Friday, March 31, 2023

Robotic Hawks - Minnesota Fats

Photo by Kelly Davidson Studio

Hailing from New Hampshire, Robotic Hawks have released a new three song EP. Minnesota Fats is fast paced alt-rock that is ridiculously catchy. The title track is the kind of song that is instantly familiar and sounds like The Replacements formed in the mid 90's, recruited Robert Pollard, and decided to inject a little metal into their sound. "Turn Away" is going to draw even more Guided By Voices comparisons, and kind of goes into a little bit of a Southern California in the 60's sound. The EP closes out with a cover of Tommy Conwell and the Young Rumblers' "I'm Not Your Man." It's a modern power pop cover of a classic from 1988. Robotic Hawks are masters of an infectious blend of alt-rock that is an absolute blast.

Tyler Pollard (vocals, bass) says of the song "Minnesota Fats:"

“On the surface, the song is about real life ‘pool hustler’ Rudolf Wanderone a.k.a. ‘Minnesota Fats’. Fats had a complicated relationship with his skillset and fame. Building on the success of the Jackie Gleason film The Hustler, Wanderone altered his original nickname of ‘New York Fats’ to ‘Minnesota’ in hopes of widening his legend and ultimately tying his legacy to audiences’ instant connection to Gleason’s character. Wanderone was convinced that ‘Fats’ was based on his life regardless of the film writer’s denial. When a gift or ability defines your purpose or meaning, how much validation does one truly need?”

You can listen to "Minnesota Fats" below. The EP is available through Bandcamp. For more on Robotic Hawks, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook. The band is playing an EP release party tonight (March 31) at The Square Root in Boston. You can find more information on that show here.

Ruby Grove - "Maybe It's Time"

Boston has a varied musical sound, but nothing else in the city sounds anything like Ruby Grove. The band released a new single today that is almost impossibly infectious. "Maybe It's Time" has this laid back lo-fi trip hop groove intermingled with hip hop, R&B, and indie rock. It's a distinct and new sound that feels warmly familiar, but defies any true categorization. Frontwoman Melissa Nilles describes the band's sound as 
“the sonic lovechild of Beats Antique, Portishead, Jamiroquai, Gnarls Barkley, and Gorillaz," so we're going to go with her words. What's indisputable is how cool "Maybe It's Time" sounds. You know how in the 90's bands would mine the 60's for a retro cool sound? Ruby Grove are the 2023 version of repurposing old sounds into something brand new and fresh. I'm willing to bet you're going to be hearing about them around here a lot.

You can listen to "Maybe It's Time" below. For more on Ruby Grove, check out the band's Facebook and Instagram.

Billy Tibbals - "Hurt so Bad"

Photo by Emily Butler

Billy Tibbals has this fantastic retro rock coolness to his latest single. "Hurt so Bad" has a 60's and 70's sound that is going to instantly remind you of artists like The Kinks and T-Rex. We never get sick of that sonic sensation, so we're always in for bands that throw back to those artists. But Tibbals also has a little bit of that early 00's garage rock sound of The Strokes. It might be more along the lines of the edge of early Strokes than their sound, but it's definitely there. "Hurt so Bad" is the kind of retro sound you're going to become smitten by, even after you realize that it's time to be nostalgic over the early 00's...

You can listen to "Hurt so Bad" below. Stay Teenage is due out April 21 on Silver Arrow Records. It was produced by Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Billy Tibbals, check out the artist's website.

An Interview with Kicking Bird (And a premier of "238!")

When you have a music blog, you sometimes get to hear new music early. I got to hear Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, the upcoming new album from Wilmington, NC's Kicking Bird, and was instantly smitten. Some albums just seem perfectly made for my specific tastes, and that's how this one feels. The songs on Original Motion Picture Soundtrack have that perfect mid-90's power pop sound with a little retro 60's cool. It's like a less ironic version of Fountains of Wayne and Weezer. I got the chance to interview three members of Kicking Bird (Shaun and Shaylah Paul as well as Robin Cooksley) over email, so we discussed North Carolina, their upcoming album, and the song we're premiering, "238." 

Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is due out May 19 on Fort Lowell Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Kicking Bird, check out the band on Facebook and Instagram. You can listen to "238" below the interview.

Your sound seems to invoke the early 60's and late 90's/early 00's. What are your favorite bands from those time periods?

· Shaun: I definitely think we take a lot of inspiration from garage rock. The Kinks are one band specifically that has been a major influence on our songwriting energy. They are also a band that made it ok to write any type of a song, and not be limited by any one "sound". I know that for me personally, Bob Dylan is the mountaintop for lyrical work so that is definitely a mile marker for quality. I also love his ability to only have a flirtatious relationship with melody, he can cram three extra words in any time he needs and no one is the wiser. When Shaylah and I first started playing together Arcade Fire was making really amazing records, so I think that kind of vocal interplay over really fun instrumentation became something we always worked towards. One of the most life changing concerts I ever went to was when some friends took me to see The Walkmen and I was able to watch Hamilton Leithauser sing in person.

· ShaylahThe Beatles and Weezer. The two greatest bands ever!

· Robin: I'm glad you can hear that, as my go-to music is 60's garage music and mid 90's indie. I love Bends/OK Computer era Radiohead, their guitarist, Jonny Greenwood is a genius, I lay awake at night dreaming of being able to make the insane sounds that he makes on the guitar ha! I used to play in a 60's mod band, so my love of 60's garage rock bands is strong, the Kinks probably most influenced me from that period. I can only imagine what it must have been like to first hear the rawness of the guitar sound and vocal swagger of You've Really Got Me, when most everyone else was doing bubble-gum pop in 1964. I love Ray Davies' storytelling, he can really set a scene and take you there, I think Shaun can pull that off in his lyrics, but instead of a 1960's rural England village scene, he's trying to take you to the moon on a rocket ship or riding on the shoulders of a bear, or some other crazy shit.

A lot of bands with your sound seem to cloak their songs in irony, but as fun as your songs are, they sound completely earnest. Is it tough playing songs that are so heartfelt?

· Shaun: We do feel it. At the end of the day we write fiction. We get to tell fun stories over jangly pop music and I truly love it. I really do connect with every member of the audience when we play live. It's great to feel like we are all at a party just dancing together. If something we've written resonates then that's amazing but I really want those narratives to be the soundtrack to someone's night, not something for reflective introspection.

· ShaylahThat's really interesting that that's the impression the songs give off, because literally not a word in any of Shaun's songs is true. Except maybe the distance to the moon. I think that's at least an accurate estimation. All of my songs are very specific and it is tough sometimes because people figure things out. All I can about Tom is he's a hopeless romantic.

What's the Wilmington, NC music scene like these days?

· Shaun: Building constantly. Post covid there was a real explosion of rock bands in this town. Up until that, it was starting to feel like if you weren't a punk band or alt-country there was no place for you. That has totally changed. A ton of different sounds are coming from the bands in this town now. There is some really great heavy garage stuff from bands like Narah and Cancel. Pleasure Island is consistently one of the best bands I've seen recently. I think the songwriters are getting better too. Mark Jackson of morning news is a phenomenal lyricist and has the best voice. The greatest part is the DIY feel that the music community has embraced. James at Fort Lowell records is a perfect example of that. He's totally been a really important part of the support structure that's allowed local music to get so good.

· Shaylah:  It's great and you know what would make it better? More venues with bigger stages and full sound!

· Robin: It's really cool, there's a decent number of venues and more keep coming up. I love being able to play outside shows at Tiki Bar at the beach and downtown at Satellite/Palate. There's a ton of bands, and they're all really good, which means everyone keeps striving to be better, it's a very healthy scene.

Any plans to tour for this album?

· Shaun: Not yet, but we'd love to find ourselves at some of the awesome street festivals that happen this summer.  We're also open to trying to make it up to Raleigh and or the mountains, do some long weekends.

· Shaylah: No. We would love to do a mini regional tour out to Asheville and back or something, but it's hard because we have kids and jobs and whatnot. It would be so great though. Maybe one day.

Your songs invoke a joy that sounds like it's a blast to hear live. What's the Kicking Bird live show like?

· Shaun: Loud. Sweaty, Lots of eye contact.

· Shaylah: Chaotic and barely held together. Shaun has always been anti-senseless banter. Like, he hates when songwriters do the thing where they tell you what the song's about instead of letting the song speak for itself. I agree. His sense of pacing drives a lot of the momentum of each set, and the rest of us try to keep up. It's exciting. It's definitely a dance party.

· Robin: I think everyone's main reason for being in the band is to play shows, that's definitely where the band are at their happiest. It sounds a bit corny but we really do try and make our shows a bit of a party, there's always good energy that typically gets people up and dancing. Shaun and Tom are always giving it all they have, Tom can usually be found dancing in the audience playing his bass. 

What's the first album you bought?

· Shaun: Weird Al-Even Worse.

· Shaylah: With my own money? Probably something off one of the listening stations at Borders.

· Robin: I think when I was about 9 or 10 I bought Run DMC's "Raising Hell" with my own money. Shortly after, my brother played me the "Help" album by the Beatles, and then I immediately started to buy every Beatles album. I bought them pretty much in order of release date and I just remember being blown away every time I got a new one, and the feeling of really discovering and falling in love with great music, that was such a great time.

How do songwriting duties work with having three vocalists?

· ShaunThere are some occasions when one of us will show up with a completed song, beginning to end, all the parts, ready to go. More frequently one of us will show up something that is incomplete to some degree and we will work it out all together. Each of the five of us have different tendencies and skills that make for a really wonderful outcome. Lauren is a really great example of that. Robin showed up to practice with this really fun riff, Shaylah and I banged out the basic chords and words, and then once Greg and Tom threw in the rhythm dynamics the whole thing turned into a complete jam. We are very collective and I really couldn't feel luckier that I get to be part of a team that works together so well.

· Shaylah: Historically: Shaun will write most of a song, and then show it to me and I'll help write a hook or a bridge if I'm singing on it. If not, I'll come up with something on the piano. When I write, I'll knock it all out and then Shaun takes over on guitar. A few times, I've written the progression and turns out it was better suited for him to sing. When it's one of those great times where we all collaborate on a skeleton in the practice spot, I feel like it's usually Shaun, Robin, and Tom working out the chords, structure, and dynamic. We'll argue about whether a certain chord should be minor or major. Robin will often lead the process with a cool guitar riff.

· Robin: Pretty much everyone comes up with their own ideas and brings them to practice and we just jam around on the idea/song, sometimes it's a fully formed song and sometimes it's just a bit that we all try to add too to make something cool. I love playing in a band with three very distinct songwriters, Shaun's lyrics are abstract and often weird in a fantastic way, Shaylah's are heartfelt or beautifully melancholy, and Tom's are about young love and just having fun, it gives us a well-rounded mix!  

We're premiering the song "238." What's the story behind the song?

· Shaun: I was watching a skate video at work and a song by Joel Alme that just floored me. I went home and just straight up started ripping off the chords and melody. The words came pretty quickly one night just thinking about how far away and beautiful the moon is. The sounds of words together is the first thing I start working with, and then any narrative or meaning kind of gets discovered after the thing is done. 

· Shaylah: I guess it's a love song to the moon. Or our dog, whose name is Moon. It's one of my favorite songs to play.

Thursday, March 30, 2023

Be Your Own Pet - "Hand Grenade"

Photo by Kristen Barnett

Be Your Own Pet might have been the first band I felt I was too old to listen to but still loved when they first came out way back in 2006. I hid behind Thurston Moore and Iggy Pop being fans. They stopped recording music together after 2008's Get Awkward, and aside from a Jemina Pearl solo album in 2009 and her band Ultras S/C releasing an album in 2013, there hasn't been much from the Nashville punk band.

But... now it's 2023, and Be Your Own Pet are back. They've played a handful of live dates, and now have a brand new song. "Hand Grenade" is great. It sounds exactly like what we want Be Your Own Pet to sound like in 2023. It's a little more mature and a little let out of control... but only a little. This song could have landed on any of their previous releases and fit in perfectly. Plus, it's the kind of song that only gets better and better with each listen. Maturity can kill any punk band's sound, especially a noise punk band, but "Hand Grenade" is Be Your Own Pet maturing in the best possible way.

Jemina Pearl says of her band's new song:

“‘Hand Grenade’ started out as a threat to the people who harmed me, that I will make them suffer as I have suffered. But the song grew like a mirror to my own grief process, through anger, denial, sorrow. In the end I gain my power back not through violence, but through self acceptance and rejection of the labels others might put on me. I define myself, no one else.”  

You can watch the video for "Hand Grenade" below. The song is out now via Third Man Records and can be found here. For more on Be Your Own Pet, check them out on Facebook and Instagram. Upcoming tour dates are below the video. Let's hope some more get announced soon!

5/5 - Shaky Knees Music Festival - Atlanta, GA

6/3 - Primavera Sound - Barcelona

6/6 - Moth Club - London 

6/10 - Primaveral Sound - Madrid

Bad Optix - "Raid"

Photo by Lisa Johnson

This one is a Big Deal(TM). We all desperately want an Operation Ivy reunion, and we seemed to be just a step or two away back in February of last year when Jesse Michaels joined Tim Armstrong on stage for a rendition of the punk legends' iconic song "Sound System." We're not quite there yet, but the pair have formed a new band, Bad Optix. They've released a new single, and it's spectacular. Even if it wasn't a project featuring Jesse Michaels and Tim Armstrong, "Raid" would be considered a great song. It's a laid back but down and dirty ska song. At this point, they definitely can afford to make a shiny and clean song in a fancy studio, so the aesthetic choice to make this sound like an older recording is perfect. I can't imagine any fans of Operation Ivy, Rancid, or any other associated projects aren't going to adore this song.

You can listen to "Raid" below. The single is out now via Hellcat Records Singles Club, and can be found here. Let's hope this is just the beginning... 

Cinder Well - "A Scorched Land"

The previous singles from Cinder Well's upcoming album have moved slightly away from the doom folk of 2020's No Summer, Amelia Baker's solo project is right back there with her latest. "A Scorched Land" is a stark, more traditional folk song written from the perspective of a blackbird watching the massive changes going on in our world currently. It's a bleak song, but it kind of has to be given the subject matter. However, part of Baker's talent is taking a song and subject matter that is horrifically bleak and making it an engaging listen. "A Scorched Land" isn't the song you're going to put on for a sing-a-long during a family road trip this summer, but it's the kind of art you're going to go back to repeatedly.

You can watch the video for "A Scorched Earth" below. Cadence is due out April 21 on Free Dirt Records, which can be pre-ordered here. For more on Cinder Well, check out the artist's website.

TEKE::TEKE - "Gotoku Lemon"

Photo via TEKE::TEKE

The latest from Montreal based Japanese psych-rock band TEKE::TEKE is a delightful song that mixes Eastern European music with Chindon'ya', which is Japanese marching band music. "Gotoku Lemon" should not work at all, but TEKE::TEKE pull off this new sound brilliantly. The song is stunningly beautiful, hypnotically dreamlike, and oddly fun. It has a unique film score feel, but it's still going to inspire you to want to dance. If Maya Kuroki's vocals are somehow not enough to suck you in, the delightful horns and flute are sure to do the job. Plus, the song is about a world where glow in the dark lemons are found to be the cure for everything, and who doesn't want a song about that?

You can watch the video for "Gotoku Lemon" below. Hagata is due out June 9 on Kill Rock Stars, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on TEKE::TEKE, check out the band's website.

Wednesday, March 29, 2023

First Listen: New Releases for 24 March 2023

Artist: Dom Flemons
Album: Traveling Wildfire
Quick Thoughts: It might just be me, but it feels like Dom Flemons is perpetually flying under the radar and it's not fair. Traveling Wildfire, in some ways, is his most accessible solo effort to date, but that carries an implication that his other music isn't accessible, which isn't true. It's just that you can hear a song like "Big Money Blues" and wonder why he's not headlining every roots festival known to man. A great listen.
Songs of Note: "Slow Dance With You," "If You Truly Love Me," "Big Money Blues," "Song to Jcb"

