Posts

Showing posts from October, 2018

New Moon - Steve Gunn

from the album The Unseen In Between (2018)

Steve Gunn is alternative folk rocker based in Brooklyn.  He is best known as a guitarist for Kurt Vile's band, The Violators.

In New Moon, a pre-release from his forthcoming album, he manages to create a soundscape that mashes up the 60s of folk sounds of Donovan with the early psychedelia of Jefferson Airplane, while still maintaining a sense of modern.

The warmth of the acoustic guitar track, the clarion clarity of the bass, and an especially well-crafted arrangement set the stage for an outstanding vocal performance.

I also dig the songs visual imagery centered around a trip outside of the city that swirls with surreal mentions of grinning ghosts and a place that no one seems to know.

Click Here to listen to New Moon by Steve Gunn.

Wristbands - Galcher Lustwerk

from the album 200% Galcher (2018)

Imagine yourself as a Kung Fu Master, walking into a roadside bar filled with truck drivers and fornicators.  Imagine yourself with the knowledge that you could take out every person in the place with your kicks and chops and cat-like reflexes.

That is how I feel when I am wearing a wristband.  I am old enough.  I am a very important person.  I belong.

Click Here to listen to Wristbands by Galcher Lustwerk.

Dark Days (Revisited) - Art d'Ecco

from the album Trespasser (2018)

One of the absolutely best debut albums of 2018 is Trespasser by neo-glam rocker Art d'Ecco.

After two weeks of intense listening, I have concluded that Dark Days (Revisited) is the track I dig most.  There were so many t come from...

I suppose what does it for me in this song is testosterone-laced muscle of the bass and drums.  It reminds me a bit of T Rex, which seems to be appealing to my rock and roll sensibilities these days.

Over this throbbing rhythm, is an inspired vocal performance.  Each section of the arrangement finds Art d'Ecco delivering the perfectly appropriate vocal.  Listen to the different stylings he uses throughout the song.  It is a command performance.

Hats off to Art d'Ecco for one of the truly great debut records in recent years.  I hope you buy it and lose yourself in it.

Click Here to listen to Dark Days (Revisited) by Art d'Ecco.

Animal - Elektric Voodoo

from the album Animal (2018)

Electric Voodoo are a seven-piece band from San Diego, California.  They are led by Scott Tourney, one of the founders of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.

What I really dig about this band is their remarkable ability to produce high-quality songs across a wide and diverse range of genres; while also exploring the intersections between these genres.

A perfect example is Animal, the title track off of their latest album.

On this song, you will hear Fela inspired Afrobeat mixed with a mid-eighties new wave sensibility.  I am not sure if I ever heard a song that sounds quite like this one.  I dig that!

So, if you happen to be enjoying a cocktail, raise your glass with me and offer a toast to Elektric Voodoo.  Here is to the innovators!

Click Here to listen to Animal by Elektric Voodoo.

What Sign (Was Frankenstein?) - Escape-ism

from the album The Lost Record (2018)

The other night, I caught a concert by The Oh Sees at a recently renovated venue.  They put on an excellent show, as always.

What made the night special was the opening band.  I was previously unfamiliar with them.  Still, they blew me away with their eccentric style of rock and roll; a distorted kind of rockabilly meets vampire movie soundtrack.

That band is Escape-ism.

One of my favorite songs in their set was What Sign (Was Frankenstein?), four minutes of guitars over childlike keyboards with throwback vocals.

It is great to stumble onto new music this way.  Get out of your domicile and find a great new band!

Click Here to listen to What Sign (Was Frankenstein?).

Kong - Neneh Cherry

from the single Kong (2018)

Sometimes there is something small that endears a song to me.  Such is the case with Kong, the new single by Neneh Cherry.

There is a nine-note bass groove that begins the song, strategically reemerging at select intervals, that I can't listen to enough.

The first thing that grabs me about it is the smoothness of how the bassist moves from one sound to another.  I also dig how "round" the sound is and how it locks in with the beat.  After a few dozen listens, I am also digging how the groove vaguely reminds me of Rock On by Davis Essex.

On top of that, this song features the vocal talents of Neneh Cherry.  Her voice is fantastic on this song.  A seemingly effortless high-wire act.

This song is going to make a great edition to my next late night music mix.

Click Here to watch the official music video for Kong by Neneh Cherry.

Rolling With The Punches - The Blue Stones

from the album Black Holes (2018)

One of my favorite elements in a good rock band's arsenal is the backing vocal.  Great backing vocals can make both a band and a song.

I suppose that if you held a proverbial gun to my head and asked my favorite backing vocal in rock history, I would choose Sympathy For The Devil by The Rolling Stones.  The woo-hoos are priceless.

Backing vocals are what I dig most in the song Rolling with The Punches by The Blue Stones.  Check out how the ooos and the oo-ooos take the song to a completely different level.  They are a universal hook.  So are the heys.

The groove, the drumming, the vocals, and the guitar are pretty good too.

Click Here to listen to Rolling With The Punches by The Blue Stones.

Sing To Me Candy - Papercuts

from the album Parallel Universe Blues (2018)

In recent months, I have focused hours of each day honing my songwriting chops.  It is part of a larger picture, where I am writing and performing in a band again.  Yippie!

