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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Orwells '84, Best Coast, Sarah Harmer, Jackie and Demob Happy - the latest additions to our mix


Orwells '84 - "On The Road"


We introduced our listeners to this indie-folk band from Dundalk, Ireland, with their single "Cailin" back in May. Now we're happy to present a track from their just-released debut EP, Truth Is The First Victim. With intricate arrangements featuring a wide range of acoustic instruments, this six-piece group creates a very original and quite joyous sound that could easily be the highlight of a summer music festival. We'll be adding more tracks to our mix in the weeks to come.

Best Coast: "For The First Time"


Photo by Kevin Hayes
"I'm 2 years sober today," Bethany Cosentino tweeted this week, just days after she and Bobb Bruno released this new Best Coast single. It's an upbeat, infectious song - and a personal statement of survival. "On Friday nights I don't spend too much time / Lying on the bathroom floor (like I used to) / The demons deep inside of me / They might have finally been set free," Cosentino sings. "I feel like myself again / But for the first time." That's great news. The single is a preview of what will be the first Best Coast album in five years. Titled Always Tomorrow, it's due in the new year, probably around the same time the band starts a tour in February.

Sarah Harmer: "New Lows"


Ontario singer-songwriter and activist Sarah Harmer is preparing to bring out her first new LP in a decade, Are You Gone. The first single to spin out is a call for action to protest politicians' inaction on rescuing the climate. The song references "new threats, new lows," and then suggests a mass movement could make a difference: "If this gets us to our feet / And grows / Who Knows?" Says Harmer: "I hope this song gets people to their feet, and not only to dance." But it does, in fact, have a good beat.

Jackie - "Lifetime In A Touch"


Lingering in Ontario, we turn to this Toronto-based trio's new single, which they say is "essentially a heartbreak song, wrapped in a happy vibe... a ‘there’s a light at the end of the tunnel’ story." Substream Magazine describes the track as grimy rock with a pop groove: "(Marc) Girardin’s guitars are extra fuzzy, but the riffs are still as catchy as they come. (Max) Trefler’s drums are key to giving the song momentum, and it’s clear (lead singer and songwriter Jackie) Mohr had a strong vision in the writing."

Demob Happy: "Autoportrait"


This high-energy rocker was actually released in mid-summer, and we gave it a spin on The Detour. We gave it another listen the other day and decided to add it to our New Music bin. The track grabs your ears and shakes them for just less than three minutes, then stops as suddenly as it began. The Brighton, U.K., band's frontman, Matt Marcantonio, described the song as “coercing a confession out of myself over insecurities," but the lyric alternates between anxiety ("I am afraid to be who I am") and security ("I know nothing wrong could happen / While I'm still in love with you.")

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Our latest picks: Jacobs Run, Awolnation, Phantogram, Margot White, Lucy Bell


Jacob's Run: Follow You Anywhere


A couple of years in the making, the debut LP from this Melbourne-area trio has just been released. For our regular listeners, several of the tracks are familiar - we've had this band in our mix for more than two years as they issued a string of singles. But while the rest of the world catches up on songs like "Better Days," "Hold On A Minute" and "So Beautiful," we're breaking out another album highlight. On this upbeat expression of infatuation, the group's guitar-and-drums rock is augmented with orchestral strings.

AWOLNation: The Best


From Aaron Bruno, the artist that brought us "Sail" (the sleeper hit of 2011 that stayed on the charts for a year and a half) comes another alt-rock anthem of anxious self-doubt: "I want to walk a little bit taller / I want to feel a little bit stronger / I want to think a little bit smarter." Bruno says of the song: “I’m always on the journey to improving myself, but all along, knowing it’s close to impossible to really be the best at anything. ... [M]aybe it is more about the journey and acceptance of comfort within one’s own existence.” The single is the prelude to his fourth album, due next year.

Phantogram: In A Spiral


We turn up the volume with the latest single by this duo from the lovely town of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Stereogum calls the track an "energetic synth-rock stomper. It’s got huge drums sounds and effects all over its guitars, and Sarah Barthel belts it out with an impressive level of swagger." The distorted synths and pounding drums swirl around a lyric that seems to speak of losing identity amid our self-referential culture: "I'm a meme on a feed in a spiral / Imitate, elevate, making heads roll ... Help me now, I'm going down / Every day, every day in a spiral."


