Hello new music lovers. Welcome to NEXT. We have a simple goal: Find you a NEXT, new favorite song. #NextFavoriteSong

The Band Of Heathens kick off NEXT this week with the true-ish legend of Augustinial Fonseca,” band member Gordy Quist told American Songwriter. “He was the great grandfather of an anonymous Newport Folk Festival goer, who told the story of Augustinial’s coming to Ellis Island as a stowaway and finding his way to an underground fighting ring in New York City around the turn of the last century. Legend has it that he killed a panther with his bare hands and lived to be 99 years old. In this case, truth really is stranger than fiction.” The Band of Heathens does an excellent job of mirroring the grandiose narrative with triumphant, full music.  Organ sounds evoke an old-world essence that aligns with the stories timeline and setting, while rock riffs modernize the sound, bringing the 100-year old story into 2020. From the Stranger album, which got its tag partially from the science fiction novel Stanger in a Strange Land by American author Robert Heinlein.  The other half of the inspiration poured from the perspective of the group’s fanbase as strangers themselves, who continue to go on supporting The Band of Heathens through a time when they can not tour. The band also correlated their role within the music industry currently as a kind of stranger, explaining they are like a “microcosm” next to their fans, and commun ity who are all amid the pandemic. 

The band’s last album was Secret Machines, which was their third and released in 2008. That was the first album without Benjamin Curtis, who left the band to focus on his other project School of Seven Bells, leaving his brother Brandon Curtis and Josh Garza to continue on with the project. Alas Benjamin Curtis passed away in 2013 because of T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma cancer, at the young age of 35. Brandon Curtis says his late brother’s sonic fingerprints are all over Awake in the Brain Chamber. “I began writing these songs at a time I remember feeling alone and lost, and I think the songs have that in their DNA,” said Brandon in a previous press release. “I started sharing early versions with Benjamin who gave me notes as well as encouragement. I am sure that without his influence this album would never have seen the light of day.” Brandon continued: “While reworking the tracks, Josh and I were careful to retain whatever influence Benjamin had as a sort of living tribute to him. I know that Josh and I both feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity to work with him again, albeit posthumously. I know we are both very proud to present this as the first Secret Machines music in over a decade.”

Josh Ritter say, “See Here, I Have Built You A Mansion is a collection of 8 rare or unreleased songs and performances that I love from the previous several years. I did the artwork awhile back, and the title just popped into my head. I wrote “Time Is Wasting” awhile back for a movie. The song didn’t get used, but I ended up thinking about it again as COVID lockdown stretched away in front of us.”

Kathleen Edwards in the early 2000s, released four acclaimed albums of emotionally forthright, rootsy songs. But after touring for 2012′s “Voyageur,” Edwards soured on her music career and opened a coffee shop and cafe in the small Canadian town of Stittsville, Ottawa. The aptly named Quitters has been successful, but Edwards eventually found herself missing writing and performing, and now she returns with “Total Freedom,” an album about recalibrating and starting anew. Edwards ruminates on the end of relationships, on how feelings fade, on aging and keeping options open, on the freedom of isolation. The tone, even when colored with regret, is mostly optimistic. The arrangements focus on acoustic guitars, with reverb-soaked electric leads.

Old 97’s are next we’ll start with a few quotes: “Classic Old 97s every step of the way yet pulses with the energy of a band making their debut, with unstoppable musical swagger and Miller’s effortless lyrical eloquence on full display.”  
– AMERICAN SONGWRITER “Old 97’s’ Rhett Miller Wrote Killer Drinking Songs. Now He’s Sober and Still at the Top of His Game.”  – ROLLING STONE. Old 97’s, the iconic alt-country outfit fronted by Rhett Miller, is returning with their twelfth album, the aptly titled Twelfth to be released on August 21 on ATO Records.  Twenty-seven years in, Old 97’s still features its original lineup, and Twelfth is a testament to the band’s staying power. “Recording this album is one of the most intensely joyful experiences we’ve ever had as a band” says Miller.  That joy is utterly palpable on Twelfth. Loose and raw, the record is an ecstatic celebration of survival, a resounding ode to endurance and resilience from a veteran group that refuses to rest on their considerable laurels

The Front Bottoms are back. This one has a blend of electro-pop elements juxtaposing The Front Bottoms’ more traditional folk-punk style. Biffy Clyro thrives on change. 25 years into their career they refuse to settle and get comfortable. Rather, they jump at the chance to try something new, expectations be damned. Always looking forward, they aren’t afraid to experiment with their sound and take it to new places that keeps their music fresh and exciting. Their new album, A Celebration of Endings, is the next step of their evolution. It not only showcases another side of Biffy, it’s a celebration of change.Change is at the core of Biffy Clyro. 2016’s Ellipsis and 2019’s Balance, Not Symmetry soundtrack saw them tread new ground. It gave them the confidence they needed to keep pushing their sound in new directions. On their ninth album, they go for an expansive sound combining their noisy rock with orchestral strings, synths, and keyboards. Everything is distinctly Biffy; the album still has their trademark wall of noise, big hooks, and high energy, yet they take it to new heights. This is made for the stadium. It’s gonna sound good when we finally get live music back. #LiveMusicIsGoodForYouSoul

Let us begin half number two with Laura Veirs. My Echo was produced by Tucker Martine in the summer and fall of 2019 in Portland and includes appearances from Jim James, Bill Frisell, Karl Blau, Matt Ward, and others. “My world was turned upside down in my divorce and it felt like ‘nothing new’ to be forced into further deep uncertainty with the pandemic,” Veirs said of the album in a press release. “I was already prepped for the kind of thinking required for dealing with the unknown. Also, as an artist you always have to deal with that fact anyways since art is such a precarious way to make a living.” Ellie King has released a three-track EP of demos titled Elle King: In Isolation — recorded, as you might imagine, while quarantining in LA during the COVID-19 pandemic. “So many questions have begun to blossom within me through this time of isolation,” King wrote in a statement on the EP. “From the rug being ripped out from underneath to the burst of a new idea…isn’t the world strange? When we think of the state of it, have we upheld the promise to love and nurture it? What is it that’s going to carry us through this time of isolation?…What are you going to do with now?!? Every answer that you seek is within you. Trust yourself. Let your own light guide the way, and let go.” 

Phoenix have shared a new track, “Identical,” out now on Loyaute/Glassnote Records.  This is the band’s first release since 2017’s critically acclaimed album, Ti Amo.  The song can also be heard in the trailer released today for the upcoming Apple Original Films and A24 release On The Rocks, written and directed by Sofia Coppola and starring Bill Murray, Rashida Jones, and Marlon Wayans. Phoenix have written the score and assembled its soundtrack.  This is their fifth cinematic collaboration with Coppola since she first used their song “Too Young” in Lost In Translation.

Air Traffic Controller have a song called ‘Sometimes’ and it’s about a real relationship. “There was so much I wanted to say when it ended, but it was already over and probably for the best. I wanted to tell that person how much I cared, how I was affected, but I remained silent. I made excuses to myself, I was so busy, it was never a good time. Sometimes we bottle our emotions in order to move forward. This song was my way of removing the cap.” – Dave Munro, lead-singer. Air Traffic Controller have created a place all their own in the indie pop world. After serving in the US Navy as an actual air traffic controller, singer/songwriter Dave Munro built a legacy with “ATC” for crafting heartfelt, luscious and genuine indie-folk-pop songs that are timeless and classic.

The Prince Estate went into the vault for another previously unreleased song, “Cosmic Day.” The track was recorded on November 15, 1986, at Sunset Sound, Studio 3. “While the song had floated among ardent collectors as a small snippet, the full version reveals Prince at his most psychedelic,” reads a statement regarding the release. “From the race car ignition sounding intro to the screaming guitar finale, Prince sings about Mermen in the sky and flying in the deep sea.” And, of course, great guitar work. Orville Peck with Shania Twain. That sentence alone should be worth a click, no? The enigmatic masked country singer follows up his debut with more songs about lonesome souls alone together—and one standout duet with Shania Twain.

Music is Life. And new music keeps you young at heart. And keeps your mind nimble. It’s science. Do the google if you don’t believe me.

It was tough before Covid 19. Now more than ever we need to support these bands. Even something as simple as buying an album, or a ticket to a show (when live music comes back or if they are hosting online events), or a tee shirt. And if you can buy directly from them. Even better. Thank you.

Spotify playlist updates on Thursday(ish). Link to Chris Bro on Spotify.

WARNING may contain bad words. Or may not. Depends.

You can listen to NEXT on the radio. Listen to NEXT on Ocean 98 in Maryland Sunday nights at 10. Or Saturday afternoon on VOBB in Canada

Artist and Song Title:

  • The Band Of Heathens – Black Cat
  • Secret Machines – Everything Starts
  • Josh Ritter – Time Is Wasting
  • Kathleen Edwards – Hard On Everyone
  • Old 97’s – Happy Hour
  • The Front Bottoms – Jerk
  • Biffy Clyro – Weird Leisure
  • Laura Veirs – Burn Too Bright
  • Ellie King – The Let Go
  • Phoenix – Identical
  • Air Traffic Controller – Sometimes
  • Prince – Cosmic Day
  • Orville Peck – Legends Never Die (with Shania Twain)

and remember if you love someone hug them right now

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