Friday, August 7, 2020

Juanita Stein - "Snapshot"

Juanita Stein, formerly of Howling Bells, is set to release her third solo album. "Snapshot," the new single from the album, has some folk adjacent qualities, but is otherwise hard to pin down. It's almost mainstream, but goes off in too many bizarre directions to be mainstream, even though it's definitely not exactly experimental. It starts off in a hypnotic, kind of mellow way, and then just progresses into a more full, more odd direction. And then it just keeps evolving into different directions. It's almost like the song branches out like a tree while the main structure remains the same. If anything, it's similar to some of The Beatles's more oddball songs.

You can watch the video for "Snapshot" below. Snapshot, the new album from Juanita Stein, will be out October 2 on Nude Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Juanita Stein, check out her website.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Anne Malin - "Empty is the Day"

Photo by Rachel Winslow
Gothic country should be a much bigger genre. the duo known as Anne Malin recently moved from South Bend, IN to Nashville, and are set to release their second album. The first single, "Empty is the Day," may not be for everyone, but it really should be. The song is gorgeous, but also a rough listen. The song is purposefully painful, almost like traditional country listened to through an dark prism. "Haunted" is a cliched description for music, but "Empty is the Day" sounds truly haunted, almost as if singer Anne Malin Ringwalt simply needs to exorcise herself the song in order to be free of it. If that doesn't convince you to listen, I don't know what will.

You can listen to "Empty is the Day" below. Waiting Song, the new album from Anne Malin, will be out October 2. You can pre-order a copy on Bandcamp. For more on Anne Malin, check out their website.

Jesse Roper - "Right Now"

British Columbia's Jesse Roper is making folk music for giant festivals. His latest single, "Right Now," takes the normally quiet and personal genre and makes it huge. Sure, there are other folk/Americana artists that play arenas, but they typically lose what makes folk great. "Right Now" is a huge arena ready folk/rock song that keeps the true spirit of folk alive, despite being a huge rock song. It starts off simply enough, like most more mainstream folk songs do these days. And then it just keeps getting bigger and louder as the song goes on. Plus, it couldn't be more obvious in its political leanings. As the press release says, "Roper doesn't expect this song to change the world. He does, however, want to rock the fuck out, sing things into a microphone that he believes, and crush guitar riffs."

You can listen to "Right Now" below. Horizons, the upcoming album from Jesse Roper, will be out soon. For more on Jesse Roper, check out his Facebook.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Mickey Leigh's Mutated Music - "Little Cristine"

Photo by Gregory Berg
Mickey Leigh is best knows as Joey Ramone's brother and the author of I Slept With Joey Ramone: A Family Memoir. He's also been in bands since he was ten, including Birdland (with music journalist Lester Bangs), The Rattlers, and Sibling Rivalry (with Joey Ramone). Anyone with this kind of musical legacy will immediately get a listen from us, and his latest single does not disappoint. 

His current project, Mickey Leigh's Mutated Music, has released a single. "Little Cristine" is a catchy as hell garage punk rock song. It's fuzzed out with huge guitars and a groove that has to be heard. If you were even slightly intrigued by his bio, "Little Cristine" is going to be a perfect listen for you.

You can watch the video for "Little Cristine" below. The song is available as a single on transparent red vinyl via Wicked Cool Records (and digitally) here. For more on Mickey Leigh's Mutated Music, check out his website.

Crawlies - "Old News"

Photo by Mark Howe
When a band forms over a shared love of Yo La Tengo, any aging Gen-X hipster can't help but check them out. Hailing from Sheffield, Crawlies are far from a Yo La Tengo cover band, but the influence is definitely there. Their new single, "Old News," is a progressively glorious slow burn of an indie rock jam. It has more of the dreamy, swirling quality than aggressive noise, and will suck you straight in as you listen. It's all harmonies and organ, and I promise you it's far more compelling than that sounds. 

Tom of Crawlies explains the song: 

“It started off as a demo with just Sarah and a keyboard but we changed it to an organ and added a big fuzzy bassline and some drums to make it sound bolder. It’s very simple but sounds really interesting when it builds up to the louder sections and almost turns from ‘sad and a bit lonely’ into this big cathartic release. When the drums change at the end it makes me want to give someone a hug.”

You can watch the video for "Old News" below. Crawlies's self titled debut will be out August 7 on Delicious Clam. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Crawlies, check out the band's Facebook.

