Showing posts from 2018

In Between Stars - Eleanor Friedberger

from the album Rebound (2018)

On first listen to the song In Between Stars by Eleanor Friedberger, I immediately knew that this would be one of my favorite songs of the year.  It just has "it."  I dig the vibe created by the mix of electronic and organic instruments.  I also dig how the song has warmth and space.  Moreover, the song also has a timeless feel where, despite sounding fresh and modern, I could hear Carly Simon singing it.

However, it has taken me a few months to write about this song, primarily because the meaning of the lyrics elude me.  They are abstruse.

In between moons, I was the sea
I was the sea
In between stars, I was the salt
I was the salt
Wild and vulgar were the ones that you could see
The ugly idols not cherished by me

I have tried to figure these lyrics out, and the exercise has taught me a valuable lesson: Not everything is meant to be taken literally and that in order to truly understand obtuse circumstances, you need to look a layer, or two, deeper; …

12:51AM - Self Tape

from the single 12:51AM (2018)

I am up late, thinking through the various permutations of some pressing puzzles.  Big stuff with little room for error.  I've likely had music playing for five or six hours, but have barely heard a song.  My rabbit holes have become wormholes.

I am not finding myself particularly stressed, but rather detached; with an assassin-like focus on executing the task at hand.  Still my mind cannot break free.

Then the opening bars of 12:51AM by Self Tape starts playing.  The vibe is bouncing and bright.  The groove enters, sweeping me away.  I'm in a different head now.  I turn up the volume to listen to the guitar, yet the beat and groove consume me.  This song has unlocked the wormhole.  Freed my mind. The kingdom of heaven is within.

Soon, I'm googling around for some information about this song.  I come across the passage, "Recorded in his small and dark London flat in the depths of Winter, his sound alludes to a much warmer and brighter ti…

My Queen Is Harriet Tubman - Sons Of Kemet

from the album Your Queen Is A Reptile (2018)

Last year, for my birthday, my good friend Jaba B. gave me a book titled The Best Minds Of My Generation - A Literary History Of The Beats by Allen Ginsberg.  It is a fascinating collection of curated professorial lectures that Ginsberg delivered over several decades.

In one of these lectures, Ginsberg talks about Jack Kerouac and his love of jazz; in particular, bebop. He spoke about how Kerouac would mimic the riffs of horn players with his words, forming a unique street poetry.  He also spoke of how the musicians would mimic the sounds they heard in the street with their horns.  Think of Dizzy Gillespie trumpeting the central line to Salt Peanuts.  Everything comes full circle: the street to the horn, the horn to the poet, the poet to the street.

The book also discusses the musicians who were most influential on The Beats; which causes me to ask, "What musical artists would The Beats listen to today?"

Shabaka Hutchings is cert…

Pink Squirrel - Episode 2

Welcome to Episode 2 of Pink Squirrel, a mixtape series intended to enrapture listeners with the best new music of 2018.  This episode is all about the groove.  It bounces from alternative to punky-funky to hip-hop to dance before settling into an extended jam of Soulful House.

With the exception of Parliament, not many of these artists are household names; unless, of course, you live in a very groovy abode.  That said, artists like Shopping, Khruangbin, Babert, and Husky lay down some incredible music on this mix.

I really find myself digging the Soulful House tracks.  Listen to the saxophone on Natasha Kitty Katt's Windy City or the trumpet on Husky's Can't Shake It Off; it brings jazz instrumentation into the modern club scene in a way that really turns me on.

I hope you dig it !!!

Here is the playlist:

Jukebox Babe by Moon Duo

The Hype by Shopping

Love & Sacrifice by Sylvan LaCue

It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) by Peggy Gou

Psycho Star by King Tuff

I'm Gon Make U Sic…

Can't Get Enough - Serge Funk

from the single Can't Get Enough (2018)

Last night, I drove down to a lake house on the Georgia-Alabama line.  It was a beautiful evening.  The air held a tinge of winter, yet spring was proceeding in full motion.  Through the tall pines the setting sun created a blood-orange ball that melted into the lake.  In the distance, you could hear bass fisherman increasing their speeds, in order to make the marina before sunset.

I considered this a moment to celebrate.  I opened a bottle of Crozes-Hermitage that I've been saving for such an occasion.  I turned on my new Pink Squirrel mix, cranked up the incredible outdoor speakers, stepped outside, and enjoyed being alone with my thoughts, drinking great wine, and digging on some most pleasing grooves.

As the mix reached its finale, I was bopping around to Can't Get Enough by Italian producer Serge Funk.  The songs drips of hard 70s groove baked into a tasty Soulful House biscuit served with disco jelly.  The music is infectious …

Can't Shake It Off - Husky

from the EP Can't Shake It Off (2018)


Not only is the trumpet amongst the most difficult instruments to play, but it is also one of the loudest.  Trumpeters can not hide.  They show and blow, letting the notes fall where they may.

I really dig listening to well played trumpet; particularly when it is in an unanticipated context.

This is the case with Can't Shake It Off by Husky, a top-notch DJ and producer from Sydney, Australia.  This is a silky, Soulful House number with a disco beat that I cannot get enough of.  Long sustained piano chords over a bouncing groove set the tone for the trumpet.

This is further embellished by fine orchestration and a sultry vocal by the always seductive Nat Conway.  I also dig the synth seizure solo that offers a modern equivalent to the trumpet track.

Particularly when I listen to the Mark Di Meo Souldub mix of this song, I am transported to a world of rainy car rides on the Harlem River Drive and sexy women …

Psycho Star - King Tuff

from the album The Other (2018)

Good things happen when you layer melodic psychedelia over a funky beat and a deep groove.  Such is the case with Psycho Star by King Tuff.

