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Saturday, June 16, 2018

More variety! New music by Interrupters, Death Cab, Curtis Harding, Middle Kids, Georgia Flood

We're short on time for writing about our featured New Music this week, but here are some quick notes on our cool-as-ever picks:

"She's Kerosone," a punk-ska romp by The Interrupters from their soon-to-be-released third studio album, Fight the Good Fight. Frontwoman Aimee says it's about breaking free from a toxic relationship. "He said, I’m a match, she’s kerosene / You know she’s gonna burn down everything."

"Gold Rush," the first single from a new Death Cab for Cutie album, Thank You For Today, due in August. Benjamin Gibbard told NPR it's about how a neighborhood - in his case, in Seattle - changes over time. "The song is not a complaint about how things were better or anything like that. It's an observation, but more about coming to terms with the passage of time."

"It's Not Over" by Curtis Harding, his first new release since last year's acclaimed Face Your Fear LP. calls it "a solid return, one infused by a future-facing sense of what 'soul' can mean in 21st century songwriting."

"Never Start" by Middle Kids, another track from the Lost Friends album that came out last month and made us even bigger fans of the Australian trio. There's tension in this face-paced number, as Hannah Joy sings: "I'm not trying to start a fight here / but it's building up inside / and you don't even know."

"Love That Hurts," the latest single from Atlanta alt-rockers The Georgia Flood. It has an 80s-throwback sound and a buoyant beat that needs to be pumping from speakers at summer pool parties.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

New tunes from Roger Daltrey, Dave Matthews, Samantha Clemons, Stars, Andrew McMahon

We're always working to put together a great mix of new and classic rock/pop/etc. So of course we're always happy when artists from the classic era bring out vital new music. This week we welcome a new solo record from Roger Daltrey, As Long As I Have You. As Rolling Stone writes, the voice of the Who returns here to what that band (and other British bands of the period) started out doing: covering American R&B, soul and blues. We're featuring the title track, which RS says is "a pleading, horn-accented R&B barnburner by Garnet Mimms [that] Daltrey sang with the Who when they were called the High Numbers in the early Sixties. Seventy-four-year-old Daltrey's voice is a little gruffer than it was when he was a young buck, but it's as strong and passionate as ever."

Turning to another music veteran, although from a more-recent era: Dave Matthews Band has released its first album since 2012, Come Tomorrow. We've been playing the single "Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin)," an oddly-titled ode to a newborn. Now we're featuring "Idea Of You," an upbeat jam about young love that lasts. The album was put together in stages over several years, and this track was apparently built around a live recording from several years ago. It includes the late saxophonist LeRoi Moore and violinist Boyd Tinsley, who has since left the band. As The New York Times writes, the album "earnestly embraces fatherhood, commitment, lifelong romance and hope for the next generations."

Switching from established stars to a newcomer, we dip back into the stunning debut EP by Samantha Clemons, Burn. Her deeply soulful music could easily be mistaken for the work of a world-weary veteran, but infused with youthful passion. We featured the title track a few weeks ago (and of course it remains in our mix), and now we're adding "Love For Me." While "Burn" is a song of social commentary, the lyric here is one of disappointment with a potential lover: "You said you had love for me / I don't think you know what that means."

In the eight months after releasing their latest album, There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light, Montreal's Stars have already brought out two singles. We've been playing March's "Ship to Shore," and now we're adding the brand-new "One Day Left." The band describes it as a song about "the last 12 hours you spend with someone you love" - but whom you know you're leaving. It's a duet between singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, backed by soaring pop-rock that gives this moment of parting a somehow hopeful feeling.

The latest single from Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, "Ohio," paints the scene of a different kind of separation - a family's move from its home to a new life in a new place. Amid images of a long car trip across the country and hopes for a bright future in California, there are hints of an unhappy motive for the journey: "And we can't look back / Some men you just can't save / We had our reasons for leaving / it's better this way."

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Introducing Arthur Buck, River Whyless, Three Star Revival + new music from Super Doppler and Maggie Rogers

Former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur have crossed paths numerous times over the years, with Arthur opening for R.E.M. shows, Buck sometimes backing Arthur, and Arthur playing at Buck's Todos Santos Music Festival in Mexico. Last year, they spent some time together at a house Buck owns in Todos Santos, and the result is a collaboration, called simply Arthur Buck, and an album of the same name. Considering the folk-rock background of both performers, the sound is a bit surprising. The opening track, "I Am the Moment," begins with a bit of Buck's guitar that instantly evokes his former band. But as Arthur begins to sing, the track suddenly expands with sound samples, electronic overdubs and layered vocals in a style more similar to Beck. It's an intriguing sound that fits well into our eclectic mix.

Likewise blending folk-rock with other sounds -- a bit of dream-pop, a touch of psychedelia -- is River Whyless with their new song "Darkness In Mind." Thanks to the great music website The Revue for introducing us to this quartet from Asheville, N.C. After releasing a self-titled EP in 2015, the quartet "enthralled the audience at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival," The Revue wrote. "They continued down this path on their debut album, We All the Light, but it seems like they’re going in a slightly different direction for their sophomore LP," called Kindness, A Rebel. "Ryan O’Keefe (guitars, vocals) and Halli Anderson (violin, vocals) ... tell us to keep our heads up and move forward, to keep coming up with new ideas, to listen for the bells, and believe that better things will come." Alex McWalters (drums, percussion), and Daniel Shearin (bass, vocals, harmonium, cello, banjo) round out the line-up and the sound.

From Asheville we drive six hours or so east to Norfolk, Va., to catch up again with Super Doppler, a band we've featured before. There's some psychedelic influence in their music too, along with old-school rock-and-roll and a bit of country. We hear a lot of The Beatles in tracks like their latest single, "Oh Yeah," with its close harmonies, Magical-Mystery-era swirling sound and a long Hey Jude-ish outro. Since we grew up on The Beatles, that sounds good to us.
Still in the Southeast U.S., but jumping west to Tennessee, we meet up with Three Star Revival. Formed in 2015 by singer-songwriter Ben Gaines and guitarist Cameron Moore, this five-piece describes itself as "incorporating sounds from across the Americana landscape and beyond, with forays into funk, soul, R&B and jazz." The five tracks on their new EP, Fade Away, all go in different directions. We're featuring the slow-dance soul number "Move A Little Bit." (Hat tip to Noisetrade for turning us on to this band.)

Last year, Maggie Rogers saw sudden success with the single "Alaska" and EP Now That the Light is Fading. Now signed to Capitol Records and currently on tour in Europe with HAIM, she's expected to release an album soon, and in the meantime has just spun out a single "Fallingwater." "Call it folktronica or electro-folk, whatever the term her music is engaging," says The Revue, adding that on this track, "Rogers' voice is much fuller and even more stunning than before."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Rubblebucket, Daniel Pearson, Ennor, Ay Wing and more Eels music added to our big mix

We're pleased to have new music from Rubblebucket, even though they're no longer the full band that we'd come to know and love. For the upcoming album Sun Machine, the Brooklyn-based group basically consists simply of founders Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth, coming out on the other side of health and personal issues. Judging by the first song to spin out, "Fruity," their sound is a bit more subdued than it was with the bigger band, but still bounces along with a rich mix of percussion, winds, guitar and synthesizer. We look forward to the full album in August.

Daniel Pearson is one of those artists whose sound more-or-less fits the Americana category - but who isn't American (Mumford & Sons being a well-known example). Pearson is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who cites the likes of Springsteen, REM and Ryan Adams among his influences. His most recent album was 2015's Alone, Together, but he's put out a string of singles in the past couple of months, and we're picking up the latest, "Until The Sun Comes Up." Pearson brings a full-band sound to this upbeat song, which he describes as being "about refusing to take things lying down and never giving up."

Also from England, and hewing a bit more to an English-folk-rock sound, is Ennor. This four-piece is from Cornwall, the southwestern-most part of the U.K. that juts into the sea, and the band's name is that of a large island that's believed to have once existed off the coast where the smaller Isles of Scilly now lie. So it's fitting that we're introduced to them with a song called "Wave After Wave." It's described as "a melancholic reflection on climate change," pondering the question, "at what point will we have gone too far?" Starting quietly with acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies, the track swells to a rock crescendo.

Mixing things up as we usually do, we turn from folk-rock to the "beat-driven fluorescent synth-pop" of Swiss-born, Berlin-based Ay Wing. Her new EP, Ice Cream Dream, does tend toward the sweet side, but we're picking up the slightly edgier "Strange." In a bit of a St. Vincent vein, the song comments on "digital narcissism" -- the modern urge to turn one's life into a show on social media, showing off your strange-ness because you're "afraid to be forgotten." In the song's video, the singer casts herself as various movie characters taking selfies.

Also entering our New Music bin this week is another track from the new album by Eels, The Deconstruction. "Today Is The Day" (like our previous featured track, "You Are The Shining Light") fits the album's theme of casting off old ideas and attitudes, taking life as it comes and making the best of it. "Today is the day that you see me / As a man who will always change / Who knows the only things to count on / Are life is quick, and life is strange."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Great new music by Samantha Clemons, Dawes, Middle Kids, Hannah Gill and Traitrs

This week we're especially pleased to be able to introduce our listeners to Samantha Clemons. This Texas singer-songwriter set out to make acoustic pop music, but according to her bio, shifted her style as she "began channeling her frustration and disappointment at the dramatic social and political shifts of recent years." The title track of her upcoming EP Burn, Clemons says, "reflects the idea that we’ve just been talking past one another and have lost sight of the fact that we occupy a lot of common ground." It's a gripping song with lyrics that can be heard two ways: as angry, aggressive refusal to listen, or a courageous, adamant refusal to submit. "Mine fit me just fine / No need to walk in your shoes." Clemons sings with a soulful power reminiscent of Tracy Chapman and Rhiannon Giddens. We're looking forward to hearing much more.

Concern about the state of society has become a common theme in music lately, for obvious reasons. "Living In The Future," the new single from Dawes, is frank in its paranoia. "I'm always looking over shoulders / Not knowing what I'm looking for / Now that the feeling someone's watching / Isn't just a feeling anymore." Frontman Taylor Goldsmith says that on the band's upcoming album, Passwords, "many of the songs are an attempt to come to terms with the modern world, while always trying to consider both sides of the story." The album is due June 22.

Australia's Middle Kids had their breakout moment in the Western hemisphere last year with the release of an EP that spawned the hit "Edge Of Town." Earlier this year came the single "Mistake," and now we have their first full-length collection, Lost Friends. Pitchfork describes it as "a record that’s all about fumbling your way through insecurities, indecision, and embarrassments. In singer/guitarist Hannah Joy, the band has a captivating mouthpiece who deftly navigates these emotional minefields with equal parts panic and poise, thanks to a naturally trembling voice that can harden into tough-love sentiment." Our pick for the New Music bin is "Bought It," which Joy says is based on "walking around trying to feel like we’re OK but actually we’re not sure if we are."

Twenty-year-old Hannah Gill has a voice that erupts from your speakers like a force of nature. On 2016's The Water, she and her band The Hours created a sweeping Florence-and-the-Machine-like sound. Her new release, Lost in Words, encompasses a variety of styles, starting with the sultry torch song "Lose" and including a sharp-tongued rebuke of a drug abuser, "Medicine." We're featuring a swinging, brassy number called "Here To Stay."

Check out a great batch of videos of the band performing live at Paste Studios.
The fine folks at The Revue introduced us to Traitrs, a Toronto duo that defines itself as post-punk and would fit right in with bands of that 80s genre. On "The Suffering of Spiders," from their just-released debut album Butcher's Coin, the resemblance to The Cure is uncanny. The dark, moody sound. The plaintive wail of the singer, Sean-Patrick Nolan. Even a lyric about spiders! But this is no tribute band: Nolan and Shawn Tucker are building on their influences to create a sound that Tucker says strives to "give you goosebumps, chills, a feeling inside that can’t be explained."