Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Brass Against Covers Rage Against the Machine

Photo via Facebook
If you were to go back to the 90's and tell a young Ken that he'd be more excited about a brass band covering Rage Against the Machine than he would about a RATM/Public Enemy/Cypress Hill supergroup...

Our love of covers is extremely well documented here. The best kind of cover keeps the spirit of the original while adding a band's own spin on a song. Brass Against are nailing the perfect cover with their version of Rage Against the Machine's "No Shelter." The band joins with singer Sophia Urista for the song, and she attacks the song with enough force that you won't miss Zack de la Rocha at all. Brass Against plays with more ferocity than you could think possible for a brass band. Sure, they also have a metal guitar player, but it's the horns (and Urista) that really bring the noise to this song.

You can watch the video for Brass Against's cover of "No Shelter" below. We somehow missed their 2018 self-titled album, which was all Rage Against the Machine covers, with a Living Colour cover and an Audioslave one thrown in. Definitely check that out, as well as their covers of Jane's Addiction, Black Sabbath, Tool, Pantera, etc. For more on Brass Against, check out their website.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Versing - "Tethered"

Photo by Gordon De Los Santos
Back in 2017, Versing came out of nowhere and blew me away when they played with The Courtneys and Weakened Friends, and their album from that year, Nirvana, ended up being my #5 album. Now they're back with a new song. "Tethered" continues the sound that we loved from their previous album. It's a mid-to-late-90's alternative sound, what I keep describing as early Superdrag meets The Dismemberment Plan. But "Tethered" brings a new sound, and a bit more aggression. There's also a little bit of emo (emo as in Sunny Day Real Estate) and an almost DEVO-like hint of New Wave? It's a really interesting addition to their sound, and we can't wait to hear what's next.

You can watch the video for "Tethered" below. 10000, the new album from Versing, will be out May 3 on Hardly Art Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Versing, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

First Listen: New Releases for 15 February

Album of the Week:

Artist: Haint Blue
Album: Overgrown
Quick Description: A debut album from a fully-formed roots act.
Why You Should Listen: This is great for fans of David Wax Museum or other more left-of-center roots/folks acts.
Overall Thoughts: Ken was a big fan of this, and I don’t blame him. This is an independent act on their first full-length, and you’d assume upon listening that they have been at this for ages. There is an aged maturity to this, combined with a very palatable mainstream sound that mirrors some of the breakthrough roots acts of recent years, that really makes this stand out. A solid listen, and one that I would expect many readers here in particular to keep in rotation for a long time, myself included.
Recommendation: My favorite this week.

Artist: Ladytron
Quick Description: First album in a while from the indie synth act.
Why You Should Listen: It's been too long, and Ladytron has been too good.
Overall Thoughts: Ladytron has always been a little off-center in the indie synth world, and I’ve long considered myself a fan. This latest album, their first in around five years, has a very deliberate and straightforward sound to it. The word that comes to mind is almost robotic, but I don’t mean that as a negative. It has such a hypnotizing, trance-like quality that I feel like may have been more evident in the past and has largely disappeared from this genre. I’m liking this album a lot on first listen, and looking forward to spending more time with it.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Hayes Carll
Album: What It Is
Quick Description: Latest from the left wing rootsy troubadour.
Why You Should Listen: Hayes Carll is always a great listen.
Overall Thoughts: Hayes Carll still has one of my favorite songs ever (featuring Cary Ann Hearst of Shovels and Rope), “Someone Like You,” so I will always check out new work from him. I didn’t love his last album, but this one feels like more of a return to form. It’s a little light on its feet, a little more fun, and just seems to work on the level I’ve come to expect. Carll has always had a more rocking tendency with his best work, and it’s all over this album.
Recommendation: Definitely worth the listen.

Artist: Holiday Gunfire
Album: Holiday Gunfire
Quick Description: Debut from an act pulled directly from your time capsule buried in the backyard 25 years ago.
Why You Should Listen: It's wonderfully anachronistic and perplexing.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like I want to love this more than I do, but enjoyed this a lot more than I thought? That may be the eternal struggle surrounding Holiday Gunfire, which is a band that was teleported directly from college radio circa 1992 and deposited in the current day with no apparent irony. It’s a sound that we all know and love, but maybe it’s the production that needs to be louder or maybe less muddy that would turn this from being “pretty solid” to “truly great.” Still, the production values do not take away from some classic songwriting and musicianship that should last far beyond the initial nostalgia hit.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Bloodshot Bill
Album: Come Get Your Love Right Now
Quick Description: Acid rockabilly?
Why You Should Listen: It's the most uniquely familiar music I've heard in ages.
Overall Thoughts: I try not to look up these bands/groups/artists until after I’ve listened, if not after I write up a review, but this is so out there in some regards that I had to figure out what was going on. The production on this is so muddy it feels like an early rock record, but this is really just gritty rockabilly in all its glory. Is this guy Chris Isaak drunk on moonshine? Is he the roots equivalent of Wesley Willis? I have no idea. This is so weird, but it’s so compelling.
Recommendation: Needs to be heard.

