Monday, July 31, 2023

Sa-Roc - "Talk to Me Nice"

Photo by Beth Saravo

Part of Sa-Rock's upcoming tour with Rah Digga is celebrating fifty years of hip hop, and her latest single is pure classic hip hop. "Talk to Me Nice" sounds like it was released in the early 90's. It has more in common with artists like A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul than anything being made in 2023. Most modern hip hop is more of a hybrid form with pop and electronic music. "Talk to Me Nice" is just hip hop. It's amazing how fresh a song can sound by reaching back into the past like this. Sa-Roc also has this flow that's irresistible. It somehow has the force of rappers like Chuck D and KRS-One with the laid back charm of Snoop Dogg. This is an artist you're going to want to keep a close eye on.

You can watch the video for "Talk to Me Nice" below. The song is available as a single via Rhymesayers Entertainment. For more on Sa-Roc, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

8/4 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat *

8/5 - New York, NY @ City Winery *

8/6 - Philadelphia, PA @ City Winery w/ Special Guest Seraiah Nicole 

8/7 - Boston, MA @ City Winery *

8/10 - Atlanta, GA @ City Winery *

8/11 - Durham, NC @ The Pinhook *

8/12 - Asheville, NC @ The Grey Eagle *

8/13 - Nashville, TN @ City Winery *

8/16 - Dallas, TX @ Sundown at Granada ^

8/17- Austin, TX @ Empire Control Room ^

8/18 - San Antonio, TX @ Sam's Burger Joint ^

8/19 - Seattle, WA @ The Next 50 ^

8/20 - Tacoma, WA @ ALMA ^

8/23 - Hermosa Beach, CA @ Saint Rocke ^

8/24 - Santa Barbara, CA @ SoHo ^

8/25 - San Jose, CA @ The Ritz ^

8/26 - Auburn, CA @ Dry Diggings Festival +

* w/ Rah Digga  

^ Talk To Me Nice dates 

+ Festival Performance

Mustard Plug - "Fall Apart"

Photo by Mitch Ranger Photography 

Mustard Plug have been around for over thirty years now, which by default makes them ska punk legends. Luckily, the Grand Rapids, MI band is still making some fantastic music, too. Their new single, "Fall Apart," shows they aren't mellowing out any time soon. It's upbeat and melodic ska that is going to be impossible not to dance to. It's everything you want from the genre: A generous amount of horns, high energy, and just fun in its most absolute form. We know ska gets shit on quite a bit by most music snobs, but maybe a ska focused mid-life crisis isn't a bad thing.

You can watch the video for "Fall Apart" below. Where Did All My Friends Go? will be out September 8 on Bad Time Records, and is available for pre-order here. For more on Mustard Plug, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

September 7th @ Reggie's - Chicago, IL w/ Toasters, Half Past Two
September 8th @ Magic Bag - Detroit, MI w/ Toasters, Half Past Two
September 9th @ Pyramid Scheme - Grand Rapids, MI w/ Toasters, Half Past Two
September 10th @ Grog Shop - Cleveland, OH w/ Toasters, Half Past Two
October 6th @ El Corazon - Seattle, WA w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 7th @ Dante's - Portland, OR w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 8th @ John Henry's - Eugene, OR w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 9th @ Cornerstone - Berkeley, CA w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 10th @ Catalyst Atrium - Santa Cruz, CA w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 11th @ Goldfield Trading Post - Sacramento, CA w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 12th @ Knitting Factory - Hollywood, CA w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 13th @ Garden Amp - Garden Grove, CA w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 14th @ Nile Theater - Mesa, AZ w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 14th @ The Holding Company - San Diego, CA w/ Big D and the Kids Table, Matomska!
October 28th @ Heartwood (FEST) - Gainesville, FL
October 29th @ High Dive (FEST) - Gainesville, FL
November 9th @ X-Ray Arcade - Milwaukee, WI w/ Something to Do
November 10th @ Uptown VFW - Minneapolis, MN w/ Something to Do
November 11th @ High Noon Saloon - Madison, WI w/ Something to Do
November 12th @ Blueberry Hill (Duck Room) - St. Louis, MO w/ Something to Do
December 13th @ Rumba Cafe - Columbus, OH
December 14th @ Black Cat - Washington D.C. w/ The Slackers
December 15th @ Broken Goblet Brewing - Bensalem, PA w/ The Slackers
December 16th @ Brooklyn Bowl - Brooklyn, NY w/ The Slackers
December 17th @ The Sinclair - Cambridge, MA w/ The Slackers

