Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Luxury Deathtrap - "Evolve"

Photo by Mass Bass Media

Boston's Luxury Deathtrap have released a monster of a single with "Evolve." "Evolve" is a dark, moody alt-rock song that slowly burns for its six minute run time. It's a little too loud to truly be a power ballad, but it's at least power ballad adjacent. It's the kind of song that is such a slow burner that you almost don't even realize when it has erupted into a truly epic burst of noise, at least until it slows back down. "Evolve" is like a less arena ready version of Placebo. This is such a huge sound for a relatively new band that we can't wait to hear more.

Guitarist Nicholas McGowan says of the new song:

“‘Evolve’ is a song that centers around growth and tells a story of a person who has found themselves in a proverbial hell and has to grow to get out. I often write songs that reflect my experience and project it on a character but it always comes back and slaps me in the face. I take an experience and create a story in second person so the audience – ‘you’ – has something to grasp on to, but it’s really about my own personal struggles with falling into a cycle that has negative consequences. My way of reminding myself of where I have been is to sing these songs.”

You can listen to "Evolve" below. The song is a currently available via Bandcamp. For more on Luxury Deathtrap, check out the band's Facebook.

KRS-One, AZ, & O.C. - "Represent the Real"

To celebrate hip hop's birthday, Irish collective Stylistic Murder commissioned legendary MCs KRS-One, AZ, and O.C. on the song "Represent the Real." The song is a perfect tribute to hip hop as an artform. It has a ton of references to the old school days of hip hop (including record scratches and classic hip hop samples) but it doesn't sound like a throwback song. "Represent the Real" is a modern song that pays tribute to the past. Plus, any time we get a new verse from KRS-One is something to celebrate. 

You can listen to "Represent the Real" below. For more on KRS-One, check out his Twitter. You can find AZ's Twitter here, and O.C.'s here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

First Listen: New Releases for 15 August 2022

Artist: The Vandoliers
Album: The Vandoliers
Quick Thoughts: We've been fans of The Vandoliers for a while, and this latest album is yet another great rootsy effort. They're so good at what they do in so many ways that it's difficult to find much fault in it, but it's just such a fun, classic sounding listen in many regards that it's difficult to find much fault in it. If you like the country flavor of things, give this a listen.
Songs of Note: "The Lighthouse," "Bless Your Drunken Heart," "I Hope Your Heartache's a Hit"

Artist: Dead Horses
Album: Brady Street
Quick Thoughts: Dead Horses have been around for a while, but I'm new to them. This album impressed me over and over again, and I loved so many songs from it - it's the sort of listenable folk that should be more popular than it is, and I don't know why it took me so long to discover them. You will fall in love with this album, I'm pretty certain of it.
Songs of Note: "Brady Street," "It's All Good," "Ok Kid," "Under Grey Skies"

Artist: Lauren Balthrop
Album: Things Will Be Different
Quick Thoughts: Lauren Balthrop is also new to me, and I did love what this album is doing. There's a true lo-fi quality to it that is unexpected in a lot of ways, but if you can hear songs like "Get Lost" and "Piece of Shit" and not be enamoured, I don't know what it will take.
Songs of Note: "Get Lost," "Bringing Me Down," "Piece of Shit"

Artist: Rat Tally
Album: In My Car
Quick Thoughts: We like Rat Tally here and there are a number of awesome moments in their long-awaited debut. A nice slice of indie alt-rock, this balances the louder rocking stuff with some introspective softer songs, and I honestly think this would be a highlight in any week, not just a quieter release window. Absolutely take some time with this one.
Songs of Note: "Longshot," "Zombies"

Of note:

* Mariel Buckley - Everywhere I Used to Be (A number of great moments here.)
* Tobe Nwigwe - moMINTS ("'Round here, if it smell funny, onions getting peeled" is a great line.)
* Hudson Mohawke - Cry Sugar
* Tony Molina - In the Fade
* Ohsees - A Foul Form
* Kiwi jr. - Chopper
* Sylvan Esso - No Rules Sandy
* Danger Mouse and Black Thought - Cheat Codes
* Kelsey Waldon - No Regular Dog
* Workhorse - No Photographs


* Your Old Droog - Yodney Dangerfield
* 3l3d3p - PLYGRND
* Amythyst Kiah - Pensive Pop
* Young the Giant - ACT II: EXILE
* Texas Highway Killers - Texas Highway Killers

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* Danny Elfman - Bigger. Messier. (Truly chaotic collection of remixes and collaborations.)

Also out:

* Erasure - Day-Glo (Based on a True Story)
* Collective Soul - Vibrating

Live Shows: Here and There Festival, Mass MoCA, North Adams, MA 8/13/22

When I first heard about the Courtney Barnett curated Here and There Festival, I knew I wanted to attend. Courtney Barnett putting together a travelling festival with a revolving group of artists playing? When I saw our local one was being held at Mass MoCA in North Adams, which is one of my favorite festival venues, and was going to be one of the larger all day ones, and also included Hana Vu, Faye Webster, The Beths, and Lucy Dacus, all of which are artists I'll go see any time they play in the area? How could I miss this?

