Wednesday, January 31, 2018

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for January 26

Artist: NADINE
Album: oh my
Quick Description: Weird artsy folky stuff.
Why You Should Listen: It's going to be different than most of this week's releases.
Overall Thoughts: An interesting folkish release this week that kind of came out of nowhere for me. Nadine has an interesting voice, and the songs are well-crafted on a whole. My criticism is that there’s nothing here that makes this record stand out the way similar albums from Bedouine or Julien Baker did last year. It needs to stand out more, and this doesn’t quite get there. Don’t skip this if you like the folkier stuff, but you may end up wanting more.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Silvia Kastel
Album: Air Lows
Quick Description: Weird, Peaksy electronic music.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for a challenge.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t have a lot to say about this one, except as a fan of the esoteric electronic stuff this absolutely scratched my itch in this area this week. If you’re looking for more challenging electronic music this week, check it out.
Recommendation: I really liked this, you might, too.

Artist: Turin Brakes
Album: Invisible Storm
Quick Description: Latest from the new era British rockers.
Why You Should Listen: Turin Brakes have been consistently solid for nearly two decades now.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Turin Brakes for close to 20 years now, and the band’s evolution from a folk-rocky duo to seemingly a full-band making radio-friendly music is still a little jarring. This latest release is another in a line of this tonal shift, but truly works better than anything they’ve done since Jackinthebox. Some quality tunes here, and a sound that feels like a band that has found its footing between the old and new.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Ben Miller Band
Album: Choke Cherry Tree
Quick Description: Folky roots stuff.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking to stay on the straight and narrow musically this week.
Overall Thoughts: The rootsiest of the roots stuff this week, Ben Miller plays the authenticity card with his band on this one to good, albeit predictable, results. A good listen, but I do not get any sort of impression that I’d be reaching for this again right away, especially with a Steep Canyon Rangers album around at the same time.
Recommendation: Very good, but inessential.

Artist: Dumptruck
Album: Wrecked
Quick Description: First album in 20 years from this local act.
Why You Should Listen: It's modern whole still feeling like the era they came from.
Overall Thoughts: A longtime Boston act, what is interesting to me as someone new to the band is how they don’t sound like what you might expect a Boston act to sound like. We have standard indie rock trappings here, and there are some interesting sounds here, but it ultimately just made me curious about what I’ve missed all these years before I can really compare it to anything. A solid listen that may be a good entrypoint to folks like me.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: Calexico
Album: The Thread That Keeps Us
Quick Description: Latest from the country-tinged alt-rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Calexico is a solid band worth an effort.
Overall Thoughts: I saw Calexico open for Wilco once upon a time, and I’ve always generally liked what they do even though it’s never quite become my favorite. This new album keeps to its roots in many ways, but there are some choices here that were a little off to me. Part of it is expectation, for sure – what I come to a Calexico album for is not entirely here, but it’s more that the way their sound has expanded doesn’t totally work out here. Longtime fans may appreciate the result here, but as a more casual listener there’s plenty for me to reach for this week instead.
Recommendation: Not for everyone, and not a good starting point.

Artist: Django Django
Album: Marble Skies
Quick Description: Genre mashups galore from this British act.
Why You Should Listen: This is weird and wonderful.
Overall Thoughts: I always forget how much I enjoy this act at the end of the day, and this was as fun as their previous stuff and perhaps moreso. An interesting mix of modern and older styles, this was a solid listen in a busy week.
Recommendation: Not much to say, but it's a solid listen nonetheless.

Artist: Beechwood
Album: Songs From the Land of Nod
Quick Description: An interesting act with a unique sound.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something different but accessible.
Overall Thoughts: A retro-sounding act that uses a lot of reverb and feels like they don’t belong in this era at all, yet making a share of interesting choices that didn’t always work for me. I understand the desire to get loud, but it seems unintentionally abrasive more often than not. The total package isn’t something I was fond of, so be careful on this one in a busy week.
Recommendation: Be wary.

Artist: Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas
Album: Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas
Quick Description: Instrumental psych rock from a Boston-area act.
Why You Should Listen: Nearly my album of the week.
Overall Thoughts: I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I'm not a big fan of instrumental rock music, and Matthew Stubbs is set out with that knowledge about many music fans as his mission to convert us. For me? Yeah, he did the job so well that I immediately looked up his tour dates and got disappointed that I'll be out of town when he's 10 minutes down the road. Listen to this album - you'll be surprised at worst and his newest fan at best.
Recommendation: One of the best releases of the week.


