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New Music Monday Takes To The Open Road

by Quinn Harris

New Music Monday is a collection of the best new releases in music each week. We share them with you every Monday, every hour on WFUV.

Blitzen Trapper - "Shine On"

Portland, Oregon-based Blitzen Trapper is often compared with current folk/rock bands like Deer Tick and Dr. Dog, but what they don't share with those bands is that it's difficult to fit them into one genre. Their first album was country-based, with road-weary songs like "Texaco" and "Reno," while their later music seemed more inspired by the freak folk of Neil Young. "Shine On" finds them delving into new territories yet again. Rather than the hard-traveling country folk of their past, "Shine On" combines hillbilly, gospel, and electronic influences into a cultural buffet of influences. 

Brendan Benson - "Diamond"

Brendan Benson has had a very busy few months. He's gone from producing an EP for garage rock legend Eric Burdon (with the Greenhorns) to announcing that he'll release one new song every month in 2013. He's already put seven of them out and today we're featuring April's cut, "Diamond." It's no gimmick; the song is as strong as anything Benson has put out yet. The song is a joyous one, not unlike a harder rocking take on '70s-era power pop ballads.

Diane Birch - "All The Love You Got"

Speak A Little Louder is the new album from singer Diane Birch (out October 15th) and "All The Love You Got" is the first single from the album. It was recorded right here in New York City and produced by Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of the roots, which offers some explanation about the soulful feel of the song. Over a uniquely funky backbeat, Birch's "All The Love You Got" is a pop ballad with hints of '80s acts such as Blondie and contemporaries like Adele.

Islands - Ski Mask

Ski Mask is the new album from quirky Canadian band Islands. The record shows the band moving into new territories with confidence. The songs are wide-ranging, from the tense "Becoming the Gunship" to "Nil" - which just has to be inspired by Harry Nilsson; it would have fit right in on Harry alongside "Fairfax Rag" and "Nobody Cares About Railroads Anymore." Yet that's not to say the album is a "fun" affair. According to front man Nick Thorburn, the "record is really about being angry." It shows, especially in darker songs like "Death Drive," but overall the band doesn't give up any of their exuberance and catchiness in the process. 

Mark Knopfler - Privateering

Privateering is the first new album from ex-Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler in three years. It's astonishing the amount of quality music Knopfler has put out post-Dire Straits. Privateering is his 17th album, and it's up there with anything he cut with his old band. The album gives us the typical warm, backroad, late-night cabin music we've come to expect from Knopfler, but Privateering also seems to be the sound of a rocker slowing down, and, at age 64, finding his place in the world over again. On "Corned Beef City," Knopfler sings "Got to feed the kids / and put the diesel in the tank" while on "I Used To Could" he tells us "GMC Cannonball going like a train / all down the 40 in the driving rain / All those horses underneath the hood / I don't do it no more but I used to could." Knopfler hasn't looked back to the best of the Dire Straits days, and with Privateering, the argument can be made that he's better than ever before.

Polica - "Chain My Name"

The newest single from electro pop band Polica is a smooth dancer with their familiar dark and eerie undertones. On "Chain My Name," lead Channy Leaneagh sings in a melancholy tone, telling us, "So we are made just to fight all our lives / End it all on the bottom line." "Chain My Name" is from the band's new album called Shumalith, out October 18th.