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Saturday, October 23, 2021

Band of Horses, Southern Avenue, Danielia Cotton, Hush Club, Season of the Senses in New Music bin

Band of Horses: Crutch

Five-plus years after Why Are You OK comes the first taste of Things Are Great, the upcoming sixth album from Ben Bridwell and his stablemates. This guitar-driven song plays on the words crutch and crush. Says Bridwell: "Obviously ‘Crutch’ means some of the things that I was dependent on. My relationship for one. I think I wanted to say, ‘I’ve got a crush on you,’ and I thought it was funny how relationships also feel like crutches. I feel like everybody has had a time when nothing goes right and you still have to carry on. I think that feeling hits you in this song even if you don’t know what the specifics are.”

Southern Avenue: Push Now

We're late catching up to Be the Love You Want, the third album from this Memphis-based outfit. AllMusic wrote that "this set adds big-beat R&B and funk" to the group's mix of blues and soul "without sacrificing any of their rootsy appeal. ... Further, the songwriting towers above previous efforts." It was co-produced by the band's lead guitarist, Ori Naftali, and Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, who "brought in horns, additional keys, and backing singers. They created a studio atmosphere to highlight the sublime, resonant lead vocals (and lyrics) of Tierinii Jackson with a new emphasis on their killer rhythm section of drummer and backing vocalist Tikyra Jackson, and rocksteady bassist Evan Sarver."

Danielia Cotton: Supercool

This is the second single to come out ahead of the New York-based singer's next album, following title track "Good Day." Both songs were co-written with Nashville songwriter Jeff Cohen, and both have a sunny outlook that contrasts with some of Cotton's more serious compositions. This track is a straight-up love song with echoes of '70s R&B. The advance publicity promises the January release will include a wide range of tunes: "Once again, [Cotton] will go from soul to arena-like rock to a beautiful moaning blues ballad."

Hush Club: One More Year

Another band formed in the big college town that is Boston, this trio is about to release its second album, Fingerprints & Stains. Their music is billed as "weaving together finely crafted melodies, lush textures, and soul-searching poetry." Alasdair MacKenzie (bass, vocals), Chris Haley (guitar, vocals), and Liz Kantor (keys, vocals) cite Fleet Foxes and Dawes among their influences, and this track also would mix well with the likes of Real Estate and Wilco.

Season of the Senses: Young & Strange

We're always happy to add new and different sounds to our mix, so we bring you the debut single by this duo from Guelph, Ontario. Multi-instrumentalist Damian Weston and singer Elena Stocco met in a local online group early this year. Weston, who'd been creating music for film and TV, was looking for a collaborator and found Stocco, for whom singing was "just a hobby." Weston told local news site Guelph Today that when he heard Stocco sing, "it blew my mind that she was not professionally trained." And Stocco said when she heard samples of Weston's compositions, "I was kind of blown away by the songs he has in the works." They began working together remotely and recorded this song before ever meeting in person. (They have, since, and have more songs on the way).

Saturday, October 16, 2021

New music from Sam Fender, Sean McConnell, Shannon Lay, Katherine Aly, The Record Company

Sam Fender: Get You Down

Photo by Charlotte Patmore
This UK singer-songwriter mines adolescent memories for several songs on his just-released second album, Seventeen Going Under. Our pick for the New Music bin, which seems to recall a schoolyard enemy, "erupts in a guitar-saxophone duel and climaxes with a swarm of strings," writes Pitchfork. "There’s no hiding the influence of Springsteen’s lyrical prowess and the E Street Band’s orchestral grandeur on Fender’s work, as well as the Boss’ 21st-century acolytes like the War on Drugs and the Killers." In fact, at times his vocals remind us just a bit of Brandon Flowers.

Sean McConnell: What the Hell Is Wrong With Me?

This Nashville songwriter has written for numerous country, rock and pop artists as well as releasing his own material. His new album, A Horrible Beautiful Dream, is his tenth, featuring his powerful voice and "storyteller style ... a la Springsteen, Prine, and Townes Van Zandt," writes Roughstock in a review that describes this track as "a melodically rollicking look at why someone does the things they do in life. They know they shouldn’t do something yet there they are doing that exact thing."

Shannon Lay: A Thread to Find

A California native who came up through the LA garage-punk scene, Lay has pursued "a radically different solo career steeped in thoughtful, psychedelic-infused indie folk," as AllMusic describes it. Geist is her second LP on the Sub Pop label. This song, Lay says, "is about finding pieces of yourself in unfamiliar places, It is about watching the people around you grow and evolve, and admiring the chaos and the beauty of discovering new worlds within ourselves.” The lyric concludes: "You're on your own but not alone."

Katherine Aly: Pariah

This is the latest in a string of singles leading up to a planned debut EP by this Edinburgh-based alt-pop artist. The song has a message of tolerance - or of intolerance for intolerance. Born in Greece, Aly tells On Magazine: "‘Pariah’ is a very special release for me. I finally found the courage as a woman, an immigrant and an artist to talk openly about discrimination and on top of that invite other people to use ‘Pariah’ as a platform to address other forms of prejudice."

The Record Company: Gotta Be Movin'

We've been spinning the single "How High," and now with the release of the LP Play Loud we're featuring another boisterous track from the LA trio. Bassist Alex Stiff says: “We totally flipped the process on this record to allow for every idea and possibility, so it wasn’t just the three of us closed off in our bubble. It was like, ‘Let’s take some risks and see what we can really do.'” That approach included hiring outside songwriters as collaborators, including producer Dave Sardy, and using overdubs to fatten the sound, reports American Songwriter, adding: "There’s enough grit mixed with the slicker production to keep existing fans happy while possibly bringing new ones to the table." 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

The Latest from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Wild Feathers, Lala Lala, Sting, Modest Mouse

St. Paul & The Broken Bones: Last Dance

The eight-piece band from Birmingham, Ala., will release its fourth album, The Alien Coast, in January. Frontman Paul Janeway says this first single is about "the juxtaposition of dancing while facing certain doom ... Like dancing through a Mad Max scene."

The Wild Feathers: Alvarado

The Nashville-based quintet wrote this song several years ago and "rediscovered" it while going through unreleased material to put together the 2020 collection Medium Rarities. It ended up becoming the title track for the just-released new LP, which the band self-produced while hunkered down in a small cabin northwest of their home city.

Lala Lala: Diver

Chicago musician Lillie West has just released her third album, I Want the Door to Open. Under the Radar magazine writes that the LP is "introspective and existential, atmospheric and surreal" and a departure from 2018's more guitar-driven The Lamb. A key line in this track - "I can't look directly at it / Your face distorted in the window" - touches a recurring theme of difficulty in seeing oneself and others clearly.

Sting: Rushing Water

The veteran musician says this song "is a fitting start to an album that seeks to bridge all of the petty differences that can separate us.” Titled The Bridge, the LP is due next month. Stereogum writes that the track has a bit of an echo of classic Police, "with a hard-slapping backbeat and some slick palm-muted guitar action."

Modest Mouse: The Sun Hasn't Left

Here's another cut from The Golden Casket, released this summer by the Portland, Ore., band. Spin writes that the song "makes creative use of new-wave beats" and offers a hopeful message with lyrics like: “You’re not wrong, things are a mess but there’s still something left.”

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Preview of new albums by Colin James, Lilly Hiatt, plus latest from Whitehorse, Adrian Sutherland, Shayla McDaniel

Colin James: As The Crow Flies

The guitar wizard and singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan will release his 20th studio album, Open Road, in November. It's a mix of originals and covers, including a couple of Dylan tunes and this song, written and originally recorded in 1972 by the late Tony Joe White.

Lilly Hyatt: Lately

Photo by Dylan Reyes
Coming just a year after her sophomore release, Walking Proof, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter has a new LP coming out this month, and we're bringing you the title track..

Whitehorse: Am I Just Gonna Stand There (While You Take My Girl Away)

We previously featured a couple of early singles from Strike Me Down, and now that the full album is out we're pulling out this breezy tune about an unhappy situation. "It's not that I don't care / To pull the strings in favour of me / But I could never ask you to love me more." So, the answer to the title question seems to be, yeah I guess I am.

Adrian Sutherland: Magic Hits

Our regular listeners are familiar with this singer-songwriter from Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario. The frontman of roots-rock band Midnight Shine just released his first solo album, When the Magic Hits. We previously featured "Right Here," and now add this sort-of title track.

Shayla McDaniel: Alright

Also familiar to our regular listeners is this songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Tennessee, who has been turning out a steady stream of singles on which she sings and plays all instruments. This latest track, with a full-band sound, is "about doing the best you can to feel the best you can, both inside and out."

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Courtney Barnett, The Black Sorrows, Maybe May, Raging Sons, Paul Carrack in our New Music bin

Courtney Barnett: Before You Have To Go

The second single to emerge ahead of the Things Take Time, Take Time album (due in November) is an amicable-breakup song. Stereogum writes that it "is built around a translucent cyclical guitar riff that lends the song both incredible forward momentum and a deep sense of longing. ...As with the prior single ["Rae Street"], there’s some resemblance to Barnett’s former duet partner Kurt Vile — that laconic, lysergic, loosely bluesy kind of folk-rock that might send you into a state of melancholy contemplation."

The Black Sorrows: Revolutionary Blues

Also from Australia, but on a different musical continent, is this blues-rock outfit led by guitarist/saxophonist Joe Camilleri. Hat tip to a listener from that part of the world who turned us on to the band, whose 19th studio album, Saint Georges Road, dropped this month. Says Camilleri: “The band really owns this track. It’s just a lot of fun. Initially, I had a different concept, but we took it into a country/blues/gospel sound. And lyrically, it could be about any time – there could be a revolution brewing somewhere."

Maybe May: Better

This Toronto-area trio is billed as using the fundamental r&r combination of guitar-bass-drum to blend "heavy instrumentation with graceful melodies which provide a rich tapestry for delivering messages of love, loss and betrayal." This song has a message of helping one another through difficult times: "Together, we will be better." It was inspired by the suicide of a friend, and the marketing effort for the single promotes the Canada Suicide Prevention Service.

Raging Sons: Square One

This quartet from Limerick, Ireland, sets out to merge "gritty, alternative rock with modern, dark
synth-pop." The lineup of Fint Tynan (vocals), Colum Kelly (guitar), Damien Ruddy (bass) and Adam Reeves (drums) has been together since 2018. They began releasing singles in recent months ahead of their pandemic-delayed debut LP, 20:20, now slated for October release. Of this song, Reeves says: "This is the sound we were striving for, all through the process recording of our album.”

Paul Carrack: I Miss You So

This veteran singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist has been making records since the 1970s with bands including Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze and Mike + The Mechanics, as a session and touring musician and as a solo artist. His new album, One on One, is the product of 18 months of riding out the pandemic in his home studio. And this song was inspired by the experience of having a new granddaughter and being unable to visit her initially.