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The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music...

Good Friday to all! (get it? Cuz it's Good Friday? See what I did there? Anyway...) What a release week. So many big ones on the indie/alt scene. And it's been another fortweek so last night my friend Josh and I recorded our seventh episode of Half Pints Whole Notes. We agree on 4 albums, drink a spicy beer and then Josh lets off some steam. And secretly I learned why I need to keep better notes - so I don't forget bands I've been listening to when on the spot. (or that Sufjan Steven's album is The BQE. How did I forget that? How?)

In between thing, I'm eating lunch while entertaining my baby and writing this and I think I ate a baby carrot with one end being the stem end. Ugh. The List.

Rapper Ludacris is back with Ludaversal. Death Cab For Cutie released Kintsugi, and Sufjan Stevens is out with the grieving album of Carrie & Lowell. Former Hootie & the Blowfish member Darius Rucker is solo with Southern Style. And Ringo Starr is back with Postcards From Paradise.

Get your dance on this week with Madeon, Adventure. Flash back to earlier EDM times with The Prodigy, The Day Is My Enemy. And get your 80s on with any of these new releases: Lower Dens, Escape From Evil; Reptar, Lurid Glow; or The Soft Moon, Deeper.

But really, it's spring and so I know we're all just going to put on The Kinks and call it a day, right? Because that's the thing to do when the air gets warm and the windows get opened - put on The Kinks and spring clean the place. Hopefully, at least because I'm still working on this work/family balance and need to jet. Part of the family is over tomorrow for ham, eggs and hunting. Happy Listening!


The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music...

"There's something in the basement."

That is what I just texted to my husband. So ominous. Well, not quite. I know it's some sort of rodent - mouse, or chipmunk. But enough to grab my son and hightail it out of there, stuff towels under the door so that whatever it is stays down there this time. Not like Tuesday. Tuesday, my cat caught a chipmunk, and through a hilarity of hijinks, we chased it around the house until I chased it out.

If you are the same chipmunk, thing in my basement, you are not very smart. Also, how do you know how to use the internet? Are you some sort of children's fictional character? Ah well. You can be safe to assume this will be short.

This week, musically what happened this week? Well, Toto is back with a couple of the original members now I guess with Toto XIV and they're excited about it so it's in my To-Listen pile. And what's with the surprise albums lately? Rapper Earl Sweatshirt sprung I Don't Shit, I Don't Go Outside. What's Kevin Eubanks been doing now that he no longer has Jay Leno's show? Well, he's still making music, namely with Stanley Jordan on their new album, Duets. Kidz Bop 28 is out too so get your kids those safe pop songs now. Laura Marling who has an impressive amount of albums for her age is out back again with Short Movie. As is Nellie McKay with My Weekly Reader. And Van Morrison released Duets: Re-Working the Catalogue.

Man, there's a lot of semi-big stuff:

Courtney Barnett, who I think of as the female Australian version of Art Brut, is out with Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit

Chastity Belt has Time To Go Home

Buena Vista Social Club with Lost & Found

Rapper Action Bronson with Mr. Wonderful

Been around for a long time The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion is back with Freedom Tower: No Wave Dance Party 2015

Okay baby crying, rodent in the basement, litter box needs to come upstairs. I have to flee. Chilly Gonzalez Chambers is pretty great instrumental music. And I'm digging the afrobeat jazz stuff of Atanga Boom, Atanga Boom. So there's a couple more to throw on this weekend. Good luck to all and Happy Listening!

Wait! I'm From Barcelona I forgot it on the list, but they have a new album out. Check it out. I love them. Please come to Minnesota!


The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music...

What an up and down week this week. Baby stuff, podcast, a stubborn cold, but also a good massage, sporadic spring break days (travelling to students means many different school districts and many different days off - Yay? or Yay!) - so yeah. But one thing I know, when The List has been in the hundreds for a few weeks, one week of 60-some feels like a breeze. A springy breeze even. *insert cough fit* Sigh.

Ah ah ah choothelist!

