album: Endless Scroll
Quick Description: Weird indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: It's art rock without making you want to roll your eyes.
Overall Thoughts: I’m racking my brain trying to figure out exactly who this band reminds me of. Either way, it’s stilted and interesting and familiar-but-left-of-center rock music that scratched an itch I didn’t know I had. Ken’s written about them a few times, and if I wasn’t fully on board before? I am now.
Recommendation: Definitely make time for this.


Artist: Damien Jurado
Album: The Horizon Just Laughed
Quick Description: Latest from the generally great singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: He's established himself very well over the years.
Overall Thoughts: Jurado has always done some interesting, thoughtful singer-songwriter stuff, and this album, at least on first listen, feels a lot more stark and stripped down. On one hand, this ends up being pretty unique and interesting for Jurado as a result, but it also also robs the experience of what makes Damien Jurado such an interesting listen on a whole. There are other Damein Jurado albums I’d rather listen to, truthfully, and this didn’t land for me.
Recommendation: Skip this one unless you're a superfan.


Artist: The Nude Party
Album: The Nude Party
Quick Description: Stellar indie retro rock.
Why You Should Listen: You miss the 1960s.
Overall Thoughts: If you aren’t paying too much attention, you might think you’re listening to some 60s/70s rock or even an Elvis Costello record. An above-average effort in nearly all regards, with some truly great moments that can truly transport you to another era if you allow it.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, you might love this.


Artist: Hologram Teen
Album: Between the Funk and the Fear
Quick Description: Is it electronic? Is it rock? Is it dance?
Why You Should Listen: It's something fascinating, for sure.
Overall Thoughts: There's definitely an undercurrent of a sort of new wave revival within the walls of this Stereolab side project, and there are two facts I can say for sure: this is an interesting listen, and this will defy any expectations you might have in the first few moments. Best to dive in, let it wash over you, and you'll find you might just love what you hear.
Recommendation: An ambitious, interesting release this week.

Of note:

* Kinky Friedman - Circus of Life (you know exactly what you're getting from this one)
* RJD2 - In Rare Form Vol. 2

EPs:

* Jessica Says - Downers

Also out:

* Hifiklub and Lee Ranaldo - In Doubt, Shadow Him!
* Mom Jeans. - Puppy Love