Artist: Annabel Lee
Album: Drift
Quick Thoughts: Annabel Lee surprised me a bit. I didn't anticipate this being a surprise favoreite, but every song on this record is compelling and interesting in its own way, and in a busy week, shouldn't be missed. Great if you like the singer-songwritery side of indie rock.
Songs of Note: "Kiss & Ride," "High Anxiety," "Go Go Gadget"

Artist: Caroline Rose
Album: The Art of Forgetting
Quick Thoughts: She's come a long way from "Blood on Your Bootheels." Roots-gone-rock-gone-electronic-gone.... a visceral combination of everything has a new album out, and I think it's her best yet. It's a bold statement of an album that draws from everything we've heard from her and brings it into a truly compelling listen. I'm not 100% sure what to make of it, but no album grabbed me this week quite like The Art of Forgetting and I suspect it'll end up on a lot of year-end lists.
Songs of Note: "Rebirth," "Everywhere I Go I Bring the Rain"

Artist: Eric Bibb
Album: Ridin'
Quick Thoughts: I didn't know Eric Bibb before this week, and it turns out that's a massive gap in my musical knowledge. Bibb is a roots musician who puts his politics front and center, but at no time does it feel performative or fake. It's direct, it doesn't pull punches, and the songs are structured in a way where the two compliment each other. A rare outcome, and an album worth hearing.
Songs of Note: "Ridin'," "500 Miles," "Hold the Line"

Artist: He Who Cannot Be Named
Album: Imposter
Quick Thoughts: This is a pseudononymous punk project that might be from a member of The Dwarves, but, frankly, whatever it is? It rocks. It's classic, Ramones-style punk rock with more than a little humor at its core. If you like punk, check this one out.
Songs of Note: "Funny Farm," "Happy Unhappy," "The Thing," "Trash"

Artist: Spicy Dreams
Album: You Me You Us
Quick Thoughts: Wanted to highlight this one as a really interesting psych-pop debut from a Brooklyn-based band. I think what sets this apart is that every song feels like it has a really clear groove that keeps youre attention throughout, and I think I fell in love with "Nightcap" in particular right away. Don't miss it.
Songs of Note: "Nightcap," "Stranger," "Explain (I Don't Wanna)"

Of note:

* Lankum - False Lankum (Defies description, but a really fascinating listen.)
* Nickel Creek - Celebrants (A lot of solid moments.)
* The Natural Lines - The Natural Lines (fka Matt Pond PA)
* Kele - The Flames pt. 2 (Good solo effort from the Bloc Party frontman.)
* Lana Del Rey - Did you know that there's a tunnel under Ocean Blvd
* Babymetal - The Other One
* Public Serpents - The Bully Pulpit
* The Reds, Pionks and Purples - The Town That Cursed Your Name
* Kate Davis - Fish Bowl
* Meg Myers - TZIA
* Grecco Romank - Wet Exit
* Mary Anne's Polar Rig - Makes You Wonder
* Babe Corner - Crybaby
* Secret Machines - The Moth, The Lizard, and The Secret Machines
* Kool Keith and Real Bad Man - Serpent
* WMD - Deliquesce
* Darrenn Jessee - Central Bridge
* Recognize Ali - Back to Mecca II
* Depeche Mode - Memento Mori
* Debby Friday - Good Luck
* Bouncing Souls - Ten Stories High


* Softcult - See You In the Dark
* Eaves Wilder - Hookey
* Night Hikes - Perfect Wonder
* Kid Moxie and Nina - Lust
* LVRA - soft like steel
* Exploring Birdsong - Dancing in the Face of Danger
* Heartworms - A Comforting Notion
* Julian Emery and Dana Jane Phoenix - Superfuturistic

Also out:

* The Hirs Collective - We're Still Here
* Semaphore - I Need a Reason to Stay
* Liturgy - 93696

Draag - "Demonbird"

Photo by Devonte Johnson

Los Angeles' Draag was formed by trained mariachi singer Adrian Acosta who forme the band from members with backgrounds in underground punk, No Wave, experimental jazz, and classical training. Their new single, "Demonbird," reflects all of those styles in a sound that's being called electro-shoegaze. This new song has more intensity than you would normally associate with shoegaze. It's a synth heavy, relatively fast punk song that's awash in the drone of shoegaze. Draag have made this swirling sonic fury that can be kind of a mess at times, but I mean that as a compliment. It's not completely outrageous, but we haven't heard anything quite like this before. Not everyone is going to love "Demonbird," but if it works for you it's going to lead to a die hard fandom.

