Friday, December 30, 2016

A year of giant leaps for Birch Street Radio

One year ago, Birch Street Radio was rolling along on Live365 when word came just before New Year's that the pioneering internet-radio company was about to go bust.

That prompted us to do two things: scramble to find a new service to host our program - and, step up our game!

We've since moved twice - in January to Radionomy and in September to SoniXcast. Special thanks to listeners who have followed us from one streaming host to another!

So far, so good at SoniXcast, which broadcasts our Marvelous Mix of Music from Montreal, Canada. There have been occasional technical glitches (as with any internet system), but mostly it's been a smooth ride as we present our wide variety of music 24 hours a day, seven days a week, all commercial-free.

And amid the jumps from one webcasting partner to another, we've boosted our own commitment to creating the best mix we can from the best bands and singer-songwriters of the past half-century or so. We're adding more music every week - new releases from established artists, and new discoveries from the vast community of independent artists. We enter 2017 with a much bigger and more varied playlist than ever before.

This year we also boosted our visibility with this website, our Facebook page and Twitter feed, and our connections to various internet-radio listing sites and apps. Birch Street Radio can now be found on TuneIn, Radio.net, Nobex, Streema, RadioForest, Radioguide.fm, Shoutcast.com and more. (Let us know if there are some we're missing!)

As we've learned this year, internet radio is an ever-changing business. It's certainly possible that we'll need to make more moves in the future. Please remember that you can always find us here at birchstreetradio.com, where we'll always have up-to-date players and links as well as news about our programming.

Happy New Year to all!

Monday, December 26, 2016

New takes on old songs among our latest adds

Several themes criss-cross in our New Music bin this week. We have two brand-new covers of 1960s songs. One of those is pure fun, while the other has a message that resonates a half-century later. Similar messages are contained in two of the other songs, one more hopeful than the other. And hope for the future fills the fifth song.

The fun number is from Robert Randolph & The Family Band. The second track released from their forthcoming album Got Soul is a rollicking cover of "I Thank You," a 1968 hit by Sam & Dave (written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter). It opens with Randolph's pedal steel front and center, then builds up a full head of steam as the band is joined by organist Cory Henry.
The other cover is from Rhiannon Giddens' next album - the title track, "Freedom Highway." It was written by Pop Staples and recorded by the Staple Sisters in 1965. Its lyrics still seem appropriate today, and that's not a good thing. "There is just one thing/I can't understand, my friend/Why some folks think freedom/Is not designed for all men."
Which leads us to Drive-By Truckers, as we catch up with the American Band album that came out three months ago. In "Surrender Under Protest," these Alabama natives urge their fellow Southerners to stop romanticizing the "lost cause" of the Confederacy.
Then there's Neil Young, whose new album Peace Trail is filled with commentary on topics such as Native American issues and the Flint, Michigan, water crisis. Musically, the results are uneven, but our top pick is "Show Me," a gentle expression of hope for "when heaven on earth is improved by the hand of man."
And from the British band Elbow we get "Magnificent (She Says)," a song from their next album, Little Fictions. With a sweeping sound reminiscent of Sting or U2, it brings us an uplifting image of a little girl "throwing her arms around the world" and declaring "It's all gonna be magnificent." What better sentiment could we have as we head into a new year!
Happy New Year to our listeners around the world. Let's hope we can find ways to make it magnificent.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Wishing you Happy All-the-Holidays!

However you're celebrating the season, we wish you the very best!

Quebec City, Canada
Sydney, Australia
Beirut, Lebanon
Jerusalem
Stonehenge, England
Orlando, Florida
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Here's hoping 2017 surprises us all by being a good year!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Stirring more ingredients into our Marvelous Mix

Hat tip to therevue.ca for bringing our attention to Sarah Bethe Nelson, and thanks to Burger Records for giving us an advance copy of "Hazy," a song from her second album, Oh! Evolution, due out Feb. 24. The track blends a 70s pop sound, a breathy, laid-back vocal and some nifty hooks in a dreamy swirl of sound. This San Francisco singer-songwriter may still have a day job as a bartender in the Mission District but we're looking forward to hearing more from her music career.

