Friday, November 17, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Plates Of Cake – “No Use For The Sun” (The Brooklyn-based garage-rock trio led by Jonathan Byerley along with Joshua Carrafa and Ian Burns of Old Monk recently released Let’s Not Deprive Each Other, their fourth album.  Released digitally and as a limited edition cassette by Unblinking Ear Records, the new album deftly blends 80’s college rock with 60’s pop while softening the edges of their rock sound by leaning into acoustic instrumentation, psychedelic melodies and fuller, chamber pop-like arrangements for their best and most accomplished effort yet.)

Greta Van Fleet – “Edge Of Darkness” (The emergent young Michigan-based retro-rockers - consisting of brothers Josh, Jake and Sam Kiszka along with Danny Wagner look to broaden the scope of their powerful, Led Zeppelin-esque sound with their recently released double EP titled, From The Fires. Out now on Lava/Republic Records, it combines two new original tracks as well as two covers of originals from Sam Cooke and Fairport Convention alongside the four songs from the band's debut EP, Black Smoke Rising, released earlier this year.  Check out the soulful howl of the bluesy new original, “Edge Of Darkness” here for the perfect introduction to the band.)

HAEMORRHAGE – “Gore Gourmet” (The veteran Spanish grind-gore enthusiasts recently released their seventh album, We Are The Gore, via Relapse Records. Alongside the intentially gross lyrics; death metal riffs collide with punishing grindcore rhythms and a punk rock spirit especially on standout track and mission statement, “Gore Gourmet” heard here with its shout-along chorus and dive-bombing guitar solos.  Current and former members of Carcass, Impaled, Dead Infection and Ghoul make appearances as well.)

Monday, November 13, 2017

3 Songs: as chosen by Josh Berwanger (Berwanger, The Anniversary, Radar State)

K.C. singer-songwriter Josh Berwanger - formerly of The Anniversary and Only Children and also currently of Radar State - recently released his third solo album, The Star Invaders via Good Land Records.  The excellent new album makes great use of vintage synth sounds a little more with some of them sounding cosmic and spaced-out and some, horror movie-inspired.  He also doubles down on the infectious and psychedelic brand of power-pop that has become his calling card as a solo artist for his best and most cohesive album yet.        
The striking album artwork along with standouts such as the epic opening title track and “The Astronaut” carry out a sci-fi concept.  To get a better feel for the inspiration behind the album, I recently spoke with Josh, and in the spirit of my regular “3 Songs” series, I asked him to share three songs that influenced him during the creative process for the new album.  Berwanger said, “This is the first album I've made that is really hard to pinpoint certain songs that inspired me specifically. It was more so inspired by a UFO encounter I had while on vacation in North Carolina.  But there were certain songs that came to mind, the way they were recorded in the studio. Like, “Still D.R.E.” by Dr. D.R.E., “A Rose For Emily” by the Zombies and “Are You the One I've Been Waiting for” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. I was thinking a lot about Nick Cave's vocal deliveries and the very open sounds of his records; they are all so personal and intimate, like you are sitting in the room with him.” 
Listen to Berwanger’s 3 Songs picks here and then stream The Star Invaders below to see if you can spot the influences.
Dr. Dre – “Still D.R.E.”:
The Zombies – “A Rose For Emily”:
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – “Are You The One I’ve Been Waiting For”:

Stream and purchase The Star Invaders here:

Friday, November 10, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Angel Olsen – “Sans” (Out today on Jagjaguwar, is Phases, a new rarities and b-sides compilation from the acclaimed folk-rock singer-songwriter, Angel Olsen.  The album pulls from never-heard home demo recordings and tracks recorded during the recent MY WOMAN sessions, features a Springsteen cover and opens with “Fly On Your Wall,” the stunning song previously contributed to the Bandcamp-only, anti-Trump fundraiser Our First 100 Days.  Check out the stripped-down and stirring demo, “Sans” here.)  

Margo Price – “A Little Pain” (After breaking big last year with her critically-adored crossover smash of a debut album, the Nashville native singer-songwriter recently released All American Made, her stunning sophomore album, via Third Man Records.  The new album features a duet with Willie Nelson, and somehow improves upon the old school country & western instrumentation and biting narratives that made her debut so spectacular.  Check out the bittersweet single here.)   

