Friday, March 22, 2019

Jonas Friddle - "Drinking in a Dry Town"

When you see a song is titled "Drinking in a Dry Town," you can be assured it's going to be country. And Jonas Friddle's song by that name definitely is. "Drinking in a Dry Town" is a quiet, stripped down modern country/folk song. The focus of the song is Friddle's vocals and guitar, with drums, bass, keys, and fiddle. I only mention the instruments because even with four additional instruments, the song steal feels almost painfully intimate. "Drinking in a Dry Town" fits more on the mainstream side of the current folk/Americana spectrum of music, but sometimes when it's done as perfectly as this is, that's hardly a bad thing.

You can listen to "Drinking in a Dry Town" below. The Last Place to Go, the upcoming album from Jonas Friddle, will be out on April 12. For more on Jonas Friddle, check out his website.

Lenny Bull - "Don't Talk About It"

On her new single, Lenny Bull isn't reinventing music. But she is taking pieces and parts from all over the place. "Don't Talk About It" has some strong similarities to The Pretenders, particularly Bull's voice and delivery style. "Don't Talk About It" also has enough of a garage rock vibe to set it apart, with just the tiniest bit of dream pop and shoegaze sprinkled in, along with some punk rock swagger, to really stand out. It's plenty of familiar elements, but combined together just right to make it fresh and welcome.

You can watch the video for "Don't Talk About It" below. According to Bull, "It's a day in the life of a very disgruntled, very lazy office employee, who would rather be anywhere else. It pokes fun at what we have to do to make ends meet, in order to do what we love." Lenny Bull's debut EP, Sharp Teeth, will be out April 25. For more on Lenny Bull, check out her Facebook and Instagram.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

The Beths Cover Death Cab for Cutie

Photo by Mason Fairey
Death Cab for Cutie are just one of those bands I've never quite gotten into. I can appreciate them, but only for a song or two. One of those few songs I actually truly enjoy is "Soul Meets Body," which I know, I know, it's the most obvious one. When I heard that one of our favorites, The Beths, had covered that particular song, I knew I simply had to hear it. The cover was recorded in the SiriusXMU studios. It's one of those stripped down acoustic covers that were all the rage in radio back in the 90's but have pretty much disappeared now that radio no longer exists. It's, obviously, fantastic, and it hits the nostalgia button for so many reasons.

You can listen to The Beths's version of "Soul Meets Body" below. For more on The Beths, check out their website.

Quelle Chris - "Obamacare"

Now this is what I want from hip hop. "Obamacare," the latest track from Quelle Chris's upcoming album Guns, starts off with a burst of bizarre almost industrial sounding noise that would sound more at home in a Sonic Youth song than your average hip hop song. From there the song gets a bit more tuneful, but there is this odd quality to the beat that isn't completely comfortable. As someone who's favorite rap group is Public Enemy, this is a type of sound I've missed for far too long.

You can watch the video for "Obamacare" below. And you really should watch it. Chris says about the video: 

“Like most of my visuals I try to find the place where proper pairing and a good excuse to try my hand at something I always loved as a kid meet. The video for Obamacare is an homage to many of my favorite PBS, Sesame Street shorts with a touch of Terry Gilliam (and I mean a drip. Trust me I know my place. Lol). It’s one of my favorite songs on the album so I figured doing collage work in the style of my favorite era of animation was fitting. About 95% of the video was taken from the pages of archived magazines. Next video will likely be animatronics if this trend continues.” 

Guns, the new album from Quelle Chris, will be out March 29 on Mello Music Group. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Quelle Chris, check out his Twitter.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

John Shakespear - "Spend Your Youth"

Photo by VQnC
Although he started off in Boston, John Shakespear is now located in Nashville. You can hear both cities in his newest single, "Spend Your Youth." The song has a strong Americana feel that you can pretty much only get in a city like Nashville, but it's not all twang. "Spend Your Youth" still has a bit of the Boston DIY/indie feel to it. It's a brilliant and mesmerizing song, more on the indie folk side of things than the alt-country of the previous single, "Swinging for the Fences."

You can listen to "Spend Your Youth" below. Spend Your Youth, John Shakespear's debut album, will be out May 10. For more on John Shakespear, check out his website. Current tour dates are below the song.

