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Saturday, August 3, 2019

Latest from New Pornographers, Bryan Hansen, Sleater-Kinney, Robert Randolph, Jason Spooner

The New Pornographers are back with a single ahead of a just-announced eighth album, to be released this fall. Band founder A.C. Newman produced the LP, titled In The Morse Code of Brake Lights, and says it's not a theme album but happens to contain a lot of car-related songs. The single, however, uses a different metaphor to describe the vertigo of new love: "Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile." Stereogum says it exemplifies the band's "articulate candy-coated power-pop" with "a subtly infectious groove and hooks to spare."

The New Jersey-based Bryan Hansen Band creates its own unique style, mixing funk, rock, soul and R&B. Drummer Cwan Merritt provides the groove, bassist Will Blakey brings the funk and Hansen is the soulful singer and songwriter. From their upcoming album Gas Money we're featuring "Smiling Dashboard Jesus," a song with the laid-back vibe of a summer barbecue - as demonstrated in the song's music video.

Speaking of videos, the lyric video for Sleater-Kinney's "Hurry On Home" is quite amusing. The song is from The Center Won't Hold, the band's ninth album, and apparently its last with drummer Janet Weiss, who announced her departure this summer, unhappy with the band's latest direction. The groundbreaking punk trio definitely tries out some new sounds on this LP, produced by St. Vincent. The title track is a cacophonous experimental number, while "Hurry" veers toward alt-pop with its synths and its clean production, even as it shakes the walls with what Pitchfork calls "Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s gigantic, thick guitar riffs and Janet Weiss’ bull’s-eye drumming."

R&B, Gospel and blues come together in the music of Robert Randolph and the Family Band. And the connection between religious and musical ecstasy is clearly drawn in “Baptise Me,” a single from the upcoming album Brighter Days. “When you think about Stax music and a lot of music from the 70s, especially like the Staples Singers, it was inspirational and you danced you had a good time,” says Randolph. “That’s what we really wanted to hone in on here: let’s sound good and have a natural good time that will bring listeners along ... All of these songs kind of harken back to how we started, to being known as this musical family band that comes from the church and appeals to rock, blues, gospel and soul music audiences."

From its base in Portland, Maine, The Jason Spooner Band has been recording and touring since the early 2000s, and is preparing to roll out its fifth album, Wide Eyed. We're jumping on the first single, "All Things Equal," a rootsy, grooving number with great interplay between guitars and horns.“Our influences are all over the map as individuals… rock, blues, folk, jazz, Americana, R&B, reggae, etcetera,” says Spooner. "I feel like this record allowed us to tap into some of those influences without worrying if it fit our 'official genre.' "

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