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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.

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