Friday, September 28, 2018

Forgotten Fridays: Everybody Wants Some: A Loose Interpretation of the Musical Genius of Van Halen

Forgotten Fridays is an occasional feature here at If It’s Too Loud... where we go back and find the lost records of our glory days. We played these on our college radio shows, put them on countless mix tapes, and then forgot they existed. We go back and remind you of their existence, and help decide if they were any good.

I absolutely loved all the tribute albums back in the 90's. This might be one of my absolute favorites. In 1997, Boston label Cherrydisc put out an all Boston tribute to Van Halen. As the title states, some of the covers are much less faithful than others. In fact, legend has it that The Elevator Drops submitted a cover that turned out to not be a Van Halen song. No one realized it until the very last minute and it got pulled. That's how much the people behind this compilation knew about the Van Halen catalog.

We get not one but two versions of "Eruption." The first is The Reverend Ed Broms performing the guitar masturbation classic on a church organ. The second by Crick Diefendorf is played on a banjo (I believe?). Trona's version of "Could This Be Magic?" is much more faithful to the original than I remembered, as the original is basically a swing song. Talking to Animals turn "Everybody Wants Some" into a cocktail party jazz classic. Cherry 2000's "Atomic Punk" is a slinky indie rock song that may be like the original? Not sure, I can't place that song in my Van Halen knowledge. "Why Can't This Be Love?" by Gigolo Aunts takes the Van Hagar original and re-imagines it as the groovy 60's power pop it was truly meant to be. Honkeyball's take on "Take Your Whiskey Home" is exactly what you would expect from a Van Halen tribute album from 1997. Mary Lou Lord tackles the most well known of all Van Halen songs, "Jump," and makes it her own singer/songwriter track in the way only she can. "Feel Your Love" as done by Fuzzy is packed with so much joy you'd expect it to be a Christmas song if it was in the background. Sam Black Church cranks out a version of "Romeo Delight" that could be a SBC original if you didn't know any better.

There are more covers, but these are the highlights. This is a tough one to track down. It's not on Spotify, and only a few songs ended up on YouTube. Your best bet might be buying a physical copy on Amazon. But it's worth it.

Maria Kelly - "june"

Photo by Ryan Shockey Davis
Ireland's Maria Kelly is set to release an EP that chronicles her move from Dublin to Berlin. The first single off of that EP, "june," embodies the uncomfortable feelings associated with a move not just to a new city but a new country. Kelly's voice is absolutely beautiful and will suck you in. It's the instrumentation that is slightly uncomfortable. It's filled with twinkling electronic sounds and just the slightest hints of guitar. While sounding beautiful, it does give the listener a sense of discomfort and anxiety, but it's completely worth listening to.

You can hear "june" below. Maria Kelly's new EP, notes to self, will be released on Veta Records. For more on Maria Kelly, check out her website.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers - "Apocalypse Now (& Later)"

I was a bit skeptical when I saw that Laura Jane Grace's solo project, Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers, was releasing a new album on Bloodshot Records. Bloodshot Records is the home of Lydia Loveless, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers, Banditos, etc, and I wasn't sure how Laura Jane Grace would fit on that label. With "Apocalypse Now (& Later)," she fits in perfectly. The new song isn't fully punk and it isn't fully country or folk, but neither is anyone else on that label. "Apocalypse Now (& Later)" is very reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen. It melds together the two sides of Springsteen (the bombastic classic rock anthems of "Born in the USA" and "Born to Run" with the folk/protest singer of Nebraska. And, seriously... is there anything else that anyone wants besides that?

You can listen to "Apocalypse Now (& Later)" below. Bought to Rot, the new album from Laura Jane Grace & the Devouring Mothers, will be out November 9 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order the album on Bandcamp. For more on Laura Jane Grace, follow her on Twitter.

Various Artists - Keep Safe Boston | KSB2018 | For Everytown for Gun Safety

Keep Safe Boston has been releasing these amazing and massive charity compilations for a little while now. They bring together a bunch of diverse Boston artists for a different cause each time. Past causes have included Fenway Health and RESPOND, INC, Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention. The latest compilation released back in August [editors note: WHOOPS!] is to raise money for Everytown for Gun Safety.

As for music, KSB2018 is 36 songs and it includes some of our already favorites. Gray Bouchard (Salem Wolves) New Waves it up on "Savin Hill." Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys contribute "War Gospel," which has been a live staple as of late and on subject for the charity. The I Want You's contribution, "The Rise and Fall," tempers down their usual power pop perfection and amps up the funk and noise. And, with any 36 song compilation, there are always new favorites to discover. Horse Mode's "Spaghetti Lee" reminds me of an amazing Pavement/Mogwai show I saw in 1997 by somehow combining both bands into one of the best (mostly) instrumental songs I've heard in years. Baabes crank out a sloppy under two minute punk song with "Gimme Yours." Sam Gelton's "Mercy" feels like a John Carpenter soundtrack attempted to go folk. Ryan Lee Crosby goes a little more traditional folk (but not much) with "The Hustler."

It will be basically impossible for you not to find something you love in Keep Safe Boston's latest compilation. You can get your copy now via Bandcamp for a minimum of $1.00 (or roughly 3 cents per song). For more on Everytown for Gun Safety, check out their website.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

First Listen: New Releases for 21 September

Better late than never?

