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Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Wringing out the year with more 2023 releases

As one year gives way to another, we're taking a holiday break from picking out new releases to feature at the top of each hour. Instead, we're showcasing tracks that came out in 2023 but didn't quite make it into our New Music Bin. Many are from indie artists; many are additional tracks from albums that we sampled during the year.

They include:
Adult Leisure - You Weren't There When I Needed | Autogramm - Born Losers | boygenius - Cool About It | Crown Lands - Dreamer of the Dawn | Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors - Find Your People | Great Lake Swimmers - When The Storm Has Passed | Green Day - The American Dream Is Killing Me | July Talk - When You Stop | Mackenzie Shivers - a cautionary tale | Nation of Language - Sole Obsession | New West - Based on a True Story | Night Talks - Shake Me Awake | Peter Gabriel - i/o (Bright Side Mix) | Sarah Kinsley - Oh No Darling! | Shayla McDaniel - Depend On | Sorcha Richardson - Stalemate | Terra Lightfoot - Cross Border Lovers | The Regrettes - Dancing On My Own | The Rolling Stones - Mess It Up | Thompson Springs - She Loves Me To Death (But I'm Still Livin') | Vanishing Shores - Doubt, Nothing At All

Birch Street Radio began broadcasting on the internet in April 2013 and rebooted in January 2016 with its unique Marvelous Mix of new and classic, indie and major-label music from a wide variety of rock-related genres. It moved to its current home on the TorontoCast streaming platform in January 2018 and added a stream on the revived Live365 service in the USA in January 2019. With more than 16,000 songs currently in its playlist, Birch Street Radio now rolls on into 2024 - streaming 24/7, completely free and commercial-free! 

Saturday, December 16, 2023

New Music: Sheryl Crow, Sam Roberts Band, Nation of Language, and introducing Justine Giles, The Moons of Jupiter

Sheryl Crow: Alarm Clock

Freshly inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Crow announced that her 11th studio album, Evolution, will be out in March. “I said I’d never make another record, thought there was no point to it. But this music comes from my soul," she says. This first single is a co-write with Mike Elizondo, the album's producer, and Emily Weisband. (Photo by Mark Seliger)

Sam Roberts Band: The Ballad of Ben Blank

The title track of the Montreal band's latest LP introduces the "narrator" of the stories to come: "A rock and roll singer / A real humdinger," who frankly describes himself as "a bona fide loose cannon." No regrets, it seems, for being who he is: "You gotta listen for the life that's calling you."

Nation of Language: Too Much, Enough

"There's no listening to Nation of Language without hearing the 1980s," Pitchfork writes in its review of its third album, Strange Disciple, and that gets no argument from us. "With  LCD Soundsystem’s Nick Millhiser producing the album, the group incorporates new sounds into their typically minimalist compositions." The Brooklyn band consists of Ian Richard Devaney (lead vocals, guitar, synthesizer, percussion), Aidan Noell (synthesizer, backing vocals), and Alex MacKay (bass guitar). 

Justine Giles: Before It's Too Late

The Calgary-based singer-songwriter "successfully combines emotive lyrics with a bluesy rock arrangement" on this new single, writes Canadian Beats. After starting out as a teenage folk-pop singer-songwriter, her style has taken on more of a rock edge. “I felt like a different beast was coming out of me,” she says, “But at the same time, I felt ready to embrace my strength and power and I’m really proud of these vocals. They’re the strongest I’ve ever delivered.”

The Moons of Jupiter: Until The End Of Time

From a suburb of Birmingham, UK, comes this duo of multi-instrumentalist Nicky Rowe and vocalist James Harris. They describe their music as "soulful and uplifting, classic-sounding British electropop." We're adding this track from their debut EP Ghosts to our New Music bin.

This is the time of year when record releases are mostly re-issues and holiday music - so we're taking a break from our weekly new-music-picking. We'll be back at it next month. Meanwhile our Marvelous Mix rolls on 24/7, free and commercial-free. 

Remember: Nothing has been proven more effective against Music Boredom than Birch Street Radio. Possible side effects include altering your mood, distracting you from what you should be doing, and causing flashbacks to the first time you heard that song. Please listen responsibly!

Saturday, December 9, 2023

Fresh tracks from Terra Lightfoot + The Killers + Real Estate + Grand Splendid + Cadet Carter

Terra Lightfoot: Come Back Around

The singer-songwriter from Hamilton, Ont., just released Healing Power, a collection that PopMatters writes "deals with the serious issues of love and romance in the modern world with a light touch." It's filled with great tunes that will be turning up in our mix. Lightfoot says the point of this song "is that it’s helpful to know that you can always get back up after you make a mistake. The lesson you were supposed to learn will still be there waiting for you until you’re ready to try again." (Photo by Lyle Bell)

The Killers: Spirit

On its just-released greatest-hits album, Rebel Diamonds, the band includes a new studio version of this song that they've previously played on tour. "The icy and anthemic three-minute single leans all the way into the synth-pop side of the band’s sound," writes Stereogum. (Photo by Todd Weaver) 

Real Estate: Water Underground

“This song is about writing songs,” says frontman Martin Courtney of the first single from the band's upcoming sixth album. “I think ‘Water Underground’ is like the unconscious, the mysterious part of your brain where creativity comes from. The constant flow of music in the back of your head." The LP is titled Daniel, because the band thought it would be funny to name an album like a person. And it may not be a coincidence that it's produced by Daniel Tashian.

Grand Splendid: The Storm Is Over

The Montreal band has just issued its latest album, Planetarium, and the photo above is from its hometown release party at l'Hémisphère Gauche last month. The LP includes singles that we've featured over the past couple of years, including "Heartstrings," "Magic" and "You Are the Universe."

Cadet Carter: Lift Me Up

Billed as an "emo punk" band, this Munich-based quartet features Welsh lead singer Nick Saute. This catchy number is from their just-released third album, Self Maintenance. Saute says many of its songs "are about keeping yourself together, and the mundane activities we do to keep ourselves alive and function adequately in society."

Saturday, December 2, 2023

Peter Gabriel completes I/O; Mighty One debuts; plus Autogramm, Thompson Springs, Big Thief

Peter Gabriel: Live and Let Live (Dark-Side Mix)

This 7-minute-plus number completes the I/O album, a 24-track opus consisting of Bright-Side and Dark-Side mixes of 12 original songs that were released over the past 12 months. "It takes courage / To learn to forgive / To be brave enough to listen / To live and let live," Gabriel sings. He acknowledges that given the conflicts raging around the world, "preaching forgiveness seems trite and pathetic, maybe. But in the long run, I think people have to find a way."

Mighty One: Wake The Dead

From South West England comes the duo of singers-songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Emma Kingston and Mark Stidson. This is their debut single as Mighty One - not to be confused with the Vancouver metal band of the same name! They tell us this song "centres itself around the notions of regret, and all of the emotions that come with it. ... [I]t's a bittersweet yet uplifting anthem."

Autogramm: WannaBe

This "new wave-inspired" group is made up of three musicians, veterans of multiple bands hailing from Vancouver, Seattle and Chicago, who use pseudonyms for this project. They "draw unapologetically on power-pop with a vibe that evokes the late ’70s and early ’80s," writes Paste Magazine, which says their new album, Music That Humans Can Play, is filled with "catchy songs that split the difference between bright synthesizers and punchy guitar riffs." (Photo by Tyler McLeod)

Thompson Springs: Out of Range

This Chicago outfit, which has been popping up in our mix since its debut LP in 2020, just released its latest collection, Standby. We previously featured "All I Wanna Do," and now add this track to our New Music bin (never mind that it was issued as a single earlier this year). 

Big Thief: Born For Loving You

Long part of their live shows, this song was recently released in a studio version and has been getting extensive radio play. It's a surprisingly sweet and sentimental number from the edgy Brooklyn band, packaged as a "double single" with the angry, toxic-relationship-blues of "Vampire Empire."

Sunday, November 26, 2023

New Music from Sleater-Kinney, Soda Blonde, Night Talks, J Mascis, Sarah Jarosz

Sleater-Kinney: Say It Like You Mean It

Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein will release their latest album, Little Rope, in January. Tucker takes the lead vocal on this single about parting words: "Say it like you mean it / I need to hear it before you go."  