Margot White: Face to Face


We're always happy to discover a new, distinctive sound, and that's what we find in this track from I Saw It On The Radio, the debut of this London-based artist. Born in Texas, she recorded the EP between her music studies at Goldsmiths/University of London. The combination of a minimalist arrangement and dreamily seductive vocal is a bit reminiscent of Marian Hill, with a sense of mystery. "Time and space / two can play at that kind of game," White intones. "Are you wondering what I see? / Take my hand and walk with me."

Lucy Bell: Fools


Early this year we featured "Lost On The Line," the sophomore single by this emerging singer-songwriter from Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. Since then, she won the Dalraida Festival's 2019 Rising Stars award, played numerous gigs around the region and recorded this brand-new track. The 19-year-old's lyric suggests a young couple's effort to work out how to build a relationship: "Give me something I can hold on to / 'Cause I'm sick of all these childish rules."

Saturday, November 2, 2019

New from Van Morrison, A. Billi Free, Marcus King, The Blue Stones and The Rallies

Van Morrison - March Wind in February

The amazingly prolific songwriter, singer and rock pioneer has just released his 41st album, Three Chords and the Truth. Perhaps more surprisingly, it's the sixth LP in four years from the 74-year-old Morrison. And it's filled with original songs. And that voice - a bit mellowed with age but unmistakably Van. We're featuring the lead-off track, which like much of the album would segue perfectly with classics from Tupelo Honey or Astral Weeks.

A. Billi Free: "Feel It Coming"

Vocalist A. Billi Free teams up with Chicago production crew Tensei to create a one-of-a-kind mixture of R&B, hip-hop, electronica and jazz. Exclaim! calls Free's debut album, I Luma, "a vibe ... that washes over listeners" in 11 tracks that "orbit around an overarching theme of self-discovery." KEXP praises Free's "expressive, elastic, enveloping vocal style." We've sampled the album on our Sunday free-form show The Detour, and now we're featuring "Feel It Coming" in our New Music bin.

Marcus King: The Well

Stepping apart from his band, this 23-year-old electric guitar wizard has recorded a solo album, El Dorado, produced by the ubiquitous Dan Auerbach. Recorded in three days of sessions with backing musicians assembled by Auerbach at his Nashville studio, the album is billed as a “contemporary genre-bending sonic exploration of classic rock, blues, southern R&B and country-soul.” King says of this lead single that it "symbolizes the source of all my influences. It is everything that has happened to me to make me the man I am today.”

The Blue Stones: Shakin' Off The Rust

Just about a year after the reissue of its debut album (Black Holes), this Ontario guitar-and-drums duo is out with a new single and is on tour across Europe. The track a straightforward dose of classic-style indie rock. "This song is about battling the thoughts in your head that make you doubt yourself, and coming through with the confidence to make something great,” says vocalist/guitarist Tarek Jafar.

The Rallies: If You Do

The Seattle area isn't exactly known for sunny beaches, but from that area comes this band with a sound that evokes California dreamin'. The quartet's new, second album, Upside Down, features jangly guitars, tight vocal harmonies and cheerful 80s-pop-style tunes. Powerpop News says our featured track has "an uplifting message, a monster hook, glorious harmonies and some beautiful Beatlesque guitar touches." Mixes well with: early-90s Matthew Sweet.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Introducing Deep Blue Sea, plus new Coldplay, Broken Bells, Mumford & Sons, Half Moon Run

Deep Blue Sea: "Don't Say I Didn't Warn You"

Four musicians from four different countries found one another in London and formed this rootsy-bluesy-rock band, which recently released its first studio album, Strange Ways. Lead vocals by Dregas Smith (from the U.S.) ring out over the tight backing of guitarist Iago Banet (Spain), bassist Graeme Wheatley (England) and drummer Amanda Dal (Sweden). Rock and Blues Muse says of the album: "The band seamlessly connects vintage blues/rock, stomping rockabilly, reggae and more in its tight, intelligent songs and does it in a way that captures the intangibles in those genres, not just the guitar licks."