Despite having a logistical mishap on the way and missing Hana Vu, I was in great spirits. Besides the amazing musical line up, that was one of the great joys of Here and There: Everyone was happy. There was no aggression from everyone, everyone was nice and polite to each other, and everyone was just thrilled to be there. Even in the photo pit the vibe was just chill and friendly. I overheard two young women saying they drove twelve hours to be there because they loved so many artists playing Saturday. The entire day was just a joyful celebration. I feel way too hippy dippy saying that, but it was beautiful.

The first artist I saw of the day was Bartees Strange. I hate admitting this, but I haven't exactly been a fan of his. His albums are fine, but I just haven't connected with them. Maybe it's just been too pop oriented for my personal taste, but seeing him perform live was a revelation. His live show had an edge that is missing on his albums and the performance was still pop but with a lot more indie rock to it. Plus, Strange is one of the most compelling performers I've seen in a long time. You just couldn't stop watching or getting sucked in by his performance. I definitely owe his albums another chance after Saturday.

Next up was supposed to be The Beths, but I had missed the news that Men I Trust had pulled out two hours before due to COVID. Instead of The Beths, out came Caroline Rose, one of my most beloved artists who I was disappointed wasn't playing the North Adams show. Nothing against Men I Trust, but this was an unexpected delight for me. Rose played a brief solo acoustic set, playing mostly new unreleased songs or old unreleased songs. She talked so much between songs that she joked it was more of her stand up set than her musical set, but she's so damn charming no one cared. No matter what she played, this was an unexpected delightful surprise for the day.

The Beths played next, and seeing them play in front of thousands of people was a huge difference from the last time I saw them at the eighty five person capacity Atwoods Tavern, but their show was still special. There's just something about The Beths' music that feels intimate, even at an outdoor festival show. They seemed to be the first band that the crowd was already pumped to see before they started playing, and if anyone wasn't already they were by the end. Their blend of indie pop rock is incredibly well suited to an outdoor festival in a gorgeous setting. Back when I saw them in 2018 I had commented that I was looking forward to seeing the chorus of "Little Death" sung by a field of people. I didn't quite get that at Here and There, but it was close enough.

Playing between The Beths and Lucy Dacus might have been the perfect timeslot for Faye Webster to play in. Her brand of ultra laid back retro hip pop chilled out the crowd without losing anyone's interest. Personally I was starving at this point, so for me it was the perfect soundtrack for grabbing some dinner on top of the hill while watching the sun set behind the stage. Webster has some die hard fans who treated every song like it was the most vital one on the planet. She definitely made some more fans that night.

I've said before that Lucy Dacus might have the most dedicated fans in music today, and Saturday proved that die hard fanbase continues to grow. As an artist gets bigger, they seem to attract more casual fans who like a few songs and are more there out of curiosity. Not with Dacus. Each new fan is just as die hard as the ones before. I haven't seen thousands of people as transfixed on a single performer like this since Tori Amos in the 90's. At this point in her career, Dacus' set was like a best of album. Songs like "VBS," "Hot & Heavy," "Brando," "Thumbs," "I Don't Wanna Be Funny Anymore," and the closer of "Night Shift" are all from just three albums released in just a five minute period. For a cover, she performed her recent dreamy cover of Cher's "Believe," and to close out the show "Night Shift" became a sing-a-long/shout-a-long for the thousands of people in attendance. Walking around the crowd after the set, I overheard a large number of people talking about just bursting into tears during "Night Shift," even people who had never heard it before. "Night Shift" is a gorgeous, moving song, but there was just something in Dacus' performance that night. It's very rare to think you just watched someone become a true star in one performance, but that's what Lucy Dacus did Saturday night.

Closing out the evening was festival curator Courtney Barnett. Playing after such amazing sets by Lucy Dacus, Faye Webster, and The Beths should have been a rough task, but Barnett nailed it. Her 90's style loud slacker indie rock was the perfect thing to keep a tired crowd going. Her entire vibe was completely different from anyone else playing. That was what worked best about Here and There: Every artist was completely different but they all fit perfectly together. Songs like "Avant Gardener," "Elevator Operator," and "Depreston" are just perfect live. Towards the end of her ninety minute set, Barnett was joined by Faye Webster for "An Illustration of Loneliness (Sleepless in New York)" and then by Bartees Strange for "Pedestrian at Best" and "Nobody Really Cares if You Don't Go to the Party." It was an epic set of music for sure.

What might have summed up the night perfectly happened after the concert ended. Courtney Barnett walked off to Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody," and while the majority of the crowd started filing out, hundreds of indie rock fans danced wildly to the music in the field without a trace of irony. Just music fans celebrating a joyful day of music in the happiest way possible. And that's what Here and There was all about.

Bailey Miller - "222"

Photo by Vy Pham

Cincinnati, OH's Bailey Miller has a unique take on the electronic/ambient musical genre. Her latest single, "222," is a laid back sonic soundscape of odd noises and her vocals. Miller keeps a much more organic sound than you typically hear with electronic music. A lot of the instrumentation sounds more acoustic and folk than computer generated, which gives "222" a more organic feel. It almost lands more in the experimental folk category, but not quite. As beautiful as Miller has made this song, it's still a challenging listen at times. It's great to hear the beauty of experimental music and not just the noise.

You can listen to "222" below. Still Water is due out September 2 on Whited Sepulchre Records. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Bailey Miller, check out the artist on Instagram.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Live Shows: Grizzlies, Tysk Tysk Task, JVK, and Car Girlfriend, News Cafe, Pawtucket, RI 8/12/22

On a fairly last minute whim, I ended up heading down to Pawtucket, RI to see Tysk Tysk Task at the News Cafe. Sure, this would be the... fifth (?) time I've seen them since April, but Samantha Hartsel and Danni Gannon just keep improving with every show while still tinkering with songs each and every time. If I had a free Friday night, how could I miss it?

Opening the show was Car Girlfriend. They had a very raw funk meets metal and alt-rock sound. Some songs were almost pure funk while others were almost pure metal, with other songs being nearly every step in between. Plus, with vocalist Garrett Hopkins mostly rapping during songs, it reminded me of a very, very early Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not many bands can pull off the party band vibe while still blasting an angry song called "Cop Killer" (not a Body Count cover, by the way), but Car Girlfriend pulled it off.

Next up was JVK, which I can't tell if it's a solo project or a band based on their social media. JVK play this interesting mix of straightforward alt-rock with a much noisier sound and an almost pop meets goth vibe. They continued the aggressive yet fun theme of the night. It's definitely music that's somewhat mosh friendly while still being nearly pop, even if no brand of pop is quite this noisy. It's always fun to see younger bands play around with styles and sounds to make their own.

I should be bored with seeing Tysk Tysk Task by now. A lot of bands will come around once a year and I'll skip it since I just saw them the year before. But something just connects me to their music. Hartsel seemed much chattier than normal on Friday evening and explained the stories behind a few songs. "Flies," which is quickly becoming a favorite, was written at the beginning of the pandemic when she was afraid to leave the house to bring out trash. The pairing of "Working On It" and "Working It Out" is starting to insert itself into my brain permanently and is haunting my waking hours. It was also the first time I saw "On My Own" live, which is just mesmerizing. When performing live, Tysk Tysk Task are developing a connection similar to The White Stripes, but more of an equal partnership. Their songs have a specific structure to them, but Hartsel and Gannon improve off each other with a comfort that you usually only see with musicians that have played together for years.

Closing the night out was Grizzlies, another band that had a familiar yet unique sound. They had a standard blues rock sound but mixed with indie rock. It was like Tedeschi Trucks Band and Lake Street Dive if they were filtered through 120 Minutes. To keep the Tedeschi Trucks band comparisons going, Grizzlies' singer had a voice far superior to what you typically get in an indie rock band, and their guitarist blew out these insane solos with an ease I've only ever seen with Derek Trucks. It's a great night when you can see four local bands all taking the familiar and transforming it into their own unique sounds.

Chico Romano - "Who Said"

Photo by Harry Sklans

Chico Romano, the New Jersey based artist formerly known as Professor Caveman) has released a new single under his new moniker. "Who Said" doesn't quite sound like anything else being made in 2022... or really any time at all. If I was forced to choose a decade, I'd go with the 1970's, but that's mostly because "Who Said" has a strong 70's funk meets Motown R&B feel. It's also fused with Tropicalia and vintage soul, with the whole thing giving off a bedroom pop texture. Chico Romano has crafted this wonderfully classic and vintage jam that still retains a modern indie/DIY vibe.

Chico Romano says of the new single:

"Have you ever been mistaken for somebody else? Chico tells his tale of love and confusion in this fantastical prog-funk ballad."

You can listen to "Who Said" below. Vol. 5 is due out October 7. For more on Chico Romano, check out the artist's Bandcamp.

Friday, August 12, 2022

beabadoobee Covers The Sundays

Photo via Facebook

We're fans of beabadoobee here at If It's Too Loud... Pretty sure Jeff is the bigger fan as I'm still pretending I don't love pop, even Bea Laus' blend of alt-pop. But even the most curmudgeonly aging Gen-Xer won't be able to resist beabadoobee's cover of The Sundays' iconic "Here's Where the Story Ends." Recorded for SiriusXM's Alt Nation, it's just beabadoobee's vocals and two acoustic guitars, and my dear lord... this is just dreamily perfect. I'm not sure if beabadoobee is doing it purposefully or not, but her voice almost perfectly matches Harriet Wheeler's on the original, right down to her inflections. The best part about this is The Sundays might get a little resurgence as The Kids go and check out the original.

