WTIP’s Music Director, Will Moore reviews new music
WTIP’s Music Director, Will Moore reviews new music
What are some of the best simple pleasures in life? The earthy scent of the first rain of spring, the feeling of freshly cut green grass in the summer, the warmth of a cozy campfire. How about this one, the discovery of an artist who’s music you fall in love with instantly, that you can tell upon first listen, is going to be someone you follow for a long time. That was my recent experience with Hatchie, an Australian solo artist who’s major label debut Giving the World Away has me totally recalibrating my own musical interests and where I see indie pop headed in the future.
The phrase “the man the myth the legend” is a bit overused these days, often used in jest or just as a meme. But it’s very appropriate to use when talking about someone like Jack White, man not only globally renowned for his ludicrous guitar skills and wild performances, but also anecdotes about his eclectic style, and eccentric personality. There’s a mythos around Jack about how he was an unscrupulous upholsterer in Detroit, built a guitar out of scraps of junk, and devised some of the most wacky vinyl records ever concieved. With the White Stripes long in the Rearview, he’s focused on his other band the Raconteurs, Third Man Records label, and mostly his solo career. Now deep into his Blue phase with a new hairstyle that matches, he releases his latest album Fear of the Dawn, which could be the guitar god at his most unhinged. (more…)
Way back in 1998, by family finally got a cable subscription, meaning my brother and I could watch new and exciting channels like THE BOX, a short lived, sort of original MTV copy-cat network that played requested music videos 24/7. There were two videos on the channel that stuck out to me more than any others, and they were both from the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The black and white gothic Tim Burton-looking video for Otherside, and the famously video-game inspired one for Californication. This is my very earliest memory of discovering new, current music, and from that point on the Chili Peppers were one of my very favorite bands throughout my adolescence and beyond, even today having a special place in my heart for kickstarting my interest in music. And now, though they’ve had a sort of confusing last decade, they’re back in their best configuration and a new album, called Unlimited Love.
What is the state of bluegrass in the larger scheme of music today? A genre hearkening back about a century in America and seen as largely traditional has definitely exploded in recent years with the advent of a new generation of energetic newgrass bands. The list of performing acts that have come through Grand Marais over the last decade or so to places like the Gunflint Tavern is maybe one of the best examples of that. The other would be Billy Strings showing up at the Grammys alongside major country stars and headlining huge festivals. Though he has become the face of the new era of bluegrass, there is another picker out there who is every bit as wildly talented as he is, and blends the old with the new perhaps even better than he does. That person is Molly Tuttle, who has a new album out with her brand new band Golden Highway called Crooked Tree.
For so many, music is often a thing to cling to when there’s nothing else around. In 2013 discovering new music was about all I had going for me at the time, and to help pull me out of a bad spot I got really into bands that were reviving synthpop sounds of the 80s that would ultimately lead to the synthwave genre that sprouted and thrived in the 2010s. The near-undisputed king of that movement was French producer Kavinsky, who’s song Nightcall appeared in the Ryan Gosling movie Drive to smashing success, and helped launch The Weeknd to fame. His album Outrun was a singular retro-drenched experience that made fans desperate for a follow-up. But that sophomore album never came. Until now! After 9 excruciating years, Kavinsky returns with an album appropriately called Reboen.
This weekend I listened to two new albums on repeat, one of which I had been hoping and praying would be released for the last 9 YEARS, nearly a decade of anticipation coming to fruition. But wouldn’t you know it, by this week it was the songs from the OTHER album, from a group that now to my chagrin I had never even listened to before, that was still stuck in my head and blew me away even more. That is the power of Ibibio Sound Machine, a sprawling band from the UK with African roots and an unbelievable sound. Their latest album, their fourth, is called Electricity and for the most part is purely that.
Now here’s an album that beings with a whistle-and-stomp folk pop song that sounds like any number of Lumineers-adjacent bands that have cropped up in the last decade or so. But what if I told you it was written by the same guys who did the song “Shout”?
That’s right, it is Tears for Fears! The English duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith who had a string of huge hits in the 1980s like this one, Shout, and Everybody wants to rule the world among others. They were an unremovable part of the 1980s music scene and history, integral to the rise of the new wave and synthpop sounds of the era. The duo broke up for a good chunk of the 90s and returned around the turn of the century for one more reunion album for going totally radio silent for over 18 years. Until now.
