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Showing posts from April, 2014

Mary Mary - Bruce Springsteen

from the EP American Beauty (2014)

With the possible exception of Jesus, Bruce Springsteen has done more to promote the vision of a "Mary" than anyone I can think of.

The screen door slams
Mary's dress waves
And like a vision she dances across the porch
As the radio plays

Thunder Road is an American classic with visual images that still touch the soul 39 years after its release.  A week ago, he released the EP American Beauty that contains an excellent song titled Mary Mary.

The song has a cool, laid back vibe.  It centers on an old lover who has moved to a distant place.  The lyrics are filled with heartfelt imagery:

Now its just a misty sidewalk with the rain drifting through
Lipstick case and one lonely red shoe

But what I really dig about this song is the music.  The string arrangements are particularly effective as they provide both a melody line and an orchestral lift as the song builds.  The combination of the acoustic guitar, almost-busy drum beat and keyboard track is …

Grand Canyon - Drive-By Truckers

from the album English Oceans (2014)

Went to Grand Canyon
And we stood at the expanse
And we watched the rocks change colors
And we watched the shadows dance
And we probably didn't say anything
As the sunset turned to night
Let spirits do the talking
With cascades of fading light

My affinity for Patterson Hood continues to grow.  His lyrics speak to me.  His voice cuts me open.  His music touches a part of me that I thought died in the passenger seat of a '74 LeMans.  All the while, he ties my past and present together with a cohesive thread.  No small trick.

I've never been to Grand Canyon, but I find myself standing at a few expanses right now.  Not really sure how I'm holding it all together.  We are only 114 days into 2014 and I have already turned several families lives upside down, severed lifelong relationships, ignored doctor's warnings, bet my future on red, and rocketed past the point of no return without a map, fuel gauge, or Plan B.

Beware the true believer.  H…

Little Fang - Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks

from the album Enter The Slasher House (2014)

Bouncing euphoria is the term best used to describe the song Little Fang by Avey Tare's Slasher Flicks.  This tune is like a ecstasy-laced trip to a funhouse with cheerful beat, childlike call and response vocals, and a truly infectious bass hook.

When I listen to this song, I want to sing along with all the vocal lines.  It is like someone made a paper doll out of an ELO song.  I find it hard not to be happy when listening to this.  Check it out.

Click Here to watch the official music video to Little Fang.

Avenger - The Bamboos

from the album Fever In The Road (2014)

A straight four beat, a simple guitar progression, a catchy melody line.  It doesn't really take much to create a song I dig.  Perhaps people just overrating it.

Avenger by The Bamboos is a simple song that I enjoy losing myself in.  It is delightfully stripped down and darker than previous releases from this Melbourne, Australia band while still keeping the soul and funk that fans have come to enjoy.

The dualing vocals of Kylie Auldist and Ella Thompson really help establish the vibe.  Something about two women singing alternative pop that reminds me (a little bit) of The B-52s.  This is good listening for a rainy Saturday.

Click Here to listen to Avenger.

Need U - Oceaán

from the EP Oceaán (2013)

My path to enjoying electronic music required me to learn how to listen to it.  This did not come easy to me as a student of the Stevie Wonder "You can tell right away it's got the "A" when the people start to move" school.  My people believe that if need to learn how to listen, it ain't worth the listening to.

However, electronic music is really all about craft and, as my musical ear has matured, craft is something that I really dig.  When an electronic producer finds the right sound for a track, they manipulate it, shaping the attack and sustain to match the desired tone.  They painstakingly do this for every sound, before collecting them in a cohesive record.  How can't I appreciate that?

Oceaán is a Manchester-based producer amazes me with the sounds he produces.  Try listening to Need U on a great set of speakers or headphones when you are alone and chilling out.  Every sound is perfectly considered.  As I listen, I can vi…

Evolution 1964 - Babe Rainbow

from the single Evolution 1964 (2014)

Fifty years ago, The Beatles were spreading their mania across America.  At the time, could anyone have predicted the looming shift from pop to psychedelia?  Were there signs?  They must have been lurking somewhere.  San Francisco coffee shops?  Mexico City whore houses?

What other evolutions were going on in 1964?  The most popular song that year was The Girl From Ipanema.  Stan Getz found the bossa nova beat that year, but had it been hanging around in Rio clubs or ghettos years before?  It all starts somewhere.

So what is that next sound and where can we find it?  Are some chicks in a Cambodian hostel laying down a mind chilling groove right now?  Have a group of Canadian Mounties figured out a new structure for harmonizing?  Is a kid in Brixton dialing in a never imagined tone?

