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Showing posts from June, 2016

Armenia City In The Sky - Bun E. Carlos

from the album Greetings From Bunezuela! (2016)

The 1967 record The Who Sell Out was their first concept album - filled with faux commercials and cheeky public service announcements - that is most noted for the classic song I Can See For Miles.  As a teenager, I never quite knew what to make of this recording and largely dismissed it.  However, I now find it to be magnificently exultant psychedelia and the pinnacle of the band's "modness."

The lead track on the record was called Armenia City In The Sky, written by the band's friend Speedy Keen.  The song even features Speedy trading goals with Roger Daltrey.  I have always digged this song.

Another person who digged it was Cheap Trick drummer Bun E. Carlos, who in a recent interview said: "I was always a big Who fan when I was a kid, and, in fact, I helped get Keith Moon's drums out of the cases in 1968 when they played Chicago when I was in high school.  I drove to the gig, snuck in with a roadie."  In…

Boys Don't Cry - Suspense Heroes Syndicate

from the album Big Shot (2016)

Once upon a time, I spent a month in Moscow on business.  At the urging of my workmates, I made a trip to The Hungry Duck, a reportedly lively bar conveniently located adjacent to a major Metro Station.

As my fortunes would have it, my first visit was on ladies night where "ladies" drank free.  Walking into the club was like nothing I had ever experienced.  James Brown songs were filling the room through an incredible sound system.  I actually had to survey the joint to make sure JB was not in the building.

Beautiful girls danced atop the long circular bar with the bartenders continually handing them vodka drinks that were quickly slammed.  As I walked around the bar, it became abundantly clear that many of the girls forgot to put on their underwear.  Oh my.  For years afterwards, my view of almost any situation was "I'd rather be at The Duck."

Suspense Heroes Syndicate are a ska band from Moscow whose music captures the rowdy hoo…

If I Were A Folkstar - The Avalanches

Image
from the album Wildflower (2016)

A couple of weeks ago, a group of us were boating on a lake.  High in the sky, about 60-100 yards ahead, a bird circled.  From its silhouette, I knew it was an eagle.  A few moments later it was in an arced descent, stopping just short of the water, splaying its talons, and flying off with a large bass.  Best yet, it was a bald eagle.

A few days later, I shared the story with my funky friend, JB.  He saw it from the fish's perspective.  You live your life, do all the right things, grow towards your potential, and POW, something higher up the food chain comes along and obliterates you for its own benefit.  Law of the jungle.

Well, yesterday I was the bass.  After receiving the unwelcome call, I went outside to sit and ponder.    As if on cue, the birds that circled above me were vultures.  Seriously.


That evening, the skies grew wicked and black, trees swayed, and a wrath of god storm bore down hard.  By morning, the storm had cleared and I surveyed…

Lonely Lover - Xenia Rubinos

from the album Black Terry Cat (2016)

Whew.  I have been locked down for nearly a week, grinding out a living away from my music.  Not good for this cat's soul.

So here I sit in LGA waiting to catch a flight home.  I slap on the noise-cancelling coconut shells and let the tunes fly.

I am listening to the new album by Xenia Rubinos, a groovy latin chick from Brooklyn.  I first became aware of her through her 2013 cover of Talking Head's Psycho Killer.  She impressed then, and does to a greater extent today.

Xenia is one of those rare artists who marches to a fresh, original vibe all her own.  For where my head is tonight, there is nothing better.

Check out her single - Lonely Lover - and you will get it straight away.

It is great to be back in the company of great tunes...

Click Here to watch the official video for Lonely Lover.

Click Here to watch Xenia Rubinos cover Psycho Killer.

No Woman - Whitney

from the album Light Upon The Lake (2016)

Whitney really takes a chance in vying for my affection.  Their music evokes 70s bands like America, Ozark Mountain Daredevils, The Byrds, and Bob Welch.  In a more subliminal way, they evoke classic 60s Pop and Soul vibes.  I typically find it hard to take a modern band playing such classic tones and vibes credible.

One thing going for them is that their singer is Julien Ehrlich of the Unknown Mortal Orchestra, whose song So Good At Being In Trouble captures a 60s soul vibe like no other song of this decade.  Another thing is that the record's producer Jonothan Rado - of Foxygen and solo efforts - is likewise a master of retro tones and vibes.  With these two guys involved, it is worth a shot.

I listen to the album in its entirety, dismissive at first, followed by apprehensive, then accepting, and finally grooving.  The second listen was a regular party.

The opening track on this record is No Woman.

It is simple and free.  The California…

Satan Pulls The Strings - The Avett Brothers

from the album True Sadness (2016)

I have always digged The Avett Brothers for offering a prettier, more thoughtful form of alternative country that centered on family, love, and togetherness.

What I dig about their latest song - Satan Pulls The Strings - is its menacing chaos and structured confusion in a song whose central mantra is:

My heart is in the puppet box
And Satan pulls the strings

The vocals here are a bit roughed up.  The hard plucked strings and angry drum beat are atypical.  This is a different type of Avett Brothers song.

Raw, dark, and chaotic music certainly suits these times.  Part of the Avett charm is that they have zigged while the world zagged.  For this song, they take a chance on zagging that pays off.

Hats off to the risk takers !!!

Click Here to listen to Satan Pulls The Strings.

Little Sparrow - Leyla McCalla

from the album A Day For The Hunter, A Day for The Prey (2016)

Looking for a beautiful, timeless song to touch your spirit?  Check out Little Sparrow by Leyla McCalla.

I dig this song for its simplicity, the stirring intertwining of the cello and violin, the raw clarity of the vocals, and the visual imagery.

Leyla McCalla is a wonderfully gifted artist, whether playing solo or with the Carolina Chocolate Drops.  She deserves our attention and support.

Click Here to listen to a live rendition of Little Sparrow.

Wristband - Paul Simon

from the album Stranger To Stranger (2016)

I do not know which is more amazing, that it has been 52 years since Simon and Garfunkel released The Sound Of Silence, or that it has been 30 years since Paul Simon released Graceland.  Can You Can Call Me Al really be 30 years old?

Hats off to Paul Simon !!!  At 74, this master songwriter is still going strong.  His new album, Stranger To Stranger, is a remarkable work.  The songwriting, the sense of rhythm, and especially the sly wit to the lyrics are all impeccable.  The album even closes with a beautiful ode to NYC - New York Is My Home - where the lead vocals are given to Dion, allowing one to appreciate the mastery of Paul Simon's backing vocals.  Check that song out.

But the song I am digging is Wristband.  A great bass line laid down over african beats create the foundation for swirling lyrics.

Wristband, my man
You've got to have a wristband
If you don't have a wristband
You don't get through the door

From this launching…

By My Side - The Interrupters

from the album Say It Out Loud (2016)

Once upon a time, I was driving from Oregon to Wisconsin in a Chevy Suburban with a buddy hitting small town bars and enjoying the ramblin' life.  Somewhere in Eastern Oregon this groovy girl named Sarah joined the ride.  She was exciting and fun.

After a misadventure in Idaho, we rolled into Montana for a Saturday night in Missoula.  It was a drunken blur of Crown Royal and Moose Drool.  As the night wore on, things started spinning and I crashed in the back of the Suburban.

The next morning my buddy told me that she caught an early flight back to Portland.

Over the years, I have grown fond of recalling stories from that trip.  I often wonder what ever became of Sarah.  I think of her long legs and suede hat.  I'm sure her spirit is lighting up a room somewhere.

Fast forward to a few days ago.  I am listening to By My Side, an advance single from Los Angeles ska band The Interrupters forthcoming album and the lyrics catch me off guard.  Q…

Dorothy - Kevin Morby

from the album Singing Saw (2016)

Later today, I will be catching my nephew as he graduates college, leaves the dorms, and gets his first apartment.  Kind of makes you want to crank some rock ' roll.

Moments like these demand fuzzed-out, clanky, electric guitar.  Overdriven bass helps.  So does a busy drum beat and some jangling country piano. Add a bit of feedback, occasional trumpet, and an awesome groove.  Now you're talking.

The song needs to be about a girl.  It needs to be about their journey together.  It needs to be a love letter without the mushy crap.

Dorothy by Kevin Morby is all these things and more.  It is a reminiscent look back at a couple's rambling ride through life.  Dig the lyrics:

And I would pretend you were new
Like I was just introduced to you
And all the music in my ears
Sounds beautiful down here
And I could hear that drummer roll
As I listened to that choir cry
And I could hear the guitar weeping
I could feel those pipers pipe
And all the beauty I couldn&#…

My Favorite Wine Is Tequila - Michael Franti & Spearhead

from the album SoulRocker (2016)

As we roll into the first weekend of summer, what better time to crack out the Cuervo?

As you do, listen to this brand new song by Michael Franti & Spearhead.  It is a feel good reggae tune with a little hip-hop thrown in.  If you listen closely, you will hear some very funny vocals in the shadows.  People "rollings their r's" and saying "ay-ay-ay".  I dig that.

Enjoy yourself...

Click Here to listen to My Favorite Wine Is Tequila.

No Star - Greys

from the album Outer Heaven (2016)

Greys are a Toronto band that combine the slamming intensity of Porno For Pyros with a probing intellect to create complete listening experience.

I dig the song No Star.  It is the perfect high-energy tune to kick you into summer.  Pulsing bass.  Thudding drums.  Loud guitars.  Fiery vocals.   And a band that is very, very tight.  Enjoy

Click Hereto listen to No Star.

Click Here to watch Greys perform No Star live in a backyard setting.