Thursday, November 30, 2023

Twat Union - "UTI"

Most of the seven members of Twat Union were living together in South East London and joked about forming a punk band. A year later, they were asked if they knew any punk bands for an event and decided to form a band. Now they're releasing their debut single, "UTI," a song about urinary tract infections. This might just be the most fun song about UTIs ever recorded. The song opens with the line "I had sex now I'm on antibiotics," and just goes from there. "UTI" is going to get them compared to Wet Leg, mostly because of their home country, sense of humor, and insanely catchiness, but Twat Union have much more of a punk edge to their sound. Even if you'd typically bristle from the subject matter, "UTI" is going to end up as one of your favorite songs of the year.

Front woman Kate Mac says of her band's new single:

"... people don’t talk about UTIs very much, but most of us have had them, and most of us hate them (no kink-shaming if you like them but we would love to hear from you if you’re actually a fan). And if you don’t get them, we guarantee you know someone that does. This song is for everyone to shout, laugh, cry, and generally express your anger about female and non-binary medical problems (we know some men get them too) and maybe we can change the narrative around when and how it’s ok to talk about issues down there.”

You can listen to "UTI" below. For more on Twat Union, check out the band's website.

The Jesus and Mary Chain - "ramcod"

Photo by Mel Butler

I associate The Jesus and Mary Chain with the 90's so strongly that I always forget Jim and William Reid started the band in the 1980's. Next year marks their fortieth anniversary of their debut single, so they've announced a new album, an autobiography, and a UK and European tour. The first single off the album, "ramcod," is out now, and despite being around for forty years, we're happy to report that The Jesus and Mary Chain haven't slowed down at all. The song mixes the classic shoegaze sound of the band with the 90's electronic music they dabble in, and it sounds like vintage Jesus and Mary Chain, just a classic song that sounds modern at the same time. It's rare to get excited about a band's upcoming album four decades into a career, but most bands aren't The Jesus and Mary Chain.

You can watch the video for "ramcod" below. Glasgow Eyes is due out March 8 on Fuzz Club and can be pre-ordered here. For more on The Jesus and Mary Chain, check out the band's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

March 22 - Manchester, UK @ Albert HallMarch 25 - Dublin, IE @ OlympiaMarch 26 - Belfast, UK @ Limelight 1March 27 - Edinburgh, UK @ Usher HallMarch 30 - London, UK @ RoundhouseApril 2 - Copenhagen, DK @ Amager BioApril 3 - Gothenburg, SE @ PustervikApril 5 - Oslo, NO @ RockefellerApril 6 - Stockholm, SE @ Munich BreweryApril 7 - Malmo, SE @ Plan BApril 9 - Hamburg, DE @ MarkthalleApril 11 - Berlin, DE @ HuxleysApril 12 - Cologne, DE @ Live Music HallApril 13 - Paris, FR @ Elysée MontmartreApril 15 - Geneva, CH @ L’UsineApril 16 - Winterthur, CH @ SalzhausApril 17 - Milan, IT @ AlcatrazApril 19 - Krems, AT @ DonaufestivalApril 20 - Heidelberg, DE @ Halle O2April 21 - Tilburg, NL @ Roadburn FestivalApril 23 - Brussels, BE @ ABApril 24 - The Hague, NL @ Paard

Live Shows: Lydia Loveless, Reese McHenry, and Megan Tracy & The Missed Connections, The Middle East, Cambridge, MA 11/28/23

Photo by Jillian Clark

I'm a bit of a Lydia Loveless superfan, so I'm always thrilled when she plays up in Boston. I was lucky enough to see her two nights in a row way back in 2015, but then her dates just didn't work for me, and... you know... the pandemic. I saw her opening for Drive-By Truckers last year solo, and back in May I saw her play down in Providence with her band on a day off from a DBT tour. Once I saw she was playing The Middle East, I knew I had to go. Seeing that Reese McHenry was opening, who we haven't heard from since 2019 and I've never seen live just sweetened the deal.

Lydia Loveless has been avoiding the "alt-country" label for almost ten years. The last time she could have been considered alt-country was 2014's Somewhere Else. Since then she's been dabbling more in the worlds of pop and indie rock, and if anyone was looking forward to an evening of alt-country songs, Loveless and her band dispelled that with the opening song. "Out on Love" opened the show with a Sonic Youth level of noise. And I don't mean a standard Sonic Youth show, I mean those weird one off ones in Northampton back when Kim and Thurston lived there that were more jam session than concert performance. At one point guitarist Todd May was grinding the head of his guitar into the wall of the stage. This just helped set the tone of the show.

The mixture of indie rock and pop dominated the set, with Loveless playing a majority of her excellent new album, Nothing's Gonna Stand in My Way Again. (Although "Sex and Money," arguably the most popular song on the album, wasn't played.) In fact, they were looking forward so much a song newer than her two month old album was played. This was only the third show with her new band, but it was barely noticeable. They played that perfect level of loose that kept the show fresh and fun. A song like "Feel" really allowed Loveless to display their vocal chops, which I hadn't truly noticed in previous performances. This new album is an example of an artist truly leveling up, and Tuesday night at The Middle East showed a leveling up as a live artist, as well. Loveless did throw the audience a couple of bones at the end of the main set and encore with "Wine Lips" and "Head" respectively, but with new songs as great as she has, those won't be needed much longer.