Coldplay: "Orphans"

The upcoming 16-track album Everyday Life is being called "experimental," and on the first two singles to spin out, Coldplay does push its envelope, trying out new and exotic sounds and rhythms. "Orphans" is perhaps more Coldplay-like than its companion, the sax-and-horn-infused "Arabesque," but the percussion and choral background give it a world-music flavor. Its deceptively upbeat, bouncy tune contrasts with its lyrics - which tell of the dead and orphans of the Syrian civil war. "Rosaleen of the Damascene" and "Baba" are taken to heaven by "bombs going boom-ba-boom-boom," leaving their children to sing "I guess we'll be raised on our own then / "I want to be with you 'til the world ends."

Broken Bells: "Good Luck"

Angst about the state of the world and society runs through a lot of music these days, and this new single is another example. James Mercer of The Shins and producer Danger Mouse have revived their on-again off-again collaboration and begun work on their third LP. But in the meantime, Mercer says, they wanted to release this track when it felt timely. The lyric gets right to the point: “The face of evil’s on the news tonight / We see the darkness over light / But have we ever really lived in better times?” Rolling Stone writes, "The track gradually intensifies with wordless vocal hooks and psychedelic fuzz guitar, climaxing with a percussive coda."

Mumford & Sons: "Blind Leading The Blind"

This new single was in the works during the sessions for the band's 2018 album Delta, says Marcus Mumford, but "we never got round to finishing in time to put it on the original release. We’re proud that we’ve finally finished it, as it feels like one of the most challenging songs, thematically, that we’ve put out there, both for ourselves and our audience." Although there isn't much sonic resemblance, the track puts us in mind of R.E.M. with its combination of powerful rock and thoughtful-but-enigmatic lyrics: "My generation's stuck in the mirror ... I am not known if I'm not seen or heard."

Half Moon Run: "Favourite Boy"

This single from the Quebec indie-rock band's upcoming third album, A Blemish In The Great Light, is a song of unrequited love: "I know I'm not your favourite boy / I can see it in the way you fake your smile." (Mood-wise, the lyric is evocative of Airborne Toxic Event's "Sometime Around Midnight.") The band's strengths -- multi-layered instrumentation, overlapping and harmonizing vocals and hooky melodies -- are all in top form in this well-crafted piece of pop.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

New music from Rorie Kelly, The West Coast Feed, Jimmy Eat World, Foals, Beck

We're pleased to present our latest, wide-ranging selection of New Musick. Read, and listen!

Rorie Kelly - Magick Comin'

This singer-songwriter from New York's Long Island describes her genre as "ladybeast music." Her latest single, she says, is "a song about purposely stepping into your power." The theme of empowerment - of recognizing one's own strength and becoming one's own hero - runs through many of her songs, delivered in an earnest, powerful voice with an alt-rock backing.

The West Coast Feed - Blame It On Me

The latest single from this powerful nine-piece Seattle outfit starts out rocking and builds to an "explosion in slow motion" about half way through. Frontman Jesse Butterworth says the track is about dealing with a narcissist ("You've got a way of taking all the fault you see / You take it all off you and put it all on me") and about "finding freedom from that vicious circle."

Jimmy Eat World - Love Never

This Arizona-based group just released its 10th album, Surviving. AllMusic calls it "a late-career peak" and says it "continues the band's sonic evolution with maturity and confidence, taking the glimmers of moody experimentation from [2016's Integrity Blues] and cranking up the urgency." We're featuring the high-energy "Love Never" in our New Music bin.

Foals - Wash Off

"Complex" is the adjective most often used to describe the music of this band from Oxford, England. For example, The Associated Press describes this year's two-part opus, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, as "complex, brilliant music" from a band at the top of its game. The two albums form a song cycle about destruction and survival. From the just-released Part 2, we're featuring one of the more straightforward tracks, "Wash Off." NME says it "takes the band’s signature math-rock dance vibes and piles on the muscle and bravado with zero fucks given: “because life’s a lie / so roll the die.”