Kurt Baker - "Rock 'n' Roll Club"

Photo via Facebook

New England's Kurt Baker makes some of the finest vintage sounding power pop out there. His latest single, "Rock 'n' Roll Club," is exactly what it sounds like it will be. This is just pure rock 'n' roll that heavily leans into its pop side. Of course, when we say "pop" we mean more 60's and 70's than Taylor Swift. It sounds like when the Ramones would cover classic rock tunes from the 60's, mixed with the sweetness of Big Star and the huge guitar solos of Cheap Trick. When you just want some killer rock songs, Kurt Baker is there for you.

Kurt Baker says of his new song:

"'Rock N Roll Club' is an ode to the live music venue - most notably, the dingy, dark, stale beer-smelling, sticker/poster-adorned walls of your local rock n' roll club. Where the music is always loud, the drinks are cheap(ish), and there are always great bands to be seen and friends to meet. Unfortunately in this day in age, The Rock N Roll club is an almost dying institution and this is sad. These clubs are the places where we've grown up, discovered our world of music, and have always let us musicians use their stages to play our songs. We still go there as fans too, to watch our friends and discover new acts. Without them, Rock N Roll - Punk - Alternative culture wouldn't survive. I vividly remember my first time going to a real Rock N Roll club called The Skinny - now Geno's, which coincidentally, the cover of the new album was shot. My world was changed in the best way possible because I finally felt like I could go somewhere where I belonged. This song is dedicated to Kip Brown, who wrote the song but passed away before ever completing it and recording it himself. Groups like Mott the Hoople, Kiss, and the Stooges were the inspiration musically. Under his musical and spiritual guidance from above, I finished up the track with Little Steven and KB Band in the studio, and we are honored to present it to you now, the title track, from the upcoming record - "Rock N Roll Club". Peace and Love."

You can watch the video for "Rock 'n' Roll Club" below. Rock N Roll Club is due out September 29 on Wicked Cool Records, and is available for pre-order here. For more on Kurt Baker, check out the artist on Facebook and Instagram.

Viv & Riley - "Is It All Over"

Viv & Riley, the duo of Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno, make some of the prettiest and most endearing modern day traditional folk pop out there. Their latest single, "Is It All Over," gets much more serious than what we'd expect from the North Carolina group. The song is about the climate apocalypse and billionaires racing into space. The song is more restrained and dour than we're used to from from Viv & Riley. It's still beautiful, but much more serious and somber. It's also interesting that the climate crisis is more of a subject for traditional and folk artists than punk rockers.

You can watch the video for "Is It All Over" below. Imaginary People is due out September 15 on Free Dirt Records, and is available for pre-order here. For more on Viv & Riley, check out the artist's website.

Friday, July 28, 2023

Witch Weather - "Don't Need"

Pennsylvania's Witch Weather started in 2013 when guitarist and vocalist Kaitlynn started off making music in her basement. Most of her lyrics focus on her experience being a transwoman, and Witch Weather (now including Juliann) is now described as a queer indie/punk/goth duo. Their new single, "Don't Need," fits that description perfectly. It reminds me of the modern dance friendly punk sounds of Mannequin Pussy, the indie noise of Sonic Youth, and the primal tones of The Stooges. It's the kind of song you simply can't ignore, and will inspire you to want to move in some form.

Kaitlynn says of the new single:

“'Don't Need' was me finally figuring out how to write an angry song. Normally when I try to do it the song turns into something sad and depressing but in this case we finally executed the way I would have liked. Especially on the album version of the track. Lyrically it's about being fed up with being taken advantage of. Recording the guitar solo made me want to explode, it's not hard to play by any means I just kept messing it up.”

You can listen to "Don't Need" below. Witch Weather's debut album is due out in October. For more on Witch Weather, check out their website.

Grrrl Gang - "Blue-Stained Lips"

Photo by Tiny Studio

Indonesia's Grrrl Gang are becoming masters of the melodic pop song with a punk edge. Their latest, "Blue-Stained Lips," sounds like it would have fit right in on the glory days of Lookout Records. It's a fun and upbeat punk rock song that is just bursting with melodies and catchy pop hooks. Plus, it's a gushing love song, and those are always better when there's a bit more of an attitude to keep the gushiness in check a bit. If anything, "Blue-Stained Lips" might be a bit too much fun, but we'll let Grrrl Gang get away with it because they're just that endearing.

Angeeta Sentana says of her band's new song:

“We were at a party one night, and I drank this blue cocktail, and it left a stain on my lips, making them blue. I thought I looked super ugly, but my boyfriend still thought I was perfect and kissed me, regardless. The line ‘Kiss me on my blue-stained lips’ is a metaphor for him liking me and accepting me for who I am.”

You can watch the video for "Blue-Stained Lips" below. Spunky! is due out September 22 on Kill Rock Stars in the US, Trapped Animal Records in Europe, and Big Romantic Records in Taiwan and Japan. It's available for pre-order here. For more on Grrrl Gang, check out the band on Twitter and Instagram.

The Helltones - "When We're Moving"

Photo by Ian Castro

The latest single from The Helltones don't sound like what you'd expect them to based on their name. The Oakland garage rockers go straight up soul and R&B on "When We're Moving." This song is pure vintage soul. It sounds like it could be a lost track from fifty to sixty years ago. But what sets "When We're Moving" apart from other modern vintage soul songs is just how rough it sounds. While most others are polished and shimmering smooth, The Helltones have an unexpected edge to their song, making it sound like a truly underground forgotten classic. By the time the horn kicks in, you'll be won over.

You can listen to "When We're Moving" below. Medusa is due out November 17. For more on The Helltones, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram.

Sara Noelle Covers The Beta Band

We know Sara Noelle mostly from her Christmas releases, but this time around she's covering a song from The Beta Band. "Dry the Rain" is the song from The Beta Band, particularly if you're a fan of the film version of High Fidelity. Noelle keeps the bones of the song intact, and her version is immediately recognizable as a cover of the classic. It's a bit slower, and lands somewhere between folk and dream pop. It's the kind of cover that's right in the middle of being a completely faithful version and a reimagining of the song. 

You can listen to Sara Noelle take on "Dry the Rain" below. For more on Sara Noelle, check out the artist's website.

Thursday, July 27, 2023

Subsonic Eye - "Yearning"

Photo by Christopher Sim

Singapore's Subsonic Eye get compared to Sonic Youth a lot, but their latest single moves away from that sound quite a bit. "Yearning" may share some of the legendary post-punk group's guitar tunings, but the song is much lighter and poppy than anything Sonic Youth ever did. There are some elements of shoegaze and dream pop in "Yearning," but the song is mostly an alt-rock power pop song, and a fantastic one at that. It's such an engaging and delightful song that sucks you in immediately, and as soon as it's done it leaves you desperate for more.

Nur Wahidah says of the band's new song:

"In the past few years, opening my mind up to the little things around me allowed me to get closer with nature and myself. I felt like as I learnt more about my relationship with nature, the love I felt for my loved ones grew deeper (and vice versa). I feel that my love for nature (and myself) started to parallel the love I have for my loved ones! Every day I thank all the trees around me for reminding me of the love I am capable of receiving and giving. Some days it is particularly beautiful out and it cocoons me in a familiar warmth."

You can watch the video for "Yearning" below. All Around You is due out September 13 on Topshelf Records, and is available for pre-order here. For more on Subsonic Eye, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook.

Rebuilder - "Stayin' Alive"

CW: Self harm

Typically when pop punk bands release a power ballad, that's when I start checking out. However, Rebuilder aren't your typical pop punk band, and their latest single is the perfect power ballad. "Stayin' Alive" is a song filled with pain. It's a gorgeous song filled with heartbreak, sadness, and hope. To explain the song, I'll take Sal Ellington's (vocals/guitar) words from a Facebook post.

"The new Rebuilder song out today is a tough one. The lyrics might be the most honest I've ever been and deals with not wanting to be alive anymore. In my 20's during college I struggled the most with my mental health. I was so embarrassed to tell anyone and I'm still embarrassed about it. So many times I wanted to call someone or call a hotline but I didn't know how to explain that I'm not trying to hurt myself but I don't feel like I want to be on this earth anymore. I didn't know how to tell that to someone and have them listen and understand without calling the cops. After some bad episodes in the ER, I started therapy and it helped me to talk to someone who had answers and real direction. It helped me get to a place where I could be happy around friends allow myself to try and be okay. While it's a joke, I often think of my life pre-Salfies and post Salfies. I never thought a dumb joke would be a vessel for me to feel like I didn't care anvmore about what people think and had confidence in myself that never exist. I felt I had to end this song with a glimmer of hope because I want everyone to make it. I don't want the people I love give up because I never want to go back to a place in my mind where that was an option."

