Tuesday, November 19, 2019

First Listen: New Releases for 15 November


Artist: Lula Wiles
Album: What Will We Do
Quick Description: Folky, rootsy goodness.
Why You Should Listen: Lula Wiles is doing something pure and lovely.
Overall Thoughts: We missed this one last week and regret it, because it’s great. Think a low-key Wolff Sisters – expertly-crafted folk/roots music with some beautiful harmonies and instrumentation. It’s a great listen for a host of reasons, but mostly because it’s one of those under the radar listens that deserves wider attention and praise. Don’t sleep on this, especially if you’re into folky tunes.
Recommendation: A must-hear.


Artist: Weezy Ford
Album: Sugarcane
Quick Description: Long-awaited debut album from the blues rock indie artist.
Why You Should Listen: Weezy Ford absolutely makes her own sound in a well-worn genre.
Overall Thoughts: We got into Weezy Ford due to her sibling, Sallie, but Weezy’s long-awaited debut album forges her own path. Sure, it’s still bluesy rock, but Weezy feels like she’s performing out of a poorly-ventilated garage rather than a studio, and this grittier, lower-fidelity approach sets her apart in all thee right ways. I won’t pretend this will work for everyone, but I definitely like what I hear here.
Recommendation: A solid listen this week.


Artist: Hallelujah the Hills
Album: I'm You
Quick Description: New album from the local indie rock stars.
Why You Should Listen: Hallelujah the Hills have been great for a long time.
Overall Thoughts: The closest thing to indie rock royalty we have in Boston at present, Hallelujah the Hills is back with maybe their best effort yet. Some truly great songs in here that, in the right circumstance, could let the rest of the world know what those of us in the area already learned. A great listen from a great local band, and some of the best of indie rock in the last few months.
Recommendation: Needs to be on your list this week.


Artist: Odessa
Album: All Things
Quick Description: New album from the roots musician.
Why You Should Listen: Does more than just plays some bluegrass tunes, to its benefit.
Overall Thoughts: This is a really beautiful listen. It’s an album that’s really an interesting one, as it straddles a few musical ideas, but succeeds pretty much across the board. Polished and captivating, this is an album that really shouldn’t be missed, whether you’re looking for a more folky/rootsy effort or something more mainstream.
Recommendation: A favorite this week.


Artist: Slayyyter
Album: Slayyyter
Quick Description: Post-pop goodness.
Why You Should Listen: This is abrasive and weird in all the right ways.
Overall Thoughts: This, on the other hand, eschews any sort of real mainstream appeal, and that’s what makes it great. Slayyyter is at least adjacent to that PC Music aesthetic in many ways, and that may be why I initially missed this September release, but I am glad I tripped up on it – it is one of the odder, more compelling listens of a while, and acts as a bit of a deconstruction of pop as much as a reinvention. This won’t work for everybody, for sure, but if you give it a shot you might appreciate it for what it is, if not fall for it as hard as I have.
Recommendation: A challenging, but worthwhile, listen.


Artist: Pumarosa
Album: Devastation
Quick Description: Off-center indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: This is a hard one to figure out, to its credit.
Overall Thoughts: Trying to highlight this a little more because it is such an interesting listen on a whole. I can’t pin this one down, which is a plus for Pumarosa on a whole, as this ends up being a puzzle of sorts in all the right ways. I kept being surprised by it and it’s worth looking at to see if it surprises you as well.
Recommendation: Give it a spin.

