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Saturday, June 25, 2022

KT Tunstall, Sarah Kinsley, The Happy Fits, Headstones, Andrew Leahey in the New Music bin

KT Tunstall: Private Eyes

Due in September, the forthcoming album from this Scottish-born, LA-based artist completes a trilogy. They are said to revolved around three essential parts of ourselves: spirit (Kin, released in 2016), body (Wax, in 2018) and mind: Nut, due in September. (In Scottish slang, that's your head or brain.) We're not sure how this single fits into the theme, but it does grab our ears. Says Tunstall: "The song is about a soulless afterparty for some forgettable event in Soho, London, where a beautiful actress (who I didn’t know personally) grabbed my hand and led me down into the dingy basement kitchen in a panic; she was convinced the paparazzi stalking her outside would be the end of her, and she couldn’t face them. A tragic picture of desire turned into a prison. Beautiful eyes that didn’t want everyone looking into them."

Sarah Kinsley: Cypress

This single, from a new EP of the same name, is our introduction to this "independent bedroom-pop artist" based in New York. We're told she plays, sings and produces her music completely solo. The result is fully realized, multi-layered dream-pop. Cypress, she says, is a set of songs "that I wrote after traveling through California, inspired by the trees, inhaling the summer air, knowing that this place would change me and my music forever."

The Happy Fits: Do Your Worst

Also new to our ears is this indie trio that had its beginnings at a New Jersey high school in 2012. A decade later (and now based in eastern Pennsylvania), they're releasing their third LP, Under the Shade of Green, in August. On this bursting-with-energy single, cellist Calvin Langman proves that his instrument can truly rock, along with Ross Monteith's guitar, Luke Davis's drums, and touches of synths. “We always strive to sound [like] more than a three-piece,” says Monteith, and here they certainly do.

Headstones: Tangled

Formed in Kingston, Ontario, in 1987, the hard-rock/punk band saw gold-record success, along with turmoil and periodic breakups. They reemerge now with what's billed as the first of a batch of new music to be released this year. A press release says of this single: "Hugh Dillion and the band return to their stripped down, punk rock roots with this lament [about] what it’s like to repeat the same mistakes over and over again." It's summed up in the repeated line: "We don’t learn a thing.”

Andrew Leahey and the Homestead: Hot House

We dip back into the new album from this Nashville singer-songwriter-guitarist and his band for another solid piece of guitar rock. AllMusic says American Static Vol. 2 "may be the most satisfying record of their career ... a rangy, musically rich pastiche of heartfelt songcraft and savvy nods to the great rock & roll songbook." 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Our New Music picks: Pool Kids, The Beths, Foals, Two Door Cinema Club, Mt. Joy

Pool Kids: That's Physics, Baby

This band from Florida is about to release its self-titled second album (following 2018's Music to Have Safe Sex To). Fronted by guitarist-vocalist-songwriter Christine Goodwyne, the group has been called "emo" and "math-rock," but let's just say they make their own blend of indie music. Alternative Press calls this song "a wonderfully cascading piece. Each layer of the track feels timid, starting for a time but backing down just as they pick up steam. The chorus sees each element embrace each other."

The Beths: Silence Is Golden

This the first taste of the New Zealand band's third album, Expert in a Dying Field, due in September. There isn't a second of silence in this number, which rushes by frenetically as Elizabeth Stokes sings about "stress and anxiety manifesting as an intolerance to noise, where each new sound makes you more and more stressed."

Foals: Crest of the Wave

The band from Oxford swerves from its proggy 2019 double-album to a set of let's-party music with its new LP, Life Is Yours. “It’s definitely the poppiest record we’ve ever made," says frontman Yannis Philippakis, "This time we wanted to find a new way to express ourselves.”

Two Door Cinema Club: Wonderful Life

About 15 years into their career, the band from Northern Ireland has its fifth album, Keep On Smiling, coming in September. They're calling this first single "a nod back to the pure rush of [the group's] early output. The lyric is about embracing life - rather than drawing back from the craziness of the world: "Watch as the world does a twist and a twirl without you / You can't make any sense when you're building a fence around you."

Mt. Joy: Orange Blood

On its third studio album, the Los Angeles band "expands the range of their psychedelic-tinged folk," PopMatters writes. The site says this title track paints "a desert landscape where the clouds and the sun wrestle distracted consciousnesses to more contemplative states of being." Frontman Matt Quinn says the song grew from a trip he and his girlfriend took to Joshua Tree National Park. (Not the first musician to find inspiration there!)

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Brandi and the Alexanders + Jimmy Eats World + The Heavy Heavy + Lost Leaders + The Empty Pockets = New Music Variety

Brandi and the Alexanders: Fire

This new single is our introduction to Brandi Thompson and her band, a five-piece outfit based in Brooklyn with a sound that fits well with the likes of Seratones and The Suffers. We're told they began as a classic-soul cover band before developing original material for their 2018 debut album, How Do You Like It? Their next album is in the works, and this single is the first taste. Thompson says she wrote the song in 2020 as "a second Civil Rights Movement overwhelmed the United States." She adds: "I'm proud to be a product of my ancestors who survived generation after generation; their strength is my strength, and I wrote this song to honor them."

Jimmy Eat World: Something Loud

Photo by Jimi Giannatti
Back to being an unsigned band, the veteran emo-pop group from Arizona self-released this single, its first new music since its 10th album, 2019's Surviving. It was produced with Justin Meldal-Johnsen, who also worked on the band's last two albums, reports Brooklyn Vegan. The blog says: "Between the revved-up punky power pop and Jim Adkins asking 'Do you still feel part of something loud?,' this one really scratches the nostalgia itch." Indeed, reflecting on younger days is the song's theme. Adkins says: "Maybe the thing age and experience do reveal is that pivotal moments are hard to grasp when you are in them.”

The Heavy Heavy: Miles and Miles

This is the debut single by the Brighton, U.K.-based band led by Will Turner and Georgie Fuller. It leads off their first EP, Life and Life Only. (They seem to have a thing for repeating words.) Turner and Fuller largely self-produced the set in a London flat, but they've put together a five-piece band for a U.S. tour in September. Their music is billed as bringing "new energy into sounds from decades ago," including rock 'n' roll, psychedelic blues, acid rock and sunshine pop.

Lost Leaders: Foolish Heart

When we featured the single "Long Way Down" a couple of months ago, we didn't know if it was a foretaste of a new album. Now comes this new track and word that an EP, Jealous Sun, is coming next month from the project of Lumineers bassist Byron Isaacs and songwriter-guitarist Peter Cole. Says Isaacs: “Foolish Heart is about inner turmoil and not knowing how to proceed in a relationship. Specifically, for me, it is about the frustrations of parenting.” 

The Empty Pockets: Outside Spectrum

This Chicago band says it "celebrates old-school classic rock, folk, and the blues," blending them into "bold Americana flavors straight from the soul." The quartet, led by vocalist Erika Brett and guitarist Josh Solomon, will release its fourth studio album, Outside Spectrum, in August. This title track, the group says, "is about breaking out of the routines and perspectives that dominate your life and looking at the world in full color, where before it was just black and white."

Saturday, June 4, 2022

New Music from Banditos, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Amanda Shires, Maggie Rogers, Sunflower Bean

Banditos: On My Way

Formed in Alabama a dozen years ago and now based in Nashville, this group is known for blending various strains of rootsy music. On their new, third album, Right On, the quintet has retooled its sound to center on the vocals of Mary Beth Richardson, who previously shared lead-singing duties with other band members. This rollicking number, says the band, "is about trying to stay positive when it seems as though everything is falling apart. It’s about staying true to yourself even if it seems like the odds are against you."

Tedeschi Trucks Band: Fall In

The remarkable musical ensemble led by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks just released I Am the Moon: Part I, Crescent. It's the first of four installments of an ambitious concept album, with songs loosely based on "Layla & Majnun," a 12th-century Persian poem by Nizami Ganjavi that inspired Derek and the Dominos' "Layla." It's also a multi-media production, each part accompanied by a film. Our featured track from Crescent, with Mike Mattison singing lead, "is a playful New Orleans second-line marching song, with Trucks’ National Steel slide ringing through it," writes Ultimate Classic Rock. The review site says "the group's combination of musical excellence and daring won't be denied, which makes I Am the Moon, in all of its unapologetically indulgent grandeur, a career-defining work. (Read the band's full explanation of the project on its Bandcamp page.)

Amanda Shires: Hawk for the Dove

This accomplished fiddler and singer-songwriter, well known in alt-country and Americana circles and as a member of The Highwomen and Jason Isbell's 400 Unit, is set to release Take It Like a Man later this summer. It's billed as "a record so unlike anything she’s ever recorded that it feels like her debut album instead of her seventh." On this first single, she takes on the role of seductress, telling her target: "You can call me serious trouble /  Just admit I'm what you want." The album features husband Isbell on guitar on several tracks and guest vocals from Maren Morris, Natalie Hemby and Brittney Spencer.

Maggie Rogers: Want Want

Also due this summer is Surrender, the follow-up to the singer-songwriter's 2019 major-label debut, Heard It in a Past Life. This second single is a catchy alt-pop tune designed to blast from speakers in a club or at a party. We're told the New York-based Maryland native co-wrote this single with Brooklyn-based Del Water Gap (aka songwriter-producer S. Holden Jaffe) while holed up in Maine at the height of the pandemic. The two finished it up with Kid Harpoon (aka London-based Tom Hull) while working on the album at New York’s Electric Lady Studios and Peter Gabriel’s Real World Studios near Bath.

Sunflower Bean: In Flight

We're spotlighting one more track from the Brooklyn trio's latest, Headful of Sugar. Guitarist Nick Kivlen takes the lead vocal on this number, which sonically lands somewhere between the mellow pop of "Who Put You Up To This" and the edgy "Roll the Dice." “This song is a romantic vision of meeting a lover, running away together, and entering a dangerous new world,” Kivlen says. “It’s less safe but also less suffocating."