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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Another great crop of new music added to our mix

After a six-year break, Toronto's Sarah Slean has released a gorgeous new collection, Metaphysics. Our pick for the New Music bin this week is the opening track, "Perfect Sky." The song's message is that if you wait for the perfect time to do something, you'll never get it done. In her case, she said in an interview with CBC Music, the "something" was songwriting.

"It's like you're in the middle of chaos, and you always think to yourself, 'Oh, if I get to a better place, if I just find that house or if I work the right person, or if I have the right circumstances this will happen.' And, I think the realization for me was that there's never going to be a perfect set of circumstances. And, if you want it to get written, you just have to sit down and write it."

Birch Street Radio listeners are familiar with Willamena, an indie band from Michigan with a polished rock sound. In fact, they were one of the first indie bands that we began playing a couple of years ago as our format was evolving. Their latest EP, Strong Enough To Last, is coming out in a couple of weeks, and we're happy to add the single "When You Close Your Eyes" to our New Music rotation.

From the city of Hull in England -- designated as the U.K.'s City of Culture for 2017 -- comes a five-piece acoustic band called Pavey ArkFormed just last year, the group has just released its debut EP Leaf By Leaf" featuring the single "Hidden Hills." Its tightly woven strands of folk guitar, violin, percussion and lilting vocals take you for a ride through the countryside and might evoke memories of past masters like Fairport Convention. The band's leader, singer-songwriter Neil Thomas, says the song is "about meeting the person you love, a chance encounter within [the] huge expanse of time - and how special that is.”

The Brooklyn indie-rock veterans known as Grizzly Bear have started to roll out their seventh release, Painted Ruins, due in August. Two tracks have spun out so far, and we're picking up "Mourning Sound" -- which, despite its title and sorrowful lyric ("Let love age / And watch it burn out and die"), does not sound morose, with a brisk rhythm and sprightly keyboard breaks between Ed Droste's verses and Dan Rossen's choruses.

Topping off the New Music bin this week is "Soulfire," the title track from a new release by Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul. It's the first solo project in 18 years from Bruce Springsteen's longtime comrade-in-guitars. Steven Van Zandt says simply, “This record is me doing me.” And indeed it fits comfortably into the sound that he helped create in Asbury Park, N.J., some four decades ago. In fact, the album includes versions of songs Van Zandt wrote for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes. The opener, "Soulfire," is a new song (sort of; Van Zandt says actually he wrote it several years ago). With an opening disco riff, Motown-style background singers, an arena-worthy solo and wall-of-sound crescendos, this track has everything you'd expect from Steven doing Steven.

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