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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Debuts by Cartwheel, Taylor Scott Band, and the latest from New Pornographers, Wyland, Wilco

Sometimes it takes a little while for new music to find its way to our ears. Cartwheel, a trio from Wichita, Kansas, released its debut album Best Days earlier this year, but it has only now come to our attention - and grabbed it. The group is fronted by guitarist Kristyn Chapman, who has played in various bands over the past dozen years but now makes her debut as a songwriter and bandleader. She's joined by William Erickson on drums and Riley Day on bass. Our featured song, "Nothing," was the first Chapman wrote: "The chords, melody, and words came all at once in a rare miracle," she says. Her vocal floats softly through an indie-rock churn of fuzzy guitar and sharp percussion: “We’re so afraid to feel anything,” Chapman sings, “but feeling is what makes life full.”

Another new-ish record that took its time reaching us is All We Have, the first full-length release by the Denver blues-rock-funk outfit Taylor Scott Band. Scott's powerful lead guitar and soulful tenor voice are backed up by the tight combo of Jon Wirtz on keys, Chris Harris on bass and Lem Williams on drums. Steve Berlin of Los Lobos produced the record. Our featured track is the solid opener, “Somebody Told Me.”

It's always hard to discern what their songs are about, but on the just-released album from The New Pornographers, In the Morse Code of Brake Lights, images of falling, collapse and disorder keep cropping up. We previously featured the single "Falling Down the Stairs of Your Smile," where the plunging is emotional. Now entering our New Music bin is "Colossus of Rhodes," which isn't actually about the ancient statue that collapsed in an earthquake, but has a things-aren't-going-well theme: "There is no food left in the house / There is no air left in the room," Neko Case sings. "Change the locks on every door / We've had break-ins before." Slant Magazine describes the song as "the band’s blusteriest track to date," featuring "concert-style piano, gurgling synths, and dramatic string swells." Rolling Stone calls the album "panic-attack pop."

Another brand-new album, Wyland's In a Circuitry of Lonely, is also filled with soaring but unsettling songs - with titles like "Lost," "Dark Days" and "Nowhere Now." We've been spinning those tracks as the New Jersey-based indie band released them over the past year, and now that the full collection is out, we're featuring "Remote Control Heart." Lead singer and songwriter Ryan Sloan conjures disaffection and disconnection: "And life just keeps moving / While our hearts lie in ruins."

On the verge of releasing their 11th album, Wilco has dropped the single "Everyone Hides," and we're picking it up to round out our New Music bin this week. It's a meditation on how we construct narratives for ourselves that don't contain the whole truth. "You're selling yourself on a vision / a dream of who you are," Jeff Tweedy sings. "Remember, it can't be denied / everyone hides."

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