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Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Arcade Fire, Martin Courtney, Ellevator, Metric, Trombone Shorty added to our New Music bin

Arcade Fire: Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)

The second single to emerge ahead of the upcoming album We is "a lullaby for the end times, sung to my son, but for everyone," says frontman Win Butler. “There’s nothing saccharine about unconditional love in a world that is coming apart at the seams.” During their surprise set at Coachella, Rolling Stone reports, Butler got so emotional performing the song that the band "had to stop and start again after he composed himself." The album, due this week, was produced by Radiohead collaborator Nigel Godrich along with Butler and his wife and bandmate, RĂ©gine Chassagne.

Martin Courtney: Corncob

The second solo album from the Real Estate frontman, Magic Sign, is coming in June. This opening track, Courtney says, is a recollection of "the end of youth, pre-adulthood," of driving aimlessly with friends "to get as completely lost as possible ... Eventually getting home using these little green signs that are posted throughout the New Jersey suburbs telling you which way to go to reach different towns. We called them magic signs.” Brooklyn Vegan calls it "a nicely mellow track bathed in pedal steel and nostalgia." 

Ellevator: Slip

The Hamilton, Ontario-based trio's first full-length album, The Words You Spoke Still Move Me, comes out this week. On this track, singer Nabi Sue Bersche says, "We went full prog-rock ... and tapped into some mythological nerdery." It's based on a Scottish fable about a Selkie - a seal/woman captured and held against her will on land. "Our Selkie returns to the water after drowning the man who held her captive. It’s easy to imbue elemental stories like this with all sorts of meanings. I think this one is about killing the things that hold us captive and returning to the water, wherever that is for you."

Metric: All Comes Crashing

Photo: credit: Justin Broadbent
The Toronto band just announced that its eight studio album, Formentera, is coming in July. This first single is a love-in-a-time-of-calamity song. "When push it comes to shove / We do not fall out of love," Emily Haines sings. "There’s no one I would rather be lying beside / When it all comes crashing." (Didn't Frodo say something like that to Sam at Mount Doom?) The band says the album is named for an island near Ibiza, a "dream destination" they read about while stuck in Toronto during the pandemic. Says Haines: "We came to this realization that it wasn’t even about an actual place anymore, it was about creating an escape for yourself in your mind because you’re powerless over so many things.”

Trombone Shorty: Lie to Me

We're featuring another track from the just-released LP, Lifted, by the musician who will headline the closing night of this week's New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. The trombone wizard also plays trumpet and tuba on this track, and brings in the drumline from his alma mater, Warren Easton High School, evoking a parade through the streets of his native city. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Brand-new music from Bonnie Raitt, Marcus King, The Suffers, Common Deer, The Silos

Bonnie Raitt: Livin' for the Ones

On her 21st album, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner shows her singing, songwriting and guitar-playing are as excellent as ever. The LP was recorded during the summer of 2021, and this song reflects on lives lost to Covid, with the message that we must make the most of our own lives in their honor. It's a co-write with frequent collaborator George Marinelli, who joins in on guitar and vocals. The record also features two veteran members of Raitt’s band, bassist James Hutchinson and drummer Ricky Fataar, as well as Glenn Patscha (keyboards/backing vocals) and Kenny Greenberg (guitar). Its 10 tracks are a mix of originals -- including the title song, equal parts heart-wrenching and heart-warming -- and covers, including "Love So Strong" by Toots and the Maytals. Raitt planned to record the song as a duet with Toots Hibbert -- but he was one of "the ones" taken by the pandemic.

Marcus King: Hard Working Man

Working again with Dan Auerbach, who produced 2019's El Dorado, the blues-rock guitarist is preparing to release Young Blood in August. King says the music of the English band Free and its late guitarist Paul Kossof was running through his head when he was writing this song. The result, writes Rolling Stone: "The high-octane track explodes with an FM-radio chorus, a chunky guitar riff, and enough cowbell to satisfy Christopher Walken. [It] sounds as if it arrived in the year 2022 by way of a bitchin’, time-traveling 1970 Camaro."

The Suffers: Don't Bother Me

This Houston-based ensemble fronted by singer Kam Franklin will release its third studio album, It Starts With Love, in June. This first single started with a demo Franklin received several years ago from a friend, Swedish writer/producer Johan Karlberg. The band finally took it into a studio and "knocked it out over the course of two-and-a-half days," the singer said in a statement. "Influenced by the complexities, power, and care of Buena Vista Social Club, Miami Sound Machine, and Sly and The Family Stone, ‘Don’t Bother Me’ is a demand to be left alone by the outside world so that the wildness, fun, mistakes, and freedom that should come with being a young adult can truly be embraced.”

Common Deer: Take Me Home

Comprised of two sets of siblings -- Sheila Hart (vocals), Adam Hart (guitar, synthesizer), Liam Farrell (percussion, samples) and Connor Farrell (bass) -- this Toronto group just released its first LP, Maximalist, following a couple of EPs and then a pandemic-forced break. "It’s hard to feel like a musician when you can’t really record or perform," Sheila Hart tells Streets of Toronto. "I’ve definitely had a couple of identity crises over the last two years! But I’ve tried to combat that feeling by continuing to write a lot." She describes the album as "a lot of fun, despite the heavier lyrical themes. I was going through a lot of ups and downs with my relationships and mental illness throughout the writing process, and all of that ended up in the record. It’s definitely very personal. The music itself is pretty upbeat, and I love how that juxtaposes with the more serious lines."

The Silos: My Favorite Animal

The Silos initially emerged in New York in the 1980s, playing what might now be called alternative or Americana music, and were named Best New Artist in the 1987 Rolling Stone Critics Poll. We confess we weren't aware of them then, and the band's makeup and sound have morphed over the years. It's led by co-founder Walter Salas-Humara, who says it has "members all over the United States and in parts of Europe." Its upcoming album, Family, "was recorded in the Northeast, the Midwest, Texas and Germany, with members from all those regions dropping in on each other’s tracks via our modern technology." Salas-Humara describes this first single as "a melodic rock effort with a funky groove and sticky guitar and organ hooks. The lyric condenses the diversity in our cultures and ecosystems into a beautiful universality. Certainly the right message in troubled times."

Saturday, April 16, 2022

New releases from Dear Rouge, The Interrupters, The Killers, Georgia Harmer, The Grand Southern

Dear Rouge: Facedown

The third album by the Vancouver duo of Danielle and Drew McTaggart opens with this track that entertainment site Exclaim! calls "a sizzling electropop banger in the mold of St. Vincent's more energetic numbers." The LP, which also includes last year's single "Fake Fame" and recent single "Small Talk," grew from the couple's retreat to a lakeside cottage after the release of 2018's Phases. “I had this epiphany,” Danielle says, “that we needed to come back to ourselves and the joy and comfort we found in each other when we began writing music together.” They took "a more grassroots approach to the instrumentation," reports Canadian Beats. "Acoustic guitars from the tracks’ demo stages remain audible. Songs written on piano are kept to their instrument of origin, instead of being replaced by synthesizers. ... It’s all still distinctly Dear Rouge, but more personal, more vulnerable, and more intimate."

The Interrupters: In The Mirror

The ska-influenced Los Angeles band fronted by Aimee Interrupter (a.k.a. Aimee Allen) is prepping its fourth studio album, In the Wild, and we have the first single. With their bouncy, 80s-ish, Pat-Benatar-meets-early-Police sound, they pack enormous energy into this three minutes. The group says the album "takes you on a journey throughout Aimee’s life and every song is deeply personal." This number has a theme of coming to terms with yourself: "No matter how far I go / I always end up back here / In the mirror ... only in the mirror."

The Killers: The Getting By II

The new Deluxe Edition of the band’s 2021 Pressure Machine features "reimaginings" of some of the story-songs from that album. In this case, it takes a less-Killers-like song from the critically acclaimed album and converts it into a more-Killers-like single. The original version of "The Getting By" closed the LP in quiet contemplation. This regrooving "speeds up the original into a gleaming, euphoric track that erupts into a stadium-sized anthem," writes Udiscovermusic.

Georgia Harmer: Top Down

Last month we featured the single "All In My Mind," and now we add another track from this Toronto singer-songwriter's debut album, Stay in Touch, slated for release this week. The song has a pleasant, breezy sound, although Harmer says it's “about feeling frustrated by my own powerlessness.” The Revue writes: "With the blend of alt-country and dream-pop, she sounds like her talented aunt Sarah Harmer collaborating with Canadian royals Alvvays," with her vocal "accentuated by the shimmering acoustic and great electric leads."

The Grand Southern: Born to Break

Dash Hutton (vocals, drums) and Jesse Tyre Karp (vocals, guitar) formed this band in Los Angeles' Laurel Canyon and "create music that draws on the storied lineage of this locale, with their rich, nuanced Americana,” as Relix Magazine put it a few years back. Their new album, Don't Say Anything, is described as the culmination of three years of writing and recording. In addition to 70s artists like Graham Parsons, Poco and the like, their sound blends well with contemporary bands like Real Estate, Dawes and Lost Leaders.

Saturday, April 9, 2022

The Dip, The Midnight Echo, Muse, The Kut and Alice Merton land in our New Music bin

The Dip: Paddle to the Stars

This song popped out as a single late last year, but reached our ears with the recent release of the Seattle group's third album, Stick With It. "This seven-piece University of Washington-founded ensemble of former jazz music students possesses a gleaming, almost uncanny knack for reinterpreting the classic soul and pop sounds of the ’60s and ’70s through a consistently delightful indie approach," writes Under the Radar. The magazine calls this track "the album’s most impressive entry, its rich sunshine harmonies and soulful bounce seeing the group advancing its already impeccable style."