First Listen: New Releases for 31 July

Artist: Phoebe Ryan
Album: How It Used to Feel
Quick Description: Debut album from a great pop singer-songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: If you're into pop music at all, you probably know a handful of her songs already.
Overall Thoughts: She's worked with a lot of good names, but this is her first solo album after a number of really solid singles and collaborations under her name. I really enjoyed this one for a lot of reasons, and part of it is how subtly good a lot of this is. None of it is in-your-face pop music like so many of her contemporaries, but there's something here that sticks in a way a lot of other pop efforts don't. It's a relatively short week, so this might be a good adventure to go on if this isn't your genre.
Recommendation: Worth your time.

Artist: Dizzy
Album: The Sun and Her Scorch
Quick Description: Solid Canadian indie pop.
Why You Should Listen: This is like a nice breeze on these hot summer days.
Overall Thoughts: I liked Dizzy's first album because I tend to gravitate toward lower-key indie pop stuff from time to time, and this follow-up is just as gorgeous and interesting. There's a dynamic here that's missing from a lot of acts, and it shows through in songs like "Roman Candles," in particular. There are some layers to this, so it's worth a good listen this week.
Recommendation: A great album this week.

Of note:

* Mirah/Various Artists - You Think It's Like This But Really It's Like This (Reissue with a second disc of covers.)
* These Liminal Days - Shapes of Heaven (Great ambient music.)
* Gillian Welch - Boots No. 2: The Lost Songs, Vol. 1 (I've really liked these odds and sods comps from Welch.)
* Madeline Kenney - Sucker's Lunch
* Lauren Bousfield - Palimpsest
* Cold Beaches - Drifter
* NOFX and Frank Turner - West Coast vs. Wessex
* In Love With a Ghost - Playful Spirits
* Nelson Can - Solo Desire: Remixed Together, Vol. 4 (Electricks)
* Fontaines D.C. - A Hero's Death

Seven Song Albums:

* !!! - Certified Heavy Kats


* Wye Oak and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus - No Horizon
* Jordana - Something to Say
* Halsey - Collabs
* ricky retro - 6-Pack
* Le Ren - Morning and Melancholia
* Oklou - Galore

Also out:

* Charley Crockett - Welcome to Hard Times
* Alanis Morrissette - Such Pretty Forks in the Road
* Alain Johannes - Hum
* The Psychedelic Furs - Made of Rain
* Martha Rose - Undress and Dive After

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Bonnie Whitmore - "Right / Wrong"

Photo by Eryn Brooke
Bonnie Whitmore has a ridiculous musical pedigree. She started out in a band with her parents and sister (Eleanor, now one half of The Mastersons), has played with Hayes Carll, John Moreland, Jimmie Dale Gilmour, and more, and has kept up a weekly residency at the Continental Club Gallery in Austin. Her latest single, "Right / Wrong," is a blend of mainstream folk singer/songwriter, country, and a little blues thrown is, particularly in Whitmore's voice. The song is infinitely compelling, bordering on multiple genres and combining them into a hybrid without committing too deeply into any of them. It's both unique and familiar at the same time.

You can listen to "Right / Wrong" below. For  more on Bonnie Whitmore, check out her website.

The Jacklights - "Bad Memory"

We knew there would be songs written about COVID-19 and the quarantine, but luckily most have been pretty good. The latest is from Boston's The Jacklights. "Bad Memory" is a pop punk song without the overproduced sheen covering most pop punk. It's catchy and fun, but with a little bit of grunge covering it. This could be since it's still at the demo phase, but it's nice to see a pop punk song that's more punk than pop. As far as the pandemic, the song may be stuck in how miserable everything is currently but stays hopeful with the lyrics "Someday this will all be a bad memory / But today is just another shitty day."

You can listen to "Bad Memory" below. The song is currently available for the "name your price" option on The Jacklights's Bandcamp. For more on The Jacklights, check them out on Facebook and Instagram.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters Cover Mary Margaret O’Hara

I have to admit that I was completely unfamiliar with Mary Margaret O'Hara before listening to Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters's cover of her song "You Will Be Loved Again." The original, from her 1988 album Miss America, is a gorgeously stripped down song, that is mostly just O'Hara's vocals with less instrumentation than you could believe possible. For Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters's version, it's still a gorgeously stripped down song, with just the slightest increase in instruments, and purely mesmerizing harmonies between the group. It's the kind of cover that is so compelling, you'll be almost forced to go back and track down the original.

Tanya Donelly says of the song:

“I first heard Mary Margaret O’Hara on the Throwing Muses tour bus in 1988. When Ivo from 4AD gave us a cassette of her album Miss America ~ we instantly fell in love, and it’s my favorite to this day. ‘You Will Be Loved Again’ is one of the purest and most loving messages in song, and The Parkington Sisters and I wanted to end our album with it for this reason.”

You can listen to Tanya Donelly and the Parkington Sisters take on "You Will Be Loved Again" below. The self-titled album will be out August 14 on American Laundromat Records. You can pre-order a copy here. Since traditional touring or release parties are impossible right now, there will be two listening parties on the 14th. The first will be at 3:00 pm on Newbury Comics's Twitter. The second will be at 8:00 and will be hosted by ONCE Somerville. You can get into that one here.

Izzy Heltai - "The Stranger You've Become"

Photo by Joanna Chattman
There's just something about Izzy Heltai that we simply can't get enough of. The Northampton, Massachusetts singer/songwriter expertly balances mainstream roots and Americana with a more alt-folk sound. His latest single, "The Stranger You've Become," shows just how true that is. The song blends alt-country and modern folk expertly, sometimes sounding a little more country and other times a little more folk. But "The Stranger You've Become" has the intensely personal and intimate feel of a bedroom recording even though it's a fully fleshed out full band song. 

Izzy Heltai explains the meaning of his new song:

"The majority of us choose to engage in the realities of other people with the best of intentions, not wanting to deceive. We aren’t faced day to day with the reality of how malleable our words and truths can actually be. Our realities are just collectively agreed-upon terms, rules, and conditions. The fact that I can look at a rubber duck, point to it, and claim that it is a rubber duck is only possible because we have all agreed that that is in fact what the physical object is. But what happens if someone comes along, points at that same object and tells you with absolute certainty that you’re wrong, and that object is indeed a hat? If no one else is there to tell you otherwise, who are you to believe that your interpretation of this object is based in more truth than theirs? When you’re intimately involved with someone, it is often difficult or nearly impossible to identify when this is happening. When you finally get out, it can be earth-shattering. The idea that you’ve been with a stranger, that you’ve been tricked. It’s a type of trust that can be extremely difficult to recultivate." 

You can listen to "The Stranger You've Become" below. Father, the debut album from Izzy Heltai, will be out October 9. You can pre-order the album via Bandcamp. For more on Izzy Heltai, check out his website.

Friday, July 31, 2020

Jenny Banai - "Gold"

The lack of anything resembling summer this year has caused me to latch onto anything even remotely summery. This might be why I love the latest single from Vancouver's Jenny Banai so much. "Gold" is a refreshing little slightly off-kilter folk/pop. It lands almost completely squarely into the mainstream side of things, except for the slightest feel of whimsy. It stops just shy of twee, but that's mainly because of the power of Banai's vocals. She has something inherently soulful about her voice without singing soul music. 

Jenny Banai explains her song "Gold":

"The first lyrics of my latest single, 'Gold,' are I'm returning. What does it mean to return? In one ancient context, it means to repent. To repent also means to change direction.

This song was birthed from a direction switch I needed in my own heart; a reminder that my breath is for peace and truth. This is my source and my hope.

One day, driving around the city, I had this image pop into my head of golden streets above our own, an existence that is unseen yet somehow covers our reality.

I imagined a reality existing at the same time as our own, where peace and truth come from, where ancient and ageless hands are working, softening, moving, molding."

You can listen to "Gold" below. The song is currently available as a single via Jenny Banai's Bandcamp. For more on Jenny Banai, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Dream Nails - "Vagina Police 2.0"

Photo by Marieke Macklon
This is definitely not a song written for two cis, straight, middle aged dads, but I have a feeling we're going to be loving this band for a while. The latest single from England's Dream Nails is called "Vagina Police 2.0." It's the exact kind of punk I truly love. It's loud, and brash, and catchy as possible. It's more mocking in its tone than destructive, and fits right in with the current riot grrrl revival, but with British accents which just adds to the whole feeling. 

Drummer Lucy Katz explains that the song is... “our battle-cry against the persistent and pathetic-yet-insidious obsession of the state to police our bodies at any cost. It’s a song about reproductive rights and (in)justice in all its forms.” Bassist Mimi Jassson also says: “From abortions being illegal, to forced sterilization of trans people. We stand in solidarity with our trans siblings in the face of the UK’s repression of trans rights.”

You can watch the video for "Vagina Police 2.0" below. Dream Nails's self-titled debut will be out August 28 on Dine Alone in North America and Alcopop! everywhere else. You can pre-order the album via Bandcamp. For more on Dream Nails, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, July 30, 2020

MAITA Covers Elliott Smith

Photo via Facebook
To celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of Elliott Smith's 1995 self-titled album (and the deluxe reissue, of course, Kill Rock Stars has asked MAITA to cover Smith's "Coming Up Roses." MAITA's version is an obviously faithful cover, albeit a little more grungey than Smith's original. She absolutely nails the "... and I don't need your permission" line in a goosebumps producing way. Our favorite covers are the ones that balance staying true to the original while still adding something unique, and MAITA does that perfectly here. 

You can listen to MAITA's take on "Coming Up Roses" below. Elliott Smith: Expanded 25th Anniversary Edition will be out August 28 on Kill Rock Stars. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on MAITA, check out the artist's website.

King Buzzo with Trevor Dunn - "Delayed Clarity"

In a better world than ours, King Buzzo's latest acoustic album would have come out back in June, I would have gone to see him at Great Scott (RIP Great Scott), and we'd all be filled with the joy from both experiences. Instead, Gift of Sacrifice was delayed until August 14, and we're just hearing the third song off the album. "Delayed Clarity" is a six and a half minute song that goes about three minutes before there are any vocals. And (in a word that may never have been used with anything Melvins related before) it's beautiful. Granted, King Buzzo's vocals could never be described as beautiful, but once he starts singing, the menace you get in his voice complements the beauty of the music surprisingly well. And then the song ends in thirty seconds of electric squall to cleanse the palate of any Melvins fans listening.

You can listen to "Delayed Clarity" below. Gift of Sacrifice, the upcoming album from King Buzzo with Trevor Dunn, will be out August 14 on Ipecac Recordings. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on King Buzzo, check out The Melvins's website.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Tricky featuring Marta - "Thinking Of"

Photo by Erik Weiss
By now we should all know the sound of Tricky. He's been making some of the world's finest trip hop for multiple decades, and he's a living legend of the genre. His newest single, "Thinking Of," moves back towards his classic sound than the previous single's ("Fall Please") more pop leaning sound. This isn't quite Tricky's dark trip hop of the 90's, but a lighter, more positive sound. Like "Fall Please," "Thinking Of" also features vocalist Marta, who Tricky discovered before a concert in Poland where he was left without a vocalist. The promoter suggested Marta, who was working in a nearby bar.

You can listen to "Thinking Of" below. Fall to Pieces, the upcoming album from Tricky, will be out September 4 on False Idols. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Tricky, check out his website.

Castle Rat - "It Isn't Clean"

Photo by Savannah Lauren
Recently Riley Pinkerton popped up in my mind. It's been a couple of years since we heard any new music from the unique roots artist, so I went to her Facebook to see what she's been up to. The most recent post, dated August 15, 2019, said "Riley Pinkerton will be continuing forth for the foreseeable future as the frontwoman of Castle Rat..." Intrigued, I checked out Castle Rat.

According to Castle Rat's Bandcamp, the band isn't fronted by Riley Pinkerton but by Rat Queen. She's joined by The Count, Dr. Mouse, and Sgt. Young. To say Castle Rat presents a departure for the now Rat Queen is to put it mildly. Their debut single, "It Isn't Clean," is a Black Sabbath meets early Alice Cooper style metal. It's heavy, but in that 70's style, with some glam thrown in for good measure. It's an unexpected sound, but one that we aren't arguing!

You can listen to "It Isn't Clean" below. The song is currently available via Castle Rat's Bandcamp. For more on Castle Rat, check out the band's Facebook.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

First Listen: New Releases for 24 July

Artist: Taylor Swift
Album: folklore
Quick Description: Surprise folkish release from the pop megastar.
Why You Should Listen: It's either good to be on the pulse of popular music, or good to hear a nice change of pace from one of the world's most famous singers.
Overall Thoughts: It's difficult to listen to Taylor Swift in a vacuum. Her star power is so bright, and the weight behind everything she produces so strong, that it's hard to just take something she puts out on its own. From her shift from pop country to straight out Top 40 music, combined with her very confessional and in-your-face lyricism, it's hard to just let go, but folklore tries, in a pandemic setting, to put some distance between Taylor Swift the star and Taylor Swift the songwriter. Here's the thing: this album is the real deal, and is arguably some of the best music she's put out (with the understanding that she has produced some superlative pop and country songs in the past). The tone here matches the confessional nature of her songwriting, and it remains interesting not only because Swift is such a singular entity but also because this is a great songwriting effort. It's hampered a bit with the high production value (it feels way, way too polished and sterile), but the reality is that if someone not at the level of Swift put this album out, we'd likely be falling all over ourselves to proclaim her the next big thing in folk. So don't let your biases get in the way of a really good album - you'd only be doing yourself a disservice.
Recommendation: Mandatory this week.

Artist: Liza Anne
Album: Bad Vacation
Quick Description: Indie singer-songwriter pop from someone we love here.
Why You Should Listen: This is a nice follow-up by someone clearly in the groove.
Overall Thoughts: I still sing "Paranoia" to myself on the reg, so Liza Anne is always in my head a bit. This is a fun diversion from a singer-songwriter who kind of gets it, and isn't afraid to be self-deprecating (say hi, "I Shouldn't Ghost My Therapist," I see you) at the same time. This is just very well-done and is an album I'm glad exists, especially in a summer where we're all sitting at home in our sweaty outfits waiting for things to get better.
Recommendation: A must listen.

Artist: Jess Cornelius
Album: Distance
Quick Description: Debut solo album from another indie songwriter.
Why You Should Listen: Her previous EP was great, and she knows how to make folk music work.
Overall Thoughts: Jess Cornelius comes from a synthpop background, and so hearing the more folkish angles on this debut after a superlative EP is promising. Cornelius is setting herself apart with some truly solid songs from start to finish here, and it's not one that should be missed by anyone.
Recommendation: Worth the time in the rotation.

Artist: Good Graeff
Album: Team Team
Quick Description: Surprise EP from a duo not heard from in years.
Why You Should Listen: Good Graeff has sneakily put out some killer songs over the years.
Overall Thoughts: To give and idea as to how long it's been, this duo hasn't posted on social media in ages, their website has been claimed by spammers, and the only notes I can find that this EP is actually real is thanks to Spotify, the producer of the EP tweeting about it, and one of the band members posted it as "long lost" on their Instagram. I don't know if this means the band is back together, whether we can expect more from them, or if this EP exists solely to clear out the backlog, but I'm glad it exists, and you should be too. Start here, then go listen to "Good Touch" and see what you've been missing all these years.
Recommendation: You'll be as excited about this existing as I am.

Of note:

* Red Shaydez - Feel the Aura (Solid local rap.)
* Winter - Endless Space (Between You and I) (Great indie/alt stuff here.)
* PJ Harvey - Dry - Demos (Will absolutely make you appreciate her debut more.)
* Courtney Marie Andrews - Old Flowers (The best folky album out this week not put out by TayTay.)
* Creed Bratton - Slightly Altered (Yes, Creed from The Office.)
* Kamaal Williams - Wu Hen
* The Yum Yums - For Those About to Pop
* Lori McKenna - The Balladeer
* Various Artists - It's the Taking Part That Counts: A Global Pop Sportsday
* Immaterial Possession - Immaterial Possession
* Cinder Well - No Summer


* LoveLeo - Look At This Mess I've Made
* Holy Fuck - Deleter Remixed
* Cave States - The End is Around the Corner
* Lupe Fiasco - HOUSE
* Chris Hyson - Cuddle Kitchen, Vol. 2
* Palm Ghosts - Loop Arcade
* Devendra Banhart - Vast Ovoid
* Babehoven - Yellow Has a Pretty Good Reputation
* NVDES - Worldwide 24/7
* Skullcrusher - Skullcrusher
* Zach Jones and The Tricky Bits - Quarantine
* Eyesore and The Jinx - The Exile Parlour EP

Also out:

* Indonesian Junk - A Life of Crimes
* Katie Dey - Mydata
* Cambatta - LSD: Lunar Solar Duality
* Ronin Holloway and Devin Burgess - Excalibur II

Body Double - "The Floating Hand"

Photo by Ellis Martin
Oakland's Body Double are set to release their debut album, and have its first single for us to hear. "The Floating Hand" is a punk song. Us old fogies will have a hard time considering this punk, as it's definitely not the traditional blend of punk. Instead it's more of that harder edge dance-ish music the kids are calling punk these days, but if we're going to agree any of this is punk, "The Floating Hand" is it. Despite not being in-your-face, the song is dripping with attitude and has some of the most punk groove I've heard in a long time.

