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Saturday, September 16, 2023

New from Semisonic, Graham Parker, Gass Violet, Joan Osborne, The Empty Pockets

Semisonic: The Rope

This band from late-90s Minneapolis returns with its first full album in over 20 years, Little Bit of Sun. The trio (Dan Wilson, John Munson, Jacob Slichter) says this song is "an ode to Los Angeles disguised as a break-up song." Rolling Stone writes that it has"a bright alt-rock crunch bolstered by brisk horns and piano, as well as a rich halo of backing vocals."

Graham Parker & The Goldtops: The Music of the Devil

This track leads off Last Chance to Learn the Twist, the new album from this rocker who emerged from England's pub-rock scene in the 1970s heading a band called The Rumor. AllMusic writes that on this second LP with his current band, he sounds relaxed and introspective and that "his anger is mostly a thing of the past." Here, he "fondly recalls the good old days when rock & roll was supposed to be sending us to hell - a quaint notion now."

Glass Violet: Too Late to Come By

Almost two years ago we featured a single called "Indigo" by this band from Bristol, UK. This new track will lead off an upcoming EP. Key members Alex John (producer, guitar) and Tom Hurdiss (lead vocal, guitar) cite Arcade Fire, The Killers and The Strokes as major influences.

Joan Osborne: I Should've Danced More

One might say this song is about ROMO (regret of missing out). It leads off the veteran singer-songwriter's eleventh album, Nobody Owns You. Other highlights of the LP include the title track, an empowering song written for her daughter, and "Great American Cities," an upbeat counter-argument to right-wing attacks on U.S. urban centers. Overall, the album is quieter and more introspective than 2020's Trouble and Strife. Says Osborne: "These songs come from my feelings about people in my family, about people who I care about, and just what to do with this time that we have on the earth.”

The Empty Pockets: Gotta Find the Moon

Here's the title track from the new album by this Chicago roots-rock band. After the success of 2022's Outside Spectrum, they traveled to London's Abbey Road Studios to record the collection of 12 originals and two cover songs. We featured the single "Make It Through" this spring, and with the release of the LP we're dropping this number into the New Music bin. 

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Sarah Jarosz, Sam Roberts Band, Screens 4 Eyes, Slowdive, The Moss - our latest New Music picks

Sarah Jarosz: Jealous Moon

Photo by Shervin Lainez
Here's the lead single from Polaroid Lovers, the seventh studio album by the singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist (and sometime member of I'm With Her). "It’s a song about the times when the parts of ourselves that we try to keep hidden rise to the surface, and we have no choice but to ride the wave," Jarosz says. The track gives her vocal a rock-band backing. American Songwriter writes that it "shows off a more evolved sound, swapping out acoustic-leaning instrumentation for rich and bold production by [Daniel] Tashian," who also co-wrote the song.

Sam Roberts Band: Projection

From the upcoming album The Adventures of Ben Blank, due October 20th, comes this new single, which Roberts says deals with this question: "When the lines between fact and fiction have become so blurred, how do we measure our truest selves?" The nine-song album follows 2020's JUNO-nominated All of Us. The Montreal alt-rock quintet decamped to Toronto's Giant Studio to make the record. 

Screens 4 Eyes: Patterns

A new EP is on the way from this Tel Aviv-based dream-pop group fronted by Yael Brener. This track, she says, is influenced by 80s new-wave and synth sounds, and deals with the belief that "the course of our life is written on our body. Our fears, our pains, are projected on our organs ... They reflect not only physically but also in patterns of behavior that influence our life - a circle one might want to break and be freed from."

Slowdive: kisses

Photo by Ingrid Pop
One of the pioneering bands of shoegaze came and went in the 1990s - but then came back in 2017 and has now released Everything Is Alive, the second LP of its second phase. "There are trademark washes of guitar noise and echo, and songs that judiciously sculpt Rachel Goswell and Neil Halstead’s quiet voices on the precipice between melancholy and ecstasy," writes The Guardian. And Pitchfork calls this song the most delicate and openly romantic track on the album.

The Moss: The Place That Makes Me Happy

After hitting the charts earlier this year with "Insomnia" and playing some major festivals over the summer, this quartet is about to embark on an extensive U.S. tour. Meanwhile it rolls out this single, billed as "a celebration of the band’s deep-rooted love for the great outdoors." That seems to make sense for a group that was formed in Oahu, Hawaii, and is now based in Utah. 

Friday, September 1, 2023

New: Pretenders, Death Cab, Bryan Hansen Band, Vanishing Shores, Shayla McDaniel

Pretenders: A Love

On the new album Relentless, the band consists primarily of the indefatiguable Chrissy Hynde and multi-instrumentalist James Walbourne. "The tender yet tough tunes are instantly identifiable as emerging from the iconic band," says American Songwriter. "Hynde’s voice, at 71, is just a shade weaker than in her prime, but the songs are strong, the lyrics as strident as you’d expect, and Walbourne’s playing remains professional without sliding into slick." 

Death Cab for Cutie: An Arrow in the Wall

Photo by Jimmy Fontaine
This single comes out as Benjamin Gibbard launches a tour with both DCFC and his other band, The Postal Service. The song, says Gibbard, "is about the warning signs all around us in the 21st century that society-at-large is in decay. The arrow lodged in the wall might have missed this time, but it would be naive to assume the next one won’t also.” (Presumably meaning, "also won't strike us.")

Bryan Hansen Band: Death of a Yes Man (feat. Jeff Coffin)

This band from Central New Jersey has been a favorite of ours for years. Since their last album, Gas Money, came out mid-pandemic - thwarting their plans to tour behind it - founding members Hansen (lead vocals, guitar) and Will Blakey (bass) have been working with other area musicians on tracks for a new LP, and this is the first single to emerge. Grammy winner and Dave Matthews Band member Jeff Coffin provides the horns. The song "is about moving past burnout and reclaiming your life and creativity," says Hansen. "The band has done just that and they’ll come out swinging."

Vanishing Shores: There Is No Distance (Between Us)

This Cleveland indie-rock band has confirmed that it has an album on the way, entitled Possible Light and presumably containing at least some of the singles it has released in the past couple of years. "This song is a summer anthem that affirms the truth that love casts out all fear," says frontman Kevin Bianchi. The background vocalist is credited mysteriously as Claudia X.

Shayla McDaniel: Good Thoughts for Bad Times

Another indie fave of ours, this singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Knoxville, Tennessee, just released Mental Filing Cabinets, a self-produced collection of six songs, plus a live acoustic version of this one. The lyric contains the EP's title: "I haven’t felt this good in a while / I don’t want this time to end / Storing up the memories like photos / In my mental filing cabinets" - to be retrieved as needed on darker days.

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Commotions, The Killers, Paul Rodgers, Citizen Cope, Land of Talk in our New Music bin

The Commotions: Feel The Commotion

This outfit is billed as a "Canadian Soul-Funk collective" and "an all-original Motown-to-Disco era band." It was founded a decade ago by Brian Asselin, who spent six years as part of Motown's Funk Brothers. Today, the band consists of 12 professionally trained jazz musicians, including three lead vocalists and a five-piece horn section. The group calls this first single from Volume III, due in October, "a lesson on letting the rhythm move you."  

The Killers: Your Side of Town

Photo by Anton Corbijn
This new track follows last year's "Boy," suggesting an album may be on the way. Brandon Flowers says "It’s like a collision of a lot of the music that inspired us and influenced us ... I hear Pet Shop Boys, I hear New Order, I hear Depeche Mode. But at the same time, I really do feel like I can take ownership of it. It doesn’t feel like a copy." Alternative Press calls it an ’80s-style synthpop song that "takes a surprising turn when Flowers tries on some vocoder in the chorus."

Paul Rodgers: Take Love

The former lead vocalist of Free, Bad Company and various other bands is about to release Midnight Rose, his first solo album since 2000 and his first on the iconic Sun Records label. He performed this song during his tenure fronting Queen on tour in the early 2000s, but hadn't previously released a studio version.

Citizen Cope: The Victory March

Clarence Gatewood emerges from behind his Citizen Cope nom d'artiste and puts his given name on the cover of his recent EP, from which this is the title track. KUTX writes that the record "closely follows the formulas that made us fall in love with Citizen Cope in the first place, amplified by the heightened discipline and maturity that only come after three decades of mastering one’s craft."

Land of Talk: Your Beautiful Self

Coming in October is Performances, the fifth album from the project headed by Montreal's Lizzie Powell. “It's the weirdest, mightiest little record I've made since I used to write music on my four-track when I was 14,” says Powell. “I needed to make a love letter to my teenage self by being more vulnerable and doing all the production myself.” After a subdued piano opening, this track builds momentum with percussion and guitar. The lyrics tend to the obscure, but seem summed up by this refrain: "Take a deep breath / Let it out /Show the love in."

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Rhiannon Giddens, Great American Canyon Band, Taylor Ashton, Margaret Glaspy, Soda Blonde - Latest in our New Music bin

Rhiannon Giddens: Yet To Be (feat. Jason Isbell)

The new album You're The One is the first consisting of all original music by this Grammy and Pulitzer(!) prize-winning vocalist and multi-instrumentalist. The 11-song collection "goes well beyond her profile as an esteemed folk singer and traditionalist, as it embraces pop, rock, blues, jazz, and gospel," writes Glide Magazine. This track is a story song about two runaways, a Black woman and an Irish man, finding themselves together in search of a better life.

Great American Canyon Band: You Were The One

Matt, Kris, Paul. Photo by Nicola Harger.
We're glad to hear new music from Paul and Kris Masson and their band. Tracks from the duo's 2016 debut, Only You Remain, and 2017's limited-issue EP Westward have been in our big mix since their release. After spending a couple of years on touring and a couple on songwriting, the group faced a couple of years of pandemic delays. Their sophomore LP is finally on its way, with lead guitarist Matt Boyer now a full-time band member. It will include this track, which Paul and Kris describe as "a rare tribute to the profound beauty of 'old love,'" in contrast with the "millions of songs that celebrate 'new love."

Taylor Ashton: Beauty Sleep

Photo by Shervin Lainez
This Canadian transplant in Brooklyn just released Stranger To The Feeling, a collection of folk-style songs composed while traveling all over the continent. No Depression writes: "Hitting the open road carries with it an endless sense of possibility, something captured by the warm acoustic soundscape that Ashton cultivates as well as by his use of evocative lyricism." This is the most upbeat track on the LP, co-written by and featuring backing vocals by Courtney Hartman.

Margaret Glaspy: Get Back

We've been spinning the single "Act Natural," and with the release of the full LP Echo the Diamond, we now pick up track 2. "The process of writing ‘Get Back’ helped lift me out of a dark time in life," Glaspy says. "Now, when I play it live, it seems to re-enact some kind of deep compassion and joy that I’m so grateful for. It is the most fun I’ve ever had on stage.”

Soda Blonde: Midnight Show

Here's the second track to emerge from the Dublin band's Dream Big, due next month. Melodic Mag calls it "a stunningly cinematic power ballad weighing disillusionment with the music industry on one hand, and the unapologetic pursuit of one’s desires to the point of prostituting yourself for success on the other."