Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Sonic Youke Covers Sonic Youth

So... this one is interesting...

Based out of Syracuse, NY, Sonic Youke claim to be "The premier all ukulele Sonic Youth tribute band from Syracuse N.Y." (I'm sure this is a contentious claim, with all the competition for all ukulele Sonic Youth cover bands in Syracuse, NY, but I digress...) The band rose from the ashes of Fugelele, an all ukulele Fugazi cover band, in 2017. The band's Sonic Youth repertoire is expanded to ninety minutes, so they've invested some serious time in this.

How's the music? Shockingly good. These aren't modern bluegrass re-imaginings of Sonic Youth classic songs. These are heavy, noisy, true to the original versions of Sonic Youth songs that just happen to be performed on ukulele. I'm sure the drums help (so much for the all ukulele claims...)

You can watch a live video for Sonic Youke's version of "Chapel Hill" below via YouTube user Karly Grifasi. For more on Sonic Youke, check out the band's website.

First Listen: New Releases for 17 May

A slower week, but with two heavy hitters.

Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen
Album: Dedicated
Quick Description: Latest album from the pop star.
Why You Should Listen: There is a lot riding on this follow-up to her last effort.
Overall Thoughts: For those who are not choosing between Taylor and Katy, this is probably the pop event of 2019. E*MO*TION was so good that it’s unrealistic to believe that Jepsen could top it, and to be clear, she does not. With that said, there is a nice throughline of the sort of 80s/early 90s pop that continues here that Carly Rae does so well, and songs like “Real Love” could end up being one of her long-term classics. If you’re not on the bandwagon yet, I don’t know if this will change your mind, but I am a happy fan.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Artist: Alex Lahey
Album: The Best of Luck Club
Quick Description: Indie favorite with a brand new album.
Why You Should Listen: Her solo debut was amazing, this is probably better.
Overall Thoughts: It’s weird to praise the glossy pop stylings of Carly Rae Jepsen and then lead into the new Alex Lahey album with a complaint about the production value (and specifically how heavily produced it sounds), but considering how good a musician she is and how great these songs are, it is very frustrating to feel as if the production is an exhausting affair in some regards. To be clear, this is a great album and I’ll go as far to say that this is possibly better than her debut (“Interior Demeanour” is going to be an underrated classic, in my opinion), I just question the choices made in some regards.
Recommendation: A great listen in spite of the flaws.

Artist: Kelly Hunt
Album: Even the Sparrow
Quick Description: Great bluegrass music.
Why You Should Listen: Kelly Hunt knows how to craft a song.
Overall Thoughts: This is basically the bluegrass record I’ve been waiting for. There’s a grit to this, a sort of skewed approach, that just absolutely nailed it for me on a whole, and the full album, on first listen, feels cohesive and complete. I can’t recommend any single songs because so much of it just works, but if you like the roots stuff that features around here, and if acts like Sarah Jarosz and the Punch Brothers do it for you, you’ll find a lot to like here.
Recommendation: A favorite this week.

Artist: Lafawndah
Album: Ancestor Boy
Quick Description: Left field R&B.
Why You Should Listen: Reminiscent of Spellling, FKA Twigs, and so on.
Overall Thoughts: I’m unsure if this record exists without FKA Twigs, but I am happy it exists overall. This came out a while back, and gives the sort of off-kilter approach to R&B made famous by FKA Twigs and allows for a wide variety of structures and outcomes. This is a deep and heavy record that I want to spend a lot more time with, as it has some serious growth potential for me.
Recommendation: An excellent listen.

Of note:

* Olden Yolk - Living Theatre (Pretty solid effort.)
* Ioanna Gika - Thalassa (For fans of Marissa Nadler.)
* Injury Reserve - Injury Reserve (A great nerdcore-meets-Clipping effort.)
* Worshipper - Worshipper
* Com Truise - Persuasion System
* Ellen Allien - Alientronic
* Siobhan Wilson - The Departure
* The Head and the Heart - Living Mirage
* Mr. Tophat - Dusk to Dawn Part II

7 Song Albums:

* Michael Christmas - Baggy Eyes
* Kelly Moran - Origin


* Elton John Cena - All Rats Go to Heaven (Fun EP.)
* The Jins - Death Wish (They listened to too much Nirvana, but that's more than okay.)
* Keep Shelly in Athens - Sunny Day
* Interpol - A Fine Mess
* Undeworld - Drift Episode 3: "HEART"

