Guess what records these are and you win!
I full on admit that FTA has woefully been missing the boat on covering singles, not because we didn’t want to, but because I kept telling myself “oh it’s a lot to keep up with all that is coming out on a regular basis and then review it all” which I (not so) deep down knew was just an excuse and a pretty weak one at that. But as far as new year’s resolutions go, I knew I wanted to make sure I was writing at least something every day (which I had fallen off doing the last few months) and besides that, I made another one to explore more new music in general just so I could broaden my own horizons and get to know more outside of what I was already listening to and discovering… which as far as things go, actually is a lot overall but I still felt like I was a step behind on keeping up with new releases or checking out enough new/new to me artists. Worthy resolutions for sure and ones that also meant by extension, the blog would benefit by no longer missing this proverbial boat because too much great music was passing us by and there really is no good reason for that. Besides, there is a certain beauty in a listicle and who doesn’t love one, so why not use the format to talk about new songs? Good idea right? RIGHT!
And so here we are! For right now, this is just me, myself, and I spouting some rapid fire opinions/thoughts/nerdy anecdotes on new stuff that came out over the previous week that I gave a listen to but the other contributors may eventually share thoughts too. Expect this post every Friday (so singles released that day will be included in the following weekly post) and don’t be shy to send suggestions on things you heard that you think we should check out too or to send in your material as well.
Now let’s get on with it, some singles I heard and enjoyed over the course of the last week…some are by artists I already loved and a few were new explorations/discoveries for me. All get my seal of approval for whatever that may be worth. Read on!
Allegra Krieger– Taking It In. Brooklyn based singer/songwriter Allegra Krieger has released the first single from her upcoming album Precious Thing. Featuring a conversational melody in the verse, Krieger has said the song is about “holding onto a moment in time.” The song is anchored by a repetitive and wistful ear worm in the form of a folky finger picked guitar line and the song begins with just this and Krieger’s voice. Soon other instruments peek around the corner and start to layer over top to build up the song- but never to a sweeping crescendo or intense level which is fine, I can definitely do mellow. The song is far too well produced to be considered bedroom pop, but it has a little bit of that undercurrent and I can see it appealing to fans of the style. And full disclosure, I had been completely unaware of Krieger’s music before I discovered this via Northern Spy‘s Instagram page on the day it was released and what a happy accident (of sorts anyway). The full length is due out 3/4 on Northern Spy and I’m very ready to explore more of what Krieger has to offer.
Cloakroom– Fear of Being Fixed. The new album, Dissolution Wave, by these heavy shoegaze greats is set to drop in just two weeks (1/28 on Relapse Records) and the third single “Fear of Being Fixed” came out this week along with a new video (watch here). This band is known for their dirgy, sludgey riffs and to me have combined the best parts of two of my favorite 90s bands, Hum (the giant guitar sounds) and Catherine Wheel (the vocal melodies), to create a sound that I want to return to again and again. You can bet I’m highly anticipating this album and their return to NYC.
Cloakroom (photo by Kate Hoos)
Ed Schrader’s Music Beat– This Thirst. The first time I saw Ed Schrader’s Music Beat, they were still in their earlier bass/drums duo form with Schrader singing and simultaneously beating the hell out of a floor tom at the late great Death By Audio. Though the band is still made up of the core duo of Schrader and bassist Devlin Rice, they have grown significantly in terms of sound since then, adding a full drum kit along with other instrumentation. “This Thirst” is the first single from their upcoming new album Nightclub Daydreaming and is a groovy retro rock jam, featuring guitar and piano along with a jazzy twist on Schrader’s signature baritone lilt. The album is due out 3/25 on Carpark and the band will next play Brooklyn on 4/23 Union Pool. (I am torn between this show and El Ten Eleven the same night….this is going to be a very hard one to decide!) Watch the video below:
Frank Turner– A Wave Across A Bay. Frank Turner’s new album FTHC is due out 2/11 and ahead of it, he released a new single, this poignant tribute to his friend Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit. Directly addressing Hutchinson throughout in the lyrics, Turner said this about the song “I still miss my friend Scott everyday. His passing left such a huge hole in so many lives. I wrote this song in his honour and memory” continuing that the song was “hard to write and record.” I got emotional even on the first listen through so I can only imagine being in the writing process and putting those emotions temporarily aside to lock it down in the recording studio- surely not an easy task. The song is on the new album and will also be released on a special 7 inch with proceeds going to Tiny Changes, the charity organization created in Hutchison’s memory to help those with mental illness. (See pics from Turner’s fall run of shows in NYC/NJ/Philly.)
Frank Turner (photo by Ray Rusinak)
Keefchamber– Blaze The Lord. I discovered this band at a house show this past summer (actually it was a garage. See pics here) and was immediately in thrall of them. Doom, sludge, blackened stoner metal, this band is a two piece bass and drum outfit but even without guitar, they have a wall of sound 10 feet thick. I’ve always been a massive fan of bass and drums (meaning the instrumental pairing, not the electro driven genre) and generally go for things a little more on the punk side of the spectrum but definitely will fuck with stoner metal so these guys easily snared me before the first song they played even ended. In my review at the time, I said they reminded me of a slower and doomier godheadsilo, which is an assessment I still stand by. I thought this was an instrumental song at first but then I realized there were vocals that were very low in the mix. I’m not sure if this is an intentional thing or not, but thinking about it after subsequent listens, it would seem that it was since it’s almost a darkly ethereal presence floating around somewhere in the distant mist of the song and it does augment the cataclysm swirling around it. Take a listen below and be the judge on that:
Los Bitchos– Pista (Fresh Start). Los Bitchos were a 2020 quarantine discovery for me and on the strength of their live KEXP performance, I was immediately hooked on their infectious cumbia inspired jams. I admittedly need to explore cumbia more in depth as a genre but I am a big fan of instrumental music overall which is what initially attracted me to their sound. I have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of a full length, as they had not much in the way of available material at the time I discovered them, just a few singles that have since been taken down from streaming platforms to make way for the new album. But now the wait is almost over and their debut full length, Let The Festivities Begin! will arrive 2/5 on City Slang. The record was produced by Alex Kapranos (of Franz Ferdinand) and will feature a number of the songs from the KEXP session with other previously unavailable tracks and the band will embark on a UK/European tour soon after; hopefully fall 2022 will see them head to the States.
(And for those who are supreme punk nerds like me, you might be interested to know that Bitchos drummer, Nic Crawshaw, is also the drummer of Dead Arms, who are one of my favorite UK punk bands. Which of course also makes her even more impressive behind the kit when you hear the full range of her versatility as a drummer/percussionist.)
Los Bitchos on KEXP
Mitski– Love Me More. This is the latest single from Mitski’s anticipated new album Laurel Hell (out 2/4 on Dead Oceans) and is a pure new wave inspired bop. Being a child of the 80s, I really couldn’t help but imagine myself zooming down the highway, wind in my hair circa 1986 with this song blasting on the car stereo.
Placebo– Try Better Next Time. A midtempo straight up rocker, I was a bit unsure about it at first and thought it sounded a little middle of the road for this band (a band I really love by the way), falling a little flat of my expectations. But a few more listens and I warmed up to it, Brian Molko’s signature warble and the driving bassline thawing my initial indifference. This is the latest single from the upcoming album Never Let Me Go and is now paired with the two previous offerings “Surrounded by Spies,” and “Beautiful James,” each song landing on a different feel. Given that each song seems to have it’s own vibe going on, I’m very interested to hear what the record sounds like and how it will coalesce into a full album.
Sasami– Say It. I admit I am pretty late to the party with Sasami. Before I heard this song, I had never really give her much of a listen, but lately I seem to be seeing her name all over the place so I told myself okay stop right now and give this artist listen. (Remember the resolution about broadening my horizons? Here it is in action.) I realize now it was a pretty foolish move on my part to not listen to her sooner but now that I have, I plan to get caught up quickly and have already started. After finally giving a critical listen to her when this single came out last week, I dug into her 2019 self titled debut which is firmly in the indie lane, while this newer material that is part of her upcoming album, Squeeze, is very markedly not. The material that has been released thus far has a harsh, driving, and riff heavy electro metal edge that at times is straight up shredder vibes (“Skin A Rat,” “Sorry Entertainer”) and at others is more industrial in feel (“Say It”).
I have to say, despite being a brand new fan of really mere days, I am still very surprised to hear the transition and wonder what long time fans made of it. I certainly enjoy the heavier sounds very much and think it’s an exciting direction for her to go in. All that being said, there is also the fourth song that was released, “The Greatest,” which so far (to me at least) is a real wild card in that it is not a metal jam at all, rather a solid alt rock song, so what the rest of the album is going to be like is anyone’s guess. But one thing is clear, a very adept, talented and surprising song writer was at the helm and this is going to be a very interesting journey once the rest of it arrives on 2/25.
Soul Glo– Jump!! (Or Get Jumped!!!)((by the future)). This crucial Philadelphia hardcore band signed to Epitaph in 2021, and this week released the first single from their upcoming full length on the label, Diaspora Problems (out 3/25). A blistering hardcore ripper, huge lightening fast riffs chug alongside drumming that may be tempting to call frantic… which, granted may be outwardly true, but that is hardly a bad thing and most definitely doesn’t mean drummer TJ Stevenson’s execution isn’t incredibly precise and expertly controlled all the way through; they have some serious chops, making this drummer (aka me) a little (aka a lot) green with envy. Vocalist Pierce Jordan binds these musical elements together with rapid fire lyrics and screams and in fact is one of my favorite current punk vocalists, seamlessly fusing screamo style and a nimble hip hop flow into his delivery. And if this is just the first taste of the body of work to come, I absolutely can’t wait to get a listen to the full album in March. Watch the video below:
TVOD “Steady Crushin” ft. Chauncie Shamoni. One of Brooklyn’s most exciting live acts, TVOD has also been busy in the studio, first putting out the EP Victory Garden at the end of 2021 (one of my favorite releases of the year) and now has headed into 2022 with a brand new single “Steady Crushin.” A slightly more subdued offering compared to some of the other material, Shamoni provides the main vocal during the first part of the song with TVOD lead vocalist Tyler Wright not appearing until the halfway mark of the song. The two alternate lines from there on out as the music rises and reaches it’s crescendo with a brief synthy and guitar driven outro bringing the track home, one which I really can see turning into an extended jam session live. And speaking of that, I for one can’t wait to rock out to this song at a show (their recent January show was postponed and has been rescheduled for 3/2 at The Sultan Room. Tickets here).
TVOD (photo by Kate Hoos)