What have we got here? Well, rapper Kendrick Lamar released To Pimp A Butterfly and if you catch Half Pints Whole Notes this week, you'll know I feel the need to relisten to this album again. Modest Mouse is back with Strangers to Ourselves having crossed the ocean of indie/alt rock to pseudo-pop fame they now bring back that old familiarity of Modest Mouse with them but it's different now. Popular Electronic Rock and what other genres can they muster with their music? AWOLNATION released Run and it's got some goods in there. Poppy and fun Marina & the Diamonds is back with Froot and all I can think is Toucan Sam when I see that. Oh and if you're a Glen Hansard fan, you might have missed this covers ep he did, It Was Triumph We Once Proposed... Songs of Jason Molina. So go check that out to get your charming Irish fix. Speaking of covers, Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield cover a bunch of Elliott Smith in the aptly named Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield Sing Elliot Smith.

My head is cloudy no cute lists but here's some things...

Is Tropical, Black Anything Pt. 2 - a conundrum of sound: crunchy gritty guitar, dancey kind of sounds, simple vocals, but all together so complex.

Django Django, "Reflections" - Oh man, each single makes me more and more excited for this full release. I love Django Django. I am waiting in anticipation.

San Cisco, Gracetown - If you were a fan of this band previously with their last album or just that super catchy song, "Awkward," go ahead and find more catchy fun songs on this new album.

William Elliott Whitmore, "Civilizations" - Americana singer-songwriter and a good song. So go to it if you like those first descriptors.

Marcus Miller, Afrodeezia - jazzy and upbeat

Wand, Golem - psychedelic but more than that rock. It's tied with Houndmouth for hands down favorite of the week.

Houndmouth, Little Neon Limelight - We say it on the podcast, but I'll say it again, my husband pinned it right - heavily influenced by The Band but they take that and make it their own and it's good. I could just keep listening.

Moonspell, Extinct - a little metal for the weekend

Tobias Jesso Jr., Goon - There's something more to this charming indie rock singer-songwriter

Nic Hessler, Soft Connections - not singer-songwriter. Full up band on this one with some songs with pep. Need to give it a full listen but it caught my ear.

The Bomb, The Axis of Awesome - do you like The Offspring or that sort of rock? Then you should give this a go.

Songs and albums abound springing from the aural atmosphere with aplomb. Grab one and take it home with you. You'll be glad you did.

Man, this cold. It's got me all foofy and cobwebs. Happy Listening!


The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music...

Happy Friday to all! Do you feel it in the air? Spring is on its way and the bitter cold is retreating. I love that day we turn the corner and put the below zero weather behind us (hopefully). Well, it's been another two weeks, so it was time for my friend Josh and I to hole up in the seedy basement bar and record another episode of Half-Pints, Whole-Notes. This week, we talk about new releases and Pre-1900 music. Check it out at the website or through your favorite podcast listening thingy.

Purity Ring finally released Breathing World this week. Brandi Carlile is back with The Firewatcher's Daughter and it's a pretty great album. She is a force to be reckoned with live and I think this album showcases her talent well. Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds released Chasing Yesterday and staying on that indie rock side we've got Of Montreal with Aureate Gloom. Pop star Kelly Clarkson released Piece By Piece as well. And I think that about does it for the big guys.

And even though you still haven't finished last week's, here is the list.

Invasion of the Singer-Songwriters

Just seems like there are more than usual this week. In order from country/americanaish to rockish. Okay, so maybe I'm a little loose with the idea of singer-songwriter this week. It's just the word that keeps popping into my head.

Liz Madden, Legacy - folksy and Irish at times.

Gill Landry, Gill Landry - for some old-style americana

Ryan Culwell, Flatlands - more country sounding

Dorthia Cottrell, Dorthia Cottrell - A lady, a guitar and some singing. A little twang hangs around in there.

Lady Lazarus, Miracles - a lady and a piano and sparsity

Dom La Nena, Soyo - Simple sweet and beautiful.

Best Girl Athlete, Carve Every Word - Another sweeter sound with more instrumentation but still has that singer-songwriter vibe to it I think.

Buxton, Half A Native - Alt rock americana sound.

Best Girl Athlete, Carve Every Word - probably one of those that isn't really singer-songwriter but I just felt it so I went with it.

Lilly Hiatt, Royal Blue - Picking it up now, adding some oomph and pep to the music.

Holly Miranda, Holly Miranda - only one track is available on Spotify but this shows promise.

Lady Lamb The Beekeeper, After - A force to reckon with. Love her voice, her lyrics, her style.

Something else...

Gateway Drugs, Magick Spells - rock.

Eula, Wool Sucking - one of the examples of why I invented the term "Playground of Rock"

Prinze George, Prinze George - Not what I thought it would be. It's a poppy little thing.

Yung, Alter - Again, rock.

Coastal, Beneath the Snow and Streetlights - Keep this in mind for next winter. It will be great for that first snow.

July Talk, July Talk - It's a deep gritty guy and a sweet sounding female. At first I wasn't sure but then I kept listening and I think I started to get it.

Vincent D'onofrio/Dana Lyn, Slim Bone Head Volt - Oh I wish this was on Spotify but it's not. You can hear two tracks on soundcloud. Go here to read about this. I want it. So great.

And now it's time to take off my writing shoes and put on my hanging out shoes, switch my cardigans out and sing a song as I leave through the door. Hopefully you'll find the right level of singer-songwriter for your weekend and Happy Listening!


The Friday Refrain: A bit of what's new in music...

 Well we are getting into the thick of it. Releases are abounding and it's my first week dealing with 150 on the list. The To-Listen list got pretty long this week and I'll have quite the time sorting through that one. By the by, if you're a festival-going fan, check out the line-up for Firefly this year. That's a pretty sweet line-up and not just because of Sir McCartney, but Spoon, Cage The Elephant, Run The Jewels, Sylvan Esso, Benjamin Booker, Sturgill Simpson, Matt & Kim, Empire of the Sun, and more? Good job, Firefly, good job.

Whooosh! It's the List!

All right, down to the brass tacks of the week. Kid Rock released First Kiss and it's more country than southern rock to me but that's just me I guess. Iron & Wine is releasing a collection of rarities and live things with the first volume out this week titled Archive Series Vol. No. 1. Do you remember Alien Ant Farm? They did that cover of "Smooth Criminal" over a decade ago, and this week released Always And Forever. But don't worry, the track "American Pie" is not a cover of the tribute to Buddy Holly. Rapper Big Sean released Dark Sky Paradise.

Their Names Belong Together...

Dutch Uncles, O Shudder

Radical Dads, Universal Coolers

Kid Rock, First Kiss

Get Ready For St. Patty's Day...

Tempest, Tracks We Leave - not purely Irish but a blend

Altan, Widening Gyre


Gal Pals, Velvet Rut

The Elwins, Play For Keeps

MisterWives, Our Own House - also winner of this week's best album cover!

Drug Cabin, Yard Work


The Mighty Sceptre, All Hail The Mighty Sceptres! - That 60s grooving music with orchestral instruments in the background, including some flute!

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, No Action

Gal Pals, Velvet Rut - Blondie type of female fronted music

Artisan Loyalist, Lonely Ghost - Kinda 80s pop sounding

If you like... 

Lumineers and The Head And The Heart (Popular Indie/Alt-Rock)? Ewert & the Two Dragons, Circles

Edward Sharpe & The Magnetics crossed with Patrick Watson (dense folksy soundscapes)? Elvis Perkins, I Aubade

Andrew Bird meets Magnetic Fields (i really can't describe that)? Daniel Knox, Daniel Knox

Wolfmother and Django Django (it sounds like straightforward rock but there's a little more to it)? Galaxie, Zulu

Low tempo and sparse Beach Boys (that's really the best way to say it)? Charlie Brand, Monsoons

Foo Fighters and Jane's Addiction (early 90s rock)? Black Star Riders, The Killer Instinct

The Bad Plus (jazz versions of pop/rock songs)? Wolff & Clark Expedition, Expedition 2

Bjork just doing vintagey songs (almost just went into vintage until I felt it had a Bjork element to it, but I might be crazy. I'm a little/very tired)? Via Tania, Via Tania and the Tomorrow Orchestra

Okay I'm calling it. There's a ton of good stuff out there this week. The Badbadnotgood & Ghostface Killah album, The Rough Guide to Pyschedelic Salsa, Champs, Tisziji Muñoz, Romare, and CeDell Davis albums are all also worth a look at. But the sun is waning in the sky, the boy is a ticking time bomb (as all babies are really) and I need a snack. So go out into the world of music, explore and find something to call your own groove. It's a great week for it. Happy Listening!