Sadly, along the way, a had a crisis of sorts; my songs failed to resonate.  I could not understand why.  The structure, the lyrics, the hooks, the melodies; they all seemed so spot on to me.  Yet, when I played them for others, all I got were phony grins.

At first, I blamed them.  They are mutant zombie bastards, after all.  Don't they know a well constructed song when they hear it?

I was starting to come undone.  Then I asked myself, what could I do differently to change the outcome?  I made a list of potential reasons and began conducting a series of tiny little tests.

I concluded that my songwriting style is a little too Nick Lowe for the post-punk, dreamy, slow core crowd that I'm running with.  If I want to sell in this market, I need to adapt.

So, I took …

Pink Squirrel - Episode 8

Throughout the first half of this decade, I was regularly in NYC, where my benefactor conducted business in a tall glass and steel building a few blocks south of Central Park.  I loved that I could get tuna on a roll anytime, day or night.  I also loved that my hotel was only a few hundred yards from MOMA.

I never failed to visit.

Over the past year, I have obsessed with an exhibition of Henri Matisse's Cut Outs that I attended.  The color, the contrast, the life-force in the composition.  It was beyond magnificent.

Yet the thing that has captivated me most about the show was that this was how Matisse chose to spend the final years of his life; making art with paper and scissors, when his body could no longer sustain canvas and paint.

I also think about the many other artists - painters, writers, and musicians - who did not produce art while they aged.  How could so many stop?

I've concluded that it was rarely a conscious decision.  I believe that they temporarily put it asid…

Thinkin' On A Woman - Colter Wall

from the album Songs Of The Plains (2018)

In baseball, there has been a long-standing and unfortunate tradition of labelling the latest prospective superstar as "the next Mickey Mantle."  This label tends to put undue scrutiny and pressure on the young ballplayer and, in many cases, derails their career.

The same is true of country music, where record labels and the media cannot resit labelling a promising new artist as the next Johnny, Dolly, or Hank.

Such is the case with Colter Wall, a twenty-three year old singer-songwriter from Saskatchewan whose gifts as both a singer and a songwriter are chilling.

On his sophomore album, my favorite track is Thinking' On A Woman; a simple song in the classic country tradition.  Sparse instrumentation and a slow shuffle beat set the stage for beautiful vocals framed by a tasteful steel guitar track.

As you listen, please try to avoid the comparisons and rather appreciate Colter Wall for the talented musician from the Canadian Plain…

You're Not Like Anybody Else - Escondido

from the album Warning Bells (2018)

Over the past few months, I have challenged myself to write a new song each week.  I have written sixteen songs to dat.

The tend to fall into four categories: rock songs, groovin' songs, jangly songs, and pretty songs.  I find that, of the four, pretty songs are the most difficult.  The demand to be well-written, with an elegance and a simplicity in the arrangement and the melody line.  The lyrics are a challenge as well; trying to be sweet yet not flowery, tender yet tough.

These are the most honest of songs.

When I listen to You're Not Like Anybody Else by Escondido,  I think "now that is a pretty song I wish I wrote."  The acoustic guitar with the little electric poppings layered behind it create the perfect vibe.  The beauty in the vocals and their melody.  A love song that never uses the word "love."

As simple as this song may sound, writing such a song is artistry and craft that are uncommon.

Click Here to listen to

Some Birds - Jeff Tweedy

from the album WARM (2018)

Jeff Tweedy is an artists with that rare ability to make me instantly happy by the sound of his music.  Within the opening measures of his songs, I recognize who it is, fall immediately into the groove, and smile.  Overtime.

Such is the case with Some Birds from his forthcoming album.  The tones, the vibe, it is all right there.  Just like it is supposed to be.

But wait, there is more.  My affection for most Jeff Tweedy songs seems to grow over time.  I am always finding some new nuisance, or catching the thought behind a lyric that is endearing.

He is special.

Click Here to watch the official video for Some Birds by Jeff Tweedy.

Click Here to read my September 2016 blog post for We Aren't The World (Safety Girl) by Wilco.

Click Here to read my July 2015 blog post for Taste The Ceiling by Wilco.

Click Here to read my October 2013 blog post for Ballad Of The Opening Band by Jeff Tweedy.

Click Here to read my May 2012 blog post for One Sunday Morning (Song For …

Boom Boom - Tony Joe White

from the album Bad Mouthin' (2018)

Perhaps more than any other artist, Tony Joe White is synonymous with "swamp music."  Everything in his gravel voice, guitar and harmonica tones, and songwriting acumen defines "swamp."

On his latest album, Tony Joe White releases his first "blues" album of his fifty year career.  Sure the blues have been ever present throughout, but this time it is intentionally "the blues."

My favorite track is a cover of John Lee Hooker's classic, Boom Boom.  The dull thud of the snare, the hint of reverb in the guitar, the ancient-sounding harmonica, and the baritone vocal.  The delta meets the swamp.

I really dig how this song subtly derives its intensity from the hypnotic effect of the bass, drums, and guitar.

I can't get enough of this vibe.

Click Here to listen to Boom Boom by Tony Joe White.

Click Here to read my October 2013 blog post for Gypsy Epilogue by Tony Joe White.