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Sunday, June 9, 2024

The Wild Feathers, Ray LaMontagne, Burnstick, The Hard Luck, Arkells now in our New Music Bin

The Wild Feathers: Sanctuary

The Nashville group will release its next LP, Sirens, in October. It's billed as a collection of "road-worn, sharply-woven tales chronicling a life worth living, love worth holding and the hard-earned lessons found along the ride." This first single is about standing up for oneself in a one-sided relationship.

Ray LaMontagne: Step Into Your Power

The singer-songwriter's next studio album, Long Way Home, is coming out in August, and this is the first single. "Anything that your heart can dream, you can make it reality," he sings, as The Secret Sisters provide choral backing vocals. (Photo by Brian Stowell)

Burnstick: Closer

The indigenous Canadian contemporary-folk duo of Nadia and Jason Burnstick recently released their sophomore album, Made of Sin. This song is "about the willingness to do anything necessary for loved ones - inspired by the birth of the couple's son.

The Hard Luck: Tonight

This track is billed as the debut single from a new solo project by Canadian singer-songwriter Cory Dee, a member of the alt-rock band Owls By Nature. But we found another single released several months ago, called "Still Having Fun," and we'll be add that to our mix, too.

Arkells: Big Feelings

The Ontario band is out with this new single, asking the musical question, "Are you afraid of big feelings?" Frontman Max Kerman says: "In the studio, this track was a burst of energy and felt like it came together quickly. ...Immediately, we understood it would be unruly, and that the spirit of the song was more about the collective unvarnished expression than any conventional 'songwriting rules.'"

Saturday, June 1, 2024

New tunes by Richard Thompson, Crowded House, Lynne Hanson, Vanishing Shores, The Metal Byrds

Richard Thompson: Maybe

One of the pioneers of folk-rock returns with Ship to Shore, his latest collection of "curious characters, love laments, dark chords, dark humor and peerless guitar work," as The Associated Press puts it. AllMusic calls calls the album "one of the tightest collections he's made in the past quarter-century, exhibiting a wide tonal palette and a vitality belying his 75 years." Our pick for the New Music Bin is this ditty about infatuation: "There’s a girl I know / I want to know her better." As Thompson catalogs her virtues - "She rolls with the punches / Follows her hunches" - we're reminded a bit of Cake's "Short Skirt / Long Jacket."

Crowded House: The Howl

In 2020, Neil Finn and Nick Seymour, original members of the 80s hit-making band, were joined by Finn's sons Liam and Elroy, along with Mitchell Froom, who produced the band’s first three albums, and released Dreamers Are Waiting the next year. The new lineup is back now with Gravity Stairs. Rolling Stone Australia says "the five-piece gell[s] wonderfully on this loose, gently psychedelic LP that’s still guided by Finn’s immaculate pop instincts." 

Lynne Hanson: Outlaw Lover

This Ottawa-based singer-songwriter is billed as "too tough for folk and too blues-influenced for country." But in fact there are traces of all those styles, and more, in her music. On this track from her new album Just A Poet, Americana Highways says her "smoky, seductive voicing" results in "a jazzy lounge performance that shimmers." The lyrics combine a love-'em-and-leave-'em history with a take-it-or-leave-it attitude: "I lost count of the goodbye notes / No fixing all the hearts I broke / Roll the dice, take the leap."

Vanishing Shores: We Still Own the Night

Cleveland's Kevin Bianchi and company have just released Possible Light, Pt. 1, consisting of a few previously released singles along with a half-dozen new songs - including this one. Bianchi says he wrote it "to promote a feeling of defiant love. ... I wanted to affirm the reality that love can truly conquer whatever attempts to tear us down and separate us from having meaningful relationships and welcoming communities."

The Metal Byrds: I, Fall

Here's the first single to emerge from an new album, Lights Out, coming soon from this Houston indie-rock band. London-born vocalist Suzanne Birdie and lead guitarist Sly Rye founded the band in 2018. Bassist Mac Jacob and drummer Charlie “Breeze” Janto round out the current lineup.

Saturday, May 25, 2024

Lenny Kravitz, La Luz, Night Talks, Cabin Beat and The Blue Herons added to our New Music bin

Lenny Kravitz: Bundle of Joy

The AP calls the new LP Blue Electric Light "the rocker’s best stuff in years, offering a welcome blast of funk in 2024. There’s joy and swagger in almost every track." Don't let the title of this track fool you -  He's not singing about a baby, at least not in the sense of an infant: "We venture out and we play at night / We come back home, we play inside."

La Luz: News of the Universe

Here's the title track from the band's fifth album - its first on SubPop, and its last with contributions from keyboardist Alice Sandahl and bassist Lena Simon (bass), leaving frontwoman Shana Cleveland as the remaining founding member. Clash calls it "a darkly sweet record, inspired by some heavy themes – cancer, death, motherhood – but delivered with a newfound confidence.' 

Night Talks: Applause

Frontwoman Soraya Sebghati said in a post that this song is about failing to reach high expectations you had as a child. "One day you wake up and you're 30 - you officially never became the wunderkind you always thought you'd be." But as she sings mid-way through the track: "At least I'm still having fun."

Cabin Beat: Smoking Gun

This is the debut single by a trio from Selby, North Yorkshire, UK. Despite the title, the song doesn't seem to refer to shooting; in fact, we're not sure what it's about, with lines about being on a holiday and waiting another day, but it's a fun piece of indie rock.

