Monday, January 31, 2022

Grampfather - "Murder Hornets"

Normally I might balk at a song called "Murder Hornets" as it's an already dated title, but when the band is named Grampfather I have to at least give it a shot, right? "Murder Hornets" starts off as a relatively mellow psychedelic slice of hard rock. It's heavy in a more mainstream version of The Stooges' freak out tracks. And then the song just takes off with almost no warning. It's turns into this thrash meets psychedelic sound with some blues thrown in. It's a little bit of a mess and kinda sloppy at times, but that is not a bad thing in this case at all. "Murder Hornets" is one of the most unexpectedly exciting songs I've heard in a while.

James Kwapisz of Grampfather says of "Murder Hornets":

"I wrote 'Murder Hornets' as a follow-up to our 2020 album 'Magnum Grampus,' our thrash album. What with the pandemic and all the blaring social injustices that came to define 2020, the news of incoming murder hornets just seemed like such a cartoonish cherry on top of all the misery and dread. Although the album starts off where 'Magnum Grampus' ends, the new album, 'Gramppappies' does get more hopeful as it progresses."

You can listen to "Murder Hornets" below. Gramppappies is due out February 25 and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on Grampfather, check out the band's website.

Arny Margret - "akureyri"

Photo by Benni Valsson

Last month we brought you the debut single from Iceland's Arny Margret. We said that it was "... perfectly familiar despite not sounding quite like anyone else." She just released a second single, and "akureyi" keeps that sound going perfectly. Margret sounds like your favorite acoustic singer/songwriters that don't quite fit into folk but are maybe a little bit folk, but she just has this wonderfully unique vocal delivery. It's warm and welcoming while keeping you at a little bit of a distance. According to a press release, the new song is "... about how you judge yourself unfairly through the eyes of those that would put you down," which could explain the overall vibe of the song.

You can watch the video for "akureyri" below. intertwined is due out February 25 on One Little Independent, and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on Arny Margret, check out the artist's website.

Eldridge Rodriguez - "Have I Gone Too Far"

Eldridge Rodriguez is the moniker of Cameron Kieber to cover the wide variety of music he records and releases. According to the "about" section on the artist's website, Eldridge Rodriguez makes "... music for people who like to dance in the dark, alone." That description fits their new single, "Have I Gone Too Far." The new single was written in May 2020 and captures the isolation, monotony, and depression basically everyone experienced after quarantining for two months. Kieber borrows Ian Curtis's trademark vocal delivery a bit, but is a bit more uplifting. As much of a downer as the subject material of "Have I Gone Too Far" may be, it's a surprisingly uplifting song while still maintaining a dour vibe. Like they said, this is perfect music for dancing in the dark, alone.

You can listen to "Have I Gone Too Far" below. The song is available as a single with the B-side "All My Favorite Clowns Are Dead" via Midriff Records and is available here. For more on Eldridge Rodriguez, check out the artist's website.

Friday, January 28, 2022

Scrunchies - "No Home Planet"

At one point it seemed like we were bringing you new music from Minneapolis every other day, but it's been a while since a Minneapolis band came to our attention. Maybe they were just saving up to bring us Scrunchies. Scrunchies are a Twin Citied supergroup that was founded by Laura Larson of Kitten Forever (one of my personal favorites!) and Danielle Cusack of Bruise Violet. The two met from appreciation of each other's bands and through playing together in a Buzzcocks cover band called Buzzcunts, which also featured Clara Sayler of Babes in Toyland. In 2019 bassist Matt Catore of Condominiums joined to flesh out their current line up.

The band's new single, "No Home Planet," perfectly nails a punk sweet spot for me. It's fast and loud and brash, but also has this unmistakable catchiness to it. It's rare to find punk this heavy that's still fun, but Scrunchies pull it off expertly. There's also the fuzz of early Seattle grunge. (I've oddly been on a huge Green River and Tad kick lately, so finding Scrunchies right now is basically fate.) 

You can watch the video for "No Home Planet" below. Feral Coast is due out April 1 on Dirtnap Records and State Champion Records for cassette. For more on Scrunchies, check out the band's Facebook and Twitter.

Ravagers - "Shake the Reaper"

Photo by Shane Gardner

Baltimore's Ravagers are just pure classic punk fury. Well... maybe not pure punk. Their latest single, "Shake the Reaper," sounds like it would pre-date punk, but it's not quite Detroit style proto-punk. Instead, this is a more glammed up version of The Stooges that reunited in the early 80's to retake their rightful place as punk icons, but got caught up in metal while doing so. As gritty and edgy as "Shake the Reaper" may be, there is still this insane joy in the song and some unexpectedly catchy hooks. If this had come out twenty years ago Ravagers might have gotten caught up in the whole garage rock revival, although they could have been a little too punk for the mainstream.

You can watch the video for "Shake the Reaper" below. Badlands is due out February 4 on Spaghetty Town Records and Wanda Records. For more on Ravagers, check out the band's Facebook and Bandcamp. Upcoming tour dates with Suzi Moon are below the video.

  • 4/14 - Boston, MA - Obrien's Pub

  • 4/15 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fire

  • 4/16 – Brooklyn, NY – Sovereign Smokehouse

  • 4/19 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Funhouse at Mr. Smalls

  • 4/20 – Cleveland , OH – Beachland Tavern

  • 4/21 - Detroit, MI - Sanctuary

  • 4/22 – Newport, KY -Southgate House

  • 4/23 – Indianapolis, IN – Melody Inn

  • 4/24 - Chicago, IL - Reggie's

  • 4/26 – Milwaukee, WI – X-Ray Arcade

  • 4/27 – Minneapolis, MN – 7th Street Entry

  • 4/28 – Des Moines, IA – Gas Lamp

  • 4/29 – Omaha, NE – Reverb Lounge

  • 4/30 – Kansas City, MO – Record Bar

  • 5/1 – Denver, CO – Hi Dive

  • 5/3 – Salt Lake City, UT – Urban Lounge

  • 5/4 – Las Vegas, NV – Evel Pie

  • 5/5 – Reno, NV – Shea’s Tavern

  • 5/6 – San Francisco, CA – Thee Parkside

  • 5/7 – Los Angeles, CA – The Redwood

  • 5/8 – Tempe, AZ – Yucca Tap Room

  • 5/10 – Austin, TX – Hotel Vegas

  • 5/11 – Dallas, TX – Deep Ellum Art Co

  • 5/12 – Nashville, TN – Springwater

  • 5/13 - Atlanta, GA - Star Bar

  • 5/14 – Wilmington, NC – Reggie’s 42nd Street Tavern

  • 5/15 – Baltimore, MD – Metro Gallery

Sister Ray - "Crucified"

Photo by Vanessa Heins

Sister Ray has one of the more unique musical upbringings I've heard of. Ella Coyes was raised on gospel bluegrass and 90's country along with traditional M├ętis music. As they grew older, they discovered Loudon Wainwright III, mid-Western emo, and Jeff Buckley. Their debut single, "Crucified," takes from those influences while sounding completely different. It starts off like a relatively standard singer-songwriter track, although "Crucified" has a much more conversational feel to it. It feels like Coyes is more speaking directly to you than following a traditional verse/chorus/verse structure, or even a folk style ramble. And then there's this swirl of noise that just locks you into the song. It makes everything Coyes is singing seem that much more vital.

You can watch the video for "Crucified" below. The song is available as a single via Royal Mountain Records and can be streamed or downloaded here. For more on Sister Ray, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves - "The Banks of the Miramichi"

The upcoming collaborative album from Allison de Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves was recorded in one of the most unique ways I've heard. Instead of recording each song over and over until it was done "correctly," the duo comprised hour long sets and played those over the span of four days. They never listened back to any of the recordings until they were done. The first song released from these recordings, "The Banks of the Miramichi," has a sense of immediacy to it that you don't hear these days, especially in folk. It's a simple song that fits right into the world of folk, but it sounds completely modern while still being completely traditional. It also has such a grounded feel to it by not being perfect. In today's world of digital recordings where an artist can just delete a take and start over again endlessly, hearing a song like "The Banks of the Miramichi" that isn't striving for perfection is an entirely fresh sound. Keeping folk this fresh while still being traditional is a unique feat.

You can listen to "The Banks of the Miramichi" below. Hurricane Clarice is due out March 25 on Free Dirt Records and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, check out the artists' website.

The Weather Station - "Endless Time"

Photo by Brendan Ko

The Weather Station just released the fantastic Ignorance In February 2021. Tamara Lindeman had written an abundance of material for that album, so when it was completed she decided to make another. For this one, she used her own money to get back into the studio without telling her record company. The first song off this album is "Endless Time." The new song is a simple and gorgeous piano ballad. It was recorded on March 11, 2020... and we all know the significance of that time period. The song somehow captures the tension of that time, with literally every aspect of life being up in the air. It does all that with just Lineman's vocals and piano, and ends up being one of the most lovely songs we've heard in a long time despite the inherent tension.

In a press release, Tamara Lindeman says of the new song:

In Toronto, I live in a world of overwhelming abundance; fruits and fresh vegetables flown in year round from Chile, California, Malaysia.  Standing outside a neighbourhood fruit stand one day, I found myself wondering how I would look back on this time from the future; if I would someday remember it as a time of abundance and wealth I did not fully comprehend at the time, and I wondered how it would feel to stand at that threshold of change.  I wondered too if we were not already there. The song was written long before the pandemic, but when we recorded it, on March 11, 2020, it began to feel eerily prescient. The day it was recorded truly was the end of an endless time, and as ever, I don’t know how the song knew.

You can watch the video for "Endless Time" below. How is it That I Should Look at the Stars is due out March 4 on Fat Possum Records and can be pre-ordered here. For more on The Weather Station, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

Sat. Feb. 12 - Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour &Sun. Feb. 13 - San Francisco, CA @ The Independent &Tue. Feb. 15 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios &Thu. Feb. 17 - Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern &Sat. Feb. 19 - Salt Lake City, UT @ The State Room ^Mon. Feb. 21 - Denver, CO @ Globe Hall ^Wed. Feb. 23 - Minneapolis, MN @ Turf Club ^Thu. Feb. 24 - Madison, WI @ High Noon ^Fri. Feb. 25 - Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall ^Tue. Mar. 15 - Brighton, UK @ Komedia +Wed. Mar. 16 - Bristol, UK @ Thekla +Thu. Mar. 17 - Manchester, UK @ Gorilla +Fri. Mar. 18 - Dublin, IE @ Workmans Club +Sat. Mar. 19 - Belfast, UK @ Black Box +Mon. Mar. 21 - Glasgow, UK @ Mono +Tue. Mar. 22 - Leeds, UK @ Brudenell Social Club +Wed. Mar. 23 - London, UK @ Scala +Fri. Mar. 25 - Brussels, BE @ Botanique ~Sat. Mar. 26 - Paris, FR @ La Boule Noire ~Sun. Mar. 27 - Amsterdam, NL @ Paradiso Noord ~Mon. Mar. 28 - Berlin, DE @ Frannz Club ~Wed. Mar. 30 - Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen ~Thu. Mar. 31 - Oslo, NO @ Bla ~Fri. Apr. 1 - Stockholm, SE @ Debaser / Bar Brooklyn ~Sat. Apr. 2 - Gothenburg, SE @ Oceanen ~Mon. Apr. 4 - Hamburg, DE @ Nochtwache ~Tue. Apr. 5 - Cologne, DE @ Blue Shell ~Wed. Apr. 6 - Munich, DE @ Milla ~Thu. Apr. 7 - Zurich, CH @ Bogen F ~Sat. Jun. 11 - Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Thu. Jun. 16 - Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo  &= w/ Cassandra Jenkins^= w/ Helena Deland*= w/ Sam Amidon+= Ami Dang~= Aoife Nessa Frances

