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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."

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Introducing Siobhán O'Brien, Northern Quarter, plus new music by Marcus King, Joywave, Icicle

Siobhán O’Brien - The King's Fool

This singer-songwriter from Limerick, Ireland, moved to the USA in 2017 to pursue music full-time. "A lot of my influences were American - the great songwriters, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, The Band," O'Brien told hometown website I Love Limerick. Now based in Virginia, she spent time in Austin recording her upcoming album, You Can't Run Out of Love, with John Bush and Matt Hubbard (drummer and keyboardist for Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians) as her co-producers. On this lead single, O'Brien compares the struggle to make a career in music to the life of a court jester.

Northern Quarter - Fighting For You

One musical connection leads to another. After adding Elk Run & Riot to our big mix, we caught wind of another Alberta-based indie band that's just released a new single. Kerry Hunter's smoky vocal is backed by a soulful, bluesy arrangement of guitar, bass, drums and organ, and the track has a very "live" sound as though the band is playing right in front of you in a club 'round midnight. The group's next EP is due in the spring. (Photo by Martin Boudreau)

Marcus King - Say You Will

We previously featured "The Well" from El Dorado, King's debut "solo" album following three releases with his band. This Dan Auerbach-produced collection includes quiet, introspective songs that show another side of the guitar wizard's talents. But our pick for the New Music bin this week is this heavy, southern-rock track that American Songwriter calls "tough ZZ Top-styled swamp," with King's electric-guitar chops on full display.

Joywave - Half Your Age

The new single from this Rochester, N.Y., indie-electro band is a bouncy, upbeat, anthemic song about...coming to grips with aging. "Brush it all away / Tell yourself you’ve got some years to waste / Laugh it all away / But all your heroes now are half your age." Thanks, guys, for the reminder that we ain't getting any younger. (Coincidentally, that's also the theme of Tame Impala's "It Might Be Time," the title track from their recent release.) Joywave's third album, Possession, is due in March. (Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews)

Icicle - Talk Talk Talk

Icicle is the project of prolific Montreal-based musician Krassy Halatchev, and this track is from Senescence, his eighth album in a little over five years. Our regular listeners have heard him in our mix and on The Detour, our nightly even-more-eclectic-than-usual show. This track is now crossing over from The Detour to the New Music bin. It's an entertainingly angry breakup song: "I just want to forget it / because I don't need the headache / so please leave me alone!"

Saturday, January 11, 2020

New music from The Lone Bellow, Elk Run & Riot, American Dinosaur, The Big Moon and Teepee

The Lone Bellow - Good Times

This band of Brooklyn-dwelling transplants from the Southern U.S. moves farther from its original Americana style on its upcoming album, Half Moon Light. It's produced by Aaron Dessner of The National, who also worked on 2015's Then Came the Morning, but this time around he pushed the band to try out different sounds. Guitarist-vocalist Zach Williams told Billboard that Dressner "kept saying, 'I'm clipping the eagle's wings. You guys have already hit all the high notes and hollered and screamed and all that. I want to try to find another kind of life force in your music.'" This song, said Williams, grew from "fun late-night conversations and the great joy of hearing epic stories told by adventurous souls. ... So the song's just a celebration of these stories and these people who grabbed life by the horns and let no good time slip away."

Elk Run & Riot - Morning Light

Here's the title track from the upcoming fourth album by this Alberta-based band. They describe their brand of indie-folk-rock as built with "intricate harmonies, a tight progressive rhythm section and an electric mix of leads that cover multiple genres of music." The band is currently touring around the Canadian Rockies, where it's been growing its fan base since forming in 2013.

American Dinosaur: Burn Carolina

This Philadelphia-based band was formed in 2013 but inspired by the classic-rock sounds of the '70s. After releasing their self-titled debut album in 2015, they were named Best Rock Group in Philadelphia at the city's PHL Live Awards. After a recent show on public radio station WXPN, the station's music blog, The Key, wrote that the band has "that classic-meets-modern sound that makes their music seem familiar and refreshing all at once ... performed with energy and passion."

The Big Moon - Your Light

This London four-piece has just released its second album, Walking Like We Do, almost three years after its debut was nominated for the UK's Mercury Prize. The band says this song is about taking a break from worrying about the grim state of the world. “It’s a thanks to the one person or thing in your life that knows how to come in and open your curtains and light up the darkness and restore your strength,” says lead singer Juliette Jackson. “So that when you clatter back down into the real world you have the strength to fight your battles, whatever they are.”

teepee - parallel world

We recently featured "Heavenly Gates" in our New Music bin and have played other tracks on The Bistro and The Detour. Now we add the newest song to emerge from this dream-pop duo's first album, When The Ocean Breaks, set for release in a few weeks. Based in Prague, Miroslav Patočka and Tereza Lavičková have toured around Europe and the UK, and recorded this album in Vienna. Their vocal harmonies are accompanied by Miroslav's acoustic guitar, Tereza's electric guitar, plus samples and synths. The new album is described as "offering sober ruminations on life, society and longing."

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Catching up with Black Pumas, Illiterate Light, Native Harrow, Field Mouse, Daniel Pearson

Virtually no new music is released in the year-end holiday weeks, so it's time to catch up with some tracks that we didn't pick up on when they came out during the past several months.

Black Pumas - Colors

Although the single came out in April and the Black Pumas album in June, this track is very much "current" on Adult Alternative radio today. It got a big boost in November when the Austin-based duo of guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada and vocalist Eric Burton received a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist. Pitchfork wrote that "Burton may command attention with his sweet, plaintive voice, but Quesada’s densely woven tapestries are the key to Black Pumas." This song was written by Burton, who the band says "was inspired by the rich multicolored hues of the sky" at sunset. "The song was written in the themes of mortality and togetherness."

Illiterate Light - Better Than I Used To

This duo's self-titled debut album arrived in October, and although this track preceded it by a few months, it's still moving up on the radio-airplay charts. The Virginia-based band consists of guitarist Jeff Gorman and drummer Jake Cochrane. NPR's World Cafe tells us they are "worth seeing live ... as Jeff plays guitar parts with his hands and bass lines on foot pedals while Jake plays drums standing up."

Native Harrow - Can't Go On Like This

We're catching up with this band from New York's Hudson Valley, whose third album, Happier Now, also came out in April. It has gained increasing attention from reviewers over the following months, with several of them comparing the music to the 1970s Laurel Canyon sound and singer-songwriter Devin Tuel to Joni Mitchell. But those comparisons only go so far. Tuel, a classically trained singer and former ballerina, brings her own fresh approach to the folk-rock genre, and this track is a good example.

Field Mouse - In Blue

We previously featured "Heart of Gold" from Meaning, which the Brooklyn band released in August. The album's theme is finding purpose and hope in a world teetering on disaster. This song brings the message to a personal level. According to WXPN/The Key's album review, "On 'In Blue,' vocalist/songwriter Rachel Browne invites her now cancer-free sister to accept some calmness."

Daniel Pearson - Down the Tracks

OK this one really is a new song - released six weeks ago. It's an upbeat English-Americana track from an artist we previously featured back in spring 2018. Pearson says “'Down The Tracks' is about the importance of getting away from it all with the one you love... about how vital it is to hold on to the people that matter to you and to focus on your relationships with them, as those are the most important things in our lives - they’re the tracks we leave behind and the ones we have to follow.”

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

New for 2020: Daily episodes of The Detour and The Birch Street Bistro

Our daily program lineup now includes two specialty shows that reach beyond our already large playlist. Both were formerly Sunday-only shows.

11pm Eastern Time / 8pm Pacific Time / 0400 UTC

We take a left turn off Birch Street to explore a different musical landscape. Each show starts with a few selections from a batch of new releases by indie artists. After that, we veer off in all directions, checking out more new music and digging up deep tracks from past decades. Rock, prog, electronic, shoegaze, ambient, jazz, experimental - any kind of music can turn up along the way!

Noon Eastern Time / 9am Pacific Time / 1700 UTC

Grab a snack and a drink and settle in for some music on the softer side. Mostly singer-songwriters and acoustic bands. Mostly indie artists, but some big stars drop by sometimes. Occasionally some relaxing electronic, ambient, jazz and other styles mix in. Each show starts with a few selections from a batch of new releases by indie artists.

Special episodes of both shows will join our archive of past programs available for listening on-demand on Mixcloud.

Find more details - including our current lists of featured new music, links to archived episodes and their tracklists, on our Detour and Bistro pages. Check the navigation bar at the top of our website for links to both shows and to our Mixcloud site.