Beck - Uneventful Days

His upcoming 14th album Hyperspace is being pitched as "new colors" from a "cultural chameleon." But the sound is certainly recognizable as the maverick master of post-modern pop. Like his spring release “Saw Lightning,” this track was co-written and co-produced by Pharrell Williams. Rolling Stone says "While the previous single blended Beck’s slacker folk leanings with Williams’ upbeat hip-hop productions, their latest collaboration takes a more polished, synth-heavy approach."

Saturday, October 12, 2019

New sounds from Bonnie Bishop, Bryan Hansen Band, Van Andrew, Seratones, Swearingen & Kelli

Bonnie Bishop: "Every Happiness Under The Sun"
We became big fans of Bishop as soon as we heard her 2016 album Ain't Who I Was, featuring great soulful-Americana songs like "Too Late" and "Mercy." This track from her brand-new collection, The Walk, is now our favorite. Strains of gospel, blues and funk weave together in this paean to the sunny side of life. "In the valleys I walk through / in the shadows I come to / I just want to say thank you for the happiness under the sun." By the end of its four and a half minutes, you'll want to be clapping and singing along to that refrain. The album wins this praise from American Songwriter: "It’s a powerful, likely career-defining work that will hopefully bring the talented Bishop the popular recognition she undoubtedly deserves." Mixes well with: Amy Helm, Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Bryan Hansen Band: "Untitled #3"
We've previously featured a couple of singles from this New Jersey indie band's new LP, Gas Money. With its official release this week, we're now jumping on the opening track. Despite indecision about what to call the song, the band has made it a staple of its high-energy live shows. "We thought it’d be funny to have the first song on our album technically be #3," says bassist Will Blakey. He and drummer Cwan Merritt provide the funk-rock backing to Hansen's jazzy vocal. Mixes well with: Dave Matthews Band.

Van Andrew: "Highwire" This singer-songwriter from the Northwest corner of Washington State has been self-releasing music for a couple of years, mostly acoustic ballads. (We recently featured his "Building a Home" on The Birch Street Bistro.) This new single is more of a rocker - opening with a bit of electronic keyboard, joined by electric guitars and drums that build to an anthemic crescendo behind Andrews' warm-with-a-touch-of-grit vocal.

Seratones: "Over You"
We haven't had enough yet of Power, the recent album by powerful singer A.J. Haynes and her killer soul-rock band from Louisiana. So after featuring the title track and "Gotta Get to Know Ya" over the summer, we're now dropping this mid-tempo but burning-hot track into the New Music bin.

Swearingen & Kelli: Exile
The indie country-rock duo of AJ Swearingen and Jayne Kelli brings a sense of haunted isolation to this track from the new album Cold-Hearted Truth. (Fittingly, the music video was shot in a Texas ghost town.) S&K describe their third album as inspired "old-school icons of country music" such as Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris. It was recorded in a series of live takes, Swearingen said, to "capture that 3D sound where you're together in one room, focusing on the songs, and finding that human element."

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Tall Days, Temples, Winston Cook, Son Little, Sturgill Simpson added to our big mix

Here we go with our weekly picks for our New Music bin. As usual, it's a very mixed bag!

Tall Days: "Mr. Man"
This band consists of two guys from New Jersey playing what they call "raw, stripped down, bluesy rock n’ roll." Guitarist-vocalist Graham Hartke and drummer Joe DeAngelus cite influences ranging from Led Zeppelin to the Stooges to Jack White. On this track from the new album No Disguise,we're hearing traces of the proto-punk sneer of early Kinks or Mott the Hoople.


Temples: "Hot Motion"
This U.K. trio evokes the more psychedelic side of 60s British rock. We're spinning the title track from their third album. AllMusic writes that on Hot Motion, the band dispenses with the synths heard on 2017's Volcano, returns to the template of 2014's Sun Structure, and makes it "brighter and shinier. The echo is echo-ier, the hooks are bigger, the performances more assured, and the vocals stronger, while the songs are just as memorable and fun as anything on Temples' immaculate debut."

Winston Cook: "Desert Song"
Cook is an emerging indie-folk singer-songwriter from Texas. He performs regularly in the Austin, Houston and San Antonio areas, issued his first EP, Horizon, late last year and has followed up with a couple of singles this year. We featured him on our Sunday show The Birch Street Bistro a few times this summer, and now we're adding his latest single to our New Music bin. From a gentle finger-picked opening, the song picks up energy as it rolls along like a smooth ride on a desert two-lane.


Son Little: "Hey Rose"
Little, a.k.a. Aaron Livingston, divides his time between collaborations and solo projects. It's just him, singing and playing all the instruments, on his upcoming EP, Invisible. "Blending old-school R&B with modern indie, the new music is right on the line between vintage and contemporary," writes American Songwriter. On this seductive single, Little croons, "Your soul is the picture / But your body is the frame / But the frame is exquisite."

Sturgill Simpson: "Sing Along"
No sooner had Simpson made his mark as a rootsy country-music artist than he rejected that label and started exploring other styles. Rolling Stone calls his new album, Sound and Fury, "the most left-field, decisively non-country offering of Simpson’s career." Simpson himself calls it "a sleazy, steamy rock 'n' roll record." We're not country radio, so his musical shift sends him more in our direction.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

Debuts by Cartwheel, Taylor Scott Band, and the latest from New Pornographers, Wyland, Wilco

Sometimes it takes a little while for new music to find its way to our ears. Cartwheel, a trio from Wichita, Kansas, released its debut album Best Days earlier this year, but it has only now come to our attention - and grabbed it. The group is fronted by guitarist Kristyn Chapman, who has played in various bands over the past dozen years but now makes her debut as a songwriter and bandleader. She's joined by William Erickson on drums and Riley Day on bass. Our featured song, "Nothing," was the first Chapman wrote: "The chords, melody, and words came all at once in a rare miracle," she says. Her vocal floats softly through an indie-rock churn of fuzzy guitar and sharp percussion: “We’re so afraid to feel anything,” Chapman sings, “but feeling is what makes life full.”

Another new-ish record that took its time reaching us is All We Have, the first full-length release by the Denver blues-rock-funk outfit Taylor Scott Band. Scott's powerful lead guitar and soulful tenor voice are backed up by the tight combo of Jon Wirtz on keys, Chris Harris on bass and Lem Williams on drums. Steve Berlin of Los Lobos produced the record. Our featured track is the solid opener, “Somebody Told Me.”

It's always hard to discern what their songs are about, but on the just-released album from The New Pornographers, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights, images of falling, collapse and disorder keep cropping up. We previously featured the single "Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile," where the plunging is emotional. Now entering our New Music bin is "Colossus of Rhodes," which isn't actually about the ancient statue that collapsed in an earthquake, but has a things-aren't-going-well theme: "There is no food left in the house / There is no air left in the room," Neko Case sings. "Change the locks on every door / We've had break-ins before." Slant Magazine describes the song as "the band’s blusteriest track to date," featuring "concert-style piano, gurgling synths, and dramatic string swells." Rolling Stone calls the album "panic-attack pop."

Another brand-new album, Wyland's In a Circuitry of Lonely, is also filled with soaring but unsettling songs - with titles like "Lost," "Dark Days" and "Nowhere Now." We've been spinning those tracks as the New Jersey-based indie band released them over the past year, and now that the full collection is out, we're featuring "Remote Control Heart." Lead singer and songwriter Ryan Sloan conjures disaffection and disconnection: "And life just keeps moving / While our hearts lie in ruins."

On the verge of releasing their 11th album, Wilco has dropped the single "Everyone Hides," and we're picking it up to round out our New Music bin this week. It's a meditation on how we construct narratives for ourselves that don't contain the whole truth. "You're selling yourself on a vision / a dream of who you are," Jeff Tweedy sings. "Remember, it can't be denied / everyone hides."

Saturday, September 21, 2019

WHO plus new music from Foals, Leela Gilday, John Otto Young and Scott Krokoff

Our latest wide-ranging batch of New Music:

The Who: "Ball and Chain"
Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry are getting ready to release their first new album in 13 years. “I think we’ve made our best album since Quadrophenia in 1973,” singer Roger Daltrey said in a statement. “Pete hasn’t lost it. He’s still a fabulous songwriter, and he’s still got that cutting edge.” Called simply WHO, the LP consists of 11 songs Townshend says he and his brother Simon wrote "to give Roger Daltrey some inspiration, challenges and scope for his newly revived singing voice." The first single is "Ball and Chain," one of several tracks Townshend says "refer to the explosive state of things today."

