Friday, February 26, 2021

Wild Powwers - "...Sucks"

If you're a certain age, you have an expectation for any band that comes out of Seattle. On their latest single, Wild Powwers do not disappoint. "...Sucks" has a unmistakable grunge feel to it. It's loud and heavy guitar based rock. But as huge and noisy as the instruments are, it's the vocals that are going to determine if this is your thing or not. The majority of the vocals are screamed in a much more metal/thrashy way. At least, for the verses. The choruses have more of a groove, and are more mellow, despite the music not changing. The whole mixture sounds like Refused meets Dinosaur Jr. It's a giant sound that may make a disciple out of you.

You can watch the video for "...Sucks" below. What You Wanted is due out April 23 on Nadeline Records. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Wild Powwers, check out the band's website.

The Blips - "Throw Me Around"

Photo by Justin Pembrook

The Blips are a new band made up of members of established bands in the Birmingham, AL scene. (Members have been/are in Timber, Dead Fingers, Conor Oberst's Mystic Valley Band, Holy Youth, Bad Hops, etc.) The press release for their first single, "Throw Me Around," describes their music as pop punk. "Throw Me Around" isn't not pop punk, but it's hardly what you know as pop punk. There's a distinct Southern feel to the song, sounding like if Tom Petty went pop punk, or some of the Drive-By Truckers more straightforward songs. It might just be me, but I'm hearing some Brit pop around the edges, too. All descriptions aside, "Throw Me Around" is a killer rock song with unique vocals and killer guitar riffs.

You can watch the video for "Throw Me Around" below. The Blips' self-titled album is due out April 9 on Cornelius Chapel Records. You can pre-order the album here. For more on The Blips, check them out on Bandcamp.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Kate Dressed Up - "Ride Home"

Philadelphia/New Jersey artist Kate Dressed Up just released their first new music in three years. The band's new single, "Ride Home," starts off as a beautiful, quiet little folk song. It's just Katie Miller's vocals and a lightly strummed guitar with some added strings, and that alone makes it a perfectly great song. After about a minute, the song truly kicks in, turning into a faster paced, more mainstream neo-folk song. It's a truly fun, upbeat song that is going to have you longing for warmer weather and (hopefully) outdoor musical performances returning this year.

You can watch the video for "Ride Home" below. For more on Kate Dressed Up, check out the artist on Facebook.

Janet Simpson - "I'm Wrong"

Photo by Jared Swafford

A lot of artists do the country rock thing, but few do it as well as Janet Simpson. Her latest single, "I'm Wrong," is exactly what you want from the genre: It's a little too rock to be country, and a little too country to be rock. While it's hardly pop country, it nuzzles itself into the pop side of outlaw country, reminding me of other favorites of ours like Nikki Lane or Tristen. It's also the perfect song for this time of year, as we're all longing for winter to finally end and warm weather to return. "I'm Wrong" is the perfect summer driving song, where you do have someplace you're going but why rush to get there? In five months or so, this song is going to end up on a whole lotta playlists.

You can listen to "I'm Wrong" below. Safe Distance is due out March 19 on Cornelius Chapel Records. You can pre-order a copy of the album here. For more on Janet Simpson, check out the artist's website.

Hit Like a Girl - "Boardwalk"

Image via Facebook

We've been digging Hit Like a Girl ever since we discovered the band back in 2019. Their new single, "Boardwalk," continues everything we've been loving about them. For an indie rock/alt-pop song, it sounds absolutely huge in the best possible way. It's wonderfully upbeat and bouncy, with a feeling of excitement and anticipation. The song is about a date singer Nicolle Maroulis went on at Christmas Town in Busch Gardens, so it's not quite a Christmas song, but Christmas adjacent enough to go on a playlist later this year. The song is ridiculously fun and beautiful, despite it being a fairly quick rock song.

You can watch the video for "Boardwalk" below. Heart Racer is due out April 2. You can pre-order the album via Bandcamp. The digital pre-order is only $1.00, so it's more than worth it! For more on Hit Like a Girl, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

The Natvral - "New Moon"

Ex-The Pains of Being Pure at Heart frontman Kip Berman has released a new single from his new project The Natvral, and it continues his movement away from his previous band's sound to a more folky one. In fact, "New Moon" is pure folk. "New Moon" is just vocals and acoustic guitar, leaning heavily on vocals. It's a lovely, quiet song that's definitely a strong divergence from his previous band's sound. The rock band frontman goes acoustic/folk solo act is a pretty standard trope, but no one is going to complain when it's done this well.