You can watch beabadoobee cover "Here's Where the Story Ends" below. For more on beabadoobee, check out the artist's website.

Mightmare - "Easy"

Photo by Jillian Clark

While the previous single from Mightmare, the indie rock/dark pop project from Sarah Shook, was decidedly more indie rock, their latest single lean much harder into pop. "Easy" is a laid back indie pop song. It's relatively bare bones in the world of pop, and much more synth heavy than anything we've heard from Shook previously. It kind of sounds like an unreleased demo from one of your favorite 80's synth bands, recorded while they were just writing the song and before the huge hit sound was built into it. Of course, "Easy" is much more polished than a demo, but it has that stripped down and laid back vibe.

Sarah Shook says of their new single and video:

“[The single] is easily the most lighthearted song I've written. I felt like anime was the perfect way to tease the innocence and agony of exploring a new love interest.”

You can watch the video for "Easy" below. Cruel Liars is due out October 14 on Kill Rock Stars, and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on Mightmare, check out the band's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

October 19 – Charlotte, NC – Snug HarborOctober 20 – Atlanta, GA – 529October 21 – Greenville, SC – Radio RoomOctober 22 – Nashville, TN – The BasementOctober 23 – Knoxville, TN – Pilot LightOctober 24 – Columbus, OH – Rumba CaféOctober 25 – Pittsburgh, PA – Club CaféOctober 27 – Cincinnati, OH – Southgate House RevivalOctober 28 – Urbana, IL – Rose Bowl TavernOctober 30 – Chicago, IL – Empty Bottle

SeepeopleS - "Lots of People"

Portland, ME's SeepeopleS is described as an "anti-genre alt project," and there is certainly no arguing that. The group, led by Will Bradford, has released a new single which might be one of the hardest songs I've ever had to describe. "Lots of People" is at times this oddly hypnotic psychedelic track that sounds like it could be at home at an electronic music festival and a jam band concert, and at others like it's more along the lines of alt-pop or alt-folk. And "Lots of People" keeps a strong indie rock feel all throughout its nearly six minute length. This is a batshit kind of song that never ends up in trainwreck territory despite its lack of genre... or inclusion of virtually every genre.

You can watch the video for "Lots of People" below. Field Guide for Survival in this Dying World is due out October 7. For more on SeepeopleS, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Andrea Gillis Covers J. Geils Band

J. Geils Band is just one of those bands I really need to make more of an effort to get into. Being a huge supporter of the Boston music scene, it's a deep shame that I haven't gotten more into them, especially considering how many artists I love and respect regularly cover their songs. The latest is Andrea Gillis, who has released a rollicking cover of "I Don't Need You No More." Gillis's version is a little more smooth and modern, and is mostly missing the 1970's grime. (Hey, in the 70's everything was a little sleazy, especially Boston.) You can feel the love Andrea Gillis has for J. Geils Band in this cover, and it sounds like it was an absolute blast to record.

Peter Wolf, the writer of "I Don't Need You No More," gives his thoughts on Andrea Gillis's cover:

“Andrea Gillis takes this Geils’ tune and rocks the house with it in a way that Etta James might ‘ve done…She kicks it high!”

You can listen to Andrea Gillis's version of "I Don't Need You No More" below. The song is available as a single via Red On Red Records, and can be downloaded through Bandcamp. For more on Andrea Gillis, check out the artist on Facebook.

Girlpuppy - "I Want to Be There"

Photo by Brandon McClain

Girlpuppy's songs have always been heartbreakingly beautiful, but her latest is just on a new level. "I Want to Be There" fits Becca Harvey's indie pop sound with more than a little bit of dream pop wistfulness. Harvey's vocals seem to anchor the song while the instruments meander around, almost lost. "I Want to Be There" sounds much more organic than a lot of other indie pop songs. It's not quite folk, but it's also not not folk. Girlpuppy is already a master of songs that sound like a close friend is taking you aside and entrusting you with a deep secret. This one is certainly not an exception.

Becca Harvey says of the new single:

"I wrote 'I Want To Be There' about the pain I felt when my old landlord kicked me and three of my best friends out of our dream home, and all three of my roommates moved to New York.

"I was left all alone in Atlanta and it was a really bad time for me. I was jobless and I felt like I had no friends which made me wonder what was wrong with me, which kind of made me spiral into self-hatred. I like to call this one the 'self hate anthem' of the album."

You can watch the video for "I Want to Be There" below. When I'm Alone is due out October 28 on Royal Mountain Records. For more on Girlpuppy, check out the artist on Facebook and Twitter.

Bed - "Blue Sweater"

I truly love the variations on shoegaze that have been coming out lately. Antelope Valley, CA's Bed have put their own spin on the sound with "Blue Sweater." The song has a lot more energy to it than you typically get with shoegaze. In fact, this is downright bouncy. "Blue Sweater" is more like mid-90's alt-rock that still has some of the crunch of grunge but is starting to veer more into a power pop sound. And, of course, it also has that swirling haze you get with shoegaze. 

Bed started out as a solo bedroom project by frontman Ebed "bed" Moreno. He talks about the origins of the band:

"At my first show, I didn't have a band at the time, so my band was literally my laptop plugged into a PA and me on guitar and vocals. and people actually liked it.

“Eventually those backyards turned to venues and the crowds got bigger. We really hit a shift when we had the privilege of going on tour with one of my favorite bands, Beach Goons, and our first show was at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles-sold out to 1500 people. I can confidently say we put on our best performance that night. Since then, we've been going up. especially after the album dropped.”

You can listen to "Blue Sweater" below. Bed's self-titled debut has just been re-released via Wiretap Records. For more on Bed, check out the band's Twitter and Instagram.

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Already Dead - "Stability"

I talk a big game about not liking pop punk, but then a band like Already Dead comes around and makes me have to sheepishly admit that I do kinda like it. The Massachusetts band's debut single, "Stability," is a fast and bouncily furious song with some killer shout a long choruses and that blue collar edge that only New England pop punk bands can truly pull off. It has all the anger a song needs to be punk, but it doesn't forget that you're supposed to have fun, too. I say this a lot here, but Already Dead has some huge crossover mainstream potential. You're not going to want to sleep on these guys.

Dan Cummings of Already Dead says of their new song:

"'Stability' is a wanderlust song about chasing a dream or a life while still maintaining the life you've built. It's about the need or desire to go out and pursue something but still knowing where your home is." 

You can watch the video for "Stability" below. My Collar is Blue is due out in October. For more on Already Dead, check out the band's website.

Ezra Furman - "Poor Girl a Long Way From Heaven"

Photo by Tonje Thilesen

There is no artist out there making music quite like Ezra Furman is. Her latest single, "Poor Girl a Long Way From Heaven," Furman takes her trademark unique blend of indie rock and pop and injects a little bit of gospel or spiritual music into it. Furman's music combines a vibe that is hers and hers alone with sounds that are almost familiar. "Poor Girl a Long Way From Heaven" has an interesting 1980's Madonna goes modern indie rock feel, which mostly comes from Furman's delivery. There aren't many (or truly, any) indie artists out there today that are going to remind you of gospel and Madonna, but that's the beauty of Ezra Furman.

Ezra Furman says of her new single:

“The spiritual life ain’t all pious platitudes. This song is about how weird it gets, when you’re in love with the Source of Being and She’s not texting you back. Ever since it hit me that I was never going to be loved and accepted on the scale of my pop star heroes, me and my bandmates have started to work on a different vision of pop, one more our own, one that gestures at the stranger truths of the human mind. Here we are in thrall to verbally adventurous nineties music like Bjork and Beck and the Silver Jews and them kinda non-linear geniuses.”

You can watch the video for "Poor Girl a Long Way From Heaven" below. All of Us Flames is due out August 26 on Bella Union, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Ezra Furman, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

Sun. Aug. 14 - Des Moines, IA @ Val Air Ballroom ^Tues. Aug. 16 - Milwaukee, WI @ UWM Panther Arena ^Wed. Aug. 17 - Indianapolis, IN @ TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park ^Thu. Aug. 18 - Crickhowell, UK @ Green Man FestivalTues. Aug  23 - Edinburgh, UK @ Edinburgh International FestivalWed. Aug 24 – Leeds, UK, - Brudenell Social ClubMon. Sep. 12 - Montreal, QC @ La Sala Rosa  !Tue. Sep. 13 - Toronto, ON @ Rec Room  !Wed. Sep. 14 - Detroit, MI @ The Loving Touch !Thu. Sep. 15 - Pittsburgh, PA @ Mr Small's !Fri. Sep. 16 - Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar !Sun. Sep. 18 - Philadelphia, PA @ Underground Arts !Mon. Sep. 19 - Providence, RI @ Fete Ballroom !Tue. Sep. 20 - Boston, MA @ The Sinclair  !Wed. Sep. 21 - New York, NY @ Webster Hall !Thu. Sep. 22 - Dover, DE @ Firefly FestivalMon. Oct. 31 - Bruges, BE @ Cactus ClubTue. Nov. 1 - Paris, FR @ Le TrabendoWed. Nov. 2 - Utrecht, NL @ Tivoli VredenburgThu. Nov. 3 - Hamburg, DE @ Uebel & GefährlichSat. Nov. 5 - Cologne, DE @ KulturkircheSun. Nov. 6 - Berlin, DE @ Festsaaal KreutzbergMon. Nov. 7 - Prague, CZ @ RoxyTue. Nov. 8 - Vienna, AT @ Arena WienWed. Nov. 9 - Graz, AT @ Dom Im BergThurs. Nov. 10 – Leipzig, DE - TransCentury Update FestivalSat. Nov. 12 - Fribourg, CH @ Fri-SonSun. Nov. 13 - Munich, DE @ FreiheitshalleMon. Nov. 14 - Frankfurt, DE @ ZoomWed. Nov. 16 - Brighton, UK @ St Georges ChurchThu. Nov. 17 - London, UK @ The RoundhouseSat. Nov. 19 - Birmingham, UK @ The MillMon. Nov. 21 - Manchester, UK @ O2 Ritz ^ with Jack White! with Art Moore supportingAll Oct/Nov shows are with The Golden Dregs supporting

