It’s Saturday and I’d like to welcome you to the latest installment of my weekly new music revue. All featured tracks are on albums that were released yesterday (March 31).
The Hold Steady/Sixers
Kicking things off are New York indie rock band The Hold Steady, who I first featured in a January Best of What’s New post. Formed in 2003, their current lineup includes co-founders Craig Finn (lead vocals, guitar), Tad Kubler (lead guitar, backing vocals) and Galen Polivka (bass), along with Steve Selvidge (rhythm guitar, backing vocals), Franz Nicolay (piano, keyboards, accordion, harmonica, backing vocals) and Bobby Drake (drums, percussion). Wikipedia notes The Hold Steady are known for their “lyrically dense storytelling”, “classic rock influences” and “narrative-based songs [that] frequently address themes, such as drug addiction, religion and redemption, and often feature recurring characters within the city of Minneapolis.” Since their 2004 debut Almost Killed Me, they have released eight additional studio albums, including their latest, The Price of Progress. Off that album is Sixers, penned by Finn – great tune that reminds me a bit of Son Volt.
A Certain Ratio/Holy Smoke
A Certain Ratio, aka ACR, are a post-punk group founded in 1977 in Flixton, England. The band who took their name from the lyrics of Brian Eno tune The True Wheel started out as a duo of Simon Topping (vocals, trumpet) and Peter Terrell (guitar, electronics). They were subsequently joined by Jez Kerr (bass, vocals) and Martin Moscrop (trumpet, guitar). Donald Johnson (drums), and Martha Tilson (vocals) eventually completed the line-up. After releasing eight albums over a 12-year period that began with their 1980 debut The Graveyard and the Ballroom, A Certain Ratio started to reduce their output. Since 2018, the group has picked up the pace with a string of tours and two albums including 2020’s ACR Loco and their new one, 1982. Their website characterizes Kerr, Moscrop and Johnson as the group’s core line-up, who on the latest album were joined by Tony Quigley (saxophone, keyboards), Ellen Beth Abdi (vocals) and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Steele. Here’s Holy Smoke, a cool funky tune co-written by Johnson, Kerr and Moscrop.
The New Pornographers/Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies
Next up are Canadian indie supergroup The New Pornographers. From their AllMusic bio: With their 2000 debut album, Mass Romantic, the New Pornographers established themselves as 21st century torchbearers of smart, sophisticated power pop. Hailing from Vancouver, the band’s deep roster of individual singer/songwriters and crafty instrumentalists gave them a unique, multi-voiced advantage and posed them as more of a collective or supergroup, albeit one with a surprisingly streamlined sonic identity. Spearheaded by Carl Newman, along with mainstays Neko Case, Dan Bejar, John Collins, and Todd Fancey, the New Pornographers were consistent critical favorites throughout the decade with standout releases like 2005’s Twin Cinema and 2007’s Challengers. Even as membership began to fluctuate over the coming years, they reached a new commercial peak with 2014’s Brill Bruisers. The band ended their second decade with 2019’s In the Morse Code of Brake Lights. From their ninth and latest album Continue as a Guest, here’s Pontius Pilate’s Home Movies, written by Newman.
This brings me to my final pick for this week, Eddie Chacon, who first became prominent in 1992 as part of Charles & Eddie, a soul music duo he had formed two years earlier with Charles Pettigrew. Their song Would I Lie to You?, off their debut album Duophonic, became a massive international hit following its release as their debut single in August 1992. Two years after their 1995 sophomore album Chocolate Milk Charles & Eddie split, and Chacon worked as a photographer and creative director. Pettigrew continued his music career but was diagnosed with cancer in the late ’90s and passed away in April 2001 at the age of 37. After an extended absence from music, Chacon performed and recorded in the late 2000s and early 2010s together with his wife Sissy Sainte-Marie in a duo called The Polyamorous Affair. In July 2020, he released his solo debut, Pleasure, Joy and Happiness. Now he’s back with his second solo album Sundown. Here’s the title track, which has a nice retro ’70s soul vibe reminiscent of Marvin Gaye – pretty neat!
Last but not least, following is a Spotify playlist of the above and a few additional tracks by the featured artists.
Sources: Wikipedia; A Certain Ratio website; AllMusic; YouTube; Spotify