Foals: "The Runner"
This UK indie band will soon release it's second album of the year - or really, the second part of a double-album, Everything That Is Not Saved Will Be Lost. Frontman Yannis Philippakis told NME: "Part one ended with a lot of fire and destructive imagery, part two is trying to respond to that: how you can continue in the wreckage and through the scorched earth?” Of this single, Philippakis says, “It’s a call to find a sense of purpose and perseverance despite the odds and despite the troubles we may find inside or outside ourselves.”


Leela Gilday: "Rolling Thunder"
From Canada's Northwest Territories comes North Star Calling, the new album by Dene-Canadian singer-songwriter Leela Gilday. MusicLifeMagazine calls it "a deeply spiritual album ... invoking the experiences, the imagery, the faith and the powerful connection to the natural environment so imbued in her Dene heritage and culture." Inuit throat singer Tanya Tagaq contributes to our featured track, a power-to-the-people song called "Rolling Thunder."

John Otto Young: "Timeline"
For this keyboardist and songwriter from Connecticut, music was his hobby for years, then his side gig, but always his passion. Now retired from his "day job," he released his first solo album, Sunset Tour, earlier this year. It includes a range of musical styles, and our pick is this jazz-influenced meditation on our fleeting trip through time.

Scott Krokoff: "Groundhog"
As far as we know, this New York singer-songwriter is still keeping his day job, but he continues making music a priority. He's been a fixture on our virtual airwaves for years with his very relatable songs. Many, like this new single, are about the challenge of breaking out of one's shell and making the most of life.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

'New' from R.E.M., plus Robert Randolph, Sheryl Crow, Frankie Cosmos, and introducing MBG

One of our featured new releases this week was recorded 15 years ago. R.E.M. has issued the previously unreleased song "Fascinating" to benefit hurricane-relief efforts in the Bahamas. The recording was made at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2004, intended for the Around the Sun album. "But the lush ballad ultimately didn’t jibe with that spare, atmospheric album," according the a statement from the band. It's now available on R.E.M.'s Bandcamp page, and "proceeds will be donated to Mercy Corps to support their humanitarian response in the Bahamas."

Our other picks of the week:

Robert Randolph & The Family Band: "Strange Train"
We previously featured "Baptise Me" from Brighter Days, the latest release by the slide-guitar virtuoso and his gospel-rhythm-and-blues band. Now we're riding and rocking on the "Strange Train." Says Blues Rock Review: "Randolph’s Z.Z. Top-esque guitar groans along with his vocals. The drums control the pace of the song as it builds with the bumping bass and a final epic solo from Randolph."


Sheryl Crow: "Beware of Darkness"
Featuring Eric Clapton, Sting, Brandi Carlile
Crow's new album Threads is an all-star revue. Each of its 17 tracks is a collaboration with one or more artists from a pantheon of Americana, pop, rock and country stars, on original songs and covers. We've been playing the Crow/Bonnie Raitt/Mavis Staples track "Live Wire," and now we're putting this excellent treatment of the George Harrison classic into the New Music bin. More from the album will surely pop up in our mix.

Frankie Cosmos: Windows
The new album Close It Quietly has brought fresh attention to the New York band fronted by singer-songwriter Greta Kline. Rolling Stone calls it a "tour de force songwriting binge." Indeed, there are 21 songs on the LP, ranging in length from just over a minute to just over three. Listening straight-through is like hearing a friend pour out everything on her mind, jumping from thought to thought, each crystallized in words that range from conversational clarity to poetic obscurity. Our featured track's lyrics suggest difficulty in understanding one another: "Spit out diamonds, cough up rubies / Call me when you can see through me." 

MBG: "Make My Day"
This catchy pop-rock track comes from Have a Alright Day, the first release by MBG - a solo project of singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Leena Rodriguez. This "one-woman rock band" recorded and produced the EP in her home studio in suburban Toronto. Writing her own songs is a new experience, she says: "I've explored in between the genres of classic/punk rock and blues to folk and jazz." Influences of each style can be found in the four tracks on this impressive debut.