Posts

Showing posts from January, 2019

VTr - The Twilight Sad

from the album It Won/T Be Like this All The Time (2019)

If you are like me, you are a sucker for a great 80s new music vibe.  The pulsing eighth-note grooves, the steady high-hat beats, the tantalizing attacks and sustains of the keyboards, and the abrasive guitar tones all stir something in my core.

Perhaps better than any current band, The Twilight Sad deliver this vibe.  Yet what makes it even more exciting is how their sound still sounds fresh and modern.

VTr is a song that exemplifies this band.  As you listen, try to pick apart the individual instrumental and vocal performances.  Listen to the production and the attention given to crafting perfect 80s tones.  It is magnificent.

Click Here to listen to VTr by The Twilight Sad.

Click Here to read my November 2014 blog post for It Never Was The Same by The Twilight Sad.

Lonesome Fiddle Blues - Jim Coyle

from the album In Between (2019)

Jim Coyle is a Boston musician who has played guitar, bass, and piano for a wild range of Folk, Irish, and Roots bands over the past few decades.  He is a working musician who also writes and records original music.

On his latest album, In Between, he has included eight of his own songs along with a cover version of a traditional-styled, country instrumental.

Lonesome Fiddle Blues is a song that was written by Vassar Clements, a grammy-award winning musician and songwriter who had the distinction of playing fiddle with Flatt & Scruggs on the TV theme song for The Beverley Hillbillies.  Even more notable are his recordings with Bill Monroe, The Grateful Dead, and a host of others.

The original recording of Lonesome Fiddle Blues appeared on The Nitty Gritty Blues Band's classic 1972 album Will The Circle Be Unbroken.  Dozens of other artists have since recorded this tune.  It has also been suggested that Charlie Daniels "pays homage" to …

Weird Ways - Strand of Oaks

from the album Eraserland (2019)

Sometimes, my attraction to a song is driven be a simple line in a lyric that captures my imagination and fascinates me.  Such is the case with Weird Ways, a new song by Indiana-based folk rocker Tim Showalter, who performs under the name Strand of Oaks.

The scene isn't my scene any more

So many of my friends lament how time has changed their old neighborhood and hangouts.  I am often surprised that they are surprised.  Time marches on.  Ob-la-di Ob-la-da.  You can't go home again.

Recently, a singer-songwriter friend was talking about her age and saying "let's face it, I am never going to be the kind of popular that I hoped for."  This irritated me to no end.

Pablo Picasso famously said "Youth has no age."  He also said, "Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist as he grows up."  On how his own career strived into his eighties, Picasso said, "When you come right down to it, all you…

Dylan Thomas - Better Oblivion Community Center

from the album Better Oblivion Community Center (2019)

Every once in a while, a song comes along that strikes at the core of your musical sensibilities.  Dylan Thomas by Better Oblivion Community Center is jut that song for me.

Straight-forward, intelligent pub rock that recalls artists like Graham Parker, Elvis Costello, and Squeeze.  What could be better?

The visual imagery is rich, ranging from a corset wearing Phoebe Bridgers climbing into a corvette to Dylan Thomas dying of a seizure on the floor of NYCs White Horse Tavern.  The lyrics also include four dimensional chess, feel cats, and flowers growing from the ruble.  All of this is delivered over no-nonsense chords, with a tantalizing guitar solo shown in the mix.

The final chorus also resonates with me:

I'm getting used to these dizzy spells
I'm taking a shower at the Bates Motel
I'm getting greedy with this private hell
I'll go it alone, but that's just as well

Somehow, this swirl of a song approximates an amb…

You, I, We (All Together Now) - Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal

from the album Do It Now (2019)

A funky groove makes everything better.

Washing the dogs.
Painting the bathroom.
Cleaning the refrigerator.
Organizing the bills.

Mixing the cocktails.
Chewing the gummies.
Writing the blog posts.
Mixing the mixtapes.

Forgetting your troubles.
Feeling nostalgic.
Getting down with your funky friends.
Living in the moment.

You, I, We (All Together Now).  Dig it!

