Posts

Showing posts from October, 2016

Sirens Of Jupiter - The Olympians

from the album The Olympians (2016)

Brooklyn's Daptone Records is - in my opinion - the best record label on earth today.  As someone who spends their time seeking out the labels that consistently release great, original music, Daptone simply stands unmatched.

What makes Daptone special is their clarity of purpose in creating product (music) of the absolute highest quality and putting quality ahead of all other considerations.  In any business, this is the mark of greatness.

Two of their soul artists that I covet are Charles Bradley and Lee Fields, both middle aged cats whose voices evoke inner truths about all the things that soul music stands for.  Each of them - along with fellow Daptone artist Sharon Jones - has a killer band behind them that bring to life retro soul vibes in thoroughly modern contexts.

The Olympians are an instrumental soul band comprised of members of Charles Bradley and Lee Fields bands.  The lead song on their eponymous debut album is Sirens Of Jupiter.  T…

Romantic - Mannequin Pussy

from the album Romantic (2016)

I really dig the song Romantic, off of Mannequin Pussy's album of the same name.

Here is why:
  -->  The dynamics, bouncing from chill to grinding post-punk, take me on a journey.
  -->  The burnt overdrive of the opening guitars.
  -->  The emotion in the vocals.
  -->  The lush vibe of the chill segments.
  -->  The drumming throughout the song, particularly in the transitions.
  -->  The brief pause in the rhythm during the aggressive segments.  This hang provides a fantastic hook.
  --> The way the band plays together as a unit.

Click Here to listen to Romantic.  One of this year's best tunes.

To All The Cowboys - Ariel Bui

from the album Ariel Bui (2016)

It is rare that I stumble across an artist's debut record and become thoroughly captivated, spending days on end listening to her record, as it leads me to inner truths I might not otherwise uncover.

Ariel Bui's self titled record hits this mark.

Immigrating with her parents from Vietnam as a young girl, Ariel spent most of her youth bouncing around the southern United States.  Ultimately, she found herself in Nashville, a classically trained composer experimenting with music she describes as "ranging from Fiona Apple and Angel Olsen to Bjork and Radiohead."

Describing her album she says, "Many of the songs are meditations on death.  How you can feel as though you are dying of a broken heart, how the loss of loved ones sends ripples through our lives, the inevitability that all things pass, how we often live our lives in denial or fear of ugly truths and how facing and accepting the ultimate truth allows us to truly live."

Bu…

Hate I Don't Love You - Hopetoun Brown

from the album Look So Good (2016)

Since the turn of the millennium, I have increasingly become a connoisseur of music from New Zealand and Australia.  It started for me way before that, when I first heard Split Enz, but really picked up steam after having the opportunity to live and work in Sydney for three months in 2000.

During that time, I was on a live music tear, checking out bands most every night, always thinking "they sound familiar in an odd sort of way."

Today, I spend a fair amount of time going back and trying to discover great New Zealand and Australia bands from the past that never made it to my little corner of the world.

One such band was Supergroove, a '90s Auckland band that underpinned their modern rock sensibilities with a tinge of infectious R&B.

Hopetoun Brown consists of Tim Stewart and Nick Atkinson, the two horn players from Supergroove.  20 years later, they are laying down a funky vibe that I totally dig.

 I am particularly into the tune H…

Manipulator - Elephant Stone

from the album Ship Of Fools (2016)

20th century Indie Rock from Montreal.  This song should strike a chord with those who once dared to be different, or at least listened to alternative 90's radio.  You know who you are.

The straight four beat.  The chorus, complete with a "come on" thrown in.  The guitar hook.  The celebratory background vocal interlude followed by a stuttering pulse that leads into a breakdown.  Then return of the steady four, followed by another "come on."

Doesn't this take you back to Lido Boulevard?

Doesn't this scream for the mirror ball to return to your rear view mirror?

Come on...

Click Here to listen to Manipulator.

Roadie Man - The Pretenders

from the album Alone (2016)

Chrissie Hynde and company are back with Alone, their first album in eight years.

Thus far, the song I am digging is Roadie Man.  This song (about roadies) in centered around a bouncing, soulful groove that easily hooks the listener.  Over this, Chrissie Hynde delivers her vocals against the counterpoint of a Farfisa organ.  These two instruments play marvelously off of one another.

Add some groovy guitar, tight drumming, and a delightfully simple bass line and you've really got something.  Lines like "What happens on the bus, stays on the bus" don't hurt either.

Click Here to listen to Roadie Man.