The Blue Herons: Clouds

Andy Jossi in Switzerland and Gretchen DeVault in the U.S., each members of other bands, began a trans-Atlantic collaboration in 2020, creating a dreamy blend of jangle pop. Their new album, Go On, is a compilation of the singles they released over the past few years, along with this new track.

Saturday, May 18, 2024

New from Nada Surf, Blitzen Trapper, Kaia Kater, Parlour Panther, Winnetka Bowling League

Nada Surf: In Front Of Me Now

The New York-based trio of Matthew Caws, Daniel Lorca and Ira Elliot will release its 10th album, and first for New West Records, in September. “Every time we make an album, I’m asked (and ask myself) what it’s about,” says Caws. “I’m still trying to figure everything out, and that’s probably as close to a theme as there is. ... I’m just trying to stay honest with myself and take my best guess at making sense of the world.” Brooklyn Vegan says this first single "is the kind of soaring guitar pop Nada Surf do so well."

Blitzen Trapper: Planetarium

Photo by Jason Quigley
Eric Earley and company just released their 11th album, 100's of 1000's, Millions of Billions. As AmericanaUK writes, Earley "is a recent student of Buddhist writings and teachings and his two latest albums are dotted with existential songs about the purpose of life and the nature of existence." Earley himself says this track is "a love song at heart [that] tracks my journey through therapy and beyond. Growing comfortable with impermanence and emptiness, the endless flow that surrounds us." It features Anna Tivel on violin and Eric Johnson of Bonny Light Horsemen on banjo and vocals.

Kaia Kater: The Witch feat. Aoife O'Donovan

This Montreal singer-songwriter's new album, Strange Medicine, "feels more like a cinematic odyssey than a straight folk album," writes Exclaim. "The songs ... feel fully realized, featuring strings, melancholic horns, R&B synth work, frenetic jazz drumming and of course, [Kater's] expert banjo playing." It's the kind of album that deserves listening from beginning to end, but for our New Music bin we're picking this story of a Salem Witch Trial victim who comes back to haunt and take revenge on her "pious pilgrim" accuser.

Parlour Panther: All I Need

Photo by Carol Gandra Photography
From Vancouver comes this band led by trans/non-binary couple Frankie and Reidar, who have been making music together since 2014. Their new album, Bloom, "boasts a vibrant mix of blues-inflected vocals, playful synths and an energetic low-end," writes Exclaim. "Tracks like 'OMG' and 'All I Need' pack a punch with their fuzzy riffs, adding a welcome edge to Parlour Panther's typically soft sound."

Winnetka Bowling League: America In Your 20s

The LA band's frontman, Matthew Koma, says this track from the new album Sha La La "is my own bullshit about loving and hating where I come from. You ask a lot of questions in your 20’s and I think that’s when you start to realize the answers are all grey and nuanced."

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Frank Turner, Bryan Hansen Band, Valley, Camera Obscura, Alastair Greene in the New Music Bin

Frank Turner: International Hide and Seek Champions

Photo by Shannon Shumaker
Some of the tracks on his brand-newm, 10th studio album, Undefeated, are angry about the state of the world. Some are just fun (e.g. the single "Girl From The Record Shop"). This one is a humorous take on feeling "trapped in a time of hysteria" and wanting to escape: "I've got two parachutes and a caseload of cash ... I can't wait to disappear with you / Let's take the leap before the world goes down in flames."

Bryan Hansen Band: Kissing My Love

This New Jersey band's music was once described by a New York DJ as "blue-eyed soul." With bassist Will Blakey providing the funky propulsion and Bryan Hansen's high-register voice recalling soul singers of the past, there's no arguing with that. Joined here by Pete Andrews on drums and Matt Cook on piano, they do a fine job with a 1972 Bill Withers song.

Valley: When You Know Someone

We've been keeping an ear on this Toronto indie-pop band since catching them live back in 2018, before the release of their first LP, Maybe, and have a dozen or so of their songs in our huge playlist. This new single strikes us as having a bit more grown-up sound (compared to, say, "Sucks to See You Doing Better"). It's the first release since the departure of guitarist Mickey Brandolino to focus on producing and writing. Drummer Karah James says the remaining members wrote the song with Nashville singer-songwriter Trent Dabbs, "who helped us channel the emptiness we were feeling."

Camera Obscura: Big Love

Photo by Robert Perry
The Scottish band's new album is its first since Desire Lines in 2013, and since the death of keyboardist and singer Carey Lander from cancer in 2015. Paste magazine reports the group reconvened in 2018 for a handful of gigs and, after a pandemic-elongated delay, have returned with Look to the East, Look to the West. "Although the band retains a knack for lush songs that are at once dreamy and catchy, the 11 tracks here are subtler than in years past," the mag writes. "In place of the bold string charts and sweeping orchestrations [are] a more basic sound that favors keyboards, particularly organ and piano." On this track, a warning to a lovesick friend, "warm pedal steel guitar slides around underneath a marching beat and grainy electric guitar."

Alastair Greene: Standing Out Loud

Here's the title track from the latest LP, due this week, by this blues-rock guitarist. Born in California, now living in Texas, he decamped to guitarist/producer JD Simo's House of Grease studio in Nashville, to record most of the tracks on the album, with Greene and Simo co-producing.