Frontwoman Jessica Huang says of the new song and video:

“‘Demonbird’ was a major breakthrough in my personal journey unpacking spiritual abuse in my past. Becoming the Demonbird character in the video was a way for me to find some sort of justice for the women who were silenced and discarded in the purity culture of my particular religious upbringing...It’s a relief that it doesn’t have the same power over me anymore.”  

You can watch the video for "Demonbird" below. Dark Fire Heresy is due out April 28 and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Draag, check out the band's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

April 8: Joshua Tree, CA @ TBD*

April 9: Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge*

April 12: Fort Collins, CO @ The Coast*

April 15: Chicago, IL @ Empty Bottle*

April 18: Toronto, ON @ The Drake*

April 19: Montreal, QC @ Bar Le Ritz*

April 22: Brooklyn, NY @ Elsewhere (Zone One)*

April 23: Philadelphia, PA @ Milkboy*

April 24: Washington, D.C. @ Pie Shop*

April 25: Durham, NC @ The Pinhook*

June 17: Los Angeles, CA @ The Echo (Album Release Show)

*with Cryogeyser

Shangri-Lass - "Parallel"

Photo by Rachel Loomes

Shangri-Lass is the solo project of Sister Wives bassist Rose Love. Her debut single is "Parallel," and this one is going to hit a sonic sweet spot for a lot of us. The song has a very 60's sound to it. It combines girl group pop with the grooviness of a spy show theme. But "Parallel" is a dark song. As dark as a girl group song could get thematically, they always had more of a pop shine to take the edge off. Shangri-Lass take that sound and just turn it into a brooding track. This is still a fun song, but expect to get a little grimey listening to it. 

Rose Love says of the new song:

“Parallel started out as lyrics written years ago at the beginning of a relationship that started intensely and ended badly, leaving emotional carnage in its wake. It’s about loving someone and wanting to help them but ignoring your gut instinct.”

You can watch the video for "Parallel" below. Over & Over is due out April 28 on Redundant Span Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Shangri-Lass, check out the artist on Instagram and Twitter.

The Watson Twins - "The Palace"

Photo via Facebook

The Watson Twins (aka sisters Chandra and Leigh Watson) are back with a new single from their upcoming Bloodshot Records album! (And how great is it to have Bloodshot back?) "The Palace" is a perfect example of the whole alt-country/country rock thing. The song is just oozing with country twang while being a fuzzed out rock song. But seeing that this is The Watson Twins, the focus will always be the vocals of the Watsons, particularly their harmonizing. "The Palace" is a modern day take on honky tonk music, and it's just simply a fantastic song that is impossible to resist as long as you have a soul.

You can watch the Bridget Everett starring video for "The Palace" below. HOLLER is due out June 23 on Bloodshot Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on The Watson Twins, check out the artists' website.

Hand Habits - "Something Wrong"

Photo by Ivanna Baranova

Hand Habits is the musical project of Los Angeles' Meg Duffy. Their latest single, "Something Wrong," is one of the more inventive pop adjacent songs in recent memory. Duffy has crafted a song using all the basic song structure for a standard pop song (maybe a pop/rock song?), but "Something Wrong" just kind of meanders around inside of those restraints as it wishes. Interesting instrumentation pops in briefly and then disappears like it was never there. This is defiantly not background music. You need to pay close attention to what Hand Habits have done here, because the more you listen, the more you're going to get out of it.

Meg Duffy says of their upcoming album:

For Sugar the Bruise, I had no plan other than to let my mind go blank, and lean into the playful side of thingsTo laugh a little, to lighten up, to shift the focus off of my own experience a bit.”

You can watch the video for "Something Wrong" below. Sugar the Bruise is due out June 16 on Fat Possum Records. The album can be pre-ordered here. For more on Hand Habits, check out the artist's website. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

5/3 - Solvang, CA @ Solvang Festival Theater *

5/19-21: Big Sur, CA @ Hipnic - SOLD OUT

6/15 - Healdsburg, CA @ Little Saint ^

6/17 - Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios ^

6/18 - Vancouver, BC @ The Cobalt ^

6/20 - Seattle, WA @ Tractor Tavern ^

6/22 - San Francisco, CA @ The Chapel ^

6/24 - Los Angeles, CA @ Barnsdall Gallery Theatre 

9/30 - Montreal, QC - Théâtre Rialto (Pop Montreal)


* w/ Tegan & Sara

^ w/ Gregory Uhlmann

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Johanna Samuels - "Ugly on the Inside"

Photo by David-Simon Dayan

Johanna Samuels is an artist making folk pop that is so close to being mainstream but has just enough of a unique sound to keep it interesting. Her new single, "Ugly on the Inside," sounds a little like modern Jenny Lewis but a little more country. It has this upbeat sound to it, and it's an absolutely beautiful song. If it was just a perfectly straightforward folk pop song, it would be a wonderful song. But something about "Ugly on the Inside" sets it apart from other songs. Samuels just has a slight quirk to the song that keeps it unique and compelling. Plus, Samuels' voice has this quality I've never heard before. There's a natural twang to her vocals that doesn't quite sound like anyone else. It helps suck in the listener and demands that you listen to her lyrics even if you're not typically a lyrics person.

Johanna Samuels says of her new single:

“This song is a combination of both my inner demons and some experiences that shook me emotionally. I can’t control the fact that unkind self-talk, thoughts and fears always have the capacity to emerge. This was the beginning of me learning to surrender to all of it and let it pass through and make space for quiet and joy. In many ways, it’s a song about owning yourself and coming into your own power.”

You can watch the video for "Ugly on the Inside" below. Bystander is due out June 23 on Jealous Butcher Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Johanna Samuels, check out the artist's Twitter and Instagram.

Stuck - "The Punisher"

Photo by Alexa Viscius

Post-punk is a wildly varied genre, and Stuck are playing around with that. The Chicago band have a new single out, "The Punisher," that is combining different aspects of post-punk. The song has the playful, dance friendly bounce of Shopping, the punkier edge of shame, and the brass based freak outs of James Chance & The Contortions. It's the kind of song that starts off tame enough, but as it goes on it starts careening wildly out of control with only the rhythm section barely containing it. This is the kind of song that only gets more infectious with repeat listens. Stuck are a band we're going to want to get to know sooner than later.

Greg Obis says of his band's new song:

It hits all the boxes of what this band can do: it’s goofy, but there’s a lot of intricate guitar interplay, and at the end, there’s a big payoff. It's about fanatic QAnon and MAGA weirdos who think they are breaking a cycle that doesn't really exist."

You can watch the video for "The Punisher" below. Freak Frequency is due out May 26 on Born Yesterday Records, and can be pre-ordered here. For more on Stuck, check out the band on Instagram and Facebook. Upcoming tour dates are below the video.

04.14 - Louisville, KY - Whirling Tiger04.15 - Murfreesboro, TN - Punk Rock Flea Market06.01 - Columbus, OH - Ace of Cups06.02 - Cincinnati, OH - Lambda Research06.03 - Chicago, IL - Sleeping Village (Record Release)06.06 - Indianapolis, IN - Lé Court06.07 - Nashville, TN - DRKMTTR06.08 - Atlanta, GA - 52906.09 - Orlando, FL - Framework Coffee06.10 - Tampa, FL - Hooch and Hive06.12 - Savannah, GA - El Rocko06.13 - Asheville, NC - Static Age06.14 - Raleigh, NC - Neptunes06.15 - Washington, DC - Pie Shop06.16 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brendas06.17 - New York, NY - Alphaville06.18 - New Haven, CT - TBA06.20 - Boston, MA - O’Briens06.21 - Portland, ME - New Systems 06.22 - Montreal, QB - L’Esco06.23 - Toronto, ON - Baby G06.24 - Detroit, MI - PJ’s Lager House