Artist: St. Lucia
Album: Hyperion
Quick Description: Return to form from the light indie poppers.
Why You Should Listen: St. Lucia makes some really gorgeous, fun music.
Overall Thoughts: Their debut? Awesome. Their follow-up? Definite sophomore slump syndrome? This? Very reminiscent of that first album with a number of songs that have an immediate addictive quality. This is an act that sounds like it has found its footing and might have an opportunity to launch into something bigger.
Recommendation: Definitely worth your time this week.

Artist: The Black Black
Album: Gravity and Time
Quick Description: Heavy-yet-light rock and roll music.
Why You Should Listen: They're derivative of all your favorite recent acts.
Overall Thoughts: I think I want to describe this as The Strokes through a filter of early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Death From Above, and The Dandy Warhols. I can’t decide if I just like it or if I kind of love it. There is a lot of great stuff here, from the sort of sludgey guitar rock to a more heavier feel.
Recommendation: Worth a listen.

Artist: Mountain Man
Album: Magic Ship
Quick Description: Great roots music.
Why You Should Listen: Everything sounds so pretty!
Overall Thoughts: This act always does beautiful, gorgeous roots stuff that makes you think of some sort of porchside folk circle with rolling hills in the background. It’s maybe a little too perfect in parts, but it doesn’t matter – few acts have such a straightforward setup executed so well.
Recommendation: Can’t go wrong here.

Artist: Black Honey
Album: Black Honey
Quick Description: Some good old fashioned rock and roll. Sort of.
Why You Should Listen: It's going to surprise you.
Overall Thoughts: This is not what you think it is in either direction. Is it fairly direct, hook-laden alt-rock? Yeah, in many ways. But it’s also a lot more serious than you may think by the band name/album cover. I expected to put this more in the area of The Donnas or the like, but that’s unfair – they’re much more a mainstream Dilly Dally or Deap Vally.
Recommendation: Bring some rock into your life.

Artist: Joyce Manor
Album: Million Dollars to Kill Me
Quick Description: Power pop!!!!!!11
Why You Should Listen: Joyce Manor will get stuck in your head more than anything else this week.
Overall Thoughts: A week after I bemoan the lack of solid power pop comes Joyce Manor with a barnburner of a record. Over the course of 20-ish minutes, they tear through so many songs and leave no moment wasted. Not a bad time investment anyway, but even if it were? It won’t take long.
Recommendation: Listen to this.

Artist: Metric
Album: Art of Doubt
Quick Description: Longtime Canadian act with their latest.
Why You Should Listen: Metric has been consistent for a while now.
Overall Thoughts: Metric is reaching that sort of territory, 15+ years in in, where their records have reached a bit of a groove. Many will say that they haven’t come back to their heights earlier this decade, but this album may be my favorite from them since Fantasies. Plenty of hooks, plenty of interesting songs, and it’s one of the better releases of the week.
Recommendation: Listen to this, too.

Artist: Christine and the Queens
Album: Chris
Quick Description: Solid pop effort this week.
Why You Should Listen: Christine and the Queens are doing some interesting pop music.
Overall Thoughts: A shout-out to some alternative pop here. Christine and the Queens aren’t afraid to push the envelope, and there’s enough here to keep popheads happy while those looking for something more adventurous can find something interesting as well. Well worth the time.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Of note:

* Supersuckers - Suck It (Fairly silly but fun punk)
* Adam’s House Cat - Town Burned Down (Early Patterson Hood project, definitely sounds of early No Depression alt-country, and it works beautifully)
* Sha La Das - Love on the Wind (Some Dap Kings take us on a musical journey of the second half of the 20th century)
* Lupe Fiasco - DROGAS WAVE(Woke before most modern rappers, this feels like a return to form)
* 27: The Most Perfect Album (Indie acts sing about the United States Constitution for Radiolab's More Perfect)
* Prince - Piano and a Microphone 1983
* Thalia Zedek Band - Fighting Season
* Ben Pirani - How Do I Talk to My Brother?
* Lonnie Holley - MITH
* Ryan Hemsworth - Elsewhere
* Mutual Benefit - Thunder Follows the Light


* Radio Compass - ...for a Girl (give this some time)
* The Field - Infinte Moment
* Honey Moon - Four More From... Honey Moon

Also out:

* Liars - Titles With the Word Fountain
* Advance Base - Animal Companionship
* (The London) Suede - The Blue Hour

Dusty Stray - "You Couldn't Wait to See Me Cry"

When you see that there's an artist named Dusty Stray performing a song called "You Couldn't Wait to See Me Cry," you know exactly what you're going to get: A downtrodden country song about heartbreak. And you'd almost be right. That's how Dusty Stray started the song off, but slowly it evolved into a more angry "synth-folk" song. I had never heard of anything that could be called synth-folk before this song, but that might be one of the better song descriptions I've heard in ages. It's a great ever so slight change to a classic genre that works magnificently.

You can listen to "You Couldn't Wait to See Me Cry" below. Estranged, the new album from Dusty Stray, will be out October 12 on Great Waters. For more on Dusty Stray, check out his website.

Hairband - "Bubble Sword"

Photo by Alice Smith
Hailing from Glasgow, Hairband is a five piece band that have crafted this unique sound, which is nearly impossible in the rock world at this point. "Bubble Sword" has some pretty strong roots in post punk, but there is something more organic and almost roots based in the song. While post punk typically has a distinct groove, "Bubble Sword" has a wildly fun dance feel to it. It's almost like if And the Kids... went post punk. You end up with an incredibly joyous song with just enough of an edge to avoid being saccharine. 

You can listen to "Bubble Sword" below. Hairband's self titled debut will be out on October 19 on Monorail Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Hairband, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Jeff Tweedy - "Some Birds"

Photo by Whitten Sabbatini
We're at the point with Jeff Tweedy that you already know if you're going to like any new music he puts out. Personally, I truly enjoy the vast majority of his recent output, and I know Jeff enjoys it much less than I do. "Some Birds" isn't going to bring any lapsed fans back onto the Wilco/Tweedy bandwagon. It's pretty standard Jeff Tweedy material, in that it's definitely based in American roots music but, of course, strays ever so slightly off path into semi-experimental territory. You can tell an artist's true importance when a critique of their new output is that it won't change your life. "Some Birds" won't change your life, but there is plenty for you to like if you give it a shot.

You can watch the video for "Some Birds" below. Jeff Tweedy's new solo album, WARM, will be out November 30 on dBpm Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on what Jeff Tweedy is up to, check out Wilco's website

Haley Heynderickx & Max Garcia Conover - "Slow Talkin'"

Photo via Facebook
Earlier this year Haley Heynderickx released her debut album, I Need to Start a Garden, which is a strong contender for album of 2018 for me. You'd think one album would be enough for 2018, but Heynderickx is about to release a collaborative with Maine musician Max Garcia Conover. I'm going to borrow straight from the label's description for this one:

"An organic farm in the middle of nowhere. Dry wind through dry leaves. Dogs sleeping endless siestas in the sun. Rain that never comes. And horses. Always horses.
This is the scenery the critically acclaimed singer-songwriters Haley Heynderickx (Portland, Oregon) and Max García Conover (Portland, Maine) were dropped in by the Barcelona based label Son Canciones in September 2017. They were given one week to get acquainted, become friends, write six songs, record them and try to catch the ducks that hopped the fence.
After five days of hard labor, they walked up the stairs to the dusty studio in the attic of the farm. The songs were recorded in two days, mostly in one take and without special effects. Straight from the soil into your headphones."
"Slow Talkin,'", the first song from Among Horses III, is sung mostly by Heynderickx. It's a stripped down folk song propelled by her always amazing vocals. It's a little more straightforward and mainstream than her usual output, but her delivery still has its very own unique feel to it. It's always a pleasure to get new music from one of our new favorites this quickly, and it seems like Among Horses III will deliver. 
You can listen to "Slow Talkin'" below. Among Horses III will be out October 5 via Son Canciones and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp

Monday, September 24, 2018

Bugeye - "Is This Love?"

Inspired by Donna Summer's disco classic "I Feel Love" comes the latest from Bugeye, "Is This Love?" The song is about the unhealthy obsession side of love that doesn't get sung about very often. The song is definitely a disco party song, but it sounds more 90's throwback than 70's. It has one foot firmly planted in the Britpop rock attitude of Elastica and the other in Deee-Lite's second coming of disco funk. The result is the perfect dance/disco song for people that claim they hate disco, if any of those people still exist. 

You can watch the video for "Is This Love?" below. The song is available now via 31% Wool LTD. For more on Bugeye, be sure to check out their website.

Footings - "American Beers"

Photo via Facebook
According to Peterborough, NH's Footings's bio, they are "... a band that is sometimes just one person and other times five people." The one person is Eric Gagne, who is usually joined by Elisabeth Fuchsia on viola. The other three members of the band include Rick from Pile, Jordan from Rick Rude, and Candace from Bunny's a Swine, which makes Footings a supergroup in our eyes.

Their new song, "American Beers," is gruff yet beautiful Americana. It's based in traditional folk, but also adds in a heaping helping of indie rock. It includes this absolutely mesmerizing viola solo where there would normally be a guitar solo, which is always a nice change. The vocals don't harmonize perfectly... at first. The more the song goes on, the more perfectly they begin to fit together.The song is intensely mellow and is one of the more mesmerizing songs we've heard in a while.

You can listen to "American Beers" below. Footings self-titled album will be out September 28 on Don't Live Like Me. It can be pre-ordered here. For more on Footings, check them out on Bandcamp and Facebook.

Friday, September 21, 2018

Marissa Nadler - "I Can't Listen to Gene Clark Anymore"

Photo by Cara Robbins
Boston's Marissa Nadler is back with a new, very 90's reminiscent single. "I Can't Listen to Gene Clark Anymore" reminds me of the more ethereal side of the Lilith Fair. It's filled with very quiet, dreamlike instrumentation over soft, lush vocals. The song is about how certain musicians can be so connected to certain points in your life that you can't listen to them any longer without being transported to that time period. For Nadler it's Gene Clark. The song is filled with beauty, and not always the happy kind. Plus, Nadler brings in Sharon Van Etten in for backing vocals, giving the song an even more compelling depth. It's a beautiful song full of minimal orchestration, if such a thing is even possible.

You can listen to "I Can't Listen to Gene Clark Anymore" below. For My Crimes, the new album from Marissa Nadler, will be out September 28 on Sacred Bones and Bella Union. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Marissa Nadler, check out her website. Her current tour dates are below the song, including dates with The Decemberists and Mercury Rev!

Thu. Oct. 4 - North Adams, MA @ MASS MoCA (w/ The Decemberists)
Fri. Oct. 5 - Boston, MA @ Orpheum Theatre (w/ The Decemberists)
Mon. Oct. 8 - Indianapolis, IN @ Murat Theatre (w/ The Decemberists)
Sun. Oct. 14 - San Diego, CA @ The Casbah (w/ Johanna Warren)
Mon. Oct. 15 - Los Angeles, CA @ The Moroccan (w/ Johanna Warren)
Tue. Oct. 16 - San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel (w/ Mercury Rev)
Wed. Oct. 18 – Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios (w/ Mercury Rev)
Thu. Oct. 19 – Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern (w/ Mercury Rev)
Tue. Oct. 23 - Brussels, BE @ Botanique (Autumn Falls) (w/ Lawrence Rothman)
Wed. Oct. 24 - Amsterdam, NL @ Bitterzoet (w/ Lawrence Rothman)
Thu. Oct. 25 - Paris, FR @ Point FMR (w/ Lawrence Rothman)
Fri. Oct. 26 - Berlin, DE @ Musik & Frieden (w/ Lawrence Rothman)
Sat. Oct. 27 - Copenhagen, DK @ Loppen (w/ Lawrence Rothman)
Mon. Oct. 29 - Manchester, UK @ Gullivers (w/ Lawrence Rothman)
Tue. Oct. 30 - London, UK @ St Mattias Church (Dalston) (w/ Lawrence Rothman)
Fri. Nov. 30 – Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz PDB
Sat. Dec. 1 – Toronto, ON @ Baby G
Mon. Dec. 3 – Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s (w/ Johanna Warren)
Wed. Dec. 5 – Philadelphia, PA @ Boot & Saddle (w/ Johanna Warren)
Thu. Dec. 6 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade (w/ Johanna Warren)
Fri. Dec. 7 - Washington, DC @ Songbyrd (w/ Johanna Warren)

Soft Pyramids - "Until It Hurts"

The latest single from Boston's Soft Pyramids is nearly impossible to define. "Until It Hurts" starts off with a drum track and vocals that sound almost like an off kilter pop song. And then the noise kicks in. This guitar squall derails the song until it becomes an even more dancey number. Then an almost late 90's world electronica song kicks in. It's such a swirl of different styles all coming and going throughout the song's entire six minutes that it's almost unnerving, if it wasn't so glorious.

You can listen to "Until It Hurts" below. Lowrey Go Go, the new album from Soft Pyramids, will be released on October 5. You can pre-order the album on their Bandcamp. For more on Soft Pyramids, check out their website. If you happen to be in the Boston area, their album release show is October 7 at State Park in Cambridge.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Hero Fisher - "If I Die and Nothing Happens"

It's becoming my own personal little cliche, but every time Hero Fisher releases new music I feel the need to reiterate my disdain for current pop music and my surprise at how much I like her latest release. "If I Die and Nothing Happens" will continue that trend, but I'm starting to realize why I like Fisher's music so much. Sure, it's pop music in 2018, but if this was twenty years ago this would be breaking out of the MTV Buzz Bin. This song has much more in common with Poe, Ruby, and Tori Amos's more electronic experiments in the late 90's than it does to Ariana Grande or Meghan Trainor. And, for me at least, that's a very good thing. You can tell right from the name "If I Die and Nothing Happens" is a dark song. Despite this, it's still upbeat with gorgeous moments. And you can dance to it.

You can listen to "If I Die and Nothing Happens" below. Hero Fisher's second album, Glue Moon, should be released sometime before the end of the year, although there is no official date yet. For more on Hero Fisher, check out her website.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Weakened Friends - "Peel"

As always, we're thrilled to hear any new music from Weakened Friends. With every new song from Common Blah, their upcoming debut album, the buzz grows stronger making this one of the most anticipated albums of the fall. The latest song, "Peel," starts off reminding me a little of very early Weezer with its crunchy guitar riffs over incredibly catchy melodies. (Since Weezer is no longer using that sound, it's up for grabs and we have no complaints if Weakened Friends decide to try it out...) The riffs get bigger as the song goes on and even show just the slightest hint of metal at one point. It's a huge fun sound that we 100% support!

You can listen to "Peel" below. Weakened Friends's debut album,Common Blah, will be out October 19 on Don Giovanni Records. You can pre-order the album hereincluding a pretty sweet cd and t-shirt bundle for $24.99. For more on Weakened Friends, check out their website. Current tour dates are below the song.

10.12 - Bangor, ME @ Bangor Arts Exchange
10.19 - Portland, ME @ Port City Music Hall * 
10.20 - Brooklyn, NY @ Trans-Pecos *
10.21 - Richmond, VA @ The Capital Ale House *
10.24 - Raleigh, NC @ Kings Barcade *
10.25 - Asheville, NC @ Fleetwoods *
10.26 - Atlanta, GA @ Smith's Olde Bar *
10.27 - Gainesville, FL @ THE FEST *
10.30 - Paris, FR @ Pitchfork Music Festival  
10.31 - Brighton, UK @ The Hope & Ruin  
11.2 - London, UK @ The Old Blue Last
11.8 - Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen *
11.9 - Detroit, MI @ Deluxx Fluxx *
11.10 - Toronto, ON @ The Monarch *
11.11 - Montreal, QB - Casa del Popolo *
11.14 - Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground Showroom *
11.15 - Boston, MA @ Great Scott *
11.16 - Philadelphia, PA @ Everybody Hits *
11.17 - Washington, DC @ Songbyrd *

* w/ Nervous Dater

Nikkie McLeod - "Quarrel"

Photo by Liz Maney
The second single from Nikkie McLeod's upcoming EP is a more traditionally structured song than her first, "Deep Cry," was. "Quarrel" moves towards more familiar instrumentation for mainstream American listeners, but there is still plenty of originality for us all. McLeod constructs a song that starts off as a laid back singer/songwriter track, but that simmers with this undefined intensity right below the surface. That lasts for almost four minutes, and then the song restarts as an almost orchestral song. It's an over six minute song that feels both familiar and experimental.

You can listen to "Quarrel" below. Nikkie McLeod's new EP, also called Quarrel, will be out on October 30. For more on Nikkie McLeod, be sure to check out their Facebook.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Daisybones - "Choke"

The latest single from Boston's Daisybone is the kind of indie rock that just isn't made any more. "Choke" starts off fast and furious in the most fun way possible. From there it just goes on a boisterous romp, occasionally slowing down for what may be the chorus. Or it could this part immediately after that turns into a gang vocal. It's an insanely fun and bouncy track, jangly as it can possibly be, and impossibly catchy. And all of this is packed into less than two minutes.

You can listen to "Choke" below. Gold, the new album from Daisybones, will be out on November 9. For more on Daisybones, be sure to check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp. They'll be playing October 20 as part of The Town and The City Festival in Lowell, MA.

Live Shows: Freshgrass Festival 2018, MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA 9/15/18 & 9/16/18

Photo by Ken Sears
Freshgrass definitely has changed since the last time I made it back in 2012. The courtyard where the main stage was is now the smallest stage and the main stage is now in a large field. Well, large compared to a courtyard. As far as an outdoor festival is concerned, it's still relatively small giving the entire fest an intimate feel. The food choices have definitely improved, too. In 2012 we only had the museum cafeteria which quickly ran out of a lot of choices. Now we could choose from a variety of food trucks and caterers spread through the grounds of MASS MoCA. 

I was unable to attend Friday evening, so this will be a Trampled By Turtles free review. I'm going to focus on my favorite aspects of Saturday and Sunday, with plenty of pleasant surprises and new discoveries.

Rhiannon Giddens
Having seen Caroline Chocolate Drops a few times in the past, I fully expected Rhiannon Giddens to be good, even great. Somehow I didn't expect her performance to be one of the best things I've seen in years. Without having to share the spotlight with other singers/songwriters, she was able to fully showcase herself and her immense talents. Her voice is just mesmerizing, and she had the crowd enraptured as she moved from genres (soul, bluegrass, folk, and even some hints of mainstream pop) with ease. Absolute highlights were "Waterboy" and "Up Above My Head" from 2015's Tomorrow is My Turn and an amazing cover of Patsy Cline's "She's Got You," which she just owned. Do yourself a favor and make no excuses next time she's in your area.

Flogging Molly
As the sun started setting on North Adams, the attendees' t-shirts started switching from freshly purchased Trampled By Turtles and other bluegrass/folk festivals to Dropkick Murphys and The Misfits. There were a lot of fans just there for Saturday night's headliners, Flogging Molly. They did have to wait a lot longer than expected. The bluegrass Grateful Dead tribute started twenty minutes late and then proceeded to play long and twenty more minutes into Flogging Molly's set time. Then they had their own sound issues to work out, leading them to start over an hour late. The crowd was tense and restless as the evening wore on, but those feelings were gone as soon as their heroes took the stage. Opening with "The Hand of John L. Sullivan" from 2017's Life is Good they played loudly and furiously for their set. They made no adjustments to their sound to try to fit into the festival like the Pixies's acoustic performance at Newport Folk in 2005. This was a full on electric punk show. Dave King asked if they were bluegrass after a particularly vicious Dennis Casey guitar solo. They inspired what I assume was the first ever Freshgrass mosh pit with favorites like "Black Friday Rule" and "The Likes of You Again." Friday night they played Riot Fest in Chicago, Sunday night they rejoined Dropkick Murphys to restart their co-headlining tour together, but Saturday night they played a little bluegrass festival in the northwest corner of Massachusetts.

I'm With Her
I have no idea how I can describe a folk supergroup featuring Sara WatkinsSarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan as "surprisingly good," but somehow I'm With Her were surprisingly good. All three of these women are accomplished solo artists, but as a trio they reached otherworldly levels. It might have been how much they truly enjoy playing together. Their joy and enthusiasm was contagious, and each member truly had a chance to shine all on their own. It was one of the rare times when each song was even better than the one before it. The audience just kept getting sucked deeper and deeper into the musical world they created, whether it was one member being able to showcase her own voice and talents or when they were harmonizing together. Their set was truly something special.

Courtyard C
What was once the main stage is now the smallest stage used to showcase the Freshgrass awards finalists. It was a tiny area that seemed to be used more for some of the food vendors and picnic tables. Attendees just stopping to enjoy a meal ended up discovering some of the best performances of the weekend, and I spent far more time here than I expected. 
I checked out Heather Aubrey Lloyd at the recommendation of my wife's friend, and was fully sucked into her performance. She has an immensely powerful, soulful voice that refuses to just be background music. She started her set off playing a cajon and singing, and after that she went to her guitar. She definitely falls on the mainstream side of the singer/songwriter spectrum, but she is one not to be missed.
I accidentally found Lauren Pratt while roaming the galleries of MASS MoCA. She was in a dimly lit gallery exhibiting The Lure of the Dark which was perfect for her. Playing quietly in front of a painting in a darkened room is perfect for her. Her voice is stunning and powerful in her quiet use of it. She played a set of intimate and personal songs that entranced me enough to skip the Indigo Girls's set to see her main performance at Courtyard C, although she advised against it.
North Adams's own Izzy Heltai was an artist I discovered while stopping for lunch. His entire delivery was completely original. I hate to use the word quirky since that usually means some level of tongue in cheek and he was completely earnest. His style of pure folk is definitely accessible, but just slightly unique enough to even satisfy jaded music fans.
Ghost of Paul Revere are an absolute blast live. They play pure roots/Americana rock based music with just the slightest hints of a punk rock attitude. They prefer emotion and fun over playing fancy just to show off and were a small party for the group of fans hanging out to watch them. In a weekend of virtuoso performances, just music for the sake of a good time was much needed.

First Listen: New Releases for 14 September

Artist: Low
Album: Double Negative
Quick Description: Latest anticipated album by the slowcore indie act.
Why You Should Listen: Low has been required listening for close to two decades.
Overall Thoughts: To say this is one of the more highly -anticipated releases of the fall would be an understatement. Low has a very clear aesthetic, and they have deviated from it twice – once in Drums and Guns, a great record with a lot of challenging bits, and now this. In a way, if Low were to produce their idea of Kid A, it might sound a bit like this. It’s abrasive and weird, it has an almost David Lynchian feel to the entire atmosphere. A few songs in, I was not on board. Toward the end, I was still unsure as to whether this was brilliant or absurd. The only thing we should be able to agree upon is that it is musical art in the very sense of it, and while it may not be the best of the week (or even necessarily good after we collectively give it a few more listens), it is something that will have people talking about it later.
Recommendation: Definitely a must listen, the question instead is how much it will work for you.

Artist: Orbital
Album: Monsters Exist
Quick Description: Latest from the British electronica royalty.
Why You Should Listen: Orbital continues to be the most important electronic act in the world.
Overall Thoughts: Their first album in some time, it’s very much an Orbital album. They have kept their sound current enough, but we are still talking about an act that has stubbornly held to its sound even while the electronic landscape has changed. I liked this a lot, but I might rank Orbital as my favorite electronic act so I’m biased. Either way, they haven’t lost it.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Jack Drag
Album: 2018
Quick Description: First album in 16 years from the lo-fi indie star.
Why You Should Listen: Jack Dragonnetti is a great songwriter.
Overall Thoughts: If I have one complaint of sorts with the trends in music as of late, it’s about the relative dearth of power pop we’ve been hearing. Thnakfully, we have bands like Jack Drag taking up the mantle and providing us with a solid listen. While this does veer off a little bit into some 60s/70s-rock diversions at times, the end result here is absolutely something worth hearing.
Recommendation: Add this to the rotation.

Artist: Dilly Dally
Album: Heaven
Quick Description: New album from the indie alt-rock act.
Why You Should Listen: Their debut was really, really solid.
Overall Thoughts: I really enjoyed Dilly Dally’s last album, and the new album is also solid while still providing some sound growth. Definitely more mature, certainly more interesting, and I look forward to hearing whether there are some pieces that jump out at me.
Recommendation: A good listen this week.

Artist: Emma Ruth Rundle
Album: On Dark Horses
Quick Description: New, buzzworthy album from the singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: No one is quite like Emma Ruth Rundle.
Overall Thoughts: Rundle is sneaky good at what she does, with a sort of grit to her recordings that make her stand out. This might be my favorite release of hers yet, with some solid tunes on here to go along with her established presence.
Recommendation: Don’t miss out.

Artist: The Goon Sax
Album: We're Not Talking
Quick Description: New album from an act fast becoming a blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: You miss the indie rock of my college years.
Overall Thoughts: We’ve been waiting on this one here, and 2002 Jeff thinks this would have been one of his favorites. In 2018, it feels very derivative of a lot of the experimental indie pop of 15 years ago, but there’s something to be said about what is old being new again.
Recommendation: Give it a listen.

Artist: Guerilla Toss
Album: Twisted Crystal
Quick Description: New album from the abrasive alt-rock act.
Why You Should Listen: It's really appealing if you give it an honest shot.
Overall Thoughts: GT Ultra was a solid record with some staying power, and this new effort doubles down in all the best ways. It’s brash and up front, it doesn’t try to be something it isn’t, and it ends up being a super great listen. GT may be an acquired taste, but if you’ve gotten there you’re enjoying the ride.
Recommendation: A great listen this week.

Of note:

* Lola Foy - Bigger Brighter (Dreamy, fragile folk music with a lot of great moments)
* Emma Louise - Lilac Everything (Weird concept album complete with downpitched vocals. Didn’t work for me)
* Daniel T. - Heliotrope
* Active Bird Community - Amends
* The Chills - Snow Bound
* Paul Weller - True Meanings

Seven Song Albums:

* Sarah Davachi - Gave in Rest
* Cold Beat - A Simple Reflection


* Aphex Twin - Collapse
* Troi Irons - Antihero
* Sleaford Mods - Sleaford Mods
* The Mutineers - Threshold
* First Aid Kit - Tender Offerings

Also out:

* Basement Beehive: The Girl Group Underground
* We Were Promised Jetpacks - The More I Sleep the Less I Dream

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Beths Are Playing Atwoods????

Photo by Amanda Cheng
Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge, MA has become one of the go to places for roots/Americana music in the Boston area. Just about every night of the week you can head over there and have an idea of what you're going to see. That's why I was so surprised to see that New Zealand's The Beths are playing there on October 10. The Beths are decidedly not a roots act, and we've been loving their debut album Future Me Hates Me, calling it one of the best albums of the summer. Their fuzzy, loud, and melodic indie rock may be a bit jarring to regulars at Atwood's, and we can't wait to be there.

You can pick up your ticket to see The Beths at Atwood's Tavern on October 10 here. It's not often a band comes all the way from New Zealand to play an 85 person club for $10, so you'll want to get these ASAP. If you need more convincing, check out their new video for "Little Deaths" below. If you're not in the Boston area and want to check out The Beths near you, head over to their website for their current tour dates.

Friday, September 14, 2018

The I Want You - "Some Psychics"

Just five months after their latest release (April's All Beat Up), Boston's The I Want You are back with a new EP and video. "Some Psychics" keeps the power pop sound that we love from The I Want You, but it's not the typical 70's power pop sound most people go for. This one is pure early 80's power pop. The video intentionally looks like early MTV, and as far as the song itself goes, think of a dirty sounding Elvis Costello. It sounds sleazy the way tv shows like Three's Company look sleazy now. The song is about various types of psychic power and figuring out if the powers come from the head or the heart. 

You can watch the video for "Some Psychics" below. Some Psychics, the EP, will be available tomorrow, September 15. (I guess no one told them about Fridays being global release days?) You can get it on the band's Bandcamp. For more on The I Want You, check out their website. If you happen to be in the Boston area, they're playing on the 15th at Sally O'Brien's with The Ghost Truckers and The Ramp Ups.

Motherhood - "Pick of the Pugs"

Photo by Emulsion Lab
I'm pretty sure Motherhood are the first band we have ever covered from Fredericton, New Brunswick. (Being American, I'm not even sure I could find New Bruswick on a map...) The band have recently released a new single, "Pick of the Pugs." It tells the tale of a painter who starts heavily drinking after a break up and ends up painting the outside of his ex's house. Of course, he claims he's not bothered by the break up. The song has the indie rock feel of the country side of Pavement, but only if they were heavily influenced by oompah bands. 

You can listen to "Pick of the Pugs" below. The song is available now via Bandcamp. For more on Motherhood, check out their website. We included the tour dates on their press release below the song.

Sept 17 - Saratoga Springs, NY @ Desperate Annie's
Sept 18 - Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
Sept 19 - New York, NY @ Piano's
Sept 20 - Buffalo, NY @ Steak & Cakes house show
Sept 21 - Fitchburg, MA @ House show
Sept 22 - Portland, ME @ Waking Windows Festival
Sept 23 - Brooklyn, NY @ Cobra Club
Sept 24 - Philadelphia, PA @ Pharmacy
Sept 26 - Hadley, MA @ Motor Goose Inn
Sept 27 - Troy, NY @ River Street Pub
Sept 28 - Winooski, VT @ Gloom Garden (7pm)
Sept 28 - Burlington, VT @ Radio Bean (11:30pm)
Sept 29 - Montreal, QC @ Pop Montreal (w/ Wolf Parade)
Oct 10 - Vancouver, BC @ Red Gate
Oct 11 - Abbotsford, BC @ CITR Presents
Oct 12-13 - Kelowna, BC @ Breakout West
Oct 20 - Halifax, NS @ Halifax Pop Explosion
Oct 26-27 - Caraquet, NB @ Festival 506

Friday Freebie: Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys - Under Your Covers

Considering how much I love free music and covers, and how obsessively I follow Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, I can't believe this one slipped by me. Every so often Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys will allow their fans to choose songs for them to cover via their Patreon. The latest batch has been made available to us all. Under Your Covers is a twelve song collection that runs the gamut of what you'd expect from a fan chosen covers album. There are the covers that were obviously carefully chosen specifically for the band (Rasputina's "The New Zero," Primus's "The Toys Go Winding Down" which could easily be the name of a song by The Army of Toys...), classic rock favorites ("Baba O'Riley" from The Who, Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More," "10538 Overture" by Electric Light Orchestra), and then the ones that are just fun (Imagine Dragon's "Who We Are," "Bills Bills Bills" from Destiny's Child). There's also a great cover of the Iggy Pop classic "The Passenger." 

