Showing posts from 2018

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…

Tenderness - Parquet Courts

from the album Wide Awake! (2018)

One of my absolute favorite tunes of 2018 (thus far) in Tenderness by Parquet Courts.  For the past many months, I have been increasingly-less-patient in waiting for the song to appear on the Internet so that I can share it with my dear readers.

Unfortunately, that has not happened.  Apparently, Parquet Courts has a deep-seated distaste for social media and avoid having much of a presence.  As a result, the song does not exist on YouTube, BandCamp, SoundCloud, or even the record label's website.

That sucks.

I have found a solution.  Tomorrow, I will be releasing Episode 5 of my Pink Squirrel mixtape series. Included in the mix will be this outstanding tune.

As you listen to the song, listen to just how tight the band is.  Practice makes perfect.  Groups that put in the time are rewarded by gelling together into a cohesive unit that can't help but sound better than others, even those with greater talent.

As I listen to Tenderness by Brooklyn…

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 3

One of the interesting things I've discovered in putting this mixtape series together is the differences between the rockers and the R&B crowd when it comes to their first musical moments.

Rock & Roll artists and punk rockers are all about that emotional outburst.  Think about Little Richard belting out Tutti Fruiti or The Ramones playing the Blitzkrieg Bop.  These songs are pure adrenaline.

R&B artists are different.  They focus on throwing down a mean groove.  In this mix, you will here some great opening long-play moments by artists like Billy Preston, The Commodores, and Booker T. & The MGs.  They are all about the groove.

This mix also contains fantastic rock artists whose music is deeply connected to R&B.  This includes The Who, The Rolling Stones, and The Jam.

And then there is James Brown...

Here is the playlist:

Slinky! by Link Wray & The Wraymen

Out In The Street by The Who

Green Onions by Booker T. & The MG's

Please, Please, Please by James …

Bullshit Anthem - Fantastic Negrito

from the album Please Don't Be Dead (2018)

Take that bullshit
Turn it into good shit
Take that bullshit
Turn it into good shit
Take that bullshit
Turn it into good shit Take that bullshit
Turn it into good shit
You tell 'm, Fantastic Negrito!
Click Here to listen to the album version of Bullshit Anthem by Fantastic Negrito.
Click Here to watch Fantastic Negrito perform Bullshit Anthem live in Chicago.
Click Here to read my December 2016 blog post for Working Poor by Fantastic Negrito.

I Am Here (I Am Alive) - Bonny Doon

from the album Longview (2018)

If you ever read an interview with a graffiti artist, they are inevitably asked a variation of the question, "What drives you to spray paint a subway car?"

Ten times out of ten, the answer is, "I want the world to know that I exist."

I believe we all have the desire to be recognized for who we are, for what we believe.  We all want to be counted.  It is what drives Facebook and this blog.

The song I Am Here (I Am Alive) by the Detroit group, Bonny Doon,   It touches on this desire:

Are you half empty, or half full
Is something missing, I can't tell
Is there more I can't see

Yeah, I'm a track with no train
I'm a cat with no name
Sleeping through my dreams

Feel like I'm wastin' time
Just want to be where I'm goin'
Just want to be where I'm goin'

As much as I dig the song's theme, I dig how it is delivered.  Soft and tender.  Pure and poetic.

As much as we are recognized for what we say, this …

Frontier Man - Gruff Rhys

from the album Babelsberg (2018)

Perhaps a dozen years ago, I spend about a month outside Lusk, Wyoming building a giant monstrosity in the middle of nowhere.

To get to work each day, I needed to drive off the road for forty minutes, or so.  Along the way, I would need to navigate a variety of hills and rock formations, always staying on the path.

Every evening, on the commute back to Lusk, I would encounter a rancher who was driving a herd of goats home for the night.  He was a tall, thin thirty-something who always wore jeans, a sleeveless flannel shirt, and a moderately brimmed black hat.  He drove am open-topped, weathered Land Rover from the late 1960s.

On either side, he was flanked by three border collies.  Upon his whistle commands, they herded the goats and kept them moving in the desired direction, usually by nipping at their Achilles tendons.

I always parked my ride a safe distance from them and watched this spectacle for as long as I could.  It was my great memory of my ti…

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 2

Episode 2 is a rocking mix that includes great guitarists - like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chuck Berry, and Dick Dale - coupled with iconic first tracks by The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Replacements.

Exercise for your speakers !!!

Here is the playlist:

Love Struck Baby by Stevie Ray Vaughan

School Days by Chuck Berry

Cherry Bomb - The Runaways

10:15 Saturday Night by The Cure

1969 by The Stooges

Moanin' At Midnight by Howlin' Wolf

Re-Hash by Gorillaz

Surf Beat by Dick Dale & His Del-Tones

Blitzkrieg Bop by The Ramones

One More Time by Joe Jackson

Mirror In The Bathroom by The English Beat

Holidays In The Sun by The Sex Pistols

Takin' A Ride by The Replacements

The Sound Of Confusion by Spacemen 3

In case you missed Episode 1:

... and you can always find all of my mixtape on my MixCloud page.

Album 1 Track 1 - Episode 1

In many cases, the first track on the first album represents that magical moment when an artist stands beneath the spotlight for the first time.  It is the moment when they unleash their talents on the world; when they say "This is who I am.  This is my art.  I matter and I will not be denied."

These songs are vital.  They are full of energy and promise.  They are the essence of rock 'n roll.  Of the punks.

This mixtape series captures two hundred, or so, of my favorite opening statements spanning the past sixty plus years of popular music.

Episode One features some of the greatest "track ones" ever recorded, by artists from Little Richard to Smashing Pumpkins.

Here is the playlist:

Uncontrollable Urge - Devo

Oh Boy! - The Crickets

Harlem - Bill Withers

I Feel Free - Cream

Janie Jones - The Clash

Hero Takes A Fall - The Bangles

I Saw Her Standing There - The Beatles

Break On Through - The Doors

Gloria - The Patti Smith Group

I Am One - Smashing Pumpkins

Train - The Buddy…

Dreamcatcher - Dario D'Attis & Definition featuring Jinadu

from the single Dreamcatcher (2018)

Diego peaked through the kitchen door at the ordinarily-dressed man seated at the counter.

"Amelia, it is him," he whispered.  "It is him."
"How can you tell?  You have never even seen his picture."
"Look at him, Amelia.  He has the dignity of a great chef.  I know it is him."
Diego rushed to his workstation and began preparing the greatest dish of his life, convinced that the man at the counter was The Peruvian - the mystical chef - who, for a few days in January 2000, served The Millennium Taco.
Word of The Peruvian's creation had first spread locally, through the streets of Veracruz.  Soon after, lines circled the blocks around his tiny restaurant.  Many who tasted The Millennium Taco weeped.  A poet shook as though it were the rapture, while burning his notebook.  Even the bishop knelt before The Peruvian and asked for a blessing.
Then one morning, The Peruvian was gone.  The restaurant closed.  He was…

Heat Wave - Snail Mail

from the album Lush (2018)

Summer is a magical season.  When I think back to all those past summers, music often helps define it; whether on the ferry to Atlantique - listening to With A Little Luck - or rockin' poolside to Rancid's Time Bomb.

Heat Wave by Snail Mail is a perfect song for the season.  A tale of troubled summer romance, the song is set to hazy, sun-drenched tones with a pop sensibility.  Its hooks and melody lines stay with you as the tension between the jangling rhythm guitar and shredding lead add a layer of depth and purpose.

You can easily imagine yourself driving in the convertible along 27A, picking up your friends, hitting the Southward Deli, and making a day of it.

I love summer singles.

Click Here to watch the official video for Heat Wave by Snail Mail.

Heaven's Only Wishful - MorMor

from the single Heaven's Only Wishful (2018)

MorMor is the stage name of Seth Nyquist, a singer and producer based out of the Toronto area.

I really enjoy his song Heaven's Only Wishful.  It not only finds the perfect intersection of indie rock and synth pop, it also finds the perfect pocket to deliver pop success in both.

There is no doubt that MorMor can sing, but, to properly appreciate his talents, you need to take a close listen to the song's arrangement.  I dig how the guitars of the opening verse seamlessly give way to synthesizers, only to return - a little more ruffed up - for the final verse.  I also dig how the steady and precise beat is sometimes removed. building anticipation for its return.

If you are a songwriter or producer, there is a lot to think about in this delightful little tune.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Heaven's Only Wishful by MorMor.

Reprise De Fonk - Art Of Tones

from the EP Where The One Is (2018)

Art Of Tones is the stage name of Ludovich Llorca, an amazingly talented DJ and producer specializing in House.  He is a Parisian, currently based in NYC.  I have recently been digging his tune Reprise De Fonk.

In the wee hours of this morning, I decided to take a four-mile walk along the Las Vegas Strip.  Headphones on, Art Of Tones made the perfect companion for the walk.  The groove put a bounce in my step and the vibe was perfectly suited for all the bright lights, as they waned in the pre-dawn indigo.

My mind was focused on the future.  In particular, I wondered if I had finally returned to that proverbial fork in the road; that exact spot where I've stood twice before.  That moment of truth where I needed to decide whether to follow my head or follow my heart.

The last two times, I chose my head.  However, this time, experience tells me that following my head will lead me right back to where I currently stand and that to, once again, deny …

Let's Get Together - Jonny Benavidez and Cold Diamond & Mink

from the single Let's Get Together (2018)

One of my favorite nights in recent memory was following a wedding in York, England.  A dozen, or so, of us were looking to continue the revelry and stepped into a bar called The Spread Eagle.

In the back room were some older chaps spinning sweet old records and dancing with beautiful women.  Their dance steps were fairly intricate and everybody participated.

It was like a time warp.  The music, the people, and the vibe gave a sense that somebody turned the clock back to the late 1960s.  It was Northern Soul night!

Northern Soul is an upbeat dance movement started by British Mods and features American black soul music from artists including Jackie Wilson and Little Anthony.  Had my Shazam app been loaded, I'd have captured the names of every unfamiliar tune.

Ultimately, the dancers amongst us had the time of their lives; while the dinners amongst us staggered  to our lodging.

Timmion Records is a great independent label based in Helsin…

Sugar & Spice - Hatchie

from the EP Sugar & Spice (2018)

Big, lush dream pop from Brisbane, Australia.

Hatchie, whose real name is Hariette Pilbeam, breaks thru on her debut EP with an incredible mixture of talent, pop sensibility, and the ability to overlay tracks to create a massive vibe.  Move over Phil Spector, this is a really big sound.

I am enamored with the way each layer adds to the overall vibe.  Adding this many vocal and instrumental layers without having everything turn to mud is a very tricky proposition.

I also enjoy two of the central lyrics of the song: "no, you don't call me baby anymore" and "we could outlast it all."  Hopeful.  Positive.  Upbeat.  I am smitten.

As a guilty pleasure, play this super loud on your car stereo, while speeding along the highway and singing your heart out.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Sugar & Space by Hatchie.

Love Of Mine - Bardo Martinez

from the single Love Of Mine (2018)

If you are looking for a mindless summer vibe to lose yourself in - and who isn't? - then check out Love Of Mine by Bardo Martinez.

This song by the Chicano Batman frontman is something of a lo-fi masterpiece.  I dig the jangling guitars, simplistic use of a vintage electric piano, and the catchy groove.  I also enjoy the twists and turns in the arrangement, as well as the generous splashes of echo.

This song isn't going to change the world, except by making you a hipper, groovier human being.

Click Here to listen to Love Of Mine by Bardo Martinez.

Click Here to read my March 2017 blog post for Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm) by Chicano Batman.

Got Me Coming Back Rite Now - Moodymann

from the single Pitch Black City Reunion (2018)

One of my favorite albums of all time is The In Crowd by the Ramsey Lewis Trio.  This 1965 release featured a collection of the trio's live recordings captured at the Bohemian Caverns in Washington D.C.

Aside from it representing an incredible fusion of bebop, funk, and afro-jazz, what makes the record "real" for me is its warmth.  I feel as though I am in the room.  I can smell the cigarette smoke.  I know just how that cocktail glass feels in my hand.  I know that the rest room is over by the blue neon light.

Ultimately, that warmth is a sense of organic.  The piano, bass, and drums are so vibrant, so real; causing it to connect with me unlike almost any other record I know.

In the world of electronic music, Detroit House legend - Moodymann - has stood above all others for roughly thirty years in his ability to create warm and organic vibes in the typically cold electronic genre.  He creates this vibe in the roundness and…

Blue Rose - Amen Dunes

from the album Freedom (2018)

In the spheres of art and literature, the color of a rose carries much symbolism.  A red rose for passion, a white rose for spirituality, a black rose for rebirth; but a blue rose?

