Friday, August 30, 2019

Calicoco - Remnant

Earlier this year I discovered Calicoco's 2018 album Float, and saying I was blown away would be an understatement. It's been a regular on my musical rotation, so I'm thrilled to have a new EP from Calicoco to check out.

Remnant is a gorgeous and simple release. Until I read about the EP, I had no idea these were simply demos recorded on Giana Caliolo's phone and computer. They may be simple, but they all sound like finished products, at least to my amateur ears. It's four songs of simple, modern folk-ish music. If songs like "Market" and "Now I See It All" sound this complete as compelling as solo acoustic demos, I am impatiently looking forward to a proper release to hear these fully fleshed out!

You can listen to "Market" below. Remnant, the new EP from Calicoco, is available now via Dadstache Records. You can get a copy over at Calicoco's Bandcamp. For more on Calicoco, check out their website.

Friday Freebie: Wuzee - Cyanide Bath

It took me a while to figure out why I like Cyanide Bath from Wuzee. The Michigan rapper has a weird, awkward flow that doesn't really sound like anyone else. It was kind of a challenge to listen to. Then I realized: Wuzee has a weird, awkward flow that doesn't really sound like anyone else. And once it clicks with you, you're 100% in for the rest of the album. Plus, the music isn't smooth and mainstream pop like most of hip hop. There's a weirdness and awkwardness to the music, too, the kind you normally only get with indie rock. Wuzee does the kind of hip hop that helped me bridge the worlds of hip hop I listened to in early high school with the alt- and indie rock that defined my college and adult years. It took me a little bit to tune into that, but it's a sound I didn't know I had been missing as much as I was.

You can listen to "Make Yourself God" below. If you enjoy it, you can download the album using the "name your price" option on Bandcamp. If you choose the $0.00 option, make sure to follow Wuzee on Facebook and/or Twitter.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Partner Covers Rush

Partner are one of those bands I love despite not being their target audience. A middle aged straight cis gendered white dad isn't who a self described "Canadian Queer Post Classic Rock" band envisions as their fan. On the other hand, I'm 100% Rush's target audience, even though I've never been a fan. So what happens when Partner covers Rush?

It works shockingly well. Partner normally perform songs that while they may not be novelty songs are at least humorous. I expected a little bit of tongue in cheek on this cover, the kind we used to get in the 90's when a band would do a semi-ironic cover. Partner play "Limelight" completely straight. Maybe because respecting Rush is Canadian law, but according to Partner:

"We watched a documentary about RUSH and we fell in love with the band. They seem like such nice guys. It caused us to hear the music in a new way, with a much deeper appreciation. By doing the cover, we hoped to pay tribute to our newfound appreciation and to expand our horizons as musicians by learning these unique and complex arrangements."

You can watch Partner's take on "Limelight" for Polaris Cover Sessions below. For more on Partner, check out their website. Current tour dates are below, including an American tour with Titus Andronicus. Sadly, there isn't a New England date, because seeing them opening for Titus Andronicus might be the only way I don't stand out as the Creepy Old Guy at one of their shows.

Oct 31 – Deluxx Fluxx, Detroit MI
Nov 01 – Zanzabar, Louisville, KY
Nov 02 – Drkmttr, Nashville TN
Nov 03 - Low Key Arts, Hot Springs AR
Nov 05 - Club Dada, Dallas TX
Nov 06 – Barracuda, Austin TX
Nov 07 – Satellite, Houston TX
Nov 08 – Santos, New Orleans LA
Nov 09 - Alabama Music Box, Mobile AL
Nov 11 – Churchill's, Miami FL
Nov 12 – Crowbar, Tampa FL
Nov 13 - Will's Pub, Orlando FL
Nov 14 - High Dive, Gainesville FL
Nov 15 - The Earl, Atlanta GA
Nov 16 - 40 Watt Club, Athens GA
Nov 17 - Radio Room, Greenville SC
Nov 18 – Mothlight, Asheville NC
Nov 19 - Pinhook, Durham NC
Nov 20 – The Camel, Richmond VA
Nov 21 – Black Cat, Washington DC
Nov 22 – First Unitarian Church, Philadelphia PA
Nov 23 – The Bowery Ballroom, New York NY


Rosa Bordallo - "Lost on the Coast"

Photo by Varvara Mikushkina
Rosa Bordallo has one of the more interesting bios we've encountered in a while. Born of CHamoru heritage and growing up in Guam, Bordallo moved to New York City at 19 for film school. She has played in post punk band cholo and recorded solo under the name Manett. Her upcoming album is the first under her own name. Her heritage inspires her music, as the indigenous CHamoru have been subjected to brutal occupation by Spanish, Japanese, and American forces. Her move to New York also created an intense sense of distance from her birthplace, both geographically and culturally.

