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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 Relix.com 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 ReneƩ 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.

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