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Friday, July 12, 2024

Phish, Rubblebucket, Aurora, Rise Bailey Rise, plus Don McLean in our New Music Bin


Phish: Wave Of Hope


For those of us who have not avidly followed them over the decades, the release of Evolve provides an excellent way to catch up with the veteran jam band. Many of its 12 tracks have been turning up in their live-show playlists in recent years, and a recording of this song previously appeared on Trey Anastasio's 2020 solo release Lonely Trip. Dave Campbell of The Associated Press calls the track "‘70s-style rock with space for Page McConnell to pound on the keys amid racing guitar riffs." The hopeful-ish refrain: "This too shall pass, this too shall pass."

Rubblebucket: Rattlesnake


The Brooklyn art-pop project's new single derives from a poem vocalist Kalmia Traver wrote after a bike ride with her mother: "Just off the path we spotted a massive rattlesnake lounging in the dappled forest sunlight. It was my first time ever seeing one and my instinct was to stop and get a good look. My mom’s instinct was to get the hell out of there, and we laughed later about this dynamic." Relix writes the the track "builds to neo-disco pop perfection with a chorus of horns, prowling congas and the first string arrangement featured on an entry from the band since 2014’s 'Carousel Ride.'" 

Aurora: To Be Alright


"The world has grown so accustomed to being apathetic," the Norwegian alt-pop artist told NME about the thought-process behind her fifth album, What Happened To The Heart?’ The mag calls the album a "career high" and "a heavy, rave-y call for humanity." It's filled with imagery of the heart and blood representing love and emotions. "What is life worth living / if you don’t bleed for anything?” she sings here.

Rise Bailey Rise: Never Know


Coming to us from Buckinghamshire, England, is the latest single by singer-songwriter-producer-remixer Rich Patmore. After playing with various bands, he quit that scene to focus on fatherhood - but soon returned to making music, this time in a home studio. He's released several singles and EPs in recent years, drawing on influences from 80's UK pop and 90's grunge as well as edgy alternative artists like Radiohead and NIN. 

Don McLean: Thunderstorm Girl


The title track of the new album American Boys celebrates and name-checks rock'n'roll pioneers. He doesn't list himself, but the LP is filled with 60s-style songs, including this ditty that's landed in our New Music bin. Like much of the album, it's relaxed fun, although not terribly original - a bit like recent Ringo Starr songs. As Spill Magazine says, this and some other tracks "are performed and recorded well, but McLean seems to be playing it safe with the content. One should not go looking for McLean’s poetry and poignant observations of albums past. It is largely absent here."

Saturday, July 6, 2024

New indie music by The Rift, Ravenhall, Kasha, Alanna Matty, Washed Out


The Rift: Just Fine


This Southern California indie-rock band says the phrase "'Just Fine' has become a humorous motto for us, reflecting our philosophy of resilience and defiance even when things aren't going our way. Drawing inspiration from Monty Python's iconic 'flesh wound' scene, the song embodies a spirit of gallows humor and unwavering determination."

Ravenhall: A Traveling Story


The Auckland, New Zealand, duo of Joe Ravenhall and Chris Brebner has been releasing singles since 2015, and brought out its debut LP, Brother, earlier this year. This track has now found its way around the globe and landed in our New Music bin. We hear a hint of Bob Seger in the vocal on the refrain 'The road keeps calling / Freedom come to me now."

Kasha: Do Me So


It's a hint of Sade that hits our ear as we listen to this single by an artist born in the Congo and raised in Norway. Her music is a blend of neo-soul, R'n'B, pop, and Afropop. "I wrote this song to deal with the sorrow and joy of emerging stronger from psychological abuse. It's painful, frightening, but most of all, it's satisfying to finally understand more."

Alanna Matty: Restless


Originally from Toronto, now living in Halifax, this singer-songwriter-producer (and video-game sound designer) brings am-I-working-hard-enough anxiety to this new single. She explains: "Everyone says ‘you need to take time off’ or ‘you have to recharge’ but how can you? What if that moment you spent sitting on the couch decompressing is the moment where you could have created the thing that was going to catapult you to the next stage of your career?" Such as, perhaps, her upcoming album, Subject to Change.

Washed Out: The Hardest Part


Once dubbed "the godfather of chillwave" by Pitchfork, Ernest Greene just released his fifth album (and first in four years), Notes from a Quiet Life. In 2021, he moved from Atlanta to a 20-acre former horse farm in the Georgia countryside, not far from where he grew up, and where he presumably is living quietly. This track's smooth, shiny sound belies its lyric about pining for an ex: "I hope that you've noticed I've tried to move on / Still can't admit that our time is done."

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Latest from Mavis Staples, Wilco, JD McPherson, Valley, Pete Yorn added to our big mix


Mavis Staples: Worthy


“It’s a pick-me-up song - it’s a celebration, and you can’t help but move,” says the R&B icon of her new single. Written and produced by MNDR (Amanda Lucille Warner), the song has an uplifting message of self-worth. It's a perfect fit for Staples, still sounding ebullient as she's turning 85. Warner says working with Staples - "listening to her soulful voice, spending time in her grace, and watching her artistry in the studio ... was an experience too profound to put into words."  

Wilco: Hot Sun


Here's the title track from a new EP that bandleader Jeff Tweedy describes as having a "summertime-after-dark kind of feeling." Pitchfork says the song "practically melts from the heat, guitar notes bending and warping as Tweedy sings about the physical pleasure of sunlight hitting skin. With that sensation comes a nagging doubt, possibly about climate change: 'Shouldn’t I be doing something?' he asks himself." (Photo by Akash-Wadhwani)

J.D. McPherson: Sunshine Getaway


Speaking of sun on the skin, that's what the narrator in this song longs for, as an escape from the "same old same old day after day." The single precedes Nite Owls, McPherson's first (non-Christmas) album since 2017's Undivided Heart and Soul. In the meantime, he's been touring as band leader and opening act for Alison Kraus and Robert Plant. The Oklahoma native is known for a 60s rock-and-roll sound, but this track features a riff reminiscent of "Bang a Gong." McPherson told Variety: "Well, any playlist of mine, you’re gonna see Little Richard right next to T. Rex." (Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins)

Valley: Water the Flowers, Pray for a Garden


Founded in 2014, this Toronto-based band has been growing its fan base steadily with what AllMusic calls "their buoyant blend of indie pop uplift and melodic hooks." We would add: with lyrics that describe the ennui of many young adults today. That continues in this title track: "I guess that I'd rather laugh than cry 'bout my problems / When, honestly, I don't know how to solve them." But that refrain alternates with another urging, "Quit wasting the sunlight, it's always the right time / Just open your eyes, 'cause it's always the bright side."

Pete Yorn: Real Good Love


There's word that the California-based New Jersey native has an album coming out later this year. Along with January's single release, "Someday, Someday," it will presumably include this new song. Both are simple, quiet, acoustic tracks, this one musing on how "real good lovin' is so hard to find."

Saturday, June 22, 2024

Coldplay, Lake Street Dive, Rachel Hickey, Vacations, Sarah Kinsley bring the new music


Coldplay: feelslikeimfallinginlove


This is the first track to emerge ahead of the veteran U.K. band's 10th album, Moon Music, due in October. After nearly a quarter century of releasing anthemic hits, Chris Martin and company don't break new ground here, and the lyric about new-love euphoria isn't terribly original - but they're no denying it's catchy, and easy to imagine as a stadium sing-along.

Lake Street Dive: Far Gone


We picked up the title single back in March, and now with the full release of Good Together we're highlighting this track that departs just a bit from the band's typical style. Americana Highways notes that this track features guitarist James Cornelison "providing an excellent riff to counter [Bridget] Kearney’s deep groove" - and adds that "Kearney is seriously undervalued as one of rock’s best bass players." We heartily agree. For his part, Cornelison replaced founding member Mike “McDuck” Olson, who parted on friendly terms in 2021.

Rachel Hickey: Back On Track


Following two EP releases since 2021, this Toronto-based singer-songwriter just released her first full-length, The Eve of St. Agnes - a title the former English lit/psych double- major borrowed from a Keats poem. 

Hickey's music is described as "folk-focused with a blend of indie, pop, and rock." We previously featured an early single, "High," and now choose this peppy track for our New Music bin.

Vacations: Midwest


Here's the latest single to break out from this Australian quartet's third album, No Place Like Home. Lead singer Campbell Burns says: "I’d never directly written a break-up song until ‘Midwest.’ ... I enjoy having songs that are universally relatable and open to interpretation ... Lately though, I’ve been writing about my memories and unravelling them in exact detail. Almost like therapy, except you’re all there in the room with me."

Sarah Kinsley: Last Time We Never Meet Again


This classically trained singer-songwriter-musician-producer's first full-length album, Escaper, is set for release in September. This first single "is meant to be celebratory," says the artist, but it is also "a goodbye - the closing of all these worlds that you inhabit with the people you love. A celebratory goodbye."

Saturday, June 15, 2024

The latest from Mondo Cozmo, The Offspring, Susan O'Neill, Belfountain, The Heavy Heavy


Mondo Cozmo: Wild Horses


This track heralds Josh Ostrander's fourth studio album under the Mondo Cozmo moniker, It’s PRINCIPLE!, due in August. The song "draws you in with its bold, galloping beat, and exudes power in the first half," writes his home-area radio station WXPN-Philadelphia. "However, the song takes a turn ... into a piano ballad, giving way to Cozmo’s raw vocals, expressing the range of emotions he was dealing with during the writing process as his dog (and band namesake) Cozmo was nearing the end of his life."

The Offspring: Make It All Right


AllMusic has called The Offspring "perhaps the quintessential SoCal punk band of the 1990s," which turned out a string of "snotty, satirical alt-rock hits." After a nine-year break, they released Let The Bad Times Go in 2021, and now they've announced Supercharged for October release. The song "talks about the people in our lives who make us feel strong when we are feeling low — our partners in crime who make us feel all right," says group leader Dexter Holland.

Susan O'Neill: Bright Eyes


This singer-songwriter from Ireland's County Clare will release a solo album, Now In A Minute, in September. She has previously recorded and toured as SON, and in 2021 collaborated with Cork singer-songwriter Mick Flannery on a concept album called In The Game, the biggest-selling independent selling Irish album that year. We're told Flannery co-wrote some of the 12 songs on the new album.

Belfountain: Tell Me When It Rains


An indie-folk-rock project fronted by Canadian singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Chris Graham makes its debut this week with Some Hearts. The album is billed as a "roots-inspired collection ... an earthy mix of old and new." This second track has a soulful flavor, and the sound and subject matter put us in mind of old songs like the Temptations' "I Wish It Would Rain." (Photo by Dzesika Devic)

The Heavy Heavy: Happiness


Will Turner and Georgie Fuller started their Brighton, UK-based band with the ambition of “making records that sound like our favorite records ever." We picked up on their 2022 EP Life and Life Only, and now they're out with their debut LP, One Of A Kind, expanding on their "sunshine psych-pop and folk sound." This track certainly has a 60s retro sound.