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September 2022 Singles 2

1. “The Ballad of Norm MacDonald” – Matthew Squires and the Learning Disorders. Norm Macdonald was the ultimate deconstructor of jokes: the joke is that jokes are themselves jokes with a form–joke-ness, if you will–and that this joke is not going to do what jokes do, which is funny, because it’s presented as a joke anyway. It fits that Squires channels MacDonald, as Squires’ atypical, surrealist indie-rock pulls a similar trick for indie-rock: it doesn’t quite do what indie-rock normally does, but in the voice and trappings of indie rock. A treat for folks who like not knowing what’s going to happen next. Highly recommended.

2. “The Kid Who Ran Away” – M. Lockwood Porter. This is a truly incredible, shivers-inducing alt-country song. Anyone who’s ever moved away from home, anyone who’s ever had to grapple with what their parents mean as an adult, anyone who’s had to learn to see parents as people instead of just parents–this one’s for you. (And by that, I mean: so, so many of us.) Highly recommended.

3. “Dance With Me” – Shamarr Allen. New Orleans trumpeter Shamarr Allen’s “Dance With Me” is the first single off his upcoming True New Orleans 2. Immersed in the celebration of everyday people and steeped in the musician’s jazz hip-hop fusion style, the track leads the sonic parade of notes to come with the release of Allen’s anticipated work with his band, The Underdawgs. This one lifts up the real faces of everyday people who call New Orleans home. — Lisa Whealy

4. “Conscientious Objector” – Curtis Eller’s American Circus. All will feel right in the world when Durham, North Carolina’s Curtis Eller crosses the pond with his American Circus for the U.K. shows this September. One of the great American songbook’s traditional folk troubadours, Eller’s theatrical style elevates the political content of his song “Conscientious Objector.” He was recently part of NPR’s Tiny Desk Contest with sponsor Lagunitas Brewing Company. (Learn more about the 2022 Tiny Desk Contest Winner Alisa Amador here.) Join Curtis Eller on tour: get your tickets at — Lisa Whealy

5. “Wealth of the Canyon” – JPW. This track sounds like an effortless, casual, wonderfully tossed-off take on Laurel Canyon-style West Coast folk/country. It take significant work to make it sound so easy, and so JPW’s work is your benefit, listener.

6. “Silver Lining” – Byung. Sleepy, dreamy guitar and vocals (reflecting the lyrics about sleep and dreams) are kept moving ahead via a staccato snare. The slow, warm track falls somewhere between Grandaddy and Seven Swans-era Sufjan.

7. “Goodbye” – bellwire. Desperation set to a snare shuffle and a jangly guitar. Tyler Berd’s vocals are pitch-perfect, and every part of the track is beautifully recorded.

8. “Quicksilver” – Nimrawd. Nimrawd is always good for an eclectic electro track, and this one delivers: ’90s big beat meets vocals influenced by the stylings of music from the Indian subcontinent and punchy kit drums. A lot going on here, and a lot of fun all the way through.

9. “The Door” – The Ultra Secret. 19 years ago, I glowingly reviewed Kervin’s I Think I See Evil, which was a ripping take on Rage Against The Machine-style rock. Amazingly, Kervin is back, now named The Ultra Secret. They’re still doing a ripping take on RATM-style rock, with Anupum Mehrota’s machine-gun vocals as blistering and biting as ever. I don’t cover a lot of rock anymore, but The Ultra Secret is something special.