Singer and multi-intrumentalist Candace Lazarou explains the song: 

""The Floating Hand" is generally about competition, and your options for reacting to it.  I grew up in a few different countries because my dad was a Marine, and each move felt interplanetary: the language changed, what was good and bad changed, even the bugs crawling on the ground changed.  I felt at odds with conservative military culture and run-of-the-mill high school viciousness, and fantasized about one day finding a safe haven in punk and underground music.  It turns out that even amongst weirdos you'll still see people undercut each other, and you might be a maladjusted alien regardless of scenery.  I wrote this song about a musician I thought was particularly nasty, and it ended up being about myself, which is what happens whenever I try to write a dis track." 

You can listen to "The Floating Hand" below. Milk Fed, the debut album from Body Double, will be out September 18 on Zum. You can pre-order the album via Bandcamp. For more on Body Double, check them out on Twitter and Facebook.

Rachel Angel - "Strapped"

The Americana thing is pretty huge right now. With all the neo-folk and alt-country artists out nowadays, it's nearly impossible for one to stand out and do their own thing. That's what's so great about the latest song from Rachel Angel. Her latest single, "Strapped," has that familiar country/folk sound that we all know and love. However, she tweaks it just enough so that it doesn't quite sound like anything else we've heard recently in the genre. It almost has a ramblin' troubadour sound to it, but there's a little too much here for that. It's almost impossibly stripped down even though the song has full instrumentation. You really need to take a listen to "Strapped," especially if you've been burned out on Americana lately.

You can listen to "Strapped" below. Highway Songs, the new EP from Rachel Angel, will be out August 21 on Public Works Records. You can pre-order the EP via Bandcamp. For more on Rachel Angel, check her out on Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, July 27, 2020

GA-20 Covers Jimmy Reed

This summer is undeniably horrible, but one thing we can look forward to every week is Colemine Records's Brighter Days Ahead singles series. Thanks to this series we've discovered some great neo-soul bands we had never heard of, like Dojo Cuts, The Harlem Gospel Travelers, and Thee Sinseers. Last week's single was from a band we do know: Boston's GA-20. Since GA-20 throw back to traditional blues, it's quite fitting that they're covering Jimmy Reed's classic "I Ain't Got You." How faithful is GA-20's version? Jimmy Reed's original is two minutes, sixteen seconds. GA-20's is two minutes, seventeen seconds. This isn't so much a cover as a loving tribute. It's the kind of cover that will make you immediately go check out the original and then fall into a Jimmy Reed wormhole for an afternoon. And, yes, I'm speaking from personal experience.

You can listen to GA-20's version of "I Ain't Got You" below. The song is available as part of Colemine Records's Brighter Days Ahead series with Karma Chief Records. You can get your copy here. For more on GA-20, check out their website.

Heather Valley - "Emily"

Heather Valley's 2019 album Desert Message came out of nowhere and won us over. We couldn't help but get sucked in by her timeless yet somehow unique blend of folk and country. Now, she's back with an upcoming quarantine album of covers (one of the only good things to come of this year) and one original. This original, "Emily," is a gorgeously stripped down folk song. Valley's slightly above a whisper vocals give this song an intensely intimate and personal feel, which fits everything about it.

Heather Valley explains "Emily" and her upcoming album:

"In March, I was on a writing retreat in West Virginia when the borders were closed. I drove home to Canada and quarantined at a haunted farm. It was lonely living on 200 acres alone, so I started playing covers of my favorite songs for comfort, and overcome by nostalgia, I remembered Emily.

When I was young, Emily cared for me one summer, and brought me to the lake in my hometown of North Bay, Ontario. She treated me with true kindness and it left a deep impression. When I couldn't find her online, I wrote this song hoping that it would find her instead."

You can watch the video for "Emily" below. Wildflower Radio, the upcoming album from Heather Valley, will be out soon. For more on Heather Valley, check out her website.

Marlowe - "Otherworld"

If you haven't been as excited as we've been for the upcoming album from Marlowe (the collaboration between L'Orange and Solemn Brigham), "Otherworld" will push you over the edge. "Otherworld" is perfect hip hop. Brigham's flow is effortlessly smooth, and has just enough of a unique delivery to set him apart from other rappers. And then there's L'Orange's production. I miss when hip hop had some discordant qualities, and L'Orange brings that back here. It has the noise of when early hip hop was bare bones and sounded like punk rock, but with a modern lush-ness to it. "Otherworld" does all of this while still being a banger (if the kids still say that.)