Shine On Rainy Day - Brett Cobb

from the album Shine On Rainy Day (2016)

Once upon a time, my father and I took a drive down the backroads of Georgia, visiting historic towns like Plains and Andersonville.  At the time, I thought trips like this would continue forever.  Little did I know this was the last one.

One of the places we rolled through was Ellaville, a one street light town of less than 2,000 people.  I think of how happy my dad was to be riding with his son, and how somehow this old man from Brooklyn knew more about these tiny southern towns than you could ever learn in a book.  He was amazing.

Well, Brett Cobb comes from Ellaville.  He writes beautiful country songs that strike a very tender, very real place in my heart.  It is hard to listen to them without thinking about my dad.  I wish he was still here.

Ain't it funny how a little thunder
Make a man start to wonder
Should he swim or just go under

Ain't it funny how you learn to pray
When your blue skies all turn grey
When there's nothing left t…

Are You Lost In The World Like Me? - Moby & The Void Pacific Choir

from the album These Systems Are Failing (2016)

Moby's latest album - with the Void Pacific Choir - is one of the most unexpected musical joys of 2016.  These Systems Are Failing is a collection of twelve amped-up, synched-up tracks that take the listener back to the best of the 1980s, while still delivering a modern, relevant edge.

Are You Lost In The World Like Me? is the most accessible of these tracks.  Brooding baritone verses couple with choruses of soaring harmonies all laid out over pulsing synth grooves.  Meanwhile the lyrics contain social commentary on these strange times.

Do yourself a favor and check out the entire record.

Click Here to watch the official video to Are You Lost In The World Like Me?  I really dig it.

If I Didn't Have Your Love - Leonard Cohen

from the album You Want It Darker (2016)

With the release of You Want It Darker, his splendid new album, the 82 year-old singer songwriter advised that this would be his last recording.  At first, I was profoundly sad and felt as though I had lost a part of my own soul.  Then I thought of the timelessness of some of his songs and felt magnificently uplifted.

His song Hallelujah will still be sung long after everyone now living is dead.

There is one song on this final album that has particularly grabbed me.  It is a love song titled If I Didn't Have Your Love.  After a lifetime of loving, what does a master say when he closes the book?  He is sweet.  He is pure.  And he makes a point that nothing really matters without love.

Here is the closing verse:

If the sun would lose its light
And we lived in endless night
And there was nothing left that you could feel
If the sea were sand alone
And the flowers made of stone
And noone that you hurt could ever heal
Well that's how broken I would …

Chuck Berry's 90th Birthday Gift...

A New Album Coming In 2017

This Tuesday marked Chuck Berry's 90th birthday.  On this occasion, the rock and roll legend announced that he will be releasing a record of new, original material on Dualtone Records in 2017.

This will be his first release in 38 years.  In a message to his wife, Toddy, he said "I'm growing old.  I've worked on this record a long time.  Now I can hang up my shoes."

According to is son, the album will consist of a wide spectrum of hard-driving rockers to soulful songs.

I dig this beyond words.

Click Here to listen to Chuck Berry's greatest hits.

Sonicology - The Laurels

from the album Sonicology (2016)

Psychedelic Shoegaze from Sydney, The Laurels lay down a great vibe of layered vocals, funky guitars, grooving base, and a steady beat.

On their latest album, I am digging the title track, Sonicology.  Thick in sounds and textures, this song is underpinned with a beat and groove that form a foundation for the sonic journey.  Dig the background tones, recalling far away places, like Manchester.

But it keeps coming back to that bass line.  That groove.  Mighty.

Click Here to watch the official video to Sonicology.

Click Here to stream the entire album.

Putin - Randy Newman

from the single Putin (2016)

Here is a fun song to start your weak.  The great Randy Newman sings about Vladimir Putin with all the same wit and wonder that he once sang about Short People.

Hmmm.  Maybe this is a sequel.

Click Here to listen to Putin.

Saro - The Westerlies

from the album The Westerlies (2016)

The Westerlies are a brass quartet from NYC consisting of two trumpets and two trombones.  They are also childhood friends from the Seattle area.

Their music is thoughtful and inspiring, stirring the spirit and raising the bar on great American Music.

Take a listen to Saro, an incredible track from their self-titled album.

this is excellent stuff.

Click Here to listen to Saro.

I Can't Believe I Found You In That Town - Mike Doughty

from the album The Heart Watches While The Brain Burns (2016)

What is it about the country vibe that attracts artists from diverse genres to dive in, often with great results?

I think of Ray Charles singing Hank Williams tunes and The Beatles singing songs like What Goes On.  The British artists I cut my teeth on all wrote and recorded country songs.  Elvis Costello's Almost Blue album, Squeeze singing Labelled With Love, and countless Nick Lowe songs that would ultimately be covered Johnny Cash.  Hell, even Jethro Tull covered Ghost Riders.

