Bad Liar - Selena Gomez

from the single Bad Liar (2017)

I can't seem to face up to the fact that I'm blogging about a Selena Gomez song.

I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax, wondering if people are going to acuse this gigolo of losing his edge.

But I can't sleep, cause my keyboards on fire, up a 5am writing this blog post.

Don't touch me, I'm a real live wire, lost in a classic baseline that helped shape the music I have spent a lifetime devouring.

Psycho Killer by Talking Heads has reappeared - 40 years after its earthshaking release - to underpin the most interesting pop tune of the year, Bad Liar by Selena Gomez.

I totally dig it.

Click Here to watch the official video for Bad Liar.

2017 In Aspic - Episode 8

I really dig the process of putting these mixes together.

Episode 8 began a few months ago as a mix of Dub and Reggae tunes that I had written about over the year.  But over time, songs from these genres were replaced one-by-one with eclectic tunes from the worlds of Electronic, Dream Pop, Hip-Hop, and Dance.

Each new addition morphed the mix into something better, rather than devolving the vibe.  Soon I was replacing replacement songs, as new tunes - by artists like Baxter Dury and Curtis Harding - found their way into my orb.

As I listen to the finished product, I still hear the dub that weaves - sometimes subliminally - throughout.

I hope you enjoy this as much as I enjoyed the journey of assembling it.

Here is the playlist:

Miami by Baxter Dury

Whoa! There's No Limit by Lord Echo

Ain't Nothing Changed by Loyle Carner

A Happy Heavy Dub by Dub Proof

Till The End by Curtis Harding

El├ęctrico by Sotomayor

Time To Get Alone by Zooey

Darling by Real Estate

Papaya by Stepart

Pleasure Dome

No Distraction - Beck

from the album Colors (2017)

Colors is one of those albums that gives me fits.  In my perpetual quest for the best new songs, determining which one song to write about from this record has become something nearing a full-time obsession.

But after a few months of driving around the city with the radio turned loud, I am ready to proclaim the song No Distraction as the one I dig most.

Musically, the beat, groove, and vibe the opening evokes an early era approximation of The Police.  I dig that.

However, once the vocals kick in, it is Beck, laying down some feel-good, retro, early-80s stylings that hook me on every level.

I am particularly fond of when he sings:

Pull you to the left
Pull you to the right
Pull you in all directions

When I finally shared my selection with a Beck-loving, funky friend, she said:  "Of course you picked that song, it is the best track on the record."  That may be true, but...

Click Here to listen to No Distraction by Beck.

Crossfire / So Into You - Nai Palm

from the album Needle Paw (2017)

There is nothing that warms soul on a cold winter's morning than a sultry, acoustic, R&B tune.  That is exactly what you you get with Crossfire / So Into You a solo effort from Nai Palm, lead singer for the great Australian band Hiatus Kaiyote.

Her record has an intimacy reminiscent of Indie Arie's Acoustic Soul, which makes it a soundtrack for falling in love.

Bust open the Bailey's, sit by the fire, cuddle with the nearest special person, and enjoy !!!

Click Here to listen to Crossfire / So Into You by Nai Palm.

King Of A One Horse Town - Dan Auerbach

from the album Waiting For A Song (2017)

Back in May, Black Keys frontman Dan Auerbach released an album titled Waiting On A Song.  The album title has captivated my thoughts ever since.  I instantly related with the sentiment.  As a songwriter, musician, and producer, Dan Auerbach must always be waiting on that next great song, something that enables him to demonstrate his wealth of talent, allowing him to dazzle the world.

You really don not have to be in the music business to be waiting on a song.  Metaphorically, it can apply to almost any occupation.

Similarly, I have been captivated by a track on the album, King Of A One Horse Town.  Have you ever wondered which is better: being a big fish in a little pond, or a little fish in a big pond?

In my life, I have regularly opted for the latter.  On a few rare occasions, it has worked out for me, but - more often - I have been eaten, my good parts offering nutrition for the larger fish, and the rest excreted.  Sad, but true.

The sentim…

We Go High - Mavis Staples

from the album If All I Was Was Black (2017)

In an unrelated project, I have spent much time over the past four months compiling quotations by famous people.  The objective is to use these quotes to better engage workers - ranging from 20-70 years of age - in a business environment.

As you can imagine, it is very easy to find quotes by famous men.  Particularly white men.  Finding quotes by women - particularly women of color - is more problematic.

One day, I found myself researching quotations by U.S. First Ladies.  I found that only a small handful - such as Abigail Adams, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Barbara Bush - had quotes suitable for my project.  However, the one first lady whose quotes kept coming up was Michelle Obama.

One of her most famous quotes is memorialized here in the song We Go High by Mavis Staples.

As I listen, I try to imagine how gratifying and humbling it must have been for Michelle Obama to hear the song for the first time.  The 60's freedom tones coupled with t…

Miami - Baxter Dury

from the album Prince Of Tears (2017)

No introduction, just a beat and groove.  You are hooked in the first measure.  Enter the synthesizer and guitar trill with their 80s tones.  Next the female vocalist says "Welcome to Miami now."  We are locked in, ready for Baxter Dury to dazzle us with his vocal stylings, more spoken than sung, his British accent mesmerizing.

Listen to the way he says "salamander."

Listen to the way he says "I'm the sausage man."

Listen to the way he says "I'm the vicar."

All the while the groove is maintained.  It never lets up.

The guitar gets chunky.  The synths offer the sound of orchestrated strings.  The break has a near disco lift.

I am lost in yet another great Baxter Dury song.

Click Here to watch the music video for Miami by Baxter Dury.

Till The End - Curtis Harding

from the album Face Your Fear (2017)

The Atlanta music scene is really "a tale of two cities" - black and white.

I find it sad that there is so little crossover.  In a city with so much talent, one can only imagine the possibilities...

Curtis Harding is a notable exception.  He can effortlessly transition from writing and singing back-ups with Cee Lo Green, to collaborating with psychedelic rockers Black Lips, to playing an acoustic set at Eddie's Attic.  This city (and really this planet) need more artists like him.

His new album is a fantastic.  It plays heavy to vintage R&B and soul grooves, while also keeping an air of crossover appeal that reminds me (at times) of Fine Young Cannibals.

My favorite track is Till The End.  It is a 60's go-go vibe driven by a deep bass groove and muscular horns.  Curtis Harding's vocals are a study in timeless perfection, as are the female backing vocals.

Other elements are equally stellar.  Check out the humor found in the…

2017 In Aspic - Episode 7

This is an eclectic mix, serpentining through electronica, alternative, jazz, folk, soul, gospel, and the great American songbook.  I dig the way it all flows together.  I also dig the way that some of the more established artists - like Bob Dylan, Howe Gelb, and Phosphorescent - push their musical boundaries.

I hope you enjoy.

Here is the playlist:

In The Midst by sir Was

Music Is The Answer by Joe Goddard

Keep Myself Alone Now by Fink

Only God Knows by Young Fathers

Dent Jusay by Matt Martians

B.H.S. by Sleaford Mods

Be About You by Winston Surfshirt

Show You the Way by Thundercat

Terribly So by Howe Gelb

These Foolish Things by Bob Dylan

Not Dark Yet by Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer

Count Your Blessings by The Como Mamas

Freedom Highway by Rhiannon Giddens

This Land Is Your Land by Phosphorescent

You can find all episodes of 2017 In Aspic - along with my other mixtape series - on my MixCloud site.

Girl On Saxophone X - Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra

from the album Paradise Has No Border (2017)

As their name suggests, Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra are a Japanese band who specialize in ska.  what makes them extra tasty is how their music veers into other sub-genres in both rock and jazz.

I am really digging their tune Girl On Saxophone X.  This is a ska instrumental with a hard, uptempo backbeat.  Meanwhile, the guitars deliciously play with surf and sci-fi tones and riff.  the guitars are counterbalanced with a hard-driving horn section and groovy, textured organ.

A great track to kick off your next eclectic, hallucinogenic party.

Click Here to listen to Girl On Saxophone X.

2017 In Aspic - Episode 6

At first pass, this mix sounds like melodious alternative fare.  It is.  However, the more you listen, the more you realize just how fantastic the songwriting is.  Highlights include Father John Misty, Conor Oberst, and Frazey Ford.

Here is the playlist:

Over Everything by Courtney Barnett & Kurt Vile

Hard Drugs by SUSTO

Preludes by Craig Finn

Till St. Dymphna Kicks Us Out by Conor Oberst

Gravity Rules by 5 Billion In Diamonds

Can't Hold On by Black Lips

Lacking In Your Love by Desperate Journalist

The Camp by PJ Harvey & Ramy Essam

The Last Ten Years by Mark Eitzel

When We Get By by Frazey Ford

Meat Is Murder by Tim Cohen

Ballad Of A Dying Man by Father John Misty

No. 5 Hurricane by Emily Barker

Poetry by Ray Davies

Check out my entire catalog of mixtape at MixCloud.

Sweet Dreams - Angel Olsen

from the album Phases (2017)

On her latest album - Phases - songstress Angel Olsen introduces us to a collection of highlights and rarities from her impressive five-year music career.  The songs detail an artistic evolution well-anchored in excellent songwriting and powerful vocals.

My favorite track is titled Sweet Dreams.  The tune's most memorable attribute is a falsetto vocal reminiscent of Chris Isaacs.  However, rather than Isaac's trademark "dreamabilly" sound, the music here is a form of restrained garage rock.  I've never heard this combination quite this way before.  It evokes Roy Orbison at some level, which is very high praise.

Hope you dig it.

Click Here to watch a 2012 music video for Sweet Dreams.

When We Get By - Frazey Ford

from the single When We Get By (2017)

The last two Frazey Ford albums - Obadiah and Indian Ocean - rank amongst my favorite of the decade.  The quiver of her vibrato - coupled with exceptional songwriting and instrumental performances - hits a unique place on the musical spectrum that juxtaposes desolation and warmth, detachment and desire.

Her new single - When We Get By - a cover of a D'Angelo song that picks up right where Indian Ocean left off.  It is evident from the delta horns that lead us into song's central mantra of "When we get by" which trades off splendidly with falsetto-laced verses.  I also really dig the swirling keyboard and the guitar tone during the instrumental break.

This is a "late night" song, perfect for quiet self-reflection and a stiff drink.  Full of texture and substance.

Click Here to listen to Frazey Ford's cover of D'Angelo's Where We Get By.

Click Here to read my November 2014 blog post on Frazey Ford's song Ind…

2017 In Aspic - Episode 5

One of my funky friends calls his favorite month of the year Roctober, because this is the month when all the best bands seem to come to town and some of the best new music gets released.  At first, I thought it was a bit goofy, but after years of observing I get his point.

In the spirit of Roctober, here is a mix of some of my favorite rock tunes of the year.

I dig the way classic artists blend with new artists in this mix.  Robert Plant (singing a duet with Chrissie Hynde), The Jesus And Mary Chain, and Trent Reznor share this mix with Big Thief, Pissed Jeans, and Alexander F.

Hope you enjoy !

Here is the playlist:

Amputation by The Jesus And Mary Chain

Post-War Cinematic Dead Man Blues by Chuck Prophet

Get Out by Sallie Ford

Shark Smile by Big Thief

They Put A Body In The Bayou by The Orwells

The Bar Is Low by Pissed Jeans

Call Me Pretty by Alexander F.

Bluebirds Over The Mountain by Robert Plant

What Comes Back by Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross

Alabaster by All Them Witches

Gone, Gone, Gon…

Fat's Left Hand

As a bass guitarist, I developed my personal playing style by studying the left hands of great blues and New Orleans pianists.  Men like Memphis Slim, Professor Longhair, and Johnnie Johnson.

They taught me how to sit in a groove, how to boogie, and how to jump.

A good friend recently posted some of our old recordings.  Listening to my bass lines, I found myself thinking "That's Pinetop Perkins.  That's Champion Jack Dupree."

But of all these pianists, my favorite to emulate is Fats Domino.  His left hand was all about the groove.  Compared with others, his touch was softer, playing fewer notes, sitting a little bit further back in the groove, allowing his tone to ring truer.

It is beautiful to listen to.  Check out the bass line on Blueberry Hill.  Everything you need to know about playing bass guitar is in Fat's left hand.

God Bless Fats Domino.