You can listen to "Stayin' Alive" below. Local Support is due out August 11, and is available for pre-order through Bandcamp. For more on Rebuilder, check out the band's website.

Be Your Own Pet - "Big Trouble"

Photo by Kirt Barnett

Nashville punks Be Your Own Pet continue their epic comeback with their latest single. Taking fifteen years off has done wonders for the band, and "Big Trouble" shows that off perfectly. The new song might be a little more reserved and melodic than BYOP were two decades ago, but aren't we all? "Big Trouble" sounds more like the new fangled punk the kids are doing these days, the kind that's a little poppy and more than a little dance friendly, but still firmly punk. Instead of sounding like these veterans are chasing a trend, this just shows how far ahead of their time they truly were.

Singer Jemina Pearl says of the new single:

“I live in a country that has taken away the basic human right to an abortion and then has the audacity to ask ‘why are you so angry? ‘Big Trouble’ is about how the daily injustices are all connected to the overarching societal issues of living in a patriarchy.”

You can listen to "Big Trouble" below. Mommy is due out August 25 on Third Man Records, and is available for pre-order here. For more on Be Your Own Pet, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook. Upcoming tour dates are below the song. (Still no Boston date... perhaps the band still hasn't recovered from the infamous Paradise Rock Club show?)

8/20 - Broadcast - Glasgow, FC

8/22 - The Key Club - Leeds, UK

8/23 - Thekla - Bristol, UK

8/24 - Concord 2 - Brighton, UK

8/26 - All Points East - London, UK

8/27 - Rock en Seine - Paris, FR

8/29 - Rough Trade East - London, UK

8/30 - Rescue Rooms - Nottingham, UK

8/31 - Deaf Institute - Manchester, UK

9/16 - Third Man Records Blue Room - Nashville, TN

10/18 - Local 506 - Chapel Hill, NC 

10/19 - Union Stage - Washington, DC  

10/21 - Elsewhere Hall - Brooklyn, NY  

10/22 - Underground Arts - Philadelphia, PA

10/23 - Beachland Ballroom - Cleveland, OH

10/24 - Third Man Records - Detroit, MI

10/25 - Lincoln Hall - Chicago, IL

10/27 - The Back Room at Colectivo - Milwaukee, WI

10/29 - Headliners Music Hall - Louisville, KY

11/8 - Soda Bar - San Diego, CA

11/9 - Teragram Ballroom - Los Angeles, CA

11/11 - Great American Music Hall - San Francisco, CA

11/12 - Moe’s Alley - Santa Cruz, CA

11/14- Harlow’s - Sacramento, CA

11/16 - Star Theater - Portland, OR

11/17- Neumos - Seattle, WA

11/18 - The Pearl - Vancouver, BC

Wednesday, July 26, 2023

Nuclear Tourism - "No Never!"

Photo by Kyler Vollmar

When a band is described as skate punk, you know exactly what to expect. The genre hasn't deviated much in the past forty years except for some minor ones. Nuclear Tourism are going to change that. First of all, they're an Athens, GA based band, and they're upcoming album was produced by Jesse Mangum. (Not much skate punk gets produced by someone who has also produced Elf Power.) The band's new single, "No Never!," is definitely a skate punk song, albeit one heard through an Athens, GA filter. It's weirder than most, and gets a little screamier and neo-grunge-esque. Plus, there's a surprising amount of piano for a punk song. If you love your classic skate punk but want something new with it, you'll want to give Nuclear Tourism a shot.

You can listen to "No Never!" below. Nuclear Tourism's self-titled album is out now via Baby Robot Records. For more on Nuclear Tourism, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook.

Odario x Chaix - "Do Nada (Chaix Remix)"

Photo by Jeff Spec

Odario originally made "Do Nada" with Edmonton jazz band Good Information, but wanted to inject some new life into the single. He reached out to Toronto's Chaix, and the result is "Do Nada (Chaix Remix)." The track mixes hip hop with electronic music. In the press release, Odario says that the song "... is crafted specifically for your solo apartment party," and that vibe pretty much nails it. It's an upbeat party song, but in a laid back, chilled kind of way. It's not a wild and crazy song, more of a just kind of grooving by yourself song. You're going to want to check this one out.

You can watch the video for "Do Nada (Chaix Remix)" below. It was loosely inspired by The Big Lebowski, if you need more convincing. For more on Odario, check out the artist on Instagram and Twitter.

