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Saturday, January 2, 2021

New year, new music: Carsie Blanton, Stevie Wonder, Forest Sun, Tired Lion, The Metal Byrds

Carsie Blanton: Be Good

This New Orleans-based singer, songwriter, bandleader and playful revolutionary chose the first moment of 2021 to release a "song about kindness and courage, to ring in a year that's sure to require lots of both." The lyric uses the examples of two famous preachers of love and equality to highlight how dangerous those notions always have been to society's power structure. The single is the first from Love & Rage, the new album from Blanton and her band, due in late April.

Stevie Wonder: Where Is Our Love Song?

With a similar message about "our need for love, peace and unity,” Wonder recently released his first new music in over a decade. On this track, backed by Gary Clark Jr. on guitar, he sings: "Where are our words with hope, prayer for peace, and our desperately needed song of love?" He told Rolling Stone he wrote the beginnings of the song in 1968, when he was 18, and completed it last year with new lyrics.

Forest Sun: Already Home

This self-described troubadour brings a California laid-back style to his music, which draws on influences including gospel, soul, reggae, Americana, blues and jazz. Following his late-2019 LP Brighter Day, he began releasing songs on a monthly basis. Those are now collected on the new album, Stubborn Breathing Heart, which came out New Year's Day. He's been heard frequently on the Birch Street Bistro, our daily hour of singer-songwriters, acoustic bands and the like. Our pick for the New Music bin is this folk-rock-style song with a natural singalong chorus. 

Tired Lion: Breakfast for Pathetics

After establishing this alt-rock band in Perth, Australia, and releasing its debut album (Dumb Days) in 2017, frontwoman Sophie Hopes moved across the continent to Brisbane. As NME reports, "while the relocation brought her closer to her partner, Violent Soho’s Luke Boerdam, it meant leaving behind a lot of personal history – as well as her bandmates." So, on this second LP, Hopes plays all the guitar and keyboard parts, accompanied only by Violent Soho drummer Michael Richards. "What hasn’t changed is the way Hopes fully embraces ’90s indie rock and grunge, leaning into its tangled guitars and quiet/loud kick to chronicle the gloriously messy feelings she observes in and around her."

The Metal Byrds: Impossible

Despite the "byrds" spelling and Austin, Texas, origins, this isn't a jangly Americana band. Their music is classic hard rock with female vocals - think Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Patty Smyth. Eclectic Music Lover describes it as "infused with healthy doses of rock’n’roll and power pop, along with enough metal in the mix to give their songs a dark, edgy quality." The group formed in 2018, after a mutual friend introduced London-born singer-songwriter Suzanne Birdie and guitarist Sly Rye Dovey. Their third EP, Life in 20, came out in late 2020 and includes this goodbye-to-you sendoff to someone who's "impossible to love."

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