Tuesday, June 15, 2021

First Listen: New Releases for 11 June

Quick Thoughts: While I don't know how I tripped up on COWBOY BOY, but it takes a lot for me not to be into a power pop band, and thus they charmed me from the very start. This is a quick hit album without any real negatives to point out - the vocals are great, the songs are fun while still being somewhat serious, and the whole package is a really solid listen from beginning to end.

Artist: St. Lenox
Album: Ten Songs of Worship and Praise for Our Tumultuous Times
Quick Thoughts: St. Lenox does some earnest folk rock/indie pop, and this album does what it says on the tin: it's music about religion, but it's not religious music, if that makes any sense. St. Lenox lays it all out on the table, though - grappling with faith, belief (and the lack thereof), family... it's a heavy record in spite of its light presentation. This is a very now record. It matters and it's substantive in a time where we might need it most, and I appreciate this effort very much.
Songs of Note: "Arthur is at a Shiva," "The Great Blue Heron (Song of Solomon)," "Bethesda," "Gospel of Hope"

Artist: Bo Burnham
Album: Inside (The Songs)
Quick Thoughts: Okay, this might get long. We don't generally do comedy records here, and we are absolutely not the target audience for Burnham's brand of millennial humor. I have very little knowledge of Burnham outside of the knowledge that he got his start on YouTube. Inside, on one hand, benefits from the visual presentation to go along with the audio. It's a Netflix special with the music intended to be part of the experience, and so the broader context is missing. On the other hand, the best humor is one humor that not only pushes boundaries, but sprinkles some truth within the absurdity. As a comedy special made during a pandemic, it could only exist in this time. In an era of cancel culture (real or imagined) and people being more open with their mental health struggles, Burnham isn't afraid to lay it all out there. It blurs the line between character and reality, and it's impossible to tell whether he's breaking kayfabe or not a lot of the time. In short? It's brilliant. Might not be my favorite "album" this year, but it's absolutely the most consequential piece of performance I've seen in a long time. Watch the special, listen to the songs, and start singing these songs to yourself over and over and over.
Songs of Note: "White Woman's Instagram," "Shit," "Welcome to the Internet," "That Funny Feeling"

Artist: Limbo
Album: Six Strings and Vocal Chords and girl and dimension five and beats to chill and exist to and 2015 and 2015 (continued) and 2014 and 2014 (continued)
Quick Thoughts: Limbo has been a DJ project for around seven years, and she's finally hanging up the cat mask and moving onto other things. How is she doing this? By dropping a ton of albums and EPs and calling it a day. I listened to 2014 and it's lo-fi and great, but a lot of this will need some time. Still, I'm looking forward to whatever the next chapter is.
Songs of Note: There's just so much here...

Artist: Brad Sucks
Album: A New Low in Hi-Fi
Quick Thoughts: Wanted to highlight this one as a solid slice of alt-rock this week. The opening track, featuring Jason Lytle of Grandaddy, sets the tone really well, and the rest of the album is simply a great musical trip. It's a very busy release schedule, so make some time.
Songs of Note: "In It To Win It," "All Right Now"

Artist: Quivers
Album: Golden Doubt
Quick Thoughts: Quivers hit my radar with their album covering R.E.M.'s Out of Time earlier this year. This record of new material really explains why, because you can hear the jangle-pop inspiration througout the tracklisting. If you want accessible, college rock-style songs, Golden Doubt needs to hit your rotation this week.
Songs of Note: "Gutters of Love," "When It Breaks," "Chinese Medicine," "You're Not Always On My Mind," "Laughing Waters"

Artist: Sleater-Kinney
Album: Path of Wellness
Quick Thoughts: Their previous effort, the St. Vincent-produced effort, resulted in some very divided takes and splintered the band from their drummer, Janet Weiss. I won't say Path of Wellness is a return to form for the act, but it's pretty close. Many of the songs are truly great, and while I do wish the mix was a little louder in some spots, this is the album we thought we were getting from The Center Won't Hold.
Songs of Note: "High in the Grass," "Shadow Town," "Favorite Neighbor"

Artist: Lipstick Jodi
Album: More Like Me
Quick Thoughts: Found this one last minute and didn't want to miss it. This is a pretty interesting indie-alt record with some great electronic elements and interesting melodies. In a busy week, it's worth your time.
Songs of Note: "Keep It Down," "Don't Wanna Know"

Of note:

* Alessandro Cortini - SCURO CHIARO (Really great experimental/electric stuff.)
* Sleeper - This Time Tomorrow (Release of a "lost" album, completed and remastered during quarantine.)
* Garbage - No Gods No Masters (They've still got it. Lots of great moments here.)
* Slayyyter - Troubled Paradise (Hyperpop that's a lot more accessable than her debut.)
* King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard (Some real jams on this. If KG were to make a summer album, this would be it...)
* Los Campesinos! - Whole Damn Body
* Sven Wunder - Natura Morta
* Islands - Islomania
* MARINA - Ancient Dreams in a Modern Land
* Your Old Droog - TIME
* Suzanne Kraft - About You
* Chloe Foy - Where Shall We Begin
* Red Ribbon - Planet X
* Rachel Baiman - Cycles
* Lxandra - Careful What I Dream Of
* Kaylee Elizabeth - Playing With Fire
* Future Funk Squad - Four
* The Hello Darlins - Go By Feel


* Clem Snide - Smothered and Covered Vol. 1
* pronoun - omg i made it
* K.Flay - Inside Voices
* Poppy - EAT
* Olivia Holt - In My Feelings
* Croatian Amor and Scandinavian Star - Spring Snow
* Kekko - Dreaming Life
* Sparkle Division - CLASSIFIED
* Dizzy - Separate Places
* Kelly Lee Owens - Inner Song Remix Series

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* ShitKid - Sort Stjerne! (A compilation of old tracks and demos as the ShitKid project closes out.)
* Mr. Bungle - The Night They Came Home (Live)
* The Homeless Gospel Choir - This is a Protest Song (Live)

Also out:

* AFI - Bodies
* Mammoth WVH - Mammoth WVH * Skyzoo - All the Brilliant Things

Phantom Ocean - "Notice Me Senpai"

Boston's Phantom Ocean released their debut single at the end of April, so better late than never, right? According to their Bandcamp profile, they are "Preaching the blues, playing rock and roll." It's an apt description, but "Notice Me Senpai" has a strong indie rock fuzz going on. It's a catchy song from the duo, despite how insanely dark it gets pretty damn fast. That might be part of the appeal of the song: At times it's almost cutesy but couldn't possibly be since it's downright disturbing. It's a stripped down rock song without being even remotely minimal. It's the kind of debut song that will keep us intrigued about what Phantom Ocean does next... although nervously. And from a distance.

You can listen to "Notice Me Senpai" below. The song is available as a download via Bandcamp for the "name your price" option. For more on Phantom Ocean, be sure to check them out on Facebook.

ArOzA Crew - "Asphalt"

I may be wrong, but I believe this may be the first hip hop we've brought you from Munich, Germany. ArOzA Crew have some of the most old school sound we've heard in ages. "Asphalt" is pure early 90's hip hop. The sound is hard, the music isn't completely comfortable to listen to, and this would have been my new favorite group in high school. "Asphalt" sounds like Onyx meets Wu-Tang Clan. It's a reminder of a time when hip hop had a sense of menace. ArOzA Crew are going to give you some of the best musical flashbacks you've had this year.

You can watch the video for "Asphalt" below. You can save or purchase the single here. For more on ArOzA Crew, check out the artist's Instagram.

The Ghost Wolves - "Fast (2300 A.D.)"

Hailing from Austin, TX, The Ghost Wolves are a blues/punk/rock 'n' roll duo whose members, Carley and Jonny, share the last name Wolf. Add in the fact that they've released music on Jack White's label, and the obvious comparison is The White Stripes. And... that's a fair comparison. But I'd compare them to Shovels & Rope equally. The band's latest single, "Fast (2300 A.D.)," is a blisteringly groovy rock song, but the band has a little more of Shovels & Rope's pop sensibilities than The White Stripes' blues roots. This is just old school rock 'n' roll based punk with a modern pop edge to it, and I mean that in the best possible way.

You can watch the video for "Fast (2300 A.D.)" below. The song is available as a single via Lunch Records. You can purchase a limited edition vinyl single (and get more information on The Ghost Wolves) over at the band's website, and digital over at Bandcamp.

Monday, June 14, 2021

Sunshine & the Blue Moon - "Born 2 Boogie"

Photo by Laura-Lynn Petrick

"Born 2 Boogie" is just a fun, dirty rock 'n' roll song. Sunshine & the Blue Moon claim that the song was inspired by bands like The Doors and The Stooges, and they are definitely not wrong. "Born 2 Boogie" is this slinky garage rocker from the ages before punk was a thing. The lyrics are kinda silly, and it's not a fast song, but it straight up rocks. It's like if The Stooges took one of their eight minute freak out album filler songs, got serious about it, and turned it into a four minute monster. 

In a press release, the band says of the song:

"This track was borne out of ripping around town and rocking out at dingy venues – all the broke people getting together to cut loose at shows.
This one was real fun to record. Getting to sing those silly lyrics and do those over the top screams, it's almost cathartic."

You can watch the video for "Born 2 Boogie" below. Born 2 Boogie is due out June 25 on Majestic Silk Records. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on Sunshine & the Blue Moon, check out the band's website.

Emily Davis and the Murder Police - "Don't Make a Promise"

Photo by Fernie Ceniceros

Emily Davis and the Murder Police are a folk-punk band out of El Paso, TX. Usually bands described as folk punk lean quite heavily on the folk side of that description. On their latest single, "Don't Make a Promise," Davis and band unleash this fiery blast of a song. It sounds like Dolores O'Riordan fronting early Frank Turner and The Sleeping Souls or mid 90's Dropkick Murphys. But, you know... southern. This is hard and heavy folk music that forces its way into punk. Plus, Davis' vocals have a little bit of a theatrical metal edge to them, and the band busts out what may be the greatest guitar solo in the history of folk punk.

You can listen to "Don't Make a Promise" below. Never a Moment Alone is due out June 25. You can pre-order your copy via Bandcamp. For more on Emily Davis and the Murder Police, check out the band's website.

Bella White Covers Buck Meek

Photo via Facebook

Just as most artists are winding down at home performances and covers series, Bella White has started one up! This week saw the beginning of her "Under the Covers" series which will see her covering a song from another artist from the comfort of her bed weekly. The debut edition is a cover of Buck Meek's "Candle" from his Two Saviors album released back in January. It's obviously going to be a more stripped down version and missing the steel guitar of the original, but other than that it's quite true to the original. White takes Meek's song and makes it more of a traditionally folk song. It's a gorgeous cover that sounds far better than most bedroom covers, and we can't wait for week two!

In a Facebook post, White explains her choice of "Candle":

"when this song came out in January I found myself listening to it a lot. Perhaps I was relying on it (and the whole album) as a source for escapism to get through the pandemic winter. i hope you enjoy my take."

You can watch Bella White covering "Candle" below. For more on Bella White, check out the artist's website.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Tamar Berk - The Restless Dreams of Youth

Tamara Berk started off playing in indie bands in Chicago and Portland. Now she's located in San Diego and has released her debut solo album. The Restless Dreams of Youth is filled with twelve songs that are going to give you 90's singer/songwriter alt-rock flashbacks. These are straight up rock songs along the lines of artists like whitechocolatespaceegg era Liz Phair and Juliana Hatfield. What's truly great is how the album feels like a cohesive collection of songs without being repetitive. "Shadow Clues" is a hard rock song, "Socrates & Me" is still an acoustic rocker, and "A New Case" is a piano driven ballad. All of these songs are sequential on the album and all three are wildly different while still sounding like they all belong. And then "Better off Meditating" is a power pop delight. If you have a certain fondness for mid 90's radio friendly alt-rock, you need to check out Tamar Berk.

You can watch the video for "Shadow Clues" below. The Restless Dreams of Youth is available now via Bandcamp. For more on Tamar Berk, check out the artist's Facebook.

Destroy Boys - "Drink"

Photo by Ash Gellman

The latest from Northern California's Destroy Boys isn't going to make punk purists happy, but I don't think they really care. "Drink" fits into that newfangled punk category that is poppy and almost kinda dancey while still being a rock song. It almost sounds like Mannequin Pussy decided to make a mid 90's power pop song while listening to a ton of Be Your Own Pet. Having a song be this firmly planted in the world of pop while still having a true punk edge is an interesting sound. Somehow, the song comes across as being oddly comforting which is rare in the world of punk.

You can listen to "Drink" below. You can get a copy of the single here. For more on Destroy Boys, check out the band's website. Upcoming tour dates on the Sad Summer Festival with All Time Low, The Story So Far, The Maine, and more are below the song.

AUG 6, 2021 Heart Health Park Sacramento, CA
AUG 7, 2021 City National Grove Outdoors Anaheim, CA
AUG 20, 2021 The Orlando Amphitheater at the Central Florida Fairgrounds Orlando, FL
AUG 21, 2021 The Masquerade Outdoors Atlanta, GA
AUG 27, 2021The Rooftop at Pier 17 New York, NY
AUG 28, 2021 MECU Pavilion Baltimore, MD
AUG 31, 2021 EXPRESS LIVE! Outdoor Columbus, OH
SEP 3, 2021 Stone Pony Summer Stage Asbury Park, NJ
SEP 4, 2021 The Palladium (Outdoors) Worcester, MA
SEP 5, 2021 Skyline Stage @ The Mann Philadelphia, PA
SEP 7, 2021 Stage AE Outdoors Pittsburgh, PA
SEP 10, 2021 The Rave / Eagles Ballroom Milwaukee, WI
SEP 11, 2021 Crofoot Festival Grounds Pontiac, MI

Jyroscope & Montana Macks - "Frozen In Time"

Photo by Jason Nelims

For the first time in the history of If It's Too Loud..., we may have discovered a hip hop song that fits our aesthetic. Chicago's Jyroscope (I.B. Fokuz, Collasoul Structure, and DJ Seanile) have an upcoming collaborative EP with Montana Macks that is basically about finding the balance between family life responsibilities, work, and your following your art. The first single, "Frozen In Time," is a chilled out old school hip hop song the likes of which I haven't heard in decades. With it's killer horn, it reminds me of Guru joining De La Soul. There's something almost meditative in "Frozen In Time" without it being even remotely dull.

I.B. Fokuz says of the challenge in finding a life balance:

As husbands and fathers, artists... asiatic men. The balance is defined by spinning plates. Managing the day-to-day with our families on our backs. A leap of faith is the dice we roll on our kitchen tables. Still hungry, still crafting our magnum opus. Still men of principle... keeping our worlds intact.”

You can watch the video for "Frozen In Time" below. Happy Medium is due out July 23. You can pre-order a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on Jyroscope, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.