Sunday, April 30, 2017

A songwriter supergroup & more new music

Think of three singer-songwriters from Nova Scotia getting together and you might imagine an acoustic folk trio. But Port Cities is something different. When Carleton Stone, Dylan Guthro and Breagh MacKinnon turned a shared experience at a songwriting camp into a collaboration, they truly created a band. From their backgrounds writing and performing in various styles - jazz, folk, soul, R&B - they've developed a seamless blend of intelligent pop. They recently rolled out their debut album, just played a couple of shows at Canadian Music Week in Toronto and have several gigs in Great Britain during May before they head home to tour the Maritimes. It was hard to pick just one track to feature in our New Music bin this week. We're going with "Sound Of Your Voice," but you'll be hearing more of the album in our big mix.

Jumping down to the Southern U.S., we catch up with The Weeks, an indie outfit originally from Jackson, Mississippi. They're now part of the growing Nashville scene of Southern-flavored indie rock. Easy is the band's fifth release, counting albums and EPs, but the first to reach our ears. We're spinning the lead track, "Talk Like That."

Also hailing from Nashville, although traveling in different musical circles, is singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle. His music blends elements of folk, blues and country, with lyrics that take a very idiosyncratic, often sardonic view of life. His newest collection, Kids in the Street, is due later this month. We're featuring a fun number about a cool girl in a decidedly uncool car, a "Champagne Corolla."

It's about time we pulled out some more tracks from the excellent new album from Chicago's The Right Now. You've been hearing us play "Too Late" for the past several weeks, and now we're featuring our new favorite, "Love You Better." More tracks from Starlight will be popping up in our mix as well.

And we're picking up the first single from the upcoming 311 album, Mosaic. It's called "Too Much To Think," and we think the lyrics are about a relationship that's become strained by interpersonal issues. Sure, that's what it means. But concert audiences might have something else in mind as they sing along with the refrain "Cuz I wanna get high/But you're keeping me low."

Sunday, April 23, 2017

New this week: violence, fire, money and more

The latest additions to our New Music playlist range from the hard-driving sound of Rise Against to the airy soundscape of London Grammar. Because, variety!

There's a clear trend in music right now toward socially/politically conscious lyrics. For Rise Against, of course, that's nothing new - it's an essential part of the Chicago-based band's identity. The first single from the band's upcoming Wolves LP is "The Violence," which challenges society to break out of the cycle of violence ingrained in human nature.

We haven't gotten over our excitement about the terrific debut album by Nashville rock-and-soul band The New Respects. This week we're highlighting "Money," which reminds us that "life ain't about" that. Drummer Darius Fitzgerald told Interview Magazine, “When we started writing this song, we had zero dollars between the four of us." He and his sisters Alexis and Zandy plus cousin Jasmine Mullen make up this young quartet. You'll also hear more tracks from their Here Comes Trouble LP in our big mix.


We're dipping back into Future Island's The Far Field to feature "Day Glow Fire," which combines a bright, pleasing sound with a melancholy lyric about the end of an affair. Samuel T. Herring's vocal is more contemplative than distraught on this track, as he sings about good times in the past tense: "We used to talk until the sun come up/We used to walk, we used to run."

That same, common theme - the regrettable end of a love affair - is the subject of the latest release from London Grammar's upcoming album Truth is a Beautiful Thing. The British trio's music has been called operatic, cinematic, elegiac - and Hannah Reid's powerful voice brings all those qualities to "Oh Woman, Oh Man."

And from the operatic we turn to the chamber-pop of Gracie and Rachel. You've heard us play several songs by this Brooklyn-based duo over the past year, all ahead of their debut album, now due June 23. One more track was just released, and it might be the best yet: "Only A Child" joins our New Music playlist this week.

Our big mix of rock, indie, alternative, folk and more is constantly growing, as we not only add brand-new tunes but expand our collection of classic hits and deep cuts from the 1960s and beyond. Join our journey of musical discovery - and please give us your feedback! You can comment on this page, on Facebook or Twitter, or by email. Thanks for listening!

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Can-Am collaboration in our new-music mix

During its 2016 tour, Toronto's Barenaked Ladies invited New York a capella group The Persuasions to join them for a few songs in a show at New York's Central Park. They enjoyed themselves so much that they decided to make a record together. Ladies and Gentlemen: Barenaked Ladies and The Persuasions was recorded in live takes in a Toronto studio and features reworkings of more than a dozen BNL songs plus The Persuasions' 1972 hit "Good Times." The album was just released, and our pick for our New Music bin is one of our favorite Ladies' songs, "The Old Apartment." It's one of several tracks where Persuasions lead vocalist Dave Revels takes the place of Steven Page, who left the Barenaked Laadies in 2009.

Speaking of Toronto, it's the scene of Canadian Music Week, happening at dozens of venues around the city April 18-23. The folks at The Revue put together a sort of tip sheet of bands to check out, and that turned us on to The Kents, an indie-pop group from Lindsay, Ontario. Their EP Waking came out about a year ago, but as we like to say, it's still "new" music if it's new to us - so we've added the track "I Know" to our list this week.

How many Dan Auerbachs are there? There's the guy from The Black Keys, the guy from The Arcs, the guy who produces records for everyone from Dr. John to Cage the Elephant to The Pretenders, and the guy who released a solo album in 2009. Well, the solo act is back with an album called Waiting On A Song that's coming out in June. Check out the first single, "Shine On Me," in our new music rotation this week.

The spirit of Fleetwood Mac lives on with Lindsey Buckingham/Christine McVie, an album due in June that presents the guitarist and keyboardist/vocalist as a duo - although drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie joined in on the project. They pick up right where they left off with the first track to be released, "In My World."

And we're picking up the latest from Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit. Their album The Nashville Sound is also due in June. The first taste is "Hope The High Road," which we hear as a call to rise above divisive politics. The relevant lyrics and the country-rock sound would fit in with the work of Isbell's former band, Drive-By Truckers.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

A wide range of styles in our New Music bin

Once again we strive for variety in our New Music choices for the week. How's this: A jam band from Vermont, a Southern-rock band from Nashville, an English synth-rock group and two singer-songwriters - one an up-and-comer and the other a master in top form.

Aimee Mann has described her new LP, Mental Illness, as a sort of embrace of her own stereotype - "the saddest, slowest, most-acoustic" album she could produce. But there's nothing cliche about it, and her songwriting, her distinctive voice and the spare arrangements make this a compelling record from start to finish. We picked up "Goose Snow Cone" back in January and now we're featuring "Stuck In The Past" in our New Music bin.

How many songs do you know that include the word parallelogram? We can't think of any others besides "Certainty," the opening track of the recently released Volcano by English psych-rock band Temples. This track, and the album generally, is more synth-heavy than the band's debut, Sun Structures. Since we're big fans of musical variety, we have no objection to bands experimenting with new sounds, as long as they can pull it off - and they do.

Vermont-based Twiddle has built a reputation as a high-energy jam band, better known for its live performances than its recordings. But they've just hooked up with indie record label Sono Recording Group and issued a fresh version of "When It Rains It Pours" as a single. At a little more than 3 1/2 minutes it's no epic jam, but it's a good introduction to the bands's bouncy sound. It has succeeded in introducing us, and we'll be looking to add more Twiddle to our mix.

Singer-songwriter Ben McKelvey has been building a following in the UK, where he just finished a tour opening for Mike & The Mechanics. He's a multi-instrumentalist and lyricist who cites Paul Weller and Bruce Springsteen among his influences. He released his first album last year and has already followed it up with an EP, One For The Road. It includes a reworked, more-acoustic version of his thoughtful song "Only Here Once," with which he makes his Birch Street Radio debut.

Stone Senate is a Southern rock band in the tradition of The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, but draws on a wide range of other musical influences, from hard rock and metal to traditional country and contemporary bands such as Drive By Truckers. The Nashville-based group released their second LP, Star City, last fall and have just spun out a single version of "Lazy River." As the title suggests, it's a relatively quiet, laid-back tune, with harmonizing layers of guitar and vocals that invite you to relax and float downstream.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Indie artists fill our New Releases bin this week

Our New Music choices this week are all "indie" releases, and mostly from artists we're already featuring in our big mix.

We started playing Edgar Road's exhilarating "Kollide" in February. Now we're adding the soaring "Looking Glass," the title track of the recently released EP by this band from Elgin, Scotland.

Wyland also made its debut on our "airwaves" in February, with "Lights Go Dark." This New Jersey band celebrated the debut of its Snake Hill EP a few days ago, and we're now putting "The Answer" into our New Music rotation.

We introduced you to The Georgia Flood back in January, and you've heard us play "Whistle King" and "Tell Me What You Want." Now we're adding "Better Not Together," another track from the Atlanta band's debut album, People Like Ourselves.

The Brooklyn-based piano-violin duo Gracie and Rachel has been part of our mix for about a year. Their debut album is coming soon, and meantime we have one new song for you: "Someday," a reflection on the transitory nature of life and relationships.

And we're happy to add Allie Moss to our roster of indie artists. Also from New Jersey, but now based in Nashville, this singer/songwriter/guitarist (and frequent touring partner of Ingrid Michaelson) released her latest EP, The Other Side, in the fall -- so we're a little late, but we're catching up by adding the very catchy "Bet My Life" to our New Music bin.