Wherever they are, bless them. while you dig the cool retro psychedelia of Babe Rainbow.

Click Here to watch the music video to Evolution 1964.

Don't Wanna Dance - MǾ

from the album No Mythologies To Follow (2014)

Karen Marie Ǿrsted is a Danish singer songwriter whose debut album is a delightful form of retro electro dance pop.  Scandinavian Pop is serious business and MǾ executes her craft with the talent and precision.

The tune I've been digging is Don't Wanna Dance.  Produced by Ronni Vindahl, whose thumbprints are all over last year's stellar Rhye album Woman, this song has as catchy a chorus as you will find anywhere.  It is one of those grooves you can't help losing yourself in, particularly when nobody else is around.

The vocals are also of note.  MǾ has the range and tone necessary to deliver a song loaded with dynamics that take her down low and then require her to get on top of the big beat with horn and ripping guitar ornaments.

Click Here to watch the music video for Don't Wanna Dance.

Take Yours, I'll Take Mine - Matthew Mole

from the album The Home We Built (2013)

Matthew Mole is a singer / songwriter from South Africa with roots in the Christian and Alternative Folk genres.  He is a fascinating multi-instrumentalist with a pitch perfect voice and excellent chops in both lyric and melody.

I was unfamiliar with this 2013 release until the Deluxe Edition of The Home We Built was issued this February.  It is a record that I keep coming back to, particularly the song Take Yours, I'll Take Mine.

This banjo driven song is a real treat.  Every element of this tune is well crafted.  I particularly appreciate the arrangement - full of peaks and valleys - with great craft in the dynamics and backing instruments.  The production is also breathtaking, with vocals that occasionally recall a Beach Boy influence.

I am glad this song didn't slip by me.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Take Yours, I'll Take Mine.

Delorean Dynamite - Todd Terje

from the album It's Album Time (2014)

Norwegian DJ/Producer Todd Terje has released an album of carefree dance instrumentals largely inspired by library music.  In a recent Rolling Stone interview, he describes it this way:

"Initially, I thought I'd do an album based on library music, which is music made by labels in the 1970s for the purpose of being used by TV and radio stations.  It's a lot about visually describing an event, often with a title like, 'Wild Crazy Dramatic Couple at 140BPM' or 'Calm Breezy Exotic Jungle Scene.'  I liked the visual aspect to it, making you imagine things as you listen to the music."

I dig the concept.  My favorite track is Delorean Dynamite (although a close second is Johnny and Mary - a downtempo Robert Palmer cover sung by Bryan Ferry).  This song has a hard pulsing drive that makes you feel as if you were driving a Delorean that was about to explode.  The sound is total 80s.  I can imagine it on the soundtrack t…

Hip Tight Onions - The Robert Cray Band

from the album In My Soul (2014)

I am finding myself in the mood for upbeat instrumental songs.  Something I can lose myself in and not have to bother with singers or lyrics.  I found the perfect song in Hip Tight Onions by The Robert Cray Band.

On this song, the blues legend takes a crack at Memphis soul with this tribute to Booker T & The MGs.  I dig how the song's title is a mash up of that band's three greatest tunes: Hip Hug Her, Time Is Tight, and Green Onions.

Right from the opening crack of the snare this song drips Memphis.  The B3 organ, bass, and drums are all superb.  I find the guitar work most enjoyable.  It is Robert Cray channeling Steve Cropper, while never losing his own trademark sound.

Give this track a spin at your next groovy house party.

Click Here to listen to Hip Tight Onions.

Mojo Mojo - Luther Dickenson

from the album Rock 'N Roll Blues (2014)

I had gotten myself in a rut leading up to an important meeting in NYC yesterday.  However, I sucked it up, pulled an all-nighter preparing, and knocked it out of the park.  Afterwards, I walked thru Central Park taking something of a victory lap.  I was singing Mojo Mojo by Luther Dickenson.

I dig the sweet country blues played in an all-acoustic format.  The opening fife and toms are something you don't hear too much of, but it sure sounds great.  It is the product of Luther Dickenson, who most people know from his day job with The North Mississippi All-Stars, or his work with The Black Crowes and Phil Lesh.

The song is about a guy looking to regain his mojo. Kind of like Austin Powers.  The catch line goes like this:

Mojo mojo, where've you been?
I been to hell and back and back again

But it is really all about the fife and toms providing a foundation for the burnt mellow vibe.

Click Here to listen to Mojo Mojo.