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Saturday, March 6, 2021

New from Kings of Leon, Teenage Fanclub, Kiwi Jr., Joanna Connor + introducing Crimson Peak

Kings of Leon: Stormy Weather

On their eighth album, the Followill brothers and cousin embrace "the mature, laid-back versions of themselves," as NME puts it. "There are meditations on growing older and statements on climate change, interspersed with love letters to quiet, domestic romance." But there are also "plenty of high-energy bursts of light you can already see bringing a crowd to life." We previously featured the lead single, "The Bandit," and our pick this week is another of the more arena-friendly rockers, with a prominent, funky bass line.

Teenage Fanclub: I'm More Inclined

The deceptively named veteran indie rockers are preparing to release their 10th album (or 11th or 12th, depending on who's counting), Endless Arcade. AllMusic calls them "an eternally underrated Scottish indie band with wonderful melodies and Byrds-influenced harmonies." The press release says of the album: "Melodies are equal parts heartwarming and heart-aching; guitars chime and distort; keyboard lines mesh and spiral; harmony-coated choruses burst out like sun on a stormy day." Our featured track certainly has that warm-and-sunny, California-70s sound.

Kiwi Jr.: Cooler Returns

Photo by Padrian McLeod
Does the press release for these Toronto indie-rockers' second album really mean to call it their "sophomoric" release? Whether a typo or a joke, it hints at the collegiate-level ironic humor that the band brings to its takes on life in the unsettled times. The Revue writes that this title track "is situated in the dumpster fire that was 2020. A massively upbeat sonic experiment of hip-shaking, head-spinning, neck-jerking, quirky guitar pop-rock [wherein] the gents discuss how the past year truly screwed up people’s equilibrium and sense of self."

Joanna Connor: Destination

We bring a strong dose of Chicago-style blues rock to our playlist with this track from the new album 4801 South Indiana Avenue. The title refers to the former location of a renowned South Side blues club. "For a studio album this technically stellar and concisely written, it is soaked in a rawness and energy that exceeds many live performances," writes Blues Rock Review. Guitarist-singer-songwriter Connor "wastes no time opening 'Destination' with fiery-rapid fire slide-licks that display an impressive combination of speed and precision. Reese Wynans provides a full-bodied piano underpinning that allows the vocal call-and-response duo of Connor and Jimmy Hall to flex their singing muscles."

Crimson Peak: Lies

Photo by Frida Lönnroos
Our friends at Saint in the City Records introduced us to this pop-rock band from Helsinki, Finland. The group has put out several singles since 2018 and is preparing to release its debut EP. As the indie label describes it: "Big pop choruses nestle amongst driving rock guitars and widescreen, atmospheric indie-folk soundscapes, all driven by alternating vocals from Lina Sandvik and Elias Losinskij-Kovanko." This latest single "is a song about letting a fake person know that you can see through them,” says one of the band's two lead vocalists, Lina Sandvik. “The truth will always eventually come out.”

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