Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

Happy Saturday and welcome to another installment of my weekly new music revue. All picks appear on releases that came out yesterday. Let’s get to them without further ado.

Larkin Poe/Southern Comfort

Great to see a new album by Larkin Poe, the roots and blues rock-focused singer-songwriter sister act of Rebecca Lovell (vocals, guitars, keyboards, drums) and her slightly older sister Megan Lovell (vocals, lap steel, slide guitar, keyboards). Their website describes their music as “gritty, soulful, and flavored by their southern heritage.” I first came across these two young dynamic ladies, who not only are excellent musicians but also great vocalists, in late 2019. They started out as teenagers with their eldest sister Jessica Lovell in a bluegrass/ Americana formation called The Lovell Sisters. After the trio disbanded in January 2010, Rebecca and Megan decided to forge ahead without Jessica and have since been making music as Larkin Poe. Apart from self-producing their own music, the two sisters have a very active YouTube channel that among others includes a cover channel featuring stripped-back renditions of many well-known rock and blues tunes. If you don’t know Larkin Poe, check them out! Their energy and enthusiasm are infectious! Meanwhile, here’s Southern Comfort, penned by Rebecca Lovell, a nice southern blues rock-flavored tune from their sixth full-length album Blood Harmony.

Jack Kays/Finally Fine

Let’s turn to Jack Kays whose music is “hard to pigeonhole,” according to AllMusic, blending “punk and emo with rugged acoustic folk and occasional detours into cloud rap.” Here’s more from their bio of the young artist: After a handful of independent releases, the Ohio native found viral success with his sparse but aggressive acoustic songs, especially “Morbid Mind.” Signing with Columbia Records, Kays released his debut album, Mixed Emotions, in early 2021. My Favorite Nightmares, a collaborative EP with Travis Barker followed later that year. I featured a tune of that EP in a Best of What’s New installment at the time. Kays who struggled with addiction during his teenage years is now out with his latest EP titled Cessation. One of the songs, Finally Fine, begins…from the perspective of an addict and then transitions midway through to the perspective of someone in recovery, a press release explains. There’s something captivating about Kays’ lyrics and stripped-back approach on this and the EP’s other tracks, which drew me in.

Action/Adventure/Levity

Action/Adventure are a pop punk band from Chicago. From their Apple Music profile: Combining the aggressive melodic approach of pop-punk with the punishing guitar attack of metalcore, Action/Adventure are a band from Chicago who’ve earned a powerful reputation on the city’s underground rock scene. They also upend expectations of what a hardcore band should look like: Action/Adventure is composed of five BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) men, and their songs sometimes examine the challenges and contradictions of being part of a dominantly white musical community. They just as often deal with the anger, imaginings, and uncertainty that often fuel hardcore, and they perform with a strong balance of fire and precision. They made an emphatic debut with 2015’s Rumble Pak EP, revealed a greater maturity and ambition on 2018’s Going Heel, and began breaking through to a larger audience with 2021’s Pulling Focus. Action/Adventure include Blake Evaristo (lead vocals), Brompton Jackson (vocals/guitar), Oren Trace (guitar), Manny Avila (bass) and Adrian Brown (drums). Levity, credited to all members, is a tune from their latest album Imposter Syndrome. Metalcore generally isn’t my cup of tea, but Action/Adventure’s pop-flavored type isn’t your usual metalcore.

Franz Nicolay/Wandering Star

Wrapping up this week’s Best of What’s New is a prolific multi-instrumentalist and writer, Franz Nicolay. From his website: In addition to records under his own name, he was a member of cabaret-punk orchestra World/Inferno Friendship Society, “world’s best bar band” the Hold Steady, Balkan-jazz quartet Guignol, co-founded the composer-performer collective Anti-Social Music, was a touring member of agit-punks Against Me!; and recorded (complete discography here) or performed (complete list here) with dozens of other acts. He studied music at New York University and writing at Columbia University (where he was awarded a Felipe P. de Alba Fellowship). He received fellowship residencies in composition at the Rensing Art Center and writing at the Ucross Foundation and the Edward F. Albee Foundation. He has taught at Columbia University and UC-Berkeley, and is currently a faculty member in music and written arts at Bard College. This brings me to New River, Nicolay’s latest solo album, and the opening track Wandering Star. Great tune – check it out! In fact, the entire album looks promising, based on sampling a few of the other tunes.

Last but not least, here’s a Spotify playlist of the above and a few additional tunes by each of the featured artists.

Sources: Wikipedia; Larkin Poe website; AllMusic; Sony Music Canada website; Apple Music; Franz Nicolay website; YouTube; Spotify

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11 thoughts on “Best of What’s New”

    1. Thanks, Marc, I agree. They look like a pretty unusual band, which apart from the music is what intrigued me. Are you aware of Franz Nicolay? He looks like an interesting artist to me. And, of course if you’re into southern rock and blues rock, the two ladies of Larkin Poe are just amazing – great musicians with infectious energy!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Great! If you like what you hear, I’d highly recommend checking out Larkin Poe’s YouTube including their covers channel. I think their stripped down versions of well known rock and blues tunes are really cool. I’m completely new to Franz Nicolay myself and want to hear more of his music as well!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Larkin Poe – gonna go right back & listen to that. Thanks to Obbverse over on my site, he mentioned them a few months back, I’d never heard of them but I checked out four or five songs and was quite impressed by them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. You got me into Larkin Poe a while back and I never left. I love their covers of Beatle songs and their originals.
    I also like Franz Nicolay… a very retro feeling…I like it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was interested in Franz Nicolay since I like his piano work in The Hold Steady – they’re pretty bland on the albums he doesn’t play on. I was expecting something piano-oriented, but it’s not that at all – but sounds really good.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Larkin Poe is solid as a rock as usual. Haven’t heard them anyplace else but your site. I’d say that’s easily my favorite of this batch. Right up my alley. I didn’t think I’d like Kays but I got into his sound. He plays guitar in a sort of slow gypsy jazz rhythm. Action Adventure surprised me as I know you’re not a metal guy. I liked it right up till that guy started singing. Recall how I mentioned on my Desert Island list that I can’t stand indie singing? It’s that style. There’s a plague of it. Puts me right off. Too bad. The music was good. But the singer makes (or kills) the song. And the last tune was good too with some clever lyrics.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I think my favorites are the ones by Jack Kays (a sweet song) and Franz Nicolay (his guitar work is superb and I like his earnest vocals that remind me a bit of the late Harry Chapin). I’m surprised you like the Jack Kays and Action/Adventure tracks, as they don’t seem to be the kind of music you normally gravitate toward. But it’s nice to see you continue to broaden your musical horizons.

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