* Jane Blanchard - Enemy
* Blushing - Weak

Also out:

* Hollie Cook - Vessel of Love

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Buffalo Tom - "Roman Cars"

Photo via Facebook
As anticipation builds for the March release of Buffalo Tom's first album in seven years, we have a second song to check out from it. "Roman Cars" is a Chris Colbourn sung song, and it's a bit more mellow than "All Be Gone." Most of Colbourn's songs do tend to be on the more mellow side than Bill Janovitz's songs, so that's not a surprise. It's also a bit more mellow than classic Buffalo Tom, but it's far from easy listening. It's the kind of alternative rock song that musicians from the 90's should be aging into. And that's not a bad thing. 

You can listen to "Roman Cars" below. Buffalo Tom's new album, Quiet & Peace, will be out March 2 on Schoolkids Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Buffalo Tom, check out their website.

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for January 26

The record labels are trying to take us out early with all these new releases, guys.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Dream Wife
Album: Dream Wife
Quick Description: Solid alt-punk.
Why You Should Listen: It's a lot of fun, and is modern while still feeling familiar.
Overall Thoughts: “Let’s Make Out” kicks this album off in a fun, angsty way. The full album doesn’t quite keep up tonally with its kickoff, slipping into more of an alt-rock role as opposed to a more accessible punk sound, but that’s not a bad thing at all, as it's easily the best, most fun thing out this week. The album ends up being a pretty solid listen I’m looking to jump back into, and even if the full package doesn’t do it for you? You’ll likely find a few solid takeaways.
Recommendation: Album of the week, worth a listen for everyone.

Artist: The Spook School
Album: Could It Be Different?
Quick Description: New album from a poppy, peppy indie act.
Why You Should Listen: They sound like some of the bands you already love, but better.
Overall Thoughts: The best way I can describe this is that The Spook School are a band that I envision Los Camposenos as in my head. Los Camposenos is always a little odd and off-kilter, while this has a similar tone and sound to it while having a much more accessible and mainstream sound. There are hooks for days here, and, on first listen, it’s one I’m absolutely looking forward to getting back to.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: Vincent Van Gold
Album: Box of Light
Quick Description: Deer Tick drummer branches out.
Why You Should Listen: You're a fan of Deer Tick and interesting indie music.
Overall Thoughts: A side project from the drummer for Deer Tick, this is sort of a not-quite-folk-but-not-quite-rock release that is just left of center enough to be an interesting listen even if it’s not the greatest thing ever. I enjoyed this listen well enough, and there’s enough Deer Tick in here to appeal to those fans while still being different enough to have different appeal, but this may ultimately be an acquired taste.
Recommendation: Not for everyone.

Artist: The Prefab Messiahs
Album: Psychploitation Today
Quick Description: Newest album by the somewhat-well-known psych rock act.
Why You Should Listen: This is like a party in musical form.
Overall Thoughts: Holy retro rock, Batman. This may as well be an album that’s straight out of psych rock AM radio. The songs are catchy, the music is classic, and the album is pretty much here to party. Not much else to say about it – if you’re looking for that album that is just going to take you straight to a prior era, fire this up.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: The Steep Canyon Rangers
Album: Out in the Open
Quick Description: Steve Martin's cohorts with their own album.
Why You Should Listen: They're good even without Steve Martin.
Overall Thoughts: Sans Steve Martin, the group becomes a much more traditional act with less wit but the same amount of charm. It’s really, really solid bluegrass and one of the best of the week, but I can also see people being less interested if Martin isn't involved. Don't be that person.
Recommendation: Instead, enjoy one of the best early rootsy records of the year.

Artist: Colette Savard and the Savants
Album: Colette Savard and the Savants
Quick Description: Another independent folky album.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something safe and familiar.
Overall Thoughts: Some folky independent stuff that will likely be a familiar sound to those of you who listen to most of what we highlight here. This is a very solid, straightforward independent folk-leaning record, but in a busy week, it’s not going to be the most essential listen.
Recommendation: It's good, but not amazing.

Artist: Mary Gauthier
Album: Rifles and Rosary Beads
Quick Description: Longtime folky is back with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: She has decades of experience that shows she's worth a listen.
Overall Thoughts: Another traditional folk album this week, it has a starkness that I didn’t expect, although it’s not the same sort of stark as, say, Gillian Welch. For me, I thought this was fairly nice, but it sits in a weird middle ground where it’s a little too traditional to feel fresh, but too deliberately empty sounding to grab me. This will work for a specific audience, but it’s one I might not really be part of.
Recommendation: Might work for you, give it a shot.

Artist: Jesse Marchant
Album: Illusion of Love
Quick Description: Interesting, heartfelt country-tinged music.
Why You Should Listen: You don't want miss this album this year.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like Jesse Marchant is where Jason Isbell might have ended up had he taken a slightly different path in his alt-country adventure. There’s a rich quality to this with the added ethereal soundscapes that seep through, and it creates a sound both familiar and foreign. While it may be a quieter listen than you might be looking for, it more than makes up for how low-key it is with the interesting choices made throughout. Sure to be one of the more underrated releases of early 2018.
Recommendation: Nearly album of the week, very good.

Artist: Family Pet
Album: Petty
Quick Description: An indie release we missed last year.
Why You Should Listen: You like a little fuzzy, lo-fi stuff.
Overall Thoughts: One from last year and produced by Colleen Green, and it definitely has her fingerprints all over it. An interesting listen in that it has the raw, lo-fi punk energy you’re looking for in a lot of ways, but likely doesn’t have the sort of staying power you’d expect. In that much of its novelty comes from the production of the record, it’s not one I see changing the world, but it’s a fine listen on a whole.
Recommendation: A good listen if you have the opportunity this week.


* Rabbit! - Bestest of Friends (the most adorable act in indie rock is still killing it)

Also out:

* Ampline - Passion Relapse

Monday, January 29, 2018

Hop Along - "How Simple"

Way back in 2015 Hop Along's Painted Shut was my #2 album of the year. Now almost three years after the release of that album, we're finally getting new music from the band. "How Simple" is exactly what we want from Hop Along. It starts out as upbeat, pretty music with Frances Quinlan's voice bouncing between being pleasant and then being harsh to the point of almost being grating. There's a slightly off tune guitar swirling along in the background behind her voice that is basically what heaven should sound like. By the time you get to the gang chorus at the end, you'll be wondering how we ever survived as a species for three long years without new music from Hop Along.

You can listen to "How Simple" below. Hop Along's new album, Bark Your Head Off, Dog, will be out April 16 on Saddle Creek. You can pre-order your copy on Bandcamp. For more on Hop Along, check out their Facebook.

Jane Blanchard - ENEMY

When you start listening to the new EP from Edinburgh's Jane Blanchard, you're going to pigeonhole her as an atmospheric singer/songwriter. But as you get further into "Enemy," the title track from the EP, you'll realize how wrong you are. It starts off as pretty standard singer/songwriter material, albeit with slightly blown out vocals. Then, towards the end the noise starts and you'll discover it's something special. "22" is just a great straighforward alt-rock song, the kind you don't realize you miss until you stumble on one. "HIDING OUT" mellows it back out a bit, but with a quiet intensity, and more noise than most people dare to put on a quiet song. ENEMY is a release that veers just to the left of the mainstream, and that's a perfect place to be.

You can listen to "HIDING OUT" below. ENEMY is available now on Jane Blanchard's Bandcamp. For more information on Jane Blanchard, check her out on Facebook.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Acid Dad - "2Ci"

Photo by Alec Castillo
We bring you a lot of 90's inspired indie rock here at If It's Too Loud..., but there's just so much of it right now that's absolutely great. The latest single from Acid Dad recalls this era just before nu-metal took over the late 90's when everything seemed possible. "2Ci" is an upbeat indie rock semi-anthem that has the pop hooks of Superdrag, the slight quirkiness of Archers of Loaf, and the almost unhinged feeling of early Arctic Monkeys. It's a fun burst of an indie rock epic that hints at possible greatness to come.

You can listen to "2Ci" below. Acid Dad's self-titled debut album will be out March 9 on Greenway Records. For more on Acid Dad, check out their website.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Haley Heynderickx - "Untitled God Song"

Photo by Evan James Atwood
Haley Heynderickx has been on my radar ever since I first heard her ridiculously great song "Oom Sha La La." That was way back in September, which feels like roughly five years ago right now, so I was starting to think she was a figment of my hopes and dreams for 2018. Luckily, I didn't imagine her, and she's back with another song off her upcoming album. "Untitled God Song" starts off as a pretty straightforward folk song in the vein of the current Newport Folk Festival friendly artists. Heynderickx's voice feels vulnerable yet strong. Slowly the song starts transforming and showing some of its quirks, until it breaks out into some 90's style indie rock. It's still somehow melodic and quiet even at its most rambunctious, so this is basically my idea of perfection.

