Top 30 Songs for May 15-21, 2022

Though their latest album Dropout Boogie has gotten mixed reviews, I love The Black Keys‘ lead single “Wild Child”, which knocks Harry Styles’ “As It Was” from the #1 spot after a two-week run. The rousing stomper sees them going back to their blues rock roots, highlighted by Dan Auerbach’s gnarly guitars and Patrick Carney’s muscular drumbeats. Though the simple lyrics are directed to a woman the singer wants to love – “I just wanna hold you at the end of every day. Girl, I wanna please you, oh, I’m needing you to stay. The sun is gonna shine if you would just come out and play. Baby, won’t you show me your wild child ways” – the outrageous video portrays Auerbach and Carney as guys who show up for menial jobs at an out of control high school, then add to the ensuing mayhem.

In other chart news, Florence + the Machine‘s gorgeous “My Love” continues its march toward the top, climbing a notch to #3. “Sleep” by Brooklyn four-piece Gooseberry, “Chasing Trains” by British singer-songwriter HULLAH, and “Wild” by Spoon all climb three spots to #6, 7 and 8, respectively, and Fontaines D.C.’s haunting “I Love You” finally enters the top 10.

Three songs make their debut this week. The first is “Seventeen Going Under” by British singer-songwriter Sam Fender, which enters at #19. The beautiful song was released in July 2021, and I ranked it at #44 on my Top 100 Songs of 2021 list, so when it started getting a lot of airplay a few months ago, I resisted placing it on my Weekly Top 30. But now that’s it climbing up the Alternative charts, I’m compelled to add it to mine too. The other two debuts are “Tell Me The Truth” by my favorite artist Two Feet, who just dropped his fourth album Shape and Form, and “Closer” by another favorite artist of mine, singer-songwriter The Frontier.

  1. WILD CHILD – The Black Keys (2)
  2. AS IT WAS – Harry Styles (1)
  3. MY LOVE – Florence + the Machine (4)
  4. DECEPTION – Hannah Reem & Noodle Beard (3)
  5. LOVE BRAND NEW – Bob Moses (5)
  6. SLEEP – Gooseberry (9)
  7. CHASING TRAINS – HULLAH (10)
  8. WILD – Spoon (11)
  9. WHAT, ME WORRY? – Portugal. The Man (6)
  10. I LOVE YOU – Fontaines D.C. (14)
  11. BROKEN HORSES – Brandi Carlile (8)
  12. BLACK SUMMER – Red Hot Chili Peppers (7)
  13. LA CIENEGA – Chief Springs (15)
  14. ON MY KNEES – RÜFÜS DU SOL (16)
  15. THE HURT WITHIN – Holy Coves (17)
  16. VIRGINIA (WIND IN THE NIGHT) – The Head and the Heart (18)
  17. DISTANCE – Mount Famine (19)
  18. BLOODRUSH – The Amazons (20)
  19. SEVENTEEN GOING UNDER – Sam Fender (N)
  20. BROKEN HEARTS – Ships Have Sailed (12)
  21. GIVE A LITTLE LOVIN’ – Jamie Alimorad (13)
  22. A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE – Weezer (21)
  23. 2am – Foals (22)
  24. SHUT OFF THE LIGHTS – Bastille (26)
  25. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (28)
  26. THAT’S WHERE I AM – Maggie Rogers (29)
  27. TELL ME THE TRUTH – Two Feet (N)
  28. I’LL CALL YOU MINE – girl in red (24)
  29. ANIMAL – Partisan (30)
  30. CLOSER – The Frontier (N)

SOLOVEICHIK – Single Review: “Could It Possibly Be Me”

Soloveichik is the music project of Andrew Solway, a talented young singer-songwriter and musician based in and around Detroit, Michigan. Andrew chose his ancestral name of Soloveichik, which is Russian for “little nightingale”, as his artistic moniker because a nightingale is known for its beautiful and powerful song. As Soloveichik, Andrew has recorded and released numerous singles and EPs over the past two years, as well as his debut album At the Close this past January. His music is a pleasing and somewhat eclectic mix of alternative indie rock, emo and pop, and his relevant, often poignant lyrics are delivered with soft, whispery vocals that remind me a bit of Owl City (aka Adam Young). In addition to his solo music project, Andrew’s also works as a session musician and live pianist in the Detroit area, supporting live acts such as Jacob Sigman, Olivia Dear, Au Gres (who’s music I’ve also reviewed), Little Visits and Aaron Benjamin.

