Heather Maloney – Just Enough Sun

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Heather Maloney’s new ep Just Enough Sun roused me out of my torpor on first listen. It wasn’t just that it’s good, which it is, but also that it reaches out and grabs you — with a lyrical twist or a strange saga or some unexpected instrumentation that makes you pay attention. The stand-out track is “Albert 1-5,” a song as unsettling as it is hummable, and destined to see some college / NPR radio play, I feel sure…

…As mentioned, “Albert 1-5” is my tune, and if you’re not careful, you too might wake up at 3am humming it as I did the night I played it on the radio here in town. It’s actually really sad — the story of five chimps who were sent up in a rocket, shackled into cages on a mission they never signed up for. Horrible really. But when the focus segues from the chimps to us, you realize that we’re all “captive captains,” and for sure, “none of us will make it out alive.” And yet, what a chorus! What a song!

The Courtneys – Courtneys II

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On their new CD Courtneys II, The Courtneys play to my weakness for punky girl power pop by people who aren’t afraid to be vulnerable. Hailing from the Vancouver area, they share a certain guitar-driven northern mindset with other frustrated rockers from the snow belt — think Replacements and Husker Du — but with the kind of shouty girl vocals you might associate with 90s bands like Blake Babies and Kenickie. Yes, the 90s are back and it’s about time. Courtney Love is only a touchstone here — The Courtneys are no tribute band.

Chicago Farmer – Midwest Side Stories

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We first happened upon this record, Midwest Side Stories by Chicago Farmer, about a month before the presidential elections.  Being Northeasterners, we were a little nervous when we realized that this was basically folk music about “deplorables.” Nowhere on the record will you find the word deplorable, but given that these are songs about mostly […]

And The Kids – Friends Share Lovers

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I first saw And The Kids at a local all ages show here in Brattleboro, and they struck me then as a band to watch.  Sure, they were a little rough around the edges, but they had an originality and passion that set them apart.  Now with their second full length CD Friends Share Lovers, […]

Winterpills – Love Songs

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Northampton’s Winterpills have been around for over a decade now and in that time, they’ve laid down an impressive body of work, stretching the boundaries of pop with their enigmatic lyrics and the harmonic convergence of their vocals.  Their latest release, Love Stories, cements their growing reputation as masters of their craft, again stretching convention […]

Jamila Woods – HEAVN

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Poetry and hip hop are an obvious pair – the rapper and her rhymes — but while most rappers are poets in their own way, not as many poets are rappers. Jamila Woods has the skills to do both. She’s a recognized poet in the tradition of Lucille Clifton and Gwendolyn Brooks, and now has […]