Simon & The Astronauts featuring Rachel Haden - "Ten League Boots"

I'll listen to just about anything Rachel Haden is involved with. I've been a fan from her time with that dog. in the 90's, and that has continued with The Haden Triplets and her other musical projects. Apparent, Simon & The Astronauts feel the same way. The UK band reached out to Haden to collaborate, thinking there was no chance. Haden agreed, and they began working on an album from studios in the UK and Los Angeles. The first song released from that collaboration is "Ten League Boots." It's a giant 90's rock style anthem. Haden's vocals are obviously perfect for this style of power pop with monster choruses. For those of us that came of age in the mid 90's, "Ten League Boots" is going to be well appreciated.

Simon Wells says of his band's new song:

"Seven-league boots are an element in European folklore. The boots allow the person wearing them to take strides of seven leagues per step, resulting in great speed. The boots are often presented by a magical character to the protagonist to aid in the completion of a significant task."

You can watch the video for "Ten League Boots" below. Simon & The Astronauts featuring Rachel Haden's self-titled album is due out April 22 and can be pre-ordered via Ring Records. For more on Simon & The Astronauts, check out the band's Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Eli Paperboy Reed Covers Merle Haggard

Photo via Facebook

At this point in his career, Eli Paperboy Reed has been around for almost twenty years and is a veteran of neo-soul. There are a lot of artists you would expect him to release a covers album of. James Brown, Sam Cooke, The Staples Singers... but Merle Haggard? "Mama Tried" is the first single off Reed's Merle Haggard covers album Down Every Road. Haggard is one of those artists I know I should be more familiar with, but Reed turns "Mama Tried" into a soul standard as opposed to classic country. This sounds like pure 70's soul with the beginnings of disco just starting to poke in. Reed makes this song sound like it's straight out of a variety show from fifty years ago. Maybe this won't be perfect for Merle Haggard purists, but for fans of Eli Paperboy Reed and/or classic soul are going to love it.

In a press release, Reed says of first hearing Merle Haggard:

“It was so aggressively honest and edgy. He could get to the heart of these extraordinarily complicated emotional sentiments in two-and-a-half minutes, and that was something that really stuck with me.”

You can listen to Eli Paperboy Reed's cover of "Mama Tried" below. Down Every Road is due out April 29 on Yep Rock Records and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on Eli Paperboy Reed, check out the artist's website.

Howless - "Rain and Ice"

When I think of shoegaze, I don't usually think of Mexico City, but that might change with Howless. The band's new single, "Rain and Ice," has all of the swirling guitar and fuzzy feeling that you expect and need with shoegaze, but it also brings in a sense of pop and a slightly upbeat sound you don't normally associate with the genre. It features vocals from Dominique Sanchez and Mauricio Tinejro that would do their 90's forebearers proud with their attention to slacker detail. This is a huge, fuzzed filled song that helps shoegaze evolve into a new generation.

You can watch the video for "Rain and Ice" below. To Repel Ghosts is due out February 18 on Static Blooms Records. For more on Howless, check out the band's Facebook and Twitter

The Rumjacks - "Bounding Main"

We're in late January, which means we're about to enter Irish punk season here in the Northeast. We've been digging the new songs from The Rumjacks, and the latest is "Bounding Main." The obvious band to compare any Irish punk band to is Dropkick Murphys, and I'll compare this new song to a very specific time for Dropkick Murphys. "Bounding Main" sounds like just as the Dropkick Murphys started getting big. It's not quite as hard edged as a song like "Pipebomb on Lansdowne" but it's not their current arena rock. The Rumjacks have found this great spot where their gang vocals have a catchy, harmonious side but just enough attitude to still be punk.

