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Sweet Talk with Beth Ditto

Beth Ditto
Beth Ditto | photo courtesy of the artist

Beth Ditto is the kind of artist where one’s fandom can and often does feel like friendship.

From her tenure as the formidable frontwoman of iconic queer punk band The Gossip all of the way through her recent debut solo album, Fake Sugar, listening to her songs possess a fun but familiar feeling to them, like you’re having a conversation with a friend you either just met or haven’t seen in forever. That intimacy becomes even more immediate when you see her do her thing live, which she’ll be doing at Union Transfer this Sunday.

It felt more instant still when I had the pleasure of chatting with her on the phone last month. It was freewheeling discussion that covered a lot of topics both mundane—we commiserated over our dirty laundry piles and the state of my shoe collection—and more relevant to her music, her philosophies about life and work, and what she gets from both. The highlights from the latter can be found below. Continue reading →

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Listen to Belly’s shimmering new single “Shiny One,” from their first album in 23 years

Belly
Belly | photo by Chris Gorman | courtesy of the artist

After a couple decades of absence, it makes sense that legendary 90s alt-rockers Belly would keep us waiting to hear the details of their long-awaited return, building anticipation with each announcement. The band first broke the news of their reunion in 2016 with a short, nostalgia-packed tour. Then, last fall, they announced that a new album was in the works, along with an upcoming string of tour dates that includes a stop at Union Transfer on September 28. They also released their first recording in over 20 years, a cover of “Hushabye Mountain” from the film Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Now, we finally have more details on the forthcoming album — it’s called DOVE, and it’ll be released May 4. We also have Belly’s first new original song in 23 years — “Shiny One” is a song just as sweet and shimmery as its title suggests, and you can stream it now. Continue reading →

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First Aid Kit return to Union Transfer with familiar harmonies and newfound fervor

First Aid Kit | Photo by: Ellen Miller | ellencm.com
First Aid Kit | photo by Ellen Miller | ellencm.com

First Aid Kit have a knack for making the kind of sad music that does everything but leave you feeling sad — and they’ve been doing it for ten years. The Swedish sister duo of Johanna and Klara Söderberg took the stage at Union Transfer Saturday night for the first time since 2014, and for the first time as a five-piece band. As the sisters put it, it had been “way too long,” and the sold-out crowd was eager to see what this new era of First Aid Kit would bring. Continue reading →

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Kimbra’s Primal Heart wins out

Kimbra at The Roots Picnic | Photo by John Vettese for WXPN

It’s hard not to embrace an interview subject who enters the conversation laughing before the first question is lobbed. That’s Kimbra: the New Zealand soul singer whose albums before 2018 (The Golden Echo, Vows) were cheerfully cluttered, genre-mixing experiences marinated in the meaty juices of dance-pop.

Her newest album following her recent move to NYC, Primal Heart, is due in April, and takes a different tact in that the whole of the album is a windier, more minimalist experience, which allows her emotional lyrical perspective to shine through to a greater extent than in previous sonic settings. Before she appears at Union Transfer on January 31, Kimbra chatted about golden echoes, gods and Gotye. Continue reading →

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Hop Along’s Bark Your Head Off, Dog is out in April; they’ll celebrate May 19th at Union Transfer

Hop Along
Hop Along | photo by Tonje Thilesen | courtesy of the artist

If you’ll excuse us for a bit, we’re just going to have this new Hop Along song on repeat for the rest of the day.

“How Simple” is the first taste we’re getting of Bark Your Head Off, Dog — the band’s latest album, out April 4th on Saddle Creek Records. It’s got a brisk pace and soaring leads, a disco beat and handclap breakdowns. The outro hook, delivered gang vocal style, will be in our head all day: “Don’t worry, we will both find out, just not together.” Continue reading →

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Tune-yards pry open a conversation on privilege in i can feel you creep into my private life

tune-yards | photo by Eliot Lee Hazel | via artist’s Facebook

Merrill Garbus’s experimental pop project tune-yards has always radiated as a genre-bending, unexpected collaboration of sounds. Heavily infusing Haitian and Afrobeat elements into her nuanced music, Garbus has not shied away from conversations of cultural appropriation and her part in the matter. But after the racially-charged 2016 election and the ensuing divide of 2017, Garbus felt she needed to address her personal role head on and in full force. In a piece with NPR Music, it’s stated that Garbus attended a six-month anti-racist workshop at the East Bay Meditation Center and studied up on the works of anti-racist educator, Tim Wise, and the progressive activism of Standing Up for Racial Justice. What followed was the process of tune-yards’ recently released album, i can feel you creep into my private life. Continue reading →