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Saturday, July 14, 2018

Freshly picked: Cowboy Junkies, The Jayhawks, Blues Traveler, Johnny Marr and The Magic Es

Still riding high after more than 30 years, the Cowboy Junkies are out with a new album, All That Reckoning. The languid melodies and contemplative lyrics that the Toronto-based band is known for are here in beautiful abundance - but one track stands out with sharper edges. On "Sing Me A Song," over distorted guitar and insistent percussion, vocalist Margo Timmins alternates between calls for love and forgiveness - and disturbing images of anger and grief. More than a typical CJ song, it reminds us of The Dream Syndicate's recent track "How Did I Find Myself Here."

In another case of a veteran band departing from its signature sound, we're featuring "Come Cryin' To Me" by The Jayhawks. The Minneapolis band's new album, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, consists largely of songs that frontman Gary Louris co-wrote with members of other bands - in this case, the Dixie Chicks. And Louris turns over lead-vocal duties to other band members on some of the album's tracks - in this case, keyboardist Karen Grotberg. AllMusic.com says of the album, "despite the shifting outlook of the songwriting, the performances are sturdy and evocative throughout, revealing how well these musicians work with one another as they make the most of the dynamics of this subtle but resonant music."     

More in keeping with its typical style is Blues Traveler's new single, "Accelerated Nation." It's the first track to spin out from an album called Hurry Up & Hang Around, due in October. Frontman John Popper told Billboard the band considers it a 30th anniversary album -- although the group is now in its 31st year. "It kind of snuck up on us. At some point we realized, 'It's our 30th year and we have no plans to make an album.' We really should have done this ahead of time, but it was in our 30th year that we decided to make the album, at least."

The latest from Johnny Marr also fits well within the body of work of the former Smiths guitarist. His new album, Call the Comet, has an overall theme: In reaction to current political and social trends, he imagines an alternate reality where kindness, intelligence and art are what matters. In our New Music Bin is "Hi Hello," which The Guardian calls "shimmeringly brilliant." According to NME, Marr credits Patti Smith's "Dancing Barefoot" and The Smiths' "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" as influences in creating the song.

Along with those four releases from veteran artists, we mix things up with a new single by a band that formed in 2014. The Magic Es are billed as an "old-school, anthemic rock band from the UK." Their latest single, "Wishing Well," evokes a longing for the simplicity of childhood. Frontman Pete Thompson says "it’s about the realisation that as you get older, what you want and the way the world operates can't be changed by a simple wish.”

By the way, listeners to our new Sunday program "The Detour" already heard "Wishing Well" on last week's edition. Take a ride with us each week as we turn off Birch Street and explore the back roads to hear new indie music, obscure older tracks and ... who knows what else! This one-hour excursion happens Sundays at 5pm Eastern Time (2pm Pacific Time, 9pm UTC) and repeats at 11pm Eastern (8pm Pacific, 3am UTC).

Saturday, July 7, 2018

In our new music bin: Joan Armatrading, Sheryl Crow, Joy Formidable, Conor Gains, Summerteeth

We're very pleased to have new music from Joan Armatrading. Her new album, Not Too Far Away, is filled with well-crafted songs and heartfelt lyrics. The multi-talented Armatrading wrote, produced, played every instrument and programmed the percussion tracks on this, the 21st LP of her long career. The 10 songs touch on various aspects of love and relationships, mostly with a positive outlook. We're featuring the opening track, "I Like It When We're Together," a simple love song with a broader message: "It's a song that I hope will bring people together," Armatrading says. "This is why we are on this planet after all. It's to like being with one another."

At a much earlier stage of a very promising career is Conor Gains, from Cambridge, Ontario. He's been known as a blues guitarist and vocalist, releasing a couple of albums with the Conor Gains Band, but his latest project is as a solo artist exploring a variety of styles including soul, R&B and jazz singing. The result is Compass, released a couple of months ago and brought to our attention by Canadian Beats, which called it "a sultry 10-track rollercoaster ... impeccably put together, varied and wholly unique." Our pick for the New Music bin is a slice of funky fun called "Dance Like It's Your Birthday."

Exploring a variety of styles is what we do all the time at Birch Street Radio. So now we jump to the heavy alternative rock of The Joy Formidable. Since releasing Hitch in 2016, the Welsh trio has been spending a lot of time in Utah and Arizona. The landscapes of the U.S. Southwest led to what lead vocalist Ritzy Bryan describes as "a colourful, mystical collage" of songs for their upcoming album, Aaarth. She describes our featured song, "Dance of the Lotus," as a “nighttime walk in the desert when you’re trying to escape from yourself and the chaos you’ve created.” As for the album title? "It falls somewhere between a scream, an exaltation, a play on words, and then this motif of the bear (“arth” in Welsh) that spiritually represents strength, wisdom and healing.”

Veering in another direction, we pick up a track from the latest release by Toronto trio Summerteeth. Their second EP, Sweet Nothings, unabashedly evokes turn-of-the-century pop-punk in the vein of Blink-182, Jimmy Eat World, Weezer and the like. According to review site Ouch That Hertz, the band's debut EP had a darker, emo tone, while this release has "an air of positivity abounding in resonant, cheery power chords and airy melodic riffs." Our featured track is the breezy "Talk About Anything."

We're a bit late catching up with this one: Sheryl Crow and Annie Clark (a.k.a. St. Vincent) collaborating on a single called "Wouldn't Want To Be Like You." The lyric is addressed to someone with ill-gotten riches who ends up in an orange jumpsuit. Crow says the song is more broadly "about the climate of truth not being important anymore" - as heard in the refrain: "You tell a lie, you tell a lie, you tell a lie / but that don't make it true."

Friday, July 6, 2018

Take a ride with us on The Detour - Every Sunday

Ride along with us for an hour each Sunday as we depart from our usual big mix of new and classic rock, pop, folk and more - and play an even bigger variety of music!

We call it "The Detour."

As we turn off Birch Street and try out some back roads, we hear more indie and unsigned artists, more deep tracks, more hard-edged and experimental sounds. We might hear some classic jazz or some new alternative music that hasn't found its way into our general playlist.
See what we played on recent shows.
The Detour happens every Sunday at 5pm Eastern time (Montreal, New York, Miami) - and repeats with some slight variations at 11pm Eastern time.

Those times are 2pm & 8pm Pacific Time (Vancouver, Los Angeles) and 2100 Sunday & 0300 Monday UTC.

Ride along with us -- and then give us your feedback! We welcome suggestions for music to add in future shows.

Saturday, June 30, 2018

New sounds from St. Paul, Sir Paul, Young The Giant, Interpol, Hannah Brown

We have no idea why the upcoming album from St. Paul and the Broken Bones is called Young Sick Camellia, and we're not sure we want to know. We're also not sure why the first single is called "Apollo," since it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the Greek god, the Harlem theater or the space capsule. But we're popping it into our playlist anyway. The eight-piece band from Alabama, led by singer Paul Janeway, turns out what Rolling Stone calls "a dance-leaning disco-horn strut that blends the band's classic Southern soul with thoroughly modern R&B production."

Joining St. Paul in our New Music bin this week is Sir Paul - Paul McCartney, of course. His next release is called Egypt Station, which is named after one of his original paintings (embellished for the album cover art). He describes the album as something like a train trip in which "each song is like a different station." Of the two singles released so far, we're picking the upbeat "Come On To Me," wherein the ageless ex-Beatle sings about youthful flirtation.

It requires a couple of connections, but we can travel by train from Liverpool to Birmingham, the home town of singer-songwriter Hannah Brown. We previously featured the intimate song "Stay" from her 2017 EP Better For This. She's working on her second collection and has just released a single, "So Should You." This song features more elaborate production but, again, very personal and direct lyrics about a relationship. The refrain: "I can handle the truth / and so should you."

As usual, our New Music picks for the week encompass a wide range of styles. We turn now to New York post-punk revivalists Interpol, whose latest album Marauder is due in August. It's produced by David Fridmann, best known for working with Flaming Lips. We're spinning the first single, "The Rover." SPIN critiques the track, saying it "sounds like past Interpol with Fridmann's trademark fuzziness on top" but that underneath is "a great song, one that easily rivals the previous era's 'All The Rage Back Home.'"

We finish this week's tour in Southern California with Young the Giant. After a two-year break, the alternative-rock band has released a single, perhaps signalling that an album is in the works. The song is called "Simplify." Frontman Sameer Gadhia says, “Everything in modern life is complicated ... and often times it is easy to lose your true self.  But love is simple." And so, it's a song to a lover: "Staring in your eyes, everything simplifies."

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Our latest picks: Amy Helm, The Record Company, Parker Milsap, Dawes & introducing Jessie Munro

We're very happy to hear that the wonderful Amy Helm has a new album on the way. The title track has just been released and jumped right into a featured slot in our New Music bin. "This Too Shall Light" is co-written by Mike Taylor of Hiss Golden Messenger and songwriter-musician-producer Josh Kaufman. Rolling Stone says, "As is typical for the songs that Taylor writes [it] is steeped in the epic struggles of everyday people." Taylor says "It's a really sad song that swings, which is my favorite kind of music." Helm brings her powerful, passionate voice, which draws on the blues, gospel and country traditions that also informed her father Levon's music. Blends well with: Bonnie Raitt, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Delaney & Bonnie.

On their new album All Of This Life, L.A.s' The Record Company continue to bring fresh energy to good ol' rock-and-roll and blues-rock. As AllMusic.com puts it, these guys "know their stuff and work together well: Chris Vos' guitar work is both inspired and concise, bassist Alex Stiff and Drummer Marc Cazorla give the music a strong and soulful foundation, and the vocals are full-bodied but generally stop a few notches short of histrionic." We previously featured the lead single, "Life To Fix," and our new fave is the harmonica-fueled stomp "I'm Getting Better (And I'm Feeling It Right Now)."

Parker Millsap is another young artist drawing on old-school rock-and-roll traditions, in his case mixed with country influences. His previous album was in more of a folk vein, but his new release, Other Arrangements, "mixes Millsap's voice - an otherworldly howl, shot through with equal parts Pentecostal punch and Southern swagger - with faster tempos and bursts of electric guitar," says Rolling Stone. That perfectly describes the single "Fine Line," now in our New Music bin.

We've been playing a couple of singles from Passwords, the latest from Dawes, and now that the full album has been released we're adding "Feed the Fire." The band expands a bit here on its California-70s-folk-rock sound, with a poppy groove and a touch of electric sitar. Taylor Goldsmith's lyric is a self-critical reflection on the show-biz life: "Working for attention that I'll eventually resent ... Trying to feed the fire / while hoping that it dies."

Moving a little more in the electro-pop direction, we find the debut single from Jessie Munro. (Thanks to The Revue for the introduction.) This Toronto native attended Berklee College of Music in Boston before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a recording career. From her forthcoming EP, On My Own, we have "Under Fire," a song about coping with social expectations and scrutiny. "It's taken it's toll and I'm stretched to the limit," Munro sings. "I'm thinking I shouldn't care as much as I do."

Saturday, June 16, 2018

More variety! New music by Interrupters, Death Cab, Curtis Harding, Middle Kids, Georgia Flood

We're short on time for writing about our featured New Music this week, but here are some quick notes on our cool-as-ever picks:

"She's Kerosone," a punk-ska romp by The Interrupters from their soon-to-be-released third studio album, Fight the Good Fight. Frontwoman Aimee says it's about breaking free from a toxic relationship. "He said, I’m a match, she’s kerosene / You know she’s gonna burn down everything."

"Gold Rush," the first single from a new Death Cab for Cutie album, Thank You For Today, due in August. Benjamin Gibbard told NPR it's about how a neighborhood - in his case, in Seattle - changes over time. "The song is not a complaint about how things were better or anything like that. It's an observation, but more about coming to terms with the passage of time."

"It's Not Over" by Curtis Harding, his first new release since last year's acclaimed Face Your Fear LP. Clashmusic.com calls it "a solid return, one infused by a future-facing sense of what 'soul' can mean in 21st century songwriting."

"Never Start" by Middle Kids, another track from the Lost Friends album that came out last month and made us even bigger fans of the Australian trio. There's tension in this face-paced number, as Hannah Joy sings: "I'm not trying to start a fight here / but it's building up inside / and you don't even know."

"Love That Hurts," the latest single from Atlanta alt-rockers The Georgia Flood. It has an 80s-throwback sound and a buoyant beat that needs to be pumping from speakers at summer pool parties.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

New tunes from Roger Daltrey, Dave Matthews, Samantha Clemons, Stars, Andrew McMahon

We're always working to put together a great mix of new and classic rock/pop/etc. So of course we're always happy when artists from the classic era bring out vital new music. This week we welcome a new solo record from Roger Daltrey, As Long As I Have You. As Rolling Stone writes, the voice of the Who returns here to what that band (and other British bands of the period) started out doing: covering American R&B, soul and blues. We're featuring the title track, which RS says is "a pleading, horn-accented R&B barnburner by Garnet Mimms [that] Daltrey sang with the Who when they were called the High Numbers in the early Sixties. Seventy-four-year-old Daltrey's voice is a little gruffer than it was when he was a young buck, but it's as strong and passionate as ever."

Turning to another music veteran, although from a more-recent era: Dave Matthews Band has released its first album since 2012, Come Tomorrow. We've been playing the single "Samurai Cop (Oh Joy Begin)," an oddly-titled ode to a newborn. Now we're featuring "Idea Of You," an upbeat jam about young love that lasts. The album was put together in stages over several years, and this track was apparently built around a live recording from several years ago. It includes the late saxophonist LeRoi Moore and violinist Boyd Tinsley, who has since left the band. As The New York Times writes, the album "earnestly embraces fatherhood, commitment, lifelong romance and hope for the next generations."

Switching from established stars to a newcomer, we dip back into the stunning debut EP by Samantha Clemons, Burn. Her deeply soulful music could easily be mistaken for the work of a world-weary veteran, but infused with youthful passion. We featured the title track a few weeks ago (and of course it remains in our mix), and now we're adding "Love For Me." While "Burn" is a song of social commentary, the lyric here is one of disappointment with a potential lover: "You said you had love for me / I don't think you know what that means."

In the eight months after releasing their latest album, There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light, Montreal's Stars have already brought out two singles. We've been playing March's "Ship to Shore," and now we're adding the brand-new "One Day Left." The band describes it as a song about "the last 12 hours you spend with someone you love" - but whom you know you're leaving. It's a duet between singers Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan, backed by soaring pop-rock that gives this moment of parting a somehow hopeful feeling.

The latest single from Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, "Ohio," paints the scene of a different kind of separation - a family's move from its home to a new life in a new place. Amid images of a long car trip across the country and hopes for a bright future in California, there are hints of an unhappy motive for the journey: "And we can't look back / Some men you just can't save / We had our reasons for leaving / it's better this way."

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Introducing Arthur Buck, River Whyless, Three Star Revival + new music from Super Doppler and Maggie Rogers

Former R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur have crossed paths numerous times over the years, with Arthur opening for R.E.M. shows, Buck sometimes backing Arthur, and Arthur playing at Buck's Todos Santos Music Festival in Mexico. Last year, they spent some time together at a house Buck owns in Todos Santos, and the result is a collaboration, called simply Arthur Buck, and an album of the same name. Considering the folk-rock background of both performers, the sound is a bit surprising. The opening track, "I Am the Moment," begins with a bit of Buck's guitar that instantly evokes his former band. But as Arthur begins to sing, the track suddenly expands with sound samples, electronic overdubs and layered vocals in a style more similar to Beck. It's an intriguing sound that fits well into our eclectic mix.

Likewise blending folk-rock with other sounds -- a bit of dream-pop, a touch of psychedelia -- is River Whyless with their new song "Darkness In Mind." Thanks to the great music website The Revue for introducing us to this quartet from Asheville, N.C. After releasing a self-titled EP in 2015, the quartet "enthralled the audience at the prestigious Newport Folk Festival," The Revue wrote. "They continued down this path on their debut album, We All the Light, but it seems like they’re going in a slightly different direction for their sophomore LP," called Kindness, A Rebel. "Ryan O’Keefe (guitars, vocals) and Halli Anderson (violin, vocals) ... tell us to keep our heads up and move forward, to keep coming up with new ideas, to listen for the bells, and believe that better things will come." Alex McWalters (drums, percussion), and Daniel Shearin (bass, vocals, harmonium, cello, banjo) round out the line-up and the sound.

From Asheville we drive six hours or so east to Norfolk, Va., to catch up again with Super Doppler, a band we've featured before. There's some psychedelic influence in their music too, along with old-school rock-and-roll and a bit of country. We hear a lot of The Beatles in tracks like their latest single, "Oh Yeah," with its close harmonies, Magical-Mystery-era swirling sound and a long Hey Jude-ish outro. Since we grew up on The Beatles, that sounds good to us.
Still in the Southeast U.S., but jumping west to Tennessee, we meet up with Three Star Revival. Formed in 2015 by singer-songwriter Ben Gaines and guitarist Cameron Moore, this five-piece describes itself as "incorporating sounds from across the Americana landscape and beyond, with forays into funk, soul, R&B and jazz." The five tracks on their new EP, Fade Away, all go in different directions. We're featuring the slow-dance soul number "Move A Little Bit." (Hat tip to Noisetrade for turning us on to this band.)

