Monday, February 28, 2022

Ian Noe - "River Fool"

Photo by David McClister

Kentucky's Ian Noe has released a single that is perfect for fans of 70's folk rock. "River Fool" sounds like you're listening to it through an AM radio fifty years ago. I can't quite tell if that's a recording technique or is just a quality of Noe's voice. There are some serious John Denver vibes on this song, but it stops just shy of easy listening and keeps more roots and Americana. According to Noe, "River Fool" is about "... a cult character in Southfork, Kentucky who enjoyed playing his guitar in any water he could find." It's a celebration of the free spirit needed to be known for that, and there's a easy sort of joy exuding from the song.

You can listen to "River Fool" below. River Fools & Mountain Saints is due out March 25 on Thirty Tigers, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Ian Noe, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the song.

3/24 - Indianapolis, IN - The HI-FI

3/25 - Lexington, KY - The Burl

3/31 - Nashville, TN - The Basement East

4/1 - Athens, GA - The Lewis Room at Tweed Recording

4/8 - Birmingham, AL - Saturn

4/9 - Asheville, NC - The Grey Eagle

4/22 - Denver, CO - Globe Hall

4/23 - Salt Lake City, UT - The State Room

4/30 - Indio, CA - Stagecoach Music Festival

Scrunchies - "Absolute Maximum"

Photo by Nanne Sorvold

Scrunchies (the Minneapolis supergroup of sorts featuring Laura Larson of Baby Guts and Danielle Cusack of Kitten Forever and Bruise Violet) have just released a new single off their upcoming album. While "No Home Planet" reminded me of bands like Green River and Tad, "Absolute Maximum" sounds more like Nirvana (particularly "Stay Away") if they had spent more time in Olympia than Seattle. This is a huge rock song that combines the best of both grunge and riot grrrl. Every so often a song comes around that you wonder if it's been made especially for you. "Absolute Maximum" is one of those for me.

You can watch the video for "Absolute Maximum" below. Feral Coast is due out April 1 on Dirtap Records and State Champion Records (for cassette). You can pre-order a copy here. For more on Scrunchies, check out the band's Bandcamp and Instagram.

TORRES Covers Nirvana

Photo by Shervin Lainez

This may be the B-side of the single, but anytime I can bring you a Nirvana cover instead of a Keith Urban cover, I'm going to do that. TORRES has just released a new 7" that includes a cover of "Making Memories of Us" (written by Rodney Crowell) and a B-side of Nirvana's "All Apologies." As far as Nirvana songs go, "All Apologies" is perfect for TORRES. It's a solo song with just Mackenzie Scott singing and playing guitar. The guitar is as wonderfully noisy as a Nirvana cover should be, ramping up the fuzz quite a bit from the original. And Scott is giving us the best 90's slacker rock vocals you've heard in the past twenty five years. This couldn't possibly be a better cover song.

You can listen to TORRES take on "All Apologies" below. The "Making Memories of Us" 7" is out now via Merge records and can be purchased over at Bandcamp. (The A-side is pretty great, too.) For more on TORRES, check out the artist's website.

JD McPherson Covers Iggy Pop

JD McPherson isn't shy about performing cover songs, but typically it's a classic rock and roller like Chuck Berry. He just released a medley cover of Iggy Pop's iconic "Lust for Life" and a little of "Sixteen," and it doesn't quite sound anything like what you'd expect. It's far too mellow and groovy to be fully true to the original, and it's not exactly the original rock 'n' roll or rockabilly sound McPherson is known for. Instead, it's a new sound rooted in classic rock and roll and a little psychedelia. It's more 60's than McPherson's 50's sound or the 70's early punk sound of Iggy Pop. McPherson has been working the rockabilly thing for well over a decade, so it's nice to see him stretch out into a new sound.

You can listen to JD McPherson's cover of "Lust for Life" below. For more on JD McPherson, check out the artist's website.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Chris Robinson and Howlin Rain Cover Mott the Hoople

Maybe it's because we've been fairly low on cover songs lately, or maybe it's my fondness for The Southern Harmony and Musical Companion, but I've been really digging this cover from Chris Robinson and Howlin Rain. I would have assumed this might be a little too jammy for my taste, but Mott the Hoople's "Sucker" works surprisingly well in this format. The original straddled the line between glam and psychedelia leaning a little more towards glam, and Chris Robinson and Howlin Rain's version leans a little more towards psychedelic while keeping the original vibe intact. Plus, who doesn't love a killer electric guitar solo dripping with the smell of marijuana? This is just great stoner rock that you're going to love whether or not you want to.