This is reflected in her latest single, "Lost on the Coast." The song is a gorgeously sparse one. Somehow, despite how lo-fi the song and instrumentation is, it's a lush soundscape. It's quiet and lonely, but somehow hopeful. Even though the song is sparse, it has a deceptively complex arrangement. 

You can watch the video for "Lost on the Coast" below. Reef Walker, the upcoming album from Rosa Bordallo, will be out October 18 on Time Castle Recordings. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Rosa Bordallo, check her out on Facebook (which is still under the Manett moniker).

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Ags Connolly - "Wrong Again (You Lose a Life)"

Photo by Kev Lloyd
I had no idea there was a country music scene in the UK. It makes sense that there would be, but hearing country music out of Oxfordshire, England is just surprising to me. Ags Connolly sounds like the South. (The South of the US of A, not England, I should specify.) "Wrong Again (You Lose a Life)" is just pure old fashioned country. It's more George Jones and Willie Nelson than you would ever imagine. The song even mentions Austin, TX. What's truly remarkable is how authentic it sounds. Authentic American sounding country from the UK could come across as hokey or cartoonish, but Connolly pulls it off impeccably. 

You can listen to "Wrong Again (You Lose a Life)" below. Wrong Again, the upcoming album from Ags Connolly, will be out November 1 on Finstock Music. For more on Ags Connolly, check out his website.

Isobel Campbell - "Ant Life"

Photo by Ashley Osbourn
If it feels like it's been a while since we've heard from Isobel Campbell, it's because it has been. Her last album was 2010's Hawk with Mark Lanegan. Since then she moved to Los Angeles from Glasgow and got married. She started working on her new album, but then her label went under which led to years of legal hassle to get the rights to her album back.

Luckily, that's all been settled so we can finally hear the long awaited album. "Ant Life" is pretty much what we'd expect from the former founder of Belle & Sebastian. It's not really twee, but it's a dreamy indie pop song. It's folk-pop with synths, creating an almost magical, dreamlike sound.

You can watch the video for "Ant Life" below. There is No Other, the new album from Isobel Campbell, will be out January 31 on Cooking Vinyl. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Isobel Campbell, check out her website.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

First Listen: New Releases for 23 August

Artist: David Wax Museum
Album: Line of Light
Quick Description: New album by a local and blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: This might be their best effort yet.
Overall Thoughts: This blog likely doesn’t exist if it weren’t for David Wax Museum, so any time there’s a new David Wax Museum album, it’s an event around here. Ken was more into their last proper full-length, Gatehouse, than I was, but I am so happy to note that the tonal shift of that album comes into a full vision with this album. The Mexican folk influences are subdued enough to be in the background (if they exist at all), and what we have is a band entering a phase of their career where more introspective, atmospheric folk is their game and they’re absolutely killing it. A number of these songs grabbed me really quick, and there are so many gorgeous options here that it’s hard to choose an early favorite. I am absolutely looking forward to coming back to this.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week, and one of the best from the band.

Artist: Queen of Jeans
Album: If You're Not Afraid, I'm Not Afraid
Quick Description: Great alt-rock from an indie vet.
Why You Should Listen: Checks a lot of the boxes you're looking for.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been a fan of Queen of Jeans for a while now, and this new album feels like a solid step forward for the band. Solid singer-songwriter-style alt-rock with a lot of catchy hooks combined with great instrumentation and interesting musical choices. This is a really great album, and if you’re looking for the sort of introspective, mid-tempo alt-rockish stuff, put this in your rotation. You won’t regret it.
Recommendation: Make room for this one.

Artist: Jason Hawk Harris
Album: Love and the Dark
Quick Description: Solid country music.
Why You Should Listen: Jason Hawk Harris is looking to surprise you.
Overall Thoughts: Early in this listen, I was thinking this was probably too twangy for me, but I am glad I stuck with it. While this is certainly a well-polished product, the result is something really compelling. Featuring some classic country storytelling along with a few surprises, this ended up being a treat. If you need a little more grit in your country music, this might not work for you, but anyone else willing to give this a shot should be rewarded.
Recommendation: A solid listen.

