Monday, August 19, 2019

Lightning Bolt - "Air Conditioning"

Picture via Facebook
I just discovered that Lightning Bolt have been around for twenty five years, which seems impossible to me. But then I remember that my introduction to them (seeing them play with Sonic Youth at Lupo's in Providence) was almost seventeen years ago, and now I feel ancient. Twenty Five years put Lightning Bolt into the classic rock category, and their new single, "Air Conditioning," kind of reflects that. In the past, vocals were always in the background of the clusterfuck created by guitar and drums. With this new song, vocals are more up front, and there is almost some semblance of song structure? But long time fans of the band have nothing to worry about. This may be the closest Lightning Bolt have come to Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, but it's still Lightning Bolt. By their standards it's a straightforward rock song, but their standards are quite different from most bands. "Air Conditioning" is still an out of control burst of pure noise fury.

You can listen to "Air Conditioning" below. Sonic Citadel, the upcoming album from Lightning Bolt, will be out October 11 on Thrill Jockey. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Lightning Bolt, check out their website.

Live Shows: Spirit Family Reunion, Sabine McCalla at the Columbus Theatre, Providence, RI

After not getting out to any live shows for a number of years, hitting two just this past summer is an impressive feat in and of itself. Seeing a favorite in an old restored theater? Even better.

First, I had never set eyes on the Columbus Theatre before, and seeing that Spirit Family Reunion was playing at the same venue Jenny Lewis and Rhett Miller are booked at confused me. Turns out that the Columbus has a unique and awesome setup where the balcony level has been converted to a second, more intimate stage. Perfect size for a band like Spirit Family Reunion, and perfect for the type of atmosphere I was hoping for from the show.

Opening act was Sabine McCalla. Accompanied by her dog (who was a big hit on its own), McCalla gave us a set sprinkled with old music and new songs from her Folk EP alike. To say that she was great would be an understatement - McCalla had a presence on stage that was impossible to ignore, with one of the most gorgeous voices I've hears in some time and a presentation (solo with electric guitar) that complements the entire presentation nicely. I did not expect to be blown away the way I was, but those who opted not to come early missed out.

Spirit Family Reunion followed up with a fun, raucous set not only full of energy on its own, but one that successfully shifted itself to fit the mood of the crowd. Ken and I first saw the band open for David Wax Museum in Boston back in 2011 at the Arlington Street Church, and I fell in love immediately. I saw them a second time shortly after, but then my live show hiatus began. Since then, the band has shuffled some members out, added some members in, and the result is a really tight squad of musicians doing some of their best work in real time.

This was a truly spectacular performance. A mix of old songs along with selections from their new album, the band was excited and energized throughout the whole thing. Lots of seat dancing led to some setlist changes, a lot of humor and warmth between the performers and the audience, and even an impromptu dance party in the latter half of the show capped off an evening that was really special. The final few songs featured McCalla on their cover of the protest tune "It Isn't Nice" and a handful of other selections, and the merch table was very busy at the end of the night, which I hope bodes well for the band as well.

I think their new album is really solid and will be a favorite this year. What is great is not only the extra vibrancy that the live performance gives the new material, but how the trend of the band from a lo-fi four piece you could picture on a rural front porch to a legitimate act with six members and a polished presentation. Even something like having washboard percussion, which can often come across as hokey or unserious, feels essential to the overall package here (and, on a few songs, could legitimately be considered a feature player). Lead singer/guitarist Nick Panken had full command of the room, and Maggie Carson's banjo playing continues to be the underrated secret sauce of this band for me. The tone set with the enthusiasm of the band and the crowd eating up every moment made for what is probably one of my favorite live experiences period.

Spirit Family Reunion is finishing up some dates now, but I hope they're able to hit the road again soon. Don't miss them if they're in your area, because they're probably at the peak of their game right now. Ride Free came out last week and is available everywhere; check out my review last week.

Sabine McCalla has a few irons in the fire, but her Folk EP is available digitally.

Friday, August 16, 2019

BODEGA - "Shiny New Model"

Photo by Kristen Kay Thoen
Our favorite art party rockers out of Brooklyn are back with a new song! BODEGA have just released a video for "Shiny New Model," which is off an upcoming EP. While the songs off last year's Endless Scroll were a wonderfully weird mix of hip hop, post punk, and folk, "Shiny New Model" is almost just a straightforward song. By most bands this might be an odd little song, but for BODEGA it's surprisingly normal. It's almost like a post punk top 40 ballad, but maybe just a tiny bit faster, and with a killer guitar solo.

You can watch the video for "Shiny New Model" below. Shiny New Model, the EP, will be out October 11 on What's Your Rupture. You can pre-order the EP here. For more on BODEGA, check them out on Facebook and Instagram

Joel Paterson Covers The Beatles

There's nothing I have to write about the importance of The Beatles and their influence on the entire world. Vintage aficionado Joel Paterson agrees, and he's set to release an entire album of Beatles covers. The first single is a cover of "Michelle." "Michelle" isn't very high on my list of personal favorite Beatles songs, but this cover is spectacular. It's vintage sounding and instrumental, with guitars being the focus. There's a bit of a surf edge to it, and it's fun to hear a song we're all so familiar with reimagined this way. 

JD McPherson wrote the liner notes for the album, and he describes it this way: “Each of Joel’s interpretations of these songs are concise, genre-bending, stylish tone poems, mixing both Joel’s and the Beatles’ own century-spanning inspirations into one zesty musical stew."

You can listen to Joel Peterson's version of "Michelle" below. Let It Be Guitar! Joel Paterson Plays The Beatles will be out September 20 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Joel Paterson, check out his website.

Live Shows: The Queers, The Prozacs, and Dirty Walter and The Smelltones, Ralph's Rock Diner, Worcester, MA 8/14/19

Even though I've been a fan of The Queers for over twenty years, I had only seen them once before, and that was opening for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at a recent Hometown Throwdown. I had yet to see their own show, which simply doesn't make sense for a (semi) local band that has been around seemingly forever. Once they announced a headlining show less than an hour from my house, in a venue with its own parking lot no less, I simply had to go.

As I walked up the stairs into the upstairs area of Ralph's, I could hear one of the opening bands playing a cover of "In the Still of the Night." I'm a sucker for a punk rock cover of a classic oldie, so I was pretty happy. Turns out Dirty Walter and The Smelltones play nothing but covers of oldies. They also busted out versions of "Sherry" by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, "Please Mr. Postman" by The Marvelettes, and "It's My Party" by Leslie Gore. They also crammed nuggets of Nirvana and Metallica into some of these songs for good measure. A funny thing happened during their set. I kept bouncing between enjoying it and being annoyed by the gimmick. A song would start, I'd be annoyed that it was yet another one of these feeling that the joke was old, but by the end of the song I'd be bopping away and fully enjoying myself. Somehow Dirty Walter and The Smelltones pulled off an entire set of oldies punk covers through sheer charm and fun.

The Prozacs were next, and were basically the exact kind of band you'd expect to open for The Queers. They're a bratty punk band that heavily leans towards the pop end of punk. The band took the stage with 3/4 wearing their own shirts. It took a while, but they very slowly won me over. Are The Prozacs a good band? Not really. Their ode to Jack the Ripper, "The Ripper," includes the lyrics "Hey Jack / Jack the Ripper / What you did was really fucked up." But you don't always have to be a good band when you're as fun as The Prozacs ended up being, and sometimes that's all you really need.

Then The Queers took the stage. You know what you're getting at a Queers show at this point. It was a just short of an hour burst of fast heavily Ramones and Beach Boys inspired bratty, obnoxious punk rock, which is what a packed Ralph's wanted. This was an audience of die hard fans yelling along to just about all their songs. You forget how many simply great songs The Queers have: "I Met Her At the Rat," "This Place Sucks," "Love Love Love," "Monster Zero," "Night of the Living Queers," and "Granola Head" were all played to a great ovation. The band even brought out original member Wimpy Rutherford for a rare treat to sing a few songs like "Kicked Out of the Webelos." By the time they got to their biggest hit, "Punk Rock Girls," I had almost forgot the song existed. It says a lot when a band could have skipped their most well known song without the audience knowing or caring.

Apologies to Time Out Timmy, the very first band to go on. I missed your set completely, but a four band bill on a Wednesday night is a lot to ask of this aging hipster. I promise to catch you next time.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Nickel&Rose - "Another Man"

Milwaukee's Nickel&Rose aren't shying away from the political on their new single. "Another Man" is about the shooting of black men by police in America. It's an incredibly direct and powerful soulful Americana song that includes the lyrics “Twenty-first century don’t mean a thing to me because it might as well be 1910” and “They killed another man/ Police pulled a gun on me when I was only Seventeen/ I could have been that man.” This heavy message is delivered by a great song. "Another Man" could be about anything and you'd be sucked in and paying attention. The subject matter just makes this song even more vital. 

You can listen to "Another Man" below. For more on Nickel&Rose, check out their website.

