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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Courtney Barnett, The Black Sorrows, Maybe May, Raging Sons, Paul Carrack in our New Music bin

Courtney Barnett: Before You Have To Go

The second single to emerge ahead of the Things Take Time, Take Time album (due in November) is an amicable-breakup song. Stereogum writes that it "is built around a translucent cyclical guitar riff that lends the song both incredible forward momentum and a deep sense of longing. ...As with the prior single ["Rae Street"], there’s some resemblance to Barnett’s former duet partner Kurt Vile — that laconic, lysergic, loosely bluesy kind of folk-rock that might send you into a state of melancholy contemplation."

The Black Sorrows: Revolutionary Blues

Also from Australia, but on a different musical continent, is this blues-rock outfit led by guitarist/saxophonist Joe Camilleri. Hat tip to a listener from that part of the world who turned us on to the band, whose 19th studio album, Saint Georges Road, dropped this month. Says Camilleri: “The band really owns this track. It’s just a lot of fun. Initially, I had a different concept, but we took it into a country/blues/gospel sound. And lyrically, it could be about any time – there could be a revolution brewing somewhere."

Maybe May: Better

This Toronto-area trio is billed as using the fundamental r&r combination of guitar-bass-drum to blend "heavy instrumentation with graceful melodies which provide a rich tapestry for delivering messages of love, loss and betrayal." This song has a message of helping one another through difficult times: "Together, we will be better." It was inspired by the suicide of a friend, and the marketing effort for the single promotes the Canada Suicide Prevention Service.

Raging Sons: Square One

This quartet from Limerick, Ireland, sets out to merge "gritty, alternative rock with modern, dark
synth-pop." The lineup of Fint Tynan (vocals), Colum Kelly (guitar), Damien Ruddy (bass) and Adam Reeves (drums) has been together since 2018. They began releasing singles in recent months ahead of their pandemic-delayed debut LP, 20:20, now slated for October release. Of this song, Reeves says: "This is the sound we were striving for, all through the process recording of our album.”

Paul Carrack: I Miss You So

This veteran singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist has been making records since the 1970s with bands including Ace, Roxy Music, Squeeze and Mike + The Mechanics, as a session and touring musician and as a solo artist. His new album, One on One, is the product of 18 months of riding out the pandemic in his home studio. And this song was inspired by the experience of having a new granddaughter and being unable to visit her initially.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

New: Lindsey Buckingham, My Morning Jacket, Aoife O'Donovan, Leon Bridges, The War On Drugs

Lindsey Buckingham: On the Wrong Side

You can take the guitarist out of the band, but ... The new LP, titled Lindsey Buckingham, is "the first of his solo albums to embrace all of the crowd-pleasing elements of Fleetwood Mac," writes AllMusic. "It's the work of an expert craftsman who relies on his skills as composer, arranger, producer, vocalist, and guitarist to sculpt songs that comfort without succumbing to nostalgia." This song looks back at his years of touring with Mac: “I’m out of pity, out of time / Another city, another crime ... We were young, now we’re old / Who can tell me which is worse?” Riff Magazine notes that the track "includes the only extended electric guitar solo on the album, and it’s fantastic."

My Morning Jacket: Love Love Love

It's all you need, right? The lyrics ("The more you give yeah / The more you get now / Go tell it to the world") may have a familiar ring, but Jim James says he wanted the song to "speak toward positivity and pure love, finding truth within yourself and in the world around you.” It's a counterpoint to "Regularly Scheduled Programming," the gloomy first single from the band's ninth album (cleverly titled My Morning Jacket), due next month.

Aoife O'Donovan: Phoenix

We know her as one-third of I'm With Her (with Sarah Jarosz and Sara Watkins) but this Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter-guitarist also co-founded string band Crooked Still and has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma, the Boston Pops Orchestra, Olabelle and more. AllMusic calls her "a go-to vocalist in the American contemporary folk, bluegrass, and progressive Americana scenes," while The Bluegrass Situation wrote that O'Donovan is "one of the best lyricists on the scene today.” Her fourth solo album, Age of Apathy, is due in January. Of this lead single, she says: "Late 2020 and early 2021 brought a wave of clarity and inspiration after a very difficult period of creative malaise, and ‘Phoenix’ is truly an ode to my own muse.”

Leon Bridges: Steam

This is the latest single to break out from the Gold-Diggers Sound album, named for the East Hollywood hotel where Bridges played a residency and worked on the songs. Paste Magazine calls his third album "yet another graceful, often captivating deviation from the retro path most critics probably expected him to stick with - particularly after earning a 2016 Grammy nod for Best R&B Album." At the Gold Diggers, he "jammed and wrote with an enormous cast of players and producers, arriving at a sleeker, jazzier sound befitting a space of such chicness."