Artist: Heartstreets
Album: Why Make Sense
Quick Description: Soul-based rap music.
Why You Should Listen: This will consistently surprise you.
Overall Thoughts: This is a surprise rap entry this week. I didn't realize, looking at the cover, that we would be getting some solid rap with soul/R&B instrumentation behind it, but here we go. There are a lot of solid moments here, and when I look for interesting rap music this definitely fits the bill. It won't work for everyone - this much I know for sure - but if you're willing to take a risk...
Recommendation: Worked well for me, so it might work for you.

Of note:

* Daniel Steinbock - Out of Blue (Quiet, often impressive, folk music)
* Gemma Ray - Psychogeology (as beautifully confounding as always)
* Women's Hour - Ephyria (Very enigmatic.)
* the dates - ask again later (Fun, often Byrds-ian indie rock.)
* Czarface and Ghostface Killah - Czarface Meets Ghostface
* Bilge Pump - We Love You
* The Long Ryders - Psychedelic Country Soul
* Anenome - Beat My Distance
* Elena Setien - Another Kind of Revolution
* Piroshka - Brickbat
* Pye Corner Audio - Hollow Earth
* Betty Who - Betty


* Bec Stevens - Why Don't You Just ("10 Minute Drive" is one of the best songs of the early year.)
* Broken Social Scene - Let's Try the After Vol. 1 (As someone not too into BSS, this is good.)
* Stepbrother - Nearest and Dearest (Great alt-indie, not a bad song in the batch.)

Also out:

* Lenny Lashley's Gang of One - All Are Welcome
* Carsie Blanton - Buck Up
* Tedeschi Trucks Band - Signs
* Bodega - Witness Scroll

Monday, February 18, 2019

Julia Jacklin - "Comfort"

Photo by Nick Mckk
The new album from Julia Jacklin will be out this Friday, but she's released one last single while we desperately wait. So far all three singles have been quite different. "Head Alone" felt like it could have been a lost track from her previous album, Don't Let the Kids Win, but with more confidence. "Pressure to Party" was more of a rock song. The third, "Comfort," is an almost painfully quiet folk song. It's only Jacklin's voice in its most delicate possible version with a just barely strummed guitar. (There's also a tiny bit of backing vocals, but just barely and used rarely). With all three of the previewed songs being so completely different from each other (but obviously from the same universe), we can't wait until Friday. 

You can watch the video for "Comfort" below. Crushing, the new album from Julia Jacklin, will be out February 22 on Polyvinyl. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Julia Jacklin, check out her website.

Live Shows: The Devil's Twins, Diablogato, Salem Wolves, Opus, Salem, MA 2/16/19

Saturday night was an absurdly packed night for live music in the Boston area. Of all the options available, I had to trek way out to Salem, MA for a fantastic loud and local triple bill: The Devil's Twins, Diablogato, and Salem Wolves.

Considering how long I've been writing about Salem Wolves on here, and considering that they're a local band that plays in the area a lot, this was somehow the first time I had gotten around to seeing them live. It definitely won't be the last. Their arena ready garage rock anthems are crafted specifically for a live show, even if the "arena" is a tiny brick walled basement. The band was breaking in two brand new members (guitarist Charlie MacSteven (who also plays in Diablogato) and bassist Cat Verlicco), but you would never have known it. They played insanely tightly, and with an incredible infectious energy. Singer Gray Bouchard is a much more theatrical frontman than I expected. We're not talking about an Alice Cooper type spectacle, but he was extraordinarily expressive while singing and is completely taken over by the rock. Let's hope it takes less time for me to see them a second time.

Diablogato is the band I was least familiar with of the three, but expect more from them here at If It's Too Loud..., hopefully sooner than later. They play this dirty as hell punked up almost rockabilly sound that hits such a sweet spot for me. It's not quite a throwback to early rock 'n' roll, but only because it's just too loud. That's not to say it's purely just crushing doom and noise. Diablogato plays with a swinging groove to keep the audience moving. They're definitely a party just waiting to happen, and even had Nikki Marie of The Devil's Twins join them for a song, just to keep the family like vibe going all night. If you want to check them out, I'd recommend "Gasoline." That's a perfect example of what to expect with Diablogato.

The nearly legendary The Devil's Twins closed out the night. It might be a small local legend, but for those of us that have been ensnared by their claws, The Devil's Twins are legends. It was also my first time getting to see them, and it was a setup that included a horn section, which I'm told is the best way to go. They also have a throwback old school rock 'n' roll sound, but by far the darkest and heaviest of the evening. The dual frontperson siblings of Jeremiah Louf and Nikki Marie are absolutely perfect together. It's just insanely big and loud rock. They busted out a cover of "Twist & Shout" for the second song of their set, and from then on all of Opus was hooked. This seems like a triple bill that happens every so often, and let's hope I can make it to the next one.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Modern Nature - "Supernature"

Photo by James Sharp
If you've been wondering what Jack Cooper (formerly of Ultimate Painting) was going to do next, then you're in luck. Modern Nature is his latest project, and it's quite different from his previous one. Cooper has this to say about his new band: "The band is so new, it's hard to say who's in and who isn't. At the moment it's myself and Will Young (Beak) with Aaron Neveu on drums (Woods/Herbcraft) Rupert Gillett on cello and then Jeff Tobias on saxophone (Sunwatchers). The band started as a vehicle for a wider project that Will and I spent the year putting together so it feels very exciting to be an actual band now. Every song we record or musician we gain, another door seems to open on a route that's worth pursuing.”

Their first single, "Supernature," is a nearly twelve minute long song that dabbles in folk and free jazz equally. It has a chilled out (but strangely intense) vibe throughout, and sort of plods along with its tempo. It's one of those songs where the saxophone is used almost as a second voice, taking solos that are almost verses and harmonizing with Cooper. This song could have easily overstayed its welcome by lasting twelve minutes, but it will keep you sucked in throughout the end.

You can listen to "Supernature" below. Nature, Modern Nature's debut EP, will be out March 22 on Bella Union. For more on Modern Nature, check out their website.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

The Yawpers - "Child of Mercy"

Photo by Megan Holmes
Every so often we come across a song that completely blows our minds and doesn't sound like anything we've heard before. This new song from The Yawpers is that type of song.

Jeff described their 2017 release Boy in a Well as "A somewhat schizophrenic effort that has a foundation in the rootsy genres." That did not prepare us for their new song at all. For their new album, The Yawpers recorded together in a single room, helping to give "Child of Mercy" an energy. The Yawpers are on Bloodshot Records, so you know it will fall into the alt-country category. But "Child of Mercy" is alt-country meets Goo and Dirty era Sonic Youth, but metal. You get a great intense alt-country song with a killer groove throughout, and then these absurd noise bursts kick in. But these are intensely heavy noise bursts. The song clocks in at just over three minutes, but it feels like an eight minute epic considering everything you've been put through. 

You can listen to "Child of Mercy" below. Human Question, the new album from The Yawpers, will be out April 19 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Yawpers, check out their website.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

City Rivals - "Intoxicated"

With Letters to Cleo only doing a small handful of dates, the members have lots of non-LTC time on their hands. With most members out in Los Angeles doing production and television work, that leaves guitarist Greg McKenna remaining in their hometown of Boston. Turns out he has another fantastic band with City Rivals. McKenna's newer band also features Michael Coen and Matt Diekman of The Bleedin Bleedins, and while their sound is Letters to Cleo adjacent there is definitely a sound all their own here. With "Intoxicated," City Rivals go for a late 90's alternative power pop vibe, but the guitars have more of an edge to them. It's catchy as hell, with an almost Uncle Tupelo tries (and mostly fails) to lose their country sound to it.

You can listen to "Intoxicated" below. City Rivals just released their debut EP, which you can purchase via CD Baby. For more on City Rivals, check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Mykele Deville - "Free Soul"

The latest track from Chicago's rapper, poet, educator, actor Mykele Deville's upcoming album is a throwback to a very specific period of late 90's hip hop. "Free Soul" combines the jazz inspired rap of Guru with the positive throwback vibes of Dilated Peoples and Jurassic 5. It's a fantastic song with looping horns throughout and the closest thing to an R&B chorus is the scatting in its place. The song is a tribute to Chicago but also calls out the clique mentality of the city's arts scene. I can't think of any other modern day rapper that has a diss track for his city's arts scene, but that is one of the reasons we love this song.

You can watch the video for "Free Soul" below. Maintain, the new album from Mykele Deville, will be out February 22 on No Trend Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Mykele Deville, check out his website.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

And the Kids - "Butterfingers"

Photo via Facebook
The latest single from western MA's And the Kids might be their most mainstream yet. Typically that's not usually a good thing, at least for us. We tend to prefer their more odd and unique stylings, but "Butterfingers" will definitely be an exception. "Butterfingers" is quietly epic, and just a beautiful song. And when we call it "mainstream," it's mainstream for an And the Kids song. It still has enough strange little guitar flourishes and perfect harmonies to make it an And the Kids song. It's just one your co-workers who listen to "the hits of the 80's, 90's, and now" radio might also like. Might.

You can listen to "Butterfingers" below. The new album from And the Kids, When This Life is Over, is due out February 22 on Signature Sounds. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on And the Kids, be sure to check out their website.

First Listen: New Releases for 8 February

A weird week on a whole.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Bob Mould
Album: Sunshine Rock
Quick Description: Latest set of power pop from the indie legend.
Why You Should Listen: With few exceptions, Bob Mould has been the same guy for 30 years, so you know what you're getting.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t think it needs to be said that you know exactly what you’re getting with Bob Mould. He hasn’t really changed his course in his 30+ years, and still rocks as hard as he did in the 1980s. More importantly, though, he knows how to write a rockin’ power pop song, and this new album is predictably filthy with them. This isn’t going to change the world, but it doesn’t have to – it’s just going to become a part of your rotation for a few months and every time you listen, you’ll be like “yeah, I forgot how good this is.” A fair warning, though, “Camp Sunshine” is a rare miss from Mould, and it may just because those of us in New England have a different connotation than Mould… might? It could go either way on first listen, and yeah. Outside of that, this is a solid album and my favorite of the week.
Recommendation: Best of the week.

Artist: International Teachers of Pop
Album: International Teachers of Pop
Quick Description: Let some internationals teach you about pop?
Why You Should Listen: You wish those leg warmers you like would come back into style.
Overall Thoughts: I have no real idea what to make of this dance-pop record, which feels straight out of the 1980s yet would still be too weird for the 1980s? I do know that I love it quite a bit, however, and this is the sort of dance music I’m down for these days. In terms of whether readers here will like it? I can’t say for sure, but you’ll probably know by the fourth song. It’s really fun and weird, and I know I’m game.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: HEALTH
Album: Volume 4: Slaves of Fear
Quick Description: Latest from the noise rock act.
Why You Should Listen: This is the way modern noise/industrial should be.
Overall Thoughts: It is interesting to hear this the same week Front Line Assembly puts out something so dull that would have been so significant a generation earlier. This is a really fully-formed HEALTH record in a way some of their earlier work wasn’t. I really liked a ton of this, and found it compelling in a light week even though I’d feel similarly in a busier one. I think “Strange Days (1999)” might be the most representative track if I had to choose one for you to give a shot. But in a week like this, don’t sleep on it.
Recommendation: Make time for this one.

Artist: Xiu Xiu
Album: Girl With a Basket of Fruit
Quick Description: Latest from the strange, artsy indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: If Twin Peaks was an album, it would be this.
Overall Thoughts: I'm always looking for weird things to listen to. This is really, really weird. May also be a concept album, I don't know for sure, but it doesn't really matter because it's more of an experience than anything else. I highlight this because, if you love it? You'll love it. If you don't, you'll know really quick. But if you're willing to challenge yourself in a light week, you might not be disappointed.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.

Artist: The High Strung
Album: Quiet Riots
Quick Description: Latest album from a longtime pop rock band featuring author Josh Malerman of Bird Box fame.
Why You Should Listen: This would fit right in with a lot of Elephant Six acts of the late 1990s.
Overall Thoughts: We missed this when it came out a few weeks back, and I honestly can't figure out how. It's a fun romp that features a singer who is writing books I love, so why wouldn't I have heard of this before now? As for the music itself, the opening track on this album sets the tone quite nicely, and it just carries the bright and poppy effort throughout the whole album. I feel like this type of indie music doesn't come around as much these days, so this might be a nice change of pace for many people here.
Recommendation: Make time for this one.

Artist: The Tenth
Album: Dunes
Quick Description: First full-length album from the indie punk/pop act with Harley Quinn Smith on bass.
Why You Should Listen: Come for the Askew-adjacentness, stay for some truly fun songs.
Overall Thoughts: It's unfair to this band to simply put them in a Kevin Smith bucket, but I wouldn't have listened otherwise. Thankfully, I did, because this is a super fun album with some bubbly melodies, a little bit of lo-fi tendencies, and a fairly unique feel even though it isn't forging any new paths. It's a solid listen, and worth your time this week.
Recommendation: A good listen!

Of note:

* Ariana Grande - thank u, next (Not my cup of tea, but songs like “7 Rings” and “Bloodline” definitely make me understand why she’s so popular.)
* Cass McCombs - Tip of the Sphere (Also not my beverage of choice, but this is friendly, accessible folk rock.)
* Henry Jamison - Gloria Duplex (Good storytelling folk, kind of feels like if Mark Kozalek didn’t hate himself.)
* Mercury Rev - Bobbie Gentry's The Delta Sweete Revisited (Great update of a historically-important piece of music.)
* The Good People - Good for Nothin' (Solid, classic-style rap.)
* Dream Cars - Dream Cars
* Michael Chapman - True North
* Panda Bear - Buoys
* Hey Zeus - X


* Pet Shop Boys - Agenda (Easily the most cringeworthy release by any act in a long time.)