I just can't get enough of the beat.  It is the kind of thing you might hear on Frenchman Street in New Orleans.  Subtle little high hat rhythms playing off the gallop of the beat.  It then switches to something more rocking without ever losing the essentials of the beat.  Back and forth.  Effortless.  Amazing.

The bass groove is equally impressive.  It is locked in with the drums without fully melding.  When it drops out, you miss it.  When it kicks back in, you rejoice.  It is a mighty groove.

Atop the bass and drums are a spectrum of psychedelic tones that recall 70s FM radio, complete with wah-wah pedals, an opening synth right out a Steve Miller hit, flangers, phasers, chorus effects, and a radio friendly melody.

I also dig the songs overarching message that this earth is too good for us humans.  The backin…

Everybody's Coming To My House - David Byrne

from the album American Utopia (2018)

Do you spend too much time thinking about how rapidly our world is changing and agonizing over how to stay relevant on other people's terms.

What if we flipped it?  What if we changed our posture to "If you can't join them, beat them?"  Wouldn't they be surprised?

What if we imagined our own world and filled it with all our creative friends and the people we choose to spend our time with?  What if we made art and time for us, rather for the acceptance of those who ultimately matter less to us?

There are enough of us.  We could sustain it.  We just might find ourselves happier and more fulfilled.

It is about us.  It is about our community.  It is about people with beautiful spirits finding peace together; living their lives, strutting their talents, surrounded by warm, decent, like-minded humans.  Our house is for us.  We are a groove tribe.

Sulcus Tribus.

Click Here to watch a music video to Everybody's Coming To My House

Spectacular - Shinya Fukumori Trio

from the album For 2 Akis (2018)

IN THE BEGINNING, God created the heaven and the earth; and, soon after, God created all sorts of other stuff.  By any estimation, God was an accomplished architect, creating a universe that is still going strong after four and a half billion years.

Yet beyond its structural integrity and choice of materials, God's grand design offers a masterclass in understanding the user experience.  Everything relates to everything else.  Everything is interconnected with precision and elegance.

To achieve this on such a grand scale, God recognized the need for balance.  So, when it was time to deploy, God proclaimed "Let there be light," and there was light; whose countervailing kin - night - is equally sacred.  Just ask Louis Armstrong.

This segmentation of day and night creates a mechanism for all of the "users" to synchronize; ensuring that they function and operate it concert with one another.  This brilliant symphony is realized every …

Don't Move Back To LA - Okkervil River

from the album In The Rainbow Rain (2018)

Late last night, I was driving home from a Billy Strings concert with the stereo cranked up.  I find it amazingly fun to drive on the ATL highways at that time of night; you can go so fast and the streetlights blur with a midnight blue hue.  Try it sometime.

I was listening to a playlist of twenty - or so - new songs, many of which will find their way into this blog in the coming weeks.  As often happens, one song jumps from the playlist, screaming "pick me, pick me." as if it were the petit basset griffon vying for Best of Show at Westminster.  That song was Don't Move Back To LA by Okkervil River, a folk rock / alternative country band from Austin who take their name from a Russian short story set on a St. Petersburg river.

I dig the song for its laid back vibe, which perfectly juxtaposes my racing around the Grady Curve.  I also dig Will Sheff's vocal delivery; reminding me of Jonathan Richmond with his hoarse tone and mil…

Go Out Fighting - Dr. Dog

from the album Critical Equation (2018)

I currently find myself in a professional situation where I have lost confidence in the leadership of the team I am working for but strongly believe in the value and importance of the work I am doing.

My advice to someone in my situation would be to hedge your bets; to begin searching for a new organization while continuing to execute on the work at hand.

However prudent that advise may be, I cannot do it.  I am not programmed that way.  I am either in or I am out.  Perhaps it is some kind of perverse manifestation of my Heide Klum syndrome?

So, after much consternation, I have decided to go all in.  Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead.

Go Out Fighting by Dr. Dog is the perfect anthem for the path I chose.  The song's title is my mantra. The psychedelic vibe and expansive bass groove speak to my sense of individuality.  The hint of John Lennon in the vocal line speaks to my righteous indignation.  The loose and swirling beat speaks to the tu…

Sister - Tracey Thorn

from the album Record (2018)

Through my twenties, the music that I listened to was largely written and performed by men.  Thing is, at the time, I wasn't self-aware enough to realize it.  Had you told me, I'd have told you that you were nuts and started rattling off names like Deborah Harry, Chrissie Hynde, and Alison Moyet.

Then, in my early thirties, I moved from NYC to ATL and formed new circles of friends.  One group became very influential and introduced me to an entirely new sphere of artists which opened me to a world of great female vocalists.  These included artists like Morcheeba, Everything But The Girl, and Cowboy Junkies.  Around the same time, a harder-edged circle of friends was listening to Hole.

I became entranced with female vocalists, with their point of view, the variations in their styles and techniques, and the roll that the church played in forming many of their voices.

I began to travel back in time, discovering the magnificence of all those women who c…

These 3 Things - Ought

from the album Room Inside The World (2018)

I find myself repeatedly listening to the song These 3 Things by Ought, a four-piece post-punk band from Montreal.  It is dense and danceable, in a manner reminiscent of some Roxy Music tunes from the late 70's or The Cure of the 80's.

Although the vibe and the groove provide the initial attraction, it is the juxtaposing of fragile vocals with confident instrumentation that keeps me coming back.

Tim Darcy's vocals are captivating, offering a quavering balance of theatrics, poetics, and melancholy.  Counterbalanced by an industrially steady beat, pulsing bass, and retro-electronics, one gets a sense on being suspended in an anxious limbo.

It is fascinating.

Click Here to watch the official music video to These 3 Things by Ought.

Negative Space - Hookworms

from the album Microshift (2018)

On Thursday night, a couple of my funky friends were out drinking at The Yacht Club, a locals bar with big glass windows on a busy street in ATL's Little Five Points neighborhood, when a gun battle broke out a few hundred feet down the street.

Instinctively, everybody got down on the floor and began to belly-crawl, away from the windows, towards the back of the bar and the kitchen.  After laying there a while, before the ambulances carted off the wounded or the police arrived to secure the area, people started crawling back to their original spots to gather their cigarettes and drinks.  They then crawled back, laying on the floor, smoking and drinking, acting as though it was an ordinary night.

I dig this scene.  It speaks to these surreal times and to the resilience of people like my funky friends.  They keep on keeping it real.

Click Here to listen to Negative Space by Hookworms.

Click Here to read my April 2016 blog post on I Have Some Business Ou…

Do You Dance - Men Without A Clue

from the single Do You Dance (2018)

Jacco wants to get down
Jack-Bob wants to drink
Jazz girls in the kitchen
Washing Stan Getz in the sink
Ginsberg's in the hallway
Spouting perverted rhymes
Aquinas on the front porch
Confessing all his crimes
St. Catherine's got her game on
Chatting up young boys
Nancy's mixing vodka
With apricot La Croix
Don Johnson rides a lion
Fred Gwynne's blowing smoke
N13 heads over
Just to have a toke
Outside on the sidewalk
Meadowlark can dribble
Hey, that's Richie Beans
Sucking down a Fribble
Aunt Wendy's slicing onions
In the name of anarchy
Look, its Don Cornielius
Dancing with Righteous T.
Someone turns the lights out
Someone calls the feds
Someone with a smart phone
Is playing Talking Heads

Click Here to listen to Do You Dance by Men Without A Clue.

Listen to Do You Dance by Men Without A Clue on Pink Squirrel - Episode 2:

We Got To Celebrate - Babert

from the single We Got To Celebrate (2018)

For the luckiest amongst us, we will get to spend about 25,000 days living on this planet.  Some of those days will be happy, others will be sad, and a whole bunch will fall someplace in between.

Fortunately, we humans are blessed with an incredible gift of memory; allowing us to vividly recall good moments so that they can sustain us when times get tough.

When I consider "the happiest days of my life," they largely consist of joyous moments with family, friends, lovers, and strangers.  What makes these moments special is the magic of sharing emotions and experiences together.

So, if we want to make the most of our 25,000 days, we need to create as many of these happy moments as possible.  We can do this by spending more time with those kindred souls in our lives.

We got to celebrate.

Click Here to listen to We Got To Celebrate by Babert.

Listen to We Got To Celebrate by Babert on Pink Squirrel - Episode 2:

Black Moon - Screaming Females

from the album All At Once (2018)

Many moons ago, I frequented suburban rock clubs.  These places were typically located in strip malls, with big, burly bouncers checking your identification and being very specific about where they stamped your hand.

A few of the bands, like Zebra and Twisted Sister, would one day find commercial success; while the overwhelming majority now consider their strip mall gigs as "the glory days."

Although it might sound odd, one of my most vivid remembrances of these clubs was how my shoes would stick to the floor.  It happened everywhere back then; yet, today, I go out to hear live music nearly as often and my shoes never stick.

What's up with that?  Is it the shoes?  Is it the floor?  Do fewer people spill their drinks today verses yesterday?  Is their some new technology that keeps floors cleaner?   Seriously, if any of my dear readers can shed a bit of enlightenment, I would be much obliged.

I am reminded of this when I listen to Black Mo…

Soul No. 5 - Caroline Rose

from the album LOSER (2018)

The Preacher urges us to "save" it, by living life on the straight and narrow, because nothing - in God's eyes - is more important.  Yet James Brown has one, and he's Super Bad.  Then there are The Beatles; their's was made of rubber, which - as far as I can tell - is neither good nor bad.  Yup, I am talking about soul.

Quite frankly, I have zero clue what a soul is, or even looks like, and I really don't care.  That said, I am totally digging Soul No. 5, a new tune by Caroline Rose - a songwriter from NYC.  This song doesn't take "soul" very serious at all.  Instead, it is surrounded by an uptempo beat, fun guitar riffs, and a fabulous Farfisa organ.

Best I can tell, the song is about being so good looking that men gawk at you.  The lyrics and the collage of visual images make me smile.  So does the way she occasionally drops her vocal register down and then ascends, which reminds my of Will Smith's theme to The …

Make Me Feel - Janelle Monáe

from the album Dirty Computer (2018)

When I think of all the great music artists who have prematurely passed away in recent years, the one that leaves the greatest void (for me) is Prince.

Fortunately, his spirit will live on in the artists he worked with and in countless future artists yet to come.

When I listen to Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe, I feel Prince's spirit in the songwriting and in the production.  I hear it in the synthesizers and the funky guitar.  In the falsetto and the beat.

I could not get enough of Prince during his lifetime.  I am thrilled to be able to listen to the artists he influenced, now and 4ever.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Make Me Feel by Janelle Monáe.

Quiero Otoño De Nuevo - Mint Field

from the album Pasar De Las Luces (2018)

Mint Field are a shoegaze duo from Tijuana, Mexico consisting of Estrella Sanchez and Amor Amezcua.  As if that alone is not enough to make you give them a spin, Estrella's previous career was as a professional bowler.

On their debut LP, Pasar De Las Lucas, I am really digging their song Quiero Otoño De Nuevo.  This tune applies their shoegaze craft over a hard and steady beat that is nicely paired with a tasty groove.  I am particularly enamored with the bass line.  They then add elements of  psychedelia to the mix.  The end result is something you might expect to hear from a band like Yo La Tengo.

When I compare Mint Field with other young bands a few miles up the coast in Southern California, I find them to be more cerebral and textured, less of a beach party or a retro-pop redux.