Rubblebucket is one of those bands that's hard to categorize - and those can be among the most interesting to hear! AllMusic.com calls them "A spirited indie pop dance-band with a reggae-pop past and a penchant for worldbeat and ska-infused arrangements." Sure, we'll go with that. We saw them live in NYC recently (opening for Lake Street Dive) and they were a blast! We've got a brand-new single from them - "If U C My Enemies" - that'll take you on a great bouncy ride.

A new album from Son Volt - the eighth, if we're counting correctly - is coming out in February. Founder Jay Ferrar, alum of Uncle Tupelo, describes Notes of Blue as inspired by Mississippi blues. But the first single, Back Against the Wall, has more of a roots-rock sound.

Iceland's Kaleo is also in our New Music bin with "No Good." It's the lead track from the band's debut album, A/B, which was released this past summer. It took us a while to catch on to this band because the first single to spin out of that album, "Way Down We Go," just didn't grab us. But this noisy blues-rocker sure did!

Also freshly added to our Marvelous Mix of Music: "Fleetwood Boogie" from the Mick Fleetwood Blues Band's brand-new album, Live at the Belly Up. We'll have more to say about this 2-hour live compilation once we get the time to listen to some more!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

A new 'radio' song & more added to our mix

Tim Showalter is the latest musician to write a song about the mystique of discovering "your" music on the radio as a youngster. His Strand of Oaks project has a new album due in February, titled Hard Love, and "Radio Kids" is the first single. "Radio was my freedom as a kid," he told World Cafe. "No internet, no scene, no way to find music except radio. It was an escape, and a joyous one at that." We certainly identify with that - and we're trying to keep musical discovery alive here on Birch Street Radio.

From Montreal (whence Birch Street Radio streams to the world) comes Elephant Stone, which has just released its fourth album, Ship of Fools. Described in the past as a "neo-psychedelic" band - often compared with George Harrison due to  bandleader Rishi Dhir's work on sitar - Elephant Stone mixes many other styles and influences into its latest brew. We're adding the opening track, "Manipulator," to our New Music bin, and you can expect to hear other tracks popping up in our mix.

Hopping over to Toronto, we find The Seams, a quartet drawn from various other bands in that city's scene. Its debut album, cheekily titled Meet The Seams, is full of hook-y indie pop. We're spinning the first track, called, um, "The Seams." How meta.

Another new-to-us artist is Goggy, a side venture by Margrit Eichler of the San Francisco-based trio True Margrit. The new album Satellites and Saints is a solo project recorded in her home studio. Margrit plays piano, other instruments, kitchen implements etc. to back her expressive voice and thoughtful lyrics. Apparently cats were also involved in the creative process. We've put the aptly titled song "Original Voice" into our New Music rotation.
Also joining our New Music rotation this week, the first single from Prisoner, a forthcoming album by Ryan Adams. It seems to be another entry in the breakup-music genre; Adams has said the songs were influenced by his divorce. "Do You Still Love Me" is kind of an anticipating-a-breakup song. Apologizes if it reminds you of that time you were in the same situation.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Trippy & down-to-earth music added to our mix

Indie artists dominate our New Music picks again this week, and as usual there's lots of variety in our selections.

Send Medicine is a self-described psychedelic rock band based in Los Angeles. What's now a five-piece band grew from a solo project by Toronto singer-songwriter Julian Hacquebard before he moved to the U.S. a few years back. Their debut album Scary Aquarius Daughter came out earlier this year, and they're back already with a single, "Translucent," that puts a brighter shine on their trippy vibe. It's dance music for today's hippies.

Sorcha Richardson is another transplant to the States, having moved from Dublin to New York in her late teens. She's now living and making music in Brooklyn. She's released a trio of singles in recent months, including "Lost," written for a friend who was going through a breakup. Her slice-of-life lyrics remind us a bit of Courtney Barnett, or Margaret Glaspy, or Hemming, but hers is a distinct voice.

Matthew Wolcott is, interestingly enough, the third lawyer-turned-musician to enter our music mix (see Scott Krokoff and Gary Douglas). The Dallas native played in bands around that city while studying and practicing law, but is now turning to music full-time and just release his debut EP, Western Lights. The title track would blend well with Bruce Hornsby or The Jayhawks.

Another Texas native, Keeton Coffman, joined our playlist several weeks with "Ellie," and now we're adding another track from his first full-length album, Killer Eyes - the expansive rocker "What We're Reaching For."

The fifth addition to our New Music bin this week is not from an indie band, but a new project by Strokes guitarist Nick Valensi. The band is CRX, and from its debut album New Skin we're spinning the power-pop single "Ways To Fake It."

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Horses? Horses! And other new music in our mix

Just a coincidence, but we're adding two songs this week by married-couple artists who have equine band names.

New to our collection is Whitehorse, the nom de musique of Hamilton, Ontario couple Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland. Their latest release, The Northern South Vol. 1, is a collection of covers of 1950s rock/blues tunes - yes, a southern U.S. sound reinterpreted by these northern neighbors. Our fave of the moment is their treatment of Chuck Berry's "Nadine."

A few weeks ago we started playing "Hello World" by Horses Heaven, the project of a Northern California couple, Bijou and Analise. As promised, we're working more tracks from their debut album, Before the Breakdown, into our rotation, and we've now moved "Dancehall" into our New Music bin.

As we've previously mentioned, duos of all kinds are big in music these days, and we're big on the latest release from the Nashville pairing of Jessy Wilson and Kallie North, who call themselves Muddy Magnolias. North was raised in southeast Texas and later moved to Mississippi, while Wilson comes from Brooklyn. They met in Nashville in 2014 and before long were creating a blend of country and R&B with a touch of jazz, and the result is an 11-song debut, Broken People. We can't resist the snappy single "Devil's Teeth," so that's now in our New Music rotation, but we'll surely be spinning more from this fine debut.

Here's another duo that's known each other a bit longer -- the father-and-son combo called Beaucoup Blue. Philadelphia-based David and Adrian Mowry roam from blues to bluegrass, bringing various traditional influences to their original songs and covers. They've just released a collection of mostly originals, Elixir, and we're currently spinning "Whatever Wrong," featuring David's slide guitar.

And from the U.K. comes The Freddy James Band, a "blues-rock-psychedelic" group (not a duo!) that released its second EP, Black Flowers, earlier this year. The band just spun out bluesy ballad "Same Old Song" as a single, and we're happy to feature it in our New Music bin.



Monday, November 21, 2016

More new music, more variety added to our mix

From orchestral arrangements to 50's-style blues, our New Music additions this week bring more variety to our big mix.

Nada Surf's latest project is a 13-track live album recorded this summer with the Babelsberg Film Orchestra in Berlin. The marriage of pop and "pops" works well, and the album, Peaceful Ghosts. makes good listening straight through. We've added the opening track, "Comes A Time," into our New Music rotation and will be dipping further into this release.

In sharp contrast to that lush sound, we have the latest single released from The Rolling Stones' upcoming blues album Blue & Lonesome. This one is a 1954 song by blues harmonica virtuoso Little Walter, "I Hate To See You Go."

Also added to our New Music bin this week:
  • "A 1000 Times" by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostram - The lead track from I Had A Dream That You Were Mine, a collaboration between the former frontman of the Walkmen and the former Vampire Weekend producer.
  • "I Know," a sharp rocker with a cutting lyric from Shovels & Rope's Little Seeds.
  • "Pretty Grids," our latest selection from Jimmy Eat World's Integrity Blues. 
  • And from her generally mellow Day Breaks album, a rocking track called "Flipside" by the fabulous Norah Jones.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Thanks for listening! Your feedback is welcome!

It's been about two months since our program moved to a new webcasting company, SoniXcast, and we're happy with the results. Our stream reliability has been solid and the backup programming at Master Control kicked in smoothly when we had computer problems at Birch Street Studios.

Meanwhile we continue adding both new and classic tunes to our Marvelous Mix of many flavors of rock and related music styles. (We're a little behind schedule this week, but will be updating our New Music bin very soon.)

Listen from anywhere on your mobile device
And we've seen our listening audience grow as more music lovers find us on various web-radio directories and mobile platforms like TuneIN, Radio.net, Nobex and more.

We're glad you're listening - and we'd love to hear from you with your comments and suggestions. You can comment on this page, find us on Facebook and Twitter, or email us at birchstreetradio@gmail.com


Sunday, November 13, 2016

System upgraded, music updated!

We had a bit of a crisis at Birch Street Studios on Sunday when our plans for a computer upgrade became, um, urgent. As in, our old system suddenly failed completely. Happily, the backup playlist at our broadcast host, SoniXcast, kicked in while we scrambled to get back in operation with some brand-new equipment. Even more happily, we were able to get our regular Marvelous Mix back "on the air" in about six hours.

Then we got back to the business of picking new music for the new week. Here are the latest additions to our New Music rotation:
  • "Got Soul" is the first track from an upcoming new album with the same title by Robert Randolph and the Family Band. 
  • Sting's new album, 57th & 9th, came out a few days ago. After playing the first single, "I Can't Stop Thinking About You," we're now adding "One Fine Day."
  • The Shins have released a single, Dead Alive, ahead of their next album, due sometime next year.
  • And we're catching up with the latest release from singer-songwriter Rachael Yamagata, Tightrope Walker. Our pick for the New Music bin is "Let Me Be Your Girl."

We usually give more detail about our new-music picks, but right now we need to head back into the studio and finish uploading our big music library to the new system. Here's hoping it keeps rocking and rolling for a long time to come!

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Youthful sounds and other new music in our mix

By way of a music-promotion site (deucemusic.com) we recently came across a new single from a new band called Paper City Exile. We listened, we liked its rock-verging-on-punk sound and we decided to add "Song For Emily" to our New Music bin. Only then did we read up on this Western Massachusetts trio - and discover its members are still students at Pioneer Valley Performing Arts School. High school, that is! We're not sure if this makes us feel old, or young in spirit.

The Los Angeles band Night Talks has released another single from its upcoming album - which is proving to be a very impressive debut. Following up on "Green" and "Mr. Bloom," the new track is "Jungle."

We're also putting another track from The Joy Formidable's new release Sleep Is Day into our New Music rotation. This one's called "Liana."

Our listeners are familiar with British prog-rock/psych-rock band Syd Arthur, whose second album Sound Mirror has been in our big music mix for some time. Lately we've been playing the first single/title track from their latest release, Apricity. Now the full album is out, and we're picking "Sun Rays" for our New Music rotation.

Likewise, we've been playing "Here In Spirit" from the new Jim James solo album Eternally Even, and now that the full collection is out we'll be pulling out more tracks - starting with one of the lighter, groovier tunes, "True Nature."

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Duos and solos: The latest in our New Music bin

As we check out new or indie bands, we seem to be finding a lot of musical duos - whether couples, ex-couples, siblings or just friends. Just off the top of our heads we can name Wild Belle (siblings), Ruen Brothers (siblings), The Wind & The Wave (couple), Fialta (two couples), Falls (not a couple anymore but still a band)... And now we add to the list:

Horses Heaven is a couple, Bijou and Analise, from the Northern California town of Sebastopol. Noisetrade.com turned us on to their debut album Before The Breakdown. It's an enjoyable collection of alt-folk-pop music, with Analise's clear and expressive voice backed by an interesting array of sounds and instruments - such as the muted trumpet that accents "Hello World," our pick for our New Music rotation. We expect to work more tracks into our playlist soon.

Merlot Embargo is a band that's built around a couple - songwriter/producers Scarlet and Geoff - and also includes a pair of brothers. They call themselves "a collective of human beings from Los Angeles who use guitars, voices, glockenspiels, fiddles, drum kits, horns, pianos, and bits of junk to create anthems for 21st century ailments." Their debut album is Don't Look Back, and "We All Fall Down" is our first taste (ha ha).

Meanwhile, British trio Bear's Den has become a duo and shifted a bit from the folk-rock sound of its first album to a more expansive, synth-y sound that's been compared to War On Drugs. We're adding the title track of its new release, "Red Earth and Pouring Rain."

Also this week, we're picking another track from the new Pretenders LP, Alone. This is really a Chrissy Hynde album, produced by the ubiquitous Dan Auerbach, with tracks like "Holy Commotion" and "Lets Get Lost" ready-made to be pop hits. We're putting "Never Be Together," with its somewhat heavier sound, into our New Music bin.

From a different vein - somewhere in the realm of gospel-soul-rock - comes Danielia Cotton. She's been recording for more than a decade, and we're just catching up, but when we heard her new single, "A Prayer," we were knocked out. Her powerful voice leads us through a thought-provoking lyric -- from an ominous opening ("There's a war in the world/it's getting closer to you/even in the red white & blue") through optimism ("Surely my world will be OK") to a question ("What God do you pray to?"). Hers is a voice to be reckoned with.

We hope you enjoy the variety in our mix. Let us know what you think, and tip us off to music you think we should check out. Comment on this page, or find us on Facebook or Twitter. And keep listening!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

This week: Old music is new again, and more

Sooner or later, many veteran artists record cover albums that pay tributes to their music roots or to artists they admire. Bob Dylan covering Sinatra tunes is one of the more unusual examples. The upcoming album from The Rolling Stones, Blue & Lonesome, is a bit less jarring, since the blues obviously paid a major role in the development of the Stones' sound, not to mention rock'n'roll as a whole.

The first track to be released, "Just Your Fool," originated as an early rhythm'n'blues song, written and recorded by Buddy Johnson and His Orchestra in 1953. It was given a Chicago-blues treatment by Little Walter, and that 1962 release on Chess Records no doubt came to the attention of the Stones and other British bands who were huge fans of American blues and R&B. Good music lives on!

While the Stones keep rolling, the American band Yellowcard has announced that its latest album and current tour are its last. From the tenth and final album, called simply Yellowcard, we're adding "The Hurt Is Gone" to our New Music rotation.

Other additions to our New Music bin this week include additional tracks from the latest albums by:

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Latest music by Jim, Joy, Johnny and more

Again this week we're adding new music by established and emerging artists alike.
Jim James of My Morning Jacket wrote "Here In Spirit" after the Orlando night club shootings. "It’s a song about speaking out and trying to be there for people in spirit even if you can’t be at every rally and battle," James said. "We have such a duty to speak out for equality and for each other." It will be on his solo album, Eternally Even, scheduled for release in November.
The Los Angeles-based duo Johnnyswim is about to release its second full-length album, Georgica Pond. Abner Ramirez and Amanda Sudano (daughter of Donna Summer) mix folk, R&B and other influences in their work. We're featuring "Let It Matter," a touching song about letting oneself mourn a healing from loss.
Keeton Coffman is a singer, guitarist, pianist and songwriter from Houston. His second collection of originals is called Killer Eyes. We've picked up a track called "Ellie," a solid addition to the long line of girl-name rock songs, from "Hello Mary Lou" to "Rosalita" and beyond.
Out of the blue came a new EP from The Joy Formidable, called Sleep Is Day. Its release followed quickly on the heels of the Welsh/British trio's third full-length album, Hitch. TBH we're just catching up with this band, but hey, better late than never. To start, we've added the EP's title track, "Sleep Is Day."
Also this week, we dip further into this summer's release from Sara Watkins, Young In All The Wrong Ways. We've added "Say So" to our New Music bin, and will also be giving some spins to the slow burner "Without A Word."

Thanks for tuning in! Let us know what you think we should add to our Marvelous Mix. And keep listening!