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Saturday, February 23, 2019

Introducing Birds of Bellwoods, Lucy Bell, Bailen & latest from Broken Social Scene, Juliana Hatfield

The Toronto musical collective and force of nature known as Broken Social Scene has followed up 2017's Hug of Thunder with an EP called Let's Try The After, Vol. 1, suggesting that there will be more to come soon. It's a disparate collection of songs and instrumentals, of which our current fave is "Boyfriends." Pitchfork says it "builds on Hug of Thunder’s skyscraping rock motifs as [Kevin Drew] effortlessly slides into the rousing chorus, 'Let’s get you out of here,' a torrent of electric guitar and weighty piano chords arriving perfectly on cue."

Lingering in Toronto, we pick up a track from Victoria, the debut full-length album by Birds of Bellwoods. Exclaim calls it the band's "coming-out party as one of Canada's emerging alternative outfits," adding that it "channels the vibrancy of Only By the Night-era Kings of Leon and combines it with the Lumineers' style of anthemic writing." Our pick for the new music bin is the energetically angsty "Let You Go."

Dropping down to Boston we catch up with the latest from Juliana Hatfield, Weird. As the title suggests, the theme of the album is the feeling of not fitting in, of being out of step with the world. We're featuring "Staying In," a song about retreating from a world where "they keep changing all the rules / and I don't know how to play these games." The refrain: "I'm staying in / My hair's not right / And if I go out / Somebody might take me for / a functioning human being."

We consider ourselves lucky to have been sent an advance copy of a new single by Lucy Bell, an emerging singer-songwriter from Downpatrick, County Down in Northern Ireland. Although just 18 years old, she already has a few years of performance experience, having won Belfast-based Panarts' Young Singer Songwriter of the Year award in 2017. She brings sharp writing skills and a polished delivery to "Lost On The Line."

New York City-based Bailen has broken into the AAA charts with "I Was Wrong," the first single from its upcoming debut album, Thrilled To Be Here. Fraternal twins Daniel and David Bailen and their sister Julia "craft melodies that sound more country than city, laced with dusty guitars and harmonies," says Stereogum. The band says the song "is about coming together and listening to the other side of an argument, hearing another perspective, and being able to say I was wrong.”

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Now in our New Music bin: I'm With Her, Mackenzie Shivers, The Raconteurs, Hembree, Wild Belle

Once again we've picked a wide variety of new music to feature this week:
I'm With Her, the Americana "supergroup" of singer-songwriter-musicians Aoife O'Donovan, Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins, follows up last year's album See You Around with a new single, "Call My Name."

From The Unkindness, the new album by New York singer-songwriter Mackenzie Shivers, we're featuring "Tears To Keep Me Warm."The Raconteurs, the occasional side project of Jack White, has re-emerged with a pair of new songs, their first in over a decade. We're adding "Now That You're Gone" to our New Music Bin.

Kansas City indie-rockers Hembree will release their debut full-length album, "House On Fire," in April. We're spinning the first single, "Culture." Lead vocalist Isaac Flynn says of the song: “These days we put so much emphasis on things that lack actual significance. Everything is urgent and I wanted to try to capture this urgency in a song and question what we prioritize."
Wild Belle, the brother-sister duo of Natalie and Elliott Bergman, is bringing out its third album of reggae/dance/pop, Everybody One Of A Kind, next month. We're picking up the first single, "Mockingbird."

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Our latest picks: Carsie Blanton, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lost Leaders, Foals and The Interrupters

Faithful Birch Street Radio listeners know we're big supporters of New Orleans-based singer, songwriter, musician and mischief-maker Carsie Blanton. Her music doesn't stick to any particular genre. In fact, she says, "I love songs, but I hate genre. I think making music is like making love: if you only know one way to do it, you must not be very good at it." She makes sexy songs, sassy songs, serious songs and mixtures of those and other ingredients. We recently featured the title track of her upcoming album, Buck Up, an optimistic take on the current state of the world. Now we turn to a less sunny view: "American Kid," a song of concern for what the next generation will have to deal with.

The forthcoming album Signs looks to be another instant classic from the Tedeschi Trucks Band, based on what we've heard so far: "Hard Case," which we began playing a few weeks ago, and now joining our playlist, "They Don't Shine." Built around Susan Tedeschi's expressive vocals and Derek Trucks' guitar mastery, TTB is without question one of the best touring bands in the land. This album was recorded live on analog tape at Susan and Derek's home studio in Jacksonville, Fla. The result, says NPR: "There's such warmth to the playing, you can picture the band members standing in the studio — playing together and off of each other, blending rock and blues and soul, accompanied by Trucks' impassioned guitar work and Tedeschi's soulful vocals."

Lost Leaders, the on-and-off project of Peter Cole and Byron Isaacs, returns March 1 with a new album, Promises Promises. As the band describes it, the record "takes the permanent background noise of anxiety and pushes it through a large collection of vintage synthesizers, guitar pedals and tea soaked vocal chords." Now entering our New Music bin is the first single, "Extra-ordinary."

U.K. alt-rock quartet Foals is bringing out Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost Part 1 next month, with Part 2 due in August. The first track to spin out, "Exits," is a haunting meditation on climate change and other modern dangers. Atwood Magazine says the track "feels like it’s set to a low simmer, drawing out as much electric tension as possible" in an expression of "existential claustrophobia."

To round out this week's picks, we jump back about six months to Fight the Good Fight, the breakout album by Los Angeles-based The Interrupters. We've been playing several of its tracks in our big mix, but one we'd overlooked, "Gave You Everything," has started climbing the radio charts lately, and we couldn't resist jumping on the bandwagon. Consisting of vocalist Aimee Allen and brothers Jesse, Justin and Kevin Bivona, this female-fronted punk-ska band brings fresh fire to the genre.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

New Florence + The Machine, Just a Jester, Only Yours, Blue Stones, Catfish & The Bottlemen

For various reasons we're pressed for time this week, so this blog post is short on words - but we have our regular weekly complement of entries to our New Music bin, and of course, it's the music that counts!

Florence Welch is not someone you'd associate with the word "Moderation" - and that's the point of the new single from Florence + The Machine. "Want me to love you in moderation / do I look moderate to you? ... Well who do you think you're talking to?"

The U.K. singer-songwriter who goes by Just a Jester returns with his laid-back, lo-fi sound on a new single, "Heartbeat."

Only Yours is a four-piece from Toronto led by songwriter Lowell Sostomi. Their first LP, Overrun, was just released, and we're adding the lead track, "Doubts."

We're dipping back into Black Holes, the recent debut LP from another Toronto indie act, The Blue Stones, for a solid rocker called "Be My Fire."

And continuing in a rock vein, we're picking up the latest single from Catfish & The Bottlemen, "Longshot." It's the first single to come out ahead of the U.K. band's third album, The Balance, due April 26.

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