You can listen to Chris Robinson and Howlin Rain's take on "Sucker" below. The song is currently available as a single via Bandcamp with a B-side of "Death May Be Your Santa Claus." For more on Howlin Rain, check out the artist's website.

Shane Parish - "Randy Dandy O"

Photo by Courtney Chappell

If you had told me I was going to be this fascinated by experimental re-workings of sea shanties, I never would have believed you, but here we are. The latest single from Shane Parish is "Randy Dandy O," and it continues his guitar and drums re-imagining of traditional sea shanties. This one is just guitar, and the accompanying video is a live outdoor performance of the song, complete with the noises of cars driving in the distance. Once again, it doesn't sound like a traditional song at all until you start really paying attention and the traditional melody slowly unveils itself to you. "Randy Dandy O" is the rare kind of song that is going to appeal to fans of traditional music and experimental music.

You can watch the video for "Randy Dandy O" below. Liverpool is due out March 4 on Dear Life Records and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on Shane Parish, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

3/3 Durham NC at Duke Coffeehouse w/ Weirs + Magic Tuber String Band

3/4 Charlottesville VA at Visible Records w/ Jordan Perry

3/5 DC at Rhizome w/ William Corrigan + Weed Tree

3/6 DC at Rhizome Gamify Your Guitar Practice Workshop

3/7 Philadelphia PA at Brickbat Books

3/9 Queens NY at Windjammer

3/10 Kingston NY at Tubby’s w/ Daniel Wyche + Wild C

3/11 Brooklyn NY at Purgatory w/ Adeleine Hotel + Ruby Landen

3/12 Pittsburgh PA at Acoustic Music Works

3/13 Cleveland OH at New Ghosts House Show

3/14 Indianapolis IN at Healer

3/15 Chicago IL at Elastic w/ Lia Kohl, Jason Stein

3/17 Nashville TN at DRKMTTR w/ Josh Halper + Ziona Riley

Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves - "Hurricane Clarice / Brushy Fork of John's Creek"

There aren't many artists that can captivate with just a banjo and fiddle the way that Allison de Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves can. The duo's latest single is just that. It's an instrumental medley entitled "Hurricane Clarice / Brushy Fork of John's Creek" that has the pair playing a banjo and a fiddle for six minutes and it's impossibly captivating. Hargreaves and de Groot are masters at playing traditional roots/Americana, and it doesn't get any better than "Hurricane Clarice / Brushy Fork of John's Creek." For any fans of folk or bluegrass, this is an absolute must listen.

Tatiana Hargreaves says of the new song:

”Inspired by the minimalist and abstract writing of Clarice Lispector, the track encompasses many of the themes we explored throughout the album. This track, and the album as a whole, looks inward at our own family histories and lineages, connecting Lispector’s Eastern European family history to both of our own. ‘Hurricane Clarice’ also refers to increasing extreme weather incidents caused by climate change. We recorded the album in Portland, Oregon during an apocalyptic heat wave and it was our third attempt over the last two years to make it happen. So there was also an underlying feeling throughout the album process of the climate crisis and all the upheaval of 2020 and 2021. ‘Hurricane Clarice’ captures our love for instrumental banjo-fiddle music, combining the original title track with our interpretation of John Morgan Salyer’s version of the traditional fiddle tune 'Brushy Fork of John’s Creek.' We love playing music together in the duo format and find that there is so much room for flexibility and spontaneous musical reactivity.”

You can watch the video for "Hurricane Clarice / Brushy Fork of John's Creek" below. Hurricane Clarice is due out March 25 on Free Dirt Records, and can be pre-ordered over at Bandcamp. For more on Allison de Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves, check out the artists' website.

Onyx - "Bo! Bo! Bo!"

It's no secret that I prefer classic hip hop over modern, so you know I'm going to be thrilled to get new music from Onyx. The group best known for "Slam" has been having a revival thanks to production from Snowgoons. For their upcoming album, they teamed with Ukrainian producer Stasevich. The first single off that album sounds like it could have been a track from Bacdafucup. "Bo! Bo! Bo!" has everything that made songs like "Slam" explode. It has all of that grime and stripped down production we loved in 1993. The way the music industry is these days, I doubt this will go gold like Bacdafucup did, but it certainly won't be due to lack of quality. "Bo! Bo! Bo!" is perfect for anyone who remembers classic Onyx with any kind of fondness.

