Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hammered Hulls - "Written Words"

Considering how many punk veterans are hanging around DC, I'm shocked we don't get more supergroups coming out of that city. Hammered Hulls are an underground supergroup, made up of Alec MacKaye (Untouchables, The Faith) Mary Timony (Helium, Wild Flag, Ex Hex), Mark Cisneros (Kid Congo, The Make-Up), and Chris Wilson (Ted Leo & The Pharmacists, Titus Andronicus). The band has their debut three song release coming up next month, and right now you can hear "Written Words." "Written Words" isn't going to rewrite music. It's exactly what you would expect it to sound like: old school DC punk, which is exactly what you're going to want from these four musicians. 

You can listen to "Written Words" below. The self-titled debut from Hammered Hulls will be out August 9 on Dischord Records. You can pre-order a 7" via Dischord and digitally at Bandcamp. Current tour dates (unfortunately just two of them) are below the song.

8.28 - Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery 
8.29 - Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

David Wax Museum - "Uncover the Gold"

Photo by Vivian Wang
Back in May we brought you a Jam in the Van version of "Uncover the Gold," a brand new song from David Wax Museum's upcoming album. The album version is now available to listen to, and it was worth waiting. This version has a softer feel than the previously heard live performance. Suz Slezak's voice has a particularly trippy feel to it as she vocalizes during instrumental parts of the song. Trippy might be the best way to describe "Uncover the Gold," a song that has the most hypnotizing handclaps of all time. Yes, that is a weird way to describe handclaps, but trust us on that. This continues David Wax Museum's progression from album to album. None of their albums feel like complete departures from the previous album, but they all go off in a different direction just enough to keep their sound evolving and interesting.

You can listen to "Uncover the Gold" below. Line of Light, the upcoming album from David Wax Museum, will be out August 23 on Nine Mile Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on David Wax Museum, check out their website. Current tour dates are below the song.

7/31 - Indianapolis, IN - The Vogue (duo w/ Gregory Alan Isakov) 
8/2 - Richmond, VA - The National (w/ Guster) 
8/3 - Oxford, PA - Connective Festival (duo) 
10/11 - Charlottesville, VA - Festy 
10/23 Baltimore, MD – Creative Arts Alliance 
10/24 Lancaster, PA – Tellus 360 
10/25 New Haven, CT – Cafe Nine 
10/26 Westerly, RI - Knickerbocker Music Center 
10/27 Brattleboro, VT – The Stone Church 
10/30 Rochester, NY – Abilene 
10/31 Pittsburgh, PA – Club Cafe 
11/1 Thomas, WV – Purple Fiddle 
11/2 Columbus, OH – Rumba Cafe 
11/3 Cleveland, OH – Beachland Tavern 
11/5 Ann Arbor, MI – The Ark 
11/6 Grand Rapids, MI – The Listening Room 
11/7 Fort Wayne, IN – ArtsLab 
11/8 Yorkville, IL - Law Office Pub & Music Hall 
11/9 Milwaukee, WI – Back Room at Colectivo 
11/10 Chicago, IL – Schubas 
11/13 St. Paul, MN – Turf Club 
11/14 Davenport, IA – Raccoon Motel 
11/15 Kansas City, MO – Knuckleheads 
12/27 Philadelphia, PA – Johnny Brenda’s
12/28 New York, NY – Mercury Lounge 
12/29 Washington, DC – Union Stage 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Dan Luke and The Raid - "Exoskeleton"

"Exoskeleton" might be the single I'm most excited about this year. Dan Luke and The Raid's first single off their debut album combines multiple genres that all land in my musical sweet spot. To me "Exoskeleton" sounds like if Tom Petty leaned more heavily into New Wave and then was inspired by Sonic Youth in the early 90's. It's this kinda sorta Americana song that has an oddly groovy feel and some unexpected post punk noise that swings in every so often. 

You can watch the video for "Exoskeleton" below. Out of the Blue, the debut album from Dan Luke and The Raid, will be out October 11 on New West Records. You can pre-order the album here. The album was produced by Bradley Schultz of Cage the Elephant, who just happens to be Dan Luke and The Raid's Daniel Schultz's older brother. For more on Dan Luke and The Raid, check out their website.

First Listen: New Releases for 12 July

Some good stuff this week!