Live Shows: Le Tigre and cumgirl8, Royale, Boston, MA 7/24/23

Photo by Ken Sears

Even though it's happened, I still can't believe I got to see Kathleen Hanna come through Boston twice in three months. Bikini Kill played back in April, and Le Tigre swung through this past Monday. Maybe the entire concept of seeing Bikini Kill and Le Tigre mere months apart, or maybe it was that the show had been announced six months earlier, but I almost kept forgetting it was happening. It did happen, and it was glorious.

The band opened with "My Art," a song they had not yet played on this tour. They ended up stopping it as there was some mistake, which led to a discussion of how much they liked the Netflix show Starting Over, and then Small Wonder got brought up before they realized they should get back to playing. This being Le Tigre, the crowd did not get upset at all and were willing to go along with anything.

At one point Kathleen Hanna said that she wanted the night to feel like a basement party, and despite the show being at the two thousand seat sold out Royale with a giant screen behind them showing various images and song lyrics, it kind of did. The entire performance felt much more intimate than the venue and production could have allowed. It may have been the joy the entire audience was experiencing actually seeing the Le Tigre in person.

Bikini Kill is the band of Hanna's I love, and I've always liked Le Tigre, but seeing both live, I ended up having much more fun at Le Tigre. Le Tigre is a giant party, with the crowd going absolutely nuts for most of the show. "Seconds" seemed to be the point that got the audience truly invested, followed by the band leaving the stage for a costume change during "Get Off the Internet." The band left for the encore joking that they weren't playing the song everyone liked, but then came back and of course played "Deceptacon" to close out the show. The crowd lost their minds, dancing wildly. It's the obvious song to close out with, but the recorded "See you later" towards the end made it the perfect choice. Not many shows are such fun that I end up checking resale sites for the next night, but Le Tigre had me scouring for cheap tickets.

cumgirl8 opened the night, and might have been the perfect choice. The quartet was a little more punk, but they had enough of an electroclash element to fit right in with Le Tigre, and the audience fully embraced them. They had the perfect energy level to suck the crowd in, and enough of an attitude to win everyone over. I'm looking forward to checking them out again in the hopefully near future.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Jack Graham - "Risen Was the Day Before"

Jack Graham is the solo project of Justin Keane of Canyons and Locusts, and just released his debut single. "Risen Was the Day Before" is a song of pure emotion. The song could be considered quiet if it wasn't for how loud the guitar is throughout. It's an oddly stripped down song, but the guitar reverb is so strong and persistent that it's hard to think of this as a stripped down track. It's a raw and powerful track, recorded the week after the untimely passing of Justine Covault. 

You can listen to "Risen Was the Day Before" below. The song is currently available via Bandcamp. For more on Jack Graham, check out Canyons and Locusts' Facebook page.

Lydia Loveless - "Runaway"

Photo by Jillian Clark

The latest single from Lydia Loveless is completely different from virtually anything we've heard from them in the past, while still being completely in their back catalog. "Runaway" is a heartbreaking ballad that doesn't sound like anything being made in 2023. It's almost an 80's power ballad with some alt-country twang and somehow just the slightest punk edge. Everything Loveless has in her is being poured into this song. It's a gorgeous song that is going to drag some emotions out of you, based just on the feelings in Loveless' vocals. The beauty in "Runaway" is needed considering how painful this song feels.

Lydia Loveless says of their new single:

“This was one of the very first songs I wrote for this record. I hated it, but my friend Amy was giving me assignments and pushing me to write my way through heartache while I was crashing on her couch. She would send me out with a notebook and tell me not to come back until I had something. Eventually this one grew on me and is now actually my favorite to sing on the whole record. It’s deeply personal and gut-wrenching to perform. It’s about not wanting my relationship to end but knowing things weren’t ever going to improve. I’m especially proud of the instrumentation, particularly the guitar part at the end that had everyone calling me Mark Knopfler when I came out of the booth.”

You can listen to "Runaway" below. Nothing's Gonna Stand in My Way Again is due out September 22 on Bloodshot Records. For more on Lydia Loveless, check out the artist's website.