Now, Mike Doughty has jumped into the fray.  After rising to prominence in NYC - he was the doorman at The Knitting Factory before founding the band Soul Coughing - he moved to Nashville in 2015, releasing last year's record Stellar Motel.

This year, on The Heart Watches While The Brain Burns, he delivers a magnificent and varied collection of songs that stay true to his big city sensibility.  My current favorite though is the country-ting…

Home I Left - Sean Hayes

from the album Low Light (2016)

Those more astute readers of this blog know that I have great appreciation for California singer-songwriter Sean Hayes.  I find his songs to be magnificently crafted and his performance to strike a nerve.  I share them whenever possible.

This morning, I stumbled across this home video of him playing the song Home I Left up in the Sonoma Mountains north of San Francisco.  Something about it keeps me watching.

This autobiographical song details his moving from North Carolina to San Francisco, at the age of 20, and then to Sonoma County to raise a family at age 40.  It is about home and family.  I dig that.

The song is also now appearing on a TV Spot for HomeGoods.

Click Here to watch the low-fi video of Sean Hayes singing Home I Left in the Sonoma Mountains.

Click Here to listen to the version of Home I Left from his latest album, Low Light.

Got To Give It Up - Brian Culbertson

from the album Funk! (2016)

Put the goats in their pens and get funky!!!

The his Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for his album Funk!, Los Angeles-based smooth jazzer Brian Culbertson wrote, "If you love funk like I do, you know there's no other music like it.  It makes you feel good, makes you laugh, dance, sing along and pretty much get down!  I am creating a throwback, old-school funkadelic record in the style of P-Funk meets Prince."

Those lofty goals were accomplished with a fabulous record.  I've heard nothing quite like it this year.

The song I'm digging is Got To Give It Up, a cover of the classic Marvin Gaye tune.  It is all about the groove, with plenty of musical embellishments overlaid, including some incredible keyboards, guitars, and saxophone.

This album is full of great jams, for your car or you next funky dance party!

Click Here to listen to Brian Culbertson cover Marvin Gay's Got To Give It Up.

Scum - Goat Girl

front the single Scum (2016)

The website Northern Transmissions describes this newcomer group of four South London young women as "The Pixies meets Courtney Barnett meets The Fall meets The Raincoats."  I get that.

I dig the song Scum for the way the barbed-out vocal line lays over the guitar riff.  I also dig he simple vibe created by the rhythm section.

I always enjoy a band's first statement to the world.  Can't wait to hear where they take it from here...

Click Here to listen to Scum.

Alarms - Goat

front the album Requiem (2016)

Following up from yesterday's post, here is another song from Goat's new album.

On Alarms, we are treated to sounds that were not included on Try My Robe.  The male and female voices in the verses recall The Mama's and The Papas.  The intertwining of the percussion (savor the vibra-slap) with the eastern guitar stylings takes me on a psychedelic journey.  The electric guitar lead is equally enjoying.

Goat.  Dig 'em.

Click Here to listen to Alarms.

Try My Robe - Goat

from the album Requiem (2016)

That mysterious collective of psychedelic, ritual-worshiping troubadours from Korpilombolo, Sweden are back with another round of wildly satisfying sounds.  Think of it as World Music and Rock mashed into a wild acid trip.

This is best listened to as an entire album, but the song I currently hooked on is Try My Robe, featuring eastern tones over afro-beat rhythms with a western pop sensibility sung by Kate and Cindy equivalents on a hashish high after being released from a turkish prison.

If you dig it, dig deeper.  It is intoxicating.

Click Here to listen to Try My Robe.

Click Here to read my 2012 blog post of Run To Your Mama, the most viewed blog post in 40 Watt history.

De Verdad - Matamoska!

from the album M Is For Murder (2016)

For the past few months, I have been collecting fallen branches and countless prunings into a massive pile.  This weekend, I plan to light them into the mother of all bonfires.  For such a primeval event, I wish I could share it with a select group of my funky friends - the ones who really appreciate Joe Strummer.

This has given rise to endless listening to Joe's music: before, during, and after The Clash.  It is amazing now to dissect all the influences that run through his music.

While I was adding to my pile, the outdoor speakers played a triplet of Clash tunes: Janie Jones, Bankrobber, and Should I Stay Or Should I Go.  It was the perfect mix of punk, dub, and spanish (as in Joe's backing vocals on Should I Stay...).

This led me down a path of listening to bands that were influenced by The Clash, like Rancid and Desorden P├║blico.  That - in turn - led me to M Is For Murder, a new compilation by Matamoska!, a great underground band from…

Fields & Fences - Yellowcard

from the album Yellowcard (2016)

One upon a time, I was watching a televised Mets game on WOR.  The game was slow and Lindsey Nelson filled the time by asking Ralph Kiner about memorable home runs he had hit.  I was amazed at how he recalled his first home run.  He remembered everything about it, not just the pitcher and the type of pitch, but the weather, the crowd size, and even what he had for breakfast that day.

Lindsey Nelson then asked him about the final home run of his storied career.  Ralph Kiner said he did not really remember much about it.  When asked why he replied "Well, at the time, I didn't realize it was going to be my last home run."

Such is not the case with Yellowcard.  On this their tenth - and final - album, they know this is the end of their journey and that Fields & Fences is their final recorded song.

I find the lyrics to be touching with inferences of returning to Tennessee, surrounded by fields and fences to keep them safe.  And then there …

Rayguns - The Peep Tempel

from the album Joy (2016)

The Peep Tempel are a three piece band from Melboourne, Australia who make music with social indignation and punk sensibilities.  They are keen witted, funny, and they play music loud and fast (but not too loud or fast).

I dig their new song Rayguns, which offers a slap in the face to right-wingers everywhere.

Hello there dainty fascists
The call's out to serve your writ
Clouded Christian neo pig
Simple Simon right wing tit
We can see you bigots
Picket lines of suburban household tyrants
We can see you looking sick
Know your fear and smell your shit
You are nobody and not the symphony we seek

Lay that over a thudding drum beat, pulsing bass, and distorted guitar and you've won my heart.

Check it out...

Click Here to watch the official video to Rayguns.

Lead Light - Julia Jacklin

from the album Don't Let The Kids Win (2016)

I spent much of this past weekend at the Candler Park Fall Fest in ATL.  The music line-up for Saturday had a pretty novel theme: Tribute Bands.  This included great acts playing the hits of Devo, The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, The Clash, Nirvana, David Bowie, and many more.  It was totally enjoyable.

Of course, this led to a discussion of which other tribute bands we might like to see.  This led to a discussion on the need for more diversity.  How great would it have been to have Prince or Bob Marley tributes, or girl bands, like The Go Gos.

One of my suggestions was The Pretenders.  Chrissie Hynde and company have so many great tunes. How fun would it be to see their tribute band?

This sent my mind on a tangent, searching for a modern artist whose sound might remind me a little of Chrissie Hynde.  This journey took me to the Blue Mountains of New South Wales and the delightful sounds of Julia Jacklin.

This Friday, here debut album - Don&…

I'm Still Believing - Toy

from the album Clear Shot (2016)

Here is a nice way to start your Monday.

I'm Still Believe is an 80's styled alternative song with great melodic sensibility.  Jangling guitars, psychedelic tones, garage drumming, and skinny tie vocals.  Who could ask for more?

Click Here to watch the official video to I'm Still Believe.

Gun Clap Hero - Hanni El Khatib

from the single Savage Times, Vol. 4 (2016)

San Francisco's Hanni El Khatib seems like a pretty cool fella.  I dig that prior to becoming a musician, he worked as a creative designer for ad agencies and street fashion labels.

I was slow to accept his early work, as the ascetic rocked a bit to hard for my liking.  However, with time, I've grown to enjoy his music and come back often.

More recently, he has begun to release a series of singles under the Savage Times banner.  Each of these records moves from harder rocking to more eclectic, with the production value increasing along the way.

His most recent single - Gun Clap Hero - is a total delight with its infectious groove, string production reminiscent of the Electric Light Orchestra, and the hook line "He did it all for the bang-bang."

This is fantastic stuff.  Can't wait to hear where it goes from here.

Click Here to listen to Gun Clap Hero.

My Happiness - John Prine

from the album For Better, Or Worse (2016)

Way back in 1993, Fiona Whelan was working on a recording in a studio in Dublin, Ireland when she met the great singer-songwriter John Prine.  Soon after, they were married and moved to Nashville, USA.  The marriage is still going strong.

Yesterday, a few days short of his 70th birthday, John Prine released yet another album of the finest American treasures you can find on either side of the Mississippi.  Track 14 is a song called My Happiness, a duet recorded with his wife, Fiona.

It is as sweet and American a song as you will find.

Evening shadows make me blue
When each weary day is through
How I long to be with you
My Happiness

Every day I reminisce
Dreaming of your tender kiss
Always thinking how I miss
My Happiness

How wonderful it must be to make beautiful music with the one you love.

Click Here to listen to My Happiness.