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Saturday, February 16, 2019

Now in our New Music bin: I'm With Her, Mackenzie Shivers, The Raconteurs, Hembree, Wild Belle

Once again we've picked a wide variety of new music to feature this week:
I'm With Her, the Americana "supergroup" of singer-songwriter-musicians Aoife O'Donovan, Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins, follows up last year's album See You Around with a new single, "Call My Name."

From The Unkindness, the new album by New York singer-songwriter Mackenzie Shivers, we're featuring "Tears To Keep Me Warm."The Raconteurs, the occasional side project of Jack White, has re-emerged with a pair of new songs, their first in over a decade. We're adding "Now That You're Gone" to our New Music Bin.

Kansas City indie-rockers Hembree will release their debut full-length album, "House On Fire," in April. We're spinning the first single, "Culture." Lead vocalist Isaac Flynn says of the song: “These days we put so much emphasis on things that lack actual significance. Everything is urgent and I wanted to try to capture this urgency in a song and question what we prioritize."
Wild Belle, the brother-sister duo of Natalie and Elliott Bergman, is bringing out its third album of reggae/dance/pop, Everybody One Of A Kind, next month. We're picking up the first single, "Mockingbird."

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Our latest picks: Carsie Blanton, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lost Leaders, Foals and The Interrupters

Faithful Birch Street Radio listeners know we're big supporters of New Orleans-based singer, songwriter, musician and mischief-maker Carsie Blanton. Her music doesn't stick to any particular genre. In fact, she says, "I love songs, but I hate genre. I think making music is like making love: if you only know one way to do it, you must not be very good at it." She makes sexy songs, sassy songs, serious songs and mixtures of those and other ingredients. We recently featured the title track of her upcoming album, Buck Up, an optimistic take on the current state of the world. Now we turn to a less sunny view: "American Kid," a song of concern for what the next generation will have to deal with.

The forthcoming album Signs looks to be another instant classic from the Tedeschi Trucks Band, based on what we've heard so far: "Hard Case," which we began playing a few weeks ago, and now joining our playlist, "They Don't Shine." Built around Susan Tedeschi's expressive vocals and Derek Trucks' guitar mastery, TTB is without question one of the best touring bands in the land. This album was recorded live on analog tape at Susan and Derek's home studio in Jacksonville, Fla. The result, says NPR: "There's such warmth to the playing, you can picture the band members standing in the studio — playing together and off of each other, blending rock and blues and soul, accompanied by Trucks' impassioned guitar work and Tedeschi's soulful vocals."

Lost Leaders, the on-and-off project of Peter Cole and Byron Isaacs, returns March 1 with a new album, Promises Promises. As the band describes it, the record "takes the permanent background noise of anxiety and pushes it through a large collection of vintage synthesizers, guitar pedals and tea soaked vocal chords." Now entering our New Music bin is the first single, "Extra-ordinary."

U.K. alt-rock quartet Foals is bringing out Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 next month, with Part 2 due in August. The first track to spin out, "Exits," is a haunting meditation on climate change and other modern dangers. Atwood Magazine says the track "feels like it’s set to a low simmer, drawing out as much electric tension as possible" in an expression of "existential claustrophobia."

To round out this week's picks, we jump back about six months to Fight the Good Fight, the breakout album by Los Angeles-based The Interrupters. We've been playing several of its tracks in our big mix, but one we'd overlooked, "Gave You Everything," has started climbing the radio charts lately, and we couldn't resist jumping on the bandwagon. Consisting of vocalist Aimee Allen and brothers Jesse, Justin and Kevin Bivona, this female-fronted punk-ska band brings fresh fire to the genre.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

New Florence + The Machine, Just a Jester, Only Yours, Blue Stones, Catfish & The Bottlemen

For various reasons we're pressed for time this week, so this blog post is short on words - but we have our regular weekly complement of entries to our New Music bin, and of course, it's the music that counts!

Florence Welch is not someone you'd associate with the word "Moderation" - and that's the point of the new single from Florence + The Machine. "Want me to love you in moderation / do I look moderate to you? ... Well who do you think you're talking to?"

The U.K. singer-songwriter who goes by Just a Jester returns with his laid-back, lo-fi sound on a new single, "Heartbeat."

Only Yours is a four-piece from Toronto led by songwriter Lowell Sostomi. Their first LP, Overrun, was just released, and we're adding the lead track, "Doubts."

We're dipping back into Black Holes, the recent debut LP from another Toronto indie act, The Blue Stones, for a solid rocker called "Be My Fire."

And continuing in a rock vein, we're picking up the latest single from Catfish & The Bottlemen, "Longshot." It's the first single to come out ahead of the U.K. band's third album, The Balance, due April 26.

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

New sounds from Vampire Weekend, Citizen Cope, The Magic Es, Still Corners and Metric

Photo: Variety
It's always interesting to hear a band try out new variations on their sound - and so it is with the new single from Vampire Weekend, "Harmony Hall." It's an early taste of an upcoming album called Father of the Bride, their first in six years. Starting simple with Ezra Koenig's guitar and vocal, the track goes off in multiple directions with barrelhouse piano, tambourine and various other percussion, a backing chorus, a guitar riff that sounds like it wandered in from a Grateful Dead concert, and more. As a review on Philly Voice puts it, "It’s a wild ride, and it sounds nothing like the Vampire Weekend of old, but it’s absolutely a ride worth taking."

Also back from a break of several years is Citizen Cope, who has a new album coming out in March. The lead single, "Justice," was described by NPR as "a classic Cope song. It swaggers with a head-nodding groove and contains a yearning and soulful message of optimism and positivity." Cope, a.k.a. Clarence Greenwood, has said that society's concept of justice is more like revenge or payback. "It ain't about justice" he sings "when it's not about the next step."

The sharp divisions in society are the theme of "Splinters," a new single from The Magic Es. We've featured this band from Norwich, U.K., before and we're happy to be among the first to bring you their latest track, set for release next month. The trio of drummer Stuart Catchpole, bassist Jasper Stainthorpe and guitarist/vocalist Pete Thompson formed in 2014 to create "original rock 'n' roll reminiscent of a time when guitar pop dominated the charts." Their sophomore album, Dead Star, is due later this year.

Still Corners is the dream-pop project of producer Greg Hughes and vocalist Tessa Murray, formerly based in London but lately in Woodstock, N.Y. The duo traveled to Austin to write and record their fourth album,Slow Air, a title they say was inspired by the Texas heat. It was released last summer, but only recently reached our ears. Better late than never, we're picking up "Black Lagoon," which backs its swirling sound with a propulsive double-time beat.

A driving beat also backs up "Risk," from the most recent release by the veteran Toronto-based band Metric, Art of Doubt. The quick pace matches the lyric's sense of moving too fast, perhaps in a relationship : "Started slow / Started to lose control / The more we accelerate."

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Latest picks: Dean Maywood, The Decemberists, Switchfoot, Valley and Sunflower Bean

Irish singer-songwriter Dean Maywood brought his new single, "Jane," to our Sunday show The Birch Street Bistro last week, and it captivated it us with its combination of romance and melancholy. Maywood, who plans to release his debut EP this spring, writes "narratives of the everyman, stories we all know." Citing artists like Neil Young and John Prine as his heroes, Maywood describes himself as a "country / Americana" artist -- which, considering that American folk music has Celtic roots, is a case of cultural influences turning full-circle.

There's hardly a band or singer who doesn't have a song about life on the road, but The Decemberists give the theme a twist in "Traveling On," from a new EP of the same name. As Rolling Stone aptly puts it, lead singer Colin Meloy "seems to be imagining a weary indie-rock band’s tour schedule in fantastical, historically haywire terms," with references to lifeboats, holy rollers and "the new dauphin in Duluth." The sound is cheerful folk-rock but the refrain suggests the feeling of being caught in a loop: "We're traveling on / Sold for a song / We're traveling on / And it won't be long / 'Til we're traveling on."

"Native Tongue," the title track of a new album by San Diego alt-rockers Switchfoot, combines the spiritual uplift of a U2 song with the insistent, pounding sound of Imagine Dragons. "Love's your language, love's your native tongue," songwriter and vocalist Jon Foreman preaches to a beat that will rock arenas, before the song shifts into a quieter mode for a coda in which he unironically declares that he "wants the world to sing" with love.

We're dipping back into the new EP by Toronto alt-pop band Valley, Maybe: Side A, to pull out "There's Still A Light In The House." It's a breezy keyboards-and-drums-driven number whose stream-of-consciousness lyrics suggests the giddy uncertainty of a new relationship. "Cause you found me there / With your new cut hair / Is it New York? Or Heaven? / I can't think twice now."

Sunflower Bean lays down "a dare, a threat and a beckoning" in "Come For Me" from the New York band's new EP, King of the Dudes. “This song was inspired by inner strength, power and sexual freedom,” the band says in a press release. “In 2018 there is no time to waste and no time for shame. This song is a declaration of that." Frontwoman Julia Cumming channels the likes of Benatar and Jett as she shout/sings, "Do you really want to come for me? Do you really want to waste my time? If you do then do it right."