Top8 01/16/24

January 16, 2024 - 01:27 PM

Welcome to Top8, a new music blog from WTSQ. In this space we want to highlight just a few of the really cool new things we are excited about. One of the things that real live DJs can bring you over a soulless algorithm is the power of curation. We love music and we spend a ton of time thinking about it, so we are passing that expertise on to you. Always feel free to let us know what you think about this or anything at WTSQ, or let us know what we are missing by hitting us up at https://wtsq.org/contact.

My name is Emily Beane and I will probably be the person bringing you this column most weeks. If you have spent much time with the station, you know my voice and weird laugh from Attention Please and The Crows Nest, in addition to a lot of underwriting I have voiced. A lot of you probably know me as the pink haired queer girl who goes to shows. I probably don’t remember meeting you because I was drunk. I am really excited for new music from Pissed Jeans, Frauline, and Waxahatchee. I was completely unprepared for how great the new Ellie Bleach was. As always, there’s just too much to talk about, so let’s get into it.

Waxahatchee - Right Back To It

Waxahatchee is the musical project of Katie Crutchfield. The Alabama native has been performing under this name since 2012. The band's only constant member, Waxahatchee has always been a modern distillation of the country and Americana sounds that anyone from the South is steeped in. Waxahatchee's new record is scheduled for release March 22 on Anti -, and the first single is Right Back To It. Between her distinctive vocal twang and the banjo accompaniment, the song is unabashedly country and evocative of the roots of that music. Cruchfield is joined on this track by Wednesday guitarist, and solo artist in his own right, MJ Lenderman. Lenderman contributes his own unmistakable voice as a supporting vocalist, as well as a sweet and tasteful bit of guitar work. 


Pissed Jeans - Moving On 

Allentown, PA's Pissed Jeans are back this year with Moving on – an absolutely stellar example of the punk rock excellence they have always excelled at. The track explodes with aggressive drums and guitars, but grabs a hold of you with its instantly hooky chorus. Put this on and feel yourself instantly transported to a basement show moshpit. The single is in advance of a full length, Half Divorced (the band's first since 2017), scheduled for release March 1st.


Gouge Away - Stuck in a Dream 

The hallmark of Gouge Away's hardcore sound has always been finding ways to expand beyond the basic framework of the genre without abandoning its inherent power. For a band whose name comes from a Pixies song, this is fitting. Vocalist Christina Michelle is stunningly powerful on the new single, Stuck in a Dream. She repeats the song's title over and over again, intoning each time with vocal variation before concluding "...and I just can't wake up." A simple enough feeling, but when supported with the band's intense but melodic attack, one we can relate to. Charleston punks will remember the band's stellar set playing with Culture Abuse, Rat Ship, and Static Fur at Bully Trap (I was NOT responsible for breaking that mirror). The new track is ahead of a full length set to be released March 15. 


Fräulein - Wait and See 

It's safe to say that the grunge revival is in full swing and no one in the new crop of crunchy guitar bands is better than Fräulein. The Dutch / Irish two-piece's new single is Wait and See, and instead of being released in advance of an album, it's promoting a UK tour (definitely check them out if you are over there). While it can be a little weird for those of us who remember 1993 to come to grips with, grunge is now retro. A couple generations of kids have been born and grown up in a world where Nirvana was always part of the cultural background noise. Bands like Fräulein are a fruit of the musical tree planted back in the Clinton era. The loud/quiet/loud aesthetic of that time still holds up, as does the compressed and distorted guitars. Take a break from listening to Bleach for the 900th time and check out something new from Fräulein.


Ellie Bleach - Whole Lotta Nothing 

Ellie Bleach's jazzy piano-based sound is reminiscent of Doris Day or Blossom Dearie as much as Fiona Apple or Nellie McKay. The London based artist has, to one extent or another, always leaned into a vibe that suggests those mid century jazz artists. Her subject matter is another matter entirely. Bleach is consistently a modern writer mixing contemporary perspectives and topics into her songs. On Whole Lotta Nothing, she sings the ennui of a modern woman floating through the motions of soulless, loveless relationships pursued just to avoid being alone. The lyric is a contrast to the traditional, though warm and sultry, sound of the band. We feel torn between the romance of classic films and the impossibility of modern relationships.


Idles - Gift Horse

Gift Horse is the third single released ahead of the new Idles album Tangk, scheduled to be released on February 16. The pride of Bristol are not reinventing their own wheel at this point. All of these tracks are more of the same from Idles. The lucky thing is that means they are loud, noisy, aggressive, and bouncy slabs of post-punk revival PMA. This is what we expect from Idles and they deliver it here. 


Cedric Burnside - Hill Country Love 

Even though Cedric Burnside has released more than 10 albums, the first thing you probably find out about him is that he's the grandson of blues legend R.L. Burnside. Such a pedigree could prove more an albatross than a blessing if he was a less worthy heir. As it is, Burnside has more than made a name for himself. He's a standard bearer for modern blues music. Hill Country Love is the lead single off the forthcoming album of the same name, to be released April 5th. While there is no one way to play the blues, most people would agree that it sounds best when it's straight ahead and barebones. That's what is on offer here with a fine number singing the praises of the Hill Country blues that his illustrious ancestor helped make famous. Excessive reverence of any kind of music can lead to a lifeless, museum-like exhibition. Not Burnside though. This is a blues which is as vibrant and vital as anything recorded decades ago. 


Alejandro Escovedo - Bury Me

Alejandro Escovedo is a musical institution with a long career going back to the first wave of punk rock bands with his time in the band The Nuns. He later went on to the genre defining cow-punk act Rank and File. The last several years have found him exploring a more Americana sound. Bury Me is a remake of a song from decades past which is the lead single from a whole album of similar remakes. One gets the impression that, rather than wallowing in nostalgia, Escovedo is recontextualizing the earlier work. The treatment here is a simmering Texas blues sound with sparks of organ and a prominent slide electric guitar part. Lyrically, the song is a wry meditation on the inevitability of death, with Escovedo spelling out instructions for what's to be done following his death at certain given ages. The irony of this version of the song is that Escovedo himself has passed all these ages up and is still making interesting, cool music at the age of 73. 


Lego Indiana Jones - When You Sleep (MBV Cover) 

A band called Lego Indiana Jones obviously doesn't care if you can easily google them or not. They claim to be from Dublin, and there seems to be no real reason to doubt that. This cover is, at turns, both beautiful, a bit gentle, and a stark departure from the source material. Where My Bloody Valentine is an almost absurdly dense and florid wall of guitar sound, this cover has little, if any guitar at all. Rather it leans into the gorgeous melodic hook of the song, while presenting it in something more like a piano-based, lofi-folk punk setting. Indeed, Lego Indiana Jones applies much of that genre's extreme earnestness and tendency toward voice-cracking here. The effect reminds you of why you liked MBV's original, but also makes you want to listen to more Lego Indiana Jones. Good luck finding them on the internet.


Extra Innings

Just a few extra things that I have been into, maybe new, maybe not.

Water From Your Eyes - Barley 

Chipped nail polish - white flag (Dido Cover) 


And here's a playlist of all the tracks.

Top8 01/16/2024 - Spotify list

See also

Top8 - 02/19/24

Top8 - 02/19/24

Top8 - 02/12/24

Top8 - 02/12/24