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Saturday, September 14, 2019

'New' from R.E.M., plus Robert Randolph, Sheryl Crow, Frankie Cosmos, and introducing MBG

One of our featured new releases this week was recorded 15 years ago. R.E.M. has issued the previously unreleased song "Fascinating" to benefit hurricane-relief efforts in the Bahamas. The recording was made at Compass Point Studios in Nassau, Bahamas, in 2004, intended for the Around the Sun album. "But the lush ballad ultimately didn’t jibe with that spare, atmospheric album," according the a statement from the band. It's now available on R.E.M.'s Bandcamp page, and "proceeds will be donated to Mercy Corps to support their humanitarian response in the Bahamas."

Our other picks of the week:

Robert Randolph & The Family Band: "Strange Train"
We previously featured "Baptise Me" from Brighter Days, the latest release by the slide-guitar virtuoso and his gospel-rhythm-and-blues band. Now we're riding and rocking on the "Strange Train." Says Blues Rock Review: "Randolph’s Z.Z. Top-esque guitar groans along with his vocals. The drums control the pace of the song as it builds with the bumping bass and a final epic solo from Randolph."


Sheryl Crow: "Beware of Darkness"
Featuring Eric Clapton, Sting, Brandi Carlile
Crow's new album Threads is an all-star revue. Each of its 17 tracks is a collaboration with one or more artists from a pantheon of Americana, pop, rock and country stars, on original songs and covers. We've been playing the Crow/Bonnie Raitt/Mavis Staples track "Live Wire," and now we're putting this excellent treatment of the George Harrison classic into the New Music bin. More from the album will surely pop up in our mix.

Frankie Cosmos: Windows
The new album Close It Quietly has brought fresh attention to the New York band fronted by singer-songwriter Greta Kline. Rolling Stone calls it a "tour de force songwriting binge." Indeed, there are 21 songs on the LP, ranging in length from just over a minute to just over three. Listening straight-through is like hearing a friend pour out everything on her mind, jumping from thought to thought, each crystallized in words that range from conversational clarity to poetic obscurity. Our featured track's lyrics suggest difficulty in understanding one another: "Spit out diamonds, cough up rubies / Call me when you can see through me." 

MBG: "Make My Day"
This catchy pop-rock track comes from Have a Alright Day, the first release by MBG - a solo project of singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist Leena Rodriguez. This "one-woman rock band" recorded and produced the EP in her home studio in suburban Toronto. Writing her own songs is a new experience, she says: "I've explored in between the genres of classic/punk rock and blues to folk and jazz." Influences of each style can be found in the four tracks on this impressive debut.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Latest from Mondo Cozmo, Super Doppler, Seratones, Grace Potter, The Rails

After a holiday break, our Music Committee has picked another fine batch of new releases to add to our marvelous mix.

Mondo Cozmo: "Black Cadillac"
Two years after his debut solo album, Plastic Soul, Joshua Ostrander is back with a raucous single from his upcoming LP New Medicine. Built on the kind of repetitive guitar riff Lou Reed might have used, it builds to what BuzzbandsLA calls a "rock-gospel rave-up." Ostrander's talk/singing reminds us a bit of Jakob Dylan as he goes on a stream-of-consciousness rant that obliquely references politics, pop culture - and that time he was tempted to steal a sugar spoon from the Kennedy Room on Capitol Hill after testifying to Congress about the Music Modernization Act.

Seratones: "Gotta Get To Know Ya"
A different kind of raucous rave comes from Power, the new album by this Louisiana soul-rock band fronted by A.J. Haynes. While the album's title track had a message of empowerment, this one comes across as a sexy dance-party song: "No more conversation, give me just what I need / Temperature's a'rising, baby gonna feel the heat."

Super Doppler: "Since You've Been Gone"
We picked up on this band before it was this band - that is, before it adopted its current name about two years ago. The Norfolk, Virginia group's music has sometimes been called country rock, but we think their own description - "Retro Psych Rock n Roll" - is closer to the mark. From their new, self-titled album, our pick is the late-Beatles-ish "Someone Is Watching You."

Grace Potter: "Love Is Love"
Four years after Potter's solo debut Midnight (following her time with The Nocturnals), she returns with Daylight, due for release in October. In the interim, Potter divorced, remarried and had a child. "When I finally started writing songs again - it had to be for myself and myself alone." Paste calls this song "tried-and-true Grace Potter. Featuring a gospel choir and Potter’s dynamite vocals, the song is confessional yet comprehensive."

The Rails: "Call Me When It All Goes Wrong"
If Grace Potter wants to bring Daylight, Kami Thompson and James Walbourne seem to want to shoot it out. Cancel the Sun is the title of the latest release from Thompson, daughter of Richard and Linda, and husband Walbourne, lead guitarist for the Pretenders. We're featuring the opening track, a harsh goodbye song that describes a failing relationship as "just another ride that I've been on / one that didn't last too long."