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Saturday, February 26, 2022

New from Bonnie Raitt, Stars, Goose, Whimsical, The Head and the Heart - More music variety!

Bonnie Raitt: Made Up Mind

Having passed the 50th anniversary of her debut album last fall, this multi-Grammy-winner will release her 21st LP, Just Like That, in April. The collection includes original songs along with covers such as this first single. Not to be confused with the Tedeschi Trucks Band song of the same name, it's an interpretation of a 2019 release by Canadian duo The Bros. Landreth. The track "shows that the 72-year-old blues-rock treasure is the master of the form," NPR's Ann Powers writes. The lyric "documents a lover's gradual turn away from a toxic relationship. Raitt's arrangement colors this scene in calm tones of melancholy and resilience ... her slide guitar gently reinforcing her band's solid groove."

Stars: Pretenders

The Montreal-based group formed in 2000, and its upcoming ninth album, From Capelton Hill, is billed as reflecting on a two-decade-plus journey together. “We laid our bets, we made our beds / On staying young forever,” Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan sing on this first single, which Millan describes as a “love letter” to the band’s origins. She adds: “When we wrote all those songs 20 years ago, we were young. That’s what being in a band is: you’re putting down your chips on feeling young and being young. It doesn’t necessarily work out because time does its thing.” 

Goose: Dripfield

A five-piece jam band from Norwalk, Connecticut, Goose has been releasing music and touring for at least five years, but flew under our radar until now. The title song from the group's next album, due in June, has now landed in our New Music bin. Rolling Stone calls it "a boundless track, anchored by a deep rumble of bass and percussion and topped off with a starry-eyed mix of guitar lines and synths."

Whimsical: Rewind

Another indie band new to our ears is this shoegaze-dream pop duo from Indiana. Singer-songwriter Krissy Vanderwoude and multi-instrumentalist Neil Burkdol released one album around the turn of the century, and after a 10-year break reformed Whimsical in 2015. Their fourth LP, Melt, is due April 1, described as featuring "an increase of electronic elements and atmosphere that had only been hinted at previously." To our ears, their sound pairs well with another indie band we have featured, Norway's Secret Treehouse.

The Head and the Heart: Virginia (Wind in the Night)

The latest album from this indie-folk band is coming in April. "This bittersweet track showcases the band playing to their strengths: a sturdy piano sound garnished with strings and perfectly paired with Jonathan Russell’s evocative lyrics," writes Spin Magazine. Russell says: ”Being from Virginia, for me this song represents a long and winding relationship to place." The lyrics directly invoke Thomas Wolfe's you-can't-go-home-again theme: "This place that I used to love / Well it's just another town." But they could also be interpreted as referring to a change in a romantic relationship: "Virginia don't sound like she used to / Virginia don't feel like she used to / But I can feel a heart beating for me, baby."

Saturday, February 19, 2022

New from Spoon, Beach House, Trombone Shorty, Emeli Sandé, Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Spoon: Feels Alright

Britt Daniel brought his band back to his hometown of Austin, Texas, to record their 10th album, Lucifer on the Sofa. The result is getting great reviews that hail Spoon as one of the premier rock bands currently active. Following the singles "Hardest Cut" and "Wild," we're now adding a deeper track to our New Music bin. Paste writes that this song "opens with an abrading descending guitar riff and a boom-bap beat, then pivots into a vamp right on the edge of funk, with a lot of movement in the bassline." Pitchfork calls the lyric (Feels alright to me / Standing here by myself) "a declaration of aloneness" amid a culture that "regards couplehood as an emblem of maturity."

Beach House: Hurts To Love

Photo by Shawn Brackbill
The fourth "chapter" of Once Twice Melody is out now, completing the rolling release of the Baltimore dream-pop duo's eighth album. "Beach House's style is so distinctive that it's a small miracle Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally continue to find ways to keep their music fresh," writes AllMusic. The self-produced collection shows the band in top form. We'll be stirring many of its 18 tracks into our big mix. Our pick for the New Music bin has Scally taking the lead vocal to gently preach: "If it hurts to love / You better do it anyway."

Trombone Shorty: Come Back

New Orleans-based trombonist, singer and bandleader Troy Andrews' first album in five years is due in April. It's titled Lifted, and dedicated to his mother: “She passed recently, but she continued to inspire me right up until she transitioned, and that’s why I put a picture of her holding me up at a second line on the cover of this album. She lifted me up my whole life." He said the album "is the closest we’ve ever gotten to bottling up the live show and putting it on a record. ... I told [the band] to really cut loose, to perform like they were onstage at a festival.” This first single is a soulful plea for a lover to return.

Emeli Sandé: Brighter Days

Resilience in the face of the world's troubles is a common theme in new music these days. The latest example comes from this U.K. singer-songwriter, whose fourth studio album, Let's Say For Instance, is coming in May. Sandé says the song "is inspired by the truth that even in the darkest moments, there is always hope. We might have to dig deeper to feel it, but hope is always there. ... ‘Brighter Days’ is an affirmation — it’s a reminder of our collective power to make a choice and create our reality."

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: The Way It Shatters

The first single from Endless Rooms, the upcoming third LP by this group from Melbourne, Australia, is also our introduction to the band’s energetic pop-rock sound. Of this track, the band says: “It’s about how ending up in your particular situation in life is the result of absolute randomness. ... So it’s when this good luck is mistaken for a sense of pride in one’s self or their country, they become confused and deluded about what’s important. It’s when those on the other side of the luck scale are completely othered and considered not worthy.”

