Kim Mitchell mines his past, Overkill man the welcome wagon, Don Brownrigg sets off fireworks, Ben Cooper needs help, Enforcer make the ultimate sacrifice and more in today’s mammoth Roundup. Friday, Friday is a good time to shine.
1 What could be better than the return of Max Webster frontman Kim Mitchell? How about the song he’s using to make that return: An elegantly re-recorded version of the band’s shimmery romantic classic Diamonds, Diamonds — featuring lush harmonies from none other than fellow Can-Rock icons Barenaked Ladies? High class in overcruise, indeed. And damn pretty to boot. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “After hearing audiences sing this song louder than the band on many nights, we decided to give a nod to this classic without trying to make it a period piece. Simply, let’s record it more like we play it now,” said Kim Mitchell. “Working with Barenaked Ladies made the session more vibed and fun than we could have imagined. She STILL takes more whiskey than I wine!” She comes into focus, focus:
2 Move over, Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi. New Jersey has some new musical ambassadors: Veteran thrashmasters Overkill. Granted, they might not be the most beloved or popular act from the area. But they’re certainly the fastest and the loudest, as the artsy black-and-white video for their fuel-injected new single Welcome to the Garden State makes clear. And they’re patriotic enough to borrow the, ‘Whoa-oh-oh’ refrain from The Boss’s Born to Run. Now, if only the highway weren’t jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Bobby Blitz comments, “Not before in our video history have we presented something so artistically seedy. This due to the brilliant yet twisted, vision of the editing room genius, behind the camera magic and damn tenacity of Mr. Tommy Jones; a good standing card carrying Jersey Boy, who did the band and the state proud.” There’s no place left to hide:
3 It’s always the quiet ones. Like Don Brownrigg. Most artists would raise a big fuss on the day they released their first album in five years. Not this low-key singer-songwriter. Along with the disc Fireworks, he offers up the new video for his latest single Strum and Rhyme, a typically understated and intimate slice of mellow gold reminiscent of Beck at his quietest and most sincere. It’s worth making a wee fuss about. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I had two big relationships in the writing of this and was at two opposite points of view in them,” says Brownrigg. “In one relationship, I was the one stifling, clipping it, pushing away, closing myself in, and then I was the opposite the next time. So looking back at that, seeing the similarities, what I wanted from each one, what I had to give, but also the shitty things I did, or the good things I did, or the shitty things the other person might have done.” Is that where all those keys came from?
4 Ben Cooper isn’t looking too good these days. No, I’m not being snide. The Florida singer-songwriter who performs and records under the name Radical Face is sporting a radically bruised face — along with other assorted injuries — in the hilariously bloody video for his subdued pop gem Hard of Hearing, from his Therapy EP. I presume those wounds are supposed to be the outward manifestation of inner trauma. At least I sure hope so. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Therapy is an EP about aftermath. We often write about immediate experiences, but not so much about trying to make sense of what you’re left with. These new songs cover different aspects of this – doubt, guilt, acceptance – and the search for a new sense of normalcy after everything has changed. Hard of Hearing is about the awkward middle period – that space where you don’t feel well at all, but you can outwardly function again.” Are you sure you don’t need a napkin?
5 How do you like your metal? Long-haired? Bare-chested? Tight-trousered? Neck-chokered? Helium-voiced? If your answers are Yes, Of Course, You Bet, Hells Yes and Bring It On, Sweden’s Enforcer just might be your new favourite band. And their anthemic single Die For the Devil — complete with harmonized guitar solo and mid-song breakdown — could be all the headbangery you need. Along with a hard-rocking old-school video to go with, of course. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Die For The Devil is the opening track of Zenith. We wanted a huge intro track where the greatness lies in the simplicity and where we can integrate the audience into a song at an early stage. The video is once again directed by our childhood friend Gustav Ohman Spjuth who has been directing pretty much all other videos we have done.” All hail:
6 There are countless reasons to do a good deed. But the best might also be the simplest: Just Because It Feels Good. That’s the title message of the new single from Australian punk outfit Blind Man Death Stare’s upcoming album Comin’ In Hot. They even walk the talk in the accompanying video, heading into the streets to hand out flowers and pizza the needy. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Blind Man Death Stare are one of Australia’s hardest working DIY punk rock bands, hailing from Australia’s musical mecca of Melbourne. After relentless touring off the back of their debut LP It’ll Grow On Ya, the band are back with Comin’ In Hot – an album full of fast, fun and catchy punk rock, recorded and produced by the Australian punk rock legends Frenzal Rhomb.” It’s a slice:
7 If you only watch one Spanish funk-rock band’s desert-filmed video today … well, it would probably have to be Outta My Head, the fourth single from Blowfuse’s Daily Ritual album. Just be careful not to get sand in your keyboard. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The groove and the aggressive blend here to create one of the most experimental songs from the record. It’s funky, but it still has the hardcore soul within it. Oscar’s voice, sometimes as whisper sometimes a roar, is an angry voice demanding to be heard. It’s the true self wanting to be released from the jail the mind is and searching for the freedom to say enough.” Break out the sunscreen:
8 Some album titles tell you pretty much everything you need to know. A Japanese Fever Dream, the handle of Edmonton electro-pop singer-songwriter Talltale’s upcoming full-length, would seem to be one of those discs. That also holds true for the rich, gently insistent single Tokyo and its exotic video — shot over the course of three trips Talltale made to the city over the past four years. Sure, artistically it’s all a little on the nose. But hey, just be happy she wasn’t fascinated by Moose Jaw. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Tokyo talks about my first reaction to Japan and how distinctive their culture is. I realized quickly that I could not get by on a few Japanese words. I was completely out of my element and couldn’t even guess at reading the signs. I think that profoundly effected me, but in an exciting way because I needed to get back there as soon as I could.” Domo arigato:
9 Talltale isn’t the only Western Canadian electro artist looking to the Far East these days. Avant-garde Vancouver singer-songwriter and synthesist Lief Hall is releasing her latest album Roses For Ruins in Japan — and touring the country to promote it. But first, she serves up the compellingly strange modern-dance video for the slow-moving single Glass & Obsidian. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “With its minimalist beats, distant reverberating squeals and low hushed vocal choruses, the song uses imagery of the earth’s elements colliding and transforming to explore forms of renewal and radical change. Earth, metal, crystal and air emerge throughout this video as themes which bring to life the song’s lyrics through sparse, surreal and fantasy-like environments.” Catch her reflection:
10 You gotta serve somebody. And Swedish metalheads Grand Magus worship at the altar of the Wolf God, based on the title (and lyrical content) of their new single, a snarling slowly prowling anthem — which also just happens to be the title cut of their forthcoming album. And there’s more: The track arrives illustrated and animated here with a suitably dark lyric video. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Wolf God rises over the Heavy Metal scene majestically and lets the guitar riffs speak for themselves. The groove and heaviness that were featured on the successful predecessor can also be found on the new, ninth studio album which once again holds a number of future classics.” Get ready to howl:
11 More joy is always a good thing. Ditto more Joi Noir. The globetrotting post-punk outfit and recent DIY Discovery continue to serve up singles from their outstanding Celeste album. Here’s the latest: The rousing, arena-sized Mercury, updated with a new introduction featuring Japanese indie-noise band Si, Irene. Because who else would you expect a Russian-born, Spanish-based duo to collaborate with? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Mercury, which may be the name of an inhospitable planet and a volatile chemical but for our purposes is the name of one of the last human beings to have survived the apocalypse. The song begins with a guitar riff worthy of John McGeoch (and redolent of anything by Magazine or Ultrasound) and Japanese spoken word translated as: “Today is a great day, don’t you think?”– “Yes, I absolutely agree with you, despite the fact that our world is going to hell, and we are going there with it” – “Wait! Is there something that might save us?” Mercury answers: “That something is love.” Get out your passport:
12 Great band names are few and far between. Lousy ones are a dime a dozen. Edmond Jefferson and Sons sits somewhere between. On the one hand, it seems like the worst handle possible for an explosive Swiss neo-blues rock band — especially since nobody in the band is Edmond Jefferson (or, presumably, one of his sons). Despite that, and even though it sounds like the name of a small-town business, you have to admit it’s different — and maybe even kind of memorable. Also memorable: Their punchy, noisy new track Hotcha, from their forthcoming sophomore album The Winter. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Oscillating between explosive riffs, dark rock and soft ballads, their music is perfectly harmonized by organic soundtextures and a mesmerizing voice…” Thanks, Ed:
13 I’ll give you one guess who inspired Americon Czar, the brutal barnburning new single from Mexican-American punk rabble-rousers Brujeria. And just on the off-chance you can’t figure it out — even after I tell you the song is a followup to the recent Viva Presidente Trump! EP — their new animated clip (preceded by a belligerent cross-border phone call) oughta make it bigly obvious. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Pocho Aztlan is Brujeria’s first new album in 16 years. The title translates to Wasted Promised Land, a combination of Aztlán, the fabled ancestral home of the Aztecs, and the term pocho, which native Mexicans use to refer—not always kindly—to their counterparts born in the States.” But if I order the disc, will Mexico pay for it?
14 Some people hunt ducks. Some people hunt deer. Some people hunt bear. Some people even hunt lions. Dance-music producer Max Styler is after the most dangerous game of all: Man. Or perhaps woman. And with the help of vocalist Elanese, he vows to hunt you down on the dance floor like an animal on his fittingly titled new banger Animal. Of course, he’s not going to really track and trap you — it’s all just a metaphor. Right? Right? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Max Styler’s otherworldly production radiates sensuous energy on Animal. Featuring vocals from singer/songwriter Elanese, Styler fleshes out a robust house single with lush synths and deep bass tones.” Get a move on:
15 Wintersleep are the gift that keeps on giving. The East Coast vets have already released at least previews and singles from their upcoming album In The Land Of — and the disc is still more than a month away. So naturally, here’s another bit of tasty musical bait: Into the Shape of Your Heart, a relaxed Dylanesque folk-rocker decorated with a lilting gait, twangy licks and a wall of vocal harmonies. Give it a chance. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Into The Shape Of Your Heart revolves around the idea of diving into love fully and celebrating it. “Lyrically, it’s a loose narrative of someone showing up to the house of someone he loves and trying to win her heart for the first time or to get it back,” says vocalist Paul Murphy. “I guess there’s room for interpretation but it’s maybe also just trying to capture a snapshot of a moment of two people trying to have a conversation that ends in a dance.” Get in shape:
16 Everybody loves a good cover tune. Including Ezra Furman. So the American singer-songwriter has collected seven of them into a new EP fittingly titled Songs By Others. The eclectic lineup includes chestnuts by everyone from Little Richard and Jackie Wilson to Beck and The Replacements to LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire. To whet your appetite, he’s sharing his endearingly ramshackle version of Melanie’s Good Book. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “It’s a genius song. I had actually never heard a song that is about what that song is about: how an audience wants something from a performer and wants reassurance, like, “Tell us you love us with a book or a song or a poem because we need it.” Open the book: