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Showing posts from November, 2014

O'Sullivan's Jukebox - David Ford

from the EP The Arrangement (2014)

Upon hearing the song O'Sullivan's Jukebox by David Ford, I became fascinated with the Irish Ballad and rejoiced in having a contemporary singer/songwriter embrace the genre head first.  It also helped me realize that - in part - it is the Irish balladry that endears me to bands like The Pogues and Black 47.

Then I looked up "Music of Ireland" on Wikipedia.  Well I'll be damned if The Pogues are never mentioned.  Oversight of oversights.  When mankind looks back on the music of our times, they will envy us for having walked the earth with The Pogues.  Can you imagine attending one of their early pub shows?  To stand there drenched in sweat, dancing to the rapture of this brilliant band.  It must have been joy like no other.

And Wikipedia doesn't list them under the Music of Ireland.  Damn the internet.

There is something in the music of Ireland that stirs something deep inside me.  This goes far beyond my drunken desire to R…

Hammond Eggs - Roy Bittan

from the album Out Of The Box (2014)

Let's give it up for The Professor !!!

Roy Bittan has spent the better part of the past 40 years as the pianist for the legendary E Street Band.  He has laid down some of the most memorable tracks in rock & roll.  When I think about Springsteen's Born To Run album, his fingers are all over the record.

Jungleland is always noted for Clarence Clemmon's sax solo, but the piano track underpins everything.  Think of other songs like Backstreets, Meeting Across The River, and legendary introduction to Thunder Road.  All those performances on one album.  Hair raising.

Lesser known - but also stellar - is his hand E work on albums by Dire Straits, Stevie Nicks, and Meat Loaf.  Hell, he even produced Lucinda Williams.

This week - at age 65 - he has released his first solo record, a collection of piano centric instrumentals.

My favorite song is Hammond Eggs.  The Hammond organ is not an instrument he is known to perform on, but man can he pla…

Indian Ocean - Frazey Ford

from the album Indian Ocean (2014)

To fully appreciate the splendor of Frazey Ford's latest album, Indian Ocean, you must first be familiar with her backstory.

The Canadian singer/songwriter hit the scene in 1999 as a member of the alternative country trio The Be Good Tanyas.  The band first came together playing at tree planting camps in British Columbia before gaining widespread popularity thru the inclusion of their songs on Showtime series The L Word and Weeds, as well as the AMC series Breaking Bad.

In 2010, she released her solo debut album Obediah.  The album contained songs with a chilling raw beauty.  Firecracker and Hey Little Mama are two of the finest alt-country songs of this decade.  I consider this record to be a minor masterpiece.

Indian Ocean is her second solo album.  Admirably, she has used this record as an opportunity to evolve her sound with an infusion of Memphis soul to her natural country sensibilities.  To accomplish this, she enlisted the Hi Rhythm Sectio…

It Never Was The Same - The Twilight Sad

from the album Nobody Wants To Be Here And Nobody Wants To Leave (2014)

I spend lots of time in transit.  For me, it is most often air travel which I enjoy because it leaves me untethered from my telephone for a few hours.  This allows time to think.  Time to read.  Time to vegetate.

Music is a big part of my travel regiment.  Good tunes and good speakers create an aural cocoon that satisfies my soul.

Over the course of this year, I have found myself listening to mix tapes less and less frequently, instead seeking out longer-form sonic landscapes that can be found in well conceived albums.

The problem, of course, is that I am zigging while most of the music industry is zagging.  In a world measured in followers and downloads, why wouldn't a band focus on knocking the us dead in two minutes fifty-nine seconds rather than laboring to create an hour of substance?

For bands crafting complete albums, my noise-canceling coconut shells await.  One such band is The Twilight Sad.  Their a…

Johnny And Mary - Bryan Ferry

from the album Avonmore (2014)

A couple of days ago, I took a little time out of my preparations for an Asian leg of my never-ending tour to meet my friend, Richie Beans, at a local record store.  I needed something new to chill out to on the 26 hour trip to the Philippines.  I picked up Avonmore, the latest Bryan Ferry album.