The Midnight Echo: View of an Astronaut

This four-piece alt-rock band is based in Vancouver, where songwriter-lead vocalist Joel Lalonde moved from Ontario not long ago. He says he wrote this song as he was reflecting on his decision to relocate. From the chorus: "I think the view of an astronaut would put us in our place / We're all overdramatic and losing our way ... Let's start all over again." Lalonde is joined by Tyler Rayman on guitar, Matt Gibson on bass on harmony vocals and Aaron Passek on drums. 

Muse: Compliance

On their upcoming ninth album, Will of the People, this English band continues to take a dystopian view of modern society. Singer Matt Bellamy says the LP "was created in Los Angeles and London and is influenced by the increasing uncertainty and instability in the world. A pandemic, new wars in Europe, massive protests and riots, an attempted insurrection, Western democracy wavering, rising authoritarianism, wildfires and natural disasters and the destabilization of the global order ... It has been a worrying and scary time for all of us ..." This track, he says, "is about submission to authoritarian rules and reassuring untruths to be accepted to an in-group."

The Kut: Satellite

This UK band turns up frequently on our nightly free-form show The Detour, and now makes its debut in our New Music bin. It's headed by a multi-instrumentalist who goes by the name Princess Maha, or sometimes simply Kut. On her second album, Grit, she's joined by a half-dozen musicians from her "collective" that back her up for live performances. This single features Diana Bartmann (drums), Alison (piano, vocals) and Jennifer Sanin (bass, vocals). Maha/Kut says it's "possibly the biggest step away from my comfort zone yet. I never meant to write a love song, but then there was something liberating about finally being able to express it." Guitar Girl Magazine calls the track "Emotive, powerful and featuring a guitar solo straight out of a Clapton ‘How To’ school."

Alice Merton: Same Team

Follow last year's hit "Vertigo" comes another single that will be on the U.K. pop singer's upcoming album, S.I.D.E.S. Merton says she "had been going through a lot of personal and work-related conflicts" when she wrote this song. "A team goes through ups and downs, but often pulls together to become even stronger - but in some cases it does the exact opposite. I started to question: what do I do if that team makes me doubt myself and the decisions that we make?" The lyrics sound like a break-up song, but from the one who caused the rupture: "I broke all our promises / And I evened out the score ... And I hurt you and your feelings / And I broke all the things we loved."

Saturday, April 2, 2022

The latest: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sunflower Bean, Trombone Shorty, Night Talks, Lost Leaders

Red Hot Chili Peppers: Aquatic Mouth Dance

Guitarist John Frusciante and producer Rick Rubin return for the band's 12th full-length album. AllMusic writes: "With the gang back together, there's a palpable joy born from the energy of four buddies just having fun in the studio. Extending their 2010s maturation without losing sight of their funk roots, Unlimited Love finds the Chili Peppers in jam-band mode, focusing more on sonic moods, surreal lyricism, and the journey itself, not a mainstream hit-fest." There's a lot of variety across the album's 17 tracks, but all have that unmistakable RHCP sound. Our pick for the New Music bin adds some nifty horns for extra flavor.

Sunflower Bean: Roll The Dice

Back in October, we featured the single "Baby Don't Cry" and wondered if there was an album in the works. Now we know Headful of Sugar is coming in May, and two more singles have emerged: the dream-poppy "Who Put You Up To This" - and this much louder, rocking track. Consequence of Sound calls it "a churning, distortion-laden clash against the traps of capitalism." Bassist Julia Cumming and guitarist Nick Kivlen share the vocals, declaring that “nothing in this life is really free” as Jacob Faber pounds the drums. “Almost everyone we know struggles with money,” the band says. “The traditional routes towards success and stability in America have severely narrowed. The only way to get ahead is to take big risks and roll the dice.”

Trombone Shorty: Lifted

The New Orleans trombone master's second album on the iconic Bluenote label is due later this month. We previously featured the early single "Come Back," and are now jumping on the title track, billed as a song about "love's unrelenting grip." American Blues Scene calls it "a pure dose of funk, jam, R&B, and rock [that] will have you wanting to dance the night away."

Night Talks: Dancing With My Eyes Closed

We're glad to see this indie-pop band gaining more attention in its home area of Los Angeles (playing the Troubadour, getting voted to the top of KROQ's local-band list) and elsewhere (San Diego, New York's Mercury Lounge). They broke into our rotation with their first single in 2016, and their latest album, Same Time Tomorrow, is full of danceable tracks with smart lyrics. We featured the single "On and On" a couple of months ago, and we'll be spinning second single "Searching," but we're picking this sinuous, slightly funk-flavored number for the New Music bin.

Lost Leaders: Long Way Down

Lumineers bassist Byron Isaacs and New York guitarist Peter Cole apparently found some time between their other projects to record another single as Lost Leaders, and have some shows coming up in the New York City area. As fans of their previous work ("Miracle Mile," "I'm Gonna Win," "Horizontal Man" etc.) we'd like to think that means there's another album coming, but there's no word on that so far.