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

First Listen: New Releases for 5 August

Artist: Rachel Sumner and Traveling Light
Album: Rachel Sumner and Traveling Light
Quick Thoughts: Man, I loved this album. It has a lot of elements of progressive bluegrass and folk, but just the gorgeousness of it all makes it stand out. It's got a hint of darkness as well, which gives it a feel all its own. A really solid listen and bold statement in a quiet week.
Songs of Note: "Unrecorded Night," "Strangers Again," "Come Along, Rowan"

Artist: EDT
Album: It Was a Wave, Of Course
Quick Thoughts: EDT is the moniker of Emily Dix Thomas, a cellist with a super impressive resume for a variety of local favorites. This album, heavy on the gothic cello mood it sets, is really a beautiful record and might be one of my favorites of the summer. There's a starkness to it, and that sort of thin fragility lends itself to some very interesting and unique sounds and songs. Honestly, don't miss out on this one, it's truly stellar.
Songs of Note: "Blue," "Twilight," "A Wave, Of Course"

Artist: The Interrupters
Album: In the Wild
Quick Thoughts: The Interrupters continue to soldier on as if ska didn't leave our hearts just to come back in recent years. The musicians involved in The Interrupters are second-to-none, and the songs here are equal parts fun and familiar, serious and sober. A great listen whether you're letting your Vans collect dust in the closet or not.
Songs of Note: "Anything Was Better," "Raised by Wolves," "My Heart," "Worst for Me," "Let 'Em Go"

Artist: Cheekface
Album: Too Much to Ask
Quick Thoughts: Ah, Cheekface. This album is so absurd in so many ways, and yet probably makes much bolder statements this time around than they did on last year's effort. The end result is still a really solid record on a whole, and in many ways a step forward in their trajectory, so check it out.
Songs of Note: "When Life Hands You Problems," "We Need a Bigger Dumpster," "Featured Singer," "You Always Want to Bomb the Middle East"

Of note:

* The Brother Brothers - Cover to Cover (Great folky cover versions.)
* Art Moore - Art Moore (A lot of great moments here.)
* Mall Grab - What I Breathe
* Zach Jones and the Tricky Bits - Plastic Soul
* Guards - More Cover Songs
* Katie Doherty and the Navigators - Flow
* Cemetery Drive - the sun will rise


* KAYE - Neon God (ex-San Fermin, quite good.)
* Pussy Riot - MATRIARCHY NOW (Yes, that Pussy Riot, and it's great.)
* Rachika Nayar - Our Wretched Fantasy (Gorgeous electronic music that ends too soon.)
* Doechii - she / her / black bitch
* Gamblers - When We Exit
* Koven - Higher Ground (Part 1)
* Tobe Nwigwe - moMINTs
* Approaching Black - You Fill My Soul
* Juan Power (The Juan Maclean and Man Power) - Ramon's Return
* Jenny Moore's Mystic Business - The Piano Tapes, Vol. 1
* Tomato Flower - Construction
* Claire Rousay and More Eaze - a crying poem
* Tristan Arp and Kellen303 - Entangled Beings
* Georgia Ruth - Kingfisher

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* Something Borrowed, Something New: A Tribute to John Anderson

Also out:

* T. Bone Burnett - The Invisible Light: Spells

Burp. - "My Back Hurts"

You know when you hear a song that you're just too old to listen to? Sure, you can still listen to dumb punk songs by bands like The Queers and Descendents because you can use the nostalgia factor, but when it's a new band in 2022 you can't get away with that. I almost didn't cover the latest from Burp. because of that, but "My Back Hurts" is much better than it wants to be. It's a song about accidentally going to a happy ending massage parlor with a chorus of "Please don't touch my balls," which is hardly what a middle aged adult with two children should be listening to... but that riff is just irresistible. It fits in that early Blink-182 meets noise rock sound I got sucked into back at their live show in June. This is one that you're definitely going to enjoy, even if it's in your car alone with the windows rolled up.

You can listen to "My Back Hurts" below. For more on Burp., check out the band on Instagram.

