Monday, August 31, 2020

Izzy Heltai - "Songbird"

Photo by Joanna Chattman
The latest from Western Massachusetts's Izzy Heltai is an Americana/indie rock masterpiece. "Songbird" exists purely in the world of contemporary mainstream folk while still having his own edge to his music to make the snobbiest of music fans happy. "Songbird" is a perfect example of that. It has all the twang you want in modern Americana, while still being incredibly pop, and having some of the intensity and uniqueness of indie rock. 

Izzy Heltai explains how "Songbird" came to be:

"I spend a lot of my time on the road, playing wherever anyone might listen to me. Whether or not this is the most strategic move for my career is yet to be determined, but I can say I have a lot of fun. I end up sleeping in my car a decent amount and am no stranger to the luxuries a Walmart parking lot can offer when on the road. I was in Pittsburgh one night in early June. At this point, I’d been touring for about a month and a half and was pretty drained. As a rule of thumb, many of us road trippers, car campers, or just plain ole’ masochists know that it’s Walmart’s common practice to allow overnight parking for the purposes of a good night's rest. This was the night I learned it’s apparently not a nationwide policy. Thankfully, the security guard who found me, cozied up in my sleeping bag, half-awake and reading a book by flashlight, took pity on me and gently encouraged me, while profusely apologizing, to try the abandoned parking lot adjacent to the one I was currently in. I thanked her and went on my way. I woke up the next morning with this melody in my head. The lyrics came pretty quickly, and after about an hour this song came into existence."

You can listen to "Songbird" below. Father, the debut album from Izzy Heltai, will be out October 9. For more on Izzy Heltai, check out his website.

Carissa Johnson and Steph Curran Cover Nena

Photo via Facebook
As soon as I heard that Carissa Johnson was going to be releasing a cover of Nena's iconic "99 Luftballons," I was filled with the kind of joy I haven't felt in months. Obviously Carissa Johnson is one of my favorite current Boston singer/songwriters and "99 Luftballons" is one of my all time favorite songs. Plus, I love covers, so it's a win all around. That joy was quickly doubled once I actually heard the song. Johnson's version is a perfect cover. You can tell she's having a fabulous time with this one, it's incredibly close to the original (although a little more guitar heavy, which isn't a bad thing), and it's the German version, which gives it a little more cred. Johnson is singing purely phonetically, and I'm sure anyone who speaks German would know, but being an ignorant one language American, it sounds good to me. Plus, I never realized how much Johnson's voice sounds like Nena. You're going to need to listen to this one. It's even better than you could possibly imagine.

You can watch the video for Carissa Johnson and Steph Curran's version of "99 Luftballons" below. For more on Carissa Johnson, check out her website.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Heather Valley featuring Katey Morley Covers Tom T. Hall

Picture via Facebook
Heather Valley is one of our favorite new musical discoveries of the past year. She has her own unique spin on modern folk/Americana that works for us. Her new single continues the streak of killer songs. For her cover of Tom T. Hall's "How I Got to Memphis," Valley brings in Katey Morley for additional vocals. The song is a quiet folk song, with just the two voices and a softly strummed guitar. Although it's a soft and quiet song, it's pretty upbeat and almost fast paced. It's a lovely song that doesn't use any flourishes, but still sucks the listener in fully. "How I Got to Memphis" has such perfect harmonies that Valley and Morley's vocals almost completely blend into one.

You can listen to "How I Got to Memphis" below. It will be included on Heather Valley's upcoming album, Wildflower Radio, due out this Fall. For more on Heather Valley, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

MOURN - "This Feeling is Disgusting"

No band makes us feel quite as old as Spain's MOURN. We're probably (definitely) old enough to be every member of the band's dads, but how are we supposed to resist a song like "This Feeling is Disgusting?" It's a two minute burst of pure noisy power pop. Fuzzy and jangly guitars combine into this perfect song that combines 90's indie rock with punk and pop. Plus, the ever so slightly off tune vocals and the shouted gang vocals just pull the entire thing together. If that still doesn't sell you on the joy of MOURN, according to their Bandcamp profile their influences include PJ Harvey, Sebadoh, Sleater Kinney, and Patti Smith. You simply can't go wrong with that.

You can listen to "This Feeling is Disgusting" below. Self Worth, the upcoming album from MOURN, is due out on October 30. You can pre-order a copy via the band's Bandcamp. For more on MOURN, check out their Facebook.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Air Traffic Controller - "Sometimes"

Air Traffic Controller have become a fixture of the Boston music scene for the past eleven years. Their blend of indie pop even sucks in indie rock snobs that hate all things pop (myself included). Their latest single, as with their upcoming album, was recorded in quarantine using socially distant techniques. Singer/songwriter Dave Munro had one of his bandmates recording him on a laptop while he performed vocals in a booth her constructed in his garage. Luckily, home recording techniques are at the point that "Sometimes" is just as shiny and polished as anything else in Air Traffic Controller's discography. It's the kind of upbeat, cheery song that we kind of need to hear in times like this. Positive vibes are welcome these days, and "Sometimes" delivers those. This is despite the fact that the song is about the end of an actual relationship. 

You can listen to "Sometimes" below. Air Traffic Controller are still working on album number five, which should be out in 2021. For more on Air Traffic Controller, check out the band's website.

Peach Kelli Pop - "Cut Me Off"

Peach Kelli Pop, aka Allie Hanlon, has gotten a lot of attention here at If It's Too Loud... for good reason. The band's earlier work was great, but it could be a little too cute at times. Hanlon's sound has matured quite a bit with her new single, "Cut Me Off." The new song has a slight dream pop vibe, but with more of an edge. The sound is still sugary sweet, but with a more lived in, experienced feel. It hearkens back to the girl group sound of the 50's, but with some modern cynicism thrown in. That could be from the subject matter of "Cut Me Off." According to Hanlon, ""This song is about lacking the strength to walk away from a situation you know is harmful to you. It's about really wanting a relationship to work (whether it be romantic or a friendship) and hanging on, but knowing deep down that it won't work out."

You can listen to "Cut Me Off" below. Lucky Star, the new EP from Peach Kelli Pop, will be out October 9 on Lauren Records. You can pre-order some pretty sweet bundles over at Bandcamp. For more on Peach Kelli Pop, check out the artist's website.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

First Listen: New Releases for 21 August

Artist: Old 97's
Album: Twelfth
Quick Description: Latest album from the alt-rock band. Can you guess which number?
Why You Should Listen: Old 97's remain one of the more consistent bands out there.
Overall Thoughts: Be real: have they put out a bad album? They have a lot of good albums, and maybe not every one is memorable, but it is such a pleasant surprise every time we get an album anyway, and the band is so consistent in songwriting and quality that it's difficult to think of a band that does what they do better for so long. This is unlikely to be anyone's favorite Old 97's album, but...
Recommendation:'s likely to be one of your favorites this week.

Artist: Alex the Astronaut
Album: The Theory of Absolutely Nothing
Quick Description: Debut album from an Australian singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: It's bright, gorgeous singer-songwriter stuff.
Overall Thoughts: This came out nowhere for me. I hadn't heard of Alex the Astronaut, but the name caught my eye and the album cover was great, so why not? Turns out this was the best thing I heard this week. A lot of fun stuff here from a fresh new voice on the scene and with plenty to love from start to finish. Absolutely the album I'm most excited to get back to this week.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Girl Friday
Album: Androgynous Mary
Quick Description: Debut album from the alt-rock group.
Why You Should Listen: This has a sense of urgency lacking from a lot of recent rock music.
Overall Thoughts: I've been into Girl Friday since hearing some of their first songs hit Spotify, but each advance single from this album got me more and more interested in this album. The end result, on first listen, is a brooding effort that has plenty to unpack. It feels very much of the moment (and not just because we're all collectively in isolation), and it's an album that should have some legs. Great for those looking for a little edge.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Bully
Quick Description: New album from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Less a return to form and more a destruction of said form.
Overall Thoughts: I loved Bully's poppier alt-rock-tinged debut, and had some struggles with the follow-up effort. SUGAREGG, however, is loud and brash and really takes no prisoners in its approach. It's a super interesting listen not only when considered as part of the whole catalog, but also in terms of such a surprisingly aggressive effort in and of itself. I loved it, and you might too.
Recommendation: Definitely something you should give a shot.

Artist: The Front Bottoms
Album: In Sickness and In Flames
Quick Description: Some fun power pop from a New Jersey band.
Why You Should Listen: This is far from first effort, but's probably their most cohesive.
Overall Thoughts: The Front Bottoms have been at this for a while, and their brand of poppy, melodic rock music was good but a dime a dozen. Something about this new album, though, brings it all together in a way that should be a breakthrough for the act if there's any justice in the world. There's a lot of fun stuff here and this is an album that had me grooving during its entire run time. Don't miss out on this.
Recommendation: An awesome listen.

Artist: Maya Hawke
Album: Blush
Quick Description: Famous actress does music, and does it well.
Why You Should Listen: It's a great album, not only because it's a famous person doing it.
Overall Thoughts: Yes, you know her from Stranger Things and you know her parents (Ethan Hawke and Uma Thurman), but her music is a type of folk effort that makes you pay a little more attention. She's clearly a talented performer and songwriter on top of her acting chops, and I can only hope I would have found this had I not known who she was before.
Recommendation: Make time for this.

Of note:

* Dent May - Late Checkout (Dent May continues to be pretty consistent on a whole.)
* Siv Jakobsen - A Temporary Soothing (One of the prettier albums of recent memory.)
* I LIKE TRAINS - KOMPROMAT (This is a pretty wild album.)
* No Joy - Motherhood (A solid listen.)
* The Lemon Twigs - Songs for the General Public (I don't see this working for everyone, but it's a fascinating effort.)
* Bright Eyes - Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was
* Emma Jane - Bars and Ballrooms
* L.A. Witch - Play With Fire
* Matmos - The Consuming Flame: Open Exercises in Group Form
* Erasure - The Neon
* Cut Copy - Freeze, Melt
* Devon Kay and The Solutions - Limited Joy
* Naked Giants - The Shadow

Seven Song Albums:

* Mamie Minch - Slow Burn


* Future Teens - Sensitive Sessions (Yes, there's a cover of Smash Mouth's "All Star" here, and yes, it's good.)
* Troye Sivan - In a Dream
* Kate Bollinger - A Word Becomes a Sound
* Guster - Zeno Mountain EP
* Perlee - Half Seen Figure
* Chong the Nomad - A Long Walk
* Rachel Angel - Highway Songs
* 0171 - Change Nothing
* Snow Patrol and the Saturday Songwriters - The Fireside Sessions
* sophie meiers - you and me again
* Surfer Blood - Hardboiled

Also out:

* Chuck Prophet - The Land That Time Forgot
* Cold War Kids - New Age Norms 2
* Guided by Voices - Mirrored Aztec
* The Mavericks - En Espanol
* Kero One - Chillhop and Jazzy Beats
* Ransom Pier - New York, NY 2/16/20 (Live)
* Jerry Joseph - The Beautiful Madness

The Venomous Pinks Cover H2O

H2O are just one of those bands. I got into them at my very first Warped Tour (1996?) and I've been into them off and on ever since, even if listening to them makes me feel ancient at times. Even so, there's no denying how iconic "5 Yr. Plan" is. That song will always suck me in no matter what my mood is, and it's deeply tied into some pretty great memories of my 20's. 

Which is why I'm so thrilled with The Venomous Pinks covering "5 Yr. Plan." We already know their killer cover of Joan Jett's "I Want You," so we know they can rock a cover song with the best of them. This one is a remote quarantine cover, and their love of H2O and the original comes right through. It's a nearly note for note rendition, with the only difference being the gang vocal chorus is only two people. It's a fun cover, perfect if you love H2O, The Venomous Pinks, or both (which should be the case).

You can watch the video of The Venomous Pinks's cover of "5 Yr. Plan" below. For more on The Venomous Pinks, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Fenne Lily - "Solipsism"

Photo by Nicole Loucaides
It's a fair statement that we're becoming more and more obsessed with Fenne Lily's music the closer we get to next month's release of BREACH. Luckily, there's a new single for us to obsess over. "Solipsism" is a fuzzed out song, landing somewhere between grunge and dream pop. It's heavier than what we've previously heard from Lily, but it still has just the slightest of hints of pop that we expect from her. It's this combination of skirting the indie rock and indie pop worlds that we're truly loving from Lily, and we can't wait to hear more from her. 

Fenne Lily says of the video for "Solipsism": 

"A lot of situations make me uncomfortable — some parties, most dates, every time I’m stoned in the supermarket. Solipsism’ is a song about being comfortable with being uncomfortable and the freedom that comes with that. If you feel weird for long enough it becomes normal, and feeling anything is better than feeling nothing. I wanted this video to be a reflection of the scary thought that I’ll have to live with myself forever. It’s surreal to realise you’ll never live apart from someone you sometimes hate. Dad, if you’re reading this you killed it as shopper number 2.

You can watch the video for Solipsism below. BREACH, the upcoming album from Fenne Lily, will be out September 18 on Dead Oceans. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Fenne Lily, check out her Facebook and Twitter. European tour dates are below the video, in case we didn't have enough to be jealous of Europeans about already.

Fri. April 30 - Brussels, BE @ Grand Salon
Sat. May 1 - Amsterdam, NL @ Bitterzoet
Mon. May 3 - Hamburg, DE @ Nochtspeicher
Tue. May 4 - Copenhagen, DK @ Ideal Bar
Thu. May 6 - Berlin, DE @ Frannz
Fri. May 7 - Munich, DE @ Mila
Sat. May 8 - Zurich, SE @ Exil
Sun. May 9 - Milan, IT @ Magnolia
Tue. May 11 - Frankfurt, DE @ Das Bett
Wed. May 12 - Paris, FR @ Le Pop Up
Mon. May 17 - Leicester, UK @ The Cookie
Tue. May 18 - Liverpool, UK @ Phase One
Wed. May 19 - Dublin, IE @ The Workman’s Club
Fri. May 21 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club
Sat. May 22 - Glasgow, UK @ King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut
Sun. May 23 - Birmingham, UK @ Dead Wax
Tue. May 25 - Manchester, UK @ Deaf Institute
Wed. May 26 - London, UK @ Omeara
Thu. May 27 - Cambridge, UK @ The Portland Arms
Fri. May 28 - Bristol, UK @ Thekla

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

The Persian Leaps - "Lost Cause"

We've been writing about Minneapolis's The Persian Leaps for almost as long as If It's Too Loud... has existed. Their blend of 90's-ish bouncy alt-rock is kind of our thing, so we're going to excuse them for this one. According to Drew Forsberg, their new song was inspired by:

"The Simon & Garfunkel song "America" came up on my iPhone. As I was singing along to the great lines "Cathy, I'm lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping", I was inspired to write a song with a slight twist on those lyrics: "Kathy, I'm a lost cause." So, I started singing it to myself and had the first two-thirds of the song worked out by the time I was done skiing. When I got home, I figured out the chords and finished it up. That never happens! The song is a fairly tongue-in-cheek, exaggerated take on lack of self-confidence; honeslty, the lyrics are basically a delivery mechanism for the hooks in the verses and choruses. I don't really know anyone named Cathy. Or Kathy."

Normally a song inspired by Simon & Garfunkel would be a hard pass for me, but I already love The Persian Leaps. "Lost Cause" is a great song that no one is going to confuse with a Simon & Garfunkel song. It's much more in the realm of Teenage Fanclub or Guided by Voices. "Lost Cause" is a great indie rock/power pop song with just the hints of some post punk thrown in there. Longtime fans of The Persian Leaps are going to rejoice for this one.

You can listen to "Lost Cause" below. Smiling Lessons, the new EP from The Persian Leaps, will be out September 18 on Land Ski Music. You can pre-order a copy via their Bandcamp. For more on The Persian Leaps, check out their website.

Wise Intelligent - "Omnicide"

Poor Righteous Teachers are a legendary hip hop group that ran from 1989 to 1996. They're one of those groups that I forget existed and then experience pure joy when I am reminded of them. Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers is back with a new song produced by Snowgoons. "Omnicide" will remind you of why we all loved his previous group back in the 90's. It's a laid back while still being intense song. Wise Intelligent's vocals will make any song he's involved with intense. This is a modern take on the classic PRT sound. It sounds like 2020 without any of the trappings of modern hip hop.

You can listen to "Omnicide" below. This is the first of four new songs from a Wise Intelligent/Snowgoons collaboration that will be released each Friday. For more on Wise Intelligent, check out the artist's Instagram. For more on Snowgoons, check them out on Facebook.

Monday, August 24, 2020

Juanita Stein - "The Mavericks"

The latest from Juanita Stein's upcoming album has a certain eerie quality, despite being absolutely beautiful. "The Mavericks" is far from a folk song, even though it keeps some very basic elements of Americana. This is a quiet indie rock song that can be a difficult listen, even without the more noisy, confrontational sounds typically associated with difficult indie rock. And, yes, it's still a completely beautiful song. This challenging aspect is what will keep you going back to "The Mavericks" multiple times while we wait for Juanita Stein's upcoming album.

Juanita Stein says of the new song: "’’The Mavericks’ is a song that came together over a few years. The first half I’d already had written, the lyrics came in one blessed burst of lyrical expression, then I stashed it away, not knowing quite what to do with it. I was later able to complete it, whilst writing the songs for ‘Snapshot’. With the razor-edged perspective loss can bring, finding the right words became a lot easier for me. Sonically and lyrically, I wanted the song to rise and fall, swell and intensify, mirroring the cyclical nature of life.”

You can listen to "The Mavericks" below. Snapshot, the new album from Juanita Stein, will be out October 2 on Nude Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Juanita Stein, check out her website.

The Dead Milkmen Cover Heaven 17

It's been far too long since we've heard from The Dead Milkmen, but luckily they're back with an unfortunately timely cover of Heaven 17's 1981 Margaret Thatcher/Ronald Reagan era song "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang." This is another song I was completely unfamiliar with, but I'll obviously listen to anything The Dead Milkmen put out. It's an impossibly groovy cover, bordering on ska and it's the most danceable song they've put out since reuniting. Despite being a song about fascists that drips with justifiable anger, it's somehow a complete blast of a song.

You can listen to The Dead Milkmen take on "(We Don't Need This) Fascist Groove Thang" below. The song is available digitally and as a 7" via The Giving Groove. The first pressing sold out a while back, but you can get a copy of the second pressing here. For more on The Dead Milkmen, check out their website.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Lunchbox - "Dream Parade"

Tim Brown and Donna McKean have been making music as Lunchbox since the 1990's. I distinctly remember greatly enjoying their 1999 album The Magic of Sound back in my college radio days. They are now back with a new song, "Dream Parade." The new song is what would now be called dream pop. It stops just short of whimsical, and is a beautiful, mid-tempo little jam. The song is impossible catchy, and is far more inventive and sonically interesting than you would realize upon first listen. It's also ninety seconds long, which is an anomaly for this genre of music. It's just enough to leave us wanting to hear a whole lot more from Lunchbox in 2020.

You can watch the video for "Dream Parade" below. After School Special, the upcoming album from Lunchbox, is due October 30 on Slumberland Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Lunchbox, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Ian Wayne - "Gimme Something"

Photo by Ian Wayne
The latest from Ian Wayne is a perfect example of turning pain into something beautiful. "Gimme Something" was written after the death of Wayne's three year old nephew. According to Wayne, "It’s about being destructive, and about oblivion-seeking behavior--about needing help. I think the pain we’re trying to escape boomerangs back no matter how hard we throw it. This song is about how pain returns, sometimes in perfect detail, when we want to be farthest from it." Given the subject matter and Wayne's explanation, you'd expect a far more somber song, which is how it starts out. Wayne's vocals express the somber feeling of the subject, while the quiet guitar exposes the positive feel of the song. Overall, "Gimme Something" is shockingly uplifting. As the song builds, it becomes more of a celebration than a typical example of mourning. 

You can watch the video for "Gimme Something" below. Risking Illness, the upcoming album from Ian Wayne, will be out September 18 on Whatever's Clever. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Ian Wayne, check him out on Facebook.

Idle Pilot - "Blind Initiation"

Lowell, MA is one of the very few dying mill cities that has successfully turned itself into an artists' community. With that is an insane number of great bands, the latest of which (that we've discovered, at least) is Idle Pilot. Their latest song, "Blind Initiation," is the kind of indie rock that made us love the genre. They do the loud/quiet/loud thing in a new way. They more ease you into one from the other in a much more subtle way. Plus, "Blind Initiation" works its way from a more abrasive, Fugazi-like cacophony to a much more tuneful, harmonic blend of indie rock so quickly you can barely register it.

You can listen to "Blind Initiation" below. Balancing Act, the new album from Idle Pilot, will be out on September 9. Currently the album is available as a pre-order bundle that includes a digital download, t-shirt, stickers, and a cassette, somehow for only $10.00. And all proceeds from this option go to Violence in Boston. You can get your copy via Bandcamp. For more on Idle Pilot, check out their Facebook and Instagram.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Maxwell Stern featuring Laura Stevenson - "Left in the Living Room"

We're obviously going to listen to anything Laura Stevenson is involved with. Our Laura Stevenson fandom is very well documented here. Her inclusion on the latest single from Maxwell Stern is what got our attention, but "Left in the Living Room" would still be a great song without her. Stern is set to release his debut solo album, having previously been a member of Meridian and Timeshares. His solo work is different from the emo and pop punk of his previous bands. "Left in the Living Room" is a great Americana/indie rock song. It's a chilled out indie song with some serious roots showing. Stevenson's backing vocals add just the right element that will suck you in fully. It's a beautiful ballad, and it's a must listen for anyone that's been into what Stevenson has been doing lately.

You can listen to "Left in the Living Room" below. Impossible Sum, the debut solo alum from Maxwell Stern, will be out September 25 (which is becoming quite the stacked release date) via Lauren Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Maxwell Stern, check him out on Twitter.

Lydia Loveless - "Wringer"

Photo by Megan Toenyes
"Wringer," the latest single from Lydia Loveless, is an interesting listen for me. I wasn't a big fan of her 2016 pop turn on Real, and this new song is definitely her leaning into her pop sensibilities. But I genuinely love "Wringer." It has this interesting sound that's reminding me of early Madonna, back when she still had some rawness to her production. It's also one of the peppiest divorce songs I've ever heard. It still keeps the sadness of a huge break up with lyrics like "How did it come to this / Dividing our possessions," but somehow keeps an upbeat feel. "Wringer" is going to up the intrigue for Loveless's upcoming album, no matter what you think of it.

You can watch the video for "Wringer" below. Daughter, the new album from Lydia Loveless, will be out September 25 on her own Honey, You're Gonna Be Late Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Lydia Loveless, check out her website.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

The James Rocket - Burnout

In an email announcing the release of Burnout, The James Rocket write "Here's a new album, released four years after the previous, and 'only' a year later than anticipated. Rather than calling it 'belated', how about we just say it's 'finely tuned'?"

Burnout is definitely finely tuned. It's a collection of twelve killer indie rock songs that throw back to the glory days of Sebadoh and Guided by Voices. It's filled with wonderfully lo-fi indie power pop rock songs. A song like "Up All Night" is a bouncy, high energy burst that has the potential to be an absolute anthem live... if we ever get to go to live shows again. Even a mid-tempo semi-ballad like "Dancing In My Paint" has this odd, jerky energy seething under it. What I'm truly enjoying about the songs on Burnout is how they perfectly straddle the straightforward alt-rock sound with the quirkier side of indie rock. Staying firmly inside of both keeps the album really interesting, and one I'll be going back to repeatedly for the rest of the year.

You can listen to "Up All Night" below. Burnout is available now on The James Rocket's Bandcamp. For more on The James Rocket, check out the band's website.

King Yosef - "The Dull Blade"

King Yosef is the musical project of Portland, OR musician, singer, and producer Yosef Pelletier. It's hip hop... maybe? His latest single, "The Dull Blade," is far heavier and edgier than most rap we've heard in years, if not decades. It's more like if Atari Teenage Riot was melded with Sleaford Mods, and they decided to go make a straight up hip hop record, but couldn't help but mix industrial and metal with it.

King Josef says of "The Dull Blade":

"I wrote this song as I was reflecting on a lot of people in my life passing in the last few years. 
I always thought that was something that happened when you got older but, here I am in my 20s learning how to keep moving forward with all these people gone.
Eventually you start to go numb from it all, in order to keep moving, but it keeps chipping away at you until you don't realize how broken down you are cause you've neglected to look at those circumstances from the fog you're in. You then get down to the point where you want to die, but when all is said and done, I think despite all those feelings, I want to live and if it was my time I'd be horrified to see I had wasted my life sitting in the fog I cast on myself."

You can watch the video for "The Dull Blade" below. The single is currently available on King Yosef's Bandcamp. For more on King Yosef, check out his Twitter.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

First Listen: New Releases for 14 August

Artist: Kathleen Edwards
Album: Total Freedom
Quick Description: First album in eight years from the Americana favorite.
Why You Should Listen: Kathleen Edwards is one of the best singer-songwriters out there...
Overall Thoughts: ...and she hasn't missed a beat. It's been too long, and I gushed about her back catalog in May, so my hopes were high and just every song here lands near-perfectly. The album opens in a good tone, the slower songs are still incredibly compelling, and the total package is one of her better efforts in a catalog without many misses. This is required listening this week, and one of the best of the year.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Artist: A. G. Cook
Album: 7G
Quick Description: PC Music head finally puts out a solo album.
Why You Should Listen: With 40-odd songs, you'll find something to like.
Overall Thoughts: The PC Music brand is very specific and maybe an acquired taste, but A. G. Cook's long-awaited debut dabbles in a little bit of everything. It's weird and wonderful, and even at its length and number of songs, it somehow doesn't wear out its welcome. I really enjoyed this one, and it's great to see the producer step out in front a bit.
Recommendation: A highlight this week.

Artist: Kiesza
Album: Crave
Quick Description: Dance popster with a solid new album.
Why You Should Listen: In a better world, this would be the pop album of the summer.
Overall Thoughts: Tell me "Run Renegade" isn't the best pop song to come out in ages. Go ahead, try me. This is a perfect, summery splash of danceworthy music to bridge you into fall, and there's not much on here that I didn't really love. If you're not allergic to polished radio-friendly pop tunes...
Recommendation: ...give this a shot.

Artist: Twisted Pine
Album: Right Now
Quick Description: Local bluegrass band with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: Twisted Pine is a group we love, and this album reminds us why.
Overall Thoughts: There's a habit for bluegrass acts to go the Thile route and branch out a bit even though the bluegrass sound is so pure and timeless. Twisted Pine never rode the straight and narrow, but they take their share of chances here that could, in less talented hands, go right off the deep end into absurdity. Instead, Twisted Pine says "here's a flute" and you're on board. It's great. So don't miss this one this week.
Recommendation: Fun bluegrass is always worth it.

Of note:

* Poppy - I Disagree (more) (An expanded re-release of her great album from earlier this year.)
* Tanya Donelly and the Parkingtons - Tanya Donelly and the Parkingtons (This is very good, but it's not what you expect.)
* Ultraista - Sister (One we missed, an interesting left-of-center electronic/indie singer-songwriter effort worth some time.)
* Era Bleak - Era Bleak (Some really solid short punk stuff here.)
* Drew Holcomb - Kitchen Covers: The Collection
* BT - The Lost Art of Longing
* Whitney - Candid
* Martha Ffion - Nights to Forget
* King Buzzo and Trevor Dunn - Gift of Sacrifice
* Son Lux - Tomorrows I


* Orville Peck - Show Pony
* Nancy - Happy Oddities
* Holly Humberstone - Falling Asleep at the Wheel
* Melanie Faye - Melanie Faye EP
* Tegan and Sara - Hey, We're Just Like You (The Remixes)
* Dana Gavinski - Wind Songs

Also out:

* Bill Frisell - Valentine
* Alessia Cara - This Summer: Live Off the Floor
* Gordon Koang - Unity
* Bonniesongs - Energetic Mind: Live

Zephaniah OHora - "We Planned to Have It All"

When you listen to the latest single from Zephaniah OHora, you would never guess that it's by a guy in Brooklyn in 2020. "We Planned to Have It All" sounds like Nashville country, from at least forty, if not fifty years ago. OHora gives his music this nearly timeless sound. "We Planned to Have It All" is pure classic country. It's a heartbreaking honky tonk ballad, and epitomizes the phrase "They don't make music like this any more." It's such a classic sounding song that it could have been written by Merle Haggard or Gram Parsons decades ago. In fact, OHora has members of Haggard's band guest on this upcoming album. This is perfect music for those of us that love country but hate the pop or bro aspects of modern country radio. Zephaniah OHora is exactly the type of country we love here at If It's Too Loud...

You can listen to "We Planned to Have It All" below. Listening to the Music, the upcoming album from Zephaniah OHora, will be out August 28 on Last Roundup Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Zephaniah OHora, check out his website.

Muck and the Mires - "Zoom Breakup"

Boston's Muck and the Mires have been keeping busy in self-isolation. They've written and recorded a new EP, and have made the latest song available from it. "Zoom Breakup" is an obviously very specific to 2020 title for a song, all about breaking off a relationship on Zoom. As specific as the year for the song is (let's all hope it only works in 2020...), the song is timeless. It's that groovy garage rock that we love Muck and the Mires for. Could it be from the 60's? 70's? 80's? 90's? Now? Yes to all of those. "Zoom Breakup" is perfect for fans of bands like The Beach Boys, The Lyres, ? and the Mysterians, and The Prefab Messiahs.

You can watch the video for "Zoom Breakup" below. Take Me Back to Planet Earth, the upcoming EP from Muck and the Mires, will be out September 25 on Rum Bar Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Muck and the Mires, check them out on Facebook.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Partner - "Hello and Welcome"

Photo by Lesley Marshall
Partner are officially our favorite "Canadian Queer Post Classic Rock" band. They've been towing the line between music that is funny and more serious music for as long as we've been aware of them, and their latest single moves in a completely new direction for the band. Sure, it has humor in it, but it's hardly a novelty. Plus, the sound moves more in the direction of post classic rock, while not completely leaving behind their 90's sound. (There's quite a lot going on in "Hello and Welcome...") It's almost like Sleater-Kinney decided to rock out in stadiums while opening for KISS, but with more than a little honkey tonk. And prog rock. Oh, and they're absolutely shredding on guitar now.

You can watch the video for "Hello and Welcome" below. There's also a second single released along with this one called "Rock is My Rock," which is a little more jokey than this one. You can find that one here. In Search of Lost Time, the upcoming album from Partner, will be out November 20 on You've Changed Records. For more on Partner, check out their website.

First Aid Kit Covers Willie Nelson

Photo via Facebook
One of the very few bright spots in 2020 is that artists are starting to dig through their archives and retrieving some lost gems. First Aid Kit recently discovered a seven year old recording of Willie Nelson's beyond classic "On the Road Again." Obviously the line "I just can't wait to get on the road again" means something completely different to musicians that haven't been able to tour for five months, so they've decided to release it. It's an absolutely perfect cover, staying perfectly true to the original, except maybe a little more modern sounding and with the exceptional harmonies of Klara and Johanna Söderberg.

You can watch the video for First Aid Kit's version of "On the Road Again" below. The video features cell phone footage of First Aid Kit on tour, which just heightens the new meaning of the song. First Aid Kit's proceeds from the song will be donated to Crew Nation which is supporting the global live touring and live music community in the wake of COVID-19. You can find more information on Crew Nation here. For more on First Aid Kit, check out tehir website.

Friday, August 14, 2020

Killer Hearts - "Get Some"

A lot (if not most) of the music we cover here tends to be of the hipster variety. It's thoughtful, contemplative chin stroking music. But we do like to rock out just as much as everyone else. For that we have the new single from Houston's Killer Hearts. "Get Some" is just a big rock song. It reminds me a lot of what 80's rock bands would have sounded like if they decided to be less image and more about the music. Imagine if Supersuckers went a little glam and you have an idea of what "Get Some" sounds like.

You can listen to "Get Some" below. Skintight Electric, the upcoming album from Killer Hearts, will be out on Spaghetty Sound Records "hopefully in 2020," according to the press release. For more on Killer Hearts, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Sam Lynch - "Good Year"

I don't think there is another song as minimal as "Good Year" that is as powerful. Vancouver's Sam Lynch crafted "Good Year" with almost no instrumentation. The vast majority of the song is just Lynch's vocals. For the first half it's virtually just her voice with occasional piano. Slowly strings start to edge their way in, but without taking over the song. Even when the song isn't as minimal as it is in the beginning, you're so locked into Lynch's voice that you barely even notice.

Sam Lynch describes the inspiration for "Good Year": "I started writing this song a long time ago, and it has since become a little flicker of light for me. I witnessed someone very close to me hold so strongly to the belief that everything would be okay, even when all signs pointed to the opposite; I've found so much comfort in repeating her words over and over— it will be good.”

You can watch the video for "Good Year" below. Little Disappearances, the upcoming album from Sam Lynch, will be out this Fall on Birthday Cake. For more on Sam Lynch, check out the artist's website.

Annie Taylor - "Where the Grass is Greener"

Photo bu Piet Alder
Switzerland four piece Annie Taylor are set to release their debut album, and after listening to "Where the Grass is Greener" you're going to be marking the release day on your calendar. "Where the Grass is Greener" has a chilled out California vibe, combining classic 60's southern Cali with a modern indie rock and folk sound. It's reminding me a lot of a more straight forward version of Pavement's "Range Life."

Vocalist Gini Jungi explains the inspiration for the song: "'Where the Grass is Greener' began to take shape in Palm Springs, California, after I accidentally attended a drum circle evening, which unexpectedly turned into an evening of unexpected fun, and somehow I felt peaceful and relieved after that levitating night."

You can watch the video for "Where the Grass is Greener" below. Sweet Mortality, the debut album from Annie Taylor, will be out September 4 on Taxi Gauche Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Annie Taylor, check them out on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Throwing Muses - "Frosting"

Photo from Facebook
The legendary Throwing Muses keep getting more and more intriguing as time goes on. Their latest single, "Frosting," is perfect for long term fans of the Rhode Island natives. It has the same intensity that classic Throwing Muses has, albeit a little more laid back than they were thirty years ago. It's nearly impossible to keep your sound this intense while being more laid back, but the Muses somehow pull it off. Plus, the slight sound of discordant noise lingering behind the entire track is some of the grooviest noise you would have ever thought possible. 

You can watch the video for "Frosting" below. Sun Racket, the upcoming album from Throwing Muses, will be out September 4th via Fire Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Throwing Muses, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Devon Kay & the Solutions - "Oh Glorious Nothing"

Ska-punk might be the most maligned genre in existence. It's something we're supposed to listen to as teenagers and then abandon completely, embarrassed and hoping no one ever brings it up. Devon Kay & the Solutions might change that. Their latest single, "Oh Glorious Nothing," is bouncy ska-punk. Like, ridiculously bouncy. It has all the fun from ska that we enjoyed in high school and college, but with a more grown up, adult sound. I mean, sure... anything that is ska or punk is going to make you feel a little silly when you're in your 30's and 40's, but "Oh Glorious Nothing" is the closest we're going to get to ska-punk made for adults. 

You can watch the video for "Oh Glorious Nothing" below. The song is available now on A-F Records via Bandcamp. For more on Devon Kay & the Solutions, be sure to check out their website.