Posts Tagged alternative music

new music: Kira May

kira may

“Muscle Memory,” Kira May

After the release of an EP in 2014, Canadian artist Kira May decided to take some time to focus on treatment for anxiety and depression. A daunting task, she wrote about this experience for her upcoming album Sense which will be released this spring. Using a mic and a loop pedal, May creates lush pop songs.  “Muscle Memory” simmers with emotion, strength and resilience. It’s darkness and light colliding, murkiness and hopefulness.

She explained: ““Muscle Memory” explores the ways in which our bodies hold onto our painful histories. This is partially a love song for my body, which continuously strives to protect me and push for my physical and emotional survival, but it is also an exploration of the “letting go” required to move forward. When past traumas are no longer dangerous to us, although well-meaning, our bodies’ attempts to protect us can actually become harmful. This song looks specifically at the damaging effects of negative interpersonal relationships as a very young person who is still forming. In my case, the response was to retreat so deeply into the safety of my own body that it became difficult to get out.”



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new music: Swarming Branch; Luca D’Alberto




Swarming Branch, “Zsazsur’s Real Estate Song

Upbeat, catchy and quirky single. I get a bit of a Folk Implosion and OK Go vibe from this Columbus, Ohio based experimental electro/indie/folk project of singer/songwriter Andrew Graham, drummer Lon Leary and a rotating group of collaborating musicians. The new album from Swarming BranchSurreal Number— (SofaBurn Records) is out now. The album was produced by Rob Barbato (Drinks, Kevin Morby, Peaking Lights).



Luca D’Alberto, “Endless”

Full throttle new wave classical music in this gorgeous, atmospheric song. Luca D’Alberto is a classical composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist [violin, viola, violectra, cello and piano] from Italy. Endless [7K!] is out now. The album was produced by Martyn Heyne (Nils Frahm, Lubomir Melnyk, Peter Broderick, Tiny Ruins and The National).

About the album title, Luca said: “Endless is a secret place, a place where we can be free to remember everything, without being afraid, without limits. A place where we can let go of ourselves, without thinking, where we can allow our bodies to rest peacefully and find the courage to live the noisy silence of our lives.”

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on tour: Deerhoof

deerhoof pic.jpg

Deerhoof is on tour this summer. The tour starts tomorrow in Brooklyn and ends in August in Dallas. The band’s latest album The Magic [Polyvinyl] is out June 24. Of the new album, singer/bassist Satomi Matsuzaki, said: “I joined Deerhoof a week after I arrived in San Francisco from Japan. I hopped on a MUNI bus to have a first meeting but got off at a wrong stop. I was lost and confused. They found me on a dark street corner after I called for help from a pay phone. Since then my adventure expanded. Deerhoof is a vehicle with four powered wheels that takes me through forest, desert and buildings. My life is adventure!”

tour dates:
06.22.16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Market Hotel ^
06.23.16 – Brooklyn, NY @ Market Hotel #
06.24.16 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall #
06.25.16 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer *
06.26.16 – Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar *

07.07.16 – Portland, OR @ Revolution Hall $
07.08.16 – Vancouver, BC @ Fortune $
07.09.16 – Seattle, WA @ Neumo’s $
07.12.16 – San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall $
07.13.16 – Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom $
07.14.16 – San Diego, CA @ The Casbah $
07.15.16 – Tucson, AZ @ Club Congress $
07.16.16 – Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom $
07.18.16 – Salt Lake City, UT @ Urban Lounge $
07.19.16 – Boise, ID @ Radio Boise Series (Neurolux) $

08.03.16 – Denver, CO @ The Hi Dive ^^
08.04.16 – Omaha, NE @ The Waiting Room ^^
08.05.16 – Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall ^^
08.06.16 – Milwaukee, WI @ Mad Planet ^^
08.08.16 – Indianapolis, IN @ The Hi Fi ^^
08.09.16 – Lexington, KY @ Cosmic Charlie’s ^^
08.10.16 – Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge ^^
08.11.16 – Athens, GA @ Athens Popfest (Georgia Theatre)
08.12.16 – Pensacola, FL @ Vinyl Music Hall ^^
08.13.16 – New Orleans, LA @ Gasa Gasa ^^
08.14.16 – Houston, TX @ Walter’s Downtown **
08.16.16 – Austin, TX @ The Mohawk **
08.17.16 – Dallas, TX @ Trees **

^ w C Spencer Yeh & Ava Luna
# w/ Kill Alters & Ed Balloon
* w/ Kill Alters
$ w/ Skating Polly
^^ w/ Cowtown
** w/ Cowtown & Tele Novella

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new music and tour: Holly Miranda

Holly Miranda, “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross” (Sufjan Stevens Cover)”

–haunting and exquisite cover. Holly Miranda definitely embraces the happy sad in music. Her EP Party Trick [Dangerbird] is out today May 13, 2016 It features covers of Morphine (already sad), Bon Iver (mellow) and Drake.

Holly Miranda explained:  “The title of this album comes from Tegan Quinn saying I could take any song and ‘make it sad’ she said it was my ‘Party Trick.’ Some of these covers are new, but others I’ve done throughout the years. It’s just what I do for fun. Doing covers is such a great way to learn the way someone else constructs a song, if you can break that down and find your own voice in it, it can be something really interesting.”

tour dates:

06.04 – New York, NY @ Randall’s Island Park Governors Ball
06.08 – Boston, MA @ Great Scott
06.09 – Portsmouth, NH @ 3S Artspace
06.10 – Hudson, NY@  Club Helsinki
06.11 – Providence, RI @ Columbus Theatre
06.12 – Northampton, MA @ Parlor Room

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STEELE PICKS: Best Albums of 2015

Although I’ve ostensibly been a music critic for several decades I’m not on the press lists I used to be so I rely on spotify to find much of my new music. So there are some favorite artists and bands here as well as new discoveries. Music that appeals to me must speak to my heart, soul, mind. The melodies are mostly dark, swirling, moody with unusual arrangements and instrumentation. Sometimes it’s folk or electro-pop. Mostly dark alternative. I favor female vocalists with varied range, strength and style.

chelsea wolfe abyss

Chelsea Wolfe, Abyss [Sargent House]
–I love Chelsea Wolfe. always and forever. dark, swirling, atmospheric and emotive.

beach house_depression cherry

Beach House, Depression Cherry [Sub Pop]
–a rich, beautiful album that I can [and do] play again and again.

chvrches_every open eye

Chvrches, Every Open Eye [Glassnote]
–electropop. energetic and powerful. one of my favorite bands.

lana del rey_honeymoon

Lana Del Rey, Honeymoon [Interscope]
–moody gorgeousness


Sasha Siem, Most of the Boys
–a bit of Bjork, a bit of Florence and the Machine. quite beautiful, swirling and beguiling.


The Decemberists, What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World [Capitol]
–another favorite band that I find both comforting and subversive. extremely talented and inherently beautiful songwriting.


Lauren Peacock, Euphonia
–what I said in my August review: “combines piano with lush arrangements for memorable, moving melodies. The vocals shimmy and simmer.”


Torres, Sprinter [PTKF]
–Singer/songwriter Mackenzie Scott possesses maturity and presence beyond her years. beautiful, raw, haunting. echos of PJ Harvey and Amanda Palmer.

science and the beat

Science and the Beat, Future Blue
–skilled duo of multi-instrumentalists Tasha Katrine and Rob Zilla that create the cool sounds and eclectic arrangements. moody, strong, electro-pop. read the review.


Sleater-Kinney, No Cities to Love
–powerful, outspoken and rocking


Waxahatchee, Ivy Tripp [Merge Records]


Bjork, Vulnicura [One Little Indian Us]
–orchestral arrangements with Bjork’s cool weirdness. a bit slower than other albums and it’s fantastic.

wolf alice_my love is cool

Wolf Alice, My Love is Cool [RCA]
–heard the single on a British radio station and was hooked.

grimes_art angels

Grimes, Art Angels [4AD]
–unusually arranged songs about being weird, being an outcast. angelic vocals. what’s not to appreciate?

ellie goulding_delirium

Ellie Goulding, Delirium [Interscope]
–beautiful pop songs


Courtney Barnett, Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit [MOM & POP MUSIC]
–past, present and future infused with her witty lyrics and alt-pop melodies.

sufjan stevens_ carrie & lowell

Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell [Asthmatic Kitty]
–cool soothing folk. open and lovely.

furniture girls

Furniture Girls, Chaos
–kick ass garage rock. review here.

A History of Now - Album Cover HIGH RES

Callaghan, A History of Now
–happy, optimistic Americana/ folk/ alt-country mix. when it came out I wrote: “A History of Now will definitely make you feel 10% happier after listening to it.”

julie holter_ have you in my wilderness

Julia Holter, Have You in my Wilderness
–combines retro with current arrangements. gorgeous vocals.

wind burial

Wind Burial, We Used to Be Hunters
–immediately caught my attention as it manages to convey intensity, danger and beauty. review.

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music preview: Men Without Hats at Johnny D’s on June 17


Men Without Hats then

Men Without Hats then

founded in Montreal in 1977 by Ivan Doroschuk (vocals, keyboards) with Jeremie Arrobas (keyboards & electronics), as well as Ivan’s brother Stefan (guitars). Struggling for recognition in Canada, Men Without Hats broke out in Europe and then in the United States effectively shaping 80s music when Men Without Hats scored a top ten hit with “The Safety Dance” in 1983 and then again in 1987 with “Pop Goes the World.” The band’s videos are a slice of 80s glamour, excess and fun. Just look at Ivan’s luscious locks back then. Men Without Hats broke up and reformed several times in the mid-90s and again in 2010. The current line-up includes keyboard players Lou Dawson and Rachel Ashmore and guitarist James Love.

On tour now, the band will be at Johnny D’s in Somerville on Wednesday, June 17.

Men Without Hats now

Men Without Hats now

sound: 80s new wave, electronica, upbeat fun


Rhythm of Youth [1982]
Folk of the 80’s [1984]
Pop Goes the World [1987]
The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century [1989]
Sideways [1991]
No Hats Beyond This Point [2003]
Love in the Age of War [2012]

find Men Without Hats on Facebook and Twitter

Tour Dates:

Saturday, June 13 Montage Music Hall, Rochester, NY

Monday, June 15, World Café Live, Philadelphia

Tuesday, June 15, Open Arts Theatre, Bordentown, NJ

Wednesday, June 17, Johnny D’s, Somerville, Mass.

Friday, June 18, Revolution Bar and Music Hall, Amityville, NY

Saturday, June 20, Iridium Jazz Club, New York, NY

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music review: Wind Burial

wind burial

Favoring female vox atop swirling melodies anytime any day and gravitating toward darkness, Wind Burial immediately caught my attention as it manages to convey intensity, danger and beauty.Varied instrumentation combined with sweeping arrangements resonates with atmospheric moodiness. It’s a compelling folk, alternative, psychedelic mélange that the Seattle band dubs desert-psyche.

Vocalist/Moog player Kat Terran provides a sonic depth with vulnerable and bold vocals. Her vocals sound similar to Zola Jesus, Chelsea Wolfe and Valerie Forgione. from my favorite 90s band Mistle Thrush. “Sleeping Giant” gloriously spirals and shimmies and immediately reminded me of Mistle Thrush. “Crown of Bones” features ominous lyrics and dazzles, twists and rocks a bit. Into the depths for the exquisitely wistful “A Story from the Sea.” The band effectively starts with gentle melodica and churns to a heart-pumping crescendo on “We Used to Be Hunters.” Terran showcases her stunning vocals yet again on the slower emotional “Traveler.”

The band recorded the album in an old wooden church in the historic seaport of Anacortes. Sounds like a cool setting. This is an album to play on repeat. Wind Burial quickly became my new favorite band.


Wind Burial
We Used to Be Hunters
Release date: March 17, 2015

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