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Showing posts from July, 2017

Gigolo A Go Go - Episode 7

Is there anything sexier than French Pop?  Mini-Skirts and Go-Go Boots.  Imagine yourself back in the 60's, jet setting with a Tom Collins in your hand.  Smiling at the flight attendants in those fabulous uniforms.  Aaaah.  What happened?  Damn hippies.

This mix takes a look at fifty years of French Pop.  Of course, you will find later grooves from Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg - along with a classic by Bridgette Bardot - but you will also find newer bands like La Femme, Stereolab, and The Limiñanas, the Bryan Ferry-esque stylings of Françios Veléry, the 70's pronto-punk of Plastic Bertrand, and a slew of other goodies.

Hope you dig it.


Here is the playlist:

It's Time To Wake Up 2023 by La Femme

J'aime Regarder Les Filles by Patrick Coutin

Pour Un Flirt Avec Toi by Jane Birkin & Christophe Miossec

Don Quichotte (No Están Aqui) by Magazine 60

Paris Latino by Bandolero

Margerine Melodie by Stereolab

Donne Donne by Nanette Workman

The Train Creep A-Loopin' by The Limi…

Shiver And Shake - Ryan Adams

from there album Prisoner (2017)

She sat across the table, a glass of wine in her hand.  Behind her, streams of taxi cabs created a kinetic backdrop, yet all I saw were those eyes, that smile.  As she spoke, time melted, and my head finally caught up with my heart.  "I love you."

As we left the restaurant, I never felt closer.  She asked me to kiss her.  Soon after, she got in her car and drove off.  I stood on the street a while, hoping she would return, but this was her goodbye.

Was Shiver And Shake written from me to her, or her to me?  I am never quite sure.

I first heard this song while driving along an interstate, my head full of wine, in the blue light before dawn.  I must have hit repeat four dozen times.  Is this really our song?  Our destiny?

The next day, I put the record away, but dusted it off today.  It is quite a tune.

As I listen, so many tender memories circle around my head.  Yet in the final scene, she still rides off into the night, as I stand - wanting -…

If We Were Vampires - Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

from the album The Nashville Sound (2017)

I have always been an optimist.  It serves me well.  But lately, I realize that time will likely run out before I realize some closely held dreams and desires.  The regret haunts me.

Jason Isbell is one of a few artists whose music regularly hits me where I am most vulnerable.  I love and hate him for it.

On his latest record, the song If We Were Vampires strikes a raw nerve.  It is a love song about life being too short.  In the chorus, he sings:

Its knowing that this can't go on forever
Likely one of us will have to spend some days alone
Maybe we'll get forty years together
But one day I'll be gone
Or one day you'll be gone

In the final verse, he offers the payoff:

If we were vampires and death were a joke
We'd go out on the sidewalk and smoke

If only we were...

Click Here to listen to If We Were Vampires.

Lay Down For Free - Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie

from the album Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie (2017)

A central postulate of this blog is that the two critical elements of all great songs are superior songwriting and vocal performances.  Within this framework, one can clearly understand why the music of Fleetwood Mac endures.

As songwriters and vocalists, the trio of Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham, and Christine McVie are as formidable as any group in popular music.  Add to them Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, a rhythm section for the ages, and they become nearly impossible to match.

It is fun listening to the new, self-titled record by Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie.  It offers us a glimpse into how two pieces of the puzzle interlock, into the common language they have developed, and into how great musicians apply their craft in the latter stages of their careers.

The song I am digging most is Lay Down For Free.  A Lindsey Buckingham composition, the song has all of his familiar elements.  Relaxed tempo and groov…

Big Boys - Chuck Berry

from the album Chuck (2017)

This week, I had the privilege to take a road trip with an eighty-one year old woman.

When I was a kid, I did not know any octogenarians.  People were "old" in their sixties.  Surviving your seventies was virtually unheard of.

But there I was, covering two thousand miles with a fully-engaged woman.  She was laughing, telling stories, singing to the radio, giving advise.  As we were about to pass the exit for the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, she said, "Let's go.  This will be fun and we might learn something."  She was right on all accounts.

Big Boys is a new song by Chuck Berry.  Released posthumously, he completed this track at the age of ninety.  I am in total awe.  The guitar playing and vocals are as vital as his music of sixty years prior.  The signature riffs.  The passages sung in french.  The energy and drive.  The realization that this is the work of a ninety year old man is beyond amazing.

Please take a listen.  In a…

2017 In Aspic - Episode 1

Welcome to Episode 1 of 2017 In Aspic.  This series is a collection of songs that have appeared in this blog over the current year.  It will conclude with a "best of" episode in late December.  My hope is that this will afford readers an opportunity to listen these songs in a steady, curated stream.

The title "2017 In Aspic" is taken from a song titled 1970 In Aspic that was released by Robyn Hitchcock earlier this year.  I really dig the visual imagery of time being trapped in a pork-based gelatin.  Very British.

