Pink Squirrel - Episode 8

Throughout the first half of this decade, I was regularly in NYC, where my benefactor conducted business in a tall glass and steel building a few blocks south of Central Park.  I loved that I could get tuna on a roll anytime, day or night.  I also loved that my hotel was only a few hundred yards from MOMA.

I never failed to visit.

Over the past year, I have obsessed with an exhibition of Henri Matisse's Cut Outs that I attended.  The color, the contrast, the life-force in the composition.  It was beyond magnificent.

Yet the thing that has captivated me most about the show was that this was how Matisse chose to spend the final years of his life; making art with paper and scissors, when his body could no longer sustain canvas and paint.

I also think about the many other artists - painters, writers, and musicians - who did not produce art while they aged.  How could so many stop?

I've concluded that it was rarely a conscious decision.  I believe that they temporarily put it asid…

Thinkin' On A Woman - Colter Wall

from the album Songs Of The Plains (2018)

In baseball, there has been a long-standing and unfortunate tradition of labelling the latest prospective superstar as "the next Mickey Mantle."  This label tends to put undue scrutiny and pressure on the young ballplayer and, in many cases, derails their career.

The same is true of country music, where record labels and the media cannot resit labelling a promising new artist as the next Johnny, Dolly, or Hank.

Such is the case with Colter Wall, a twenty-three year old singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan whose gifts as both a singer and a songwriter are chilling.

On his sophomore album, my favorite track is Thinking' On A Woman; a simple song in the classic country tradition.  Sparse instrumentation and a slow shuffle beat set the stage for beautiful vocals framed by a tasteful steel guitar track.

As you listen, please try to avoid the comparisons and rather appreciate Colter Wall for the talented musician from the Canadian Plain…

You're Not Like Anybody Else - Escondido

from the album Warning Bells (2018)

Over the past few months, I have challenged myself to write a new song each week.  I have written sixteen songs to dat.

The tend to fall into four categories: rock songs, groovin' songs, jangly songs, and pretty songs.  I find that, of the four, pretty songs are the most difficult.  The demand to be well-written, with an elegance and a simplicity in the arrangement and the melody line.  The lyrics are a challenge as well; trying to be sweet yet not flowery, tender yet tough.

These are the most honest of songs.

When I listen to You're Not Like Anybody Else by Escondido,  I think "now that is a pretty song I wish I wrote."  The acoustic guitar with the little electric poppings layered behind it create the perfect vibe.  The beauty in the vocals and their melody.  A love song that never uses the word "love."

As simple as this song may sound, writing such a song is artistry and craft that are uncommon.

Click Here to listen to

Some Birds - Jeff Tweedy

from the album WARM (2018)

Jeff Tweedy is an artists with that rare ability to make me instantly happy by the sound of his music.  Within the opening measures of his songs, I recognize who it is, fall immediately into the groove, and smile.  Overtime.

Such is the case with Some Birds from his forthcoming album.  The tones, the vibe, it is all right there.  Just like it is supposed to be.

But wait, there is more.  My affection for most Jeff Tweedy songs seems to grow over time.  I am always finding some new nuisance, or catching the thought behind a lyric that is endearing.

He is special.

Click Here to watch the official video for Some Birds by Jeff Tweedy.

Click Here to read my September 2016 blog post for We Aren't The World (Safety Girl) by Wilco.

Click Here to read my July 2015 blog post for Taste The Ceiling by Wilco.

Click Here to read my October 2013 blog post for Ballad Of The Opening Band by Jeff Tweedy.

Click Here to read my May 2012 blog post for One Sunday Morning (Song For …

Boom Boom - Tony Joe White

from the album Bad Mouthin' (2018)

Perhaps more than any other artist, Tony Joe White is synonymous with "swamp music."  Everything in his gravel voice, guitar and harmonica tones, and songwriting acumen defines "swamp."

On his latest album, Tony Joe White releases his first "blues" album of his fifty year career.  Sure the blues have been ever present throughout, but this time it is intentionally "the blues."

My favorite track is a cover of John Lee Hooker's classic, Boom Boom.  The dull thud of the snare, the hint of reverb in the guitar, the ancient-sounding harmonica, and the baritone vocal.  The delta meets the swamp.

I really dig how this song subtly derives its intensity from the hypnotic effect of the bass, drums, and guitar.

I can't get enough of this vibe.

Click Here to listen to Boom Boom by Tony Joe White.

Click Here to read my October 2013 blog post for Gypsy Epilogue by Tony Joe White.

Go On Baby Break Down - Darren Jessee

from the album The Jane, Room 217 (2018)

It is a grey and foggy Sunday morning in this little corner of the world.

That makes it the perfect time for some quiet, acoustic music of the singer-songwriter variety.  Top of the list is Go On Baby Break Down by Darren Jessee.  Despite being best known as the drummer for Ben Folds Five, it is Darren Jessee's deftness as a songwriter that I dig most.

I find myself closing my eyes and daydreaming to this sparse and beautiful composition.  Every chord evokes an emotion.  Every visual image takes my mind on an intimate journey.  It is lovely.

Click Here to listen to Go On Baby Break Down by Darren Jessee.

I Don't Know - Paul McCartney

from the album Egypt Station (2018)

Once upon a time, in my ancestral hometown, there was a small music shop on Main Street called Jamm Music.  In the summer between ninth and tenth grades, I began taking lessons there from a bearded hippie-looking man named John.

John was a most accomplished bass payer, whose main gig was as a session man in NYC.  He worked on cartoons, movies, television, and with some of the finest singers of that time.

The lessons he taught me still resonate.  I was very fortunate to have him as a teacher.

After a year, or so, of lessons, he told me that I was ready to join a band and hooked me up with a guitarist and a singer.  The focus of his lessons then changed from how to play the bass to how to play in a band.

One day, he asked me what bass player I imagined myself as?

"John Entwistle," I replied.

He frowned.  "Everybody wants to be a flashy bassist, like Entwistle.  You don't want to be that.  You want to be like Paul McCartney.  You lik…

Baby Where You Are - Mountain Man

from the album Magic Ship (2018)

Bigger.  Badder.  Louder.  Faster.

None of these terms apply to Mountain Man, a vocal trio - consisting of Amelia Meath, Molly Sarlé, and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig - who play an intimate variety of Appalachian Folk.

Their songs are simple and beautiful, as are their voices.

Their new song Baby Where You Are is an incredible record.  It is tender and romantic, quiet and sparse; allowing every tone and texture to melt in your mind.

I am rapidly falling in love with this song.

Click Here to listen to Baby Where You Are by Mountain Man.

What Would He Say? - Paul Weller

from the album True Meanings (2018)

I really dig listening to the more mature artists of my youth.  It seems to me that the few who endure are the ones with the greatest affection and mastery of their craft.

I find that these artists focus on writing and performing quality songs rather than perpetually chasing this year's sound.

Paul Weller's new album is full of such songs.  My favorite of the bunch is What Would He Say?  It is a soft and simple song, exquisitely written and highlighting the wonderful tones of his aging voice.  Songwriting and vocals...

I get chills when his voice kicks into the chorus.  I also get a kick out of the trumpet track.

Lean back and enjoy.

Click Here to listen to What Would I Say? by Paul Weller.

Click Here to read my May 2017 blog post on Woo Sé Mama by Paul Weller.

The Right Time - Ural Thomas & The Pain

from the album The Right Time (2018)

Whenever I hear a funky, new, and muscular rhythm and blues song, the kind that reminds me of James Brown, I ask myself, "Why don't more bands play this type of music?"

The answer is lies in the level of difficulty.

Power funk is difficult act to pull off.  It requires a cadre of excellent musicians, including a groove-minded bassist, a rock-steady drummer, funky guitar, a dynamite horn section, soulful keys, and - most importantly - an incredible vocal talent.  It is enough to drive you to rapping over loops.

Ural Thomas & The Pain are funksters of the first order.  Ural Thomas has been shouting soul for over forty years, playing with artists from Stevie Wonder to Otis Redding to Mary Wells.  The title track from his forthcoming album - The Right Time - will take you back to that sweaty, funky bar in your dreams.

This is what is possible when talented, like-minded musicians dedicate themselves to conquering the difficult world of…

Shaking The Gates - Richard Thompson

from the album 13 Rivers (2018)

Have you ever thought about the gates to heaven?

If there is a gate, does that mean there is a wall or a fence?  If so, is its purpose to keep souls in, or to keep them out?  I mean, does heaven need a wall?

And what is the experience at the gates like?  Is it like the TSA line at the airport?  Is it like the lines at Ellis Island a hundred years ago?  Or, is it like the line to get into Studio 54, with Saint Peter in a white leisure suit, hand selecting those who are allowed in?

And do people really get turned away at the gates to heaven?  That seems like a shitty way to treat a newly departed soul.

On the closing track to his new album, Richard Thompson finds himself Shaking The Gates to hell.  Hell, of course, seems like a place more likely to have a gate.  Kind of like a prison gate.

The song title is likely derived by the John Wesley quote, "Give me a hundred preachers ... who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I will shake t…

Make Time 4 Love - The Goon Sax

from the album We're Not Talking (2018)

The Goon Sax are a three piece indie band from Brisbane, Australia.

I am really digging their new album, particularly the song Make Time 4 Love.

The opening measures evoke a Modern Lovers vibe, before turning to their own melodic sensibilities.  Cowbell lovers will rejoice.  They also manage to add some synthetic orchestration.  Yet, at their core, they are a tightly integrated three piece indie band.  What could be better?

I also dig the song's sentiment, urging us to Make Time 4 Love.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Make Time 4 Love.

Young At Heart - Willie Nelson

from the album My Way (2018)

Once upon a time, there was a young man who immersed himself in many passions.  This included the party life, women, and traveling to exotic parts of the world.  Still he wanted more; fancying himself as both a successful musician and a dot-com millionaire.

He fervently pursued both ambitions with zeal and vigor.  He joined a band of cracker-jack musicians, winning awards and having his songs played on the radio.  He also started a technology company, earning the business of some of the world's most recognized brands.

As each of these endeavors prospered, they increasingly demanded more - and more - of his time.  Sometimes, he found himself devoting over ninety hour a weeks to these dual quests.

Something had to give.

His decision felt rational.  He would put aside the music career to focus on his seemingly more attainable goals in the business world.  He felt confident that he was on a path the make enough money - over a four, or five, year run - to t…

Let's Dance - Spiritualized

from the album And Nothing Hurt (2018)

Sometimes, I fall in love with a song at first listen.  Such is the case with Let's Dance by Spiritualized.

The thing that really resonates with me is the song's childish beauty, that evokes memories of Everyday by Buddy Holly.  The song also has a magnificent psychedelic quality reminiscent of some later Beatles tunes.

I am also drawn to the sentiment of pleading “Come on darling, let’s dance.”  In a world with so much stress and strain, we could all do well to dance a bit more often.

Click Here to listen to Let's Dance by Spiritualized.

Pink Squirrel - Episode 7

Welcome to Episode 7 of Pink Squirrel !!!

This episode offers an eclectic mix of songs rooted in electronica, but also including blues, jazz, singer-songwriters, world, and dance.

Some of my favorite songs come from long established artists, like Chaka Kahn and The Last Poets.  I am also digging the Brazilian artists, Bixiga 70 and Gilberto Gil, as well as great songs by Alena Diane and Caitlyn Smith.

You will almost certainly find something in this mix that quenches an ignored corner of your musical palate.

Here is the playlist:

Quebra Cabeça by Bixiga 70

Understand What Black Is by The Last Poets

Like Sugar by Chaka Kahn

Sereno by Gilberto Gil

I Don't Wanna Be Without You by The James Hunter Six

Ether & Wood - Alena Diane

12:51AM by Self Tape

Max Lush Carlos by Godriguez

Pick Up by DJ Koze

Feel Good by Maribou State

Got Me Coming Back Rite Now by Moodymann

Cheap Date by Caitlyn Smith

Boogaloo by Paul Brown

Make It Rain by Shoshana Bean

And in case that isn't enough, here are all the …