Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Phoenix da Icefire & Husky Brown - "Dark Rainbow Light"

Maybe I'm just a but of an Anglofile, but British rap does it for me while most American hip hop just bores me. The new single from London's Phoenix da Icefire's collaboration with Husky Brown hits exactly what I need. "Dark Rainbow Light" leans a little more towards mainstream hip hop than most British rap I've heard. Of course, it's more along the lines of what was considered mainstream in the mid 90's. It's far from a throwback track, but it's giving me some pretty serious laid back A Tribe Called Quest/Leaders of the New School vibes. 

You can listen to "Dark Rainbow Light" below. Panacea, the upcoming album from Phoenix da Icefire & Husky Brown, will be out May 5 on New Dawn Records. For more on Phoenix da Icefire, check out his website.

Chelsea Light Moving - "Sunday Stage"

Photo via Facebook
If there's one silver lining with the COVID-19 pandemic, it could be that Thurston Moore has had time to dig around his archives. His latest find is "Sunday Stage," a song that dates back to his time with Chelsea Light Moving. Chelsea Light Moving was my personal favorite of his post-Sonic Youth projects. That could be because it was the closest to Sonic Youth, but showcasing Thurston's metal side. "Sunday Stage" is a perfect example of that. It has the perfect vintage early 90's Sonic Youth feel to it while having a few metal riffs that let loose every so often. It's loud and heavy, which is really what we want from Chelsea Light Moving. Here's hoping he can unearth a few more unreleased songs for us all in the near future.

You can listen to "Sunday Stage" below. The song is currently available via Thurston Moore's Bandcamp page. For more on Thurston Moore, check out his website.

First Listen: New Releases for 27 March

The end of the world is bringing its A game for new music right now.

Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Album: Ghosts V: Together / Ghosts VI: Locusts
Quick Description: Two new surprise entries in the Nine Inch Nails Ghosts canon.
Why You Should Listen: It's ambient industrial done right.
Overall Thoughts: I was thinking today that if you told me back in high school that the guy behind The Downward Spiral would be one of the best movie scorers in his era and that his more ambient efforts would be the things I'd love the most, I don't know how I would react. But here we are, in 2020, and Nine Inch Nails has quietly become one of the most essential artists of our time and the two surprises this week really show what makes Trent Reznor so important. There's no reason to miss this one anyway, but it's definitely one of the great listens of the week.
Recommendation: A must-listen in any week, never mind this one.

Artist: The No Ones
Album: The Great Lost No Ones Album
Quick Description: Debut album from an indie supergroup of members from I Was A King, The Minus 5 and R.E.M..
Why You Should Listen: It's basically a really twangy Minus 5 album, and that's fine.
Overall Thoughts: Scott McCaughey is officially back at it following his stroke, Peter Buck is as busy as always, and the Norwegian musicians they've teamed up with for this album are not a band I'm familiar with, but bring us to an album really worth listening to. It's the best of all worlds combined here with a lot of memorable songs and what ends up being a pleasant, spring-like listen. If you've got even a minor affinity for any of these acts, make sure you take some time with this one, as it's one of the best of the early goings.
Recommendation: A really great listen this week.

Artist: Orion Sun
Album: Hold Space for Me
Quick Description: Out-of-nowhere debut from a fresh new voice.
Why You Should Listen: This is another favorite of the year for me.
Overall Thoughts: Ken sent this over and I am so, so glad he did. This is one of those albums that just surprised me from the start. It's stark, it doesn't align with any specific genre, and it's a voice that is fully formed and realized even in these early career stages. This is an absolutely brilliant listen from an artist who, if there's any justice left in a post-coronavirus world, will be getting all the accolades for what she's done here.
Recommendation: One of the best of the year.

Artist: Jennah Barry
Album: Holiday
Quick Description: Dreamy folk-rock.
Why You Should Listen: Another great voice that came out of nowhere for me this week.
Overall Thoughts: From the looks of things, this is the first album in eight years from this songstress, and considering the quality of this album and songs like "Rocket," I hope existing fans see this as worth the wait. This is another gorgeous album that runs the risk of being overlooked in a week like this, but something this unique and out of time deserves a closer look.
Recommendation: A gorgeous album this week.

Artist: The Chats
Album: High Risk Behaviour
Quick Description: Silly, nerdy punk.
Why You Should Listen: It's so endearingly geekpunk that you can't help but smile.
Overall Thoughts: Listen, this isn't going to end up on any best of lists, but when you have a punk band doing songs called "The Kids Need Guns" and "Pub Feed," you give it a shot. 14 songs, 28 minutes, and it's going to make you smile.
Recommendation: Make a half hour for this one.