Soloveichik is on a mission to release a new single each month for the next year, and his latest is “Could It Possibly Be Me“, which dropped May 13 (a very busy day for new music releases). The song was recorded at Eureka Records in suburban Detroit with the assistance of longtime collaborator Austin William Stawowczyk, who produced the track, and features Andrew’s hauntingly beautiful repetitive piano riff, accompanied by a stirring cello arrangement by Juliano Bitoni Stewart. Andrew calls it “an unusually personal song, at times blatantly self-critical and blunt“. The lyrics that seem to speak to a lost love or relationship that didn’t work out, and his breathy vocals convey a sad resignation as he reminisces: “I’m alone again. And I still see our cat, but she’s elusive now. I think that I’m next. I just can’t forget easily. You asked me oh so honestly ‘could it possibly be me?’” Though melancholy, it’s a lovely song nevertheless.

Connect with Soloveichik:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream his music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud

Purchase on Bandcamp

MORGENDUST – Album Review: “14”

Morgendust is a Dutch alt-rock band based in Zwolle, Netherlands. Formed in 2018, the engaging quintet is comprised of Marco de Haan (lead vocals, guitars), Ron van Kruistum (guitars, backing vocals), Iwan Blokzijl (keyboards, backing vocals), Dario Pozderski (bass, backing vocals) and Andre Swinkels (drums & percussion). All are talented and accomplished musicians with years of collective experience playing in other bands and as session musicians, giving their music a maturity and worldliness that comes from having lived on this earth for a while. Through intelligent, thoughtful lyrics, they tell stories that everyone can relate to, and package them with exquisite rock melodies and beautiful instrumentation.

They released their stunning debut EP Storm Will Come in September 2019, and since then have dropped a string of excellent singles, several of which I’ve featured on this blog. You can read those reviews, as well as the one I wrote of their EP, by clicking on the links under “Related” at the end of this post. Now they’re back with an ambitious and unique new album 14, in which they reimagine eight iconic songs from the 70s, 80s, and early 90s that had a major impact on each of the band members when they were 14 years old. The band elaborates on their inspiration for making this album:

Fourteen. The age at which you discover, learn, fall and get up again. The period in your life when you experiment, do your homework, get pimples, fall in love and are really moved by music for the first time. During the various lockdowns, we were thrown back to our own environment. And just like you during this period, we rummaged through our memories in attics and cellars. That gave us the idea to pay tribute to the music we played when we were 14. No 1 on 1 covers… but mashups of our own music with our sources of inspiration. We call it a re-dis-cover.

We grew up in the 80s. The time of the Cold War, squatters, roller skates, on land, at sea and in the air and the first computers. And after years of vinyl and cassette tapes: the CD. The 80s brought bad and of course also very good music, the music from our youth. Recent research shows that the age at which you are musically formed is, you guessed it, 14. ’14’ is about songs that were very dear to us and still influence the music we make today.”

The eight songs they’ve chosen to reimagine for 14 (all of which I love too) are “Spirits in the Material World” by The Police, “This is Not America” by David Bowie & Pat Metheny, “Alive and Kicking” by Simple Minds, “Don’t Give Up” by Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush, “Walk On the Wild Side” by Lou Reed, “Big Love” by Fleetwood Mac, “Land of Confusion” by Genesis, and “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode. For the recording of the songs, they had help from two female vocalists, Cindy Oudshoorn and Judith Elders. Cindy sang co-lead vocals with Marco on “Don’t Give Up” and “Big Love”, and Judith sang lead on “Land of Confusion”. Both ladies sing back-up on most other songs.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of their interpretations of each track, but suffice it to say I think they do great justice to them all. The songs are flawlessly produced and masterfully arranged, with lush instrumental treatments, resulting in really wonderful interpretations that are distinctly their own, while still respectful of the original recordings. Marco’s warm, resonant vocals, as well as those of Cindy and Judith, are marvelous. That said, I think my favorites are “Spirits in the Material World”, “This is Not America”, “Alive and Kicking”, “Don’t Give Up” and “Enjoy the Silence”. Here are two great videos Morgendust produced for “Spirits in the Material World” and “Don’t Give Up”, which I think is the best and most powerful of the eight performances, thanks to it’s stunning arrangement and Marco and Cindy’s gorgeous vocals.

It’s also interesting that some of the songs, most notably “Spirits in the Material World”, “This is Not America”, “Land of Confusion” and “Don’t Give Up”, speak to issues that are sadly still relevant 35-40 years later.

Here’s a 14-minute long video of the band members discussing their own musical awakenings and why they chose the songs they wanted to include on 14.

Connect with Morgendust:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music / YouTube
Purchase: Bandcamp / Amazon

JEEN – Single Review: “On and On”

JEEN (Jeen O’Brien) is a talented, successful and established singer-songwriter and musician from Toronto, Canada with quite an impressive resume. According to her bio, her songs have been used in commercials for such companies as Google, Panasonic, Estée Lauder, Kraft, BlackBerry, KIA, Rogers, MasterCard and Molson, as well as various movies and television programs, including Cook Off, Republic of Doyle, Instant Star, Ruby Gloom, Degrassi, Killjoys, Hockey Wives, Workin’ Moms, MTV Catfish, and MTV Are You the One. Though we’ve followed each other on Twitter for a while, she somehow slipped under my radar until a few days ago, when she reached out to me about her latest single “On and On“. I liked it at first listen, and agreed to feature it on this blog.

Before I’m able to properly review music by an artist I’ve not written about before, I check out their website and various social media accounts to learn as much as I can about them (alas, I’ll never be able to shake the research methods I learned in grad school), and try to listen to at least some of their music catalog to better familiarize myself with their sound. In searching through JEEN’s, I was amazed by her tremendous music output over the past eight years. After starting out as a member of Toronto alternative pop-rock band Cookie Duster (who released a fine album When Flying Was Easy in 2012), she went solo and released her debut album Tourist in 2014. Since then, she’s put out scores of singles and four more albums, most recently Dog Bite last October (2021). Her music is so good, I found myself going down a rabbit hole of binge-listening to her back catalog. Her alternative pop-rock music style and sound are somewhat similar to a few other female artists I’ve heard, yet also distinctly her own.

Photo by Laura Hermiston

“On and On” is the first single off JEEN’s forthcoming sixth album Tracer, due for release in October. For the recording of the single and album, which were co-produced by JEEN and her frequent collaborator Ian Blurton, JEEN played rhythm guitar, bass and synths, Ian played lead guitar and Stephan Szczesniak played drums. The song was also engineered and mixed by Ian, and mastered by Brad Boatright. JEEN says the song is “about breaking points and falling down more times than you’re willing to get back up. I wrote this song last year when everything was grinding me down and nothing seemed worth it.”

The song is a lively banger with a hint of punk undercurrent, driven by Stephan’s urgent thumping drumbeats and JEEN’s throbbing bass. Ian and JEEN lay down a colorful mix of grungy and chiming guitars, accompanied by exuberant sparkling synths, creating a rousing backdrop for her echoed, somewhat mumbled vocals, which are backed by her own soaring harmonies as she laments “Everything got so complicated. Every day’s so intoxicating. Anyway I tried a hundred times (and on and on and on). And I think you must be blind, when you say everything’s fine (and on and on and on). Hey I’m sorry that I lost my place, started running but I fell on my face.” I like the gnarly instrumental fade out at the end, as if to signify someone becoming emotionally deflated like a tire losing air.

For the rather trippy video, JEEN’s chosen a fascinating way to show her lyrics, including written in lipstick on a bathroom mirror, in ink on her hand and arm, crumpled scraps of paper, mylar balloons, an old sneaker and concrete walls, and typed out on a computer screen.

Connect with JEEN:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream her music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloudYouTube

Purchase on Bandcamp 

Top 30 Songs for May 8-14, 2022

Some have asked me how I come up with my Weekly Top 30 lists – i.e., what my song rankings are based on, and how and why I include the songs that I do. Well, it’s simple: it’s basically a list of my 30 current favorite songs for each week. If I had my own radio station, these are the songs I’d play most, along with favorite older songs, of course. I’m a big fan of alternative rock, dream rock, pop-rock and synthpop, so my lists are strongly influenced by the Billboard Alternative and Adult Alternative Airplay charts. I also write about and like to promote indie artists as much as possible, many of whom are putting out outstanding music, so each week I try to include at least 10 songs I really like by indie artists and bands.

It’s not often that a song that reaches #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 also tops my chart, as a lot of them are crap, but every once in a while a great pop song comes along that I also love, such as last year’s “Drivers License”, “Levitating” and “Leave the Door Open”. Harry Styles‘ “As It Was” is another such hit song, now in its third week at #1 on the Hot 100, and #1 for a second week on my chart. The Black Keys‘ “Wild Child” closes in at #2, while Florence + the Machine‘s gorgeous “My Love” rises to #4. Entering the top 10 are songs by two indie artists I’ve come to really like: “Sleep” by Brooklyn four-piece Gooseberry, who just released their wonderful EP Broken Dance, and the achingly beautiful “Chasing Trains” by British singer-songwriter HULLAH. The lone debut this week is “Animal” by British rock group Partisan, a long-time favorite band of mine.

  1. AS IT WAS – Harry Styles (1)
  2. WILD CHILD – The Black Keys (3)
  3. DECEPTION – Hannah Reem & Noodle Beard (2)
  4. MY LOVE – Florence + the Machine (6)
  5. LOVE BRAND NEW – Bob Moses (5)
  6. WHAT, ME WORRY? – Portugal. The Man (4)
  7. BLACK SUMMER – Red Hot Chili Peppers (7)
  8. BROKEN HORSES – Brandi Carlile (8)
  9. SLEEP – Gooseberry (11)
  10. CHASING TRAINS – HULLAH (12)
  11. WILD – Spoon (13)
  12. BROKEN HEARTS – Ships Have Sailed (9)
  13. GIVE A LITTLE LOVIN’ – Jamie Alimorad (10)
  14. I LOVE YOU – Fontaines D.C. (17)
  15. LA CIENEGA – Chief Springs (18)
  16. ON MY KNEES – RÜFÜS DU SOL (19)
  17. THE HURT WITHIN – Holy Coves (20)
  18. VIRGINIA (WIND IN THE NIGHT) – The Head and the Heart (21)
  19. DISTANCE – Mount Famine (22)
  20. BLOODRUSH – The Amazons (23)
  21. A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE – Weezer (24)
  22. 2am – Foals (25)
  23. JUST LIKE ALWAYS – Oli Barton & the Movement with Maella (14)
  24. I’LL CALL YOU MINE – girl in red (15)
  25. CHEER UP BABY – Inhaler (16)
  26. SHUT OFF THE LIGHTS – Bastille (27)
  27. MIRACLE MILE – Head Noise (28)
  28. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (29)
  29. THAT’S WHERE I AM – Maggie Rogers (30)
  30. ANIMAL – Partisan (N)

Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 17 – Matt Csiszar, Fake Shape, Feather Weight

Another week, another boatload of new releases to choose from. For my 17th edition of Fresh New Tracks, I’ve selected three great new singles from (in alphabetical order) American singer-songwriter Matt Csiszar, Canadian alternative indie band Fake Shape, and Canadian artist Feather Weight.

MATT CSISZAR – “Chicago”

Matt Csiszar is an earnest and kind singer, songwriter, musician and composer based in Michigan who I got to know on Twitter last year. With a lifelong love for music, he started writing and recording his own songs at the age of 13, and over the years has taught himself to play guitar, piano, bass, and drums. His music is pretty eclectic, drawing from a wide range of genres and styles from pop, rock, folk, country and blues to electronic, funk, dance, industrial, jazz and even classical. A prolific artist, Matt released his debut album In The Mind in 1999 while in his early 20s, then played in the band Endless Question for a while before returning to recording and releasing music again as a solo artist in the early 2010s. Over the past 11 years, he’s released numerous singles and an astonishing seven albums, most recently his moody and beautiful instrumental classic work Pieces, Volume 1, in June 2021. He followed with more singles and an EP Forward last October, and has just dropped his latest single “Chicago“.

In addition to writing the music and lyrics and singing vocals, Matt played all instruments and produced, mixed and mastered the track. “Chicago” is a melancholy pop-rock ballad about a guy traveling to Chicago in the hopes of finding a lost love he let slip away. Over a lush array of programmed keyboards, strings, horns and drums, Matt layers acoustic, electric and bass guitar to create a beautiful and stirring soundscape. The twangy guitar notes in the bridge give the song a bit of a country vibe, and his raspy, plaintive vocals convey a sad resignation as he laments “Wandered around downtown, and now the rain is pouring down with no sign of her. I guess I learned my lesson. I know she was a blessing. I wish her all the happiness in the world.”

Connect with Matt:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

FAKE SHAPE – “‘Nother Thought

Fake Shape – is that not a great band name! – is a Canadian alternative-indie group based in Hamilton, Ontario (the second act from Hamilton I’ve featured recently; just last week I wrote about Burn The Louvre on my previous edition of Fresh New Tracks). They formed in September 2018 as a five-piece, but now consist of four members: Chester Edington (guitar/lead vocals), David Baldry (keyboards/flugelhorn), Olivia Brown (bass, backing vocals) and Mackenzie Read (drums). Their bio states that each band member brings a different influence to Fake Shape’s sound, resulting in a music aesthetic falling between funk, indie rock, pop, and ambient electronic. From what I can tell by a search of various platforms, they didn’t start releasing music until early 2020, when they dropped two marvelous singles “Headspace” and “It’s Easy”. We all know what happened next to virtually all musicians and bands, as the pandemic brought things to a screeching halt.

Now that things are somewhat back to normal, Fake Shape was able to get back into the studio to record songs for their debut EP Night Swim, to be released June 14th. The band describes the EP’s songs as “drifting through contrasting mindsets and morphing textures like navigating a solitary swim through dark water.” In advance of the EP, they’ve dropped a fabulous new single “‘Nother Thought“, a haunting, melodically-complex beauty of a song. Starting off with ominous sounds, a resonant guitar note enters along with stomping drumbeats as Chester begins to sing in an arresting voice that fluctuates between a gravelly rasp and lilting falsetto. The music continues to build with gorgeous guitars, exuberant strings and horns, and thunderous percussion, climaxing in a goosebump-raising crescendo in the final chorus. I’m blown away, and now a full-fledged fan of this band!

About “‘Nother Thought”, the band explains “This song is about trying to convince yourself that you’re okay when you’re really not. It’s about acknowledging that you can trivialize your mood and emotions to make other people more comfortable, when really you should be working through your problems and taming the creatures in your head.”

Connect with Fake Shape:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

FEATHER WEIGHT – “It Follows”

Toronto, Canada-based Feather Weight started out as a four-piece in early 2018, playing a compelling style of music drawing from elements of garage rock, dream pop and psychedelia, and highlighted by band frontman Alistair Bundale’s gorgeous jangly guitars. Over the next couple of years they released a number of outstanding singles and an EP. One of their best songs was “Volcano”, which I reviewed in January 2019, and liked so much that it ended up ranking #43 on my Top 100 Songs of 2019 list. In early 2021, Alistair decided to continue Feather Weight as a solo act, and has subsequently released a number of fantastic singles, along with a stunning EP Permutations in March 2021. He followed a few months later with the wonderfully dreamy “Pack Your Shit Grimes”, a song I assumed was inspired by Grimes’ split with Elon Musk, but according to Alistair, touches on the “concept of the ultra rich investing and planning for their safe haven once the economic or environmental systems collapse.

Now Feather Weight is back with another terrific new single “It Follows“, and I love it. It’s darker and edgier than many of his previous songs, with a bit of a 80s New Wave groove that makes for an exciting listen. Opening with sounds of grimy distortion, the song quickly erupts into a roiling soundscape of hypnotic driving rhythms, gnarly industrial synths, grungy bass, and a spellbinding blend of jangly and fuzz-coated guitars. Even Alistair’s echoed droning vocals have a gritty quality too, beautifully complementing the song’s haunting vibe. The song closes with the grimy distortion we heard at the beginning. As for the song’s meaning, Alistair says it’s essentially about “navigating the social construct and the feeling of alienation and isolation that that can lead to.” 

Connect with Feather Weight:  Facebook / Instagram

EXPRESS OFFICE PORTICO – Single Review: “Cosmic Joke”

Formed in 2020 during the height of the Covid pandemic, talented British five-piece Express Office Portico is comprised of Tara Freeman (lead vocals, keyboards), Billy Townsend (lead vocals, keyboards), Reuben Tobolewski (guitar), Ben Phipps (bass) and Olly Walton (drums). In cleverly naming themselves after the entrance to an old newspaper distribution office in the center of Nottingham, England, it follows that they would not be afraid to address all sorts of relevant and timely issues, including those related to mental health and emotional well-being. Their debut single “I Like it Weird”, released in late January 2021, dealt with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and how it can exacerbate feelings of jealousy over past lovers. Their second single “Mishmesh” explored the dangers of alcohol dependency, and how our coping mechanisms and compulsive tendencies can manifest themselves in toxic habits, while their third single “Then Wave” addressed abandonment and trust issues.

I really like their brand of dreamy synthpop with an edge, and have reviewed all three of their previous singles, which you can read by clicking on the ‘Related’ links at the end of this post. Now they’re back with their fourth single “Cosmic Joke“, which has a mellower vibe than their previous singles, as well as a more lighthearted message. They’ve provided a bit of background on their creation of the song: “‘Cosmic Joke’ came about by trying and failing to work out the chords to the 70s classic “I’d Rather Be with You” by Bootsy Colins. As big fans of artists immersed in RnB and funk like Erykah Badu, Yellow Days and Steve Lacy, we began thinking, how would an Express Office Portico track with these accidental chords sound? ‘Cosmic Joke’ evolved from there, with other influences such as Men I Trust, Beach House, Yellow Days, Rex Orange County & Mac Demarco adding to its creation. We love comedians that go on long rants that are more like philosophical monologues than stand-up. Bill Hick’s famous ‘It’s Just a Ride’ piece, being the perfect example. From here we decided on using this framing device for the track.

The title comes from an idea in philosophy that the entire universe and life in general is just one big joke. A trick played on humanity by existence itself, or God, or whatever you wanna call it. ‘It’s all a cosmic joke, nothing less and nothing more’. The lyrics are essentially about having an existential crisis and the utter confusion of being a conscious human in the physical world. Everyone is searching for meaning, but life is fundamentally meaningless. So, we might as well just laugh about it all, and try to enjoy it as much as we can! During the recording weekend, we booked ourselves an Airbnb to house us all. After a mild night of drinking, our guitarist Roo had a bit too much nicotine, which resulted in a fairly violent bout of sickness, starting with us all sat around the TV. Who knew too much nicotine could do that to you hey?

The song opens with Olly’s assertive drumbeats, then silky keyboards enter along with Ben’s funky bassline and Reuben’s beautiful shimmery guitar as the music settles into a delicious R&B groove. In her sweet, lilting vocals, Tara cheekily croons “Sit back, relax. As the curtains draw, the microphone stands upon the stage floor. Out walks a comedian. The crowd we roar. Out walks a comedian, and they say ‘It’s all a cosmic joke, nothing less and nothing more. Your ticket’s already pulled, so you may as well just laugh and applaud’.” The song is filled with great moments like the quiet little interlude halfway through the song during which Ben’s funky bass really shines, and Tara and Billy’s wonderful harmonies in the final chorus.

With “Cosmic Joke”, Express Office Portico keep their perfect score of putting out stellar singles fully intact.

Connect with Express Office Portico:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream their music on Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / deezer

Purchase on Bandcamp / Amazon 

Top 30 Songs for May 1-7, 2022

Harry Styles‘ delightful synthpop song “As It Was” takes over the top spot on my latest Weekly Top 30. Though I was not a fan of the boy band One Direction, I think that most of its members are pretty talented singers in their own right. That said, Harry Styles stands head and shoulders above the rest, and I’ve really liked a lot of his music as a solo artist. “As It Was” is the lead single from his forthcoming album Harry’s House, to be released on May 20.

In other chart highlights, entering the top 10 are Florence + the Machine‘s gorgeous “My Love”, which climbs five spots to #6, and Brandi Carlisle‘s haunting “Broken Horses”, which moves up four notches to #8. Two songs make their debut this week: “Synchronize” by German duo Milky Chance, and “That’s Where I Am” by the amazing American singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers.

  1. AS IT WAS – Harry Styles (2)
  2. DECEPTION – Hannah Reem & Noodle Beard (1)
  3. WILD CHILD – The Black Keys (4)
  4. WHAT, ME WORRY? – Portugal. The Man (3)
  5. LOVE BRAND NEW – Bob Moses (6)
  6. MY LOVE – Florence + the Machine (11)
  7. BLACK SUMMER – Red Hot Chili Peppers (5)
  8. BROKEN HORSES – Brandi Carlile (12)
  9. BROKEN HEARTS – Ships Have Sailed (7)
  10. GIVE A LITTLE LOVIN’ – Jamie Alimorad (10)
  11. SLEEP – Gooseberry (14)
  12. CHASING TRAINS – HULLAH (15)
  13. WILD – Spoon (16)
  14. JUST LIKE ALWAYS – Oli Barton & the Movement & Maella (8)
  15. I’LL CALL YOU MINE – girl in red (9)
  16. CHEER UP BABY – Inhaler (13)
  17. I LOVE YOU – Fontaines D.C. (19)
  18. LA CIENEGA – Chief Springs (20)
  19. ON MY KNEES – RÜFÜS DU SOL (21)
  20. THE HURT WITHIN – Holy Coves (22)
  21. VIRGINIA (WIND IN THE NIGHT) – The Head and the Heart (23)
  22. DISTANCE – Mount Famine (24)
  23. BLOODRUSH – The Amazons (25)
  24. A LITTLE BIT OF LOVE – Weezer (26)
  25. 2am – Foals (27)
  26. CAVIAR – Two Feet (17)
  27. SHUT OFF THE LIGHTS – Bastille (29)
  28. MIRACLE MILE – Head Noise (30)
  29. SYNCHRONIZE – Milky Chance (N)
  30. THAT’S WHERE I AM – Maggie Rogers (N)

Fresh New Tracks, Vol. 16 – Burn the Louvre, The Petal Falls, Soda Cracker Jesus

It’s been three weeks since my last Fresh New Tracks post, so I’m long overdue for a new one. For my 16th installment in this series, I’ve chosen three wonderful new songs by (in alphabetical order) Canadian indie rock duo Burn the Louvre, British rock artist The Petal Falls, and Tacoma, Washington-based psychedelic pop-rock artist Soda Cracker Jesus. So, without further ado…

BURN THE LOUVRE – “Driving In The Rain”

Burn The Louvre are a Canadian indie rock duo based in Hamilton, Ontario, and comprised of Jordan Speare (vocals/guitar) and Sean Cooper (guitar/vocals), although the act originally began as a duo consisting of Jordan and his brother Dylan. From what I can tell, they first released Post-Romance EP in late 2014, then followed in 2017 with a second EP We’ll Be Just Fine. By 2018, Burn the Louvre became Jordan’s solo project, at which time he began work on a full-length album Silhouettes with the help of his friend Andrew Billone, of indie rock band Silvertone Hills, on lead guitar and bass. The album was recorded, mixed & mastered by engineer/producer Mickey Ellsworth, and is finally being released in 2022 as 11 separate singles, at the rate of one song per month over a period of 11 months. “Driving In The Rain“, which dropped April 26th, is the fourth single to be released.

Rather serendipitously, after he and Mickey finished recording Silhouettes in late 2018, Jordan received an email from guitarist Sean Cooper, in response to an old “musicians wanted” ad he’d forgotten to take down. The two immediately hit it off, and began jamming together on the already-recorded songs. Jordan recalls “The way he was able to come up with his own unique leads to songs that were already recorded, giving them different nuances while maintaining the vibe of each song…I mean, I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad practice. I felt this was a perfect opportunity to re-imagine Burn The Louvre as a duo and I am very happy he wanted to be a part of this.”

“Driving In The Rain” has a pleasing folk-rock vibe, driven by a colorful blend of twangy and jangly guitars, accompanied by subtle bass and percussion that allow the wonderful guitars to shine. Jordan’s vocals have an endearing singer-songwriter quality that work to great effect as he sings the lyrics describing a man driving through a rainstorm to see his girlfriend, with whom he has a troubled relationship: “I’m 15 minutes out, the sky is darker than her hair. And all Beck’s “Modern Guilt” has got me way too self-aware. The weather’s getting worse, man it’s really coming down. It’s just the second verse, but I think I’m gunna drown. Conventional conversation is ringing in my ears. I want to kiss her in the rain, so I can’t see the tears. Seven hundred fourteen thousand, she’s the only voice I hear. I’d call her just to listen if I didn’t have to steer.” It’s a fine song, as are the three previously-released tracks “Wish We Were”, “Nice Guy” and “Alison”, giving us a good indication that Silhouettes promises to be a winner.

Connect with Burn the Louvre:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

THE PETAL FALLS – “Somebody To Love Me”

Last August, I first wrote about British rock act The Petal Falls, the music project of Kent-based singer-songwriter Keith Leahy, when I reviewed his single “I Won’t Be There” (read the review here). To briefly reiterate some of what I previously detailed about The Petal Falls’ unfortunate history, Leahy formed the band in the mid 1990s as a performance platform for his music. Consisting of Leahy, who sings vocals as well as plays guitar and keyboards, and four other musicians: Robert Harpum (guitar), Dave Richards (guitar), Marius Ryndziewicz (bass) and Robin Tucker (drums), they signed with a mid-tier music label in the hopes it would lead to greater success, but it instead resulted in their ultimate undoing. The label stifled their creativity and stalled their career for several years, leading to a great deal of frustration among band members and their eventual demise, without ever being given the opportunity to publicly release any of their prodigious output of songs.

Thankfully, a few years ago their music catalog once again became available for release, and Keith jumped at the opportunity to re-master the original The Petal Falls recordings into four albums, with help of his friend and producer/engineer/drummer John King. The first of those albums, Workin All Night Workin All Day, was released in July 2020 to positive fan and critical response, an amazing feat for an act that had long been given up for dead. The album’s success inspired Keith to resurrect The Petal Falls as a solo project, recording and releasing new music in collaboration with King. They followed with a second album All These Years in September 2021, and are now planning to release a third album Everything About You this coming September. The first single from that forthcoming album, “Somebody To Love Me“, was released April 29th. 

The song is a rousing upbeat stomper, with a hard-driving heartland rock groove that calls to mind some of the great mid-80s music of John Mellencamp. The lively guitar work is terrific, accompanied by sparkling keyboards and supported by a powerful rhythm section that keeps the song’s energy going full throttle. With his commanding vocal style, Leahy sings of his strong desire for a woman to call his own, wondering why he can’t seem to attract one: “I bought a new suit, shirt and tie. My hair wet down looking sharp through and high. Thought I’d impress with a twinkle in my eye. One look at me, she said ‘baby, bye bye’. I can’t pretend I understand what makes a woman love a man. I’ve seen your love in the face of a stranger. It seems to me, some girls are real dangerous. Am I a fool to think this way? I can’t be a loser every day. I need somebody, somebody, somebody to love me, yeah.”

Connect with The Petal Falls: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

SODA CRACKER JESUS – “Hoping For The Best”

Soda Cracker Jesus is the solo music project of the wildly imaginative, enormously talented and flamboyant singer-songwriter and producer Regan Lane. Based in Tacoma, Washington, Regan has been actively involved in the Pacific Northwest music scene for nearly 40 years, with his hands in many projects, including serving as front man and ringmaster for psychedelic punk-rock band Strangely Alright. He’s also been honest and candid on his social media about his former struggles with alcohol and substance abuse, and the happiness and joy that sobriety now brings him. With an unwavering sense of optimism, he creates music that looks to the future, but also understands the power of the past, and that duality helps shape his unique and signature sound. 

I’ve featured both Strangely Alright and Soda Cracker Jesus on this blog numerous times over the past three or so years, most recently last October when I reviewed his wonderful single “Kaleidoscope”, a heartwarming song inspired by the memory of his late father. Now he’s back with “Hoping For The Best“, his fifth single under the Soda Cracker Jesus moniker.

Ever the optimist, Regan says the song is about “finding one’s way, the sadness that hits sometimes, and trying to see a glass that’s half full”, expressed by the refrain “I don’t know why I’m sad. Hoping for the Best.” Musically, the song is an exuberant power-pop banger, infused with generous helpings of punk and psychedelia. Over a heavy stomping groove, Regan layers fuzz-coated gnarly riffs, spacey synths, and lots of crashing cymbals to create a high-energy psychedelic backdrop for his reverby vocals that sound like a cross between 1970s John Lennon and David Bowie. “Hoping For The Best” is another outstanding entry in an unbroken string of superb singles.

Connect with Soda Cracker Jesus:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

HOLY COVES – Single Review: “Desert Storm”

Hailing from beautiful Holy Island, situated just off Anglesey Island in northwest Wales roughly halfway between Dublin and Liverpool, alternative psychedelic rock outfit Holy Coves is the brain child of singer-songwriter Scott Marsden. Since its formation in 2005, the band has consisted of an ever-changing group of musicians, as Marsden brings in who he wants to work with for each project. Holy Coves released their debut album The Lizzies Ynys Môn on New Years Day 2008, then followed in 2011 with an EP and two singles, which were later included on their second album Peruvian Mistake, released in 2012.

After a nearly 10-year hiatus, brought on in part by the death of his best friend and manager, as well as his personal struggles with addiction and subsequent recovery, Marsden assembled a new group of esteemed musicians to record his third album Druids and Bards, due for release this coming August via his label Yr Wyddfa Records. These musicians are (with previous acts they’ve played with in parentheses) John Lawrence on guitar (Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci), Owain Ginsberg on guitar & synths (WE//ARE//ANIMAL, Hippies Vs Ghosts, The Heights), Jason Hughes on bass (The Painkillers), and Spike T Smith on drums (Morrissey, The Damned, New York Dolls). Marsden told me “It was a honour to work with them. I’ve wanted to work with all of them since I was a teenager. I’m very lucky. They are all geniuses.” He wrote and sang all songs, and co-produced the album with Lawrence, who also engineered the album. The two men shown flanking Marsden in the header photo are friends he’s brought in for live performances, who will also play on his next record.

In late March, Holy Coves released their first single from Druids and Bards, the brilliant “The Hurt Within”, which is currently enjoying a run on my Weekly Top 30. Now, only a month later, they return with the second single “Desert Storm“, and it’s another brooding cinematic stunner. Over a stomping, mesmerizing groove, they layer mysterious, psychedelic synths, crisp percussion and an arresting blend of droning and jangly guitars to create a dark and moody soundscape, but with a hint of optimism. Marsden has a clear and pleasing singing voice, and his slightly echoed vocals have a somewhat ethereal quality here as he earnestly details his struggles of keeping a troubled relationship together while suffering from severe drug addiction.

What you see is what you get
What you needs irrelevant
It's time we need to heal my friend
Let's go until we reach the end
Look how far we've come
We've only just begun
You're holding onto me
But I'm so far gone

Were coming up don't fight the feeling
Let's ride the storm
Were coming up don't fight the feeling
It's the desert storm
Were coming up don't fight the feeling
Let's ride the storm
Were coming up don't fight the feeling
It's the desert storm

I come to feel her love again
And take away all the pain
It seems like everyday I fight her now
It's tearing us apart
Right now I'm falling hard
Let's go back to the start
I'm falling off again
She's got me hook line babe

“Desert Storm” is a marvelous track, and if it and “The Hurt Within” are any indication, Druids and Bards is guaranteed to be a spectacular album.

To coincide with their album release, Holy Coves will kick off their 24 date Druids And Bards UK Tour on August 19th in Wrexham.

Connect with Holy Coves:  FacebookTwitterInstagram

Stream their music:  SpotifyApple MusicSoundcloud

Purchase on Bandcamp