Reese McHenry played a short, solo acoustic set made up of mostly new songs. She did play "Fever," which is rare for her especially solo, per audience request. Her set was mostly informal with her charm making even her banter as great as her songs. I got the impression the majority of the crowd wasn't familiar with her before she took the stage based on in crowd talking, but by the end of her first song that quickly ended. Let's hope making it up to Boston becomes a regular event for her.

Apologies to Magen Tracy & The Missed Connections. I left the house later than I meant to, and the show started earlier than I thought. I only caught three songs of theirs, which was a massive bummer for me. But their blend of blues rock was superb live, and I'll do my best to make it to another show earlier next time.

Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Pet Needs - "Separation Anxiety"

Photo by Vanessa Sollner

Essex based Pet Needs have released a new song that is fast and abrasive punk wrapped around a gushy love song. "Separation Anxiety" is a melodic punk song that speeds through the verses and gets even faster for the guitar solo, but slows down a bit for the chorus. It's a fun, breakneck speed love song that reminds me of the Buzzcocks. Punk love songs are nothing new, but they are rarely this hard or fast. Even the legends get at least a little softer for a love song, but apparently no one sent Pet Needs the memo.

Frontman Johnny Marriott says of the new song:

“‘Separation Anxiety’ is an unconventional, subverted love song about my wife Lorna. We have been together almost 15 years and had never spent more than two weeks apart until last year. I know Lorna would absolutely cringe at anything too over-sincere, so shouting that I love her more than anyone else does is more her style!”

You can watch the video for "Separation Anxiety" below. Intermittent Fast Living is due out February 16 on Xtra Mile Recordings. For more on Pet Needs, check out the band's website.

UTO - "Zombie"

When a band is compared to both Sonic Youth and The Chemical Brothers in their press release, I'm going to be intrigued. It sounds impossible to pull off, but France's UTO somehow do it. Their latest single, "Zombie," has that giant 90's electronica heyday sound to it, but in a smaller, DIY package. There's also a sense of foreboding, as well as a darkness, that The Chemical Brothers just didn't have. It might not have the all out noise and aggression of Sonic Youth, but that is where they get the darkness from. It's an interesting and unique sound that is sure to make you want to groove once you get past the initial confusion.

You can watch the video for "Zombie" below. The single is out now via InFine. For more on UTO, check out the artist on Instagram.

Lime Garden - "I Want to Be You"

Photo by Jono White

A lot of bands have been creating this new world that includes indie rock and pop music lately, and we've been fully on board with the sound. Our latest discovery in the genre is Lime Garden. The Brighton based quartet recently released "I Want to Be You," which is an upbeat and dreamy new song. The song seems to swirl around the listener. It's an undeniably poppy and catchy song, but there's just the slightest edge to it to keep the song from dipping too far into pop. Lime Garden get compared to artists like Wet Leg and Dry Cleaning, but I'm also hearing the lighter side of Mannequin Pussy, too. Right now, Lime Garden are poised to be the next big thing of 2024, but we'll have to wait a little bit to find that out.

Vocalist/rhythm guitarist Chloe Howard says of her band's upcoming album:

“A lot of the songs are about just being kind of miserable. We all have this double life. There’s this incredible journey that we're going on together with the band, but there is also this other side to it that a lot of people don't know about, which is that really boring day-to-day life."

You can watch the video for "I Want to Be You" below. One More Thing is due out February 16 on So Young Records, and is available for pre-order here. For more on Lime Garden, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook.

Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Hot Garbage - "Mystery"

Photo by 1upcloud

Back in October we brought you "Snooze You Lose," the latest single from Toronto psych-goth band Hot Garbage. Now they're back with "Mystery." I described the previous single as a cross between early Sonic Youth, A Place to Bury Strangers, and The Jesus & Mary Chain. "Mystery" still has the dark shoegaze sound of The Jesus & Mary Chain, but has more of the psychobilly and punk sound of The Cramps. It's a great mixture of sounds perfect for fans of shoegaze, punk, or just dark music in general. I hesitate to call this song fun, but it is in its own way.

You can watch the video for "Mystery" below. Precious Dream is due out January 19 on Mothland and Exag' Records, and is available for pre-ordered here. For more on Hot Garbage, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook.. 

The Dogmatics - "I Can't Get Over You"

Boston garage/punk legends The Dogmatics are having a bit of a revival lately, at least in part due to the film The Dogmatics: A Dogumentary. They've recently released a new single, "I Can't Get Over You." This one is more vintage garage rock and early rock and roll than punk. It has a little bit of the punk edge you'd expect from The Dogmatics, but it could easily be a song from a Nuggets compilation. "I Can't Get Over You" just has that timeless quality to it that the best garage rock/power pop has. It's catchy and fun, and while it might not be a punk rager, it's hardly the easy listening style song that many middle aged punk veterans release these days.

You can watch the lyric video for "I Can't Get Over You" below. The song is available now as a single via Rum Bar Records, and can be downloaded through Bandcamp. For more on The Dogmatics, check out the band's website.

Live Shows: The Sheila Divine and Orbit, Brighton Music Hall, Boston, MA 11/22/23

The Sheila Divine and Orbit are bands I've been a fan of for roughly a quarter of a century. They're not fully active bands, so seeing them can be spotty. The Sheila Divine seem to be playing annual shows around Thanksgiving at this point, and while Orbit has played live somewhat recently, I believe the last time I saw them might have been at The Sheila Divine's very first farewell shows at the Paradise many, many years ago. When I saw the pair were playing together the night before Thanksgiving this year, it became a can't miss show.

Orbit came out to a clip of them on 120 Minutes where Matt Pinfield introduced their video for "Come Inside." It's kind of easy to remember that Orbit were a pretty big deal and quite buzzworthy in 1995, and this was a great reminder. Opening with "Come Inside" and following that with "Bicycle Song" made me feel like Orbit was frontloading their set a bit too much, but it's easy to forget just how many truly great songs they have. They had a little bit of rust throughout their set, but it's been about a decade since they've played, so it's to be expected. Plus, the crowd was thrilled to just be seeing Orbit play again, so we were all more than forgiving. That's one of the truly great thing about a local band like Orbit playing a show again. The crowd is just thrilled to be seeing them, and any mistakes are appreciated more than a perfect show would be. A song like "Medicine" is just a perfect snapshot of the Boston music scene in the mid and late 90's that it's impossible to not associate it with fantastic memories. The band promised to play more shows soon, so keep an eye out for those! (They were one of the first wave bands announced for The Town & the City Festival in Lowell in April, so we definitely won't need to wait ten years to see them again!)

The Sheila Divine came out to "Beautiful Midnight," a song from 2015's The Morbs, which set the tone for their set. The band played the big singles you'd expect ("Hum," "Like a Criminal," and "Automatic Buffalo"), but they leaned into a lot more B-sides and rarities than I would have expected. This was definitely a show for diehards, but I don't think The Sheila Divine have casual fans. They even broke out the B-side for the "Like a Criminal" single back when it was on Cherry Disc, which is a song I'm fairly certain I haven't heard in my decades of fandom. One highlight of every set is the cover song medley that comes during "Hum." This year, they only included one cover: Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield." As always, it was a bit trainwrecky, but that's part of the charm of the Sheila Divine cover break. They also played an impromptu version of Sisqo's "Thong Song," which worked out better than anyone could have expected. Skipping the traditional encore, The Sheila Divine decided to forgo leaving the stage and went straight into what would have been their three song encore: "Wanting is Wasted," "Like a Criminal," and "Back to the Cradle." As always, it was a perfect ending for a unique night of music.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Argonaut - "The Vulnerables"

According to their press release, Argonaut "... are a London indie band with a love for DIY fuzzy pop and wonky analog synths." Their latest single, "The Vulnerables," is a joyful pop song that would have fit right at home with the music of the mid 90's. It's not quite standard Britpop, but lives more in the middle of the Britpop bands of the day and the American alt-power pop that existed at the same time. I'm hearing a blend of Elastica, Sleeper, The Rentals, and Fountains of Wayne. It's an undeniably charming and compelling song that is going to suck you in, whether you want it to or not.

Nathan of Argonaut explains the band's current writing process:

At band practices we each write song titles on slips of paper & put them in the hat. One is then picked at random. We jam around that title & see what alchemy occurs. Most times the magic flows & the combined band chemistry creates something we are really pleased with.”

You can watch the video for "The Vulnerables" below. The single is available now via Criminal Records, and is part of the open ended album Songs from the Black Hat. For more on Argonaut, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram.

Czarface - "Czarchimedes' Death Ray"

Czarface, the hip hop supergroup comprised of Inspectah Deck, Esoteric, and 7L, have a new album due out Friday, but for those of us who can't wait that long, there's a new single out now. "Czarchimedes' Death Ray" isn't just one of the best song titles in recent memory. Czarface has always explored the worlds where hip hop and nerd culture meet, and this song is no exception. They're one of the few groups that truly doesn't sound quite like anyone else. This is a fun and clever hip hop song that proves hip hop with skills can exist, and not just be a novelty act. Czarface are going to be blowing up a lot of journalists' pre-made year end lists this week.

Esoteric says of the new single:

“We’re back with that off-kilter no filter. Czar never resorts to conventional weaponry, thus the illustrious Death Ray – a sonic homage to the Greek mathematician Archimedes.” 

You can watch the lyric video for "Czarchimedes' Death Ray" below. Czartificial Intelligence is due out December 1 on Virgin Records. For more on Czarface, check out the group Esoteric on Instagram and Twitter.

Bronson Arm - "One with the Floor"

Hailing from Michigan, Bronson Arm are a two-piece noise punk band that makes more noise than you thought two people could ever make. Their latest single, "One with the Floor," is a loud, sludgy mess of a song (and we mean that as a compliment!) It has a thunderous and in your face sound, and instead of loud/quiet/loud it's more heavy/softer/heavy since even the softer parts are loud and plod along menacingly. If I'm going to compare it to any existing artists, I'm going to go with The Jesus Lizard meets The Melvins. "One with the Floor" just grabs you and refuses to let go.

You can listen to "One with the Floor" below. Bronson Arm's debut self-titled album is due out January 12 on Learning Curve Records, and can be pre-ordered through Bandcamp. For more on Bronson Arm, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram.

White Flamingo - Kulumbia EP

White Flamingo has one of the coolest sounds in modern electronic music. His new two song EP, Kulumbia EP, is a mixture of modern American electronic music with cumbia rhythms. The song "Kulumbia" is relatively laid back, but it's still sure to inspire movement. That's followed up with "Yuca," which "... poignantly evokes African life and influence in the music of America." Both tracks are fun and highly dance-friendly without being overpowering. White Flamingo is taking multiple styles and genres of music and blending them so expertly that it's nearly impossible to tell how much is being melded together.

You can listen to Kulumbia EP below. It is out now on Mamboz Records, and can be downloaded through Bandcamp. For more on White Flamingo, check out the artist on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Wisp - "Your face"

One thing we music writers love is a good story, and sometimes that comes in the form of a mystery. Wisp is a nineteen year old artist making shoegaze in San Francisco, and that's just about all we know about them. Their latest single, "Your face," is a little more pop based than we typically get with the genre, but aside from that it's just a pure shoegaze track. The pop sound might be the vocals, since they're more of a whispered pop sound than what you typically get with shoegaze or indie rock. The song is also a little more aggressive than you get with this musical style, so it's kind of like Deftones teaming up with Mazzy Star.

You can watch the video for "Your face" below. For more on Wisp, check out the artist on Instagram and TikTok.

Fast Eddy - "Spirit Commander"

Image via Facebook

Sometimes you just want some punk rock and roll. If you're in that kind of mood, you should check out the latest from Fast Eddy. "Spirit Commander" is just fast paced, fist pumping rock music. It lands somewhere in the world between garage and punk rock, with just a tiny bit of glam shine on it. This is the kind of song that just belongs in a dive bar. Fast Eddy are no nonsense rock and rollers, and "Spirit Commander" is just going to latch itself to your lizard brain and refuse to let go.

You can listen to "Spirit Commander" below. To the Stars is due out February 2024 on Spaghetty Town Records. For more on Fast Eddy, check out the band's website.

Ni - "Chicot"

Photo by Oozfos

Hailing from France, Ni are not going to be for everyone. The press release for their latest single, "Chicot," describes them as math rock, and that may be true but the song is a bit more. It's this burst of bizarre noise rock that comes bursting into your life, and may not be able to leave right away. "Chicot" reminds me of Lightning Bolt meets The Minutemen, but maybe with some classic rock guitar in there at times. It's a weird indie rock meets noise rock meets math rock meets experimental song that can just be a killer rock tune if you stop getting hung up on it.

Guitarist Francois Mignot says of the new song:

"The beginning of the track is super tense and nervous, using only dissonances, successions and superimpositions of notes close together, drawing a sort of grating melody. To accentuate this incisive edge, the guitar sounds remain clear, and saturation doesn't arrive until later in the track. The rhythm, which is omnipresent throughout the track, is based on figures which, although broken in math rock style, are intended to retain a danceable feel. At the beginning of the track, 3 of the 4 musicians play the same rhythmic motif in unison, to give it a certain foundation and a wobbly groove. The second guitar sits on top like a clever little buffoon, whose aim is to disrupt and add an extra dose of madness to the whole. This first passage is punctuated by short sounds often found in electronic music (glitch and other typical breakcore effects), which introduce a second technoid array. It consists of a rhythmic ostinato hammered out by the 4 musicians, always accentuated by the bass drum, then coloured and textured by the guitars and bass in the manner of an electronic track. This part takes the form of a great climb towards an explosion of energy, bringing back the shaggy, squeaky elements of the beginning, while transforming them into a more rock and massive energy. This transition, like an echo of the beginning, leads the track into a final tableau where the tempo and rhythm collapse, like a sudden drop from the heights of energy reached previously. The listener is then invited, by a surge of rock, noise and metal energy, to land and end up buried under the rubble of the track."

You can listen to "Chicot" below. Fol Nais is due out December 1 on Dur et Doux, and is available for pre-order via Bandcamp. For more on Ni, check out the band's website.

Matilde Heckler - "Pretty"

We just wrote about Matilde Heckler last week when they opened for Razor Braids, but considering they just released a brand new single last Friday, you get to hear about them again. "Pretty" is the last from the Berklee graduate and electric violin player. It's a stunning song that leans into the world of alt-pop. It's a song about a rather unhealthy relationship, so as beautiful as it can be, it's a difficult listen. "Pretty" is just pure, raw emotion in the form of a violin heavy pop-rock song. Heckler has released a truly powerful song that a lot of people should hear.

You can listen to "Pretty" below. For more on Matilde Heckler, check out the artist's website.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

First Listen: New Releases and Missed Music for 17 November 2023

Artist: Blockhead
Album: The Aux
Quick Thoughts: Hip-hop instrumentalist and oftentime Aesop Rock collaborator is back with an awesome listen with beats as good as the raps that go along with them. "Mississippi" is legitimately a song of the fall contender, and the whole thing works incredibly well, all things considered. This would be worth the time in a busy week, and is mandatory as we approach the winter slowdown.
Songs of Note: "Mississippi," "Ponzu Sauce," "Sad Vampire," "Gargamel"

Artist: The Polyphonic Spree
Album: Salvage Enterprise
Quick Thoughts: I remember when there was a time where The Polyphonic Spree was a force of nature with a million members and soaring, anthemic songs. They didn't do anything significant for a while, came back with an album that I quickly forgot about in 2021, and now it's 2023 and Salvage Enterprise is perhaps the return to form we've been waiting a decade-plus for. It's not going to make you get up and dance in most cases, but it is an album that lends itself incredibly well to the specific sound Tim DeLaughter and company have refined over the years. Definitely check this one out, especially if you've been detached from their work for a time.
Songs of Note: "Section 44 (Galloping Seas)," "Section 47 (Got Down to the Soul)," "Section 48 (Shadows on the Hillside)," "Section 49 (Hop Off the Fence)"

Artist: Jiddo
Album: They Can't Keep Getting Away With This
Quick Thoughts: Jiddo is not the type of music I normally reach for, and this is an abrasive and noisy record that nevertheless has an arresting presence. I kept being surprised by how much I liked each song as it came through, and it's definitely the sort of angular post-punk that probably has broader appeal. Give this some time.
Songs of Note: "Intro/Industrial Complex," "Milkovich Family Therapy," "New Mombasa Orbital Elevator"

Artist: Jaakko Eino Kalevi
Album: Chaos Magic
Quick Thoughts: I don't know the first thing about this artist, but in as much as it's a weird combination of psych folk and electronic stuff that it sets itself apart in a really interesting way. I don't have a ton to say except that it's a fairly compelling listen that deserves your time.
Songs of Note: "Hell & Heaven," "Palace in My Head," "I Forget," "L'horizon"

Of note:

* Vyva Melinkolya - Unbecoming (Big Marissa Nadler energy here.)
* Techno Mage - Hexproof (Synthwave goodness.)
* Dolly Parton - Rockstar (Dolly has earned the right to do what she wants, and this is definitely something.)
* Andre 3000 - New Blue Sun (Needs to be heard. Will be the most divisive release by a major artist in years.)
* The American Analog Set - For Forever * Marta Del Grandi - Selva * Malummi - The Universe is Black * Material Girl - Izumi Hazuki End of Days * Jon Rauhouse and Blaine Long - One Day Will Never Come Back * DijahSB - The Flower That Knew * Lucidvox - That's What Remained * DETECTS - SECONDS * Juliana Hatfield - Juliana Hatfield Sings ELO * Matt Berry - Simplicity * Orbiting Human Circus - Quartet Plus Two * Ashley Ray - Animal * Slikback - N E T A R I H I L A S * Madge - BOXJAR * Danny Brown - Quaranta * Spearmint - This Candle is For You * Large Plants - The Thorn * SKEMER - Toasts & Sentiments * AURAGRAPH - New Standard * Loveshadow - II * death's dynamic shroud - Transcendence Bot * Frost Children - Hearth Room * Abigail Lapell - Lullabies * Chrome - Blue Exposure * Jeremiah Chiu - In Electric Time * Quade - Nacre EPs:

* BE/HOLD - Rituals * Jackie Brown Jr - The 5th Annual Sunshine State Golf Tournament * The Mistons - Extended Play * Divorce - Heady Metal * Boy Jr. - Okay Fine I'll Put It On Spotify * Kelly Moran - Vesela * Brian Eno - Chamber Lightness * Penelope Scott - Mysteries for Rats * Free Range - Loft Sessions * Lunice - Winnebago * Linnea's Garden - Mirrors * Julie Byrne and Laugh Cry Laugh - Julie Byrne with Laugh Cry Laugh * YONIRO - H e a v e n s * Cindy Lawson - Don't Come Crying to Me Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
* Hercules & Love Affair - Mixed in Amber * Johanna Warren - The Rockfield Sessions Vol. 1 * Water From Your Eyes - Crushed by Everyone Also out:

* Divided Heaven - V * mmryxloss - Lonely * Sabatta - How to Get Even * DJ Manny - Hypnotized

Victoria Bigelow Covers Mazzy Star

Photo by Devan Skaggs

Victoria Bigelow has been compared to Mazzy Star quite a bit in her career. She decided to lean into it with a cover of their immortal track "Fade Into You." Covering such an iconic song can be tricky, but Bigelow pulls it off perfectly. Her love of the song is obvious, but she does change it up slightly. It's a little less dream pop or shoegaze, and instead has more of a rootsy/Americana feel. That's not to say this is a folk version of "Fade Into You," but she does inject a little bit of twang into the song. As someone who considers the original an example of a perfect song, Victoria Bigelow delivers a fantastic rendition.

Victoria Bigelow says of 

“I’m a huge Mazzy Star fan and Hope Sandoval is one of my most important musical influences. The decision to cover this song was a last minute thing but it feels all too serendipitous with this year being the 30th anniversary of So Tonight That I Might See. It was produced by my husband, Devan Skaggs, and we recorded it at our home studio in the desert. We really wanted to remain true to the original while making it as much of an expression of me as possible. I only hope I was able to do such a perfect, timeless song justice.”

You can watch the video for Victoria Bigelow's version of "Fade Into You" below. It is available now via Immortal Records. For more on Victoria Bigelow, check out the artist's website.

Live Shows: The Pharcyde and STL GLD, The Sinclair, Cambridge, MA 11/19/23

Photo by Ken Sears

I have been a huge fan of The Pharcyde for thirty years now. I remember exactly where I was the first time I heard Bizarre Ride II, and it was one of those albums I bought less than an hour after hearing it. Back in the 90's, Boston wasn't exactly a live hip hop destination with many venues reluctant to book rap artists. The only way I got to see The Pharcyde live was back in 1996 when they opened for Korn, which was not exactly the ideal way to see them. The closest I came after that was twelve (?) years ago when Slimkid3 and Fatlip toured as Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde with J-Swift and LA Jay. (The Pharcyde at that point was Bootie Brown and Imani.) Last year, Slimkid3, Fatlip, and Imani reunited as The Far Side (formerly of The Pharcyde), but didn't make it to anywhere in New England. As soon as they announced a run of New England shows, I knew I had to go.

As excited as I was to see a reunited The Pharcyde, I was more than a little hesitant. Were the three of them getting along? Was this just going to be an obvious cash grab? Within a minute of them starting, all concerns were gone. Slimkid3, Fatlip, and Imani all sound great and had more energy than I could have predicted from three guys in their fifties. They opened with "Ya Mama" and played songs mostly from Bizarre Ride II, with a handful from Labcabincalifornia like "Drop" and "Runnin.'" Mostly, though, they seemed like they were having a fantastic time. The crowd (which was far younger than I expected) met and exceeded their energy, thrilled to finally be seeing these classic songs live. 

I was curious how they were going to deal with the absence of Bootie Brown, the one member not taking part in the reunion. Instead of ignoring it, they let his verses play pre-recorded off the record. For his verse of "Passin' Me By," the crowd mostly took over vocals and loudly shouted/sang along. One of the coolest parts of the performance of "Passin' Me By" was the DJ showing how they used the Quincy Jones sample before the song started. That was followed immediately by "Otha Fish" which let Slimkid3 shine. A large section of the song was done a capella, with Slimkid3 crooning most of it. "4 Better or 4 Worse" was another highlight with Fatlip subbing the last time of his imitated phone call verse with "I don't want to get cancelled." If you know the song... you know.

If you love The Pharcyde, get out there are see them. The show far exceeded anything I hoped for, and might be the show of the year for me. The only regret I had was that I didn't also see them in Hampton Beach on Friday and Greenfield on Saturday.

Even though there were two other options to see The Pharcyde in New England this weekend, I knew I chose correctly once STL GLD was announced as the opener for The Sinclair. The Boston hip hop group are one of the best live shows in the city, and they brought it Sunday night. Despite the success of GLD FST over the summer, most of the crowd was not familiar with them and seemed confused when the show started with a drummer and guitarist on stage, joined shortly by Christopher Talken screaming into a microphone metal style. Once Moe Pope joined, the crowd got it and got into the show. Songs like "Wild Style" and "Resisting" won the crowd over. It seemed like STL GLD purposefully put their louder and more energetic songs up front to grab everyone, and then chilled things out towards the end of their set. They even played "Again," which I don't think I've ever seen them do live. I've only ever seen them as an opening band or as part of a festival, so I really need to make it to a STL GLD headlining show one of these days.

Death and Rough Francis - Split 7"

For those unaware, Death are the Detroit protopunk band from the 1970's formed by three brothers, and the subject of the 2012 documentary A Band Called Death. Rough Francis are a Burlington, VT based garage rock band formed by the sons and nephews of Death. The two bands have been teasing working together on social media recently, and the first phase of that is a split single. Death's contribution is "World In Disguise," a blistering protopunk sound with just a bit of psychedelia mixed in. This is a band that was at the forefront of the genre, and continues to be with a single like this. Their peers have slowed down, but "World In Disguise" could have been released fifty years ago, if it wasn't for the production being a little more slick. Rough Francis' contribution is "Haunted," which is just pure Rough Francis. It's the mixture of skate punk meets garage rock that we love about these guys. They're one of the bands on my personal "How are these guys not huge?" list, and once you hear "Haunted," you'll understand why.

You can listen to "World In Disguise" and "Haunted" below. The 7" is available now via Bandcamp. For more on Death and Rough Francis' future endeavors together, check out Death's website.

Live Shows: Letters to Cleo and Gigolo Aunts, Paradise Rock Club, Boston, MA 11/18/23

Poster by Daykamp Creative

Just about every year I go see Letters to Cleo's annual homecoming run of shows at the Paradise in Boston, and every year I have a great time. Despite that, I always assume that I've seen them enough times, and I can take a year or two off. But... I keep getting sucked back in the next year, and I end up yet again having a great time. This year's run of shows featured the thirtieth anniversary of their debut album Aurora Gory Alice and the return of Gigolo Aunts, so I simply could not resist.

Gigolo Aunts have not played a show in ten years, and I don't think I've seen them since their original run in the 90's (probably playing with Letters to Cleo). For a band that hasn't played together in a decade, and played as a full time band in probably two decades, they sounded great. Songs like "Where I Find My Heaven" and "Gun" (which they said they haven't played in about thirty years) have not aged at all and sound perfect live. It could be that the mainstream has caught up with their sound, but their entire set sounded like they could be hits from the past five years. Singer Dave Gibbs joked that the green room was very different when they used to play with Letters to Cleo in the 90's but drinking warm tea was still rock and roll, and how weird it was to play songs you wrote in your early 20's when you're now in your late fifties. Gigolo Aunts definitely brought in some fans just to see them, so let's hope they don't want another decade before playing more shows.

Letters to Cleo took the stage and played the ten songs off Aurora Gory Alice. We knew it was coming, but it was still great to hear all of the songs off the album live. By the time they got to "Rim Shak," I was fully on board and making plans to get back next year. The most surprising aspect of the show was that this might be the best Letters to Cleo have sounded since reuniting. Part of that is the return of Stacy Jones behind the drums. He's always been a severely underrated drummer, and his presence adds an extra oomph to the band's live show. Plus, Kay Hanley's vocals were divine, and she has never sounded better than she did this past weekend. ("Get on With It" was particularly fantastic live this time around.) When Letters to Cleo first started doing these shows together, they almost sounded too polished at times, but on Saturday night they played with a looseness they haven't had in decades. You could tell they were playing for fun and just the love of these songs. I was personally hoping they'd bust out the Cherry Disc version of "Here and Now" to truly mark the thirtieth anniversary, but it wasn't to be.

After the Aurora Gory Alice portion of the evening was over, they played a mixture of songs off Wholesale Meats and Fish and Go!, along with a spattering of newer songs. Along with long term favorites like "Demon Rock" and "Fast Way," I was surprised that "4 Leaf Clover" off 2016's Back to Nebraska now feels like an old favorite, and was the song stuck in my head all day Sunday.

Closing out the encore, Letters to Cleo were joined by Gigolo Aunts for the obvious cover of Cheap Trick's "I Want You to Want Me" and The J. Geil's Band's "Angel in a Centerfold." I think I saw them play "I Want You to Want Me" once during their initial run, but nowadays if they didn't play it live half the crowd would be shocked and disappointed. Fun covers are sometimes the best part of Letters to Cleo's live shows, and these were the perfect choices to end the night. For once, I'm already planning on going again next year.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Willi Carlisle - "When the Pills Wear Off"

Willi Carlisle makes traditional country/folk that doesn't quite sound like anyone else. His latest single, "When the Pills Wear Off," has all of the elements of a classic folk song. There are even strings all over the song, but Carlisle just has his own thing going on to make it stand far out from the pack of current folk artists. Plus, as lovely as the song sounds, it's about losing friends to addictions. It's a mournful song that has just a little bit of a sense of humor to it. Everything about "When the Pills Wear Off" goes against everything else about the song, but things like that are why we love Willi Carlisle.

Willi Carlisle says of his latest single:

“It’s kind of about getting a little older, moving from hard drugs and hookups to bedroom sex and pharmaceuticals. It’s an amalgam of queer stories that I’ve heard, lived, and seen.”

You can listen to "When the Pills Wear Off" below. Critterland is due out January 26 on Signature Sounds, and is available for pre-order through Bandcamp. A portion of the proceeds of the song will go to Hope in the Hills, a West Virginia-based charity focused on recovery and wellness in Appalachia. For more on Willi Carlisle, check out the artist's website.

The Nervous Eaters - "Talkk"

Photo by Carissa Johnson

Boston punk/rock and roll legends The Nervous Eaters have been enjoying a career resurgence lately, and songs like their latest show why. "Talkk" has a classic rock feel to it, but it's not like what we typically hear from the band. This new song combines classic 70's California AM radio rock with an early punk edge. I don't think I've ever written that about any other band, which makes sense since those sounds are diametrically to each other, but Nervous Eaters make it work in the coolest way possible. It's like garage rock and punk are filtered through a bit of a hippie lens. It's cool to see a band this many decades into their career play around with their sound like this, but that's why we love Nervous Eaters.

