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Saturday, September 24, 2022

Arkells, Justin Saladino Band, Screens 4 Eyes, Hannah Jadagu, Van Go Go in the New Music bin

Arkells, Wesley Schultz, Jake Clemons: Nowhere To Go

One year after Blink Once, the Ontario-based rockers just released Blink Twice, featuring collaborations with other artists on six of its ten tracks. In this case, says frontman Max Kerman, the band called on Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers, after they had met on tour and bonded over shared musical faves, including Bruce Springsteen. Schultz "recorded his part at home in Denver and added a narrative and sense of imagery that is so distinctly him," says Kerman. As they tried to work out an instrumental section of the song, "we decided to go right to the source and reach out to Jake Clemons of the E Street Band. And boy did he deliver."

Justin Saladino Band: Blind Faith

We recently featured lead single "Sink or Swim," and now with the release of the Honest Lies album we're pulling out this cut that starts with a funky bass line and gradually builds to a climax, with Saladino's blazing electric guitar coming to the fore. The album title is the central theme connecting the songs, the guitarist and songwriter says: "It’s about the stories we tell ourselves. It’s not necessarily about straight-up dishonesty but the idea that we brainwash ourselves, consciously or unconsciously, into believing we are being truthful when we are being insincere on a fundamental level with ourselves."

Screens 4 Eyes: The Deal

This is the title song from the newest EP by Yael Brener's Tel Aviv-based dream-pop project, which we have featured several times in the past five-years-plus. The track features layered, smoky vocals, nervous percussion, and a lyric that suggests a romantic triangle leading to a compromise: "Now the deal's been made you can't go back / It will expand your mind / But it will shrink your soul."

Hannah Jadagu: Say It Now

Following her debut EP, last year's What Is Going On?, the 20-year-old is said to be working on her first full-length for release next year. Meantime comes this single, which she describes as "my sort of inner reflection on where things have gone wrong in my past interactions and relationships with other people. Sonically and lyrically, I feel as though this song signifies me venturing into a new world that is even more intense and vulnerable.”

Van Go Go: Get Up To You

Here's the latest single from this emerging rock band from Michigan, following "Watch It Burn," which we featured six months ago. "We really wanted to explore a new-wave retro sound with this recording," the band says. "We feel like we are finding a new sound within an old sound by challenging ourselves to embrace the sounds of legacy artists we love while blending our sound with new ideas and sentiment from today."

Saturday, September 17, 2022

What's new: Ringo Starr, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Monica Moser, Marcus Mumford, Death Cab

Ringo Starr: World Go Round

The champion of peace and love refuses to surrender the optimism of the '60s. All four songs on his new EP3 call on listeners to join him in fighting off the darkness. "I know it's hard to carry on / So for you I wrote this song." Starr recalls that during his Beatles days, "thanks to the hippies, a lot of us had a change of mind, and peace and love and helping each other and being kind if you can became our goal. So I always look for songs that speak to that."

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Last Night In The Rain

This is the opening track on I Am the Moon: IV. Farewell, the final installment of the Florida-based band's new 24-song concept album, a collaborative masterwork inspired by the 12th century Persian love poem "The Story of Layla and Majnun." AllMusic writes that this track "weds punchy guitars, sweeping soulful horns, and a soaring backing chorus [as] Susan Tedeschi delivers a brokenhearted vocal."

Monica Moser: Headlines

We have featured a few songs by this Nashville-based indie singer-songwriter over the past several years, and are pleased to be among the first to spin her latest single. "The song walks through vivid stories of misleading scenarios and pleads for obvious honesty in relationships," Moser says. It's the first single to spin out ahead of an album to be released next year. Mixes well with the likes of Maggie Rogers and Phoebe Bridgers.

Marcus Mumford: Grace

The new solo album by the frontman of & Sons is an exercise in artistic catharsis, touching on childhood abuse, battles with drugs and alcohol, the relief that comes with disclosing troubling secrets, optimism for the future. "I hear there's healing just around this corner," Mumford sings on this track, one of the more upbeat on the self-titled LP. "I'm still trying / Still getting used to this grace."

Death Cab for Cutie: Asphalt Meadows

Some 25 years into their career, Ben Gibbard and his crew from Washington State are receiving accolades for their new album, Asphalt Meadows. It's as "consistent and satisfying as their early-mid ‘00s career peak," writes NME. "Here are a band still very much in love with what they do." Says AllMusic: "For a group so deep into their careers, the album sounds surprisingly urgent and revitalized, like a band reborn against the tumultuous backdrop of the early 2020s." (We've always considered the band's name a total turn-off, so we ignore it when we listen.)

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Blue October + Robyn Hitchcock + Honey Made + The Kut + Miss Emily = our New Music picks

Blue October: Spinning the Truth Around

Photo by Rachel Ziegler
Here's the title track from a planned double album, recorded at frontman Justin Furstenfeld's studio in San Marcos, Texas, over the past two years. The first part is due next month and the second early next year.

Robyn Hitchcock: The Shuffle Man 

AllMusic calls him "one of England's most enduring contemporary singer/songwriters and live performers" and "among alternative rock's father figures" despite often being "branded as eccentric or quirky." This is the opening track from Shufflemania! - Hitchcock's first LP since 2017, due next month.

Honey Made: Upstairs

This nine-piece band out of Austin, Texas, led by brothers Willie and Christopher Barnes, formed in 2018, released an album called Brand New in 2020 and has another collection on the way. The Colorado Sound blog calls this first single "a fun, funky come-on song that’s a perfect introduction to the R&B group’s full-bodied, dance-friendly sound."

The Kut: And 1 More...

Earlier this year we featured "Satellite" from this UK band's sophomore album, GRIT. This is the appropriately titled last track on the LP. A blog called With Just A Hint of Mayhem calls it "a melodic grungey punk track with hooks to die for," adding, "Joan Jett would be proud of this tune."

Miss Emily: Defined By Love

This bluesy singer from Kingston, Ontario, is about to release her fourth album, Defined By Love, and we're adding the title track to our New Music bin. The LP is touted as "a deeply personal 12-song meditation on deception, pain, resilience, and finding strength among the ruins of heartbreak." 

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Fresh tracks from Dentist, The Northwest, Σtella, Bret McKenzie, Thompson Springs

Dentist: Check the Calendar

The New Jersey shore-area trio of Emily Bornemann (vocals, bass), Justin Bornemann (guitar) and Matt Hockenjos (drums) has just released its latest album, Making A Scene. Over the past 18 months, we've featured three singles that are now part of this collection (Don't Let Me Catch You, Let Me Let Go, Spilled Coffee). A review at ThePunkSite calls the LP "easily this trio’s most accomplished, catchy and engaging album to date, with surf-inspired guitar lines, emotive vocals and pounding drums."

The Northwest: Shoreline

From northwest of Toronto comes this five-piece band and this single from its latest LP, All In. The album title comes from this opening song and its refrain, "And if this world ends tonight / I'm All in." Says guitarist-vocalist Wayne Watkins: "It’s a song about commitment to a cause and banding together to make it through a difficult time and place – It may end but we are going all in to fight another day.”

Σtella: Up and Away

This Athens-based painter, visual artist and performer teams up with UK producer Tom 'Redinho' Calvert on her new album, Up and Away, creating a blend of vintage Greek music and modern pop. That's "modern" as in the past 60 years or so - the title track has a 60s-Motown influence while featuring bouzouki. 

Bret McKenzie: If You Wanna Go

After years in the comedic musical duo Flight of the Conchords and a career writing music for Muppets movies and other films, McKenzie shifts gears on his solo album, Songs Without Jokes. "To try and not be funny was a curious songwriting challenge,” McKenzie told The Guardian from his home studio in Wellington, New Zealand. He cites Randy Newman and Harry Nilsson as influences, and we hear some hints of Billy Joel on this track.

Thompson Springs: Time Goes Through Me

This Chicago indie-folk-rock band's latest album, Homeland, emerged in digital form in the spring, but it has just been released on CD - prompting us to give it another listen, and pull out this track for our New Music bin. It's a laid-back, yet catchy, meditation on fleeting hours: "Time goes through me / Always in a hurry / Can't you feel it scurry?"

Sunday, August 28, 2022

New Music Variety: Justin Saladino Band, Katie Guillen & The Drive, The Commonheart, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Danielia Cotton

Justin Saladino Band: Sink Or Swim

Here's the lead single and opening track from Honest Lies, coming next month from this guitar-driven Montreal group. American Blues Scene writes that the song "boasts a delicious cornucopia of distinctive blues, roots, and Southern rock textures." The album was recorded using 1970s-era studio gear, with Saladino backed by long-term band members Gabriel Forget on bass and Denis Paquin on drums.

Katy Guillen & The Drive: Bottom Of Your Belly

We dip back into Another One Gained, the recent release from the Kansas City-based duo of singer-songwriter Katy Guillen and drummer Stephanie Williams. This track, Guillen says, "is an anthemic push forward to overcome fear and embrace the unknown. Written in a time of transition, the song is about that agonizing pit in the core of our stomachs." Under the Radar writes that it features "effortless instrumental chemistry, locking into an easygoing groove that gives both members a chance to shine" and builds to "Guillen’s standout climactic guitar solo."

The Commonheart: Trying to Get Over

This roots-soul band from Pittsburgh brings a big sound, with guitars, drums, keyboard, horns, backup singers - and Clinton Clegg, described by review site Tinnitist as "a lightning-bolt charismatic frontman with dynamically expressive pipes that effortlessly traverse bluesy pleading and honeyed balladeering." American Blues Scene describes this single from the upcoming LP For Work or Love as a grooving track with "fat blues guitar and a driving hypnotic rhythm that won’t quit."

Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness: Stars

It's been four years since this indie artist released Upside Down Flowers, and there's no word yet of another album on the way. But the arrival of this new single on a new label (Netwerk) suggests there is. The song has an expansive sound, with McMahon's vocal and piano fleshed out by guitarist Bobby Anderson, Jay McMillan on drums, Mikey Wagner on bass, Zac Clark on keyboards and Ella Vos on backup vocals. “The song is really about how loving someone can be both beautiful and painful," says McMahon. "When you really love someone, you love them baggage and all."

Danielia Cotton: Elysian Plains

This versatile, genre-crossing artist brings rich gospel flavor to this track from her latest album, Good Day. Co-written with Nashville songwriter Jeff Cohen after both had lost family members to the Covid-19 pandemic, it's a hopeful song about the promise of heavenly reunion with loved ones.

Saturday, August 20, 2022

New sounds from Julian Lennon, Derek Christie, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Empire of Light, The Beths

Julian Lennon: Lucky Ones

Photo by Robert Ascroft
His upcoming album is his seventh overall, but first in more than a decade. "Many of these songs have been in the works for several years, so it almost feels like a coming-of-age album," says Lennon, who will turn 60 next year (can it be??). And the album title nods to the musical gift he received as a child from Paul McCartney. "With great respect for the overwhelming significance of the song written for me, the title Jude conveys the very real journey of my life that these tracks represent.” This song combines deep concern about the state of the world with optimism that those of us on earth today can save it.

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Yes We Will

This song expresses a similar sentiment to Lennon's: "Our planet is changing fast / And the way things have gone, it just won't last ... Gonna get it right this time, I hope we will / Oh, hope we figure it out this time around, I hope we will." The band is deep in its blues-rock groove, and this six-and-a-half-minute number flies by. It's from the third installment of the I Am the Moon magnum opus. The fourth part, Farewell, is due this week.

Derek Christie: Chains

This veteran of the Toronto music scene explores various musical styles on his recent album, DC. "I wanted to reflect a diverse taste in my love for music," Christie says. "Each song is unique, but there is a common thread throughout." The album leads off with this track, which "uses the metaphor of sobriety to celebrate redemption and change." It blends Christie's Fender Telecaster and gravel-tinged voice with Memphis-style horns and backing vocals by Laurelle Augustyn and Michelle White. “Gonna lose these blues / Shake this sin / The monkey on your back / This is where we begin.”

Empire of Light: I Don't Care Anymore

This Brooklyn-based band's bio says it draws "inspiration from the first wave of Alt Country (early Wilco, Alejandro Escovedo, Ryan Adams & Whiskeytown, Old 97's) along with traditional Rock (Neil Young, The Band & The Stones)." It's led by singer/guitarist Peter Hutchison and guitarist Brian Wilkens, both formerly of Upstate N.Y. roots-rockers Subduing Mara. This single is the title track from the group's forthcoming second album, and is billed as "an anthem for everyone who’s been around the block enough times to know better."

The Beths: Knees Deep

Photo by Frances Carter
We previously featured "Silence Is Golden" from the upcoming album Expert in a Dying Field, and now another single pops into our New Music bin. Stereogum calls it "a peppy, fired-up jam about trying to summon personal courage." Band leader Liz Stokes says "I’m the kind of person who wants to go swimming, but takes like 10 minutes to get all the way into the cold water, slowly and painfully. I ... am kind of envious of people who can just jump straight in the deep end."

Saturday, August 13, 2022

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Danielle Ponder, The Deer, Broken Bells, Umphrey's McGee in New Music bin

Yeah Yeah Yeahs: Burning

This is the second single (after "Spitting Off the Edge of the World") to emerge from the upcoming album Cool It Down. Publicity materials say the track's piano riff was inspired by The Four Seasons’ "Beggin," and the lyrics in part by the wildfires that bore down on Los Angeles in 2020. Singer Karen O says "If the world is on fire I hope the most beloved stay protected and that we do all we can to protect what we cherish most in this life."

Danielle Ponder: The Only Way Out

We've heard through the grapevine that her live performances are terrific, and now we're catching up to this single from the singer's upcoming debut album, Some Of Us Are Brave. Ponder hails from Rochester, New York, and worked as a public defender before turning to music full-time. “This song captures a situation so many people have been in,” says Ponder. “Ignoring red flags and entering into a relationship that you know will end with pain.” 

The Deer: I Wouldn't Recognize Me

This Austin-based quintet fronted by singer-lyricist Grace Rowland will soon release its third album, The Beautiful Undead. This lead single is the first sample of the band's music to reach our ears, but Austin's KTUX tells us The Deer's sound has evolved over the last decade to feature "bigger arrangements, fewer folk-centered acoustic instruments, and more emphasis on psychedelia and indie rock." It calls this track "My Morning Jacket-esque," and we also hear some Fleetwood Mac influence - and an opening riff very reminiscent of Neil Young's "My My, Hey Hey."

Broken Bells: Saturdays

Producer Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton) and James Mercer of the Shins put out two albums as Broken Bells in 2010 and 2014, and just a couple of singles since then. They're coming back with an album called Into the Blue in October. It's billed as “a genre- and decade-hopping ode to the duo’s shared musical influences, from The Beatles to Pink Floyd, from '60s psychedelia to '70s rock and AM Gold, from '80s new wave to '90s trip hop, and beyond." Kitchen sink, too?

Umphrey's McGee: I Don't Know What I Want

This is the second track from the veteran jam band's new album, Asking For A Friend, to make its way into our New Music bin - and others will be popping up in our big mix. Grateful Web calls the LP "an astoundingly cohesive fourteen-song album that feels like a fresh statement from a group of world-class musicians and friends re-approaching their craft with a new lens."

Saturday, August 6, 2022

New music: Katy Guillen & The Drive, Bear's Den, Lost Leaders, The Killers, Two Door Cinema Club

Katy Guillen & The Drive: Set in Stone

Back in 2018 we picked up on what turned out to be the last LP from Katy Guillen and the Girls. Since then, Kansas City-based singer-songwriter-guitarist Guillen and drummer Stephanie Williams have been working as a duo, and they just released their first full-length album, Another One Gained. This single is one of the collection's more hard-driving tracks, so to speak. "Many of the songs on the album were a result of a time when I found myself rebuilding and figuring out next steps in my career and personal life," Guillen says. Here she sings "I want to be set in stone again," suggesting a longing for stability.

Bear's Den: Please Don't Hide Yourself Away

Close on the heels of their fourth LP, Blue Hours, the U.K. band led by songwriters Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones has released a soundtrack album of songs composed for a TV series called Trying. They're joined by Jade Bird on this upbeat number, which opens with a sound that reminds us of some of Bruce Hornsby's work. Although written specifically for an episode of the show's third season, the track stands nicely on its own.

Lost Leaders: Jealous Sun

When we featured the single "Long Way Down" in April, we speculated that there might be an album coming from the New York duo of guitarist Peter Cole and bassist (and Lumineers member) Byron Isaacs. It turns out to be a five-track EP, Jealous Sun. and the title track now enters our New Music bin. Another standout that we'll also be spinning: "Daylight."

The Killers: boy

This song, the band's first release following last year's Pressure Machine, actually predates that concept album, but likewise grew from frontman Brandon Flowers' visits to his boyhood home town of Nephi, Utah. "I found that the place I had wanted to get away from so desperately at 16 was now a place that I couldn’t stop returning to," he says. "I have a son approaching the age I was at that time in my life. With [this song], I want to reach out and tell myself – and my sons –  to not overthink it. And to look for the 'white arrows' in their lives."

Two Door Cinema Club: Lucky

Here's the second single to spin out ahead of the Northern Ireland band's upcoming fifth album, Keep On Smiling. The group says the bouncy track "is a reflection about how fast things change. ... We live in such a disposable society, we just need to take the time to think and reflect about why things are there in the first place."

Saturday, July 30, 2022

New: The Lone Bellow, The Churchhill Garden, Sally Dige, Michigander, The Wombats

The Lone Bellow: Gold

The Nashville trio is out with its first new music since 2020's Half Moon Light. The song addresses the opioid crisis in small-town USA, using prospectors' hunt for riches as a metaphor: "It’s in my blood, it’s in the water / It’s calling me still / I could leave, I know I oughta / But there’s gold in them hills." Says guitarist Brian Elmquist: "The idea was to tell the story from the perspective of someone in a hard situation - in this case, a guy who’s stuck in the downward spiral of addiction. We’ve sung ‘Gold’ as a folk song in the past, but for the recording we wanted to really experiment and push our sound as far as it could go.”

The Churchhill Garden: Always There

The latest single from Switzerland's Andy Jossi and American Krissy Vanderwoude is a beautiful piece of dream-pop. The duo shared it with us along with a note that describes it as "a sweet song about true friendship and the gratitude and reassurance that comes along with finding those loyal friends in life."

Sally Dige: You

Here's the second single released this year by this independent solo artist, following "I Will Be The Sun for You," which we featured a couple of months ago. Born in Canada and now based in Berlin, Dige writes, plays and records her own music. The lyric, she says, arose from thinking about "past relationships in our lives - ones that were significant during a part of our own history, but no longer are present in our current lives. We are left only with the memory and reflection."

Michigander: Stay Out Of It

Michigander is the project of songwriter-singer-guitarist Jason Singer from, er, guess which US state. He started self-releasing music in 2014, formed a band that released its first EP in 2018, then signed with C3 records and released another EP in 2019. This new single is described as a co-write with Danen Reed Rector and Singer's bandmates Aaron Senor and Jake LeMond. Singer describes it as "a song about speaking up and saying how you feel even when sometimes it’s best to keep quiet.”

The Wombats: This Car Drives All By Itself

The band told DIY Magazine that this song is "kind of a metaphor for 'maybe we’re not as in control of our lives as we think we are,' and time and entropy are pretty f---ing powerful things." The veteran Liverpool indie-rockers released their latest album, Fix Yourself, Not The World, back in January, but just spun out this track as a single, and we're using that as an excuse to put it in our New Music Bin.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Silversun Pickups, Marcus King, Brooke Annibale, Ben Harper, Pool Kids now in our New Music bin

Silversun Pickups: Scared Together

Like so much of today's music, the songs on the LA band's sixth album, Physical Thrills, were written during the pandemic. It's pretty clear how that inspired this song - which frontman Brian Aubert says “is about becoming close and intimate with someone through hardship. Being thrown into something quite frightening brings out some shared qualities that connect them.” The album, produced by Butch Vig, is due in a few weeks.

Marcus King: Blood on the Tracks

Here's the latest single from the upcoming Young Blood, King's second album in collaboration with Dan Auerbach. The track features "a swampy groove, gritty guitars and a thumping bass sound," writes Rock & Blues Muse. King says the song "essentially tells the story of moving forward or being taken down by the trouble you are facing - catching the train, or the bloodier alternative.” (No relation, it seems, to the Dylan album title.)

Brooke Annibale: Better By Now

The title track from the singer-songwriter's latest album is another reflection on the pandemic and social turmoil: "This last year took / A while lot of life out of us." In a Facebook post, Annibale says: "Sure, this song is inspired by world events, but it’s also deeply personal and about my journey with mental health. ... Reflecting on that time, I think it taught me that expecting a perfect external outcome will not make me feel better. I’ve got to do the internal work to have any kind of peace with the roller coaster of life."

Ben Harper: Where Did We Go Wrong

On his new album, Bloodline Maintenance, Harper blends the personal ("More Than Love") and the political ("We Need To Talk About It," namely, slavery's stain on America.) AllMusic writes that "most of the record finds social commentary and soul intertwining in a smooth, vibrant fashion reminiscent of the prime Curtis Mayfield albums of the 1970s." We definitely hear that influence in this track, with perhaps a lyrical echo of Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On."

Pool Kids: Comes in Waves

This Florida-based band, which grabbed our attention last month with the single "That's Physics, Baby," has just released its self-titled second album and broken out another single, "Arms Length." We'll give that raucous track some play, but we're picking this relatively dreamy number for our New Music bin.