I need to start out with a big thank you to WTIP listener Tori Danielson for recommending today’s album because it is a doozy. Every now and then there is album that really changes the way you even think about what an album even is or can be, a set of songs meant to be played and performed together at a specific moment in time. Records like this come only once in a blue moon, but I think 2022 already has a record like that. It’s the latest from the band Big Thief, a Brooklyn-based band with some strong Minnesota ties that’s become one of the biggest names in indie rock. And this album has quite a big name too. Welcome to Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe in You.
The powerful, roaring voice of Nathaniel Rateliff has become a staple in modern AAA music, as is his energetic back up band, the Night Sweats, but the story behind Rateliff is an interesting one, and one that almost had an abrupt end. Rateliff has been making music in the Denver area for over 20 years, starting out with only local and regional fame with his band Born in the Flood. Over time popularity seemed to plateau, and upon forming the Night Sweats, he saw that as his last Hurrah for a career in music, one last shot with everything he had to make it work. And oh boy did it work.
It’s hard to get excited about things in the dead of winter sometimes, the dark days and doldrums of staying close to home and constant preoccupation with staying warm can just sort of naturally hamper your enjoyment of things, but there’s nothing like a really good record to lift your spirits and bring sunny vibes back into your life. Even if those good vibes are also laced with harsh truths and straight talk about heavy but important topics in our world today. Somehow, singer Mary Akpa has created an album that is at once tremendously soothing and also a call for racial understanding.
In these darkening days of Northern November it can be hard to feel uplifted, to feel energized or even excited about things. However, this is an ailment that the discovery of a great new band can easily cure, at least for a little bit. Today the remedy is a spoonful of pop duo Magdalena Bay, and their new album called Mercurial World.
It’s always interesting to find out that musicians have other creative pursuits other than just music. Great songwriters like Joni Mitchell, David Bowie have also been avid painters. And of course there’s a long pipeline of pop stars who have turned to acting, with modern examples like Lady Gaga and Jared Leto. But for some artists, their creativity and multi-discipline talents go even further where they excel equally at anything they set their minds to. Louie Zong is one such artist.
If you were listening to WTIP this Wednesday at 2pm, right at the end of Undercurrents, you heard a certain song. A jangly, folk pop tune that seems in line with a lot of their music choices. But I simply could not believe what I was hearing, because this song isn’t from an album, it’s from a video game. Specifically my favorite game ever, called Outer Wilds. So that exposure seems like a good excuse to geek out about one of the best parts of that game, the music, composed by Andrew Prahlow, and why its so compelling and warrants the airplay.
What would you consider the golden age of music? When it felt like music was at its most meaningful across the board? For most of us I would expect us to be the time where we first got acquainted with pop music at our time or first really becoming aware of new music around us, whether that’s as children or teenagers, or just when you were at an exciting and memorable time of your life.
I’ve talked about synthwave and the reintroduction of 80s electronic sounds to pop music at exhaustive length on this segment, going through artists poking up through the increasingly less underground scene. But for the vast majority of music listeners today that sound is associated most with one person, The Weeknd.
When I was a young teenager in the 2000s I was purely into classic rock. I naively cast aside the pop punk and hip hop and god forbid COUNTRY music that was on the radio, thinking that hard hitting Brit-rock titans like Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin could not ever be topped. Then I remember watching the Grammys in 2008, only to see that Robert Plant, lead singer of Zeppelin won Album of the Year with Allison Krauss – a woman I only knew from the O Brother Where Art Thou soundtrack that my parents kept pumping through the car and home.
Listeners of WTIP do not adjust your radio for what you’re about to hear.
Music Director Will Moore counts down the 10 best records from 2021 played on Sidetracks.
After a year where everyone was locked down at home and no concerts anywhere, 2021 was bound to be one of the most interesting years musically speaking than ever before. And now, nearly at the end of the calendar, there has been a late push of records over the last couple months that is truly stunning, unlike anything I’ve seen before. It’s hard to keep track of it all, but if there’s one album you want to make sure that you check out in the flurry of it all as the flurries stat outside, it should be Neal Francis’ new album In Plain Sight. The Chicago-based rocker has a record out that doesn’t just take a page out of the 1970s book, but seems to have read the whole book and then written his own.
Imagine if in another timeline the great late Chick Corea didn’t form the group Return to Forever, but went in a more unique direction. He kept his lively jazz fusion style but instead of Stanley Clarke, he teamed up with funk bass legend Larry Graham and on top of that, heavy metal guitar shredder Paul Gilbert. Somewhere in the vast multiverse of possibilities maybe there’s a world where that happened, but luckily for us we don’t have to dream such a thing. At least not anymore. Because I think together the combined sounds and abilities of those artists would sound a lot like this album called New and Improved by the greatest Canadian costumed funk-rock band this side of Halifax, TWRP.