You can watch the video for "Bounding Main" below. Brass for Gold is due out on February 11 and can be pre-ordered here. For more on The Rumjacks, check out the band's website.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

First Listen: New Releases for 24 January

Artist: Logan Lynn
Album: New Money
Quick Thoughts: This has no business being as good as it is. It's electro-pop with a sort of anti-folk bent, but I loved it over and over and then got to the Liz Phair cover, which is perfect. Logan Lynn won't be for everybody, but if you're looking for a Marc Rebillet-ish danceable record this week, check this out.
Songs of Note: "It's Been Forever," "Fuck and Run"

Artist: Che Noir
Album: Food For Thought
Quick Thoughts: This is a really great rap album this week. Che Noir offers up a record with some excellent low-key backing beats and one great song after another. She's more Sa-Roc than Nicki, and that's to her benefit as well. The whole thing is great, and is definitely my favorite rap album this week.
Songs of Note:

Artist: Artsick
Album: Fingers Crossed
Quick Thoughts: Sometimes Ken sends me things I've never heard of, and they're so good that I shoot him the "holy crap that's good" text. Artsick got the "holy crap." It's such a great slice of poppy indie rock that I couldn't help but fall in love with it almost right away. The songs are catchy as hell, and I am looking forward to coming back to it more than anything else this week.
Songs of Note: "Look Again," "Ghost of Myself," "Dealing With Tantrums," "Ship Has Sailed," "Vacant"

Artist: Yard Act
Album: The Overload
Quick Thoughts: Right after I listened to Artsick I jumped over to Yard Act, and texted Ken again about how great this was. This is sort of like if Idles and Cheekface had a baby, and while Yard Act isn't really reinventing the wheel when it comes to the sort of stream-of-consciousness post-rock stuff, my goodness is it great. Really loved this one as well.
Songs of Note: "The Overload," "Dead Horse," "The Incident," "Witness (Can I Get A?)," "Pour Another"

Artist: AURORA
Album: The Gods We Can Touch
Quick Thoughts: AURORA's been carving a little niche for herself in the sort of airy Nordic pop that I've really come to love, and her first two albums were outstanding as is. This third album, however, feels like a major step forward for her. A few of these songs in particular are just amazing, and will easily end up on my end-of-year mix even though it's only January. A good artist putting out a great new album is always excellent news, so make some time for this.
Songs of Note: "Everything Matters," "Cure for Me," "A Temporary High"

Artist: Reptaliens
Album: Multiverse
Quick Thoughts: Another indie act, this one also has a lot of great power poppy songs throughout. I kept thinking how much I liked each song until I realized how much I just loved the whole package - in an era where power pop has kind of run its course, this was a really solid surprise for me.
Songs of Note: "Don't Wait for Me," "Take It," "I Can't Hide"

Artist: Aoife O'Donovan
Album: Age of Apathy
Quick Thoughts: Aoife O'Donovan is a favorite around these parts, and for good reason. Her forward-thinking bluegrass and local presence makes for some truly excellent music, and from Crooked Still to this new record, it's miles beyond a lot of her contemporaries. This has a darker, starker feel to it, but it's still incredibly high quality and a welcome return for the critically acclaimed musician. Don't skip out on this.
Songs of Note: "B61," "Age of Apathy"

Of note:

* Anna Ash - Sleeper (A number of good moments here.)
* Lost Dog Street Band - Glory (A number of good moments here, too.)
* Boris - W (Very heavy, but I liked it.)
* Goodnight, Texas - How Long Will It Take Them To Die?
* 2nd Generation Wu - The Legend of Shaolin
* Annika Norlin - Mentor
* Jake Xerxes Fussell - Good and Green Again
* Kim Gordon and Loren Connors - At Issue
* Biosphere - Shortwave Memories
* Pedro the Lion - Havasu
* Kids on a Crime Spree - Fall in Love Not in Line
* AUA - The Damaged Organ


