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Saturday, August 11, 2018

Crack The Sky, Johnny Marr, The Jayhawks & introducing Caribou Run, Cosmic Strip

Another week, another very diverse selection of sounds in our New Music bin!

One of the greatest rock bands that too few people know is Crack The Sky, which won critical acclaim with its 1975 debut album - and then fell victim to a series of record company and marketing failures that limited its reach. Over the decades since, through ups and downs and personnel comings and goings, this thoughtful and inventive prog-rock band has released a couple dozen albums and maintained a devoted following, particularly in the Pittsburgh and Baltimore areas. Now, via a PledgeMusic campaign and indie label Loud & Proud Records, Crack the Sky is about to release an album of a new music called Living In Reverse, along with Crackology, a collection of re-recordings of songs from its back catalog. This week we're featuring one of the new tracks, "Talk Talk," which combines rock guitar and drums, frontman John Palumbo's distorted vocals - and Bobby Hird putting down his guitar to play a repeating figure on banjo.

Caribou Run is a six-piece band from Nova Scotia that's been described as "neo-folk" and "alt-country." But they stretch out in many directions on their sophomore album, Old Peninsula. After all, how many folk or country bands feature trombone? Canadian Beats calls the LP "a beautifully blended story of pain, celebration and reflections of past and present. ... Each of the 10 well-crafted songs offers listeners a chance to immerse themselves in these narratives." Drew Moores and Danielle Noble share vocal duties, and it's Noble taking the lead on our featured track, "Roll On."

Another alt-country band, perhaps more typical of that genre, is The Jayhawks. Their latest album, Back Roads and Abandoned Motels, includes tracks that frontman Gary Louris wrote with other artists. We've been spinning "Come Crying To Me," a co-write with Natalie Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire of the Dixie Chicks. Now we're adding another, "Everybody Knows," a mellow cover of a song originally recorded by the Dixie Chicks in 2006.

Now we jump across genres, and across the Atlantic, and tune into the dream-pop/indie-rock of London's Cosmic Strip. Singer-songwriter Camella Agabaylan and company will soon release their debut EP, Heavenly, and we're adding the title single to our New Music bin. Agabaylan says the song is "dedicated to the addictive feeling of your first love." The Revue calls it "a perfectly constructed slice of dream pop," and we'll add that the propulsive beat, rocking guitars and gradually swelling sound keep it from being the least bit sleepy.

We round out this week's picks with another track from Call the Comet, the latest album from Johnny Marr. He describes "Day In Day Out" as "a celebratory song about an obsessive nature. You can either go under with that stuff or accept it as part of your personality, so this is about celebrating those qualities." As The Times of London wrote, on this track Marr "revives the shimmering guitar jangle he pioneered with the Smiths."

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