Showing posts from 2018

Pink Squirrel - Episode 8

Throughout the first half of this decade, I was regularly in NYC, where my benefactor conducted business in a tall glass and steel building a few blocks south of Central Park.  I loved that I could get tuna on a roll anytime, day or night.  I also loved that my hotel was only a few hundred yards from MOMA.

I never failed to visit.

Over the past year, I have obsessed with an exhibition of Henri Matisse's Cut Outs that I attended.  The color, the contrast, the life-force in the composition.  It was beyond magnificent.

Yet the thing that has captivated me most about the show was that this was how Matisse chose to spend the final years of his life; making art with paper and scissors, when his body could no longer sustain canvas and paint.

I also think about the many other artists - painters, writers, and musicians - who did not produce art while they aged.  How could so many stop?

I've concluded that it was rarely a conscious decision.  I believe that they temporarily put it asid…

Thinkin' On A Woman - Colter Wall

from the album Songs Of The Plains (2018)

In baseball, there has been a long-standing and unfortunate tradition of labelling the latest prospective superstar as "the next Mickey Mantle."  This label tends to put undue scrutiny and pressure on the young ballplayer and, in many cases, derails their career.

The same is true of country music, where record labels and the media cannot resit labelling a promising new artist as the next Johnny, Dolly, or Hank.

Such is the case with Colter Wall, a twenty-three year old singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan whose gifts as both a singer and a songwriter are chilling.

On his sophomore album, my favorite track is Thinking' On A Woman; a simple song in the classic country tradition.  Sparse instrumentation and a slow shuffle beat set the stage for beautiful vocals framed by a tasteful steel guitar track.

As you listen, please try to avoid the comparisons and rather appreciate Colter Wall for the talented musician from the Canadian Plain…

You're Not Like Anybody Else - Escondido

from the album Warning Bells (2018)

Over the past few months, I have challenged myself to write a new song each week.  I have written sixteen songs to dat.

The tend to fall into four categories: rock songs, groovin' songs, jangly songs, and pretty songs.  I find that, of the four, pretty songs are the most difficult.  The demand to be well-written, with an elegance and a simplicity in the arrangement and the melody line.  The lyrics are a challenge as well; trying to be sweet yet not flowery, tender yet tough.

These are the most honest of songs.

When I listen to You're Not Like Anybody Else by Escondido,  I think "now that is a pretty song I wish I wrote."  The acoustic guitar with the little electric poppings layered behind it create the perfect vibe.  The beauty in the vocals and their melody.  A love song that never uses the word "love."

As simple as this song may sound, writing such a song is artistry and craft that are uncommon.

Click Here to listen to

Some Birds - Jeff Tweedy

from the album WARM (2018)

Jeff Tweedy is an artists with that rare ability to make me instantly happy by the sound of his music.  Within the opening measures of his songs, I recognize who it is, fall immediately into the groove, and smile.  Overtime.

Such is the case with Some Birds from his forthcoming album.  The tones, the vibe, it is all right there.  Just like it is supposed to be.

But wait, there is more.  My affection for most Jeff Tweedy songs seems to grow over time.  I am always finding some new nuisance, or catching the thought behind a lyric that is endearing.

He is special.

Click Here to watch the official video for Some Birds by Jeff Tweedy.

Click Here to read my September 2016 blog post for We Aren't The World (Safety Girl) by Wilco.

Click Here to read my July 2015 blog post for Taste The Ceiling by Wilco.

Click Here to read my October 2013 blog post for Ballad Of The Opening Band by Jeff Tweedy.

Click Here to read my May 2012 blog post for One Sunday Morning (Song For …

Boom Boom - Tony Joe White

from the album Bad Mouthin' (2018)

Perhaps more than any other artist, Tony Joe White is synonymous with "swamp music."  Everything in his gravel voice, guitar and harmonica tones, and songwriting acumen defines "swamp."

On his latest album, Tony Joe White releases his first "blues" album of his fifty year career.  Sure the blues have been ever present throughout, but this time it is intentionally "the blues."

My favorite track is a cover of John Lee Hooker's classic, Boom Boom.  The dull thud of the snare, the hint of reverb in the guitar, the ancient-sounding harmonica, and the baritone vocal.  The delta meets the swamp.

I really dig how this song subtly derives its intensity from the hypnotic effect of the bass, drums, and guitar.

I can't get enough of this vibe.

Click Here to listen to Boom Boom by Tony Joe White.

Click Here to read my October 2013 blog post for Gypsy Epilogue by Tony Joe White.

Go On Baby Break Down - Darren Jessee

from the album The Jane, Room 217 (2018)

It is a grey and foggy Sunday morning in this little corner of the world.

That makes it the perfect time for some quiet, acoustic music of the singer-songwriter variety.  Top of the list is Go On Baby Break Down by Darren Jessee.  Despite being best known as the drummer for Ben Folds Five, it is Darren Jessee's deftness as a songwriter that I dig most.

I find myself closing my eyes and daydreaming to this sparse and beautiful composition.  Every chord evokes an emotion.  Every visual image takes my mind on an intimate journey.  It is lovely.

Click Here to listen to Go On Baby Break Down by Darren Jessee.

I Don't Know - Paul McCartney

from the album Egypt Station (2018)

Once upon a time, in my ancestral hometown, there was a small music shop on Main Street called Jamm Music.  In the summer between ninth and tenth grades, I began taking lessons there from a bearded hippie-looking man named John.

John was a most accomplished bass payer, whose main gig was as a session man in NYC.  He worked on cartoons, movies, television, and with some of the finest singers of that time.

The lessons he taught me still resonate.  I was very fortunate to have him as a teacher.

After a year, or so, of lessons, he told me that I was ready to join a band and hooked me up with a guitarist and a singer.  The focus of his lessons then changed from how to play the bass to how to play in a band.

One day, he asked me what bass player I imagined myself as?

"John Entwistle," I replied.

He frowned.  "Everybody wants to be a flashy bassist, like Entwistle.  You don't want to be that.  You want to be like Paul McCartney.  You lik…

Baby Where You Are - Mountain Man

from the album Magic Ship (2018)

Bigger.  Badder.  Louder.  Faster.

None of these terms apply to Mountain Man, a vocal trio - consisting of Amelia Meath, Molly Sarlé, and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig - who play an intimate variety of Appalachian Folk.

Their songs are simple and beautiful, as are their voices.

Their new song Baby Where You Are is an incredible record.  It is tender and romantic, quiet and sparse; allowing every tone and texture to melt in your mind.

I am rapidly falling in love with this song.

Click Here to listen to Baby Where You Are by Mountain Man.

What Would He Say? - Paul Weller

from the album True Meanings (2018)

I really dig listening to the more mature artists of my youth.  It seems to me that the few who endure are the ones with the greatest affection and mastery of their craft.

I find that these artists focus on writing and performing quality songs rather than perpetually chasing this year's sound.

Paul Weller's new album is full of such songs.  My favorite of the bunch is What Would He Say?  It is a soft and simple song, exquisitely written and highlighting the wonderful tones of his aging voice.  Songwriting and vocals...

I get chills when his voice kicks into the chorus.  I also get a kick out of the trumpet track.

Lean back and enjoy.

Click Here to listen to What Would I Say? by Paul Weller.

Click Here to read my May 2017 blog post on Woo Sé Mama by Paul Weller.

The Right Time - Ural Thomas & The Pain

from the album The Right Time (2018)

Whenever I hear a funky, new, and muscular rhythm and blues song, the kind that reminds me of James Brown, I ask myself, "Why don't more bands play this type of music?"

The answer is lies in the level of difficulty.

Power funk is difficult act to pull off.  It requires a cadre of excellent musicians, including a groove-minded bassist, a rock-steady drummer, funky guitar, a dynamite horn section, soulful keys, and - most importantly - an incredible vocal talent.  It is enough to drive you to rapping over loops.

Ural Thomas & The Pain are funksters of the first order.  Ural Thomas has been shouting soul for over forty years, playing with artists from Stevie Wonder to Otis Redding to Mary Wells.  The title track from his forthcoming album - The Right Time - will take you back to that sweaty, funky bar in your dreams.

This is what is possible when talented, like-minded musicians dedicate themselves to conquering the difficult world of…

Shaking The Gates - Richard Thompson

from the album 13 Rivers (2018)

Have you ever thought about the gates to heaven?

If there is a gate, does that mean there is a wall or a fence?  If so, is its purpose to keep souls in, or to keep them out?  I mean, does heaven need a wall?

And what is the experience at the gates like?  Is it like the TSA line at the airport?  Is it like the lines at Ellis Island a hundred years ago?  Or, is it like the line to get into Studio 54, with Saint Peter in a white leisure suit, hand selecting those who are allowed in?

And do people really get turned away at the gates to heaven?  That seems like a shitty way to treat a newly departed soul.

On the closing track to his new album, Richard Thompson finds himself Shaking The Gates to hell.  Hell, of course, seems like a place more likely to have a gate.  Kind of like a prison gate.

The song title is likely derived by the John Wesley quote, "Give me a hundred preachers ... who fear nothing but sin and desire nothing but God, and I will shake t…

Make Time 4 Love - The Goon Sax

from the album We're Not Talking (2018)

The Goon Sax are a three piece indie band from Brisbane, Australia.

I am really digging their new album, particularly the song Make Time 4 Love.

The opening measures evoke a Modern Lovers vibe, before turning to their own melodic sensibilities.  Cowbell lovers will rejoice.  They also manage to add some synthetic orchestration.  Yet, at their core, they are a tightly integrated three piece indie band.  What could be better?

I also dig the song's sentiment, urging us to Make Time 4 Love.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Make Time 4 Love.

Young At Heart - Willie Nelson

from the album My Way (2018)

Once upon a time, there was a young man who immersed himself in many passions.  This included the party life, women, and traveling to exotic parts of the world.  Still he wanted more; fancying himself as both a successful musician and a dot-com millionaire.

He fervently pursued both ambitions with zeal and vigor.  He joined a band of cracker-jack musicians, winning awards and having his songs played on the radio.  He also started a technology company, earning the business of some of the world's most recognized brands.

As each of these endeavors prospered, they increasingly demanded more - and more - of his time.  Sometimes, he found himself devoting over ninety hour a weeks to these dual quests.

Something had to give.

His decision felt rational.  He would put aside the music career to focus on his seemingly more attainable goals in the business world.  He felt confident that he was on a path the make enough money - over a four, or five, year run - to t…

Let's Dance - Spiritualized

from the album And Nothing Hurt (2018)

Sometimes, I fall in love with a song at first listen.  Such is the case with Let's Dance by Spiritualized.

The thing that really resonates with me is the song's childish beauty, that evokes memories of Everyday by Buddy Holly.  The song also has a magnificent psychedelic quality reminiscent of some later Beatles tunes.

I am also drawn to the sentiment of pleading “Come on darling, let’s dance.”  In a world with so much stress and strain, we could all do well to dance a bit more often.

Click Here to listen to Let's Dance by Spiritualized.

Pink Squirrel - Episode 7

Welcome to Episode 7 of Pink Squirrel !!!

This episode offers an eclectic mix of songs rooted in electronica, but also including blues, jazz, singer-songwriters, world, and dance.

Some of my favorite songs come from long established artists, like Chaka Kahn and The Last Poets.  I am also digging the Brazilian artists, Bixiga 70 and Gilberto Gil, as well as great songs by Alena Diane and Caitlyn Smith.

You will almost certainly find something in this mix that quenches an ignored corner of your musical palate.

Here is the playlist:

Quebra Cabeça by Bixiga 70

Understand What Black Is by The Last Poets

Like Sugar by Chaka Kahn

Sereno by Gilberto Gil

I Don't Wanna Be Without You by The James Hunter Six

Ether & Wood - Alena Diane

12:51AM by Self Tape

Max Lush Carlos by Godriguez

Pick Up by DJ Koze

Feel Good by Maribou State

Got Me Coming Back Rite Now by Moodymann

Cheap Date by Caitlyn Smith

Boogaloo by Paul Brown

Make It Rain by Shoshana Bean

And in case that isn't enough, here are all the …

Moonlight - Disclosure

from the single Moonlight (2018)

Alcohol and I have had an ongoing relationship since my adolescence.  In the early days, it was about  extreme consumption and getting wild.  Then, around the time domestication kicked in, I found my self casually drinking wine and reveling in that mellow glow.

More recently, I seem to seek out the perfect cocktail.  It is something to be savored; the reward for all that hard work that we gigolos excel in, day after day.

And, as a reward, it is about the quality and the experience.  The right mixture of the right ingredients, served in the right glass in the right setting with the right presentation.  A bartender who can deliver my reward becomes a friend for life; the pimple-faced nephew who thinks he knows the perfect manhattan better than I, not so much.

One of my favorite settings is the lobby bar in a hip, big city hotel.  I love to lean back in a comfortable chair, smell the cocktail, and let the drink slowly trickle down my throat.

Having the ri…

I Feel A Change - Charles Bradley

from the album Black Velvet (2018)

When Charles Bradley died last September, the world lost a truly great soul singer.

Fortunately, we are about to be treated to a posthumous release of new material by this iconic singer.  I Feel A Change is the first single from that record.

Listen to his voice.  It was truly special.

Click Here to watch the official video for I Feel A Change by Charles Bradley.

Click Here to read my April 2013 blog post for Hurricane by Charles Bradley.

Click Here to read my April 2016 blog post for Changes by Charles Bradley.

Ride - Lenny Kravitz

from the album Raise Vibration (2018)

One proven philosophy for a self-starting a business is to "find a niche where you can be successful, and exploit the hell out of it."

Think of Frank Zamboni, a son of Italian immigrants who developed and ultimately cornered the market ice resurfacing machines.  Aside from "The Zamboni," can you name another?  (I didn't think so).  The Zamboni family clears a few million dollars a year with their machine, and have for decades.

In music, Lenny Kravitz has done the same thing.  For decades, he has owned a unique space between mellow, sun drenched California rock, muscular guitar-god rock, and a vintage soulful rhythm & blues vibe.

Nobody but Lenny Kravitz can sit at that intersection.  Others try, but this is Lenny's place.

On his new record, I am most enamored with the song Ride.  It is laid back, highlighting the sun drenched and soulful elements of his magnificent sound.

Kick back, listen, and ask yourself "wh…

Guerra En The Tierra - Los Pilotos

from the single Guerra En The Tierra (2018)

So, in this band I am putting together, one of the next objectives is to create a musical "group think" within the group.

This is not as easy as you might think.  We are four people with strong opinions on music and musical styles.  It is a formula for friction.

To overcome this, I am taking a lesson out of the art school playbook.  An artist friend of mine explained to me that one of her teachers encouraged her to identify a "master" whose style she would most like to emulate.  She was then asked to do the same for a current/emerging artist.  The professor explained that if she evoked these artists in her work, that her own style would emerge and that it would be grounded in a well-considered foundation.

In that spirit, I have asked my bandmates to identify the classic and current bands they would most like our outfit evoke.  We will be meeting in a bar to discuss sometime later this month.

My "classic" sound i…

Hands On You - Ashley Monroe

from the album Sparrow (2018)

Have you ever had a meal that, although the recipe and ingredients were commonplace, simply tasted delicious?

Hands On You is a musical equivalent to that meal.  This straightforward tune by songstress Ashley Monroe has quickly become one of my favorite songs of 2018.

Of course, it is the songwriting and vocal performance (it always is), but there is much more.  I find the musicianship to strike a remarkable balance of being muscular and restrained at the same time; creating a tension that helps grip the listener.  The tone of the bass guitar is phenomenal, perfectly setting up the twang of the guitar's reverb on the stops.

Beneath it all, you find some tasty drumming with a great sense of dynamics.

Take a listen.  This is nourishment for a music lover's soul.

Click Here to watch the official video for Hands on You by Ashley Monroe.

Marvin Kaplan - Damien Jurado

from the album The Horizon Just Laughed (2018)

We are all children of the culture we were raised in, more so than our ancestral cultures.  For all the Irish blood that's in me, you will be hard pressed to ever find me with a shillelagh under my arm and a twinkle in my eye, as I head off to Tipperary in the morning.  Toora loora lie.

And for many Americans of my generation, that culture means television.

On his most recent album, The Horizon Just Laughed, Damien Jurado summons fragmented remembrances of his youth, creating a musical mosaic that anyone who grew up in front of the tube can warmly embrace without necessarily having shared those exact experiences.

My favorite song on the record is Marvin Kaplan, named for a C-list actor who is best known for his voiceover role as Choo-Choo on the early 1960s series Top Cat, as phone lineman Henry Beesmeyer on the 1970s TV series Alice, and as many of the voices on the various Garfield series.

Admittedly, I had to google Marvin's na…

Quebra Cabeça - Bixiga 70

from the album Quebra Cabeça (2018)

My friend Gerry is a process server in NYC.  Each day, he drives around the city, knocking on doors, and giving people unwanted news.  Some people try to avoid Gerry, others cry, yell at him, and occasionally get violent.  It is a curious way to make a living.

Yet, Gerry loves his job.  He has no office, no schedule, no boss.  He meets with attorneys who give him the papers and off he goes.

One of the things that Gerry loves most about his job is that it affords him the opportunity to drive through every nook and cranny of the city while listening to music.  He crafts his musical selections to serve as a soundtrack for cruising NYC.

Gerry argues that his favorite artist to listen to is the 70s Nigerian acrobat pioneer Fela Kuti. No doubt he is right.  I imagine Gerry slow rolling down Atlantic Avenue in his beat-up Corolla, sunglasses on, and Fela cranking out the windows.  I'd go along for that ride.

I can't wait to introduce Gerry to the s…

Lonesome Love - Mitski

from the album Be The Cowboy (2018)

Lately, The Doors song Summer's Almost Gone has been creeping around my brain.  It seems logical in both a literal and figurative sense.

As this summer began, I made a conscious effort to shift my efforts and energies from my technical profession towards my creative impulses.  The rationale was simple: follow your passion, what are you waiting for?

This started with music.  At the start of this millennium, I hit the pause button on a musical journey with the belief that I would reembrace it "in four or five years."  It was the worst type of lie, the lie we tell ourselves.

I began playing with local musicians, while seeking out the players I most wanted to form a band with.  Singer, check.  Guitarist, check.  Drummer, we'll see.  We debut the band in two weeks.  Begin performing live again, check.

This milestone is an opportunity to critically assess the band's sound.  To be honest, I am disappointed.  Our sound listens backward…

Boogaloo - Paul Brown

from the album Uptown Blues (2018) For musicians, there are magical moments when a band finds its pocket; with everyone playing together with uncanny ease and fluidity.  These are the moments you live for, play for.  They are sometimes fleeting and, other times, evasive.

On the song Boogaloo, Paul Brown and his band have captured one of these moments in a recording. As I listen, I imagine the hair standing up on players arms.  I imagine that sensation that the music is somehow playing itself.  I feel the magic and get excited.

Listen to how tight this band is and imagine the joy that the musicians while they were in this moment.

Click Here to listen to Boogaloo by Paul Brown.

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 7

This episode features rock music released between the years 1966 and 1970.  It is remarkable how many great bands emerged during that time, especially in 1968.

In this mix, you will hear iconic bands - like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Jimi Hendrix - San Francisco psychedelia from Jefferson Airplane and Santana, and even some Foghat.

Two things that I find striking in the mix: how powerful and musical Chicago sounds against these other bands and how much the vocals in Spirit's Fresh-Garbage foretells the vocals of Pearl Jam's Eddie Vetter.

Hope you dig it.

Here is the playlist:

Good Times Bad Times by Led Zeppelin

Foxy Lady by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

For Your Love by The Yardbirds

All Strung Out Over You by The Chambers Brothers

Shakin' All Over by The Guess Who

Introduction by Chicago

I Just Want To Make Love To You by Foghat

Waiting by Santana

Pride Of Man by Quicksilver Messenger Service

I Put A Spell On You by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Fresh-Garbage by Spirit

Astronomy Do…

Serano - Gilberto Gil

from the album OK OK OK (2018)

Many moons ago, I was on a six week work assignment in Brasília.  It proved to be a most enchanting adventure; filled with joyous people, the architecture of Oscar Niemeyer, and the incredible sounds of Brazilian music.

At the time, I was deep into an exploration of Bossa Nova and could not get enough of the late night jazz clubs filled with beautiful women and the compositions of Jobim.  I was a fascination for local patrons, an american with a deep knowledge and love for their musical heritage.  It led to people buying me lots of drinks, inviting me to parties, and even a night when I was invited on stage to play bass guitar.

I also sought out music that was, at the time, unknown to me.  Friendly people turned me on to magnificent artists, like Ed Motta and Gilberto Gil.  I ultimately flew home with a treasure trove of their compact discs.

In the years that followed, the Gilberto Gil albums became a staple for late nights when I would be drinking wine …

Smoked Ham And Peaches - Shemekia Copeland

from the album America's Child (2018)

Shemekia Copeland - along with Ruthie Foster - represent the finest female singers in contemporary blues today.  Shemekia's voice, in particular, is so large and booming that I often consider her akin to the Queen of the Blues, Koko Taylor.  Just take a listen to Who Stole My Radio? to fully get my just.

Perhaps that is why I am digging the song Smoked Ham And Peaches so much.  This is a slower, more acoustic blues track.  I have never heard Shemekia Copeland sing quite like this before.  The softer dynamics allow you listen to her intonation and articulation more closely.  It is a beautiful listen.

There are also the lyrics.   I like the line "when the whole world seems fake, give me something real." That thing is smoked ham and peaches.  What could be more real?

Of course, this speaks to the importance of the little things.  The things like Al Bente's pasta, and so much more.

Click Here to listen to Smoked Ham And Peaches by…

C - Oh Sees

from the album Smote Reverser (2018)

Oh Sees (or Thee Oh Sees) are one of my favorite bands to catch live.  Extended psychedelic jams that are tasty and grounded in a classic rock sensibility.  My buddy Brett introduced me to the band and has stood next to me at all of their performances.

To me, their new song - C - magnificently captures the vibe of their live shows.

This is perfect for dancing around the house with a cocktail in your hand.

Click Here to listen to C by Oh Sees.

Click Here to read my August 2016 blog post for The Axis by Thee Oh Sees.

Station - Bainbridge & Co.

from the single Station (2018)

A few years ago, I was bouncing around London and staying with my friends Mary and Gareth.  One night, we were sitting in their kitchen, eating Indian food, and telling fun stories.  In the basement, their teenage kids - Martha and Sid - were making music.

At some point, they were playing Come As You Are by Nirvana, when Gareth suggested that I play bass with them.  He busted out his trusty, old Guild and into the basement I went.  I think I taught them how to play Blister In The Sun?  It was more fun then you could imagine.

Later that night, I thought "One day, I'll be able to say I played with Martha and Sid."

Well, that day is today!!!  Martha and Sid are in a band named Bainbridge & Co. and have released their first song, Station.

I am so excited for them and wish them all the luck in the world.  Check it out !!!

Click Here to listen to Station by Bainbridge & Co.

Feel Good - Maribou State

from the album Kingdoms In Colour (2018)

Have you noticed that this decade has not produced any new musical movements?  In mean, in the 1970s we were introduced to punk, disco, and rap.  In the 2010s, not so much.

Another difference is that you don't hear much differentiation in the developed world's music based on geography.  In the 1970s, London bands sounded different than New York bands;Los Angeles bands sounded different than California bands.  Today, I can't really tell if a band is from Brooklyn or Australia.

Music is becoming more of a global blend.  Genres and geographies are melting away, being replaced by grooves and vibes.  New music is increasingly new intersections in older music.  This is bad news for innovation, but the good news is that there are infinite combinations.

Maribou State is an electronic duo from London who embrace this development; offering global samples and stylings in their music.  On their new song, Feel Good, they collaborate with Texas f…

Near - Deafheaven

from the album Ordinary Corrupt Human Love (2018)

When you think of a metal band, do you think of a magnificent and beautiful arrangement that lifts your spirit and satisfies your soul?

That is what you get with the song Near by San Francisco's Deafheaven.

The loftiness of the song might remind you of a dream pop or a shoe gaze band, but the texture and tone is considerably darker.

This is a magnificent song.  I could listen to music like this all day long.

Click Here to listen to Near by Deafheaven.

Nothing I Can Say - Tony Molina

from the album Kill the Lights (2018)

One of the fascinating outcomes of all the whiz-bang technology we are immersed in is its impact on song length.

Only a decade ago, the idea of a "radio-friendly" song abounded.  Ideally, a song would be three minutes long, fitting perfectly into commercial formats.  But today, with most people consuming their music via alternative channels, it is increasingly common to hear an eight-minute electronica track, or to purchase an extended remix (allowing you to get more music for your $1.29) than to find a three-minute song.

Sadly, I have always thought of this in terms of longer songs.  That is, until I started listening to Tony Molina.  On his new album - Kill The Lights - eight of ten songs are less than two minutes long, with the majority clocking in at under eighty-seconds.

I particularly dig the opening track: Nothing I Can Say.  At one-minute-eleven-seconds, this is still a complete song.  There is a verse, a chorus, and an instrumen…

Pink Squirrel - Episode 6

Hey, y'all!  I am really digging Episode 6.  It features a bunch of indie and alternative tunes from 2018 that sound great together.

One of the more interesting threads that runs through these songs is the abundance of 1980s new music textures and tones.  As you listen, you will be reminded of Echo & The Bunnymen, INXS, and Lena Lovitch.  There is also a new David Byrne song included.

I am pretty proud of this mix; it is cohesive, driving, and melodic.

Hope you dig it!!!

Here is the playlist:

Salton Sea by Josh Rouse

Heat Wave by Snail Mail

Make 'em Like You by Tom Grennan

Violent by Grapetooth

Blue Rose by Amen Dunes

Sugar & Spice by Hatchie

Heaven's Only Wishful by MorMor

Now U Got Me Hooked by Against All Logic

Chasing Stars by Alice Ivy

Bad Dreams by Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson

Incidental Boogie by U.S. Girls

Plastic Skeletons by Jealous Of The Birds

Everybody's Coming To My House by David Byrne

Sloane Ranger by The Essex Green

And, in case you missed any, here a…

Walking To Oman's - Fraser A. Gorman

from the album Easy Dazy (2018)

Two days ago, I had never heard of Fraser A. Gorman.  Then I discovered Walking To Oman's, a new song by the Australian singer-songwriter.  By yesterday afternoon, I had his song blasting out my Sonos player as I sang, danced, and washed the dogs.

With its jangling melody and groove, this song made me happy.  It is wonderful when the right song finds you.

And as I sit here today, slugging espresso before the sun rises, I am anxious to share this song; because I imagine it provoking similar reactions for friends in places like Boston, NYC, London, Denver, and Atlanta.

If it feels like I've done this a thousand times before, it is because I have.  As serendipity would have it, today marks my 1,000th blog post on this website.

Now, that's a milestone worth celebrating!

Click Here to watch the official music video for Walking To Oman's by Fraser A. Gorman.

