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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Introducing Deep Blue Sea, plus new Coldplay, Broken Bells, Mumford & Sons, Half Moon Run

Deep Blue Sea: "Don't Say I Didn't Warn You"

Four musicians from four different countries found one another in London and formed this rootsy-bluesy-rock band, which recently released its first studio album, Strange Ways. Lead vocals by Dregas Smith (from the U.S.) ring out over the tight backing of guitarist Iago Banet (Spain), bassist Graeme Wheatley (England) and drummer Amanda Dal (Sweden). Rock and Blues Muse says of the album: "The band seamlessly connects vintage blues/rock, stomping rockabilly, reggae and more in its tight, intelligent songs and does it in a way that captures the intangibles in those genres, not just the guitar licks."

Coldplay: "Orphans"

The upcoming 16-track album Everyday Life is being called "experimental," and on the first two singles to spin out, Coldplay does push its envelope, trying out new and exotic sounds and rhythms. "Orphans" is perhaps more Coldplay-like than its companion, the sax-and-horn-infused "Arabesque," but the percussion and choral background give it a world-music flavor. Its deceptively upbeat, bouncy tune contrasts with its lyrics - which tell of the dead and orphans of the Syrian civil war. "Rosaleen of the Damascene" and "Baba" are taken to heaven by "bombs going boom-ba-boom-boom," leaving their children to sing "I guess we'll be raised on our own then / "I want to be with you 'til the world ends."

Broken Bells: "Good Luck"

Angst about the state of the world and society runs through a lot of music these days, and this new single is another example. James Mercer of The Shins and producer Danger Mouse have revived their on-again off-again collaboration and begun work on their third LP. But in the meantime, Mercer says, they wanted to release this track when it felt timely. The lyric gets right to the point: “The face of evil’s on the news tonight / We see the darkness over light / But have we ever really lived in better times?” Rolling Stone writes, "The track gradually intensifies with wordless vocal hooks and psychedelic fuzz guitar, climaxing with a percussive coda."

Mumford & Sons: "Blind Leading The Blind"

This new single was in the works during the sessions for the band's 2018 album Delta, says Marcus Mumford, but "we never got round to finishing in time to put it on the original release. We’re proud that we’ve finally finished it, as it feels like one of the most challenging songs, thematically, that we’ve put out there, both for ourselves and our audience." Although there isn't much sonic resemblance, the track puts us in mind of R.E.M. with its combination of powerful rock and thoughtful-but-enigmatic lyrics: "My generation's stuck in the mirror ... I am not known if I'm not seen or heard."

Half Moon Run: "Favourite Boy"

This single from the Quebec indie-rock band's upcoming third album, A Blemish In The Great Light, is a song of unrequited love: "I know I'm not your favourite boy / I can see it in the way you fake your smile." (Mood-wise, the lyric is evocative of Airborne Toxic Event's "Sometime Around Midnight.") The band's strengths -- multi-layered instrumentation, overlapping and harmonizing vocals and hooky melodies -- are all in top form in this well-crafted piece of pop.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

New music from Rorie Kelly, The West Coast Feed, Jimmy Eat World, Foals, Beck

We're pleased to present our latest, wide-ranging selection of New Musick. Read, and listen!

Rorie Kelly - Magick Comin'

This singer-songwriter from New York's Long Island describes her genre as "ladybeast music." Her latest single, she says, is "a song about purposely stepping into your power." The theme of empowerment - of recognizing one's own strength and becoming one's own hero - runs through many of her songs, delivered in an earnest, powerful voice with an alt-rock backing.

The West Coast Feed - Blame It On Me

The latest single from this powerful nine-piece Seattle outfit starts out rocking and builds to an "explosion in slow motion" about half way through. Frontman Jesse Butterworth says the track is about dealing with a narcissist ("You've got a way of taking all the fault you see / You take it all off you and put it all on me") and about "finding freedom from that vicious circle."

Jimmy Eat World - Love Never

This Arizona-based group just released its 10th album, Surviving. AllMusic calls it "a late-career peak" and says it "continues the band's sonic evolution with maturity and confidence, taking the glimmers of moody experimentation from [2016's Integrity Blues] and cranking up the urgency." We're featuring the high-energy "Love Never" in our New Music bin.

Foals - Wash Off

"Complex" is the adjective most often used to describe the music of this band from Oxford, England. For example, The Associated Press describes this year's two-part opus, Everything Not Saved Will Be Lost, as "complex, brilliant music" from a band at the top of its game. The two albums form a song cycle about destruction and survival. From the just-released Part 2, we're featuring one of the more straightforward tracks, "Wash Off." NME says it "takes the band’s signature math-rock dance vibes and piles on the muscle and bravado with zero fucks given: “because life’s a lie / so roll the die.”

Beck - Uneventful Days

His upcoming 14th album Hyperspace is being pitched as "new colors" from a "cultural chameleon." But the sound is certainly recognizable as the maverick master of post-modern pop. Like his spring release “Saw Lightning,” this track was co-written and co-produced by Pharrell Williams. Rolling Stone says "While the previous single blended Beck’s slacker folk leanings with Williams’ upbeat hip-hop productions, their latest collaboration takes a more polished, synth-heavy approach."

Saturday, October 12, 2019

New sounds from Bonnie Bishop, Bryan Hansen Band, Van Andrew, Seratones, Swearingen & Kelli

Bonnie Bishop: "Every Happiness Under The Sun"
We became big fans of Bishop as soon as we heard her 2016 album Ain't Who I Was, featuring great soulful-Americana songs like "Too Late" and "Mercy." This track from her brand-new collection, The Walk, is now our favorite. Strains of gospel, blues and funk weave together in this paean to the sunny side of life. "In the valleys I walk through / in the shadows I come to / I just want to say thank you for the happiness under the sun." By the end of its four and a half minutes, you'll want to be clapping and singing along to that refrain. The album wins this praise from American Songwriter: "It’s a powerful, likely career-defining work that will hopefully bring the talented Bishop the popular recognition she undoubtedly deserves." Mixes well with: Amy Helm, Tedeschi Trucks Band.

Bryan Hansen Band: "Untitled #3"
We've previously featured a couple of singles from this New Jersey indie band's new LP, Gas Money. With its official release this week, we're now jumping on the opening track. Despite indecision about what to call the song, the band has made it a staple of its high-energy live shows. "We thought it’d be funny to have the first song on our album technically be #3," says bassist Will Blakey. He and drummer Cwan Merritt provide the funk-rock backing to Hansen's jazzy vocal. Mixes well with: Dave Matthews Band.

Van Andrew: "Highwire" This singer-songwriter from the Northwest corner of Washington State has been self-releasing music for a couple of years, mostly acoustic ballads. (We recently featured his "Building a Home" on The Birch Street Bistro.) This new single is more of a rocker - opening with a bit of electronic keyboard, joined by electric guitars and drums that build to an anthemic crescendo behind Andrews' warm-with-a-touch-of-grit vocal.

Seratones: "Over You"
We haven't had enough yet of Power, the recent album by powerful singer A.J. Haynes and her killer soul-rock band from Louisiana. So after featuring the title track and "Gotta Get to Know Ya" over the summer, we're now dropping this mid-tempo but burning-hot track into the New Music bin.

Swearingen & Kelli: Exile
The indie country-rock duo of AJ Swearingen and Jayne Kelli brings a sense of haunted isolation to this track from the new album Cold-Hearted Truth. (Fittingly, the music video was shot in a Texas ghost town.) S&K describe their third album as inspired "old-school icons of country music" such as Kris Kristofferson, Lucinda Williams and Emmylou Harris. It was recorded in a series of live takes, Swearingen said, to "capture that 3D sound where you're together in one room, focusing on the songs, and finding that human element."

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Tall Days, Temples, Winston Cook, Son Little, Sturgill Simpson added to our big mix

Here we go with our weekly picks for our New Music bin. As usual, it's a very mixed bag!

Tall Days: "Mr. Man"
This band consists of two guys from New Jersey playing what they call "raw, stripped down, bluesy rock n’ roll." Guitarist-vocalist Graham Hartke and drummer Joe DeAngelus cite influences ranging from Led Zeppelin to the Stooges to Jack White. On this track from the new album No Disguise,we're hearing traces of the proto-punk sneer of early Kinks or Mott the Hoople.

Temples: "Hot Motion"
This U.K. trio evokes the more psychedelic side of 60s British rock. We're spinning the title track from their third album. AllMusic writes that on Hot Motion, the band dispenses with the synths heard on 2017's Volcano, returns to the template of 2014's Sun Structure, and makes it "brighter and shinier. The echo is echo-ier, the hooks are bigger, the performances more assured, and the vocals stronger, while the songs are just as memorable and fun as anything on Temples' immaculate debut."

Winston Cook: "Desert Song"
Cook is an emerging indie-folk singer-songwriter from Texas. He performs regularly in the Austin, Houston and San Antonio areas, issued his first EP, Horizon, late last year and has followed up with a couple of singles this year. We featured him on our Sunday show The Birch Street Bistro a few times this summer, and now we're adding his latest single to our New Music bin. From a gentle finger-picked opening, the song picks up energy as it rolls along like a smooth ride on a desert two-lane.

Son Little: "Hey Rose"
Little, a.k.a. Aaron Livingston, divides his time between collaborations and solo projects. It's just him, singing and playing all the instruments, on his upcoming EP, Invisible. "Blending old-school R&B with modern indie, the new music is right on the line between vintage and contemporary," writes American Songwriter. On this seductive single, Little croons, "Your soul is the picture / But your body is the frame / But the frame is exquisite."

Sturgill Simpson: "Sing Along"
No sooner had Simpson made his mark as a rootsy country-music artist than he rejected that label and started exploring other styles. Rolling Stone calls his new album, Sound and Fury, "the most left-field, decisively non-country offering of Simpson’s career." Simpson himself calls it "a sleazy, steamy rock 'n' roll record." We're not country radio, so his musical shift sends him more in our direction.