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Saturday, September 21, 2019

WHO plus new music from Foals, Leela Gilday, John Otto Young and Scott Krokoff

Our latest wide-ranging batch of New Music:

The Who: "Ball and Chain"
Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry are getting ready to release their first new album in 13 years. “I think we’ve made our best album since Quadrophenia in 1973,” singer Roger Daltrey said in a statement. “Pete hasn’t lost it. He’s still a fabulous songwriter, and he’s still got that cutting edge.” Called simply WHO, the LP consists of 11 songs Townshend says he and his brother Simon wrote "to give Roger Daltrey some inspiration, challenges and scope for his newly revived singing voice." The first single is "Ball and Chain," one of several tracks Townshend says "refer to the explosive state of things today."

Foals: "The Runner"
This UK indie band will soon release it's second album of the year - or really, the second part of a double-album, Everything That Is Not Saved Will Be Lost. Frontman Yannis Philippakis told NME: "Part one ended with a lot of fire and destructive imagery, part two is trying to respond to that: how you can continue in the wreckage and through the scorched earth?” Of this single, Philippakis says, “It’s a call to find a sense of purpose and perseverance despite the odds and despite the troubles we may find inside or outside ourselves.”

Leela Gilday: "Rolling Thunder"
From Canada's Northwest Territories comes North Star Calling, the new album by Dene-Canadian singer-songwriter Leela Gilday. MusicLifeMagazine calls it "a deeply spiritual album ... invoking the experiences, the imagery, the faith and the powerful connection to the natural environment so imbued in her Dene heritage and culture." Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq contributes to our featured track, a power-to-the-people song called "Rolling Thunder."

John Otto Young: "Timeline"
For this keyboardist and songwriter from Connecticut, music was his hobby for years, then his side gig, but always his passion. Now retired from his "day job," he released his first solo album, Sunset Tour, earlier this year. It includes a range of musical styles, and our pick is this jazz-influenced meditation on our fleeting trip through time.

Scott Krokoff: "Groundhog"
As far as we know, this New York singer-songwriter is still keeping his day job, but he continues making music a priority. He's been a fixture on our virtual airwaves for years with his very relatable songs. Many, like this new single, are about the challenge of breaking out of one's shell and making the most of life.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

'New' from R.E.M., plus Robert Randolph, Sheryl Crow, Frankie Cosmos, and introducing MBG

One of our featured new releases this week was recorded 15 years ago. R.E.M. has issued the previously unreleased song "Fascinating" to benefit hurricane-relief efforts in the Bahamas. The recording was made at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2004, intended for the Around the Sun album. "But the lush ballad ultimately didn’t jibe with that spare, atmospheric album," according the a statement from the band. It's now available on R.E.M.'s Bandcamp page, and "proceeds will be donated to Mercy Corps to support their humanitarian response in the Bahamas."

Our other picks of the week:

Robert Randolph & The Family Band: "Strange Train"
We previously featured "Baptise Me" from Brighter Days, the latest release by the slide-guitar virtuoso and his gospel-rhythm-and-blues band. Now we're riding and rocking on the "Strange Train." Says Blues Rock Review: "Randolph’s Z.Z. Top-esque guitar groans along with his vocals. The drums control the pace of the song as it builds with the bumping bass and a final epic solo from Randolph."

Sheryl Crow: "Beware of Darkness"
Featuring Eric Clapton, Sting, Brandi Carlile
Crow's new album Threads is an all-star revue. Each of its 17 tracks is a collaboration with one or more artists from a pantheon of Americana, pop, rock and country stars, on original songs and covers. We've been playing the Crow/Bonnie Raitt/Mavis Staples track "Live Wire," and now we're putting this excellent treatment of the George Harrison classic into the New Music bin. More from the album will surely pop up in our mix.

Frankie Cosmos: Windows
The new album Close It Quietly has brought fresh attention to the New York band fronted by singer-songwriter Greta Kline. Rolling Stone calls it a "tour de force songwriting binge." Indeed, there are 21 songs on the LP, ranging in length from just over a minute to just over three. Listening straight-through is like hearing a friend pour out everything on her mind, jumping from thought to thought, each crystallized in words that range from conversational clarity to poetic obscurity. Our featured track's lyrics suggest difficulty in understanding one another: "Spit out diamonds, cough up rubies / Call me when you can see through me." 

MBG: "Make My Day"
This catchy pop-rock track comes from Have a Alright Day, the first release by MBG - a solo project of singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Leena Rodriguez. This "one-woman rock band" recorded and produced the EP in her home studio in suburban Toronto. Writing her own songs is a new experience, she says: "I've explored in between the genres of classic/punk rock and blues to folk and jazz." Influences of each style can be found in the four tracks on this impressive debut.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Latest from Mondo Cozmo, Super Doppler, Seratones, Grace Potter, The Rails

After a holiday break, our Music Committee has picked another fine batch of new releases to add to our marvelous mix.

Mondo Cozmo: "Black Cadillac"
Two years after his debut solo album, Plastic Soul, Joshua Ostrander is back with a raucous single from his upcoming LP New Medicine. Built on the kind of repetitive guitar riff Lou Reed might have used, it builds to what BuzzbandsLA calls a "rock-gospel rave-up." Ostrander's talk/singing reminds us a bit of Jakob Dylan as he goes on a stream-of-consciousness rant that obliquely references politics, pop culture - and that time he was tempted to steal a sugar spoon from the Kennedy Room on Capitol Hill after testifying to Congress about the Music Modernization Act.

Seratones: "Gotta Get To Know Ya"
A different kind of raucous rave comes from Power, the new album by this Louisiana soul-rock band fronted by A.J. Haynes. While the album's title track had a message of empowerment, this one comes across as a sexy dance-party song: "No more conversation, give me just what I need / Temperature's a'rising, baby gonna feel the heat."

Super Doppler: "Since You've Been Gone"
We picked up on this band before it was this band - that is, before it adopted its current name about two years ago. The Norfolk, Virginia group's music has sometimes been called country rock, but we think their own description - "Retro Psych Rock n Roll" - is closer to the mark. From their new, self-titled album, our pick is the late-Beatles-ish "Someone Is Watching You."

Grace Potter: "Love Is Love"
Four years after Potter's solo debut Midnight (following her time with The Nocturnals), she returns with Daylight, due for release in October. In the interim, Potter divorced, remarried and had a child. "When I finally started writing songs again - it had to be for myself and myself alone." Paste calls this song "tried-and-true Grace Potter. Featuring a gospel choir and Potter’s dynamite vocals, the song is confessional yet comprehensive."

The Rails: "Call Me When It All Goes Wrong"
If Grace Potter wants to bring Daylight, Kami Thompson and James Walbourne seem to want to shoot it out. Cancel the Sun is the title of the latest release from Thompson, daughter of Richard and Linda, and husband Walbourne, lead guitarist for the Pretenders. We're featuring the opening track, a harsh goodbye song that describes a failing relationship as "just another ride that I've been on / one that didn't last too long."

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Enjoy your holiday weekend! (We are!)

We wish all our listeners in Canada and the USA a great Labour Day/Labor Day weekend!

We're in holiday-weekend mode ourselves. So our next batch of New Music Picks will debut next Saturday, Sept. 7. And the next episodes of our Sunday specialty shows, The Birch Street Bistro and The Detour, will stream on Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, our regular Marvelous Mix of Music keeps streaming 24/7 - and makes a great soundtrack for whatever you're doing, whether on holiday or at work!

Use the listening links on this page, or find our free, noncommercial stream on TuneIn, SimpleRadio and many other internet-radio apps. ("Alexa, play Birch Street Radio on TuneIn!")

And find past episodes of The Bistro and The Detour at

Saturday, August 24, 2019

New releases by Wilderado, Field Mouse, Fastball, The Head and the Heart - and introducing Eilís

Just before our music-picking ears went on vacation, they chose these five tracks to add to our New Music Bin. The next batch of new tunes will be introduced Sept 7.

Wilderado: "Surefire"
This Americana quartet was based in Latigo Canyon, Calif., until a 2018 wildfire destroyed their home base there. They moved back to their original home town of Tulsa, Okla., while spending much of their time touring. According to Consequence of Sound: "In the wake of that loss and change of scene, a poem by Tabitha King called 'A Gradual Canticle for Augustine' struck frontman-songwriter Max Rainer. It reminded him that only by taking one day at a time can you truly appreciate where you’re going." That's the inspiration for "Surefire."

Field Mouse: "Heart of Gold"
"A lot has happened in the three years since our last record came out," writes Rachel Browne, this Brooklyn band's singer-songwriter. That last record, Episodic, was released in 2016, just before the U.S. presidential election. The new album, Meaning, is "more or less about the end of the world and all of the ways that it seems to be happening, but also about making peace with former selves and growing as a person despite the feeling of global entropy."

The Head and the Heart: "See You Through My Eyes"
A decade out from its origins in Seattle, this band has gone through changes in personnel and musical direction. The result is a fresh sound on their latest album. WFUV music critic Darren DeVivo writes that after struggle and rebirth, "it's no surprise that much of Living Mirage is introspective. But the arrangements are also richer and more pop-savvy than anything the band has done in the past. ... the sound of a band juggling tradition with fresh techniques and finding an exciting angle."

Fastball: "The Help Machine"
It's been more than two decades since this band from Austin broke through with the 1998 platinum LP All The Pain Money Can Buy, but Fastball seems to have found new energy. “In the past, we’d make a record and then everybody would go their separate ways for awhile,” says Miles Zuniga. "But now, we're feeling so excited about the music that it’s ‘How soon can we make another record?’" So, following up 2017's Step Into The Light, Zuniga and longtime bandmates Tony Scalzo and Joey Shuffield are about to release their seventh album, The Help Machine. We're picking up the title track.

Eilís: "Breathe"
We have featured a number of artists from the prolific music scene in Northern Ireland, and the latest to come to our attention is this young singer-songwriter from County Derry. She's been playing at festivals and winning songwriting awards in her home area and has just released her first single, "Breathe." To our ears, this piano ballad and Eilís' dramatic vocal blends well with the likes of Sara Bareilles and Adele. We featured the track recently on The Birch Street Bistro, and now we're adding it to the New Music bin.