Kip Berman explains the meaning behind the new song:

"A friend of mine used to date a kind-hearted, but poor musician. At some point, their relationship ended and she went on to marry someone that offered a bit more stability - and asked me to sing a song at their wedding. I gladly sang the song she asked me to, but that experience led me to write another.

"I didn't mean to sympathize with her ex - though it's hard not to. And I didn't mean to say she chose something wrong for herself, because she’s better suited to her new person. But I just wanted to get at that moment when you know love isn't going to be enough, and it's time to say good-bye."

You can watch the video for "New Moon" below. Tethers is due out April 2 on Kanine Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on The Natvral, check out the artist's website.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Evan Greer - "Back Row"

Image via Twitter

Last year, Evan Greer opened my last show before live music went away for at least a year. Fittingly, their new single is an ode to live music. "Back Row" is a mournful alt-rocker about regretting watching shows from the back row and letting friendships fade. It's about missing mosh pits and screaming every word from the front row. Almost a year later, it's amazing how long ago this feels. "Back Row" goes from being a quiet, intimate song to an almost Springsteen sized anthem. And it's going to make you desperately miss live music, even more than you already do.

You can listen to "Back Row" below. Spotify is Surveillance is due out April 9 on Get Better Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Evan Greer, check out the artist's website.

Dinosaur Jr - "I Ran Away"

Photo by Cara Totman

It's official: Dinosaur Jr have finally slowed down. Considering they've been a band (off and on) for nearly forty years, it's expected. But, judging by their new single "I Ran Away," slowing down isn't a bad thing. "I Ran Away" is a mid-tempo gentle rocker. While it doesn't have the mind scrambling guitar solos and volume of previous Dinosaur Jr songs, you're not going to miss it. The song also features Kurt Vile on a twelve string guitar, which gives it a little bit of a twang and finally earns the band the "ear splitting country" moniker they've previously used. While this new song may be more tame than their output in the 1980's, this is distinctly a Dinosaur Jr song. 

You can watch the video for "I Ran Away" below. Sweep It Into Space, the long COVID delayed album from Dinosaur Jr, will finally be released April 23 on Jagjaguwar. You can pre-order the album in various killer bundles here. For more on Dinosaur Jr, check out the band's website.

Horsegirl - "Ballroom Dance Scene"

Photo by Sun Picture Music

Teenagers shouldn't be making music this great. The members are still in high school, and are all seventeen and eighteen. Their debut single, "Ballroom Dance Scene," was written during a Chicago teachers' strike. But it's such a truly great song. The song is this slowly building track that starts off folky and just shy of twee. Penelope Lowenstein and Nora Cheng's vocals start off together, but are going in their own directions. It creates this nearly hypnotic, dreamy effect, so much so that you hardly even notice the song building behind them. The noise crescendos behind them as it rises into something you'd expect to hear from Mogwai or Spiritualized, overtaking the song. And this is all from teenagers. This younger generation is going to be all right.

You can watch the video for "Ballroom Dance Scene" below. The song will be available as a 7" via Sonic Cathedral on April 2. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Horsegirl, check out the artist's Twitter and Bandcamp.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

First Listen: New Releases for 19 March

Artist: Psymon Spine
Album: Charismatic Megafauna
Quick Description: Fun indie-psych.
Why You Should Listen: Psymon Spine bring a fresh coat of paint to a tough genre.
Overall Thoughts: Outside of the Elephant Six stuff from the turn of the century, psych rock is a hard sell for me. Psymon Spine is not a band I should like, but Charismatic Megafauna is absolutely an album I enjoyed this week. Songs like "Channels" and "Jumprope" jumped out at me almost immediately, and this is probably the first album I'll head back to this week. Just a wonderful listen, with lots going for it.
Recommendation: Worth your time this week.

Artist: Corvair
Album: Corvair
Quick Description: Husband-and-wife duo with their first music together.
Why You Should Listen: The band has enough individual history to make this worth hearing...
Overall Thoughts: ...but the tag team we get here is great on its own. Corvair does fun, poppy rock that reminds me of Bleachers in some forms, although I like this a lot more. I'm especially into "Unsubtle Lake," but the whole album is worth a listen. Corvair is a solid act, and I look forward to seeing more.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Artist: Kinlaw
Album: The Tipping Scale
Quick Description: Dark, experimental-feeling songs.
Why You Should Listen: This won't be for everyone, but it scratches a few itches for me.
Overall Thoughts: I like a challenging album, and Kinlaw has one with The Tipping Scale, an album that feels like it has a lot of angles and pointy bits. It's hard to describe, really, but it's weirder than you think but not so odd in which it's impossible to find something interesting. Kind of needs to be heard to be understood, but it's worth the time.
Recommendation: Give this the investment it deserves.

Artist: The Hold Steady
Album: Open Door Policy
Quick Description: Long-time indie rockers with a new album.
Why You Should Listen: This is probably their best album in over a decade.
Overall Thoughts: Everyone loves Boys and Girls in America, but I won't lie - a lot of the more recent output has left me cold, cold to the point where I nearly skipped this one. I'm glad I didn't, because this is as close to a return to form that I can think of. The sort of talky storytelling Craig Finn is best at is front and center, and the songwriting in particular is definitely more memorable than on recent records. This is rock solid, and if you've jumped off the bandwagon, I highly recommend giving this a shot.
Recommendation: A must-listen.

Artist: Wild Pink
Album: A Billion Little Lights
Quick Description: Indie rock with a sprinkling of roots.
Why You Should Listen: It somehow feels epic and restrained at the same time.
Overall Thoughts: I won't lie, the only reason I sought this band out to start was because the song title "The Shining But Tropical," made me laugh. But the song was so good, so sprawling and interesting, that I knew I had to check out the album. I'm glad I did, as it's probably my favorite release this week. It's just got so much happening, and every song feels essential and purposeful. Give "The Shining But Tropical" a listen, and when you love that, check the rest out. You won't regret it.
Recommendation: One of the best of the week.

Artist: Lael Neale
Album: Acquainted With Night
Quick Description: Fragile, sparse folk music.
Why You Should Listen: It's a voice and an Omnichord, which is perfect for these times.
Overall Thoughts: I don't have a ton to say about this release except that I really enjoyed it. It's not quarantine-based, but it is a very isolated effort that has a real sort of feeling to it that is missing from a lot of musical efforts. It's a busy week, but this deserves your energy.
Recommendation: Make time for this one. Of note:

* Pearly Drops - Call for Help (We missed this 2020 release; it's great, offbeat, dark indie pop.)
* Divide and Dissolve - Gas Lit (Solid, sludgy, noisy.)
* Indigo Sparke - Echo (Great folk-adjacent music, really interesting in a lot of ways.)
* Mogwai - As the Love Continues (Mogwai continues to be great.)
* David Gray - Skellig (Don't sleep on this, it's surprisingly good.)
* Philip B. Price - Oceans Hiding in Oceans
* Your Old Droog and Tha God Fahim - Tha YOD Fahim
* Pauline Anna Strom - Angel Tears in Sunlight
* Catherine Britt - Home Truths
* Katy Kirby - Cool Dry Place
* Biosphere - Angel's Flight
* Edie Brickell and New Bohemians - Hunter and the Dog Star
* Another Michael - New Music and Big Pop
* Ryan Dugre - Three Rivers
* June Jones - Leafcutter
* Shura - forevher
* The Lasso - 2121


* Glassjaw - Coloring Book (Reissue of their debut EP.)
* Cassandra Jenkins - An Overview on Phenomenal Nature
* Tindersticks - Distractions
* Hand Habits - dirt
* Hologram Teen - Geometries Insensibles

Live albums/Compilations:

* Spoon - Girls Can Tell ("Deluxe Playlist" with inspirations of songs from the album peppered between.)
* Anya Marina - Live and Alone in New York

Also out:

* Alabama Slim - The Parlor
* John Paul Keith - The Rhythm of the City


Photo by Peggy Fioretti

Hailing from Philadelphia, SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE have released a new-ish single that expands the genre of indie rock. "THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN'T DO" starts off more on the electro side of indie rock. There may be traditional rock instruments, but the song sounds more electronic/dance than rock. It stays in that sound for a while, adjusting a little bit. And it's a really great song that way. But then the noise kicks in. It sounds like a catastrophe is raining down on you (and I mean that in the best possible way). Every time you believe you've hit the depth of the noise, it just keeps digging itself deeper and deeper until it's almost like an electronic freak out of a Lightning Bolt song. Considering the song is about addiction, the sonic vibe of "THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN'T DO" is fitting.

