Tuesday, December 31, 2019

En Attendant Ana - "Do You Understand?"

Photo by Chloé Lecarpentier
Back in November we went pretty nuts over En Attendant Ana's song "Words." If you went as nuts as we did, you'll be thrilled with their latest, "Do You Understand?" It's more of the same: incredibly lush indie pop mixed with indie rock. The latest song is even more bouncy and fun, almost as if Stereolab decided to rock out a little more.

The band explains the song: "As opposed to "Words" that we started to work on quite rapidly but which took so much time to finish, "Do You Understand?" was finalised in a short period of time. The lyrics came easily as well. Really fast, like automatic writing. It's also the first of our new songs that we played live. We were nervous about people's reaction. It's a song about friendship and the unexpected reassuring shoulders you can find when you need them. The importance of your surrounding when the times get rough. These kind of cheesy but important things."

You can listen to "Do You Understand?" below. Juillet, the new album from En Attendant Ana, will be out January 24 on Trouble in Mind. You can pre-order the album here. For more on En Attendant Ana, check them out on Facebook.

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Secret Sisters - "Hold You Dear"

Last month saw the release of "Cabin," the long awaited new single from The Secret Sisters. It was a much more mainstream sound than we've come to expect from the duo, and, as I said then, it actually kinda rocked. Their newest single, "Hold You Dear," shows a return to more traditional folk than the previous single did, although it's mostly by comparison. "Hold You Dear" is more modern than earlier releases from The Secret Sisters, but it's still fairly traditional at heart. As the band explains the song: "This one is especially personal, but we believe you will know exactly what we felt in its conception.  It is a song about time and the way it runs out.  It is a song about living moment by moment, and savoring the precious gifts life offers each of us." And yes, the song is just as heart-wrenching as that description makes it out to be.

You can listen to "Hold You Dear" below. Saturn Return, the new album from The Secret Sisters, will be out February 28 on New West Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Secret Sisters, check out their website. Current tour dates are below the song.

March 25 - Brooklyn, NY - Murmrr Theatre*
March 27 - Boston, MA - City Winery*
March 28 - Philadelphia, PA - City Winery*
March 29 - Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere*
March 31 - Newport, KY - Southgate House Revival*
April 2 - Chicago, IL - Old Town School of Folk*
April 3 - Wausau, WI - The Grand Theater*
April 5 - Minneapolis, MN - Varsity Theater*
April 8 - Des Moines, IA - Wooly’s*                     
April 9 - Kansas City, MO - Knuckleheads*
April 10 - Saint Louis, MO - Off Broadway*
April 24 - Palm Springs, CA - Alibi
April 25 - San Diego, CA - Casbah^
April 28 - Los Angeles, CA - Lodge Room^
April 29 - Berkeley, CA - Freight & Salvage^
May 1 - Portland, OR - Revolution Hall+
May 2 - Seattle, WA - Neptune Theatre+
June 10 - Bury St. Edmunds, UK - The Apex
June 11 - Bury, UK - The Met
June 13 - Gateshead, UK - Sage Gateshead
June 14 - Sheffield, UK - Firth Hall
June 16 - Leeds UK - Brudenell Social Club
June 17 - Milton Keynes, UK - The Stables
June 18 - London, UK - Union Chapel
June 19 - Bristol, UK - St. George’s
June 21 - Tunbridge Wells, UK - Black Deer Festival
June 24 - Paris, FR - Les Etoiles
June 25 - Lier, BE - Ripsique/Cultuurcentrum Vredeberg
June 26 - Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso 

*with Logan Ledger
^with Leslie Stevens
+with Anna Tivel

Friday, December 27, 2019

Forgotten Fridays: Jordy - "Dur dur d'être bébé! (It's Tough to Be a Baby)"

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.

Allow me to break from our normal format for Forgotten Fridays where I bring up a beloved if forgotten indie album, usually from the 90's. I don't typically use this for top 40 music, but every so often I'll say something like "Hey, remember when that French toddler had a hit song about how hard it was to be a baby?" and everyone looks at me like a rambling drunk. This has happened so many times I finally looked it up to make sure it wasn't just my poor memory. It wasn't.

Back in 1992, a French record company gave a record contract to a four year old. Jordy Lemoine, recording under just the name Jordy, had the number one song in France with "Dur dur d'être bébé!" This song was such a hit that and English language version was also released in the US with the title "Dur dur d'être bébé! (It's Tough to Be a Baby)." The song reached number 58 on the Billboard Hot 100. It's catchy, novelty Euro dance pop that spends over three minutes discussing the difficulties a baby must endure. Somehow while other early 90's novelties like "I'm Too Sexy" and "Cotton Eyed Joe" still endure at weddings and karoake, "Dur dur d'être bébé! (It's Tough to Be a Baby)" has all but disappeared. 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Comrade Nixon - Comrade Nixon Takes Kentucky!

I don't know why, but I always envision Vermont to be the Land of 1000 Jam Bands. I may or may not be right, but Burlington's Comrade Nixon shatters my preconceptions. On their latest, Comrade Nixon Takes Kentucky!, the band starts off with just a ridiculous barrage of noise on "Yellow Black." This is noise punk with extra punk. It's just fast and pounding and as in your face as it could possibly be. Seeing as Comrade Nixon is a New England based noise duo, it's going to be easy to compare them to Lightning Bolt, which is kinda fair. But Comrade Nixon seem to have a more song based approach even though their songs seem even less structured. That may not make sense now, but if you listen it somehow will. It's an approach that is far less jammy than some noise rockers and more in line with old school punk and hardcore. And it's the perfect thing to listen to in order to purge all the Christmas music you've been listening to for weeks now.

You can listen to "Action Jackson" below. Comrade Nixon Takes Kentucky! is available now via Bandcamp. For more on Comrade Nixon, check them out on Facebook.

Sweet Pill - "Miss This"

Philadelphia's Sweet Pill are currently being labelled as emo, and I guess they are, in a way. But they're emo in a way that newer bands tend to be: they drop the annoying more whiny aspects of early 00's emo and just bring the heart and fun. Their new single, "Miss This," reminds me more of 90's power pop bands like Letters to Cleo and Veruca Salt than anything else, but, sure, with a little pop punk edge. It's not a sound I would have expected to like with that description, but I would have been wrong. "Miss This" is this bouncy but incredibly earnest indie pop rocker that just sucks you in more and more with each listen.

You can listen to "Miss You" below. The song is available as a single with the B-side "Tell Me" via Know Hope Records. You can get a copy on Bandcamp. For more on Sweet Pill, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Love Love - "Christmas Killing Spree"

Photo via Facebook
As you can tell by the title, "Christmas Killing Spree" by Love Love isn't exactly your traditional lovey dovey Christmas song. Although, if you aren't really paying attention, it would really sound like it. As the band explains: 

"It has become our tradition to write and record a Christmas song every December. This year we decided to recall how stressed our moms sometimes were around Christmas time—the shopping, the wrapping, the hosting, the pleasing… Perhaps an outrageous and comical fantasy about escaping Christmas at home and going to Italy all by herself would release some of the tension?"

You can listen to "Christmas Killing Spree" below. For more on Love Love, check out their website.

Wolff Parkinson White featuring Norah Jones - "Department of Failure"

Photo by Lucy Shaw
Jochen Rueckerts is a well known jazz drummer, but when he decides to dabble in electronic music he goes by Wolff Parkinson White. He has released a new single featuring Norah Jones on vocals, "Department of Failure." For those of us that remember the electronic boom of the late 90's, "Department of Failure" is going to feel charmingly familiar. It's a blend of the most chilled out trip hop you've ever heard melded with jazz. Wolff Parkinson White took an old genre we all have intensely warm feelings for but rarely hear these days and updated it just slightly enough to make it sound modern, but like it was still made for us. This is trip hop for music fans with mortgages and who need to really pay attention to what health care plan to choose.

