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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Latest from Tedeschi Trucks Band, Joe Jackson, Lonely Avenue, Frances Cone, Secret Treehouse

As big fans of Tedeschi Trucks Band and long-time Joe Jackson enthusiasts, we're glad to have new music from both this week. Joining them in our New Music Bin: the latest from a California indie band we first featured a couple of years ago; another track from a Nashville duo's new release; and the debut of a "pop orchestra" from Norway. Variety!

Tedeschi Trucks Band's Let Me Get By was one of our absolute favorite albums of 2016, so we're really looking forward to their upcoming release, Signs. We're jumping right on the first single, "Hard Case," which NPR called "an upbeat, shuffling, instant classic. "It's a fun song for us to play," Susan Tedeschi says, "And like so many other songs on the album, is a great showcase for the band." She and husband Derek Trucks have an all-time-great traveling band (seen above at New York's Beacon Theater last October), and we're not sure how they found time between tours to record. The full release is due in mid-February.

Joe Jackson is about to release his 20th studio album, 40 years after he made his debut with Look Sharp! Jackson's literate-punk style is intact on Fool, judging by the songs released so far. Our featured pick, "Friend Better," echoes the sardonic view of love behind classics like "Happy Loving Couples" and "Fools In Love" from the 1979 record. "If you were to use your head, / Then you would just forget her. / Listen what the wise man said: / Lover good, friend better."

Next we turn to Lonely Avenue, an indie quartet from Bakersfield, Calif., that cites influences ranging from Merle Haggard through the Allman Brothers and Tom Petty to Wilco. Their songs often come with heart-felt, personal lyrics. Lead singer Jon Ranger describes their latest single, "Wrong To Assume," as "basically an apology to someone for taking advantage of their strength, and realizing that we can’t just 'want' to make a change, there must be action in order to better ourselves."

A few weeks ago, we introduced ourselves and our listeners to Frances Cone, the duo of Christina Cone and Andy Doherty. We've been spinning "Failure" from their new album, Late Riser, and now we're featuring the opening track, "Wide Awake." Despite its title, the song has a languid, dreamy atmosphere. But the lyric suggests awakening to the realization that a relationship isn't working: "You call me, you call me, you call me a fool / And I don't know why I was asking you to."

And we've just been introduced to an alternative pop/rock band from Bergen, Norway, called Secret Treehouse. This five-member "pop orchestra" has put out several singles in the past couple of years, and just released its debut album, The Big Rewind. We're featuring the lead single, "Fear of Frogs." "It's about the fear of holding someone you love back," says guitarist and songwriter Sveinung Bukve. "And the feeling of just wanting to run away from it all, coz you're afraid you'll end up just doing damage."

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Fresh-picked music by Miss Emily, WKNDR, Jared & The Mill, The Wild Reeds and The Beths

Our first picks for the New Music bin in this new year are all "indie" releases - which we're happy to say make up a big portion of our ever-growing library. We have two groups that we've featured before and three that are new to our mix.

Among the new entries to our playlist is Miss Emily, who hails from Kingston, Ontario, and has been making music for some 15 years, with live performances across Canada and in the U.S. and U.K. Her shows are described as "foot-stomping, heart-wrenching adventures in rhythm, blues, jazz and rock-and- roll." On her latest album, In Between, Emily Fennell is joined by The Tragically Hip's Gord Sinclair as producer/co-writer/bass player and bandmate Rob Baker as lead guitarist/co-writer. The record was originally released in late 2017 in limited distribution in her home area and has been "bubbling up" since then. It finally reached our ears when Miss Emily recently put out a video for "Hold Back the River" - a gospel-influenced number that would mix well with Amy Helm or Rhiannon Giddens. We're making that our featured pick, but will be playing other tracks from this genre-jumping album as well.

Next we head south to Richmond, Va., where we find a quartet called WKNDR that blends guitars, flute, ukulele and mandolin into a musical style it calls "alternafolkrock." Since we specialize in alternative-and-classic-and-indie-rock-and-folk-and-more, it's a natural fit. Their new single is "Bridges," which the band describes "as a relatable story of the thought process when a relationship is broken and you’re figuring out the next steps." WKNDR cites The Lumineers and The Head And The Heart as influences, and that modern-indie-folk style infuses this number, which sounds like it should be coming from the stage of a summer music festival.

The five-piece band called Jared & The Mill describes itself as "five best friends from Arizona" whose musical tastes range from Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel to Van Halen and Kendrick Lamar. Their latest single, "Soul In Mind," is the first to spin out from an upcoming album called This Story Is No Longer Available. It's a song of introspection while on the road far from loved ones, and of wanting to live up to their expectations: "Just split me up /
Split me up in two / and keep the better side /
I'll try to be that guy."

Turning to bands that we've featured before: The Wild Reeds have a new album on the way, called Cheers. The Los Angeles-based indie-folk quintet features co-lead singers and songwriters Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe and Sharon Silva. The first single, "Lose My Mind," is a song by Lee "about friendship, family, and my best friend. When I am at my highest and lowest, he’s always been the one to remind me who I am and who I want to be." She says she wrote and rewrote the song over three years, then worked on it with the band "over and over in different ways, with different feels," to come up with the finished version. "This is the most satisfied I have ever felt with a song that I have written."

And from New Zealand we have a new single from The Beths - the title track of the indie-rock group's debut album, Future Me Hates Me. Pitchfork called the album a "really impressive" debut - "hook-filled songs filled with energy and attitude, written with depth and played masterfully." And Paste named The Beths its Best New Band of 2018. They're about to embark on a world tour, starting in Ireland and the UK, bouncing around Europe and then hitting Canada and the USA in February and March.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Birch Street Radio plays on in 2019

Here at Birch Street Radio, we're looking forward to bringing you more great music in 2019 - new and classic rock, alternative, pop, folk-rock and more. We've been doing it since April 2013 and continually improving our Marvelous Mix. 

Along the way, our program has moved several times from one internet-broadcasting platform to another. And it's likely we will have to make another change in the next week or so. 

TorontoCast, which has carried Birch Street Radio for the past year, tentatively plans to discontinue service to listeners in the United States in mid-January. We're preparing for that by setting up a separate stream for U.S. listeners. You can try it out by clicking the button labeled "Testing: new player for U.S." in the Listen Now box near the top of our website.

Unless there's a change in TorontoCast's plans, we will officially launch the new stream next week. Listening links for the U.S. will change, and listeners using certain internet-radio players will have to "re-tune" them to connect to the new stream. We'll do our best to make the transition as smooth as possible by providing up-to-date information and listening links here at birchstreetradio.com.

We're committed to continue bringing our Marvelous Mix to long-time listeners and new fans in 2019 and beyond. If you ever have trouble tuning in our "signal," remember that you can always find us here at birchstreetradio.com. 

Saturday, December 22, 2018

New Tunes from Carsie Blanton, Chuck Morris, Caoilfhionn Rose, Jane's Party, Just a Jester

Regular Birch Street Radio listeners are familiar with Carsie Blanton, a New Orleans-based singer-songwriter whose puts a very personal and idiosyncratic spin on her folky-jazzy-pop music. Her lyrics range from sassy and sexy to deep and philosophical. She's just released the first single from an album called Buck Up, due in February. It's the title track, which Blanton describes as "a song of hope and tenacity in trying times" - done in a folky style that evokes the likes of John Prine.

Bouncing around musical styles as we usually do, we check out a piece of bluesy R&B from Chuck Morris. He was the drummer on The Arsenio Hall Show for six years, toured and recorded with his own funky-reggae band, and after taking a hiatus, is now working on a new album. The first single, "Good Life," is an upbeat, feel-good song with a drums-horns-guitar opening that sounds like it could be introducing a new late-night talk show.

From Manchester, UK comes the debut album Awaken from singer/songwriter/producer Caoilfhionn Rose. She cites such influences as The Mummers, Rachel Sermanni, Melody’s Echo Chamber and Broadcast - which, to be honest, we're not familiar with, so to us, her sound is quite fresh. The title track "moved me out of my comfort zone," Rose says. “Having played solo as a pianist for a couple of years, it inspired me to work with new sounds, musicians with a different approach to making music.” Drum loops and mellotron flute are among those sounds. (By the way, Rose's first name is pronounced Keelin.)

Next we head to Toronto for the newest release from pop-rock quartet Jane's Party. They've been popping out singles from a forthcoming LP, Casual Island, due in February. We're featuring the latest, "Wait For You," featuring the band's hallmark breezy riffs and vocal harmonies. We'll also give some spins to what they call the B-side: a dreamy reimagining of The Cars' "Drive."

And hopping back to the UK, we pick up new music from another act previously featured on Birch Street Radio -- Just a Jester, the current project of singer-songwriter-guitarist Timothy Daniel Whitaker. He played and recorded all the instruments on his self-produced EP Clear Blue, released a couple of months ago, from which we've been spinning "Make It Easier." He's quickly returned with a new single, "Another World."

This being the season of holiday music and best-of lists, we probably won't have another batch of featured new music next weekend, but plan to resume our weekly picks the first weekend in January. Meantime we plan to feature a bit of holiday music on Sunday's episode of The Birch Street Bistro (noon Eastern Time, 9 a.m. Pacific, 5pm GMT) and on Christmas day itself. And we're planning a New Year's special with all-2018 music, including a lot of tracks we haven't played before. We hope you enjoy it all, and continue listening to our Marvelous Mix in the coming year! 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Stay tuned-in to our marvelous mix

Heads-up to our listeners: It appears Birch Street Radio might soon have to switch streaming providers (again!), as the landscape continues to shift in the wacky world of internet radio. 

If so, some third-party players might stop working or have to be "re-tuned." As we've done in the past, we'll try to make any transition as smooth as possible. 

If you ever have trouble listening on any player or app, please come here to birchstreetradio.com for the latest connection information. You can also contact us at birchstreetradio@gmail.com.

We're hoping to avoid any disruption, and will do our best to keep our Marvelous Music Mix flowing!