Sep 302020
 
best new songs september
Ariel Zevon – Witness


Before YouTube will let you play “Witness,” it flashes an ominous black warning about how the video may be inappropriate for some users. Its a misleading label that makes it seem like it’s got nudity or something offensive. To be sure, the content in the video is offensive – in the sense of it should offend anyone to see police acting this way. But knowing it is happening is a civic duty. Zevon has accompanied the upsetting footage with a moving new protest song, doing her bit to fight the power. Continue reading »

Sep 012020
 
songs of summer 2020

We’re back! After a summer away on paternity leave (can a blog take paternity leave? well, we did), County Tracks returns with a supersized roundup of everything that went on while we were away.

This is, as always, “we” in the proverbial sense. It’s really just me, Ray Padgett. And I have my second book out this week! It’s about music, of course. Specifically the history of tribute albums, as told through the fascinating story of one in particular (1991’s I’m Your Fan: The Songs of Leonard Cohen – which, even if you don’t realize it, is the reason you know the song “Hallelujah”). It’s in the great 33 1/3 series of small books on specific albums. Hope you’ll check it out! Preorder links and more info over here.

Now, onto the music…

Abby Sherman Band – The Road


“The Road” is the first song on Bandcamp that Vermont singer-songwriter Abby Sherman has billed as being by the “Abby Sherman Band.” A minuscule rebranding, but one that feels significant. Whereas her best song last year was a stripped-down dirge, “The Road” features a muscular alt-country backing group giving her melody some heft. Special props to whoever played the country-Mark-Knopfler guitar solo. Continue reading »

May 292020
 
best new songs may 2020
Elder Orange – Stella


Matt Scott, aka Elder Orange, wrote his new EP Stella inspired by his ’71 Stella parlor acoustic guitar. But despite the acoustic guitar-influence, singer-songwriter music this isn’t. Scott’s a producer and composer who builds immersive instrumental soundscapes incorporating that guitar here and there, but not beholden to it. In this case, he says, “Stella is a blend of a lot of my favorite sounds; dusty 60’s funk rock laced with boom-bap alt-latin vibes and gritty electro-fusion.” Continue reading »

Apr 302020
 
best new songs april 2020
Amelia Devoid – Counters


It’s not clear if this song was written in our current self-isolation, but even if it wasn’t, lines like this have a new resonance: “I’ve been wiping down counters / and counting down hours / ’til i can lay in the flowers again”. Continue reading »

Mar 202020
 
vermont bandcamp

As you may have heard, Bandcamp is waving all its fees until midnight tonight to deliver 100% of the money to musicians. In this time of cancelled gigs and an uncertain future, artists need your support more than ever. So go nuts. To start, here are twenty-five great 2020 albums to buy there.

Note: Bandcamp’s site is currently pretty overloaded. So bear with it. And, if none of their embeds show up below, reload this page until they do. Continue reading »

Mar 192020
 
songs to stay inside

There are a million playlists to soundtrack your social distancing. But how about a playlist of songs about social distancing?

These 20 antisocial songs from Vermont artists new and old all touch on keeping your distance and staying inside. Some of them offer good advice for our current predicament. Others offer extremely bad advice. You should never take advice from a musician. Continue reading »

Mar 102020
 
community garden

“Love Will Tear Us Apart.” “Blue Monday.” “Tell Me When It’s Over.”

As you can tell from the genre’s song titles alone, post-punk is not known for being cheery. The chorus of what might be post-punk’s most iconic song sings about being crushed by double-decker bus. And that’s one of The Smiths’ happiest songs!

But on their new album, Vermont trio Community Garden deliver the most unlikely of combinations: upbeat post-punk. “Don’t Sweat It,” says the title track. “Brush It Off,” another encouraging title. Or how about “Be Honest” – that’s just good advice! Continue reading »

Mar 052020
 
couchsleepers

Recording an entire album in one’s bedroom used to be a feat of DIY ingenuity. With modern technology, though, it’s no longer a big deal. Billie Eilish recorded her blockbuster debut in her brother’s bedroom and it doesn’t sound lo-fi or hissy or any of the other hallmarks we used to associate with “bedroom recordings.”

Harrison Hsiang wrote, produced, recorded, and mixed his band Couchsleepers’ debut album Only When It’s Dark in his bedroom. Yawn. But he takes it one step further. It’s a bedroom album – about that very bedroom. Continue reading »

Feb 282020
 
best songs feb 2020
Bad Rat? – Transitional Forest


“Transitional Forest” is billed as the lead single of Bad Rat’s upcoming album This Time Around The Sun, but it’s almost two singles in one. The first half is a bit of a feint, a meditative meander that doesn’t predict the drop to come. With little warning, Marc Kamil’s mellow ballad becomes thudding  post-punk, little more than a shared guitar line connecting the two halves. Continue reading »

Feb 192020
 
lily wade

“I don’t wanna be fifteen” is the first line on Lily Wade’s new album 5teen, and she’s in luck: She turns 16 in a few days.

The indie-rock songwriter’s chops bely her age. She writes short and snappy songs, filled with hooks and wit and pop smarts, even as the subject matter reflects her own life experiences: high school crushes, grade-grubbing schoolmates, a summer you wish would last forever, etc. Continue reading »