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Saturday, April 29, 2023

Latest picks: Josh Ritter, The Gaslight Anthem, Natalie Merchant, ferna, Matt Epp


Josh Ritter: For Your Soul


On his tenth album, Spectral Lines, Josh Ritter experiments with field recordings - this track opens with the sound of a playground swing - and gap-less transitions from song to song. He describes it as “some kind of trip down the river, just to be carried along by this thing.” Many of the songs are quiet, even hushed. Our pick for the New Music bin is one of the more upbeat tracks, featuring "a chorus that could have come straight from the Traveling Wilburys," as AmericanaUK puts it.

The Gaslight Anthem: Positive Charge


Photo by Casey McAllister
Brian Fallon put the band back together for a tour last year, and the New Jersey quartet has released its first single in nine years to launch another tour this summer. Fallon says the song "began as a message of joy to ourselves and to our audience. The central theme is about looking at the things you’ve come through and feeling like you want to go ahead with an open heart toward the future, believing that the best years are not behind any of us and the good we have is worth something.”

Natalie Merchant: Tower of Babel


From her new album, Keep Your Courage, comes this song that ties the Biblical myth about language barriers to modern miscommunication. “See this house is divided / see we’re broken in two / ... Everybody's so confused,” Merchant sings over piano, simple percussion and backing vocals - punctuated by dynamic horn breaks arranged by trombone player Steve Davis.

Ferna: Open Up


We previously featured the single "New City" from Belfast-based singer-songwriter Hannah McPhillimy, aka Ferna. Now she's released her debut LP, Understudy. She says the collection "is all about what’s going on beneath the surface. Who is not getting to speak? What nuances are we not picking up on? And what happens then, when we become spectators, rather than players, in our own lives?”

Matt Epp: Live Free


The 13th studio album from this Toronto singer-songwriter, Rolling Wave, was mostly self-recorded in a converted rural church on the shore of Lake Huron during the second winter of the pandemic. Music blogger Darryl Sterdan calls this song an "uplifting roots-pop gem ... a testament to following life’s calls to adventure, while shaking off the fear of getting hurt in the process”

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Foo Fighters carry on + new music by All Tvvins, Reevah, Joe Marcinek Band, Weyes Blood


Foo Fighters: Rescued


The band's first release since the devastating death of drummer Taylor Hawkins, this single is also the first taste of a new LP, But Here We Are, due in June. The announcement describes the album as "a brutally honest and emotionally raw response to everything Foo Fighters endured over the last year [and] a testament to the healing powers of music, friendship and family." Billboard calls this track a "rager propelled by the band’s signature mix of Dave Grohl’s primal scream emotion and lyrical elegance," while noting there's no word so far on whether Grohl or someone else played the drums.

All Tvvins: What's Happening


The Dublin-based indie-electronic duo of Conor Adams and Lar Kaye produces the sound of a large ensemble on this first single from an upcoming EP. Adams says the song "captures the sense of confusion and foreboding that many people feel in these turbulent times."

Reevah: Without You


From Dublin we jump up to Derry and find this single by Aoife Boyle, a singer-songwriter developing an alternative-pop sound. She says the song is about "losing and finding yourself. ... A serious subject paired with an upbeat disco pop-tune is my specialty."

Joe Marcinek Band: Fever Dream


This band is constantly evolving, as guitarist Joe Marcinek puts together a different line-up every time he hits the road or the studio. His latest release, Dead Funk Summit, was mainly recorded in New Orleans with bassist George Porter Jr. (of The Meters) and his trio, with additional parts added by keyboardist Melvin Seals of the Jerry Garcia Band and others.

Weyes Blood: Children of the Empire


The latest album from Natalie Mering's project, And in the The Darkness, Hearts Aglow, came out late last year, but as she tours the world to support it, we're dipping back in for this sumptuous track. 

Saturday, April 15, 2023

New music by Bailen, The Darcys, Temples, Michigander, Rachel Hickey


Bailen: Call It Like It Is


From the upcoming album Tired Hearts.

The Darcys: Trouble Found Me


The first taste of an album due later this year. 

Temples: Gamma Rays


The band's new album, Exotico, was produced by Sean Ono Lennon.

Michigander: Superglue


The opening track from Jason Singer's new LP, It Will Never Be The Same.

Rachel Hickey: High


The latest single from this Toronto-based folk-rocker.

Saturday, April 8, 2023

New from City and Colour, Bruce Cockburn, boygenius, Vanishing Shores, The Beths


City and Colour: Hard, Hard Time


On his sixth City of Colour studio album, Dallas Green deals with bereavement and the struggle to get through it. The loss of his best friend, and then of a cousin, was followed by the pandemic, leaving him alone with the pain. "Composing songs to process his grief, Green created his most powerful album yet," writes Americana Highways, adding that our pick for the New Music bin has "the album’s catchiest, most upbeat groove, with a bad-ass breakdown and a psychedelic guitar solo." The message of the lyric is to make the most of life while we live.

Bruce Cockburn: On a Roll


Soon to be the opening track on the 77-year-old folk-rock veteran's upcoming album, O Sun O Moon, this song reckons with fate while putting a positive spin on aging: "Here comes the future / Here comes the fall / Time takes its toll / But in my soul / I’m on a roll." Shawn Colvin adds vocals, along with Ann & Regina McCrary.

boygenius: Not Strong Enough


Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus and Julien Baker first put their talents together in 2018, dashing off an EP. Since then they've each seen success with separate projects, but now they're back with their first full-length as a trio. AllMusic writes: "What's remarkable about The Record is how these three idiosyncratic songwriters consciously decide to subsume their quirks within a group voice. Individual traits haven't been erased so much as they've been sanded so they can fit neatly together," with a result that "feels heftier and hookier" than their individual works.

Vanishing Shores: Up All Night


Since releasing the LP Maps in 2021, Cleveland's Kevin Bianchi and his band has brought out a live album, Dead Language, and several singles. This song appeared on the live record, but is given a bit of a peppier treatment on this new studio single. It seems a good guess that another album is on its way. 

The Beths: Watching the Credits


The New Zealand quartet recorded this track during the sessions for 2022's Expert In A Dying Field, but it's only now been released as a single. We're told the song was "born out of songwriter Elizabeth Stokes’ habit of learning everything about movies without actually watching them." 

Saturday, April 1, 2023

Dizzy, Smashing Pumpkins, Gracie and Rachel, The Dust Collectors, The Exies bring new music


Dizzy: Open Up Wide


The latest single from the Toronto alt-pop band comes with word that its third LP - titled DIZZY - is coming in August. Frontwoman Katie Munshaw says the song is "a tongue-in-cheek ode to a music industry we never understood all that well." It seems a producer was suggesting "we write our parts in a simpler, more ‘spoonfed’ fashion for easy listening, when [bassist] Mack [Spenser] piped up cheekily, ‘Open up wide! Here comes the airplane!’" - thus inspiring this snarky song. 

Smashing Pumpkins: Spellbinding


The third and final "act" of ATUM, Billy Corgan and company's 33-song rock opera, is due in May, previewed by this synth-drenched single.

Gracie and Rachel: Selfish


The latest EP from this New York-based chamber-pop duo, Nowhere Now Here, is on its way in May. This is the second single to emerge ahead of it. "Sometimes being selfish is the pathway to freedom. Lean in to those around you and then go forward toward you."

Photo by Landon Yost

The Dust Collectors: Waiting Game


Their debut EP, Filtered Gems, has only been out for a couple of months, but this Calgary-based folk-rock band decided against waiting (haha) before releasing this single. The chorus: "Figure out what your intentions really mean / When you’re ready I’ll be waiting." The press release notes that the group members came from different bands with different influences, and "the result is a blend of country, folk and rock." They share lead-vocal duties and combine in four-part harmonies.

The Exies: Spirits High


The Los Angeles band fronted by Scott Stevens broke up around 2010, but Stevens has revived the name for this grungy new single. The Nirvana echoes are strong here. Stevens says the song "is about believing you are where you’re supposed to be even in the face of life’s adversities."