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Saturday, October 30, 2021

New: Elvis Costello, My Morning Jacket, Jeen, Sunflower Bean, Andrew Leahey & The Homestead

Elvis Costello and The Imposters: Magnificent Hurt

"A new album of urgent, immediate songs with bright melodies, guitar solos that sting and a quick step to the rhythm” is how the veteran rocker describes The Boy Named If, due in January. Costello says its 13 songs “take us from the last days of a bewildered boyhood to that mortifying moment when you are told to stop acting like a child — which for most men (and perhaps a few gals too) can be any time in the next 50 years.” Stereogum writes that this first single "sounds a whole lot like something that Costello might’ve made in the late ’70s. The song has a pounding backbeat, some perfect organ interjections from longtime bandmate Steve Nieve, and a lead vocal with some real snarl in it."

My Morning Jacket: Complex

After last year's release of leftover tracks from the Waterfall session, the band is back with an album of fresh material. (Seems they couldn't come up with a fresh title, though, so it's called My Morning Jacket.) New York's WFUV radio says it's "packed with everything fans look for in a My Morning Jacket album: Fully-developed, rich, anthemic rock anchored in American roots and adorned with dense layers of opulent psychedelic guitars, soaring vocals, and complex, progressive melodies."

Jeen: Recklessly

Jeen (O'Brien) says she "started writing ‘Recklessly’ last summer when my head was spinning like everyone else. Always feeling like the bottom could drop out any second. Being a musician can be challenging on a good day and I never made a plan B. So I felt that pretty hard last year and this year as well. Like that rush of not having a safety net, but maybe wishing you did.” The song is on the Toronto-based artist's new LP, Dog Bite, which also features the single "Maybe I'll Be Gone," which entered our mix a few months ago.

Sunflower Bean: Baby Don't Cry

It's been a little over a year since the Brooklyn-based trio of guitarist-vocalist Nick Kivlen, bassist-vocalist Julia Cumming and drummer Jacob Faber released its last single, "Moment in the Sun," so it's good to hear from them again. No word on whether an album is in the works, but the band is about to begin touring again after a pandemic hiatus. This song, they say, "is about how so many things in our lives are disposable. Content and news is consumed and discarded leaving us unfulfilled. 'Baby Don't Cry' is about enjoying the real. The things right in front of us that give us meaning and how sometimes, even sad songs can give you that warm feeling of hope."

Andrew Leahey & the Homestead: Good At Gone

This Nashville-based songwriter and his band just released the first half of a planned 18-track double-album, American Static Vol. 1. The band's combination of guitar-driven arrangements and storytelling lyrics bring frequent comparisons to Petty and Springsteen, but a review by The Alternate Root says the group is "a decidedly cohesive outfit that isn’t indebted to any other entity and their rugged, determined stance results in songs that are singularly stirring and flush with resilience and resolve." About this song, Leahey tells American Songwriter: “I spent four years remaining in transit the whole time. I like crazy schedules like that, but I don’t like the fact that I’ve grown accustomed to being apart from my wife for long periods of time. ‘Good at Gone’ deals with that realization. It’s a song about distance, guilt, long hauls, and payoffs.”

(Photo credit: Chad Cochran)

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Band of Horses, Southern Avenue, Danielia Cotton, Hush Club, Season of the Senses in New Music bin

Band of Horses: Crutch

Five-plus years after Why Are You OK comes the first taste of Things Are Great, the upcoming sixth album from Ben Bridwell and his stablemates. This guitar-driven song plays on the words crutch and crush. Says Bridwell: "Obviously ‘Crutch’ means some of the things that I was dependent on. My relationship for one. I think I wanted to say, ‘I’ve got a crush on you,’ and I thought it was funny how relationships also feel like crutches. I feel like everybody has had a time when nothing goes right and you still have to carry on. I think that feeling hits you in this song even if you don’t know what the specifics are.”