Of note:

* Brass Against - Brass Against II (Brassy covers for the children. (Note: not for the children.))
* Too Many Zooz - Zombie.P (Brassy busking for the children. (Note: fine for children.))
* Emma Jane White - Immanent Fire (Great for fans of Chelsea Wolfe.)
* LIZ - Planet Y2K (More bizarro pop, really solid.)
* Juliana Hatfield - Juliana Hatfield Sings the Police (Does what it says on the tin.)
* Fran - A Private Picture
* Madeon - Good Faith
* Mary Lambert - Grief Creature
* DJ Shadow - Our Pathetic Age
* Great Lake Swimmers - The Waves, The Wake (Acoustic)
* Chadwick Stokes - Chadwick Stokes and the Pintos
* Tei Shi - La Linda
* Pendant - Through a Coil
* Magic Shoppe - Circles

EP

* Boards of Canada - Peel Session
* GFOTY - GFOTV
* Ransom Pier - Down the Other End
* Jenny Owen Youngs - Night Shift
* Aphex Twin - Peel Session 2
* Bonnie "Prince" Billy - Squid Eye
* Jeff Rosenstock and Laura Stevenson - Still Young

Also:

* Lily Kershaw - Arcadia
* TOY - Songs of Consumption

Lex Leosis - "I Don't Play That"

Photo by Matt Ogilvie
Toronto's Lex Leosis has a new single out which bridges throwback hip hop with a modern sound. "I Don't Play That" can't truly be considered a 90's hip hop throwback. It's too smooth to be early 90's, and it isn't composed out of a single sample, so it's not late 90's hip hop. But there is something about it that feels like the glory days of 90's hip hop, right before it went completely mainstream. 

Leosis explains the song: "To anybody that has witnessed or faced the hands of abuse, we are strong, we are survivors, we don’t play that. I was a witness to abuse at the hands of a man and it brought up for me all the ways that women are so accustomed to taking other peoples’ shit. With “I Don’t Play That,” I wanted to create a song that could make any woman or anyone affected by abuse feel strong and that they’re not alone. I wrote the song right after the experience happened, but didn’t record it until weeks later.Putting myself back into the mindset I wrote it in was difficult because I had to relive it all, but it was necessary. I’m done sitting by idly letting this happen to people, so I wrote an anthem of power."

You can listen to "I Don't Play That" below. For more on Lex Leosis, check her out on Twitter and Facebook.

Hot Shorts - "Summer of 2012"

We can all officially feel old now that bands are reminiscing about 2012. Out of Manchester, England, Hot Shorts have a new single, "Summer of 2012." The song is a fast paced indie rock jam that's as discordant as it is catchy. It's hanging on barely by a thread and threatens to fall apart at any moment, which is what makes songs like this so great.

Singer/guitarist Chris Killen says of the song: "'Summer of 2012' is a song about owning your "first real iPhone" and also about how a smartphone can possibly be a ticket to numbness if you just stare at it all the time. It also contains a stupid Bryan Adams joke intro. The video is made out of various things we filmed (on our iPhones) while recording the album over five days at Big City Jacks with Michael Whalley."

You can watch the video for "Summer of 2012" below. I Understand & I Wish to Continue, the new album from Hot Shorts, is out now via Icecapades. You can pick up a copy here. For more on Hot Shorts, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, November 18, 2019

The Secret Sisters - "Cabin"

Since we last heard from The Secret Sisters, they've been through quite a bit. As they announced their upcoming album in a Facebook post, they explain:

"After a long hiatus, we’re proud to announce our newest collection of songs coming February 28, 2020. These songs were conceived in a season of grief, transformation, identity crisis, and observation. For the first time, we channeled our individual emotions as we faced the loss of our grandmothers, struggled with infertility, and found the joy that comes with new life. Now, on the other side of it all, we present this work to you as new mothers, new musicians, new women. We accept and stand unafraid of the pain that leaves permanent marks, and we are not without hope."

With the new album comes a wildly different sound. Gone is the purely traditional folk we loved with their previous two albums. "Cabin" has a much more modern and mainstream folk sound. Plus, and I never expected to describe a Secret Sisters song this way, it straight up rocks. The Sisters kept the gorgeous harmonies they've always had, but "Cabin" adds discordant electric guitars. It's a new and powerful sound that I would never have expected from the duo, or thought I wanted for that matter, but now that we have it, it's a welcome change.

You can listen to "Cabin" below. Saturn Return, the new album from The Secret Sisters, will be out February 28 on New West Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Secret Sisters, check out their website.

Valley Queen Covers Pavement

Photo by Mark Cluney
We've been digging the laid back California folk vibes of Valley Queen for a few years now. Last year when Supergiant came out, Jeff described it as "10,000 Maniacs, but kind of weird." You can imagine how excited I was to find out they were covering one of my favorite weird California bands, Pavement. Their version of "Spit On a Stranger" doesn't sound like a Pavement song at all, except for when singer Natalie Carol mimics Stephen Malkmus's unique vocal delivery. Instead, Valley Queen's version of "Spit On a Stranger" is a completely stripped down acoustic not-quite-folk song. Sure, "Spit On a Stranger" is relatively quiet for a Pavement song, but Valley Queen reduces the song to barely more than just vocals and guitar.

You can watch the video for Valley Queen's take on "Spit On a Stranger" below. You can get your copy of the song here. For more on Valley Queen, check out their website.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Andrew Hibbard - "Changes"

Photo by Robert Paul Simpson
Andrew Hibbard first started playing guitar when he was only six years old. He'll be releasing his third album next year, and the first single, "Changes," is a perfect slice of Americana. The song leans heavily into country and blues, and is a laid back straightforward example of both. Hibbard straddles the fine line between being too traditionally rootsy to be mainstream and being too mainstream to be traditional, and somehow is perfectly both at once. It's a song that could propel Hibbard into superstardom, so make sure you jump on board his bandwagon with us now.

You can watch the video for changes below. Andrew Hibbard's self-titled third album will be out in April via Sofaburn Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Andrew Hibbard, check out his website.

Hit Like A Girl - "It's Not Me"

If you've been loving New Jersey's Hit Like A Girl as much as we have, get ready for their latest single. "It's Not Me" is an ode to failed relationships, and it's absolutely epic. It's an indie rock/emo/pop song with giant, jangly guitars and even bigger choruses. It follows the loud/quiet/loud template to perfection, and even the quiet parts feel huge while still being intimate. The loud parts feel like such a release that Nicolle Maroulis is guiding us through a healing process to benefit all of us. "It's Not Me" is one of the best singles we've heard this year.

You can listen to "It's Not Me" below. It's currently available now on Hit Like A Girl's Bandcamp. For more on Hit Like A Girl, check them out on Facebook.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Shadow Show - "Shadow Box"

Photo by Colleen Rose
Shadow Show might be the most Detroit band out there right now. Their new single, "Shadow Box," has elements of Detroit psychedelic garage rock proto-punk mixed with a Motown girl group vibe. It's a down and dirty sound, leaning much heavier into the garage rock sound, but also with this unexpected sheen over it. And then it all ends with a freak out jam. It's like they took Detroit in the 1960's and tweaked it just enough to give it a new, modern sound.

You can listen to "Shadow Box" below. Silhouettes, the debut album from Shadow Show, will be out February 14 on Burger Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Shadow Show, check them out on Facebook and Bandcamp.

Coude - Save Our Souls

Hailing from France, Coude have just released a new EP that's sure to appeal to fans of 90's indie rock. Save Our Souls starts off with "Break Your Balls" that sounds as if Sonic Youth and Kathleen Hanna had so much fun on the "Bull In the Heather" video that she joined the band as a full time member. Sonic Youth comparisons will continue with "Rave Down," as the vocals are quite reminiscent of Thurston Moore. That is, until the song takes a weird turn into Ciccone Youth territory. It isn't all Sonic Youth style indie rock. "You Will Never Be Mine" has a much more sensitive feel than Sonic Youth specialized in. It's still a noisy, discordant indie rock song, but there is something truly lovely about it at the same time.

You can listen to "Rave Down" below. Save Our Souls, the new EP from Coude, is available now via Influenza Records. You can get a copy here. For more on Coude, check them out on Facebook.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

War on Alexandria - "Grip (the heavy one)"

Photo via Facebook
We don't cover much on the metal/hard rock spectrum here, but every so often something squeaks through and gets our attention. Boston's War on Alexandria have released a new single, and it's a heavy blast of thrash that gets our attention. Based on its name and the fact that War on Alexandria's previous single, "Sleep Deprived," was more on the chilled out/ambient side of things, "Grip (the heavy one)" might just be a band indulging themselves in their metal side. "Grip (the heavy one)" isn't pure hardcore metal. Instead it's a more melodic side of bands like Helmet or Deftones. 

