The first time I heard “Blood In The Cut” was at a festival last summer. K Flay ended her set with a brand new song-a bold move for any live show. It was completely different than anything else she played that day, leaning much more toward the rock end of the spectrum, but somehow it fit.
Ever since hearing that song I’ve been waiting on the edge of my seat for this new album to show up. It was preceded by another single, “Black Wave,” which only raised the level of excitement in my mind. Every Where Is Some Where feels like the music finally catching up to what she’s been trying to do since she was mixing it up on her own when I saw her open for Passion Pit in 2010.
It’s interesting to hear trap beats mix with driving guitars, synths and drums that would feel perfectly at home on a Nine Inch Nails record. The sound brings an added level of depth to the desperation that permeates the album. Much of it is spent searching for something to fill the void of a lost love.
On “Champagne” she sings “I feel it, I want it, I need it, I love it, I’m looking for something to make me feel nothing.” Sometimes numb is all you can feel because it’s better than dealing with the hurt and anger inside-it’s not healthy, but we all do it. The fast-paced delivery of the lyrics on this track are a manic expression of all those feelings trapped in our heads.
The album gets more upbeat in short intervals, with songs like “The President Has A Sex Tape” (timely) and the ode to familial love “Mean It.” These little bursts of distraction from the demons in your head are what propel you toward recovery. In this context, they move the album from being a little too one-note.
Every Where Is Some Where is easily one of the best things I’ve heard this year. You can listen to it on Spotify or Apple Music, but you’re best bet is to just buy it here.
The story that precedes Chris Milam’s new record, Kids These Days, is a sad one. It’s also a classic tale of someone who loses everything and then has to start over again, figuring out who they want to be from the bottom up. These 12 songs are a fresh start and a declaration of who Chris wanted to be from that day forward. It’s a musical journey that takes you through all kinds of emotions.
We start with a trilogy of songs dealing with the broken engagement that started Chris down this road. The opening trickle of guitar sounds like a nod to “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna-Fall” before Milam’s smooth vocals come into the listener’s ear. Before long, there’s a full on band and string section filling up the space as the simmering rage boils to the surface. He sings “There’s a picture on your phone, of me at ten years old, and I don’t know where that kid has gone. Every day, every mile, every casual smile, every story retold, every joke getting old. While you won’t talk around it, I’m screaming it out babe, I’m dying.” The emotions finally come to a head and the band carries the load for a moment while Chris catches his breath. It ends on a whisper before the gospel-tinged “Half Life” picks up.
That song plays it pretty simple and straightforward, laying out the engagement itself and how quickly it turned around. “Autumn” is probably the most fully-realized song on the record emotionally. I recommend listening with headphones, because there is a lot of string work you might miss without them. There’s a moment a little more than halfway through the song where the cello melts into a guitar solo that is really quite extraordinary. He lets the instruments do a lot of the heavy lifting, and it works to his advantage as the arrangement is done well and really tugs at the heartstrings.
Once that section of the record is over, Chris frees himself up to try all kinds of stuff. He unleashes some big, fuzzy guitar work on the album’s lead single “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” and gets to show off some of that Memphis blues that’s swimming around in his veins.
He plays it smart and doesn’t let any of the songs overstay their welcome. And the style changes enough that you won’t lose interest with too many ballads in a row or too much guitar (is that a thing? too much guitar?). There’s a lot going on throughout most of the tunes, so a dedicated listener will be rewarded.
Standout’s for me are: “All Of Our Ghosts” for the string work, “New Drug” for rock and roll, and “Coldweather Girls” for storytelling. You’ll want to listen to everything, of course, and you can on April 7th when Kids These Days is released on Namesake Records.You can pre-order it now on iTunes and get the title track right away.
If you’re in Memphis you will have the chance to see Chris play around the record release date (March 26 at Ghost River Brewing and April 6 at Loflin Yard). If not, you’ll have to wait until later this spring/summer. For full details on touring and more music, check out his website.
It’s been a lot of fun watching Slothrust’s rise over the past couple of years. I’ll never forget being bored at work one day when someone from Ba Da Bing sent me the single “Crockpot” and I immediately took to it. The next day I got them to send me an advance of the record Of Course You Do and they’ve been a part of my life ever since.
Last year I saw them play with Highly Suspect at Bottom Lounge, and I was so happy to hear people singing along with songs I wasn’t sure anyone else knew. And then last night they played to a sold out crowd at Schuba’s in their own headlining slot. They treated their fans to all the “hits” and gave a preview of a couple new songs, one called “Peach” and another whose name I forgot already. They also played their cover of the Britney Spears pop classic “…Baby One More Time” to the delight of all.
Glad I got there early, as fans were already bellying up to the stage thirty minutes before the opening act started. I went off to the side where I knew Leah would be set up so I could catch her shredding some guitar solos. The lighting was a little weird so I didn’t get many shots of her wailing. I was able to catch some random moments of stillness, so I’ll count that as a win. If you want to see some footage from the show, you can check out this short clip.
The director of Slothrust’s latest video, for “Sleep Eater,” was right next to me most of the night, though I didn’t say hello. Here’s his work:
Slothrust continues west on this tour. They’ll be joined by Sons Of An Illustrious Father (who are playing in Chicago TONIGHT at Tonic Room at 9pm!) starting March 15th in Denver. Hit the band’s website for full tour info.
It’s been 3 years since Sound & Shape’s last release, Bad Actors. The Nashvillians return with Peasants on March 24th. The 5-song EP is another step up for the rock band who have been working their way toward mainstream popularity for almost a decade. Peasants is easily their most accessible work, with passages reminiscent of everything from Queens Of The Stone Age to Steely Dan.
The anthemic opener “Dandelion” sets the stage for a sadly-too-quick jaunt showcase of the band’s talents. Lead singer Ryan Caudle has a smoothness to his voice that betrays the amplitude to which they rock. Oftentimes there is a sweet melody that doesn’t seem to fit with some of the other music around it, but like Caudle’s vocals, they work in the context of the song.
“Patchwork Heroes” has a lot of the same vibe you find in some of Foo Fighters more popular work, so I guess that’s the band I would most compare them to, except you haven’t seen them everywhere commenting on every topic that happens anywhere in music, so you might find their faces a little less punchable. The drumming, by Grant Bramlett, throughout the record really does remind me of Taylor Hawkins, so I think that is a fair comparison.
The production quality on Peasants is a step up from Bad Actors, which adds to the radio-ready sound. The guitar runs that fill some of the quiet spaces are noticeable but don’t dominate the other instruments, which I appreciate. But when it’s time for the lead guitar to really step forward and become the focal point, they give it all the attention it needs to shine bright.
If you haven’t heard Sound & Shape at all, this is going to be a great spot to start. It’s always fun to hear a band’s best work and then go back and see how they got there. You can pre-order Peasants here.
NE-HI is great. There isn’t much else I need to say about them than that. I saw them play a couple years ago and they were so fun I never wanted their set to end. They have a new album coming out in about a week called Offers that has already been getting good reviews and if the whole thing is like “Stay Young” than I have to assume they’re correct.
A few years ago I had the pleasure of heading west to Los Angeles for a little festival in Santa Monica. Way Over Yonder was billed as a folk fest put on by the same people that do the Newport Folk Festival every year. There were certainly some great folk acts on the bill, but it was here that I saw the greatest rock and roll show I’ve ever witnessed-Conor Oberst backed by The Felice Brothers.
It’s just been announced that Conor is working with the band again on a new (sort of) album. Salutations is going to be 7 new tracks, plus all the songs from Ruminations done with a full band instead of solo. Yesterday they released the first new track, “Napalm,” as well as their version of “A Little Uncanny.”
“Napalm” is, in my opinion, the most electrifying track Oberst has released since “Roosevelt Room” appeared on Outer South. There’s a little twang in the vocals on some lyrics, and since Ian Felice isn’t focused on singing he’s free to go wild on lead guitar.
Salutations also features Oberst’s Monsters Of Folk bandmate Jim James and drummer Jim Keltner. The Felice Brothers will join Oberst on tour (seriously must-see live) for dates in Europe as well as a handful here in the States. Check out the tour dates here.
The album is up for pre-sale through Nonesuch.
Savannah, Georgia, routinely third of the Georgian cities when it comes to music, is gonna be the host for some great bands from March 9th through the 11th (making it number 1 in my book, if only for a few days). Savannah Stopover, now in its seventh year, features headliners Kishi Bashi and Lee Fields & The Expressions as well as my personal favorite Ezra Furman.
Other featured artists include Julien Baker, Lewis Del Mar, and Alanna Royale. With over 80 bands confirmed, including some great music local to the state of Georgia, there’s sure to be something for everyone!
The multi-venue festival takes place the week before South by Southwest, so it’s a bit of a warmup for some of the acts trying to make waves at this year’s greatest networking opportunity. This is a great chance to see these musicians in a room full of music fans and not industry people talking loudly while sipping on PBR.
For tickets to the festival, click here.