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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 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. 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."