Artist: Jay Som
Album: Anak Ko
Quick Description: More great alternative/indie music.
Why You Should Listen: This album doesn't play it straight up the middle.
Overall Thoughts: I have enjoyed what Jay Som has offered since first tripping up on it, and this album has the great balance of fuzzy alt-indie to go with a singer-songwriter mentality that just works on a whole. While this is reminiscent of PB in many regards, what I love about this album is that it doesn’t mind getting a little weird from time to time, and it’s to its benefit that it tries some different and interesting things.
Recommendation: Definitely worth the time in a busy week.

Artist: Sunny War
Album: Shell of a Girl
Quick Description: New album by another blog favorite.
Why You Should Listen: After an album that changed things up, this is back to a more basic folk sound.
Overall Thoughts: We like Sunny War around these parts, and her new album feels refreshingly back to basics. Her sense of melody is as good as ever, and her approach still as compelling and interesting as her previous efforts. There’s a lot to like here, and I look forward to spending more time with it as a result.
Recommendation: A great folk album this week.

Artist: Leslie Stevens
Album: Sinner
Quick Description: Attention-grabbing country music.
Why You Should Listen: It feels a little bit classic, but a lot modern.
Overall Thoughts: Some classic country offered up here makes for a really pleasant listen across the board. The tone and presentation here is great, and Leslie Stevens’s voice lends itself to a familiar sound while still feeling unique. We see a lot of stuff like this come across our release piles, but this one really does a good job of standing out.
Recommendation: Worth the time.

Of note:

* The Rembrandts - Via Satellite (This is actually pretty good!)
* Esther Rose - You Made It This Far (Some really great songs here, like "Sex and Magic" and "Only Loving You.")
* Becky Ninkovic - Woe
* Jessi McNeal - The Driveway
* Stella Emmett - Admirer
* Shannon Lay - August
* Lunch Lady - Angel
* Seratones - Power
* The Atom Age - Cry 'Til You Die
* Dharma Bombs - Enjoy the View
* Oh, Rose - While My Father Sleeps
* Redd Kross - Beyond the Door

Seven Song Album:

* Diablogato - Old Scratch


* CHAI/H.E. DEMON KAKKA - Kadamanogonjiro
* Lunch and American Trappist - Lunch With American Trappist
* YVA - Don't Miss It
* Missy Elliott - ICONOGRAPHY
* Jay Gonzalez/Eyelids - Jay Gonzalez Sings Eyelids Sings Jay Gonzalez Sings Eyelids
* No Sister - Influence
* Kirby Forest - Nights Before Treehouse


* Jason Lytle - Arthur King Presents Jason Lytle: NYLONANDJUNO (Art piece from the GD lead.)
* Taylor Swift - Lover
* Infinity Shred - Forever, A Fast Life
* Sheer Mag - A Distant Call

Jason Tyler Burton - "Fires of '88"

Photo by Erica Chambers
Just in case we weren't already excited about the release of the newest album from Jason Tyler Burton next month, the latest single has us amped for summer to be over so we can get a hold of Kentuckian. "Fires of '88" is a great ramblin' country/Americana song. The song was inspired by Burton eavesdropping on a conversation at the Silver Dollar Bar in Cody, Wyoming involving a free spirit bartender who was living out of her car. "Fires of '88" is a smoother storytelling Bob Dylan song, and I mean that in the best possible way. This is a much more upbeat song than the previous ones we've heard from Burton, which says a lot since it gets its title from wildfires in Yellowstone National Park.

You can listen to "Fires of '88" below. Kentuckian, the new album from Jason Tyler Burton, will be out September 6. For more on Jason Tyler Burton, check out his website. Current tour dates are below the song.

09.07 Wind River Brewing, Pinedale, WY
09.27 Healthy Rhythm, Montrose, CO 
09.28 Escalante Canyons Art Festival, Escalante, UT 
10.03 Goodwood Brewing, Louisville, KY 
10.04 The Twisted Cork, Lexington, KY 
10.05 Sky Bridge Station, Pine Ridge, KY 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Warm Red - "Big Tiger"

Atlanta's Warm Red have only been a band for a year, but you wouldn't know that based on their new single. "Big Tiger" is a primal burst of pure indie rock. It's rough, and a little bit uncomfortable, but there's a certain groove throughout it that makes you want to dance. It's an odd song that's not quite fun, even though it kinda is, and somehow menacing, despite being this fun. It's an awkward way to describe a song, but it fits this one, and we're pretty sure you're going to love it.

You can listen to "Big Tiger" below. The song is available as a single with B-side "S.A.M." via Chunklet Industries. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Warm Red, check them out on Bandcamp and Instagram.