You can listen to "Department of Failure" below. Favours, the new album from Wolff Parkinson White, will be out February 7. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Wolff Parkinson White, check out his website.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Charming Disaster - "Longest Night of the Year"

Seeing as Charming Disaster are more of a gothic cabaret/murder ballad band, it makes complete sense for them to make music for Halloween, but for Christmas? Well... kinda. Their latest single, "Longest Night of the Year," isn't really a Christmas song, but a "Winter Solstice-inspired song to celebrate the holiday season." The cheery, upbeat sound of the song masks the true meaning: Performing ritual sacrifice to make sure the sun comes back and winter actually ends. Plus, it involves lots of monsters which is always a bonus.

You can listen to "Longest Night of the Year" below. The song is available now via Charming Disaster's Bandcamp. For more on Charming Disaster, check out their website.

Jeff's Best of the Rest of 2019 (with a Monday Mix!)

Lots of other good albums came out this year, and these are the ones that were my favorites but didn't make the final cut.

* STL GLD - The New Normal
* Tami T - High Pitched and Moist
* Angel Olsen - All Mirrors
* Tacocat - This Mess is a Place
* Abigail Lapell - Getaway
* Bikini Sleepover - Bikini Sleepover's First Sleepover
* Sofia Talvik - Paws of a Bear
* Lula Wiles - What Will We Do
* Potty Mouth - SNAFU
* Defoe - Too Soon to Cry
* Clara Baker - Things to Burn
* Julia Jacklin - Crushing
* David Wax Museum - Line of Light
* Alex Lahey - The Best of Luck Club
* Odessa - All Things
* Infinity Crush - Virtual Heaven

This was an interesting year musically, with a pretty strong gap between stuff that was awesome and stuff that didn't have the same staying power. Plus, the trend toward seven song albums, more EPs, and one-off singles (thanks to the way streaming is changing the way most people listen to music) means some really interesting stuff on the horizon plus kind of makes people like me who love a cohesive album of music a little anxious. We'll see...

Some of the key songs of the year, on an easy playlist to enjoy as you prepare for Christmas this week:

Friday, December 20, 2019

Sasha Cay - "Archie"

The latest single from Sasha Cay follows the folk-adjacent pop song trend we've been following a lot lately. "Archie" has many of the same elements we love in folk, especially the story-telling aspect. There's a slight electronic feel to the song as well, although it dances a little bit too far on the edge of dream pop to strictly be a pop song. And then there's Cay's voice, which is the true focus of the song. She doesn't have a powerful voice, and she's a bit too close to speak-singing to have a traditionally beautiful voice, but there is just something about her vocals that are intensely compelling.

What truly sets Archie apart is the dark feeling accompanying the song. As Cay explains the song: "The song follows a young boy who has run away from home to join his outcast uncle, who lives and roams in an old van. Through a series of vignettes, I take you through the boy’s realization of Archie’s life as a thief, the consequences that follow and the looming fear that it is too late to turn back."

You can watch the video for "Archie" below. The song is available now via Sasha Cay's Bandcamp. For more on Sasha Cay, check her out on Facebook.

Friday Freebie: A Very Allston Christmas Vol. 5

It's no secret that we love free music here at If It's Too Loud..., and we tend to post far too much Christmas music on here. These two aspects collided this week with the release of A Very Allston Christmas Vol. 5. It's an annual benefit compilation (so even though it's free, you should really throw in something) that is raising proceeds for Bridge Over Troubled Waters and Rosie's Place and features fifty one tracks of local artists playing Christmas songs! 

You get some that are already our favorites. Gray Bouchard & The Dedications bring their huge garage pop sound to "All That I Want." Clever Girls bring us the delicate "Christmas Will Break Your Heart." PowerSlut deliver the shockingly earnest "Everything's Closed on Christmas (Except My Legs)." Allison and Moon's "Christmas Queer" is the kind of upbeat, bouncy nearly emo song we love them for, but for Christmas! Squirrel Flower does a song called "I'm Santa" which is a retelling of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" in her unique, kinda haunting style. Zip-Tie Handcuffs give is a harder rocker about the fact that "Santa's a Creep."