This first mix is largely upbeat indie and alternative tunes, with a detour into a bit of blues and jazz.

I hope you enjoy the series.  Here is the playlist:


Baby Teeth, Wolfy Teeth by Mick Harvey

Grease by Flo Morrissey and Mathew E. White

You're In Love With A Psycho by Kasabian

French Press by Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever

Andrew Eldritch Is Moving Back To Leeds by The Mountain Goats

Let The Chalice Blaze by Thievery Corporation

Andromeda by Gorillaz

Ca…

For The Lovers - Tenelle

from the album For The Lovers (2017)

There is something timeless about a sweet-swaying love song.

Tenelle delivers this on the title track from her debut album, For The Lovers.  The song deftly combines elements of Soul and R&B over a reggae groove to create something beautifully unique.  This is not a surprise, as her prior two singles - Flava and Tell Me - were breakthrough hits.

This song contains the two critical elements of a great record - superior songwriting and vocal performance - creating a most memorable song.  I can't wait to hear more.

Tennele's list of musical influences include Lauryn Hill, Betty Wright, and Joss Stone.  I hear elements of all these women on this delightful track.  I dig it.

Click Hereto watch the official music video of For The Lovers.

This Land Is Your Land - Phosphorescent

from the single This Land Is Your Land (2017)

Released on the Forth of July, Phosphorescent has delivered an inspired cover of Woodie Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land.

This rendition feels fresh and vital, breathing a sense of immediacy into the lyrics.

Take a moment and give it a listen.  Feel the power of the lyrics and think about the America in your heart.

Click Here to listen to This Land Is Your Land.

No Good At All - Lucy Rose

from the album Something's Changing (2017)

Lucy Rose's music is filled with a somber melancholy reminiscent of some of the great singer-songwriters of the 70s.  Her vocal performances are dynamic without shouting.  When intertwined with her music's clever arrangements, the song drip with quality.

I am really digging the tune No Good At All.  Listen to the varied instruments as they step into the forefront, shine, then slip into the shadows, reemerging at precisely the right times.  They come in combinations.  Piano and drums.  Organ and bass.  Strings and vocal overlays.  Through it all, Lucy Rose laying down her vibe.  Never rushing.  Feeling the groove and singing.  Her range and clarity shining like the blue light of a vacuum tube.

This is a beautiful, well-crafted song.

Click Here to watch Lucy Rose perform No Good At All.

Gaudy Frame - Monk Parker

from the forthcoming album Crown Of Sparrows (2017)

Monk Parker is a musical outlier, recording his first album at forty years of age.  More remarkable is the originality and beauty in his music.

I have been incessantly listening to his latest song - Gaudy Frame - turning it ever louder, trying to feel the energy between the notes.  This is Texas songwriting at its finest, bringing together lap steel guitar with fanfare trumpets and mournful vocals.  The results are otherworldly.  Almost like Pink Floyd cruising I-35 on a late winter's night.

The lyrics are magnificent:

How could you miss me
Sitting here with this pale girl
And my clear-as-gin halo
Don't you know
My whole drunken world
Is a gaudy frame
For a picture-perfect girl

How could I miss you
Passing by with those bright girls and boys
How could I miss you
Passing by in that golden horde
How could I miss you
Sitting there with a pale bright boy
Looking like there's no tomorrow
Don't you know, don't you know
My whole drunken…

Snow - Angus & Julia Stone

from the forthcoming album Snow (2017)

I dig Simon.  I dig Garfunkel.  I adore Simon & Garfunkel.  The same applies to Angus & Julia Stone.

As splendid as Angus' Bird On A Buffalo or Julia's Justine are, there is something magical that occurs when they record together.  Past releases, like Mango Tree, Big Jet Plane, and Grizzly Bear dazzle with their laid-back, warm vibes, enchanting listeners with each successive track.

Snow - the title track from their forthcoming album - is the latest addition to this body of work.  It is a simple song featuring dreamy guitar and bass over a vintage drum track, adding a tasty synth during the interlude.  The lyrics are about being with someone while wishing you were with someone else.

I really dig the lyrics and vocals.  Initially, the song consists of Julia singing a line with Angus repeating it.  However, as their relationship devolves, Angus' responses veer in a different direction.  The lyrics craftily reference "smiling…

You Got It Going On - Cheap Trick

from the album We're All Alright! (2017)

After hitting the music scene with four essential albums, The Ramones had begun to devolve into a pop-punk caricature of themselves.  Then, on the album Too Tough To Die, The Ramones roared back, reclaiming their relevance with emphatic, hardcore punk wrapped in heavy metal tones.  The record makes an amazing statement.  It is one of my all-time favorites.

Similarly, Cheap Trick hit the music scene with four essential albums before their pop own devolution.  And now, forty years after their first release, we find them reasserting themselves with inspired hard rock and punk playfulness.

Their eighteenth studio album opens with the song You Got It Going On.  The song opens with a menacing guitar riff, followed by Robin Zander's trademark vocals.  Thunderous drums and booming bass follow.  With several stops in the song and a blistering guitar solo, you are left with your jaw hanging, saying "Damn, Cheap Trick can rock."

Hats off…

The Camp - PJ Harvey & Ramy Essam

from the single The Camp (2017)

Sometimes I sit in disbelief, wondering why, in a world so fucked up, there are so few protest singers.  Shouldn't young and old people be grabbing acoustic guitars the way angry peasants grab pitchforks?  This complacency, what the fuck?

That said, I really dig the direction PJ Harvey has taken her music and her platform, collaborating with musicians in oppressed and war-torn regions of the world, creating awareness, making art.  It is beautiful.

On her latest single - The Camp - she collaborates with Egyptian protest signer, Ramy Essam, to produce a world-folk song about Syrian refugees living in Lebanon.

Ramy Essam is notable for playing protest music in Tahrir Square in Cairo in the lead up to his country's 2011 revolution.  One of his songs - Irhal - became a rallying cry in the movement, calling for the ouster of Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak.  This resulted in his imprisonment and torture.  Today, he lives in exile in Malmö, Sweden…

It Gets More Blue - girlpool

from the album Powerplant (2017)

I dig it when bands try new things, evolving their sound.

On the song It Gets More Blue, girlpool open with a tom-tom beat similar to something off The Cars debut album.  This is remarkable in that girlpool had - until this album - existed as a guitar and bass only duo.

Despite the three-piece newness, the beauty of Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker's vocals are ever present, offering a high-wire act in California harmony.  Together they create something a bit dreamy, a bit folky, a bit dirty.

The beat and dreaminess juxtapose the song's sombre theme of building up - and putting faith in - an unworthy lover.  I particularly dig the line "I faked global warming just to get close to you."

Throughout Powerplant, you hear talent evolving.  Can anything be better?

Click Hereto watch the official video for It Gets More Blue.

Shark Smile - Big Thief

from the album Capacity (2017)

With its discordant opening, Shark Smile is a song that might get overlooked by someone clicking for gold.  However, forty-two seconds into the chaos the song takes a hard pivot into warm rhythm guitar, pulsing bass, and a straight-four beat.  Within no time at all, you realize that you have found your newest favorite song.

The simple and straightforward instrumentation speaks directly to my rock and roll sensibilities.  Layer on top Adrianne Lenker's magnificently understated vocals and I am in love.  This band of Brooklynites pins my dig meter on ten.

Further accolades go to the lyrics and subject matter.  This song is about a car crash that leaves your partner dying.  Dark stuff, that - when juxtaposed against the melody and vibe - becomes macabre art.

I can't stop listening.

Click Here to listen to Shark Smile.  Note that this version edits out the aforementioned opening.

Cannonball - ZZ Ward

from the album The Storm (2017)

ZZ Ward is a terrific, LA-based singer-songwriter with a great feel for deep blues grooves.  Her sophomore album - The Storm - is chock full of excellent music.

The song I am digging most is Cannonball.  With a deep groove and stellar vocals, this is one of the best songs I've come across this year.  On the song she is joined by Fantastic Negrito, and together their raw energy gives buoyancy and life to a 1-4-5 blues progression.

I particularly dig the guitar work, harmonica solo, and ZZ Ward's vocal intonations that give off a near Amy Winehouse vibe.

Undoubtably, this song will be on my "best songs of 2017" list later this year.

Click Here to listen to Cannonball.

You Ain't Worth Suffering For - Kasey Chambers

from the album Dragonfly (2017)

Back in 2001, I reconnected with my long-time songwriting partner - Fred - to write a dozen, or so, songs.  It had been seven years since we had last written together, making it necessary for us to "sync-up" on what we'd been listening to and where our musical heads were at.

I burned a CD of roughly fifteen songs by new artists whose songwriting skills impressed me, and mailed it off to him.

When we finally sat down face to face, he couldn't stop talking about one of the songs: Not Pretty Enough by Kasey Chambers.  He played it on his guitar, talking about chord changes, technique, and lyrics.  Few songs have ever connected with Fred this way.

Fast forward sixteen years, and I find myself listening to You Ain't Worth Suffering For, a new song by Kasey Chambers.  She has grown up, her voice a bit deeper and more mature.  Her vocal chops and songwriting are better than ever, belting out this well-crafted tune like few can.  Wow.

I ke…

The Underside Of Power - Algiers

from the album The Underside Of Power (2017)

This holiday weekend is really expanding my party lexicon.

One of my funky friends introduced me to the term alcohnox, meaning the time of day when you transition from caffeine to alcohol.  How didn't I know that?

The other network is vibender, meaning a song whose vibe shifts between genres in mid-song.

The Underside Of Power is a vibender.  From the opening  pulses, suggesting a Jesus and Mary Chain, to deep, big-beat, booty-shakin' soul, to fuzzed-out interludes, this son is a vibending tour de force.  Certainly a contender my "summer single."

Click Here to watch the official video for The Underside Of Power.