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Saturday, July 13, 2019

Just added: Jackson Browne/Leslie Mendelson, City & Colour, Dizzy, Thom Artway, Cold War Kids

Jackson Browne teams up with New York singer-songwriter Leslie Mendelson on "Human Touch." The beautiful duet was recorded for the closing credits of a documentary, "5B," about San Francisco hospital workers coping with the AIDS crisis in the 1980s. Billboard has a good article explaining how Browne, Mendelson and her regular collaborator, Steve McEwan, worked together on the song. Browne told the magazine he hopes to write more with Mendelson and McEwan in the future.

City and Colour is prepping an album for release this fall and recently released a single called "Strangers." Frontman Dallas Green says the song "is about how you will never truly know another human being. ... You'll never really understand what it's like to be inside someone else's brain or heart. So, we need to appreciate the differences. If we do, maybe we can live better with one another." Green expands C&C's sound on this track, with "fuzzy, reverberating electric guitars and weighty percussion" that "fit a more stadium-rock-ready mold," as Paste Magazine puts it.

Green's Ontario neighbors Dizzy have just released an EP, Heavy/Twist, consisting of two new songs and some alternate mixes. It's a follow-up to last year's debut LP, Baby Teeth. Our pick for the New Music bin is "Twist." Lead vocalist Katie Munshaw says the track "marks the first time we’ve had the confidence to fully self-produce our music. We decided to give the song more of an analog sound than Baby Teeth by including live drums and piano." The lyric, she says, is "about the hold someone can have over you even after they’ve left your life."

We jump to Europe - specifically, the Czech Republic - to bring you a new single from singer-songwriter Thom Artway. "Chasing the Wires" is a duet with Czech singer Lenny. It's from Artway's new album, All I Know, the follow-up to a 2016 debut LP that won awards in his home country. The lyric tells of a couple wanting, but struggling, to connect: "We share the same desire / but feel so far apart."

California's Cold War Kids bring a blue-eyed-funk sound to "Complainer," a new single ahead of a forthcoming album called New Age Norms. It's a critique of someone who's all talk and little action. "You got big plans but you never take a chance," Nathan Willett sings, and later: "You say you want to change this world / Well, do you really believe in magic? / But you can only change yourself / Don't sit around and complain about it."

Saturday, July 6, 2019

New tunes from Jacobs Run, Tyler Boone, Low Life Lolas, Lenny Bull and *repeat repeat

This week in our New Music bin: repeat appearances by four bands, and the first by a band with a name that repeats. (Our notes are brief this time because we're kinda in vacation mode.)

We were introduced to Melbourne trio Jacobs Run about two years ago, but it's been a while since we've had a new track to add. Now comes the single "Superman," a solid alt-rock song on the familiar theme of an "ordinary man" striving to be super for the one he loves.

Charlston-via-Nashville singer-songwriter-guitarist Tyler Boone has been in our big mix for a few years, and we've noted the wide variety of styles - rock, blues, country-tinged ballads - in his repertoire. On "Jealousy," from his latest EP, his subdued, reverb'ed vocal contrasts with angry-sounding guitar and drums.

Toronto indie band Low Life Lolas made their debut on our playlist a couple of months ago with "Darling I Won't Ask." Now we're featuring another track from their debut EP, Wolves, called "Under My Skin."

We're also pulling out another cut from Sharp Teeth, the solo debut of Toronto-based Lenny Bull. She and her band continue to remind us of early Pretenders on "Turn Me On."

And it's back to Nashville for *repeat repeat and "Hi, I'm Waiting." This bouncy, summery tune is from the third album, Glazed, by the project of husband and wife Jared Corder (vocals, guitar) and Kristyn Corder (keyboards, vocals). AllMusic describes their sound as "surfy garage pop ... equal parts ebullience and grit."

Saturday, June 29, 2019

New releases from Tara MacLean, Wyland, Phantogram, NKOS, The Hold Steady join our mix

Tara MacLean's fifth studio album, Deeper, in a sense is her most independent work. After three albums on Nettwerk Records, most recently 2008's Wake, she put together a collection of covers of songs by other Prince Edward Island artists as an album and show called Atlantic Blue. This time out, she returned to writing her own songs, co-produced them with P.E.I. singer-songwriter Dennis Ellsworth, and released the album independently. "It feels really good," she told EntertainmentFocus, "just to be the person at the helm." The result has garnered glowing reviews, with The Guardian of Charlottetown calling it "superb ... powerful, emotionally charged." Our pick for the New Music bin is perhaps the most pop-leaning track, "Ghosting Me," and you'll be hearing much more from the album in our mix and especially on our Sunday show The Birch Street Bistro.

Our listeners are familiar with New Jersey indie-rock band Wyland. Their recent singles "Nowhere Now" and "Dark Days" spent time in our New Music bin over the past several months, and now we're spinning their latest, "Lost." Despite the title, it's ultimately a declaration of devotion: "Even if I get lost ... I'll find a way back to you." The singles are leading up to a soon-to-be-released album that the band recorded in Ireland last year.

"Into Happiness" is the new release from Josh Carter and Sarah Barthel, a.k.a. Phantogram. It's the second single to emerge from the electro-pop duo since the 2016 LP Three. Rolling Stone says the shuffling drums and mix of synths "teeter towards dark wave but are ultimately buoyed by a particularly bright riff" and Barthel's encouraging vocal: "Fall into happiness / Wish you could be here / No more loneliness / You'd make it perfect."

Four musicians from different parts of the globe started working together separately (that is, in separate studios and over the internet), and eventually turned into a "real" band. Now that band, NKOS, is out with its debut single, a piece of edgy electronica called "Little Miss Numb." NKOS is singer/songwriter Nancy Natali, who was born in Australia but grew up in Geneva and Rome; producer Flavio Manieri from Poland and Italy; Italian DJ and producer Chris Shape and guitarist Marcus Billeri of Paris.

And because we always like to jump among genres, we turn from synthy techno to the guitar-and-drums rock and rambling storytelling of The Hold Steady. In the five years since their last album, the band has released the occasional single while Craig Finn also worked on solo projects. Now they're preparing to release Thrashing Through the Passion, an LP including new songs along with tracks previously released on Bandcamp. They're previewing it with "Denver Haircut," a somewhat seedy slice-of-life tale with the refrain, "It doesn't have to be perfect / Just sort of has to be worth it."

Saturday, June 22, 2019

New from The Bird & The Bee, The Regrettes, Winona Forever, Finnian and Monica Moser

Photo: Alexa Nicole Curran
An unusual cover, a taste of LA garage-punk, a laid-back groove and the latest from two singer-songwriters make up this week's New Music picks.

Back in 2010, The Bird And The Bee issued an album of Hall & Oates covers, which lent themselves easily to reinterpretation by the indie-pop duo. Now Inara George and Greg Kurstin have given the cover treatment to a radically different band - Van Halen. LoudWire writes: "While it may seem like a bit of a reach for the somewhat ethereal pair, keep in mind that Kurstin has worked frequently in the rock world as a producer, most famously lending his talents to Foo Fighters' 2017 album Concrete and Gold." B&B's Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 2: A Tribute to Van Halen is due in August, and we're featuring the single "Ain't Talking 'Bout Love."

Photo: Claire Marie Vogel
The Regrettes were formed in 2015 by four teenagers: singer-songwriter Lydia Night, guitarist Genessa Gariano, bassist Sage Nicole and drummer Maxx Morando. Night's original songs helped the young band get signed by Warner Music and bring out an album in 2017. They've released several singles since, and just came to our attention with "I Dare You" from their upcoming sophomore album How Do You Love? Paste calls the track "catchy and guitar-driven ... an infectious tune to which you can’t help but dance along."

The sound of Montreal quartet Winona Forever has been described as "woozy art-pop," "smooth indie-jazz-yacht-rock," and even "groovy." We're always interested in emerging bands that come up with a unique blend of styles (even if those styles date to the 1970s), and that's what we hear on "Gazing," from the band's new album, Feelgood.

Influences of 1970s soft-rock also can be heard in the debut album from Finnian, a singer-songwriter from Dundalk, Ireland. After years of touring as folk-singer-with-guitar, he put together a band of accomplished musicians to record Under the Influence, to be released later this summer. We recently slipped one track, "Even Flow" (a duet with Stephanie Winters) into our mix, and now we're putting "Where We Go" into the New Music bin. It's described as a song "about dreaming big and how people shouldn’t be afraid to make that leap of faith."

The latest single from Nashville singer-songwriter Monica Moser starts as a gentle piano-and-vocal ballad and builds with percussion and electronic keyboards into a very contemporary pop-rock anthem. "Shortcut" describes a relationship that has advanced too quickly, skipping important steps. Moser says the title refers to "someone getting to know the intimate parts of you that didn't deserve to."