The War On Drugs: I Don't Live Here Anymore

Photo by Shawn Brackbill
The title track from the Philadelphia band's upcoming album opens with a nod to Bob Dylan. "I was lying in my bed, a creature void of form," bandleader Adam Granduciel sings, borrowing a phrase from "Shelter from the Storm." The album is said to have a theme of "resilience in the face of despair." This song features backing vocals by Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius. Together, they sing: "We’re all just walkin’ through this darkness on our own."

Saturday, September 11, 2021

New sounds from Eddie Vedder, Amos Lee, The Churchhill Garden, The High Loves, Millie Manders

Eddie Vedder: Long Way

Photo by Danny Clinch
On our first listen to this new single, we noticed a strong Tom Petty influence - from the song's structure and lyrics to Vedder's vocal ("She took the long way / On the free-ee-ee-way.") So it wasn't surprising to learn that Benmont Tench of The Heartbreakers is part of the backing band (playing Hammond organ), along with guitarist Josh Klinghoffer and drummer Chad Smith from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. This is the first track from the Pearl Jam frontman's upcoming solo LP, The Earthling.

Amos Lee: Worry No More

This soothing song seems perfectly timed for these anxious days of pandemic, climate change, political turmoil and the continuing repercussions of 9/11. It's the Philadelphia singer-songwriter's first release in four years. Local music blog The Key writes: "The music swells as Lee mixes in finger snaps and layered vocals that build up into visceral rush of tranquility. It makes you actually believe that everything will eventually fall into place." Lee says the song plays off a Bob Marley line: "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.”

The Churchhill Garden: Grounded

They've been referred to as a shoegaze band, but they're really a duo, and their latest single isn't really shoegaze. The Churchhill Garden began in 2010 as a solo project by Andy Jossi at his home in Switzerland. He collaborated with various vocalists, and in 2016 connected with American singer Krissy Vanderwoude. The trans-Atlantic pairing has become known for dreamy, melancholic music, but takes a more upbeat pop approach on this track, billed as "a toe tapping, hand clapping anthem which will speak to fans of bands like Lush and The Primitives."

The High Loves: Sometime

Earlier this summer we featured "Call Me Back"  by this Toronto-based indie-rock band. Here's another single from its upcoming Too Much of a Good Thing collection. Lead singer Noah Mockton says the lyrics were imagined as a goodbye letter to an ex. “It's about being okay with change, and letting someone you love go.” The other band members are lead guitarist Marko Stojanovic, keyboardist Jeremy Ugro, bassist Jake St. Jean and drummer Jaden Spanier. Elise Mariah adds backing vocals on this track.

Millie Manders and The Shutup: Your Story

This London band first hit our ears last month, and we featured the single "Broken Record." Now we're dipping back into their debut LP, Telling Truths, Breaking Ties, to drop another chunk of their punk-ish rock-and-roll into our New Music bin. Full disclosure: The album came out last year - but it's new to us, and we're betting it's new to most of our listeners. It's getting a fresh publicity push as the band embarks on an extensive U.K. tour. 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Latest: They Might Be Giants, Dar Williams, Idle Dream, Emperor of Ice Cream, Dear Boy

They Might Be Giants: I Can't Remember The Dream

John Linnell, John Flansburgh and company will release their 22nd album, Book, in late October, along with... a book, of artwork. Linnell says the new songs are "humorously germane to the catastrophe going on around us.” This preview single describes TFW you wake up from a very pleasant dream and wish you could go back and live in it.

Dar Williams: Today And Every Day

The second single from the upcoming I'll Meet You Here LP is part of Williams' effort to encourage individual action to save the planet. She's inviting fans to share a link to the video (stop-action animation by Antje Duvekot) on their social-media accounts along with "3-5 things you do to save the world a little every day." The song's optimism is a counterpoint to the anger and cynicism in many current songs about the state of the world.

Idle Dream: The First Time

"I wanna know you when the party's over / I wanna know you when I am sober." As sung by Chris McGrath, what could be an awkward pickup line sounds like a genuine sentiment, a mix of anxiety and hope for romance. This Dublin duo formed in early 2020 when Connor McCabe joined what had been McGrath's solo project. They put out one single before the pandemic forced them to work together from separate locations. The word is the built up a repertoire of songs to be released in coming months, starting with this one.

Emperor of Ice Cream: Weather Vane

This Irish indie-rock band, which released a few EPs in the 1990s, re-emerged last year with its first full-length album, No Sound Ever Dies. Having pressed on through covid lockdowns, they're back with this single, described as a song about "a tornado of emotions when a relationship hits a rocky patch." The track is a trans-Atlantic production, assembled from parts recorded in home studios in Cork and Waterford, edited and mixed in New York and mastered in New Jersey.

Dear Boy: (On My) Mind

Photo by Matthew Reeves
Los Angeles music site calls this group "L.A.'s favorite Britpop band who aren't actually from Britain." The quartet consists of singer-guitarist Ben Grey, guitarist Austin Hayman, drummer Keith Cooper and bassist Lucy Lawrence. They have released a couple of EPs since 2013 and are working on their first long-player, to come out next year. This single, Grey says, "is about distance, and the complexities of being in love and apart.”