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Saturday, December 28, 2019

Last New Music picks of the year: Just Like Honey, Sarah Smith, Angel Olsen, Pinegrove, Current Swell


Just Like Honey: Slow Lane


This dream-pop band released its first album in 2018 and has just followed up with a new EP, Slow Lane. Based in Germany, the members come from that country and France, the USA and Canada. Their music joins the ethereal vocals of Darlene Jonasson and Bianca Yang to a hard-rock foundation, laid down by lead guitarist Patrick LeMar and his brother, drummer Steve Le Mar, with Jonasson also playing guitar and Yang on bass and piano. The title track's refrain - "Too slow for the fast lane / too fast for the slow lane / Where do I belong?" - answers itself with the final line, "Watch me now."

Sarah Smith: You Don't Get My Love


Based in London, Ontario, this rock guitarist/vocalist has toured all over Canada, the U.S. and Europe since starting her solo career in 2012. She's about to release her fifth album, Unveiling, billed as taking her vulnerable songwriting "to a deeply personal new level as Sarah sings about love, loss, and having the courage to trust in her own voice." Smith's singing invites comparisons to Melissa Etheridge, and this track would mix well with any of the rockers in M.E.'s songbook.

Angel Olsen: What It Is


This North Carolina-based singer-songwriter has expanded her indie-folk-rock sound on her latest album, All Mirrors, to include sweeping orchestrations. As Rolling Stone puts it, "With cinematic strings and goth-noir drama, [Olsen] makes her biggest, boldest record yet. ... The songs are all navigations and negotiations of love, self-interrogations included, and nothing’s simple or clear cut." This single starts out with a simple beat before building to swells of angry-sounding strings and crashing cymbals.


Pinegrove: Phase


This New Jersey-based quartet is about to release its fourth LP, Marigold, and embark on an extensive tour of North America and Europe. This song, says frontman Evan Stephens Hall, “is more or less about insomnia - trying to sleep but things racing in your mind, looking around your room ... seeing all the things you could do or should be doing, enumerating tasks, making lists in your head, moving through anxieties and eventually, hopefully, into sleep.”

Current Swell: How Many Times


This is about the rocking-est track from the British Columbia-based band's latest release, Buffalo. On the singles "High Life" and "Bring It On Home," the band shows a mellower side, but our pick for the New Music bin is a jaunty roots-rock blast. The spontaneous sound of the track belies the care put into making the album, which took place over more than a year. Singer-guitarist Scott Stanton explains, "We’d record three songs, go home, and listen to those songs before asking: ‘What else does the album need?’”

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