You can listen to "Grip (the heavy one)" below. For more on War on Alexandria, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Heather Valley - "Lovejoy"

The first single from Heather Valley's debut album might not have the most traditionally country sound ever, but the subject matter is the height of country. According to Valley, "Lovejoy"... "tells the tale of my reunion with the love of my life, who turned out to be a conman. He came up to Buffalo and I drove down from Canada, the two of us meeting in a neighbourhood called Lovejoy. Everything seemed perfect. It wasn’t until he was arrested at the border in front of me that I discovered the truth - he was a fugitive from justice from Louisiana carrying on multiple lives." Musically, the song has a little too much of a sheen on it to be traditional country, but instead it feels like a more modern version of country hits of the 70's.

You can watch the video for "Lovejoy" below. Desert Message, the debut album from Heather Valley, will be out November 22. For more on Heather Valley, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Beija Flo - "Nudes"

Photo via Facebook
Liverpool based artist Beija Flo has a new single and an accompanying art exhibition. "Nudes" builds in intensity. It starts off as a chilled out mixture of trip hop and drum & bass. It's a beautiful electronic song, but it slowly builds and builds into a much more uncomfortable yet intriguing listen. At one point it sounds more like an organic Aphex Twin.

Beija Flo describes "Nudes" and the exhibit "Inside the Walls": “This very personal collection of music and art is about how I saw and captured my body, and how it as touched, over a specific period of time. A period of time in which I had a series of blemishing break-ups and sexual partners, during a very hard year in my life. Whilst struggling with my weight and mental health, I lost a lot of people and pushed the rest away. I still can’t explain why I did this. In a mad panic of distrust and anxiety, I could not bear to be touched or even continue to exist – at least, not in the world I was in. In a desperate longing for someone to see me as I was, to start again, I gave trust to the wrong people and received scars in return. I also gave trust to the right people and got my body back.”

You can watch the video for "Nudes" below. Beija Flo's exhibition "Inside the Walls: Nudes, Anxieties and Other Content" will run from January 17 to February 2 at Output Gallery in Liverpool. For more on Beija Flo, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Mountain Man Covers Irving Berlin

Photo via Facebook
It feels absurdly early to be sharing Christmas music at this point, but when artists we love keep releasing it, we can't help it. The latest is Mountain Man covering Irving Berlin's legendary "White Christmas." As you might expect, Mountain Man's version of this song is absolute perfection. They keep it very traditional, although it is much more stripped down and folky than the original. It's a quiet, gorgeous version of one of the few Christmas songs that seems to be beloved by all. As the band says: "We wanted to record a song that could be played in people's homes throughout the holidays, like a gentle push of light. We thought 'White Christmas' might do the trick!"

You can listen to Mountain Man's version of "White Christmas" below. You can find the song here. For more on Mountain Man, For more on Mountain Man, check out their website.

First Listen: New Releases for 8 November

There is so much good music out this week.


Artist: FKA Twigs
Album: MAGDELINE
Quick Description: Left-of-center R&B act back with more interesting tunes.
Why You Should Listen: FKA Twigs is among the most adventurous artists in her lane.
Overall Thoughts: If there’s one thing FKA Twigs is known for, it’s taking chances. No one in the R&B space is quite like her, and her new album, while still delightfully weird, is probably more noteworthy for how relatively accessible it is. Sure, these aren’t Lizzo bangers but they aren’t impenetrable, either, and that makes a difference here. If you’ve held off up to now, this is definitely a worthwhile onramp, but there’s certainly enough here for fans to really enjoy. (Also “fallen alien” is amazing.)
Recommendation: A must-hear.


Artist: HANA
Album: HANADRIEL
Quick Description: Sort-of retro pop music.
Why You Should Listen: This is one of my favorites of the week.
Overall Thoughts: For as much as I like 90s alt-rock, I have a similar affinity for 90s techno/dance music, and if HANA isn't mirroring those sorts of higher-concept, soaring techno anthems of that era, I must be losing my mind. Songs like "Anxious Alien" and "Nu Leaf" would fit right into that time period and been awesome then, and it doesn't feel dated now. This is such a great listen, and worth it with or without nostalgia glasses on.
Recommendation: Sneaky great.


Artist: Fox Medicine
Album: Procedures Mystiques
Quick Description: Lopud, brash indie... metal?
Why You Should Listen: In a lot of ways, this shouldn't be as good as it is.
Overall Thoughts: I shouldn’t like this. It’s sludgey noisy metal-adjacent music, but somehow the sing-songy approach with the melodic underpinnings just works for me. It’s such a fresh approach that I am just as interested in going into their back catalog as I am to get back to this album. I won’t pretend that this will work for everyone, but it is definitely one of my favorites this week, and might have some staying power.
Recommendation: Give this a chance.


Artist: Raelyn Nelson Band
Album: Don't
Quick Description: Willie's granddaughter's rockin' delight.
Why You Should Listen: She has the genetics and the bonafides.
Overall Thoughts: I have been semi-obsessed with Raelyn Nelson since “Brother,” and years of singles have finally led to a debut as good as anything out there. This granddaughter of Willie knows how to bring a punk aesthetic to rockabilly-style country, and this is just a really fun record from start to finish. They’re not trying to change the world, but if this sets a few fires along the way, all the better (and don’t sleep on the Bikini Kill cover at the end of the album, either).
Recommendation: A really great listen.


Artist: Me Not You
Album: Already Gone
Quick Description: Loud, abrasively melodic indie rock.
Why You Should Listen: No one sounds quite like this act.
Overall Thoughts: Another group I have been waiting forever for a full-length on, and while none of these songs reach the soaring, noisy heights of their earliest EPs, the shoegazey tendencies of this record more than make up for it. There’s an added urgency as well that provides a real interesting feeling that I fully enjoyed. This is a busy week for music, for sure, but...
Recommendation:... this one really shouldn’t be missed.


Artist: HOLYCHILD
Album: The Theatrical Death of Julie Delicious
Quick Description: New album from the loud, poppy indie act.
Why You Should Listen: This is a delightful little adventure.
Overall Thoughts: Show me a more fun album this year. I’ll wait. There’s just an infectious joy to this record that I can’t resist, and I really enjoyed my time with this one. I can’t wait to go back, and this has some fairly broad appeal for both pop addicts and those looking for interesting indie works.
Recommendation: A great listen.


Artist: The Hackles
Album: A Dobritch Did as a Dobritch Should
Quick Description: Solid, surprising folk-adjacent tunes.
Why You Should Listen: This feels different and unique.
Overall Thoughts: This is a great, rootsy effort that feels bold and forward-thinking while remaining as familiar as ever. Great music, great harmonies, and really one of the better folky efforts in a few weeks. If you like the roots stuff we feature here, this absolutely needs to find some time in your rotation this week.
Recommendation: Give it a listen.


Artist: Kate Davis
Album: Trophy
Quick Description: Addictive indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: Kate Davis has something special here.
Overall Thoughts: This is some really solid indie rock/pop, reminiscent of the recent Noel Wells record or some of Jenny Owen Youngs’s output. Kate Davis knows how to put a song together, and the result here is a solid album from start to finish with some truly memorable moments. Granted, I am biased in the sense that I could get down with most of this genre, but there’s something special here.
Recommendation: Make time for this.


Artist: DJ Manipulator
Album: The Soviet Tape
Quick Description: Splicing Russian media with hip hop beats.
Why You Should Listen: The concept alone is amazing.
Overall Thoughts: This is a fairly simple concept that is just too great to ignore. DJ takes some Russian records and audio, mixes them up, creates dance/turntable masterpiece. And it won’t interfere in your elections!
Recommendation: A great listen.

