This week we introduce you to a new American band and an emerging English singer-songwriter - and to the latest releases from one of last year's breakout acts and two returning stars.
The New Respects are bringing a fresh style to rock'n'roll - and breaking down stereotypes while they're at it. Twins Alexandria (guitar) and Alexis (bass) Fitzgerald, their brother Darius (drums) and cousin Jasmine Mullen (lead singer) grew up in Tennessee surrounded by Gospel and contemporary Christian music. But when they formed a band in their teens, they started out playing folk-rock, taking cues from Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. Along the way they started listening to a wide range of rockers, from The Beatles to Alabama Shakes, and their sound morphed into a high-energy mix of rock and pop with flavorings of funk and soul.
In an interview with NPR's World Cafe, Mullen talked about defying expectations. "A lot of people, I know when they see us they're like, 'Y'all are about to do some R&B or some gospel.' Then they see us come out on stage with guitars and they're like, 'What?'"
We listened to their new EP Here Comes Trouble and were like, "Wow!" We're adding "Frightening Lightning" to our New Music bin, and other tracks are sure to find their way into our mix.
Tom Ryder, a singer-songwriter who's been playing the U.K. folk circuit for several years and issued his first EP last year. He has a new single coming out next week and we've got an advance copy. "Here We Go Again" is a wry look at a relationship that develops into more than expected. "He swears it's not official/But he's got a tattoo of her initials."
The Record Company, whose debut LP made a big splash last year with its blues-rock-revival sound, is back with a new single, "Baby I'm Broken." Full disclosure: This song isn't exactly new - it was previously released on an EP in 2013. But it's being re-released, and it's new to us and probably most of our listeners, so we're giving it a ride in our New Music rotation.
Blondie deliberately hearkens back to "Heart of Glass," and the song would not have been out of place at an 80s party. It also fits well into today's music scene, where updates of 60s, 70s and 80s sounds mix happily together. The upcoming album Pollinator features Debbie Harry with writing collaborator/guitarist Chris Stein and Blondie's founding drummer Clem Burke, with appearances by the Smith's Johnny Marr, Dev Hynes of Blood Orange plus Joan Jett and Laurie Anderson. It's due May 5.
The Cranberries. Something Else is billed as a celebration of the Irish band's 25th anniversary, and will include reworkings of several of the band's classic songs, some in stripped-down acoustic style and some with orchestral arrangements. It will also include new songs, and the first to be released is "Why," which Dolores O'Riordan wrote after the passing of her father but had not recorded until now.