* The Second Hand Orchestra - Reimagining the Wide, Wide River
* Etta Marcus - View from the Bridge
* Jeremiah Moon - Sputnik
* Plumes - Here's to Then
* Riarosa - Pinkish
* Operator Music Band - Deep Break

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* These Wild Plains - Thrilled to Beer Here (Live)
* Valerie June - The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers (Deluxe Edition)
* Com Truise - Galactic Melt (10th Anniversary Edition)
* King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - Butterfly 3001

Dropper - "Ok Ok Ok"

As we get closer to the new album from Brooklyn's Dropper, the band has released a video for the new single "Ok Ok Ok." The single is a blend of indie rock that welcomes in a heavy groove to the point that it is almost pop, but also has more than a little but of garage rock psychedelia. It's one of those sounds that's unique but inherently familiar at the same time. While the beat remains upbeat, the song has a sonic heaviness to it. It's not very often you can describe a song as both trippy and peppy, but with "Ok Ok Ok" you can. 

Andrea Scanniello says of her band's new single:

"I think most people have gone through at least one breakup or had a friendship end that pretty much wrecked them for a little while. 'Ok Ok Ok' is about going to a party and being hyper-aware of that other person’s presence. It’s about trying to overcome discomfort but in the process overcompensating and being (maybe just a little) petty. It’s about that desire to prove to that other person, and to yourself, that you’re okay when maybe the truth is, you’re not."

You can watch the video for "Ok Ok Ok" below. Don't Talk to Me is due out February 11 and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Dropper, check out the band's website.

Allegra Krieger - "Taking It In"

Photo by Dallas Starky

When you first start listening to the latest song from Allegra Krieger, you'd be forgiven to think it's going to be fairly standard folky/singer-songwriter fare. Sure, there are little oddball flourishes here and there, but those could be just little quirks speckled throughout "Taking It In." And then the speckles turn into these truly bizarre squalls of noise. These squalls can be pure bursts of noise, what sound like found recordings, or instruments that seem to have just be brought in for a few seconds of the song. "Taking It In" does all this without truly changing the song. It keeps the same pleasant beauty and tempo throughout. It's almost like these sounds are distractions coming from an outside source and not from within the song. Allegra Krieger is going to be an artist you'll want to watch.

You can watch the video for "Taking It In" below. Precious Thing is due out March 4 on Northern Spy Records and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Allegra Krieger, check out the artist's website.

Ex-Hyena - "Capture the Stills"

Boston based electronic duo Ex-Hyena are not a party band. Their latest single, "Capture the Stills," is not something you're going to put on to get the dance floor filled. The song is dark and moody. It's more like a melancholy and disjointed version of trip hop. It may not inspire you to dance, but it will grab your attention and make you want to listen. There is a lot to unpack in this song. Instrumentation seems to wander in and out, almost as if its lost and trying to figure out where it belongs within the song. And, as you're listening, you'll start to notice a groove in the song that is going to make you want to move, even if it's just a little.

Reuben Bettsak of Ex-Hyena says of the new song:

“‘Capture the Stills’ is dark and menacing. Bo [Barringer] wrote the lyrics to this one… It certainly fits the vibe, and themes that Ex-Hyena often covers. To me, it's like falling into a David Lynch movie void, and witnessing two characters in a volatile relationship, or something like that. This was the last song written for the second LP, and I'm glad it made it on the album.”

