Sunday, October 15, 2017

This week's New Music picks: Chris Hillman, Robert Plant, Wolf Alice, Jade Bird, The Kents

Once again our new music picks this week include veteran artists and up-and-comers alike.

We were pleasantly surprised to find that Chris Hillman - a founding member of The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Manassas - has a new album out. Bidin' My Time is a mix of new and old material ranging from rock to bluegrass. Our pick for the New Music bin is "Here She Comes again" a song Hillman penned with Roger McGuinn that never made it onto a Byrds studio album, but sure brings back that classic band's sound.

We're also dipping into Robert Plant's latest album, Carry Fire. The Led Zeppelin pioneer continues to work with the Sensational Space Shifters, the band that backed him on his previous release, lullaby... and the Ceaseless Roar. We're featuring the epic-sounding "Bones of Saints," but we'll also be adding the folkier "The May Queen" and likely other cuts to our big mix.

Now let's turn to a relatively new band from London, Wolf Alice. Two years after their debut LP, they traveled to Los Angeles to put together their follow-up, Visions of a Life. It's a fairly eclectic album, ranging from what AllMusic.com calls "their bratty, fizzy guitar-pop" through trippy dream-pop and forays into prog-rock. We're taking off with with one of the dreamier tunes, "Planet Hunter."

We've commented before about how many artists from outside the USA are making "Americana" music - a buzzword applied to various modern styles of folk/rock/country music. Now comes Jade Bird, a young singer/songwriter from London, who has jumped right on that train by titling her debut EP Something American. What stands out about this record, and this artist, quite simply is the powerful voice, which at moments reminds us just a bit of another young singer who emerged from England a few years back, by the name of Adele.

Rounding out this week's picks is the latest from an indie outfit that we've featured before, The Kents. This Ontario band just released its second EP, Within Waves, which includes the single "Is There Anyone?" that we've been playing for a couple of months. Our pick for the New Music bin this time is the opening track, "From The Start."

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Our latest picks: Stars, Arc Waves, St. Vincent, JD McPherson, Marie Danielle

The Montreal indie-pop combo known as Stars is bringing out a new album called There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light and we're jumping on the sort-of title track, "Fluorescent Light." The song's message seems to be, Come out from that boring place and enjoy life. (A bit like, "What good is sitting alone in your room...") Stars will launch a tour next month, starting with three shows in Brooklyn.

From Brooklyn, meanwhile, comes Arc Waves, which describes itself as a band that "crosses sonic boundaries to create songs that blur the lines between indie, classical, punk and electronic music." The group released an EP back in 2014, but we're only discovering them now as they prepare to release their first full-length, the sound the circle. We're adding the first single, "Walking In Space," showcasing the vocals of Elaine Lachica. Bandmate Brandon Jaffe tells how the song came together in an interview at Artist Direct.

From Brooklyn we hop to Manhattan, home base of St. Vincent. But her latest release looks to the West Coast. "Los Ageless," is a critique of Hollywood and its culture of ageism. The video puts Annie Clark in a plastic surgeon's chair, a yoga studio, a nail salon and the like. There seems to be a second theme in the song, though - perhaps of a troubled relationship. "How can anybody have you and lose you / And not lose their minds, too?"

Now, because we love to mix up styles and genres, let's jump down to Nashville and reconnect with Oklahoma native JD McPherson, whose "Lucky Penny" single has been in our mix for several weeks. His Undivided Heart and Soul LP just came out and it's filled with a variety of retro-rock sounds. Our pick for the New Music bin this time is "Crying's Just A Thing That You Do," whose sardonic lyrics remind us of some of Joe Jackson's or Elvis Costello's songs.

Marie Danielle is a singer-songwriter from Pennsylvania who worked with Simon Felice (of the Felice Brothers and producer for The Lumineers) and Christian Wargo (of Fleet Foxes) on her debut album, Hustler. It actually came out last year, but we're catching up to it now as the title cut is being circulated as a single. It's a regretful tale of getting involved with a charming cad. "He was a hustler / but he could sing a tune / to you alone in a crowded room."

Sunday, October 1, 2017

From Crosby to Cayetana, more new music from classic and emerging artists

As our listeners know, we're always blending classic and modern sounds. And when "classic" rock and folk artists release new music - and show that they've still got it - we're happy to add it to our big mix.

David Crosby is back with a strong new album, Sky Trails, produced by his son, James Raymond. We're featuring the opening track, "She's Got To Be Somewhere," written by Raymond and featuring a jazz/rock groove reminiscent of Steely Dan. AllMusic writes that the album "splits the difference between its predecessor's [2016's Lighthouse] spare acoustic ruminations and the singer/songwriter's fascination with jazz." Other tracks that will pop up in our mix include the title song, a duet with singer-songwriter Becca Stevens. Co-written by Crosby and Stevens, the dreamy song has echos of CS&N's "Lady Of The Island."

Speaking of duets, we have a new single from First Aid Kit, the Swedish duo of sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg. It's been three years since their breakthrough album, Stay Gold, and "It's A Shame" is the first sign that they have a new collection in the works. NPR calls it "a slick and billowy confection which ... applies layers of winsome charm to potent, melancholy insights about searching for an identity amid fleeting romance."

Let's jump to another female band - with a very, very different sound. Coming from the same Philadelphia indie-rock scene as Waxahatchee and Hemming, Cayetana combines a low-fi, punkish sound with highly personal lyrics of young-American angst and struggles with inner demons. Augusta Koch supplies the lead vocal and guitar power, with Allegra Anka's bass and Kelly Olsen's drums adding much more than rhythm support. From their new release New Kind Of Normal, we're featuring "Too Old For This."

After counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike between Philadelphia and northern New Jersey, we catch up with The Defending Champions, a rock/ska/soul/etc outfit that our regular listeners are familiar with - and that deserves a much wider audience. We're glad to hear that they have a new album coming out in December, and we're jumping on the first single to spin out, "Listen In." It's a good showcase of the band's tight arrangements of guitars, horns and percussion.

Josh Ritter's latest, Gathering, features a number of quietly poetic songs as well as upbeat folk-rockers. We previously featured one of those, "Showboat," and this week we're picking the even more rapid-fire "Friendamine."

We welcome your feedback and suggestions for new music to add -- as well as older tracks to fill in gaps in our mix. Comment here or hit us up on Twitter or Facebook.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

New week, new music by Bob Seger, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr & more

Three rock veterans are among our New Music picks this week:

Bob Seger, currently in the middle of a tour, just released a taste of his upcoming album I Knew You When, and it's a hard-driving cover of Lou Reed's "Busload of Faith." The lyrics of late-80s disillusionment unfortunately still feel relevant, and Seger gives them just a slight update, replacing "churches" with "the president" in one line: "You can’t depend on the president, unless there’s real estate that you want to buy." But Seger and his band give the song an upbeat delivery that gives it a hopeful vibe.

Ringo Starr, who's also in mid-tour with his All Star Band, also dips into social commentary with one track on his new Give More Love album. Co-written with Peter Frampton, it's called "Laugable," as in "it would be laughable if it wasn't sad." The always-affable Ringo provides an optimistic message (and a Beatles reference): "Let's all be honest, it's going to hell / But not for ever / Don't be afraid, don't lose your faith / We need to come together."

And what do you know, Van Morrison is also in the middle of a tour, bouncing back and forth across the Atlantic. His zillionth album, Roll With The Punches, is a bluesy collection of originals and covers. We've been playing one of the originals, the single "Transformation," and now we're featuring the title track - another new song, this one with a classic blues structure.


We go off in completely different directions (as we like to do) for our other picks this week:

In The Valley Below is a married-couple duo perhaps best known for the song "Peaches," which reached the charts in 2015. Jeffrey Jacob and Angela Gail started their project in Los Angeles but moved to Gail's native Michigan, built a studio in their house and recorded their new EP, Elephant. We're spinning "Pink Chateau," a slow-down-and-relax tune in which they name-check themselves: "Down in the valley below / We can drink champagne in the Pink Chateau."

And we transport to Switzerland to bring you a sample of a band called Braggarts. This indie-rock trio been touring in its native country and in Germany for a few years and is starting to get noticed in the UK and beyond. Their new album Exploring New Stars just arrived and we're exploring their sound by adding a track they've released as a single, "Speed of Sound."