The blue rose does not naturally exist in nature.  As such, it often symbolizes the quest for the unattainable; in many instances associated with love.

A futile quest for love.  Is there a more holy grail?

In his song Blue Rose, Damon McMahon yearns for a more satisfying relationship with his father; delivering a lyrical account of reality, while his music speaks to the connection he desires.  It is one of the most beautiful songs of 2018.  The closing lines nearly break my heart:

Said you weren't much a man to me
But you're the only one I ever had

To all those seeking a blue rose, I love you.

Click Here to watch the official video for Blue Rose by Amen Dunes.

Butter Fried - Tower Of Power

from the album Soul Side Of Town (2018)

Playing music with other dedicated musicians is one of the most joyous experiences imaginable.  I believe that, when playing, you become totally emerged in the moment.  Playing, listening, anticipating.  It is all absorbing and total pleasure.

I think of this while listening to the instrumental Butter Fried on the new Tower Of Power album.  These incredible musicians are completely locked in to each other; making their music cohesive by interlocking at every step.

Every musician is fully in the moment.  Nobody is thinking about getting the tires rotated on their car or about ho they are going to cover medical expenses.  They are simply having a moment of ecstasy with their fellow music makers.

Tower of Power have been doing this for fifty years.

Dig it.

Click Here to listen to Butter Fried by Tower of Power.

Love Having You Around (Late Nite Tuff Guy Rework) - First Choice

from the single The Late Nite Tuff Guy Salsoul Reworks (2018)

Love Having You Around is a song written by Stevie Wonder.  It is the first track on Music Of My Mind, the 1972 album where Stevie pivoted away from his teenage and Motown era to become a mature master of rhythm & blues, soul, funk, and pop.  That this record was made by a twenty-one year old is nothing short of phenomenal.

Although the song most people remember from that album in Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You), it is Love Having You Around that kicked off the record and introduced the world to grown-up Stevie.  With the scores of iconic songs to follow, Love Having You Around became related to deep cut status.

In 1977, the female vocal trio First Choice released a dance rendition of the song.  This brought the tune back to life, filling early disco dance floors with the mighty groove.  Despite being a cover, you can hear Stevie dripping from every measure.

Fast forward forty-one years, and a remixed versi…

Fake Bitch - gobbinjr

from the album Ocala Wick (2018)

Gobbinjr is the synth-pop project of Emma Witmer, a budding Wisconsin musician who moved to NYC, enrolled in NYU, and began making her musical dreams come true.  I find her songwriting to be top-rate and her attention to detail impeccable.

When I first came across her new song, Fake Bitch, I smiled and gave it a spin.  To my delight, the opening visual image (as well as the remaining lyrics) touched my heart:

I felt you press your dick against my thigh
When we hugged
I didn't ask for it
You're not the one I want
'Cause you're a fake bitch and you know it
Even when you try not to show it
You're a fake bitch and I know it

Weren't you expecting the song to be about a chick?  I sure was; but - bam - the subject's dick gets mentioned in the first line.  It is clever, ironic, and worthy of our respect.  The fake bitch is a dude!

Once you get past the lyrics, check out the chord structure and the arrangement.  They are fantastic.  I dig h…

Simme Meridionali - Gianni Santoro & Gianni Vezzosi

from the album Emozionando (2018)

Sharply dressed in black, I step inside the chapel a moment after the ceremony begins.  Sure-footedly, I march down the aisle, passing a handful of attendees on either side, and stop immediately behind the bride and would-be groom.

I face those assembled.  In a deep and official tone, I announce, "Ladies and gentleman, please pardon the interruption.  This should only take a moment"  Next, I advise the best man, "Sir, I need you to take this gentleman into the atrium and await my further instruction."  He complies.

I then turn to the bride, nod my head, and ask, "May I have a word?"

We solemnly approach the side entrance, her back towards the wide-eyed congregation.  We lock eyes.  She smiles.

"I've got two tickets to."

"This is really happening," she amusedly interrupts.

"Yes.  It is."

Roughly seventy hours later, we check out of the Antica Locanda Dei Mercanti, grab the keys, put the to…

Like It Is - COEO

from the EP Disco Volante (2018)

COEO is an electronic and dance duo from Munich consisting of Florian Vietz and Andreas Höpfl.  Their name comes from a latin term, loosely meaning "to unite."  I find it very much in sync with their musical style, which is approachable and consumable.

I've been hooked on their club single, Like It Is, for a few weeks now.  I dig how the beat builds for the first minute of the tune, segments of the rhythm systematically attaching themselves, like a giant, sonic molecule forming right before your ears.

Then the bass enters.  My lord!  The groove is so simple and round.  A repeating pentatonic scale.  Five notes bouncing back and forth.  It is impossible not to be infected.

From there, the synthesized horns, vocals, and other embellishments seamlessly fuse into this ever expanding object of beauty.

But it is really all about that mighty bass groove.  Wow.

Click Here to listen to Like It Is by COEO.

Memorial Day - a poem by 40 Watt Gigolo

Many moons ago, I travelled with a group of college friends to witness the Indianapolis 500.  It was a drunken blur with little sleep and lots of fun.  Somewhere along the way, I laid down on the infield grass and jotted down a poem.

When I returned back to NYC, I found the poem crumpled in a pocket.  I thought it was good enough not to throw out and slid in in my desk drawer.  A few months later, I submitted it in a contest for unpublished poets.  It won first prize in the "under 30" category.

So, here it is.  A little different than the typical songs I write about, but - hey - add some music and you never know...


Lawn chair on a makeshift scaffold
On the back of a flatbed Ford
Someone lights a cherry bomb
And we all applaud
Because the sun's in the sky
It's a beautiful day
There's a feeling in the air
T-shirt off, Ray Bans on
I cannot stand the glare

Gasoline Alley is all abuzz
'Cause Mario's sitting on the pole
Chuck Yeager is driving the pace car
Jim M…

Pink Squirrel - Episode 4

Welcome to Episode 4 of Pink Squirrel!

This is a fairly eclectic mix of songs.  I really like how it weaves through genres while never losing its cohesiveness.

My favorite moments in the mix begin with the manic, instrumental release of the opening track  - Dance Scandal at the Gymnasium by The Claudettes - and end with the jazz noir of Kamasi Washington's Fists of Fury.  In between are a dozen gems from a wide range of artists, from Leon Bridges to John Prine


Here is the playlist:

Dance Scandal At The Gymnasium by The Claudettes

Middle America by Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks

The Mess Inside by Amanda Palmer

Bad Bad News by Leon Bridges

Hunnybee by Unknown Mortal Orchestra

C.O.O.L. Party by Confidence Man

The Real Thing (Our Shit!) by Rhemi

City Looks Pretty by Courtney Barnett

I Love Kangaroos by Guided By Voices

Knockin' OnYour Screen Door by John Prine

Don't Move Back To L.A. by Okkervil River

What's Chasing You by Marlon Williams

Mambo Egipcio by Sonido Gallo Negro

Love In Vain - Honeyfeet

from the album Orange Whip (2018)

For a songwriter, each composition is like a child; you give it life, socialize it a bit, and set it out in the world.  Most survive only briefly, never making it too far from home.  Other long endure, traveling the world, meeting exciting people, and maybe even making a difference in people's lives.

Robert Leroy Johnson was born on May 11, 1911 in Hazelhurst, Mississippi.  A gifted musician, he travelled along the Mississippi Delta playing gigs, drinking whiskey, and womanizing.

In 1937, he had the opportunity to record some of his songs in San Antonio.  The following year, he recorded again in Dallas.  In those two sessions, he recorded 29 songs that are today recognized as the Rosetta Stone of American Blues.  These songs included Come On In My Kitchen, Sweet Home Chicago, and Crossroad Blues.

He died a few months after the second recording session.  He was twenty seven years old.

Love In Vain is, perhaps, my favorite of these songs.  It is a te…

The Day The Music Dies - Iceage

from the album Beyondless (2018)

This morning began with my recurring ritual of fixing an espresso, turning on the computer, and checking out what's new in the world.  By the third espresso, I was skimming my Facebook feed when, suddenly, I felt the urge to strum my Stratocaster.

Without any conscious thought, I began playing a song I wrote with my songwriting partner, Fred, decades ago.  This was a common occurrence after his premature death last fall, but in recent months I have not found myself playing our songs at all.

As I strummed, I glanced over at my computer and saw the little red circle at the top of the screen indicating that I had some Facebook activity.

