Friday, December 30, 2022

Basic Vocab - "Deep"

Basic Vocab are a Miami, FL based hip hop group. Their latest single, "Deep," is perfect for fans of classic hip hop. The song has this lingering feel of tension lurking below the heavy beats. It's reminding me a lot of Geto Boys' "Mind Playing Tricks on Me" in that regard. Both songs are standard hip hop songs with an oddly dark vibe you don't normally see in that genre. This is definitely not the vibe you would associate with a hip hop group from Miami. Basic Vocab are the kind of hip hop artists we're going to want to keep an eye on.

You can watch the video for "Deep" below. Straight Kemistry is out now via The AVX Music Group. For more on Basic Vocab, check them out on Twitter and Instagram.

Rosie Porter & The Neon Moons - "Pretty Western Shirt"

Photo by Jasper Forest

Their Bandcamp profile states that they are "Sentimental country music from Massachusetts," and that defines Rosie Porter & The Neon Moons perfectly. The band's latest single, "Pretty Western Shirt," has that perfect vintage country sound that we tend to go crazy for here at If It's Too Loud... The sentimental factor keeps it from being alt-country or outlaw country. Instead, this is a beautiful 70's style country song. It has that level of sheen to it from that era while still being much more country than pop. Plus, there's plenty of steel guitar here to give "Pretty Western Shirt" the kind of twang you don't usually hear from a New England band.

You can listen to "Pretty Western Shirt" below. The song is currently available via Bandcamp. For more on Rosie Porter & The Neon Moons, check out the artist's website.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

Free Range - "Want to Know"

Photo by Alexa Viscius

Free Range is the musical project of Chicago's Sofia Jensen. Earlier this month they released a new single and announced an upcoming album. "Want to Know" is an incredibly quiet song that is reminding me a lot of Elliott Smith. It has a quiet folk quality with a little bit of country twang with the intimacy of Elliott Smith's earlier work. "Want to Know" is a beautiful song that still contains some grit and tons of emotion. There's also a little bit of a 70's AM radio vibe and some California sunshine despite how strongly the Chicago chill also comes through in the song.

You can watch the video for "Want to Know" below. Practice is due out February 17 on Mick Music. For more on Free Range, check out the artist on Instagram.

Housebound Ska Collective Cover The Muppets

Housebound Ska Collective formed in April of 2020 as a large group of ska loving musicians all over the world making music remotely together. Their latest release is a cover of "Rainbow Connection" from The Muppets. For a ska cover of The Muppets' trademark song, it's shockingly true to the original. It's more "Rainbow Connection" with a horn section than a ska version of the song. As someone who considers The Muppets to be sacred, I'm personally thrilled with any true to the original cover of this song. This is far better than you expect it to be, I can guarantee.

You can watch the puppet heavy video for Housebound Ska Collective's version of "Rainbow Connection" below. For more on Housebound Ska Collective, check out the band's Facebook.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

The Boatsmen Cover KISS

KISS are one of my least favorite bands out there, but for some reason I love covers of their songs. The Boatsmen might be one of the most perfect bands to cover the classic shock rockers, and they have made their cover of "Room Service" available digitally for the first time. It was originally released on a KISS tribute album, SSIK Action, put out by Devil Beat Records. I'm completely unfamiliar with the original version of "Room Service," but I can guarantee that The Boatsmen do a perfect job covering it. It still sounds like a KISS song, but our favorite Swedish hard garage rockers do inject their own little thing into the cover. It's a fun version of a song, and even if you don't particularly enjoy the original you could very well end up loving the cover.

You can listen to The Boatsmen covering "Room Service" below. For more on The Boatsmen, check out the band's website.

Pilgrims of Yearning - Hadal

We cover a lot of post punk music here, but no one sounds quite like Pilgrims of Yearning. The duo moved from Chile to Boston in 2018 and released their first album that year. Earlier this year they released the four song EP Hadal which truly showcases their sound. The songs on the EP have this wonderfully dark and gothic vibe, leaning into artists like Sisters of Mercy and Siouxsie & The Banshees. But what sets Pilgrims of Yearning apart from their predecessors is a unique Latin flair to their music. Songs like "La Mar" and "Tides" take the classic post punk and New Wave sound and twist it just slightly to keep it sounding fresh and completely their own. We'll be watching for this late 2022 discovery very closely to see what they do next.

You can watch the video for "La Mar" below. Hadal is out now and is available on Bandcamp. For more on Pilgrims of Yearning, check out the artist's Facebook and Instagram.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Bad Ends - "The Ballad of Satan's Bride"

Photo by Jason Thrasher

The Bad Ends (aka the Athens, GA band featuring Bill Berry of R.E.M. and Mike Mantione of Five Eight) has released a new single that isn't going to be what you expect. "The Ballad of Satan's Bride" is a freaky, psychedelic song that's a lot heavier than you think it will be. The song sounds a little unhinged at times (in the best possible way) and even dances along the lines of being a noise rocker. It sounds a lot like a preacher losing their mind during an acid trip set to music. Despite being just four and a half minutes, "The Ballad of Satan's Bride" is an absolute epic track, and has us even more intrigued to see what this supergroup will get up to.

