Sunday, October 29, 2017

Latest adds: Blitzen Trapper, Matt Mays, Michaela McClain & more

As usual, the only theme connecting our New Music picks this week is - variety!

The upcoming album from Blitzen Trapper, Wild and Reckless, is an outgrowth of a rock opera the band produced on stage this year in their hometown of Portland, Ore. NPR Music calls it "a sprawling, sumptuous testament to Weird America." Frontman Eric Early says the theme "is about looking back on the crazy days of youth and wondering how you survived those sketchy times." Some of the songs are dark and contemplative, but our pick this week is the upbeat single "Dance With Me."

It's been five years since rocker Matt Mays released the Juno-award-winning album Coyote. Over that time - in recording sessions in Los Angeles, Vancouver, Halifax, New York and Montreal - he gradually assembled his new collection, Once Upon A Hell Of A Time. “This is a snapshot of four or five years of my life that were pretty wild, and pretty lost, and pretty free ... a wild ride of emotions and late nights and all the feels. Kind of the record I’ve always wanted to make.” Our pick of the moment for the New Music bin is an energetic piece of retro-rock called "Faint Of Heart."
Michaela McClain is a singer-songwriter from New Jersey who has been one of our indie-artist faves for some time. She has a powerful and emotive voice that reminds us of singers like Laura Nyro and, combined with her often personal lyrics, Carly Simon. Her latest release, Take A Chance, contains heart-felt ballads mixed with some slyly fun songs, and we're picking one of the latter to feature in the New Releases bin. "The Fringe" is a get-out-of-my-life song given a joyous full-band treatment. Pairs well with: Lake Street Dive.

We cross the Hudson River and turn to another singer-songwriter, Annie Keating. She's one of the many Brooklyn artists making folk/Americana music these days - but she's been doing so for about a decade, drawing comparisons to the likes of Lucinda Williams along the way. On her new single, "Trouble," she takes on the traditional blues template and infuses it with a bit of twang and slide guitar.

And speaking of the blues, we've come across a dynamite blues-rock track that combines the talents of two guitar veterans. Alastair Greene recently struck out solo after seven years in Alan Parsons' band, and over the years has guested with Eric Burdon, Savoy Brown and many more. Numerous guest musicians appear on his new album, Dream Train. They include Debbie Davies, whose career includes work with Albert Collins, J.Giles and many more, and who has won awards for both traditional and contemporary blues. Greene and Davies trade licks on our featured track, the instrumental "Grateful Swagger."

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