You can watch the video for "THERE'S NOTHING YOU CAN'T DO" below. ENTERTAINMENT, DEATH is due out April 9 on Saddle Creek. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on SPIRIT OF THE BEEHIVE, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

David Picco - "Waitin' for the Summertime"

As we're dealing with a cold spell here in the Northeast, it's nice to try to convince ourselves that winter will eventually end and summer will come again. Seeing as David Picco is from Newfoundland, I'm going to assume that desire is even stronger for him. His new single, "Waitin' for the Summetime," is the perfect song for that. Unlike most songs with "summer" in the title, Picco's has the melancholy feel that we all have right about now. It's a folk-ish type of song that, despite the sense of melancholy, does have some optimism in it. Of course, "Waitin' for the Summertime" isn't exactly about the seasons. Picco explains the meaning of the song: 
“I guess you could say that this about is about coming to terms with the fact that life never turns out as planned. I would describe it as contemplative, but musically I was going after something more dream-like and ethereal.”

You can watch the video for "Waitin' for the Summertime" below. Live it Down is due out February 26. For more on David Picco, check out the artist's website.

Stoner Control - "Learning to Swim"

We seem to be on a 90's inspired rock kick lately, and the latest from Stoner Control is right on that track. The Portland, OR based band have released "Learning to Swim," which is going to be impossible to resist if you grew up going to shows from '96 to '99. It's that fuzzy kinda power pop that dominated during that time period (at least it dominated my little college rock world...) It even has the slightest touch of roots/Americana that I never would have admitted music I liked had back then. It's a huge slice of bands like The Lemonheads, Superdrag, and the less acoustic side of Ben Lee.

You can listen to "Learning to Swim" below. Sparkle Endlessly is due out on March 19. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Stoner Control, check out the band's Facebook.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Dree Leer - "Want It All"

Photo by JAMRIC

If you miss rock from the 90's, you're going to love Dree Leer. If their new single "Want It All" is any indication, the Birmingham, AL band play this huge, sludgy 90's style alt-rock. "Want It All" opens with a riff that would make The Melvins proud, but then it goes in a slightly poppier direction. (Although most rock is going to be poppier than the Melvins...) To me it sounds like Veruca Salt meets the Melvins, which I don't think I could possibly be more excited by. You usually don't get guitar chords and drum beats this gigantic with such a catchy song, which makes "Want It All" that much more of a delight.

Vocalist/guitarist Jackie Lo says of the new song: 

"'Want It All' felt like a good opener for the album; it's usually our closer when we play live. I wanted to start off with a song that would punch you in the face. I think every person and every girl has felt this feeling of not getting enough. You're either here 100% or you're f**king not."

You can watch the video for "Want It All" below. Throw Hands is due out April 30 on Bettamax Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Dree Leer, check out the band's website.

Nervous Dater - "Farm Song"

Upon hearing that Nervous Dater have a new song named "Farm Song," you might think they've ditched the indie rock/emo sound that we've come to love from them. And you'd be right. Kind of. "Farm Song" does have a twang to it that isn't quite expected with Nervous Dater, but it's pretty faint. Instead it's over their normal emo-ish sound, giving it an interestingly unique country meets emo sound. But just slightly. It's always fun when a band we've liked for a while tweaks and plays with new sounds, and we're all in for Nervous Dater's slight country dalliance! 

You can listen to "Farm Song" below. Call in the Mess is due out February 26 on Counter Intuitive Records. For more on Nervous Dater, check out the band's website.

David Wax Museum - "Love Comes Around"

In 2021, sometimes we need a song like "Love Comes Around." Lately David Wax Museum have been moving in an almost electronic direction, or at least as electronic sounding as you can get with acoustic instruments. "Love Comes Around" is their return back to pure folk. It's an impossibly quiet song. It almost feels like David Wax and Suz Slezak recorded this in their bedroom while their kids were napping in the other room. But, that is truly the charm of the song. It feels deeply personal, as if they were playing this song for each individual listener. It's the kind of song that makes you the impression that you're intruding on a private conversation. Luckily, it's such a lovely song that you'll be glad that you listened, and that they shared it with us all.

You can listen to "Love Comes Around" below. The song is available as a single via Bandcamp. For more on David Wax Museum, check out the artist's website.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Miesha & The Spanks - "I Want Fire"

Calgary's Miesha & The Spanks have quickly become one of our favorite proto punk/garage rockers. The band took a bit of a break since their last album while Miesha Louie had twins (congrats!), but are back to bring their brand of rock to the masses. "I Want Fire" is a huge rock song. The obvious comparisons are going to be The White Stripe and The Devil's Twins, and those are indeed apt. It's also going to remind you of more classic bands like the MC5 and the Runaways. Miesha & The Spanks are in good company with those. "I Want Fire" is a rock song with killer riffs, pounding guitars, and growling vocals from Louie that are a near religious experience. 

You can watch the video for "I Want Fire" below. Singles, the new EP from Miesha & The Spanks, will be out April 16. For more on Miesha & The Spanks, check out the band on Facebook and Twitter.

Shy Tooth - "Too Kind"

Shy Tooth is a new band comprised of members of hardcore and punk bands out of Rochester, NY (Polar Bear Club, Coming Down, Green Dreams, etc). While their new single, "Too Kind," does have a punk edge, it's far more melodic than their previous bands. Instead, you get the huge anthemic sound of Bruce Springsteen, the Americana rock meets New Wave of early Tom Petty, and a little bit of Ben Kweller and Frank Turner thrown in. It's a huge rock song with a little folk mixed in. There's a ton to love in this song as it encompasses so many rock and folk tropes that it already feels like so many of your lifelong favorite songs.

You can listen to "Too Kind" below. Ultrasuede is due out March 26 on Dadstache Records. You can pre-order your copy in some pretty sweet bundles here. For more on Shy Tooth, check out the band's Bandcamp.

Destroy Boys - "Muzzle"

Photo by Ash Gellman

Back in 2018, we became enamored with California's Destroy Boys. Their newfangled version of punk hit a sweet spot with us. Now they're back with a new single. "Muzzle" is more of what we like about Destroy Boys. It's a fast, biting punk song with a ton of pop injected into it. In fact, it's seemingly impossible that a song can have this much punk edge while having this much pop in it at the same time. But that's the beauty of Destroy Boys. It's the kind of punk that crusty old punks are going to be angry about while secretly loving. 

You can watch the video for "Muzzle" below. The song is available as a single via Hopeless Records. You can get a copy over at Bandcamp. For more on Destroy Boys, check out their website.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Mountain Man Cover Fiona Apple

Seeing as how much I loved Fiona Apple's 2020 album and how much I love Mountain Man, I was thrilled to see that the latter has released a cover of the former. I'm not as familiar with Apple's song "Hot Knife" from her verbosely titled 2012 album. Seeing as how the original is mostly Apple's vocals looped with minimal instrumentation, Mountain Man's version is very faithful to the original. The main difference is that the cover has three singers and completely does away with instruments. If you're a fan of Mountain Man's harmonizing, this cover is going to be perfect for you. And if you're a Fiona Apple fan just discovering Mountain Man, welcome to the bandwagon!

You can liste to Mountain Man's take on "Hot Knife" below. The song is available as a single via Nonesuch Records here. For more on Mountain Man, check out the band's website.

Sara Bug - "Die With You"

Photo by Bendrix Littleton

Last month we became smitten with the indie rock/alt pop/classic country of Sara Bug's song "Rosebank." She's back with a new song that keeps on going with that sound. "Die With You" keeps up the Stef Chura meets Phoebe Bridgers and Dolly Parton sound that we loved with her previous single, but leans a little more heavily into the indie rock side and introduces some psychedelia into the mix. Think late 90's jam band influenced Sonic Youth. Plus, the country edge is explored a little bit more, making this a comforting yet bewildering sound.

Sara Bug says of the new song:

"I wrote die with you, the oldest song on the album, in 2013 on my parents front porch. It seems like a love song, but I don’t remember who it’s about, or if it ever even was about someone specific. In 2013, during some of my darkest moments, I remember thinking a lot about and writing a lot about how badly I desired the approval of my loved ones and even the approval of myself. When I stripped myself bare of all the bullshit, could I stand up straight and tall in the bright sunshine and still be someone special? Die with you was then and still is now, a sort of foreshadowing of what I hope my life becomes."

You can listen to "Die With You" below. Sara Bug's self-titled debut album is due out May 14 on Egghunt Records. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Sara Bug, check out the artist's Facebook and Instagram.

Lemon Drink - "Demon Child"

Photo by Phil Dunsmore

The latest song from Lemon Drink isn't quite Brit pop, but it's not not Brit pop. "Demon Child" has a lot of the elements we all loved from Brit pop. It's bouncy, upbeat, and just enough of an edge to keep it from falling fully into the pop category. But "Demon Child" is being pulled in two separate directions away from Brit pop and in complete contrast to each other. One side it pulling it into an alt-pop direction while at the same time there's enough noise in here to be pulling it towards indie rock. It's this dichotomy that keeps Lemon Drink from sounding like anyone else while sounding like some of your favorite bands.

You can listen to "Demon Child" below. The song is currently available as a 7" via Last Night From Glasgow here. For more on Lemon Drink, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Birthday Ass - "Blah"

Photo by Omari Spears

Joining the list of bands we're too old to admit we love based on their name alone is Birthday Ass. The band is comprised of members that met at the New England Conservatory. The jazz influence and background is audible in "Blah," but the song is not even close to being a standard jazz track. Instead it lives in the middle ground of noise punk and improvisational jazz, leaning more on the noise punk ide of things. It reminds me of a mixture of early, noisier Guerilla Toss and later, more party band Guerilla Toss. "Blah" is a weird, artsy, discordant, jazzy, rock song. It's one of those sounds that isn't going to be for everyone, but if this works for you, it's going to lead to a die hard obsession.

You can watch the video for "Blah" below. Head of the Household is due out on April 23 on Ramp Local. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Birthday Ass, check out the band on Facebook and Bandcamp.

McKinley Dixon - "make a poet Black"

Photo by David Muessig

Every now and then, the universe works out. Over the weekend, I was listening to a podcast interviewing Lucy Dacus, and she mentioned how when she was starting out in Richmond, VA, she was playing multi-genre DIY shows. One of the artists she would play with was rapper McKinley Dixon. I mentally filed this name away to check out later, which means I immediately forgot it. Yesterday, we received an email alerting us to a new song from Dixon. 

Apparently, us bringing you "make a poet Black" is kismet. McKinley Dixon isn't going to sound like anyone you have heard before. Sure, free jazz and hip hop have been blended for decades, but not like in "make a poet Black." Dixon's flow is intense. It sounds almost like a freestyle or a stream of conscious. The start of the song is going to sound like early Wu-Tang Clan, but it quickly branches out into a sound all its own. The music is simplistic while having a huge cinematic sound. The song just keeps adjusting and morphing constantly, all while sounding like the same track. Even if you're one of those weirdos who claims to not listen to hip hop in 2021, you owe it to yourself and everyone you know to listen to this one.

You can watch the video for "make a poet Black" below. For My Mama And Anyone Who Look Like Her is due out May 7 on Spacebomb. You can pre-order the album here. For more on McKinley Dixon, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Holly Macve - "Daddy's Gone"

Photo via Maximillian Kinghorn-Mills

When you hear the latest from Holly Macve, the last place you're going to assume she's from is Brighton, England. "Daddy's Gone" sounds like a modern take on American country and Americana. It sounds like the kind of song you'd hear from Lucinda Williams or Margo Price, not like anything out of England. Even English country doesn't sound as American country as "Daddy's Gone" does. The real appeal of "Daddy's Gone" is Macve's voice. She has just this ever so slight twang to it, and it just drags you in like a tractor beam. It's impossible to resist it, so just let it wash over you and draw you in. Not that you'd want to resist. The track blends alt-country with soul and early R&B in this way that's warm and comfortably familiar, but in a way you haven't quite heard before.

Holly Macve explains the new song:

"It was a few years back when I was on tour in Austin, Texas that I got the call to say my Dad had passed away. I remember keeping this news to myself and quietly shedding some tears whilst trying to figure out my emotions. It was a strange feeling, I didn’t know my Dad and had conflicting thoughts about him. It took me a while to understand how I felt but eventually it came out in this song. Often song-writing is a way for me to understand myself, it’s the best way for me to articulate how I’m feeling and that was definitely the case with ‘Daddy’s Gone’. Sometimes you can feel vulnerable sharing such personal words but I hope that anyone who’s had a similar experience can relate and find comfort in knowing that they’re not alone.”

You can watch the video for "Daddy's Gone" below. Not the Girl will be out May 14 on Modern Sky. For more on Holly Macve, check out the artist's website.

First Listen: New Releases for 12 February

Artist: Jillette Johnson
Album: It's a Beautiful Day and I Love You
Quick Description: Great rootsy rock music.
Why You Should Listen: Jillette Johnson has a ton of great songs here.
Overall Thoughts: We must have missed her 2017 release if the Google machine is any indication, but Johnson's third album is really great. The production value is high, and some of the songs like "Jealous" and "What Would Jesus Do" are absolutely awesome. I love everything about this album, and it's great for fans of Tift Merritt and the like.
Recommendation: Do not miss this one.

Artist: K. Michelle Dubois
Album: The Fever Returns
Quick Description: Criminally overlooked singer-songwriter material.
Why You Should Listen: This is Dubois's second album in a row that deserve higher praise and visibility than it gets.
Overall Thoughts: Dubois made her musical name as part of a punk-adjacent act in the 1990s, and her solo work has been less rock than that, choosing to explore soundscapes rather than stick to a single genre. While that can be hit or miss with most artists, Dubois bucks that trend with yet another collection of mature songs like "Firestar" and "On the Run" that stick with you. I don't feel like I hear enough about how great she is, so get on board.
Recommendation: A must-hear this week.

Artist: Aerial East
Album: Try Harder
Quick Description: Beautifully fragile singer-songwriter music.
Why You Should Listen: The sparse instrumentation and gorgeous songwriting are a wonderful change of pace.
Overall Thoughts: I don't know much about Aerial East, but a lot of it is reminiscent of Julien Baker's Turn Out the Lights, except a lot more reserved. It feels like you're in a house concern with a woman and her guitar and just one awesome song after another. Of the listens out this week, I'm looking forward to this one more than most.
Recommendation: Mandatory listen.

Artist: Steady Holiday
Album: Take the Corners Gently
Quick Description: Latest from the indie popster.
Why You Should Listen: Steady Holiday makes fun songs, plain and simple.
Overall Thoughts: I've been a fan of Steady Holiday for some time now, and this new album is more of the same high-quality songwriting we've come to expect. I don't have a ton to say about this in a busy-ish week, but there's ultimately not a bad song in the whole batch, and I really enjoy a lot of this listen.
Recommendation: Make time for this effort.

Artist: The Actions
Album: Flourish
Quick Description: British rock act channels their inner Portishead.
Why You Should Listen: It's a surprising listen in 2021, but a welcome one.
Overall Thoughts: I didn't know of The Actions before Friday, but this album, a super trip-hoppy affair, definitely made me look for more. Listening back to their 2009 effort, this is a departure from what they used to do, but my goodness is this an interesting listen. It's not breaking new ground, but it's also not trying to. It's just a good record.
Recommendation: A great listen.

Artist: Devil Love
Album: Broken Things
Quick Description: Classic alt rock in a modern style.
Why You Should Listen: It feels like it was taped off of WBCN circa 1994.
Overall Thoughts: One of my favorite listens this week. This album isn't reinventing the wheel, but Devil Love has a very clear and precise love for the alt rock I came of age with, and each song on this album has the sort of alt/power pop that I try to seek out. This album is exactly what I needed, and scratched the nostalgia itch perfectly.
Recommendation: Give this a spin.

Of note:

* Mush - Lines Redacted (Delightfully odd indie punk.)
* Claud - Super Monster (A solid indie pop listen, musically a step up from their debut.)
* Layzi - Be Mine?
* Styrofoam Winos - Styrofoam Winos
* Run River North - Creatures in Your Head
* His Name is Alive - Hope is a Candle
* Anika Pyle - Wild River
* Slaine - The Things We Can't Forgive
* Calyx - Stay Gone
* Django Django - Glowing in the Dark
* 7-11 Jesus - Tree Dream
* Beth Lee - Waiting on You Tonight

* Abbie Ozard - Let's Play Pretend (Don't miss "true romance.")
* Girli - Ex Talk (Don't miss "Has Been.")
* Haley and the Crushers - Fun Sized
* Lizzie Reid - Cubicle
* Sierra Hull - Weighted Mind (The Original Sessions)
* Kelly Duplex - Kelly Duplex
* Ellect - Intellectual Property
Live albums/Compilations:

* Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia (The Moonlight Edition) (A reissue of her 2020 album with a bunch of b-sides and bonus tracks.)

Also out:

* Clap Your Hands Say Yeah - New Fragility
* Pale Waves - Who Am I?

Justine and The Unclean - "Scorpion Bowl to Go"

"Scorpion Bowl to Go" isn't the kind of song that's going to be considered high art. It is called "Scorpion Bowl to Go," after all. But the latest from Justine and The Unclean is a fun rock song in the power pop/pop punk kinda way. And that's fine. Great, really. It's a loud, catchy song with crunchy guitars and lyrics like "I don't have a good excuse / I like my rum with juice." Plus, there's a slinky little groove almost hidden throughout. It's almost like The Divinyls mixed with Letters to Cleo and Cheap Trick. If you're looking for a fun and catchy rock song with little to no pretention, this is a great one for you.

You can watch the video for "Scorpion Bowl to Go" below. The song is available as a single via Red on Red Records, and can be downloaded via Bandcamp. For more on Justine and The Unclean, check them out on Facebook.

Kalbells featuring Miss Eaves - "Pickles"

Photo by Amanda Piquotte

Kalbells (featuring Kalmia Traver of Rubblebucket along with members of Sad13, Okkervil River, and more) have released a new single from their upcoming album. "Pickles" features that laid back dance groove we've come to cherish from Kalbells. It's a dance track, but one that lives in a world where disco and trip hop melded into one sound. Plus, it features a verse from Miss Eaves, giving it a feel of 90's R&B when every song would inject a hip hop verse in the middle.

Kalmia Traver says of the new song:

The song is about escaping a romantic pickle by grudgingly accepting getting one's ego chopped down, or at least chopped back.... and then realizing the whole experience can be kind of fun, sadistically, but also existentially thrilling and weirdly healing. For the second verse Miss Eaves and I had a long conversation about fuckbois and then she turned around this glistening cave of pickle puns and our mouths all dropped to the floor and we all fell in love with her.”

You can listen to "Pickles" below. Max Heart will be out March 26 on NNA Tapes. You can pick up a copy here. For more on Kalbells, check out the band's Facebook and Twitter.

Squid featuring Martha Skye Murphy - "Narrator"

Photo by Holly Whitaker

Hailing from Brighton, Squid are going to be a hard band to define. Their new single, "Narrator," is an eight minute plus song that is part post punk, part New Wave, part noise, and part jam. It reminds me of bands like Talking Heads, The B-52's, and Big Audio Dynamite with a harder edge. At least, for the first four minutes or so. After that it transforms into a weird funk/soul jam but crammed through a colander of punk, and emerging from that as a bizarro freak-pop song. And then it becomes... something else? This is the kind of song that isn't going to be for everyone, but the world would be a better place if it was.

The band explains the song:

“‘Narrator’ was inspired by the 2019 film A Long Day's Journey Into Night. The song follows a man who is losing the distinction between memory, dream and reality and how you can often mold your memories of people to fit a narrative that benefits your ego. Martha Skye-Murphy made the point that the unreliable narrator is, more often than not, a male who wishes to portray women as submissive characters in their story. After some discussions with Martha she thought it’d be a good idea that she play the part of the woman wanting to break free from the dominating story the male has set.”

You can watch the video for "Narrator" below. Bright Green Field will be out May 7 on Warp Records. You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Squid, check out the band's website.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Walter Sickert Covers Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton's "Jolene" might be the best song ever written. It's at least top two. Unfortunately, for too many of us that grew up in the 1980's, Parton was seen as a punchline, especially for those of us that hated country music. It was The White Stripes' cover of "Jolene" that sucked me into all the joy that Parton brings to the universe, so I'm always going to be partial to any cover of that song.

On Saturday morning, I woke up to an email announcing that Walter Sickert had released a cover of "Jolene." Knowing Sickert's work, I knew exactly what to expect. It was going to be a dark, creepy version, maybe even leaning towards the White Stripes' version. What I didn't expect is that it was going to be beautiful. Sickert's version is stunning, and completely heartfelt. Sickert takes the song and sings it in such a way that you believe they're in danger of losing their man to a redhead named Jolene. Sickert's version may be dark, but the song is already dark, and when you inject their vibe into the song, it's going to get even darker. It's hard to bring something new to a song that is so well known and frequently covered, but Sickert turns in a masterpiece of a version.

You can watch the video for Walter Sickert's version of "Jolene" below. The song is currently available on Bandcamp. For more on Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Melissa Carper - "I Almost Forgot About You"

Photo by Aisha Golliher

It's going to be impossible for you not to become obsessed with Melissa Carper. She grew up listening to records by Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and Johnny Cash. During her childhood she played in her family band, until attending the University of Nebraska on a music scholarship, where she discovered Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra. She then travelled around, staying for periods of time in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, New Orleans, NYC, Austin, and Nashville.

Her latest single, "I Almost Forgot About You," is a perfect combination of her influences. It's classic country tinged with jazz and soul. Carper's voice is what is going to suck you in. It has a quiet power to it. Without belting it out, Carper will demand that you listen, and commands your attention. It has that timeless quality of classic country singers, and sounds like a blend of Dolly Parton and Billie Holiday.

Melissa Carper explains the new song:

“The idea for 'I Almost Forgot About You' came from a weekend in which I had a very good time and had managed to forget about a love interest that I had been obsessing about. When I got back home that phrase came to me, 'I Almost Forgot About You' and I realized I had a song there.  I just kind of tied in the various lost loves of my life to come up with the rest.  It came to me that way and in fact, this entire song had a nice easy flow with the way it all came.  I like it when that happens, feels like you are getting help from the universe.”  

You can listen to "I Almost Forgot About You" below. Daddy's Country Gold ("Daddy" is Carper's nickname among her bandmates) will be out March 19. You can pre-order a copy via Bandcamp. For more on Melissa Carper, check out the artist's website.