LISTEN NOW to our Marvelous Mix of Music

Now Playing: Loading ...

"Alexa, play Birch Street Radio on TuneIn"
"Hey Google, play Birch Street Radio on TuneIn"
Trouble connecting? Contact us for help!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Wide-ranging new sounds: Major Lazer feat. Marcus Mumford, plus The Airborne Toxic Event, Sarah Jarosz, R.O. Shapiro, Waxahatchee

Major Lazer: Lay Your Head On Me (feat. Marcus Mumford)

At the same time that people worldwide are being forced to stay apart because of a pandemic, people worldwide are also able to connect through modern technology.

One result: musical collaborations that cross boundaries of nations and genres - such as this improbable combination of American dance trio Major Lazer (Diplo, Walshy Fire, Ape Drums) and English folk-pop bandleader Marcus Mumford, with a songwriting assist by Danish pop star M0.

Described by Billboard as a "tropical-folk lullaby," it's a well-timed song of hope and reassurance: "This too shall pass / It won't always be the same," Mumford soothes. "It's okay it's alright / Someday we will be fine."

The Airborne Toxic Event: Come On Out

The California band formed by author/musician Mikel Jollett is preparing to release Hollywood Park, it's first LP in five years - and a companion to Jollett's book of the same name.

The book is "a memoir of a tumultuous life," beginning in a commune that morphed into an infamous and violent cult, the Church of Synanon. Jollett, his mother and brother eventually fled the cult, but he describes a childhood of poverty and trauma and how he found his way out.

This first single from the album recounts an early, fraught attempt to escape into the world on his own: "I’ll run away, run away / This is my town, this is my night / Heading off to the city tonight." Atwood Magazine calls it "a song as vulnerable and affecting as [the band's] very first releases eleven years ago."

Sarah Jarosz: Johnny

After winning a Grammy along with Sara Watkins and Aoife O’Donovan in the trio I’m With Her, Jarosz will release her fifth solo studio album, World On The Ground, in June. She describes the LP as an exploration of “the tension and inertia of small-town living, the push/pull between the desire for escape and the ease of staying put.” That's encapsulated in this first single, in which the title character has traveled the world (in the military, perhaps?) but now finds himself back home - and restless. He's sitting on his back porch pondering, "How could a boy from a little bay town / Grow up to be a man, fly the whole world round / And end back up on the same damn ground he started?"

R.O. Shapiro: St. Joan

Photo by Shelby Bohannon
A native of the East End of New York's Long Island, Raph Odell Shapiro calls himself "a lifelong performer with Shakespeare and rhythm tap dancing in his past and Americana music in his present." He lived for years in Austin, where he was a member of indie-folk trio Odell Fox, and recently relocated to Southern California. Like many musicians unable to tour in this time of pandemic, he has lately been streaming and posting videos from the home he shares with violinist/vocalist Lauren Tronick. This new single was produced at Austin's King Electric Recording and features soaring background vocals by Tronick, harmonizing with Shapiro's rough-edged voice. It's a song about interpersonal connections through music. (The opening verse about a flight attendant brings to mind Dawes' "From a Window Seat.")

Waxahatchee: Can't Do Much

The critical reaction to the latest release from Katie Crutchfield and her band is remarkable: "A vivid modern classic of folk and Americana" (Pitchfork); "The best album of the year so far" (The Guardian). The Alabama native and long-time member of Philadelphia's music scene, now making her home in Kansas City, shifts from alt-rock to a country/Americana sound on her new album, Saint Cloud. It suits the record's themes of recovering from substance abuse, rediscovering oneself and taking life as it comes. On this track, she sings of feeling uneasy and helpless about being in love - but accepting that it's real: "I love you that much anyhow / Can't do much about it now."