Southern Avenue: Push Now

We're late catching up to Be the Love You Want, the third album from this Memphis-based outfit. AllMusic wrote that "this set adds big-beat R&B and funk" to the group's mix of blues and soul "without sacrificing any of their rootsy appeal. ... Further, the songwriting towers above previous efforts." It was co-produced by the band's lead guitarist, Ori Naftali, and Los Lobos' Steve Berlin, who "brought in horns, additional keys, and backing singers. They created a studio atmosphere to highlight the sublime, resonant lead vocals (and lyrics) of Tierinii Jackson with a new emphasis on their killer rhythm section of drummer and backing vocalist Tikyra Jackson, and rocksteady bassist Evan Sarver."

Danielia Cotton: Supercool

This is the second single to come out ahead of the New York-based singer's next album, following title track "Good Day." Both songs were co-written with Nashville songwriter Jeff Cohen, and both have a sunny outlook that contrasts with some of Cotton's more serious compositions. This track is a straight-up love song with echoes of '70s R&B. The advance publicity promises the January release will include a wide range of tunes: "Once again, [Cotton] will go from soul to arena-like rock to a beautiful moaning blues ballad."

Hush Club: One More Year

Another band formed in the big college town that is Boston, this trio is about to release its second album, Fingerprints & Stains. Their music is billed as "weaving together finely crafted melodies, lush textures, and soul-searching poetry." Alasdair MacKenzie (bass, vocals), Chris Haley (guitar, vocals), and Liz Kantor (keys, vocals) cite Fleet Foxes and Dawes among their influences, and this track also would mix well with the likes of Real Estate and Wilco.

Season of the Senses: Young & Strange

We're always happy to add new and different sounds to our mix, so we bring you the debut single by this duo from Guelph, Ontario. Multi-instrumentalist Damian Weston and singer Elena Stocco met in a local online group early this year. Weston, who'd been creating music for film and TV, was looking for a collaborator and found Stocco, for whom singing was "just a hobby." Weston told local news site Guelph Today that when he heard Stocco sing, "it blew my mind that she was not professionally trained." And Stocco said when she heard samples of Weston's compositions, "I was kind of blown away by the songs he has in the works." They began working together remotely and recorded this song before ever meeting in person. (They have, since, and have more songs on the way).

Saturday, October 16, 2021

New music from Sam Fender, Sean McConnell, Shannon Lay, Katherine Aly, The Record Company

Sam Fender: Get You Down

Photo by Charlotte Patmore
This UK singer-songwriter mines adolescent memories for several songs on his just-released second album, Seventeen Going Under. Our pick for the New Music bin, which seems to recall a schoolyard enemy, "erupts in a guitar-saxophone duel and climaxes with a swarm of strings," writes Pitchfork. "There’s no hiding the influence of Springsteen’s lyrical prowess and the E Street Band’s orchestral grandeur on Fender’s work, as well as the Boss’ 21st-century acolytes like the War on Drugs and the Killers." In fact, at times his vocals remind us just a bit of Brandon Flowers.

Sean McConnell: What the Hell Is Wrong With Me?

This Nashville songwriter has written for numerous country, rock and pop artists as well as releasing his own material. His new album, A Horrible Beautiful Dream, is his tenth, featuring his powerful voice and "storyteller style ... a la Springsteen, Prine, and Townes Van Zandt," writes Roughstock in a review that describes this track as "a melodically rollicking look at why someone does the things they do in life. They know they shouldn’t do something yet there they are doing that exact thing."

Shannon Lay: A Thread to Find

A California native who came up through the LA garage-punk scene, Lay has pursued "a radically different solo career steeped in thoughtful, psychedelic-infused indie folk," as AllMusic describes it. Geist is her second LP on the Sub Pop label. This song, Lay says, "is about finding pieces of yourself in unfamiliar places, It is about watching the people around you grow and evolve, and admiring the chaos and the beauty of discovering new worlds within ourselves.” The lyric concludes: "You're on your own but not alone."

Katherine Aly: Pariah

This is the latest in a string of singles leading up to a planned debut EP by this Edinburgh-based alt-pop artist. The song has a message of tolerance - or of intolerance for intolerance. Born in Greece, Aly tells On Magazine: "‘Pariah’ is a very special release for me. I finally found the courage as a woman, an immigrant and an artist to talk openly about discrimination and on top of that invite other people to use ‘Pariah’ as a platform to address other forms of prejudice."

The Record Company: Gotta Be Movin'

We've been spinning the single "How High," and now with the release of the LP Play Loud we're featuring another boisterous track from the LA trio. Bassist Alex Stiff says: “We totally flipped the process on this record to allow for every idea and possibility, so it wasn’t just the three of us closed off in our bubble. It was like, ‘Let’s take some risks and see what we can really do.'” That approach included hiring outside songwriters as collaborators, including producer Dave Sardy, and using overdubs to fatten the sound, reports American Songwriter, adding: "There’s enough grit mixed with the slicker production to keep existing fans happy while possibly bringing new ones to the table." 

Saturday, October 9, 2021

The Latest from St. Paul & The Broken Bones, The Wild Feathers, Lala Lala, Sting, Modest Mouse

St. Paul & The Broken Bones: Last Dance

The eight-piece band from Birmingham, Ala., will release its fourth album, The Alien Coast, in January. Frontman Paul Janeway says this first single is about "the juxtaposition of dancing while facing certain doom ... Like dancing through a Mad Max scene."

The Wild Feathers: Alvarado

The Nashville-based quintet wrote this song several years ago and "rediscovered" it while going through unreleased material to put together the 2020 collection Medium Rarities. It ended up becoming the title track for the just-released new LP, which the band self-produced while hunkered down in a small cabin northwest of their home city.

Lala Lala: Diver

Chicago musician Lillie West has just released her third album, I Want the Door to Open. Under the Radar magazine writes that the LP is "introspective and existential, atmospheric and surreal" and a departure from 2018's more guitar-driven The Lamb. A key line in this track - "I can't look directly at it / Your face distorted in the window" - touches a recurring theme of difficulty in seeing oneself and others clearly.

Sting: Rushing Water

The veteran musician says this song "is a fitting start to an album that seeks to bridge all of the petty differences that can separate us.” Titled The Bridge, the LP is due next month. Stereogum writes that the track has a bit of an echo of classic Police, "with a hard-slapping backbeat and some slick palm-muted guitar action."

Modest Mouse: The Sun Hasn't Left

Here's another cut from The Golden Casket, released this summer by the Portland, Ore., band. Spin writes that the song "makes creative use of new-wave beats" and offers a hopeful message with lyrics like: “You’re not wrong, things are a mess but there’s still something left.”

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Preview of new albums by Colin James, Lilly Hiatt, plus latest from Whitehorse, Adrian Sutherland, Shayla McDaniel

Colin James: As The Crow Flies

The guitar wizard and singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan will release his 20th studio album, Open Road, in November. It's a mix of originals and covers, including a couple of Dylan tunes and this song, written and originally recorded in 1972 by the late Tony Joe White.

Lilly Hyatt: Lately

Photo by Dylan Reyes
Coming just a year after her sophomore release, Walking Proof, the Nashville-based singer-songwriter has a new LP coming out this month, and we're bringing you the title track..

Whitehorse: Am I Just Gonna Stand There (While You Take My Girl Away)

We previously featured a couple of early singles from Strike Me Down, and now that the full album is out we're pulling out this breezy tune about an unhappy situation. "It's not that I don't care / To pull the strings in favour of me / But I could never ask you to love me more." So, the answer to the title question seems to be, yeah I guess I am.

Adrian Sutherland: Magic Hits

Our regular listeners are familiar with this singer-songwriter from Attawapiskat First Nation in northern Ontario. The frontman of roots-rock band Midnight Shine just released his first solo album, When the Magic Hits. We previously featured "Right Here," and now add this sort-of title track.

Shayla McDaniel: Alright

Also familiar to our regular listeners is this songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Tennessee, who has been turning out a steady stream of singles on which she sings and plays all instruments. This latest track, with a full-band sound, is "about doing the best you can to feel the best you can, both inside and out."