Also out:

* Front Line Assembly - Wake Up the Coma (At one point, I had told Ken how this album would have likely been considered really hard and transgressive 25-30 years ago. That was before the cover of “Rock Me Amadeus” hit.)
* The Lemonheads - Varshons 2
* LCD Soundsystem - Electric Lady Sessions
* Mavis Staples - Live in London

Monday, February 11, 2019

Ben Kweller - "Heart Attack Kid"

Photo by Kevin Baldes
Ben Kweller has kept quite quiet ever since releasing Go Fly a Kite is 2012. Turns out he had a pretty great reason: In 2013 he and his family almost died from carbon monoxide poisoning. To let Kweller tell it: 

“We were in this sweet little cabin and in the middle of the night, Lizzy woke up and said, ‘Ben, get up! Something’s wrong-I feel horrible. I immediately jumped out of bed and collapsed to the ground. We instinctively crawled to the front door and opened it. Fresh air rushed in the cabin. I called 911. We grabbed the boys out of bed, trying to shake them awake, and managed to get everyone outside in the snow. The boys were crying and falling in and out of consciousness-it was like something out of a horror film. When the ambulances arrived, they tested our blood and said our CO levels were so high, we were 15 minutes away from not waking up. Fifteen minutes! We spent the next day in the hospital on pure oxygen and days after that feeling lethargic and mush-brained. When we got back home, I was an incapacitated zombie. I told my team to cancel everything. I was done.”

Kweller spent some time battling depression following the near death experience. He has written about fifty songs, but didn't have any plans to release or record anything. His friend, producer Dwight A. Baker, convinced him to join him in a studio to at least try working on things. 

Luckily for all of us Ben Kweller is back with a new album, and we can check out the first single right now. "Heart Attack Kid" shows Kweller returning to straight up rock. There are some hints of his folk/country side peeking through, but "Heart Attack Kid" is just a fun rock song. As much as I love everything Kweller has put out, it's great to hear him rocking out with a fuzzed out guitar again. "Heart Attack Kid" has an unmistakable groove throughout, making this a perfect alternative rock song.

You can listen to "Heart Attack Kid" below. Circuit Boredom, the new album from Ben Kweller, will be out later this year. For more on Ben Kweller, be sure to check out his website

Friday, February 8, 2019

Claude Fontaine - "Cry for Another"

Photo by B+
"Cry for Another" is Claude Fontaine's debut single, and while it isn't a style we normally cover here at If It's Too Loud..., we like it enough to make sure to pass it on to you. Recorded in Chet Baker's Hollywood studio, "Cry for Another" is a love letter and tribute to classic reggae and Brazilian music, and musically sounds like Trojan and Treasure Isle records. Fontaine's voice has this smooth, lush quality that reminds me more of a jazz crooner's whisper than reggae. This makes for a great pairing of styles as the song doesn't quite land in reggae or jazz fully. Fontaine says about the song:  “‘Cry For Another’ is about the feeling when someone is slipping through your fingers, and even though you know that person may not be right, you're still pining for more. Possibly to remind yourself of why they're wrong for you, or perhaps to remember what you're going to miss.”

You can watch the video for "Cry for Another" below. Claude Fontaine's debut album will be released on Innovative Leisure later this year. For more on Claude Fontaine, be sure to check out her Facebook.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Nolan the Ninja - "IMG"

Photo by Andre Moore
Detroit's Nolan the Ninja has just signed with Mello Music Group, one of the few hip hop labels that puts out music we consistently like. His first single on the label, "IMG," has just been released, and it's exactly what we want with hip hop. It could be called a throwback, but mostly because it lacks any autotune or an R&B chorus: It's just straight out hip hop. Nolan the Ninja has this odd flow that's equal parts laid back and intense. This is the kind of hip hop we wished was made more.

You can listen to "IMG" below. You can download the single for free now via Bandcamp. For more on Nolan the Ninja, check out his Facebook and Twitter.

Powersolo - "Backstab"

I first discovered Denmark's Powersolo years ago when they opened up for Heavy Trash at the dearly departed TT the Bear's. Somehow, they slipped out of my mind until recently when I decided to look them up again. It was great timing since they are about to release a new EP. (Well, it says it's an EP, but it's two songs so it's more of a 7"...) The first song is "Backstab," and it's everything I remember loving about Powersolo. It's noisy and dirty garage rock that's still insanely fun and groovy as it possibly can be. This isn't slick early 2000's garage rock revival garage rock. This is the kind of garage rock actually made in garages in the 60's by young bands just trying to get it going, but will just be too weird for mainstream success. And it's glorious.

You can listen to "Backstab" below. Transfixing Motherfucker EP will be out on Slovenly Recordings on February 8 and can be ordered here. For more on Powersolo, check them out on Facebook.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Lauren Ruth Ward Covers The Divinyls

I feel bad bringing you the cover since Lauren Ruth Ward has also released a fantastic new original song, but covers are one of our favorite things here at If It's Too Loud..., so...

In an email to fans, Lauren Ruth Ward explains that she's friends with Billy Steinberg, co-writer of The Divinyls legendary song "I Touch Myself." He put her in touch with Divinyls guitarist Mark McEntee, and Ward's cover of "I Touch Myself" was born! Ward's version of alternative singer/songwriter music that you can dance to is custom made for a Divinyls cover, and this might be the most spot on cover we've ever brought you. Sure, it helps to have the original guitarist along for the ride, but Ward does "I Touch Myself" perfectly without any sense of irony, just reverence for the original classic.