Artist: Lilly Hiatt
Album: Walking Proof
Quick Description: John Hiatt's daughter carves her own path.
Why You Should Listen: She deserves more than the comparison to her father.
Overall Thoughts: This is a great alt-country listen. It's up there for me with Lydia Loveless, with Kathleen Edwards, and the like. This is her fourth or fifth album at this point, and she's really come into her own as a songwriter and performer, and this is just wonderful from start to finish. "P-Town" (not about ours, New Englanders) is solid, "Some Kind of Drug" and "Candy Lunch" early standouts, and this is just an album that should really cement her as an artist worth knowing if she isn't one already. Don't miss out on this.
Recommendation: Another superlative listen from Hiatt.

Artist: Margaret Glaspy
Album: Devotion
Quick Description: Highly anticipated second album from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Emotions and Math was an instant classic.
Overall Thoughts: So, fair warning: if you are expecting a sequel to Emotions and Math, you're not getting it here. I am unsure as to Glaspy's motivations on this album, but this is a much more odd and experimental affair. I won't say that it works 100% of the time, but there is a lot of interesting stuff here, and when it works (like with "So Wrong It's Right," "Vicious," and "What's the Point"), it works really well. This is definitely an unexpected left turn given how great her debut was, but it's still worth your time because it's such a clear and singular vision from an artist that is clearly doing her own thing.
Recommendation: A good one this week, even if it doesn't 100% do it for you.

Artist: Basia Bulat
Album: Are You in Love?
Quick Description: Latest from the Canadian folkie.
Why You Should Listen: Maybe the most solid folk-rock effort from her in some time.
Overall Thoughts: I've been a fan of Basia Bulat from the moment I learned of her, and each album has been a pleasant revelation. This is no different, with some great efforts like "Your Girl" and some more complicated offerings like "Love is at the End of the World," this is, in many ways, the perfect album to keep your social distancing habits alive for a bit. Bulat has always meant quality for me, and Are You in Love? keeps that reputation alive.
Recommendation: She's always great, and this is no different.

Artist: Ringo Deathstarr
Album: Ringo Deathstarr
Quick Description: First album in years from the shoegazey rockers.
Why You Should Listen: Ken was super excited to hear this was out.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't know this band existed before this week, and I really only added it to my list because it's a great name for a band. What I didn't expect was the sort of wonderful wall of sound loudness that I always feel is lacking from so many bands in this genre. There's a lot to love here, from "God Help the Ones You Love" and "Gazin" to the more poppy and mainstream "Be Love." But still, this is a great, great listen this week and may be just the thing to shake you from your quarantine doldrums. I'll go as far as to say this could end up being a long-term favorite for me...
Recommendation: Make time for this one.

Artist: Sorry
Album: 925
Quick Description: Debut album by the buzzworthy alt-indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Sorry typically puts out some great stuff.
Overall Thoughts: It's not an insult to say that 925 is probably the fifth or sixth best album to come out this week given how stacked this week is. But in literally any other week, this would likely be the highlight of the week, and this will probably have longer staying power to boot. This is a great traditional alt-rock effort in so many ways, and it absolutely feels like a band coming into its own at just the right moment. Listen to songs like "Rock 'n' Roll Star," "Right Round the Clock," or "More," and tell me this band isn't destined for great things.
Recommendation: Probably the best straight rock record this week.

Artist: Dua Lipa
Album: Future Nostalgia
Quick Description: New album from the rising pop star.
Why You Should Listen: Dua Lipa is very pop friendly, but there's something about her take that works for me.
Overall Thoughts: I think I became a fan with the somewhat silly "Blow Your Mind (Mwah)" from her previous album that I tripped up on randomly late last year. Lead single "Physical" from this album was a propellant affair that got me interested in what's happening here, and I'm happy to say that Dua Lipa has found her way a bit and delivered a focused album with a lot of great songs. "Don't Start Now" is rock solid, "Love Again" would be great even without the "Your Woman" (yes, the old White Town track) sample, and I'm just really into the whole thing.
Recommendation: A must-hear for pop enthusiasts, and worth the time for everyone else.

Artist: Wednesday
Album: I Was Trying to Describe You to Someone
Quick Description: Second album by a fuzzy indie act.
Why You Should Listen: This is a really solid indie album.
Overall Thoughts: We missed this back in February, and it's weird to highlight it now given how crazy good this week is, but, guys? Don't sleep on this. This is a really great album with a lot of the sort of fuzzy indie alt stuff we love around here, and the only downer is how there are only eight songs to enjoy. This one should have some staying power if you're into it.
Recommendation: Don't miss out.

Of note:

* Daniel Avery and Alessandro Cortini - Illusion of Time (Speaking of ambient-style music, this is a great and complicated listen.)
* Sufjan Stevens and Lowell Brams - Aporia (Another instrumental piece with some ambient notes to it. Also great.)
* Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real - Naked Garden (Feels a little like an odds-and-sods collection, except that all the odds and all the sods are solid songs.)
* Nap Eyes - Snapshot of a Beginner (Smart, fun indie rock.)
* Gold Cage - Social Crutch (Some of the more interesting stuff on the rock side this week.)
* Dana Gavanski - Yesterday is Gone (Interestingly, if you had asked me what the second Margaret Glaspy album might sound like, I would have said something like this.)
* Old Man Gloom - Seminar IX: Darkness of Being (Some heavy dark metal. I don't know if I'll ever want to listen again, but this grabbed me in a way the genre traditionally hasn't.)
* Waxahatchee - Saint Cloud
* Robotaki - The Grand Mirage
* The Orb - Abolition of the Royal Familia
* Half Waif - The Caretaker
* Jordana - Classical Notions of Happiness
* Activity - Unmask Whoever
* Brian Fallon - Local Honey
* FACS - Void Moments
* Vanessa Carlton - Love is an Art


* Dirty Projectors - Windows Open
* Perlee - Slow Creature
* Alfred. - One Trick Pony

Also out:

* Joyner Lucas - ADHD (Worcester's own!)
* Lewsberg - In This House

Monday, March 30, 2020

War On Alexandria Covers Alice in Chains

Photo via Facebook
If we need a bright side to this whole living in quarantine thing, maybe it's that War On Alexandria have taken this time to cover their 90's idols. The latest that the Boston rockers have taken on is the Alice in Chains classic "Rooster." This is a stripped down take on the song, just electric guitar and the vocal pairing of Emma Keefe and Liam McCain. This might be the ideal song for the band to cover. War On Alexandria give us an absolutely stunning and reverent version of the original. It's far from a carbon copy, but you're not going to get anything else this faithful to the original unless it was from an Alice in Chains cover band.

You can watch the video for War On Alexandria's version of "Rooster" below. For more on War On Alexandria, check them out on Facebook.

Melkbelly - "Sickeningly Teeth"

Photo by Ariella Miller
Chicago's Melkbelly have always had a bit of a 90's sound. No complaints here, it's kinda what we love about them. On their latest single, "Sickeningly Teeth," they go way back to the early 90's. The new single gives off some serious Mudhoney vibes while still keeping some of Melkbelly's pop sensibilities. "Sickeningly Teeth" drones on at one tempo while repeatedly threatening to speed up, but never quite doing it. While a faster, more upbeat song would have been a more standard and obvious choice, this one seems to instead slow down each time it promises to speed up. This creates a brilliantly frustrating feel to the song that a lesser band could never have pulled off. 

You can watch the video for "Sickeningly Teeth" below. PITH, the new album from Melkbelly, will be out April 3 on Wax Nine/Carpark Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Melkbelly, check out their website. Rescheduled tour dates are below the video. Let's hope live music can come back by August.

Sat. Aug. 15 - Chicago, IL @ Sleeping Village
Tue. Aug. 18 - Toronto, ON @ Baby G
Wed. Aug. 19 - Montreal, QC @ La Vitrola
Thu. Aug. 20 - Providence, RI @ Columbus Theater
Sun. Aug. 23 - Brooklyn, NY @ Union Pool
Wed. Aug. 26 - Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong
Thu. Aug. 27 - Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle
Fri. Aug. 28 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr. Roboto

If It's Too Loud Monday Mix: Bill Rieflin's R.E.M. Years

Percussionist Bill Rieflin passed way last week after a battle with cancer. He is perhaps best known for his work with Ministry, but he was also a session/touring musician with a number of bands in the later part of his career, perhaps most notably with R.E.M..

R.E.M. is my favorite band, and Rieflin was the drummer for their final studio albums along with the late tours. I have a pet theory that Bill Berry, the band's original drummer, was the true glue that held all the pieces of R.E.M. together, and when he left after New Adventures in Hi-Fi the band's catalogue became less focused and cohesive as a result. We'll never know for certain how much of an impact Rieflin had on R.E.M.'s sound in those later years, but I can't help but think that a drummer of his caliber and style brought some energy to a band that, in retrospect, may have needed it.

So, for Monday Mix this week, the best of the Bill Rieflin R.E.M. years. My favorite tracks from their last two studio albums, and highlights from the two live albums the band put out that featured Rieflin in the role.

Friday, March 27, 2020

American Trappist - "Independence Day"

I've been a fan of Joe Michelini ever since I saw his previous project River City Extension at Newport Folk Festival way back in 2011. That project may have ended, but he has a new single out with his new musical project American Trappist. "Independence Day" is an absolutely epic indie folk song. It starts off with this laid back intensity that builds so quietly that you can't even register it. Eventually it bursts into a powerful mid-tempo indie rock song. It's almost a Sonic Youth song in the way that it builds and then turns into a collage of noise, but without the feedback. Not many artists can evolve a song from a chilled out hanging out on the porch folkie to an indie rock rager, but American Trappist pulled it off magnificently. 

You can listen to "Independence Day" below. The Gate, the upcoming album from American Trappist, will be out May 15. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on American Trappist, check out the artist's website.

Friday Freebie: debt. - Sounds of Time & Place

Fitchburg, MA is the land of the most generic cover bands around, so it's always nice when we can find a great, original band coming from there. debt. released a new album for free (Sounds of Time & Place), and it's just dripping with what my late 90's college days sounded like. "Candle-Shaving Bastard" is an aggressively loud yet still melodic song. "Memories" is nearly confusing with how all the instruments work together. This song is right on the border of being a pure chaotic and dissonant mess, and I'm sure some will declare that it is, and they're not wrong. But somehow debt. make it work. This song is three and a half minutes long, which is the length of a standard pop song, but it feels at least four times that long (and I mean that as a positive). "June 5th // July 5" is a bizarro indie rock song that sounds like all eras of Sebadoh crammed into one song. Sounds of Time & Place is a collection of all of these lo-fi rock songs that are much more epic than they have any right to be.

You can listen to "Angel on the Mantel" below. Sounds of Time & Place, the new album from debt., is available now on Bandcamp for the "name your price" option. If you do choose free, make sure to at least give debt. a follow on Twitter and Instagram.

The Knock Ups - "Black n Blue (love song for Jack White)"

Boston's The Knock Ups are back with a new single titled "Black n Blue (love song for Jack White)." Despite the title, the song isn't going to make you think of Jack White very much. Sure, it's dirty blues infected garage rock, but it exists in a world separate from The White Stripes (or any of White's other projects, for that matter). "Black n Blue (love song for Jack White)" is more of a loud/hard rock take on garage rock, with the blues aspect taking a back seat to the sheer rock of it all. The Knock Ups are truly one of the premier loud garage rock bands in Boston, and this song helps remind us all of that.

You can listen to "Black n Blue (love song for Jack White)" below. The song has been added to The Knock Ups's 2019 release Splitting Hairs EP, which is available now on their Bandcamp. For more on The Knock Ups, check out their Facebook.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Bobby Lees - "Move"

As we continue to be worked into a frenzy over The Bobby Lees's upcoming Jon Spencer produced album, we now bring you a new single, "Move." "Move" is a frantic slice of garage punk. Clocking in at less than two minutes long, it's fast and noisy. It's over before you even know it, leaving you desperate for more. It may seem impossible that a song this short can be this good and leave this much of an impact on the listener. You're going to be left wondering what the hell you just went through, but pretty sure that you liked it.

You can watch the video for "Move" below. Skin Suit, the new album from The Bobby Lees, will be out May 8 on Alive Naturalsound Records. For more on The Bobby Lees, check out their website.

Jake Blount - "Roustabout"

Photo by Carl-Eric Tangen
Despite being from Rhode Island, Jake Blount's music is pure Appalachia. His new single, "Roustabout," is exactly what you think of when you think traditional folk. Blount is bringing the black experience back to bluegrass and Americana, which we always think of as separate despite how intertwined their history is. Growing up black and queer in America, he's found that folk music truly resonates with him. "Roustabout" is a perfectly done folk song. It's just a banjo, fiddle, and vocals, but I can't imagine this song needing anything more.

You can watch the video for "Roustabout" below. Spider Tales, the upcoming album from Jake Blount, will be out May 29 on Free Dirt Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Jake Blount, check out his website.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Jacqueline Tucci - "Fear"

Photo via Facebook
Despite being called "Fear," there is some optimism in Jacqueline Tucci's latest single. According to Tucci, Fear
is about a time in my life when I felt like I was really searching for something but I didn’t know what it was. The song was born out of those feelings of restlessness and frustration." The song is kinda sorta folk adjacent, but only by the current modern definition of what counts as folk. "Fear" is a rambling indie rock song that balances an intense foreboding along with a sense of hope. Plus, it's oddly groovy. It all fits into a killer little indie rock song that is bordering on pure perfection.

You can watch the video for "Fear" below. Bonus: It's filled with classic horror movie monster puppets! You can get a copy of the single over at Bandcamp. For more on Jacqueline Tucci, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Squid - "Sludge"

Photo by Alex McCullough
The latest from Brighton's Squid takes a little while to get started. That's not to say the first minute-plus of "Sludge" isn't good. It's quite good, and has a unique but familiar decidedly British feel. It kinda has a bit of that 90's Britpop leanings towards hippie country vibes. Once the vocals come in, the song starts picking up into the territory of great. But then right around the two minute forty-five second mark? Pure bliss. The song both devolves and progresses into this herky jerky post punk disco jam session of both rage and joy. It's both gorgeous and too abrasive, which means it's basically a perfect song.

You can listen to "Sludge" below. The song is available now via Warp Records. For more on Squid, check them out Facebook and Twitter.

Thurston Moore - "Telegraph"

No matter how much we might love Sonic Youth and/or Thurston Moore, some of his music can be more... challenging of a listen. The man recently released a three disc nearly three hour album of experimental noise. Not exactly a fun listen. His latest release (a song shorter than four minutes!) dates back to his days with Chelsea Light Moving. As Thurston explains: 

"A song written in Seattle, Washington in 2014 on tour as Chelsea Light Moving. Originally performed on the great KEXP-FM as 'The Exstasie' with lyrics taken from a poem by John Donne (1572-1631) of the same name. Later re-mixed in London, UK with re-recorded vox + lyrics self-penned as a flashlight to the future of a planet in desperate need of love and rock n' soul activism. Chelsea Light Moving, though we made but one LP, was a sweet group and I'll always adore these cats, the memories of travel and dialogue and the times we spent making music and honest friendship. London had come a-calling and love was truly a-beckoning, and now we all stand as fighters for an Earth in need of natural respect and dignity."

Personally, this is what I truly want from Thurston Moore. It's loud, aggressive, and noisy, but it's still a song. Sure, I have no idea what his lyrics mean, but I never did. And that's not why we listen to Thurston Moore, anyway.

You can listen to "Telegraph" below. The song is currently available on Thurston Moore's Bandcamp. For more on Thurston Moore, check out his website.

Midweek Mayhem: Coronavirus Isolation Collaboration Edition

What are the songs to get you through this weird time? Ken and I have you covered with ten songs each about isolation, viral infections, being alone, and whatever else. Shuffle and enjoy with artists ranging from Anthrax to Tiffany to Kanye West!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Gouge Away Covers The Pixies

Photo by Ron Yamaski
It's probably not a surprise that a band named Gouge Away are fans of the Pixies. The Fort Lauderdale band have decided to not cover their namesake, but instead the classic "Wave of Mutilation." Despite it being a very faithful cover, singer Christina Michelle brings a ferocity to the song not heard in the original. That's not to say that this is a hardcore version of the song: There's definitely a spirit of fun to be had, and maybe a sense of brattiness more like The Muffs than the Pixies. 

You can listen to Gouge Away's version of "Wave of Mutilation" below. 25% of the 7" sales for the single ("Wave of Mutilation" is the B-side) are being donated to rescue.org. You can get your copy through Bandcamp. For more on Gouge Away, check out their website.

Bite Me Bambi - "Hot Lava"

Ska punk is one of the most hated musical genres in existence. Most of us probably went through a slight phase the last time it exploded in the mid/late 90's, or we hated it passionately back then. This is a huge confession for a music snob such as myself: It has always been a guilty pleasure for me, even though I know I'm far too old for it. It's been over twenty years since ska's most recent surge of popularity, so we're probably due for another one. Enter Orange County's Bite Me Bambi. Their latest single, "Hot Lava," is exactly what we want (or don't) in ska punk. The song is ridiculously fun, and at the very least we could use some fun right now. Led by singer Tahlena Chikami (who is also an actress that has appeared in Parks and Recreation and Jane the Virgin), the seven piece band have crafted an absurdly catchy song. The band also features members of Save Ferris, MySuperhero, and Starpool, for a little past cred.

You can watch the video for "Hot Lava" below. For more on Bite Me Bambi, check them out on Facebook.

First Listen: New Releases for 20 March

As a bit of a movie buff, the fact that most theaters are closed and releases are being delayed, music isn't experiencing the same massive delays. Fingers crossed that it continues.

Artist: Lapsley
Album: Through Water
Quick Description: Gorgeous, synthy pop music.
Why You Should Listen: Interesting enough to be worth a look even if it's mainstream enough to have wide appeal.
Overall Thoughts: I honestly wasn't looking to listen to this, but whoever is on Lapsley's marketing team got some prime placement in the Spotify algorithm and the result an album I really enjoyed. On a gloomy Friday in the age of coronavirus, this is the sort of stark, haunting thing I needed to start my day, and it's something that has a sound that's equal parts mainstream-ready and builds upon so many other indie acts from artsy European locales.
Recommendation: This is worth the time.

Artist: Mapache
Album: From Liberty Street
Quick Description: Some southwestern-flavored folk music.
Why You Should Listen: This is super catchy and has a broad appeal.
Overall Thoughts: I figured I'd like this just knowing where it was coming from, but this whole approach gives me some David Wax Museum vibes, some fun folk vibes... the whole package is just a nice listen from start to finish and has a ton of stuff to go back to. Great for folkies both traditional and adventurous.
Recommendation: Make time for this one.

Artist: Beauty Pill
Album: Sorry You're Here
Quick Description: Some great, compelling electronic music.
Why You Should Listen: They don't put out music very often, but when they do, it's essential.
Overall Thoughts: This is such an interesting record. So much happening here, and we missed it earlier this year but I'm glad I caught up. Given that this is (finally) the release of a score for a play from a decade ago, the presentation of this is a record that really forces you to sit up and listen from time to time, and the oddness enhances, rather than distorts, the entire experience. This won't be for everyone, but it was so for me.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Artist: SARN
Quick Description: A rap(?) album produced by John Vanderslice(?!)
Why You Should Listen: This is like what I think Soundcloud rap is like.
Overall Thoughts: I only learned of the Vanderslice connection as I wrote this, and suddenly some of this makes sense. I don't really understand it, and I don't know why I find it so compelling, but let's be clear: it's SUPER compelling. "TALKIN2COPS" is great, the leadoff tracks are great, and this is a marathon nine songs that are really worth the time. Won't be for everyone, but I loved it.
Recommendation: Give it a shot.

Artist: Sea Wolf
Album: Through a Dark Wood
Quick Description: The latest from the quiet, folk-rock indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Sea Wolf has been perpetually underrated since their start.
Overall Thoughts: I remember absolutely adoring "You're a Wolf" from their debut however long ago, and then they kind of dropped off my radar. Every time I hear new music, I think "man, how did I forget this band was so good?" Through a Dark Wood is a pretty even-keeled, high-quality Sea Wolf record. Feels like springtime in the woods, and it's exactly what I was looking for this week.
Recommendation: Make time!

Of note:

* Lyra Pramuk - Fountain (Avant-garde instrumentals done fully through vocals.)
* Mute Duo - Lapse in Passage (If you're seeking out some instrumental post-rock, carve out 45 for this.)
* Conan Gray - Kid Krow (In an era where literally any YouTuber can release an album, this is surprisingly solid. Some great moments here.)
* Becca Stevens - Wonderbloom (This is pretty uneven, but it's worth a listen or two to find the stuff that's really great.)
* Childish Gambino - 3.15.20 (This is the best Weeknd record out this week.)
* The Hannah Yoter Band - Say Goodbye (Some solid country/folk here.)
* Morrissey - I Am Not a Dog on a Chain (Roll your eyes as the weird uncle, but there's some solid stuff here.)
* Julia Holter - Never Rarely Sometimes Always (Soundtrack/score, really good.)
* Empty County - Empty Country
* Phantom Posse - Forever Underground
* Gemini Eye - Murdered Arc Remains
* Georgia Ruth - Mai
* Roger Eno and Brian Eno - Mixing Colours
* Moaning - Uneasy Laughter

Seven song albums:

* Haru Nemuri - LOVETHEISM


* Eliza and The Delusionals - A State of Living in an Objective Reality (Possible new favorite band alert!)
* Sad Penny - Nightside (Another possible new favorite band alert!)
* Hayley Williams - Petals for Armor I (Didn't think the Paramore singer would engage me so much.)
* Alex Takton - After the Club Closes
* Julia Bardo - Phase
* Happy Spendy - Ready When You Are
* Bloodshot Bill/Televisionaries - Spit on My Rubber
* Wacahatchee - Can't Do Much

Also out:

* The Weeknd - After Hours (To give you an idea, one lyric is “Futuristic sex, I give her Philip K Dick.")
* TOKiMONSTA - Oasis Nocturno
* Delta Rae - The Light

Monday, March 23, 2020

War On Alexandria Covers Soundgarden

Photo via Facebook
Boston rockers War On Alexandria have gifted us all with a cover of the Soundgarden classic "Black Hole Sun." Being a true music snob, "Black Home Sun" is of course one of my least favorite Soundgarden songs, but I can't deny that it's a classic for a reason. War On Alexandria do a stripped down acoustic version with only guitar and vocals by Liam McCain and Emma Keefe. Stripping the song down this way does alleviate the overdone aspect that I never cared for in the original, which helps bring out the emotion in the song. It's a powerful version of the song that changes it up slightly while staying true to the original.

You can watch the video for War On Alexandria's take on "Black Hole Sun" below. For more on War On Alexandria, check them out on Facebook.

Sweet Soubrette - "Typhoid Mary"

Photo via Facebook
It's been a few years since we've heard from Sweet Soubrette, aka Ellia Bisker's (Charming Disaster) solo project. Her new single, "Typhoid Mary," is inspired by the coronavirus pandemic and is about Mary Mallon, who infected dozens of people with typhoid while showing no symptoms until she was imprisoned in quarantine. It's a two minute quickie song that fits with Charming Disaster's dark folk cabaret while being more pop, which is what we expect from Sweet Soubrette. Plus, the addition of "Ring Around the Rosie" added in the middle just adds to the creepy factor.

You can listen to "Typhoid Mary" below. The song is available now on Sweet Soubrette's Bandcamp. For more on Sweet Soubrette, check out her website.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Answering Machine - "Cherry Coke"

Last month we brought you "Bad Luck," the wonderfully grown up slice of pop punk from Brooklyn's Answering Machine. Their latest single, "Cherry Coke," is one of my favorite punk tropes: The homage to sugary sweet 60's teen pop. "Cherry Coke" is a the kind of song that bands like the Ramones or The Queers did. It's a gorgeous power pop song that would sound like something The Archies would have done if the guitars weren't just a little too biting and fuzzy for. Samantha and JD's vocals intertwine in some of the best harmonies we've ever heard in a punk song. 

According to vocalist and guitarist J.D. Fetcho (and I promise I wrote the above paragraph before reading this...): “‘Cherry Coke’ is a love song about fever dreams, bloody noses, and candy canes. “It’s for all the old folks who want to settle down but still have some fun. This one’s inspired by a love of Buddy Holly, 60s pop music, and The Ramones.”

You can listen to "Cherry Coke" below. Bad Luck, the debut album from Answering Machine, will be out April 17 on Wiretap Records. For more on Answering Machine, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Activity - "Nude Prince"

Photo by Ebru Yildiz
Activity, the NYC semi-supergroup featuring members of Grooms, Field Mouse, and Russian Baths, are back with another single from their upcoming debut album. "Nude Prince" continues the trip hop meets shoegaze sound we loved from their previous single. If anything, "Nude Prince" dives further into the dark side of trip hop. It's a black hole of a song, sucking everything into itself the longer you listen. It's an impossibly slow song with a drum and bass rhythm and a shoegaze fuzz swirling the entire thing together.

The band explains the song: "Those icy synths for whatever reason made me think of the title and I worked back from that into this idea of what happens to the families of people, specifically men, who do shitty things, especially after they get caught. This one was pretty much totally cut together piece by piece in the studio, not live at all."

You can listen to "Nude Prince" below. Unmask Whoever, the upcoming album from Activity, will be out March 27 on Western Vinyl. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Activity, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Tysk Tysk Task - "Witchcraft"

It's doubtful that Tysk Tysk Task wrote their latest single, "Witchcraft," in the past week. Somehow, they've captured the desperation and insanity we've all felt in the world. "Witchcraft" is a weirdo indie rock freak out that keeps building and building and building in intensity and tension as it progresses. It works within the standard loud/quiet/loud format indie rock has functioned inside for over thirty years, but the quiet parts get more desperate and needy each time they come by. Samantha Hartsel's vocals are more impassioned than we've heard before. Their upcoming album will be the rare thing to look forward to this month.

You can listen to "Witchcraft" below. The debut album from Tysk Tysk Task will be released March 27. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Tysk Tysk Task, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Look Out for my Love: A Neil Young Covers Album to Benefit RAICES

There are plenty of Neil Young covers albums out there, with varying levels of quality. Look Out for my Love: A Neil Young Covers Album to Benefit RAICES is one of the better ones I've heard. It doesn't hurt that it's also one of the strangest, with songs that mangle and warp Young's classic songs (in the best possible way)!

It starts out pretty standard, with Halfsour taking on "Words Between the Line of Age." The Boston band give us a fairly faithful cover, with noise and killer guitar solos in all the right places. And then it gets weird. Bluffs turn the mellow, guitar driven "Albuquerque" into a chilled out electronic noise song. For "Heart of Gold," Shy Violet go even slower and more traditional than the original. Spit Take take the "Transformer Man" from Neil's weirdo electronic period and go pop punk with it. "Only Love Can Break Your Heart" is one of the more mainstream Americana songs in the Neil Young catalog, so Yeehaw Junction go in the opposite direction of their moniker and turn it into electropop. Julie Karr keeps the fuzz of "Rockin in the Free World" but turns it into a solo song. Adult Mom's "Harvest Moon" is a rare faithful to the original version. "Don't Cry No Tears" is taken even further into the Americana side of The Replacements by Adult Magic. To close it all out, Wren Kitz takes the classic "Cortez the Killer" into a world that you need to hear.

You can listen to Rick Rude's version of "Everyone Knows This is Nowhere" below. Look Out for my Love: A Neil Young Covers Album to Benefit RAICES is available now via Bandcamp. For more information on RAICES Texas, check out their website.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

First Listen: New Releases for 13 March

You'd think that, in a pandemic with #socialdistancing and the like, I could get my [radio edit] together and post on time. Sorry.