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Presenting new tracks by Springsteen, Jenn Grant, Seratones, Boy & Bear and Big Thief

Bruce Springsteen's new album, Western Stars, has received a lot of positive reviews (although we saw one critic call it tedious). It's a stylistic departure from Bruce's typical Jersey Rock sound, filled largely with "mid-tempo songs lush with the type of string-and-horn arrangements that once kept session players busy in recording studios up and down Sunset Boulevard," as the Los Angeles Times put it. We think the Toronto Sun describes it best, as having "the rich, warm sound of songs like 'By The Time I Get to Phoenix,' 'Wichita Lineman' and 'Everybody’s Talkin' - but populated by Springsteen’s latest cast of misfits, wanderers, blue-collar heroes and broken men." Fifty-some minutes of Mellow Bruce can get a bit tiresome, but the individual songs are mostly well-crafted. We've been spinning the lead single, "Hello Sunshine," and we're now featuring album track "Tucson Train" in our New Music Bin.

We've also been playing the first single ("Raven") from Jenn Grant's new album, and now that the rest of Love, Inevitable has been released, we're adding the beautiful second track, "Our Love." The Halifax singer-songwriter went west to Portland, Ore., and worked with a new producer on this, her seventh album. “It came from this strange time in my life where I was sort of taking a leap of faith in several ways,” Grant says. You'll be hearing other songs from the album in our big mix and on The Birch Street Bistro.

As always, our New Music picks of the week feature a wide variety of sounds. We turn now to the Southern soul-rock of Seratones, who have just released the title track of their upcoming second album, Power. The Shreveport, Louisiana-based five-piece band creates a hard-driving groove backing A.J. Haynes commanding vocal: "We take two steps forward / They take one step backward / We take each step 'cause we've got the power."

Rounding out this week's picks:

Boy & Bear: "Hold Your Nerve" - The upbeat track is the first release from the Australian band since 2015's Limit of Love. After a hiatus due to frontman Dave Hosking's illness, the group traveled to Nashville to work on its fourth album, due later this year.

Big Thief: "UFOF" - Pitchfork calls the Brooklyn quartet's third album "undoubtedly" their best, "a mesmerizing flood of life filtered down into a concentrated drip." We're spinning the dreamy title track, in which songwriter/vocalist Adrianne Lenker bids farewell to her "UFO friend."

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Just added to our mix: Screens 4 Eyes, Valley, Sheryl Crow, Shayna McDaniel, Liam Gallagher

We're glad to present brand-new music from Screens 4 Eyes, an indie electronic-rock-dream-pop group from Tel Aviv, Israel. "Feelings Are For Girls" is their first single since the 2017 album Behind These Doors, which has been in our mix since its release. The band's lineup has changed, other than vocalist-keyboardist Yael Brener. On this track, her misty voice echoes through an electronic soundscape that creates a sense of being drawn into a mystery. The Screens are working on an EP that we hear will have more of a rock-band sound, with guitars, bass and drums joining in.

Photo: Becca Hamel
Toronto indie-pop band Valley has released the second installment of a series of EPs collectively called Maybe. From the new set, called Maybe: Side B, we previously featured "Park Bench" and now we're picking up the opening track, "A Phone Call in Amsterdam." With its musical mix of acoustic and electronic sounds, band members have called it "the quintessential Valley song." Guitarist-vocalist Mike Brandolino says "It’s lyrically open-ended, so you adapt it to your own story and whatever’s going on in your life while you listen.”

As always, we embrace a wide range of music in our big mix - so from electro-pop we jump to earthy Americana music. Sheryl Crow has just released a single with her "two favorite women in all of rock n' roll," Bonnie Raitt and Mavis Staples. The trio harmonize and trade solos singing about a "lover stubborn as a weed" on this country-rock track, "Live Wire." Crow's upcoming LP, Threads, featuring a series of  all-star collaborations, is due in late August.

New to our mix is Shayla McDaniel, a singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who has made a splash in her home area of Knoxville, Tennessee, and is starting to gain wider attention. Her new single, "Tension," is smooth and soulful with a touch of jazz. McDaniel's will be releasing a collection called Both of My Hands next month.

Rounding out our weekly picks is a dose of gritty rock from Liam Gallagher. The second solo album from the former Oasis singer, to be called Why Me? Why Not? is in the works, and he's just released the first taste, called "Shockwave."

Saturday, June 1, 2019

New tracks from Secret Treehouse, Scott Krokoff, Sacred Paws, Olden Yolk, The Black Keys

The latest single from Norway's Secret Treehouse expresses what many people around the world are feeling these days: that everything is in the "Wrong Hands." Vocalist Anja Bere sings softly of "smoke and hate in the air" to a jangly pop melody that builds into a stadium-worthy anthem. Based in Bergen, Norway, this self-described "pop orchestra" has quickly become one of our favorites.

New York singer-songwriter Scott Krokoff has been a favorite of ours for some time, with his well-crafted songs and often self-effacing lyrics. His latest single, "Something I'd Like To Know," is a breezy pop tune that describes "the life of an introvert" who envies others' self-assurance. "How does it feel when everybody loves you? How does it feel to say the things you want to?"

The second album from Sacred Paws, Run Around the Sun, is our introduction to the Scottish duo of Rachel Aggs and Eilidh Rodgers. Aggs' guitars, Rodgers' drums and the duo's intertwined voices create what AllMusic calls "a joyous indie-pop listening experience." Our featured track is "The Conversation," in which their sometimes alternating, sometimes joined voices suggest a discussion that veers between argument and agreement.

Singer-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Shane Butler (of Quilt) and Caity Shaffer create folky, poetic art rock as Olden YolkThey've just released their second album, "Living Theatre," and we're featuring "Grand Palais," which AllMusic says "approximates the eerie, infectious folk-rock of the late '60s, complex ethereal harmonies, jammy guitar solo, shaker, drum fills, and all."

Much more down-to-earth is the guitar-and-drums rock-and-roll of The Black Keys, who land in our New Music Bin once again with "Go," the latest single from their upcoming Let's Rock LP. 

In addition to the tracks featured in our New Music Bin, we're constantly adding music - both new and old - to our big playlist. And we expand our musical scope even further on two Sunday programs: 
  • The Birch Street Bistro, which showcases singer-songwriters.
  • The Detour, where we veer off the beaten path to discover new indie music and dig up old deep tracks. 
Follow the links above for more info on those shows, and find past episodes archived on our Mixcloud site

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Debuts by Soda Blonde, Golden Dimes, plus new Super Doppler, Merlot Embargo, Sail By Summer

It's all indie bands in our New Music bin this week, including two debuts and the latest from some groups we've featured before.

From Dublin, we bring you the first release by Soda Blonde, which consists of four of the five members of the recently-disbanded Little Green Cars: Faye O’Rourke, Adam O’Regan, Donagh Seaver O’Leary and Dylan Lynch. "Swimming Through The Night" features O'Rourke's powerful vocal, which evokes comparisons to Annie Lennox and Florence Welch. The band says this track, to be officially released June 7, is one of a "collection of songs written by O’Rourke throughout her early 20s, where she honed in on her unique lyrical style of gritty kitchen-sink realism."

Also making its debut is Golden Dimes, a band formed by New Jersey neighbors who describe themselves as "five suburban dads, all lifetime musicians brought together by fate and a mutual love of great food and drink, an irreverent sense of humor, and positive vibes." They recently released an EP, Uncommon Cents, blending keys, guitars and organic drum sounds with vocal harmony. Our featured pick, "Paper Skin," carries an earnest message for dads and other adults interacting with children: "Never tell them they're not good enough / Don't make them feel that they can't ever win."

The three bands making return appearances in our New Music bin include Super Doppler. This group from Norfolk, Virginia, blends late-Beatles-psychedelic sounds with strains of roots rock and country. Their latest single, "Going Nowhere," might be our favorite yet. Blends well with: Real Estate.

Merlot Embargo is an indie-pop band from Los Angeles fronted by singer-songwriter and guitarist-producer couple Scarlet and Geoff. They caught our attention with their first album in 2016, and have issued several singles since. The latest, "Don't Cry," is an I'll-be-fine-without-you breakup song: "Don't cry for me / when you're the one who wants to leave / baby you don't get to grieve."

We've been playing Sail By Summer's "Casual Drive" for a couple of months, and now we're picking up "Fetch You Roses." It's the latest single to spin out from the upcoming debut album by the "melancholic indie" duo of Norwegian singer-songwriter William Hut and Danish keyboardist Jens Kristian. Casual Heaven is due in August.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

New sounds from Lizzie No, Southern Avenue, The Heavy, The National & introducing Low Life Lolas

Our regular listeners are familiar with singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Lizzie No. Her music has been part of our mix since the release of her 2017 debut LP, Hard Won. Her second collection, Vanity, is due in August, and she's just released a single, "Narcissus." On this track, No moves a bit beyond the folk/country sounds of her first record, adding a fuller, somewhat rock-ier sound behind very personal, self-reflecting lyrics. "I see myself / As a great pretender / in grown-ups clothing / Up on tiptoe by the water's edge," she sings, then turns to lessons learned in love: “I believed some things were meant to happen / Now I’m not so sure / 'Cause I keep on breaking my own heart." Rolling Stone named this a Song You Need To Know, writing that "it’s ultimately [No's] uncanny knack for songwriterly perspective that grounds the song."