Saturday, February 12, 2022

New music: Eddie Vedder, Seratones, Amos Lee, The Gravel Project, The Rural Alberta Advantage

Eddie Vedder: Invincible

To be honest, we were never big fans of the grim, self-pitying songs of early Pearl Jam. But whether he has exorcised his demons or just pushed them into the basement, Eddie Vedder seems to have moved past them. His new solo album, Earthling, leads off with this uplifting song. "We are invincible when we love," Vedder sings, shedding all vestiges of grunge on a track that has brought comparisons to Peter Gabriel and U2. We previously featured the Petty-esque "Long Way," and will be spinning several others, including a McCartney-ish number called "Mrs. Mills" with Ringo Starr guesting on drums, and "Try," which features Stevie Wonder and his harmonica. (But we'll pass on the sappy duet with Elton John.) 

Seratones: Good Day

Photo by Joshua Asante
Singer A.J. Haynes and her band from Shreveport, Louisiana, have announced their third album, Love & Algorhythms, due in April 29. “This is a protest album built on the form of protest I’m most interested in at this moment: getting present and sitting through difficult things with abundant joy,” says Haynes. On this lead single, she sings: “Do you really want to get better?/ Do you really want to get well?” The press release describes the track as blending "Black gospel vocals and polyrhythms with roots spread throughout the African diaspora."

Amos Lee: See the Light

This is the second single (following "Worry No More") to spin out from Dreamland, the Philadelphia-born singer-songwriter's new LP. Many of the songs deal with Lee's struggles with feelings of alienation and anxiety. Roots-music website No Depression describes the album as "an expansive sonic canvas that paints with gospel choirs and acoustic guitars, synth textures and hypnotic R&B grooves." It calls this track "a buoyant moment that speaks to the power of community in Lee’s ability to rise above the tension described elsewhere" on the record.

The Rural Alberta Advantage: CANDU

This single is the first release in about five years from the trio of Nils Edenloff, Amy Cole and Paul Banwatt. The title refers to a type of nuclear-power reactor, and the song is about the once-booming, now abandoned town of Uranium City, Saskatchewan. Edenloff explains that the mines closed abruptly in the early 1980, "leaving most families stranded without work. ... Growing up in a mining town myself, it's hard not to think about who or what would have remained for me if the jobs all suddenly dried up, and where my friends and I would have ended up." Adds Banwatt: “My Dad spent decades working as an engineer helping design the CANDU nuclear reactors. What happened to the people in Uranium City is really tragic.”

The Gravel Project: Big Deep Blue

The third studio album from this Massachusetts-based group is the first to find its way to our ears, and we're glad it did. The band is named not for country roads but for the brothers Gravel - Andrew (guitar, vocals), who started the project in 2010, and Jordan (keyboards), who joined in 2015. They cite as influences the likes of The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Santana, Band of Gypsies, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Gary Clark Jr. Funky guitar licks and horns flavor this rollicking track and propelled it into our New Music bin.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Red Hot Chili Peppers, Eels, Mitski, Colin Hay, Mellencamp & Springsteen in the New Music bin

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Black Summer

The Peppers 12th LP, Unlimited Love, is on its way, billed as the first to include guitarist John Frusciante since 2006 and producer Rick Rubin since 2011. The title of this first single seems to refer to the devastating 2019-2020 forest fires in Australia (where bassist Flea hails from), perhaps metaphorically extended to represent other ongoing ecological and social crises, as we're all "Waitin' on another black summer to end." The band says: "We yearn to shine a light in the world, to uplift, connect, and bring people together. Each of the songs on our new album is a facet of us, reflecting our view of the universe."

Eels: Good Night on Earth

This track from Extreme Witchcraft floated out a while ago, but with the release of the full album we're popping it into the New Music bin. AllMusic writes that on the new album, Mark Oliver Everett "actually sounds like he's enjoying himself much of the time; he's still working out his demons, but his musical therapy agrees with him and he reveals an energy and spark that verges on playful." The theme of this song is that life is trouble but you might as well make the best of it. "Doing what you gotta do is all you got ... but look, my friend, it's a good night on earth."

Mitski: Love Me More

The Japan-born and globally raised singer-songwriter's new LP, Laurel Hell, employs "slick '80s pop surfaces ... its shimmering synths, electric piano, and business-like drums often seeming like a false front given the deeply brooding nature of the album's lyrics," writes AllMusic. We've been spinning the single "The Only Heartbreaker," and now we're adding this song that sounds like a demand on a lover, but that Paste suggests is about stardom and toxic fandom - a performer's need for adulation.

Colin Hay: A Man Without a Name

The former frontman of Australia's Men at Work has spent the decades since as a Los Angeles-based solo artist. His latest album, Now and the Evermore, is due next month, and the title track (with a guest appearance by Ringo Starr) spun out a couple of weeks ago. But we're happy to bring you another number that features an upbeat, swinging mixture of keyboards, sax, Latin-flavored percussion, electric and acoustic guitar.  

John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen: Did You Say Such a Thing

This jaunty tune about nasty gossip ("Word in the papers / You've been talkin' smack about me") is one of four tracks on Mellencamp's new album where he's joined by Springsteen, and their time-roughened voices and guitar styles blend seamlessly. On the whole, Mellencamp's self-produced 25th LP, Strictly a One-Eyed Jack, takes a rather jaundiced view of the world, with lines like "We watch our lives just fade away" and "Worries occupy my brain." Rolling Stone writes that the music is "a rough yet refined version of the Americana rusticity that’s been a hallmark of his sound" since the 1980s, delivered in the "rugged croak of his voice, which now approaches Bob Dylan and Tom Waits territory in its rangy, weathered gravitas."