J Mascis: Can't Believe We're Here

Here's a taste of What Do We Do Now, the upcoming fifth solo album by the Dinosaur Jr. frontman. Word is he played all the instruments except keyboards, provided by Ken Mauri from the B-52’s, and pedal steel, by Ontario's Matthew “Doc” Dunn. “When I’m writing for the band,” Mascis says, “I’m always trying to think of doing things Lou and Murph would fit into. For myself, I’m thinking more about what I can do with just an acoustic guitar, even for the leads. Of course, this time, I added full drums and electric leads, so it ended up sounding a lot more like a band record.”

Night Talks: Running On A Cloud

The latest single from this LA trio is inspired by the old Roadrunner cartoons. "There’d always be a moment where Wile. E Coyote would cut off a tree branch he was sitting on or run off the side of a cliff, so focused on what he was doing that he wouldn’t fall down until he stopped to think."

Soda Blonde: Boys

This Irish band spins out another single from its recently released second album, Dream Big, as it embarks on a tour around Europe. The Irish Times says the song is "laced with romantic ambiguity, in lines like, 'Somebody’s been yelling in my head that you’re the wrong one.'"

Sarah Jarosz: When The Lights Go Out

On her upcoming seventh album, Polaroid Lovers, Jarosz says each song "is a snapshot of different love stories. This one is about being intrigued before the start of a relationship…dreaming about the unknown of it all." It's a co-write with Jon Randall and Gordie Sampson. "Gordie, who comes from a Cape Breton musical background, suggested we write something in 6/8, started grooving, and before we knew it we were off and running."

Saturday, November 18, 2023

New indie music by San Fermin, Vanishing Shores, Adult Leisure, Krooked Kings, Orwells '84

San Fermin: Didn't Want You To

The Brooklyn group will release its fifth studio album, Arms, in February. Claire Wellin takes the lead vocal on this single. Composer-songwriter-band-leader Ellis Ludwig-Leone says “I had this feeling after going through a breakup, like, ‘well screw you, if you don’t want to be with me, I don’t want to be with you,’ which turns out to be a pretty universal feeling. The wordplay was fun, messing around with different inflections of the refrain to hint at different meanings.” It reminds us of the 10,000 Maniacs song "I Don't Want You Too" - so of course we'll have to segue them now and then. 

Photo by Alex S K Brown

Vanishing Shores: Traffic Patterns

The Cleveland band led by Kevin Bianchi has slipped out another single, its fourth this year. We presume they'll be collected in the album Possible Light, but we don't have a release date on that yet. This song's lyric suggests to us a road trip during which the narrator recognizes the signs of impending breakup: "I remember you in Mojave / The heat burning through our clothes / You were speaking of a distant future / I felt the hum of closing doors."

Adult Leisure: Bad Idea

Last month we featured the single "All For You," and now we pick up another track from Present State of Joy and Grief, the sophomore EP from this indie band out of Bristol, UK. Full disclosure: This song hit British airwaves last summer, but we're invoking the rule that if it's new to us, it can go in our New Music bin.

Krooked Kings: Headhunters

This band got its start in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 2019 and has been developing its style of "heartfelt indie-rock music." We're not sure what to make of the claim that their influences include The Strokes and Bon Iver - neither is evident on this track, but it's a catchy little number.  

Orwells '84: Are We Brothers?

This indie-folk group out of Dundalk, Ireland, released their debut EP, Truth Is The First Victim, in 2019 - after which their recording plans were interrupted by the pandemic. Once they were able to get back to studio work, they had a couple dozen new songs to work with, and the result was a 14-track debut LP. We seem to have missed its release earlier this year, but they brought it to our attention by breaking out this track as a single.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

New Music: Gaslight Anthem, Sam Roberts Band, Aurora, Cloud Nothings, Crack The Sky

Gaslight Anthem: Little Fires

The new album History Books is the New Jersey-based band's sixth LP and its first in nine years. Frontman Brian Fallon says this track is "an empowerment song, about refusing to play along with the kind of people who always seem to be throwing a grenade into the room for no particular reason." Previously added to our big mix: advance singles "History Books" and "Positive Charge." 

Sam Roberts Band: Afterlife

With the release of The Adventures of Ben Blank, we're highlighting this track with a misleading title. Rather than a meditation on the eternal, the lyric insists on getting everything we can out of life on earth: "I'm gonna get my kicks on this side of the Styx."

Aurora: Your Blood

Photo by Wanda Martin
The Norwegian artist's new single, writes NME, "sees her deliver some cathartic vocals alongside some synth-infused instrumentals."

Cloud Nothings: Final Summer

Photo by Chad Butler
The Cleveland trio's new single, says lead singer/guitarist Dylan Baldi, is about “reconciling past versions of myself with the self I see when I look in the mirror every morning."

Crack The Sky: Going Downtown

On their 20th LP, From The Wood, the veteran prog-rock band sets aside its electric guitars and synths in favor of mostly-acoustic instrumentation. Most of its ten songs are rather dark ruminations by lead singer-songwriter John Palumbo, but our pick for the New Music Bin is a fun, bluesy shuffle.

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Latest adds to our New Music bin: The Beatles, Cold War Kids, MGMT, Pretenders, Glass Violet

The Beatles: Now and Then

The "final" single by the electronically reconstituted band is a nostalgia trip that's hard to resist for those of us who remember the lads at their heyday or have come to know and appreciate their music in the decades since.

Cold War Kids: Run Away With Me

The self-titled 10th album from the California-based band "offers a delightful blend of lively, upbeat tunes, soothing rock melodies, and some heartfelt ballads," writes Spill Magazine. This is certainly one of the lively numbers.

MGMT: Mother Nature

Here's the first single from the Middletown, Connecticut duo's upcoming fifth album, Loss of Life. The band says the song "outlines the archetypical MGMT mythology of one hero attempting to get the other hero to come on the journey that they 'must' go on. One part sounds like Oasis." 

Pretenders: Let the Sun Come In

Before Relentless gets too not-new to qualify for our New Music bin, we wanted to dip back into the LP and feature another track.

Glass Violet: Oxygen

We previously featured a couple of singles from this Bristol, UK, band. Along with this latest comes word that an eight-song EP is releasing this week.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

New Rubblebucket, Future Islands, Adult Leisure, Madison Cunningham, Adrian Sutherland

Rubblebucket: Teardrops

It's been about a year since the Brooklyn band's Earth Worship LP, and as they launch a fall tour they've released a new single. 

This time Alex Tōth takes on the lead vocal while Kalmia Traver provides harmonies. 

Flood Magazine calls it a "delirious synth-pop banger" featuring "vocoded vocals, funk-inspired bass, and warm synth beds."

Future Islands: The Tower

With the release of this single, the Baltimore band announced it has an LP coming early next year, called People Who Aren't There Anymore. Stereogum says this advance track is "a soft, haunted synth-rock jam with a buzzing low-end, and it makes lovely use of Samuel T. Herring’s singular voice."

Adult Leisure: All For You

We're catching up with this "melodic alt-indie" band - which formed during the pandemic and released its first EP in late 2022 - as they prepare to issue their second, Present State of Joy and Grief. Due in a matter of days, its four tracks will include this single that the group describes as a story of "a fragmented bond, infidelity and loss. ... Every moment of heartbreak captured across 4 minutes.”

Madison Cunningham: Subtitles

A little over a year after releasing her third album, Revealer - and as she tours with the U.S. opening for Hozier - the Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter has dropped this fresh single.

Cunningham she says it's "set at the end of the world where there’s this impending disaster that is quickly approaching, and everyone has been warned, yet the people below still bobble around going on and on bickering about human things, misunderstanding each other." 

Listen and then watch (or re-watch) the 2021 film Don't Look Up.

Adrian Sutherland: Diamonds

This roots-rocker from Canada's Far North has rolled out a pair of singles whose titles add up to that of his second solo LP, Precious Diamonds, to be released in March. The publicity for the release says "the idea that people came from the sky up above and were made from the sun was not only fun to explore lyrically, but is also a belief rooted in Adrian Sutherland's First Nation/Cree culture." Sutherland, formerly of the band Midnight Shine, traveled to Nashville to record the album with producer/musician Colin Linden, a fellow Canadian. 

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Middle Kids, Nation of Language, The Struts, Deeper, The Rolling Stones: New music in our mix

Middle Kids: Dramamine

Photo by Pooneh Ghana
The indie-rock trio from Sydney have announced a new album on its way early next year, called Faith Crisis Pt. 1 (suggesting a second part will soon follow.) It will include the recenet single "Highlands" along with this track, which Stereogum calls "a giddy, jangly headrush that’ll probably sound great at festivals." It's a co-write by lead singer Hannah Joy and bandmate-husband Tim Fitz.

Nation of Language: Surely I Can't Wait

Photo by Shervin Lainez
The Brooklyn-based synth-pop band just released its third album, Strange Disciple. Four tracks had already come out as singles, so we're picking a fresh one for our New Music bin, although we'll sprinkle others into our big mix. The album's theme is described as "infatuation and how one’s reality can be warped by it." NME says the music is "imbued with layers of post-punk nostalgia, sure, but the kinetic energy in the arrangements steer it from being derivative."

The Struts: Pretty Vicious

Photo by Ben Cope
This is the title track of the British band's fourth album. Frontman Luke Spiller says the song came together very spontaneously, starting with the opening lines: "When you talk and everybody listens / And you walk and everybody whispers." He adds, "They aren’t super clever [lyrics], but they felt right. It’s more about the vocal delivery. That's what makes it dark and sexy."

Deeper: Build a Bridge

Newly signed to the SubPop label, this Chicago band has now released its third album, Careful! This single actually floated out over the summer, but just reached our ears with the LP release. Paste Magazine describes the group's music as "post-punk that is high strung and anxious," featuring "Nic Gohl’s David Byrne-like shriek."

The Rolling Stones: Bite My Head Off

Photo by Mark Seliger
The first collection of new Stones music in 18 years is getting mostly positive reviews, with Rolling Stone (the magazine) calling it "a vibrant and cohesive record" and The Guardian saying it "crackles with a sense of purpose. (OTOH, the ever-acerbic Pitchfork calls its 12 tunes "a bunch of hackneyed duds, polished until the character has disappeared.") Producer Andy Watt, who was also working with Paul McCartney at the time, invited him to make a guest appearance, which he does on this track. As Jagger tells it: "Andy said, ‘lets put him on this punk tune.’ Paul was amazing. I’d sung with Paul before. I was playing guitar, he was playing bass. He was great on it. He was amazing.”

Saturday, October 14, 2023

Brand-new from Brittany Howard, Elephant Stone, Metric, Yukon Blonde, The Commotions

Brittany Howard: What Now

This will be the title track of the former Alabama Shakes lead singer's second solo album. Howard says it's "maybe the truest and bluest of all the songs” on the record. “I like how it’s a song that makes you want to dance, but at the same time the lyrics are brutal.”  A release date for the LP has not yet been announced.

Elephant Stone: The Spark

We're glad to hear new music from this Montreal band, led by Rishi Dhir, that blends psych-rock with classical Indian sounds. This is the first taste of Back Into The Dream, set for release in February. Rishi calls the track "my love letter to the art of songwriting, a tribute to the creative process itself. It's about that serendipitous moment when time and space align, allowing you to capture lightning in a bottle." 

Metric: Stone Window

Following last year's Formentera and the summer single "Just the Once" comes Formentera II. Written and recorded during the depths of the pandemic, "it plays out like a tormented dispatch from deep in the heart of the despair, uncertainty, and gloom of that particular period paired with some of the most inventive and inspiring music of the band's long career," writes AllMusic. We like this song's hopeful imagining of a window to a better world.

Yukon Blonde: Not Interested

We've been spinning a couple of the singles ahead of the Vancouver band's new album, Shuggie. With the release of the full LP, we're plucking out this track, wherein lead singer-songwriter Jeff Innes pokes fun at the selfish pursuit of instant gratification.

The Commotions: The Time Is Now

The Ottawa-based soul-pop band led by saxophonist Brian Asselin just released Volume III. We previously featured the lead single "Feel the Commotion," and now choose this number billed as "an old-fashioned jump/swing track with a modern, lyrical twist."