Friday, March 30, 2018

Dead Man's Knee - "Pleasure"

Although they're from London, Dead Man's Knee sound like Detroit in the late 60's. Mostly. Their debut single, "Pleasure," definitely has a proto-punk sound like MC5 and Death before them. It's definitely a cleaner sound, but that could just be more modern recording techniques. "Pleasure" seems right on the edge of being completely out of control, and almost demands that you check them out live. What Dead Man's Knee adds to their 50 year old sound is soul. With singer Del, they sound like someone merged Motown with MC5, and I think we can all agree that we need that in our lives. Plus, there's a killer guitar riff on the bridge of the song that will make the song for you if you were on the fence.

You can listen to "Pleasure" below. Their debut album should be out in late 2018. For now, you can keep track of them on Facebook and Twitter.

Deeper - "Pink Showers"

Photo by Alexa Viscius
Hailing from Chicago, Deeper are set to release their debut album in May. Their new single, "Pink Showers," takes two of our favorite styles and merges them perfectly. As soon as the first guitar notes hit, you'll get a distinct quirky indie rock vibe, the kind we love Archers of Loaf and Pavement for. What separates Deeper from that classification is their post punk adjacent groove. It doesn't quite have that deep base line to truly be post punk, but it's definitely inspired by bands like Gang of Four. It's a great, fresh sound created by molding two classic styles.

You can listen to "Pink Showers" below. Deeper's self-titled debut album will be out May 25 on Fire Talk Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Deeper, check them out on Facebook and Twitter

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Spaceland - Demos

Last year saw the end of Matt Pond PA as a musical project. Luckily for the universe as a whole, Matt Pond is still making music. For now, the project is called Spaceland but is subject to change. He's released four "rough demos" for Spaceland songs, and if these are the rough versions, I can't imagine how great the actual releases will be. The first track, "Outside," is a great, upbeat indie rock song that stops well short of being twee. This is my favorite of the batch, and still sounds like Matt Pond PA enough for fans, but different enough to warrant a new project name. It also includes a cover of INXS's "Don't Change." I loved Matt Pond PA's covers, and it looks like that will continue with Spaceland. 

You can listen to Spaceland's demos below via Soundcloud. To keep up with Spaceland and Matt Pond's music in general, check him out on Patreon. He's also looking to put listeners' thoughts and dreams to music. If you'd like to be considered for this aspect of his project, email him at

MC Paul Barman - "(((commandments)))"

Photo by Sasha Lytvyn
Just in time for Easter, Passover, the Spring Equinox, and a full moon, MC Paul Barman has released the new single from his upcoming album (((echo chamber))). "(((commandments)))" is MC Paul Barman's take on The Ten Commandments. I can't quite tell if it's pro- or anti-religion (I have a feeling it's both maybe?) so let's just focus on the music. The track is produced by Memory Man with drums by ?uestlove, the music is reminiscent of the old Sesame Street "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9," which is hammered home by the singing of the Sesame Street song at the beginning and end of the song. Once again, not sure if it's planned or realized after the fact. It's a great song that straddles the line between classic hip hop and classic MC Paul Barman.

You can listen to "(((commandments)))" below. (((echo chamber))), the new album from MC Paul Barman, will be out May 18 on Mello Music Group. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on MC Paul Barman, check out his Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for March 23

Busy week this week, apologies for the half-effort First Listen. Just WAY TOO MUCH MUSIC.

Album of the Week

* Esme Bridie - Today It Rains: Out of nowhere came this absolutely gorgeous album. A little on the pop folk side, Esme has a really strong and confident voice and presents a series of songs that remind me so much of some of my favorite folk acts. If you haven’t become enamoured with what she is doing by the time “Tower of Regret” comes along, I don’t know what to tell you. Easily the best of the week, and right at the top of my list for 2018 so far.

Must Listens:

* Squirrel Nut Zippers – Beasts of Burgundy: Back after what feels like forever, and it doesn’t appear that they’ve missed a beat.

* Dom Flemons – Black Cowboys: An album of standards and old-timey roots music, a great indication as to why he’s one of the best going right now.

* The Tillers – The Tillers: Traditional bluegrass with a more modern attitude. Extremely enjoyable.

* Cavern of Anti-Matter - Hormone Lemonade: Experimental electronica at its best.

Worth Your Time:

* Alice Bag – Blueprint: Punk legend showing her age, but in a really good way. This is how you want punk to mature.

* Lissie – Castles: A solid listen from an artist who appears to have settled into a solid groove.

* Courtney Marie Andrews – May Your Kindness Remain: A great listen; very few risks results in a lovely rootsy record.

* Sunshine Boys – Blue Music: Has a definite early 90s non-grungy alt-rock feel.

* Sunflower Bean - twentytwo in blue
* Holiday Mountain - Miles and Miles
* Preoccupations - New Material
* Fatima Dunn - Birds and Bones

Be Wary:

* The Super Saturated Sugar Strings – All Their Many Miles: A good album, but may not work for everyone. Think a more theatrical Dustbowl Revival.

* Monks of Doom - The Bronte Pin: This is probably better described as prog-folk, and depending on how you react to that will likely impact how much you like this.