Mint Field's debut is impressive.  I can't wait to find out where they take their music from here.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Quie…

Jukebox Babe - Moon Duo

from the single Jukebox Babe / No Fun (2018)

It is Saturday Night and I'm getting started way too late.  How am I gonna ramp my buzz up quick enough to properly get down with my funky friends?

I start with espressos - four of them - to amp up.  Next stop is booze.  No time for beer or wine tonight, so it is straight to the hard liquor.  After some consternation, I settle on a double Jim Beam & Diet Coke.  It is probably not the perfect choice, but - hey - it's close enough.  After two hurried drinks in the kitchen, I enter my destination into Uber, fix a strong roadie, and head out the door.

The scene in front of the club is busy.  Ladies rummaging through purses, applying lipstick.  Lots of texting.  There are a couple of dudes in hoodies, looking suspicious.  Then, as if scripted, one of my funky friends emerges from around the corner, looking - and smelling - stoned.

We head inside.  It is crowded and loud.  I buy us a couple of drinks.  We circle the joint looking for …

Baby, I Love You - Ryan Adams

from the single Baby, I Love You (2018)

You and I could have a friendly disagreement about which Ryan Adams' song is "his best."  You might say it's his cover of Wonderwall.  I might say it is either When The Stars Go Blue or Dancing With The Women At The Bar.

Yet I am certain we would both agree that Ryan Adams writes and records songs that perfectly capture how we feel towards each other, saying things that I - for one - am not elegant - or honest - enough to express.  He also has an uncanny ability to release these songs at the moments when they will hit us the hardest.  It is enough to make you shiver and shake.

He did it to us again on February 14th, with his unexpected release of the single Baby, I Love You.

However, rather than "pressing the bruise to watch it grow" with atorturous examination of the visual imagery and lyrics, I'll talk about his unexpected choice of using a Rickenbacker guitar on this song.  There is no guitar in music that crea…

Ether & Wood - Alena Diane

from the album Cusp (2018)

My little corner of the world is a working class neighborhood on the south side of Atlanta.  The house that I live in will celebrate its centennial this year.  It is a shotgun bungalow built for soldiers returning home from World War One.

Yesterday, was a magical day; that first truly warm day of the year.  Spring.  Daffodils and redbuds open their delicate blooms.  The edges of dormant grass spontaneously turn parakeet green.  The heavenly sun soaks my face and shoulders.

I revel in this new season's arrival by taking the dogs on an extended amble.

Walking away from the town center, the bungalows give way to more impressive homes, from the 1920s, built on larger plots of land.  This abruptly ends as the neighborhood turns to simpler, box homes, constructed in the late 1940s for soldiers returning home from World War Two.

I think of these generations of homes and the souls who once occupied them.  I try to connect with their ghosts.  I think of the rings…

What's Chasing You - Marlon Williams

from the album Make Way For Love (2018)

I am really digging the tune What's Chasing You by Marlon Williams.

The vocals are crooned in a style evoking Chris Issak, Roy Orbison, and Morrissey.  Yet despite the song having the type of retro-reverb sheen and vintage melody line that you might expect from the vocal comparisons, it also has an element of campiness.  The listener can easily imagine this song in the opening credits to a John Waters film.

This is the perfect song for awkward swaying in your bedroom, surrounded by the blue hue of your lava lamp, and under the watchful eye of your giant Bona Drag poster.

Click Here to watch the official music video for What's Chasing You by Marlon Williams.  I adore this video.

Feel Like New - Sam Dexter

from the single Feel Like New (2018)

I've been dreaming about Hernán Cortés
Sitting beside him on the deck of his great sail ship
Moored off Veracruz
Shooting local liquor
Conquistadors line the inland road
Cavalcades of horse drawn carts approach
Carrying gold
And treasure
Cortés grins tightly
Power in his pupils
We're gonna be the richest motherfuckers in Spain

So, fire up the smoke machine.  Get on the dance floor.  This is our moment.  Today is our day.

Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutario !!!

Click Here to listen to Feel Like New by Sam Dexter.

Windy City - Natasha Kitty Katt

from the single Windy City / Let's Make Love (2018)

Once upon a time, I was partying in Chicago on a frigid winter's night.  I was drinking and smoking and carrying on with some friends from my Milwaukee days who had relocated to the City of the Big Shoulders.

I remember us packed into a couple of taxi cabs, riding to a house party.  I remember someone saying, "Hey, this is the street where John Lee Hooker sings Boom Boom in The Blues Brother."  I remember getting out of the taxi in front of a three story house on a residential street.  I remember coatless people smoking cigarettes on the front porch and on a balcony.  I remember it being so cold that the inside of my nose felt itchy.  I remember a black girl in a zebra print dress drinking a green martini.  I remember lines of cocaine on a high dresser in someone's bedroom. I remember Dan telling incredible lies to excited ladies in the kitchen.  I remember Jim talking to his bookie.  I remember working my way t…

Darlin' Playa - Phonk D

from the EP Disco Goodies (2018)

This week was a bit surreal for me.

I was in Seattle working on a project with a team of people easily a generation younger than I am.  While there is nothing new or revelatory about that, this time it felt somehow different.  There was a vibe that I've never experienced before.

Paranoia told me that they were unaccepting of me due to the age difference.  I also wondered if it was that East Coast Techie / West Coast Techie dynamic.  Either way, it was a bit awkward.

So, on my flight back to ATL, I was reveling in Phonk D's latest EP - Disco Goodies - and my favorite track on the record Darlin' Playa.

This song has an old school disco thing going on, with tones and grooves sounding like something out of 1970s NYC.  There is a conga track thrown in the mix that makes the song feel somewhat foreign, in a Spanish Harlem kind of way.

The song continues to morph away from old school disco with jazz guitar elements and a heavy-handed house beat.  …

YO! MY SAINT - Karen O.

from the single YO! MY SAINT (2018)

Earlier this decade, a friend of mine with some connections at Paste Magazine scored me VIP seats for an exciting night of SXSW bands at Stubbs Bar-B-Q in Austin.

As the stage was being set for the headliner, it was interesting to gauge the excitement in the music industry muckity-mucks I was hobnobbing with; enough so that I surrendered my prime position at the bar for a stage-side spot along the balcony rail.

When theYeah Yeah Yeahs took the stage, their front woman - Karen O. - blew me away.  She was everything a rock and roll girl ought to be, and more.

Shortly after, I was in Santa Monica beach bummin', bicycle riding, and partying fairly hard.  Needing a break, I took in a matinee at movie theatre along the Third Street Promenade.  The film was The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. The big tune on the movie's soundtrack was a cover of Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and - once again - Karen O.

She is truly r…

Today Is The Day - Eels

from the album The Deconstruction (2018)

I always dig those days when I wake up feeling fresh and new.  Rejuvenated.  Ready to fulfill my destiny as the greatest motherfucker who ever walked in my shoes.

On these glorious mornings, I like to crank my music loud.  Not any music, but power pop.  Jangling chords from a songwriter with attitude backed by a powerhouse rhythm section.  Pete Townsend meets Alex Chilton.

On these beauteous mornings, I tell myself "Today is the Day," which just happens to be the title of the latest song by Eels; the long-running project of the immensely talented Mark Oliver Everett.

I have been an Eels fan since Novocaine For The Soul first hit the airwaves many, many moons ago.  I love the ability of Eels' songs to speak raw truths about real moments in ordinary life.  Uncomfortable topics, like being in the cancer ward with your mother.  How does he find the presence of mind to write so coherently about these moments?

Yet Today Is the Day feels…

Till Tomorrow Goes Away - Cut Worms

from the single Till Tomorrow Goes Away (2018)

The tags that the band Cut Worms uses to describe themselves on their Bandcamp page include:

Bedroom Pop
Garage Rock

While that was enough to catch my attention, it does not begin to capture just how glorious their music truly is.

Their latest single - Till Tomorrow Goes Away - has the power to take you back to the Rubber Soul / Revolver tunes of John Lennon.  You not only hear it in the combination of acoustic guitar hooks and circus keyboards, but literally in the warmth between the notes.  It is magical.  Timeless.

I hope you dig it.

Click Here to listen to Till Tomorrow Goes Away by Cut Worms.

When You Die - MGMT

from the album Little Dark Age (2018)

Death has such a negative connotation associated with it.  Nobody ever stands up at a wake and says, "Hey, there is more for us to eat."

I wonder why that is.  Religion and art are the most likely culprits.  Religion can control you by evoking fear of an unpleasant afterlife.  Art, on the other hand, mourns the absence of life and tends to paint macabre images of death and dying.  From Shakespeare saying "Out, out brief candle" to Goya's painting of Saturn Devouring His Son, artist tend to make death something depressing and ghoulish.

I think that is what draws me to happier depictions of death.  I adored Valerie June's 2017 song Astral Plane with the imagery of her grandmother dancing as she traversed the highway to heaven.  I'm also down with all the "Pearly Gates" stuff and the idea of seeing all those loved ones who died before you at a big picnic in the sky.

When I first heard the song When You Die by…

Pink Squirrel - Episode 1

Welcome to Episode 1 of Pink Squirrel !!! This mix series is dedicated to the best new music of 2018.  Included are bands debuting their first full-length releases, like Shame and Dream Wife.  Also included are more established artists, like Johnny Marr and Jack White. The name Pink Squirrel is taken from a song by Creep Show that was released at the start of the year and appears in this mix. If January is any measure of the music yet to come in 2018, it will be quite a year. Hope you dig it...
Here is the playlist:

Friction by Shame

Pink Squirrel by Creep Show

Count To Five by Rhye

The Priest by Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake

Love You So Bad by Ezra Furman

Shadow People by The Limiñanas

Fireworks by First Aid Kit

Connected by Love by Jack White

Every 1's A Winner by Ty Segall

Hey Heartbreaker by Dream Wife

New For You by Hinds

YouTubular by Ron Gallo

I Love LA by Starcrawler

Silent Boogie by Sunwatchers

and as always, you can catch all of my mixtape on my MixCloud page.

Silent Boogie - Sunwatchers

from the album II (2018)

Sunwatchers are a Brooklyn quartet whose music straddles the line between psychedelic rock and jazz.  What I dig about this band is that they attempt to convey a strong, direct message through their music, despite the songs being instrumentals.

In political terms, their point of view leans hard to the left.  The cover of their latest album - II - proudly proclaims: We stand in solidarity with the dispossessed, impoverished, and embattled people of the world.  Within their record sleeve, you will find something of an extended manifesto, stating their beliefs, and closing with the righteous statement: If you stand for nothing, you'll fall for everything.

Based on their political sentiments, the theatre in my mind imagines I am watching them perform in a small Brooklyn coffeeshop with wooden floors and wooden walls, surrounded by comrades in dark overcoats and beards, slowly caffeinating with revolution in the air.

In my mind's eye, they are playing Silen…

I'm Gon Make U Sick O' Me - Parliament

from the single I'm Gon Make U Sick O' Me (2018)

It is undoubtably a better world when George Clinton is releasing brand new funky jams.

I'm Gon Make U Sick O' Me is a new release by the seventy-six year old psychedelic funk and soul icon.  Centered on a deep groove and tasty synthesizers over a straight beat, the song instantly measures up with Clinton's essential discography.

I dig his vocal noises in the introduction followed by the sweet back-up singers.  I also dig how rough his vocals sound in the verse.  Later in the song, this is countered by a smooth rap from featured vocalist Scarface.  The horn section is also of note.

New material by George Clinton reminds us that we still live in a funky, funky world.

Click Here to listen to I'm Gon Make U Sick O' Me by Parliament.

It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) - Peggy Gou

from the single It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) (2018)

As the years slowly turn, a fondness for my childhood home - in the shadows of NYC - seems to perpetually swell.  Where I once couldn't wait to escape its grasp, I now think of it in mostly idyllic terms.

Some of my favorite memories are of a free summer concert series that our town sponsored each year.  A mobile bandshell would be erected on the baseball fields at Brookwood Hall and some of the greatest musicians of the jazz world would venture out from Manhattan to perform.

My musical friends were always most excited for these shows.  Drummers would rave about Buddy Rich.  Trumpeters would a gaga over Maynard Ferguson.  The town of Brentwood would invade for Tito Puente.  I attended dozens of these shows, riding bicycles with my saxophonist friend Desi.  They were wonderful days.

My favorite of these artists was Lionel Hampton.  I was completely absorbed in watching him play the vibraphone.  Sometimes he would look up smiling…

How To Socialize & Make Friends - Camp Cope

from the album How To Socialize & Make Friends (2018)

One night, I was clicking about in search of some good new music when I came across a song titled How To Socialize & Make Friends.  "What a clever name," I thought.  In the time since then, I have grown increasingly fond of this song.

The song connects with the listener the moment you click "play."  The bass, guitar, and drums are instantly in full motion, with a guitar lick that reminds me of The Cure.  Hitting it hard from the opening note used to be commonplace in the days when music was primarily consumed on the radio. Think of old shows, like Name That Tune, when contestants could name a song in three notes.  That is not so much the case with the majority of songs today.

The next thing that grabs me is singer-guitarist Georgia MacDonald's voice.  The tones are more rock and roll than pretty.  She is a woman with an attitude, delivering her message straight-up into the microphone with dashes of a…

Evan Finds The Third Room - Khruangbin

from the album Con Todo El Mundo (2018)

Khruangbin is a three-piece instrumental band from Texas whose sound emulates Thai funk of the 1960s.  They take their inspiration from Quentin Tarantino soundtracks and classic surf tunes.  Their name is Thai, translating to "Engine Fly" in english.

Their second album - Con Todo El Mundo - is a marvelously groovy affair.  In its entirety, I find it to be one of the most listenable vibes in recent memory.

My "go to track" on the record is Evan Finds The Third Room.  I cannot get enough of the catchy bass groove, the simple - yet tasty - drumming, and the reverb-drenched funky guitar.  I also dig the vocal elements and how they add vital hooks to an already hook-laden tune.

It is psychedelic.  It is funky.  It has a hint of disco.  Yet it is unlike anything you hear in the current musical spectrum.  Fantastico !!!

Click Here to listen to Evan Finds The Third Room by Khruangbin.

The Hype - Shopping

from the album The Official Body (2018)

Once upon a time, I ventured out on a frigid winter's night to see a concert at the Eagle's Club in Milwaukee.  It was my first time to the venue and I was excited to see the grand ballroom.  Dating back to the 1920's, the list of musical luminaries who had performed on that stage was staggering.  Folks like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Louis Armstrong.

However, my rock and roll heart was focused on the night in 1959 when the Winter Dance Party was held there.  The show included Buddy Holly & The Crickets, The Big Bopper, Dion & The Belmonts, and Richie Valens.  I stood there, endlessly looking around, imagining being in the crowd that evening, listening to Buddy Holly sing Rave On.  A few nights later, it would all tragically end.

All that was forgotten when the main attraction took the stage.  With supreme confidence and indignation, the Gang of Four proceeded to deliver one of the greatest performances I have ever witnesse…

9/10 - Jeff Rosenstock

from the album POST- (2018)

On occasion, there are these curious moments when the music I am listening to perfectly aligns with the moment I find myself in.  Tonight was one of those occasions.

After a particularly unproductive work day, I found myself sitting on the subway, mind adrift, headphones on, listening to the latest album by Jeff Rosenstock.  The ninth track of the ten track album was titled 9/10.  I was humored by this, wondering if it fit the definition of a double entendre.

At that precise moment, I received a text message from a high school friend who made a double entendre about the Atlanta mass transit system (Marta) and a high school classmate (also named Marta).

That got me thinking about one of Marta's friends, which is not an uncommon occurrence.  At that precise moment, the chorus of the song 9/10 kicks in:

9 times out of 10, I'll be stoned on the subway
Reading backlit directives on what I should do
Dodging eye contact with anyone who looks my way
9 times out…

The Mess Inside - Amanda Palmer

from the single The Mess Inside (2018)

One of my favorite albums of the early 2000's was All Hail West Texas by The Mountain Goats.  My favorite song on that record was The Mess Inside.  There is a hook line in the song that goes "And I wanted you to love me like you used to do" that gives me chills.

Few lyricists can write in a style that looks a subject straight in the eye and speak raw words.  The type that cut you open and reveal the goo; but that is exactly what John Darnielle accomplished on The Mess Inside.

A cover version of this song has just been released by Amanda Palmer, best known (to me) as lead singer and pianist for The Dresden Dolls.

The release is one in a series of Mountain Goats covers resulting from the podcast I Only Listen To The Mountain Goats, where guests musicians speak with John Darnielle and host Joseph Fink bout what makes them tick artistically and the love of craft.  The show crescendos with the guest playing a cover of a song by The Mount…

Cheap Date - Caitlyn Smith

from the album Starfire (2018)

Many of my favorite recording artists of all-time started off as songwriters before ultimately deciding to record and release their own material.  This list includes Willie Nelson, Carol King, Roy Orbison, and on and on and on.

Add to that list Caitlyn Smith.  Over the past five years, her songs have been recorded by Garth Brooks, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Rodgers & Dolly Parton, Rascal Flatts, and Meghan Trainors #1 hit Like I'm Gonna Lose You (featuring John Legend).

Last week, Caitlyn Smith released her debut album, Starfire.  It is loaded with some of the best Nashville songwriting one could imagine; no doubt leaving many of an artist wishing they could have recorded any of songs on this album.

For me, the closing track - Cheap Date - is the immediate favorite.  An intimate composition for piano and vocals, the song exudes a warmth that makes you feel as though she is singing in the next room.  As the song evolves, bass, drums, and an acoustic g…

YouTubular - Ron Gallo

from the EP Real Nice Guys (2018)

Whether you are a drummer, bassist, or guitarist, the lure of playing an intense surf guitar song is nearly irresistible.

For the drummer, it is a primitive desire.  After all, these are humans who get off on beating a skin with a stick.  Their inner caveman often feels stymied by the beat's requirement that they focus their attention on the hi-hat, snare drum, and base drum.  In surf, the drummer gets to thunderously roll from tom-tom to tom-tom.  This offers the freedom and release they need.

For the bassist, it offers a moment to play hard-driving riffs designed for the bass to boom.  The patterns are structured. yet liberating.  Bass matters.  A surf guitar song without bass is simply a handful of idiots making noise.

For the guitarist, it is ecstasy.  That opportunity to be a master of reverb. releasing their inner Guitar God by playing amazing licks for the adoring audience who worships their fretwork.  As Dick Dale famously wrote:  "Li…

The Good Side - Troye Sivan

from the single The Good Side (2018)

Troye Sivan is a remarkably talented 22 year-old actor and musician from Perth, Australia.   He is best known for playing the young-version of Hugh Jackman's title character in 2008's X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Now, I normally steer clear of the Tiger Beat types when writing this blog.  However, if you dig it, how can it be wrong?

I find myself drawn to Troye Sivan's latest single. The Good Side.  It is a downtempo tune which makes it well-suited for the natural baritone of his voice.  I always dig that combination.

I also dig that he driving instrument in this song is an acoustic guitar.  So much of the music produced today has a heavy electronic touch.  The clean, lightly-flanged tone of this song's acoustic guitar beautifully juxtaposes the other songs and sets it apart.  The flange really gives it a 70's AM radio, breezy highway vibe.

Troye Sivan is a talented fellow.  You should check him out.

Click Here to listen to The Good…

Hey Heartbreaker - Dream Wife

from the album Dream Wife (2018)

Bold and unabashed, Dream Wife is a new band out of London that swirl a riotous mix of punk and garage with an understated sense of  pop to create a fantastic, energetic sound.  I am tempted to describe it as Savages meets The Bangles, but that doesn't properly capture their attitude and edge.

They are in on a joke, playing with you, and you love it because you get to be in their presence.

Hey Heartbreaker is my favorite of the many stand out tracks on their debut album.  A driving beat, pulsing bass, and raw guitar provide the backdrop for the vocal stylings of Rakel Mjöll.  Born in Iceland, she is the perfect frontwoman for rock and roll.  Brash and beautiful.  In your face.  You're never sure if you want to be her, or be with her.

I also love the scampy delivery of the backing vocals and the use of hand claps.  It appeals to all of my lo-fi punk sensibilities.

Prepare yourself.  They may be your next favorite band.

Click Here to watch an anima…

Tear Down Level 22 - Streetboxxer

from the EP Tear Down Level 22 (2018)

The SB-246 is a discontinued drum machine that was once manufactured by the Zoom Corporation of Tokyo.  It was a lower-end piece of gear whose tonal options were targeted towards the hip-hop community.  It was affectionately known as The Streetboxx.

Recording as "Streetboxxer," recording artist Samo DJ pays homage to this piece of vintage lo-fi electronic gear. I dig that.

The song Tear Down Level 22 consists of a ragga/dub sheen over modern dancehall beats.  The beats - I assume - are courtesy of an SB-246.  I am instantly drawn to the "tin" sound of the hi-hat and bounce of the toms.  As simple as it all seems, I find it to be as catchy as a good-looking fluorine atom (that is a newly invented metaphor, thank you)!

I am certain that this song will slide right into a few of the mixes I am working on.  The song's pleasing groove and abrupt ending will make it fun to play with.

Hope you enjoy...

Click Here to listen to Tear D…

Chasing Stars - Alice Ivy

from the album I'm Dreaming (2018)

On the song Chasing Stars, the beautiful bounce of Alice Ivy's beats and the magnificence of Bertie Blackman's capacious vocals come together to form a most enjoyable sonic experience.

For me, it all starts with the beat.  Listen to its simplicity, but also its bounce.  I makes me feel like a miniature gigolo in a bouncy house keeping time with this playful beat.  The synths also add to the song's fun foundation.

From there, I fancy the vocals.  Imagine being able to sing like that!

This is an unadulterated dance song.  However, not the type you might hear in a NYC nightclub, but rather on your next vacation.

Can't wait to queue this one up at my next pool party.

Click Here to listen to Chasing Stars by Alice Ivy.

Connected By Love - Jack White

from the single Connected By Love (2018)

Connected By Love is a new Jack White song that manages to be manic, melodious, and multifarious all within the same song.

Most of this has to do with the wild array of musicians that are assembled on this recording.  They have played in such diverse bands as The Ghost of the Saber Tooth Tiger, David Byrne, Beyoncé, and John Scofield; with the icing on the cake are the incredible gospel stylings of two of the three McCrary Sisters.  Collectively, they deliver a big sound that defies boundaries.

My favorite moments in the song are in the verses, when there is a near Freddie Mercury vibe.  Few artists go there, but with this powerhouse band and the big gospel backing vocals, the song can soar in the chorus and breaks, which juxtaposes the verses.  It is fascinating to listen to.

I am also freakishly enamored with the synthesizer solo.  I like to crank it as loud as the car, or building, can bare.  Once you feel that synth, you will be transformed.

New For You - Hinds

from the album I Don't Run (2018)

I remember back in the 90s, being a part of a fertile music scene.  On any given night, I would find myself on stage, jamming out our ever-evolving set, focused on being the absolute best bass player I could be.

A common occurrence at these gigs would be that creepy sense that someone was staring at me.  Of cause people notice you, you are performing on a stage; but this was different, kind of like you had a stalker.

Looking around, you would almost always find a pair of menacing, vulturine eyes in a dark, dank corner of the club; staring at your every move.  These were the bass players from other Atlanta bands.  They check you out, judge you, discredit you, and - ultimately - steal you grooves.

That is because, in any city, the band scene is highly competitive.  Pick up a book about the NYC jazz scene of the 1940s, to the Chicago scene of the 1950s, and you will read of similar tales.  It is all part of the game.

The other side of the coin are th…

Fireworks - First Aid Kit

from the album Ruins (2018)

Listening to sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg harmonize sets my mind afire with remembrances of all the great vocal groups that came before them.  In doing so, I've become struck be the different approaches these incredible artists apply in their harmonizing craft.

I think about The Eagles, in particular the song Take It Easy. It is a straight-forward approach where each singer hits a note and those notes collectively form chords.  The beauty is that this is a four part harmony, with the forth tone adds color that takes the listener on an emotional ride.  It is very powerful and nobody does it better.

Then there are the harmonies of The Mamas & the Papas.  Here each of the four voices is like a rocket ship, soaring through the sky and leaving magnificent contrails in its wake.  Think of California Dreamin'.  There are times when teams of two singers play "call and response" with the other two - "and the sky is grey" - with…

After Hours - The Sufis

from the album After Hours (2018)

I first stumbled across The Sufis during the summer of 2013.  I instantly fell for the craftsmanship in their low-fi, psychedelic stylings.  I also dug the fact that they were from Nashville; a city one does not typically associate with psychedelia.

I thought they were gonna be the next big deal.  They even made list of The 25 Songs I Digged Most In 2013.

But then they fell off my radar and - over time - became lost in some dusty alcove of my hard drive.

Then, a few days ago, I went to the Burger Records website and WHAM there it was, a banner ad announcing a brand new album by The Sufis.  It made my day.

For those who don't know - I adore Burger Records.  Their ever evolving stable of artists represent the best in low-fi music that matters (to me).  No big label nonsense, just talented people making their way in this world.  It also doesn't hurt that they have been known to read this blog and gave me a sweet swag bag at SXSW a few years ago!

Gigolo A Go Go - Episode 9

I really dig how funk music touches so many other genres, like R&B, Soul, Disco, Jazz, Rock, and increasingly Electronic.

This is a mix that dances on that magical thread that stitches funk and disco together.  It has deep '70s funk tunes, like Get The Funk Out Of Ma Face by The Brothers Johnson mixed with dance classics from Larry Levan's Paradise Garage that include Don't Make Me Wait by NYC Peech Boys.

It also jumps into the '90s with tunes like Hot Thing by Prince and Freaks Of The Industry by Digital Underground.

Jam to this the next time your funky friends pay a visit.  I'm sure they'll dig it.

Here is the playlist:

Love The Life You Live by Black Heat

Booty Ooty by Johnny "Guitar" Watson

Get The Funk Out Of Ma Face by The Brothers Johnson

Don't Make Me Wait by NYC Peech Boys

Shack Up by Banbarra

Seven Minutes Of Funk by The Whole Darn Family

Freaks Of The Industry by Digital Underground

You Gotta Case by The Love Unlimited Orchestra

Psych-Out b…

Love & Sacrifice - Sylvan LaCue

from the album Apologies In Advance (2018)

Can we talk about rap?

I usually avoid the subject, not wanting to be "that" guy; the Archie Bunker sounding mother-fucker talking trash about something he doesn't understand.  But you know what, I am NOT that guy.  I am a guy who absolutely loves music.  I am a guy who takes the time to appreciate and understand an artist's point of view.  I'm a guy who has spent a lifetime listening to hundreds of thousands of songs, dissecting them, and soul searching about what it is that I like - or dislike - about each of them, based on their merits.

And sadly, I have also been a guy who avoids the subject of rap.  Shame on me.

I first began listening to rap nearly four decades ago, smokin' dope in the basement of Mikey Mel's mother's house on Long Island.  We'd play twelve-inchers by Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, and Spoonie Gee.  I could rap every word to every song.  These guys were included in my early mixtape…

I Love LA - Starcrawler

from the album Starcrawler (2018)

So, when I think about he spirit of rock and roll, I imagine a band of young adults going into a studio and playing their hearts out.  It is lo-fi.  It is raw.  It is full of energy and enthusiasm.  Then some DJ, somewhere, starts playing the tune and it catches wildfire, propelling the young band into stardom.

That is it.  The rock and roll fantasy.

This runs through my mind as I listen to Starcrawler, a four-piece unit out of Los Angeles whose charismatic, eighteen year-old front woman Arrow de Wilde has a curious obsession with the music of Ozzy.  It is everything you want in a debut album.

My favorite track (thus far) is I Love LA.  Overdriven guitars, manic drumming, and pulsing bass coupled with a captivating singer.  Straight from the garage to your living room.

Making this record even more curious is its producer, Ryan Adams.  You can hear his touch, but more his attitude.  I imagine him guiding the band with advice like, "Just fucking be…