You can listen to Walter Sickert & The Army of Toys's cover of "Bills Bills Bills" below. Under Your Covers is available now via Bandcamp for a "name your price" download. As always, if you choose free, be sure to give them a follow on Facebook or Twitter. It's only fair after all. If you have the perfect song for them to cover next time, be sure to check out their Patreon. Maybe we can finally force them into that Bell Biv Devoe cover they keep teasing...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Moviestar featuring Professor Elemental - "The Present"

Last year we informed you about Moviestar, which I'm sure you remember are a three piece band from the planet Fenris in the future. They are back with a new single, and this time they've enlisted the help of Professor Elemental. Professor Elemental is described as a "steampunk-rapper," so I'm fully invested in this collaboration. Considering how their previous songs were such a bizarre mix-up of styles, adding in a steampunk-rapper should make it even crazier, but "The Present" is much tamer than expected. I mean, sure, it's not a top 40 song, but it's fairly comparable to later era Brit-pop than I'd expect from a band from the planet Fenris in the future. Hopefully that doesn't sound too negative, since "The Present" is a pretty great song and has me dreaming of a Moviestar/Professor Elemental co-headlining tour.

You can watch the video for "The Present" below. For more on Moviestar, check out their website. For more on Professor Elemental, check out his.

Mary Bell - "Be a mom"

Last time we heard from Paris, France's Mary Bell was the 48 second "Band-aid Baby." By that measure, their new single is an epic at just under three minutes. While still thrashy and noisy punk rock, "Be a mom" has a New Wave groove that can't be missed. This new song is no less intense than we want (or need) from a Mary Bell song. Far from it. Despite the groove "Be a mom" still delivers the attitude and aggression that have become Mary Bell's trademark in the short time we've been aware of them. You'll hear this particularly towards the end as the groove begins to fall apart. Instead of ramping up the noise and chaos like you'd expect, the song just kind of stutters out in the best way possible.

You can listen to "Be a mom" below. HISTRION, the new album from Mary Bell, will be available October 1. You can pre-order it now via Bandcamp. For more on Mary Bell, check out their website.

Top 5 Must See Artists at Freshgrass 2018

As we prepare for this weekend's Freshgrass 2018 (checking the weather report every hour, repeatedly listening to the festival's Spotify playlist...), we thought we'd share what we're most looking forward to this weekend. Of course, these could be dropped instantly for another set or by getting lost in the galleries of MASS MoCA, but as of right now, these are our top 5...

Rhiannon Giddens, Saturday, 5:00 pm, Courtyard D
My first trip to Freshgrass included seeing the Carolina Chocolate Drops in 2014. I've been obsessed with them since then, which has included following each member's solo careers. I still haven't seen Rhiannon Giddens solo live, but that will change on Saturday. Her solo work has been a bit more mainstream than Carolina Chocolate Drops and I'm very curious to see how that plays out live. Seeing how Carolina Chocolate Drops stole the entire festival in 2014, this could be the must see of 2018.

Flogging Molly, Saturday, 9:00 pm, Joe's Field
I'm truly curious how Celtic punks Flogging Molly will fit into Freshgrass. The festival is fairly traditional folk/bluegrass, and Flogging Molly was touring with Dropkick Murphys three months ago. Sure, Flogging Molly has more traditional roots than their tourmates, but still... I'm curious to see if they have a more toned down performance like Gogol Bordello did at Newport Folk or if this will be a full on Flogging Molly show. Not to mention that I'm sure they'll have a fanbase that is just there to see them, and I'm curious how those fans will feel about the rest of Freshgrass, like the bluegrass tribute to the Grateful Dead right before Flogging Molly. Saturday night will be interesting...

Twisted Pine, Sunday, 11:45 am, Courtyard D
We adore Twisted Pine's new covers EP, Dreams. Bluegrass covers of popular rock songs most often are a bit too cutesy, but Twisted Pine completely nail these seven songs with their jazzy take on traditional bluegrass. I know, I know... their originals are also wonderful and they're an accomplished band, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't most thrilled about the possibility of seeing them perform their Blondie and Cranberries covers. 

Leyla McCalla, Sunday, 2:30 pm, Hunter Center
An outdoor music festival isn't typically the place you go to excited to see a movie, especially on a fall day that looks to be as spectacular as Sunday looks. But when they have Leyla McCalla commissioning a new score to a silent film, you head indoors to check it out. I've loved the Freshscores concept since I first heard about it, and checking out Leyla McCalla's (who I first discovered at Freshgrass 2014) performance is set to be a highlight of my weekend.

I'm With Her, Sunday, 4:30 pm, Joe's Field
The term supergroup gets thrown around quite a bit. (We're guilty of using it too much ourselves.) But when a band forms featuring Sara WatkinsSarah Jarosz, and Aoife O’Donovan the term doesn't even come close to how amazing this trio is. Booking any of these artists would be a huge score for any festival, but booking all three to perform together is immense. Seriously, if you haven't checked out their release from earlier this year, See You Around, you need to drop everything and listen to it now. If you already have, we'll see you Sunday afternoon at 4:30!