Artist: Mal Blum
Album: Pity Boy
Quick Description: Superlative indie rock from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Straddles perfectly the line between old and new.
Overall Thoughts: We’re been low-key fans of Mal Blum for a while now, and this new album is pretty much the perfect tone not only for the current indie/alt landscape, but for a couple of aging hipsters like ourselves still clinging to the rock music of our youth. While many acts deliberately attempt to operate in the musical ideas of the past, MB gives the impression of making the music she’s interested in making, and it shows in a superlative album this week.
Recommendation: It will be a highlight in nearly anyone’s rotation this week, so don’t miss out.

Artist: BEA1991
Album: Brand New Adult
Quick Description: Offbeat electronic effort.
Why You Should Listen: This is one that is often hard to describe.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve highlighted a few odd indie electric artists over time here, and this is definitely one that is a lot different, but also has a much more melodic and accessible feel to it. It grabbed me early,, but it was “Modern Comforts” that really brought it into sharp focus for me. This is a record with a lot going for it, and feels both minimalist and complex in its approach. If you’re interested in a challenge, it’s absolutely worth the effort.
Recommendation: Give it a listen.

Artist: Imperial Teen
Album: Now We Are Timeless
Quick Description: Legendary indie act back with their first album since 2012.
Why You Should Listen: They sound as vital as ever.
Overall Thoughts: Imperial Teen have been around for what feels like forever, and, no matter how many old/nostalgia acts have resurfaced in recent years, I am continually surprised when they put out quality work. This is no different – as the first album in many years, the band not only sounds like they haven’t lost a step, but also that they’re as good as they ever were, and the result is a solid listen across the board.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth the time this week.

Artist: Bleached
Album: Don't You Think You've Had Enough?
Quick Description: New album by some indie punk favorites.
Why You Should Listen: This may be their best effort yet.
Overall Thoughts: Another band that has largely found its groove, this third album feels like a band that has found its groove and is operating in the best versions of themselves yet. A very polished record, this has hooks for days and a ton of positives throughout, and I anticipate many of these songs to end up on various playlists this year.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Tycho
Album: Weather
Quick Description: Latest from the ambient mastermind.
Why You Should Listen: Tycho has always put out quality music.
Overall Thoughts: In the crowded electronic music space, Tycho has stood out over the years for having a pretty bold, up-front sound that is basically unlike anything else in the musical market, especially with ambient artists. This album doesn’t really change the prescription in any meaningful way outside of heavily featuring Saint Sinner, which for me is fine but might be a flag for other listeners. Still, in terms of the atmosphere Tycho likes to establish, you should find plenty to like if it’s your thing.
Recommendation: Worth it for electronica fans and beyond.

Artist: K.Flay
Album: Solutions
Quick Description: Indie internet rapper continues her slow takeover of the mainstream.
Why You Should Listen: You get to keep your indie cred while finding something your kids will tolerate.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like I’ve been listening to K.Flay for a decade now, and if her last album was her mainstream coming out party, this new album is her assertion that she is here to stay. Bold, brash mainstream-friendly radio bangers throughout here even though the music still feels uniquely K.Flay. If you were on board for the internet mixtapes early on, you will surely wonder what happened, but if you’ve stuck around this long you’ll be rewarded.
Recommendation: This is definitely one of the more fun records of the summer.

Of note:

* Have Gun, Will Travel - Strange Chemistry
* Throwaway - What?
* Kyle Craft - Showboat Honey
* Frightened Rabbit - Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit's 'The Midnight Organ Flight
* Kool Keith - KEITH
* Girlfriend Material - Cool Car
* Joanna Sternberg - Then I Try Some More
* Lights - Skin&Earth Acoustic


* Latrell James - Still

Also out:

* Africa Express - EGOLI (A cool compilation of African music)
* The Dollyrots - Daydream Explosion
* Guards - Modern Hymns
* Metz - Automat

Monday, July 15, 2019

Laura Stevenson Covers Wilco

I'm not very familiar with the Better Yet podcast, but they recently came to my attention when they put together all of god's money / a tribute to wilco's yankee hotel foxtrot. It's a track by track covers album, obviously for Wilco's beyond classic album. Each track is done by a different artist, and the one that got our attention is Laura Stevenson covering "Jesus, Etc." Stevenson's version is a slightly slower, more symphonic version. It's a gorgeous song, and the perfect type of cover that stays true to the original while still sounding just like Laura Stevenson.

