Showing posts from June, 2018

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 Fro

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

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 Plea

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: Moon Are you half empty, or half full Is something missing, I can't tell Is there more I can't see Me Yeah, I'm a track with no train I'm a cat with no name Sleeping through my dreams Time 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

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 memor

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

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.  Th

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 aga

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 bas

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 roun

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