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Saturday, November 16, 2019

Orwells '84, Best Coast, Sarah Harmer, Jackie and Demob Happy - the latest additions to our mix


Orwells '84 - "On The Road"


We introduced our listeners to this indie-folk band from Dundalk, Ireland, with their single "Cailin" back in May. Now we're happy to present a track from their just-released debut EP, Truth Is The First Victim. With intricate arrangements featuring a wide range of acoustic instruments, this six-piece group creates a very original and quite joyous sound that could easily be the highlight of a summer music festival. We'll be adding more tracks to our mix in the weeks to come.

Best Coast: "For The First Time"


Photo by Kevin Hayes
"I'm 2 years sober today," Bethany Cosentino tweeted this week, just days after she and Bobb Bruno released this new Best Coast single. It's an upbeat, infectious song - and a personal statement of survival. "On Friday nights I don't spend too much time / Lying on the bathroom floor (like I used to) / The demons deep inside of me / They might have finally been set free," Cosentino sings. "I feel like myself again / But for the first time." That's great news. The single is a preview of what will be the first Best Coast album in five years. Titled Always Tomorrow, it's due in the new year, probably around the same time the band starts a tour in February.

Sarah Harmer: "New Lows"


Ontario singer-songwriter and activist Sarah Harmer is preparing to bring out her first new LP in a decade, Are You Gone. The first single to spin out is a call for action to protest politicians' inaction on rescuing the climate. The song references "new threats, new lows," and then suggests a mass movement could make a difference: "If this gets us to our feet / And grows / Who Knows?" Says Harmer: "I hope this song gets people to their feet, and not only to dance." But it does, in fact, have a good beat.

Jackie - "Lifetime In A Touch"


Lingering in Ontario, we turn to this Toronto-based trio's new single, which they say is "essentially a heartbreak song, wrapped in a happy vibe... a ‘there’s a light at the end of the tunnel’ story." Substream Magazine describes the track as grimy rock with a pop groove: "(Marc) Girardin’s guitars are extra fuzzy, but the riffs are still as catchy as they come. (Max) Trefler’s drums are key to giving the song momentum, and it’s clear (lead singer and songwriter Jackie) Mohr had a strong vision in the writing."

Demob Happy: "Autoportrait"


This high-energy rocker was actually released in mid-summer, and we gave it a spin on The Detour. We gave it another listen the other day and decided to add it to our New Music bin. The track grabs your ears and shakes them for just less than three minutes, then stops as suddenly as it began. The Brighton, U.K., band's frontman, Matt Marcantonio, described the song as “coercing a confession out of myself over insecurities," but the lyric alternates between anxiety ("I am afraid to be who I am") and security ("I know nothing wrong could happen / While I'm still in love with you.")

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Our latest picks: Jacobs Run, Awolnation, Phantogram, Margot White, Lucy Bell


Jacob's Run: Follow You Anywhere


A couple of years in the making, the debut LP from this Melbourne-area trio has just been released. For our regular listeners, several of the tracks are familiar - we've had this band in our mix for more than two years as they issued a string of singles. But while the rest of the world catches up on songs like "Better Days," "Hold On A Minute" and "So Beautiful," we're breaking out another album highlight. On this upbeat expression of infatuation, the group's guitar-and-drums rock is augmented with orchestral strings.

AWOLNation: The Best


From Aaron Bruno, the artist that brought us "Sail" (the sleeper hit of 2011 that stayed on the charts for a year and a half) comes another alt-rock anthem of anxious self-doubt: "I want to walk a little bit taller / I want to feel a little bit stronger / I want to think a little bit smarter." Bruno says of the song: “I’m always on the journey to improving myself, but all along, knowing it’s close to impossible to really be the best at anything. ... [M]aybe it is more about the journey and acceptance of comfort within one’s own existence.” The single is the prelude to his fourth album, due next year.

Phantogram: In A Spiral


We turn up the volume with the latest single by this duo from the lovely town of Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Stereogum calls the track an "energetic synth-rock stomper. It’s got huge drums sounds and effects all over its guitars, and Sarah Barthel belts it out with an impressive level of swagger." The distorted synths and pounding drums swirl around a lyric that seems to speak of losing identity amid our self-referential culture: "I'm a meme on a feed in a spiral / Imitate, elevate, making heads roll ... Help me now, I'm going down / Every day, every day in a spiral."


Margot White: Face to Face


We're always happy to discover a new, distinctive sound, and that's what we find in this track from I Saw It On The Radio, the debut of this London-based artist. Born in Texas, she recorded the EP between her music studies at Goldsmiths/University of London. The combination of a minimalist arrangement and dreamily seductive vocal is a bit reminiscent of Marian Hill, with a sense of mystery. "Time and space / two can play at that kind of game," White intones. "Are you wondering what I see? / Take my hand and walk with me."

Lucy Bell: Fools


Early this year we featured "Lost On The Line," the sophomore single by this emerging singer-songwriter from Downpatrick in Northern Ireland. Since then, she won the Dalraida Festival's 2019 Rising Stars award, played numerous gigs around the region and recorded this brand-new track. The 19-year-old's lyric suggests a young couple's effort to work out how to build a relationship: "Give me something I can hold on to / 'Cause I'm sick of all these childish rules."

Saturday, November 2, 2019

New from Van Morrison, A. Billi Free, Marcus King, The Blue Stones and The Rallies

Van Morrison - March Wind in February

The amazingly prolific songwriter, singer and rock pioneer has just released his 41st album, Three Chords and the Truth. Perhaps more surprisingly, it's the sixth LP in four years from the 74-year-old Morrison. And it's filled with original songs. And that voice - a bit mellowed with age but unmistakably Van. We're featuring the lead-off track, which like much of the album would segue perfectly with classics from Tupelo Honey or Astral Weeks.

A. Billi Free: "Feel It Coming"

Vocalist A. Billi Free teams up with Chicago production crew Tensei to create a one-of-a-kind mixture of R&B, hip-hop, electronica and jazz. Exclaim! calls Free's debut album, I Luma, "a vibe ... that washes over listeners" in 11 tracks that "orbit around an overarching theme of self-discovery." KEXP praises Free's "expressive, elastic, enveloping vocal style." We've sampled the album on our Sunday free-form show The Detour, and now we're featuring "Feel It Coming" in our New Music bin.

Marcus King: The Well

Stepping apart from his band, this 23-year-old electric guitar wizard has recorded a solo album, El Dorado, produced by the ubiquitous Dan Auerbach. Recorded in three days of sessions with backing musicians assembled by Auerbach at his Nashville studio, the album is billed as a “contemporary genre-bending sonic exploration of classic rock, blues, southern R&B and country-soul.” King says of this lead single that it "symbolizes the source of all my influences. It is everything that has happened to me to make me the man I am today.”

The Blue Stones: Shakin' Off The Rust

Just about a year after the reissue of its debut album (Black Holes), this Ontario guitar-and-drums duo is out with a new single and is on tour across Europe. The track a straightforward dose of classic-style indie rock. "This song is about battling the thoughts in your head that make you doubt yourself, and coming through with the confidence to make something great,” says vocalist/guitarist Tarek Jafar.

The Rallies: If You Do

The Seattle area isn't exactly known for sunny beaches, but from that area comes this band with a sound that evokes California dreamin'. The quartet's new, second album, Upside Down, features jangly guitars, tight vocal harmonies and cheerful 80s-pop-style tunes. Powerpop News says our featured track has "an uplifting message, a monster hook, glorious harmonies and some beautiful Beatlesque guitar touches." Mixes well with: early-90s Matthew Sweet.