Tracy Shedd - "Kissing and Romancing"

Despite having twenty years of indie rock behind her, Tracy Shedd has escaped my knowledge until now. It's especially surprising because she had Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) playing drums for her last tour. She's also had music featured on shows like Dawson's Creek and One Tree Hill, while playing shows with artists as diverse as Cyndi Lauper, Cat Lower, and The Magnetic Fields. She's about to release a new album, and her new song, "Kissing and Romancing," hits right in my sweet spot. It's a noisy, lo-fi affair with swirling guitars aplenty, but it's also a great and engaging pop song. It's exceptionally rare to find a song that so perfectly melds those two disparate genres, but Shedd does it perfectly with "Kissing and Romancing." 

You can watch the video for "Kissing and Romancing" below. Tracy Shedd's new album, The Carolinas, will be out digitally September 20 on Fort Lowell Records. You can pre-order the album over at Bandcamp. The physical version of the album will be out on Science Project Records and can be pre-ordered here. For more information on Tracy Shedd, check out her website.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Forgotten Fridays: Chopper One - Now Playing

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.

Chopper One is the band that features original Weezer guitarist Jason Cropper, who left the band during the recording of The Blue Album and was replaced by Brian Bell. He is also credited as a co-writer on "My Name is Jonas." After leaving Weezer, Cropper formed Chopper One with his wife, Amy Wellner Cropper. In 1997 the band released Now Playing, their debut and final album, which featured the minor hit, "Touch My Fuzz." After Chopper One, Cropper did time in Fliptop and 22 Jacks. He sang the theme song for the massively underrated Andy Richter Controls the Universe, and has done some producing and recording for other bands.

When it was released, I remember enjoying Now Playing but not loving it. It was a little too polished and pop leaning for my tastes. Twenty two years later? It's much better than I remember it being. It's power pop with fuzzy guitars, so not liking it just shows how pretentious I was in college. "Free Lunch" is a ridiculously great song. "Touch My Fuzz" is just as fun as I remember it being. My personal favorite is "Hescher with a Gym Bag," a power pop version of the Pixies's loud/quiet/loud template. 

I can guarantee that Chopper One is far better than you remember them being. If you miss fuzzy power pop with great harmonies and 90's style tongue in cheek lyrics, dust off Now Playing and give it a shot.

Friday Freebie: Secret Spirit

Manchester, NH's Secret Spirit describe their music as "Punk rock from some spooky boys" on Facebook and "Melodic punk rock from future punk dads" on Bandcamp. One thing is for sure... I'm probably way too old to like their self-titled album, but when you play The Mighty Mighty Bosstones's Cranking and Skanking Fest you're going to get some middle aged guys as fans. The album is filled with these great thrashy, fast, melodic punk songs. It reminds me a lot of a heavier, more scream heavy early Jawbreaker. The album opens with "Feel Good," which is a pretty killer shout along punk song that is impossibly catchy. "Harpoon" brings the heavy and screaming in the best possible way. "Mother Fucker" appears to be the single, and could be a huge hit... if it wasn't for the name... or the fact that there aren't really hit rock songs any more.

You can watch the video for "Mother Fucker" below. You can get Secret Spirit's self-titled album as a pay what you want download at Bandcamp. As always, if you choose the $0.00 option, at least be sure to give the band a like on Facebook.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Los Blancos - "Dilyn Iesu Grist"

Photo by The Shoot
According to their press release, Los Blancos are "Welsh psych-punkers." With their new single, "Dilyn Iesu Grist" [English translation: Follow Jesus Christ], that's pretty accurate. The song starts off as this bouncy track that has the fun and trippy aspects of psychedelia but the speed of punk. It's all crashing symbols and swirling, fuzzy as hell guitars. It stops just short of aggression and feels more like a celebration. And then the instrumental finish happens. As much as you're loving the first half of this song, prepare yourself to become completely obsessed once the second half kicks in. Somehow this song is under three minutes long, which will hardly be enough for your needs.

You can listen to "Dilyn Iesu Grist" below. Sbwriel Gwyn, the new album from Los Blancos, will be out September 27 on Libertino Records. For more on Los Blancos, check them out on Facebook and Twitter

that dog. - "If You Just Didn't Do It"

Photo via Facebook
It feels like we've been waiting forever for this, but there is finally a new song from that dog.'s upcoming new album! "If You Just Didn't Do It" is exactly what we want from that dog. in 2019. It keeps some of the noisier and more quirky aspects of their first couple of albums while maintaining the more straightforward pop from Retreat From the Sun. It's also twenty years later, so it has a more mature feel without mellowing out and while still sounding like that dog. Any time one of your favorites gets back together to put out a new album and especially when an original member decides not to rejoin (Petra Haden isn't taking part in the reunion), it isn't always great. "If You Just Didn't Do It?" Pretty great.

You can listen to "If You Just Didn't Do It" below. Old LP, the new album from that dog. (and I'll never get sick of saying that) will be out October 4. For more on that dog., check them out on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Kim Gordon - "Sketch Artist"

Photo via Facebook
Despite being in the music scene for nearly forty years and being in such integral groups as Free Kitten, Body/Head, and, of course, Sonic Youth, Kim Gordon has yet to release a solo album. That changes in October with the release of No Home Record, Gordon's first solo album. If her new song "Sketch Artist" is indicative of the album, it's not at all what you'd expect. "Sketch Artist" is extraordinarily bass heavy and is mostly an electronic song. I'm going to use my very limited knowledge of electronic music (which is mostly from the 90's) and say it combines the discordance and menace of Aphex Twin with the drum and bass of Roni Size. For a new sound that is this unexpected, I'm going to have to take some extra time to adjust to this one, but I'm pretty sure I like it. It's definitely a good and interesting song.

You can watch the video for "Sketch Artist" below. No Home Record will be out October 11 on Matador Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Kim Gordon, check out her website.

Live Shows: Courtney Barnett, Prescott Park Arts Festival, Portsmouth, NH 8/19/19

Photo by Ken Sears
There's a lot of talk about guitar driven rock needing a new savior. That the genre is dying and we need a new rock star to bring the kids away from hip hop and EDM back into rock. There are countless articles out there proclaiming this band or that band to be the new heroes of rock, when we've had her staring us in the face all this time: Courtney Barnett.

Based on her recorded material, Courtney Barnett is rock, sure. But she's not ROCK. Her live show is a completely different story. Her performance earlier this week at the Prescott Park Arts Festival in Portsmouth, NH was revelatory. Playing as just a three piece band, her songs were transformed from fun bouncy alt-rockers into full fledged early 90's style hard rock songs. "I'm Not Your Mother, I'm Not Your Bitch" became a straight up metal song. "Pedestrian At Best" could have easily been mistaken for a cover of Nirvana's "Breed," which I did at first. Her band played with that perfect mix of slacker looseness and professionalism you want in 90's style rock.

Not to mention that Barnett is an incredibly charismatic performer. While she chatted with the crowd a few times, her true charm is in her playing. She stalked virtually every inch of the stage while playing, with the entire crowd captivated the entire time. She has the draw of artists like Evan Dando and Kurt Cobain but without the self destructive tendencies. It was an energy not typically seen at Prescott Park, which is normally a venue where the crowd chills out on blankets and lawn chairs for the entire set. Courtney Barnett brought in some die hard fans who ditched the blankets for standing as close to the stage as fire codes allowed. It really helped the energy of the performance for everyone involved.

Do yourself a favor and go see Courtney Barnett as soon as you possibly can. She's grown as a performer exponentially since the last time I saw her (2015). It will be impossibly for her to not be playing small arenas by the time her next album rolls around.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Colleen Green Covers Blink 182

Blink 182 have always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. I always felt I was too old for them, their lyrics were always embarrassing (but fun!), and as their audiences got younger as they got bigger, I just had to bail. But this is just beyond perfect for me. Colleen Green has released Blink 182's "Dude Ranch" as played by Colleen Green, which is exactly what it sounds like. Colleen Green first came to my attention by covering the Descendents's "Good Good Things." Her extreme lo-fi version of a punk classic works for me, and she's taking the same approach to Blink 182. Right now there are only three songs available to stream: "Waggy" and "I'm Sorry" over at Bandcamp, and "Dammit" on Soundcloud. If the rest are like this, sign us up.

You can listen to Colleen Green's take on "Dammit" below. Blink 182's "Dude Ranch" as played by Colleen Green is available digitally on Bandcamp and on cassette via Burger Records. For more on Colleen Green, check out her Facebook and Twitter.

The Atom Age - "Never Looking"

The latest from The Atom Age, "Never Looking," keeps the classic garage rock sound we loved in "Walk Through Walls," but changes things up slightly. Instead of vintage garage rock with surf and classic rock, "Never Looking" has a little bit of a pop punk edge. Plus, the song isn't quite discordant to be noise rock, but there is a powder keg of noise lying just below the surface, threatening to go off at any moment. It's a fast, loose song that barrels through all of that in just over two minutes.

You can watch the video for "Never Looking" below. Cry Til You Die, the new album from The Atom Age, will be out August 23 on Tiger Dream/Asian Man Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on The Atom Age, Check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

First Listen: New Releases for 16 August

Artist: Field Mouse
Album: Meaning
Quick Description: New album from indie favorites in these parts.
Why You Should Listen: This is a much more introspective, quiet record in many regards.
Overall Thoughts: Field Mouse has been a favorite of ours since we tripped up on them. Their first album was in constant rotation, their second a nice sidestep into a more robust, mature sound, and this new album continues that evolutionary trend. Equal parts witty and introspective (not that the ideas are exclusive to each other), the more prominent acoustic guitar combined with a continued separation from the more dreamy alt-rock that put FM on the radar makes for an interesting listen that I fully enjoyed on first listen while wondering what else it will uncover in future rotations. Definitely one of the better releases of the week.
Recommendation: A must-listen this week.

Artist: Lillie Mae
Album: Other Girls
Quick Description: Expertly crafted roots music.
Why You Should Listen: Lillie Mae is about as singular you can get in this genre.
Overall Thoughts: Lillie Mae’s debut was an album we loved, and her unique take on a traditional roots sound is amplified (literally and figuratively) on this new record, which still feels like the sort of dusty bar country you expect with the Third Man flair pinned to it. Like Field Mouse, it’s something I liked but it is definitely different in a few ways that I look forward to exploring further on the next listens.
Recommendation: Either way, don’t miss it.

Artist: Eilen Jewell
Album: Gypsy
Quick Description: Great country sound from another favorite.
Why You Should Listen: I've liked Jewell for a long time and this is a great reminder why.
Overall Thoughts: I’ve been an Eilen Jewell booster since I found Queen of the Minor Key forever ago. In a way, this is probably my favorite listen of hers since when I first found out about her music (sans one really cringe-worthy ode to the wage gap; the politics of which are outside the bounds of this blog), as it is well-polished and catchy as all get-out. One of her best, and a listen worth your time this week.
Recommendation: Make time for this.

Artist: Sleater-Kinney
Album: The Center Won't Hold
Quick Description: Long-awaited new album from some indie rock royalty.
Why You Should Listen: Produced by Annie Clark (of St. Vincent), this will likely be fairly divisive, and it's worth listening to for that reason alone.
Overall Thoughts: This is a great St. Vincent record as played by S-K. S-K is a force onto itself, which is why it is such a jarring shift from a band that rarely sounds exactly the same from record to record, but this shift is clearly a bridge too far for many listeners and I get that. Taken as an album without the history of the band behind it, this is a solid listen, but given that we cannot separate S-K from the album, it turns out that this is just not what anyone was asking for. It can go either way, I guess, but I am curious to see how this holds up long-term.
Recommendation: People will be talking about this one, so find out where you stand.

Artist: The Rails
Album: Cancel the Sun
Quick Description: Alt-rock that just works.
Why You Should Listen: The Rails always seem to have a pretty solid grasp on what makes a good song.
Overall Thoughts: Their last album was pretty decent although it didn’t have a ton of staying power for me. This one, however, has a few songs that really jump out early and make this a much more worthwhile listen on a while. This could be an album that brings them a lot more fans, so give this a shot.
Recommendation: Give this a listen.

Artist: Lizzie No
Album: Vanity
Quick Description: Sharp singer-songwriter pop.
Why You Should Listen: This is a well-produced, solid listen.
Overall Thoughts: Missed this one a few weeks ago, but this is the sort of singer-songwriter pop rock record that everyone seems to want to seek out but can’t always fine. There’s a lot to love here in this album, from the catchy choruses to some truly impressive guitar work. While it doesn’t take a lot of chances, it makes up for staying in its lane by simply being a lot better than what it is up against. Here is a hope that this brings LN the success she appears to deserve thanks to this record.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Of note:

* Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors - Dragons (Radio-friendly roots rock, some of their best work since “Here We Go.”)
* Friendly Fires - Inflorescent(Solid synthy listen.)
* Rodney Crowell - Texas
* Shura - forevher
* The Hold Steady - Thrashing Through the Passion
* Frank Turner - No Man's Land
* Versus - Ex Voto
* King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard - Infest the Rat's Nest


* Jonah Ray - You Can't Call Me Al (A bunch of punk rock Weird Al covers.)
* Travels With Brindle - Greetings From Rocky Point (Local busker folk, and a good listen at that.)
* Christie - Christie
* Surfer Blood - Hourly Haunts EP
* Debby Friday - Death Drive
* Slow Pulp - Big Day


* Ikebe Shakedown - Things Left Behind
* Thee Oh Sees - Face Stabber

Monday, August 19, 2019

Lightning Bolt - "Air Conditioning"

Picture via Facebook
I just discovered that Lightning Bolt have been around for twenty five years, which seems impossible to me. But then I remember that my introduction to them (seeing them play with Sonic Youth at Lupo's in Providence) was almost seventeen years ago, and now I feel ancient. Twenty Five years put Lightning Bolt into the classic rock category, and their new single, "Air Conditioning," kind of reflects that. In the past, vocals were always in the background of the clusterfuck created by guitar and drums. With this new song, vocals are more up front, and there is almost some semblance of song structure? But long time fans of the band have nothing to worry about. This may be the closest Lightning Bolt have come to Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath, but it's still Lightning Bolt. By their standards it's a straightforward rock song, but their standards are quite different from most bands. "Air Conditioning" is still an out of control burst of pure noise fury.

You can listen to "Air Conditioning" below. Sonic Citadel, the upcoming album from Lightning Bolt, will be out October 11 on Thrill Jockey. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Lightning Bolt, check out their website.

Live Shows: Spirit Family Reunion, Sabine McCalla at the Columbus Theatre, Providence, RI

After not getting out to any live shows for a number of years, hitting two just this past summer is an impressive feat in and of itself. Seeing a favorite in an old restored theater? Even better.

First, I had never set eyes on the Columbus Theatre before, and seeing that Spirit Family Reunion was playing at the same venue Jenny Lewis and Rhett Miller are booked at confused me. Turns out that the Columbus has a unique and awesome setup where the balcony level has been converted to a second, more intimate stage. Perfect size for a band like Spirit Family Reunion, and perfect for the type of atmosphere I was hoping for from the show.

Opening act was Sabine McCalla. Accompanied by her dog (who was a big hit on its own), McCalla gave us a set sprinkled with old music and new songs from her Folk EP alike. To say that she was great would be an understatement - McCalla had a presence on stage that was impossible to ignore, with one of the most gorgeous voices I've hears in some time and a presentation (solo with electric guitar) that complements the entire presentation nicely. I did not expect to be blown away the way I was, but those who opted not to come early missed out.

Spirit Family Reunion followed up with a fun, raucous set not only full of energy on its own, but one that successfully shifted itself to fit the mood of the crowd. Ken and I first saw the band open for David Wax Museum in Boston back in 2011 at the Arlington Street Church, and I fell in love immediately. I saw them a second time shortly after, but then my live show hiatus began. Since then, the band has shuffled some members out, added some members in, and the result is a really tight squad of musicians doing some of their best work in real time.

This was a truly spectacular performance. A mix of old songs along with selections from their new album, the band was excited and energized throughout the whole thing. Lots of seat dancing led to some setlist changes, a lot of humor and warmth between the performers and the audience, and even an impromptu dance party in the latter half of the show capped off an evening that was really special. The final few songs featured McCalla on their cover of the protest tune "It Isn't Nice" and a handful of other selections, and the merch table was very busy at the end of the night, which I hope bodes well for the band as well.

I think their new album is really solid and will be a favorite this year. What is great is not only the extra vibrancy that the live performance gives the new material, but how the trend of the band from a lo-fi four piece you could picture on a rural front porch to a legitimate act with six members and a polished presentation. Even something like having washboard percussion, which can often come across as hokey or unserious, feels essential to the overall package here (and, on a few songs, could legitimately be considered a feature player). Lead singer/guitarist Nick Panken had full command of the room, and Maggie Carson's banjo playing continues to be the underrated secret sauce of this band for me. The tone set with the enthusiasm of the band and the crowd eating up every moment made for what is probably one of my favorite live experiences period.

Spirit Family Reunion is finishing up some dates now, but I hope they're able to hit the road again soon. Don't miss them if they're in your area, because they're probably at the peak of their game right now. Ride Free came out last week and is available everywhere; check out my review last week.

Sabine McCalla has a few irons in the fire, but her Folk EP is available digitally.

Friday, August 16, 2019

BODEGA - "Shiny New Model"

Photo by Kristen Kay Thoen
Our favorite art party rockers out of Brooklyn are back with a new song! BODEGA have just released a video for "Shiny New Model," which is off an upcoming EP. While the songs off last year's Endless Scroll were a wonderfully weird mix of hip hop, post punk, and folk, "Shiny New Model" is almost just a straightforward song. By most bands this might be an odd little song, but for BODEGA it's surprisingly normal. It's almost like a post punk top 40 ballad, but maybe just a tiny bit faster, and with a killer guitar solo.

You can watch the video for "Shiny New Model" below. Shiny New Model, the EP, will be out October 11 on What's Your Rupture. You can pre-order the EP here. For more on BODEGA, check them out on Facebook and Instagram

Joel Paterson Covers The Beatles

There's nothing I have to write about the importance of The Beatles and their influence on the entire world. Vintage aficionado Joel Paterson agrees, and he's set to release an entire album of Beatles covers. The first single is a cover of "Michelle." "Michelle" isn't very high on my list of personal favorite Beatles songs, but this cover is spectacular. It's vintage sounding and instrumental, with guitars being the focus. There's a bit of a surf edge to it, and it's fun to hear a song we're all so familiar with reimagined this way. 

JD McPherson wrote the liner notes for the album, and he describes it this way: “Each of Joel’s interpretations of these songs are concise, genre-bending, stylish tone poems, mixing both Joel’s and the Beatles’ own century-spanning inspirations into one zesty musical stew."

You can listen to Joel Peterson's version of "Michelle" below. Let It Be Guitar! Joel Paterson Plays The Beatles will be out September 20 on Bloodshot Records. You can pre-order your copy here. For more on Joel Paterson, check out his website.

Live Shows: The Queers, The Prozacs, and Dirty Walter and The Smelltones, Ralph's Rock Diner, Worcester, MA 8/14/19

Even though I've been a fan of The Queers for over twenty years, I had only seen them once before, and that was opening for The Mighty Mighty Bosstones at a recent Hometown Throwdown. I had yet to see their own show, which simply doesn't make sense for a (semi) local band that has been around seemingly forever. Once they announced a headlining show less than an hour from my house, in a venue with its own parking lot no less, I simply had to go.

As I walked up the stairs into the upstairs area of Ralph's, I could hear one of the opening bands playing a cover of "In the Still of the Night." I'm a sucker for a punk rock cover of a classic oldie, so I was pretty happy. Turns out Dirty Walter and The Smelltones play nothing but covers of oldies. They also busted out versions of "Sherry" by Franki Valli and the Four Seasons, "Please Mr. Postman" by The Marvelettes, and "It's My Party" by Leslie Gore. They also crammed nuggets of Nirvana and Metallica into some of these songs for good measure. A funny thing happened during their set. I kept bouncing between enjoying it and being annoyed by the gimmick. A song would start, I'd be annoyed that it was yet another one of these feeling that the joke was old, but by the end of the song I'd be bopping away and fully enjoying myself. Somehow Dirty Walter and The Smelltones pulled off an entire set of oldies punk covers through sheer charm and fun.

The Prozacs were next, and were basically the exact kind of band you'd expect to open for The Queers. They're a bratty punk band that heavily leans towards the pop end of punk. The band took the stage with 3/4 wearing their own shirts. It took a while, but they very slowly won me over. Are The Prozacs a good band? Not really. Their ode to Jack the Ripper, "The Ripper," includes the lyrics "Hey Jack / Jack the Ripper / What you did was really fucked up." But you don't always have to be a good band when you're as fun as The Prozacs ended up being, and sometimes that's all you really need.

Then The Queers took the stage. You know what you're getting at a Queers show at this point. It was a just short of an hour burst of fast heavily Ramones and Beach Boys inspired bratty, obnoxious punk rock, which is what a packed Ralph's wanted. This was an audience of die hard fans yelling along to just about all their songs. You forget how many simply great songs The Queers have: "I Met Her At the Rat," "This Place Sucks," "Love Love Love," "Monster Zero," "Night of the Living Queers," and "Granola Head" were all played to a great ovation. The band even brought out original member Wimpy Rutherford for a rare treat to sing a few songs like "Kicked Out of the Webelos." By the time they got to their biggest hit, "Punk Rock Girls," I had almost forgot the song existed. It says a lot when a band could have skipped their most well known song without the audience knowing or caring.

Apologies to Time Out Timmy, the very first band to go on. I missed your set completely, but a four band bill on a Wednesday night is a lot to ask of this aging hipster. I promise to catch you next time.