Category: Music Reviews


Hey Violet
From the Outside
Capitol / Virgin EM

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Hey Violet, the American rock band from Los Angeles, California, is the spin-out from the hard rock band Cherry Bomb (“This Is the End of Control”, 2012). Cherry Bomb changed it’s name and direction in 2015, becoming Hey Violet and moving from hard rock to pop. The band members are Rena Lovelis (lead vocals), Miranda Miller (rhythm guitar, keyboard, vocals), Nia Lovelis (drums, vocals), Casey Moreta (lead guitar, vocals), and Iain Shipp (bass). The album has some catchy hooks that are likely to catch your ear (“Break My Heart”, “Hoodie”), but if its a rougher sound your looking for jump into “Me Breaking Up With You”.


Ani DiFranco
Binary
Righteous Babe Records

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Ani DiFranco is back! Actually, she never left, but she has just released her nineteenth studio album counting from her 1990 eponymous release. The American singer, multi-instrumentalist, poet, songwriter has given us “Binary”. It’s a gift to us all who have followed DiFranco. Her confidence has not waned, and musically, the tracks span genres from folk to experimental rock. In signature activist style there’s “Pacifist’s Lament” and looking ahead to the future, the final track, “Deferred Gratification” tells us that “these kids are gonna help us win”.


Molly Nilsson
Imaginations
Night School

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Swedish born Molly Nilsson located to Berlin at age 19. After founding her label, Dark Skies Association, she released her first limited pressing album, “These Things Take Time”. Over time she has built recognition for her D.Y.I. synth-pop. The music, production, mixing, packaging, promotion are all self-produced. “Imaginations” is a strong follow-up contribution. The sumptuous synth-pop and provacative or challenging lyrics continue to differentiate Nilsson’s work although these attributes of “Imagination” seem fuller or better developed than the album’s predecessor. It’s a pretty good bet that adherents to synth-pop will find Nilsson’s variant to be very satisfying.


She-Devils

She-Devils
She-Devils
Secretly Canadian

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Formed in Montreal in 2014 by Audrey Ann Boucher and Kyle Jukka, the She-Devils bridge dreamy, whimsical nostalgia to anxious indie rock. The stand-out attribute of this She-Devil’s work is the non-linear mix of pop culture styles creating tensions between genres, which might leave the listener feeling uneasy, but delightfully so.


Girlpool

Girlpool
Powerplant
Anti-

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Cleo Tucker (guitar, vocals) and Harmony Tividad (bass, vocals), Girlpool, is a folk punk band from Los Angeles. The duo formed in 2013, when Tucker and Tividad were still teenagers. Their sound is notably praiseworthy for its impertinence. Following the rather sparse approach taken in the group’s debut, “Before the World Was Big”, they’ve introduced a drum kit on “Powerplant” backing Tucker’s guitar and Tividad’s bass. The tracks on “Powerplant” express plenty of brash self-confidence in the sense of 1990s Liz Phair. Drop the needle on “123” and enjoy!


Delia Gonzalez

Delia Gonzalez
Horse Follows Darkness
DFA

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Delia Gonzalez is perhaps best known for her videos, visual art, theatrical performances and concerts as well as her earlier collaborations with Gavin Russom. She has released her second album following Remembrance. The storyline of Horse Follows Darkness is one of a rather complex re-encounter with the American Wild West and the continuance of that heritage through time. Complexity comes from the imagery and dream-like atmosphere stirred by the intertwining of a melange of influences running from minimalism to post-punk and electronica poly synth. The five-track album is quite brief, but the auditory experience is other-worldly.


WALL

WALL
Untitled
Weyrd Son / Wharf Cat Records

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WALL was (yes, was – the band broke up summer last year) a post-punk or no wave band based in Brooklyn. Before hanging it up, the band realized much acclaim in NYC and beyond (SXSW). The hard-rocking band of Vanessa Gomez (drums), Vince McClelland (guitar and vocals), Elizabeth Skadden (bass and vocals), and Samantha York (vocals and guitar) has recorded an LP which delivers on the NYC underground brand. For those who recall the 1970’s when sleazy and sometimes dangerous venues in downtown Manhattan notably defined and radiated a music culture (for example, CBGB, Mercer Arts Center ), WALL does not disapoint. But WALL is much more than a 1970s-80s derivative band. There’s a lot going on beyond the churning sound ascribed the The Velvets, fuzz-noise of Television with Tom Verlaine and Richard Hell or the provocative and confrontational work of Lydia Lunch. For example the jangle pop, underground pop sound that sprung out of the Athens, Georgia music scene (PYLON) comes to mind. Exceptionally, what goes on is not chaotic non-sense. It is a well-integrated source relating feelings of helplessness, confusion, and worry with irresistible strength. This ten-track LP from “High Ratings” to “River Mansion” earns top recognition.


The Overcoats

Overcoats
Young
Arts & Crafts

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Overcoats, the singing and songwriting duo of Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell have released their debut album on the Arts & Crafts label. While track-by-track it’s difficult to slot the music into a single genre, you won’t go wrong listening to this mix of indie pop, folk, soul and even jazz. Nicolas Vernhes (Dirty Projectors, Daughter) and Autre Ne Veut joined the duo in co-production.


Lillie Mae

Lillie Mae
Forever and Then Some
Third Man Records

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Lillie Mae (Rische), American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist, perhaps best known as the fiddle and mandolin player in Jack White’s live band, has released her solo debut. The album is produced by White and is best generally defined as Americana blending country-rock, alt-country, blues and bluegrass. She stays true to Americana roots, and along with her vocals, she has most certainly kept on with supporting fiddle and mandolin. Lillie Mae offers up her own style alt-country and warrants special attention.


Karen Elson

Karen Elson
Double Roses
Hot Records

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Karen Elson, the British model and musician, has released her second album following a seven year hiatus since the release of “The Ghost Who Walks”. Elson’s “Double Roses” brings to mind the singer-songwriters of Laurel Canyon and the counterculture musicians such as Joni Mitchell and Carole King. The album has numerous highlights, but “Hell and High Water,” “Raven,” and most certainly “Distant Shore” cannot be passed by. This is an album not to be missed.


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