Jeff Whalen goes pop, Beast in Black go back, Gotthard go soft, Amerlia White goes there, Marlon Chaplin takes you there, three little elves tune up for Christmas and plenty more in today’s Roundup. No mas! No mas!
1 If you can get four people to agree on anything, it’s a miracle. And if the four people in question happen to be Cheap Trick‘s Bun E. Carlos, Ginger from The Wildhearts, Ken Stringfellow of Posies and Peter Holsapple from dB’s — and they all love L.A. power-pop vet Jeff Whalen’s hook-laden new single Jendy (according to their quotes in the press release that arrived with it) — well, that really beats any cute quip I could make, doesn’t it? SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “It’s inspired by this girl I like… but it’s also a bit about America. The song is really about how pop music and love make us feel a certain way when we need them to. We put a tremendous amount of pressure on them to mean something when we need them to mean something. And they never let us down.” Power up above.
2 Some people think the ’70s was the best decade for metal. Other fans insist it was the ’80s. (And absolutely no one thinks it was the ’90s.) It’s not hard to see where Finnish power metal outfit Beast in Black land on the question. If their black leather addiction, synchronized guitar moves and melodic songcraft don’t tip you off, the total ’80s vibe of their video for Sweet True Lies — the first taste of their upcoming album From Hell With Love — should leave no doubt. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “I believe Sweet True Lies is lovable but also shocking at the same time and I’m sure it will move the hearts of our fans!” Back to the future:
3 All good things must end. Even the promo campaign for Finnish symphonic metal royalty Nightwish‘s upcoming End Of An Era DVD reissue, featuring their final gig with singer Tarja Turunen in 2005. The third — and presumably last — advance clip from the Dec. 7 release features the anthemic and haunting Ghost Love Score. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “The DVD will give you goose bumps many times over, yet it crowns the end of the Tarja chapter with a unique show that could hardly have been better or more spectacular.” Now you know the score.
4 Their band name is Gotthard. But these Swiss metalheads know how to play soft too. But don’t believe me. Check out Feel What I Feel, the string-sweetened acoustic-rock single from their unplugged collection Defrosted 2, and tell me I’m wrong. Better still, tell them. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “A lovingly selected array of sophisticated acoustic arrangements and with two and a half decades of hits, Gotthard celebrate exuberantly great moments, quiet memories and unsurpassed riffs on Defrosted 2 – and make both old and new fans a cheerful unplugged gift that has really earned the best place on the shelf.” You feel them?
5 If you want to see the big picture clearly, you have to step back. So heading to England in 2016 surely must have helped Nashville singer-songwriter Amelia White get a different perspective on the wild political antics back home. She drew on that for the the roots-pop single Rhythm of the Rain, illustrated here with a video partly shot in Jolly Olde. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “Rhythm of the Rain is most distinctly set in London and most intimately tied to the slipping away feeling of the November 2016 shock. Instead of defiance, here, she tries self-comfort, curling up, breathing and tuning out a storm of hate with the white noise of a downpour.” Smashing:
6 The old ways are best sometimes. Marlon Chaplin clearly believes this. The Toronto singer-songwriter’s latest single Take Me There takes you back to the days of classic folk songwriting — and the accompanying video was actually shot on super 8 film! In a related story, super 8 film still exists! SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “Take Me There is a gorgeous ballad with lush shimmering instrumentation, warm vocal harmonies and poignant powerful lyrics, making it perfect listening material for the cozy winter season and the holidays.” There you go:
7 Sure, it’s almost December. But really, it’s still a little early to get too excited about Christmas. So this deliberately paced, slow-building take on Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas from New Zealand popsters The Beths could be just the think to help you slowly ramp up your enthusiasm for the holidays. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “Recorded in three separate continents on their first proper world headline tour, The Beths ditch the usual uptempo, guitar-driven numbers, for a slow-building serenade propelled by strings.” Gather near:
8 The Beths aren’t the only ones getting a head start on the holiday cheer. Winnipeg’s Begonia — a.k.a singer-songwriter Alexa Dirks, formerly of Chic Gamine — warms up to the season with her instant-classic neo-soul smoke-show It Won’t Be Christmas (’Till You’re Here). SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “We basically used every holiday related word we could think of: mistletoe, snow, fire, gifts, reindeer, stockings…CHRISTMAS FIVE MILLION TIMES!” What, no cookies?
9 We can all use a little help now and then. And that includes Saint Nick, according to Canadian singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell. Her contribution to today’s holiday section is the very nice and definitely not naughty pop ballad Santa Needs A Santa. Sit back, enjoy the snowy video, and play air guitar with the surprisingly heavy guitar solo. Hail Santa! SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “If you think about what his day to day must be like, it’s probably a very hard and thankless job,” shares Megan. “Mrs. Claus has been spending the last few holidays with her girlfriends in the Florida Keys to escape the cold. After all their hard work, the elves and reindeer return to their families and Santa finds himself alone.” Who knew?
10+11 One new song at a time is not enough for Circa Waves. So the Liverpool indie-rockers double their changes — and their workload — with two new tracks from their album What’s It Like Over There? On this hand: The wiry, tightly wound modern-rock of Movies. On that hand: The more progressive and experimental Be Somebody Good. That should cover it — and the lyric videos for both tracks should fill in any blanks. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “Recorded in just one month and renewing their blossoming co-producing relationship with Alan Moulder (Foals, The Killers), What’s It Like Over There? is an album that’s creatively unshackled and refuses to stay still. It fuses the visceral thrill of rock music with a slick pop sound, brimming with themes of modern ennui, emotional fragility and the inside-outs and upside-downs of relationships.” Make it a double
12 AFI have been MIA since releasing their self-titled album at the beginning of last year. But frontman Davey Havok and the rest of his California pop-punks will return momentarily with the aptly titled new EP The Missing Man. Here’s a sneak peek: The short, sharp nugget Trash Bat, punched up by an animated video. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “This was the ideal song to kick off the EP. From Adam’s big drum fill at the top all the way through to the end, it’s just a quick burst of frenetic energy. I brought the song in and was playing it for Davey and he threw out the line, “my Trash Bat” and I thought, how can you lose with a title like that? What is a Trash Bat anyway? Who cares!” Welcome bat:
13 All about that bass? Not for The Treble. Sure, the Winnipeg pop-rockers can lay down a solid backbeat. But they also know how to top it with some crunchy riffs and a catchy melodic chorus on their new single Saturday Night, the second track from their upcoming full-length. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “A little while ago, a bar we used to go to back home in Winnipeg got torn down to put up some new condos. It got me thinking of all the crazy times and experiences that people must have had there. Breakups, fights, new connections. It made me think of relationships I had when I was younger, that burned too bright and never could have lasted. That’s what Saturday Night is about.” Cheers:
14 The word zephyr has many uses. It’s a gentle breeze. An article of clothing. A make of car. A fast-moving passenger train. Even a computer OS. But in the hands of female-fronted Brooklyn electro-pop duo TMBOY, Zephyr is a subdued, seductively edgy single from their upcoming album Steam. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “Beautifully written, emotionally vivid, danceable pop music, with themes of queer love and self-discovery.” Find out what it means to you:
15 Craig Owens has changed channels a few times in his career. The former frontman of Michigan post-hardcore crew Chiodos has since performed with a variety of bands before settling on his current solo electronica handle badXchannels. Unsurprisingly after all those personnel changes, his latest single is titled I Wanna Be Alone, and packs enough noise and aggression to let you know he means it. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “With glistening keyboard swaths and trap inspired bass/percussion that ups its intensity as the track progresses, I Wanna Be Alone‘s beat is sparse yet complex. All of this helps the song build up to its emotionally devastating chorus that sees Owens pleading for isolation.” Careful what you wish for:
16 We’ve all had butterflies from time to time. But Toronto singer-songwriter The Hope State — also known as Taylor Johnson — has made them work for him. The current single from his new album Skeletons, Butterflies is a likeable slow-burner that balances a gentle crunch, some stately strings and his dusty vocal melodies. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “This song is about feeling stuck and unable to get better, paralleling it with that butterfly-feeling you get in your stomach when a new love begins.” Take wing:
17 Everyone’s got a story. Including Toronto duo Dear Pressure. The duo of guitarist/songwriter Matt Kahane and producer Quin Kiu want to share their latest chapter: The new single Stories, a late-night swirl of melody and atmosphere that deftly balances Kahane’s jazzy fretwork and Kiu’s knobtwiddling. SEZ THE PRESS RELEASE: “To us, Stories feels like looking at the city’s skyline on a late night, alone and wondering about what’s coming next for you. It makes sense – we were in our last year of college and there was a deep anticipation for inevitable farewells and imagined reunions.” The end is the beginning: