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Saturday, June 27, 2020

The Immediate Family, The Killers, Rorie Kelly, Jane's Party and introducing Sheerbuzz

The Immediate Family: Cruel Twist

A supergroup of sidemen, The Immediate Family consists of musicians whose names are famous in the LA music scene - and to anyone who read the liner notes on albums from the likes of James Taylor, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, Warren Zevon... the list goes on. After nearly a half-century of playing together in various combinations, Danny Kortchmar (guitar and vocals), Waddy Wachtel (guitar and vocals), Leland Sklar (bass), Russ Kunkel (drums) and Steve Postell (guitar and vocals) have released their very first single as a group, and have an EP coming out in the fall. Kortchmar provides the vocal on this track, which he calls "a blues song about what can happen if one gets too confident and too full of oneself." Something Else Reviews writes that Sklar’s bass and Kunkel’s drums "give the song a feel that’s no longer common on the radio. The expert shuffle propels the melody, while Watchel, Kortchmar and Postell’s guitars dance a delicate yet forceful dance. Touches of organ by Jim Cox add to the punch."

The Killers: My Own Soul's Warning

This new single is quintessential Killers - a solid, energetic rocker that fits squarely in the band's repertoire. It will be the opening track on the upcoming LP Imploding the Mirage, and Rolling Stone calls it "a fittingly grand first statement. A big drum beat drives the song and it boasts a lead synth hook that sounds like it could’ve been plucked straight out of an Eighties arena show. As always, frontman Brandon Flowers delivers a vocal performance to match the occasion." 

Rorie Kelly: Lying Streak

This singer-songwriter considers it her mission "to create music that inspires others to love themselves fiercely and become their own heroes." She tours mostly in the New York metro area, and we caught one of her shows a few years ago and added some of her "ladybeast music" to our mix. This new single features a refined and polished sound, with strings, backing vocals and finger-snaps putting a smooth sheen on powerful lyrics. "I wrote this song about what my coming-out process was like ... which is an ongoing process as many people can tell you!" Kelly says. This verse sums it up: "It was never my idea to go in any closets / People just stuff you in there in tight storage boxes / I fight my way out again and again  / and still you think it was me who was confused." 

Jane's Party: Change Her Mind

This Toronto alt-rock quartet follows up its 2019 LP Casual Party with a new single describing the confusion and uncertainty of young love. "We wanted to capture this feeling of naive youth, not just in the lyrics, but in the musical and instrumental delivery as well," the band says. "So the guitars were recorded on a cheap, slightly-out-of-tune Squier guitar, while the crowd of backup vocals sound like all your best buds at your university house party." 

Sheerbuzz: Crazy In Name

The members of this group from Donegal, Ireland, are still in their teens, but have been playing together for several years and have developed a very distinctive sound. This track is from the band's crowd-funded debut EP - which was released last year, but just reached our ears, so we're putting it in the New Music bin. It's a fun, high-energy concoction of classic rock riffs (a repeated chord echoes The Doobie Brothers' "Long Train Runnin") and ragged garage-punk with cheeky lyrics: "I can be anything you want me to be / unless it's taller or stronger." Expect to hear more from this band in our mix.

Saturday, June 20, 2020

New Hornsby & Mercer, Suzi Kory, Alison Solo, Boston Manor and The Know added to our big mix

Bruce Hornsby & James Mercer: My Resolve

Bruce Hornsby's upcoming album, Non-Secure Connection, reportedly will include a number of collaborations, and on this first single, Hornsby shares the billing and the vocals with James Mercer, of The Shins and Broken Bells. Consequence of Sound says the track "recalls Hornsby’s pre-Grateful Dead days, when he combined rock with power pop hooks... It uses hand drums and richly-layered strings to add texture to a track that, otherwise, could have come across as too smooth." Hornsby calls the song “a Sisyphean tale of the creative life, sung with a fellow climber.” 

Suzi Kory: Love Revolution

Music was a first love but second career for Toronto-based Suzi Kory. While keeping her "day job" in the airline industry, she began performing and recording a few years ago, pursuing a dream that goes back to seeing her first concert (Guns n Roses) at age 13. "Despite popular belief that one should be ‘all-in’ when pursuing artistic endeavours, my advice is to maintain a steady source of income," Kory told FYI Music News. "The ability to fund my musical project allowed for complete creative control." Kory has released a string of singles, including country songs, rockers and blends of the two. She takes inspiration from the hippie ethos of the 1967 Summer of Love on this new song. 

Alison Solo: Chiron

Born in London, raised in Canada, Alison Solo returned to England for a year in 2018 and "rediscovered her British rock roots," according to her bio. She brings those influences to bear on her new album, Plutonian, recorded in both countries and mixed by Ron Nevison, whose credits include Led Zeppelin and The Who. 
Vancouver-based Solo describes her music as Classic Rock with undertones of blues and psychedelia. Our featured track references the wisest of the Centaurs in Greek mythology. Music blog Rock the Body Electric says it "displays all of Solo's style, climbing to 70's rock radio heights around wah-wah'ing guitar solos and a singalong-ready outro." 

Boston Manor: Plasticine Dreams

This punk-rock crew from Blackpool just released its third full-length, Glue. Many of its tracks are more hard-edged than this one - a reviewer at gclive.com describes it as "a more grunge-inspired sound, with frontman Henry Cox’s elegant yet somewhat laid-back vocal melodies drifting comfortably atop tight instrumentation." (The opening reverberating chord echoes "How Soon Is Now," but the resemblance is fleeting.) Cox says: “Plasticine Dreams is about the throwaway culture of media. How art is treated as ‘content’; one minute something is plastered everywhere you look and the next it’s faded into obscurity. ... We’re getting so much information constantly thrown at us that nothing is really absorbed or appreciated, you just click next when it’s finished.” 

The Know: 143

The Know is a Los Angeles dream-pop duo consisting of husband and wife Daniel Knowles and Jennifer Farmer. Their self-titled debut album has just arrived, although this single was pre-released a few months back. Clearly influenced by the likes of Beach House and Mazzy Star, they also cite influences ranging from '60s girl groups to The National. The title "143" refers to a shorthand for "I Love You" that was popular for couples messaging each other on pagers 'way back in the 1990s. "Lyrically, it’s set during the time period we first fell in love ourselves," the couple told Flood Magazine. "Back then, we spent a lot of time exploring LA by night and watching the sunrise. The song draws on events and hazy recollections from then."

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Danielia Cotton, Norah Jones, Larkin Poe, Neil Young and introducing The Allen Lewitt Project

Danielia Cotton and the Church Boys: A Different War

The times, they must change."Yesterday ain't tomorrow" is the refrain of the exceedingly timely title track from New York-based New Jersey native Danielia Cotton. It's a mid-tempo blues-rocker driven by Cotton's powerful voice and her solid band, interspersed with bits of rap by New York hip-hop artist Mickey Factz. The lyrics tackle racial inequality head-on: "Your color opens doors / Mine's fighting a different war / Don't you believe we deserve the same view?" Cotton told American Songwriter that for the new six-song EP, she set out to write songs that were "deeply personal -- reflective of my own highly subjective mood, spirit, history, etc. ... But looking at the songs as a whole now, I see that those larger themes, both political and cultural, of course were influencing me.”

Norah Jones: To Live

The cover photo for Pick Me Up Off The Floor suggests that the title refers to a need for a helping hand to get on one's feet. But it also describes the way the album came about: Jones selected tracks that were left on the cutting-room floor, so to speak, from the sessions for last year's Begin Again. The result is surprisingly cohesive. Sonically, as AllMusic writes, it is "firmly rooted in the after-hours jazz-folk-pop hybrid that's Jones' calling card." Thematically, it deals with the interrelation of social and personal struggles. On this deceptively smooth-and-easy piano ballad, the lyric describes the difficulty of finding a smooth-and-easy way "to live in this moment / find peace in my mind."

Larkin Poe: Holy Ghost Fire

Don't be fooled, as we once were, by the name of this female duo, which seems to hint at songbirds and poetry. Rebecca and Megan Lovell are Nashville-based, Georgia bred rockers who produce their own records and play most of the instruments, primarily electric and slide guitar. The result is "intricate rock and roll, with country pop, metal, and any other style that’s caught their ear, all slotting in perfectly," writes Blues Rock Review. The title track from Self Made Man is the lead single, but we're featuring the next number, a celebration of the power of music-making: "Burn, burn baby burn / With that holy ghost fire / From your fingers to the frets / Gonna testify - Sing / Sing baby sing / Let your soul take flight." (Footnote: Larkin Poe was the name of one of the sisters' ancestors.)

Neil Young: Vacancy

Yes it's a brand-new release, and yes it sounds like classic Neil Young - because it is. Recorded circa 1974 but never released, Homegrown is "the missing link between Harvest, Comes A Time, Old Ways, and Harvest Moon," Young has said. Stereogum says Young "withdrew it from the release schedule on the grounds that it was 'too personal.'" (Instead, he issued 1975's Tonight's the Night. "Since then, rumors of the album’s existence have swirled among Young’s diehard fans, giving it the sheen of legend." The blog adds: "It actually lives up to the legend."
Restored and remastered on analog equipment, it's now due for release this week. This single sounds like it's coming through a time warp - like it should be playing on a mid-70s hi-fi receiver with wood finish and luminescent dial. And, it's solid proof that a good rock record is timeless.

The Allen Lewitt Project: Meant to Be

We've played various tracks from Toronto-based singer-songwriter John Lewitt in our big mix and on The Birch Street Bistro. Early this year he released Acoustically Inclined - but he tilts more toward plugged-in rock in his new collaboration with New Jersey musician Jeff Allen. As the story goes, the two met just once, in a city far from their homes, but made a musical connection that led to them working together from 476 Miles apart. "We record everything in our own studios and send the files back and forth," Lewitt tells us. The two were planning to meet up and tour behind the record, but - well, we all know what happened to plans this year. And hey, virtual collaboration is all the rage now. The optimistic, self-affirming message of this song about "finding yourself" is a welcome tonic.

Saturday, June 6, 2020

New tracks from R.O. Shapiro, Muzz, Secret Treehouse, KOYO and HAIM added to our big mix

R.O. Shapiro: Younger Then

Feelings of nostalgia, foreboding and acceptance of aging mix together in this bittersweet single from a singer-songwriter who counts as his heroes the likes of John Prine, Jackson Browne, Gillian Welch and Joni Mitchell. Here he succeeds in making the personal seem universal, weaving private jokes ("She's got an eye for anthills / And I've got anthills for eyes") and nightmares ("I’m smellin' armageddon / Smells like sulfur, smells like wine") with the musings we all have about the passage of time: "I guess this is growing up / And time ain’t slowing down for no one / Lemme be ok with the grays and the great unknown.” Harmonies by Lauren Tronick and Micah Motenko and a band of top-notch Austin-based musicians give the track a suitably intimate-yet-expansive sound.

Muzz: Red Western Sky

Muzz consists of Interpol's Paul Banks, producer and multi-instrumentalist Josh Kaufman of Bonny Light Horseman and former Walkmen drummer Matt Barrick. They've been working on and off for several years on this side project - Pitchfork says the earliest sessions "occurred around 2015; later, the band convened at various studios and practice spaces, letting the project evolve at a leisurely pace. Muzz’s music sounds similarly unhurried." This track has a quicker tempo and punchier sound than most - "rattling Americana," writes NME, which says the band plays "with a warm classic rock vibe that calls to mind the crackling of vinyl as the needle drops."

Secret Treehouse: Ice Turns to Ash

This band from Norway joins our "five-timers club," making its fifth appearance in our New Music bin. The five-piece group, including guitarist-songwriter Sveinung Fossan Bukve and vocalist Anja Bere, first caught our ear with its blend of guitar rock and electro-pop in early 2019, and keeps catching it with each new release. This is the latest single from ST's forthcoming, yet-untitled second album. The band says the lyrics "are about the loneliness that one can feel in a relationship when the other person does not see who you are ... and then meeting a person who sees you for who you are and makes you laugh."

KOYO: Out Of Control

Just ahead of this month's release of its sophomore album, the Leeds, U.K.-based band rolls out this high-energy single. The group describes its sound as gritty psych-rock with prog influences. As for this track: "It’s about wanderlust; getting itchy feet. When you feel like you just need to get away to have new experiences ... It’s also about the frustration that comes with not being able to do these things" -- which much of the world can relate to in a time of pandemic.

HAIM: Don't Wanna

The third single to be released ahead of the third album by the sisters Haim, Women in Music, Pt. III (never mind that the previous albums were not parts I and II) is another catchy piece of pop-rock, following up "The Steps." In this episode, the protagonist realizes her relationship is rocky, but she "don't wanna" break it off.