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Bill MacKay + Katinka Kleijn – “Hermine”

Its been a rather banner year for Bill MacKay. The guitarist’s last album landed in February and its one of his most affecting statements to date, which in a catalog of his caliber isn’t any small feat. Now he’s got another LP on the way, this time with Dutch Cellist Katinka Kleijn. The first taste of their upcoming Drag City album is scarred and scratched. McKay’s guitar work is far more fanged than on Fountain Fire but no less vital. The first cut “Hermine” is feral, burnt, hollowed — it’s a much more ferricious side of MacKay than his simmering folk and Kleijn adds a shading and dimension that brings his playing forward in stark relief. Check the video for the first cut above and look out for this one on October 11th.

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The Babe Rainbow – “Many Moons of Love”

The third album from Aussie surf-folk combo The Babe Rainbow is shaping up to be a sun streaked summer comfort album. The band has a knack for pairing joyful harmonies with just the right pang of bittersweet shade, rolling in touches of jazz and lounge to their folk backbone. They’ve come up downstream in the Flightless crew and have begun taking a larger foothold here in the States over the past couple of albums. “Many Moons of Love” sees the band wistful strummin’ with the best of them atop some home footage that feels like a vacation reel pitch for an endless summer in the hills. Check the video above and look out for the LP in September.



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Allah Las – “Polar Onion”

Allah Las give another peek behind their new LP with a video for “Polar Onion,” a darker, more solemn track than the previously released “In The Air.” Instead of their usual shaggy jangle and touch of surf, “Polar Onion” captures the other edge of jangle-pop, the bittersweet pang of The Go-Betweens, or the quiet anguish of R.E.M. The band’s definitely explored this side before, but never quite as effectively as they do here. The video is animated by longtime Las and Mexican Summer designer Bailey Elder and it works blocks of swirling color into California motifs, balancing the cloudy strum with a palette of hazy colors and hand drawn rough edges. The band’s latest is out October 11th, from Mexican Summer.

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Bill MacKay – “Birds of May”

Bill MacKay has been a singular voice in folk for the better part of two decades and a staple of Chicago’s vibrant traditions, though he’s often sounded like he’s been dropped from the UK fresh off a Bert Jansch session. His latest LP, Fountain Fire is one of his strongest to date, a grey-skied folk journey into the heart of humanity. As he embarks on a run of dates, which include some key Hudson Valley hits for those of you’re in my area (Huichicha, Tubby’s, The Half Moon), he’s released a video for the standout track “Birds of May.” The visuals are understated but that lets the music shine through, humble and stately. If you get a chance hop on over to a show – he’s touring with fellow Drag City stabler Mike Donovan, so there’s just that much more incentive.

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Parsnip – “Rip It Off”

The anticipation on this upcoming debut from Parsnip marches on today with the release of the band’s latest video, an intricate, costume-heavy workup for “Rip It Off.” The Aussie foursome lays down an indie pop vision that skews pastoral – strums and plucks, swoons of organ and a gallop of bass. The video is no less a celebration of things less pedestrian. There’s an opulence to the visuals that stands in stark contrast to the folk sway of the song. The video is striking of its own accord, but paired with the band’s plaintive ode, its something of a wonderful contrast, a surreal dip into confusing dreams that beg meaning.

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Mikal Cronin – “Show Me”

This fall just keeps looking up and the announcement of a new Mikal Cronin album only solidifies the point. Employing members of The Freedom Band, Cronin’s got a new full length for Merge that thickens his bittersweet pop credentials even further. There’s a Tom Petty hangover in the pit of the stomach on “Show Me” turning those walking jangles into hooks that haunt. As has become his forte, Cronin’s all about the details, fleshing the track out with strings, keys, and layers of vocals. It’s a beautiful bit of melancholy baked in the California sun. Check the video and put that new record on your ‘need’ pile.

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Hideous Sun Demon – “Can’t Live Like That”

Been a while since I’ve had a track from Aussies Hideous Sun Demon, but they’ve been constantly plugging away in their homeland, slinging sweat rock for the indie crowd. With their latest EP, Good Time out now, they hit on another basher of a single. “Can’t Live Like That” espouses some level of self-care, at least to the point of not letting one’s health completely slip from view. Vocalist Vincent Simpson rattles off his woes before finally blurting, “Don’t Want to end up like Mark E. Smith, dead at 60, dead at 50, dead at 40, dead at 30”. The song starts off tightly wound, rhythm section clicking and then devolves into a cacophonous splash of sound. This year has been slightly quieter on the Aussie front for me, but this one proves there’s still a lot of juice in the South Hemi motor. Check the frothing video above.

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Kaputt – “Very Satisfied”

New one coming atcha from Upset The Rhythm and as usual its knocked pop on its ass. Kaputt’s “Very Satisfied” is an ode to the comfort of repetition, the strange calm of the mundane rendered exquisite. The lyrics are betrayed by the music, though as Kaputt are fare from rote. They mangle pop, trip it to the ground and roll it into the funhouse mirror. The post-punk bounce, scratches of horns, and nasal delivery slap a copy of Frankenchrist out of your sweaty paws with a handbag packed with the ‘70s ZE Records roster. The band pairs the song with a grotesque video that comes one like Thanksgiving at Troma Studios. Gonna want strap in and twitch for this one, its just the thing to get you going on a Monday morning.

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Allah Las – “In The Air”

Allah Las already made a nice divot in 2019 with their instrumental contributions to MexSum’s Self Discovery for Social Survival soundtrack, and if they’d stopped there I’d have called it a win for the band all around. Seems they have more in mind for the year, though and the band is springing off of that project to get back into the album game with their fourth album LAHS which finds its way out October 11th. The band is back in the breezy swing of West Coast jangle with salt in its beard on “In The Air. Calico Review saw the band darken their sound just a touch, putting an overcast air on their beach-bound sound, but the first taste of LAHS is little less than sun dappled and sand swept. The band’s making light with a Weekend At Bernie’s leaning video that makes good use out of their budget — hopping from hot air balloons to helicopter rides with comatose (or dead, you never know) band member in tow. I’m excited to see how the sand shakes out of this one when it lands in October. Check it above and catch the band on a full US tour this Winter.

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Black Mekon – “Immunity”

New ripper in the mix today from PNK SLM garage vets Black Mekon. The group, now expanded to a trio but still operating under an aura of anonymity, pummels the punk buttons on their latest single “Immunity.” At just over a minute the song doesn’t waste any time, full of fuzzing guitars, thick n’ meaty riffs and a slapback pound of drums. The band pairs the cut with an 8-bit aping video that would slide in nicely alongside the recent clip from Oh Sees. It’s giving some similar throwback vibes, despite the fact that their album is entitled Destroy Nostalgia. The whole thing’s in and out and leavin’ you sweaty before there’s time to asses, but its good for a dozen or so repeat plays to let it all absorb. The album lands August 16th



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