You can listen to "Capture the Stills" below. Moon Reflections is due out later this year via Hush Club Ltd. For more on Ex-Hyena, check out the artist's Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, January 24, 2022

E - "Any Information"

E, the band of Boston indie rock legends Thalia Zedek (Come, Uzi, Live Skull), Jason Sanford (Neptune), and Gavin McCarthy (Karate), is back with a new single. "Any Information" is just as odd and intense of a song as you would expect from this trio. It's obviously going to be discordant, and this particular song has a guitar riff that sounds like it's driving straight into your skull, but it's also oddly lovely. It might not be at first, but as the song goes on and through repeated listens, you start noticing a strange beauty within. It may be an intensely noisy indie rock song, but there is beauty inside of it if you take the time to look. 

You can watch the video for "Any Information" below. The song is the title track of an upcoming EP which is due out April 22. For more on E, check out the band's Facebook.

No Nations - "Queso"

No Nations are a kind of Boston supergroup, with members that have been in bands like Mean Creek, Cocked N Loaded, I am become Death, Suffer on Acid, etc. The band's second single is out now, and it's one of the more unique rock songs out there right now. "Queso" is as melodic as it is heavy. Their press release refers to their sound as "post-hardcore/shoegaze/grunge," but there is definitely more to "Queso" than just that. It's a song that can sound oddly disjointed at times as it plows through different tempos and styles. It combines the heavier side of indie rock with melodic hardcore into a song that is quite simply irresistible... for those of us that love such music, that is.

You can listen to "Queso" below. The song is available as a download and a two song cassette via Bandcamp. For more on No Nations, check out the band's Facebook and Twitter.

Muzzins - "Invisible Wounds"

Way back in September (seriously, how was that only 4 months ago?) we brought you the debut single from Boston's Muzzins. It was an alt-rock song that brought in elements of electronic, funk, and hip hop. The band is back with "Invisible Wounds," which is even harder to categorize. This new single starts off as an electronic/tropicalia jam, and just kind of meanders its way around in its own funky way. It's this chilled out, laid back song that hides some intensity. And then it just breaks out in this bizarre indie rock squall of noise. That seems to break the tension, because when it leaves "Invisible Wounds" is even more laid back and just pure tropicalia. Muzzins are definitely unique, in one of the more interesting ways.

You can listen to "Invisible Wounds" below. The song is available as a single via Light of Day Records. For more on Muzzins, check out the band's Facebook.

Monday Mix: An Introduction to Meat Loaf

I am a big Meat Loaf fan.

Bat Out of Hell II, alongside Ace of Base's The Sign, was the first album I bought at the Greendale Mall Lechmere with my own money back in 1994. "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through" was one of the first music videos I ever remember seeing on VH1.

As a nerdy theater kid, Meat Loaf's (and, to a further extent, Jim Steinman's) flair for the bombastic and dramatic definitely appealed to 13-year-old me, and the fact that it was loud and often-profane rock music in an era where I was finding Weezer to be a little too heavy for my tastes made it feel like a little rebellion with every listen.

Meat Loaf probably hasn't aged well, musically speaking. Yeah, there's Rocky Horror, but Bat Out of Hell, a debut solo album that went neck-and-neck with Thriller in lifetime sales for a while, sounds very old in particular (and "Paradise By the Dashboard Light" especially couldn't get made today). The albums between Bats are largely forgettable and often contractual obligations. When Jim Steinman wasn't involved, a little bit of the magic was lost. When Jim Steinman was involved, the magic was there in songs that were 6-to-12 minutes long but never felt like it. He somehow made a Chuck D feature seem cringeworthy. He's dead today almost certainly because he, an overweight 70-something, wouldn't get vaccinated against COVID-19.

And yet.

Meat Loaf transcends the idea of "cool." Bat Out of Hell II, a breakthrough comeback effort, did not win me any friends in eighth grade (except for Brian, who memorized the "Wasted Youth" monologue and would snarl it on the playground at recess), but I didn't care. Goodness knows I listened to plenty of embarassing stuff in my years, but I never felt embarassed about my love of Meat Loaf. How could I? It seemed self-aware that it was ridiculous and over-the-top, and, after all, the albums had dragons and demons and flaming motocycles on the covers. They knew exactly what they were doing, and while it poked fun at metal excess, it also revered it in its own operatic way.

Meat Loaf and Steinman had a falling out of sorts in the mid-to-late 1980s, patched it up for Bat Out of Hell II and a handful of songs on Welcome to the Neighborhood before falling apart again and reuniting for Bat Out of Hell III: The Monster is Loose, which was a solid coda to their professional relationship. The last few albums were largely forgettable, which was unfortunate, but man, when Meat Loaf was good? There wasn't a lot that was better, and nearly every significant moment that will forever be etched in my brain is when he worked with Jim Steinman, and now they're both gone.

The disputes with labels and Steinman means that about a decade of work is missing from streaming services, including Meat Loaf's version of "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," (which was a megahit for Celine Dion a decade earlier) and his last truly solid song, "Couldn't Have Said It Better." It makes any sort of effort at a retrospective incomplete, but consider this a bit of a start - if you want to explore further, anything with Bat Out of Hell or Neighborhood in the title are worth your time, but this should also be a reason to explore Jim Steinman in a more substantive way (I'd start with [his version of "Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through"] ( Either way, RIP Meat Loaf, and thanks for the music. And get vaccinated, please.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Las Calakas - "Morena"

Cumbia fusion band Las Calakas were voted best party band by the Phoenix New Times in 2020. Normally we'd tend to avoid a band a paper voted best party band, but most bands aren't Las Calakas. Their new single, "Morena," is definitely a Latinx song, but this is hardly world music. This is music rooted in Latinx culture that is also infused by hip hop, punk, and metal. This is a ridiculously fun song that is truly great for fans of virtually every genre of music. It combines traditional Latin American music with late twentieth century American styles seemlessly. 

Drummer Rafa Calaka says of the new song:

“The theme of this song is about a girl who is very dangerous. Like, you know she is dangerous but we as men don't care and we fall for her physical beauty. We know her energy is not good at all but the gorgeousness of her eyes put us in a trance. Matt (the video director) and I stayed at a coffee shop for 5 hours coming up with this story. We are super surprised because everything that we visioned, came out exactly on camera. All the scenes we had in our mind came to life. That's a pretty hard thing to do. But we both are super content with the final product. It was a lot of hard work and shooting In different locations but it's all worth it. We shot 10 hours per day. There is so much love and passion put into this. We love it!”

You can watch the video for "Morena" below. Hechizo is due out in the Spring via My Grito Industries. For more on Las Calakas, check out the band's website.

BODEGA - "Thrown"

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

It feels like I just discovered BODEGA, despite the fact that their debut album Endless Scroll came out in 2018. The Brooklyn band are back with a new single that shows off everything there is to love about them. "Thrown" is a beyond dance friendly post punk jam. This song is relatively laid back by BODEGA standards, but it's a three minute party by itself. This is one of the most fun live bands around today. "Thrown" might not perfectly capture all of the fun of their live show, but it comes close enough for a solo party in your car or cubicle. 

Founding member Ben Hozie says of the new song:

‘Thrown’ was an attempt at a self-portrait track. The older I get the less I trust my own thoughts and perceptions of self  ——> I realize most of my values and judgments come from the records, films, books, and advertisements I have consumed my whole life. Recognizing this ‘thrown-ness,’ while slightly disturbing, has been a source of inspiration for my creative mind. If the mind can only output what has been presented —> provide it with the proper input. You can remake yourself entirely at the drop of a (top)hat. The inputs I selected for this lyric: James Joyce and Bob Dylan. The music, to me, is a synthesis of many of the stylistic motifs our group has developed over the past few years : syncopated bass over a slow-shifting sea of guitar harmonics, violent guitar spasms with machine influenced but human-played drums; plus male/female vox alternating between spoken text raps and melody.

You can watch the video for "Thrown" below. Broken Equipment is due out March 11 on What's Your Rupture? and be can pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on BODEGA, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram.