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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Kate Klim, John Lewitt, Willamena, Brandi Carlile, Peaness - the latest in our New Music bin

Kate Klim: Something Green

This singer-songwriter, now based in Nashville, has been part of our mix for years, and we're glad to know that her new album Something Green is due in March. The title cut is the first single. "The lyrics for this song were inspired by the idea of controlled burns, and how sometimes a prescribed fire is needed to prevent uncontrollable forest fires or to promote new growth," according to Klim. It's a personal reflection on "a time of loss and change, but also [of feeling] hopeful that there was new growth underneath." Americana Highways premiered the track a few days ago and wrote: "The melodies are delicious ... the whole song is shiny and clear."

John Lewitt: Look In My Eyes

Another indie singer-songwriter that we've featured before, this Toronto-based artist will release The Beaten Path in May. On this album, Lewitt says, he's "leaning heavily into the Americana genre and spanning the width of what that means - from the early beginnings of The Band onto artists like Bruce Springsteen and Blue Rodeo and then all the way up to current artists like Jason Isbell." The songs were all written, performed and produced by Lewitt, working solo through the pandemic.

Willamena: The Same Way

Here's the second single to spin out from Broken Songs, the most-recent album by this band from Kalamazoo, Michigan - another of the indie artists we've been happy to feature in our big mix over the years. This mid-tempo rocker picks up the theme of love helping a couple get through troubled times: "I know, it's been a long year / Sometimes it's been hard to bear / And I know, there's good and bad to come, dear / But our hope will make it easier to bear." Written more than 10 years ago, it was freshly recorded for the new LP because, the band says, "this song feels right now. It needs to be heard."

Brandi Carlile: You and Me on the Rock

We're catching up to this single from In These Silent Days - which Spin called "a triumphant patchwork of Americana, folk-rock, pop and soul." The magazine described this song, which features backing vocals from Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig of Lucius, as "a sweetly acoustic ode to the simple life." It's also a song of a love that treasures constant companionship: "Me out in my garden and you out on your walk / Is all the distance this poor girl can take / Without listening to you talk."

Peaness: How I'm Feeling

This latest single is a lead-up to the indie-pop trio's first full-length album, World Full of Worry, due in May. Formed in Chester, England, in 2014, the cheekily-named group has released a couple of EPs and first came to our ears a year ago with the single "Kaizan." Using the fundamental formula of guitar, bass, drums and vocal harmonies, the three build a sound reminiscent of '80s bands like The Bangles and The Go-Gos.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

The latest from Spoon, Abby Bryant & The Echoes, Christian Lee Hutson, Phillip-Michael Scales, Whole Damn Mess

Spoon: Wild

Here's the second single (following "The Hardest Cut") to be released ahead of the upcoming Lucifer on the Sofa album. "And the world, still so wild, called to me," Britt Daniel sings. "I was lost, I'd been kept on my knees." Stereogum calls the track "a shimmying strut ... a song with some serious heft to it. It’s a big rock song without the pretensions that load down so many big rock songs."

Abby Bryant & The Echoes: Not Your Little Girl

From North Carolina, this singer and guitarist Bailey Faulkner "have been hanging out and playing music together since they were kids," according to their bio. Now with their band The Echoes, they've released their debut album of "vintage-inspired southern soul rock," and landed in our New Music bin with the title track. Americana Highways gives them high praise by comparing their rock-band-with-horns sound to that of Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, and Bryant's "generous bluesy-warm voice" to that of Bonnie Bramlett.<

Christian Lee Hutson: Rubberneckers (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)

This single precedes the Los Angeles singer-songwriter's second album, Quitters, due in April as the follow-up to 2020's Beginners. AllMusic writes that Hutson has "an acute gift for intimate and detailed introspection. ... [He] threads through avenues of light Americana, smart indie pop, and lo-fi folk storytelling." After releasing a couple of albums and EPs in the 2010s, he co-wrote songs for Boygenius, the collaboration of Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker, and contributed to the Bridgers-and-Conor Oberst project Better Oblivion Community Center. Bridgers, in turn, co-produced Beginners, and returned with Oberst to produce Quitters.

Phillip-Michael Scales: Find a Way

Astute music listeners may recognize that this track was originally released in 2020, but a new publicity push brings it to our ears this month, as Scales embarks on a U.S. tour. Now based in Nashville, he was born in Detroit and grew up in Chicago, where he picked up influences from B.B. King, a family friend he called "Uncle B." Initially he steered away from blues into writing and singing folk-pop, but later began blending alternative rock and blues influences into a style he calls "dive bar soul." wrote that this song has "a funky, bluesy vibe that drips with confidence and a rock 'n' roll attitude" and some echoes of Michael Kiwanuka.

Whole Damn Mess: Some Big Something

Four Los Angeles musicians who have belonged to various bands and worked on film and TV projects came together a few years ago to form their own group - while continuing with their other gigs. This is the title track from their latest album. Band member Don Miggs says it's a "song about embracing the beauty of being and living. Being OK where you are but not giving up if what you like to do is dream big."

Saturday, January 15, 2022

New music from Night Talks, Nation of Language, Broken Social Scene, Gang of Youths, Lucius

Night Talks: On and On

A line in this latest single is also the title of the Los Angeles indie band's new album, Same Time Tomorrow, due in late February. The danceable song's lyrics have to do with repeating patterns in relationships, suggesting they can become a rut: "You and I doing the same dance time after time." Lead singer Soraya Sebghati says: "The phrase 'same time tomorrow' represents a willingness to show up and put in the work to fix or maintain a relationship, especially when you're in a rough patch. Things might be difficult, but that doesn't mean you're done-- it just means that you'll show up the next day and try again."

Nation of Language: Across That Fine Line

This Brooklyn synth-pop trio comes to our attention with a fresh remix of a track from its second album, A Way Forward. Everything Is Noise writes: "Somewhere between Future Islands’ dramatic hyper-earnest presentation and LCD Soundsystem’s bleeding cool self awareness, this trio finds a way to make every note sound warm, infectious, and danceable." The reviewer adds that the LP is "just such a ridiculously fun album to play back to back." Nation of Language songwriter Ian Devaney says it's "an exploration of the band’s relationship to the music of the 70s, through the lenses of krautrock and early electronic music."

Broken Social Scene: Curse Your Fail

This track falls in the category of not-really-new-but-new-to-us - and to most listeners. It was on a limited-release 7-inch during a 2009 tour, and now it's part of the Toronto group's latest release, Old Dead Young: B-sides and Rarities. Review site Tinnitist writes that this isn't just a collection of scraps from the cutting-room floor - that most of the tracks "are every bit as good as anything that made the cut on their five official albums. ... Considering that these cuts span 15 years, multiple producers, studios and lineups, the whole thing holds almost together well enough to qualify as a new BSS studio album."

Gang of Youths: In the Wake of Your Leave

Albums tend to dribble out these days, with multiple singles emerging before the LP arrives almost as an afterthought. So with Angel in Realtime, the forthcoming release from this band of Australian expats in London. This fifth single includes backing vocals by the Auckland Gospel Choir and percussion by drummers from the Cook Islands. The lyrics here, and on some of the other tracks, deal with the passing of frontman Dave Le'aupepe's father: “I wanted to reflect on how I became dependent on grief for solace and inspiration.”

Lucius: Next to Normal

Vocal duo Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig and their band will release their third full-length album, Second Nature, in April, and this is the first single to spin out in advance. The singers also recently appeared on War on Drugs ' "I Don't Live Here Anymore" and Brandi Carlile's "You and Me on the Rock." Carlile co-produced the album with Dave Cobb. Longtime band members Dan Molad (drums) and Peter Lalish (lead guitar) are joined by bassist Solomon Dorsey and other musicians, while Carlile and Sheryl Crow contribute additional vocals. Says Wolfe: “It is a record that begs you not to sit in the difficult moments, but to dance through them.”

Saturday, January 8, 2022

New from Eels, Elvis Costello, Aaron and the Lord, Big Wreck, Laura Lee Lovely

Eels: Amateur Hour

Early last year, Eels frontman Mark Oliver Everett rang up producer John Parish, who worked with him on 2002's Souljacker. Ideas and tracks began flowing between Paris' studio in Bristol UK and Everett in LA, resulting in Extreme Witchcraft, due later this month. This opening track on the 14th Eels album is "a taut piece of indie rock with a raw feel," writes Clash Magazine. "The production is kept simple, the arrangement unadorned, allowing Eels to run rampant in the studio."

Elvis Costello: Farewell,  OK

Just ahead of the release of The Boy Named If (And Other Children's Stories) comes this latest single. “Like a lot of good rock and roll songs this began with a drummer down in a basement and a singer howling outside the backdoor,” Costello says of the track. “It’s a blurred gaze, a drink too much, an accidental punch and a kiss goodnight, all in the tumult of a dancehall.”

Aaron and the Lord: This Love Ain't Dead

Singer-guitarist Aaron Perrino, formerly of  Boston indie band Sheila Divine and solo project Dear Leader, began collaborating remotely during pandemic lockdown with multi-instrumentalist Steven Lord of Dirty Bangs, resulting in the recent release of Aaron and the Lord. Guest vocalists include Tanya Donelly of Belly, featured on this track, which harks back to the sound of female-fronted 80s bands. The LP is billed as "a ten-spot of vivid, slicing indie rock songs, with nods back to the chiming guitars and stentorian vocals of the bands [Perrino] grew up on and forward to a new kind of pop-rock future."

Big Wreck: Fields

"Everything about the latest release by longtime Canadian-American rock fixtures Big Wreck is on a huge scale," CanadianBeats writes in its review of Big Wreck 7.1, the first installment of a planned three-part album. The website calls the EP "loud and energetic, smooth at the core with just the right amount of roughness to its edges," and says this track "has an especially warm, upbeat feel."

Laura Lee Lovely: Allandale

Adding a dose of dreamy pop to this week's New Music bin is this emerging New Zealand artist, aka Laura Watson. The Revue calls her an artist to watch in 2022, and says this track will have you "basking in the superb synths, the occasional dissonant guitar stroke, and pulsating 808s [electronic percussion]. ... Watson’s ethereal vocals add to the song’s mysticism and escapism quality."

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Greeting 2022 with New Music by Sarah Borges, Mitski, Shout Out Louds, Edgar Road, Tame Impala

Sarah Borges: Wouldn't Know You

Our first batch of new-music picks for the new year includes a brand-new track from Together Alone, expected in February. Like so many musicians in the Time of Covid, this Boston-based alt-country-Americana artist recorded the album remotely, with New York producer Eric Ambel. Borges told local news outlet The Patriot Ledger that the new LP leans more toward rock. "My sound has changed. I was big into indie rock when I started ... Then I fell in love with country music and wrote that way for a while. I play a couple of different styles now, but I don’t consciously try to write in any one style." The lyric here tells of a fellow who's looking worse for the wear of rough living: "I'd be willing to bet / that if you're mom and you met / she wouldn't know you."

Mitski: The Only Heartbreaker

Another early-2022 release will be this Japanese-American pop-rock musician's Laurel Hell. This single was co-written with Semisonic's Dan Wilson. NPR says it "enlists an '80s sound in classic 'Take On Me' style that emphasizes the histrionics of intentionally sabotaging something or someone. Simple in its attempt to process the dreadful stomach-pit feeling of being the only passionate one in a relationship - even if it means knowingly invoking pain - 'The Only Heartbreaker' succeeds in its sing(or scream at the top of your lungs)-along potential and aching honesty."

Shout Out Louds: As Far Away as Possible

Also due in February is House, the first album in five years by this indie band from Sweden. It was produced in Stockholm by Bj√∂rn Yttling of Peter Bjorn & John. Of this advance single, the band says it "had to do with that sensation of being stuck, of longing for a break from the hum-drum of the day-to-day. Maybe a drink, a night out, a simple slip out the back door. Or something more. Anything really. Anything other than this. By dreaming of being as far away as possible, this song shines a light in the expansive darkness.”

Edgar Road: Little Man

The latest single by this indie band from northeastern Scotland took a little while to make its way across the water, but it's fresh enough to land in our New Music bin. The track features the five-piece band's signature sound, combining a solid rock foundation with airy keyboards and Mark Conti's from-the-heart lead vocal.

Tame Impala: No Choice

Building on the success of last year's Slow Rush, Kevin Parker and company are bringing out a deluxe edition next month, and this new single will be one of the added tracks. Australian music site TripleJ writes: "Obviously, it's sonically in line with The Slow Rush material - mixing dance music momentum with psych rock flair."