Last year, Maggie Rogers saw sudden success with the single "Alaska" and EP Now That the Light is Fading. Now signed to Capitol Records and currently on tour in Europe with HAIM, she's expected to release an album soon, and in the meantime has just spun out a single "Fallingwater." "Call it folktronica or electro-folk, whatever the term her music is engaging," says The Revue, adding that on this track, "Rogers' voice is much fuller and even more stunning than before."

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Rubblebucket, Daniel Pearson, Ennor, Ay Wing and more Eels music added to our big mix

We're pleased to have new music from Rubblebucket, even though they're no longer the full band that we'd come to know and love. For the upcoming album Sun Machine, the Brooklyn-based group basically consists simply of founders Kalmia Traver and Alex Toth, coming out on the other side of health and personal issues. Judging by the first song to spin out, "Fruity," their sound is a bit more subdued than it was with the bigger band, but still bounces along with a rich mix of percussion, winds, guitar and synthesizer. We look forward to the full album in August.

Daniel Pearson is one of those artists whose sound more-or-less fits the Americana category - but who isn't American (Mumford & Sons being a well-known example). Pearson is an English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who cites the likes of Springsteen, REM and Ryan Adams among his influences. His most recent album was 2015's Alone, Together, but he's put out a string of singles in the past couple of months, and we're picking up the latest, "Until The Sun Comes Up." Pearson brings a full-band sound to this upbeat song, which he describes as being "about refusing to take things lying down and never giving up."

Also from England, and hewing a bit more to an English-folk-rock sound, is Ennor. This four-piece is from Cornwall, the southwestern-most part of the U.K. that juts into the sea, and the band's name is that of a large island that's believed to have once existed off the coast where the smaller Isles of Scilly now lie. So it's fitting that we're introduced to them with a song called "Wave After Wave." It's described as "a melancholic reflection on climate change," pondering the question, "at what point will we have gone too far?" Starting quietly with acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies, the track swells to a rock crescendo.

Mixing things up as we usually do, we turn from folk-rock to the "beat-driven fluorescent synth-pop" of Swiss-born, Berlin-based Ay Wing. Her new EP, Ice Cream Dream, does tend toward the sweet side, but we're picking up the slightly edgier "Strange." In a bit of a St. Vincent vein, the song comments on "digital narcissism" -- the modern urge to turn one's life into a show on social media, showing off your strange-ness because you're "afraid to be forgotten." In the song's video, the singer casts herself as various movie characters taking selfies.

Also entering our New Music bin this week is another track from the new album by Eels, The Deconstruction. "Today Is The Day" (like our previous featured track, "You Are The Shining Light") fits the album's theme of casting off old ideas and attitudes, taking life as it comes and making the best of it. "Today is the day that you see me / As a man who will always change / Who knows the only things to count on / Are life is quick, and life is strange."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Great new music by Samantha Clemons, Dawes, Middle Kids, Hannah Gill and Traitrs

This week we're especially pleased to be able to introduce our listeners to Samantha Clemons. This Texas singer-songwriter set out to make acoustic pop music, but according to her bio, shifted her style as she "began channeling her frustration and disappointment at the dramatic social and political shifts of recent years." The title track of her upcoming EP Burn, Clemons says, "reflects the idea that we’ve just been talking past one another and have lost sight of the fact that we occupy a lot of common ground." It's a gripping song with lyrics that can be heard two ways: as angry, aggressive refusal to listen, or a courageous, adamant refusal to submit. "Mine fit me just fine / No need to walk in your shoes." Clemons sings with a soulful power reminiscent of Tracy Chapman and Rhiannon Giddens. We're looking forward to hearing much more.

Concern about the state of society has become a common theme in music lately, for obvious reasons. "Living In The Future," the new single from Dawes, is frank in its paranoia. "I'm always looking over shoulders / Not knowing what I'm looking for / Now that the feeling someone's watching / Isn't just a feeling anymore." Frontman Taylor Goldsmith says that on the band's upcoming album, Passwords, "many of the songs are an attempt to come to terms with the modern world, while always trying to consider both sides of the story." The album is due June 22.

Australia's Middle Kids had their breakout moment in the Western hemisphere last year with the release of an EP that spawned the hit "Edge Of Town." Earlier this year came the single "Mistake," and now we have their first full-length collection, Lost Friends. Pitchfork describes it as "a record that’s all about fumbling your way through insecurities, indecision, and embarrassments. In singer/guitarist Hannah Joy, the band has a captivating mouthpiece who deftly navigates these emotional minefields with equal parts panic and poise, thanks to a naturally trembling voice that can harden into tough-love sentiment." Our pick for the New Music bin is "Bought It," which Joy says is based on "walking around trying to feel like we’re OK but actually we’re not sure if we are."

Twenty-year-old Hannah Gill has a voice that erupts from your speakers like a force of nature. On 2016's The Water, she and her band The Hours created a sweeping Florence-and-the-Machine-like sound. Her new release, Lost in Words, encompasses a variety of styles, starting with the sultry torch song "Lose" and including a sharp-tongued rebuke of a drug abuser, "Medicine." We're featuring a swinging, brassy number called "Here To Stay."

Check out a great batch of videos of the band performing live at Paste Studios.
The fine folks at The Revue introduced us to Traitrs, a Toronto duo that defines itself as post-punk and would fit right in with bands of that 80s genre. On "The Suffering of Spiders," from their just-released debut album Butcher's Coin, the resemblance to The Cure is uncanny. The dark, moody sound. The plaintive wail of the singer, Sean-Patrick Nolan. Even a lyric about spiders! But this is no tribute band: Nolan and Shawn Tucker are building on their influences to create a sound that Tucker says strives to "give you goosebumps, chills, a feeling inside that can’t be explained."

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Beach House, Arctic Monkeys, Rita Coolidge, Meg Myers, Carvin Jones Band - Lots of variety in our New Music picks

The latest releases causing big buzz in the loosely defined "alternative music" world are from Arctic Monkeys and Beach House. Reviews of both emphasize shifts in the bands' styles - but the critics' reactions are quite different.

Beach House is receiving a lot of praise for innovating its sound, in part by switching producers for its seventh album, simply titled 7. Consequence of Sound calls it a "sprawling adventure ... imbued with a restless energy and excitement." Pitchfork says it's "their heaviest and most immersive-sounding album. It’s darker, thicker, set at a deeper spot in the woods." From Rolling Stone: "This is the least introverted record Beach House have ever made; it'll still blow your mind with candles lit and headphones on, but it's the first time they've sounded like a band you might want to hear at a party with more than one guest." For all that, the immersive soundscape of 7 is quite recognizable as a Beach House album. The singles "Lemon Glow" and "Dive" are already in our mix, and we're now featuring the opening track, "Dark Spring."

By contrast, the Arctic Monkeys' Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino is getting a more mixed reception. It's a concept album with an out-there premise: The moon has been colonized - gentrified, even - and we're listening to a lunar lounge singer in a casino bar. Rolling Stone's 2-star review says "It's an adventurous, Bowie-esque conceit ... but the meandering LP can't bear the weight." Spin takes a kinder view, saying "the more you give in to these vibes, the more the vibes give back." Our restless ears don't want to settle in for 40 minutes in the bar, but we're stopping in long enough to hear "Four Out Of Five" - which frontman Alex Turner tells Pitchfork is about the taco shop on the hotel's roof. We can imagine Ziggy Stardust grabbing a snack there with a Starman.

Have we mentioned before that we like to include a wide variety of musical styles in our big mix? We turn next to a new album from Rita Coolidge, whose long career as a folk/country/pop/rock singer and songwriter got its start in the '70s L.A. music scene, backing up the likes of Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Stephen Stills and Dave Mason. Her new release, Safe in the Arms of Time, was produced at L.A.'s Sunset Sound, where she recorded her earliest solo albums. “The idea was making an album that had the same appeal of my early records – to make a roots record about my own roots,” Coolidge says. Some of its tracks are quiet and reflective, but we're featuring an upbeat song of long-lasting love, "Naked All Night."

Another veteran musician with a new release is blues guitarist Carvin Jones, who's been touring and recording since the early 1990s. Based in Phoenix, Jones was once called "the new king of strings" by Buddy Miles and was named on of the 50 greatest blues guitarists by Guitarist Magazine. The latest incarnation of the Carvin Jones Band recorded What A Good Day in Spain last year and is about to launch a tour across Canada, starting in Calgary June 8 and finishing at Montreal's Club Soda June 21. After that it's back to the States and various other points around the globe. We're adding the title track to our New Music bin.

Back in the realm of alternative rock, Meg Myers will release her second full-length album, Take Me To the Disco, in July and has already spun out a single, "Numb." The track veers from brooding to crying out, as the lyric describes how pressure to live up to expectations can cause emotional shut-down. It seems to be the story of a musician dealing with a pushy manager/promotor/record label, but could apply to a child with an overbearing parent, or many other scenarios. "I hate the feeling of this weight upon my shoulders ... You think you want the best for me but ... if you force it, it won't come."