First Listen: Bill Ryder-Jones, ‘West Kirby County Primary’

Bill Ryder-Jones' new album, <em>West Kirby County Primary</em>, is out now. (Rachel King/Courtesy of the artist)
Bill Ryder-Jones’ new album, West Kirby County Primary, is out now. (Rachel King/Courtesy of the artist)

I’m surprised Bill Ryder-Jones has not been on my radar at all until now, but it’s been excellent delving into his old music with the 1990s\2000s U.K. band The Coral, and now his solo work. This new record, West Kirby County Primary, is gorgeous and mellow but is also a colossal bummer, with songs about depression and mental illness and crumbling relationships. Check out what I wrote about the record as part of NPR Music’s First Listen series.

First Listen: Beach Slang, ‘The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us’

Beach Slang's new album, <em>The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, </em> is out now. (Jessica Flynn/Courtesy of the artist)
Beach Slang’s new album, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, is out now. (Jessica Flynn/Courtesy of the artist)

Few bands sing with the kind of earnest, live-in-the-moment feels quite like Beach Slang, which has become one of my favorite new bands of the year. These songs crackle with energy, while getting into some pretty heavy topics of depression and escape and heartbreak, while also being anthems for people don’t fit in and find community in the punk scene. It’s a tremendously powerful album.

Check out what else I had to say about the record as part of NPR Music’s First Listen series.

First Listen: Telekinesis, ‘Ad Infinitum’

Telekinesis' Ad Infinitum is out now. (Chris Beck/Courtesy of the artist)
Telekinesis’ Ad Infinitum is out now. (Chris Beck/Courtesy of the artist)

I’ve been a big fan of Michael Benjamin Lerner since his first Telekinesis album, and he’s put on some of my favorite shows when I’ve had a chance to see his band live — including one during CMJ where Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Fred Armisen served as his backing band. Wow.

So yeah, I was pretty excited to delve deep about the sonic changes and challenges of his latest record, Ad Infinitum, for NPR Music’s First Listen series.

First Listen: Ben Folds, ‘So There’

Ben Folds' <em>So There, </em> is out now. (Allan Amato/Courtesy of the artist)
Ben Folds’ So There, is out now. (Allan Amato/Courtesy of the artist)

I wrote about Ben Folds’ new album, So There, over at NPR Music for its First Listen series. But after mulling over this album and what Ben Folds’ music once meant to me, I also have some other rambling thoughts, too.

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First Listen: The Arcs, ‘Yours, Dreamily,’

The Arcs' new album, 'Yours, Dreamily,' is out Sept. 4 (Richard Swift/Courtesy of the artist)
The Arcs’ new album, ‘Yours, Dreamily,’ is out Sept. 4 (Richard Swift/Courtesy of the artist)

Here’s a rather long-ish review I wrote for NPR Music’s First Listen series about Yours, Dreamily, the new record by The Arcs.

Don’t know that band? Well, it’s a new supergroup fronted by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach, the amazing Richard Swift and a bunch of top tier sidemen from Daptone Family and a lot of other stuff. This record is pretty cool — tons of great sounds and soul and R&B and influences all mixing together with some killer attitude. There was a lot to parse on this record, so I sorta went deep and got lost in its pulpy world. But check it out.

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First Listen: Palehound, ‘Dry Food’

Palehound's new album, Dry Food, is out Aug. 14. (Courtesy of the artist)
Palehound’s new album, Dry Food, is out Aug. 14.
(Courtesy of the artist)

I’ve been lucky enough to catch Ellen Kempner perform many times now — solo and with her band, Palehound — and every time I’m blown away by her killer guitar playing and wry songwriting sensibility. Needless to say, I was excited to be able to write about the fantastic new Palehound album, Dry Food, for NPR Music’s First Listen series.

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First Listen: Night Beds, ‘Ivywild’

Night Beds' Ivywild is out Aug. 7 via Dead Oceans. (Luca Venter/Courtesy of the artist)
Night Beds’ Ivywild is out Aug. 7 via Dead Oceans. (Luca Venter/Courtesy of the artist)

Here’s a very long review of Night Beds’ Ivywild — a very long, ambitious new album of smooth and steamy R&B and electronic pop — written for NPR Music’s First Listen series.

First Listen: Son Lux, ‘Bones’

Son Lux's Bones is out June 23. (Courtesy of the artist)
Son Lux’s Bones is out June 23. (Courtesy of the artist)

Had the chance to write about one of my favorite artists, musicians — and now bands — Son Lux, a.k.a. Ryan Lott. Now a full band with Ian Chang and Rafiq Bhatia, Son Lux has just put out another fantastic record, Bones, which I got to hear a preview of last week at the Bowery Ballroom in New York. Spent a lot of time delving into the intricacies and themes of this album, for NPR Music’s First Listen series. Check that out here and go buy this record and see the band live!

Continue reading First Listen: Son Lux, ‘Bones’

First Listen: Joanna Gruesome, ‘Peanut Butter’

Joanna Gruesome's new album, Peanut Butter, is out May 19. (Pat Graham/Courtesy of the artist)
Joanna Gruesome’s new album, Peanut Butter, is out May 19. (Pat Graham/Courtesy of the artist)

Got another opportunity to write about one of my favorite new bands, Joanna Gruesome, for NPR Music’s First Listen series. The new record, Peanut Butter, is sweet and abrasive and loud. It’s great.

First Listen: Speedy Ortiz, ‘Foil Deer’

Speedy Ortiz's new album, Foil Deer, is out April 21. (Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the artist)
Speedy Ortiz’s new album, Foil Deer, is out April 21. (Shervin Lainez/Courtesy of the artist)

Wrote a long essay about Speedy Ortiz’s fantastic new record, Foil Deer for NPR Music’s First Listen series.

Continue reading First Listen: Speedy Ortiz, ‘Foil Deer’