You can watch the video for "Bo! Bo! Bo!" below. 1993 is due out March 4 and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Onyx, check out their website.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Stormstress - "Fall With You"

Metal and hard rock aren't typically our things here at If It's Too Loud..., but we can still appreciate the genres, especially when a band is as kick ass as Stormstress. On their latest single, "Fall With You," the Boston trio is revitalizing an often (unfairly) mocked style: The metal power ballad. For those of us that remember the late 80's and Def Leppard's insane run at the top of Dial MTV that inspired Adam Curry to practically beg viewers to vote for anything else, the metal power ballad brings up warm, fuzzy feelings of our youth. Sure, most of these songs are of the cheesy variety, but Stormstress pull off the rare power ballad that still rocks. This is a direct descendent of Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne's immortal "Close My Eyes Forever," and who doesn't need more of that in their lives?

In a Facebook post, Stormstress talks about their new single:

“'Fall With You,' dares to dig deep into the dark depths of the heart and matters of vulnerability. The song tells a painful love story about the ache of desire and being forced to choose between giving in to the forbidden wishes of the heart or facing the torment of withholding your truth in order to follow the rules."

You can watch the video for "Fall With You" below. The song is available as a single via Bandcamp. For more on Stormstress, check out the band's website.

Simon and The Astronauts featuring Rachel Haden - "I Have a Name"

After gushing about the first single from Simon and The Astronauts and Rachel Haden, we're thrilled to bring you a second single. The cross-continental collaboration has released "I Have a Name." Somehow this new song hits more of a 90's sweet spot than "Ten League Boots" hit. If you have a certain fondness for mid-90's power pop (known then as "post grunge"), you're going to love this one. It's filled with crunching guitars and Haden's glorious vocals done with that distant space age kind of effect I didn't realize I missed this much. "I Have a Name" is a perfect 90's power pop anthem that was released thirty years too late.

Simon Wells of Simon and The Astronauts says of the new song:

"The song is for everyone; we all have a right to be heard but we all need to listen. For too long a few people make the decisions and expect the rest of the planet to follow. It's time for change. Be it Greta Thunberg and the climate, civil or religious unrest or the problems that have never been addressed and ignored."

You can watch the video for "I Have a Name" below. Simon and The Astronauts featuring Rachel Haden's debut album is due out April 22 on Ring Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Simon and The Astronauts, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

Joe Rainey - "no chants"

Photo by David Guttenfelder

Pow Wow is a style of Indigenous singing that has been practiced for centuries in what is now Minnesota. Joe Rainey hails from Red Lake Ojibwe in Minneapolis and has been interested in the style since his childhood. His new single, "no chants," is this incredibly bass heavy song unlike anything I've ever heard before. It combines Pow Wow singing with pounding bass that puts any kind of hop hop you've ever heard to shame. It's kind of like a stripped down version of digital hardcore. "no chants" may not musically be for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to give this a chance. This song is an important listen for everyone.

You can watch the video for "no chants" below. Niineta is due out May 20 on 37d03d and can be pre-saved and pre-ordered here

Jake Blount - "The Man Was Burning"

When I saw Jake Blount over the weekend, he played a bluegrass version of "The Man Was Burning," which he discovered in the Smithsonian Folkways archives. The song was sung by Joe Lee, a black prisoner in Virginia, in 1936. Blount promised he was releasing a rock and roll version of the single this week, and it is now out! "The Man Was Burning" isn't a pure rock and roll song, but it's the most rock and roll thing I've heard from Blount so far. There's a little to much jazz in the song to be purely rock and roll, but the song also combines elements of soul and blues which is pretty damn rock. This is an amazing reworking of a traditional spiritual (you can hear the original here), and the fact that I've heard versions in two completely different genres both by Jake Blount this week just showcases Blount's immense talents!

In a press release Jake Blount says of his new single:

“It’s a spiritual that echoes with burning hellfire. All of these supernatural, plagues of Egypt-type things are happening to this person ostensibly as punishment for his gambling. I don’t really mind people gambling, so I changed the verses to be about somebody who’s hoarding money and thinking too much of what it can do for him and is punished. This is kind of my 'Eat the Rich' moment."

You can listen to Jake Blount's rock and roll version of "The Man Was Burning" below. The song is available as a single via Free Dirt Records. For more on Jake Blount, check out the artist's website.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

The Weeping Willows - "House of Sin"

Photo by Ian Laidlaw

Australia's The Weeping Willows are doing Americana as good as any American band out these days. Their latest single, "House of Sin," has that modern folk dabbling in classic folk feel we love around here. It's definitely not a traditional sound, but it leans much more traditional than some of the more mainstream folkies out there by adding in a tiny bit of rock and roll. It also has a certain darkness and menace lingering below the surface. "House of Sin" reminds me of the mellower side of Shovels & Rope combined with the dark, gothic cabaret of Charming Disaster. 