Live Shows: Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, Sapling, Astral Bitch, and dropbear, The Sinclair, 7/22/23

As any long time reader of If It's Too Loud... knows, I try to get out to see Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys every chance I get. They don't play a ton of shows, so when they do, it's always An Event. Friday night was being billed as the party of the summer, and seeing how Sapling, Astral Bitch, and dropbear were also on the bill, that claim was hardly hyperbole. 

dropbear opened the show, and... just... wow. I really enjoyed last year's Spiralized EP, but I was unprepared for just how great they would be live. Rachel Bacon's vocals were lost in the mix during the first two songs, but once that issue was corrected, it turns out the power in her voice is only matched by the power of the band. Musically, dropbear combines shoegaze with metal and post-punk into this sonic mix that is mind-blowing, particularly live. There were guitar sounds coming from the stage Friday night that were simply jaw dropping. As with all four bands on the bill, dropbear are officially a must see.

Astral Bitch took the stage next. As they only have two songs out, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. The quartet played this intense mix of anthemic alt-rock meets noise punk. It was aggressive and huge, at times sounding like they belong on the biggest stages in town, and much more underground and DIY venue ready at others. And they excelled at both sounds. It's that whiplash inducing change of sonic styles all while sounding just like them that made Astral Bitch's set so special that night. We're all desperately looking forward to new music and more live shows from them sooner than later.

I've seen Sapling a decent amount of times, typically in bars and basements without an actual stage. They're usually playing the corner of a room on the floor, so seeing them in a more traditional venue was a treat. They did not disappoint, and pulled off one of the best sets I've seen them play. (This is even without paint, glitter, or confetti due to The Sinclair's house rules.) Old favorites like "Everything Was Better" and newer favorites like "11:37" sounded amazing in the larger room. Of course, chaos still reigned at the end of the show with bassist Rainy and drummer John swapping instruments mid song, while guitarist Amber attacked her guitar with a powerdrill, something I haven't seen since Sonic Youth.

The show also doubled as a video release party for Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys' new single, "Keep My Head." After showing the video (which is spectacular, and can be viewed here), the band took the stage and played a loose set of favorites. "Dino Domina," "Goth Beach" (the night was a Goth Beach Party, after all), and "28 Seeds" were all featured. It was a loud and raucous set that was particularly joyous. All Army of Toys shows have a special quality and they are all unique to the time and venue where they occur. This one was more of a straight up rock show, which fit The Sinclair perfectly. What is particularly special about seeing this band is how it truly feels like a family, and that feeling becomes stronger with each time you see them. It's always such a celebration of joy and love, which would normally be something I recoil from, but not the way Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys do it.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Live Shows: Thelma and the Sleaze, Tysk Tysk Task, and The Fools Agenda, O'Brien's Pub, Allston, MA 7/19/23

Thelma and the Sleaze are one of those bands that I saw their name on a Facebook event, and just knew I had to hear them. Turns out their blend of sexed up southern rock, hard rock, and indie was even more fun than their name suggested. I immediately wanted to see them live, and when it was announced they were playing O'Brien's in Allston with Tysk Tysk Task opening, I obviously had to make it.

Thelma and the Sleaze's live show turned out to be even more fun than I expected. In fact, it's the most fun show I've been to in years. Their sound mixes the most fun genres (hard rock, country, southern rock, and even some disco) into just a party on stage. Singer Lauren "LG" Gilbert set the tone for the evening by declaring that everyone there had one thing in common: "We all love eating pussy and we all hate Trump." From there it was a night of songs (and onstage banter) about eating pussy, eating ass, and fuckin'. But, in a completely charming way. Oh, and lots of songs about cars, too.

Wednesday night was just a big, loud rock show with plenty of swagger and groove. Musicianship was completely top notch, particularly a fiery guitar player who was announced as Luscious. As fun as it was, Gilbert kept admonishing the crowd to loosen up and have fun (sorry, our Puritanical roots run deep), which is something I've heard about Boston plenty of times. (I've heard it started that we love music but hate dancing, which is apt.) The band used a cover of "Smell Yo Dick" as a call and response to get the crowd more engaged, which mostly worked. When Thelma and the Sleaze make it to Boston next time, we all need to promise to turn up and rock out a little harder.

A reworked line up of Tysk Tysk Task played second, and even though their album came out almost a year ago, Samantha Hartsel and crew keep playing around with the previously released songs. In particular, "On My Own" has been almost completely rearranged as a more pop leaning anthem with a completely rock ending. It's somehow made the song even more emotionally effective. Songs like "Contagion" and "Flies" continue to be live favorites and seemed to be packing an extra punch lately. Tysk Tysk Task broke out two new songs: "My Side" and "Trazodone." "My Side" showed off a slightly new sound for the trio, as it grooved harder than anything they've done as of yet.