Mike Mantione says of the new song:

“‘The Ballad of Satan’s Bride’ was the first song we recorded together as a band. It has the worst villain in it of any song I’ve ever written. The song embodies total despair and tragic grief, yet I sang it with wild abandon over Bill’s soca beat pulsing at the heart as the song continues tearing itself apart. I could never have imagined the complex rhythm he played, but it instantly galvanized the arrangement.”

You can listen to "The Ballad of Satan's Bride" below. The Power and The Glory is due out January 20 on New West Records. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on The Bad Ends, check out the band's website.

Guts Club - "Change My Name"

Photo by Sabrina Stone

We've been sitting on the latest single from Guts Club for a couple of weeks now, because "Change My Name" didn't quite sound like it should be posted in the weeks before Christmas, but now that we're in the strange period between Christmas and New Year's, it's time. "Change My Name" is a brutal nearly ten minute long noise and drone filled track that possibly leans into metal territory. This one is a cross between some of Sonic Youth's stranger 80's album cuts and The Stooges' extra long freak out tracks... but more metal. This is most certainly not meant for playing in the car with your friends before a fun night out. Guts Club have created this song that seems like a pained stream of consciousness explosion. It's loud, and noisy, and at times mostly unpleasant in a attention grabbing, almost beautiful sort of way.

In a press release, Guts Club say that their new song is about "... wading through a loved one's profound grief. Grief takes on many forms and can alter the trajectory of one's life and relationships. The song is a reflection on how obsessive love can manifest from intense grief."

You can listen to "Change My Name" below. CLIFFS/WALLS is due out January 13 and can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on Guts Club, check out the band's website.

Friday, December 23, 2022

Live Shows: The Scrooges and Gretchen & The Banshees, Notch Brewery, Brighton, MA 12/22/22

As much as I love cover songs, I typically avoid cover bands. The whole thing has this forces nostalgia factor I can't get behind, and I'd rather spend my time seeing original bands instead. Of course, seeing as The Scrooges are Boston's premier Santa themed Stooges cover band... how can I resist that?

The Scrooges have been kicking around for more than twenty years at this point, reforming every December to play the music of The Stooges while wearing Santa suits. At this point they're a Boston tradition and institution, but somehow I've never seen them live before. After my first time seeing them, I'm pretty sure I'll be making this an annual tradition from here on as long as they keep doing it. Seeing some of the finest Detroit protopunk being performed by a band in Santa suits with a beer swilling lead singer is more fun than it sounds, and it sounds like a lot of fun. They opened with "I Wanna Be Your Dog" in a bold move since that's probably The Stooges' most known song. From there the band played other favorites like "1969," "T.V. Eye," and "Search and Destroy." To get singer Dave Unger back for an encore, the crowd started a chant of "Santa! Santa! Santa!" which is just magical.

Opening the show was another cover band: Gretchen & The Banshees. A Siouxsie & The Banshees tribute band led by Gretchen Shae of Gretchen Shae & The Middle Eight, they were the perfect openers for a Stooges cover band. They opened with "Spellbound," played "Cities in Dust," and broke out Siouxsie & The Banshees covers of both "Dear Prudence" and "The Passenger." While Siouxsie & The Banshees may be more associated with Halloween, they do have one Christmas song which was played at Notch Brewery. (I'm embarrassingly new to Siouxsie & The Banshees fandom, so I'm not sure which song it was.) Gretchen & The Banshees may become the rare cover band I start following regularly.

Kurt Vile & His Daughters Cover "Must Be Santa"

Photo by Adam Wallacavage

As part of the Spotify Holiday Singles collection, Kurt Vile enlisted his daughters to record a cover of Bob Dylan's "Must Be Santa." While the song may not be originally done by Dylan, Vile used his version as a starting point, and then goes off wildly in his own direction. Considering Bob Dylan is a folk legend, and Kurt Vile is one of the most well respected indie guitar rockers out there today, you'd assume his version f "Must Be Santa" might go that way, even if Dylan's is much more polka than folk. Instead, the Vile family's version is an upbeat synth pop version. It's somewhere between 80's synth pop and the early 00's synth pop revival. It's an unexpected but truly fun take on the song that is a perfect late addition to any holiday playlists.

You can listen to Kurt Vile & His Daughters' version of "Must Be Santa" below. For more on Kurt Vile, check out the artist's website.

Friday Freebie: Rebuilder - Rebuilder Christmas EP

This one may be nine years old, but we only truly discovered Rebuilder last year, and this one is free and a Christmas release, so we assume you'll be ok with it. Way back in 2013, Rebuilder released a four song Christmas EP, obviously titled Rebuilder Christmas EP. We all know what a pop punk Christmas release sounds like, and sure, Rebuilder go that way a bit, but even nine years ago Rebuilder were writing songs that are far more clever than your average pop punk song. "Antarctica" is a bittersweet Christmas song that stops just short of being a power ballad. "X-Mas PunX" is a fairly dumb loud Christmas song, but still far smarter than it should be as a dumb loud punk song. I think the true fun of the songs on Rebuilder Christmas EP is that all four songs could sneak their way into a playlist or live set throughout the year.

You can listen to "Antarctica" below. Rebuilder Christmas EP is available for the "name your price" option via Bandcamp. If you choose free, be sure to give Rebuilder a follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, December 22, 2022

Termanology featuring Kool G Rap - "Let Ya Glock Burst"

Lawrence, MA's Termanology has teamed with hip hop legend Kool G Rap on a brand new single. In case you didn't already assume a collaboration between these two MCs would be old school, the fact that its titled "Let Ya Glock Burst" will solidify that. The song isn't quite a throwback to the glory days of gangsta rap, or even the G-funk era. "Let Ya Glock Burst" is a modern hip hop song with its roots in the past. The piano and strings that make up the track's music are more reminiscent of late 90's Wu-Tang Clan, but there are actual scratches in the song, and that is always a welcome sound.

You can watch the video for "Let Ya Glock Burst" below. For more on Kool G Rap, check out his website. For more on Termanology, check out his Twitter.

Cindy Lawson - "Hey Santa"

Rum Bar Records have become our go to for killer neo-garage rock and power pop, and this year they've been killing it with Christmas singles. The latest (that we've discovered, at least) is Cindy Lawson's "Hey Santa." The song has a slightly updated take on 60's rock and roll holiday classics with a little bit of 90's power pop injected into it. It reminds me a little of Go! era Letters to Cleo with the 90's slickness cut back and the 60's sound cranked up. It's a fun sounding song until you realize Lawson is asking Santa to do something about the environment and climate change. So... a little less fun than your average Christmas song, but it definitely has its place.

You can listen to "Hey Santa" below. The single is available via Rum Bar Records over at Bandcamp. It also includes a cover of "Mr. Scrooge" from The Orchids. For more on Cindy Lawson, check out the artist's website.

Swiss Army Wife - "Aight, I'mma Head Out"

Portland, OR's Swiss Army Wife keep up the longstanding emo/pop punk tradition of referencing pop culture with a song title. "Aight, I'mma Head Out" also mixes early emo with modern emo and the edge of early pop punk. The song has a little bit of the discordance you would get with bands like Jawbreaker with the smoothness and pop hooks of early 2000's pop punk bands, but vocalist/guitarist Kade Dale is unleashing this scream that is almost too in your face to not be just a little grating... in the best possible way. This is the kind of emo and pop punk (with a smidge of hardcore) that even those that pretend that they're above the genres will be forced to like.

Kade Dale says of the new song:

“‘Aight’ is the first song that this iteration of Swiss Army Wife wrote together. It started from the intro riff, something Will was just playing at practice, and we kinda spun it out from there. So it’s fitting that it ended up becoming this manifesto about who we are and what we value: community building, inclusivity, and the creation of safe creative spaces. We always dedicate this one to our friend JJ, who books DIY shows here in Portland. We saw the incredible community that people like JJ were fostering, and wanted to write something that acknowledges how special the scene we’re in is while recognizing that like all things, it’s impermanent."

You can listen to "Aight, I'mma Head Out" below. Medium Gnarly is due out January 6 on Really Rad Records. The album can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on Swiss Army Wife, check out the band on Twitter and Instagram.

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Grey Factor - "You're So Cool"

Grey Factor are/were a legendary Los Angeles synth punk band from 1978 to 1980. They recorded two EPs that were never released and then disbanded. They've long been one of those bands you didn't know if they were real or not, but next month they are finally getting an official release.

The first song off the upcoming compilation, "You're So Cool," is gloriously sweet vintage synth punk. It definitely has an early Depeche Mode and Ministry sound, although the recordings came before either of those bands. It's almost fully instrumental except for some vocalizations towards the end. It's a hacky but completely true thing to say, but "You're So Cool" is an impossibly cool song. It's pretty mind blowing to hear in 2022, so I can't imagine what it was like forty years ago. 

You can listen to "You're So Cool" below. 1979-1980 A.D. - Complete Studio Recordings is due out January 27 on Damaged Disco, and can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on Grey Factor, check out the band on Facebook and Twitter.

Brass Against Cover Nirvana

As much as I love cover songs, my favorites are the not obvious ones. There are about a dozen obvious songs from Nirvana to cover, but Brass Against skipped all of those in favor of "You Know You're Right." The last song recorded by Nirvana before Kurt Cobain's death, it wasn't released until eight years later for the band's greatest hits compilation. It's the kind of song I forget about, which is unfortunate because it's a fantastic song. Thankfully, Brass Against have brought it back to my attention with a pretty spot on cover, although the original didn't include any brass instruments. Singer Sophia Urista's vocals are a bit more subdued than I would have expected, letting the horns really take the forefront. I believe this is their first foray into Nirvana, so let's hope they explore that catalog a bit more.

You can watch the video for Brass Against's cover of "You Know You're Right" below. For more on Brass Against, check out the band's website.

Orca Bones - "Golem"

According to their bio, Orca Bones are "... a surf duo from the depths of Boston Harbor." Yup... we're in. The band's debut single, "Golem," isn't exactly a surf rock band, but Boston Harbor isn't exactly known for its surfing. This is more along the lines of how Say Sue Me are a surf rock band. There are elements of surf rock present, but Orca Bones lean more into being an indie rock band, and into the realm of shoegaze. But shoegaze also doesn't feel right, since there is a strong pop sensibility, but also some punk style gang vocals, and the noise of 90's indie rock. It's an interesting mixture of sounds, but seeing as they've been living in the depths of Boston Harbor, it all makes sense.

You can listen to "Golem" below. The song is available via Bandcamp. For more on Orca Bones, check out the band on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

First Listen: New Releases and Missed Music for 9 December and 16 December 2022

Artist: SZA
Album: SOS
Quick Thoughts: SZA's anticipated late-year effort is pretty solid. She sits in a bit of a niche in the R&B space in that I feel like she has crossover appeal where others haven't always succeeded, but this latest album is more of the high-quality music we've come to expect. In a heavy release period, I'd recommend, but it's a great end-of-year palate cleanser.
Songs of Note: "Kill Bill," "F2F"

Artist: Marina Herlop
Album: Pripyat
Quick Thoughts: Highlighting this EP as one of my favorite electronic/ambient listens of the year even though it's only an EP. Fall in love with this one, you won't regret it.
Songs of Note: "abans abans"

Artist: Little Simz
Album: No Thank You
Quick Thoughts: Speaking of late-year efforts, Little Simz casually dropping a surprise album two weeks before the end of the year and having it be one of her best efforts yet is something. It's too late to add her to my best of the year lists, but make no mistake: this is one of the better rap albums of 2022, and it deserves your attention.
Songs of Note: "Gorilla," "Heart on Fire," "Broken"

Artist: For Tracy Hyde
Album: Hotel Insomnia
Quick Thoughts: We missed this one earlier this year, and it's basically a Japanese take on American indie rock and it's delightful. I loved song after song on this one. Check it out.
Songs of Note: "Undulate," "Estuary," "Friends,"

Of note:

* Mount Westmore - Snoop Cube 40 $Short (West Coast rap supergroup.)
* Nyx Nott - Themes From (Instrumental works from the lead singer of Arab Strap.)
* Sister Ray - Communion (Lots of great moments.)
* SAULT - Today and Tomorrow (Think if The Go! Team was a 1970s rock band. That's a good thing.)
* Todd Rundgren - Space Force (It's exactly what you expect.)
* River Tiber - Dreaming Eyes
* Finn - No More Coal
* Ullenevano - The Ghost of Reggie Lewis
* Bread Pilot - New to You
* 1 Mile North - The Sunken Nest
* Lostboycrow - Indie Pop
* Sadurn - Radiator
* Cory Branan - When I Go Ghost
* Trigger Discipline - AMERICAN GOTHICC
* Stalley - Somebody Up There Loves Me
* Szun Waves - Earth Patterns
* Silkback - K E K K A N
* Anne-F Jacques and Claire Rousay - A Very Budy Social Life
* Ransom - Chaos is My Ladder
* Sharp Class - Tales of a Teenage Mind
* Kevn Kinney - Think About It
* Radio Compass - Aloha
* 700 Bliss - Nothing to Declare
* Mount Forel - Sub Rosa Stories
* Kool G - Last of a Dying Breed
* Toeheads - A Cruel Winner's World
* Raw Poetic - Space Beyond the Solar System
* Felly - Bad Radio
* Dylan Henner - You Always Will Be


* Surf Rock is Dead - drama
* Taken by Trees - Another Year
* FIDLAR - Don't Fuck With Vol. 1
* Colleen Green - Coco's Christmas
* SUSS - Winter Was Hard
* Cheekface - Don't Ask
* Your Old Droog - YOD Presents: The Shining
* Nakhane - Leading Lines
* We Were Promised Jetpacks - A Complete One-Eighty

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* For the Birds: The Birdsong Project, Vol. 1