Of note:

* Mark Lind and the Unloved - The Last Bastion (Fine, but not for me.)
* Various Artists - Too Late to Pray: Defiant Chicago Roots (Lots of gems in this comp.)
* Thees Handz - Thees Handz (Collaboration between The Grouch and Murs.)
* Rachael Dadd - FLUX (Solid indie folk.)
* Brother Ali - Secrets & Escapes
* Louise Burns - Portraits
* Russian Baths - Deepfake
* Mount Eerie and Julie Doiron - Lost Wisdom Pt. 2
* Josienne Clarke - In All Weather

Seven Song Albums:

* Lucy Dacus - 2019 (A collection of singles this year plus some fun covers.)

EPs:

* Andrew Bird - HARK!
* Hercules & Love Affair - Change EP

Also out:

* Snow Patrol - Reworked (Collects the reworked EPs and more.)
* Agnostic Front - Get Loud!

Monday, November 11, 2019

Clever Girls - "Remember Pluto"

We've been fans of Burlington,VT's Clever Girls and their style of indie rock meets Tom Petty style Americana for a few years now. Their newest single, "Remembering Pluto," changes their sound up quite a bit. While there are some hints of the previous Americana inspired sound, "Remembering Pluto" is downright trippy. It's almost like The Cars experimenting with psychedelia. The guitars are wonderfully muddled in the best planned way. There are some big rock moments in the song, but mostly it's a relatively quiet, reflective song masquerading as a big rocker.

You can listen to "Remembering Pluto" below. The song is available now via Egghunt Records on Clever Girl's Bandcamp. For more on Clever Girls, check out their website.

Whistlestop Rock Festival Brings the Rock to Winter in New England

The winter is a fairly dead time for live music in New England. A storm can derail a live show at any time, and who really wants to deal with being cold and carrying around a big, bulky coat inside a sweaty, packed club?

Whistlestop Rock Festival is going to change that for the better. Simone Berk (Kid Gulliver, Sugar Snow) reached out via a group message to women in bands about doing a show together. That idea expanded into a regionally touring festival featuring eight bands plus special guests in each city. As you can tell by the name, Whistlestop Rock Festival sticks with the rock side of things and features the retro-mod punk of The Chelsea Curve, the Rolling Stones meets Hank Williams of Cold Expectations, Boston rock veterans Field Day, heavily 90's alt-rock infleunced Heather Rose in Clover, the power pop punk of Justine and The Unclean, Kid Gulliver's power pop, power trio The Knock Ups, the impossible to classify Powerslut, and Tiger Bomb's garage pop. Any three or four of these bands playing together is a can't miss night out, but all eight? 

Right now there are four cities/five nights scheduled for the festival with more to come. They are:
Providence RI, at Askew Prov, January 11, 2020 
Somerville MA, at ONCE Ballroom, February 29, 2020 (PowerSlut Record Release Party!!) 
Salem MA, at Koto, two nights, March 13 and 14, 2020 
Portland ME, at Sun Tiki Studios, March 28, 2020

For more on the Whistlestop Rock Festival, check them out on Facebook.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Beach Bunny - "Dream Boy"

Lili Trifilio first started Beach Bunny in 2015 as a solo project. The first three EPs were lo-fi home recordings. In 2018 Beach Bunny became a full band with the Prom Queen EP, and are now set to release their debut LP. The first single, "Dream Boy," has little of their lo-fi origins. It's a big indie pop/rock song, with heavy guitars and drums, and hooks that are beyond infectious. The only traces of the band's beginnings are in the lyrics, which, while paired with the new full on rock sound, will hook in just about anyone.

You can listen to "Dream Boy" below. Honeymoon, the debut album from Beach Bunny, will be out February 14 on Mom + Pop. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Beach Bunny, check them out on Facebook and Twitter. Current tour dates are below the song.