The Fools Agenda opened the night with a solid set of southern rock inspired rock. The Black Crowes are the obvious band to compare them to, but The Fools Agenda rocked harder than we're used to from the Crowes, and southern rock in general. There was a surprisingly thrashy sound from them, which worked out great. I'm personally always a fan of bands letting some thrash metal loose during their set, so no complaints here.

Film School - "All I'll Ever Be"

Photo by Steve Simko

Nu-gaze legends Film School are back with a second single off their upcoming album. "All I'll Ever Be" is that slice of shoegaze that is decidedly more laid back and melodic. It's probably a little more dream pop than shoegaze, just based on how lovely the song is. It's bordering on being a more alt-rock/pop track, and leans into the worlds of bands like The Sundays and Mazzy Star, but the guitars are just off-kilter enough to keep "All I'll Ever Be" in shoegaze. This song just feels like a lazy Sunday, when you know you have stuff to do, but you just kind of want to lounge around doing next to nothing all day.

You can listen to "All I'll Ever Be" below. Field is due out August 25 on felte, and is available for pre-order here. For more on Film School, check out the band's website.

3LH - "Blue Collar Blues"

Early, vintage rock and roll is a musical sweet spot of mine, so I'm obviously going to love 3LH. The southern California band have released a new single, "Blue Collar Blues." Much like their previous singles, it's a perfect mixture of surf rock, early rock and roll, and modern garage/punk. What's great about 3LH is even though their music is partially a throwback to music that is decades old, they still make it sound fresh. Sure, a song like "Blue Collar Blues" may hit some nostalgia buttons for us, but it still feels like you're discovering something new and exciting.

Frontman Rafa Heredia says of the new single:

"This is a song about self reflection after having maybe a pint too many at your favorite divey hole in the wall, it’s a callback to tracks like 'Alabama song (Whisky Bar)' by The Doors - the song lends itself to telling a fun twisted story while not taking itself too seriously."

You can listen to "Blue Collar Blues" below. The single is available now via My Grito Industries. For more on 3LH, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook.

Friday, July 21, 2023

Star 99 - "Girl"

San Jose, CA's Star 99 are influenced by 90's jangly power pop, and you can hear that on "Girl." The song sounds like track fourteen on your favorite 90's soundtrack. It's the song by that band you've never heard of before, and you can't find anything else by in the pre-internet world. It's impossibly upbeat, but has a surprisingly dark guitar keeping it from getting too cheery... and also making the entire thing just a little menacing. This is a ridiculously fun song in the vein of artists like Fuzzy and Velocity Girl. If that sounds like your kind of thing, you'll end up loving Star 99.

You can listen to "Girl" below. Bitch Unlimited is due out August 4 on Lauren Records, and is available for pre-order through Bandcamp. For more on Star 99, check out the band on Instagram.

Puppy Problems - "Rainbow Flag"

Photo via Facebook

It's been five years since Puppy Problems released their debut album, but luckily they are back with new music. The Boston band have released "Rainbow Flag," which is less about rainbow flags than it is about the changing musical landscape of the city. The song is an odd bedroom country song that meanders around a twangy, heartfelt story about record stores that no longer host shows and friends' homes now occupied by Harvard students. It also talks about how we can never appreciate the present because we're always obsessed with the past. And it does all this in under two minutes.

You can listen to "Rainbow Flag" below. Winter in Fruitland is due out September 22 on Anything Bagel, and is available for pre-order via Bandcamp. For more on Puppy Problems, check out the artist on Facebook.

Doggy Daycare - "(forgetting) sarah marshall"

Photo by Mary Reily

As the shoegaze genre continues to splinter into subgenres, we now have a new one: Southern shoegaze. That sound is brought to us by Doggy Daycare out of Wilmington, NC. On their new single, "(forgetting) sarah marshall," the quartet show off the sheer force shoegaze can have behind it. The song is drenched with 90's indie rock reverb and much as the lush drone of shoegaze. It's more of a hybrid of early Smashing Pumpkins and My Bloody Valentine, with just enough of a Southern twang to keep things unique and interesting. "(forgetting) sarah marshall" is the kind of single that's going to make you thrilled to find out what a band does next. Hopefully we won't have to wait too long to hear more from Doggy Daycare.

You can listen to "(forgetting) sarah marshall" below. I Love My Friends will be released on Fort Lowell Records. For more on Doggy Daycare, check out the band on Instagram.