* Guided by Voices - Space Gun: You know if you like GBV by now. If you don’t, go find Bee Thousand first.

* Bonny Doon - Longwave
* Field Report - Summertime Songs

Skip it:

* Jack White - Boarding House Blues: Borderline unlistenable in my mind. As Ken put it, however, “I wouldn’t say it’s bad, but it’s aggressively not good.”

EPs of note:

* @Wendys - We Beefin' (surprisingly competent advertising mixtape)
* Diplo - California
* Ben Frost - All That You Love Will Be Eviscerated
* Arlen - The Slight

Also out this week:

* Neil Young and The Promise of the Real - Paradox (soundtrack)
* Lana Del Rabies - Shadow World
* The Sword - Used Future

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Young Valley - "Til I Cross Your Mind"

Photo by Walter Lyle
Hailing from Jackson, MS, Young Valley have a traditional Southern sound that moves off in a direction I haven't quite heard before. Their latest single, "Til I Cross Your Mind" has a relaxed distinctly Southern vibe, along with some smooth multi-part harmonies, all over a traditional folk leaning version of the more mainstream side of the new fangled pop folk movement. It has some distinct feelings of artists like The Avett Brothers and Houndmouth. But they sneak in these edgier Drive-By Truckers style electric guitar riffs that you wouldn't expect and that don't quite fit in. It's this combination that gives "Til I Cross Your Mind" its own feeling.

You can watch the video for "Til I Cross Your Mind" below. The newest self titled album from Young Valley will be out on 4/20 via Dial Back Sound. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Young Valley, check out their website. Current tour dates are below the video.

April 12th- Santos (New Orleans, Louisiana)
April 13th- Live @ 5 Festival (Hattiesburg, Mississippi)
April 14th- Slowboat Brewing Company (Laurel, Mississippi)
April 14th- Duling Hall (Jackson, Mississippi) Album Release Show!
April 21st (DAY)- Cotton District Arts Festival (Starkville, Mississippi)
April 21st (NIGHT)- Proud Larry’s (Oxford, Mississippi)
May 4th- Hey Joe’s (Cleveland, Mississippi)
May 18th- Blue Canoe (Tupelo, Mississippi)
May 19th- The Local (Nashville, TN)
May 24th- Thirsty Hippo (Hattiesburg, Mississippi)
May 25th- Siberia (New Orleans, Louisiana)
May 26th- Government St. Grocery (Ocean Springs, MS)
June 1st- Georgia Theater Rooftop (Athens, GA)
June 14th- White Water Tavern (Little Rock, AR)
June 15th- Maxine’s (Hot Springs, AR)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Chris Brokaw Covers David Bowie and Prince

If you've been following us for any length of time, you know of our undying love of cover songs. You might also know how much of a Chris Brokaw fan I am, and that he's the most underrated musician out there. His work with Come, The New Year, The Lemonheads, and his solo work has cemented himself as one of my all time favorite musicians. Somehow, it also slipped by me that he released an album of David Bowie and Prince covers back in November 2017.

The back story is that he was asked to play at a friend's wedding, who requested David Bowie and Prince songs. He came up with versions on a classical guitar, and decided to record them. Instead of completely traditional covers, you get these amazing acoustic, instrumental versions of some of the greatest pop songs ever recorded. For David Bowie covers, he went a little off the norm with songs like "Ashes to Ashes," "The Man Who Sold the World," "Letter to Hermoine," etc. For his Prince songs, you get "I Would Die 4 You," "Controversy," "When You Were Mine," and more. For a fan of cover songs, Prince, David Bowie, or Chris Brokaw, this is a gold mine. For fans of all four, it's perfection.

You can listen to Chris Brokaw's version of "I Would Die 4 U" below. His album of Prince and David Bowie covers, The Hand That Wrote This Letter, is available now on Bandcamp. For more on Chris Brokaw, check out his website.

Sarah Shook & the Disarmers - "New Ways to Fail"

Photo by John Gessner
We're less than two weeks from the release of the new album from Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, and we can check out a new single, "New Ways to Fail." "New Ways to Fail" is everything we want in a Sarah Shook & the Disarmers song. It's just about as country as can be, in that old fashioned outlaw country way. It's a little bit less punk sounding than some of her songs on Sidelong but only in the musical way. With a chorus that starts with "Cause I need this shit like I need another hole in my head," she's got the attitude of punk, and isn't punk really more of an attitude?

You can listen to "New Ways to Fail" below. Years, the new album from Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, will be out April 6 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more information on the band, check out their website. Tour dates are below the song.