You can watch the video for Lauren Ruth Ward's version of "I Touch Myself" below. You should also check out her new original song "Valhalla" while you're at it. For more on Lauren Ruth Ward, check out her website

FACS - "In Time"

Photo by Zoran Orlic
Almost a year ago to the day we discovered FACS, the Chicago band that rose up from the ashes of Disappears. "In Time" is still the post punk art rock we loved from FACS's previous release, but something about it just feels a bit off (in the best possible way). "In Time" is oddly melodic, but extremely disjointed. The rhythm never quite stabilizes itself, and the song kind of stutters along due to that. It's not a loud, in your face rocker, but it does have intense moments. This might not be appealing to most people, but it's a beautifully uncomfortable listen. Is that sounds appealing to you, you may just love this song.

You can watch the video for "In Time" below. Lifelike, the second album from FACS, will be out March 29 on Trouble In Mind. For more on FACS, check them out on Bandcamp, Facebook, and Twitter.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Leland Sundries - "Dreamed About El Paso"

Leland Sundries (led by Nick Loss-Eaton formerly of New York City but recently relocated to Memphis) have just released a new single off their upcoming EP. In the spirit of last October's single "If You're Gonna Drive, I'm Gonna Drink," "Dreamed About El Paso" is another exploration into more of a country sound than their usual garage rock (although their more rock material is still quite country inspired). It's about as country as you'd expect a song called "Dreamed About El Paso" would be, but in a more alt-country way than whatever your co-workers consider country these days. It's a fun rock based country song, and as much as I love Leland Sundries's more rock stuff, this dalliance into country is a fun detour.

You can listen to "Dreamed About El Paso" below. It will be off Leland Sundries upcoming to be announced EP. The band is promising some more "garage-y stuff" in the future if you prefer that. For more on Leland Sundries, check out their website.

First Listen: New Releases for 1 February

Another great week!

Albums of the Week:

Artist: Cherry Glazerr
Album: Stuffed & Ready
Quick Description: Highly-anticipated third album from the alt/indie act.
Why You Should Listen: This should be the breakthrough we're waiting for.
Overall Thoughts: If it wasn’t clear from the videos and the prerelease singles, this may be the album that is designed to propel CG into stardom. They’ve deserved it for some time now, with a lot of really great songs under their belt up to this point, but “Wasted Nun” (which I’m still obsessed with) was a shot across the bow, and the album doesn’t let up off the gas. “That’s Not My Real Life” is a real highlight, and album cuts feel more polished while still retaining the flair that made CG so appealing to start. Do not sleep on this – not only is there plenty of room on the bandwagon, but I have a feeling we will be hearing a lot about CG in 2019.
Recommendation: A best of the week, and a must-listen.

Artist: STL GLD
Album: The New Normal
Quick Description: New album by the local rap group.
Why You Should Listen: STL GLD is the best rap group you're not listening to. And if you are listening to them, you already know they're the best rap group you're listening to.
Overall Thoughts: We've been raving about STL GLD for a while here, and they're on a run at this point that makes me question why they're not being spoken of in the same breath as some of the greats. And somehow, even after putting out some great singles over the last year and winning award after award in Boston, they somehow present us with The New Normal, which feels absolutely epic in scope and grandeur. I almost wish I had more to say about it because I feel like just saying "this is the best rap album I've heard in ages, and you're missing out" and "I don't care if you don't like rap, this will change your mind" over and over. You owe it to yourself to listen to this, because if there's any justice left in the world, STL GLD will be huge because of this record.
Recommendation: My other best of the week. Don't ignore it.

Artist: Abigail Lapell
Album: Getaway
Quick Description: New album from a Canadian roots artist.
Why You Should Listen: This album hooked me in and stuck around for its entire playtime.
Overall Thoughts: This is such a gorgeous, rootsy affair that I was so into right from the start and just kept loving more and more as it progressed. The closing song is so pretty, “Devil in the Deep” sneaky addictive… I could go on and on, but if you’re looking for a great, often-lush-but-also-sparse affair, man. This would be my favorite of the week in so many other weeks, and it’s only that CG is going to take up so much space in my brain that this won’t. With that said, this might even have more staying power - I almost wish, personally, that this came out a week later so it wouldn't be overwhelmed by two other juggernauts. So I dunno, but either way, don’t miss this, as it's a true highlight in a week full of them.
Recommendation: Make time for this one.

Artist: Whoa Melodic
Album: Whoa Melodic
Quick Description: Great early-90sish alt-rock.
Why You Should Listen: This will be in your throwback rotations for months to come.
Overall Thoughts: I was listening to some Toad the Wet Sprocket earlier this week, since I needed some musical comfort food and Dulcinea is typically my go-to. I am shocked at how reminiscent the sort of college alt-rock that TTWS occupies in my head that Whoa Melodic offers. A multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter maybe best known for his work with The Hayman Kupa Band, this is a gorgeous slice of music taken out of a different era and deposited directly into 2019 that just hits all the right spots for me. If you’re looking for something modern or groundbreaking, you won’t find it here. Instead, you might find something that instead reminds you of why you fell in love with music in the first place.
Recommendation: A good listen this week.

Artist: Le Butcherettes
Album: bi/MENTAL
Quick Description: Think if Screaming Females formed in drama camp.
Why You Should Listen: Really fun, off-kilter rock music for what feels like a concept album.
Overall Thoughts: Le Butcherette is a band I've had in my periphery for some time now, and a few songs from this new album have been trickling out over the last few months. The full album is a real wild ride, with some truly crazy moments to go along with some sharp songwriting and a ton of personality. This concept album honestly won't work for everyone, but I suspect Le Butcherettes are not pushing for mass appeal here, either.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.

Artist: Mandolin Orange
Album: Tides of a Teardrop
Quick Description: Great, rootsy, mandolin-based music.
Why You Should Listen: This is just well-executed Americana.
Overall Thoughts: I spent a lot of time trying to figure out exactly the angle to get people excited about this, because, on the surface, this is almost a little too traditional in the grand scheme of things. If Mandolin Orange has an interesting or offbeat approach, it's not apparent in their music. On the other hand, that might be exactly why it works. The duo clearly embraces what they do, and they do it so well and in a way that is so catchy and notable that they don't need the frills that other acts might toss in just to get ahead. Just don't think I'm damning them with faint praise, please - I love a good bluegrass album, I love good roots music, and Mandolin Orange delivers it in spades. What else should I be asking for?
Recommendation: A superlative entry this week.

Artist: Tiny Ruins
Album: Olympic Girls
Quick Description: Light, airy indie pop rock.
Why You Should Listen: You feel like you've heard this before, but it's still so different that it feels new anyway.
Overall Thoughts: Tiny Ruins has been around for some time, and I can't remember if I ever heard of the act before. This album is a folky, poppy, often-ethereal affair. Everything sounds like it's transmitted through a haze or veil that gives it an air of mystery to accompany the compelling melodies and instrumentation, and the result is something I really enjoyed. In a week with a lot of superlative releases, I fear this might be overshadowed by many, but there's no excuse if you're reading this.
Recommendation: Find some time for this one.

Of note:

* Girlpool - What Chaos is Imaginary (Lots of great moments here.)
* Born to Uke (Springsteen ukulele covers. More fun than you’d think.)
* Deer Tick - Mayonnaise (Compilation of covers and alternate tracks.)
* Nia Nesbitt - The Sun Will Come Up, The Seasons Will Change (Solid mainstream pop.)
* Highasakite - Uranium Heart (Interesting, yet accessible, electro-pop.)
* Blank Range - In Unison (With so many good roots records out this week, don't let this slip by.)
* Boy Harder - Careful
* Beirut - Gallipoli
* Ian Brown - Ripples
* Lewsberg - Lewsberg


* Burly - Self Titled Demon
* Tim Heidecker - Another Year in Hell
* Jealous of the Birds - Wisdom Teeth (Listen to "Blue Eyes," it's guaranteed to become earwormy.)

Also out:

* Guided by Voices - Zeppelin Over China
* Empire Circus - Ti
* B Leafs - The Horizon
* The Specials - Encore
* Emily King - Scenery
* Lou Doillon - Soliloquy
* American Authors - Seasons

Monday, February 4, 2019

Haint Blue - "Another Year"

Photo by Rachel Verhaaren
"Another Year," the latest single from Haint Blue, is a powerful alt-folk song that is going to draw virtually all of our readers in. The song builds painfully slowly, starting off with just a quiet piano and drums. Oh, and then you'll notice this intense noise filling up the background. It's not quite feedback, but it's definitely the folk version of feedback brought in to amp up tension like this is a horror movie. The song slowly adds instruments and just keeps getting bigger and bigger until it just overflows with singer Mike Cohn's absurdly powerful voice exploding into your brain. All of this sounds like a painful, uncomfortable listen, and it is. But it's also incredibly gorgeous and somehow mainstream enough to possibly go huge. And then, just when you need the song to bring you somewhere safe, it just ends. Cohn says of "Another Year": There's a lot of rage/frustration in the song, the kind of frustration any adult feels when they grow up and realize that life's not going to be what they thought it would be (and that it has a habit of getting away from you). But there's also this softer, sadder, almost humorously self-aware part of it, too. That's why I like the song so much, it's a great (accidental) allegory to growing up."

We can't recommend this song enough.

You can watch the video for "Another Year" below. Haint Blue's new album, Overgrown, will be out on February 15. You can order a copy here. For more on Haint Blue, check out their website. Their current tour dates are below the video.

02/22 – New Deal Cafe – Greenbelt, MD

02/23 – Frozen Harbor Festival – Baltimore MD
03/04 – 49 West – Annapolis, MD
03/08 – Dante’s – Frostburg, MD
03/15 – Metro Gallery – Baltimore, MD (Album Release Show)
03/22 – Villain & Saint – Bethesda, MD
03/23 – Front Royal Brewery – Front Royal VA

Live Shows: Jon Spencer + The HITMakers and Bodega, Great Scott, Allston, MA 2/1/19

Any time you go see a new project from one of your long time favorites, it's natural to worry about what the show will be like. I've seen far too many shows where a musician hires a band half their age to crank out songs with no emotion or sense of joy. Of course, this is Jon Spencer. There will never be anything to worry about with a live Jon Spencer performance.  

Jon Spencer + The HITMakers is similar enough to fans of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion but different enough to warrant a new project. The band consists of Jon Spencer on guitar along with a drummer, a percussionist, and a keyboard player. His new backing band is age appropriate, though. The percussionist is Bob Bert, Sonic Youth's drummer for Confusion is Sex through Death Valley 69. And by percussionist I mean he hit metal objects with hammers. The band busted out most of Spencer's fantastic 2018 album Spencer Songs the Hits! Definite highlights from the new material were "Ghost" and "Do the Trash Can." Spencer even went back to his days with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and busted out "Dang" early in the set and played maybe the first minute or two of "Bellbottoms." At this point, Jon Spencer + The HITMakers lack the wild abandon of a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion show. There weren't the wild punk edged furious jams with Spencer rambling about the blues and rock 'n' roll, but maybe they just need to more into a groove to be able to do that. For an unbelievably special encore, the band brought Julia Cafritz, his bandmate in Pussy Galore, on stage to play four Pussy Galore covers.

Opening the show was Brooklyn's Bodega. Bodega blasted through a short-ish set of their punk art-rock that you can dance to songs. They're even more fun live than on their albums, truly performing and not just playing songs. They stop just short of being so artsy that they're gimmicky. Bodega had their own small set of fans that we're just there for them, and they were treated to a band that is going to be far bigger very, very soon. Songs like "How Did This Happen?!" and "Jack in Titanic" are going to propel this band to huge things. Bodega might be the most Brooklyn band I've seen live in years, and I mean that as a compliment.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Lucy Dacus Covers Edith Piaf

Last year we became completely obsessed with Lucy Dacus. It doesn't appear we'll get a new album this year, but we will be getting a singles series entitled 2019. In a Facebook post, Lucy Dacus has this to say about the series:

"This also begins a series of songs I'll be putting out through 2019. Holidays are tough and I often write music to try to understand them, or listen to music to buoy myself through. Over the past two years, I've been recording some holiday related songs that have been collecting dust, until now. Some are covers, some are originals, some are kind of out of character, but all of them were a lot of fun to make.
The holidays will be:
Valentine's Day
Taurus Season (also my bday, my mom's bday, and Mother's Day)
Independence Day
Bruce Springsteen's Birthday lol
New Year's Eve"

First up is a Velentine's Day cover of Edith Piaf's "La Vie En Rose." It's a completely lovely cover of a song I'm not quite familiar with, but, to my knowledge, it's a very straightforward version. It also fits perfectly in with the vibe we love from last year's Historian, so it's safe to say that we're on board.

You can watch the lyric video for "La Vie En Rose" below. We're especially looking forward to Bruce Springsteen's birthday and Halloween. For more on Lucy Dacus, check out her website.

David Wax Museum Have Launched an IndieGogo

Photo by David LaMason
We don't usually tell you about a crowdfunded project unless we can bring you at least a new song from that project, but this is David Wax Museum. They've long been a favorite of ours, and I believe they just might be the last artist I was able to drag Jeff out to see live. Right now they are finishing up their newest album and have launched an IndieGogo to fund it. Line of Light appears to be set for a June release, and if you know you're going to be purchasing it, why not do it now? It can be as simple as an album pre-order, but they also have some pretty sweet tiers that include a handmade Valentine from Suz Slezak, a singing Valentine, VIP concert tickets, a donkey jawbone necklace, and a duo house concert.

You can find out more about the pre-order for Line of Light over at Indiegogo. It was produced by Carl Broemel and recorded in Nashville. For more on David Wax Museum, check out their website. Current tour dates are below.

Feb 7 - Kennett Square, PA - House Concert (duo) 
Feb 9 - Westport, CT - Supper & Soul 
Feb 11 - Buxton, ME - Buxton Common 
Feb 14 - Saratoga Springs, NY - Caffe Lena (duo)
Feb 15 - Montreal, QB - Folk Alliance
Feb 16 - Weston, VT - Weston Playhouse 
Mar 13-16 - Austin, TX - South by Southwest Music Festival