Plus, we're discovering new favorites, such as the album opener Lilith with "... Santa One More Time" which is a reworking of Britney Spears's "... Baby One More Time." Beeef & GIFT contribute the absurdly fun "I Wish it Was Christmas Today." If there's any downfall with A Very Allston Christmas Vol. 5 is just how huge it is. With fifty one songs, it's impossible to pay each song the attention it deserves.

You can listen to PowerSlut's "Everything's Closed on Christmas (Except My Legs)" since how can you not need to hear that one? You can get your copy of A Very Allston Christmas Vol. 5 over at Bandcamp.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Porridge Radio - "Lilac"

Photo by El Hardwick
Hailing from Brighton, UK, Porridge Radio are going to infest your brain with their latest single, "Lilac." "Lilac" is truly unique. It's both beautiful and crushingly loud, sometimes being both at the same time. It starts off with this brief burst of guitar feedback, and then it amps up with even more before turning into a slow, nearly plodding folk-adjacent song, complete with strings. And then the noise comes back in. Somehow with all this noise and back and forth, the truly lovely and mesmerizing vocal harmonies are still at the forefront, despite what is going on musically at the same time.

Porridge Radio's Dana Margolin explains the song: I wanted to find some power in powerlessnessI was thinking about love and control and the things out of my control, and how fragile and incapable depression can make you feel. I was thinking about the way you can feel so close to someone that it’s like their body is your body, like there’s no separation between you, but you can’t stop things disintegrating. It’s a song about finding some hope and some future within that.”

You can watch the video for "Lilac" below. The song is available now as a single via Secretly Canadian here. For more on Porridge Radio, check them out on Facebook and Twitter. Current tour dates are below the video. Let's hope they add more US dates around SXSW.

Tue. January 14 - London, UK @ The Lexington
Thu. Feb. 27 - Sat. Feb. 29 - Oslo, NO @ Larm Festival
Fri. March 13 - Sat. March 22 - Austin, TX @ SXSW
Sat. March 28 - Bristol, UK @ Ritual Union Festival
Fri. May 22 - Sun. May 24 - Totnes, UK @ Sea Change Festival

Justin Golden - "Damage"

It's been a while since we've heard from Richmond, VA's Justin Golden, but luckily he's back with a new single. "Damage" doesn't change the world. It's just Golden with his guitar playing blues/folk. There's nothing earth shatteringly unique here. Except that Golden is just so amazingly good at this. "Damage" is an absolutely perfect song. Golden delivers with an ease that goes far beyond his years. It's both smooth and has just enough of the rough edge that you need in blues. Golden is one of those artists that should be a huge star at this point, if there was any justice in the world.

You can listen to "Damage" below. For more on Justin Golden, check him out on Facebook.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Sofia Talvik - "Christmas Train"

Every time I hear new music from Sofia Talvik I'm amazed that a Swedish artists nails Americana so perfectly. In keeping with her tradition of giving her fans a new Christmas song for free each year, Talvik has released "Christmas Train." According to the song description on Bandcamp: "The new single ”Christmas Train” is a modern take on the Krampus story, (Santa’s evil counterpart that punishes rather than spreads joy and presents). In the form of a thundering train that will steal dreams, as well as lives away from everyone in its path." 

The song combines the elements of more modern folk songs, while having some 1960's Nancy Sinatra style groove and still keeping the classic country train song feel. It's a really unique sound and, since it doesn't have even the slightest hint of jingle bells, it's a perfect Christmas song for anyone that hates Christmas music.

You can listen to "Christmas Train" below. The song is currently available as a free download via Bandcamp. For more on Sofia Talvik, check out her website.

Supersuckers - "Ain't Gonna Stop (Until I Stop It)"

At this point in their thirty year career, you know what you're going to get with a new Supersuckers song. "Ain't Gonna Stop (Until I Stop It)" is a rock 'n' roll song, pure and simple. It's big and loud, with gigantic guitars and a big shout along chorus. Supersuckers aren't going to win over any hold-outs to their fandom with this one, and I don't think they're looking to. If you're a fan of theirs, you're going to like this. If you love big, loud rock and haven't checked out Supersuckers before, you owe it to yourself to give this a shot. It's pretty much impossible to not like this.

You can listen to "Ain't Gonna Stop (Until I Stop It)" below. Play That Rock n' Roll, the upcoming album from Supersuckers, was recorded in four days at Willie Nelson's studio (of course). The album will be out February 7 on Acetate Records and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Supersuckers, check out their website.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Ken's Best of 2019 - #1: Stef Chura - Midnight

Stef Chura's Messes came very close to cracking my top 10 of 2017, and I always wish that it could have. As highly anticipated as her follow up, Midnight, was, I couldn't predict how much it was going to completely blow me away. While Messes was and still is a truly great record, Midnight expands on that while branching out in completely different and unexpected directions. A song like "Method Man" is a perfect example. While Chura has always played with while dismantling the standard singer/songwriter template, "Method Man" keeps the barest bones of the genre while turning it into this huge indie rock song with this meandering guitar that holds it all together until it flames out towards the end. Midnight is the perfect example of an artist growing in such an unexpected but compelling way. Plus, the album ends with a Billy Idol cover, and that's always a good thing.

Songs of note: "Method Man," "All I Do is Lie," "Sweet Sweet Midnight," and "Eyes Without a Face"

Jeff's Best of 2019 - #1: The Wolff Sisters - Queendom of Nothing

I knew I'd love Queendom of Nothing when I heard it was coming out. I knew I'd love some songs when I saw them this past summer. I didn't expect to adore this album the way I did over the last portion of the year.

"Drive," in and of itself, is a killer track. I didn't believe anything they did could top "Down by the Lake" from their also-wonderful debut, but "Drive" comes close. The remaining seven tracks continue along the same dusty road, with gorgeous harmonies and a surprising lack of filler material. The band felt like they were coming into their own for their debut full-length, but this is an album from a band that seems like they're coming into their own and understanding the power they wield.

The Wolff Sisters should be one of the biggest acts in folk/Americana right now, and hopefully they're able to break out of the northeast and become the huge act they should be. For now, it can still be our greatest kept secret of 2019.

Songs of note: "Drive," "Lie Lie Lie," "Burn Out."

First Listen: New Releases for 13 December

A handful of noteworthy releases this week:

Artist: Atmosphere
Album: Whenever
Quick Description: Solid traditional rap music.
Why You Should Listen: This is a near-perfect mix of music and flow.
Overall Thoughts: Every time I listen to a new Atmosphere record, I remember how much I like it and kick myself for not listening more. The opening track, "Bde Maka Ska," sets a great tone, "Postal Lady" striking a nice counterbalance later... everything here just works, and it's one of the better rap albums I've heard recently.
Recommendation: Worth the time.

Artist: Venetian Snares
Album: Greg Hates Car Culture
Quick Description: Frenetic electronica.
Why You Should Listen: Really different and fascinating.
Overall Thoughts: I don't generally cover reissues in this space, but I got really into this one really quickly this week and I'm making an exception. First released as a vinyl-only album 20 years ago, the opening track is all over the place in all the best ways, and it continues on a similar trajectory of being pretty out there and pushing the limits of accessible electronic music throughout its runtime. This is absolutely not for everyone, but if you're feeling ambitious, there are rewards galore in this one.
Recommendation: Don't miss out on this.

Of note:

* BT - Everything You're Searching For is On the Other Side of Fear
* St. Vincent - Nina Kraviz Presents MASSEDUCTION
* Slum Village and Abstract Orchestra - Fantastic 2020, Vol. 2
* Annie Hart - A Softer Offering


* gwEm - Break and Enter
* Siobhan Wilson - Plastic Grave


* John Cameron Mitchell and Eyelids - Turning Time Around
* Okay Kaya - Asexual Wellbeing
* The Shins - When I Goose-Step
* American Football - Year One Demos


* Warren Storm - Taking the World By Storm
* Le Butcherettes - Live at Cloud Hill
* Dirty Projectors - Sing the Melody
* Frank Turner - Live 2000: Live at Rottingham Rock City
* machinegum - Conduit

Monday, December 16, 2019

Tysk Tysk Task - "Yeah, Right"

Is there anything better than discovering a new band and then they immediately release new music? We just brought you Tysk Tysk Talk from Lowell, MA a couple of weeks ago, and they have a new single (not that it's possible to have burnt yourself out on their discography yet). "Yeah, Right" is this wonderfully bizarre/mostly straightforward indie rock song. It's kinda sludgy and incredibly intense. It's like if you put The Melvins and The Breeders in a blender and then threw in some harmonica. Not to sound like the old guy I am, but this is the kind of indie rock that just doesn't get made these days, and I've really missed it. It's noisy and definitely not always an easy listen, but it's as compelling as it could possibly be. I know I'm making it sound like a challenging noise rock song, and sure, in some parts, it kind of is, but there are also some odd little hooks hidden in there.

You can listen to "Yeah, Right" below. The song is currently available on Tysk Tysk Task's Bandcamp. For more on Tysk Tysk Task, check them out on Facebook.

Ken's Best of 2019 - #2: L'Orange and Jeremiah Jae - Complicate Your Life with Violence

2019 was the year I rediscovered my love of hip hop. If you had told me last year that I would become obsessed with a hip hop concept album about the effects of modern war on soldiers, I doubt I would have believed you. But Complicate Your Life with Violence is brilliant on all levels. Broken up into three parts (recruitment, war, and the aftermath), this album is obviously best listened to as a whole, but the individual songs are highly listenable on their own. I was somewhat familiar with L'Orange before this release, but had never heard of Jeremiah Jae before. The pairing is perfect. The duo have crafted an album that has a laid back vibe while still being intense. Complicate Your Life with Violence is perfect for lapsed old school hip hop fans without being a throwback at all. It's both smooth and perfectly produced while being more than a little uncomfortable. It's like a more smooth and modern version of classic Public Enemy.

Songs of note: "Behavior Report," "Dead Battery," "Ghost Town," and "Summer Camp"

Jeff's Best of 2019 - #2: Spirit Family Reunion - Ride Free

Spirit Family Reunion has a lot going for them anyway, but has been a favorite of this blog arguably ever since we saw them open for David Wax Museum way back in 2011. This latest album was a long-awaited follow-up to another album we loved of theirs, and not only did it meet those expectations, but exceeded them.

Spirit Family Reunion has become a band that is not only a celebration of old-style folk and bluegrass, but embraces the sound and expands on it. The lineup is larger, the instrumentation more complex, but they still have a washboard and they still play infectious songs that will not leave your head or your psyche without significant effort. From the opening track of Ride Free, "One Way Ticket," you get a great idea as to not only what they're trying to accomplish, but how far they've come.

Easily one of the best of the year, and one that rarely left my rotation.

Songs of note: "One Way Ticket," "Whoopie Ti Yi Yo," "Gradual Power."

Friday, December 13, 2019

Jessica Lea Mayfield - "what all have ya bought me?"

2019 has seen Jessica Lea Mayfield returning and releasing two collections of rough demos on her Bandcamp page. To close out the year, she's releasing an original Christmas song. "what all have ya bought me?" is an ode to Christmas greed and using presents to mask a terrible relationship, with lines like "our love leaves a lot to desired / I need material things to fill the void." It's a much more finished song than we've heard from Mayfield in a while, and it's more country than she's been for even longer. Of course, this is Jessica Lea Mayfield, so it can't be straight country. "what all have ya bought me?" has a haunting quality in its guitar that leans more into dream pop, while still having a country twang.