Eliza Edens - "I Needed You"

Photo by Anthony Mulcahy

Brooklyn's Eliza Edens has released a single that doesn't truly sound like something that should be coming out of Brooklyn. "I Needed You" is a dreamy and breezy folk song that leans a little but into the world of folk pop. It stays just a little too rootsy for that, especially with the occasional twang on the guitar. It's a laid back song that is a showcase for Edens vocals without ever getting remotely showy. It's a laid back song that sounds like it was written on the porch of a country cabin with a crossover hit in mind. You're going to want to join us in keeping a close eye on Eliza Edens.

Eliza Edens says of her new single:

“'I Needed You' explores the liminal space that exists near the end of a relationship – when you’re vacillating between 'I need them' and 'I don’t need them.' It’s about trying to discover and center your own needs when sometimes it’s easier to lie to yourself and ignore them. It’s also about loving someone you know you can’t be with and perhaps not even knowing what you need and being okay with that. I initially wrote this song as a sad little breakup waltz, but when I showed it to my collaborators, they elevated it into a slow burn rocker that had me laughing by the end."

You can watch the video for "I Needed You" below. We'll Become the Flowers is due out October 14 and can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on Eliza Edens, check out the artist's website.

Monday, August 8, 2022

Sunshine Riot - "Parole Board"

Earlier this year, Boston's Sunshine Riot released "Just Say So" which had that Song of the Summer vibe. Now that summer is winding down, they've released "Parole Board" which goes in a much different direction. "Parole Board" is still a mostly upbeat song, but there is a layer of grime and sadness covering the track. The song has a bit of a throwback vibe. It's not quite classic rock or oldies, but it does have a certain vintage sound to it. It's kind of like if you tried putting The Replacements in a freshly pressed suit. It's a little more palatable, but that punk edge is still seeping through.

Vocalist/guitarist Jonny Orton says of the new song:

“I suppose it's a story about a protagonist that grew up in small town, not-on-anyone's-radar America; the sort of place that all of us in the band grew up in. I think it's a song about the disenchantment people feel when the little town they called home gets taken over by cheap casinos and strip malls; faux, sterile luxury. The song kind of contrasts that aesthetic with the opioid epidemic that characterizes most of small-town suburbia these days and the tragic juxtaposition of kids dying in parking lots of big new developments. More concisely, it is essentially about the episode of The Simpsons in which Springfield got swindled into putting in a monorail.”

You can listen to "Parole Board" below. Sparkle Baby 2000 is due out in September. For more on Sunshine Riot, check out the band's website.

GIFT - "Gumball Garden"

Photo by Jena Cumbo

I always associate psych rock with the west coast, or maybe some places in Europe. I'm trying to think of any other Brooklyn based psych rock bands, but nothing is coming to mind. GIFT might have that designation all to themselves. Their new single, "Gumball Garden," is classic psych rock with all the grit and hipster cool you'd associate with the city. This is definitely not hippie psychedelia. That's not to say there isn't plenty of jammy guitar work on "Gumball Garden," but it doesn't sound like drugged out noodling. This is an oddly heavy song that sounds a little like The Brian Jonestown Massacre mixed with The Strokes.

TJ Freda says of his band's new song:

I had a dream in late 2019 where I woke up one day and there was nobody on earth. I was walking around looking for any forms of life to no avail. It was sad but also strangely peaceful. When the pandemic happened, this song took on a whole new meaning. We did wake up one day and the streets were empty. Everyone had gone away. This song is about finding peace in solitude.”

You can watch the video for "Gumball Garden" below. Momentary Presence is due out October 14 on Dedstrange. For more on GIFT, check out the band's website.

Celebration Summer - "Fraud"

Celebration Summer, your new favorite D.C. area politically charged punk band, just released a new single. If you have an affection for D.C. area punk, you kind of already know what to expect from "Fraud." It's a song that takes aim at NRA, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, etc. As angry as it is, the song is kind of fun in that way the best angry punk is. It's fast and political with great shout a long gang choruses, but it's oddly melodic at the same time. To keep the classic D.C. punk theme going, "Fraud" sounds like if Rites of Spring attempted to write a straightforward hit for the modern rock charts.

You can watch the video for "Fraud" below. Patience in Presence will be out on A-F Records in the US and Shield Recordings in Europe in late September. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Celebration Summer, check out the band's Facebook and Bandcamp.

Friday, August 5, 2022

Walter Alice Sickert Covers Mazzy Star

Photo via Facebook

If you're of a certain age and disposition, you probably have roughly a thousand memories associated with Mazzy Star's iconic "Fade Into You." You know that it's one of the greatest and most beautiful songs of all time. However, it doesn't seem to get covered as much as you'd (or at least I'd) expect it to. As part of their streaming talk/variety show Bunker Buds, Walter Alice Sickert recorded a solo cover of the song. It's just Sickert and their guitar, and it's spectacular. I don't think any vocals on "Fade Into You" could top Hope Sandoval's, but Sickert does a fabulous job, and this cover is quite simply stunning. With the theatrics and bombast of the Army of Broken Toys, it's easy to miss how spectacular of a vocalist they can be. "Fade Into You" helps remind us all of Sickert's talents.

