Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Chelsea Curve - "A Better Way"

The fourth single from The Chelsea Curve's monthly singles project might just be their finest yet. The Boston trio just released "A Better Way," and it's virtually perfect. The song is a jangly as hell pop punk/garage rock jam. It's a bouncy song dripping with punk attitude despite being filled with pop hooks. As sneering as "A Better Way" sounds, you're going to be sneering with a gigantic smile while you listen. Plus, the song is filled with these huge Cheap Trick style guitar riffs, making it a song you need to listen to right now.

You can listen to "A Better Way" below. The song is available now via Red On Red Records, and can be purchased over at Bandcamp. For more on The Chelsea Curve, check them out on Facebook.

Rianne Downey - "Do or Die"

Glasgow's Rianne Downey has one of the most unique styles you've heard in a long time. Her latest single, "Do or Die," is a straight out pop song. It may sound more like the more organic indie pop/folkish sound that Taylor Swift has been dabbling in of late, but there's no denying that it's pop. But her voice is what sets it apart. She has the voice of a classic country crooner, as if Dolly Parton or Patsy Cline was singing a 50's torch song. It's a gorgeous combination that elevates the song to a level that even anti-pop snobs (aka: Me) aren't going to be able to deny loving. And not secretly loving, either. 

Rianne Downey says of the new song:

“Why wait for tomorrow? There’s been times when I have really wanted to do this, but not wanted to fail. At the end of the day, there’s no option but to. ‘Do Or Die’ is about getting to the point of trying. Now is always the right time.”

You can watch the video for "Do or Die" below. The single is out now via Run On Records in association with Modern Sky. For more on Rianne Downey, be sure to check her out on Twitter and Facebook.

Ali McGuirk Covers Bobby Womack/Aretha Franklin

"That's the Way I Feel About You" may have been written by Bobby Womack, but it's Aretha Franklin's version that made it legendary. (The originals are named "That's the Way I Feel About Cha.") Covering anything touched by the Queen of Soul is a daunting thing to try, but Boston's Ali McGuirk succeeds in the challenge. "That's the Way I Feel About You" is one of Franklin's more laid back, stripped down songs, and that fits McGuirk perfectly. No one can try to mimic Franklin, and McGuirk doesn't try. She makes the song in her own style and adding her own version of indie soul to it. It's a laid back love ballad that is a perfect tribute to Aretha Franklin.

In a press release, Ali McGuirk says of the song:

"I’ve loved this song ever since I heard Aretha Franklin sing it on her Rare & Unreleased B-sides record. It’s the type of dreamy, openhearted soul ballad that I’m a sucker for.  I’ve always been drawn to the soul singers of the 60s and 70s and Bobby Womack is one of the greats. I recorded it on a whim in a living room one afternoon on tour with my friend Justin Henricks around the time Aretha passed away.

"There is so much feeling written into this song, and when I sing it I can really feel the unconditional love in the lyric."

You can listen to Ali McGuirk's version of "That's the Way I Feel About You" below. The song is available as a single via Signature Sounds over at Bandcamp with all proceeds going to benefit Sweet Relief Musicians Fund. For more on Ali McGuirk, check out the artist's website.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

First Listen: New Releases for 25 June

Artist: Hurry
Album: Fake Ideas
Quick Thoughts: Hurry does a lot of great alt-rock, and has a few solid albums under their belt. Fake Ideas feels like an album from a band that has figured it out, and each song feels better than the last. It's a listen where I struggled in highlighting any specific songs, because they're all great, melodic alt-rock songs. Don't miss out.
Songs of Note: "It's Dangerous," "A Fake Idea," "Slogging Through Summer"

Artist: Lucy Dacus
Album: Home Video
Quick Thoughts: I don't think I'm speaking out of turn when I say that both Ken and I think "Night Shift" is a near-perfect song. So Lucy Dacus, with a great debut album, has a lot to live up to, and Home Video largely delivers. There are a lot of solid listens throughout, and it's thematically linked in many ways that was unexpected but welcome. This is definitely a better cohesive album than her debut, even if there isn't a song that reaches "Night Shift"-level heights.
Songs of Note: "Christine," "Hot and Heavy," "First Time"

Artist: Maple Glider
Album: To Enjoy is the Only Thing
Quick Thoughts: We love our folk music here, especially when it strays a little bit from the beaten path. I don't know how I tripped up on Maple Glider, but I get real Haley Hendrickx vibes with this. It's folk music for sure, but it's got a little something extra to it that makes it stand out. This is really brlliant, and I'm looking forward to spending more time with it.
Songs of Note: "As Tradition," "Be Mean, It's Kinder Than Crying"

Artist: MNDR
Album: Hell to Be You Baby
Quick Thoughts: In a year with a lot of solid pop music, MNDR might struggle to stand out at first glance. But some of these songs are true earworms, including the title track, that I continue to hum all weekend long. It's a busy week, for sure, but this is the pop album of the week by far.
Songs of Note: "Save Me," "Fragile," "Hell to Be You Baby"

Artist: Squirrel Flower
Album: Planet (i)
Quick Thoughts: We're fans of Squirrel Flower here, and Ken has been really pleased with the advance singles coming up on this release. This album feels a lot more raw and loud than her previous efforts, but it's all good - this is some pitch-perfect singer-songriter work here, and this one is highly likely to end up on a few year-end lists. Don't miss out on this album.
Songs of Note: "I'll Go Running," "Hurt a Fly," "Flames and Flat Tires"

Artist: Pom Pom Squad
Album: Death of a Cheerleader
Quick Thoughts: Put aside Olivia Rodrigo possibly/probably ripping off this aesthetic for the moment and just enjoy the indie pop/rock sounds coming from this record. We've loved everything we've heard up to now, and this is a great rock album with a number of excellent moments. On a whole, it's worth your time.
Songs of Note: "Head Cheerleader," "Lux"

Artist: The Mountain Goats
Album: Dark in Here
Quick Thoughts: Highlighting this in part because it's probably the best Mountain Goats record in years, but also because it has some solid songs throughout. If you've fallen off the bandwagon to a certain extent (as, truthfully, I have), don't skip this one. It's the closest to a return to form we've seen in a while.
Songs of Note: "Let Me Bathe in Demonic Light," "The Destruction of the Kola Superdeep Borehole Tower"

Artist: Faye Webster
Album: I Know I'm Funny haha
Quick Thoughts: Also wanted to highlight this. We're Faye Webster fanboys here, and this is a great album from an underheralded singer-songwriter. It's a super busy week, but give this one a listen as well. Definitely worth your time.
Songs of Note: "Kind Of," "Both All the Time"

Of note:

* Split Single - Amplificado (Some great power pop moments here.)
* Emily Davis and the Murder Police (Solid angsty folk-punk.)
* Spellling - The Turning Wheel (Spellling continues to be a truly interesting voice.)
* Modest Mouse - The Golden Casket (A lot of moments that harken back to their early days.)
* Phobophobes - Modern Medicine
* Gaspard Auge and Justice - Escapades
* Olivia Kaplan - Tonight Turns to Nothing
* Helvetia - Essential Aliens
* Hiatus Kaiyote - Mood Valiant
* Cedric Burnside - I Be Trying
* Azure Ray - Remedy
* French Girls - French Girls
* Eli Keszler - Icons
* Olivia Kaplan - Tonight Turns to Nothing
* Saint Sister - Where Should I End
* T. Hardy Morris - The Digital Age of Rome
* Six Organs of Admittance - The Veiled Sea
* The Marias - CINEMA
* Mother Mother - Inside
* JP Harris's Dreadful Wind and Rain - Don't You Marry No Railroad Man
* Hiss Golden Messenger - Quietly Blowing It
* Saint Motel - The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack


* Ellis - nothing is sacred anymore
* Njomza - LIMBO
* Wild Pink - 3 Songs
* Grumpy Plum - Would You Tell Me?
* Marina Allen - Candlepower
* Ida Maria - Dirty Money EP
* Elohim - Journey to the Center of Myself, Vol. 1
* RMBLR - M F / EP
* Flight Mode - TX, '98
* Jensen McRae - Who Hurt You?
* PINS - Piano Versions
* beabadoobee - Our Extended Play
* Ambar Lucid - Get Lost in the Music
* High Contrast -
* LAUREL - Limbo Cherry
* Dir Orfeo - Millefleur

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* Lady Gaga - Born This Way - The Tenth Anniversary
* The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (Deluxe)

Also out:

* The Uptights - it is for them that the lights twinkle
* The Hirs Collective - The Third 100 Songs

Pony Hunt - "That Feelin'"

We've been rightfully enamored with Pony Hunt ever since we first started hearing songs from their 2016 album Heart Creek. I grew up on oldies and my favorite music tends to be indie rock and modern folk, so their blend of doo wop meets indie folk and rock is a sweet spot for me. With that, the New Orleans based band's latest single might be the perfect song for me. "That Feelin'" is an impossibly laid back folk song based squarely in doo wop with some indie rock tuned guitars. It's the kind of tune that shouldn't work this well, but Pony Hunt have crafted a virtually perfect song out of these elements. It's gorgeous, and cool, and impossible not to adore.

In a press release, Jessie Antonick of Pony Hunt says of the new song:

"There’s a space between denial and acceptance that feels like a dream world reality. It has a certain kind of feeling—a haze of loss and self induced confusion. Sometimes I just have to jump out of my fantasy and write a song about getting the hell outta there and never coming back."

You can listen to "That Feelin'" below. VAR! is due out July 23 on Wing and Wing. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Pony Hunt, check out the artist's website.

Wanda Jackson - "It Keeps Right On A Hurtin'"

I had assumed we had all the Wanda Jackson music we were going to ever get. The "Queen of Rockabilly" is eighty three after all, and is considered retired. Her 2017 autobiography, Every Night is Saturday Night: A Country Girl's Journey to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, certainly made it seem like she was all done. Turns out she's not! She recently announced a brand new album due out in August, and keeping with her string of working with younger musicians as producers (more recent albums have been produced by Jack White and Justin Townes Earle), this one is being produced by Joan Jett! This made me assume that we'd be getting an album of harder edge rockabilly songs, but the first single, "It Keeps Right On A Hurtin'," goes back to Jackson's country roots. It's a classic country crooner that sees Jackson mourning the death of her husband Wendell Goodman. Her voice may betray her age, but otherwise this song could be from anytime in Jackson's seven decade career.

You can listen to "It Keeps Right On A Hurtin'" below. The perfectly titled Encore is due out August 20. You can pre-save/pre-order the album here. For more on Wanda Jackson, check out the artist's website.

Lolly Gaggers - "Death Threat"

The Bay Area's Lolly Gaggers are a queercore four piece that cite "90s punk, deathrock, and rockabilly" as their influences. What's interesting is that they don't sound anything like what you'd expect from their influences. "Death Threat" has that darkness of deathrock, but instead it's more of a goth influenced song with more of a combination of post punk and New Wave. The 90s punk influence is audible with the attitude and penchant for gang vocals on the chorus. "Death Threat" is this really compelling mixture of sounds that blend shockingly well with each other, when they're not elbowing their way to the forefront.

You can watch the video for "Death Threat" below. Songs for a Plague will be out July 2. You'll be able to get your copy over at Bandcamp. For more on Lolly Gaggers, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, June 28, 2021

The Ziggens - "Rev It Up"

You know how punk, rockabilly, and surf rock share a lot of the same fanbase? The Ziggens are the perfect band for that crowd. The band is set to release their first new album in nineteen years this summer (despite never breaking up) and the first single blends all three genres. This year marks thirty years of being Southern California's "cowpunksurfabilly" pioneers, and if you've never heard them before "Rev It Up" is a perfect place to start. It's a raucous song that starts off punk (borrowing more than a little from "God Save the Queen") and evolves into surf rock with a rockabilly flair. Somehow despite being instrumental (except for a few shouts of "Rev It Up!") the song maintains its punk attitude. Not an easy feat without vocals.

The Ziggens say of the new song:

"Bert wrote this song primarily because the first music he heard as a child was surf music. Growing up in Huntington Beach he feels very comfortable writing reverb-heavy, ocean-influenced types of songs. He was also listening to his favorite surf band, The Sandals a lot around the time he crafted this enthusiastic, robust surf burner. Cars, women and waves!"

You can listen to "Rev It Up" below. Oregon is due out this summer. For more on The Ziggens, check out the band's website.

Damu the Fudgemunk featuring Nitty Scott - "Four Better or Worse (Pt. 1)"

Photo by Peter Clarke

A little backstory on this song. KPM is a London based studio with archives of non-commercial music used in television, films, etc., and has a wide range of symphonic music, sound effects, synth scores, and more dating back to 1956. The label is considered a haven for DJs and producers looking for unique samples. KPM is starting a series called KPM Crate Diggers and opening their archives to a few selected artists.

One of them is Damu the Fudgemunk. The first song on his upcoming album from the project features Nitty Scott. To say "Four Better or Worse (Pt. 1)" is a unique hip hop song is just scratching it. The samples sound like space age sounds from the 50's and 60's and orchestral music. It's the kind of song that could have been a cool, laid back track on a DJ mix tape, but adding Nitty Scott brings it to the next level. It's modern hip hop that borrows some 60's swinging cool, which should probably happen more often.

You can listen to "Four Better or Worse (Pt. 1)" below. Conversation Peace, Damu the Fudgemunk's entry for the KPM Crate Diggers project, is due out September 3 on Def Presse. You can pre-order/pre-save the album here. For more on Damu the Fudgemunk, check out the artist's Facebook.

Sierra Ferrell - "In Dreams"

Every now and then I worry that I'm going to burn myself out from Sierra Ferrell before her album comes out. "Maybe she's really not that great of an artist" I'll think to myself. And then she releases a song like "In Dreams" and I realize I'm not overhyping her at all. "In Dreams" is this whimsical country song that is both vintage sounding and modern at the same time. You're going to hear some classic Dolly Parton in this one, and that's never a bad thing. As vintage as it may sound, it's not going to sound anything like country or any Americana that you've heard before. Ferrell truly has a sound all her own while feeling familiar and comforting. Plus, Sarah Jarosz joins in for backing vocals just in case you were still on the fence about listening.

You can listen to "In Dreams" below. Long Time Coming is due out August 20 on Rounder Records. You can pre-order/pre-save a copy here. For more on Sierra Ferrell, check out the artist's website.

Friday, June 25, 2021

Bella White Covers Lucinda Williams

Photo by Portia Burton

I almost skipped Bella White's "Under the Covers" series this week. We've already brought you two other cover songs today. Plus, I've written about the previous two songs in her series, the second one just this past Monday. But, this week's cover is Lucinda Williams' "Fruits of My Labor." World Without Tears is the album that made me finally admit that I liked country, and I can't think of a more perfect artist for Bella White to cover. And that's what makes this an interesting cover. White takes a classic song that is absolutely tailored for her and reinvents it by not adding anything to the song. The melody and tune to the song remain the same, but musically it sounds like White has deconstructed "Fruits of My Labor" into a minimalist, modernist folk song. It's amazing how much this song changes without other instrumentation, and White's decision not to fill in the spaces makes this a memorable cover.

You can watch Bella White cover "Fruits of My Labor" below. For more on Bella White, check out the artist's website.

Lucy Dacus Covers Snow Patrol

Photo by Ebru Yildiz

I remember being really into Snow Patrol back when they released Songs for Polar Bears in 1998. After that, they fell off my radar for a while until "Chasing Cars" was everywhere and they were playing arenas. Lucy Dacus has proven that she's fantastic at cover songs, so when I saw that she was doing a cover of "Chasing Cars" for SiriusXMU Sessions it was obviously going to be great. Dacus' version captures the epic scope of the original along with the emotional intensity that made it perfect for every TV drama in the '00s. This is somehow all done as a stripped down live radio session done in a studio. Like I said, Dacus is incredible at cover songs.

You can listen to Lucy Dacus' take on "Chasing Cars" below. Although it's not on the album, Home Video is out today on Matador Records. For more on Lucy Dacus, check out the artist's website.

Hallelujah the Hills Cover Marnie Stern

Hallelujah the Hills can be a pretty weird band when they want to be, but for the most part they're a fairly straightforward indie rock/folk band, albeit with weirdo tendencies. When they were asked to take part in Kill Rock Stars' Stars Rock Kill (Rock Stars), they chose to cover Marnie Stern's 2013 song "Year of the Glad." It's an interesting selection, as the original is an electronic sounding hyperenergetic oddball of a song. Hallelujah the Hills' version remains quite true to the original despite slowing down the tempo and making it quite a bit more folky sounding. They replaced the looped vocalizing that defines the song and used instrumentation to recreate that part. It's an absolutely gorgeous cover and truly showcases Hallelujah the Hills' uniqueness, which is rare to find in a cover.

You can listen to Hallelujah the Hills' version of "Year of the Glad" below. The song is available on Stars Rock Kill (Rock Stars), which celebrates the thirtieth anniversary of Kill Rock Stars. You can get a copy here. For more on Hallelujah the Hills, check out the band's website. Hallelujah the Hills are making their return to live performances with a free show outside of the USS Constitution on July 17. For more info on that show, check out the Facebook event page.

Thursday, June 24, 2021

The Jacklights - "Eat the Young"

According to The Jacklights' Bandcamp profile, they are "Melodic punk with a 90s vibe." If that sounds appealing to you, you're going to love "Eat the Young." To get very specific, it reminds me a lot of Letters to Cleo's pre-Aurora Gory Alice output that was collected in 1998's Sister, but with a little more of a punk edge. "Eat the Young" has that same raw feel and energy. It's what it would have sounded like if mid-90's post punk/power pop bands leaned even more heavily into their Ramones influence. (I didn't think that could be possible, but The Jacklights have proven it is.) This is a really great fun punk song by a still brand new artist we can't wait to watch grow for a long time.

You can listen to "Eat the Young" below. Drift is due out July 27 on Red On Red Records. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on The Jacklights, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Colleen Green - "I Wanna Be a Dog"

Photo via Facebook

Colleen Green is one of the artist's Jeff introduced me to. I got sucked in by her cover of the Descendent's "Good Good Things," and was completely enamored with her ultra lo-fi style. In 2015 I originally rejected I Want to Grow Up since it had a slicker style, but came around and it has become an all time favorite for me.

In the past six years, Green has released a handful of EPs and singles, as well as a Blink 182 covers album, but she hasn't released a true album in that time. That all changes in September, and the first single off of that album is "I Wanna Be a Dog." The new song sees Green continue her glorious pop side with killer lo-fi guitars. The chorus borrows heavily from The Stooges' immortal "I Wanna be Your Dog," but sugarcoats it like if The Archies went punk. It also marks the second song we've covered this year about wishing you could live as a dog, which just proves how much of a nightmare 2020 was for everyone.

You can watch the video for "I Wanna Be a Dog" below. Cool is due out September 10 on Hardly Art Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Colleen Green, check out the artist's website.

Sapling - "Antisemantic"

My love of Sapling is very well documented here, so getting new music from them is fairly thrilling. They're set to release a new album in August, and they've shared a new track. "Antisemantic" is still in the demo phase, but it's still a great song. It's not quite the unbridled punk of their 2020 release No Sequoia, at least not at the beginning. Instead it's a funky, almost dance friendly jam with a nearly spoken word/freestyle rant throughout. Sapling nail my favorite kind of punk, which is more mocking than physically intimidating, and "Antisemantic" is a fabulous example of that. And then the noise kicks in and you're left with the smoldering remnants of what you were listening to before. It's epically wonderful.

You can listen to "Antisemantic" below. The Apocalypse Musical (no word on if the songs are going to be part of an interconnected storyline, but let's hope for a Sapling jukebox musical sometime in the future!) is due out on August 1. You can pre-order a copy through Bandcamp. For more on Sapling, check out the band on Facebook and their brand new website!

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Kid Gulliver Cover the Bee Gees

The Bee Gees are one of those bands that I'm not too familiar with, despite watching the fantastic Bee Gees: How Do You Mend a Broken Heart documentary. I do know that they kind of accidentally got caught up in the whole disco thing, and had an entire career before disco or Stayin' Alive. "I Started a Joke" is from that time period. The 1968 song is kind of a mopey and sappy heartache ballad. It's definitely not my thing.

Enter Kid Gulliver to make me love this song. Their cover is a power pop sensation. It's a bouncy and upbeat version of the song that takes the lyrics and melody and turns it into a party. It's the kind of power pop we can get fully behind, and now we're waiting for Kid Gulliver to issue a Bee Gees tribute album.

You can watch the video for Kid Gulliver's take on "I Started a Joke" below. Gimme Some Go! is available now via Red On Red Records, and can be ordered on Bandcamp. For more on Kid Gulliver, check out the band on Facebook.

Sharon Silva - "Spitting Image"

Photo by Nina Raj

"Spitting Image" is the debut solo single from Sharon Silva of The Wild Reeds. While The Wild Reeds definitely fit into the folk/Americana genre, "Spitting Image" is more of an alt-rock/pop singer/songwriter track. It's an upbeat track that masks a lot of pain and emotion, which makes sense since it's about the death of Silva's mother. It's the kind of song that you'll find yourself cheerfully singing along to until you actually pay attention to the lyrics. It is a gorgeous song, and Silva's vocals do convey the emotion of the song. It's that dichotomy that makes "Spitting Image" a truly interesting song.

Sharon Silva says of the song:

“‘Spitting Image’ is a song I wrote in stillness on the flight back from my mothers’ burial. It faces the startling confusion that accompanied my grief, and challenges the notion that we end up making the same mistakes as our parents. Come to find out that sometimes the wrong people present themselves at our most vulnerable moments, and here I am just thinking it over: saying my worst fear out loud to find the footing on my own track, or rather, for the video, in my own ring. The video was the vision of Caitlin Gerard, who wanted to portray the obstacles we face within ourselves, and how much strength you have to find to overcome loss. Don't beat yourself up, kid.” 

You can watch the video for "Spitting Image" below. For more on Sharon Silva, check out the artist on Twitter.

Double Star - "Wasting Time"

Photo via Facebook

When we brought you Double Star's "See It Through" last month, we mentioned that the Boston band were "punk doo-wop" and said that despite the horn section they weren't quite ska. They decided to prove us wrong on "Wasting Time." The new song ramps up the doo-wop sound we loved from the previous song. The punk is toned down and "Wasting Time" brings the funk pretty heavily. Plus, the horn section goes deeper into ska than we had heard previously. It's still not quite ska, but it's a few more steps in that direction. If you're looking for funky punk doo-wop with some ska vibes, Double Star are going to become a quick favorite.

You can listen to "Wasting Time" below. For more on Double Star, check out the band's Facebook.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

First Listen: New Releases for 18 June

Artist: Kings of Convenience
Album: Peace or Love
Quick Thoughts: Kings of Convenience doesn't release music very often, but when they do? Yowza. It's been twelve years since Declaration of Dependence, and the duo is as dependable as ever. This album is pretty great from top to bottom, and it feels like they haven't missed a step in the last decade. A welcome return.
Songs of Note: "Rocky Trail," "Catholic Country," "Washing Machine"

Artist: The Catenary Wires
Album: Birling Gap
Quick Thoughts: Amelia Fletcher, when not a member of Parliament (yes really), is an indie twee legend of sorts, with The Catenary Wires being her latest project. This new album is just expert indie pop from beginning to end, and as someone who enjoyed plenty of Tender Trap, Heavenly, and so on, this was just a lovely listen across the board.
Songs of Note: "Face on the Rail Line," "Always On My Mind," "Mirrorball"

Artist: Amythyst Kiah
Album: Wary + Strange
Quick Thoughts: Ken sent this one over and I realized partway through that I recognized her voice from the recent Moby album. She has such a great, memorable voice, and this is some gorgeous roots music with meaning and purpose. She's acutely aware of her place in roots music right now, and isn't afraid to face it head-on, and we all benefit as a result. This is a mandatory listen this week, and one of the truly great roots efforts of 2021 thus far.
Songs of Note: "Black Myself," "Sleeping Queen"

Artist: Pretty Sick
Album: Come Down
Quick Thoughts: There are moments in Come Down that feel like they're channeling 1990s-era Hole. It's grungry and loud and abrasive throughout, and I'll be damned if I wasn't waiting to get back to this the moment it was through. Pretty Sick is pretty slick, and I'm here for it.
Songs of Note: "She," "Dumb," "Bet My Blood"

Artist: K.C. Jones
Album: Queen of the In Between
Quick Thoughts: I hate that this came out this week, because this is another great classic-sounding roots record with a little bit of an edge. It's distinct and it's wonderful, but I was mostly impressed by how much I liked nearly every song I was listening to. Even in a busy week, you should make time for this, but it's absolutely worth your time for one of the more interesting listens this week.
Songs of Note: "I've Got Time," "Queen of the In Between," "Stop on the Way"

Artist: Rebecca Black
Album: Rebecca Black Was Here
Quick Thoughts: Put aside "Friday" for the moment, and consider this album on its own merits. While it's tricky to divorce the beginning from now, this is an album that, somehow and some way, effectively bridges the gap between 100 gecs-style hyperpop and your Carly Rae Jepsens. It's a real achievement, and the album is worth the listen even beyond your curiosity surrounding what seat she should take. Don't skip this.
Songs of Note: "NGL," "Girlfriend"

Artist: We Are the Union
Album: Ordinary Life
Quick Thoughts: Apparently there is a current ska revival and no one let me know. Thus, this release from a few weeks back is late, but I did want to highlight it anyway. While ska has never shied away from tough social commentary, this one is very in-the-moment and benefits from that sort of perspective. While ska sounds a lot like what it did when we were in high school and college, if we're entering another golden age, I'll welcome it as long as We Are the Union is leading the charge.
Songs of Note: "Morbid Obsessions," "Broken Brain," "Wasted," "Big River

Artist: Marc Collin and Chrysta Bell
Album: Strange as Angels
Quick Thoughts: I've basically been obsessed with Chrysta Bell ever since her turn on Twin Peaks: The Return, and her music continues to surprise me. This album, a collaboration with Nouvelle Vague's Marc Collin, is like a smoky jazz club having a Robert Smith night. It's as good as you want it to be, and it's absolutely worth listening to. Put it on in the background when you have people over and blow some minds.
Songs of Note: "A Forest," "The Walk," "Just Like Heaven"

Of note:

* Francis Lung - Miracle (Surprised me many times.)
* Blurry the Explorer - Blurry the Explorer (Understated, but excellent, experimental music.)
* Delta Spirit - What (Else) Is There
* Beni-Hana - The Masking Tape
* Amy Helm - What the Flood Leaves Behind
* Tom West - I'm Livin'
* Merzbow - Triwave Pagoda
* Eloise - Somewhere In-Between
* Lukas Nelson and Promise of the Real - A Few Stars Apart


* Griff - One Foot in Front of the Other (Don't sleep on "Black Hole")
* Hayley Mary - The Drip
* The Lounge Society - Silk for the Starving
* Deap Vally - American Cockroach
* Tom Morello and The Bloody Beetroots - The Catastrophists EP
* The Endorphins - The Anomic Aphasia EP
* Mandrake Handshake - Shake the Hand That Feeds You
* Kid Gulliver - Gimme Some Go!
* Blood Red Shoes - Ø
* Country Westerns - Country Westerns EP

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* This Is the Kit - Off Off Oddities
* Muse - Origin of Symmetry (XX Anniversary RemiXX)
* Dawes - Live at Hotel Cafe, 2/12/08
* Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - Back the Way We Came: Vol. 1 (2011 - 2021)

Also out:

* H.E.R. - Back of My Mind

Typhoid Rosie - "Queen of Swords"

Photo by Mark Doyle

Brooklyn's Typhoid Rosie have this great alt-punk sound on their latest single. "Queen of Swords" is a fun, driving punk song, complete with gang vocals throughout. If anything, it's almost a by-the-numbers punk song (but done in the absolute best possible way). What keeps "Queen of Swords" from just being a standard song is Rosie Rebel's vocals. Typically punk vocals are filled with anger and ferocity which propels the intensity of the music. In this song, Rebel's vocals have more of a 90's slacker too cool to care vibe, although it's probably more just sick of dealing with nonsense. It makes Typhoid Rosie have a sound all their own, and I think we all know that not caring can make everything even more punk.

Rosie Rebel says of the new song:

"Sometimes you just gotta cut a motherfucker out of your life. Your survival, evolution, and the growth of your soul may one day depend upon whether or not you can turn your back on toxic situations. Those of you who dabble in tarot know that the Queen of Swords is not to be fucked with. She is the kind of person you want on your side. She is very loving until you put her in a position where she must choose between toxicity and her own self-love-she will always choose herself. Because my heart is so pure I didn’t always see the bad and malicious intentions of others headed towards me. Sometimes being so naive and following your heart blindly can lead you off a cliff. Not every person comes to the table with love in their hearts and that is why you always need to pay attention to the red flags and be ready to make your well-being your greatest priority. Like the airline safety cards say, “Your oxygen mask first”. I have overcome a great deal of pain and tragedy in my life, and if I could tell you two words that I needed to hear, in my greatest hour of need —those words are: “Get up.” I want you to see yourself in the boxing ring of life and I want you to scream these words like your life depended on it. May this song be just the rocket fuel you need."

You can listen to "Queen of Swords" below. Queen of Swords is due out August 13. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Typhoid Rosie, check out the band's website.

Stice - "I Need Cash!!!"

Photo by Caterina Kenworthy

The new single from Stice isn't going to be for everyone. It features vocalist Crab (aka Caroline Bennett formerly of Kiddy Pool/Machine Girl) and producer Jark (aka Jake Lichter of Maine based Lunch Cult). "I Need Cash!!!" is a bizarre electronic punk song that sounds like Deli Girls teamed with Peaches and decided to try to make a huge mainstream crossover hit. If that's something that sounds like it appeals to you, you're probably going to love this song. Even if it doesn't you still owe it to yourself to check this song out. It's the kind of bizarro music that could end up unexpectedly making you a fan. Also, if you're at work or care about your kids hearing NS4W lyrics, headphones on!

You can watch the video for "I Need Cash!!!" below. The single is available now via Ramp Local. You can stream/save/purchase the song here. For more on Stice, check them out on Twitter and Instagram.

Izzy Heltai - "Give It a Try"

Whenever I bring you a new song from Izzy Heltai, you know he's just going to knock it right out of the park. I always write that it's a mainstream style folk song that has just that certain something that is still going to suck in more indie leaning folk fans. And "Give It a Try" nails that. It's an upbeat sounding folk song that could easily stand up with the best from Delta Spirit or Dawes. Plus, "Give It a Try" adds some horns which really brings the song to a new level. It's truly such a perfectly written and arranged song that anyone who tells you they don't like it is flat out lying to you.

In a Bandcamp post, Izzy Heltai says of the song:

"On the surface, this song is about someone I was involved with romantically who didn’t know what she wanted. She wasn’t self aware enough to end it, so I was forced to walk away no matter how much I loved her and how much it hurt. I wasn’t getting what I needed and I wasn’t being treated fairly.
"As I’ve thought about it more and more, this song is about so much more than that.
"I have been privileged in my life, to be surrounded by some of the greatest friends, family, and support system a person could ask for. People who have shown me how much I’m worth, who have shown me what it means to treat a person well.
"This song is for the people in my life who gave me the strength and perspective to walk away. The people who have shown me, time and time again, I will never actually be alone because I am surrounded by their love and kindness every day."

You can watch the video for "Give It a Try" below. Day Plan (5 Songs Written 4 the End of the World) is due out July 23. For more on Izzy Heltai, check out the artist's website.

Monday, June 21, 2021

Phantom Ocean - "First & Always"

Last week we brought you the debut single from Massachusetts based rockers Phantom Ocean. We discovered that one late, so we already have a second single to bring you! "First & Always" sees guitarist Drew Smith take over lead vocals, and this one is a rocker. It's a discordant as hell song that seems to threaten to explode but never quite does. It has guitar work reminiscent of Mission of Burma and Shellac with Smith's howling vocals wailing above, giving the song a bit of a break out grunge feel. It's not a fully comfortable song to listen to, but that's what makes "First & Always" such an interesting listen.

In a press release, Drew Smith says of the new single:

“This is one of the most personal songs I’ve ever written.  I don’t like the idea of putting my sexuality front and center in my music, but if I didn’t write from the heart, I’d be cutting the truth out, which is a mortal sin as a songwriter.  ‘First and Always’ is raw and true for me; it’s about realizing who I was in the repressive environment that I grew up in, coming to terms with that, and not letting the rosary beads tie my hands any longer.  We decided to release this in June because for me, it’s a song about coming to terms with yourself and being able to have pride in who I am.”

You can listen to "First & Always" below. The single is currently available via Bandcamp, with the EP Secondhand Ghosts due in September. For more on Phantom Ocean, check out the band's Facebook.

Bambies - "Dirty Taint"

I am way, way, way too old to be rocking out to a song called "Dirty Taint," but here we are. Montreal's Bambies are a tri-lingual and tri-national band with members from Canada, Costa Rica, and France. "Dirty Taint" is the kind of punk song from a band that obviously worships the Ramones and is reminiscent of fellow disciples The Queers and Screeching Weasel. It's just fun rock 'n' roll based punk that you can actually kinda dance to more than just pogoing. It's a brand of punk with some pop sensibilities but nowhere near enough to truly be called pop punk.

You can listen to "Dirty Taint" below. Summer Soon is due out August 20 on Spaghetty Town Records in the U.S. and Wanda Records in Europe. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Bambies, check out the band on Facebook.

Bella White Covers Guy Clark

Photo via Facebook

For the second installment of her "Under the Covers" series, Bella White has chosen a more classic song: Guy Clark's 1995 song "Dublin Blues." I'll admit to not being all that familiar with Guy Clark, but White's version has me intrigued. It's a spot on version, just White and her guitar doing a spot on stripped down rendition. Although, White's vocals more than make up for any missing instruments. It's a gorgeous, lush song that ups the at home cover series just as most are winding down.

You can watch the video for Bella White's cover of "Dublin Blues" below. For more on Bella White, check out the artist's website.

Friday, June 18, 2021

The Prefab Messiahs - "Water Bottle"

Worcester, MA's favorite "proto-lo-fi post-punk left-field garage-pop band" are back with a new song. "Water Bottle" is a freak out jam written from the perspective of a water bottle floating in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It doesn't get much more vintage than this, although there is a modern sheen layered on top of the song. With lyrics like "
I am a water bottle / belonging to no one / I'm just a piece of garbage / Clogging the Pacific Ocean," it's a fairly dark song, although there is an impossible to resist sense of humor with the song keeping it from getting too dismal. This is the kind of song that would have been considered an album filler back in the day but ended up becoming a modern day favorite.

You can watch the video for "Water Bottle" below. Music for Concerned Citizens is due out July 9. You can pre-order your copy over at Bandcamp. For more on The Prefab Messiahs, check the band out on Facebook.

Anna Leone - "Remember"

We brought you two quick singles from Anna Leone back in March, but things have been fairly quiet from her since then. Luckily we finally have new music from her to bring you. "Remember" is sensational. The song is just Leone and a finer-picked guitar, but there is nothing more that we could possibly want. It has that intimate field recording feel, but it's the actual single. Leone's voice is as stunning as it has been, which is going to be what pulls you completely in. She wields it like a master will any instrument, and it's guaranteed to give you chills. Leone continues to be one of the most compelling artists in 2021, not just in folk but in all of music.

Anna Leone says of the new song:

"It deals with the promises we make to ourselves and others, and the way it can be a struggle to hold yourself accountable. It’s also about allowing yourself to be hopeful."

You can watch the video for "Remember" below. I've Felt All These Things is due out September 10 on AllPoints/Half Awake. You can pre-order/pre-save the album here. For more on Anna Leone, check out the artist's website.