OK, this is it. Early autumn brings the last major batch of new music for 2017. Indie artists in particular tend to aim for September, with many of the bigger names typically following in October (this year that means Beck, St. Vincent, etc). But then – outside of Black Friday – the release schedule tends to revolve around just a handful of superstars gunning for smash hits over the holidays (Taylor Swift, Maroon 5, Sia, U2). September is also the cut-off date for Grammy eligibility: any artist with their eye on a prize in January 2018 had to issue their contender by September 30th. Not that that matters for most of the music discussed below. Part of reason this monthly surveys and its predecessors exist is to have a variety of music that stood out regardless of if it has a mammoth following or is likely to win awards. Click through for the responses from January, February, March, April,
May, June, July and August. Music and moments that stood out in September are below:
Grawlixes Set Free – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
Filled with poetic notes and simple instrumentation, it’s a commendable collection of soft, alt-folk harmonies and experimental lyricism. Built on a foundation of story telling…with an undeniable potential for profound lyricism and a bottomless folk rock diversity.
Pikachunes Alleley – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
Pikachunes takes you on a journey of personal growth with Allely, contrasting darker themes surrounding a series of unfortunate events with contagious melodies and uplifting beats… Allely is heavy with melancholy, with tracks like You Are, Pioy and Friends and Family carrying a lingering sadness and others sporting haunting beats nostalgic of The Presets or New Order.
LIGHT and Henry Lloyd Wilson Split Album – Click here to read more at Happy Mag
A dark and unyieldingly gloomy release that is mercilessly captivating, like getting lost in a blizzard at night…With a co-release there is the risk that both artists deliver contributions too disparate to deliver a cohesive record. But in this case, LIGHT and Henry Lloyd Wilson have seamlessly combined their unique styles to create something brooding and impassioned.
Happy is quarterly music and youth culture print magazine based in Enmore, Australia that also publishes new music reviews and special features daily on their web site, hhhhappy.com. The whole music world should know by now there’s something special going on done under (King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard, The Tame Impala/ Pond posse, etc). Happy is the essential source to stay updated on that scene and beyond. Follow on twitter at twitter.com/happymagtv.
The Fire Note founder Christopher Anthony
September offered plenty of music that blew our speakers!
I am fairly certain that if Ty Segall would release the alphabet song it would be fantastic. Segall has a continuous work ethic and his output never suffers as this new stand-alone single “Alta,” is another great track. It also helps that “Alta” features the reconvened Freedom Band, which is Emmett Kelly (guitar, vocals), Mikal Cronin (bass, vocals), Charles Moothart (drums) and Ben Boye (keyboards) plus Ty recorded this new track at Electrical Audio with Steve Albini. “Alta” is a can’t lose and if you don’t know Ty Segall – play this track now!
PLAX / Clean Feeling / Super Secret Records
The best job I have running The Fire Note is benefiting from our writers’ great taste and discovery skills for new music. Austin-based PLAX is one those bands, as the quasi-punk group is comprised of members from Spray Paint, OBN IIIs, Skeleton and Sweet Talk. What is most impressive about PLAX is that they give you all these short energized tracks and then close with the seven minute “Mold.” The track ties the record together with its pulsing rhythms, tormented vocals and non-stop guitar grind. This record will have you constantly reaching to turn up the volume.
The Side Eyes / So Sick / In The Red Records
Led by the 22-year old singer Astrid McDonald, Southern California punk quartet The Side Eyes deliver a very raw in your face punk rock debut LP. If the Descendants met the Red Aunts and punked out some tracks – you get The Side Eyes with 25 minutes of pedal to the floor. Releasing So Sick on In The Red gives them full punk cred and I can’t wait to see what this band does next.
Drowned In Sound and Immersive Atlanta writer;
This Is Not A Drill founder Lee Adcock
So this was a rather tense month, to say the least. First, us Southerners had to duck and weave through hurricane / tropical storm Irma – and while Georgia wasn’t ravaged nearly as much as Florida (bless them, poor folk), we did see plenty of fallen trees, trapped neighborhoods and downed powerlines. A few weeks later, my faithful Toyata Camry finally gasped its last coolant-laced breath one Wednesday night on the interstate – turns out, I blew a gasket and burned out my engine. Well, now I’ve got a new car and some experience with Lyft under my belt, so, y’know – blessing in disguise, maybe?
At any rate, swell music remained in abundance! The live set of the month is a toss-up. Earlier in September, Downtown Boys rolled into town and blew us all away – all 20 of us, anyway, because the Masquerade crowd is LAAAAAAAME and turned out for Metro Station instead. Whatever! The saxophonist DID A BARREL ROLL into the pit, drew blood, and still came back for more action! AND we got to dance on stage (second month in a row – ay!). The other best gig of the month? Oooooh, y’all. Zola Jesus mesmerized us with their new, very Curve-ish torch songs – and Nika was such a fantastic phantom up on stage, I could barely say hi to her afterwards without light chills. The night was only marred by the insistent chatter in the crowd, including the two dude bros who were all, “Yo, this is Chelsea Wolfe. This is exactly what this is.” Yeaaaah…have they even heard Wolfe lately, I wonder?
Now, what were the best records? Oof, I’m spoiled for choice in this department. You had Deerhoof’s big, collaborative, anti-fascist party; meditations by the seaside with Un Blonde; and the latest whimsical world from Chad VanGaalen. But the biggest surprises for me came right
outta the ATL: namely, the stupidly acidic sophomore from Twin Trances, and another second round from figurative gymnasts Omni. Pretty sure that I scrutinized the latter more than anyone else I’ve reviewed in a while – dead curious to find out how the blokes take that write-up.
Reviews that don’t suck, songs of the day, interviews and more, This Is Not A Drill shines a light on the best music you’re probably not hearing elsewhere (this piece on Dirty Projectors, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and the state of indie rock in 2017 is especially recommended).
Radio Free Brooklyn president/co-founder/program director and Frequency Theory host Tom Tenney
This is an easy one for September: Lee Scratch Perry & Subatomic Sound System’s collaboration on “Super Ape Returns to Conquer” – the 2017 makeover of Perry’s 1976 seminal dub album “Super Ape.” I originally thought this was just gonna be a SSS remix, but it’s totally redone from the ground up, and the record sounds as fresh as the original did in the 70’s. Perry is now in his 80’s (and still touring!) and while I wouldn’t say anything was ‘lacking’ in the original, his vocals now reveal the weight and wisdom of his years, and Subatomic Sound System add just the right amount of polish and groove. It’s a beautiful album.
Radio Free Brooklyn is a nonprofit, commercial-free freeform Internet Radio platform, streaming original content by the artists and residents of NYC’s most populous borough 24-hours a day, 7 days a week. Have a listen: their schedule is here, and their full list of shows is here. Follow Radio Free Brooklyn at facebook/radiofreebk, twitter/radiofreebk and instagram/radiofreebk.
Psych Insight Music founder, Simon Smith
Intro/ Outro by Moths and Locusts (Cardinal Fuzz)
This is because ‘Intro/ Outro’ is the sound of a band taking chances, the sound of a band who are not afraid to experiment, and the sound of a band on the move. They join a number of other bands in what we broadly call the ‘psych scene’ who are pushing their music inexorably into areas that risky, yet by doing that are bringing big rewards.
Our Mother Was A Plant by JuJu (Fuzz Club)
As I said I had huge expectations for this album after last year’s release. That these have been met is both a joy and a relief, but what I would say is that they have not been met in the way that I expected. While the overall tone of the album is lighter and more upbeat, certainly from a casual listen; when you really get into it this is a deep and occasionally introspective set of songs that are every bit as affecting as their predecessors. As such this, in my view, can be seen as a step forward by Valenti who has brought us an album that is more subtle yet every bit as compelling… I expect ‘Our Mother Was A Plant’ to be on my turntable every bit as much as ‘JuJu’… and that is testimony indeed to its excellence.
Tidalwave by The Backhomes
The best way to describe the way this album sounds is to get you to look at the album cover, because it perfectly sums it up. There’s an overall sense of calm and warmth to the album, but also a sense of competing light and dark with is evident throughout. This means that there are melodies on here (and Tidalwave is really well arranged) that just hit you and make you melt, but there’s also a sense of unease here too. A fantastic album that’s definitely going to be a candidate once the best of the year list is being considered.
Psych Insight Music is the essential reference for staying up to date with the current psych scene, particularly the new releases criminally overlooked elsewhere on the web. Follow Simon’s favorite new listens at bandcamp.com/psychinsightmusic and twitter.com/psychinsightmsc and read his reviews of the aforementioned releases from Moths and Locusts, The Backhomes and JuJu.
Simon is also walking 3000 miles this year to raise £3000 for a cancer charity. Details on how you can help him reach his goal are here.
The Owl Mag’s Wayne Jessup
There’s always a sharp intake of breath, and an unnerving dread when a favorite old band decides to dust off the legacy and reconvene. Especially when it involves unleashing new material on an audience hell bent on looking backwards. Like the resuscitation of the Afghan Whigs, the key seems to involve less the didactic lineup choices and more a less linear search for the ‘spirit’ of the band. With this incarnation of the Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn finds the right combination of chemistry and history, summoning up the spirits for a new LP, How Did I Find Myself Here, that both honors the legacy of the band, and speaks well to our current psychic situation.
After an EP on Down There Records, Dream Syndicate unleashed one of the decade’s high-water marks, The Days Of Wine and Roses. Medicine Show followed up, and effectively marked the end of their original incarnation, as the group pushed on for a few more years before Steve Wynn moved on, pursuing his muse with solo records that expanded his guitar-centric vision. When the subject of lost gems comes up, my go-to choice is always “Melting In The Dark”, a ferocious meeting between Wynn and Boston’s Come, one of my fave overlooked American guitar records.
Wynn reconvened the Dream Syndicate in 2012 to mark the 30th anniversary of The Days Of Wine And Roses, and toured the restored lineup sporadically, and at a certain point, felt comfortable enough to go forward with new material, as well as finding the perfect label partner in Anti. It’s a look back with longing, and a rueful coming to terms with what keeps us going. From the seductive opening of “Filter Me Through You”, it’s not only the ‘comfortable sweater effect’, but a reminder that for all their twin-guitar fireworks, this band could craft a melody. “Glide” lives up to its name and does nothing to break the spell. “Out Of My Head” turns back the clock to their Velvet Underground inspired roots, driven by OG drummer Dennis Duck. “80 West” cribs the bass line intro from their epic “Halloween”, conjuring up an airy stormer that wouldn’t have been out of place on 1984’s Medicine Show. “Like Mary” and “The Circle” serve as alternating currents of reconciling one’s past, the former a whisper, the latter a stomping fulcrum that’s the most concise delineation of the current band, setting up the LP’s final phase…
“How Did I Find Myself” live with John Paul Jones in Norway
Bonkers KEXP set from 2014
Contrary as always, the first peek from the project was the immense title track, the band settling into a groove for over three minutes until Wynn drops in. Spacey and stormy, it’s a classic Dream Syndicate epic that moves with a grace belying its 11 minute length. Truly closing the circle is left to the final track, “Kendra’s Dream”, featuring vocals from original bassist Kendra Smith (Opal), In an interview with Aquarium Drunkard, Wynn described getting her vocals as “being like Christmas Day”. It turns into an emergence from the darkness. The glimpses of hope are all the rarer these days, and all the more important. How Did I Find Myself Here marks a stunning return to form, and a welcome home to the Dream Syndicate.
Read Wayne’s pieces for The Owl Mag here (such as this recent Tracks of the Week) and his blog, Burned all my notebooks, what good are. Notebooks? (dig the Talking Heads reference), here – and follow him at twitter.com/waj1.
Nightshift Magazine and musicOMH’s Sam Shepherd
There was plenty of good stuff around in September. Zola Jesus’ new one is rather special and I got re-acquainted with the soundtrack to Blue Velvet as well. A little time spent in a Lynchian dreamworld is always time well spent in my book.
Releases wise – I really enjoyed the new album from Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Behind The Shadow Drops. And the Chelsea Wolfe album is pretty spectacular too. Whilst not music exactly, I was lucky enough to get one of a small number of the Oxbow book – Thin Black Book – which serves as a companion piece to their album Thin Black Duke. The upshot of that is, I remain convinced that Thin Black Duke is going to take some shifting when it comes to my favourite albums of the year, when we start having to contemplate such things.
Finally – a quick word on Cardiacs. I forget which month the new DVD – Some Fairy Tales from The Rotten Shed – plopped onto the doormat, but I urge everyone who loves great tunes, chaos and bass players in their underpants to seek it out. It’s an absolute joy and a reminder of the trio of nights we had at the Garage way back when. Anyway, there you go – that’s this month (and probably a little bit more).
Go seek out Oxbow, GY!BY and Cardiacs.
In the meantime, I’ll be here listening to “Tina, This Is Matthew Stone” by Prolapse. What a fucking great song that is.
Sam reviews new albums, mostly for musicOMH (but also Sings The Browns). Read his reviews of the aforementioned albums by Oxbow, or his live review of Desertfest and follow Sam on twitter at twitter.com/socksinhell.
Ravin’ Wire founder, Bob Sarles
I’ve been listening to Gregg Allman’s swan song Southern Blood, recorded at Fame Studio and produced by Don Was. Sounds amazing. Song selection is excellent, Lowell’s “Willin’,” Jerry Garcia & Robert Hunter’s “Black Muddy River,” Dylan’s “Going Going Gone,” Tim Buckley’s “Once I Was,” Spooner Oldham and Dan Penn’s “Out of Left Field” and a heartbreaking “Song For Adam” with a duet with Jackson. And other tracks that simply rock. This record is an instant classic and a worthy addition to a great legacy. RIP Brother Gregg.
The roots of The Ravin Wire go back to a mid-1990s e-mail list-service that sent subscribers several articles per day. Since 2009 followers have been updated with a variety of content from across the web shared on the Ravin Wire facebook pageby Bob Sarles – a filmmaker and film and television editor based out of San Francisco and Los Angeles – and by following Bob Sarles’ twitter account.
3hive’s Todd Simmons
Standouts for September.
This was a pleasant surprise in one of Spotify’s “Discover Weekly” lists. These guys from the Netherlands would fit perfectly on Slumberland’s roster.
Killer new solo album from former Page France and Cotton Jones singer. If you liked Cotton Jones, you’ll love this.
Wonky, off-kilter beats with intelligent writing, this is one of the best hip-hop albums of the year.
3hive.com is been a virtual jukebox, linking to MP3s since 2003, now embedding official streams. Tabs on top of the site make it easy to sort through the latest recommendations from specific genres (rock, electronic and psychedelic for instance). Follow on Facebook and Twitter.
Independent Ethos co-founder Hans Morgenstern
The most amazing thing about the new David Bowie box set, A New Career in a New Town, is the insane new mix of Lodger by the album’s producer Tony Visconti. Beginning with the new drum fill that kicks off the album, the album pulses and echoes with new life to the last reverbing declaration of “Red Money” that closes the album. In the many years I’ve played this album, I’ve never really heard the mandolins in the album’s first track, “Fantastic Voyage.” The album is now heavily percussive in a way I’ve never heard before. “Yassassin” has some echoing whacks on the tom drums that were not apparent in early mixes. For “Move On,” an early run over the drums kicks the track into a subliminal higher gear lacking in the original track’s mix. Halfway through the song, Bowie’s voice echoes with an amped up texture of reverb, an effect that also reappears on many of the songs in this mix. If there is one misstep in this new version of the 1979 album it’s in the decision to swap out the original guitar solo that closes “Boys Keep Swinging.” The finale of the song has been defanged, missing its menacing higher notes.
But for the most part, it’s a brilliant listen that allows the diverse instrumentation on this album shine like it never has before. A rubbery bass for “Yassassin,” the shimmering splash of cymbals in “Repetition” and the bigger vocals for “Look Back in Anger”– it’s just a brilliant way to rediscover the least appreciated of Bowie’s so-called “Berlin Trilogy.”
Vice chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, Hans writes about indie music and cinema for a variety of websites including MiamiNewTimes.com and his own Independent Ethos. He’s also an expert on David Bowie. Listen to his Spotify mix of Visconti’s Lodger above (or here), and follow updates at twitter.com/Indieethos.
The pre-release early tracks for St. Vincent’s Masseduction are great blends of intimate sharing and that rich, modern, textured tech-rock thing she does. Looking forward to the full album and the tour.
I enjoyed Deerhoof’s Mountain Moves — The political sidetrack and covers reflects their usual catchy complexity quite nicely.
Opposite Box, a space-traveling jam outfit form Chattanooga, have a great new release called OBscene.
I have intentions to hear more of Ringo Starr’s Give More Love. His “on tour again” collaboration with Paul McCartney is an amiable entry into the tour-spiel genre.
I appreciate Miley Cyrus’ Younger Now more than I imagined I would. The Dolly Parton duet is a clear winner, there.
Downtown Randall Brown writes a weekly column for the USA Today network’s Knoxville News Sentinel and fronts the band Quartjar – buy their just released new album Squatch: An Odyssey In Space and Time on bandcamp. Check out his profile on the origins of Deerhoof, and his report on The Flaming Lips’ “Brainville” Rye Whiskey. Follow him at twitter.com/RandallMBrown.
Show The Show managing editor Shane McFarland
There’s been a handful of really impressive performances over the past month or so. Some of the ones that come to mind are:
– Farm Aid at KeyBank Pavilion I think it’s called now
– The festival Brooklyn Comes Alive just held in the past few weekends across three different Brooklyn venues was outstanding
– Bob Weir sitting in with Jim James at Sound Summit in Mill Valley, CA
– Greensky Bluegrass with Fruition at Red Rocks
– Billy Joel sitting in with Paul McCartney at the Nassau Coliseum
ShowTheShow.com specializes in updates on live music streams and related concert and tour news. Since 2016 ShowTheShow has teamed with LiveList.com to integrate LiveList’s streaming player on ShowTheShow.com. ShowTheShow also features visual and performing artists with their columns Fresh Tracks and Fresh Art. Follow at facebook/stslivemusic, instagram/stslivemusic and twitter/stslivemusic.
Jam Band Purist founder R. A. Fadley
This past month has been filled with musical adventures from New York City to Asheville, North Carolina. As a music journalist and avid music lover, I get to see all the up-and-coming acts in the rock and jam world. I was most impressed with Spafford, who played a tight set and amazing encore at the Brooklyn Bowl in NYC. Here Come The Mummies, a 5000 year old funk band from beyond the tomb, come in first place though, with high energy and a raw skilled professional performance. While the always fabulous Marcus King absolutely slays the guitar everytime I see him live. Get out and see more live music!
IndieNugget co-founder, Maria Lopes
Fingertips’ Jeremy Schlosberg
The Roseline “How To Be Kind”
Front man Colin Halliburton doesn’t sound like Jeff Tweedy per se but projects a charming Tweedy-like aura as the song ambles its way along, all soft piano fills and drumming that finds an edge between gentle and bashy.
Read more and download at Fingertips
Work Drugs “Alternative Facts”
A splendid marriage of vibe and craft, “Alternative Facts” is not the latest release from Philadelphia’s prolific Work Drugs, but is the one that has stuck with me most thoroughly.
Read more and download at Fingertips
Listen to Karolina Thunberg’s sweet, clear-throated voice, with its understated vibrato, and then listen to how snugly Ísak Ásgeirsson’s blends in. Listen to the lonely, resonant guitar tones, redolent of empty spaces and purple skies. Listen to the evocative drumming, with its preference for rumbling over crashing. This is marvelous new music, from beginning to end, using an aural palette that evokes classic rock without sounding tired or derivative in any way.
Read more and download at Fingertips
Fingertips’ self-appointed mission is ‘to help discerning music lovers find the web’s best free and legal downloads,’ which it does with its monthly MP3 picks. The site also features its Eclectic Playlist Series, a monthly playlist that curates music from six or more decades and many different genres. Follow at twitter.com/fingertipsmusic.
Emerging Indie Bands founder Tim Whale
Just as their name suggests, emergingindiebands.com posts multiple times per day about up-and-coming groups you probably haven’t heard yet. Follow on twitter/indiebandsblog, facebook/indiebandsblog, google/+indiebandsblog and vk/emergingindiebands.
The Alternative have referred us to their new feature, Best Music of the Month. Music by The World Is A Beautiful Place, Julien Baker, Kurt Vile / Courtney Barnett, Iron Chic and more is included, and wrap it up there’s a 49-track Spotify playlist of tunes from September. Check it out here.
The Alternative pledges to recommend the best music possible, which means never dishonestly promoting music they do not believe in, and take intelligent stances on important issues. Follow at facebook/getalternative, twitter/GetAlternative and youtube/TheAltShow.
Zoya Feldman from Hype Machine linked us to Stack, the site’s weekly “mix of the most interesting new music on the web, handpicked by the Hype Machine team.”
Stack #155 with PnB Rock, Mal Devisa, Amber Mark
Stack #156 with Jamila Woods & Saba, Cones, Bambooman, Mako Kream, Reptaliens
Stack #157 with Novelty Daughter, Brockhampton, SASSY 009, Un Blonde
Stack #158 with Men I Trust, 93 Bulls, Moses Sumney, Emel Mathlouthi, Versin
Stack #159 with Pierre Kwenders, Negative Gemini, Rozwell Fitzroy, MHYSA, Jesse Kivel of Kisses
Since 2005 Hype Machine has tracked the new tunes generating buzz on the countless blogs around the world and allowed an easy way to listen to them all. Subscribe to their weekly Stack series by e-mail here and follow Hype Machine at twitter.com/hypem.
Jason Grishkoff from Indie Shuffle created “one of our biggest” mixes for the site’s monthly playlist for September: “a whopping 30 tracks.”
- nvdes – Do You Think About Me (filous Remix)
- Sure Sure – Hands Up
- Alessi Brothers – Seabird (Zimmer Remix)
- Baba Sonya – What Not To Do
- FKJ – Vibin’ Out with (((O)))
- The Neighbourhood – 24/7
- Ben Stevenson – No Better Way
- San Cisco – The Distance
- Freedom Fry – Party Down
- Trudy And The Romance – Is There A Place I Can Go
- Glen & Lloyd – Rudies Give Up (Ouska Remix)
- Lonely Chief – Sensitive Boy
- Brainstory – Fruitless Trees
- Emmecosta – A Mountain From Us
- The xx – On Hold (Jamie xx Remix)
- BADBADNOTGOOD – Confessions Pt III (Ft. Colin Stetson)
- Rae Morris – DO IT
- Harvey Causon – Alliance
- Washed Out – Hard to Say Goodbye (Lone Remix)
- Teen Ravine – Hall of Horrors
- Jordan Klassen – Housefly
- Mcbaise – Paradis Du Cuir
- Abe M Beats – Trampoline//3:45 A.M.
- Callum Pitt – Rabbits
- Upstairs Open – You Got Love
- Tülpa & BLANKTS – Antidote
- Wallace – Black Lake
- Cautious Clay – Cold War
- Nemir – Des Heures (Ouska Remix)
- Dresage – Renaissance
An essential site for discovering the greatest of the latest new music, Indie Shuffle uses a unique music player powered by SoundCloud to facilitate carefully curated listening. Follow Indie Shuffle at twitter.com/indieshuffle.