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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."

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