Thursday, July 20, 2023

Alice Cooper - "White Line Frankenstein"

Photo by Jenny Risher

For a couple of decades now, Alice Cooper has been a guilty pleasure of mine. I always feel the need to explain that his earlier 70's music is much better and an important example of proto-punk, but that might change with his upcoming album. The latest single from that album, "White Line Frankenstein," once again merges his earlier Detroit proto-punk sound with his 80's era metal for a sound that will work for fans of all periods. Plus, it's fantastically theatrical, which is a must for any true Alice Cooper song. If you're looking for an extra level of coolness, the song also features Tom Morello on guitar! "White Line Frankenstein" is pure rock 'n' roll with the only excess being killer metal riffs, and you just can't go wrong with that.

Alice Cooper says of his new song:

“White Line Frankenstein is a monster that we created. It’s a truck driver who’s been out there a long time. He's the king of the road. He doesn't live in a house. He lives in that truck. In the song, this surreal tough guy is driving on white lines for his whole life. So, ‘White Line Frankenstein’ would be his CB handle. It’s monstrous and definitely a stage song.”

You can watch the video for "White Line Frankenstein" below. Road is due out August 25 on earMUSIC, and is available for pre-order here. For more on Alice Cooper, check out his website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

8/5 - Syracuse, NY - JMA Wireless Dome 

8/6 - Johnston, PA - 1st Summit Arena @ Cambria County War Memorial

8/8 - Columbus, OH - Ohio Stadium

8/10 - Madison, WI - Overture Center for the Arts

8/11 - Fargo, ND - Fargodome

8/13 - Omaha, NE - Charles Schwab Field Omaha

8/15 - Springfield, MO - Hammons Hall for the Performing Arts     

8/16 - Tulsa, OK - Skelly Field at H.A. Chapman Stadium

8/18 - El Paso, TX - Sun Bowl Stadium

8/19 - Midland, TX - Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center

8/20 - Lubbock, TX - Buddy Holly Hall

8/22 - San Antonio, TX -Tobin Center

8/24 - Dallas, TX - Dos Equis Pavilion

8/26 - Tampa, FL - MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre

8/27 - West Palm Beach, FL - iTHINK Financial Amphitheatre

8/29 - Raleigh, NC - Coastal Credit Union Music Park @ Walnut Creek

8/30 - Virginia Beach, VA - Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheatre

9/1 - Tinley Park, IL - Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

9/2 - Des Moines, IA - Wells Fargo Arena

9/5 - Clarkston, MI - Pine Knob Amphitheatre

9/6 - Toronto ON - Budweiser Stage

9/8 - Scranton, PA -  The Pavilion @ Montage Mountain

9/9 - Wantagh, NY - Northwell Health Theatre @ Jones Beach

9/10 - Hartford, CT - XFINITY Theatre

9/12 - Nashville, TN - Bridgestone Arena

9/13 - Cincinnati, OH - Riverbend

9/15 - Bonner, Springs KS - Azura Amphitheatre

9/16 - Greenwood Village, CO - Fiddler’s Green

9/19 - Ridgefield, WA - RV Inn Style Resorts Amphitheatre

9/20 - Auburn, WA - White River Amphitheatre

9/22 - Concord, CA - Pavilion

9/23 - Anaheim, CA - Honda Center

9/24 - Phoenix, AZ - Talking Stick Resort Amphitheatre

10/4 - St Augustine, FL - Amphitheatre

10/5 - Wilmington NC - Wilson Center @ Cape Fear College  

10/7 - Evansville, IN - Aiken Theatre In The Centre              

10/8 - Wheeling, WV -WesBanco Arena

10/10 - Troy, OH - Hobart Arena

 10/11 - Wabash, IN - Honeywell Center

10/13 - Paducah, KY - Luther F Carson Four Rivers Center

10/14 - N Little Rock, AR - Simmons Bank Arena

10/15 - Lafayette, LA - Heymannn Performing Arts Center

10/17 - Enid, OK - Stride Bank Center

10/19 - Colorado Springs, CO - Pikes Peak Center

10/20 - Rio Rancho, NM - Events Center

10/21 - Tucson, AZ - AVA Amphitheatre

10/23 - Paso Robles, CA - Vina Robles Amphitheatre

10/25 - Highland, CA - Yaamava Theater

10/26 - Reno NV - Grand Sierra Resort

10/28 - Las Vegas NV - Bakkt Theatre