Jim Button & The Beholders – “Time Never Lies” (Led by vocalist/guitarist Jim Button and guitarist Vincent Lawhon, also of K.C. psych-pop band The Conquerors along with bassist Bryan Koehler from El Rey-Tones, drummer Jerad Meadows from Bleachbloodz and keyboardist Ehren Starks; the quartet creates an exciting and catchy blend of gentle psych, surf, 60’s pop and heartland folk rock on their digital-only debut 3-song EP titled, Time Never Lies, out now on High Dive Records.  Stream the jangly, vintage organ drenched title track below.)     

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Bob Dylan - Trouble No More: The Bootleg Series Vol. 13 (1979-1981)

The latest installment - Volume 13 - of Bob Dylan’s official Bootleg Series titled, Trouble No More was released last week as a deluxe 9-disc box set via Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings.  Trouble No More compiles Dylan’s highly-controversial conversion to Christianity and the resulting bluesy, Gospel-drenched music he wrote, recorded and performed during the years 1979 to 1981.  Dylan was equally spiritually-inspired and very prolific during this time, releasing three Christian-themed albums, 1979’s Slow Train Coming – featuring the Grammy Award winning “Gotta Serve Somebody” – and 1980’s Saved and Shot Of Love.  The comprehensive Deluxe Edition of Trouble No More spans 8 CDs and 1 DVD and premieres 100 previously unreleased live and studio recordings, including 14 never-before-released songs.    
Of the 8 CDs; two discs feature a full live performance from Toronto in 1980 and two that capture a striking performance recorded July 27, 1981 at Earl’s Court in London that also features hits and favorites from his past catalog.  Also included are two more discs of tour highlights from other performances of the era.  These six live discs are the crown jewel of the entire box set as they feature much livelier versions of the songs with his band and Gospel choir locked in tight.  Rounding out the collection are two discs full of outtakes and rarities including soundcheck rehearsals highlighted by the previously unreleased track “Making A Liar Out Of Me”, which was recorded during rehearsal on September, 26, 1980, heard below.   
The bonus DVD features a new full-length film titled, “Trouble No More: A Musical Film” that combines never-before-seen footage from his 1980 tours with newly-filmed scenes of actor Michael Shannon as a preacher delivering fiery sermons that were written by writer and critic Luc Sante.  Also included in the beautifully-packaged set is a 120-page hardcover photo book loaded with tons of rare photos and memorabilia from the era as well as engaging essays from Penn Jillette (of Penn & Teller) and acclaimed author and music journalist Amanda Petrusich, as well as an intriguing extensive track-by-track commentary.  A must have for every Bob Dylan collector!       
Trouble No More is also available as a 2-CD sampler set and a 4-LP set on 180 gram vinyl with each set featuring 30 highlights from the deluxe edition.  
To order or for more info:

Stream “Making A Liar Out Of Me (Unreleased song –Sept. 26, 1980)” here:

Friday, November 03, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat

Blinker The Star – “Orion” (Blinker The Star is one of my favorite 90’s bands.  The Canadian synth-driven indie-rock project led by songwriter and producer Jordon Zadorozny recently returned with their seventh album, 8 Of Hearts.  The album features contributions from Mitch Bowden of Don Vail, Eric Matthews, Bob Wilcox and Honeymoon Suite's Ray Coburn and opens with the warped and shimmering synths of the stellar single, “Orion”, heard here.)   

Julien Baker – “Turn Out The Lights” (The young Memphis-based singer-songwriter recently released her highly-anticipated sophomore album, Turn Out The Lights, via her new label home, Matador Records.  Just as devastatingly visceral and beautiful; this excellent new collection of songs – written and produced by Baker – includes piano, strings and some woodwinds to give more texture to her empowering and anthemic torch-songs.)        

Exhumed – “Defenders Of The Grave” (The San Jose gore-metal mainstays recently released their sixth album, Death Revenge, via Relapse Records.  Matt Harvey and crew create a sick, gore-drenched and old school death metal-inspired soundtrack to a series of true stories of murder, mayhem and grave-robberies in 1820’s Scotland for their first concept album.  Also, be sure to catch them on tour now with The Black Dahlia Murder, Suffocation and more.)

Friday, October 20, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat (Extended Edition)

Buffalo Killers – “Black Halo” (The Ohio psych-rock band led by brothers Andrew and Zachary Gabbard is set to release their eighth album, Alive and Well in Ohio, today via Alive Naturalsound Records.  Recorded by the band in their analog home studio, the new songs are their most personal with lyrics dealing with life changes and family.  Musically, they continue to twist and tweak their near-perfect blend of southern-tinged stoner rock, power-pop and Beatles-esque psych-pop for yet another great addition to their growing catalog.)         

Dori Freeman – “If I Could Make You My Own” (The emerging Virginia-based folk-pop singer-songwriter Dori Freeman returns with her stunning sophomore album, Letters Never Read, out today on Blue Hens Music.  Produced again by Teddy Thompson, the new album seasons her sound with elements of her Appalachian roots – one song sung acapella, was written by her grandfather – and 70’s country-rock and Rufus Wainwright-like art-pop.  Guests on the album include Kacy & Clayton and Richard Thompson.)

Bully – “Feel The Same” (Alicia Bognanno returns with her band’s long-awaited sophomore album, Losing, out today on their new label home, Sub Pop.  Landing with Sub Pop proves to be the perfect pairing, as her catchy, guitar-driven fuzz-punk recalls the label’s late 80’s and early 90’s output.  Of course, the spotlight remains on Bognanno’s bittersweet voice that displays both vulnerability and throat-shredding power with personal and political lyrics that match in intensity.)     

Stars – “We Called It Love” (Having spent nearly two decades as a band, the Canadian synth-pop vets – led by vocalists Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan - recently released their highly-anticipated eighth album, There Is No Love In Fluorescent Light via Last Gang Records/eOne.  The band worked with an outside producer for the first time, enlisting Peter Katis (The National, Japandroids), and the resulting collection of songs are as shimmering, emotionally-electric and anthemic as Stars have ever sounded.)  

August Burns Red – “The Frost” (Coming off a Grammy nomination, the Christian metalcore mainstays recently released their stunning seventh album, Phantom Anthem, on Fearless Records.  Not to be satisfied with recent successes, the band continues to experiment and stretch their musical boundaries, leaning in with even more progressive Meshuggah-like riffage and off-kilter time signatures along with pretty, piano-led post-rock passages that fit in perfectly with their thunderous breakdowns and anthemic sound.)      

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

20 Years on the Street: Vinyl Reissues from Vagrant Records including, Saves The Day

In the late 90’s into the early 2000’s, Vagrant Records released some of the most iconic and legendary emo-punk albums.  The label continues the celebration of their recent 20th anniversary with more vinyl reissues of classic albums from their storied catalog.  After previously reissuing albums from Rocket From The Crypt, The Anniversary, Alkaline Trio, Hot Rot Circuit and The Get Up Kids, the sixth phase of their vinyl reissue campaign features three albums from New Jersey emo-era favorites Saves The Day.
The albums by Saves The Day being reissued are their excellent 2007 release Under The Boards and the highly-influential cult classic, Stay What You Are, released in 2001.  The latter album – led by the standout single, “At Your Funeral” – gained enough buzz to land the band a major label record deal.  Additionally, their 2004 odd and ends set, Ups And Downs: Early Recordings and B-sides is being released on vinyl for the very first time.  The compilation collected several live cuts, demos, one-off tracks and covers including their great version of The Clash’s “Clash City Rockers”.  Each LP is pressed onto 180g black vinyl and limited to only 900 copies. 
Order the vinyl here and get free shipping when you spend $50:       
Watch the video for “At Your Funeral” from Stay What You Are here:
Saves the Day - At Your Funeral from Maureen Egan & Matthew Barry on Vimeo.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Starset – The PROX Transmissions (Graphic Novel)

Marvel Comics recently released an 88-page graphic novel titled, The PROX Transmissions.  It is the ambitious collaboration between Dustin Bates, the vocalist and founder of the Columbus-based progressive modern rock band Starset and fan-favorite writer Peter David (Ben Reilly: Scarlett Spider, Spider-Verse) along with acclaimed artist Mirko Colak (The Punisher, Red Skull). 
Alongside front man duties for Starset, Dustin Bates is also an electrical engineering PhD candidate, has done research for the U.S. Air Force and taught at the International Space University in France.  Bates and his band mates have created The Starset Society, an over-arching concept that encompasses everything about the band including their visually stunning live performances (they’ve performed in planetariums), music videos and this graphic novel. 
Starset’s 2015 debut album, Transmissions (Razor & Tie) set the storyline in place which follows, as stated in the press release: “A secret transmission from the far reaches of the galaxy falls into the hands of SETI radio astronomer Dr. Stephen Browning. His world begins to unravel as he discovers the cryptic message including information of advanced technology and a dire warning from the future. After Browning seeks aid of brilliant-yet-impetuous playboy Dr. Aston Wise, the two set off on an epic journey to discover the meaning of the transmission, only to discover that they are pawns in a much bigger game.  Humanity hangs in the balance as powerful forces vie for control of the future, with only Wise and Browning to stop them.” 
Starset’s stellar sophomore album, Vessels - led by the chart-topping hit single, “Monster” - was released in January on Razor & Tie and continues the sci-fi saga introduced musically on Transmissions and now, visually in The PROX Transmissions.
Order the physical copy of The PROX Transmisisons graphic novel:  
Watch the video of “My Demons” from the album Transmissions:

Friday, October 13, 2017

3 Songs: On Repeat (Extended Edition)

Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – “Over Everything” (File this under: almost too good to be true; as the likeminded musicians Barnett and Vile have just released a collaborative album via a collaboration between Barnett’s Milk Records and Matador Records, titled, Lotta Sea Lice.  The excellent album is highlighted by their vocal trade-offs as well as their scruffy, signature guitar work and wordy, narrative lyrical style.  In addition to their excellent originals, they also put their own nonchalant folksy spin on songs from 90’s alt-pop band Belly and Australian singer-songwriter Jen Cloher.  Check out the bluesy, countrified jangle of the standout opening track here.)

William Patrick Corgan – “The Spaniards” (The Smashing Pumpkins frontman has teamed up with producer Rick Rubin for his second solo album, released under his full birth name.  Out today via Martha’s Music/BMG, Ogilala is a mostly acoustic affair with Corgan ditching his trademark dense guitars and angst for soaring, starry-eyed piano and acoustic guitar-led arrangements with cinematic strings and vulnerable lyrics.  Vocally, he has never sounded better.  The album is accompanied by a silent short film, Pillbox, written and directed by Corgan and collaborator Linda Strawberry.  Also, be sure to catch him on his current solo acoustic tour.)

Foo Fighters – “The Line” (Dave Grohl and company recently released their ninth studio album, Concrete And Gold.  Out now on Roswell/RCA Records, the new album finds the band as arena-ready as ever but renewed as well; injecting lead single “Run” and standouts “La Dee Da” and “Make It Right” with loads of energy, heavy riffs and screams.  The album – smoothly produced by Grammy award-winning pop producer Greg Kurstin - is also full of surprising guest spots from jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, Justin Timberlake and Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men, but it all fits together, with nothing standing out for the wrong reasons; equaling out to be the best Foos album in years!)          

Liam Gallagher – “Wall Of Glass” (The famously arrogant former Oasis frontman recently released his debut solo album, As You Were, out now on Warner Bros. Records.  This collection of songs offers up everything an Oasis fan could want including, very Beatles-esque moments (“Paper Crown”), atmospheric acoustic ballads (“Chinatown”) and psychedelic rockers (“Come Back To Me”) as well as the ballsy, bluesy standout single, “Wall Of Glass”, heard here.)

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Stream It From The Mountain: Paperhaus - Are These The Questions That We Need To Ask?

Paperhaus, the D.C.-based indie rock band, recently released Are These The Questions That We Need To Ask? their statement-making sophomore album and label debut for Misra Records.  The quartet – led by remaining founding member Alex Tebeleff - combines timely themes of antifascism and other social and political issues with an inventive prog-leaning and synth-driven sound that incorporates elements of psych-rock, dream-pop and dance-rock for an impressive album.
The torch-bearing album opener, “Told You What To Say” is highlighted by a catchy sing-along chorus and strange, space-bound synths.  Other standouts include the atmospheric single, “Go Cozy” with its elastic post-punk rhythm and shimmering guitars and the wide-screen Brit-pop influence of “It’s Not There”.    
Stream Are These The Questions That We Need To Ask? here: