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Saturday, August 28, 2021

New music from Sheryl Crow, Taylor Scott Band, Joan Armatrading, Amelia Meath and Blake Mills, The Wombats

Sheryl Crow: Everything Is Broken [feat. Jason Isbell]

The new live album is a 27-track collection of stellar live performances from 2019, mostly at Nashville's famed Ryman Auditorium. Spin calls it "a thrilling document filled with searing and emotive takes on her most beloved material, along with a wide range of guest appearances from the likes of Stevie Nicks, Brandi Carlile, Jason Isbell, Maren Morris, Lucius, and Emmylou Harris to name just a few. ... The full gamut of Crow’s impressive songwriting and impeccable musicianship on full display in this two-and-a-half-hour set." We put this Dylan cover in our New Music bin because it's a good stand-alone track, but recommend the whole LP and will be adding much more to our big mix.

Taylor Scott Band: Bleeding Out

Photo by Scott Lukes
The Denver-based guitar-rocker tells Grateful Web his new single is "an angry funk song about getting left high and dry. Musically, I wanted the heavy backbeat to get occasionally broken up by riffs and breaks that sound kind of wild and unhinged. The idea being when the backbeat drops in again, it’s that much heavier. I think the band slayed that feel on the recording. The song kicks especially hard live so we’ve been having a lot of fun with it on the road.” 

Joan Armatrading: Natural Rhythm

We've been spinning the single "Already There," and now feature the opening track from Consequences. It's the 20th album by the singer-songwriter-multi-instrumentalist whose self-titled 1976 release still stands as a classic. "Armatrading recorded Consequences at her home studio, multi-tracking all the vocal and instrumental parts herself," AllMusic reports, going on to say: "The production and arrangements lean to a clean and streamlined electronic sound, using the elements of dance music without the insistent pulse, and the contrast between the emotional warmth of the lyrics and the clean surfaces of the music is surprisingly effective."

Amelia Meath and Blake Mills: Neon Blue

This is the inaugural release from Psychic Hotline Records, launched by singer-songwriter Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn, the North Carolina duo who perform as Sylvan Esso. This song was born on a cross-country flight Meath took in 2019, watching night fall across North America as she flew to Los Angeles. Pitchfork tells us: "Meath recorded it in L.A. with Southern California guitar virtuoso Blake Mills. ... [They] tracked the song in a single session, then proceeded to tinker with the project on their computers, little by little, over the next two years."

The Wombats: If You Ever Leave, I'm Coming With You

The story of many pandemic-era releases: This indie-rock band of Liverpool origin recorded its upcoming fifth album remotely, with frontman Matthew Murphy in Los Angeles, Tord Øverland Knudsen in Oslo and Dan Haggis in London. They'd meet daily on Zoom, record their parts separately and send sound files to their producers. “It was pure madness, to be honest,” Murphy said in a statement. Fix Yourself, Not The World is due in January. Murphy says this song developed as he saw the public health crisis "put some serious strain on interpersonal relationships." The title, of course, reminds us of Mental As Anything's 1981 single "If You Leave Me Can I Come Too?" We'll definitely play the two songs back-to-back now and then.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

Santana, The Joy Formidable, Millie Manders, Beach Riot and Vistas land in the New Music bin

Santana and Rob Thomas: Move

Photo: Libby Fabro
The amazing career of Carlos Santana continues with his upcoming Blessing and Miracles LP, on which he collaborates with a wide variety of artists, writers and producers, including Steve Winwood, Chick Corea, Rick Rubin and many more. This first single is a reunion with Rob Thomas, 22 years after the Matchbox 20 singer and Santana had a monster hit with "Smooth." New York band American Authors provides additional vocals. "The song is about awakening your molecules," Santana says. "Ignite and activate yourself – you know, move. When Rob and I work together, we have a sound that’s splendiferous.”

The Joy Formidable: Interval

We've been spinning the title track from Into the Blue, and another single, "Chimes." Now that the full album is out, we're picking this track for our New Music bin. "Rhydian Dafydd’s bouncing bass line gives the rock song a danceable pop quality," writes Glide Magazine, which calls the collection "a multifaceted album of contrasts that melds pop hooks, rock guitars, and beautiful melodies in a way that crosses genres and tones and rewards careful listening."

Millie Manders & The Shutup: Broken Record

This London band's sound is described as cross-genre punk rock, and one critic called it the UK's answer to LA's The Interrupters. Frontwoman Millie Manders' powerful vocals are backed by grinding guitars and slamming drums, with horns adding a bit of punk-ska flavor. Manders says of this song: "So, you’ve been unceremoniously dumped ...  but you can’t stop thinking about them, dreaming about them, playing out every last moment in your head. It’s like a broken record.”

Beach Riot: Wraith

From London, we ride Southern Railway to Brighton and pick up the latest single from this "fuzz pop quartet" that we previously featured with last year's single "Wrong Impression." Their debut album, Subatomic Party Cool, is due next month. The band members - Cami Menditeguy and Rory O’Connor on guitars and vocals, Jim Faulkner on bass and drummer Jonny Ross - say that on this number "Jonny hits the hi hats so fast that his hands are actually playing 5 seconds in the future compared to the rest of his body. Also it’s a song about your life force being slowly drained away in a fading relationship and there’s nothing you can do about it but watch and brace yourself."

Vistas: Stuck In Your Head

We're catching up with this Edinburgh trio as they release their sophomore album, What Were You Hoping To Find. Music mag Dork writes that it picks up where their debut release left off: "The same big pop hooks, the same festival-ready vibes, the same wrestling with anxieties and doubts." Says frontman Prentice Robertson: “On our debut, we focused on the transition from our teenage years into adulthood, and on this album we asked the question: ‘Now that you’re here, what it is that you want?’ All the tracks on this record look at something where uncertainty plays a large role." 

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Night Talks, Little Thief, James McMurtry, Baywud, Shawna Caspi - Now in our New Music bin

Night Talks: Overcome

We've just about worn down the grooves of this Los Angeles band's debut album, 2017's In Dreams. So we're glad to finally hear some new music from the indie-pop-rock group fronted by Soraya Sebghati - and to know that there's a new album in the works. LA blog Grimy Goods writes: "Bouncy, light and with plenty of dream pop synth to open with, the tune is an upbeat downer, with a catchy as hell melody and heartbreaking lyrics not about lost love, but friendships grown apart."

Little Thief: Freak

From Bristol UK comes the indie-rock project of Charlie Fitzgerald and Rhii Williams. They've been playing together as Little Thief since 2015, have several singles to their credit, and will release their debut album, Under the Patio, next month. Fitzgerald says this exuberant number was written for "that wild-card lover" who brings "excitement and fear" to one's life.

James McMurtry: The Horses and the Hounds

Here's the title track from the latest album by this Texas story-teller who has long been a staple of our mix. It was produced (mostly pre-pandemic) by Ross Hogarth, who was the recording engineer on McMurtry's first two albums, Too Long in the Wasteland and Candyland. McMurtry's lyrics had a seen-it-all quality 30 years ago, and now seems to have grown into his own persona. In this song, the narrator seems to feel his past catching up with him: "I've been running for so long / I just can't find a way back home / So I turn to face the horses and the hounds."

Shawna Caspi: Wait Love

This is the second single to emerge from the new album, Hurricane Coming, on which the Toronto-based singer-songwriter expands her sound with richer instrumental backing. This end-of-an-affair song is a co-write with producer Joel Schwartz. Caspi is also a visual artist, and each track on the album comes with artwork tied to its theme. For "Wait Love," the painting is inspired by pyrography - burning lines into wood with a heated pen. "Bold lines go deep and are difficult to erase," Caspi says. "The marks of a tumultuous relationship are indelible, etched on the body, the mind, the heart."

Baywud: Silver & Gold

In recent months we've played several songs by this LA-based singer-songwriter on The Birch Street Bistro, our daily hour of music on the softer side. This latest single brings out his folk-rock side, with a catchy tune and a message of encouragement to someone struggling with setbacks: "This pain will heal / The path isn’t straight / But just walk it anyway / You’re silver and gold / You shine like a wounded star."

Saturday, August 7, 2021

New music variety: Yola, Dar Williams, Whitehorse, Doobie Brothers, John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen

Yola: Diamond Studded Shoes

The theme of resisting the forces of division and oppression turns up in a lot of music these days. This track from the new album Stand For Myself is "an anthem for people to recognize our commonalities (and our common enemy) and stand together," writes Atwood Magazine. From the lyrics: "They buy diamond studded shoes with our taxes / Anything to keep us divided ... We know it isn't, it ain't gonna turn out right / ... that's why we gots to fight / For the life and soul of the world we know." The album is the second solo LP from the artist, who got her start as a session singer and fronted Americana/soul band Phantom Limb before striking out on her own.

Dar Williams: You Give It All Away

We're glad to know there's a new album, I'll Meet You Here, coming soon from this New York singer-songwriter-author, whose previous release was 2015's Emerald. This song bemoans how little value the music industry and society puts on artists' creativity. "You see the golden spark that's floating on the wind / The line becomes the verse, becomes the golden trees, the golden birds / And oh, you're gonna give it all away." Yet the track has an exuberant, brass-infused sound, cheering on those who persist in pursuing the muse.

Whitehorse: Sometimes Amy

"I need some relief from the tyranny of your love," Luke Doucet and Melissa McClelland sing, in turn and in tandem. Not permanent relief, mind you - just "sometimes, Amy." The bright and bouncy track is the latest single from the prolific Ontario duo's next album, Strike Me Down, coming out next month.

The Doobie Brothers: Better Days

Well look who's back? Their 15th studio album and first collection of new music since 2010, Liberté will be released in October, but four tracks have already spun out as a digital EP. The new songs are written by core members Tom Johnston, Pat Simmons and John McFee, who are embarking on a 50th anniversary tour along with Michael McDonald. This number's lyrics echo Bruce Springsteen's song of the same name, from a point farther along life's road.

John Hurlbut & Jorma Kaukonen: A Little Faster

Former Jefferson Airplane guitarist and longtime Hot Tuna co-leader Kaukonen rode out the pandemic on his Fur Peace Ranch, a guitar camp/performance venue in Ohio. Along with putting on a series of virtual concerts, he decided to make some recordings with his friend Hurlbut, a local musician and Fur Peace manager. The result was The River Flows, an album released in December. Now comes The River Flows, Vol. 2, with more recordings from the same sessions. "It’s absolutely live, nobody’s plugged in, and that’s what I wanted," Kaukonen told Rock Cellar Magazine. "I wanted to capture that kind of a feeling. Which we did." Both albums are made up mostly of cover songs, but our featured track is a Hurlbut original.