New Music | Dead Professional – Bad Memory

When we received the first Dead Professional single back in the summer of 2013 I knew it was a sign of good things to come for singer-songwriter John Harouff. With a number of super-catchy songs released throughout the year, and a pretty active live gig schedule which included recently opening for Ryan Adams at the 9:30 in D.C., it was only a matter of time before we had news of a debut EP from our favorite Virginian.

The forthcoming release is called Hard Hard Hard, and as Harouff is the hardest working man in music the title is spot on. It will be released November 18th and the first single, “Bad Memory,” is already a fan favorite at shows. The track makes you want to throw on a vintage leather jacket, jump on a beautiful Triumph TR5 Trophy, walk into the diner and hit the jukebox like Arthur Fonzarelli. If it’s indicative of what is to come on the album then I’ll definitely need to practice my “Ayyyyyyyy!”

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Photos | Lil’ Dicky @ Brighton Music Hall

Lil' Dicky at Brighton Music Hall
Photos by Boston Concert Photography

Sometimes there’s a movement in a music scene that you simply can’t ignore. Such is the case with Lil’ Dicky (A.K.A. David Burd / LD / Mr. Leftward Sloping Penis,) the white Jewish rapper from Philadelphia who is turning heads from Everytown, USA to Diddy’s yacht with his Kickstarter-funded “Professional Rapper”album and tour.

On first impression, some people will probably take him for strictly a comedian. Some kind of cross between Weird Al Yankovic and Eminem, if you will. But I’d ask you to listen closer if comedy is all you’re taking away from his music.

Are most of his songs satirical? Yes. Does his subject matter appeal to geeky white guys? Yes. But take in more than the videos being played for laughs and you’ll find out this guy actually has the skills, the rhymes, the flow and the scheme to pull off legitimate rap game (just look around.)

Lil’ Dicky is a legit performer. Don’t let the Jew-fro and Jew-flow fool you.

If you were able to make it to Brighton Music Hall on Tuesday, you’re probably a believer that this is more than a fluke. Go catch one of Lil’ Dicky’s shows before he starts playing much bigger venues and have a damn fun time.

But let’s not get it twisted — Lil’ Dicky is the one having the most fun out of all of us.

New Album | BLXPLTN – Black Cop Down

BLXPLTN

Austin, TX trio BLXPLTN released their debut album, Black Cop Down, this week and I am pumped to be able to post the new release in its entirety here for your fist-smashing, bone-crushing, head-rattling, cubicle-trashing pleasure. Lil K Big Q (guitars/vocals/screams), TaSzlin Muerte (electro-drums/vocals), and Jonathan Horstmann (bass/synth/vocals) have created a record that truly exemplifies the outrage most of us feel at the rampant social injustice and inequality quickly spreading across the country.

You yourself may never have to actually face the type of discrimination and exploitation that the band powerfully rebukes in all nine songs found on Black Cop Down, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rage along with them. There has always been, and always will be, abuse carried out by those living within a perceived bubble of power; fortunately there will always be great bands like BLXPLTN ready to burst that bubble.

Turn this album up, put your fist in the air, and jump around with fury. Music makes everything better!

Buy Black Cop Down

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Review | Shakey Graves – And The War Came

Americana Showcase at SXSW

There’s a new sheriff in town folks and his name is Alejandro Rose-Garcia. The Texas troubadour, who creates his unique brand of foot-stomping rock n’ roll as Shakey Graves, released his sophomore album, And The War Came, this week and it is the release fans of his live show will undoubtedly enjoy while bringing new fans to the Shakey fold.

The release of his first LP in 2011 titled, Roll The Bones, rooted the Shakey sound deep into the hearts of music fans across the Lone Star State, while his relentless touring and self-promotion carved a new path on the well-worn Americana highway. The release of his EP, Donor Blues, in 2012 only further escalated the fervor for more grave shaking.

Rose-Garcia is a natural performer and his live show has become a not to be missed event. How does one take that energy put forth on stage day in and day out and bottle it up in a studio recording you ask? Well, one listen to And The War Came will provide the answer you need. There is a fuller, richer sound to be found in the 10 songs on the album and collaboration is the key to hand-clapping, hip-swinging success.

The first seven seconds are titled “This is the Beginning” which flows right into the album’s first track “Only Son,” a slowly escalating track that explores the end of a lonesome journey with powerful harmonies and that signature Shakey Graves guitar picking proficiency. The album’s single, “Dearly Departed,” is a full on, no nonsense barn-burner of a number about a love that has died and the ghost that is left behind. With stellar guest vocals by the always endearing Esme Patterson, the track soars through your soul and manages to uplift your spirits despite the dour outcome. The duo sing out “You and I both know that the house is haunted/You and I both know that the ghost is me,” with no restrain, as if realizing they are both at fault and celebrating the discovery. It’s simply fantastic!

Shakey Graves is not afraid to kick it up a few notches on And The War Came and the electrified track, “The Perfect Parts,” is a perfect example of the magnified sound found in his live show. With quick tempo changes, amps turned up to 11, and screamingly emotional lyrics it’s the type of number that is sure to singe the hairs in your ears and leave you wanting more.

The songs which find Patterson providing vocals exemplify ideal collaboration between two talented artists, and it is clear the two enjoyed working with one another. The track “Big Time Nashville Star” is filled with Johnny Cash style, locomotive-guitar playing and back n’ forth vocals reminiscent of the playful banter found in any great Cash/Carter song. The album’s closer is a lo-fi little ditty titled “Call It Heaven,” with Patterson and Rose-Garcia trading blows in the boxing ring of love. It’s a TKO in ten rounds!

Shakey Graves has been a one man music-machine for much of his career, and as his style progresses, and his audience grows, there is a sort of comfort that comes with partnership and knowing that you don’t always have to carry the weight yourself. And The War Came is the sound of a musician with a powerful instrumental army by his side.

You must see this album performed live for yourself and lucky for you Shakey is on tour! Do yourself the favor of catching him when he makes his way to your town. He will be here in Boston for a sold-out show at The Sinclair, which is one of the areas finest venues.

Tour info here.

Buy And The War Came

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New Music | Little Children – Hey Hey

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Regulars to our site know that I am a big fan of the music Stockholm singer-songwriter Linus Lutti has been creating under the Little Children moniker, and with every new single he makes a strong case to become king of all Swedish musicians. Sure that’s not a real thing, but if it was Lutti would be sitting on the Scandinavian indie-folk throne.

The latest single from Little Children is the excellent “Hey Hey,” which combines the intricacies of a love gone wrong with the subtle psychedelic grooves laid down by bandmates Andreas Söderström and Mattias Bergqvist. The sound the trio creates continues to evolve with each new release and the new track is no exception. “Hey Hey” is hushed harmonious heartbreak at its finest.

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Photos + Review | Blake Mills @ The Sinclair

Blake Mills at The Sinclair
Photos by Boston Concert Photography

If it was ever apparent to anyone that a specific person belonged on a stage, behind their instrument, showing to the world and everyone who will listen that they love what they get to do it is Blake Mills. The wunderkind guitar phenom, who thrilled me with his last album, Break Mirrors, and delighted with his most recent effort, Heigh Ho, has been curiously absent from playing here in Boston. Understandably, he’s busy being a session guitarist for amazing talents from all over, and didn’t tour exclusively for his debut album, we were so goddamn fortunate to get to see and hear him play on Tuesday night at the Sinclair.

It’s hard to even put to words what exactly it was like, thrilling, amazing, inspiring, for whatever descriptor you want to put on, watching Blake play the guitar, with a huge smile on his face, it’s pure joy on the stage. Nothing he does seems rehearsed, the music feels like it flows out of him, and for certainly he doesn’t try to play it like it was recorded. In a word, it just feels special. He makes everyone around him sound amazing, and you can see it, he’s just special.

It doesn’t hurt that he’s got amazing friends that just jump on stage, we were surprised and shocked when co-conspirator Fiona Apple, got on stage to play a few of his songs with him, and well, it works so well when she’s singing on “Seven,” and “Don’t Tell Our Friends About Me,” both huge standouts on a record that is already fantastic.

Blake and his band, played some amazing music, across his two great records, a few covers and we got a guest appearance from Fiona. They jammed, explored, and everyone was left with a single word repeated over and over again. Wow. I think Steve and I summed it up pretty well:

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Photos + Review | Shovels and Rope + John Fullbright @ Royale

Shovels and Rope at Royale Boston
Photos by Boston Concert Photography

We have come to expect great things from a band like Shovels & Rope. They have given us amazing performances in the past, from the days when they were the little engine that could, playing opening shows for Butch Walker, Hayes Carll, or Jason Isbell; to now the inspiring husband-wife duo that delights our ears, eyes, body and soul on two awesome headlining nights at the Royale. I personally got to catch Cary Ann and Michael (I’m on a first name basis obviously) sing their hearts out on Saturday night, and although Cary Ann may have been suffering from laryngitis, the band found a way to play a rockin’ show spanning all three of their records, that even included a few songs from Michael’s fantastic solo record, the Winner. I was so glad they got Birmingham out of the way, and dug deep into their new record, and the songs seemed to have had more vibrance and life, and rocked a lot harder than on the recorded versions. To anyone further along the line on this tour, I highly suggest you don’t miss their live show, it’s always special, and the music comes from a wonderful place, and I think they come out in our photos (below) of the night.

Video | Max Jury – Black Metal

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The heavy yet simple piano chords that carry Iowa born Max Jury’s “Black Metal,” jump out right away, creating a somber, smoky and intimate feel that is powered by falsetto vocals and lyrical notes of unrequited love. The stark composition seems to mirror his midwest upbringing, wide open spaces and the quiet, and his influences from Ryan Adams to Lucinda Williams stick out, but the modernity comes out with the tinges of vintage americana/soul breadth laid over an elegy about a girl.

Jury will be releasing an EP, The Sonic Factory Sessions on October 13 and is on tour in the UK selling out shows from London to Edinburgh. Look out for the EP in a couple of weeks.

Video | Tweedy – Low Key

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The spectacular, Nick Offerman, directed video for the fantastic new single, “Low Key,” from the marvelous debut album, Sukierae, by the awesome band Tweedy, formed by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer, is out now for your viewing pleasure. Now that’s a whole lot of superlatives right there I know, but I’m a sucker for all things Tweedy!  His new album is a love-letter of sorts to his wife (Sukierae is her nickname) and the long-awaited “solo” project is decidedly different from the Wilco sound, while being comfortingly familiar at the same time.

The video is chock-full of cameos from Jeff’s long list of famous friends, including his Wilco bandmates. And just to make it extra special it starts off with my favorite cameo… Michael Shannon as the record company goon. Pretty great stuff from everyone involved. Enjoy!

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New Music | Pompeii – Loom

Pompeii

Austin, TX quartet Pompeii formed back in 2004 and filled a sonic void with their unique brand of atmospheric, surging rock that instantly found fans in an already busting at the seams music scene. Pompeii’s first two albums, Assembly (2006) and Nothing Happens for a Reason (2008), were met with critical praise and put the band in the same sentences with Mogwai, Sigur Rós, and other ambiently-swirling bands. It’s been 5 long years since Dean Stafford (vocals/guitar), Erik Johnson (guitar/keys), Colin Butler (bass), and Rob Davidson (drums) put out an album, and that hiatus comes to an end with their third release, Loom, due out via Red Eye Transit on October 14th.

I am pleased to share with you the title-track from the forthcoming album for your listening pleasure. “Loom” starts off subtly, with gentle piano and quite vocals luring you in as the song crescendos considerably into a massive wall of sound filled with drums and strings. It’s what Pompeii does so well and I’m very happy that they are back and ready to provide a sensory overload to fans across the country…..here’s to hoping a Boston stop is in the works.

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