You can listen to Laura Stevenson's cover of "Jesus, Etc." below. all of god's money / a tribute to wilco's yankee hotel foxtrot below. The album is available via Better Yet's Bandcamp. For more on Laura Stevenson, check out her website.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - Witchcraft

Today sees the release of a brand new three song EP from our favorite steamcrunkers Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys! Witchcraft is made up of two new songs ("Witchcraft" and "DINO DOMINA") and a live recording of "Lonely Children." "Witchcraft" is a meandering, trippy song that has what might be the creepiest whisper-sung part of any song I have ever heard. The song just builds and builds into a glorious climax. We've covered "DINO DOMINA" before, but it still might be the best thing Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys have ever recorded. It's a bizarre hard rocking song that keeps a slinky and sexy vibe while being an absolute head banger.

You can listen to "Witchcraft" below. For more on Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, check out their website. If you happen to be in the Boston area tonight, they're playing The Sinclair in Cambridge. The show is an all local bill and features Eddie Japan, No Hugs, and Lily Mae Harrington. A Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys show is always something special, and this one is promising to be life changing. You can find more info and tickets here.

All Eyes West - "As I Bleed"

Chicago's All Eyes West have been around since 2010 and have opened for artists as diverse as Bob Mould, Alkaline Trio, The Joy Formidable, OFF!, Rival School, and Local H. Their latest single, "As I Bleed," would be considered emo, but more the kind of emo that existed before Hot Topic. It reminds me of a more noisy yet also more poppy version of Rites of Spring. It's a fast and kinda thrashy alt-rock/emo song that you can see at home playing with all of the previously mentioned bands. 

You can listen to "As I Bleed" below. Like Lightning, All Eyes West's third album, will be out August 30 on Jump Start Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on All Eyes West, be sure to check out their website.

Petra Haden Covers Radiohead

Photo by Steven Perilloux
Petra Haden has been doing her all a capella covers of popular songs thing for an absurdly long time now, and she's just released a cover of Radiohead's 2000 classic "Idioteque." Looping her own voice repeatedly, Haden takes all of the instrumental parts, somehow keeping the hypnotic electronic feel of Radiohead's original. A lot of times Haden's covers have a fun and silly feel to them. "Idioteque" is a capella as art and is an impressive way to do this song. Even if you normally cringe at the thought of a capella, you'll want to check this one out.

You can listen to Petra Haden's version of "Idioteque" below. For more on Petra Haden, be sure to check her out on Facebook and her website.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

The Messthetics - "Better Wings"

The Messthetics, aka the band featuring Brendan Canty and Joe Lally of Fugazi, are set to release a new album in September, and have a new single to check out. "Better Wings" is an improvised jazz/punk song, which is exactly what The Messthetics do these days. There is a lot of improvised rock that borders on jazz these days, and while I get what they're trying to do, it's not always very good. But The Messthetics are incredibly good. "Better Wings" is one of the rare improvised rock songs that actually rocks. It doesn't just meander off by itself repeating the same thing over and over again. It's a cohesive song that actually goes somewhere. For improvised jazz/punk, it's pretty straightforward.

You can listen to "Better Wings" below. Ahthropocosmic Nest, the upcoming album from The Messthetics, will be out September 6 on Dischord. You can pre-order the album here. For more on The Messthetics, check them out on Facebook.

Dry Cleaning - "Magic of Meghan"

Photo by Hanna Katrina
I never thought we'd be covering a band that formed after a karaoke party doing a song about Meghan Markle, but 2019 is weird. Also, Dry Cleaning are a shockingly great band. Only forming two years ago, the band is set to release their debut EP next month. "Magic of Meghan" is obviously about Meghan Markle, but it might be the only post punk and new wave influenced song about the Duchess of Sussex. As the band says about the song:

The song acknowledges that following the lives of those in the public eye can provide people with an escape; an outlet for difficult emotions, and subsequently help them to cope with hard times in their lives,” says Florence Shaw. “The song is, in part, intended to serve as a thank you to Meghan for this service (‘You got engaged on the day that I moved out. It’s ok. She’s a smasher, perfectly suited to the role’). The song also aims to highlight how the news media dissect her decisions (‘Never has one outfit been designed, to send so many messages’) and the creative ways they conceal the misogyny and racism that is sometimes behind what they write about her (‘You’re just what England needs, you’re going to change us’).”

You can watch the video for "Magic of Meghan" below. Sweet Princess, the debut EP from Dry Cleaning, will be out August 16 on It's OK. You can pre-order the EP here. For more on Dry Cleaning, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Possible Humans - "Aspiring to Be a Bloke"

Photo by Melissa Fulton
Despite how laid back it is at the start, the latest song from Melbourne's Possible Humans is an intense rock song. "Aspiring to Be a Bloke" has both the laid back slacker vibes of Pavement with the intensity of Nirvana. Even during the quiet, more sparse beginnings there is still a sense of foreboding. You're not quite sure if there is an explosion coming, but you know it could, and you don't quite know when. It might not bust out into a full on blast of punk rock noise, but the song does ramp up the intensity and noise eventually. While still maintaining the same pace. Band member Steve Hewitt describes it as "the whimpering man in the strong dog and vice versa... sarcasm and paradox at the roots of depression."

You can listen to "Aspiring to Be a Bloke" below. Everybody Split, the debut album from Possible Humans, will be out August 2 on Trouble in Mind. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Possible Humans, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Mermaidens - "I Might Disappear"

Photo by Steven Acres
The latest single from New Zealand's Mermaidens is tough to describe, even though it contains a lot of familiar elements. "I Might Disappear" is almost dream pop, but it has a bit too much of an edge to it to truly be dream pop. It's almost shoegaze, but it's a little too poppy for that label. There are some elements of mid 90's indie rock, but it's hardly a throwback song. Instead you get an incredibly intense indie pop/rock song with swirling guitars and amazing melodies, with just enough slight twists to keep drawing you even further in.

The band says of the song: "Being close to someone can bring you to share all the weird thoughts and anxieties that wouldn’t usually leave the inside of your mind. In a way, I think that’s the best thing about intimate relationships. But it’s also really scary! 'I Might Disappear' is a song about the mess of feelings I have when I make myself vulnerable to another person, and the dread that this will push them away."

You can watch the video for "I Might Disappear" below. Look Me in the Eye, the upcoming album from Mermaidens, will be out September 6 on Flying Nun Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Mermaidens, be sure to check out their website.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Brite Lites Music Festival and The Town and The City Festival Are Must See!

Today two fantastic mostly local music festivals were announced in the Boston suburbs. Both have plenty of If It's Too Loud... approved artists and are highly recommended. 

Brite Lites Music Festival
Night Shift Brewing, Everett, MA
Happening just over two weeks from now is the second edition of the Brite Lites Music Festival at Night Shift Brewing in Everett, MA. Headlining the day's festivities are longtime blog favorite Weakened Friends. Far from just being a showcase of 90's inspired indie rock, the festival also features the folk/Americana stylings of The Wolff Sisters and two "how are they not international megastars?" Boston hip hop artists Cliff Notez and Oompa. Oompa in particular is ridiculous live, so make sure you get there early enough to catch her. There are also a few artists we're not familiar with, but what's a festival without a few discoveries? Speaking of getting there early, the event is free before 11:00 am, and $10 at the door after 1:00. For more information, check out the event's Facebook page.

The Town and The City Festival
Various venues, Lowell, MA
October 18-19
This one is four months away, so there's a bit more time to plan. When they announced the first The Town and The City Festival last year, I assumed it would be a one and done event. It didn't seem like the kind of festival that could survive that far outside of Boston. I'm thrilled to be proven wrong. Designed to "... present a diverse mix of performers to celebrate the spirit of Lowell Native Jack Kerouac as well as the city he was born in," the second edition will feature performances from Boston indie rock legends Buffalo Tom, the current greatest songwriter in Boston Carissa Johnson, the folk/Americana of Julie Rhodes, Honeysuckle, and Twisted Pine, Dutch Rebelle (yet another Boston hip hop artist right on the verge of breaking out, our new favorite "... summery, angsty, alt-rock with punk influence and catchy choruses" artist Mint Green, whatever Powerslut does, and more! For more information on, check out the festival's website.

SHADI - "Lord Mohamed"

Just about any time I write about hip hop here, I mention that my teenage years were filled with listening to hip hop but I don't find much to listen to these days. For the most part, hip hop hasn't really progressed since Puff Daddy mastered the huge 80's hit sample/R&B chorus formula that still pervades most hip hop.

SHADI destroys that formula completely. As a young Arab man living in Conservative Florida, he has a lot to rage against. And on "Lord Mohamed," rage he does. The press release for SHADI describes his music as "noise rap," and I can't argue that at all. "Lord Mohamed" barely follows normal song structures let alone normal hip hop formulas. It's almost a freestyle stream of consciousness throughout the entire nearly six minute run of the song with SHADI barely pausing to take a breath. And musically? I don't even know what to say. It's a mash of guitars, flutes, human voices, drums, and more just sporadically coming in and out without any seeming rhyme or reason. SHADI is just scrapping hip hop standards and doing his own thing. That is incredibly rare in music in 2019, and it's always incredibly exciting finding someone with the inventiveness to try it.

You can listen to "Lord Mohamed" below. You Can't Hear Me, the debut album from SHADI, will be out August 2 on Deathbomb Arc. You can pre-order the album now on Bandcamp. For more on SHADI, check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

First Listen: New Releases for 5 July

A slow week has some catch-up with some stuff we missed. Some significant highlights, but there are only a handful of them...

Artist: Defoe
Album: Too Soon to Cry
Quick Description: Light, airy indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something really soft and fragile, but similarly accessible.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like I'm describing this wrong, and I apologize in advance. I loved this album. Loved loved loved it. But it feels like a delicate flower that could also bite you if you're not careful, and the mystery that I feel permeates this record is part of what makes it so compelling. I can't wait to get back to this one, and only hope you'll feel the same way.
Recommendation: A wonderful listen this week.

Artist: MessiahCarey
Album: Odd Man Hypothesis
Quick Description: Local hip-hop album from a multi-talented artist.
Why You Should Listen: This is a real vision in a lot of ways, and transcends what you might expect from independent rap/hip-hop.
Overall Thoughts: I did not expect to love this as much as I did. Sure, the local connection makes me extra excited, but the reality is that this is a rock solid rap album and has more than its share not only of good rap moments, but top-notch production and instrumentation. It's nearly perfectly-executed, and I really enjoyed this listen. Even in a busy week, I'd recommend it.
Recommendation: Make time for this.

Artist: Joey Cape
Album: Let Me Know When You Give Up
Quick Description: Power pop moments from the Lagwagon frontman.
Why You Should Listen: Joey Cape has enough goodwill stored, and earns the listen here.
Overall Thoughts: I won't pretend this worked for me all the way through, but in terms of a solid alt-power pop record, this is really great. A solid mix of upbeat songs with some mid-tempo offerings, this is a good listen from start to finish.
Recommendation: Worth the time.

Of note:

* Mega Bog - Delphine
* The Soft Cavalry - The Soft Cavalry
* Pom Poko - Birthday
* Jesca Hoop - Stonechild
* Olympia - Flamingo
* Necking - Cut Your Teeth
* DYGL - Songs of Innocence and Experience
* Gilliver - Gilded Lily


* Camp Blood - Camp Blood
* Leland Sundries - Pray Through Gritted Teeth
* Dis Fantasy - Dis Fantasy

Also out:

* MOLLY - All That Ever Could Have Been
* Moonsign - Okay You First

Monday, July 8, 2019

Union Duke - "Ladidadida"

Despite not being a cover of Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick's immortal "La di da di," the latest song from Toronto's Union Duke is still pretty great. "Ladidadida" is a soulful folk song. It's catchy almost to a fault, but in a good way. It's more on the polished and mainstream side of the current world of folk. It will remind you a lot of artists like Langhorne Slim and Nathaniel Rateliff. That being said, there is a strong sense of traditional folk present here. It's a really fun song that will be impossible not to be sucked in by.

You can listen to "Ladidadida" below. For more on Union Duke, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Parsnip - "Lift Off!"

Photo by Charlotte Tobin
The new song from Melbourne's Parsnip reminds me of a very specific time in the 90's when the aggression of grunge faded away and was replaced by an almost childlike sense of joy in alternative music. This was a very brief and oft forgotten time when music became absurdly fun. "Lift Off!" is a burst of happiness infused with a laid back retro feel. If I was going to compare it to any other bands it would be Cornershop meets Bis. Bass player/vocalist Paris Richens says this about the track:

"Lift Off’s opening line stems from nonsense I wrote during a low point in my life. I wanted more than anything to be far away from the position I was in, longing to travel, to rise above the sorrow I was experiencing and reach a happier destination. After Parsnip formed I revisited the themes of transportation and movement as I have in many of my songs. Through my attempts at songwriting I discovered the joy that I was always seeking and that perhaps it wasn’t necessary to travel that far to find happiness. It means a lot to me if I can create joy and evoke the same spirit in others."

You can listen to "Lift Off!" below. When the Tree Bears Fruit, the debut album from Parsnip, will be out August 30 on Trouble in Mind. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Parsnip, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Ransom Pier - "My Own Way"

Ransom Pier are back with a new song off an upcoming EP! "My Own Way" has a much stronger country twang than we've heard from the band in quite a while. It's the mix of traditional country mixed with Hayley Harrington's soulful voice that makes Ransom Pier truly special. "My Own Way" is a fun song that feels like just hanging out with friends and singing a song, but a well produced version of that.

You can watch the lyric video for "My Own Way" below. Wood Lane, the new EP from Random Pier, is scheduled for release on July 11. You can pre-order a copy at Bandcamp. For more on Ransom Pier, check out their website

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Grey Hairs - "Tory Nurse"

Photo by James Finlay
Nottingham's Grey Hairs are set to release a new album next month, and the subject matter definitely resonates with us thematically. According to a press release, Health & Social Care is "... a scorching reflection on balancing your creative impulses against the commitments of impending middle age." That hits close enough to home that it hurts.

The first single, "Tory Nurse," is a slower but intense rough and noisy art punk song. I bristle at calling it art punk, only because it's more straightforward than that, but doesn't follow the typical punk tropes at all. Instead, it's punk in the way bands like Nirvana and The Jesus Lizard are punk: More of an attitude and a refusal to even follow the traditional roles of punk rock. Which is the entire point of punk.

You can watch the video for "Tory Nurse" below. Health & Social Care, the upcoming album from Grey Hairs, will be out August 2 via Gringo Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Grey Hairs, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Stella Emmett - "Calvin Klein"

Photo by Joseph Charles Viola
I wouldn't expect to enjoy music described as "indie pop" or "Ikeacore." But Stella Emmett has changed that. Her new single, "Calvin Klein," has a little bit of an experimental folk feel, giving what is still a fairly electronic song more of an organic feel. That being said, "Calvin Klein" is a pop song, complete with what sounds like an autotuned chorus. 99% of the time that would be a deal breaker for me, but Stella Emmett is the 1% of the time that it works for me.

And what exactly is "Ikeacore?" According to Emmett:

"This wasn’t necessarily my intention, but listening back to Admirer now, I feel like I made it to serve as a daily life soundtrack for people. I wanted to create an album that was at once deeply personal and about my actual life but also a sort of sound palette people could put on at parties, or listen to on the train, or listen to while cooking dinner or even while shopping at IKEA, thus the descriptor 'IkeaCore'.  It’s an easy listening album that comes from moments in my life that weren’t always easy." 

You can listen to "Calvin Klein" below. Admirer, the upcoming album from Stella Emmett, will be out August 23. For more on Stella Emmett, check her out on Facebook.

The Side Project Covers Childish Gambino

Brass covers of rock and pop songs are kind of becoming a thing here at If It's Too Loud..., so we obviously have to bring you the latest from New York's The Side Project. The Side Project is a four piece made up of all saxophone players. They've opened for the New York Philharmonic and played at The Brooklyn Bowl. For their cover of Childish Gambino's "Redbone," they enlisted singer Alita Moses for vocals. The band has this to say about the song: 

"What attracted us first was the old school feel of the song. The magic of The Side Project is that it is a saxophone quartet which means that only 4 saxophones are playing what normally a full band would play. The bass, drums, and guitar - it’s all saxophones which creates this edgy raw groove. We started doing covers featuring different singers from New York and when we decided to work with Alita she suggested the song and it was a perfect fit."

The result is a song much cooler than the smooth jazz label I feel like attaching to it, but that's probably only showing my ignorance of the genre. Childish Gambino is one of the coolest artists currently out there, and The Side Project succeeds in making his song even cooler.

You can listen to The Side Project's cover of "Redbone" below. Everything We Do, the upcoming album from The Side Project, will be out July 26 on Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit Records. For more on The Side Project, check out their website.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Madder Rose - "I Lost the War"

Photo via Facebook
To be completely honest, I had forgotten about Madder Rose until I heard they had a new song out. "I Lost the War" is the band's first since 1999's Hello June Fool. The band formed in 1991 when everything was labelled "alternative rock," and slowly progressed to indie pop rock, shoegaze, and even trip hop, as far as labels are concerned. Since Madder Rose disbanded, Mary Lorson and Billy Cote have collaborated in Saint Low and The Piano Creeps.

"I Lost the War" is exactly the song we want from Madder Rose in 2019. It has that chill, almost trip hop feel the band left us with. But it also has the hints of country twang noise drudging around in the background showing the band can't give up their alt-rock roots. It's a lush and gorgeous song, making their upcoming release even more intriguing. 

You can listen to "I Lost the War" below. To Be Beautiful, the new album from Madder Rose, will be out August 10 on Trome Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Madder Rose, check out their website.

Oompa - "Feel Like Cole"

Photo via Facebook
Oompa has been a fixture on the how-are-none-of-these-artists-nationally-huge Boston hip hop scene for a few years now, and her latest single, "Feel Like Cole," sounds like she should be a megastar by now. "Feel Like Cole" is the rare song that could easily be heard on mainstream hip hop stations while still appealing to underground fans. This song is perfect for anyone who has ever been a fan of rap. It's modern, has enough of an old school feel, and it's just smooth and mainstream enough to appeal to literally anyone.

You can listen to "Feel Like Cole" below. Oompa's new album will be out in August. For more on Oompa, check out her website. She also has a record release show coming up at The Sinclair in Cambridge on August 10. You can get your tickets for that show here

First Listen: New Releases for 28 June

Artist: Jade Jackson
Album: Wilderness
Quick Description: Great alt-country.
Why You Should Listen: Jade Jackson's debut was good, but this is amazing.
Overall Thoughts: I was turned onto Jade Jackson from an old friend a few years back, and I hadn’t kept up quite close enough to know that she had a new record out. With that said, what a great album! I felt like her previous record had better parts than a whole (with “Aden” in particular a truly great song), but this album seems to pull it all together in a way I didn’t anticipate. This is the album, for me, that pushes her out of the second tier and into the spots I put women like Kathleen Edwards, Lydia Loveless, and the like. Such a great listen, and I am really hoping this has the staying power I want.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, if not the year.

Artist: Thom Yorke
Album: ANIMA
Quick Description: Dystopian blues from the Radiohead frontman.
Why You Should Listen: Do I really need to explain the need to listen to a Thom Yorke album?
Overall Thoughts: I’ll be honest – Radiohead hasn’t done it for me in well over a decade, and yet Yorke’s solo output seems to meet the standards I’m looking for in a Radiohead record. Yeah, it’s heavy on the electronics and is probably more reminiscent of an ironed-out Kid A, but that’s what makes it work. I don’t know if this will be divisive or not, but I’m really into it.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, but it worked for me.

Artist: Gena Rose Bruce
Album: Can't Make You Love Me
Quick Description: Rootsy goodness.
Why You Should Listen: Gena Rose Bruce has the sort of dirty backyard roots music we've been looking for this summer.
Overall Thoughts: This is definitely roots-influenced, and really reminiscent of Lera Lynn in many regards. The pacing on this is so slow and deliberate, and feels like it belongs more on some sort of grungy deck than on an album. I really enjoyed this on a whole, and it has a few great moments that are likely to stick with you as they did with me.
Recommendation: You should put this in the rotation.

Artist: Berwanger
Album: Watching a Garden Die
Quick Description: Power pop perfection.
Why You Should Listen: The title may be bleak, but it will put a smile on your face.
Overall Thoughts: I know I listened to the last Berwanger record, but it didn't really stick with me in any significant way. This new album, though, might do just that. A fun, upbeat-sounding slice of indie pop, this is one that just shocked me from start to finish, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Different than most everything else out this week, it's worth your time.
Recommendation: Give it a listen.

Artist: Sarah Bethe Nelson
Album: Weird Glow
Quick Description: Third album by a low-key fave 'round these parts.
Why You Should Listen: Nelson knows how to craft a song.
Overall Thoughts: Sarah Bethe Nelson releases her third album when I still haven't finished with her first one. That's kind of how she works: she writes songs with immense staying power that work both in and out of the album context. This is a slight diversion of sorts from her first efforts, but it still feels clearly and specifically Sarah Bethe Nelson, and this is as good a time as any to hop on the bandwagon.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Of note:

* The Black Keys - "Let's Rock" (I have nothing significant to say about this, but it's really good.)
* Summer Cannibals - Can't Tell Me No
* Heather Nova - Pearl
* Daughter of Swords - Dawnbreaker
* Sure Sure - What It's Like
* Ingrid Michaelson - Stranger Songs
* Julia Michaels - Inner Monologue Part 2
* Sofia Bolt - Waves
* Spirits Having Fun - Auto-Portrait


* Gabriell Marlena - Manners
* Poppy - Choke
* Charlie Marie - Charlie Marie (a catch up from May.)
* Arc Iris - Friends and Lovers
* American Trappist - Amuse-Orielle Vol. 2

Also out:

* Kim Petras - Clarity
* The Alarm - Sigma
* Iggy Pop - Zombie Birdhouse
* The Appleseed Cast - The Fleeting Light of Impermanence
* Horse Jumper of Love - So Divine

Monday, July 1, 2019

Spirit Family Reunion - "Ease My Mind"

"Ease My Mind," the latest song released off Spirit Family Reunion's upcoming album, might be their most accessible yet. Spirit Family Reunion play this really organic, fairly rough form of roots/Americana music. It may be rough at times, but their enthusiasm and charm (particularly when you see them live) more that makes up for it. In fact, that becomes part of the experience. "Ease My Mind" is smooth and actually feels like a produced single. It still has all the enthusiasm and charm we love with Spirit Family Reunion, just more practiced and polished.

You can listen to "Ease My Mind" below. Ride Free, the upcoming album from Spirit Family Reunion, will be out August 9. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on Spirit Family Reunion check out their website

Carissa Johnson & the Cure-Alls - "So Far So Good"

Photo via Facebook
Pop rock got a really bad reputation after the 80's. That was pretty well deserved, because the vast majority of pop rock from back then was pretty awful. Carissa Johnson & the Cure-Alls are the opposite of that. Their latest single, "So Far So Good" has the rock (but not quite punk) edge to it, but has such amazing pop hooks and melodies. This mixture leaves "So Far So Good" too pop to be purely rock and too rock to be purely pop. Plus, Johnson infests the song with a rawness which might make the whole thing garage pop rock.

You can watch the video for "So Far So Good" below. For more on Carissa Johnson & the Cure-Alls, check out their website.

Concert Review: The Wolff Sisters at Redemption Rock Brewery, 28 June 2019

For as long as we have been doing this blog together, what's stunning is that I just kind of stopped going to see live music. It wasn't entirely by choice - with a sick parent and a newborn, plus a lot of other responsibilities to go along with it, the days of me hitting two concerts a week 45 minutes plus away for bands to go on at midnight are long, long behind me. The last concert I went to, in fact, was with Ken and his wife to see David Wax Museum in late 2012.

We love The Wolff Sisters here and for good reason. It's authentic-sounding folk rock right in our backyard, and the trio, often with their backing band, plays shows fairly regularly in the area. Last Friday night, however, they were doing a stripped-down appearance less than 15 minutes from my house for a two-hour set at Redemption Rock Brewery for free in Worcester, MA, and I knew I had to go.

Redemption Rock, named after a historic location in the Princeton, MA area, opened this past January and have run their share of interesting events and musicians that we've featured here. I had never been, but it's a nice little brewery right in the heart of Shrewsbury Street. The musical area was on a field turf picnic table area, and the acoustics and atmosphere were fine for the music (even if the consistent stream of Parks and Recreation on the screen above was a little distracting). And yeah, the beer was good, too - I got a solid cherry-based sour beer and a pretzel, and all was well.

But you're not reading this for a venue or beer review (although both are worth checking out if you're in the area and/or something is happening), but for The Wolff Sisters. The three women went through their two albums throughout their roughly two-hour set, mixing in some of the slower and more deliberate tracks with the upbeat "rockers" (for lack of a better term) from Cahoon Hollow. As one might expect in a show such as this, a couple covers were tossed in the mix as well, and the Wolff take on Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" was a true highlight of the evening as they made the classic song very much their own. The band also mixed in some new numbers; singer/guitarist Rebecca Wolff told me after the show that we can expect them on a new album this fall.

Musical highlight of the night, for me, though, was "Down By the Lake," which is my favorite song of theirs and the crowd agreed. While the number of people there for the group was far outnumbered by those enjoying their Friday, the energy in the space shifted significantly during that song and you could tell that it was something truly special. "Down By the Lake" is one of those songs that makes me wonder why this band hasn't caught fire yet, and hopefully their efforts to make it outside of the Boston area more helps that out.

The musicianship of these three women can't be denied, and there's definitely a charisma there that, when their songs were connecting with the audience, really worked. I'm glad I took the time to see them. They have a handful of shows planned in the next month with what one would expect to be more to come in the fall.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Jason Tyler Burton - "High Road to Harlan"

Photo by Erica Chambers
"High Road to Harlan," the new single from Wyoming's Jason Tyler Burton, is pure classic Americana. It's a country/folk song that tells a story from the perspective of an 85 year old man raised in a Kentucky coal mining community about all the changes he's seen in his life. It's a truly perfect song, full of loneliness and heartache. "High Road to Harlan" isn't a genre changing song. It's in the vein of an artist like Jason Isbell (particularly his work with Drive-By Truckers) by just nailing the country/folk genre immaculately. Keep an eye on Burton. This is just the start for him.

You can listen to "High Road to Harlan" below. Kentuckian, the new album from Jason Tyler Burton, will be out September 6. For more on Jason Tyler Burton, check out his website.