Here we go again. Another Friday, another massive dump of press releases from publicists cleaning off their desks before bolting for the weekend. What can a fundamentally lazy music critic do but jam them all together into yet another long-ass, no-class Friday Roundup? Strap yourself in and hit the go button.
1 Just like the rest of us, The Dollyrots can barely keep it together in real life. Thankfully, the married pop-punk duo know how to party. How do I know? Because they explained the whole thing to me on their new lyric video for their latest bottle-rocket single, fittingly titled I Know How To Party. They’ll happily do the same for you on the latest preview of their July 12 album Daydream Explosion. Save the date. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Daydream Explosion is filled with big, juicy dance-punk flavored hooks and plenty of sweet attitudes, fourteen sing-along anthems that longtime fans will celebrate and newcomers will find difficult to resist. The Dollyrots are at their songwriting best on this new set of songs as they continue to bring infectious punk n’ rock sensibilities and musical honesty.” So whaddaya want, an invitation?
2 The say blondes have more fun. But what about Mexico City Blondes? Based on the smouldering video for the California duo’s mournful trip-hoppy single Addio — translation: Goodbye — all signs point to no. But I can all but guarantee you’ll enjoy this track from their debut album Blush, whatever your hair colour. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Addio has its roots in a personal loss experienced by vocalist and keyboard player Allie Thompson. “Writing the song Addio, began with a loss.” Thompson says. “Over time, it also became about not looking over your shoulder for the next loss to come around. It’s about accepting the unacceptable, about letting go instead of holding on.” Just like peeling an orange:
3 Maybe you can’t go home again. But you can still sift through the mementoes and memories of your youth, as Kansas City singer-guitar Josh Berwanger does on his latest rootsy solo single When I Was Young and its accompanying home-movie video. The former comes from his June 28 album Watching a Garden Die, released under his last name alone. The latter presumably comes from his parents’ attic — and features three generations of his family. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Josh says, “The song’s lyrics are very simple and straightforward. It’s about getting older and looking back at being young, having no fears, not thinking of any problems, not worrying about loss, love, messing up in life, or worrying about what comes next.” Just in time for Father’s Day:
4 Almost everybody collects something. That includes the protagonist of Mars Red Sky’s aptly handled slow-grind single Collector. Naturally, since they’re a heavy psychedelic power trio, our hero doesn’t amass spoons or books — he collect souls. Presumably by mesmerizing them with trippy animation and mult-layered concert footage. Consider yourself forewarned. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Collector is quite a straightforward track that may recall the Mindreader vibe from our previous album Apex III (Praise for the burning soul) in its structure and delivery. Lyrics deal with a soul collector, an evil being who announces his return to the city with the intention of terrorizing the population.” I know I’m afraid:
5 Life is messy. Even if you’re a young, blonde, up-and-coming pop singer who lives amid the sunshine and beauty of Manhattan Beach. Just ask singer-songwriter Chloe Caroline. Or watch the charming video for her equally endearing single Messy. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “With its biting lyrical commentary, she touches on a range of issues from the effects of social media to the darker subject of opioid addiction. With a spoken word-esque verse delivery, the song is blunt and honest but there remains a hopeful/upbeat tone thanks to the signature guitar riff and the resolving hook. Per the title, Messy is about celebrating life against all of its–well, messiness.” It would be kind of weird if it weren’t:
6 I don’t know if the men of Toronto pop-rock combo Kasador are familiar with British writer J.G. Ballard’s groundbreaking dystopian novel High-Rise. Or if they saw the recent TV version starring Tom Hiddleston, Jeremy Irons and Sienna Miller. If not, well let’s just say these guys are certainly hanging out in the same hood. Though their way of handling the pressure is far more enjoyable and melodic, as you can hear for yourself in their video for their chiming Can-rock track High Rise. Make yourself at home. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “High Rise is about more than the Toronto apartment that it was written in. It’s about the pent-up uneasiness that kept us all up at night. This song came out of a few middle-of-the-night writing sessions, where my mind could not sleep and would race until morning. My only relief was to get up and write. High Rise is written from the perspective of feeling pressure, self-doubt, and questioning your future through that wave of midnight anxiety.” Suite dreams:
7 If you haven’t heard Tanika Charles‘ recently released album The Gumption yet, you really need to rectify that situation ASAP. Here’s a good place to start: With the Juno and Polaris-nominated Canadian soul singer’s video for the single Tell Me Something. It’s something, all right. I’m telling you. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Tell Me Something, according to Tanika’s words, is about a “moment in every new relationship when you need to establish exactly what the status is. Hopefully you arrive at that point at the same time, but sometimes one of you needs a little extra encouragement. Maybe even an ultimatum?” OK, I’ll try it: Listen or else!
8 Happiness is always just around the corner. Toronto alt-outfit Eden Warsaw have clearly embraced this philosophy on their dreamy single Ecstasy. And there’s something else that’s around the corner: The second half of their video for the song, which opens with a cinematically impressive single-shot, one-take clip filmed on a rainy night in their hometown. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Wherever you’re at in life, things can get better and maybe better is actually just around the corner. Align your focus and keep going. Our new single sonically distorts conventional electronic with a Coachella-esque, free-spirited vibe. It’s a visual story of wanderlust with the first of two, one-shot music videos. We’ve matured and grown so much as a band, with both our touring experience and bringing a more raw + alternative sound. We’re looking forward to sharing part two of this video along with our upcoming album. Let this track be your good vibes summer mantra.” See the sights:
9 We all think we’re going to come out on top. Toronto electro-pop singer-songwriter Lisa Conway — who makes music under the shorthand handle L Con — knows better. And shows you exactly what she means with the goodnaturedly competitive video for her song Winner, a taste of her Oct. 4 EP Whatever. Be a good sport and check it out. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “First single Winner (126 BPM, FYI) was written, recorded, and produced by Lisa, and features lush string arrangements composed and performed by Mika Posen (Agnes Obel, Timber Timbre); marking the first time Lisa has let someone else arrange strings on any L Con album.” It’s a win-win:
10 Michael Schenker Fest — which is actually the name of a band and not a tribute show to the veteran German guitarist from Scorpions and UFO — preview their Sept. 20 album Revelation with the single Rock Steady and a black-and-white rehearsal-studio video. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “This song almost did not make it on the album”, says Michael Schenker and explains: “It developed from a ‘maybe’ into a definite, after we swapped things around like an added solo, psychedelic pieces, the lyrics, the slide plus all the other goodies and sprinkles. It turned out to be a party song telling my story, capturing many aspects of music.” Steady on:
11 To promote their recently released third album Barriers, My Chemical Romance guitarist Frank Iero and his band Future Violents broke a barrier of their own by unplugging and sitting down to film an acoustic mini-set at New York’s City Winery — with his old bandmate Ray Toro mixing the sound. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I really enjoyed doing this session at the winery and when they asked if we had anyone in mind to mix the tracks I immediately thought of asking Ray Toro,” Frank said about working with Toro once again. “He’s just so multi-talented and has such a great ear. He’s been recording and mixing some rad projects these past few years, and it was an honor to have him work on this session for us.” One for the money:
12 If there’s one thing I learned from watching Global Metal years ago, it’s that the metal scene is, well, global. To that end, meet Israeli bashers Walkways, whose latest disc Bleed Out, Heal Out was apparently released today. To mark the occasion, they’re also dropped an intense video clip for the cathartically mighty tracks Hell Born Shove (Impossible). SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “A genre-bending record, displaying a wide array of songs that come from personal experiences, to bring out all the causes and emotions that inspired the texts which tell the familiar stories of dealing with the natural impulses of the human mind, and maintaining an aware and controlled mind.” Speaking of impossible:
13 Swedish rockers and frequent Roundup flyers The Night Flight Orchestra are back on the runway and ready for takeoff yet again with their latest single and video. But this time, they’re headed into the stratosphere with Satellite, a journey back to the glory days of ’90s synth-metal. Would you like some peanuts with that? SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Sometimes, no matter how many years or how many miles you have between yourself and the one you truly desire, love leaves a mark that can’t be erased. Your need is etched in your soul, in the actual muscle fibers that keeps your heart beating. And so, you become a satellite, forever stuck in orbit around the object of your affection, watching from afar, but never being able to fulfill your dreams.” Ignition:
14 In the music game, you have to be flexible. And Ukrainian-American synth-pop producer and recording artist Culttastic most definitely is — as you’ll see a few seconds into the Houston singer-songwriter’s video for her darkly decadent single Quantum Girl, a preview of her self-titled Oct. 4 album. SAY THE PRESS RELEASE: “I produced Quantum Girl in my bed on a day when I didn’t really get out of bed all day. Forcing myself to write music ended up being cathartic- I often feel drained after producing, but that time I felt really energized.” Let’s split the diff:
15 Have you ever been ghosted? It’s not a pleasant experience. Unless you’re referring to Ghosted, the soulful dance-pop single from singer and plus-sized model Yumi. That’s not so bad at all. Try it yourself and see what I mean. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Ghosted is about being overly into someone who gives you just enough of them to want to stay around, but at the end of the day doesn’t really care enough about you to prioritize you,” states Yumi. “It is a vulnerable and painful experience and I wanted to capture that emotion in a song.” That’s the spirit:
16 Carolina electronica practitioner Crywolf shares his latest musical message of love — or to be more precise, heartbreak — with his moody single Foreign Tongues. Illustrated by a visualizer video, the track is a standout from his March album widow [OBLIVIØN Pt. I]. See if you speak his language. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “I wrote this for you the day that I left. I put it on your bedside while you slept; a moment of silent desperation. I needed you to know that I was never going to stop loving you, even if that love had to change forms. It is never the end for souls like ours.” Oblivion awaits:
17 Swedish heavy metal heroes Sabaton take to the skies in the high-flying lyric video for The Red Baron, an ode to the deadly First World War flying ace and mortal enemy of cartoon beagle Snoopy. It’s a preview of their July 19 concept album The Great War, which better live up to its adjective or risk being shot down. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “To not include the story of Manfred von Richthofen, AKA The Red Baron on a concept album of The Great War felt really strange. And since we are aiming higher than before in every way, we are proud to present this single from our upcoming album today.” Up, up and away:
18 Tired of soundalike DJs spinning an endless assortment of soundalike tracks? Take Quix’s new cut Guiding Light out for a spin. The Kiwi artist peppers his cut with more twists and turns than you’d get on an episode of the soap opera that shares its name. Fingers crossed he follows up tracks called General Hospital, The Young and The Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Showing off his versatile production style once again, New Zealand’s QUIX showcases Sanna Martinez’s silky vocals on a tension building intro before unleashing a gargantuan multi-layered trap drop.” It’s another world, baby:
19 Maryland emo-rockers Have Mercy continue to show off their softer side on their latest single Heartbeat, a peek at their Aug. 2 album The Love Life. And let’s face it, if you’re going to have a love life, you need to show off your softer side. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Have Mercy’s emo-tinged rock is about to open up to a whole new world of sound on their forthcoming record, The Love Life. We got a taste of it with their lead single Clair, released last month, which greeted fans with gentle pizzicato strings and a soft, personal message. It’s a new side to the band that is in no way a departure from their solidified rock presence but is rather the culmination of years of learning and growing. Ahead of the release of what Have Mercy have referred to as their “most personal record” yet, the band premieres their next single.” Mercy me:
20 Even I get tired of words sometimes. Fortunately, Ikebe Shakedown is here to help. The 10-year-old New York instrumental ensemble is putting the finishing touches on its latest album Kings Left Behind, another Vulcan mind-meld of ’70s soul, raw psychedelic style, and cinematic Western soundtracks with powerful grooves and soaring melodies. Get a sample with their funky, horn-driven single Unqualified. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “With their new release, Kings Left Behind (Colemine Records), the band is giving listeners more mystery and majesty than ever before. The album features the entire group writing together, allowing each instrument and element to shine through. You’ll find rhythms that punch you right in the gut, even as dreamy guitars, lush horn melodies, and vibrant string arrangements capture your imagination.” Shake it, don’t break it:
21 Arkansas prog-metal heavyweights Pallbearer run deep — but far from silent — as they take a journey to the bottom of the ocean with their doom-laden single Atlantis, a non-album track dispensed for Sub Pop’s Singles Club. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “We’re very excited to finally be able to share another piece of new material with you. As many of you probably know by now, Pallbearer has always been very “album-oriented” — when we are writing music, it’s often with the big picture in mind. However, we also thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to release pieces that might not necessarily fit into a larger album.” Dive!
22 Youth is not always wasted on the young. Exhibit A: Young New York R&B vocalist Yianna, whose sophomore single Heavy Waters displays an emotional and technical maturity far beyond her tender years. Get on board. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Heavy Waters is about knowing that the relationship you’re in isn’t working and you’re not going anywhere with this person. You know you should leave, but you can’t or you’re afraid for one reason or another.” Better late than never:
23 Not gonna lie: Every time I hear Canadian singer-songwriter Shotgun Jimmie’s name, I think of the the opening lines to Willie Nelson’s classic Shotgun Willie: “Shotgun Willie sits around in his underwear.” Thankfully, that’s got nothing to do with his summery single Cool All the Time, which will appear on his Aug. 2 album Transistor Sister 2, a long-overdue sequel to its 2011 predecessor. I don’t even want to know how he’s spent the intervening time. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Featuring a spoken word monologue by Chad VanGaalen and musicial contributions from Steven Lambke and Cole Woods, Cool All The Time is a plea for people to abandon ego and strive for authenticity; a call to be present and vibrant. “I think of Chad’s monologue like it’s our version of Chuck D on Sonic Youth’s Kool Thing,” Shotgun Jimmie says. “In hindsight, I should have named the track Kool All The Time.” Ready, aim:
24 You have anxiety. I have anxiety. Everybody has anxiety. But Danish singer-songwriter Chorus Grant (real name: Kristian Finne) has found a way to get rid of his — by setting them free in his latest post-folk-single Give It a Name, an advance glance at his Sept. 27 album Vernacular Music. Why he gave it that name is anybody’s guess. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “The single is a song about letting go and moving on – centered around the idea of lifting the weight on one’s shoulders by “giving it a name”. It revolves around a driving Spanish guitar and soft handclaps, inspired equally by the mariachi-tradition and Kristian’s nordic heritage. Morricone’esque sounds from a slide-guitar, organs and saxophone beat the path to the soothing call and response-vocals that bring redemption and emancipation in the chorus.” Give it a whirl:
25 Tim Crabtree must have played Rock Paper Scissors at some point in his life. So he surely knows that rock beats scissors, while scissors cut paper. So why did the British-born, Montreal-based folksinger-songwriter call his musical project Paper Beat Scissors? I can only assume it’s some sort of analogy for the pen being mightier than the sword. Which seems fair enough if you listen to the haunted beauty of his latest chamber-folk track Gun Shy. It’s hard to beat. SAYS THE PRESS RELEASE: “Tim Crabtree’s haunting voice burns at the centre of the Paper Beat Scissors sound with an honesty and rawness that skirts discomfort. Built around his beautiful falsetto and a series of suspended acoustic chords, it’s moody and gorgeous.” One, two, three, go: