Posts

Showing posts from September, 2018

Go On Baby Break Down - Darren Jessee

from the album The Jane, Room 217 (2018)

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

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

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

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

I Don't Know - Paul McCartney

from the album Egypt Station (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

"John Entwistle," I replied.

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

Baby Where You Are - Mountain Man

from the album Magic Ship (2018)

Bigger.  Badder.  Louder.  Faster.

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

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

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

I am rapidly falling in love with this song.

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






What Would He Say? - Paul Weller

from the album True Meanings (2018)

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

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

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

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

Lean back and enjoy.

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

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

The Right Time - Ural Thomas & The Pain

from the album The Right Time (2018)

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

The answer is lies in the level of difficulty.

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

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

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

Shaking The Gates - Richard Thompson

from the album 13 Rivers (2018)

Have you ever thought about the gates to heaven?

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

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

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

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

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

Make Time 4 Love - The Goon Sax

from the album We're Not Talking (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Young At Heart - Willie Nelson

from the album My Way (2018)

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

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

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

Something had to give.

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

Let's Dance - Spiritualized

from the album And Nothing Hurt (2018)

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

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

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

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

Pink Squirrel - Episode 7

Welcome to Episode 7 of Pink Squirrel !!!

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

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

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


Here is the playlist:

Quebra Cabeça by Bixiga 70

Understand What Black Is by The Last Poets

Like Sugar by Chaka Kahn

Sereno by Gilberto Gil

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

Ether & Wood - Alena Diane

12:51AM by Self Tape

Max Lush Carlos by Godriguez

Pick Up by DJ Koze

Feel Good by Maribou State

Got Me Coming Back Rite Now by Moodymann

Cheap Date by Caitlyn Smith

Boogaloo by Paul Brown

Make It Rain by Shoshana Bean


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

Moonlight - Disclosure

from the single Moonlight (2018)

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

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

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

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

Having the ri…

I Feel A Change - Charles Bradley

from the album Black Velvet (2018)

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

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

Listen to his voice.  It was truly special.

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

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

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

Ride - Lenny Kravitz

from the album Raise Vibration (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Kick back, listen, and ask yourself "wh…

Guerra En The Tierra - Los Pilotos

from the single Guerra En The Tierra (2018)

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

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

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

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

My "classic" sound i…

Hands On You - Ashley Monroe

from the album Sparrow (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marvin Kaplan - Damien Jurado

from the album The Horizon Just Laughed (2018)

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

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

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

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

Admittedly, I had to google Marvin's na…

Quebra Cabeça - Bixiga 70

from the album Quebra Cabeça (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Lonesome Love - Mitski

from the album Be The Cowboy (2018)

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

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

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

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

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

Boogaloo - Paul Brown

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

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

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

Click Here to listen to Boogaloo by Paul Brown.