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Justin Saladino, Siobhan O'Brien, Monica Moser, Norah Jones, Graylinglake in our New Music bin

Justin Saladino Band: Take What You Need (Live)

Hailing from Montreal but with a Southern blues-rock sound, this six-piece band has just released JSB Live, recorded over two nights in front of an audience of fans at Quebec's largest recording facility, Piccolo Studios. It's the same method Magpie Salute used for its 2017 debut record - a great idea for a band that's built for live jamming - and the result is a joyful groove. A review at Canadian Beats of JSB's previous LP, 2018's A Fool's Heart, compared the group's playing to the likes of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Derek Trucks and Robert Cray. Of the new collection, Saladino says: "The tunes we selected are some of our favourites to perform live and we felt the live versions of these tunes deserved to be recorded. We're all proud of the result."

Siobhan O'Brien: I Stayed Too Long

We previously featured "The King's Fool" by this Irish musician now based in the U.S. O'Brien takes the craft of a lyrical singer-songwriter and gives it rock-band backing on You Can't Run Out of Love, her new album produced in Austin. This is the heaviest track on the LP, with electric guitar, pounding drums and rocking piano, along with some electronic touches on her vocals. Mixes well with: Melissa Etheridge, Joan Osborne, Wynonna Judd.

Monica Moser: Feeling For You

This is a "reimagining" of a track from the Nashville based singer-songwriter's 2018 album, Your Absence, A Closeness. The new single is accompanied by a video of dancer Natalie Beerman dramatically interpreting the song's concept of trying to feel, to connect with, a person who has been out of touch for a time. Moser says the video "plays with the concept of disorientation via traveling in and out of light & darkness, utilizing a blindfold, and ending with a reverse shot."

Norah Jones: I'm Alive

The first single from the upcoming LP Pick Me up Off The Floor finds Jones again collaborating with Jeff Tweedy, as she did on a couple of tracks on last year's Begin Again. Here, the Wilco frontman plays acoustic guitar, electric guitar and bass, while his son Spencer Tweedy plays brushed drums. Jones' smooth voice and her piano complete the laid-back, gentle sound - in counterpoint to dark lyrics about a woman striving to thrive in an angry world: "You feel your soul get hollowed out/While the world implodes, you just live without." Says Jones: "If there’s a darkness to this album, it’s not meant to be an impending sense of doom, it feels more like a human longing for connection. Some of the songs that are personal also apply to the larger issues we’re all facing. And some of the songs that are about very specific larger things also feel quite personal."

Graylinglake: Runaway

Michael Harrsjö is a former member of True Lies, an American-style-rock band from Malmo, Sweden. With his current project, Graylinglake, he released The Impossible Possible last fall, but it took a while to reach our ears. A review of this single at Alternative Fruit praised its "loud and sunny guitar backed up with a lively drum-beat. ... Thrusty rock vocals holler over the song-structure in a powerful point of sound. ... [It's] an exciting and care-free number. It's about running away, attaining freedom, and facing the world." Harrsjö on guitar, bass, vocal and keyboard is accompanied by Conny Städe on drums and percussion.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Psychedelic Furs return, plus new music from Grouplove, Marge, Shayla McDaniel, HAARM

The Psychedelic Furs: Don't Believe

What year is this? There's a new album from The Psychedelic Furs. Their most recent LP came out in 1991. But they're back, with Made of Rain set for release in early May. Based on this first single, Stereogum says the band sounds "like those 29 years didn't even happen... 'Don't Believe' comes right from the Furs’ wheelhouse: gloomy guitar swirls, sax wails, [Richard] Butler’s voice sounding like he hasn’t aged at all, a big desperate chorus." Given the state of the world today, jumping back 29 years doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Grouplove: Deleter

The Los Angeles indie-pop band's new album, Healer, starts with this loud, buoyant track that AllMusic calls "a blast ... grounded by a maniacal piano riff and a dissonant screech of guitars ... incredibly catchy." The record follows a turbulent period for the group led by the married duo of Hannah Hooper and Christian Zucconi -- Hooper underwent, and recovered from, brain surgery. "In order for us to get over that and get through it ... we just wanted to distract ourselves and write more music," Zucconi told ABC Radio. They then spent a week cranking out what Paste Magazine describes as "their loudest and most off-the-wall record yet."

Marge: Detached

This Montreal-based singer has been involved with music for years -- writing about artists in webzines, organizing concerts, and in recent years posting covers on her YouTube channel. Here we have her debut single and her first original composition, a collaboration with guitarist Mattias Eklundh, founder of Swedish rock band Freak Kitchen. Marge describes "Detached" as "about breaking free from shackles, looks and doubts ... To detach from what prevents us from realizing ourselves."

Shayla McDaniel: Definitive Unknowns

We've been looking forward to hearing more from this Tennessee-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist since last summer's release of her debut EP, Both of My Hands. Fortunately, we didn't have to wait long. This brand-new single is another polished yet intimate song, with McDaniel's personal lyrics and distinctive vocals backed by a driving rhythm section, guitars and synths. It's a song about being unsettled, in a relationship and in the world. "The only thing we know for sure is that not everything can be known for sure," McDaniel says of the track's theme, "but the one thing you can control is yourself."

HAARM: Tell Me What You Want

Here's a tasty piece of alt-pop from a Liverpool trio that formed in 2016 and released its first EP in 2018. There followed "a short period of rest and regrouping for the band in the wake of the sad loss of a close personal friend ... alongside a series of changes in the members’ personal lives that have led to a desire to focus all of their energies on HAARM." Their music features a mix of male and female vocals, guitar, drums and synths. As you might guess from the title of this track, the topic is the age-old theme of poor communication in a relationship.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Our latest picks from Margaret Glaspy, Raincity, Pearl Jam, Daniel Pearson, The Banshees

Margaret Glaspy: Killing What Keeps Us Alive

This is one of two singles to emerge so far from the Brooklyn singer-songwriter's upcoming album Devotion. Where her 2016 album Emotions and Math and 2018 EP Born Yesterday showcased her guitar playing and sharp, sometimes harsh lyrics ("Life was better / Before we were together"), the new tracks have a wider sonic palette, including synths and digital vocal effects - as well as a more mellow attitude. Glaspy acknowledges the different tone: "It's about letting love in, even when you don’t know what will happen when you do." Our featured track alternates between an open-hearted love song ("I wanna light a spark with you / And start a fire in your heart") and a cryptic warning: "We keep living like we'll never die / And we keep killing what keeps us alive." Is that about a relationship, or the climate crisis?

Raincity: Crazy

The release this week of the video for "Crazy" introduced us to Raincity, a Vancouver-based funk-rock band. Originally formed as a jazz trio, they evolved into a five-piece group featuring Clare Twiddy's vocals and Kaylar Chan's saxophone, backed by Ryley Kirkpatrick on guitar, Ginger Chen on bass and Sheldon D'Eith on drums. They cite influences ranging from Amy Winehouse to Red Hot Chili Peppers. "'Crazy' is a song about betrayal and gaslighting," says Twiddy. “It talks about a relationship where the other person is hiding information from you and making you feel crazy for looking into it."

Pearl Jam: Superblood Wolfmoon

From Vancouver we dip down to Seattle for the latest track from Eddie Vedder & Co.'s Gigaton. Where the first single, "Dance of the Clairvoyants," had a new-wave vibe, this one blends a bit of punk-rock raggedness with heavy grunge. The title is said to be inspired by the nickname given to a January 2019 lunar eclipse, but the song has little to do with astronomy. "Superblood wolfmoon / Took her away too soon," Vedder sings, and seems to be describing regret at the end of a stormy, perhaps violent relationship.

Daniel Pearson: Brother

This English practitioner of Americana music brings a more rock-oriented sound to his latest release. “People tend to think of me as this quiet, sensitive singer-songwriter, but I got my start in rock and punk bands and have always loved loud guitar riffs and big drum sounds” Pearson says. About this song, he says, "lyrically, it’s kind of a call for some kind of unity, however hard that may seem in our current climate."

The Banshees: It's Alright

From Liverpool comes this indie-rock four-piece, a relatively new band led by veteran musicians. Singer-songwriter Vinny Pereira and session guitarist Paul Anthony Holligan met in summer 2018 and "decided to put their own stamp on what music from the North West of England should be about." They released their debut EP last year and are preparing their second, Tell Me Everything, which will feature this solid rocker.

Saturday, February 29, 2020

New sounds from Nothing in Common, Real Estate, Lilly Hiatt, Robert Cray and Eliza Gilkyson

Nothing in Common - Kicking Myself

We're happy to be among the first to spin the debut single by this indie-pop group from Stockholm. Guitarist Pelle and drummer Bo met while taking a digital-design class and began collaborating on music, then met singer-songwriter Alice and formed a trio. In this song, Alice reflects on a situation she wishes she'd handled differently. The sound and the descriptive lyrics remind us a bit of the Swiss-German duo Boy, and one repeated line - "Getting a little too close for comfort / Tracing your fingers over my t-shirt" - is as evocative of awkward flirting as "I Don't Know What To Do With My Hands" by Minor Alps (Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws).

Real Estate - The Main Thing

Their fifth album finds Martin Courtney and his band "underpinning their ever-sunny tunes with unlikely themes of anxiety for future generations and apocalyptic dread," writes AllMusic. Courtney says this title track was his attempt at "an inspirational anthem for anyone who's ever been in an existential crisis - specifically, me." The message is to focus on what really matters to you, what makes you happy and what you believe in. “Despite the crushing weight of all that’s on our plate ... / I will stay true / To the main thing / It's all I can do / The main thing."

Lilly Hiatt - Candy Lunch

This early single from her upcoming album Walking Proof is a rumination on taking life as it comes, without trying to control it or let it control you. "Nothing seems to go better when I / Grab onto anything too tight," she sings with a smile in her voice. “I’ve always done my own weird thing / And sometimes that means I want candy for my lunch.” The singer's father, John Hiatt, makes a first-time appearance on one of her records on a track called "Some Kind of Drug," to be released with the full album in late March.

Robert Cray - Anything You Want

That's What I Heard is the latest release from this veteran purveyor of blues flavored with soul and R&B, and his fourth album with drummer/producer Steve Jordan. AllMusic praises "how well his unfussy but passionate vocal style, narrative lyrical stance, and exciting but never overdone guitar features blend with the soul grooves generated by Cray's band." This album opener is a Cray composition in classic blues-rock style.

Eliza Gilkyson - Sooner Or Later

Gilkyson has had a long and varied music career, starting when she was growing up in California and would occasionally help with background vocals on her singer-songwriter father Terry Gilkyson's recordings. Her upcoming, 2020, was produced in Austin by her son, Cisco Ryder. It's a collection of protest songs - her own along with Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie covers. "I wanted to really address ... the political emotions of the times and the different things that I and, I think, others are feeling," Gilkyson told Billboard. Of our featured track, she said, "There's a lot of anger in that song, and also, I think, a sense of inviting the tribe in and together."

Saturday, February 22, 2020

The Strokes return, plus The New Regime, Hinds, more from Surge and introducing Tommy Down

The Strokes: Bad Decisions

Photo: Jason McDonald
Some 20 years after they began playing in New York clubs, and seven years since their last studio album, singer Julian Casablancas, guitarists Nick Valensi and Albert Hammond Jr., bassist Nikolai Fraiture and drummer Fabrizio Moretti are back in business as The Strokes. This single from the forthcoming The New Abnormal recycles the hook from Billy Idol's "Dancing with Myself" into what Consequence of Sound calls "the band's catchiest song since [its debut LP] Is This It."

The New Regime: Heart, Mind, Body & Soul

Ilan Rubin keeps himself busy. The drummer for Nine Inch Nails for more than a decade, as well as a member of Angels & Airwaves, Rubin also records as The New Regime, and is in the midst of releasing his third album. That is, he released Heart in September, Mind in November and Body in January. Soul is due out in the next few weeks, and we're now featuring the high-energy title track of the entire project. (What is an "album" these days, anyway?) The New Regime is about to start a string of U.S. tour dates opening for Silversun Pickups.

Hinds: Good Bad Times

Formed in Madrid in 2011, this quartet achieved success with its debut album in 2016 and is now preparing its third full-length release, The Prettiest Curse. Initially known for low-fi garage-rock, the band moves more toward polished indie-pop with this song. Singer and guitarist Carlotta Cosials said the lyric describes "the struggle of communication, time difference, distance" when a couple must spend time apart. "You're turning good times into bad times / Now that you're no longer sleeping with me."

Surge: Time And Again

Last month we featured "Smash the Clocks" from this U.K. indie-pop band's debut EP, Colours. We soon gave "Time and Again" a try on The Detour (our nightly free-form show that you really need to check out), and its infectious, upbeat sound stuck in our ears, so we've moved it into the New Music bin. Among the influences the band cites are Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire, Oasis and, incidentally, The Strokes.

Tommy Down: Don't Think I'm Leaving Without You

This new single introduces us to a new voice in the soul tradition. At age 20, Down was singing jazz standards across Europe as a vocalist with the Bristol University Jazz Orchestra, and shortly after, formed Harker Moon, a London-based rock-funk band. Now breaking out as a solo artist, he slides into the retro-soul space occupied these days by the likes of Leon Bridges. Asked in a Fame Magazine interview to name his musical icons, he said, "I’ve always loved Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Beatles, to name a few. Quincy Jones’ musical career has inspired me too."

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Fresh tracks from Jason Isbell, Puss N Boots, Wye Oak, Cold War Kids, Subshine

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Be Afraid

Days after Drive By Truckers released The Unravelling, former band member Jason Isbell is out with more angry alt-country-rock music of his own. It's the first single from Reunions, his second album with The 400 Unit, due for release in May. The lyric sounds a call to music-scene stars to use their platform to speak truth to power. "If your words add up to nothing then you're making a choice / to sing a cover when you need a battle cry." Referencing the flak that some country artists have taken for speaking out, Isbell sings, "Be very afraid / but do it anyway."

Puss N Boots: It's Not Easy

Jazz singers and then-novice guitar players Norah Jones and Sasha Dobson started playing together back in 2008, soon joined by session bassist Catherine Popper, who has worked with Ryan Adams, Grace Potter and many more. In between their other projects, the trio gigged at New York clubs, released the 2014 album No Fools, No Fun and followed with a Christmas album last year. Now they're back with Sister, a 14-song collection of originals and covers of Tom Petty, Dolly Parton, Paul Westerberg and Concrete Blonde. The vibe is more country-Americana than jazz on most of the tunes, including this one featuring Jones on lead vocal.

Wye Oak: Fear of Heights

There's no word so far of a new album coming from the duo of Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner, but they've resumed releasing new music and are preparing to tour this spring. A couple of months ago, we featured their first track in two years, "Fortune." This latest song, Wasner says, "likens the deepening of a relationship to the feeling of ascending to the top of a very tall place. There’s something to be seen (or learned, or experienced) once you arrive, but for some there is also a fear that increases with every step upwards." Stereogum writes: "This band always operates at a high level, but it’s still great to hear them return with material this strong."

Cold War Kids: Who's Gonna Love Me Now

Close on the heels of November's release of New Age Norms 1 comes the first single from the second installment of the planned trilogy. describes it as "a loose, fuzzy stomp," written as a group composition by vocalist Nathan Willett, bassist Matt Maust, guitarist David Quon, multi-instrumentalist Matthew Schwartz and drummer Joe Plummer. Willett says the lyric "is about all those times when I imagine what it’d be like to have my freedom. You’re in a relationship and ... you you start wondering what it’s like on the other side. But when you actually get it — you crash and burn.”

Subshine: Over the Moon

Almost a year ago, we featured "Easy," the lead single from the debut album of this project fronted by Norway's Ole Gunnar Gundersen. Easy Window was released last summer and we've played other tracks on The Detour and in our big mix. Heavily influenced by British 80s pop-rock, Subshine returns with a catchy tune that alternates between gentle crooning and driving guitar-rock.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

New tunes from Nada Surf, Tame Impala, Kodaline, Secret Treehouse, Keeton Coffman

Nada Surf: So Much In Love

On their new album, Never Not Together, the New York alt-pop-rock band delivers what AllMusic calls "lyrical anthems rife with an electric, '90s-style power pop shimmer." A reviewer on ABC News described the collection as "nine songs about connections, empathy and alienation tied together by Matthew Caws' eternally youthful vocals and a bouquet of inviting melodies." We're featuring the opening track, which fits right in with the band's best-known tunes, but will also delve into some of the album's more innovative tracks.

Tame Impala: Lost In Yesterday

The project of Melbourne's Kevin Parker has just released its first album in five years. In the meantime, Parker has become part of the LA music scene as a producer of hip-hop and pop albums. Now his domesticated antelope returns with a solid collection of psych-synth pop-rock. "Crunchy guitars are largely absent, writes NME, "but we’re left with something far more intriguing – a pop record bearing masterful electronic strokes." There's a bit of a theme of time passing: We previously featured "It Might Be Time," and this track is about how nostalgia colors the past: "Now even though that was a time I hated from day one / Eventually terrible memories turn into great ones."

Kodaline: Wherever You Are

This Dublin band is previewing its upcoming fourth album with this slice of anthemic power-pop on the familiar theme of maintaining a connection with a distant loved one. Vocalist Steve Garrigan says, "I wrote it specifically for my girlfriend as due to being away on tour all the time, we never really get to see each other." Mixes well with Coldplay, Wyland, Talk Talk.

Secret Treehouse: At Sunrise

It was only a year ago that this alternative pop/rock band from Norway released its very impressive debut album. They've hardly taken a break since; apparently they can't stop/won't stop releasing well-crafted, catchy tunes - three so far, unless we missed one - that fit nicely into our big mix. This latest single has been getting spins on The Detour in recent weeks, and now we're upping it to the New Music Bin. 

Keeton Coffman: Fire + Gasoline

Our New Music selections this week are rather heavy on electronic pop-rock - as is much of the music being released these days - so we're glad to be able to add a good dose of guitar-based rock. We've been playing several tracks by this Texas-based purveyor of "heartland rock 'n' roll" since he released his solo debut album in 2016. Now comes this brand-new single - full of energy and passion with a lyric describing the incendiary start of an affair: "Pour out your love and we'll strike a match / Drop it to the floor, baby never look back."

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Added to our mix: Drive-By Truckers, Wolf Parade, Grace Potter, Peaness & Andy Shauf. Variety!

Drive By Truckers: 21st Century USA

This track from The Unraveling, the new collection of social commentary by Mike Cooley, Patterson Hood and company, has a strong Neil Young vibe - a bit ironic, perhaps, since the band is from Alabama. The song is a description of Anytown USA, with its chain stores, its citizens working hard for too little pay, and their hopes for what Joe Hill called "pie in the sky when you die." On the LP, the Truckers decry gun culture, drug addiction and "Babies in Cages" in blunt lyrics. "I didn’t want to disguise it in flowery, poetic language,” Hood says. “It’s not a poetic time.”

Wolf Parade: Forest Green

The new album Thin Mind marks a return to the Montreal-based band's original lineup of guitarist Dan Boeckner, keyboardist Spencer Krug and drummer Arlen Thompson. NowToronto writes that "the group have downsized their sound accordingly, largely excising the displays of proggy sprawl that have always been a feature of their records in favour of a more immediate, pop-focused attack." The review calls this track "urgent and exhilarating, like an early-80s Cars hit recast as a fiery protest song decrying the conversion of woodlands into condos on 'stolen land.'”

Grace Potter: Back To Me (feat. Lucius)

The phrase "slow burner" certainly applies to this track from the late-2019 release, Daylight. From a quiet hum, it builds up to a '70s-soul climax as Potter's powerful vocal is backed by Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius. Paste writes, "Potter’s voice alone should be reason enough to pay attention to her ... that raspy force shines on every single note." On this song, "she holds her voice back before letting it totally take control."

Peaness: Kaizan

The three-piece indie-pop outfit from Chester, England, is new to us but has been gaining attention with performances at festivals and on the BBC. This bouncy single, which would mix well with anything from the catalogs of The Go-Gos and The Bangles, reflects the trio's love of Japanese pop culture. Band member Jess says she wrote the song "to remind myself that with every act of kindness and every crime, we affect the future, and that those choices go on to shape others, and our beautiful planet, long after we're gone. The word ‘Kaizen’ is a Japanese word that literally translates to ‘change for the good’, and that’s what we're hoping for.”

Andy Shauf: Try Again

This Toronto-based, Saskatchewan-raised musician writes short stories in the form of songs, with wryly humorous lyrics delivered in an off-handed, conversational style. His new release, The Neon Skyline, is a concept album that tells a simple tale: Boy who lost girl goes out for drinks with friends; boy is still thinking about girl; girl shows up at the bar, they banter but don't reconnect. At the end of this song, boy is coming to grips: "Somewhere between drunkenness and honesty / I make a silent toast to the things I do and don't miss."

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Brand-new music by Pearl Jam, Surge, Hemming, Katie Pruitt, John Lewitt

Pearl Jam: Dance of the Clairvoyants

Photo: Danny Clinch
On this first single from the upcoming LP Gigaton, Eddie Vedder channels David Byrne and the band draws on New Wave and dance-rock influences to create what Rolling Stone calls the band's "funkiest song in forever." (When Vedder sings in the first verse, "Burn your assumptions," the echo of "Burning Down the House" is strong.) Bassist Jeff Ament says making this track "was a perfect storm of experimentation and real collaboration, mixing up the instrumentation and building a great song, and Ed writing some of my favorite words yet, around Matt's killer drum pattern. Did I mention Mike's (McCready) insane guitar part and that Stone (Gossard) is playing bass on this one?"

Surge: Smash the Clocks

From the Essex seaside town of Clacton-on-Sea comes this indie-pop band and its debut EP, Colours, due for release in March. The foursome sets out to "combine swirling synths and chiming guitars with complimenting beats." The guitars are more prominent on this track, with its catchy chorus and relatable theme about the passage of time and our impossible wish to slow it down. "I blinked and I was 33," sings lead vocalist George King. "It's something you can outrun / You can’t undo what is done."

Hemming: Airport Security

Singer-songwriter-guitarist Candice Martello is joined by two other members of the Philadelphia indie-music scene - Adam Shumski on drums and Joshua Chase Miller on bass - for this latest release by her Hemming indie-rock project. Her music tends toward dark themes, and this track starts out that way, ruminating on time and distance and separation in a plaintive, tremulous vocal: "Nothing feels right since you walked out the door / I hate calendars and airport security / all the things that take you away from me." But it takes a hopeful turn at the end: "Let my heart unthaw / cause I can feel you near."

Katie Pruitt: Expectations

Originally from the Atlanta suburbs, this emerging artist is now based in Nashville, and her debut album, Expectations, is soon to be released by Rounder Records. The title track, says American Songwriter, "demonstrates what Pruitt does best: blend indie rock, Americana and solid songwriting." Rolling Stone has described her as “a soulful, acrobatic vocalist with a strong sense of melody and even stronger knack for crafting an affecting narrative.” This song is about casting off the weight of your own or other people's expectations: "We are conditioned from an early age to feel that we need to have our whole lives figured out, right this second," Pruitt says. "When often times, we’d get there quicker if we’d only learn to relax."

John Lewitt: I've Got A Lot of Friends

We featured this Toronto-based musician in our New Music bin about a year ago and on The Birch Street Bistro numerous times. He describes his new EP, Acoustically Inclined, as a collection of laid-back songs "perfect for those weekend mornings where you just want to relax with a cup of coffee and doing nothing." This traveling song evokes classic folk in the keep-on-the-sunny-side vein: "I've got a lot of friends / Like the leaves in the trees / Like the stars in the night / Shining down, guiding me."