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Saturday, May 28, 2022

The latest from Dawes, Stars, Sorcha Richardson, Momma, Band of Horses now in our New Music bin

Dawes: Comes in Waves

The LA band's eighth studio album, Misadventures of Doomscroller, is due in late July. This song opens with one of our favorite activities - watching waves break on a beach - and uses it as a metaphor for the ebb and flow of good times and bad, successes and failures. “The lyric is about the arbitrary demands I make on myself," says frontman Taylor Goldsmith. "I want to perceive me or my life a certain way but I make no exceptions for an off day or a misstep. Whether it’s a win or a loss, it’s all transient..."

Stars: Build a Fire

"Almost 25 years into their career with nine studio albums under their belt, Stars can pretty much do whatever they want," Exclaim! writes, adding that the new LP From Capelton Hill "reveals a band that know where they come from, aware of their legacy and willing to build on it to refine their craft. It's also their most relatable album in years, aiming for a more personal feel rather than cinematic grandeur." The passage of time is a major theme throughout the album. Although it's not explicit in the lyric, this upbeat track is "about death. And running from it. As fast as you f'ing can," says Torquill Campbell, co-lead-vocalist with Amy Millan. 

Sorcha Richardson: Archie

Photo by James Baldwin
This singer-songwriter from Dublin moved to Brooklyn at 18, and was part of the indie music scene there when we picked up several of her self-released singles in 2015-17, including "Petrol Station" and "Ruin Your Night." She moved to LA and then back to Dublin, put together a band and an album (2019's First Prize Bravery), and got in some touring before Covid shut that down. “It felt like it killed some of the momentum I had drummed up," Richardson says. "But it also meant that I had all the time in the world to make my second record.” This first single from the upcoming album "is a song about teenage hopes and dreams and about losing touch with the people who you once shared them with."

Momma: Speeding 72

Their upcoming album is called Household Name; the lead single was "Rockstar." Singer-guitarists Allegra Weingarten and Etta Friedman are on a self-proclaimed mission to reach that status by emulating their own musical idols - the likes of Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins, the Breeders and Pavement. And they're making progress, with support from labels (Polyvinyl in North America, Lucky Number overseas) and glowing reviews from the likes of Stereogum and Consequence of Sound. The press release for this single says it "details a fast-burning romance between two kids who meet at a show and go for a ride." The duo says "We wanted it to be the sort of summertime anthem that you can turn on during a drive to impress your crush.”

Band of Horses: Warning Signs

In a Facebook post, the group says: "18 years, 6 records and this is by far our deepest, most difficult and most rewarding and affirming effort to date." Reviewers have split on whether Things Are Great is the band's best LP in over a decade - or ever. We previously featured "Crutch," and now pick up the opening track. Lead horse Ben Bridwell says the song grew from an experience on tour in Australia: "My voice went out and I actually cried at the Sydney Opera House onstage. I couldn’t sing and I just started weeping." That turned into a lyric about trying not to cry at work. "Everybody knows you’re not allowed to be emotional at your job, but I bet all of us have probably been through something like that."

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Fresh sounds from Sharon van Etten, Kiwi Jr., Snarls, The Afghan Whigs, Rolling Blackouts CF

Sharon van Etten: Mistakes

The singer-songwriter's sixth album draws its title and its cover art from the covid and climate crises - recorded as it was in Van Etten's home studio in Los Angeles where she was sheltering from the pandemic and watching wildfires draw uncomfortably close. As AllMusic explains, she had recently moved across the country, married and started raising a family - all contributing to "evocative lyrical sketches, where images of yearning, parenthood, isolation, and love create the impression of difficult but necessary emotional growth." Our featured track is more joyful, a celebration of one's foibles and of a lover who accepts them: "Every time I make a mistake / Turns out it's great." NME calls the track the album's standout, "Van Etten at her best, its thumping chorus ideal for banishing lockdown-induced rumination on your regrets."

Kiwi Jr.: Night Vision

These Toronto indie-rockers will release their third album, Chopper, in August. It's produced by Wolf Parade cofounder and current Arcade Fire touring member Dan Boeckner. Singer/guitarist Jeremy Gaudet says of this lead single: "Before ‘Night Vision’ was 100% written, just the basic idea of it existing as a Kiwi Jr. song inspired us and set the tone for the record. A lot of the images in the lyrics are of teenagers driving around, trying to make plans, sharing the aux, putting their parents' car in the ditch, etc. But the idea at the center of the song is that of working up the nerve to make a big decision. Like a boxer getting pumped up before a fight.”

Snarls: Fixed Gear

Sometimes our New Music bin features songs that have been out for a while but are still "new to us" - and, probably, to most of our listeners. This song appeared last fall on an EP called What About Flowers?, but just landed in our inbox as a single - and we're glad to catch up with the self-described "glitter emo alt rock" quartet from Columbus, Ohio. Paste praised "the wonderful vocal ping-ponging that closes 'Fixed Gear,' evoking the cheerful pop interplay and juxtaposed vocal melodies of The Beths, and kicking off the EP on an incessantly catchy note."

The Afghan Whigs: The Getaway

Formed in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1986, disbanded in 2001 and re-banded in 2012-2017, the group is now re-returning with its first album in five years, How Do You Burn?, slated for September release. Frontman Greg Dulli and bassist John Curley are the only remaining original members, joined by various other players and singers on the LP. This single has a touch of prog, reminding our ears of Crack the Sky. Consequence of Sound calls it "a soaring slow-burner that gradually builds into a powerful, climactic end. Its video uses imagery of space, astronauts, and rockets to convey a sense of limitless possibility."

Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever: My Echo

The Melbourne, Australia band with the too-long name just released its third full-length album, Endless Rooms. We previously featured lead single "The Way It Shatters," and now turn to this edgy track. It's another song born of pandemic isolation: singer/guitarist Fran Keaney said it’s “about being surrounded by phone screens, computer screens, TV screens, paranoia and loss of time and place.” The sharp-angled, sometimes discordant guitar sounds capture that anxiety.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

New from Florence + The Machine, Arkells, Andrew Leahey & The Homestead, Mt. Joy, Camp Cope

Florence + The Machine: Free

The new album from Florence Welch and company, Dance Fever, is co-produced by Welch and Jack Antonoff. NME writes that it packs "an invigorated spirit into powerful, sneakily thrilling pop," This track "channels the intensity of Welch’s previous work, but in a more euphoric direction. Its twitchy percussion arrangements heighten one of the most ecstatic choruses of the band’s career, and Welch approaches the subject of overcoming anxiety with sustained wonder that such happiness is even possible."  

Arkells: Past Life (feat. Cold War Kids)

This is the second single released ahead of the Ontario-based band's upcoming album Blink Twice (the follow up to last year's Blink Once). “Last fall we were in LA working on music and had this driving 80’s song about being present in the moment, and liberating yourself from the past,” says frontman Max Kerman. “We wrote the first verse and left the second one open, hoping that Nathan (Willett) from Cold War Kids might be drawn to the collaboration. CWK were one of our early influences when we started our band, and we’ve been lucky enough to share the stage with them over the years, and honoured to record this tune with them.”

Andrew Leahey & The Homestead: Caught Like a Fire

The newly released American Static, Vol. 2 completes an 18-track collection from this Nashville band. Entertainment Focus writes that the group "started out with a fair amount of Americana in the mix of what they were doing, but they’ve pared that back and become more of a straight-ahead rock band." We're featuring the opening track of Vol. 2, which AllMusic says "ignites into a rousing chorus of ringing guitars and harmonies, setting a confident tone that carries for the rest of the set." 

Mt. Joy: Evergreen

Formed by Philadelphia natives and high school friends Matt Quinn (vocals, guitar) and Sam Cooper (guitar),and now a five-piece band based in Los Angeles, the group is preparing to release its third full-length album, Orange Blood. "Evergreen is the shot of tequila on this record," says Quinn. "It’s a love song about trusting what you have during times when the world seems to be changing faster than we can keep up."

Camp Cope: Running With The Hurricane

This is the title track from the third album by the Melbourne, Australia trio of singer-songwriter-guitarist Georgia Maq, bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich and drummer Sarah Thompson. NME says "it marks a change of pace for a band who made their name with self-described ‘power emo’ songs that often addressed pressing issues head-on." Maq tells the website: “It’s just a change in perspective because of what the world has experienced the last few years. In Australia, we had the bushfires and I was like, ‘how can anything be worse than this? This is terrible.’ And then Covid happened. The hurricane really felt like a metaphor for chaos and loss of control, and just going with that.”

Saturday, May 7, 2022

New music variety from Maggie Rogers, Wilco, Grand Splendid, Bear's Den, Sally Dige

Maggie Rogers: That's Where I Am

The singer-songwriter's second album (or fourth, if you count two self-released sets) won't be out until late July, but this first single is moving quickly up the charts. NPR writes: "Stuttering electronics and handclaps underpin the momentum that builds through the song's first minute, but then Rogers opens a floodgate of sleek guitar distortion, bassy synth and gated reverb on crashing drums." At heart, it's a simple love song, about a relationship that starts out a bit rocky but works out well: "Wish we could do this forever / And never remember mistakes that we made ... It all works out in the end / Wherever you go, that’s where I am."

Wilco: Falling Apart (Right Now)

Wilco has long lived along the vague border between alt-country and indie-rock. They veer sharply to one side of the line on their upcoming album, a 21-track extravaganza called Cruel Country. Bandleader Jeff Tweedy says country music "has always been the ideal place to comment on what most troubles my mind – which for more than a little while now has been the country where I was born, these United States." Most of the album was recorded in live takes at the Loft in Chicago.

Grand Splendid: Heartstrings

This Montreal indie-rock band is back with its third single, leading up to an album expected later this year. The three songs so far demonstrate a good range of sounds: A touch of cosmic rock on "You Are the Universe," traces of Beatles influence on "Magic" and an echo of 80s bands like Dream Academy on this new track. Lead vocalist Julian Buchbinder says overall, the LP features "a lot of guitars and vocal melodies," with some upbeat songs and some more melancholic. "We think that they work well together as a whole."

Bear's Den: Blue Hours

The U.K.-based band is about to release its fourth studio album, Blue Hours. The songwriting duo of Andrew Davie and Kevin Jones say the title track "is a song about communicating with someone that’s hard to reach. It’s this idea of trying to have a conversation with someone through one-way glass, where they can’t even see you and there’s a real disconnect with how you’re communicating. On one level, it’s also an internal thing, where you’re trying to get through to yourself.” .

Sally Dige: I Will Be the Sun for You

A Danish-Canadian artist based in Berlin, Germany, Dige has released two albums and a handful of singles over the past several years, but this is the first to reach our ears. We're told her sound has evolved over time from disco-inspired electro, to post-punk, to synth-based "ethereal new romantic" and now to indie pop. After releasing an album composed and recorded entirely on one synthesizer, Dige says, “the natural form of self-rebellion was to pick up instruments that didn't need electricity to function, and play with strings and the hands again." Mandolin and balalaika are among the instruments heard on this upbeat, uplifting song.