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Sunday, July 30, 2017

Latest picks: Arcade Fire, Shawna Caspi, The Lone Bellow & more

Arcade Fire's Everything Now made its full debut this past week, and it's getting rather mixed reviews -- as often happens when a band is deemed Important and the critical bar is set very high. The album is indeed a bit uneven, and some of the lyrics are preachy or trite. But rather than look for flaws, we look for solid tracks that will add flavor to our Marvelous Mix. We've been enjoying the title cut and "Signs Of Life," and now we're featuring "Put Your Money On Me" in our New Music bin.

We dip again this week into Broken Social Scene's Hug of Thunder album for "Halfway Home," a glorious commotion of guitar and strings and horn and voices that seems to keep all 13 or so band members busy. The lyric is mysterious and a bit harrowing: "You said we're halfway home / You said survive ... If you never run, never run / How they gonna catch you alive."

As we always strive to mix things up, our next pick this week comes from singer-songwriter Shawna Caspi, one of the independent artists we play regularly on Birch Street Radio. Her fourth album, Forest Fire, is due in September, and the first track to spin out is "Never Enough." It's a story of a mother's desperate prayer for her troubled son, "calling up to heaven and hoping for a little relief." Over a gentle acoustic arrangement, Caspi's bell-clear vocal is evocative but not sentimental.

Also coming in September is the third album from The Lone Bellow, Walk Into A Storm. The preview single, "Time's Always Leaving," is a rousing number with the trio's trademark full-throated harmonies, and a clever lyric about a personified Time that keeps looking at her watch, impatient to move on.

And from the Bellow's Brooklyn/Nashville folk-rock we jump to the California/Southern blues-rock-jam sound of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. This hard-working crew is out with its fifth full-length album in as many years, Barefoot In The Head. AllMusic.com calls the ex-Black Crowes frontman and his bandmates "torchbearers, carrying hippie blues traditions into a new century." Our pick for this week's New Music bin is "Behold The Seer."

We play one of our latest 15 New Music picks at the top of each hour of our live stream. If you'd like to hear all five of them right now, here they are, made into a set on Mixcloud.

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