In June, singer/songwriter Justin Townes Earle announced his newest studio effort, Single Mothers. The record marks Earle’s fifth foray into the studio as a solo artist.
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“Stella”, a track off of the forthcoming album by the St. Louis retro rockers the Feed, opens with the sound of a dog barking. It’s a fitting way to tease the tune that’s to come; though indebted in large part to the great classic rock bands of yore, the group brings its own unique energy to this solid cut. Particularly noticeable is its wonderful use of electric organ; in the verses, the chords are pumped with a staccato pop zeal, and as the song comes to its conclusion there is a break section where the organ comes to the forefront. This is the kind of songwriting that makes the phrase “rock and roll ain’t noise pollution” true still today.
Anyone who has ever jammed with a couple of friends in a garage or a basement will immediately feel at home upon spinning “Dead in a Graveyard”, the latest tune by the Birmingham, Alabama rock outfit Dirty Lungs. From its shouted, simplistic chorus, to its rough-around-the-edges guitar distortion, and especially its improvisatory-sounding guitar solo, the song has all the hallmarks of a gritty, lo-fi rock tune. It’s no surprise that this quartet has become a staple in the Birmingham music scene; the vitality and energy in Dirty Lungs’ songwriting is palpable, even in the quick burst that is “Dead in a Graveyard”.
Blue Skies for Black Hearts, lovingly dubbed Portland’s “Princes of Power Pop”, have come roaring back on their sixth, self-titled release, penning their strongest songs to date and featuring a wall of four-part harmonies and a smoking new rhythm section. Lead singer/songwriter Pat Kearns’ tunes draw from a diverse span of American rock, past and present, like the Smokey Robinson and the Miracles-esque call and response of “It’s Gone on Too Long,” the doo-wop crooning on “Love Scenes, or the Otis Redding-inspired falsetto breakdown of “Waiting to Run” before launching into an epic double guitar closer.
The gritty distortion that drives “Bravely Fade Away”, the newest cut by the transcontinental supergroup Three Minute Tease, is but one of many reasons why the trio’s sound has been called “pre-apocalyptic psychedelic pop”. The band, consisting of the Berlin-based Anton Barbeau, London bassist Andy Metcalfe, and Morris Windsor (who hails from England’s west coast), has an approachability that has a darkness underneath it. Barbeau’s lead vocal on “Bravely Fade Away” isn’t too far from the friendlier environs of singer/songwriter territory, but the almost sludgy guitars on the song’s chorus add an ominous dimension to the tune.