4/6 Carrboro, NC - Cat’s Cradle w/ Spider Bags
4/7 Charlotte, NC - Neighborhood Theatre
4/8 Knoxville, TN - Rhythm N’ Blooms
4/26 Washington, DC - Pearl Street Warehouse
4/27 Philadelphia, PA - Dawson Street Pub
4/28 New York, NY - Berlin
4/29 Cambridge, MA - Atwood’s Tavern
5/2 Columbus, OH - Ace of Cups
5/3 Indianapolis, IN - Pioneer
5/4 Chicago, IL    - The Empty Bottle
5/5 Dubuque, IA - Vintage Torque Fest
5/8 Milwaukee, WI - Club Garibaldi
5/9 St. Paul, MN - Turf Club
5/10 Kansas City, MO - Knuckleheads Saloon
5/11 St. Louis    MO - Off Broadway
5/12 Evansville, IN - The Song Show Concert Series
5/13 Lexington, KY - Willie’s Locally Known
5/16 Norrtälje, Sweden - Kapellet
5/18 Falkenberg, SE - Grand
5/19 Kristianstad, SE - Kulturnatten
5/21 Malmö, SE - Folk å Rock
5/22 Tranås, SE - Plan B
5/23 Borlänge, SE - Broken Dreams
5/24 Sundsvall, SE - Aveny
5/25 Luleå, SE - Klubb Lillan
5/27 Östersund, SE - Clarion
5/28 Trondheim, NO - Avant Garden
5/29 Oslo, NO - John Dee
5/30 Stavanger, NO - Folken
6/1 Ringebu, NO - Arnemoen Gård
6/2 Beitostålen, NO - Bryggerhuset
6/3 Halden, NO - Siste Reis
6/4 Uddevalla, SE - Kontoret
6/6 Hultsfred, SE - Hulingen Hotell
6/7 Varberg, SE - Majas vid havet
6/9 Löderup, SE - Solhällan
6/10 Eksjö, SE - Emmas Lada
6/13 Göteborg, SE - Liseberg
6/16 Stockholm, SE - Stockholm Americana
6/28 Newport, KY - The Southgate House Revival
6/29 Cleveland, OH - Beachland Ballroom Tavern
7/13 Denver, CO - Hi Dive
7/14 Park City, UT - O.P. Rockwell
7/15 Las Vegas, NV - Beauty Bar
7/17 San Diego, CA - Casbah
7/18 Los Angeles, CA - The Echo
7/19 San Francisco, CA - Bottom of the Hill
7/20 Chico, CA - Sierra Nevada Brewing Company
7/21 Willamina, OR - Wildwood Music Festival
7/22 Coos Bay, OR - 7 Devils Brewing Co.
7/23 Bend, OR - Volcanic Brewery Pub
7/24 Portland, OR - Mississippi Studios
7/25 Seattle, WA - Tractor Tavern
7/26 Spokane, WA - The Bartlett

Friday, March 23, 2018

Jess Allardice - "Sunday Blue"

Photo via Facebook
The latest single from Glasgow's Jess Allardice will sneakily become one of your favorites. She calls her music alt-jazz, and I'd say she's spot on. "Sunday Blue" starts off in the vein of Norah Jones and Adele. Neither one of them is my favorite, so I'll implore you to stick with it a bit longer than you might normally. An odd thing happens as you listen to it: You'll very slowly get sucked in. Allardice chooses some slightly odd instruments to pop in at unexpected times. What could have been your standard song that gets played in the background at Starbucks instead becomes this surprisingly captivating song that you'll need to hear again as soon as it's finished. Her sound is far more mature than her young age of 22.

You can listen to "Sunday Blue" below via Spotify. For more on Jess Allardice, be sure to check her out on Facebook

Freshgrass Festival 2018 Has an Incredible Line Up

I've only made it out to the Freshgrass Festival once, way back in 2012, but it looks like I'm going to have to get out there again this year since their always great line up is extra fantastic this year! Set on the grounds of Mass MoCA, which is one of my favorite museums around, Freshgrass is a niche festival specializing in bluegrass and roots music, but definitely pushing the boundaries of what is considered either. The festival features such If It's Too Loud... approved artists like Trampled By Turtles, Yonder Mountain String Band, Rhiannon Giddens, Steep Canyon Rangers, Alison Brown, Della Mae, Molly Tuttle (performing with Keith Little), and Leyla McCalla, who I discovered at Freshgrass 2012. One of the headliners are the absolutely legendary Indigo Girls, who I normally wouldn't see on my own but I'm thrilled to have the chance. Plus, they have artists they haven't announced yet, which doesn't seem possible. Besides just music, the festival features workshops and silent films scored by live performances. Plus, the museum itself is open to all attendees, so if you find yourself wanting to take a break from the music you can have your mind blown in the galleries. And you'll probably find a performer or two while you're in there.

Tickets for the 2018 Freshgrass Festival are available now. Fortickets and more information, check out

Friday Freebie: New Aura, Ed Balloon, and Damon & Naomi

We're back with Friday Freebie, a collection of free music downloads we've recently discovered. We have four truly great groups of offerings for you, and I think you'll all agree and love them all. As always, if you do download these releases for free, be sure to at least track them down on social media and give them a follow.

New Aura - New Aura
Hailing from Boston, New Aura have recently released their debut self-titled EP. We noticed them since they share at least one member of another of our Boston favorites, The Magic Shoppe. While they share a psychedelic sound with The Magic Shoppe, they have a self-described sound that is a throwback to "... the old 'Bosstown' sounds that dominated the city's radio waves in the late 60's and 70's." What's great about them is they're psychedelic without being weighed down by the hippie label, and they're not part of the hard rock leaning psychedelic sound you hear a lot of in modern music. It's a truly unique vibe that they seem to have mastered in their first EP. You can get New Aura for free on the band's Bandcamp.

Ed Balloon - Flourish
For someone who spent the majority of his junior high and early high school listening to (and obsessed with) top 40 and R&B, I listen to virtually none of it nowadays. Anything that could be considered R&B now sounds exactly as it did back in the late 90's. Even when I hear about someone who is considered "dark" or "edgy," I just hear Britney Spears when I try to listen to it. Ed Balloon breaks all of that. The Boston up and coming alt-R&B artist, has this incredibly original sound that merges the edge of 90's alternative rock with a modern nearly top 40, if top 40 had the minimalism of post punk. It's not ballads and it's not dance music. It's not smooth and pretty, but it's not completely discordant. This is 100% worth your time, even if you think it might not be for you. You can get Flourish for free on Ed Balloon's Bandcamp.

Damon & Naomi - Complete discography (?)
Part of my feels like I should give this one it's own post, but I wanted to get this one out there ASAP. Damon & Naomi are Boston music scene legends, ever since forming Galaxie 500 over 30 years ago. If you're like me and have been a Galaxie 500 fan for years but weren't quite sure where to start since they've been making music since 1991 and have at least ten official releases, Bandcamp might be the place to start. I somehow stumbled on theirs recently, where they have thirteen releases available for free. Some are live albums (Everything Quieter Than Everything Else (Live in Japan), Song to the Siren (Live in San Sebastian) and a B-sides collection (Spirit of Love), but you also get releases like More Sad Hits and The Earth is Blue. Like I said, I'm pretty sure this is everything they've ever released, all on their Bandcamp for free.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Bad Breeding - "Abandonment"

It's been almost a year since we've heard from the UK's Bad Breeding. Luckily, they release a new EP next month, and we can listen to the first single, "Abandonment." 

It probably comes to no surprise to anyone familiar with Bad Breeding that "Abandonment" is loud. Really loud. It's an incredibly fast and intense mix of punk and metal that is pure chaos and noise. "Abandonment" is two minutes and thirty seconds long, although it feels much longer... and I love the song. Anything from Bad Breeding will split the audience into two camps: Those that love it and those that can't stand the noise. There will be no one in the middle.

You can listen to "Abandonment" below. The Abandonment EP will be released on April 27 via One Little Indian Records. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Bad Breeding, check them out on Facebook.

Josefina - Starry Dome

Buenos Aires isn't known as a hub of the alt-country movement, at least to us. Singer/songwriter Josefina originally hails from there, but now calls Chicago home. Last month she released her debut album, Starry Dome. It's a seven song collection of upbeat, sunny songs that dabble in pop while being based in alt-country. She's more akin to Nikki Lane or Tristen than Lydia Loveless or Drive-By Truckers. In fact, to expand on the Tristen comparison, she lies in between Charlatans at the Gate and Caves era Tristen. 

The album opens with "I'll Soon Be Walking," which starts off with some Beach Boys style vocals, but quickly goes into the bouncy alt-country that characterizes the rest of the album. "Run, Cowboy, Run" is my favorite track, with a slightly more laid back vibe but some great attitude infused throughout. I'll be honest with this one: On my very first listen of Starry Dome, I wasn't completely won over. It was good and enjoyable, but a little too polished for my personal taste. But then I gave it another shot. And another. Pretty soon I became more and more into it, so definitely give it a chance. This is how I discovered and felt about Nikki Lane and Lydia Loveless, who long time readers will know I'm basically obsessed with now.

You can listen to "Run, Cowboy, Run" below. Starry Dome is available now on Josefina's Bandcamp. For more on Josefina, check out her Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Gabriella Cohen - "Baby"

I'm having the hardest time describing the newest song from Australia's Gabriella Cohen. The only word I can think of using is "cool."

"Baby" has this amazing groove throughout. Cohen has crafted this amazing pop rock song, leaning more heavily on the rock side. Her voice has this great 90's slacker vibe in the style of Evan Dando and Courtney Barnett. It includes an almost ska guitar throughout, and is just this super chilled out song reminiscent of a less jokey Pavement. Plus, it's a positive, upbeat song about heartache, so we're pretty sure you'll become as obsessed with it as we are. (Not to spoil it for you, but it has one of the greatest false endings of all time, one of my personal favorite elements in a song.)

You can watch the video for "Baby" below. Gabriella Cohen's new album, Pink Is the Colour of Unconditional Love, will be out June 1 on Captured Tracks. You can pre-order it here. For more on Gabriella Cohen, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Live Shows: Hotel Ten Eyes & Nina Violet, Fort Foreclosure, Warren, RI 3/18/18

Hotel Ten Eyes are the rare band I wanted to see before I heard any of their music. The band first formed in December, and four months later embarked on their first tour. When I first became aware of them, they were a Nashville based four piece featuring Joe Fletcher and Ron Gallo, who are two of my recent favorites. Once I saw they were playing the ultra tiny Fort Foreclosure in Warren, RI, I knew I had to go.

The first thing I noticed when Hotel Ten Eyes took the stage was that Ron Gallo wasn't with them, and they are now a three piece and Ron Gallo wasn't with them. (Their Facebook about section states that the band is "Joe Fletcher + a revolving cast of wandering spirits.") It was a bit disappointing, but I do really enjoy Joe Fletcher so I quickly got over it. For this outing, Hotel Ten Eyes was Fletcher, Scott Pittman (who has played drums with Fletcher in the past), and Annie Dolan on bass. Fletcher made the right call by choosing a side project name for Hotel Ten Eyes as the sound is quite different from his work as a solo artist or as Joe Fletcher & The Wrong Reasons. Sure, Fletcher's trademark drawl will always be based in country and blues, and any band with him as the singer is going to sound like him, but Hotel Ten Eyes is much more rock oriented than Americana. They sound like the dirtier side of The Rolling Stones with a more serious Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. For a band that only formed in December with revolving members, they played a tight, but brief, set. Luckily, they weren't too tight and had just the right level of sloppiness to fit the style of music.

I first saw Nina Violet, the night's opener, playing with Evan Dando and Willy Mason at my final ever show at TT the Bear's. I quickly adored her unique style of folk-ish music. Even though she's based in MA, her shows away from her native Martha's Vineyard never seem to work out with my schedule, so it's taken me almost three years to see her again. I sincerely hope it's not that long again. Her style of music is slightly off-kilter folk, but her voice adds such a unique element to it. She has that element of being both fragile and powerful at the exact same time. She's one of the more unique artists I've seen that could somehow be fairly huge.

A quick word on the venue Fort Foreclosure. It was definitely a... unique place to see a show. It's a tiny storefront filled with artwork that could also be someone's home maybe? The audience was maybe 30 people, and when a venue is also a "collective" or "collaborative," that usually means everyone is incredibly young and I'm guaranteed to be the creepy old guy. Not at Fort Foreclosure. I was somehow one of the youngest people at the show, which hasn't happened since I was 19. It is a BYOB establishment, and they definitely BYOBed. I know millenials and teenagers get the bad rap, but a bunch of 50+ year olds with a drink in one hand and a smart phone in the other are much worse. It's a great, cool, intimate space to see a show, but it has this one quirk I've never experienced before.

First Listen: New Releases for March 16

Album of the Week:

Artist: The Decemberists
Album: I'll Be Your Girl
Quick Description: New album from the veteran act.
Why You Should Listen: It will likely be their most divisive listen since The Hazards of Love.
Overall Thoughts: The Decemberists are a band that, at this point, are not putting out anything typical or predictable yet always sound like The Decemberists. This is always a difficult thing for bands to do, but Colin Meloy's songwriting always tends to have a poetic, theatrical flair, and the rest of the band fills in the musical gaps nicely. This is a good album, I think - there are moments of levity ("Everything is Awful"), moments to experiment ("Severed") and the result here is an album that will likely split the fanbase again. Especially after how gorgeous a return to form their previous effort was, it's both surprising and not surprising that we received this.
Recommendation: Definitely the best of the week, but you may find you disagree.

Artist: Yo La Tengo
Album: There's a Riot Going On
Quick Description: Yo La Tengo returns with a very YLT record.
Why You Should Listen: You have been a fan for ages, but really wish they were doing more stuff like I Can Feel the Heart Beating as One.
Overall Thoughts: I don't recall when the switch flipped for me regarding Yo La Tengo, but I remember it all starting to make sense at some point and that their more recent output didn't quite reflect the quiet, sometimes droney, very deliberate stuff of their most well-known albums. This new album absolutely reminds me of "classic" Yo La Tengo, for whatever that might mean to anyone on an individual level. It's a solid listen and one that I was pleasantly surprised by.
Recommendation: Great if you like the classic YLT sound.

Artist: Murs
Album: A Strange Journey Into the Unimaginable
Quick Description: Independent rap music.
Why You Should Listen: Murs combines some interesting instrumentation with his rhymes for a fun listen.
Overall Thoughts: This is not like a lot of rap music out right now by design, but even still, we get a good batch of songs along with some fun asides (like "Superhero Pool Party") to turn this into an interesting listen. With a week filled with lots of rap music, this is absolutely the best of the batch.
Recommendation: Listen to this even if you don't like rap music.

Artist: The Bonnevilles
Album: Dirty Photographs
Quick Description: Good ol' garage rock.
Why You Should Listen: You didn't realize how much you missed The White Stripes.
Overall Thoughts: Yeah, if you listen, you might be saying "more like The Black Keys," but whatever - this is pitch-perfect garage blues rock that scratches exactly the itch you want it to. If you want to hear something like this, you'll love it. If not, it won't be for you.
Recommendation: Worked for me!

Artist: Chuck Strangers
Album: Consumers Park
Quick Description: Solid mainstream rap music.
Why You Should Listen: Probably the most accessible of the three rap albums being highlighted this week.
Overall Thoughts: I think this won me over at "1010 Wins," which is just a pretty brilliant song from start to finish. The whole package ain't bad, although it's maybe a little longer than it needs to be. Still, if you're looking for a rap album that isn't going to stray too far outside of its lanes, this is definitely worth the time. I definitely enjoyed most of this.
Recommendation: Give it a listen.

Artist: Dear Rouge
Album: Phases
Quick Description: A little synthy, a little indie.
Why You Should Listen: You tried Fickle Friends and want something better.
Overall Thoughts: I'm a fan of Dear Rouge. Their initial EP a few years back was in rotation for a while, and their single "Tongues" a staple in my general playlist for some time. This was a highly anticipated album for me, and, if I'm being honest, it's more hit than miss. The sound is a little tighter and more produced, but almost too much so in some senses. It's a solid listen, for sure, but it might take more time to grow on me than anticipated.
Recommendation: A good album this week.

Artist: Caroline Says
Album: No Fool Like an Old Fool
Quick Description: Quiet indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: You're looking for something a little on the softer side, but with that alt-rock feel.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be up front: as a fan of the previous Caroline Says release, I was looking forward to this one. It didn't do the trick for me - a little too on the slow side, a little too plodding instead of deliberate, and the songs simply weren't grabbing me. I wanted more than what I got from this, which is unfortunate in a somewhat busy week.
Recommendation: If you're unsure, skip this. There's a lot out this week.

Artist: Toby Goodshank
Album: Dream on Me
Quick Description: Anti-folk hero back with another album.
Why You Should Listen: He's probably one of the most important anti-folk artists still performing.
Overall Thoughts: I haven't kept up with what the former Moldy Peaches people are doing as of late, but when I saw Toby Goodshank had an album out, I had to give it a spin. It's actually one of the best albums of the week! It feels earnest but still not insincere, and the musicality is so good (especially seeing as the band could barely play their instruments when I first saw them). A great listen.
Recommendation: Definitely give this a listen.

Artist: Clarissa Johnson and the Cure-Alls
Album: Talk Talk Talk
Quick Description: Album from the WBCN Rock N' Rumble winner.
Why You Should Listen: Solid local rock.
Overall Thoughts: I missed this one last week, but we have an album here from a deserving winner of the prestigious local tournament. If you like independent hard rock, you owe it to yourself to give this a listen.
Recommendation: Worth your time if you're into it.

Artist: The Dean Ween Group
Album: rock2
Quick Description: Half of Ween with his side project.
Why You Should Listen: You miss Ween as much as I do.
Overall Thoughts: This is fine. If you like Ween, you know what you're getting here, largely. I wish I had more to say about it, but this isn't an album I'll likely go back to again. Just not really interesting.
Recommendation: Meh. Whatever.

Artist: PRhyme
Album: PRhyme2
Quick Description: More independent rap music.
Why You Should Listen: Well-produced with an interesting sound.
Overall Thoughts: I'll be up-front: I didn't care much for this. It has some weird choices even while a lot of it is an interesting listen, but so many of the choices (like the inconsistent censorship) just left me wondering. When you have Murs doing truly groundbreaking stuff, and Chuck Strangers holding the line, I just don't know where this fits in. It just made me wish they were a Doomtree act instead.
Recommendation: Don't bother with this one.


* Mount Eerie - Now Only
* Morgan Page - Born to Fly
* Lauren Auger - Who Carry's You
* The Violet Kind - O X T R

Also out this week:

* Snoop Dogg - Bible of Love (Snoop goes gospel?)
* Fickle Friends - You Are Someone Else
* Stone Temple Pilots - Stone Temple Pilots
* Hot Snakes - Jericho Sirens

Monday, March 19, 2018

Ditch Mimes - Arise!

Fitchburg, MA's Ditch Mimes aren't the typical music we cover here at If It's Too Loud..., but I feel the need to share this one with you. The duo, both college professors, play insanely loud music that's somewhere between metal and noise punk. Their latest album, Arise!, is a disturbing blast of pure noise and disturbance. The title track careens between these two sounds. Heavy metal riffs and metal growls but with the type of noise and chaos you only get in a band like Lightning Bolt. "Weird With a Beard" combines the crunchy guitars of Helmet with the sludge of The Melvins. "Charnel House" has a heavier Mudhoney feel. Ditch Mimes are perfect for anyone that loves the louder side of noise rock and the artsier side of metal.

You can listen to "Arise!" below. You can pick up the album Arise! now at Ditch Mime's Bandcamp. For more on Ditch Mimes, check them out on Facebook.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Margo Price Covers Bob Dylan

Photo by Angelina Castillo for Third Man Records
Considering how much I love Margo Price, Bob Dylan, and covers, somehow this one slipped by me for two months. As part of Spotify Singles, Margo Price (who had my 2017 album of the year with All American Made) has released a cover of Bob Dylan's iconic but possibly overlooked "Most Likely You Go Your Way." Price keeps Dylan's classic ramblin' style for the song, but injects just enough of her own vintage, shiny classic country into it to make it her own. It's quite literally the perfect kind of cover: Not an imitation and doing the song in your own style, but keeping enough of the original so that it's still recognizable as the original.

You can listen to Margo Price's version of "Most Likely You Go Your Way" below. For more on Margo Price, check out her website

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Clever Girls - "Dumb Smile"

Photo by Luke Awtry
We've been loving Clever Girls since we first discovered them last year, and their latest single, "Dumb Smile," solidifies that even more. "Dumb Smile" is a straightforward ballad that defies all ballad rules. It's a laid back song that I'm having an incredibly hard time trying to describe. It's a jangly pop Americana song, like a happy and relaxed early Wilco. But the music drops out in unexpected places and then just barely comes back in for extended periods of time, until it erupts into too brief but absolutely perfect periods of time. It's frustrating and perfect at the same time.

You can watch the video for "Dumb Smile" below. Luck, the new album from Clever Girls, will be out on April 2. For more on Clever Girls, check out their website.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Talk Show Host - "I Hate Men (I Hate All Men)"

Photo via Facebook
We all have music that we listened to back in our youth that has lyrics we now consider questionable in our adulthood. There's a lot of rap, punk, and metal that is incredibly homophobic, misogynistic, and just horrifically outdated. Luckily for pop punk fans, there is now Toronto's Talk Show Host.

"I Hate Men (I Hate All Men)" is what happens when pop punk gets woke. The mostly male song is sung from the perspective of shitty guys and their attitude towards the world that isn't them. With lyrics like "I won't step to the side or give up my seat" and "I won't listen to reason or change my opinion" the song focuses on the smaller, inconsiderate but crappy things men tend to do. Towards the end, lyrically duties are taken over by a woman for her response. The song was called "the most cuck" by a Reddit user, which the band is very proud of.

You can watch the video for "I Hate Men (I Hate All Men)" below. Talk Show Host's new EP, Not Here to Make Friends, is available now. For more on the band, check out their website.

Jodee Lewis - "It Ain't Killed Me Yet"

Too much of throwback, old school country feels the need to be hokey. It's less of a musical style than a costume or gimmick. This is why Chicago via Missouri's Jodee Lewis is such a refreshing artist. With her new single, "It Ain't Killed Me Yet," she's not rewriting the script for a great old time country song. She's not trying to sound old fashioned or dirty it up. If anything, "It Ain't Killed Me Yet" has a sheen to its sound. But it's the lack of gimmick that makes it feel unique and vital. It's like a Dolly Parton or Dusty Springfield song from the 70's if they weren't trying to be pop.

You can listen to "It Ain't Killed Me Yet" below. Buzzard's Bluff, the new album from Jodee Lewis, will be out on April 6. For more on Jodee Lewis check out her website. Tour dates are below the song.

3/9/18 House Concert St. Charles, MO
3/10/18 The Bridge Jefferson City, MO
3/11/18 House Concert Kansas City, MO
4/29/18 Old Town School of Folk Music Chicago, IL

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

MC Paul Barman featuring Open Mike Eagle - "(((echo chamber)))"

Photo by Sasha Lytvyn
For an MC Paul Barman fan who had lost track of what he had been up to, the past four months have been a cornucopia. We finally have word of a new MC Paul Barman album, and with it, the ?uestlove produced title track. "(((echo chamber)))" seems more like a traditional MC Paul Barman song than "(((leapfrog)))" did. It starts off incredibly quietly. The first few seconds have literally no sound, and it starts off so gradually that you might not realize it at first. Barman's first verse is more spoken word than rap. It bleeds into Open Mike Eagle's verse, which bleeds back into MC Paul Barman. There is no real traditional verse/chorus/verse structure and is one of the most refreshingly unique hip hop songs in years.

You can listen to "(((echo chamber)))" below. The new MC Paul Barman album, (((echo chamber))), will be out May 18 on Mello Music Group. You can pre-order you copy on Bandcamp. For more on MC Paul Barman, check out his Twitter and Facebook.

First Listen: New Releases for March 9

A slightly slower new release week.

Album of the Week:

Artist: Liza Anne
Album: Fine But Dying
Quick Description: Calling this a pop record feels like it's selling it short.
Why You Should Listen: Come for the apt title we can all agree with, stay for the great songs.
Overall Thoughts: While the title of this album feels incredibly apt for our times, what is interesting for this is how Liza Anne deftly straddles the poppy and radio-friendly singer-songwriter angle with some interesting choices (such as the blasts of sound in “Paranoia,” a sneaky great song). I feel like if Allison Weiss found a harder edge instead of a synthesizer, it would sound like Liza Anne, but I’m finding this to be one of my favorite recent listens and is likely to battle Lucy Dacus with a lot of my listening time soon.
Recommendation: Easily the favorite of the week.

Artist: Smerz
Album: Have fun
Quick Description: An odd, lovely little indie album.
Why You Should Listen: You're seeking something that you feel like only you will understand, but everyone else will a few years later.
Overall Thoughts: Smerz makes me feel like I felt the first time I discovered Kitty. There’s something strange and raw here that feels not fully formed, but is still worming its way out. I enjoyed this quite a bit because of the way this made me feel about its potential and the little bits that expose themselves in the record (especially in the middle bits) as something special. The style may not work for everyone, but it worked a lot for me.
Recommendation: Definitely worth some time this week.

