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Sunday, December 10, 2017

This week's picks: Brand-new music plus more of 2017's best

Our regular listeners have heard The Defending Champions, a band that expands on the punk-ska genre, adding bits of Latin flavor and pure bar-band fun. They've just released Don't Stop, their third full-length collection, filled with jumping arrangements of horns, guitar and percussion. Our correspondent in their home state of New Jersey caught their CD-release show (pictured) and reports super-tight playing and a joyous vibe. We've been spinning the pre-released single, "Listen In," and now we're putting the title track in our featured New Music bin.

From London's alternative-rock scene comes Talma, a five-piece outfit that's also known for putting on energetic live shows. Their sound has been called a blend of The Smiths and The National. Frontman Henry Adams says their new single, "Lifeline," is about life in the big city: "There are moments where it seems no one can see you, yet everyone is watching you. This paranoia can drive people away from the city, and so we look for lifelines to tether us to the places we try to call home."

The end of the year is a big time for releasing holiday music and re-issues - none of which fits into our New Music bin. So it's a good time to reach back for good music that was released earlier in the year but for one reason or another hasn't found its way to our playlist until now.

So we're catching up with Land of Talk, the Montreal-based project of singer-composer Elizabeth Powell. Following the success of the band's 2010 album Cloak and Cipher, Powell felt "the need to retreat a bit," and that break turned into an extended hiatus. This year she and her band re-emerged with Life After Youth. Pitchfork called it "a solid, consistent return that sounds like the band never left," and CBC music placed it among the top 10 albums of the year. Better late than never, we're featuring the reflective song "This Time."
And we're dipping back into two albums released earlier this year that previously featured in our New Music playlist:

The Dream Syndicate: How Did I Find Myself Here? Speaking of returns from hiatus, these veterans of the "paisley underground" scene returned from a nearly 30-year coffee break with a worthy entry into today's alt-rock realm. We've been playing "Glide" (and occasionally the 11-minute title opus) and we're now putting "Filter Me Through You" into our New Music rotation.
The Right Now: Starlight. This Chicago band was one of our favorite discoveries this year. We've been playing several tracks from this rollicking collection of 60s-R&B-influenced numbers and we can't resist featuring one more - which would make a good New Year's Eve party song. It's called "Up All Night." (No, it's not the Beck song.)

Guess what we're NOT doing in the next couple of weeks. 
  • Playing Christmas/Holiday music (except maybe some occasional tunes on Dec. 25).
  • Ranking the year's music in some kind of Top 10/40/100 list (though we'll put an extra emphasis on 2017 music on Dec. 31).
We're betting you can find all the holiday tunes and end-of-year lists you desire elsewhere. We'll stick to bringing you the best mix we can of music from this year and the previous fifty or so!

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