Okkervil River “What Friends Do” – Listen

Okkervil River’s latest track What Friends Do is the theme song to Amazon Prime’s animated holiday special “Click Clack Moo: Christmas At The Farm”. Breaking Bad it’s not. It’s based on the book series from Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin and features various voices including SNL’s Pete Davidson. Okkervil’s Will Sheff explained to Stereogum: “When I was preparing to write the theme for Click Clack Moo I listened intently and repeatedly to my favorite kids’ songs by writers like Joe Raposo and Harry Nilsson. There’s something about writing songs tailor-made for kids, I noticed, that brings out something really tender and urgent in adults. You start thinking a lot about what the one simple and sincere message you’d like to pass on to a kid might be.” Like, stop throwing your dirty socks under the bed.

Soft Fangs “Honey Colony” – Listen

Soft Fangs is the musical project of Brooklyn-based songwriter, John Lutkevich. Having previously released an EP and a debut album, Lutkevich’s latest release Fractures saw a change in the recording process, as he explains “The LP is a collection of songs that I wrote over the past year in fragments and then recorded in three days during a snowstorm in Maine…it’s the first album where I’ve enlisted the help of others to engineer, so I let my good friends Bradford Krieger & Chaimes Parker (Big Nice Studio) handle all of the recording aspects, and I just got to run from instrument to instrument.” The result is the place where pop meets hauntingly dark imagery and sounds.

Calexico “Voices in the Field” – Listen

Stereogum have premiered a new track by the act they describe as “Arizona’s resident Americana band” Calexico who recently announced their ninth studio album, “The Thread That Keeps Us”. Voices In The Field follows on from lead single End Of The World With You with all the usual mariachi influences but a nice dash of doom thrown in. After all, tis the season to be gloomy.

Darlingside “Eschaton” – Listen

Alt-folk quartet Darlingside are back with a new single and a new album for 2018.  Eschaton is taken from the forthcoming release “Extralife” due out February which will be launched officially in London on January 30th at the Courtyard Theatre, the follow up to the band’s 2016 European breakthrough debut release “Birds Say”.  While that record was steeped in childhood nostalgia and the loss of innocence, “Extralife” finds the band looking to the future, mourning the loss of our world with an almost post-apocalyptic view, although it’s not without an underlying sense of hope and optimism – the new series of Star Trek continues after the Christmas break after all.

Robin Jackson “Drifting At Sea” – Listen

It’s easy to hear the influence of Robin Jackson’s previous band, the dark boho-cabaret band, Vagabond Opera.  It’s no real surprise that the Portland based multi-instrumentalist has also worked with Amanda Palmer.  The moody Drifting at Sea is taken from his new album Dark Stars.  It’s a drifting, lilting soliloquised expounding on the way love dwindled and left behind a hollow husk of loneliness.  And it has a hummable tune.

 

Mavis Staples feat. Jeff Tweedy “Ain’t No Doubt About It” – Listen

Mavis Staples has debuted her new single Ain’t No Doubt About It which is taken from her new album ‘If All I Was Was Black’ which landed last week. The track is described as “a lilting and warmly poignant country soul track” and features vocals by Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy, who also serves as the album’s producer and songwriter. On the song, Mavis and Tweedy trade lines about the need for kindness in these trying times before joining together in a chorus that evokes the depth of the two musician’s longstanding friendship.  Country singers with the word “Staple” in their name seem to be fairly common these days.  If you can think of any other stationery related singers do let us know.

Banty Holler “Take It From Me” – Listen

Banty Holler’s “Nothing Machine” is a new americana album from the Netherlands featuring Neile H Coe’s off-brand alt-country and Willem van der Tuuk’s “purposeful, tasty deployment of his Strat” which makes it sound like he’s tried to eat it. They’ve shared with us the track Take it From Me, about which Neile told us: “This started as a rip-off from a track off Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited. Add a Rust Belt persona, my half-ass singing and strumming and Willem’s full-ass tasty electric guitar parts and there ya go.”  Nethericana if you will.

Green Day and Miranda Lambert “Ordinary World” – Listen

Ordinary World is the new song from Green Day taken from their new collection “Greatest Hits: God’s Favorite Band.”  The song’s first iteration came in a 2016 film starring frontman Billie Joe Armstrong as an aging punk rocker and was later released, in a stripped down, acoustic fashion, on Green Day’s 2016 album “Revolution Radio”. The new version features country singer Miranda Lambert’s harmonies, and as RS note, this isn’t the first time Armstrong and Lambert have sung together as they performed the Everly Brothers’ “When Will I Be Loved” at the Grammy awards in 2014.

Straw Bear “Venetian Gothic” – Listen

Taken from their forthcoming album “Fiction” set for an early 2018 release, indie folksters Straw Bear have released the first track Venetian Gothic, a beautifully-crafted, guitar-drenched gem. The band, whose fans include Cerys Mathews, Bob Harris and Tom Robinson (the best co-contestants you could wish for in an episode of Come Dine With Me) (although are they decent cooks?) will be announcing news of the album shortly.