You can listen to "Untitled God Song" below. Haley Hyderickx's debut album, I Need to Start a Garden, will be out March 2 on Mama Bird Recording Co. You can pre-order your copy of the album on Bandcamp. For more on Haley Heynderickx, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Live Shows: David Wax Museum, House Concert, Somerville, MA 1/22/18

I've been following David Wax Museum for almost eight years now. They've spread their music throughout the country playing a ton of house shows, but never really did it in the Boston area. Last week, they announced a duo house show tour in New England, with a number of Boston area shows. I obviously needed to attend one.

For those that have never attended a house show, it can be a bit awkward since you're milling around in a stranger's living room waiting for a band to start playing. However, it's worth any awkwardness since it's such a unique and intimate way to see one of your favorite bands live. I've seen David Wax Museum play in a variety of size clubs, at outdoor festivals big and small, but seeing them play in a living room in front of roughly 30 people was a special way to see them. The barrier between audience and performer is completely gone, and it's a far more interactive and personal experience. Suz and David were much more loose, and expanded the between song banter quite a bit. They shared stories of recording their first album, an awkward house show, being mistaken for a homeless family at a rest stop at the end of their last tour, etc. 

As far as the music, this was somehow my first time seeing David Wax Museum as a duo, and it was a great way to experience them. Even a song like "Unfruitful" is a completely different animal with just the two of them performing. They brought out favorites like "Yes, Maria, Yes" and "Born With a Broken Heart." The two also debuted a pair of brand new songs that were perfect and exactly what you're hoping they will be. (They were a bit harsh on themselves for one of the songs, but there was no need to be.) 

David Wax Museum have a few more shows on their New England duo house show tour. To see if you can make one, check out their website.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Lucy Dacus - "Addictions"

Photo by Pooneh Ghana
"Addictions," the latest single from Lucy Dacus's upcoming new album, might not live up to the brilliance of the first single from Historian... until it does. It would be almost impossible to match "Night Shift," which I declared to be the best song of 2018 back in December. "Addictions" starts off as your fairly standard alt-rock singer/songwriter fare, and it ends that way, too. It's the ride it brings you on in the middle that is what you'll end up loving. It morphs into multiple songs, with brief but beloved flourishes of fuzzy guitars, electronic elements, and some of the catchiest but oddly short verses that feel like choruses. Holding it all together is Dacus's voice, which may feel almost plain and standard at first, but is beyond mesmerizing by the end.

You can watch the video for "Addictions" below. The new album from Lucy Dacus, Historian, will be out March 2 on Matador Records. You can pre-order your copy on your preferred outlet here. For more on Lucy Dacus, check out her website. Tour dates with And the Kids and Adult Mom are below the video.

3/2: Brooklyn, NY @ Music Hall Of Williamsburg
3/7: Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
3/8: Charleston, SC @ Pour House
3/9: Atlanta, GA @ The Earl
3/10: Nashville, TN @ High Watt
3/19: Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar
3/20: Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress
3/21: San Diego, CA @ Casbah
3/22: Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
3/23: Santa Cruz @ Crepe Place
3/24: San Francisco, CA @ Rickshaw Stop
3/26: Portland, OR @ Doug Fir Lounge
3/27: Vancouver, BC @ Biltmore Cabaret
3/28: Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern
3/30: Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge
3/31: Denver, CO @ Globe Hall
4/2: Omaha, NE @ Reverb Lounge
4/4: Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry
4/5: Madison, WI @ High Noon Saloon
4/6: Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle
4/7: Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi-Fi
4/8: Columbus, OH @ The Basement
4/9: Toronto, ON @ Horseshoe Tavern
4/11: Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
4/13: Philadelphia, PA @ Johnny Brenda’s
4/14: Washington, DC @ Rock & Roll Hotel

Juliana Hatfield Covers Olivia Newton-John

Photo by David Doobinin
Last week we told you the unbelievably fantastic news that Juliana Hatfield was not just covering a single song from Olivia Newton-John but was releasing an album of Olivia Newton-John covers. This week, we can finally get a better idea of what that will sound like with the release of a video for her version of "A Little More Love." It's a Newton-John song I'm not very familiar with, but it did come out in 1978 which would pre-date my early love of Newton-John. Hatfield's version of the song brings in the ever so slightly noisy post-grunge singer/songwriter sound we want from Hatfield, but with just enough shimmer and gloss that you'll find on the original. God, this album can not come fast enough.

You can watch the video for Juliana Hatfield's version of "A Little More Love" below. Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John will be available April 13 via American Laundromat Records. A dollar from each album sold will benefit the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Wellness & Research Centre. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Juliana Hatfield, check out her website.

First Listen, Part Two: More New Releases for January 19

And here are the rest!

Co-Album of the Week:

Artist: St. Beauty
Album: Running to the Sun
Quick Description: A genre-hoping R&B effort.
Why You Should Listen: It's one of the more unique releases in recent memory.
Overall Thoughts: At its heart, Running to the Sun is an R&B record. But if you're not into the genre, you can't let that stop you from hearing this, because it borrows from so many modern sounds - indie rock, alternative rock, some of the indie soul stuff, it runs the whole gamut. There are a lot of reasons why this shouldn't work, but instead it ends up feeling like a brilliant and special release. This surprised me a lot, and it will probably surprise you too.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, and has the potential for a lot of staying power.

Artist: Glen Hansard
Album: Between Two Shores
Quick Description: The Frames/Once singer is back with a retro-feeling record.
Why You Should Listen: Hansard is a great songwriter and is worth the time...
Overall Thoughts: ...even if this doesn't quite hit the mark for me. I can't place exactly what didn't connect on this for me, but this feels like a different take for him that I'm just not into. A lot of people are big fans, and you might love this if you're one of them, but in a busy week, I can't recommend outright.
Recommendation: Non-essential.

Artist: The Go! Team
Album: Semicircle
Quick Description: The latest from the cheer-pop indie act.
Why You Should Listen: The Go! Team has completely hit its stride on this record.
Overall Thoughts: Yeah, they still sound like a bunch of cheerleaders, but it works and that's what matters. This has a great feel to it, a consistent groove throughout, and might be one of their best cohesive efforts since their debut. Not a bad launching point if you're new to the band, either. Just give this a shot, you won't regret it.
Recommendation: One of the better releases this week.

Artist: Tune-Yards
Album: I can feel you creep into my private life
Quick Description: The trippy indie act tones it down a bit...
Why You Should Listen: ...and makes a great, introspective record.
Overall Thoughts: I'm on record as wanting to like Tune-Yards more than I do. I've always felt it's just a hair too weird for my liking, and that's all well and good - she has a lot of fans as is. With that said, this album tacks toward the mainstream a little more than usual and provides a bit of clarity to her entire performance. I can see longtime fans being alienated by this, but for me? I'm absolutely looking forward to going back to this one soon.
Recommendation: A very solid effort.

Artist: The Shins
Album: The Worm's Heart
Quick Description: Alternate takes from Heartworms.
Why You Should Listen: This is a fun artistic exercise.
Overall Thoughts: James Mercer of The Shins apparently wanted to try and "flip" the songs from their 2017 release, changing tempos and moods to make the entire thing a different feel. As an album, I'll be honest - I'm not sure it works. As an art experiment, though, it's like a deliberate remixing exercise possible in part due to the ease of distribution in the modern music world, and it's a fascinating listen even if it's not amazing. So listen to this, compare notes, and maybe we can fight over which versions are best.
Recommendation: Absolutely worth a listen.

Artist: First Aid Kit
Album: Ruins
Quick Description: The latest from the indie folk duo.
Why You Should Listen: Everything First Aid Kit does is fantastic.
Overall Thoughts: It's almost a shame this came out this week, as it's sure to be overshadowed by a lot of different and interesting releases and doesn't deserve it. First Aid Kit has been nearly perfect since their debut, and this latest album is far from what the title indicates, instead showing a consistency to their sound and mood that makes them one of the best acts out there. If they're not grabbing you by the opening track on this one, I don't know what else you want from your music.
Recommendation: Nearly an album of the week, one of the best listens available.

Artist: King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
Album: Gumboot Soup
Quick Description: Their 5th album of 2017.
Why You Should Listen: Just give these guys credit for the year they've had.
Overall Thoughts: This is not the best King Gizzard album of 2017 by any stretch, but this was released on 31 December and I wanted to give them the proper credit for the effort they made on this. Five albums in a year, and more than enough solid song throughout to justify it? That's an achievement.
Recommendation: Give this a listen, but don't expect it to be as great or consistent as their other 2017 efforts.

EPs of note:

* Kailee Morgue - Medusa
* Belle & Sebastian - How to Solve Our Human Problems (Part 2)
* Your Old Droog - Looseys

Also out this week:

* Strand of Oaks - Harder Love (more from the Hard Love sessions)
* Starcrawler - Starcrawler

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Comrade Nixon - Odd Todd

Hailing from Lyon Mountain, NY (which is further north than you think is possible to still be in NY state), Comrade Nixon just released their new album, Odd Todd. To record the album, the crossed the border into Vermont and recorded most songs in one take, recording the full thing in three hours. In the email we received from Comrade Nixon, their music is described as "mountain punk." It's a genre I've never heard, but let me try to describe it. Mountain punk is a crazed mess, and I mean that as a compliment. The album definitely sounds like it was recorded fast and DIY. Again, I mean that in the best possible way. The lead singer's voice is reminiscent of Paul Westerberg which gives the songs the feeling of the most ramshackle and loud side of The Replacements you never thought possible. You know those out of control, drunken bender Replacements shows that are the stuff of legend? Yeah, this album is like one of those, but much noisier. 

You can listen to "Two Girls" below. The new album from Comrade Nixon, Odd Todd, is available now on the bands' Bandcamp. For more information on Comrade Nixon, check out their Facebook.

First Listen, Part One: New Releases for January 19

A busy week, so we splitting the check.

Co-Album of the Week:

Artist: Shopping
Album: The Official Body
Quick Description: Newest album by a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: It's like your favorite odd bands from the 1980s come alive in 2018.
Overall Thoughts: Ken has been riding the Shopping bandwagon for close to five years now, and I've thought they've been fine up to now, but this album feels like a great leap forward for the act. Sometimes it feels like Gang of Four's "Anthrax," sometimes it's like my favorite Oh-OK songs, but this is just a stellar album this week that I can't wait to dive back into.
Recommendation: Easily the best of the week.

Artist: Sure Sure
Album: Sure Sure
Quick Description: A lo-fi indie pop debut from last week.
Why You Should Listen: You're wishing you lived back about 15 years ago musically.
Overall Thoughts: A fairly uneven listen, Sure Sure does a fairly interesting not-quite-lo-fi indie pop with some thin instrumentation. While it sometimes works, such as with the opening track or their cover of “This Must Be the Place,” there are other times where I just wish it were more fleshed out, like with “Foreign Room.” A lot of good ideas here, and I think we might see this band break out in the future as they perfect their sound.
Recommendation: This will work for some people, but not everyone.

Artist: Inara George
Album: Dearest Everybody
Quick Description: The latest solo effort from one of the closest things we have to indie royalty.
Why You Should Listen: You want something from George that is a little more straightforward.
Overall Thoughts: The always-busy artist with her first solo effort in a very long time, I think my surprise with this one is how low-key it feels. I never walk into Inara George projects with expectations, but the light, airy feel only works part of the time in this effort. Might not work for everyone, but George is a solid enough artist with a great track record making this worth a shot.
Recommendation: Might be for big fans only.

Artist: Various Artists
Album: Instant Love: Songs Between Women
Quick Description: A collection of love songs covered by women.
Why You Should Listen: A cover album is usually worth it, and the collection of artists on this album is great.
Overall Thoughts: A series of cover songs by female singers; we highlighted Tristen’s entry late last year. A solid collection on a whole – as with any collection of covers, the parts are always better than the whole, and there are some interesting takes to go along with some unmemorable ones, but it is absolutely worth giving at least a once-over to see if you can find anything to love.
Recommendation: Worth a listen for sure.

Artist: Wes Youssi and the County Champs
Album: Down Low
Quick Description: A strong classic country entry for the new year.
Why You Should Listen: You like modern efforts for classic country, but prefer the traditional aspects.
Overall Thoughts: I don’t know the first thing about this act, but they lean hard into the classic country pastiche to pretty solid results. While there were times I was thinking, stylistically, I was listening to Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats, we still end up with a solid country album worth hearing in the new year.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: They Might Be Giants
Album: I Like Fun
Quick Description: The latest from the legendary alternative act.
Why You Should Listen: You've been listening for thirty years, right? Why stop now?
Overall Thoughts: Like, I get that they have a number of truly classic albums from 20 or so years ago, but I don’t know if I ever fully got this band, and this latest album isn’t really helping matters. It’s a language I don’t understand with music that isn’t connecting with me on any real level, and I can’t tell if it’s just because they’re a band with 30-something years on the back end of their career or it’s something else. If you’re a fan, you’ll probably like this. If you’re new, find a copy of Flood first.
Recommendation: Skip it unless TMBG is your absolute jam.

Artist: Meat Beat Manifesto
Album: Impossible Star
Quick Description: The latest from the well-known electronic act.
Why You Should Listen: While I don't know how longtime fans will feel about this, it's a good introduction.
Overall Thoughts: A group I’ve known about for ages but never listened to, this was a good introduction for me and will likely result in my exploring the back catalog a bit. Reminded me a bit of a more chill Aphex Twin on this record, it was definitely some interesting, different electronic music.
Recommendation: Definitely give this a listen.

EPs of note:

* Ron Gallo - Really Nice Guys
* ShitKid - This is It
* Fatboy Slim - Fatboy Slim v Australia

Also out this week:

* Anvil - Pounding the Pavement
* Joe Perry - Sweetzerland Manifesto

Monday, January 22, 2018

Poster Children - "Grand Bargain!"

Photo via Facebook
Poster Children are one of those bands I almost forget about, despite the fact that they were part of the greatest triple bill I'll ever see (Built to Spill, Poster Children, and Jack Drag, Bowery Ballroom 1998). Then maybe once or twice a year I remember and go on a crazy full day binge of listening to nothing but their albums. Well, they're coming back with their first new album in fourteen years and a new single, "Grand Bargain!" Granted, I'm not a Poster Children expert or anything, but "Grand Bargain!" seems much more angry and political than I remember them being. he opening line is "America held hostage: Day 1." It's this fierce punk blast with swirling, vicious punk guitars and ranting, spoken word/screaming vocals. This is the kind of song the world needs right now.

You can listen to "Grand Bargain!" below. Poster Chidren's new Steve Albini recorded album, also called Grand Bargain!,  is available for pre-order now on PledgeMusic. It will be out on May 18. For more on Poster Children, check out their website.

Barrence Whitfield & The Savages - "Let's Go to Mars"

Photo via Facebook
Hailing from Boston, Barrence Whitfield is the rare type of soul singer that can play with the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and fit right in. With songs like his newest single, "Let's Go to Mars," Whitfield brings rock and roll and way back to it's origins in the 1950's. It's a reckless, filthy sound that is just about perfect. There's also a touch of a punk menace in there, but there was plenty of menace in 1950's rock and roll, too. I may be making it sound like it's a bit of a noisy trainwreck, which it's not, at all. "Let's Go to Mars" is catchy, with an infectious groove throughout. Plus, his new album, Soul Flowers of Titan, was inspired by Sun Ra's cosmic outlook. According to Barrence Whitfield's website:

Titan is the largest moon orbiting Saturn, a planet which astrologically symbolizes pain, struggle and hard knocks on the human path to wholeness and liberation among many other things.
Soul Flowers of Titan is a collection of songs representing our own cosmology, struggles & influences. People shooting guns, separating, coming home (someday), in love, running around, leaving this earth, going crazy, drinking coffee, and thinking about Sun Ra.
Titan’s a forbidding, poisonous place with mountains, rivers and oceans of methane and ammonia, cloaked in a dense shroud of gases. The kinds of flowers that would grow there would be the hardy beasts that survived to make this strange bouquet.
You can listen to "Let's Go to Mars" below. Barrence Whitfield's new album, Soul Flowers of Titan, will be available March 2 on Bloodshot Records. For more on Barrence Whitfield & The Savages, check out their website.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Refrigerator - "Cardboard Death Elevator"

Photo by Kristi Engle
I feel like I should remember Refrigerator much more than I do. They were active back in the mid to late 90's, which were my glory days of going to shows and college radio. Instead, their name sounds familiar, and maybe I played them on my radio show? The only good thing is I have a LOT of history to catch up on.

Refrigerator is set to release their eleventh album next month. "Cardboard Death Elevator" is the first song from that album. It's a great mixture of singer/songwriter fare mixed with minimalist noise rock. It starts out with a bare minimum of instrumentation, with an occasionally strummed guitar and and even more occasional piano flourish over a quiet beat, with Dennis Callaci's vocals being the main focus. It does eventually morph into a swirling guitar crescendo, which provides a huge relief, but even that is fairly quiet and minimal. Overall, it's an awkward, haunting song that won't be for everyone. But, if this sounds like your thing, you'll end up loving this.

