Category: Music Reviews


Amy O
Elastic
Winspear

Indiana-based Amy O’s (Amy Oelsner) “Elastic” is justly titled owing to the artist’s penchant for out of the ordinary song structures, changes in pace (moving from opening track “Lavender” to “Soft Skin” or “History Walking to “Sunday Meal”, for example) and melodies. The twelve track album is a quick listen with only two tracks (“Cherry Blossom” and “Spill”) running over three minutes. But, the briskness of the album along with the changes in tension and mobility moving track-to-track and the melodic relationships are what makes this debut album work. Oh, it’s a fair bet that there’s a hook or two that will stick in your head. “Elastic” is a worthy debut.

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Guantanamo Baywatch
Desert Center
Suicide Squeeze

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Hey dudes and dudettes…Yet another great act in the Suicide Squeeze portfolio, this Portland-based band , Guantanamo Baywatch, really knows how to dish out the surf punk. If you have any doubts just check out “Conquistador” the lead track on the band’s new release, “Desert Center”. ” Jason Powell continues to lead on guitar along with new member Jordan Owen. Yeah, can’t help but think Dick Dale and the Del-Tones and the The Barracudas gone punk. Guantanamo Baywatch does it all, and man, there’s no messing around. Want rhythm? You got it! Chris Scott is together on drums and there is no overlooking Chevelle Wiseman. Ride the wild surf on her bassline. Check out “Area 69”, for example. Go for it – “Cowabunga”!


Sara Evans
Words
Born To Fly Records

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American country music singer-songwriter Sara Evans has released “Words” her eighth studio album and the first on her independent label Born To Fly Records. Clearly what distinguishes this album is that all of the fourteen songs are written by a female songwriter. That’s not to say that there are not any melodies worthy of special attention. There’s some ear-pleasing country pop tracks such as “Marquee Sign” written by Evans, Jimmy Robbins, and Heather Morgan and featuring vocals by Evans’ daughter, Olivia. “Letting You Go” written by Evans is good country folk. You probably won’t feel blown away by the album, but keeping in mind the emphasis on female songwriters and the pleasant feeling one is likely to take away, if you’re into contemporary country it should be added to your collection.


Sheer Mag
Need to Feel Your Love
Static Shock Records

Sheer Mag is Kyle and Hart Seely, Matt Palmer, Ian Dykstra and Tina Halladay. The band’s debut album, “Need to Feel Your Love”, offers up an amalgam of grizzly punk, classic rock and progresssive rock led by Haladay’s sizzling high-powered and commanding vocals. While there can be no ignoring Halladay’s awesome voice, her bandmates are exceptional in executing mature arrangements. Sure, there are white-hot tracks like “Meet Me In The Street”, “Turn It Up” and “Suffer Me” where there’s not much in the way of free headroom, but “Milk And Honey”and “(Say Goodbye To) Sophie Scholl are relatively easy-going. You’ll likely be compulsed by the total ass-kicking-ness of “Need to Feel Your Love”!

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Breakfast Muff
Eurgh!
Amour Foo

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Post-punk is alive and well with Eilidh McMillan, Simone Wilson and Cal Donnelly – Breakfast Muff. Not to be taken lightly, Breakfast Muff is a genuine post-punk band of the do-it-yourself variety. “Eurgh!” is exciting. It’s loud trashy punk ferocity for real delivering songs with the kind of rough edges reminiscent of 1970s/80s . You’ll be greeted with a great intro – the ripping, frantic “Lunch Money”. 00:49 seconds later you careen into the relatively melodious “Arms Brains”. The album’s killer song “R U A Feminist” follows, leaving no doubt that the band will confront women’s right and other political subjects head-on. “Eurgh!” ends on the melodious “Stinky Goodbyes” and somewhat off-kilter “Waving Cat”. Okay, this album isn’t for everybody, but if you think post-punk is only about aggressive growling and barking, you’re wrong, and Breakfast Muffin’s “Eurgh!”delivers on creativity, experimentation and fun.


Beach House
B-Sides and Rarities
Sub Pop

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Victoria Legrand (vocals, keyboards) and Alex Scally (guitar, keyboards) are back with “B-Sides and Rarities” a compilation album including both known and previously unreleased songs. The compilation album is “Pick of the Week” because when it comes to dream pop Beach House is one of, if not the, best, and honestly, there just isn’t any other release for the week that seemed right for this week’s choice. This is an album that you should put on your summer play list as characteristic Beach House and chill.


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.


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