Future Bible Heroes to release their past, and present, music this summer

Future Bible Heroes. Photo by Kimberly Butler
Future Bible Heroes. Photo by Kimberly Butler

So you never heard of Future Bible Heroes, even though their second album, “Eternal Youth,” has been around for more than a decade.

Or maybe you have heard of them and you’re wondering why I’m presuming you know less about them than I do. Forgive me. There are billions of bands out there, and this one happened to slip under my radar.

The point is, if you (like me) have not heard of the lo-fi band, the main thing you need to know is that it’s a project created by the Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt. And that should be all you need to know.

Merritt writes songs that are acerbic, darkly funny, sometimes just dark, but nearly always witty. Consider the parenting advice in “Drink Nothing But Champagne,” from the upcoming album “Partygoing”:

“Children, drink nothing but champagne

It makes life shorter

Than drinking water”

Parent of the year!

The good news is, if you, like me, are unfamiliar with the genius that is the Future Bible Heroes, this summer you can play catch-up. Not only does “Partygoing” come out June 4, but Merge Records also plans to release the band’s three full-lengths and some EP tracks  as “Memories of Love, Eternal Youth and Partygoing.”

That won’t get you anywhere close to the full canon of material written by Merritt, but you can get caught up on some of his projects. See how it compares to the Magnetic Fields’ classic “69 Love Songs.”

You DO have “69 Love Songs,” right?


Oh, dear.

While you wait for June 4 to approach, have a listen to FBH’s new single, “Living, Loving, Partygoing”:

Low releases new album, ‘The Invisible Way,’ continues North American tour

Low, “The Invisible Way,” was released March 19.

You can’t spell “slow” or “low-fi” without “low.” Both are apt descriptors for Low. If you haven’t heard of the Duluth, Minn.-based band by now, chances are you’ve been listening to louder music — for a long time.

Low’s 10th album came out Tuesday on Sub Pop. Believe it or not, the band has been around for 20 years — not much younger than the Barenaked Ladies, for crying out loud!

“The Invisible Way” continues the band’s tradition of melancholy, down-tempo tunes. Jeff Tweedy of Wilco produced the record, but according to band member Alan Sparhawk:

“We’ve made many records, and you know our M.O.: slow, quiet, sometimes melancholy, and, we hope, sometimes pretty …”

“Just Make It Stop,” one of the singles off the new album, is quiet, melancholy and pretty. In my opinion, it’s also a strong endorsement for the album. Listen for yourself and decide.

The band is playing tonight at the Society for Ethical Culture in New York City. The tour continues through April 6 in Seattle. Later in April, the band crosses the Atlantic for some European shows.

New release Tuesday: Alpha Rev, ‘Bloom’

Photo by Darin BackAlpha Rev
Photo by Darin Back
Alpha Rev

You might have heard “Sing Loud” by Alpha Rev, the folk-rock band made up of several Texas natives. You might also have noticed that, befitting a mostly acoustic folk-rock band, that “Sing Loud” is actually a pretty quiet tune.

The chorus gets a little rowdy, but with a song title like “Sing Loud,” you kinda have to, no matter what your style of music is.

Anyway, if you have heard it and you decide you like this band, today is your lucky day. The group’s third full-length album, “Bloom,” comes out today on Kirtland Records. It’s available on vinyl, CD or (if you must) mp3 download.

In a news release, singer Casey McPherson explained the album title thus:

“To bloom implies something beautiful is going to happen, but it’s a process – like all our journeys.” 

If you haven’t heard “Sing Loud,” watch the video from the band’s website. I didn’t think much of the song at first listen, but I have had a hard time getting it out of my head.

Barenaked Ladies turn 25, celebrate with new album

Canada’s quirky Barenaked Ladies hit the quarter-century mark this year. Isn’t it time they put some clothes on?

I kid, of course. But it’s true that the band is releasing a new, as-yet untitled record, June 4 on Vanguard Records. Their song, “Boomerang,” is the first single from the album.

When I first heard the Barenaked Ladies, it was their quirky “If I Had $1,000,000” and “Be My Yoko Ono” that endeared them to me. But the more albums they released, the older I got and their initial novelty wore off. I never liked them as much as I did when the album “Gordon” came out.

Still, kudos to the BNL for making it to the silver anniversary. For their fans, a U.S. tour with Ben Folds Five and Guster kicks off June 17 in Dallas. They’ll play at the Mann Music Center in Philadelphia on July 18 and finish the tour July 30 at the Celebrate Brooklyn! festival.

Here they are performing “Boomerang” in concert last year. What do you think?

Review: Caitlin Rose, “The Stand-In”

“The Stand-In” by Caitlin Rose came out this month.

Nashville singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose is young. That’s unfortunate, because such a superficial detail makes it seem inevitable that she’ll be compared to someone like Taylor Swift. And she deserves better.

On her sophomore album, “The Stand-In” (released March 5), Rose demonstrates a sensibility that makes her seem older than her 26 years.

The twangy “I Was Cruel” sounds like it would play well on the Grand Ole Opry stage in Patsy Cline’s day. “Dallas,” and “No One To Call” and the infectious “Only A Clown” show that Rose can add pop without making the songs fizzle.

Rose knows how to craft a song that sounds personal and relatable. “Menagerie,” an uptempo rocker about a failed relationship, describes “two lonely people with nothing to say.” Then she describes stepping all over her ex-lover’s glass menagerie to “destroy all of his beautiful things.”

Trust me, it’s funny. You have to hear it.

She turns to old-school jazz with the final track, “Old Numbers,” a whiskey-and-cigarettes-laced song about breakups and regret. Though it’s one of the best tracks on “The Stand In,” Rose is at her best with the straight-ahead country songs that are all broken hearts and steel guitars. It’s those songs where the comparisons between her and another great singer, Neko Case, are most apparent.

Rose is not the first new artist to show a fondness for older styles – see retro soul artists like Mayer Hawthorne, as well as every new-folk group out there today – but Rose adds a solid voice and strong songwriting skills to this movement.

It’s always nice to see someone bring back old country to country music.

Here’s a video of Rose performing “I Was Cruel.” Share your thoughts in the comments.

Radical Dads unveil new single ahead of May 21 album release

I’m not sure what’s so radical about dads in general, or the Radical Dads in particular. Their new single, “Mountain Town,” is a standard-issue indie rock song, with wailing vocals and catchy guitar riffs.

But it’s “standard-issue indie rock” in a good way: the kind that makes you want to hit the play button again as soon as the song stops.

The Radical Dads released “Mountain Town” this week, a few months ahead of the May 21 release of their full-length “Rapid Reality.” You can listen to the single at Consequence of Sound.

What do you think of the song? Discuss in the comments.