Also out:

* Jimmy Cliff - Refugees
* Hallelujahs - Eat Meat, Swear an Oath
* Finally Boys - Ashes in the Sea
* Sinead O Brien - Time Bend and Break the Bower
* DomTheDestroyer - The Lemonade Gang

Homeboy Sandman, A-Plus, & Michael Sneed - "Look at the Rim"

Oakstop Alliance has a compilation album coming out this Friday to showcase artists from Oakland, CA. The latest single features Homeboy Sandman, A-Plus (Hieroglyphics), and Michael Sneed. "Look at the Rim" throws back to the 90's when there were roughly a million hip hop songs about basketball, although this doesn't sound anything like the 90's. It may have the vibe of hip hop from that decade, but "Look at the Rim" sounds much more like 2022 (at least the underground hip hop of 2022). It's a fun song that could easily be included on an NBA Live soundtrack.

You can listen to "Look at the Rim" below. Royalty Summit is due out December 23 and also includes tracks featuring Fuze, Ovrkast, Tone Oliver, and more. The album can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on Oakstop Alliance, check out their website.

Beebe Gallini - "You Ain't Getting Nothin"

Beebe Gallini is the more garage rock side of Miss Georgia Peach's musical repertoire. They've released a new Christmas song that is a killer. "You Ain't Getting Nothin" is a parent's rant to their misbehaving child about how they aren't getting any Christmas presents this year due to their behavior. It's one of the most punk rock songs ever written from the perspective of a parent. It's dripping with a certain venom, but it also reflects the love and frustration of a parent, especially at Christmas. "You Ain't Getting Nothin" is just a fun holiday song... at least for parents.

You can watch the video for "You Ain't Getting Nothing" below. The song is available as a single with a cover of "That's What Christmas Means to Me" featuring Cindy Lawson via Rum Bar Records. You can get a copy through Bandcamp. For more on Beebe Gallini, check out the band's website.

Ken's Best of 2022: #1: Tysk Tysk Task - You're Sorry More

I was a little hesitant to list Tysk Tysk Task's You're Sorry More as my #1 album of 2022. I've gotten fairly friendly with the members of the band over the year so part of me is worried that might be clouding my judgment. Plus, any self-respecting music journalist is going to name Kendrick Lamar or Taylor Swift as their top album of the year.

But I haven't emotionally connected to an album as strongly as You're Sorry More since Lady Lamb's Ripely Pine way back in 2013. Tysk Tysk Task have created this incredibly emotionally raw album that hits so many of my personal musical sweet spots. It has so much fuzz and distortion in it that it reminds me of so many of my favorites from the 90's. The album opener, "Rosegold," even opens with a cough that gives me tons of 90's indie rock warm and fuzzies. All of the songs on the album take unexpected tonal and aesthetic shifts, and I simply can't resist those. Samantha Hartsel's voice goes from near primal scream shrieks to a beautiful but pained singing throughout the album, sometimes during the course of one song. She truly poured everything she has into this album, and it's a masterpiece for those of us who like this sort of thing.

You're Sorry More isn't going to be for everyone. It's certainly not for people who view music as background noise or just want to sing along happily with their friends on a roadtrip. But for those that want their music to emotionally affect them, even if it hurts... you're going to become (possibly unhealthily) attached to this album.

Songs of note: "Rosegold," "Contagion," "Colors," "Working On It/Working It Out," and "Flies"

Jeff's Best of 2022 - #1: Pohgoh - du und ich

I was never an emo kid. Or at least not the type of indie kid that gravitated toward the sort of Bright Eyes/Dashboard Confessional/Saves the Day-style stuff (although they all have their moments). And while "midwest emo" is getting a bit of a tongue-in-cheek resurgance as of late, that was more my speed: heavily melodic, less screamy, not married to just one flavor of music. This also means that I missed the heyday of a lot of truly great bands I'm only discovering in recent years. While I was busy going through every Elephant Six band I could find in the early aughts, it means I missed out on Jawbreaker, on hey Mercedes, on Rainer Maria, Braid, Dismemberment Plan... you get the picture. It also means that a lot of these bands are either reforming recently (Rainer Maria and Dismemberment Plan being noteworthy examples of this) or putting out new music now, and I'm not only experiencing them for the first time, but hearing about them for the first time.

That brings us to Pohgoh. Pohgoh, out of Florida, flaired up and burnt out in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it three year stretch while I was still in high school. They broke up in 1997, and except for some one-off reunion shows, didn't become a real band again until their album Secret Club in 2018. With now more prolific output than when they first made a name for themselves with their third album, it's a time for many to re-assess the act, but for me, it's a time for discovery. du und ich was a revelation in an era of music where I've heard so many different efforts that it's difficult to really grab me to the point of texting all my friends and telling them to stop what they're doing and listen to this, but Pohgoh pulled it off.

The lead track, "Now I Know," sets the tone perfectly. Through the album's runtime, we get gorgeous new love stories like "Planet Houston," certified rockers like "Hammer," and statements like "Not Cool." The album runs the gamut, and nothing outstays its welcome. It's a gorgeous, modern, adult rock record and it's beyond brilliant.

When I say I haven't loved an album quite the way I love this one, I mean it. While it 100% plays to my areas of musical interest, it's so much more than that, and it's easily my favorite of the year.

Songs of note: "Now I know," "Planet Houston," "Hammer," "Not Cool"

Monday, December 19, 2022

Live Shows: Savoir Faire, Union Coffee Co., Milford, NH 12/17/22

Photo by Sasha Pedro

Since discovering Savoir Faire back in January, I've been dying to get out and see her live, but it just hasn't quite worked out for me. She's played a decent number of shows, but I unfortunately couldn't make any. Luckily just before the year ended she played a show at the tiny Union Coffee Co. in Milford, NH!

How tiny is Union Coffee Co.? In the room with the stage, there were only ten chairs. Sure, there was room for people to stand, but it's a tiny stage and a tiny venue. That and the fact that it was a hometown show for Savoir Faire with the audience made up mostly of people she knew, it was an intensely intimate show. For an artist that normally plays rooms with fifty to one hundred people, it was a special chance to see her play in the smallest room possible.

Playing with a bass player, Savoir Faire played a late afternoon/early evening show broken into two sets. She mixed it up by playing mostly originals with a good number of covers, too. Her cover choices were an interesting mix that rarely went with obvious choices. Possibly the most obvious choice was a cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game," which was perfect for her jazz meets indie rock/folk vibe. Other covers includes a song from Radiohead's In Rainbows, Sheryl Crow's James Bond theme "Tomorrow Never Dies, Fiona Apple's "I Know," No Doubt's "Climb," and Garbage's "Only Happy When It Rains." It was an eclectic mix for sure, with Fiona Apple being the most obvious choice as Savoir Faire has played entire tribute sets for Apple. There was also a planned Tragic Kingdom anniversary show that was derailed by COVID, so we might see more No Doubt covers down the road.

It wasn't all covers, of course, and Savoir Faire's originals held up to he cover choices. She has this wonderful mix of jazz standards meets an indie edge sound which was shown off perfectly on a song like "Sweet." "Alias" was another highlight of the evening with it's attention grabbing guitar work. The closer of the night was "Think Twice," which ended with one of the finest laid back guitar solos I've heard in a long time. You don't usually get shredding at a jazz inspired singer/songwriter performance, but most artists aren't Savoir Faire.

Cold Expectations - "Coat of Snow"

The last time we brought you a new song from Boston's Cold Expectations was "Summer Dress" back in May 2021, which we called "... a perfect, laid back summer song." Now they've decided to take on winter with "Coat of Snow." The new single is still laid back although a bit upbeat as well. It's a jangly pop rock song that has a bit of a sonic chill to it despite being mostly warm sounding. The chill is mostly in the keyboards with the warmth coming from fuzzy guitars and wonderfully harmonized vocals. With that dichotomy Cold Expectations may also have perfectly captured the spirit of winter and the holidays in Boston. 

Despite the jingle bells towards the end, this is definitely not a Christmas song. Songwriter Steve Prygoda explains the song via the YouTube description:

"It’s a pseudo-holiday song. I wanted the lyrics for ‘Coat of Snow’ to capture the soft, almost tender-hearted feeling that arrives in the small pocket of days between Christmas and New Year’s. For some, it’s a week-long hangover as we await the next party; for others it’s a reflective time as everything winds down to a crawl, with the anticipation of a fresh new start at our doorstep. The year is basically over, but the new one’s not yet begun, so we’re all just sort of floating around."

You can watch the video for "Coat of Snow" below. The song is available as a single via Red On Red Records and can be found over at Bandcamp. For more on Cold Expectations, check out the band on Facebook.

Matt Charette & The Truer Sound - "4X4"

Sometimes you read an artist's bio and their sound makes perfect sense. Matt Charette was raised on his parent's Bonnie Raitt and John Prine albums, and then started playing in Boston punk and hardcore bands as a teenager. His favorite band was Darkbuster, and after they broke up he was inspired by singer Lenny Lashley's solo acoustic performances. "4X4," the new single from Matt Charette & The Truer Sound, fits all of that perfectly. It's roots music with a punk edge. That phrase gets used a lot, especially around here, but "4X4" just has a little more of an edge to it than most folk punk tends to. Maybe it's Charette's vocals that land somewhere between punk frontman and folk singer, or maybe it's the Drive-By Truckers-esque guitar solos, but it's a gruff and warm folk and punk song. 

You can watch the video for "4X4" below. Lo Fi High Hopes is due out March 10. For more on Matt Charette, check out the artist on Facebook.

Ken's Best of 2022 - #2: Say Sue Me - The Last Thing Left

Say Sue Me have been around for ten years, but this year was when I discovered the Busan, South Korea band. (I have a friend who lived in South Korea for years and saw them a bunch of times, but never told me about them. I'm still mad at her for this.) Their 2022 release, The Last Thing Left goes far beyond their self-described "surf rock" genre. While the songs all fit together masterfully, they all combine elements of shoegaze, indie rock, and indie pop with surf rock. The songs comprising this album also range from upbeat, cheery tracks to much more somber and moody ones as the band processes the 2019 death of their original drummer Semin Kang. You get the moody shoegaze-heavy "Still Here" immediately followed by the Brit-pop level cheeriness of "Around You." The Last Thing Left combines their 1960's surf rock influences with 1990's indie rock to make this completely unique sound that is both a throwback and completely original. "To Dream" might be my favorite track of the year, and it's one of the most lovely shoegaze songs of all time. If you're just discovering Say Sue Me like I did, at least you have ten years of music to throw yourself into!

Songs of note: "Still Here," "Around You," "To Dream," and "No Real Place"

Jeff's Best of 2022 - #2: Thyla - Thyla

Now and then, you'll find an album that you really like, you listen a few times, you forget about for a few weeks, trip up again, and say "oh wow, that's actually really great," lather, rinse, repeat.

Thyla's self-titled debut was exactly that for me this year.

To call Thyla a dreampop band kind of misses the plot, because they do a lot more than that. This album, when it landed in January, instead brings a bit of intensity to the proceedings, and the result is an album that continually defies expectations from the very start. Songs like "Amber Waits" set the tone early on, and from there it's just winner after winner after winner. "Gum," which is a brilliant listen; "Rabbit Hole" which is both the perfect closing song and a great listen in the middle of a playlist; the absolute beast unearthed during "Flush;" there's nary a misstep to be found.

Every time I listened to this album, I loved it more. Easily a favorite of the year, and I can't wait to see what this band will come up with next.

Songs of note: "Flush," "Amber Waits," "Gum," "Rabbit Hole"

Friday, December 16, 2022

Sunny War Covers Ween

Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins

Considering I'm a middle aged fan of indie rock, I'm pretty unfamiliar with Ween. Of course I know who they are and a handful of songs, but I should probably be more familiar with their catalog than I am. Turns out folk-punk artist Sunny War is a much bigger fan than I am as she has released a cover of Ween's song "Baby Bitch" off of their iconic 1994 album Chocolate and Cheese. Sunny War's version is surprisingly faithful to the original. If anything, it's slightly weirder than Ween's with the use of children singing back up vocals on the chorus. Plus, the vocals on the cover have a little more venom on them than the original. Even if you aren't as familiar with Ween as you probably should be (aka me), you're going to love this, and if you are a Ween fan welcome to the Sunny War bandwagon!

Sunny War says of "Baby Bitch":

“‘Baby Bitch’ is one of my favorite Ween songs. It’s pretty and also petty as hell. I first heard Ween’s Chocolate and Cheese album when I was 8 or 9. My mom and stepdad were really into Ween at the time. Throughout the years I’ve found myself returning to ‘Baby Bitch’ every time I end up angry with someone I once loved. I used to play the cover while busking on the Venice Boardwalk and am happy to have finally recorded it. I think the children singing the choruses makes it just a little more petty.”

You can listen to Sunny War's take on "Baby Bitch" below. Anarchist Gospel is due out February 3 on New West Records. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Sunny Way, check out the artist's website.

Drakulas - "Shame"

You ever just know what a band is going to sound like based solely on their name? You're going to be able to do that with Austin's Drakulas. The band was founded by Mike Wiebe and Rob Marchant of Riverboat Gamblers and Zach Blair of Rise Against. Their new 7" on Drunk Dial Records (who invite artists to record a 7" consisting of an original and a cover that must be recorded in one session while inebriated) is exactly what I expected it to be. "Shame" is dark garage rock meets proto-punk song. Plus, then you see that promo pic above and you know i's also going to have to include some 80's synth, which it does. If this had been released twenty years ago Drakulas would have been swept up in that 00's garage rock revival and could have come out on top of that class of bands. "Shame" is a can't miss song.

You can watch the video for "Shame" below. The 7", which also includes a cover of Jim Carroll's "Three Sisters," can be purchased here. For more on Drakulas, check out the band on Bandcamp and Instagram.

Heavy Blanket - "Danny"

Heavy Blanket (aka J Mascis' project with a mystery rhythm section) has a new album coming out in January, and we can hear the 1st single from that album. According to the pre-release page, Mascis has been saving his heaviest riffs for this album, and when you listen to "Danny," you'll agree. It's a nearly seven minute instrumental track that sees Mascis soloing throughout nearly the entire thing. If you love his guitar work but just wish you could listen to him shred the whole time you're listening, "Danny" is going to be for you. It's heavy, and loud, and groovy, and psychedelic as hell. Check this out and enjoy the substance of your choosing.

You can listen to "Danny" below. Moon Is will be out January 27 on Outer Battery Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Heavy Blanket, check out J Mascis' Facebook.

Ken's Best of 2022 - #3: Wet Leg - Wet Leg

This is the album I assumed would be my top album of 2022, but I may have burnt myself out from listening to it a ridiculous amount. Wet Leg's self-titled debut album was highly anticipated, and it lived up to the hype and may have exceeded it. The twelve songs on Wet Leg are all ridiculously fun indie rock songs that lean quite heavily into pop territory. The band's enthusiasm for playing is palpable on these, and whether their backstory of a group of friends who started a band just to get into music festivals for free is made up or not, you want it to be true and it just feels true. They've created this absolute party of an album that is a serious rock album that doesn't take itself remotely seriously and is oftentimes flat out funny. You have to be a certain level of cynical or top tier indie hipster to not get into these folks from Isle of Wight. As with any band that rises this quickly from out of nowhere, I'm sure there will be (or probably is already) some hipster backlash, but never forget how exciting it was to hear "Chaise Longue" for the very first time.

Songs of note: "Chaise Longue," "Ur Mom," "Wet Dream," and "Oh No"

Jeff's Best of 2022 - #3: Maggie Carson - The Dark Was Aglow

There are two bands that are critical to this blog's existence: David Wax Museum and Spirit Family Reunion. Maggie Carson, songwriter and singer for Spirit Family Reunion, dropped a solo album this year that showcased her songwriting and performative chops while also being the best pure roots record of the year.

Maggie Carson's vocals and instrumentation for this album feel more akin to an afternoon barbecue than a campfire party, and the absolute force and drama in her voice and presentation in songs like "Your Ghost," and the production puts her banjo and her voice front and center where they belong across the entire album. It was a great year for folk and roots music, and for this to be one of the major highlights says a lot about her strength as a musician as well as how solid this album is.

If you haven't given this a proper listen yet, make time. It's this good.

Songs of note: "From Here to Anywhere," "Here Among Us," "Waiting," "Your Ghost"

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Rutherford Royal - "Keep It Between Us"

Nashville's Rutherford Royal's latest single doesn't quite sound like what you would associate with that city. His latest single, "Keep It Between Us," is about being a secret monogamist in a polyamorous relationship. The song has a chilled out bedroom pop sound. It sees Royal lightly crooning heartfelt lyrics over a relaxed beat and twinkling music. The song almost has a modern hipster take on easy listening feel to it. It's a very moody song that has an oddly upbeat sound, much like someone who is poly under duress trying to convince their primary partner (and themselves) that they're happy with the arrangement.

You can listen to "Keep It Between Us" below. For more on Rutherford Royal, check out the artist's website.

Clownvis - "Shoppin for Christmas"

The latest Christmas single from Clownvis certainly isn't any "Don't Be a Bitch (Or You Won't Get Stuff for Christmas)," but really what is? "Shoppin for Christmas" sees Clownvis move away from his typical Elvis Presley sound and adopting an almost dance/ballad/tropicalia sound. The song is an ode to all the different places and how much fun Christmas shopping can be because of mass consumerism. Ok, so it's probably not quite an ode to shopping, but it's a completely ridiculous novelty holiday song, and sometimes we just need that. Also, Clownvis has this odd ability to bring you in with how dumb and silly a song is and then keep you with how surprisingly clever the humor is.

You can listen to "Shoppin for Christmas" below. The song is available as a free download on Bandcamp. For more on Clownvis, check out the artist's website.

Ken's Best of 2022 - #4: Horsegirl - Versions of Modern Performance

It's kind of weird being in your forties and absolutely loving a band made up of literal teenagers. The three members of Horsegirl would be much better equipped to have a conversation with my nieces, nephews, and daughter than me, but something about Versions of Modern Performance works for many middle aged dads out there. For me, it's the most nostalgic release of 2022. It's an album released by Matador that sounds like it was recorded in the 90's and shelved due to some weird legal issues only to be finally released in 2022. If that ended up being the story behind Versions of Modern Performance and Horsegirl turned out to be an indie rock Milli Vanilli, that would make more sense to me than three girls in high school perfectly capturing the sound of my college years twenty plus years later. The songs on this album have these great fuzzy guitar tones, fantastic harmonies (even if Horsegirl have perfected the 90's slacker drone), and drumming that holds everything together. 

Songs of note: "Anti-glory," "Live and Ski," "Dirtbag Transformation (Still Dirty)," and "Billy"