5/2 - Nashville, TN - The East Room 
5/8 - Washington, DC - Electric Maid 
5/9 - Harrisburg, PA - Little Amps 
5/10 - NYC - Pete’s Candy Store 
5/11 - Baltimore, MD - The Four-Hour Day Lutherie 
5/22 - Boston, MA - Sofar Sounds 
6/6 - Boston, MA - The Burren Backroom 

The Get Ahead - "Deepest Light"

Hailing from Portland, OR, The Get Ahead have combined a few roots-based genres into a cohesive sound. "Deepest Light" is a very groovy, dance friendly Americana/folk/soul song. Just for good measure, they also packed some R&B and maybe even some disco in there. This could be a mess, but The Get Ahead pull it off impeccably. "Deepest Light" is the rare dance track that stays organic and doesn't sound even remotely top 40. The Get Ahead have also become a family band. They are comprised of two married couples (one of whom recently had a baby) and a longtime friend. You can sense that level of closeness and community in their music.

You can listen to "Deepest Light" below. Deepest Light is also the name of their upcoming album, which will be out April 26 on Jullian Records. For more on The Get Ahead, check out their website.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Live Shows: Gogol Bordello and Nu Folk Rebel Alliance, The Strand Ballroom, Providence, RI 3/16/19

Last weekend was St. Patrick's Day weekend, and typically everybody in New England clings to their Irish roots, no matter how small, and goes out to see any band that also has any Irish roots they can cling to. It was refreshing to see how many people went out to The Strand Ballroom on Saturday night to take in the gypsy/Latin punk hybrid of Gogol Bordello. Those that did were treated to one of the best shows I've seen in years.

I had been trying to get out to see Gogol Bordello for years, ever since their stripped down performance at the Newport Folk Festival in 2011. I've wanted to see a full band set from them, but it just never has worked out for me. This week I had a close friend in from out of town which inspired me to finally pull the trigger and do it. I couldn't be happier that I did. I had ridiculously high expectations, since Gogol Bordello was one of the highlights of that year's NFF, a year that included The Decemberists, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Wanda Jackson, Mavis Staples, Tegan & Sara, Justin Townes Earle, David Wax Museum, etc. It's hard to stand out on a bill that stacked, but Gogol Bordello shined.

Saturday night was a truly epic performance. Playing for two hours, Gogol Bordello played literally every song we could have possibly wanted. They broke out "Not a Crime" and "Immigrant Punk" early in their set, and even played their most popular song, "Start Wearing Purple," much earlier than I would have expected. They also broke out covers of The Cramps and Iggy Pop halfway through the set. It's rare that a punk show is fueled with as much joy as a Gogol Bordello show is, but that's one of the things that separates them from the rest. That joy extended to the crowd, which was rowdy but never crossed the line into violence (except for one guy who was kicked out for fighting). Given the current political climate, and the fact that the band waves their immigrant status quite proudly, there weren't any political statements between songs. Instead, the band let their music do the talking for them. 

Nu Folk Rebel Alliance opened the show. They were a duo performing mostly Clash covers in a Latin/hip hop/folk style with pre-recorded drums. It might sound like an odd choice, but then you must have never listened to Sandinista! It was a perfect choice, and I'm hoping to stumble across them again soon.

First Listen: New Releases for 15 March

Album of the Week:

Artist: Stephen Malkmus
Album: Groove Denied
Quick Description: New album from the Pavement frontman.
Why You Should Listen: Stephen Malkmus has earned the right to do what he wants at this point.
Overall Thoughts: At least when Radiohead went weird, they didn’t try to alienate most listers right out of the gate. If you can get past the first track of Groove Denied, however, you’re in for a real treat. Malkmus’s output over the decades has always been a strange mixed bag even if it’s perpetually compelling, and this album is the vision of a man just spreading his wings as much as he wants and presenting the results. Sort of a Kraftwerk via the American West Coast amalgam of ideas and concepts through much-to-most of the affair, this is not going to have the sort of wide appeal of his early solo work or the indie smart takes of the most hardcore of Pavement enthusiasts. This is a bizarre record, but it’s also kind of brilliant and really works as long as you’re willing to go along with the ride. There is always the risk with a musician like Malkmus that this isn’t meant to be taken seriously, but whether it’s a serious undertaking or the first real musical trollery of 2019, it’s my favorite of the week and should be a topic of conversation for some time to come.
Recommendation: I love what is going to be one of the more divisive listens of the year.

Artist: Danger Mouse and Karen O
Album: Lux Prima
Quick Description: Frontwoman of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the awesome producer do a teamup.
Why You Should Listen: I guess if Gnarls Barkley and Broken Bells had a baby, it would be this?
Overall Thoughts: Danger Mouse knows what he's doing, for sure, because his collaborations over the last decade have been top-notch. This one, with Karen O? Just as good as everything else. If a song like "Turn the Light" doesn't grab you, perhaps "Woman" (which really brings what Karen O does best to the forefront) might do it instead. While there are likely many people who would prefer to see both of these acts on their main gigs, this is going to be one of the more underrated treasures of 2019.
Recommendation: A great listen this week.

Artist: Over the Rhine
Album: Love & Revelation
Quick Description: First album in four years from the folk act.
Why You Should Listen: Over the Rhine is consistently great and consistently underrated.
Overall Thoughts: I was turned onto Over the Rhine when they shared a bill with Hem way, way back, and I became an instant fan. In an era where Hem is basically gone, the band carries that mantle of lush, orchestral folk forward, and this album provides even more of what I’m looking for from this act. There are some truly beautiful songs here, some familiar-sounding choices, and overall a really nice and pleasant listen that’s unlike a lot of the folk stuff out there.
Recommendation: A must-hear this week.

Artist: The Lasso
Album: The Sound of Lasso
Quick Description: R&B/electronic producer with a solid instrumental listen.
Why You Should Listen: If you liked Elaquent but wanted more adventure...
Overall Thoughts: I talked about how much I enjoyed Elaquent a few weeks back, and The Lasso is along the same lines – R&B-infused trip-hop, instrumental-style. I’ll be honest - this is different and perhaps more ambitious than the Elaquent effort (which is not a condemnation of Elaquent’s excellent album at all), but is interesting enough where I am pretty sure there’s a whole genre of artists and albums that I’ve been unaware of until this time. This is a great listen, and maybe this might be the gateway to exploring this area of music more the way it has been for me.
Recommendation: Give this a shot.

Artist: Betty Who
Album: Betty
Quick Description: Smart pop music.
Why You Should Listen: You yearn for your 2am club days.
Overall Thoughts: As the person on the pop beat in these parts, Betty Who is someone who should invariably be more famous than she is. Still, she’s a hit in the clubs and has broken through in more dance-friendly markets, so it isn’t shocking that she comes across as more of an outsider in the US. This album has a lot of really infectious stuff going on, and a few solidly earwormy songs throughout. If Ariana is more your taste, this might be a little too odd, but if your taste in dance pop trends more toward the club bangers, this might work for you.
Recommendation: Great for pop fans.

Artist: Sanna Hannson and the Swatchmen
Album: For the Cheap Seats in the Back
Quick Description: Caberet rock from an act fast becoming a favorite.
Why You Should Listen: You yearn for your vaudeville days.
Overall Thoughts: I loved their EP from a few years back, and this is the first full-length from this act. I wish they came out 20 years ago, as this sort of indie-cabaret-rock would have probably fit right in with the Squirrel Nut Zippers/swing revival set. This is really fun, and even with some production choices I don’t love, this is a really fun record that should get more attention.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, as you'll know quickly whether it's for you.

Artist: Five Letter Word
Album: Siren
Quick Description: Great, offbeat bluegrass.
Why You Should Listen: This is a fun bluegrassy listen.
Overall Thoughts: After falling for Clara Baker’s album, I went looking for more and found her roots trio’s album that debuted in January. This bluegrassy effort is not world-changing (and is not trying to be), but there is a slightly skewed approach to the songwriting and presentation that sets it apart from the traditional aspects. The lead track, “Cast Iron Skillet,” chugs right along, the second song offers some great vocal efforts, and the rest of the album throws a number of curveballs along the way that keep things interesting and different. This is a roots-heavy week for us in some regards, but this is absolutely worth checking out.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.

Artist: Huntly
Album: Low Grade Buzz
Quick Description: Weird, electronic-based indie music.
Why You Should Listen: You wish the XX didn't take off the way they did.
Overall Thoughts: A late find for me was this debut album from an act I didn't know anything about or from. There's a lot of interesting and strange things going on with this record, all of which I loved, and the title track is both incredibly representative and yet totally different. Which, really, seems to describe this perfectly. I loved loved loved this and want to take a lot more time with it, and perhaps you will, too.
Recommendation: A great, ambitious listen.

Of note:

* The Faint - Egowerk (Never been a huge fan, but this was a fun, synthy listen.)
* The Brian Jonestown Massacre - The Brian Jonestown Massacre (Still the best Dandys-adjacent band out there.)
* CHAI - PUNK (If Puffy Amiyumi liked the Ramones more?)
* Dis Fig - PURGE (Great electronic music along the lines of Ben Frost.)
* Matmos - Plastic Anniversary (Weird electronica from the legends of the craft.)
* Keren Ann - Bleue
* Porteaeu - Water's Gate


* Bouncing Souls - Crucial Moment

Also out:

* UB40 - For the Many

Monday, March 18, 2019

Wet Dreams - "Bad Boy"

A great way to get our attention is to include the phrase "Like Motorhead Covering The Hives" in your email subject line. That quote comes from NME, and it's about Norway's Wet Dreams.

Wet Dreams is made up of members of FOAMMM, Warp Riders, De Marvells, and Death By Unga Bunga. When you see a band is named Wet Dreams, and they're being compared to Motorhead and The Hives, you pretty much know what you're going to get. "Bad Boy" is a big, loud rock song. It's a thrashy, distorted power punk song that leans a little more towards The Hives than Motorhead, but it's not quite as polished as The Hives. It's as if the polish has been worn off a little by excess use. Basically, it's impossible to not love this song.

You can watch the video for "Bad Boy" below. The debut self-titled album from Wet Dreams will be out on March 29 on Black Pop Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Wet Dreams, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Friday Freebie: Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - Hexphones

One of the great joys March brings are RPM Challenge albums, specifically the annual one released by Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys. This year brings us Hexphones. Based on a Facebook post, this is a love letter to Sickert's teenage infleunces. Here is what they had to say about it:

"HEXPHONES is my ether-trip-glitched-out-memory of being a kid listening to my headphones on the long dark bus ride to school. I was the first kid on the bus in the morning. I’d wait on the side of a highway at 6am shrouded in the cloak of music created by my headphones. The long ride would be filled with music pumped directly into my DNA; a portal to safe place inside my head.
Chaos at home and hassled at school; that long drive was freedom from everyone that saw me as something that needed to be controlled, or fixed, or disciplined for being different.

Those moments of peace and inspiration were some of the earliest sparks that set my life on fire for art.
HEXPHONES is a chance to experiment, written and recorded in the 28 days of February. That long bus ride and early inspiration was the experimental pool I dipped into to create this album. Mixing and mashing all sorts of colors and flavors into a nostalgic elixir that mirrors the frenetic feelings of discovery I had listening to Digital Underground, Marilyn Manson, Violent Femmes, PJ Harvey, Salt-N-Pepa, Radiohead, Nirvana, Cypress Hill, The Smashing Pumpkins, Onyx, Hole, Snoop, The Dead Milkmen, Bjork, Rasputina, Mudhoney, B-52’s, The Cure, NIN, Sonic Youth and a million more all swirling and exploding into hot melting stains of memory and emotion.
HEXPHONES Is dedicated to all of you on that bus with me, holding on in the darkness with art, music, and love."

First of all, that may be the greatest collection of artists ever to draw inspiration from. Secondly, their RPM Challenge releases are always great, but they typically don't feel like produced studio albums. It's almost like little practices before the "real" albums come out, like Sonic Youth's SYR series. Hexphones is a full album, and celebrates Sickert's teenage influences. "Doomsday Disco" let's their love of bands like The B-52's and hip hop fly. "Non-Binary Death Star" sounds like a more organic Nine Inch Nails album. "666" and "Siren Street" dabble in the electronic world Radiohead have lived in this century. "Twisted (They Eat the Weak)" is pure thrashy punk glory.

You can listen to "Doomsday Disco" below. Hexphones is now available for the "name your price option" over at Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys's Bandcamp. If you download for free, be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Nots - "Half Painted House"

Photo via Facebook
With Alexandra Eastburn leaving the band last year, Memphis's Nots decided to not replace her and stay a three-piece. They've also taken on a slightly new sound with the personnel change. While "Half Painted House" is still a noisy punk-ish song, it takes on this weird almost trippy feel. While Nots always have had a synth, post punk feel, this new song leans a bit more heavily in that direction. It's less aggressive, but still completely a Nots song. Not many bands can mellow out their sound a little and still be bad ass. Nots are one of the rare ones that can.

You can listen to "Half Painted House" below. 3, the new album from Nots, will be out May 10 on Goner Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Nots, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Saint Lo. - "Blueberry Fields"

Montreal's Saint Lo. have this amazingly epic indie folk sound. Their new single, "Blueberry Fields," sounds like a warm mix of Neutral Milk Hotel and The Decemberists. According to the band, the song "... is that feeling of nostalgia, like the exhale of a sigh. the constant feeling of shifting away from the past, but keeping it close as you move forward." It's beyond gorgeous, with this hazy feel that stops just short of being twee. Despite having four members, the song sounds like it uses at least a dozen instruments that come in and out as necessary. "Blueberry Fields" comes highly recommended.

You can watch the video for "Blueberry Fields" below. We Could Be, the debut album from Saint Lo., will be available on April 15. For more on Saint Lo, check them out on Facebook and Twitter. Their current tour dates are below the video.

March 11 - 17, 2019: SXSW

April 23, 2019: Toronto, Horseshoe Tavern
April 24, 2019: Kitchener, The Boathouse
April 25: Toronto, Handlebar
April 26: Windsor, Phog Lounge
April 27: Hamilton, Mills Hardware
April 28, Ottawa, Pressed
May 4th: Montreal, The Diving Bell Social Club

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Partner - "Tell You Off"

Partner's 2017 album In Search of Lost Time was a surprise hit around here, which is surprising mainly because two middle aged dads aren't exactly the target audience for "Canadian Queer Post Classic Rock." But, we were really into it. Their latest single, "Tell You Off," might be great... but I'm not sure. It's a country song, but an incredibly tongue-in-cheek country song. It reminds me of The Dead Milkmen's one song mocking country (that I can't seem to remember the name of, way to be professional...), but it's maybe not entirely mocking country? It's as twangy as can be with sampled farm animal noises, but it's maybe not fully a novelty song? I'm confused on how to feel with this one, but I'm pretty sure I love it.

You can listen to "Tell You Off" below. Saturday the 14th, the new EP from Partner, will be out April 5 on You've Changed Records. You can pre-order the EP here. For more on Partner, check out their website. Current tour dates are below the song.

April 13 - The Danforth Music Hall, Toronto ON+
April 18 - The Capitol Music Club, Saskatoon SK+
April 19 - The Starlite Room, Edmonton AB+
April 20 - The Palace Theatre, Calgary AB+
April 22 - Spiritbar, Nelson BC+
April 23 - Sapphire Nightclub, Kelowna BC+
April 25 - Cactus Jacks, Kamloops BC+
April 26 - Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC+
April 27 - Capital Ballroom, Victoria BC+
April 30 - Bo’s Bar & Grill, Red Deer AB+
May 02 - The Exchange, Regina SK+
May 03 - The Garrick, Winnipeg MB+
May 05 - The Hideout, Chicago IL
May 06 - The Cactus Club, Milwaukee WI
May 07 - UFO, Detroit MI
+ supporting Wintersleep

All Girls Arson Club - "Untitled"

Photo by Thomas Lee Griffiths
Sheffield's All Girls Arson Club only formed in March 2018, which is also when bassist Vicky Hayward and drummer India Garry started playing their instruments. Heavily inspired by Kathleen Hanna and "a growing frustration with the (over)abundance of boys in bands," the trio has just released their first single, "Untitled." "Untitled" definitely leans on the Kathleen Hanna inspiration, although there is definitely more of a sense of melody here than in most of Hanna's projects. It comes across as a more straight forward rock based version of Le Tigre's hyper dance music. The music is pretty rudimentary, but that's kind of most of the fun here. Sometimes it's great to hear a group playing just for the sheer joy of playing, and that completely defines All Girls Arson Club.

You can listen to "Untitled" below. Dark Fruits, the debut EP from All Girls Arson Club, will be out April 5 on Delicious Clam Records. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on All Girls Arson Club, check them on on Instagram.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Daniel Norgren - "Let Love Run the Game"

Photo via Facebook
The latest single from Sweden's Daniel Norgren is a beautiful song, but not really in the traditional sense. Despite not being American, "Let Love Run the Game" is one of the best Americana songs you've heard in a long while. It runs somewhere between mid-tempo and a full out ballad, and ,despite its slower tempo, has a foot stomping folk/country/Americana feel. Norgren's scratchy voice isn't truly what you would call traditional, but it fits the song perfectly, and finds its very own beauty and power by the end. "Let Love Run the Game" even brings the slightest touch of gospel in. It's truly a must listen.

You can listen to "Let Love Run the Game" below. Wooh Dang, the upcoming album from Daniel Norgren, will be out April 19 on Superpuma Records. You can pre-order the album via Superpuma Records or Bandcamp. For more on Daniel Norgren, check him out on Facebook. European tour dates are below the song.

April 27 - Pustervik - Göteborg, SE (SOLD OUT)
April 28 - Cirkus - Stockholm, SE (SOLD OUT)
April 29 - Åhaga - Borås, SE
April 30 - Tonhallen - Sundsvall, SE
May 2 - Kulturens hus - Luleå, SE
May 3  - Norrlandsoperan - Umeå, SE (SOLD OUT)
May 4 - Gävles Konserthus - Gävle, SE (SOLD OUT)
May 5 - Konserthuset - Göteborg, SE (SOLD OUT)
May 18 - Vega - Copenhagen, DK
May 19 - Uebel & Gefaehrlich - Hamburg, DE
May 20 - Paradiso - Amsterdam, NL
May 21 - De Roma - Antwerpen, BE
May 23 - Stadtgarten - Cologne, DE
May 24 - Festsaal Kreuzberg - Berlin, DE
May 26 - Sentrum Scene - Oslo, NO
July 27 - Burg Herzberg - Breitenbach am Herzberg, DE
July 30 - Brudenell Social Club - Leeds, U.K.
July 31 - Bush Hall - London, U.K.
August 8-10 - Way Out West - Göteborg, SE
August 16 - Parkenfestivalen - Bødo, NO (SOLD OUT)
August 27 - Ampere - Munich, DE
August 28 - Mascotte - Zurich, CH
August 30 - Into The Great Wide Open Festival, Vlieland, NL (SOLD OUT)
August 31 - Bruis Festival, Maastricht, NL

Nolan the Ninja featuring Jaye Prime - "Oranges"

Nolan the Ninja is one of the perfect rappers for those of us that miss old school hip hop. He drops the whole R&B chorus blueprint that has dominated hip hop for the past twenty five years. "Oranges" has a wonderfully sparse production. I would compare it to early Wu-Tang Clan, but it lacks that menace and sense of danger you heard in Enter the 36 Chambers. The music has an upbeat, nearly bouncy feel to it, so maybe we can go with Wu-Tang meets De La Soul? There are those of us that will think that sounds like perfection. Trust me, it is.

You can listen to "Oranges" below. SPORTEE, the new album from Nolan the Ninja, will be out April 19 on Mello Music Group. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Nolan the Ninja, check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

CRABE - "Festival"

Hailing from Quebec, CRABE's new single is an interesting one. Sung entirely in French, the song is about the lack of noisy and crazy music in Quebec's festival circuit. (At least, according to the email they sent us. I speak zero French, so I can't confirm myself.) "Festival" is an outrageously noisy and disjointed song, barreling into multiple directions at once and sometimes sounding like you're standing in the middle of an arcade. This is all while somehow maintaining being a rock song, and one that has an odd groove all its own. It's completely unique and challenging, but fantastic for those reasons. 

You can listen to "Festival" below. Notre-Dame De La Vie Intérieure, the new album from CRABE, will be out May 3 on Pantoum Records. For more on CRABE, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

First Listen: New Releases for 8 March

Album of the Week:

Artist: Stella Donnelly
Album: Beware of the Dogs
Quick Description: Debut album from a very buzzworthy artist.
Why You Should Listen: We've loved what we've heard from her so far.
Overall Thoughts: We hopped on the bandwagon with Thrush Metal early, and to say this was one of our most anticipated releases this year would be an understatement. I don’t really know what I expected from this, but an upbeat, direct, almost-British-indie feeling record was an unexpected surprise for me. This is a really fun record in a lot of ways even if the subject matter in the songs is not always the same tone, and it’s something I want to spend a lot more time with if only because there are clearly so many layers to this. This won’t work for everyone, as I can imagine many listeners being turned off by the tone and presentation, but if you are willing to give this the proper time? This is a real gem.
Recommendation: Best of the week.

Artist: Xeno and Oaklander
Album: Hypnos
Quick Description: New album from the synthy duo.
Why You Should Listen: You pine for an easier, newer wavey time.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard from this electronic act since I tripped up on them. This absolutely has an 80s synth rock vibe to it that’s going to be VERY appealing to a lot of listeners, and as someone who feels a little tired of that aesthetic as of late, this feels really energized and exciting in contrast to some acts stuck in a rut. So I’m not saying to get your legwarmers out or anything, but there’s a lot to love here.
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.

Artist: Potty Mouth
Album: SNAFU
Quick Description: Great alt-rock by way of Northampton, MA.
Why You Should Listen: This is the dream of alt-rock realized in this early year.
Overall Thoughts: We somehow collectively missed this one last week, and I’m really glad we didn’t completely miss out (especially with how long we’ve been waiting for a new full-length). This is pitch-perfect indie pop with a solid alt/punk angle involved, and I’m not sure there’s a single song in here that isn’t rock solid. This is polished enough where I can’t help but think this might be a play for greater stardom, and I’m fine with that – you’re going to listen to this and think of bands like Ash, like Veruca Salt, and you’re probably going to love every moment.
Recommendation: Probably the best of last week.

Artist: SASAMI
Quick Description: Debut album from the ex-Cherry Glazerr guitarist.
Why You Should Listen: This is a really solid and complete record.
Overall Thoughts: I have been waiting for this one ever since she left Cherry Glazerr. An ambitious, sonically-interesting indie rock record, there is a lot here to take in, and while I cannot say for sure that I love everything I am hearing here, there also is not a lot like it out there and I have a feeling a lot of this will be growing on me. It’s a very specific and singular vision offered in this debut solo record, and it’s the type of listen I tend to gravitate toward. Hopefully you will, too.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Clara Baker
Album: Things to Burn
Quick Description: Great, quiet singer-songwriter stuff.
Why You Should Listen: Straddles the familiar-yet-unique line perfectly.
Overall Thoughts: A lot of the roots music I find myself stuck to has sparse instrumentation and a lot of open space for the sound to play around in. Some non-roots acts try to remain sparse but the production keeps everything constrained anyway, so this album hit me as a real and genuine surprise. An empty and deliberate-sounding record, the result here is that every moment feels important and necessary. It’s a wonderful listen in many regards even if the mystery and the fragile nature of everything doesn’t quite work for you. I am very glad Ken sent this one over, as it’s something truly special.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: Dido
Album: Still On My Mind
Quick Description: Latest album by a pop favorite.
Why You Should Listen: Dido has been sneaky great for a long time.
Overall Thoughts: I could spend a lot of time on Dido (and maybe will someday) but the fact remains that Dido has never been bad, and is still great. “White Flag” is an underrated pop gem of its time, and I remember seeing her sometime in 2001 along with Travis (and Matthew Jay on a side stage!) and being super impressed. She never puts music out enough, but when she does, it’s great. The new album continues her crisp, clear vocals with understated instrumentation throughout, but there’s just something about her that remains compelling and immediate no matter what. “Take You Home” had me nearly immediately, but “Hurricanes” opens the album with a track that feels different and yet still classic. I can’t complain at all – I fear this might get overlooked, as her aesthetic has never fully fit into any specific era and especially doesn’t match anything right now, but seriously: Ken and I both admitted to each other that she was always good, and this album definitely proves that mainstream adult music doesn’t have to be pigeonholed as such.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Rosie Tucker
Album: Never Not Never Not Never Not
Quick Description: Solid indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: This is really fun and upbeat.
Overall Thoughts: Of the many female indie musicians out there, Rosie Tucker is putting herself more in the oddball territory in some regards. Nontraditional song structures in many cases, but other times still really impressive and addictive hooks throughout the rest. An energetic record from start to finish, songs like "Habit," "Lauren," and "Spinster Cycle" show a lot of interesting range for an album that I feel like could become a favorite this year as it is for this week.
Recommendation: One of the better releases this week.

Of note:

* The Coathangers - The Devil You Know (Very subdued compared to their previous album and some of the releases in the last year, especially compared to Potty Mouth.)
* The Wild Reeds - Cheers (Poppy and infectious in many ways.)
* Ryan Dugre - The Humors (Gorgeous instrumental guitar.)
* Sigrid - Sucker Punch (Setting the bar for pop in 2019 (you heard me, Ariana). Lots of great stuff here, but don’t miss “Sucker Punch,” especially.)
* Meat Puppets - Dusty Notes (Believe it or not, this is better than you think.)
* Alice Phoebe Lou - Paper Castles (Solid and strange in many regards.)
* The Gala - Bad News
* Patty Griffin - Patty Griffin
* Leggy - Let Me Know Your Moon
* The Gentlemens - Triage


* Shallow Pool - Spring (Very nu-metal at times, but worth a listen.)
* Hannah Georgas - Imprints (An interesting collection of covers.)
* Call Me Loop - Drama
* ANNAVR - II: Vibration
* Underworld - Drift Episode 2 - ATOM

Also out:

* Take Us Home - Boston Roots Reggae: 1979 to 1988
* Amanda Palmer - There Will Be No Intermission
* David Gray - Gold in a Brass Age
* Foals - Part 1 Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost

Monday, March 11, 2019

Heather Rose in Clover - "Satellites"

Providence's Heather Rose in Clover are basically tailor made for us here at If It's Too Loud... Their latest single, "Satellite," openly flaunts its 90's influences. "Satellite" is packed with mid-90's alternative power pop, and I'm hearing similarities to bands like Fuzzy, Velocity Girl, and Belly all over this song. It's filled with swirling, slightly distorted guitars and some insanely catchy hooks. Heather Rose in Clover explains the song like this: 

"'Satellites' was written as an expression of that deep-seeded longing to reconnect with those we have lost through distance, time, and even death. Inspired by Houdini's fascination with the afterlife, coupled with the extraordinary relationship that exists between mathematics and outer space, Satellites is rich in imagery of hope, searching and discovery."

You can listen to "Satellites" below. Canyons, the debut album from Heather Rose in Clover, will be released on March 30. The band is celebrating its release with an album release party at Askew in Providence with a free all ages show featuring Weakened Friends! For more on the band, check out their website.

The Gotobeds - "Calquer the Hound"

Photo by Shawn Brackbill
Hailing from Pittsburgh, The Gotobeds exude a raw power on their latest single, "Calquer the Hound." It's a high energy garage rocker with an industrial feel. The song is just about as noisy as you can get while still keeping to the rules of melody and normal song structure. That's not to say that "Calquer the Hound" is a pure noise rock track. There is plenty of time where it's almost a normal, straightforward rock song. Almost. But behind the entire length of the song lies the menace of noise, just waiting to break free.

You can listen to "Calquer the Hound" below. The track features Rob Henry of Kim Phuc and Evan Richards of The City Buses. Their upcoming album, Debt Begins at 30, also features guest appearances by members of Mission of Burma, Pavement, Downtown Boys, Silkworm, and more. It will be out May 31 on Sub Pop Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on The Gotobeds, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Quelle Chris feat Cavalier, Bilal Salaam, Eldar Djangirov, & James Acaster - "Straight Shot"

The latest single from Quelle Chris is a rare gorgeous hip hop song without any R&B involved. It involves guest rappers Cavalier and Bilal Salaam, but also has Grammy nominated pianist Eldar Djangirov and comedian James Acaster. Just to show how different "Straight Shot" is from the vast majority of hip hop out there today, here is what Quelle Chris has to say about the song: 

Straight Shot is one of those ideas that reached out to me, we got along and I simply showed it around town. The chorus, poem at the end and basic piano progression literally came to me in two separate dreams. My first thoughts were “I gotta introduce you to Bilal Salaam and James Acaster. Though I’m not sure just how to yet.” Then as we hung out I knew I needed to first introduce the idea to Chris Keys. Now initially I thought it was an interlude but quickly realized while hanging with Chris it was a song. After writing the first verse I knew I needed to invite Cavalier over to meet our new friend and felt it was time to also introduce it to Bilaal and James. And, just as I’d imagined, everyone got along with the song swimmingly. Finally Chris called on his friend, Eldar Djangirov, who tied everything together with a piano solo that seemed to effortlessly say as much as, if not more, than I can put into words about the entire song and our time together. The rest, as they say, is today.

Not too many rappers refer to their songs as separate identities that they interact with. That's what Tori Amos does, which gives you an idea of how great "Straight Shot" is. Quelle Chris is a unique voice in modern hip hop, throwing back to the feel of classic rap but still moving forward in the genre.

You can listen to "Straight Shot" below. Guns, the new album from Quelle Chris, will be out March 29 on Mello Music Group. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Quelle Chris, check out his Bandcamp.

Friday Freebie: Death and The Poetess - On Ghoulie Isle

One of my favorite things about March are all of the RPM challenge albums that start popping up in the first half of the month. The first is from Death and The Poetess, aka Blake Girndt (The I Want You, Walter Sickert & The Army of Toys) and Jojo Lazar (Burlesque Poetess, Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys). The duo just released their first offering, On Ghoulie Isle. They describe their music as "crypt-folk," but it's much more fun than gloomy. As you would expect from... well... everything about this project, it's quite odd. The album is quite bare bones, with the only instruments credited as being used are a classical guitar, ukulele, flute, and a "tiny 1990's yamaha keyboard." As fun as it is, there is, of course, a dark feel, especially in a song like "Split the Lark." As their Bandcamp describes the album: "It's as though the crypt-folk mourning-wear fancying duo was dropped on a Coney Island-esque boardwalk in the Interwar Period last century, armed with nothing but their instruments, some parasols, and a copy of Emily Dickinson's poetry. Vaudevillian busking-tunes ensues."

You can listen to "Necropolis By the Sea" below. On Ghoulie Isle, the debut album from Death and The Poetess, is available now for the "name your price" option on Bandcamp. If you do download for free, be sure to follow them on Facebook.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Green River Festival Announces More Artists for 2019!

Green River Festival is looking to break out in 2019. The five artists they previously announced (First Aid Kit, The Wood Brothers, Tyler Childers, The Devil Makes Three, and Rhiannon Giddens) and a great base for any festival. Today they announced more of their line up, and... this one will be legendary. 

In addition to First Aid Kit, Friday will also include folk rockers Parsonsfield and indie folder Heather Maloney. Joining Saturday are world music legend Angelique Kidjo (someone I probably would never see if it wasn't for a festival like this), rocker Low Cut Connie, one man band sensation The Suitcase Junket, Boston roots staples Session Americana, and Boston's fuzzed out Americana sensations The Stone Coyotes. Sunday now includes The Record Company (which is a huge get for a smaller festival), neo-soul group The Suffers, and Cedric Burnside, grandson of R.L. Burnside. 

The Green River Festival will take place July 12-14 on the campus of Greenfield State College in Greenfield, MA. For more information and tickets please check out their website. Hopefully we'll see you there.