You can watch Walter Alice Sickert cover "Fade Into You" below. For more on the artist, check out Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys' website.

Miracle Blood - "Pomeranian"

Boston's Miracle Blood might have just released the heaviest song about wanting to be a small dog of all time. "Pomeranian" is a ferocious song with just enough yelling and droning guitar fuzz to perfectly blend punk, metal, and indie rock. Its pounding drums keep the song at a plodding pace that threatens to explode but never quite does, which makes the song even more intriguing. Instead of the whole indie rock loud/quiet/loud template it goes more along the lines of loud/louder/not quite as loud/even louder/loud. This song is a force of nature, and then turns into a frenetic and more upbeat jam towards the end.

You can listen to "Pomeranian" below. The song is available now via Bandcamp. For more on Miracle Blood, check out the band's Facebook.

Bella White - "The Way I Oughta Go"

Photo via Facebook

We adored Bella White's 2020 album Just Like Leaving. If I hadn't discovered it in 2021, it would have landed quite high on my best of 2020 list. It had this perfect blend of classic, traditional bluegrass but with a fresh voice. On her latest single, White takes a bit of a turn into pure country. "The Way I Oughta Go" is a song about lamenting the lack of love in your life in the most classic country tradition. It's a sad song with that joyful sound that all the best lovesick country songs have. This one will stand right up with your favorites from Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Patsy Cline, and others. It's great to see a young artist like White take on a different style of music so early in her career, and knock it out of the park.

In the YouTube post for the video, Bella White says of her new song:

“'The Way I Oughta Go' is a song about not being sure where you should land, when you should take off, or even knowing how. Writing while staring at the ceiling of my Nashville bedroom amidst the late August heat, I felt stifled. I wrote a song about love and the lack thereof that I was experiencing -- where to find it, or if I even believed that it was out there after one profound disappointment on top of another. It’s a song about self, and moving around until you find your place in the world."

You can watch the video for "The Way I Oughta Go" below. For more on Bella White, check out the artist's website.

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Bonny Light Horseman - "Exile"

Photo by D. James Goodwin

The fact that a new song from Bonny Light Horseman is great shouldn't be surprising at this point. What's surprising about "Exile" is just how great it is. In other hands the song could easily slip into the easy listening/yacht rock side of things, and that's not to say that Bonny Light Horseman aren't edging into 70's AM radio territory here. But with just the intermingling vocals of Anais Mitchell and Eric D. Johnson's vocals, along with piano, banjo, and synths, the folk rock supergroup have crafted a song that is truly special. 

Eric D. Johnson says of the new song:

The lyrics of this one, open-ended as they may be, are filled with primal and mythological fearslion's dens, hurricanes, wild eyes and the deep dark. Fears that are conquered by, naturally, love love love. But please, feel free to take what you want from this one, story-wise. And if nothing more, throw it on and do a slow-spin groove in front of your speakers.” 

You can listen to "Exile" below. Rolling Golden Holy is due out October 7 on 37d03d Records. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Bonny Light Horseman, check out the band's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the song.

8/05-06 – Edmonton, Canada – Edmonton Folk Festival
8/11 – Gothenburg, Sweden – Way Out West
9/07-10 – Park City, UT – Park City Song Summit
9/17 – Easthampton, VA – Arcadia Folk Festival
9/18 – Queens, NY – The Big Climate Thing at Forest Hills Stadium
9/30 – Sonoma, CA – Sonoma Winery Barn at Gundlach Bundschu
10/02 – San Francisco, CA – Palace of Fine Arts
10/04 – Portland, OR – Aladdin Theater 
10/05 – Seattle, WA – Neptune Theater
10/07 – Santa Cruz, CA – Rio Theatre
10/08 – Los Angeles, CA – Lodge Room
10/09 – Los Angeles, CA – Lodge Room
12/1-4 – Key West, FL – COAST Is Clear Festival
12/06 – Nashville, TN – Basement East
12/07 – Atlanta, GA – Terminal West
12/08 – Asheville, NC – Masonic Lodge Theatre
12/09 – Durham, NC – MotorCo Music Hall
12/10 – Washington, DC – Howard Theatre 
12/11 – Philadelphia, PA – Underground Arts
12/13 – Cambridge, MA – The Sinclair
12/14 – Brooklyn, NY – Music Hall of Williamsburg
12/16 – Westerly, RI – United Theatre
12/17 – Portland, ME – Portland House of Music
12/18 – Burlington, VT – Higher Ground
02/04/23 – Leeds – Brudenell Social Club
02/05/23 – Glasgow – St. Luke's (Celtic Connection)
02/06/23 – Manchester – Band On The Wall
02/07/23 – London – Union Chapel