Don't Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy - Anna Calvi

from the album Hunter (2018)

British guitar virtuoso, Anna Calvi, writes songs that seem to resonate with me long after I've finished listening to them.

Such is the case with her summer single Don't Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy.  This song has become my ear worm for the past three months, largely due to the do-do-do-do vocal line, the screech at the end of the breakdown, and the the song's title line.

I am also a big fan of the stripped down (yet roughed up) guitar tones. Most people who can play guitar like her go for grander tones, but why bother when you have a Telecaster and a Vox?

Hope you dig it.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Don't Beat The Girl Out Of My Boy by Anna Calvi.

Pink Squirrel - Episode 10

Welcome to Episode 10 of Pink Squirrel.

This mixtape series is dedicated to sharing some of the great music released in 2018.

This final episode has a distinct vibe that - while sitting at the intersection of soul, rhythm & blues, and jazz - is as diverse as any mix in the series, in that you will also hear country, alternative, and disco in the mix.

Its cohesiveness is a testament to the direction that music has headed this decade, with genre lines blurred and people consuming broader spectrums of tunes.

I also dig how, in a mix that sounds fresh and new, you have musical icons - like Willie Nelson, Van Morrison, Elvis Costello, Neneh Cherry, and Miranda Lambert - all doing their thing.

I am particularly fond of the closing track, Love Having You Around, where the Late Nite Tuff Guy reworks First Choice's late 70s cover of the Stevie Wonder track.

Au revoir, Pink Squirrel.  It has been a fun year.

Here is the playlist:

Where We Are by Curtis Harding

Seek The Source by Christia…

Bombs Away - Charlotte Gainsbourg

from the EP Take 2 (2018)

Charlotte Gainsbourg records always entice me with their vibe and groove.  I am also enamored with the hushed sexiness of her vocal delivery.

These attributes are all front and center on Bombs Away, a sleek dance song that you can dance or bop to.

The vibe is Paris, with a touch of Tom Tom Club's New York.

It is a sound I can't stop listening to..

Click Here to listen to Bombs Away by Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Click Here to read my December 2017 blog post for Deadly Valentine by Charlotte Gainsbourg.

Click Here to read my January 2014 blog post for Charlotte Gainbourg's cover version of Jimi Hendrix's Hey Joe.

When Is The Future? - VNV Nation

from the album Noire (2018)

A guiding principle of the Hamburg-based group, VNV Nation, is that, "one should strive to achieve, not sit in bitter regret".  I dig that.

I also dig that VNV is shorthand for Victory Not Vengeance.

It is common for those attempting to disrupt the status quo, or those aiming to achieve personal distinction, to be confronted by naysayers, detractors, and adversaries.  Perhaps you've encountered it?  The best course of action is typically the one prescribed by VNV Nation.

It doesn't matter what they say: it matters what you do.  So, keep doing it; better and better each day.

In a similar vein, I dig the title of VNV Nation's song, When Is The Future?  This is a topic that I think about more often than most.  You see, the aspiring writer in me has always tried to frame my life in the context of a larger story.  Until about a dozen years ago, I thought that my life was a subplot to the story of the Irish in America, like you might find i…

Maono (Lego Edit Afro Cut) - Vito Lalinga

from the album Ufrahara (2018)

I am really digging the tune Maono (Lego Edit Afro Cut) by Italian DJ Vito Lalinga.

Beats, electronica, and afro-centric instrumentation come together to form a vibe that evokes Fela, while staying squarely in an urban lounge setting.  I imagine myself sitting in a swank, euro-hotel lobby, a stiff drink in my hand, listening to this song playing loud in my headphones.

Take me there...

Click Here to listen to Maono (Lego Edit Afro Cut) by Vito Lalinga.

Christmas Time Is Here - Khruangbin

from the Christmas Time Is Here b/w Christmas Time Is Here (Version Mary) (2018)

Many moons ago, I dated an Italian girl whose large and extended family lived throughout Brooklyn.  The only exception was her Uncle Henry, who lived in Greenwich Village.

Their Christmas Eve tradition was for everyone to gather at her mother's house for an Italian feast.  It was something to behold.  The Irish never put on a holiday shindig like this.

Every year was the same.  People would cheer when Cousin Joey returned from the fish market, where his friend Dominic from Flatbush hooked him up with a cooler full of squid.  There were never less than a dozen woman serving up their finest homemade Italian delicacies.  Andrea's stuffed shells.  Angela's shrimp fra diavolo.  Mother Marie's marsala.  The wine.  The cookies.

Cousin Johnny would take you out to garage to do bumps off of the workbench.  I always tried to get out of there before some wise guy would ask, "So, when you gonna m…

Got My Name Changed Back - Pistol Annies

from the album Interstate Gospel (2018)

There is nothing more satisfying than a good honky-tonky, rocking band.  With their swampy guitar tones, thud-heavy bass, and expert beat keeping, the musicians in county-girl supergroup Pistol Annies are simply incredible to listen to.

And then, of course, there are the girls.

Miranda Lambert, Ashley Monroe, and Angaleena Presley are delicious on Got My Name Changed Back, a song about divorcing a bad fella.  I love the song's lyrics, its vocal arrangements, and the way the singers drop into a 1940s era breakdown.

It is a fun song that sounds great when you turn it up in your car and rock down the highway.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Got My Name Changed Back by Pistol Annies.

Lebroba - Andrew Cyrille

from the album Lebroba (2018)

I dropped into a Mexican joint on the way home from work tonight.  It's a quasi-regular Wednesday thing, rooted in their $8.99 chicken fajita special and the patron and grapefruit soda concoction that Dennis the Bartender specializes in.

God bless Dennis the Bartender.

Anyhow, my mind went down a wormhole this morning when my phone proclaimed that it was December 5th.  Not that there is anything personably notable about this date, other than it being a month before January 5th.

You see, January 5th (and the lead up to it) is one of the most reflective days of my year.  It is a day of incredible positivity; as cosmic nymphs enflame primordial beliefs of the rapturous day when the stars align, the angels sing, and kindred souls dance beneath a heavenly moon.

Leaving the Mexican joint, I let Waze find the best route home.  It serendipitally took me a back way through neighborhoods that I haven't frequented in a while.  At some point, I passed a parki…

79 Shiny Revolvers - Rayland Baxter

from the album Wide Awake (2018)

The other morning, I was thinking about mass shootings and wondering why there aren't more good songs discussing the topic?

I thought about the "original" school shooting and how The Boomtown Rats responded with I Don't Like Mondays.  But now that more silicon chips are being switched to overload than ever, not so much.

In that context, I applaud the song 79 Shiny Revolvers by Rayland Baxter.  I dig that they are shiny and that you need one in each hand and that they are pointing at me and that they are pointing at you.

I also dig how the song evokes memories of John Lennon.  You hear it in the song's composition and its well-crafted lyrics.

People need to be writing songs about topics like this.  I hope that more do.  I also hope that they do so with the style and substance of Rayland Baxter.

Click Here to watch the official video for 79 Shiny Revolvers by Rayland Baxter.

Where We Are - Curtis Harding

from the single Where We Are (2018)

Some of the best music being created in this decade has a retro-soul vibe.  Beyond the incredible stable of talent that has recorded for Daptone Records in Brooklyn, I am even more enraptured with those who manage to a modern sheen on that 60s should vibe.

My favorites include Michael Kiwanuka, Leon Bridges, and Curtis Harding.  Their songs stir my soul.

On Curtis Harding's latest single, Where We Are, a tight drum beat couples with a simple-yet-tension-filled bass groove to create the foundation for one of the year's best songs.

There are swirling keyboards and synthesizers, violins that give a theatrical - 70s movie soundtrack - like quality, and even a dynamite flute solo.  Above this is a commanding vocal performance by Curtis Harding.  There are times when I imagine Bill Withers singing this song.

At over seven-and-a-half minutes, this song contains an epic quality.  It is grand, stirring, and timeless.

Curtis Harding is the real deal …

Back Down - Bob Moses

from the album Battle Lines (2018)

Bob Moses is an electronic duo from the Vancouver area, not the guy who built all those roads and bridges.

When I first heard their song Back Down, I thought "wow, that it pretty solid."  A few months later and my opinion has not changed a bit.

The beat is straight, the arrangement straight-forward.  Hooks and grooves are exactly where you expect them.  So, what is it that keeps me locked in for listen after listen?

I think it has something to do with the understated 70s vibe that lurks beneath all the electronic.
Can you hear it?  Those album-oriented rock in the chorus' melody line?  It is magical.  I am infatuated.

Click Here to watch the official video for Back Down by Bob Moses.

Dancing To A Love Song - Barry&Gibbs

from the single Dancing To A Love Song (2018)

Barry&Gibbs are two guys from Lillie, France who describe themselves as "providers of disco."

Earlier this year, they released Dancing To A Love Song, an infectious disco biscuit that can't help but make you feel good.

It is not about who sampled what from where, it is about creating a vibe that resonates with the listener and creating joyful, positive experiences.

I hope this song does that for you.

Click Here to listen to Dancing To A Love Song by Barry&Gibbs.

Baby Blues - Moving Panoramas

from the single Baby Blues (2018)

A few weeks ago, a group of us were hanging out on one of my funky friend's front porch.  We were drinking wine and listening to music.

One friend played a series of records by The Go-Gos - songs like Skidmarks On My Heart and Lust To Love - while lamenting about an apparent absence of new bands like The Go-Gos.  Although I did my best to convince proper otherwise, they were having none of it.

Perhaps Baby Blues by Moving Panoramas will convince them otherwise.  This group of Austin, Texas dream poppers have got the beat, the groove, the harmonies, and the melodic sensibilities to evoke Belinda, Jane, and the girls better than just about anyone around.

I hear it in the opening guitar passage, the drumming, the bass groove, and - most importantly - the vocals performances.  You also hear it in the bridge and the breakdown, two essential elements of The Go Gos best songs.

Comparisons aside, the band has a modern vibe and a heap load of originality.

Seek The Source - Christian McBride

from the album Christian McBride's New Jawn (2018)

In western music, there are thirteen distinct notes which - over the span of several octaves - comprise the the musical spectrum.  When you consider the tens of thousands of song you will hear over a lifetime, that's not a whole lot of notes.

What I find most fascinating is what happens when musicians further limit the available notes by placing self-imposed rules on the notes they play.  Somehow, this manages to force the musicians to find expression through variations in their rhythms and feel, often creating distinct styles of music.

Latin music - like latin dance - is full of rules.  Do this and you have a tango.  Do that and you have a bossa nova.  Do something else and you have neither.  In rock music, you have heard countless lead guitarists and bassists play pentatonic (five-note) scales.

It is a paradox.  Addition by subtraction.

With his new band - New Jawn - jazz bassist Christian McBride puts together an ensemble c…

Pink Squirrel - Episode 9

Welcome to Episode 9 of Pink Squirrel!

As the clock begins to run out on 2018, there does not seem to be any let up in all get music being released.  You will find lots of tunes in this alternative mix that are only a few weeks old.

Some of my favorites include Dark Days (Revisited) by newcomer Art d'Ecco, the pro-immigration punk anthem Danny Nedelko by IDLES, the beautiful instrumental Near by Deafheaven, and Sing To Me Candy by Papercuts.

I continue to be in awe of all the great music that this year is producing.  Amazing.

Here is the playlist:

Dark Days (Revisited) by Art d'Ecco


Guerra En La Tierra by Los Pilotos

Sing To Me Candy by Papercuts

Nothing I Can Say by Tony Molina

Danny Nedelko by IDLES

What Sign (Was Frankenstein?) by Escape-ism

Near by Deafheaven

See You At The Movies by J Mascis

It Will End Here by Gary Numan

Lemon Glow by Beach House

Leap Of Faith by The Interrupters

The Truce Of Twilight by The Good, The Bad, & The Queen

C by Oh Sees

And, in…