You can watch the video for "House of Sin" below. You Reap What You Sow is due out March 4 on Compass Bros Records, and can be pre-ordered or pre-saved here. For more on The Weeping Willows, check out the artist's website.

Grampfather - "Poppies"

Kingston, NY's Grampfather still have one of my favorite band names I've heard in a while. The band's newest single, "Poppies," is a psychedelic jam rooted in other genres like post punk and jangle pop. Any song called "Poppies" has to have a little psychedelia in it, but Grampfather keep this from sounding too jammy. It has this hypnotic vibe along with jangly guitars and some of the dark feel of post punk. This is a catchy and fun song mixing genres you'd think shouldn't be mixed but these four guys pull it off wonderfully.

James Kwapisz of Grampfather says about the new song:

"I wrote the main riff for this song a few years back, but I wasn't quite sure what to do with it until I connected it with the chord progression in the second half of the song. I liked the poppy vibe of it, so I just named the song file 'Poppy song,' which then became "Poppies, drawing a connection to the title of the album, Gramppappies. The first half of the song is kind of sarcastically thinking about life without music/art/beauty/flowers (poppies), and the second half genuinely expresses my passion and appreciation for music in my life and how barren this life would be without it."

You can listen to "Poppies" below. Gramppappies is due out February 25 and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on Grampfather, check out the band's website.

Eli Paperboy Reed Covers Merle Haggard (Again)

Last month we were blown away by the fact that Eli Paperboy Reed was releasing an album of Merle Haggard covers, and even more blown away by the fact that the first song was so great! With the second single Reed proves that wasn't just a fluke. Reed takes on "I'm Bringing Home Good News." The original is just a pure classic country song. It's the exact type of song you associate with Haggard, and would not be anything you'd expect to hear from a traditional neo-soul artist like Reed. Reed re-imagines the song as a classic soul standard. This sounds much more like a James Brown cover than a Merle Haggard one, and harkens back to the day when artists would regularly cover each other over genres. This is such a masterfully done cover that we really can't wait to hear more from Reed's Merle Haggard tribute album!

You can listen to Eli Paperboy Reed's version of "I'm Bringing Home Good News" below. Down Every Road is due out April 29 on Yep Roc Records and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Eli Paperboy Reed, check out the artist's website.

The Afhan Whigs - "I'll Make You See God"

Photo courtesy of The Afghan Whigs

Normally when a band has been around for over twenty years and all of the press around a new song or album states that this is their heaviest yet, you can pretty much guarantee that it's the same middle of the road sound they've had for years. Not with the latest from The Afghan Whigs, though. In the press release for "I'll Make You See God," Greg Dulli calls it "... one of the hardest rock songs we've ever done." And, for once, it is. Not that The Afghan Whigs are really known as being a hard rock band, but this song is just pure loud. It's still that groovy and ultra-cool alt-rock that we've come to expect from the Cincinnati band, this one is just ramped up a little more than usual. 

You can watch the video for "I'll Make You See God" below. The song is available as a single via Royal Cream here. For more on The Afghan Whigs, check out their website here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

First Listen: New Releases for 18 February 2022

Artist: Blushing
Album: Possessions
Quick Thoughts: Dear god this is good. We love a good shoegazey effort and Blushing brings us the best one we've heard in some time. This is fresh and fuzzy in all the right ways, and has so many solid songs that it's hard to select just a handful. Overall, a highlight of the week without question, and definitely worth your time if you're into this sort of shoegaze.
Songs of Note: "Sour Punch," "Surround (With Love)"

Artist: Basement Revolver
Album: Embody
Quick Thoughts: I'm a big Basement Revolver fan and this new album continues them along the same great alt rock lines they've headed down as of late. It's difficult for me to hear a song like "Be Okay" and not wonder why this act isn't huge. On a whole, a solid listen in a busy week - while I feel like every shoegaze act decided to release in February, all of them are awesome.
Songs of Note: "Be Okay," "Blackhole"

Artist: MAITA
Album: I Just Want to be Wild For You
Quick Thoughts: MAITA has always been great, but this album is such a massive step forward that I'm shocked by it. There are shades of Madi Diaz's incredible album from last year here, in that this has a straightforward and brutal presentation to go along with some truly amazing songwriting, but also doesn't avoid getting loud and brash like on "Pastel Concrete." This is my favorite album of 2022 so far and I'm more excited to get back to this one more than anything else recently. A must-listen.
Songs of Note: "Loneliness," "Pastel Concrete," "Honey, Have I Lost It All?," "Where Do You Go?"

Artist: Howless
Album: To Repel Ghosts
Quick Thoughts: Howless is a fascinating, interesting listen. Billed as "noise pop" out of Mexico City, Mexico, it is a retro-rock outfit that sounds like it came straight out of early 1980s radio. Big drums, big bass, and some sweet reverb to go along with some truly compelling vocals make the whole package a favorite this week. Ken's been raving about them for a while, and I'm super glad this exists.
Songs of Note: "Fade Out," "Unlucky," "Shadow Blind,"

Artist: Sarah Shook and the Disarmers
Album: Nightroamer
Quick Thoughts: We're not only on the Sarah Shook bandwagon, we're probably driving it at this point. Nightroamer might be her most mainstream effort with The Disarmers, and comes across as a roots rock album with some radio-friendly rock to go along with her signature twang. Three albums in, and Sarah Shook is absolutely solidifying herself as a must-listen talent in the alt-country landscape.
Songs of Note: "No Mistakes," "Been Lovin' You Too Long," "Talkin' to Myself"

Of note:

* Midnight Oil - RESIST (Much better than you expect it to be.)
* The Pine Hearts - Lost Love Songs (Pure bluegrassy folk.)
* Sea Power - Everything Was Forever (At least the parts that work on Spotify right now are solid.)
* Shout Out Louds - House
* Bathtub Cig - Night Blindness
* Kendra Morris - Nine Lives
* Shovels and Rope - Manticore
* Lavender Country - Blackberry Rose
* Various Artists - Ocean Child: Songs of Yoko Ono
* Methyl Ethel - Are You Haunted?
* Hurray for the Riff Raff - Life on Earth
* Sally Shapiro - Sad Cities
* Sea Power - Everything Was Forever
* The Infamous Stringdusters - Toward the Fray
* Alice Glass - PREY//IV
* Metronomy - Small World
* BROODS - Space Island


* Fatima Yamaha - Build Back Bangers (Best album/EP title I've seen in a while.)
* Ruby Bridges - Live from Repentence Creek Hall (The version of "Clothes Line" here is brilliant.)
* Tiffany Day - The Renewal Project
* Ryan Dugre - Look See
* The Tin Can Collective - A Brief Look Back at Rising Tides
* Mae Krell - imposter Syndrome
* Sibille Attar - Lost Tracks (2012-2022)
* NewDad - Banshee
* Blue Hawaii - My Bestfriend's House
* Tame Impala - The Slow Rush (Remixes/B-Sides)
* Eliza and the Delusionals - Give You Everything
* Khruangbin and Leon Bridges - Texas Moon

Live albums/Compilations/Reissues:

* Noisia - The Resonance II

Also out:

* The Body and OAA - Enemy of Love
* Beach House - One Twice Melody

Conway the Machne with Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn - "John Woo Flick"

Photo via Facebook

I hate comparing every hip hop song I like to the 90's and Wu-Tang Clan in particular, but if a song is called "John Woo Flick" it's kind of hard not to. The latest from Conway the Machine features Benny the Butcher and Westside Gunn, and it features the same kind of sparse kung fu influenced production we heard on Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). This is just the kind of classic old school hip hop we absolutely love here at If It's Too Loud... that we wish we heard more of. "John Woo Flick" is that slow kind of rap song that seems to pace around in your head with just the slightest trace of menacing undertones. That being said, this is a fun song and a killer collaboration.

You can watch the video for "John Woo Flick" below. God Don't Make Mistakes is due out February 25 on Shady/Interscope Records. For more on Conway the Machine, check out the artist's website.

Cinder Well x Jim Ghedi - "I Am a Youth That's Inclined to Ramble"

We discovered Cinder Well back in 2020, but this is our first time hearing Jim Ghedi. The duo's new singe, "I Am a Youth That's Inclined to Ramble" certainly does not sound like anything recorded in California. Amelia Baker (aka Cinder Well) first discovered the song in the Irish Traditional Music Archives. It's from the point of view of a young man leaving Ireland for America. Baker takes the lead on the song, which they turn into an almost entirely a capella song, except for some fiddle that slowly comes in and hides far in the background about halfway through. Haunting barely describes this song. The song is a lush, droning experience to listen to, despite how stark it is. 

You can listen to "I Am a Youth That's Inclined to Ramble" below. The song is available as a single with the B-side of "Pulling Bracken" via Free Dirt Records, and can be found over at Bandcamp. For more on Cinder Well x Jim Ghedi, check out Cinder Well's website.

Porridge Radio - "Back to the Radio"

Photo by Matilda Hill-Jenkins

Porridge Radio's Every Bad was a musical highlight of 2020 (the only real kind of highlight 2020 had, to be fair...), and the UK band is back with new music! "Back to the Radio" is the first single and opening track for the new album. It's the best kind of reintroduction to a band you could have. It keeps everything we loved about their previous album while still moving into a new direction. The song is Porridge Radio's version of a power ballad. It may not have the noise or dissonance we are used to from them, but it's hardly a standard power ballad. It starts off with this quiet drone of noise (the kind you'd hear from Sonic Youth) and slowly and slowly builds into this unique indie rock power ballad that is equally beautiful and contentious song.

Frontperson Dana Margolin says of the new song:

‘“Back To The Radio’ feels like a huge introductory hello or a big ceremonial goodbyeI wrote it at the end of 2019 when we were gearing up for the release of Every Bad and I felt like a lot of things were coming that I wasn’t sure I knew how to handle. The song grew out of a feeling of intense loneliness and being unprepared for what everybody was promising me was about to happen – and a strong desire to escape without knowing what I wanted to escape to. To me there’s a huge feeling of catharsis in this song, of letting go and letting it sweep you away.

You can watch the video for "Back to the Radio" below. Waterslide, Diving Board, Ladder to the Sky is due out May 20 on Secretly Canadian, and can be pre-ordered and pre-saved here. For more on Porridge Radio, check out the artist's Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, February 21, 2022

Star Party - "Push You Aside"

Seattle is known for bands that are noisy but write catchy as hell songs. The latest is Star Party. Their new single, "Push You Aside," has this intense, swirling, buzzsaw of a guitar surrounding the whole song and droning along virtually throughout the entire song. Despite that, the beat is undeniably bouncy and makes you want to bop around instead of moshing. And then there's Carolyn Brennan's vocals which just have this endearing quality that sucks you in and makes you want to focus on her and not the noise threatening to engulf her. This is an outrageously fun song.

You can watch the video for "Push You Aside" below. Meadow Flower is due out March 11 on Feel It in the US and Tough Love everywhere else. For more on Star Party and to pre-order their album, check them out on Bandcamp.

Good Looks - "Vision Boards"

Photo by John Bergin

Texas' Good Looks are going to be a hard bad to describe, despite not being all that out there musically. Reading their press release, "Vision Boards" is compared to John Mellencamp and their upcoming album is called a "folk record." And I can see why, I really can. There is a certain middle American working class twang to the song. But, it's more like if Sonic Youth had formed in Texas and gotten really into The Magnetic Fields, but decided to try to play a more straight up rock sound... kinda? Like I said, "Vision Boards" is hard to describe since it resides somewhere that's too weird for "normal" music but not out there enough to be art rock or weirdo music. All that said, this is a great song that you're going to want to check out.

Tyler Jordan of Good Looks explains his hatred of vision boards:

“It’s really just another version of ‘you’re poor because you wanna be.' In this song, I’m thinking about the very real structural limitations that make it hard to succeed in the music business, while at the same time acknowledging my own personal limitations holding me back, and trying to release them.”

You can watch the video for "Vision Boards" below. Bummer Year is due out April 8 on Keeled Scales, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Good Looks, check out the band's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

Tue. Feb. 15 - Fort Worth, TX @ MASSWed. Feb. 16 - Tulsa, OK @ SoundponyFri. Feb. 18 - Lawrence, KS @ Replay LoungeSat. Feb. 19 - Chicago, IL @ Cole’sTue. Feb. 22 - Indianapolis, IN @ HealerWed. Feb. 23 - Nashville, TN @ The EndThu. Feb. 24 - Little Rock, AR @ Whitewater TavernThu. Mar. 17 - Austin, TX @ Cheer Up Charlie’s - SXSWFri. Mar. 18 - Austin, TX @ Radio Coffee & Beer - SXSWSun. Mar. 20 - Dripping Springs, TX @ Chill Phases

Live Shows: Jake Blount, Askew, Providence, RI 2/17/22

Photo by Michelle Lotker

I absolutely loved Jake Blount's 2020 album Spider Tales and have wanted to see him ever since first hearing it. Seeing him should be quite easy considering he's based in Providence, RI and I'm somewhat close to the city. But we all know how life has turned out the past almost two years, so this was my first chance. It turns out that this was Blount's first Providence show since relocating to the city from Virginia, so it was kind of a special night for everyone.

Seeing Jake Blount and his band perform live isn't just a concert. He's also an ethnomusicologist, so he will explain the origins of songs and general musical history while tuning between songs. In fact, he even explained that the reason he was tuning so much between songs is the unusual tunings used in early folk. If you're a fan of roots music and history, this is a special treat. 

And then there's the music itself. Blount moved between styles in his set, going between bluegrass, jazz, and folk with ease. An early highlight of the night was a cover of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?," originally done by Lead Belly, and possibly most popularly by Nirvana. The song was included on Spider Tales, and that may have been my favorite on the album. The highlight of the night was "The Man Was Burning." Blount discovered this song while compiling a playlist for Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. The song was sung by an inmate in the 1920's or 1930. Blount resurrected the song as a rock song (which will be his new single, and should be out any day now) but played it as a bluegrass song at Askew. He also played a version of "When You See (Those Flying Saucers)," which suggests that seeing spaceships from another world might be the second coming of the Lord. A Jake Blount performance isn't just a concert. You'll head home with some extra credit work to track down the original recordings of these songs, and do so happily.

Friday, February 18, 2022

Erika Lewis - "Loser"

Photo by Sarrah Danziger

Erika Lewis makes traditional jazz and swing music as part of Tuba Skinny, but under her own name releases traditional folk music. Her latest single, "Loser," has this light and modern take on folk while still being rooted in the traditional side of the genre. It's a uplifting song about heartbreak, staying sunny and breezy despite being lyrically much less positive. It's the kind of folk music made by fellow New Orleans musicians like Hurray for the Riff Raff and The Deslondes. (Erika Lewis did much time in the jazz and folk scene in New Orleans, but is now based in Asheville, NC. "Loser" is the kind of song fans of Americana aren't going to be able to resist, and expect to hear it a lot over the summer.

You can listen to "Loser" below. A Walk Around the Sun is due out April 29 and can be pre-ordered over at Bandcamp. For more on Erika Lewis, check out the artist's website.

Benny Sizzler - "So Much for Today"

Benny Sizzler are a band that is going to defy your expectations. First, they may be from Newport, RI but don't have a sound anything like the famous festivals or anything that city's mansion dwellers would listen to. Second, the band features Gail Greenwood of Belly, but they sound absolutely nothing like her other more well known band. No, Benny Sizzler's new single is heavy. This is the kind of heavy that Greenwood got to play with during her time in L7. I hesitate to call "So Much for Today" a metal song, but if it isn't it's snuggled right up next to metal. This is a loud as hell song with pounding drums and blistering guitar solos. 

You can watch the video for "So Much for Today" below. The song is available as a single via Bandcamp. For more on Benny Sizzler, check out the band's website.

Los Saints - "Fouund You Somewhere"

Los Saints are a trio out of Chula Vista, CA comprised of first generation Mexican-Americans. Their new single, "Fouund You Somewhere," combines the flashy garage rock of The Strokes with the melancholy jangle pop of The Smiths. It's an arena rock ready low key anthem about heartbreak that you can still groove to. It's danceable while still being a rock song. If anything, it's fun mopey, which describes some of my favorite music of all time. "Fouund You Somewhere" is the kind of song that could very easily crossover to the level of mainstream that would get them on network TV, so let's enjoy them as our little secret while we still can.

Angel Mariscal says of his band's new song:

“‘Fouund You Somewhere’ was written at the end of my first serious relationship. It’s about yearning for something that you lost and holding on to what could have been, if things were done differently.”

You can watch the video for "Fouund You Somewhere" below. The song is currently available as a single via Enci Records. For more on Los Saints, check them out on Twitter and Instagram.

Ethan Woods - "Mrs. Moo"

Photo by Dave Scanlon

The latest from Ethan Woods is being described as both freak folk and psychedelic folk, but it's fairly straightforward for those designations... kinda. "Mrs. Moo" (named after a character in Woods' childhood created by his father) starts off with a recorded introduction that you don't typically get in folk, along with some clanging percussion. Once Woods kicks in with his vocal, it becomes a fairly typical folk song, at least for alt-folk or freak folk. But then the samples keep popping in and out, and there will be a horn playing way off in the distance somewhere. What truly makes "Mrs. Moo" a freak folk or psychedelic folk song is how Woods balances the odd and traditional within the song. 

In a press release, Ethan Woods talks about his new single and video:

"I made this video as a 1-to-1 translation of the song's lyrics. All the footage was shot by me and my partner on our phones between 2017 and 2019 while we were living in Asheville. The video features a world where slapstick coincidences are at odds with cosmic synchronicities. Found footage of me and my friends are juxtaposed against verses about a childhood lost, imposter syndrome, and missing the cows of New England—all to surprisingly comical effect. The whole thing climaxes with a hurried sequence of misfires set to the last verse, in which I repeat the line "why do I try?" Like the music itself, the video is very autobiographical, maybe in part my attempt at a self portrait. There's footage from my day job as an arborist, classes taught by friends at the now defunct Cabbage School of Western North Carolina, a dance party at my best friend’s wedding, the legendary KFC chicken of Marietta, GA…culminating with a shot of a person literally flying (I won't spoil exactly how though)."

You can watch the video for "Mrs. Moo" below. Burnout is due out April 29 on Whatever's Clever, and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on Ethan Woods, check out the artist's website.

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Howless - "Unlucky"

Photo by Andrea Gonar

Howless are quickly becoming our favorite Mexico City based "noise-pop/shoegaze quartet." Their new single, "Unlucky," has all of the fuzz and spacey vibes of shoegaze, but this song is also rooted deep in pop. Shoegaze and pop seem like they should be in two completely different musical universes, but Howless pull off the seemingly impossible here. While "Unlucky" does share some of the sounds of the more pop/hit song side of bands like The Cure, when I say pop in this case I mean pure modern pop music. All of this will wash over you in this warm wave on sonic joy, whether it sounds like it will or not.

You can watch the video for "Unlucky" below. To Repel Ghosts is due out February 18 on Static Blooms Records, and can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp. For more on Howless, check out the band's Facebook and Instagram.

BODEGA - "Statuette On the Console"

Photo by Pooneh Ghana

As you probably know by now, we're really into the dance friendly post punk of Brooklyn's BODEGA. Their latest single strays from their formula a bit, but fans are still going to love it. Instead of dance friendly post punk, "Statuette On the Console" is more dance friendly indie rock. Sure, there are elements of post punk on the new song, like buzzing guitars and singer Nikki Belfiglio's vocals will remind you of Gang of Four, but this is much more of a straightforward rock song than we're used to from BODEGA. This is still a BODEGA song, so "Statuette On the Console" is a party just waiting to break free.

Nikki Belfiglio says of the new song:

"I have a certain reverence for the symbols of religion; creating iconography with antiquated technology is a big part of my process for the art of BODEGA. I cast myself as the titular statuette on the console, miming the song on top of an old television set, wearing a halo made out of a laser disc. I also created a giant iPhone dongle out of cardboard, fabric and pillow stuffing. In our tech-obsessed world, the dongle is a symbol with godlike powers of animating silence. I see something tragic in the fragility of these dongles and our dependence on them. It’s only a matter of days before they become broken equipment."

You can watch the video for "Statuette On the Console" below. Broken Equipment is due out March 11 on What's Your Rupture?, and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on BODEGA, check out the artist's Facebook and Instagram.

Brennen Leigh - "If Tommy Duncan's Voice Was Booze"

When you see a song title like "If Tommy Duncan's Voice Was Booze," you can probably guess what it's going to sound like, and you'd probably be right. The latest from Fargo born, one time Austin transplant, and current Nashville resident Brennen Leigh is classic country with a modern twist. This song is pure Western swing (probably because Asleep at the Wheel are the backing band here), and Leigh's vocals are just pure heaven. It's that smooth kinda classic country with a slight modern pop flair that you feel compelled to move to, even if it's just a little in your chair. If you even slightly enjoy the kind of country and Americana we tend to bring you, this is one you're going to love.

You can listen to "If Tommy Duncan's Voice Was Booze" below. Obsessed with the West is due out May 6 on Signature Sounds and can be pre-ordered over at Bandcamp. For more on Brennen Leigh, check out the artist's website.

Raw Poetic - "Open Roads"

Photo by Earl Davis

Raw Poetic (real name Jason Moore) is creating some of the most unique hip hop out there today while still staying firmly in the genre. His latest single, "Open Roads," is less jazzy than his collaborative album with Archie Shepp and Damu the Fudgemunk, but it's still much more jazz than your standard hip hop. This is experimental hip hop that is still going to work for those with more mainstream tastes. It also has this uplifting vibe that we used to get with artists like PM Dawn or Arrested Development. And then there's Raw Poetic's flow, which is both smooth and abrupt at the same time. This is the kind of hip hop that can bring former hip hop heads back to the style.

Jason Moore says of his new song:

‘See I never see them elite,’ are the first lyrics on the songMy mother always said she never liked people who think they are better than her. And neither do I. So it was my way of telling everyone who hears it, we are all allowed to have a voice. I was creating an open road for me to travel. Sound like no one, be yourself, and do what you feel. And so the journey begins."

You can listen to "Open Roads" below. Laminated Skies is due out March 18 on Def Presse, and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on Raw Poetic, check out the artist's website.