You can listen to "Cardboard Death Elevator" below. Refrigerator's new album, High Desert Lows, will be out February 9 on Shrimper/Revolver. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Refrigerator, check them out on Facebook.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Ruby Boots - "Don't Talk About It"

We're less than a month away from the release of Ruby Boots's highly anticipated (by us) new album, Don't Talk About It. There's a new song we can listen to from the album, the title track "Don't Talk About It." The new song is more of a ballad than the previous single "It's So Cruel." Like "It's So Cruel," "Don't Talk About It" is just dripping with cool. It's this slick sounding almost torch song, with Ruby Boots's southern twang by way of Australia. While there's definitely a country feel to the song, it's as much of a Nancy Sinatra style song as it is country. Like I said, everything she touches just drips with cool.

You can listen to "Don't Talk About It" below. Ruby Boots's new album, Don't Talk About It, will be out February 9 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order your copy here. It will feature The Texas Gentlemen and Nikki Lane backing her up. For more on Ruby Boots, check out her website.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for January 12

Sorry for the delay. You'd think a three day weekend would be long enough to do this...

Album of the Week:

Artist: cupcakKe
Album: Ephorize
Quick Description: Surprising, great rap music from a new face.
Why You Should Listen: You wish Lizzo had more edge.
Overall Thoughts: And I recognize that it's unfair to compare cupcakKe to Lizzo because, surface-level, they're both larger-than-Hollywood-standard black female rappers, but I got the vibe from it before seeing the album cover. And while the album was pretty great early on, it's when "Duck Duck Goose" hits that you realize you're hearing something special, and not just because it's one of the dirtiest songs I've heard in some time. The beats are great, cupcakKe has a great delivery, and there's not much of a flaw here except that it might feel more like a novelty in future listens. I hope not, because this has a lot of lasting power if she keeps this up.
Recommendation: A must listen this week

Artist: SKYGGE
Album: Hello World
Quick Description: Electronic stuff off the beaten path.
Why You Should Listen: It's on trend, but different enough to maybe draw in people who like different things.
Overall Thoughts: SKYGGE starts us off with a different feel, and while it trends its way back to the center in later songs, this is perhaps most noteworthy for just how it tries not to do the same old thing. It doesn't always work, but it works often enough where I definitely enjoyed this listen and will go back to it. Worth it in a short week anyway. Reading up on it now, there is an artificial intelligence aspect to this that might explain the experimental bits, so it's definitely a conversation piece at worst.
Recommendation: A good listen.

Artist: Typhoon
Album: Offerings
Quick Description: Post-rock(?) from a buzzworthy band.
Why You Should Listen: Looking for something a little complex and heavier.
Overall Thoughts: I'll admit to this not quite being my speed as well as initially thinking this was a reunion effort from a different act. I can see why people like this, and there's a lot of great musicianship here, it just didn't grab me the way I wanted.
Recommendation: Worth a listen, but you'll know quickly if it's for you.

Artist: The Prids
Album: Do I Look Like I'm in Love
Quick Description: Another one on the darker side, but more melodic.
Why You Should Listen: You dipped your toe in the goth scene in high school, didn't like it, but still enjoy dying your hair once in a while.
Overall Thoughts: For someone who was obsessed with upbeat power poppy alt-rock stuff all last year, I shouldn't have enjoyed this late-2017 album as much as I did, but here we are. The first two songs set the tone, with solid melodies and harmonies to go along with a little bit of a heavier/darker tone. It's a tough mix to get right, and plenty of acts have failed at it. The Prids, at least on this album, nailed that balance, and it's something worth hearing.
Recommendation: Definitely should get in your rotation.

Artist: Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
Album: Wrong Creatures
Quick Description: Latest from the band still trying to escape their early sound while not completely abandoning it.
Why You Should Listen: If you've jumped off the bandwagon, it might be their best album since their sophomore effort.
Overall Thoughts: BRMC is a tough band. You can't help but wonder how much the "they're just a new Jesus and Mary Chain" got to them considering their entry into folk and what have you, but this latest album looks back at that era a bit while informing their growth as a band. It's an interesting listen that, frankly, I'm unsure I'll care to hear again, but it did get me interested in BRMC after a pretty long absence from my music player.
Recommendation: Be wary.

EPs of note:

* Heather Maloney - Just Enough Sun
* Lou Rebecca - Lou Rebecca
* LPX - Bolt in the Blue
* Doe - Mutiny on the Balcony

Also out:

* Various Artists - Doctor Demento Covered in Punk (this is fun but sometimes exhausting)
* Corrosion of Conformity - No Cross No Crown