Sunday, February 12, 2017

Digging deeper into recent releases

We've added a big batch of new music to our Marvelous Mix this week, including additional tracks from albums that we've introduced in recent months.

For example, since summer we've been playing a few tracks from Canadian singer-songwriter Lauren Mann's latest album, Dearestly. Now we've dipped into it again and pulled out "Show Me The Way," a track that contrasts Mann's lilting voice with hard-driving keyboard, guitar and percussion, demanding your attention.

Satellites and Saints is the debut release from Goggy, a solo project by Margrit Eichler, who also fronts the San Francisco-based trio True Margrit. And it's truly solo - self-recorded and self-produced in Eichler's home studio. We've been playing a track called "Original Voice" for a couple of months, and now we're adding the title track to our playlist.

Our readers and listeners know we've been high on emerging Los Angeles band Night Talks ever since their first single dropped back in July. The full debut LP In Dreams was released Friday, and we're happy to report that there are no letdowns - it's one solid track after another. You'll be hearing them all sprinkled through our mix.

On the opposite coast of the USA, a band called Run To Sandy has been building a following in the Philadelphia area for several years. This week marks the release of its latest EP, Save The Pieces. Our pick for the New Music bin is "Mid Summer Crisis" - never mind that it's the middle of winter here in the North! In fact, it's a fine time for a song that expresses a longing for summertime, and we can imagine this tune blasting from a bar on the Jersey Shore.

Back to Canada for Vancouver's The New Pornographers, who just gave us a first a taste of their next album, Whiteout Conditions, due in April. "High Ticket Attractions" is an energetic piece of power pop, with A.C. Newman and Kathryn Calder providing the call-and-response vocals.

And we're picking up the single "Wash Up" from Won't Let You Down, the debut solo release by Lake Street Dive bassist Bridget Kearney. It's a cheerful-sounding pop tune about a regretted relationship. We hear hints of Fleetwood Mac among other influences.

There's so much good new music coming out every day that we can't possibly keep up. But if you know an artist or band that we should check out, please clue us in! Comment on this page, find us on Facebook or Twitter or email us. Thanks! 

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Trios & others from around the globe join our mix

London Grammar is expected to release its second album soon, the follow-up to its 2013 debut If You Wait. The new single "Big Picture" makes the most of Hanna Reid's soaring vocals and has critics using words like expansive and cinematic. Guitarist Dan Rothman and drummer/synth player Dot Major round out this trio who hail from, you guessed it, London.

Another trio, Middle Kids, has been making big waves in Australia for a while, and now its debut, self-titled EP is gaining attention around the world. Lead singer Hannah Joy, who previously recorded solo, is joined in Middle Kids by guitarist Tim Fitz and drummer Harry Day. Check out "Edge Of Town," now in our New Music bin.

We're also adding a track from the mysterious Sjowgren. Is that the name of the singer, or the band? Is it a band, or a solo project? Its website gives no clues. A 2015 article at Music Dash described it as a trio: singer Maija plus Don and Sam, from California's Bay Area. But a post last year at Listen To The Loop referred to Sjowgren as a singer/songwriter. We're gonna say trio. They've released just a handful of tracks so far. We're adding "Seventeen" to our New Music bin, even though it came out last August, because hey, it's new to us!

OK enough with the trios. There's a new single from the offbeat New Orleans band Stoop Kids. We've been playing some of their tunes since last fall and now we're featuring their latest, "Tahoe."

A very different but also unconventional artist is Canadian singer-songwriter Jane Siberry, who has been creating musical explorations since the 1980s. The single "Walk On Water," from her latest collection, Angels Bend Closer, is a new recording of a song originally released in 2009.

Remember, new music is just part of our Marvelous Mix. We play our favorites from the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s - big hits and less well-known tracks, by major-label and indie bands and singer-songwriters in various genres. And it's all streaming free. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Latest releases from new & established artists

The latest additions to our New Music bin range from a veteran of 80s stardom to a band that's about to release its debut album. All have been in our big mix for some time, and we're happy to add their latest tunes.

The newest act is Night Talks. This Los Angeles band has put out three singles since July. Each earned a place in our rotation, and now we're adding the latest track, "Cutting Through." The rest of the debut album, In Dreams, is due Feb. 10. Lead singer Soraya Sebghati told "The majority of the lyrics on the album are about the experiences of my different emotions, and I wanted this to be the culmination of all of it." In it she sings, "I am a girl / cutting through a man's world."

Also from California (mostly) is electronic music trio Faded Paper Figures, which just released its fifth album, Chronos. It's the band's first release since 2014, which isn't surprising considering the members' day jobs - in medicine and academia - and the fact that one of them lives on the East Coast. In a recent Twitter chat, band members said they don't have any live shows lined up because "real life is just too crazy! But we hope to soon." They described their music as "somewhere between indie-electronica, indie-rock and synthpop." Whatever you want to call it, check out "Crossing Out," now in our New Music rotation.

The next two bands are better-known, although they still kinda fit in the "indie" category. Spoon is readying its next album, Hot Thoughts, for a March release. The Austin outfit's last LP, 2014's They Want My Soul, was terrific, so we have high hopes. We're spinning the first single/title track.

And New Jersey-based Real Estate is back, also with its first album since 2014, also due in March (there seems to be a pattern here). The first single is "Darling," which combines the smooth sound of 80s Southern California bands with some tricky time signatures. Just for fun, check out the video to see who wanders onto the set.

Not surprisingly, there seems to be a wave of music with political/social commentary coming out these days. "Shine," a new single from Pat Benatar, is in a way an update of her 80s hit "Invincible" - even including that word in the lyric. "We won't be silent/We raise our voices/Dignity, pride/These are our choices." Benatar and her long-time partner Neil Giraldo teamed with songwriter Linda Perry on this song. Sales proceeds are earmarked for the nonprofit B.A. Rudolph Foundation, which supports women pursuing careers in public service or government.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

This week's new music: Women have the power

After events of the past few days in the U.S.A., it seems appropriate to emphasize female artists in our New Music bin this week.

The great American singer Mavis Staples joins with Canada's Arcade Fire on "I Give You Power." The lyric is simple and clear: "I give you power/over me... But I gotta be free... I give you power/I can take it away." The single was released with this message: "It’s never been more important that we stick together and take care of each other. Love, Mavis Staples and Arcade Fire. All proceeds go to ACLU."

Meanwhile, Katie Stelmanis and her Toronto-based band Austra have just released the well-timed Future Politics, whose theme is the search for new ways of dealing with today's problems. The video for the title track opens with this text: "It's time to build visions that are radically different from anything we've known before." But can we agree on those visions? The images in the video range from hopeful to frightening.

Laura Marling has this to say about her next album, due in March: "I started out writing Semper Femina as if a man was writing about a woman. And then I thought it’s not a man, it’s me — I don’t need to pretend it’s a man to justify the intimacy of the way I’m looking and feeling about women. It’s me looking specifically at women and feeling great empathy towards them and by proxy towards myself." On the single "Soothing," Marling sings a vaguely unsettling lyric over a jazz bass line.

Also due in March is a new album from the wonderful Aimee Mann, with an unsettling title, Mental Illness. Mann says of herself, "People think that I write these really depressing songs ... So I thought I’d just give myself permission to write the saddest, slowest, most acoustic, if-they’re-all-waltzes-so-be-it record I could." The first single, "Goose Snow Cone," is not a waltz, and not exactly sad, but suggestive of internal struggle. "Gotta keep it together when the friends come by," Mann sings in her calm, matter-of-fact way.

In a much lighter vein is a new single from The Courtneys, "Silver Velvet." It's pure power pop from the Vancouver, Canada, trio's forthcoming second album, called, well, The Courtneys II.

We've got other new music waiting to push its way into our Marvelous Mix, so keep checking this page and tuning in our stream to see what we come up with next!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Our latest 'discovery' & more new music

Sometimes we discover new bands, and sometimes they discover us. Recently, members of indie band Screens 4 Eyes found Birch Street Radio, heard the wide range of musical styles in our Marvelous Mix, and thought their sound might fit in. They shared their new EP, Behind These Doors, we gave it a listen - and we were hooked. It's the second release by this electronic-rock-dream-pop trio from Tel Aviv, Israel. Yael Brener's smoky vocals and layered keyboards float over the solid foundation of Roney-Leigh Dubnov's drums and Assaf Cohen's bass guitar. They describe their lyrics as "a playful ride between the everyday life and the world of unconsciousness, accompanied with the desire for intimacy, excitement and freedom." We're featuring "Secret Life" in our New Music rotation and will be adding other tracks to our Marvelous Mix.

Coming from a different musical direction is Blue Healer, a trio from Austin, Texas. Members David Beck, Bryan Mammel and Dees Stribling previously played with folk-rock band Sons of Fathers, but their new project is more in the indie rock/pop vein. They released their self-titled debut album a few months ago and it recently found its way into our hands. Our pick for the New Music bin is the lead-off track, "Only The Rain."

Another indie band we're adding this week falls into the "not new, but new to us" category. Ha Ha Tonka hails from Missouri and is named after a state park there. They call their music "indie-meets-Southern-rock." Via AirPlay Direct, we recently caught up with their album Lessons and are happy to add "Rewrite Our Lives" to our playlist. Although they haven't had a new release in a few years, they're about to start a tour that will include dates with the Old 97s and an appearance at SXSW.

Also dropping into our New Music bin this week:

"Paying My Way" by Dropkick Murphys. "Veteran punk band" seems like an oxymoron, but it defines this Boston institution. From the new album 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory we've picked a song about picking yourself up from a fall, or out of a destructive rut, and moving forward.

"Name For You" by The Shins. Frontman James Mercer has said the upcoming album Heartworms was inspired, in part, by growing older and parenthood. Here, he brings an upbeat, poppy sound to a song that urges girls/women to ignore the labels that society wants to impose on them.