You can listen to "Otherworld" below. Marlowe 2, the upcoming collaborative album from L'Orange and Solemn Brigham, will be out August 7 on Mello Music Group. You can pre-order the album here. For more on L'Orange, check him out on Twitter. For Solemn Brigham, check out his Twitter.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Era Bleak - "Robot"

It's hard for a song to be just over one minute long and not leave you wanting more. But Portland, OR's Era Bleak have nailed that with "Robot." The song is one minute and nine seconds, and it's perfect just the way it is. It's a frantic blast of post punk thrashing directly towards the punk side of that genre. It's almost like if Downtown Boys tried out post punk, and succeeded marvelously. It's loud and hard and fast and just perfect. Plus, with a band name like Era Bleak, they might just be the band of 2020.

You can listen to "Robot" below. Era Bleak's self-titled album will be out August 15 on Dirt Cult Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Era Bleak, check them out on Facebook.

Matt Pond PA Covers The Thermals

Matt Pond PA seem to have decided to stick with that name after all, and have an upcoming EP out next month. The first single on that EP is a cover of The Thermals's 2006 song "A Pillar of Salt." While the original is a highly energetic punky/dancey romp, Matt Pond PA slows it down quite a bit. Their version ("Pillar of Salt (Still)" is much more quiet and plaintive. It's that style of too organic to be electronic but too electronic to be folk rock that only Matt Pond PA can pull off like this. 

Matt Pond says of the original version: "

Pillar of Salt by The Thermals has resonated with me since it was first released in the aughts. I remember disappearing into my headphones— time after time on tour after tour — to help me renew a faded sense of self and waltz in a distant mental state, where good always prevails over evil."

You can listen to "Pillar of Salt (Still)" below. Matt Pond PA have also released "Pillar of Salt (Stirred)" which features Anya Marina and has more of the electronic elements of the original. Songs of Disquiet, the upcoming EP from Matt Pond PA, will be out August 7. You can pre-order the album on Bandcamp. For more on Matt Pond PA, check out the artist's website.

Fenne Lily - "Berlin"

Photo by Nicole Loucaides
We've been getting more and more obsessed with the upcoming album from Fenne Lily. If you've been on the edge, her latest single, "Berlin," will definitely push you over the edge. "Berlin" is that kinda folk, kinda indie rock, kinda pop music that's been all the rage (at least with us) lately. It's an impossibly gorgeous mid-tempo song that slowly and slowly builds into a crescendo of the most beautiful fuzzed out guitar solos you've heard in years. The song is quiet and loud all at the exact same time. Plus, it features Lucy Dacus and Ali Chant on backing vocals.

Fenne Lily says of "Berlin":

When I was 21 I spent a month alone in Berlin. While I was there, I recorded everything I did as a voice note or in a sketchbook, even if it was boring. On the plane ride home, my phone packed up and I lost all my song ideas from my trip. Initially, it felt as though I’d lost a part of my brain, but gradually pieces started to come back to me. To help the remembering process, I tried to picture all the things that surrounded me during my time alone in Berlin. The more I pictured these mundane objects, the more lost ideas I could remember. This song was one of these ideas. When it came to deciding on a video for it, I’d recently had a dream about an illustrated man eating his own brain for breakfast and, on the same day, was introduced to Henry’s animated short film ‘Pollock’. His work and my dream were impossible to ignore in their similarities and so this video was born. It reflects both the comfort and claustrophobia of the everyday, and how company can be found in everything when you’re left with only yourself and an alien place. The umbrella made me cry - I kind of hope it helps you do the same.

You can watch the video for "Berlin" below. BREACH, the upcoming album from Fenne Lily, will be out September 18 on Dead Oceans. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Fenne Lily, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Jerry Joseph with Drive-By Truckers - "Sugar Smacks"

I had never heard of Jerry Joseph until yesterday, but any time Drive-By Truckers are going to be someone's backing band, you're going to get my attention. And if Patterson Hood says that a song "... might be the most punk rock song I’ve heard in twenty years (or more)," I'm in.

For some background, Jerry Joseph has been in various bands (Little Women, Jerry Joseph & The Jackmormons, Stockholm Syndrome) since the early 80's. His upcoming solo album was produced by Patterson Hood, and Drive-By Truckers are acting as his band. "Sugar Smacks," the most punk rock song Patterson Hood has heard this century, is indeed punk as hell... but not in the traditional sense. It's a seven minute rant set to music. Jerry Joseph lets loose with spoken word for nearly the entire length of the song, which doesn't sound like a Drive-By Truckers song in the least. Instead, it's a funky yet scary psychedelic jam, more along the lines of those weirdo album cuts from The Stooges, if The Stooges decided to scare the life out of everyone. As Joseph says about the song: "There’s some reason for everyone to hate me in this song…and maybe a line to find vindication, as well."

You can watch the video for "Sugar Smacks" below. The Beautiful Madness, the upcoming album from Jerry Joseph, will be out August 21 on Cosmo Sex School/Soundly Music. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Jerry Joseph, check out his website.

Bethany Thomas - "I'm Not Sorry And I'm Not Scared"

Every so often I'll find a song that I'm not completely sold on. It's undeniably good, but I'm not certain it personally works for me. Typically these take a little longer to fully work their way into my brain, and I eventually become completely obsessed with them. That seems to be the case with Bethany Thomas's "I'm Not Sorry And I'm Not Scared." It starts off with a hard rock guitar riff, which quickly disappears. The song then restarts as a heavier than normal R&B song, the kind you would hear in the 90's from En Vogue or Janet Jackson. But the song never loses its hard rock base, playing fully in both. It completely borders the typically separate worlds of hard rock and R&B. This is what both draws me in and pushes me away from the song in confusion. But, the more I listen, the more I'm getting drawn in.

You can listen to "I'm Not Sorry And I'm Not Scared" below. BT/She/Her, the upcoming album from Bethany Thomas, will be out 8/28. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Bethany Thomas, check out her website.

Girlpuppy - "Cheerleader"

Photo by Savanna Hughes
Girlpuppy is the moniker of Atlanta based Becca Harvey. Back in April she released a love song called "For You," and three months later comes "Cheerleader," a break up song about the same person. "Cheerleader" is about Harvey wanting her dog back from her ex. It's a lush, gorgeous song in its obvious melancholy. Harvey's vocals are what will truly pull you in. She has this softness and vulnerability that is palpable through a recording. The quiet instrumentation and harmonized vocals complement the song perfectly. "Cheerleader" is the kind of song that is going to stick with you for a long, long time.

You can listen to "Cheerleader" below. For more on Girlpuppy, check out the artist on Twitter and Bandcamp. On Bandcamp you'll also find a perfect cover of Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You," so you'll want to check that out.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Brooke Annibale - "Home Again"

Photo by Ryan Mastro
The latest single from Brooke Annibale is modern day folk/pop/indie rock done to perfection. "Home Again" stops just shy of being laid back, and is a dreamy tale of falling in love. Annibale's voice blends effortlessly into the music, giving a listener a joyful sense of the hypnotic. It's filled with hope, and optimism, and is clearly about the beginning of the relationship. The good news is that Annibale and the song's inspiration are engaged. The bad news is, they were supposed to be married on June 26, 2020. 

Brooke Annibale explains the song

“I wrote this song at the beginning of a relationship: a song about falling in love, figuring out how to communicate our love for one another, and ultimately build a life and home together. Over a year after I wrote it, I proposed to my girlfriend (she said yes), and we set our wedding date for June 26, 2020. For the past several months, I have looked forward to this day, a special day of celebration, and a day that for much of my life I didn’t think would even be legally possible. Sadly, like everything in 2020, the wedding had to be postponed. But this specific day still weighs heavily in my mind, so to honor it, I decided to release this song today. A love song to my future wife, an expression of love and gratitude for how we did indeed make a beautiful home together and we will indeed be able to get married surrounded by the people that we love…just not today.”

You can watch the video for "Home Again" below. It was recorded at the location where Brooke Annibale's wedding was scheduled to take place. For more on Brooke Annibale, be sure to check out her website.

Jess Cornelius - "Here Goes Nothing"

Photo by Rachael Pony Cassells
Just in case we weren't excited enough about Jess Cornelius's album being released Friday, she went and released another single to give us more to look forward to. "Here Goes Nothing" is a light and breezy sounding song, perfect for the summer. Laid back without being slow, the song has a modern folk/pop meets 60's soul and doo wop sound. It's an impossible to dislike track that is going to suck you in deeper and deeper the longer and more you listen to it. This is all despite, according to the press release, the song being about "... Cornelius [parrying] with a messy affair."

Jess Cornelius explains the song: ‘Here Goes Nothing’ is about fantasy, really – the way we unconsciously create dramatic situations as an escape from whatever in our lives isn’t working. But I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. We need fantasy – you could argue that we’ve built entire lives on it."

You can watch the lyric video for "Here Goes Nothing" below. Distance, the debut album from Jess Cornelius, will be out July 24 on Loantaka Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on Jess Cornelius, check her out on Facebook.