Showing posts from April, 2018

Incidental Boogie - U.S. Girls

from the album In A Poem Unlimited (2018) I was recently approached by a tribute band asking if I would be interested in playing bass.  Although tribute bands are not my thing, this group consists of some funky friends and they are playing tunes by The Pretenders.  I dig that. So, this weekend I spent some time learning the bass part for My City Is Gone .  It reminded me of the power of groove and tone. Groove is a mighty force.  It creates a foundation for a song.  Other instruments play off the groove.  The groove is also unforgiving.  There are two objectives of playing the bass: establishing the groove and maintaining the groove.  Maintaining a groove is a challenge.  It requires chops and stamina.  It the groove falls apart - even for a single note - the entire song falls apart. Tone also matters, particularly when playing a popular song.  Everyone familiar with the bass line to My City Is Gone  not only knows every note, but how that note is supposed to sound.  Getting i

Weird Thought Thinker - Joshua Hedley

from the album Mr. Jukebox (2018) At some level, every artist is playing a character.  I mean, Johnny Cash never "shot a man in Reno, just to watch him die," did he? But at some other level, every song must have some kind of autobiographical tie.  Every good song, at least? Weird Thought Thinker is a not just a bit autobiographical, it is a self-portrait.  This is Joshua Hedley singing into the mirror.  I really like where he takes this song, but what I really dig is that he is playing a western waltz.  Of all the genres and subgenres of music, he chose a western waltz.  What does this say about the person at his core? Is he a man out of time?  Is he a cornball romantic?  Or is he a dusty troubadour, rambling about, singing his tune? What style of music would you chose for your self-portrait?   New Wave?  Folk?  Rap?  It is interesting to think about.  Hmmm. Click Here to watch Joshua Hedley perform Weird Thought Thinker.

Gigolo A Go Go - The First 10 Episodes

Time flies when your mixing tunes. Just about a year ago, I began creating mixtapes - starting with my Gigolo A Go Go series.  My Mixcloud site now consists of roughly 30 hours of great mixes that have been enjoyed by over a thousand people.  Pretty cool. The Gigolo A Go Go series represents my deepest hopes in blogging and mixing; to create a positive community of music-minded people who share experiences and socialize.  All of the mixes in this series are party mixes.  Many are played at small get-togethers of my funky friends; others are created for imaginary parties, attended by a hip assortments of rogues, rascals, and shady women. In the end, my greatest dream is to host an endless party for all my absolutely favorite people.  Although that is not physically possible, virtually, we are doing it. So, thanks for coming to the party.  I hope you stick around and have a good time. If you are having your own party, I hope you play some of these mixes.  They are proven to pro

Gigolo A Go Go - Episode 10

Some folks love collards and cornbread, others dig gravy and grits; but this mix - my dear friends - is the tastiest biscuit you'll find this side of your mama's oven.  And the jam... This is some funky ass shit.  I have been working and reworking this mix for over two months; punching up the groove, muscle-building the bass lines, and framing the absolute best musical performances. I dare you not to dance. Most of these songs are from the 70's, starting with some classic funk, then shifting through the New Orleans stylings of The Meters into some deep, funky jazz from Billy Cobham and Eddie Henderson.  The arrangements and the musical performances on these jazz tunes boggles my brain.  They almost have a psychedelic quality. Next, it's downtempo for Leon Haywood's sultry I Want'a Do Something Freaky To You ahead of a rump-shakin' finale of Willie Hutch, Barry White, and The Bar-Kays. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention the classic tunes by Earth, Wind

Hunnybee - Unknown Mortal Orchestra

from the album Sex & Food (2018) The thing that I really dig about Unknown Mortal Orchestra is their ability to create exceptional vibes that precisely hit the mark.  If this Brooklyn outfit wants to create a Delphonics vibe, they head into the studio and - poof - there it is! This requires a mastery of understanding structure, tone, and space.  It also requires the instrumental and studio craftsmanship necessary to pull it off.  The adeptness of Unknown Mortal Orchestra in executing these skills record-after-record amazes me. On Hunnybee , the band chooses to lay down a Prince vibe.  Structurally, it is all laid down with perfection, with the drums and bass leading the way; however, it is also present in the choices of chords, the vocal line, and the synthesized horns.  Each instrument's tone is perfection and the production has the perfect sheen. But the thing that really amazes me is the bounce.  Prince songs have a bounce to them.  You hear it in the roundness of t