Skyzoo & Pete Rock - "It's All Good"

While younger artists working with their musical heroes has been common in the past decade or so for rock and folk artists, there hasn't been much in the world of hip hop. Skyzoo is changing that by working with the legendary Pete Rock on a collaborative album. I'm not that familiar with Skyzoo, but Pete Rock's work with C.L. Smooth helped soundtrack my teenage years. Their first single together is out, and "It's All Good" is, quite simply, great. It doesn't hurt that the beat for "It's All Good" comes from Rock's secret stash and is from around the time (1994) that Rock was working on Nas's beyond classic Illmatic. 

Skyzoo has this to say about the album:

“The idea for Retropolitan came from a feeling of necessity. The album is both a love letter and a wake up call to the city of New York. In an age where hype dominates reality, FOMO supersedes integrity and gentrification has supplanted tradition, this album is screaming for NYC to wake TF up – even as Pete & myself thank the city for all it’s done for us at the same time. Wake up from accepting your culture being stripped away from you. Wake up from believing that the people who aren’t cut from the cloth you created know your fabric better than you. Wake up from denying the change that’s taken place within you, told to be for your betterment, when it’s solely for theirs, and at your expense and detriment. Wake up from ignoring the identity you once had, the community you once built, the strength you once manifested, all to take on that of one you assumed would expand your reach, when all it’s doing is spreading you comically thin. Dear New York, all five boroughs of you, thank you for all you’ve done. You’re the greatest. Now sit back, listen, and wake TF up."

You can listen to "It's All Good" below. Retropolitan, the upcoming album from Skyzoo and Pete Rock, will be out September 20 on Mello Music Group. You can pre-order it at Skyzoo's Bandcamp

Le Butcherettes Cover Buzzcocks

Photo by Adela Loconte
We love cover songs here at If It's Too Loud..., so we try to bring them to you as much as possible. Last week saw the release of Le Butcherettes covering the Buzzcocks's iconic "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)." Since Le Butcherettes bring the kind of noise that leads to touring with bands like the Melvins, I expected an aggressive, noisy cover. Their version of "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" is very true to the original. If anything, it's a little more tame and New Wave than early pop punk. Of course, Teri Gender Bender's voice is her voice, so there are some Le Butcherettes moments from that as well as some nosier guitar parts towards the end, but it's still a very true to the original cover.

You can listen to Le Butcherettes version of "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)" below. The song is available via Rise Records here. For more on Le Butcherettes, check out their website.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Pony in the Pancake - "Summer Has a Way"

Photo by Pony in the Pancake
I don't normally equate Albany, NY with sunshine and summer vibes, but Pony in the Pancake could change that. "Summer Has a Way" is this great laid back, chilled out summer vibe. It's all jangly guitars and killer synth riffs mixed with just the right amount of surf rock. It's a bizarre (in a good way) mix of indie pop and psychedelia. The band says about the song: 

"Summer has a way. It does. It sets you apart from other seasons. Summer is Majesty.  It reminds you that perfection exists.  It has a way. But that, you already know.  You wish you could capture that moment forever.  The Moon sets.  The Music dies.  The Waves crash.  The Sun Shines. Summer.  It lets you know."

You can listen to "Summer Has a Way" below. Summer Sun, the new album from Pony in the Pancake, will be out September 20 on Five Kill Records. You can pre-order the album at Bandcamp. For more on Pony in the Pancake, check them out on Facebook

Big Thief - "Not"

Confession time: As much as I absolutely loved Big Thief's 2016 debut Masterpiece, I just wasn't able to get into Capacity or U.F.O.F. Those albums were fine, but they just didn't grab me the way their first album did. I know, I know... I'm probably wrong. Somehow they're set to release a fourth album in the fall, and if the first single is any indication, I'm going to be very happy with this new one. "Not" reminds me of Masterpiece. It goes back to that beautiful yet noisy rock epics I came to love from Big Thief. "Not" sounds like it could break apart at any moment, but it keeps on chugging along, gaining momentum without the tempo speeding up. Plus, it climaxes with one of the most epic J Mascis worthy guitar solos I've heard in years. 

You can listen to "Not" below. Two Hands, the upcoming album from Big Thief, will be available October 11 via 4AD. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Big Thief, check out their website. Current tour dates are below the song.

Wed. Aug 14 - Saint-malo, FR @ Route du Rock
Fri. Aug 16 - Hasselt, BE @ Pukkelpop Festival
Sat. Aug. 17 - Wales, UK @Green Man Festival
Mon. Aug. 19 - London, UK @ Bush Hall
Wed. Oct. 9 - Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
Thu. Oct. 10 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Fri. Oct. 11 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Oct. 12 - South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
Sun. Oct. 13 - Boston, MA @ Wilbur Theatre
Tue. Oct. 15 - Montreal, QC @ La Tulipe (SOLD OUT)
Wed. Oct. 16 - Toronto, ON @ Phoenix Concert Theatre (SOLD OUT)
Thu. Oct. 17 - Detroit, MI @ Majestic Theatre
Fri. Oct. 18 - Chicago, IL @ Metro (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Oct. 19 - Madison, WI @ The Sylvee
Mon. Oct. 21 - Minneapolis, MN @ First Avenue
Thu. Oct. 24 - Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
Fri. Oct. 25 - Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
Sat. Oct. 26 - Seattle, WA @ Moore Theatre
Mon. Oct. 28 - San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore (SOLD OUT)
Tue. Oct. 29 - Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
Wed. Oct. 30 - Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
Fri. Nov. 1 - Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
Sat. Nov. 2 - Albuquerque, NM @ Sister
Mon. Nov. 4 - Austin, TX @ Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheatre
Tue. Nov. 5 - Dallas, TX @ Trees
Thu. Nov. 7 - Atlanta, GA @ Variety Playhouse
Fri. Nov. 8 - Saxapahaw, NC @ Haw River Ballroom (SOLD OUT)
Sat. Nov. 9 - Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
Sun. Nov. 10 - Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Mon. Nov. 11 - Columbus, OH @ The Athenaeum Theatre
Mon. Feb. 17 - Lisbon, PT @ LAV
Tue. Feb. 18 - Porto, PT @ Hard Club
Wed. Feb. 19 - Madrid, ES @ Joy Eslava
Thu. Feb. 20 - Barcelona, ES @ La 2 de Apolo
Sat. Feb. 22 - Bologna, IT @ Locomotiv
Sun. Feb. 23 - Milan, IT @ Magnolia
Mon. Feb. 24 - Lyon, FR @ Epicerie Moderne
Tue. Feb. 25 - Paris, FR @ Cabaret Sauvage
Thu. Feb. 27 - London, UK @ Hammersmith Apollo
Sat. Feb. 29 - Nottingham, UK @ Rock City
Sun. Mar. 1 - Manchester, UK @ Albert Hall
Mon. Mar. 2 - Glasgow, UK @ Old Fruitmarket
Thu. Mar. 5 - Brussels, BE @ AB Ballroom
Fri. Mar. 6 - Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso
Sat. Mar. 7 - Cologne, DE @ Luxor
Sun. Mar. 8 - Hamburg, DE @ Uebel & Gefährlich
Mon. Mar. 9 - Berlin, DE @ Astra
Wed. Mar. 11 - Copenhagen, DK @ Vega Main Hall
Thu. Mar. 12 - Gotheburg, SE @ Pustervik
Fri. Mar. 13 - Stockholm, SE @ Debaser
Sat. Mar. 14 - Olso, NO @ Rockefeller
Sun. Mar. 15 - Aarhus, DK @ Voxhall

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

The Messthetics - "Drop Foot"

The Messthetics are quickly becoming our favorite improvised jazz/punk band featuring Brendan Canty and Joe Lally formerly of Fugazi. Their latest single, "Drop Foot," features a slightly bigger sound. It's a brisk song, which you would expect for the punk side of things, and there is quite a bit of noodling for the jazz side of it. But "Drop Foot" has a big sound to it, almost in a classic rock kind of way. In fact, the first 45 seconds or so has a hippie/jam band vibe. After that is over, the noise truly begins.

You can listen to "Drop Foot" below. Anthropocosmic Nest, the new 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.

First Listen: New Releases for 9 August

Things appear to be picking up for the fall...

Artist: Spirit Family Reunion
Album: Ride Free
Quick Description: First album in far too long from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Spirit Family Reunion is criminally underrated.
Overall Thoughts: At this point, can we just call Spirit Family Reunion the best kept secret in roots/folk? From the moment Ken and I saw them open for David Wax Museum back at the church in Boston, they have consistently put out some of the best music in their genre, and after a long break and some lineup shuffling? As far as I’m concerned, they haven’t missed a step. There’s not a missed moment on this record, and it feels as pure and authentic as ever.
Recommendation: Do not miss this album – it’s not only the best thing out this week, but perhaps one of the best records of this year.

Artist: Lilith
Album: Safer Off
Quick Description: Long-awaited debut from some indie alt rockers.
Why You Should Listen: This is a solid album with a lot going for it.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been waiting on this album for some time, and it pretty much delivers. The sort of female-fronted alt-rock that has been ruling the indie airwaves around these parts as brought us to Lilith, an act that keeps it largely midtempo and introspective throughout its runtime to solid results. There’s a lot to love here, with a key highlight being "G.O.Y.T." I’m just as excited to listen to this again as I am to see where the next step ends up.
Recommendation: One of the best this week.

Artist: Marika Hackman
Album: Any Human Friend
Quick Description: New album from an alt-rock singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Hackman took a big step forward with this album.
Overall Thoughts: How is she not famous on the level of artists like KT Tunstall or Sara Barrieles? That’s the question I asked repeatedly throughout this album, which has a great singer-songwriter sensibility but then has songs like “I’m Not Where You Are,” or “Conventional Ride,” or “Hand Solo,” any of which should really be ruling the adult alternative charts. I really liked her last album, but this is such a leap forward it’s almost a shock. I was excited already, but this is a really great listen that should not be allowed to get lost in the shuffle?
Recommendation: A must hear.

Artist: Infinity Crush
Album: Virtual Heaven
Quick Description: Quiet, delicate singer-songwritery folk.
Why You Should Listen: This album surprised me over and over again.
Overall Thoughts: Every so often I add an album to my list based on the cover alone, and I felt like this would be a pretty interesting listen based on initial presentation. What I didn’t expect was something so stark and so fascinating. There’s a fragility to this that is only magnified by the instrumentation throughout. I don’t know if this is something truly different, but it sure sounds like it and that goes a long way for me.
Recommendation: Don’t sleep on this one.

Artist: Purple Mountains
Album: Purple Mountains
Quick Description: Now-final album from David Berman.
Why You Should Listen: Listen as a tribute, but listen also because it's good.
Overall Thoughts: We missed this one from the former Silver Jews frontman, but given his tragic suicide last week I felt it necessary to take a listen. The context of the time (especially with some of the early tracks) feel especially haunting on a listen, and the album ends up having an additional amount of sadness as a result. While this album might hit differently a month ago or with proper distance, for now it is an interesting work with a lot more weight.
Recommendation: Give this a listen if you can.

Artist: Smooth Hound Smith
Album: Dog in a Manger
Quick Description: Great rootsy music with a mainstream feel.
Why You Should Listen: This album throws a few curveballs, all of which are great.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't want to leave this out this week, but if you're into the sort of newer country with an alternative/classic flair, this needs to hit your rotation. It won't be for everyone, but it's a listen that I'm glad Ken sent over because I enjoyed it so much. Looking forward to spending more time with it.
Recommendation: Another quality listen.

Of note:

* Beth Bombara - Evergreen (Solid, mainstream-friendly alt-country)
* The Regrettes - How Do You Love? (A good listen even if it’s not up to their debut)
* Ra Ra Riot - Superbloom (Typical quality from an indie mainstay)
* Feeder - Tallulah (A little dated, but better than it has any right to be)
* Che Apalache - Rearrange My Heart (Reminds me of David Wax Museum and I am here for it.)
* Chris Carroll and Adam Carroll - Good Farmer
* Seeker Lover Keeper - Wild Seeds
* Oompa - Cleo
* Ainslie Wills - All You Have Is All You Need
* P.P. Arnold - The New Adventures of... P.P. Arnold


* Snow Patrol - Reworked (EP 1)
* Olivia Lane - The One
* Clara Bond - Crown
* Rudimental - Distinction EP
* UV Rays - The Right Stuff


* Maybe April - The Other Side
* Pete Yorn - Caretakers
* Marc Cohn and The Blind Boys of Alabama - Work to Do
* Matt Muse - Love and Nappyness
* Mutlu - Good Trouble
* Bon Iver - i,i

Monday, August 12, 2019

Jason Hawk Harris - "The Smoke and the Stars"

Photo via Facebook
At this point I think Jason Hawk Harris has officially reached Next Big Thing status. "The Smoke and the Stars" is the third single from his upcoming album, and all three are wildly different, to the point that you could think they were from different artists. "Cussing at the Light" was a fairly typical alt-country song, but with a bit more showmanship. "I'm Afraid" was described by us as 100% country and 100% punk. "The Smoke and the Stars" is a straight up power ballad. It's not a country power ballad, although there is plenty of country in it. This is almost an 80's style power ballad, but updated and nowhere near as cheesy. An artist that can make music this diverse, and nail an earnest power ballad that can appeal to literally everyone? Jason Hawk Harris is someone special.

You can listen to "The Smoke and the Stars" below. Love & the Dark, the upcoming album from Jason Hawk Harris, will be out August 23 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Jason Hawk Harris, check out his website.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Forgotten(?) Fridays: Far Too Many Words About Tool

I remember not initially being into Tool when I learned of them in high school. Fully immersed in my R.E.M./Toad the Wet Sprocket-style alt-rock combined with a burgeoning love of electronica meant that I typically only hit up the WAAF-style stuff when I had exhausted the other radio stations. Furthermore, with basically no interest in metal, there was nothing significant to lure me in.

“But Jeff, Tool is different,” friends would tell me. Yeah, there were the heavier topics from Undertow and all, but allegedly Ænima was this sort of transcendent conceptual masterpiece that I really needed to reconsider even if I was sick of hearing “46&2” all the time.

I don’t remember when the switch flipped for me exactly, but something definitely changed at some stage and I became a fan. Maybe it was the nods to cultural touchstones I had learned to dabble in from R.E.M.’s commonplace namedropping. Maybe it was because I thought the idea of a cookie recipe recited in the character of an angry German dictator was hilarious. Maybe it was just so different from what I generally enjoyed that it was a nice way to mix it up.

I ended up seeing Tool at whatever Great Woods was in September 2001 (a few weeks after the terrorist attacks) and I remember my friends and I being a little freaked out each time a plane went overhead. I remember Fantomas opening, and that I was pretty excited about that because Mike Patton is awesome. I remember Tool being, well, a fairly uninteresting live band overall (especially after seeing A Perfect Circle open for Nine Inch Nails a year earlier). At some point I moved on, 10,000 Days came out and I remember basically nothing from that record at all, and then Tool basically went away for a decade and a half.

Part of what spurred this blog on was the concept of two middle-aged guys working through our love of the music that got us to love music while also keeping up with the newer stuff when most of our peers have moved onto more serious or “adult” hobbies. Tool, somewhat as a result, has rarely made it into my CD player as I aged, and since I’ve been listening to music almost exclusively through streaming services or mp3 downloads for close to a decade now and Tool hasn’t been available on those services, they basically fell out of my thinking for good.

Fast forward to last week and the announcement that not only are we getting a new album, but the old stuff was finally hitting streaming services. I was excited! Yeah, I could go upstairs and dust off the discs, but I could also just listen to them streaming off my phone the way life expects us to now, right?

After a few days of listening to the old albums and indulging in my nostalgia, I was left with one question: was Tool ever really good?

That may be harsh. I am surprised at how much of Undertow stuck with me over time, and there are some really solid moments on those three middle albums. But I can’t help but listen to them today and feel somewhat appalled and exhausted by the surface-level cynicism and teen-angsty messages. At a 17-year-old, it’s one thing to nod approvingly at the underexposed mysticism and the appreciation for outsider artists, but then there are songs like “Prison Sex” or “Hooker With a Penis” that, even if they are catchy, just feel extremely dated. And don’t even get 38-year-old Jeff started on the entire idea behind the title Ænima, which definitely had me chuckling 20 years back but now just find kind of juvenile.

It's a shame, too, because musically, this band is still clearly different. They were math rock-ish before it was cool, Danny Carey is still one of the better drummers going, and the band is obviously tight. Why, then, bring it down with so much nonsense? Granted, this was perhaps highbrow in the era that gave us “The Family Values Tour” and when Insane Clown Posse and Eminem were the rappers of choice for the disaffected teen set. I suppose, as well, that even the more contemporary bands of the era (Nine Inch Nails and to a more obvious extent Marilyn Manson) were far from what we would call the thinking man’s metal/industrial (although Nine Inch Nails has arguably held up a lot better).

Still, instead of a welcome hit of nostalgia over the few days I revisited the Tool catalog, I experienced disappointment and maybe a bit of remorse. Yes, there are plenty of acts that I really liked 20-25 years ago that are just dated and not for me anymore, and that’s fine. Tool, on the other hand, are still held in really high regard and I can’t help but wonder if the nostalgia glasses have been working overtime or if I’m just wrong on this. I challenge anyone who isn’t a Tool superfan to take some time with Ænima and Lateralus and see if it feels as profound as you once thought.

And now, we have a new Tool song out:

Interesting listen? Sure. Out of step with what's current and fresh? Yep. Odd for the sake of feeling odd? Sure feels like it. I'll listen to the new album when it comes out, but I cannot imagine myself firing this song up more than the first time I listened to it right now. If I want 10 minute long epics (and the new album will have eight of them over an 85 minute runtime, so we're told), King Crimson still exists.

I won’t shame anyone for liking what they like. Yeah, I went to see The Farewell last weekend, but that didn’t stop me from hitting Crawl the weekend before. I’m the last person to account for taste. But I just can’t shake the thought that we’ve had a collective fever dream about Tool, and that’s just too bad. For me, this was one Friday I wish I had forgotten.

Forgotten Fridays: Bill Janovitz - Lonesome Billy

Forgotten Fridays is an occasional feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. We go back and remind you of their existence, and help decide if they were any good.

Bill Janovitz has a handful of solo albums out. Way back in 1996 saw the release of his first solo album, Lonesome Billy. The songs on Lonesome Billy were mostly songs written for Buffalo Tom but didn't quite fit in. It's easy to see why. While the album's opener, "Girl's Club," has some of Buffalo Tom's trademark noise mixed into their 90's alt-rock sound, the very next song, "Think of All," is purely a folk/country song. Looking back, a lot of this sound has worked its way into Buffalo Tom, but in 1996 this was almost a complete departure. "Shoulder" sounds like it could be a demo for a Buffalo Tom song, but the piano driven, straightforward cover of the standard "My Funny Valentine" is from a different world. Plus, the album features Joey Burns and John Convertino (then from Giant Sand and now from Calexico) as his backing band, so it's even more interesting to go back and check out.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Rosier - "Vie Pénible"

Montreal's Rosier (formerly known as Les Poules à Colin) have been together for ten years and somehow have never come across our radar until now. They've taken a traditional song and have updated it with new, more modern sound. "Vie Pénible" is the rare song that creates a bridge between traditional and more modern, experimental folk. It's traditional enough to keep purists happy, but they sprinkle in these odd little instrumentation choices to keep it sounding like nothing else. It's almost like a more mainstream, less harsh Neutral Milk Hotel. The band says of the song that “This was the first traditional Québécois folk song we all could deeply relate to." 

You can listen to "Vie Pénible" below. Rosier's self-titled EP will be out on September 27. For more on Rosier, be sure to check out their website. Current tour dates are below the song.

Aug 9-11 - Newfoundland & Labrador Folk Festival, St-John’s (Canada)
Aug 15 - Feast & Field Concert Series, Barnard (États-Unis)
Aug 16-18 - Summerfolk Festival, Owen Sound (Canada)
Aug 19 - Live at BBC Radio 3 In Tune, Londres (Angleterre)
Aug 20- Cecil Sharp House, Londres (Angleterre)
Aug 22-24 - Tonder Festival, Tonder (Danmark)
Aug 25-26- Towersey Festival - Thame (Angleterre)
Aug 29- Head Out Not Home Festival - Norwich (Angleterre)
Aug 31- Festival Noctambullerie #10 - Saint Aignan (Fance)
Sept 01-  Fête de la Mer - Le Havre (Fance)
Sept 07 - Bromyard Folk Festival - Bromyard (Angleterre)
Sept 14 - Hudson West Folk Festival, Jersey City (États-Unis)
Sept 15 - The Pump House - Wakefield, RI (États-Unis)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

David Wax Museum - "Equal in the Darkness"

Photo by Lithophyte Photography / Vivian Wang
While we love David Wax Museum in all their forms, every album has that one song that's just extra special. The song that goes in different directions and just hits all of our sweet spots in one single song. "Equal in the Darkness" might be that type of song from their new album.

"Equal in the Darkness" seems like a pretty straightforward folk/pop song. It has beautiful harmonization between David Wax and Suz Slezak. The instrumentation between verses might be even more beautiful. They even throw in verses of "wooo-oooo-ooohs" that will suck you in fully if you somehow weren't before. It's just an absurdly perfect little song.

You can listen to "Equal in the Darkness" 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 of the album here. For more on David Wax Museum, check out their website.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Field Mouse - "Black Hole, Son"

Photo by Katie Krulock
Anticipation for the new album from Field Mouse continues to grow over here at If It's Too Loud..., since they're one of the few bands both of us are equally as obsessed with. Right now we can hear a third single from the new album. The title "Black Hole, Son" is obviously a play on Soundgarden's classic "Black Hole Sun," but that's where the similarities end. Field Mouse's song is this bouncy, fuzzy, kinda sorta shoegazey song. It's very mid-90's alternative inspired, but it's also a very poppy song. It also stops just shy of being epic, although on the twee/lo-fi scale "Black Hole, Son" might be one of the most epic songs ever recorded in that genre.

You can listen to "Black Hole, Son" below. Meaning, the new album from Field Mouse, will be out August 16 on Topshelf Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Field Mouse, check out their website. (Seriously, if you've never checked it out before, you need to.)

First Listen: New Releases for 2 August

Still a slow summer, but some real gems here...

Artist: Tyler Childers
Album: Country Squire
Quick Description: Great modernist classic country.
Why You Should Listen: He's in a segment all his own.
Overall Thoughts: It’s really stunning how truly pure and unfiltered the brand of country Tyler Childers puts together is. I almost want to call him the male Margo Price in some ways, because it nearly perfectly straddles the line between authentic and precious, but it equally does it a disservice – by doing something that no one else is really doing, Childers sets himself apart by doing what so many before have done. I can’t imagine enjoying traditional country music and not finding something to love about this record.
Recommendation: Do not miss out on this.

Artist: Ty Segall
Album: First Taste
Quick Description: Latest release from the garage-ish indie singer.
Why You Should Listen: Ty Segall does a lot of work and it shows.
Overall Thoughts: Ty Segall is extremely prolific, and does a lot of stuff a lot of people love. For me, he is hit or miss, but I will say that this effort really worked for me. A good merge of pop and garage rock styles, the result here is a fuzzy and ambitious listen that, especially in a slow week, is worth the time.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.

Artist: GRLwood
Album: I Sold My Soul to the Devil When I Was 12
Quick Description: Gritty punk at its finest.
Why You Should Listen: If you like punk, this is why.
Overall Thoughts: Every so often a good old fashioned gritty punk record comes across our radar, and this was one that definitely got my attention. It’s the right mix of brash and fun, and while it clearly doesn’t take itself too seriously, it is an album that wants you to take notice. It's a step ahead of Daddy from last year, and sort of how you ultimately want punk to be in 2019.
Recommendation: Definitely give this a whirl.

Artist: The Harmaleighs
Album: She Won't Make Sense
Quick Description: Awesome indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: You want some bright stuff to go along with the summer heat.
Overall Thoughts: This album was a revelation for me in many ways. It made me feel the way Eisley’s early Eps did back in the day, it sometimes feels like a modern rock record and other times an early Belle & Sebastian or even a Camera Obscura effort… everything about this feels right. It’s easily my favorite recent listen and I feel like it might have some pretty broad appeal.
Recommendation: Plenty of room on this bandwagon…

Artist: Bikini Sleepover
Album: Bikini Sleepover's First Sleepover
Quick Description: Super fun indie pop punk.
Why You Should Listen: This is the most fun record I've heard lately.
Overall Thoughts: This is sort of an odd mix between Illuminati Hotties and The Exbats in its approach, and it's just too much fun to ignore. This is a great album that doesn't take itself too seriously, but is still a really solid listen from start to finish. Worth checking out.
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.

Of note:

* Sarah Haras - Metal East (Really solid and engaging ambient stuff.)
* Cross Record - Cross Record
* Karma Fields - BODY RUSH(A fairly solid modern electronica record.)
* The Bird and the Bee - Interpreting the Masters, Volume 2: A Tribute to Van Halen
* Avrex - Growth
* Davina and the Vagabonds - Sugar Drops
* Cherie Curie and Brie Darling - The Motivator
* So Sensitive - Bedroom Drama
* The Vaughns - F.O.M.O.

7 Song Album:

* Poppy - I C U (Music to Read To)


* Allison Sudol - Moonlight
* Little Boots - Jump

Also out:

* SHADI - You Can't Hear Me
* The Ritualists - Painted People
* Clairo - Immunity

Monday, August 5, 2019

Parsnip - "Rip It Off"

Photo by Charlotte Tobin
Melbourne's Parsnip is going to be one those really divisive bands. Some of you are going to love this and become completely obsessed, while others are going to despise this so feverishly that it may destroy friendships. But that's ok. Their latest single, "Rip It Off," almost comes across as a psychedelic children's song but with a punk attitude to it. In other words, it would exist in some demonic version of a kids' TV show. That doesn't make it evil sounding. It's mostly cheery, with a hypnotic sound to it. The closest artists to compare "Rip It Off" to are Jonathan Richman and Beat Happening.

Stella Rennix of Parsnip explains the song: "To me ‘Rip It Off’ came from a feeling of being hung up on what the future holds, living in a haze of concern, and so missing out on your life as it’s happening. I suppose it is a song about worrying...the fruitlessness of incessant worry." 

You can watch the video for "Rip It 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 a copy here. For more on Parsnip, check them out on Twitter and Facebook.