Showing posts from February, 2018

Soul No. 5 - Caroline Rose

from the album LOSER (2018)

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

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

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

Make Me Feel - Janelle Monáe

from the album Dirty Computer (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Quiero Otoño De Nuevo - Mint Field

from the album Pasar De Las Luces (2018)

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

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

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

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

Click Here to watch the official music video for Quie…

Jukebox Babe - Moon Duo

from the single Jukebox Babe / No Fun (2018)

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

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

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

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

Baby, I Love You - Ryan Adams

from the single Baby, I Love You (2018)

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

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

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

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

Ether & Wood - Alena Diane

from the album Cusp (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

What's Chasing You - Marlon Williams

from the album Make Way For Love (2018)

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

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

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

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

Feel Like New - Sam Dexter

from the single Feel Like New (2018)

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

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

Salud y amor y tiempo para disfrutario !!!

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

Windy City - Natasha Kitty Katt

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

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

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

Darlin' Playa - Phonk D

from the EP Disco Goodies (2018)

This week was a bit surreal for me.

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

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

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

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

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

YO! MY SAINT - Karen O.

from the single YO! MY SAINT (2018)

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

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

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

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

She is truly r…

Today Is The Day - Eels

from the album The Deconstruction (2018)

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

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

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

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

Yet Today Is the Day feels…

Till Tomorrow Goes Away - Cut Worms

from the single Till Tomorrow Goes Away (2018)

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

Bedroom Pop
Garage Rock

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

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

I hope you dig it.

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

When You Die - MGMT

from the album Little Dark Age (2018)

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

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

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

When I first heard the song When You Die by…

Pink Squirrel - Episode 1

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

Friction by Shame

Pink Squirrel by Creep Show

Count To Five by Rhye

The Priest by Johnny Marr and Maxine Peake

Love You So Bad by Ezra Furman

Shadow People by The Limiñanas

Fireworks by First Aid Kit

Connected by Love by Jack White

Every 1's A Winner by Ty Segall

Hey Heartbreaker by Dream Wife

New For You by Hinds

YouTubular by Ron Gallo

I Love LA by Starcrawler

Silent Boogie by Sunwatchers

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

Silent Boogie - Sunwatchers

from the album II (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It Makes You Forget (Itgehane) - Peggy Gou

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

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

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

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

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

How To Socialize & Make Friends - Camp Cope

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

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

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

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

Evan Finds The Third Room - Khruangbin

from the album Con Todo El Mundo (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

The Hype - Shopping

from the album The Official Body (2018)

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

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

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