It turned out to be a friend request from Fred's mother, Mimi.

Coincidence?  Anyhow, it got me thinking of Fred, the agony his mom must still be going through, and all the great songs we'll never write.

I proceeded to spend the next two-and-a-half hours listening to the tunes we once recorded.  It was good for …

Sex Crystals - Fascinator

from the album Water Signs (2018)

One of my favorite episodes in popular music was a brief moment in the early 1990s, when bands like The Farm, EMF, and Jesus Jones dominated alternative clubs and radio.

Their music approach took popular "new music" and added elements of electronica and dance together in a way that truly was unbelievable.  If you trace it back, there are hints of this style in the music of Thompson Twins and Echo & The Bunnymen; probably in New Order, as well.

Well, if you continued this line to the present day, it would run straight through the music of Fascinator.  A frontman in the Australian alternative band Children Collide, Johnny Mackay left it behind to move to NYC and embrace a life of electronica as Lord Fascinator.  As bold a move as it is to relocate to the other side of the planet, abandoning alternative music for electronica is seemingly bolder.

Check out his new song, Sex Crystals.  If you liked the aforementioned songs, you will love this…

Just Relax 2018 - Baby Beef

from the single Just Relax 2018 (2018)

Baby Beef are a groovy duo from Sydney consisting of Christian Valuez and Baby Beef.  On their Triple J Unearthed site, they list their influences as Talking Heads, Depression, Anxiety, Valium, Friendship, and Love.  Doesn't that sound like a formula for good music?

I recently started listening to their single Just Relax 2018, which is about the middle-aged doldrums, love, and the need for valium.  The more I listen, the more I realize that this might be a new anthem for winding down.

I dig the lounge-act campiness to the vocals.  I also dig how the vocals remind me of Philip Oakey songs, from way back when, particularly the opening verse:

Everything is wholesome
Everything is strange
Everything is amplified
In this middle age
Yes, I know I'm good looking
Just a little bit overweight
If its health that matters baby
We could focus on my mental state

But in the big picture, this song is all about the groove and vibe.  It keeps me coming back.

Click …

Pick Up - DJ Koze

from the album Knock Knock (2018)

As a Georgia boy, there is nothing I love more than Gladys Knight, her chicken, and her waffles.

So, of course I am going to dig Pick Up, a new piece of electronic house music by Germany's DJ Koze.  The song features a sampled vocal performance from Ms. Knight's 1972 deeper cut Neither One Of Us.

Listen to how simple the beat and groove are and how the touch of strings and guitar are the only real embellishments.  Hypnotically simple.  Tripping' at the disco.

Add the texture of Gladys Knight's voice and you have perfection.

Click Here to watch the official video for Pick Up by DJ Koze.

Everyman (Late Nite Tuff Guy Rework) - Double Exposure

from the EP The Late Nite Tuff Guy Reworks (2018)

For the past few months, I have had a smoldering debate between the virtues of professional ambition and personal happiness.  Well, it has finally caught fire and the results have Kerouacian implications.

I am taking today off of work in order to learn the bass lines for a few Velvet Underground songs.  The day started with two hours of perfecting the Sunday Morning line.  Next up, Stephanie Says.

There is something wildly liberating about letting your creative genie out of the bottle.

Join me in celebration by dancing to the triumphant disco stylings of Everyman (Late Nite Tuff Guy Rework) by Double Exposure.

Click Here to listen to Everyman (Late Nite Tuff Guy Rework) by Double Exposure.

Understand What Black Is - The Last Poets

from the album Understand What Black Is (2018)

It is a shame that more people do not know, and appreciate The Last Poets.

The group rose in the 1960s Harlem as part of the Black Nationalist movement, where their message and posture were aligned with leaders like Malcolm X.  Their style was a form of urban beat poetry that lent itself to both the Beat writers and African cadences.  And although they never achieved the notoriety they deserve, their influence is profound.

You can draw a direct line between Gil Scott Heron's classic The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and The Last Poets' When The Revolution Comes.  You also hear their influence in the early rap of Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, and The Fat Boys.  I would argue that you also hear their influence in the music of Bob Dylan and Bob Marley.

Fifty years after their first performances, The Last Poets are back with an album produced by London dub master, Prince Fatty.  I really dig the title track…