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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Latest from Tedeschi Trucks Band, Joe Jackson, Lonely Avenue, Frances Cone, Secret Treehouse

As big fans of Tedeschi Trucks Band and long-time Joe Jackson enthusiasts, we're glad to have new music from both this week. Joining them in our New Music Bin: the latest from a California indie band we first featured a couple of years ago; another track from a Nashville duo's new release; and the debut of a "pop orchestra" from Norway. Variety!

Tedeschi Trucks Band's Let Me Get By was one of our absolute favorite albums of 2016, so we're really looking forward to their upcoming release, Signs. We're jumping right on the first single, "Hard Case," which NPR called "an upbeat, shuffling, instant classic. "It's a fun song for us to play," Susan Tedeschi says, "And like so many other songs on the album, is a great showcase for the band." She and husband Derek Trucks have an all-time-great traveling band (seen above at New York's Beacon Theater last October), and we're not sure how they found time between tours to record. The full release is due in mid-February.

Joe Jackson is about to release his 20th studio album, 40 years after he made his debut with Look Sharp! Jackson's literate-punk style is intact on Fool, judging by the songs released so far. Our featured pick, "Friend Better," echoes the sardonic view of love behind classics like "Happy Loving Couples" and "Fools In Love" from the 1979 record. "If you were to use your head, / Then you would just forget her. / Listen what the wise man said: / Lover good, friend better."

Next we turn to Lonely Avenue, an indie quartet from Bakersfield, Calif., that cites influences ranging from Merle Haggard through the Allman Brothers and Tom Petty to Wilco. Their songs often come with heart-felt, personal lyrics. Lead singer Jon Ranger describes their latest single, "Wrong To Assume," as "basically an apology to someone for taking advantage of their strength, and realizing that we can’t just 'want' to make a change, there must be action in order to better ourselves."

A few weeks ago, we introduced ourselves and our listeners to Frances Cone, the duo of Christina Cone and Andy Doherty. We've been spinning "Failure" from their new album, Late Riser, and now we're featuring the opening track, "Wide Awake." Despite its title, the song has a languid, dreamy atmosphere. But the lyric suggests awakening to the realization that a relationship isn't working: "You call me, you call me, you call me a fool / And I don't know why I was asking you to."

And we've just been introduced to an alternative pop/rock band from Bergen, Norway, called Secret Treehouse. This five-member "pop orchestra" has put out several singles in the past couple of years, and just released its debut album, The Big Rewind. We're featuring the lead single, "Fear of Frogs." "It's about the fear of holding someone you love back," says guitarist and songwriter Sveinung Bukve. "And the feeling of just wanting to run away from it all, coz you're afraid you'll end up just doing damage."

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Fresh-picked music by Miss Emily, WKNDR, Jared & The Mill, The Wild Reeds and The Beths

Our first picks for the New Music bin in this new year are all "indie" releases - which we're happy to say make up a big portion of our ever-growing library. We have two groups that we've featured before and three that are new to our mix.

Among the new entries to our playlist is Miss Emily, who hails from Kingston, Ontario, and has been making music for some 15 years, with live performances across Canada and in the U.S. and U.K. Her shows are described as "foot-stomping, heart-wrenching adventures in rhythm, blues, jazz and rock-and- roll." On her latest album, In Between, Emily Fennell is joined by The Tragically Hip's Gord Sinclair as producer/co-writer/bass player and bandmate Rob Baker as lead guitarist/co-writer. The record was originally released in late 2017 in limited distribution in her home area and has been "bubbling up" since then. It finally reached our ears when Miss Emily recently put out a video for "Hold Back the River" - a gospel-influenced number that would mix well with Amy Helm or Rhiannon Giddens. We're making that our featured pick, but will be playing other tracks from this genre-jumping album as well.

Next we head south to Richmond, Va., where we find a quartet called WKNDR that blends guitars, flute, ukulele and mandolin into a musical style it calls "alternafolkrock." Since we specialize in alternative-and-classic-and-indie-rock-and-folk-and-more, it's a natural fit. Their new single is "Bridges," which the band describes "as a relatable story of the thought process when a relationship is broken and you’re figuring out the next steps." WKNDR cites The Lumineers and The Head And The Heart as influences, and that modern-indie-folk style infuses this number, which sounds like it should be coming from the stage of a summer music festival.

The five-piece band called Jared & The Mill describes itself as "five best friends from Arizona" whose musical tastes range from Bob Dylan and Simon & Garfunkel to Van Halen and Kendrick Lamar. Their latest single, "Soul In Mind," is the first to spin out from an upcoming album called This Story Is No Longer Available. It's a song of introspection while on the road far from loved ones, and of wanting to live up to their expectations: "Just split me up /
Split me up in two / and keep the better side /
I'll try to be that guy."

Turning to bands that we've featured before: The Wild Reeds have a new album on the way, called Cheers. The Los Angeles-based indie-folk quintet features co-lead singers and songwriters Kinsey Lee, Mackenzie Howe and Sharon Silva. The first single, "Lose My Mind," is a song by Lee "about friendship, family, and my best friend. When I am at my highest and lowest, he’s always been the one to remind me who I am and who I want to be." She says she wrote and rewrote the song over three years, then worked on it with the band "over and over in different ways, with different feels," to come up with the finished version. "This is the most satisfied I have ever felt with a song that I have written."

And from New Zealand we have a new single from The Beths - the title track of the indie-rock group's debut album, Future Me Hates Me. Pitchfork called the album a "really impressive" debut - "hook-filled songs filled with energy and attitude, written with depth and played masterfully." And Paste named The Beths its Best New Band of 2018. They're about to embark on a world tour, starting in Ireland and the UK, bouncing around Europe and then hitting Canada and the USA in February and March.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Birch Street Radio plays on in 2019

Here at Birch Street Radio, we're looking forward to bringing you more great music in 2019 - new and classic rock, alternative, pop, folk-rock and more. We've been doing it since April 2013 and continually improving our Marvelous Mix. 

Along the way, our program has moved several times from one internet-broadcasting platform to another. And it's likely we will have to make another change in the next week or so. 

TorontoCast, which has carried Birch Street Radio for the past year, tentatively plans to discontinue service to listeners in the United States in mid-January. We're preparing for that by setting up a separate stream for U.S. listeners. You can try it out by clicking the button labeled "Testing: new player for U.S." in the Listen Now box near the top of our website.

Unless there's a change in TorontoCast's plans, we will officially launch the new stream next week. Listening links for the U.S. will change, and listeners using certain internet-radio players will have to "re-tune" them to connect to the new stream. We'll do our best to make the transition as smooth as possible by providing up-to-date information and listening links here at birchstreetradio.com.

We're committed to continue bringing our Marvelous Mix to long-time listeners and new fans in 2019 and beyond. If you ever have trouble tuning in our "signal," remember that you can always find us here at birchstreetradio.com.