Artist: Datarock
Album: Face the Brutality
Quick Description: Dance rock for the masses.
Why You Should Listen: You miss your Norwegian Euro rock acts.
Overall Thoughts: It’s been a minute since we heard from Datarock, and it’s been some time since I listened to them. They feel like a more serious Junior Senior, which is a dated reference in and of itself but also speaks to how ubiquitous the techno-rock hybrids have become. Datarock isn’t forging new ground, but this is very much like that hip party record that we don’t see much of these days.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Martha Ffion
Album: Sunday Best
Quick Description: Indie singer-songwriter stuff with a familiar feel.
Why You Should Listen: It's one of the better releases of the week.
Overall Thoughts: Another singer-songwritery effort, this one is definitely less poppy, but has a sort of happy, jangly streak to it. A lot of this won me over early, but “Lead Balloon” seals it both as a representation of what’s here and what’s possible. A fun record you should find time for this week.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Elle Mary and the Bad Men
Album: Constant Unfailing Light
Quick Description: Quiet music with a distinct voice.
Why You Should Listen: Everything out up to this point has been a little more on the mainstream side.
Overall Thoughts: I think the surprise here is how quiet this is compared to the name of the act and the album. Elle Mary is not forging any new paths with her light touch here, but that’s okay – we have strong songwriting and a unique voice that is a great listen on a whole and just risks being lost in the shuffle in a week like this one.
Recommendation: Don’t let this slide under the radar.

Artist: Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
Album: Tearing at the Seams
Quick Description: The band's first album since their breakthrough.
Why You Should Listen: They have been a fairly consistent act for a while.
Overall Thoughts: Rateliff had his big hit with the infectious “S.O.B.,” and it would have been entirely justified for him and his band to lean into that entirely. I enjoyed his previous album enough, and this new one continues along those same lines in a really solid way. If you’ve liked what you’ve heard beyond the hit single, you won’t be disappointed here.
Recommendation: Make some room for this one.

Artist: Albert Hammond Jr.
Album: Francis Trouble
Quick Description: Latest solo effort from the Strokes guitarist.
Why You Should Listen: You're interested in post-garage rock?
Overall Thoughts: The Strokes guitarist has done his share of solo albums and this one is pretty solid in terms of what he’s put out there. He knows how to make a melody, and there’s enough interesting guitar work here to keep the record fresh, but I just spent a lot of time wondering why this wasn’t a Strokes record and being exhausted by the whole thing. Alas…
Recommendation: Skip this.

Artist: ACTORS
Album: It Will Come To You
Quick Description: Nostalgia rock.
Why You Should Listen: You are always looking for ways to get back to the 80s.
Overall Thoughts: A couple weeks ago we got a band straight out of the 1980s and Actors, in many ways, replicates that somewhat. It’s an okay album, and I might be higher on it if I liked the aesthetic or wasn’t so high on other releases this week, but as it stands? It might scratch that specific itch you have. You’ll know pretty quickly if that’s the case.
Recommendation: You'll know if you like this pretty fast.

Artist: Editors
Album: Violence
Quick Description: The first in a while from the British art rockers.
Why You Should Listen: They haven't burned all their goodwill from their early work yet.
Overall Thoughts: I had optimism for Editors with the new single, but I regretfully say that the new album doesn’t work for me. A little too plodding, a little too dull. Skip this one this week unless you’re a big fan.
Recommendation: Not worth the time.

Artist: David Byrne
Album: American Utopia
Quick Description: Talking Heads legend with his latest solo effort.
Why You Should Listen: Byrne is proving himself to be as essential as ever.
Overall Thoughts: David Lynch and David Byrne occupy a similar headspace for me for reasons that are not completely insane, so with my recent interest in Lynch, this new album had some added urgency for me. Thankfully, we lead off with "I Dance Like This" which feels like a song that's meant to get all the mainstream listeners to turn the record off before they can get to the really good stuff. By the time lead single "Everybody's Coming to My House" lands, I was completely and fully on board. Definitely one of the best of the week, and might have some true staying power both artistically and otherwise.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: Of Montreal
Album: White is Relic/Irrealis Mood
Quick Description: The latest release from the indie rockers.
Why You Should Listen: This is a different take for a band known for always shaking it up.
Overall Thoughts: At only six songs, but all of them quite long, it's hard to say whether this is an album or an EP, but the way Of Montreal approaches things doesn't really matter. Kevin Barnes is at a creative spot right now that is probably as good as it's been in a decade. While the indie pop is long gone, these are the closest things to club bangers we'll get and that should be enough to make you want to listen anyway.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Logic
Album: Bobby Tarantino II
Quick Description: New mixtape from a rapper having a breakout year.
Why You Should Listen: You like modern rap.
Overall Thoughts: This is a solid listen, although perhaps a little more mainstream than what one might expect. Still, this is probably more of a victory lap for him than anything else, and the album last year was so good that this is worth your time.
Recommendation: Not a bad listen at all.

The Punk Corner

* Suicidal Tendencies - Get Your Fight On: A band around this long shouldn't still be this solid on a whole.
* The Men Who Will Not Be Blamed - Double Negative: This sounds old and grizzly, but was still a good time.

Also out this week:

* Acid Dad - Acid Dad
* Oneida - Oneida