Also out:

* The National - I Am Easy to Find
* Kofi the Spiderman - Adventures in NumbNumb Land
* Christone "Kingfish" Ingram - Kingfish
* Josephine Wiggs - We Fall
* Lucette - Deluxe Hotel Room
* Palmistry - Afterlife

Monday, May 20, 2019

The Bad Signs Cover Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers

Photo via Facebook
The Bad Signs, a goth-country band from Nashville, are working on their debut album. While doing that, they decided to do a fan requested cover of "The Airplane Song" from Laura Jane Grace and The Devouring Mothers. The original version is a straightforward alt-rocker coming it at 2:30. The Bad Signs's version is a 3:02 slow as can possibly be country ballad with the verses spoken at times like an early rock 'n' roll/doo wop song. It transforms the song into a heartbreakingly soul crusher. In other words, it's fantastic.

You can listen to The Bad Signs's version of "The Airplane Song" below. For more on The Bad Signs, check out their website.

Spirit Family Reunion - "One Way Ticket"

I've been a fan of Spirit Family Reunion since I saw them open for David Wax Museum in December 2011, and I've been a HUGE fan since their set at Newport Folk Festival in 2012. That performance was legendary and got them the type of ovation that I haven't seen since. They've been relatively quiet for the past four years, but luckily they just announced a new album, and we can check out the first single now!

"One Way Ticket" is exactly what we want with Spirit Family Reunion. It's non-hokey old time folk, packed full of group vocals and harmonizing. What I've always loved about Spirit Family Reunion is how simple their songs are, and how they use that simplicity to draw people in. From the press photo they're currently using, it looks like there have been some line up changes, but you won't know it from their sound. "One Way Ticket" doesn't reinvent Spirit Family Reunion, nor do we want it to.

You can watch the lyric video for "One Way Ticket" below. Ride Free, the new album from Spirit Family Reunion, will be out August 9. You can pre-order a copy at Bandcamp. For more on Spirit Family Reunion, check out their website.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Sarah Bethe Nelson - "Weird Glow"

Photo by Jennifer Lewis
The latest single from Sarah Bethe Nelson might be a perfect little alternative pop song. "Weird Glow" reminds me a lot of Mary Lou Lord's major label output. It's a pretty straightforward singer/songwriter track, filled with Nelson's strikingly beautiful in their simplicity vocals and just enough jangle to keep it interesting. It's the kind of song that should be a huge megahit and propel Nelson into stardom if there was any justice in the world. But there's not, so I guess on the plus side "Weird Glow" won't be haunting you in every dentist's waiting room and chain restaurant this summer. Although it should be.

You can listen to "Weird Glow" below. Weird Glow the album will be out June 28 on Burger Records. For more on Sarah Bethe Nelson, check out her website.

Stef Chura featuring Will Toledo - "Sweet Sweet Midnight"

Photo by Chloe Best
Just as we thought we couldn't get more excited about Stef Chura's new album and she goes and releases "Sweet Sweet Midnight." This new song brings collaborator Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest into the spotlight as he takes a couple of verses and some harmonies. "Sweet Sweet Midnight" continues the 90's rock feel of the previously released songs off Midnight, but it's less harder rock and more Liz Phair meets Beck. 

Chura says of the song

"The chorus and guitar riff are something I had been playing with for a while after a close friend of mine died. We built the song off of the chorus keeping the theme of death, light and dreaming. While we were in the studio Will had a dream about Taylor Swift singing a song called 'Jordi' and that became the muse of the songs verses. One of my favorite moments from making this record was when we recorded the yelling section of this song. Will just got on the mic at random and started recording the loudest howl. I was like 'this is psycho...wtf is he doing in there...' As soon as he finished, he came out of the booth, looked at me and said, 'Ok, now your turn.' The ending vocal was a one-take track based on the day that my friend died. He was on vacation and he texted me he was coming home the next day and he never did."

You can listen to "Sweet Sweet Midnight" below. Midnight, the new album from Stef Chura, will be out June 7th on Saddle Creek. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Stef Chura, check out her website. Current tour dates are below the song.