Artist: CocoRosie
Album: Put the Shine On
Quick Description: The perpetually odd sister duo with a very accessible record.
Why You Should Listen: It's probably the most mainstream CocoRosie effort... ever?
Overall Thoughts: When "Restless" landed a few weeks back, I was kind of shocked because I could imagine this getting some love on at least independent radio. It's a far cry from their hip-hop tinged folk stuff early on, that's for sure. They're still strange and this is still a weird listen, but not that weird. It's worth some time if you've ever been interested in CocoRosie, but probably worth the time anyway.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Yumi Zouma
Album: Truth or Consequences
Quick Description: Latest from the alt-indie favorite.
Why You Should Listen: They're just as modern retro as ever.
Overall Thoughts: Yumi Zouma is a Polyvinyl act now, and it's just such a good spot for a band that has been cranking out some gorgeous, dreamy indie pop for some time. What I like about these guys are how nothing overpowers anything else, which is often a problem with bands that have such a distinct tone. It's not too heavy on the beats, not too drenched in the synths, not reliant on vocal craziness. It's just really great. "Cool for a Second" grabbed me in a way their early songs did, and I just really fell in love with this.
Recommendation: Definitely worth the time.

Artist: Magdelena Bay
Album: A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling
Quick Description: Great weird-pop-adjacent fun.
Why You Should Listen: It's an EP-length dose of some great tunes.
Overall Thoughts: Not to judge an album by its cover, but it's impossible not to smile at the cover because you know exactly what's coming. Then, when you listen? It delivers. I hope to hear more sooner rather than later, but this is just such a fun little find this week that it shouldn't be missed.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Koven
Album: Butterfly Effect
Quick Description: Genre-shifting electronic music.
Why You Should Listen: This is a really solid album with a lot of weird underground buzz for it.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be honest: I have no clue how this hit my radar. None at all. Koven is a pretty well regarded drum and bass act, apparently, but this definitely shifts things around a bit and becomes a really fascinating listen that scratches so many itches for me. It's a winner in my book, and probably the album I've been most excited to go back to.
Recommendation: Make some good time for this one.

Artist: ROOKIE
Quick Description: Long-awaited debut album from the indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: I'm not sure how they've hit so many radars, but here we are.
Overall Thoughts: Like, I'm hearing about this everywhere. You too, right? Either way, this is the sort of indie/alt record you always liked digging out of the racks at Newbury back in the day, and would be the type of thing you'd hand off to your friends as the next big thing. Convinced?
Recommendation: Yeah, you want to hear this.

Artist: The Exbats
Album: Kicks, Hits and Fits
Quick Description: Latest from the indie rockers who care not for your Oxford Comma preferences.
Why You Should Listen: The Exbats are equal parts angsty, witty, and fun.
Overall Thoughts: We fell for these guys last year with their collection of indie songs, and when we heard "I Got the Hots for Charlie Watts," we realized we were ready for something special. This album delivers, to be clear, but it also feels a little different and has a slight maturity beyond their early stuff. It's all great!
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.

Artist: Deap Lips
Album: Deap Lips
Quick Description: The Flaming Lips and Deap Vally join forces.
Why You Should Listen: It's getting heavy, but I thought it was already as heavy as can be.
Overall Thoughts: They're a pretty good match, I'll be honest. In a way, I feel like Deap Vally has some reflection of the early, rougher-edged Flaming Lips, and Deap Vally could have always used a little extra oomph. This whole thing feels more like a cohesive unit than you'd think, and it's just a modern psychedelic joy ride.
Recommendation: Worth the time.

Artist: Strawberry Generation
Album: Afloat
Quick Description: If twee is still a thing, this is it.
Why You Should Listen: This is going to hit up all your nostalgia triggers.
Overall Thoughts: I remember at some point in the early 2000s when Belle & Sebastian were having their moment and the indie kids turned on the idea of "twee" as a thing. This album is one we missed in the early year and I'm sad I did because this was just a great slice of fun indie pop with some truly great and memorable songs. A good time to have for all.
Recommendation: Don't miss out on this.

Of note:

* The Boomtown Rats - Citizens of Boomtown (I was ready to roll my eyes, but this is an eminently enjoyable 40 minute romp.)
* Dave Simonett - Red Tail (Trampled by Turtles frontman.)
* Sam Doores - Sam Doores (Deslondes frontman.)
* Porches - Ricky Music (I found this to be interesting. Might not work for everyone, though.)
* Peter Bjorn and John - Endless Dream (They're somehow still making quality indie pop.)
* Hilary Woods - Birthmarks
* Briana Marela - Speak From Your Heart
* Four Tet - Sixteen Oceans
* Caitlyn Smith - Supernova
* Lauren Ruth Ward - Vol. II
* Honey Cutt - Coasting


* Lily Konigsberg - It's Just Like All the Clouds
* Charlotte Dos Santos - Harvest Time
* Anna Lynch - Apples in the Fall
* Muncie Girls - Besides the Point
* Joywave - Possession

Also out:

* Grouplove - Healer
* JFDR - New Dreams