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Friday, July 10, 2020

Good Times from The Suffers, plus The Jayhawks, Faded Paper Figures, Beach Riot, Rachel Beck

The Suffers: Take Me To The Good Times

The Houston-based band, featuring vocalist Kam Franklin, delivers what could be a theme song for everyone wishing for a post-pandemic, worry-free return to traveling, dining out, concert-going and other pleasures. "I just gotta get out most days you see / I like walking around it’s good for me," Franklin sings on this bouncy, horn-driven soundtrack for a celebratory strut through bustling city streets. It was written before lockdown but after the group was set back by personnel changes and the theft of a truckload of equipment. Franklin describes it as "a love letter to the road [and] a promise to get back to it." 

The Jayhawks: Little Victories

For their 11th album, XOXO, band members worked and lived together in a big, secluded Minnesota house. The result, says The Current, is that they "sound more like a band than ever. The mic gets passed around almost as often as it did back in the 60's and 70's when The Band made their classic albums." We previously featured the single "This Forgotten Town," and now we're adding "Little Victories," the lament of someone on the down-and-out, with vocal harmonies by guitarist Gary Louris, pianist Karen Grotberg and drummer Tim O'Reagan. 

Faded Paper Figures: Bones

Working together in one place is impractical for many bands under current conditions. But remote collaboration has been this indie-pop group's method of operation for years. Kael and Heather Alden met R. John Williams in California, where Kael was composing music for film and TV, Heather was studying medicine and Williams was getting his Ph.D. After they released an album in 2008, John moved east for a teaching position at Yale while Heather became a physician in California, but they continued on as a bi-coastal band. Their new EP, Kairos, is their eighth release. Our featured track showcases their mingling of voices, electronica and obscure lyrics: "A gang of kids and a gang of bones / turn your sidewalk curb to a wave of gold." 

Beach Riot: Wrong Impression

From the English seaside resort of Brighton comes this quartet dedicated to creating "hooky, loud, fuzz-laden pop tunes that make people lose their minds." We don't think this track will cause any harm to our listeners' brains - just give them a few minutes of bright, upbeat noise with a message of reassurance. "Imagine that you had the chance to go back in time to tell your younger self that you turn out alright," the band says about the song. "You’d do it, right? ... As we can’t go back in time, maybe take a moment. Next time you catch yourself in a reflection let yourself know it’s gonna be OK now."

Rachel Beck: Dancin'

The title suggests a happy dance tune, but the lyrics refer to society's failure to prevent or prepare for climate change. "We're dancin' on a grave ... Like Nero, play on, play on as flames get higher." The track is from the Prince Edward Island singer-songwriter's new EP, Stronger Than You Know, the follow-up to her self-titled 2018 debut. The Guardian calls the new release "a beautifully crafted electronic pop record with compelling rhythms, layers of piano and synthesizers and dreamy vocals that wash over you wave after wave."

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