Front man Steve Cataldo says of the band's new song:

“TALKK is very much along the lines of the NERVOUS EATERS song CHAD, heard on our 'Wicked Cool LP - Monsters and Angels'. The narrative explains a boyfriend's loss of contact with the love of his life. He desperately tries to find her. Endlessly looking through social media, constantly walking the city streets searching the old romantic places they used to hang out, unrelenting in his promise to find her. He finally pleads with all his friends, who knew them both as a couple, to pass on this message should they ever hear from her. 'Please tell her I was wrong, that I have changed my ways, and if she comes back home, there will be a brand new man here for her to find.'

"In the end, TALKK as with CHAD, despite all the boyfriend’s searching, he never finds her, thus he has to live with the endless regret of realizing, much too late, that each person's idea of love is unique unto them. That physical love by itself is never enough. That listening, patience and unconditional caring is the 'Real Love,'  everyone is looking for. Everything else is just TALKK.”

You can watch the video for "Talkk" below. The song is out now via Wicked Cool Records. For more on The Nervous Eaters, check out the band's website.

Friday, November 17, 2023

Gut Health - "Runaway High"

Photo by kristixman

Worcester's Gut Health have one of the more interesting sounds coming out of central Massachusetts on their debut single. "Runaway High" has a classic loud/quiet loud vibe going, but not in the traditional way of Nirvana or the Pixies. The song does have the guitar sound of classic Nirvana, but they also bring in the more melodic elements of Deftones. It's a crunching powerhouse of a song with guitars that buzz at times, and are more melodic at others. That being said, the song does keep a surprising sense of beauty throughout, even at it's more noisy times. It's an impressive debut from a band that came out of nowhere for us, and one that we need to hear more from sooner than later.

You can listen to "Runaway High" below. The song is currently available via Bandcamp. For more on Gut Health, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram.

Gretchen Shae & The Middle Eight - "Safehouse"

Photo via Facebook

Gretchen Shae & The Middle Eight also moonlight as a Siouxsie & The Banshees cover band (Gretchen & The Banshees, obviously), and their latest single leans into their influence. "Safehouse" has more of a darker, gothic rock sound than we're used to from the more rock oriented Middle Eight. There is still plenty of rock in "Safehouse," particularly a crunchy guitar, but this one sounds much more akin to 80's alternative rock than they usually do. This one is an absolute anthem. It's not quite in power ballad territory, but it's a mid-tempo power ballad adjacent anthem.

You can listen to "Safehouse" below. For more on Gretchen Shae & The Middle Eight, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram.

The Magic City - "Roadrunner Vs. Your Mother"

Photo by Ken Marcou

Despite being from Boston, The Magic City don't sound like a Boston band at all. The band's debut single, "Roadrunner Vs. Your Mother," has more of a British sound than American. You're going to hear the early Britpop of Suede and Pulp mixed with the glam of David Bowie and T-Rex. As you can imagine, "Roadrunner Vs. Your Mother" doesn't sound like anything else from 2023. Everything about the song screams early 90's, back before Britpop had truly taken over the airwaves. The most modern thing about the sound is the slick production. The Magic City have a winner on their hands with this one, and we're looking forward to whatever they do next.

Vocalist David Jackel says of the new song:

“I got the idea for it while getting ice cream with my five-year-old daughter Bronwyn. We had just watched the original Parent Trap, and I was explaining to her why real parents would never do what those parents did, and that they were actually terrible parents. Across the street I noticed the movie theater marquee for Roadrunner, and the hamster wheel in my brain started to roll.”

You can listen to "Roadrunner Vs. Your Mother" below. For more on The Magic City, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook. If you'll be in the Boston area next month, they're playing The Jungle in Somerville on December 17.

The Town and the City Festival 2024 has an Amazing Line Up!

The Town and the City Festival continues to be one of the best smaller festivals in the northeast, and this year's line up is stellar. Held throughout Lowell, MA, this year's festival will be held April 26 and 27. In 2024, Robyn Hitchcock returns and we'll also get long standing indie rockers Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Americana artist Amythyst Kiah, Swedish singer-songwriter Sofia Talvik, and Boston indie pop sensations The Q-Tip Bandits. The festival also includes some of our absolute favorite local artists including Akrobatik, Burp, Colleen Green, Jen Kearney, Linnea's Garden, Muck & The Mires, One Fall, Orbit, Roger Miller, Sapling, Subpunch, The Chelsea Curve, The Shirt & Shoes, Tysk Tysk Task, and many, many more. And this is just the initial line up, with more to come in 2024!

Two-day passes go on sale today at 10:00 am for the special low price of $45 until November 30. For more on The Town and the City Festival, check out the festival's website.