Ten Songs To Listen To Today

photo by Leslie Simon

photo by Leslie Simon

    Ten Songs To Listen To Today

1. Mystic Braves “Born Without a Heart”- bright, energetic 60’s throwback sound

2. Galactic with JJ Grey “Higher and Higher”

3. Blitzen Trapper “Coming Home” – sweet country swamp funk

4. Miniature Tigers “Swimming Pool Blues” – sunny indie pop

5. Little Racer “Punk Life”- reverb drenched chill surfpsych

6. Charles Howl “Garden Train” buzzy lofi garage rock

7. Cloud Nothings “Psychic Trauma”- pretty rock noise with punk energy

8. J. Roddy Walston and the Business “Heavy Bells”

9. FUZZ “Raise”- heavy, muffled fuzz

10. St. Vincent “Regret”- aggressively cool guitar driven pop

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Angel Olsen is going to be huge with this new album!

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Don’t think she is like all those twee, quirky singer-songwriters with weird inflections in their voices that you hear on every single car commercial, Angel Olsen is a true talent. When she played the Hi Dive last April, she captivated the audience, just her and her guitar. While a backing band eventually joined in, it was nothing like the electric glimpses she has been giving us of her album Burn Your Fire For No Witness out February 18th on Jagjaguwar. Combining her soulful, crackly Americana voice with fuzz guitar is a match made in heaven, and today she released her next single off the album, “Hi-Five”. My first instinct on first listen was to tear up when she croons “Are you lonely too?”, she somehow hits you straight in the feelings. This new album is going to make her a major star. Listen here:

Gap Dream’s Shine Your Light album review

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Gabriel Fulvimar a.k.a Gap Dream was invited to live at Burger Records, an opportunity he couldn’t pass up. Fellow Burger Record star Bobby Harlow came in to help record and produce the new album, and it’s a synthy, sexy dream of an album. The new album hits harder than Gap Dream’s previous work, drum machine right up front giving an industrial and harder hitting sound that comes closer to his live show. It’s the perfect balance of a gritty modern aesthetic and chill psychpop. Title song “Shine Your Light” has an epic feel to it, and the video’s film production quality and matter only add to that feeling. “Fantastic Sam” has the perfect flat vocal delivery that brings an edge to the synthloaded beats. The whole album is pretty midtempo, and while I wish maybe some songs were a little sped up, the mellow sound lets more interesting effects come into play so it works itself out. The 60’s sounding reverb drenched “Immediate Life Sentence” brings a great layer of fuzz and Galaga sounding laser noises while “Shine Your Love” has a synthy horn melody reminiscent of “A Whiter Shade of Pale”. It’s like the garage rock version of The Neverending Story score.

Black Joe Lewis – “Electric Slave” Review

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Where do I begin with this band. I first saw them in 2009 thinking I was going to see some smooth blues guitarist, and instead I saw a cuter, hipper, younger James Brown with a fuzz pedal and a white tank top (who can play some smooth blues for sure, though). First things first, Black Joe Lewis no longer has and the Honeybears in their name. Don’t worry, the Honeybears are still there, and I asked the very talented former Honeybear and baritone sax player Joseph Woullard today about the name edit, and he spoke about how the cohesive sound they had didn’t really require a modifier, stating “We knew what we were getting into, and welcome the discussion. Objectively speaking, the majority of people don’t even know who we are anyway, so we might as well be who we want to be”. I’d say that’s all the discussion needed, and apparently what they want to be is the dirtiest, funkiest garage rock band I’ve ever heard a saxophone even step near. The album kicks off with that wonderful electric guitar sound signifying someone is plugged in, and then “Skulldiggin'” kicks off with a thick fuzz midtempo beat, giving a taste that this album is going to be a little harder and more raw.

The next song “Young Girls” instantly reminded me of “Boogie”, one of my favorite tracks from their album Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is. It’s a fast paced boogie woogie with taunting vocals and lyrics of lust, classic BJL. “Guilty” is a great tune that really lets the horn section shine with great bursts of melody turning into a ominous, growing buildup of sound in the latter portion of the song. These guys can get such raw, pure sounds out of their instruments, they make it sound like brass and distortion were invented to be together. New party anthem “Come To My Party” is also a standout, it’s got a great confident swagger and is full of Black Joe Lewis saying improvised things that don’t always make total sense, but he sounds really cool saying them (one of his strongest talents, in my opinion). “Vampire” takes it down a notch with some dirty, slow southern blues, the horns giving you the feeling of walking late at night in the French Quarter without a friend alive. Wait- I just described a vampire’s night, the song works! I can’t wait to hear “The Hipster” live, it’s one of those fast paced dance numbers that end up turning into mosh pits at the shows sometimes. This album has made me so homesick that I have tabs open with flights to Austin, the album releases tomorrow, check it out if you are a fan of the blues, garage rock, guitar, fuzz, Austin, good times or good showmanship. Black Joe Lewis rules.

Crocodiles – “Crimes of Passion” – ALBUM REVIEW

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Crocodiles are great at mixing the beauty of simple pop melodies with the chaos of distortion and fuzz without the music even missing a beat, and their latest release “Crimes of Passion” is even more than I hoped for. “I Like it in the Dark” immediately makes the album takeoff, a funky piano line dropping down into the verse while a tambourine frantically keeps the beat until a ripping guitar solo takes over. Everything is well thought out here and flows perfectly, the whole album is a perfect package. Crocodiles are a well edited garage band, all fat is trimmed and they can really just fall right into a chaotic freakout and pull it right back into the melody like it’s nothing.

Their San Diego roots are very evident, especially in songs like “Teardrop Guitar”, filled with melodic California sounding jangly guitar riffs and dreamy, layered vocals. “Cockroach” brings even more organ to the front, really giving the song that great swirling sound I love in psych music. This album is short and sweet, when I got to the end I was actually surprised it was already over, and already yearning their next album. This band has been steadily gaining steam over the years with consistently great recordings, and I think this album might just put them over the top. Thank you, Crocodiles!

Listen to “Teardrop Guitar” here: “Teardrop Guitar” soundcloud

Portugal. The Man New Album Review

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The highly anticipated Portugal. The Man release “Evil Friends” comes out June 4th, and I was given a chance to listen to it today. For fans of the expiremental Portland band already, you are going to love it, it’s a new sound that doesn’t stray too far from the old, and I see them gaining a lot of new fans with this album due to the more easily accessible radio-friendly nature of the songs. There isn’t a skippable track here, each has their own catchy melody and lyrics that tell so many bittersweet stories, and they could each standalone as a strong single courtesy of the amazing production by Danger Mouse. They had recorded most of the tracks at Sonic Ranch Studios in El Paso, but scrapped all but two and began working with Danger Mouse on an almost clean slate.

The album starts off great with the synth heavy “Plastic Soldiers”, and I love the lyrics of “Creep in a T-Shirt” about being a loser, they go nicely with the driving beat and twinkling keys. “Evil Friends”, the title track, has a taste of garage punk, while “Sea of Air” is a delicate acoustic ditty that soars as more layers of instruments are brought in. By the time they got to the hand-claps, I was smitten. “Holy Roller (Hallelujah)” is a stand out track with strong lyrics and background choruses singing “ooohs” and “aaahs”, and they even dabble in hip hop with the track “Hip-Hop Kids”, and it works! They’ve got a major tour kicking off May 20th at Irving Plaza, and will be hitting up Denver opening for the Avett Brothers at Red Rocks. If you haven’t seen them live, they are even better and louder in person, songs get stretched out and rocked out, and the new material is so awesome, I can’t wait to hear it live! Don’t miss that Red Rocks show!

Link to Video of Evil Friends

Link to tour dates

Link to pre-order Limited Edition Super Pack

No Joy – Band to Watch

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Montreal’s No Joy has a new album coming out next Tuesday, and wow is it good. We got twelve inches of snow at my house. I think that’s unnecessary on April 17th, and this album made me feel like I was being pulled out of a sleepy cold state into a colorful spring. They pack layer upon layer of fuzz beautifully, all with pretty vocals dreamily floating on top. Man, this snow makes me want ice cream. They are supporting the album release with a North American tour, and they are opening for Metz at Hi Dive in Denver, May 7th. (Hey Houston they are playing at Fitz next week!!) Tour dates and new single in the link below:

new single “Lunar Phobia”

stream the album at Pitchfork