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Saturday, December 31, 2022

New from The Wind and The Wave, Driven Snow, Glen Phillips, The Mandevilles, Automatic

The Wind and The Wave: Keep Your Head Down

Racing Hearts is TW+TW's first album since 2018's Human Beings Let You Down. The duo of Dwight Baker and Patty Lynn unveiled it at the very end of 2022 (although Patreon supporters had early previews). "Here’s the album we created during the pandi, half of it from within a closet during lockdown," they posted, adding that the music "uplifted us then, and we hope it brings some joy your way now."

Driven Snow: Flickers Of You

Irish musicians Kieran McGuinness and Emily Aylmer debuted as a duo in 2022. By then, they'd known each other more than 15 years, married and had three children. When the pandemic interrupted their other musical pursuits, they started writing and recording together. "It all happened quite naturally, and it wasn’t in any way a career step," McGuinness told The Irish Times. "In fact, it was the opposite, we were just playing songs to each other and seeing what we thought of them.” This song is described as "a musical exploration of the quieter parts of a long-term relationship."

Glen Phillips: Stone Throat

Here's a single from the There Is So Much Here, the new solo album by Toad the Wet Sprocket's frontman. American Songwriter says the collection is "similar in style to the music made with that band, save for the fact that the arrangements are somewhat leaner at times, the product of no more than two or three musicians playing per track. Nevertheless, the songs maintain an emphatic embrace, which, without exception, ensures instant appeal." This song looks at a couple in a new relationship: “The push and pull between longing to run away and wanting a strong home base can be a heavy tide," says Phillips.

The Mandevilles: Wasn't Always

This five-piece band from Welland, Ontario, plays straightforward rock-and-roll featuring Serena Pryne's vocals. Their new EP, Junkie, includes that previously released single and four new tracks, including this one. Pryne says of the track: "The idea is that you can be changed into something you no longer recognize as yourself. By a person or circumstance. It’s an introspective soliloquy – a plea to yourself. The rhythmic drum pattern hypnotizes.”

Automatic: On the Edge

the sophomore album from this LA trio, came out severan months ago, and we previously featured "New Beginning." The LP has been landing on some Best-of-2022 lists, prompting us to dip back into its "retrofuturist motorik pop" and include this track in our New Music bin for the start of 2023. 

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Brand-new Bastien, Powerwalk, Pierce the Veil; almost-new Alvvays, The Smile

Bastien: Green Garden

This London band was formed just in time to be prevented from playing together by pandemic lockdowns. After remotely swapping tracks and developing their sound from elements of new wave, soft rock, psych- and jangle-pop, they were finally able to get together, and began recording and playing gigs. This single comes to us ahead of their upcoming debut EP, Stroud Green Stoop. Lead vocal/guitarist Seb Pettitt says “the song is a sort of meditation on social anxiety; how you can be excited for something and dread it simultaneously."

Powerwalk: Lantern

Three musician friends from St. Catherines, Ontario - Arih SK, Amanda Parker and Mark Hoerdt - "all love 80’s new wave music and thought it would be fun to plug in some synths and see what happens." So far, that's resulted in a couple of singles, including this brand-new track. Parker says it's "a song about being the bravest person in the room. Someone has to be willing to get to the light source in the dark.”

Pierce the Veil: Emergency Contact

New to our ears is this San Diego trio that's preparing to release its fifth album - but its first since 2016. Jaws of Life is due in February. This first single is based on "the concept of writing down the name of the person that you love as your emergency contact when you’re at the hospital. It's kind of a morbid form of romance. They are the one person who will be there for you when disaster strikes."

Alvvays: After the Earthquake

Photo by Norman Wong
We've been taking advantage of the end-of-year slow-down in album releases to pull more plums from not-so-long-ago releases - such as this track from Blue Rev, released in October. The band describes it as “a rapid fire recital of drive-thru breakdown, tectonic breakup and boyfriend in a coma brake failure.” Glad they cleared that up.

The Smile: The Opposite

We nearly let the year go by without paying attention to A Light for Attracting Attention, this year's release from the trio consisting of Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood along with drummer Tom Skinner from modern-jazz group Sons of Kemet. AllMusic called this track "an elastic groover" that finds "the trio locked-in as a formidable unit, with Skinner's drumming building to head-rattling levels as Greenwood's guitar noodling and Yorke's detached falsetto push [it] to bewitching heights."

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Fresh sounds from Teepee, Death Cab for Cutie, The Beths, Left of the Slash, Umphrey's McGee

Teepee: Blind Tomorrow

The follow-up to 2021's Where the Ocean Breaks is due early in the new year. This is the first single from the yet-untitled album by the Czech dream-pop duo of singer-acoustic guitarist Miroslav Patočka and singer-electric guitarist Tereza Lavičková. It's billed as "an honest confession about sadness, fear, and anxiety."

Death Cab for Cutie: Pepper

A gentle breakup song is the latest single broken out from Asphalt Meadows, the tenth album from Benjamin Gibbard and company. The lyric is a forget-me-not plea to a departing lover, mixed with the realization that "I was a city you were only passin' through."

The Beths: Expert In A Dying Field

We featured a couple of early singles ahead of this New Zealand band's September release, and now we circle back to add the title track to our New Music bin. Songwriter-vocalist Elizabeth Stokes, guitarist Jonathan Pearce, bassist Benjamin Sinclair and drummer Tristan Deck "make music that has a sugar-rush immediacy and a craftsman-like attention to detail that invites close listening," writes Pitchfork. Here, the lyric compares one's intimate knowledge of an ex to a skill that's no longer useful. 

Left of the Slash: Two Minds One Head

Guitarist Stephen Nemeroff founded this band in New York in 2005. After a long hiatus and a move to Los Angeles, he re-formed it and began work on an album in 2020. The result is Won, released in September. "It feels great to finally hear what’s been playing in my head for more than 20 years at the level it properly deserves,” says Nemeroff. He cites a wide range of influences, including Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath, Sonic Youth and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

Umphrey's McGee: Escape Goat

We dig back into Asking for a Friend to pull out a deep-cut gem. The story goes that the band held an online auction offering a song based on a topic of the winner’s choice. The top bidder wanted the song to be about missing old friends. Keyboardist Joel Cummings says the band-written song "was nailed in three or four takes" and contains what "might be my favorite vocal hook" by Brendan Bayliss: "And everyone you’ve ever held or tried to hold on to / They’ll make your burden brighter."

Saturday, December 10, 2022

This week's picks: Madison Galloway, Chris Corey, Softlung, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Built to Spill

We're using this end-of-year time, when the record labels pause their releases, to catch up on some music we've missed in recent months, and to check out some new and emerging artists.

Madison Galloway: The River

We're catching up with this emerging roots-rocker from Fergus, Ontario. At 22, Galloway already has played hundreds of shows, including numerous festivals, and is preparing her second album for release early in the new year. This single combines bluesy guitar-rock with a prog-like bridge and a mystical lyric about learning lessons of history from a river goddess.

Chris Corey: Storms We Face

This new artist splits his time between his native Ontario and Western Canada, where he’s working on his debut album. He says the collection, to be released in a few months, "is really a mixed bag," combining strains of rock, pop, blues, country, folk and new wave. This single is billed as "a lush blend of 80’s-inspired synth hooks mixed with punchy guitars and sweeping melodies." It builds into a stadium-ready anthem.

Softlung: The Other Side

This is the second single from the latest project by songwriter-musician-producer S.J. Kardash. He was touring the world as the bassist for hard-rock band Reignwolf when the pandemic shut that down. "Picking up an acoustic guitar and looking inward, he began writing and recording in solitude," according to his publicity. "New songs poured out quickly." He tells Canadian Beats that this one was "written about feeling like the supporting character in your own story ... and realizing we’re all just trying to figure out our own script. And sometimes, to keep moving forward, we just need to tear it all up and start again."

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Soul Sweet Song

We don't do end-of-the-year "Best" lists, but the four-part I Am the Moon album has to be near the top of any ranking of 2022 rock releases. Songs from each part have been in our New Music bin through the year, and now we're adding one more from the fourth part, Farewell, released in September. As AllMusic wrote, the track "starts with rumbling congas, Gabe Dixon's piano, and Derek Trucks' slide guitar. [Susan] Tedeschi and Mike Mattison sing in resonant harmony about how the spirits of the dead leave indelible marks on those who remain, as lithe horns frame them."

Built to Spill: Spiderweb

When The Wind Forgets Your Name is the latest LP from the project headed for some 30 years by singer-guitarist Doug Martsch. Pitchfork writes that the "whole album is dotted with cool surprises," and that this track "gives way to one spirited twist after another ... with a generosity of intricately plotted melodies."

Saturday, December 3, 2022

Our latest picks: Alastair Greene, Dentist, The Scarlet Goodbye, The Lone Bellow, Local Natives

Alastair Greene: When You Don't Know What To Do

After this veteran rock and blues guitarist released his latest solo studio album, The New World Blues, in 2020, he played six nights at Chicago's City Winery in a power-trio configuration - opening for bluesman Tab Benoit, who had produced the LP. Greene was joined by Benoit on drums and Corey Duplechin on bass. Now, highlights from those gigs make up Alive in the New World, due next month from Benoit's Whiskey Bayou label. We're glad to have this first single in our New Music Bin.

Dentist: Understand It

This time of year, when most new releases are Christmas records or re-issues, is a good time to highlight music that came out some months back. Here we dip back into this New Jersey band's September release, Making a Scene, for another taste of its punk-inflected power pop. Glide magazine says this track has "a beat that would fit right in to a song by The Go-Go’s. ... The melody is both fuzzy and bubbly ... Then you hear the lyrics and you realize that ... the song carries some weight. It’s particularly evident when you hear [Emily Bornemann] sing 'Suffering in silence is so sad / so I wouldn’t recommend it.'"

The Scarlet Goodbye: Panic & Blame

The third single from the project of two Minneapolis musicians - Soul Asylum founding member Dan Murphy and singer-songwriter Jeff Arundel - precedes next month's release of their debut album, Hope's Eternal. Their website says a chance meeting between the two "led the duo, whose careers spanned the same time frame but had essentially no other resemblance, to start writing and recording." The result is a fresh version of the soft-rock style that emerged in the 70s.

The Lone Bellow: Cost of Living

Singles from Love Songs for Losers began emerging this summer, but the full album just came out last month and included this smooth, soulful track, with Kanene Donehey Pipkin taking the lead vocal. She also took on the role of vocal producer for the album. “Singing together night after night for a decade allows you to understand what your bandmates are capable of, in a way that no one else can,” Pipkin explained. “There are so many different qualities to our voices that had never been captured before, and producing this album ourselves was a nice opportunity to finally showcase that.” 

Local Natives: Just Before the Morning

Stereogum calls this a "gorgeous, shimmering one-off single." It's the third recent single from the Los Angeles band, which released its last LP, Violet Street, in 2019. There's no word yet on whether another album is on its way. The group says this track "came from a burst of creativity after we finally reconnected in the studio. The song explores the cyclical nature of life and the many ways in which we begin again.”

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Sunny War, Scott Krokoff, Bruce Springsteen, Emperor of Ice Cream, Lily Monaghan: New Music

Sunny War: No Reason

Photo by Joshua Black Wilkins
This Nashville artist with a background in the LA punk scene recently signed with New West Records, which will release her latest album, Anarchist Gospel, early next year. The collection, and this first single, draw on her battles with what she describes as her self-destructive side. “You’re an angel / you’re a demon / ain’t got no rhyme / ain’t got no reason.” WXPN radio calls of this track "a twangy country road song powered by the momentum of Sunny’s guitar, which has as much personality and presence as her rough-hewn voice."

Bruce Springsteen: Turn Back the Hands of Time

As Paste Magazine writes, "It’s easy to be skeptical: Here comes the rock ’n‘ roll avatar of the working class, wrapping himself in nostalgia for the music of his, er, glory days, blah blah blah. ... [But this} is no mawkish tribute album ... Springsteen sings here with self-assured power. ... the guy can flat-out sing." The album is a co-production with Ron Aniello, who plays many of the instruments and, says AllMusic, "expertly re-creates the sounds of Motown, Philadelphia International, Stax, and Chicago's uptown soul." This song was a hit single in 1970 for R&B singer Tyrone Davis. 

Scott Krokoff: Almost There

Our regular listeners know we've long been fans of this New York singer-songwriter, who writes very personal, relatable songs with catchy tunes. Here he's singing about the frustrations of trying to make it in the music biz, but the lyric can apply to any endeavor: "Like the skier in the slalom who missed the final gate ... Like the swimmer in the last lap who touched the wall too late / I'm almost there yet never quite."

Emperor of Ice Cream: Winter Pages

We recently featured "I See You Everywhere" by this band from Cork, Ireland, and now comes another single that's seasonably cool (sorry). UK website Click Roll Boom says it "features raw, honest vocals, understated drums and sparkling riffs. It's both grand and low key. There's elegance, confidence and epicness while retaining a beautifully underproduced sound." No word yet on whether the two singles indicate another LP will soon follow last year's No Sound Ever Dies.

Lily Monaghan: On Hold

This Edmonton-based singer-songwriter's debut EP, Introspection, is expected early in the new year. She says this song "was written during a time when I felt as if I was being placed on the back burner and being used as a backup plan." We were struck by this metaphoric description of two people heading in opposite directions in a relationship: "Just as I begin to tattoo your skin / You're wishing you could wash me off."

Saturday, November 19, 2022

Animal Logic returns + Weird Nightmare, Gladie, Siren, Danielle Ponder in the New Music bin

Animal Logic: Can You Tell Me

Back in 1987, drummer Steward Copeland from The Police, jazz bassist Stanley Clarke and singer-songwriter Deborah Holland surprised their disparate fan bases by coming together as a band called Animal Logic. After releasing two albums, then went on to their separate projects. Now, just over 30 years later, they surprise again with a pair of new singles. Copeland told ABC Audio it's not really a band reunion, but rather part of an ongoing, casual remote collaboration. This track is billed as exploring "the need for people to move on instead of wallowing in misery when faced with untenable circumstances."

Weird Nightmare: So Far Gone

The solo project of guitarist Alex Edkins, frontman of the Toronto band METZ, debuted earlier this year with the eponymous Weird Nightmare. Stereogum wrote that his music under that name "is considerably more tuneful than what Edkins does with METZ. It’s a muscular, gritty take on power-pop, and it rocks pretty hard in its own way." Now he follows up with this single, which the music blog calls "a driving, hip-swinging rocker with a whole lot of Paul Westerberg in its frayed vocals."

Gladie: Nothing

Augusta Koch, the Philadelphia-based singer-songwriter-guitarist formerly of Cayetana, just released her second LP with her current quintet. Bandcamp Daily writes that Koch’s voice "is magnetic, with a sandpapery timbre that makes every line sound fierce and determined. The band matches it with ... razor-edged indie rock." Of this song, Koch says, "[W]hether it’s relationships, consumerism, or any other constant desire, there is always this push from external and internal forces telling you, ‘More, More, More’ but is that really a healthy way to live?" 

Siren: High Wire

Strains of progressive rock, metal and blues mix in the music of this Florida band. Indie-Music.com tells us that after short-lived success in the 1980s, the band broke up, but lead singer Rob Phillips and drummer Mike Cupino reformed it several years ago with new members. Phillips says of this metaphorical song: "On the surface it is about a clown in love with the high-wire girl and the great lengths he will go to win her love. The reality is about a musician who is trying to reach fame with the record labels, above and out of reach."  

Danielle Ponder: So Long

We dip back into Some Of Us Are Brave, the debut album from this former public defender, which is filled with anthems of feminism, empowerment, and in this song, overcoming fears. Glide Magazine writes: "Ponder is a vocal powerhouse with a commanding presence as a live performer, inspired both by contemporary artists such as Lauryn Hill and The Roots and vocally by passionate blues artists such as Big Mama Thornton and Koko Taylor."

Saturday, November 12, 2022

The Latest: New tracks from Larkin Poe, Inhaler, Chasing Kites, Dizzy, Brkn Love

Larkin Poe: Strike Gold

The new album from this roots-rock duo "affirms Larkin Poe as a powerful force in contemporary roots rock," writes Rock and Blues Muse. "Their strength as independent women, highly talented vocalists, songwriters and musicians, fuel what is surely their best album to date." Sisters Rebecca (vocals, guitars, keys) and Megan Lovell (harmony vocals, lap steel, resonator guitar), are joined on Blood Harmony by drummer Kevin McGowan and bassist Tarka Layman. The LP is filled with dynamite tracks, so it was a tough choice to pick one for the New Music Bin.

Inhaler: Love Will Get You There

Photo by Lewis Evans
Following "These Are The Days," here's another single in advance of Cuts & Bruises, the second album from the Dublin quartet of Elijah Hewson (guitar, vocals), Robert Keating (bass), Josh Jenkinson (guitar) and Ryan McMahon (drums). NME calls it "bittersweet indie pop euphoria." Listening to Elijah (son of Bono) is a bit like listening to Dani Harrison (son of George): He's making his own music in his own way, but it's impossible to ignore the echoes of his dad's sound.

Chasing Kites: Shiver

Another indie-rock quartet emerged this year from Bristol, UK, with a series of singles, and their latest has found its way into our New Music Bin. Led by vocalist-guitarist Matt Donnelly, they're billed as combining "dynamic hooks, 80s synth textures and vivid narratives," with this song exploring "the feelings of frustration and heartbreak at play when looking in on a loved one’s dysfunctional relationship."

Dizzy: Barking Dog

Photo by Boy Wonder
In the category of sad-songs-that-sound-soothing is this new single from Katie Munshaw and her band from Ontario. The theme is the difficulty in letting go of leftover pain from one's past. The title is a reference to a family pet that had been abused by a previous owner: "And no amount of loving / can stop the dog from barking / when she’s in pain." Dizzy debuted with 2018's acclaimed Baby Teeth and followed with The Sun And Her Scorch in 2020. There's no word on whether a new album is in the works.

Brkn Love: Dead Weight

This band from Toronto is doing what it can to keep the Rock in Alt-Rock. The group just released Black Box, compiling tracks from two previous EPs with new material, including this song. Songwriter and frontman Justin Benlolo says it's a product of the pandemic shutdown. “We all had a moment in the last few years, where we felt useless. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do. ... What I had once felt as an angst-ridden teenager was coming back again and this song became a way to channel my inner dialogue."

Saturday, November 5, 2022

New from Autopilot, RHCP, The Lone Bellow, Secret Treehouse, So Much 4 Gravity

Autopilot: Feverish Dreams

This Saskatoon-based trio emerged from its pandemic hiatus this summer with a hard-edged cover of The Cure's "In Between Days." Now they're back with this energetic original track. The band says it "was written at a time of loss -- saying goodbye for the last time. The driving instrumental came from the emotion of sorting through everything left behind." Review site Mendowerks calls it "an accessible uptempo alt-rock jam. The opening drum grooves are reminiscent of The Strokes while we can hear hints of Arctic Monkeys and Interpol throughout."

Red Hot Chili Peppers: The Drummer

At a time when many artists release music one track at a time, this band has chosen to put out two super-sized albums in the same year. Pepper Chad Smith told U.K.'s RadioX that Return of the Dream Canteen is "another 17-song album from the quarantine year 2021. ... We just made all these songs and we wanted to put them all out because we loved them." This cut is a bit more melodic and less frantic than the advance single "Tippa My Tongue."

The Lone Bellow: Caught Me Thinkin'

This track from the new album Love Songs for Losers "nods to vintage R&B and gospel à la the Band," writes AllMusic.com. "It offers strutting horns, pumping pianos, seamless, resonant vocal harmonies, and a searing lyric that speaks to the painful memories associated with lost love."

Secret Treehouse: Lovers In The Streets

We've featured this group from Bergen, Norway, numerous times over the past several years, and with each release they catch our ears again. The band says this is a song about rekindled romance -- "about the feeling of rediscovered love in a relationship and the feeling of being free wandering the streets together."

So Much 4 Gravity: I Know A Place

This track comes to us from Mechelen, Belgium. After playing with several bands in the U.K. and Belgium, snger-songwriter-guitarist Wouter Vlaminckx started this group in 2019, featuring his sister Veerle Vlaminckx on vocals. They're joined by Frank Willems (bass), Jelle Ghys (keyboards), Joris Compeers (violin) and Stat De Waal (drums). They say this song "translates a feeling of alienation into a somewhat dreamy story of someone looking for a place to feel at home."

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Introducing Deep Pocket Thieves, plus The Arcs, Marcus King, Arctic Monkeys, Weyes Blood

With apologies for missing a couple of weeks - 
we're back to picking fresh tracks to feature in our New Music Bin.

Deep Pocket Thieves: What Was I Thinking

A new entry to our roster of artists, this Colorado combo won the Mile High Blues Society competition a few years back. Like so many emerging bands, its takeoff was hampered by the pandemic. This single should bring them more attention beyond the Rockies. The current line-up includes Larea Edwards on vocals and violin, Jimmy Ayers on piano, Hammond, dobro, and slide guitar, Mahlon Hawk on bass and Seth Bennett on drums.

The Arcs: Keep On Dreamin'

This band led by the inescapable Dan Auerbach has announced the January 2023 release of Electrophonic Chronic. The album was mostly recorded before the 2018 death of bandmate Richard Swift, and Auerbach says finishing and releasing it was "a way for us to say goodbye to him ... It was heavy at times, but I think it was really helpful to do it.”

Marcus King: It's Too Late

We wanted to feature one more track from Young Blood before (ahem) it's too late to call it "new music." This is the opening track on the LP the South Carolina blues-rocker released late this summer - produced by the aforementioned Auerbach.

Arctic Monkeys: I Ain't Quite Where I Think I Am

Twenty years into their career, the band from Sheffield, UK, is "taking a bigger step back from the sinewy guitar rock that made them superstars," WFUV Radio writes about their upcoming album. "Alex Turner and his bandmates go heavy on orchestration on The Car, and excel at that dynamic cinematic landscape, steeped in rumination and preoccupied with matters of the heart."

Weyes Blood: Grapevine

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Natalie Mering got her start in Portland, Oregon's noise/experimental scene in the early 2000s, AllMusic informs us. Over time, her music "grew more straightforward without losing its haunted edginess." The fourth Weyes Blood studio album, And in the Darkness, Hearts Aglow, is due in November. Mering describes this track as "a road song set along the titular stretch of Southern California’s Interstate 5."