We weren't familiar with Memphis-based soul-rock band Southern Avenue until we heard a track from their just-released second album, Keep On. From we learn that this group came together through a collaboration among "Israeli psych-blues guitarist Ori Naftaly, gospel singer Tierinii Jackson and drummer Tikyra Jackson (Tierinii’s sister)." However that happened, the result is "fiery, guitar-led soul rock, with punchy horns, hard-shuffling beats." Our featured track, Whiskey Love," is about a woman breaking out of a cycle of abuse. Tierinii Jackson describes it as "a song of hope and strength for all those out there struggling.”

Southern soul, rock and funk also come together in the unlikely surroundings of Bath, England, through the music of The Heavy. This band has been keeping on for a dozen years or so and just released it's fifth album, Sons. All Music describes the sound very well: "Featuring the swaggering, throaty vocals of Kelvin Swaby, the Heavy are akin to '70s British trad-rock bands like Faces or Humble Pie, but only if they'd been fronted by James Brown." We're featuring the single "Better As One," which drives home a message of unity: "I know that we can do better / I know we're better as one / I know we can do better / Without evil on our tongue."

Jumping from one style of music to another, as we always do, we return to the Toronto indie-music scene and pick up a track from the debut album by Low Life Lolas. This quartet, formed a year or so ago, features songwriter and lead vocalist Reneé Parr along with drummer Melissa Chiasson, guitarist Alex MacLeod and bassist Jose Guillen. Parr began writing in her hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario, and developed a style described as "a blend of delicate folk, dissonance, and sophisticated lyrics." The band backs it with a big, solid indie-rock sound. Our pick for the New Music bin is "Darling I Won't Ask."

Veering off in yet another direction: We've heard bits and pieces of The National's eighth album, I Am Easy to Find, and now the full hour-plus record has been released. Much has been written about the album, the accompanying short film, and the choice by Matt Berninger to collaborate with several female artists. We're now featuring the title track, a quiet ballad on which Matt is joined by British musician Kate Stables (a.k.a. This Is The Kit). We always find Berninger's lyrics annoyingly cryptic, but in this gentle duet, they go down smoothly.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

The latest from Hemming, Kasador, Valley, Foals and Of Monsters and Men join our big mix

It's been a little while since we've heard new music from Hemming, a singer-songwriter who's part of a vibrant indie-rock scene in Philadelphia. After a debut album in 2015 and some singles and side projects since, she's just released a four-song EP, Waiting/Wasting. Hemming, a.k.a. Candice Martello, describes her music simply as "songs about feelings," and they often explore the darker places of the heart. On our featured track, "Nest To Me," a syncopated percussion figure is gradually joined by instrumental layers as the lyric turns to a chant of longing for someone to be next to/nesting with "what's left of me."

There's an anxious undercurrent as well to "Brood & Bloom," the new single by Kasador, an indie-rock quartet based in Kingston, Ontario. It's the title track from an upcoming full-length release, following a 2016 EP and a couple of singles. The band says the album was "written through tough times" and that "the message in this [song] is clear: out of something bad comes something good, if you choose to make it happen."

From Kingston we cruise down the 401 to Toronto to catch the latest from Valley, "Park Bench." It has a sunny and breezy sound, but the disjointed lyric suggests disorientation in the modern age. “It touches on social, generational, and political ideas that we felt were relevant to us at the time,” says Valley's drummer, Karah. The track will be on Maybe: Side B, the second installment of an album the band is releasing in stages; Side A came out about six months ago and we're told they're not stopping at B. 

The new collection from Foals, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1, has been declared by NME to be the band's "best album to date." We previously featured the single "Exits," and now we're picking up "In Degrees," which Atwood Magazine calls "a real high point of the album" with "a disco feel to it thanks to an incredibly funky bass line and thumping lower register ... This is super refreshing to hear, and it works perfectly in this eclectic album."

Moving farther from the folk-pop sound of their 2011 debut, Of Monsters and Men crank up the guitar rock on their latest release, "Alligator," the first single from an upcoming album called Fever Dream. The Icelandic band’s co-vocalist, Nanna Bryndis Hilmarsd√≥ttir, takes the lead on this track, with a lyric that never mentions the titular reptile, but speaks of releasing inner feelings: "I am open and I am restless / Let me feel it out, let it all come out."