Name Of The Game - A.J. Croce

from the album Just Like Medicine (2017) Jim Croce was one of the greatest American songwriters of the 1970s.  His songs were tender and witty; telling stories, creating characters, and forming a musical lexicon that anyone could enjoy. It is crowded on the Mount Rushmore of great American songwriters, but Jim Croce was amongst the very best. So how amazing is it to hear a song of Jim's that has never previously been recorded? Name Of The Game is a delightful song on A.J. Croce's 2017 album, Just Like Medicine .  Sung as a duet with Vince Gill, A.J. Croce pays homage to his father through vibe and tones.  Listen to the guitar and piano, the background singers, and the drumming.  It almost gives me chills. But, for this gigolo, it is all about songwriting.  The unmistakable structure.  The balance of melody and space.  The trademark vocal line.  Jim Croce's music lives at that mystical intersection of black magic and mathematics.  There is voodoo in the vibe. If

Salton Sea - Josh Rouse

from the album Love In The Modern Age (2018) About a decade ago, I found myself in a weird state; ecstatic to be regularly uncovering scores of great songs by dozens of new artists, yet glooming over the lack of close musical friends to share these songs with. Throughout high school, college, and my band days, I was perpetually surrounded by fellow music lovers.  It was through these friends that I was introduced to many records that have enriched my life.  And then there were the concerts: Uncle Tupelo in a basement bar in St. Louis, Whiskeytown in an Athens, GA dive, and Lucinda Williams in the north Florida swamps.  So many memories.  Yet, somehow, all those friends had scattered in search of 40 acres and a mule. Ultimately, I rectified the gloom by starting this blog.  It has reconnected me with some of my dearest music friends, along with many other kindred spirits. Josh Rouse is one of those artists I began listening to in the late 2000s.   Quiet Town was one of my favo

Pink Squirrel - Episode 3

Welcome to Episode 3 of Pink Squirrel, a mixtape series exploring sone of the best songs of 2018. This episode is full of great alternative songs from bands including Mint Field, Ought, and The Breeders.  One song of particular note is Soul No. 5 by Caroline Rose which seems to always strike a chord with my funky friends. I hope you dig it... Here is the playlist: Quiero Otoño De Nuevo by Mint Field Black Moon by Screaming Females The Man by Goat Girl After Hours by The Sufis YO! MY SAINT [Film Version] by Karen O When You Die by MGMT These 3 Things by Ought In Between Stars by Eleanor Friedberger Soul No. 5 by Caroline Rose Can't Live Here Anymore by Katy Guillen & The Girls Walking With A Killer by The Breeders How To Socialize & Make Friends by Camp Cope Go Out Fighting by Dr. Dog Negative Space by Hookworms Here are the previous episodes of Pink Squirrel: And please checkout my Mixcloud page to check out al

C.O.O.L. Party - Confidence Man

from the album Confident Music For Confident People (2018) Confidence Man are a dance pop duo from Melbourne, Australia whose debut album - Confident Music For Confident People - is one of the most eclectically fun records of the year. My favorite track is C.O.O.L. Party , which features bratty girl chatter over a wicked bass groove.  The singer's name is Janet Planet, which - for sure - begs a reference to Moon Unit Zappa.  The lyrics detail all the fun people and stuff you might find at the party of the year.  It is light and fun fare. But the bass groove is serious stuff.  It is hard and crisp, easy to dance to, and infectious.  I can't wait to bust my bass out and learn it! I also dig the guitar playing and synthesizers, particularly when they remind me of Groove Is In The Heart . This is a fun one... Click Here to listen to C.O.O.L. Party by Confidence Man.

The Man - Goat Girl

from the album Goat Girl (2018) Goat Girl are a new band from London.  They combine Siouxee & The Banshees styled vocals with rolling, kinetic sound that has made them one of favorite debut bands of 2018 (so far). The song I am digging most is The Man.   The galloping beat and jangling guitars are tasty fare, counterposed by slightly mumbled, withdrawn vocal stylings leading towards the central lyric: You're the man You're the man You're the man for me This is followed by an inspired guitar solo that exudes freedom and rebellion. This is the essence of new rock and roll in 2018. Click Here to watch the official music video for The Man by Goat Girl.

California Finally - La Luz

from the album Floating Features (2018) Picture yourself in a imported convertible at 4AM, driving away from that evening's decadent scene and towards your modern unit that overlooks the Southern California beach.  The traffic lights seen to shine extra bright as the sky turns indigo. You light up the roach that has been living in your ashtray and breathe the smoke deep inside.  California.  Your mind and spirit become one. You turn on the stereo and hear the girls in La Luz singing California Finally .  The vibe is a dusty version of light '60s psychedelia.  The subtle gallop of the beat propels you down the street.  The reverb in the guitar speaks to you in the moment.  The hazy dreaminess of the backing vocals are a lush pillow for your wandering mind to float upon. Let's all move to Redondo Beach... Click Here to listen to California Finally by La Luz.

Mambo Egypcio - Sonido Gallo Negro

from the album Mambo Cósmico (2018) Are you prepared to mambo like an Egyptian? Surf's up.  It's mambo beat with Mesopotamian synthesizers.  Nothing much else to do but dance to the instrumental stylings of Sonido Gallo Negro. Mexican surf is a very appealing subgenre of music. Click Here to listen to Mambo Egypcio by Sonido Gallo Negro.

A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega - Ashley McBryde

from the album Girl Going Nowhere (2018) Once upon a time, I played bass in an alternative country band whose sound flirted around the edges of rockabilly, surf, and psychedelia.  We were hot shit in Atlanta.   Creative Loafing called us "the darlings of the redneck underground" and included us in that year's "Best of" issue.  It was a fine time. One Friday night, we were playing at The Star Bar, ground zero for the redneck underground.  A subgenre of a subgenre.  A scene onto itself.  After our set, I was talking to some guys who regularly drove down from a small town in the North Georgia mountains.  Some people speculated that they grew weed, but I knew nothing about that. They offered us a gig playing at their Fourth of July party at a place in the woods, outside of Dahlongega.  It was a bit of a hike, but a paying gig is a paying gig.  We took the job. We set up our gear and took the stage (actually a front porch) mid-afternoon.  It was brutally ho

Knockin' On Your Screen Door - John Prine

from the album The Tree Of Forgiveness (2018) When I lived in Milwaukee, my best friend was a guy from Detroit who liked to be called Hollywood. On day, Hollywood got all excited because his brother - an environmental attorney living in Boulder, Colorado - was passing through town with his new girlfriend.  They were en route to Detroit for a "meet the parents" kind of thing. In preparation of the visit, Hollywood planned a big outdoor grilling event behind our apartment.  Burgers, brats, and drumsticks.  A keg of Stroh's.  Cleaning on a level never previously witnessed.  And, perhaps most importantly,  the stereo speakers were firmly planted in the window. When the Colorado folks arrived, it was exactly what you might expect: a custom van, a bearded mountain man, and a pretty brunette in a suede vest.  Before too long, Hollywood's brother pulled a melon crate full of LPs from the van and headed to the stereo, Over the next eighteen hours, he spun folky musi

Tokyo Bay - Nick Lowe

from the EP Tokyo Bay / Crying Inside (2018) Once upon a time, my musical trinity consisted of Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Squeeze; all clever songwriters with an affinity for a refreshing brand of power pop that deeply resonated with me.  Their music formed the soundtrack of my budding adulthood. And as the decades have worn on, it is Nick Lowe who continues to serve as my guiding light.  Hip, slightly reserved, and professional.  A songwriter's songwriter.  Always applying his craft.  Seamlessly gliding from pub rock to country to rockabilly to surf.  Always maintaining his signature sound.  My idol. Last night, I heard Tokyo Bay ; the first track off of a four song EP he is releasing this June.  It is a rambling, rockabilly affair about a "long gone daddy" who writes a note, jumps a steamer, and ships off to find a little geisha. As I listen to Nick Lowe describe his far east journey, my musical and spiritual compass rediscovers true north. Click Here to