Plastic Skeletons - Jealous Of The Birds

from the album The Moths Of What I Want To Eat Me In My Sleep (2018)

Naomi Hamilton is a splendid singer and songwriter from Belfast, Northern Ireland.  I admire her, not just for the sound she creates, but for the way that her visual imagery can take on a philosophical and spiritual nature.

Add to that her process.  On her new five song EP - The Moths Of What I Want To Eat In My Sleep - four of the songs are new versions of songs she released on her 2016 album Parma Violets.  These versions contain subtle changes that, in my opinion, make the songs more listenable and better connecting with her audience.

Naomi Hamilton is actually applying an agile development methodology towards making and releasing music.  This process of defining a minimal viable product and then continually reiterating until you reach your destination is a central pillar of software development and is used on all theirs and gadgets that define our times.

I am not sure if she is aware that this is what she is doin…

Even Now - Walter "Wolfman" Washington

from the album The Future Is My Past (2018)

Walter "Wolfman" Washington is one of the great soul men who have never fully received their due.  A New Orleans native, Washington spent his teenage years immersed in music; getting singing lesson from the legendary crooner - Johnny Adams - while mastering his chops as a guitarist.

By the time he was nineteen, he was touring with Lee Dorsey's band.  Soon after, he was playing on some of the 60's greatest New Orleans recording, including Working In A Coal Mine (later covered by Devo), Ride Your Pony, and Get Out Of My Life Woman.

Along the way, he became the leader of a touring band who would support great singers, including Johnny Adams and Irma Thomas.

Now severity-four years old, he has reunited with Irma Thomas on the duet Even Now.

The song is a slow-burning, deep soul masterpiece.  The vocals, with their texture and dynamics, are chilling and timeless.

I am also incredibly captivated by the drumming.  There is somethi…

Lemon Glow - Beach House

from the album 7 (2018)

Many moons ago, my buddy Jack needed a place to stay and I let him sleep on my couch.  He wound up staying for four or five months.  It was the most important period in my musical education.

These were the days before Jack became a world-class guitarist.  Days when he would play for ten hours straight, perfecting his technique and tone.  As a gracious host, I would spend several hours a night laying down bass grooves for him to play over.  My faithful basset hound, Elmore James, was usually sleeping on the couch.

We spent endless hours talking about tone.  We would listen to great guitarists, like Dick Dale and B.B. King, and then try to recreate their sound.  It always started with the instrument and amplifier.  Next came the strings.  It is amazing how slight variations in the gauge of a string effects a guitarist's tone.  Equalization and effects also matter.

At the end of the road, you find technique.  Even if you everything perfect, you still can't…

Now U Got Me Hooked - Against All Logic

from the album 2012 - 2017 (2018)

Against All Logic is a pseudonym sometimes used by Chilean-American producer/DJ Nicolas Jaar.

I am digging his song Now U Got Me Hooked.  It is filled with great synths, beats, and a vocal line that you can easily lose yourself in.

I picture myself sitting in a comfy chair at some fancy SoHo lobby bar, cocktail in my hand, listening to this song in somebody else mix.

Good stuff.

Click Here to listen to Now U Got Me Hooked by Against All Logic.

On The Beach - Boz Scaggs

from the album Out Of The Blues (2018)

Willie Dixon famously said, "The blues are the roots, the rest are the fruits."

Over the years, I have found myself coming back to the blues periodically.  I find it offers a sense of renewal for my spirit.  The only other force that has a similar effect, for me, is sitting on the beach.

Staring at the sea cures many ills.  It also replenishes my inner strength.

In his song, On The Beach, Boz Scaggs lays down six-and-a-half minutes of slow burning blues cover of a Neil Young tune that is the next best thing to being there.

The band sounds incredible.  I can lose myself for hours listening to Jim Keltner's drums and Willie Week's bass creating a backdrop for the magnificent tone of Boz Scagg's voice.

I suppose the complimentary quote to Willie Dixon's is that "all life comes from the sea."  Don't tell Darwin.

Click Here to listen to Boz Scaggs cover Neil Young's On The Beach.

Click Here to read my April 20…

Nightclub Love - Matt Maltese

from the album Bad Contestant (2018)

Whew.  Last night was a blur...

It started with friends drinking a tequila and rosé champagne concoction I dreamed up (the agave nectar made all the difference), shifted to a restaurant for the best meal in recent memory, and ended (at least in my conscience) with me playing the bass line White Lines by Grandmaster Flash with a group of wasted people singing along.

Now, the morning.  Cleaning up the mess, putting the pieces together of various conversations.  Even people stopping back by with questions like, "Did I leave my vape here?"

I put on a mix of new music.  A few minutes later, the song Nightclub Lover by Matt Maltese comes on.  Funny thing is, I have no idea how it got into the playlist.  I do not recall ever hearing the song before.

Either way. it is perfect for this morning.  The cheesy 70's keyboard riff makes for the perfect opening, as do the throwback kitch of the melancholy vocals.  The backing vocals put this song ove…

Gimme Some More - Art Of Tones

from the single Gimme Some Love (2018)

There once was an expert pasta maker, named Al Bente, who had a passion for elbow macaroni.  He loved its size and shape, the way it could be readily managed with a fork, the way that meat and cheese would cling to its corner.  For Al Bente, there was no other noodle.

Needless to say, his family ate very well.  However, his children endlessly bellyached for burgers, and such, while his wife berated him over the family's modest income.  "Why can't you make linguine or penne," she would screech.  "That is what people eat!  How are we supposed to survive?"

"But honey," he would reply, "I make many types of pasta.  Some noodles are longer, others thicker, and some are gluten-free."

As the years wore on, his wife became ever-more estranged.  His children grew up, and, despite his desire for the family business to endure, showed no interest in learning the art of pasta making.

Then one day Al Bente died.

Make 'em Like You - Tom Grennan

from the album Lighting Matches (2018)

It takes a whole bunch of craft to write a catchy pop song.

First, you need to come up with the various parts of the song - intro, verse, chorus, bridge, breakdown, ending - and stitch them together in a way fits cohesively and resolves itself musically.  In addition, each of those elements needs to sound good and be optimized.

Next, you need to think about the beat and the groove; followed by the various hooks and melody lines.

From a distance, it all sounds so simple and easy.  However, those who have tried know just how elusive a well-written song can be.

Make 'em Like You by Tom Grennan successfully brings all those things together, while adding one more bit of creative genius: it doesn't sound quite like any other musical artist.

Take a close listen.  It sounds so simple...

Click Here to listen to Make 'em Like You by Tom Grennan.

Like Sugar - Chaka Kahn

from the single Like Sugar (2018)

Today was a strange day.

The strangeness actually started the evening before.  I was up on a newly opened rooftop bar, scouting locations for my birthday bash, when I made the grave mistake of checking my work email.

Stupid, I know...

Much to my surprise, my credentials failed and I could not receive email.  I then checked the various other corporate systems.  None worked.

Before too long, paranoia got the best of me and I reached the conclusion that I would be fired the next morning.  I texted my boss with no reply.  My night was ruined.

In the morning, I dreaded going into the office.  I drank espressos and got showered, all the while role-playing a series of imaginary conversations.  By the time I began my 90-minute commute, i was a teenage zombie.

I put on a playlist of songs I'm considering writing about.  First song up: Like Sugar by Chaka Kahn. Sweet perfection.  Loose yourself in the groove, the beat.

Once traffic cleared, I sped towards B…

Keeping Time - Angie McMahon

from the single Keeping Time (2018)

Angie McMahon is a singer-songwriter from Melbourne, Australia.  As such, you might expect her to be cut from the same cloth as all the other Aussie chicks I have written about over the past six years.  However, she is different.

Angie McMahon has a rock sensibility that most longer-songwriters I come across lack.

Her latest single - Keeping Time - has the low-fi feel of a demo cut.  You hear it in the dull thud of the drum beat and the muted boom of the bass.  Yet, when her vocals enter, you can't help but lean forward and listen.

The same is true for her arrangements.  A rock sensibility: yes; but also a craftsmanship in the songwriting that is quite appealing.  Every progression resolves itself in a way that makes you go "hmm".

I do not know what lies in store for this 23 year old (maybe 24?), but two things are for certain:  I will be rooting for her and I will be keeping an eye out for her next record.

Click Here to listen to Keepi…

Sloane Ranger - The Essex Green

from the album Hardly Electronic (2018)

The Essex Green are a Brooklyn band who released a series of little known - but wildly tasty - albums back in the early 00s.  In 2006, they decided to take a break from music to pursue other interests.

Twelve years later, they are back with Hardly Electronic, one of the absolute best records of 2018.

The lead track on the album, Sloane Ranger, offers a beat, lyrics, and horn arrangement reminiscent of early 70s British folk-pop juxtaposed against a "summer single" vibe of early 80s new music keyboards and call-response vocals arrangements.  The result is vintage, fresh, and fun - all at the same time.

This is the perfect tune for driving on the Robert Moses Causeway or dancing in your underpants!

Click Here to watch the official music video for Sloane Ranger by The Essex Green.

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 6

Sometimes it is interesting how a mixtape will take on a life of it's own.

The original intent of this episode was to highlight the reimagining of socially-aware, black music over the decades.  Artists like Odetta and The Staple Singers were envisioned to be cornerstones of the mix.  Neither are included.

After becoming enraptured with the song Compared To What by Roberta Flack, I narrowed the span of the mix to the line that connects the R&B of 1970 to the Rap of 1980.

I failed to realize that this line would need to pass through some mighty funk and disco gems.  Before to long, a dance party was busting out in the middle of the mix.  I mean, who knew that Play That Funky Music was the first track on Wild Cherry's debut album?  Not me.

I imagine Wild Cherry - virtually unknown - laying down that track in the studio.  I imagine them standing behind the mixing board and hearing their ultimate funk classic for the first time.  It gives me chills.

Anyhow, I hope you dig the …

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 5

One of my favorite eras in music is the moment just before punk rock exploded.  Here, bands inspired by the Velvet Underground created music that was simple, creative, and energetic.  Their influence is still felt today.

Included here are some of the most important bands of that time, such as New York Dolls, Television, and The Modern Lovers.  Also included are the bands that were inspired by them, including R.E.M., Beck, and Violent Femmes.

Some songs are iconic, others lesser known; but they are all goodies.

Here is the playlist:

Roadrunner by The Modern Lovers

Wicked Gravity by The Jim Carroll Band

X Offender by Blondie

Modern Music by Black Mountain

Loser by Beck

Give It To The Soft Boys by The Soft Boys

See No Evil by Television

Blister In The Sun by Violent Femmes

The Step by !!!

The Creeps by Social Distortion

Personality Crisis by New York Dolls

Radio Free Europe by R.E.M.

Tell Me When It's Over by The Dream Syndicate

Venus Of Avenue D by Mink DeVille

And, in case you missed them, here…

May Your Kindness Remain - Courtney Marie Andrews

from the album May Your Kindness Remain (2018)

If not for the racial gap in its listeners, the natural intersection between country and gospel music would be more deeply explored.  Elvis, of course, managed to create magic in this realm, but not everyone can be The King.

In that sense, I applaud the song May Your Kindness Remain by Courtney Marie Andrews.

It all starts so simply, with a gospel organ over what is essentially a country tune.  Then the sense of church is deepened by the backup singers.  This is followed by an inspired guitar solo, with a tone that comes from a country rock space but is transformed with a magnificent tone to imply gospel.  The song then hits a crescendo and ends, leaving you wanting more.

Over it all, Courtney Marie Andrews delivers a beautiful vocal performance.  Not bad for a country girl.

Click Here to listen to May Your Kindness Remain by Courtney Marie Andrews.

Don't Ever Forget - Lauren Balthrop

from the single Don't Ever Forget (2018)

Lauren Balthrop is an Alabama girl who moved to NYC to hone her musical talents.  The results will be revealed in her debut album, This Time Around, set for release this September.

Don't Ever Forget is a single released ahead of the album.  I really dig the subtle groove that propels the song; bass, drums, and guitar locked together flawlessly.  Atop this pulse are ethereal vocal stylings that shoot for the upper registers while remaining grounded by the groove.

It leaves me wanting more.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Don't Ever Forget by Lauren Balthrop.

Violent - Grapetooth

from the single Violent (2018)

With its uptempo meter, driving synths, and loose vocal melodies, Violent is a tune that will almost certainly remind you of The Cure or New Order.

The song is a collaboration between Twin Peak's frontman Clay Frankel and producer Chris Bailoni, both from Chicago.  What they have come up with is not complex, but sensible and pleasing.  It is full of hooks and familiar tones.

It is a winner.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Violent by Grapetooth.

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 4

Happy Fourth of July to all my friends, everywhere!

Episode Four of this mixtape series intertwines threads of classic country - Hank, George, Wanda, & Roy - with British acts, such as The Animals, Van Morrison, and Joe Cocker.  From this foundation, you can really hear both genres captured in both the rock music of Bruce Springsteen, Bob Seger, and Tom Petty and the country music of The Flying Burrito Brothers (featuring the incomparable Gram Parsons) and Emmylou Harris.

You then hear it in like-minded eighties artists, including Tracy Chapman and The BoDeans.

It reminds me that as "American" as it might seem, some British elements are ever present.

Hope you dig it !!!

Here is the playlist:

Only The Lonely by Roy Orbison

House Of The Rising Sun by The Animals

She's A Runaway by The BoDeans

Rockin' Around (With You) by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Bluebird Wine by Emmylou Harris

Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison

Why Baby Why by George Jones

Feeling Alright by Joe Coc…

The Supremacy Of Pure Artistic Feeling - Self Defense Family

from the album Have You Considered Punk Music (2018)

Last night, I started listening to the latest album by Self Defense Family, Have You Considered Punk Music.  What initially drew me in was that the album's title did not have a question mark at the end.  Was this an oversight, or intentional.

Once listening, I then became captivated by the first track, The Supremacy Of Pure Artistic Feeling.  Again, I was initially captivated by the title.

I found myself completely absorbed by this tune.  It has the vibe of a post-punk campfire song, if there is such a thing.  One where a singer waxes poetically over a chord progression that is slowly played on guitar, one note at a time, king of like the music of Sun Kil Moon.  I envision myself burnt out in a small, dimly lit room with the musicians as they drone out the sound.

Then I began to listen to the lyrics.  Listening to the flawed point of view of the narrative.  It is fascinating.

My girl and I started fostering dogs
Shit's a hassl…

Leap Of Faith - The Interrupters

from the album Fight The Good Fight (2018)

There once was a baby eagle named Devin.  Of all the hatchlings in the nest, he was the strongest, most stubborn, and most determined.

When his mother would return to the top of the towering pine tree with food, he would squawk the loudest; sometimes, even stepping on the throats of his siblings in order to secure an ample share of the masticated fish parts.

This made Devin bigger and even more strong.

Then came a morning when his mother returned to the nest without any food.  His father perched himself on an adjacent branch, keenly surveying the surrounding environment for predators. A moment later, his mother stuck her beak beneath a sister and flipped her out of the nest.  The horror!

As this continued with other siblings, Devin burrowed into the sticks and branches.  Ultimately, it was just he and his mother.  As she tried to pry him loose, he tightened his talons and would not let go.  His mother continued to try, but Devin was too stron…

Pink Squirrel - Episode 5

This year, like most years, is full of so much incredible music.  What seems different, to me, about 2018 is how easily seemingly diverse genres are integrating together.  It also amazes me just how many of these artists I had never heard of until now.

This mix starts off with Italian Pop, moves to Australian grooves and a Hispanic take on Blue-Eyed Soul, before settling into some Alternative tunes.  From there the ever-morphing genre shifting continues into R&B, Soul, & Dance.

Perfect for your next house party, pool party, or barbecue!

Some of my favorite tunes included in this mix are Tenderness by Parquet Courts, Bullshit Anthem by Fantastic Negrito, and Like It Is by COEO.

Here is the playlist:

Simme Meridionali by Gianni Santoro & Gianni Vezzosi

Just Relax 2018 by Baby Beef

Love Of Mine by Bardo Martinez

Bullshit Anthem by Fantastic Negrito

California Finally by La Luz

Tenderness by Parquet Courts

Reprise De Fonk by Art Of Tones

Frontier Man by Gruff Rhys

I Am Here (I Am Aliv…