You can listen to "what all have ya bought me?" below. The song is currently available on Jessica Lea Mayfield's Bandcamp. For more on Jessica Lea Mayfield, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Little Misty - "Keeper"

I'll let Little Misty explain the story behind the first single from their upcoming debut album:

"When we started writing the music for our self-titled debut album, out on February 14th, our vocalist, Kathryn, had recently become a mother.

The album’s first single, 'Keeper,' was written after a sleepless night, when her newborn was ill and she was in a particularly vulnerable state.

It got her to reflect on the complex and intertwined feelings of attachment, solitude, love and angst that came with her new role."

"Keeper" truly reflects that feeling of being a new sleep-deprived parent. It's quiet and filled with love, but also insanely vulnerable. It's not quite folk, but there are some folk elements here. In fact, the song brings in a lot of different musical elements. The folky side is enveloped in the sheen of soul, but with some indie rock flourishes here and there. It comes across as a more soulful Wilco and like a lost song of theirs that bridges the gap between Summerteeth and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

You can listen to "Keeper" below. For more on Little Misty, check out their website.

Ken's Best of 2019 - #3: Julia Jacklin - Crushing

Back in 2016, Julia Jacklin's fantastic album Don't Let the Kids Win just narrowly missed out on being in my top ten of that year. In hindsight, it probably should have. This year's Crushing was even better and is my third favorite album of the year. Crushing is a much better showcase of what we love about Jacklin, but more confident as a musician and songwriter. In a short time she has mastered this blend of singer-songwriter Americana meets indie rock. Her show back in April at Great Scott could have also helped me become so obsessed with Crushing this year. Seeing the relatively quiet song "Head Alone" turn into a complete anthem for the young women in attendance with the line "I don't want to be touched all the time / I raise my body up to be mine" was a powerful moment. There's a reason she jumped from the 220 capacity Great Scott to the 900 seat Somerville Theater in November. Crushing is a huge moment for her, and we all need to jump on this bandwagon.

Songs of note: "Body," "Head Alone," "Pressure to Party," and "Don't Know How to Keep Loving You"

Jeff's Best of 2019 - #3: Leyla McCalla - The Capitalist Blues

I don’t think I’ve ever loved an album I disagree with more.

First, put the politics aside: Leyla McCalla is a master at blending genres and sounds to create a truly unique experience on every piece of music she has been a part of. The Capitalist Blues succeeds in having so many different musical ideas mesh so well into a cohesive unit where the upbeat laments feel just right alongside the slower and more deliberate pieces. It’s an album at the right pace and the right time.

Thematically, as noted: I don’t agree with the message. But when we have an era of truly cringeworthy protest anthems and political music, it is worth noting that McCalla succeeds in making music with meaning worth listening to. The desired tone is struck perfectly, and it ultimately becomes one of those unforgettable albums I kept going back to all year long.

Songs of note: “The Capitalist Blues,” “Lavi Vye Neg,” “Aleppo”

Thursday, December 12, 2019

Possessed By Paul James - "Be at Rest"

Photo by George Blosser
If you're a fan of true Americana, the latest from Possessed By Paul James is simply a must listen. The stage name of Austin based singer/songwriter/Special Education teacher/activist/artist Konrad Wert, Possessed By Paul James has taken some much needed time off since 2013's There Will Be Nights When I'm Lonely for two vocal surgeries. Now he's back with an upcoming new album, and the first single, "Be at Rest," is a quiet, contemplative straight up roots song. Despite being pure, textbook Americana, the song does have just enough attitude to expose Wert's punk roots. 

You can listen to "Be at Rest" below. As We Go Wandering, the upcoming album from Possessed By Paul James, will be out January 31 on PPJ Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Possessed By Paul James, check out the label's website.