11/16 - Detroit, MI - El Club
11/17 - Toronto, ON - The Hard Luck - [SOLD OUT]
11/20 - Allston, MA - Great Scott - [SOLD OUT]
11/21 - Brooklyn, NY - Rough Trade NYC - [SOLD OUT]
11/22 - Philadelphia, PA - Everybody Hits - [SOLD OUT]
11/23 - Washington, DC - Songbyrd - [SOLD OUT]
11/24 - Carrboro, NC - Cat's Cradle - [SOLD OUT]
11/25 - Atlanta, GA - Drunken Unicorn - [SOLD OUT]
11/26 - Nashville, TN - DRKMTTR
11/27- Columbus, OH - Big Room Bar
12/5 - Madison, WI - High Noon Saloon
12/6 - Minneapolis, MN - 7th St Entry - [SOLD OUT]
12/7 - Grinnell, IA - Gardner Lounge at Grinnell College
12/8 - Indianapolis, IN - Hoosier Dome
2/22 - Chicago, IL - Metro
2/28 - Austin, TX - Barracuda
2/29 - Houston, TX - The Secret Group
3/1 - Dallas, TX - Ruins
3/3 - Phoenix, AZ - The Rebel Lounge
3/4 - Los Angeles, CA - The Roxy Theatre
3/5 - San Diego, CA - Che Cafe
3/7 - San Francisco, CA - Great American Music Hall
3/9 - Portland, OR - Polaris Hall
3/10 - Seattle, WA - The Vera Project
3/12 - Salt Lake City, UT - Kilby Court
3/13 - Denver, CO  - Lost Lake
3/27 - Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel
3/28 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church
3/29 - Boston, MA - Brighton Music Hall
3/31 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg

Live Shows: Pokey LaFarge and Jake La Botz, Brighton Music Hall, Allston, MA 11/6/19

Photo via Facebook
I've had the chance to see Pokey LaFarge in various incarnations over the last eight years or so, but I've never seen a fully solo performance. While being in between albums and bands, he decided to do a solo tour with fellow Midwesterner Jake La Botz, who is also performing solo. While both fall firmly into the folk/Americana genre, the pair have very different sounds which complemented each other perfectly.

First up was Jake La Botz, taking the stage two minutes early. Playing seated for his set, La Botz went through ten of his songs about addiction, struggle, and heartache. He has this downtrodden, lived in sound in his music, but somehow keeps things uplifting. His is more on the style of folk and country meets early rock 'n' roll, which went over very well with the still entering crowd. Despite being seated for the entire performance, La Botz is an incredibly captivating performer. He stays laid back, but puts on more of a rock show than a coffee shop folky. 

Pokey LaFarge brought another side of the same spectrum of folk music. Without a backing band, his songs were just stripped down to a bare minimum, with LaFarge playing the role of amiable troubadour. Even solo, he's an energetic performer and a showman at heart. He kept the audience fully invested in his performance, either leading a sing-a-long with "Wanna Be Your Man," having one spontaneously start during "The Devil Ain't Lazy," or singing at the front of the stage without amplification for "Goodbye, Barcelona." While sprinkling a number of new songs from an upcoming album throughout the set, he adopted a "one for me, one for you" rule, following up new songs like "Orange Blossom" with long time fan favorites like "Central Time." Not that he needed to, as the new songs were as well received as the classics. Overall he played twenty one songs for well over an hour, and the audience, while well satisfied, could have happily stayed for twenty one more.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

American Television - "Standing Still"

I'm starting to think Washington DC is the only place that bands know how to pull off "melodic punk." American Television fit that with their new single, "Standing Still." At just over two minutes, it's fast and heavy while still being insanely catchy and melodic. It's incredibly rare for a band to pull off the edge of punk while being bouncy, and American Television do it perfectly.

In a press release, the band explains the song: "Similar to ‘Glory Days’ by Bruce Springsteen, or even ‘Glory Days’ by Pkew Pkew Pkew, ‘Standing Still’ is a song about being stuck in the past and reliving accomplishments from your youth rather than focusing on your present and future. The world is moving a mile a minute these days, probably headed for complete disaster, so being focused on that big game from high school or trivial accomplishments from your college days seems so short-sighted. Forget the glory days; we need you today.”

You can watch the video for "Standing Still" below. Watch It Burn, the upcoming album from American Television, will be out January 24 on Wiretap Records. You can pre-save the album here. For more on American Television, check them out on Facebook.

The Haden Triplets - "Wayfaring Stranger"

Photo via Facebook
We loved The Haden Triplets's 2014 debut album. Their three part harmonies and traditional folk songs hit us right in a sweet spot (plus, being huge fans of that dog. doesn't hurt). Their take on the traditional "Wayfaring Stranger" has surprised me. I'd expect a very traditional take on the song, but The Haden Triplets go in an ultra-modern experimental folk direction with it. Does as a tribute to their late father, Charlie Haden, they kept their voices right up front and instrumentation to a bare minimum. All instruments are played in a very slow, haunting way to an intense effect. It's an interesting direction for The Haden Triplets, and for the song itself.

You can watch the lyric video for "Wayfaring Stranger" below. The Family Songbook, the upcoming album from The Haden Triplets, will be out January 24 on Trimeter Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Haden Triplets, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

First Listen: New Releases for 1 November


Artist: Hootie and the Blowfish
Album: Imperfect Circle
Quick Description: Reunion-ish album from the 90s rock band.
Why You Should Listen: Hootie and the Blowfish was one of the most popular bands in the world for a couple years.
Overall Thoughts: I feel like Hootie was the one 1990s rock act that hasn’t reunited (even though they technically never broke up) in the last few years, so this album is perhaps overdue. As someone who found the early Hootie records more favorable than popular history may lead on, this is a perfectly inoffensive Hootie record that is perhaps not as good as their heights, but definitely more listenable than their later output, and definitely miles ahead of the reunion efforts of many of their mid-90s contemporaries. The influence of Darius Rucker’s country career is noticeable, but doesn’t take away from anything here overall. In a slower week, this is definitely worth the time, and you’ll likely find something you like from this.
Recommendation: Better than just a nostalgia hit.


Artist: The Deer
Album: Do No Harm
Quick Description: New album from an indie act.
Why You Should Listen: This has a unique sound that still feels familiar.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know the first thing about this band, but boy did this album jump out at me as something to love. A little folky, a little poppy, a little indie... this is just the whole package and I was completely and totally on board. Even if this week wasn't slow, I'd recommend it.
Recommendation: Worth your time.


Artist: Katie Bulley
Album: Train Insane
Quick Description: Lo-fi garage rock.
Why You Should Listen: The starkness of this is a benefit.
Overall Thoughts: I was really drawn to this album, which has a raw sensibility to it that reminds me of sitting at a party with live music playing my someone you kind of know. It's a solid listen, might not work for everyone, but (and especially in a slower week) I did not want to see something this good get lost in the shuffle.
Recommendation: Give this some time this week.

Of note:

* R.E.M. - Monster (25th Anniversary Edition) (This is better than you remember it.)
* Gang Starr - One of the Best Yet (The perfect version of old-school rap this week.)
* Fenella - Fenella
* Spearmint - Are You From the Future?
* Ags Connolly - Wrong Again
* Wished Bone - Sap Season
* Hermitude - Pollyanarchy
* Michael Kiwanauka - KIWANUKA
* Bedroom Eyes - Nerves
* Grace Cummings - Refuge Cove
* Phil and the Osophers - Rise of the Fall
* Vetiver - Up on High

7 Song:

* CUP - Spinning Creature
* Cate Le Bon/Bradford Cox - Myths 004

Eps:

* Lady Clementine's Fantastic Party - Clementine Season (I really dug this one.)
* Charly Bliss - Supermoon
* Bernice - Stages
* Lupe Fiasco/Wildstyle - Chill's Spotlight
* Skee Mask - Iss04

Also:

* Guided by Voices - Sweating the Plague
* Bobby Hawk - Lights On Kinks Out
* Rachel Grimes - The Way Forth
* Cold War Kids - New Age Norms 1