What Was It You Wanted - Bettye LaVette

from the album Things Have Changed (2018) When most people think of Bob Dylan, they recall all the great songs he wrote and recorded in the 1960's and '70's; up until the time period when he began to record religious tunes.  They are some of the greatest songs ever written, ultimately earning him the Nobel Prize in Literature.  These songs were famously recorded by artists like Jimi Hendrix, The Byrds, and Johnny Cash. Unfortuantely, the masses do not give much consideration to Dylan's music from the '80's and beyond.  It is a mesmerizing body of work.  Artists who have recorded these songs - like Sufjan Steven, Garth Brooks, and Sinead O'Connor - have all been rewarded with great success. On her new album - Things Have Changed - blues and soul icon Bettye LaVette releases a collection of Dylan covers, with all (but two) coming from his post- Street Legal songbook. Who better to pay tribute to the latter gems in Bob Dylan's vast catalogue than

Can't Live Here Anymore - Katy Guillen & The Girls

from the album Remember What You Knew Before (2018) Can't Live Here Anymore is a new song by the Kansas City trio, Katy Guillen & The Girls.  I dig the song for its sensible pop-rock hooks and vocals, which combine to remind me of songs released by The Bangles a few decades ago. The band has paid their dues, touring the United States as an opening act for larger, better-known bands.  You get a sense of how this permeates their music in the song's opening measures.  It is a straight-four beat, with the lead guitar joining in with a crunchy distorted hook that becomes central to the song.  You can easily imagine this being played in a large venue. This tune is also notable for the quality of the lead and backing vocals.  Every syllable is delivered purposefully.  You can understand the lyrics and want to sing along with the call and response of the backing vocalists by the end of the tune. The song also includes an inspired guitar solo. Nothing like listening to a

Egyptian Luvr - Rejjie Snow

from the album Dear Annie (2018) I have had the song Egyptian Luvr by Rejjie Snow in my new music rotation for a while now, listening to it nearly every day for the past six weeks.  I dig the tune. While the song is playing, I find myself exploring just what makes me like one hip hop or rap song over another.  I think it comes down to the groove and vibe. In any genre, I tend to connect better with songs that have a well defined groove.  In hip hop or rap, I prefer slower, more deliberate grooves; something tasty, with a bit of space.  I also prefer a vibe that is a bit laid back.  Harder edged rap is too aggressive for me. Egyptian Luvr checks both boxes.  I also dig how the rappers step in, hit their verse, and exit; with the female vocalist carrying a silky melody line throughout.  It allows for a consistency while also exploring different vantage points of the musical polygon. Click Here to watch a video for Egyptian Luvr by Rejjie Snow.

Mixtape: The 30 Songs I Digged Most In 2016

Over the past few months, I have received a bunch of feedback from readers and listeners requesting that I extend The 30 Songs I Digged Most In 2017 concept to previous years.  As a result, I plan to release a series of mixtapes cataloguing my favorite tunes dating back to 2012 (the year this blog first fired up). 2016 was full of some pretty incredible music.  There was stellar rock and roll from artists like Kevin Morby and Parquet Courts.  There were new classics from Hayes Carll and Michael Kiwanuka.  There was the last recording by Leonard Cohen and the first by Margo Price. Here they all are; mixed in an order that sounds good to me. I hope you dig it. Here is the playlist: You Want It Darker by Leonard Cohen To All The Cowboys by Ariel Bui I Have Some Business Out West by Hookworms I Won't Cry For You by La Santa Cecilia Nothing More To Say by The Frightners Leaving The Monsters Behind by The Jayhawks Dance Like Fire by Ben Harper & The I