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."