Wed. June 19 - Sun. June 23 - Calgary, AB @ Sled Island
 Fri. July 5 - Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
Sat. July 6 - Detroit, MI @ Deluxx Fluxx
Sun. July 7 - Toronto, ON @ The Drake
Mon. July 8 - Montreal, QC @ Casa del Popolo
Tue. July 9 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott
Fri. July 12 - Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
Sat. July 13 - Philadelphia, PA @ PhilaMOCA
Mon. July 15 - Washington, DC @ Comet Ping Pong
Tue. July 16 - Durham, NC @ The Pinhook
Wed. July 17 - Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
Fri. July 19 - New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa
Sat. July 20 - Houston, TX @ The Satellite
Sun. July 21 - Austin, TX @ The Mohawk
Mon. July 22 - Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
Thu. July 25 - Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
Fri. July 26 - San Diego, CA @ Sodabar
Sat. July 27 - Los Angeles, CA @ Bootleg Theatre
Sun. July 28 - San Francisco, CA @ Cafe du Nord
Tue. July 30 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Wed. July 31 - Seattle, WA @ Barboza
Thu. Aug. 1 - Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
Fri. Aug. 2 - Spokane, WA @ Lucky You Lounge
Sat. Aug. 3 - Boise, ID @ Neurolux
Mon. Aug. 5 - Salt Lake City, UT @ Kilby Court
Tue. Aug. 6 - Denver, CO @ Larimer Lounge
Wed. Aug. 7 - Omaha, NE @ Reverb
Fri. Aug. 9 - Minneapolis, MN @ 7th Street Entry
Sat. Aug. 10 - Milwaukee, WI @ Backroom at Colectivo

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Kool Keith featuring B-Real - "Zero Fux"

Kool Keith and Cypress Hill are artists I will always check out their new output. Some of it is hit or miss, but it's always worth a shot. So when I see that Kool Keith has a new song out featuring B-Real? Obviously a must listen.

"Zero Fux" is a great song. It sounds very familiar. It might share a sample with a previous song from Deltron 3030, but maybe I'm just hearing things. Both are complete legends, so even if it is a shared sample, we can cut them a bit of slack. "Zero Fux" is pure old school hip hop, and exactly what you want to hear from a Kool Keith/B-Real collaboration.

You can listen to "Zero Fux" below. KEITH, the new album from Kool Keith, will be out July 12 on Mello Music Group. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Kool Keith, check out his Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Sarah Pagé - "Ephemeris Data"

Photo by Linus Ouellet
99.9999% of the time I'll flee from anything referred to as an "experimental harpist." Seeing the type of music we cover here at If It's Too Loud..., I don't think that would be considered unexpected. But this single from Sarah Pagé is the extremely rare exception. Sure, it's pretty harp music, but while I would find the vast and overwhelming majority to be whatever is past dull, "Ephemeris Data" is impossibly compelling. This isn't music to put on in the background while you get a massage or root canal: This demands to be heard. Harp music is definitively not my area of expertise, so I can't explain why at all. I'll let Sarah Pagé explain the song:

"I wanted to create a feeling of stillness within motion with Ephemeris Data.  Like looking through the passenger window of a car travelling down the highway.   The trees and the landscape eventually become one and it has a hypnotic effect. I’m playing as quickly as I can around just a few strings to create a blur and slowly shifting the melodies and harmony to mark the time passing."

You can listen to "Ephemeris Data" below. Dose Curves, the new album from Sarah Pagé, will be out October 11 on Backward Music. For more on Sarah Pagé, check out her website.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Carla Geneve - "Yesterday's Clothes"

Photo by Darren Stapley
Hopefully you're not sick of the surge of incredibly talented artists coming out of Australia, because the latest is Carla Geneve. "Yesterday's Clothes" starts out as a mostly traditional singer/songwriter song. It's not acoustic, but Geneve's vocals are definitely the focus of the song. Geneve's vocals are absurdly powerful, but not in a traditional sense. You'll understand this one once you listen. The guitar slowly takes over. It's so slow that you won't even realize it's happening until the end when it's a blistering whirlwind of pure rock.

As for the subject matter of the song, I'll let Geneve explain it: "Yesterday’s Clothes is about falling out of love with someone and feeling guilty about it. I wrote it at time when I was burning the candle at both ends and had no energy left to try to deal with the end of a relationship. Most of the words came when I was doing a long drive back from some gig or another in regional WA. I’d been up all night and had to be somewhere the next day, so I hadn’t had a shower or changed clothes. When you’re on your own driving for hours and hours it’s hard to avoid thinking about stuff that you don’t want to, so I guess I wrote the song to try to come to terms with my thoughts and situation."

You can listen to "Yesterday's Clothes" below. Carla Geneve's debut self-titled EP will be out June 7 on Dot Dash/Remote Control Records. For more on Carla Geneve, check her out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

First Listen: New Releases for 10 May

Some solid listens this week:

Album of the Week:

Artist: Charly Bliss
Album: Young Enough
Quick Description: Sophomore effort from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Charly Bliss had one of the best records of the last few years, and this one has similar potential.
Overall Thoughts: Their debut, Guppy, was my favorite album of a couple years ago, so this follow-up has been a true highly-anticipated release for me. The early singles showed a lot of extra reliance on some keyboard/synth stuff that I didn’t love (given how much I loved their early sound), but still felt interested in, and the full album? It absolutely works. As a cohesive unit, the slight shift in sound lends itself to a different atmosphere in a full album that worked really well. So yeah, lead singles like “Chatroom” and “Capacity” get the added weight they seemed to lack in isolation, and “Fighting in the Dark” and “The Truth” act as counterbalances in a way that brought the whole thing full-circle. It’s likely to be a bit of a grower, but I’ll at least say that no album has had me thinking about it recently more than this one has, so going back to it should be enjoyable.
Recommendation: The best of the week.

Artist: Holly Herndon
Album: PROTO
Quick Description: Future-forward electronic music from a well-respected artist.
Why You Should Listen: Even if you can't appreciate the music, the effort and thought put into the whole package are worth the time.
Overall Thoughts: Few electronic artists are like Holly Herndon, and you wouldn’t know it by listening to it. She has gotten some rightful buzz from her previous efforts, and this latest one just continues along the same lines of really striking, ever-present electronic music. This isn’t for everyone nor does it try to be, but in terms of a near-cinematic approach to her type of composing, there’s little else out there that can even come close.
Recommendation: Yet another great album from Herndon, so check it out.

Artist: Lydia Ainsworth
Album: Phantom Forest
Quick Description: Beautiful concept album from a favorite here.
Why You Should Listen: Lydia Ainsworth has a unique approach worth everyone's time.
Overall Thoughts: Lydia Ainsworth has been doing a good job, over the last few releases, to really stake her claim on her little plot of musical land. This feels more accessible than her previous efforts, yet also much further out there in many regards. While no songs jumped out at first listen, the entire package had a surreal approach to it that I did not expect given its conceptual roots, and it’s one of my favorites this week. If Darling of the Afterglow was her putting a flag in the ground, this is her reconfiguring the flag into something really strange and powerful.
Recommendation: A great listen this week.

Artist: She Keeps Bees
Album: Kinship
Quick Description: Solid indie roots-ish music.
Why You Should Listen: They've been around for a while and this album feels like a hidden treasure.
Overall Thoughts: Truly, I would not have given this a second look if I wasn’t immediately transfixed by this act’s name. They’ve been around for well over a decade, and this duo makes a sort of indie, sort of folky, sort of bluesy album that never stays in one lane while deftly occupying multiple ones at the same time. It may have been “Breaking Weight” when I started texting people to check this one out, and not only will I be going back to this album sooner rather than later, but I have a whole back catalog of interesting stuff waiting for me as well.
Recommendation: A highlight this week.

Artist: Bis
Album: Slight Disconnects
Quick Description: Indie faves with their first new album in five years.
Why You Should Listen: Bis is one of those legendary indie acts.
Overall Thoughts: Bis is one of those indie acts that has been around for ages and that I fully and completely missed the boat on. This came out a few months ago and we initially missed it, but listening now feels like something really and truly different, and they probably know it already. I have no clue how longtime fans may feel about this one, but as someone coming in fresh, it makes me want to see what I missed.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Of note:

* HÆLOS - Any Random Kindness
* Ten Foot Pole - Escalating Quickly
* Rhye - Spirit
* Clinic - Wheeltappers and Shunters
* Meat Beat Manifesto - Opaque Couche
* An American Forrest - O Bronder, Yonder Donder
* John Shakespear - Spend Your Youth


* Elvis Costello and the Imposters - Purse
* Hannah Grace - The Bed You Made
* Boston Cream - Feels Funny
* Dawn Landes - My Tiny Twilight
* Hemming - Waiting/Wasting

Also out:

* Bear Hands - Fake Tunes (don’t sleep on “Blue Lips”)
* The Skints - Swimming Lessons(Similarly, “Learning to Swim” is great)
* Rosie Lowe - YU
* Cold Wrecks - This Could Be Okay