Leaving the store, I popped it into my automobile's CD player and was most pleasantly surprised.  To a large extent it has magnificent tones and vibe of his best 1980's recordings.  I made it about 8 tracks in before getting home.

So, I was grooving to the record somewhere over the Aleutian Islands when I got to hear the closing track for the first time.  It was a cover of one of my favorite Robert Palmer tunes, Johnny And Mary.  The song features an bouncing beat and a staccato instrumentation that frames Bryan Ferry's incredible voice in a way I quite dig.

For this track, he collaborates with Scandinavian groove master Todd Terje.  The combination …

Fuckers - Savages

from the single Fuckers / Dream Baby Dream (2014)

Don't let the fuckers get you down
Don't let the fuckers get you down
Don't let the fuckers get you down

.. and so goes the central mantra to this ten minute live track from the best new rock and roll band of recent years.  Sage advise to absorb while driving 100 miles per hour down I-85.

I was privileged to see this band last year.  Every band member was stellar in her craft.  This is evident on this track.  The post-punk guitar tones are mind bending.  The driving bass line establishing the magnificent groove that is perfectly complimented by the impassioned drumming.  And then there are the vocals delivered by Jehnny Beth, rocks next superstar.

Yeah, they are that good.

Click Here to watch the video for Fuckers.

Acid To My Alkaline - Fujiya & Miyagi

from the album Artificial Sweeteners (2014)

I was recently binge watching Season One of Breaking Bad.  Somewhere around mid-season, I heard a song that completely blew me away.  I raced for my phone, opened Shazam, and soon learned that the song was Uh by the British electronic outfit Fujiya & Miyagi.

I digged this tune so much that I paused the marathon and started scouring the web for more.  Songs like Collarbone also blew me away.  Then I started looking for any 2014 releases.  I soon discovered the album Artificial Sweeteners.  The most popular song on the album is Vagaries Of Fashion, which I immediately downloaded.

However, there was one track title that fascinated me:  Acid To My Alkaline.  I had to hear this song.  I was wondering if I would feel neutral about it.  Fortunately, it left me saying "what the pH..."!

This song offers a great electric guitar track that offers a funk reminiscent of Talking Heads or The Bush Tetras.  The song also contains cool retro sy…

Superhero Disco (The Reflex Version) - Hackney Colliery Band

from the EP A Bit Of Common Decency (2014)

As a younger gigolo, I used to delight in playing the arcade game Asteroids.  You could usually find in the back of some seedy bar, my right palm on the trackball and my left index finger rapid firing at the ever approaching space rocks.  I was quite good at it.

The thing was that as you shot the larger asteroids, they would splinter into several smaller ones, each capable of destroying you (although you could obliterate the smallest of the ones).  Inevitably, you found yourself doomed.  However, as in all great games, there was an escape hatch: The Hyperspace Button.

Hitting the hyperspace button would instantly relocate you to a different part of the screen.  You may not be safe there, but at least you had a chance.

I wish I had a hyperspace button right now.  There sure is a bunch of stuff hurling my way these days and I wonder if I can keep shooting it down.  If only it were that easy...

However, it is possible to harness the power of mus…

Mama Was Right - Mungo's Hi Fi

from the EP Bike Rider (2014)

Back in June, I wrote for the first time about the Scottish reggae band Mungo's Hi Fi and their song Serious Time.  Since then, I continue to become captivated by their brand of retro-ska stylings.  The song Mama Was Right is currently in my heavy rotation.

In the true SoundSystem fashion, this record includes vocals by Marina P.  Back in 2008, they collaborated on the tune Divorce a L'italienne, which brings a Deborah Harry-esque spunk to a hard reggae beat.  Also check out her reworking of Nina Simone on Inna Summertime from her excellent 2013 album My Homeys.  These songs are favorites when my funky friends drop in for a visit.

It is interesting to me how much of the best reggae I listen to these days comes form places like Los Angeles and Glasgow.  Cause for some cool meditation.

Click Here to listen to Mama Was Right.