Fresh Rotation | 3 new tracks we’re listening to right now

New music from Cass McCombs and The Slaps, and an unearthed track from garage-rock apostles The Preachers

Press image collage
Credit: (From left) Cass McCombs press photo by Giovanni Duca, The Slaps press photo by Leo Horton and the Preachers album artwork courtesy of Sundazed

Each and every week the JME team handpicks the juiciest new tunes from local, regional, national and international artists to add to the rotation on The Independent 89.9 HD4 (and to our tasty, tall-glass-of-a-listening-experience that is our monthly Fresh Squeeze playlist). Each song is chosen with intention. And so we often feel like they are worthy of a broader discussion (or at least a bit of context).

Here are three new songs that the JME team is listening to this week.

“Strawberry” by The Slaps

Chicago pop-slacker-trio The Slaps’ debut album, Tomato Tree, is a blend of sprawling instrumentals and pastoral ballads. The names of the songs alone (“Somber Slumber,” “Waking Up Bloody,” “Upsetty”) should endear the band to consciously lethargic. But the band’s irresistibly hypnotizing guitar work and drowsy call-and-response patterns are downright lullabalistic (you can make up words in my dream world). The Slaps break free from lyrical structures on the album’s fourth track, “Strawberry,” tapping into their inner monologue with “Dream of the sonics floating / You’re so scared of talking / What you doing for dinner?” The effortlessly warm track leaves an intimate stain on a beautifully plated soundscape. –Rain Henderson 

Belong to Heaven” by Cass McCombs

After a run of collaborative projects that produced duets with fellow enigmatic songwriter Steve Gunn, recordings with Tuareg rockers Tinariwen and a new band with Wynona Judd, once-in-a-generation musical-nomad Cass McCombs has turned up once again with his first new single since the release of his 2019 full-length Tip of the Spear. “I remember you on the street at night / All glitter and chainmail but no time to fight,” McCombs sings over a familiar guitar motif on “Belong to Heaven,” a track chock full of the kind of singular, illustrative lyrics that led Rolling Stone to call McCombs “a woodsy abstractionist-turned-master-of-vernacular.” A tribute to a lost friend (“Music was all we needed / Yeah, you’ve got to give it away to keep it / You surrendered undefeated / Now you belong to Heaven”),“Belong to Heaven” could double as a mantra for McCombs’ more than 20 years of prolific output on the margins of mainstream music.–Matthew Shaw 

“Who Do You Love” by The Preachers

While their ministry lasted a mere 18 months, L.A. garage rock apostles the Preachers testified the trinity of tube amps, bad attitudes, and dissatisfaction. A popular live act, the five-piece opened for notable groups like the Seeds and the Byrds on the SoCal club scene. However, like most bands of the time and present day, popular success was not part of the divine order of things. Sundazed recently released the multi-format compilation Stay Out of My World, which gathers the band’s impressive released and unreleased output during their crazed tenure. The band’s take on Bo Diddley’s “Who Do You Love” barely contains the kind of nihilism and unhinged “hate at will” that dropped napalm on the then-blooming flower power scene of the mid 1960s. A video clip of the band lip-synching the tune on ‘60s L.A. teeny bop show Shivaree comes across more like a failed exorcism than a promotional jaunt. Holy smokes!–Daniel A. Brown

Hear songs featured on Fresh Rotation and more of the best new music from emerging and established national, international and even local artists on The Independent 89.9 HD4.

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