Click Here to listen to You, I, We (All Together Now) by Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal.

The Wire - Shovels & Rope

from the album By Blood (2019)

In a few weeks, this blog will celebrate its seventh anniversary.  Woo hoo.

One of its great pleasures, that I had never imagined when I started this journey, has been the joy in following the careers of a few fortunate artists, who - against all odds - have risen from obscurity to realize their musical dreams.  They inspire and sustain me.

Shovels & Rope are perhaps the most endearing of the bunch.  From my earliest memory of watching them loading their gear into the back of an East Atlanta bar to play for a few dozen lucky folks, to watching them perform at progressively larger venues, their dedication, work ethic, and decency represent everything my musical heart holds dear.

The Wire is a single released in advance of their forthcoming album - By Blood.  I am particularly struck by the song's chorus:

But I won't fail you when I walk out on the wire
I won't fail you when I walk out on the wire
I won't fail you when I walk out on the wir…

Seventeen - Sharon Van Etten

from the album Remind Me Tomorrow (2019)

Imagine yourself as a songwriter who has taken on the daunting task of composing a song that converses with the person you were, and the place you lived, when you were seventeen.

What would your message be?  Would it be a happy reflection, or perhaps sad?  Would you advise the former you to jump the first train out of town?  Would you give counter-intuitive advise, like party your brains out and have tons of sex?  It is interesting to think about.

Arguably the greatest reflection on this subject is the song At Seventeen by Janis Ian, a soft ballad that laments on the hurt associated with being outcast, and feeling rejected, in a world where you are not pretty enough to be part of the in-crowd.

In her song, Seventeen, Sharon Van Etten takes the counterpoint to Janis Ian, reflecting lovingly on that girl coming of age in NYC.  She embraces the freedom and dreams of youth.  The endless possibility.  She contrasts this with a dose of reality, touch…

Woman - Karen O & Danger Mouse

from the album Lux Prima (2019)

I really dig Karen O.

For over fifteen years, she has repeatedly produced quality recordings that resonate with listeners while never sounding compromised or gimmicky.  She is perpetually evolving and embracing new outlets for her craft.

I also dig her spirit of collaboration, reaching beyond her day job as lead singer for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to make music with others.  Her version of Led Zeppelin' Immigrant Song, with Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross of Nine Inch Nails, is mindbendingly good; as were her collaboration on Pinky's Dream with David Lynch and Yo! My Saint with Michael Kiwanuka.

She also has produced incredible music for film, dazzling audiences with her 2009 soundtrack to Where The Wild Things Are and her Oscar-nominated contributions to Spike Jones' movie Her.

Her latest collaboration is an album - Lux Prima - with producer Danger Mouse.  One of the songs off of that record - Woman - has quickly become my first favorite song of 2…

Gallipoli - Beirut

from the forthcoming album Gallipoli (2019)

Last summer, I joined an alternative band as their bass player.  In order to more rapidly define our sound, we began playing cover versions of songs we eased suggested.  All in all, there were about forty of them.

In the process, I found myself leaning away from the harder rocking tunes and embracing songs with a bit more groove in the vibe.  I also found myself board at the concerts my rock friends are always inviting me to.  This began to alienate me from my bandmates and friends.

In addition, late at night when I am studying classic bass lines, I found myself drawn to Motown's James Jamerson and Louis "Thunder Thumb" Johnson of The Brothers Johnson and Michael Jackson fame.  There once was a time when all I studied was John Paul Jones, Jack Bruce, and John Entwistle.

In those days, rockers would have told me that I "wussed out."  But for me, I simply find the groove more interesting, more intoxicating.  It is also …

Ill Wind - Radiohead

from the single Ill Wind (2019)

Ill Wind is a song that appeared as a B-Side on Radiohead's 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool.  The song was little circulated and was neither included on the album nor released to any of the music streaming services, until now.

Last week, Ill Wind was released as a single.  It is a fascinating song.  I really dig how the samba vibe underpins the composition, giving it sexiness and a touch of foreign intrigue.  This offers a counterpoint to all the swirling synthesizers and harmonies.  Thom Yorke's falsetto glides beautifully through this soundscape.  It is lovely.

What inspires me about this song is its story.  This song was sitting on somebodies hard drive gathering virtual dust, when somebody said, "Hey, what do you say we release that song, Ill Wind."  They do, and now people, like us, are digging it.

The story makes me want to take some of the ideas and creations that I have on the proverbial shelf and set them free into the world.  Ma…

Don't You Know - Durand Jones & The Indications

from the album American Love Call (2019)

A lot of times, when I am sitting around with less-than-funky friends, I listen as they bemoan the current state of music for being overly-commercial crap.  I usually lack the energy to all them that they are listening to the wrong music and that, if they took the time to open their mind and their ears, they might find that quite the opposite is true.

The digital age offers musicians with the ability to explore to global lexicon of recorded music and to affordably publish their own recordings to reach their beloved audience.  What could be better than that?

A case in point is Don't You Know by Durand Jones & The Indications.  It is nearly impossible to listen to this song without believing it was recorded by veteran musicians whose heyday past long before many of us were born.

That is not a dig, but rather a compliment.   This song possesses a classic Philadelphia soul sound, full of lush instrumental arrangements and beautiful harmonie…

It Rains Love - Lee Fields & The Expressions

from the album It Rains Love (2019)

There may be no more beautiful an instrument than the human voice.

A soul singer's voice is perhaps the most precious of all.  The mellifluous range of emotions it can evoke with subtle tonal variations has an unequaled ability to reveal inner truths into the human condition.  It is simply magical.

Lee Fields is a master soul singer.  This is evident on his latest single, It Rains Love, a funky, late night soul jam that shimmers with a mid-seventies lovers vibe.

I am particularly drawn to the song's instrumentation.  Each player is laying down something tasty.  Check out how the horns take you back to the sounds of Dionne Warwick singing the songs of Burt Bacharach and Hal David

Also, isolate on the old school, funky bass solo that ends the song.  Nothing fancy, just bottom and groove.  I dig it!

Click Here to watch the music video for It Takes Love by Lee Fields & The Expressions.

Click Here to read my June 2014 blog post for Just Can…

Wherever You Go - Dee White

from the album Southern Gentleman (2019)

Every once in a while, I find myself listening in awe to a record's production.  Such is the case with Wherever You Go, the lead track from Dee White's forthcoming debut album.

This record manages to capture the sound of 1970's sun-drenched country in a way that recalls the best of The Ozark Mountain Daredevils.  The sound firmly takes you back to a time when having the windows down and cigarettes in the ashtray was expected.

Imagine yourself driving along a backroad in Alabama, stereo turned-up loud and this song on the radio.  To complete the scene, imagine the cutie-pie sitting next to you, their long hair flowing as their head bounces to the music.

This mastery of production comes from The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and David R. Ferguson.  Ferguson's credits include a grammy award for sound engineering Johnny Cash's American Recordings.

The record's lazy day tone is perfectly suited for Dee White's vocals.  The…

He Don't Burn For Me - The Delines

from the album The Imperial (2019)

When I think of soul music, my first instincts take me to a place that is urban and Black.  It is a sensible reaction when you consider all of those iconic singers, like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield.  They define soul music.

Personally, I have a thing for Southern Soul.  I've made multiple pilgrimages to Stax Studios in Memphis and to Muscle Shoals, Alabama just to breathe the air.  One is urban, the other is rural.  Yet they are both hallowed ground for pure, spine tingling Soul.  I also think about my favorite band in American music, Booker T. & The MGs.  Two guys were black, two guys were white.

Soul Music is universal.

He Don't Burn For Me is a beautifully composed, arranged, and performed song by the Portland, Oregon alternative country band, The Delines.  It is also a shimmering reminder of the magnificence that exists at the intersection of country music and soul.

This song is timeless.  I close my eyes and can …

After All This Time - Michael Chapman

from the forthcoming album True North (2019)

In a world where things seem to exist in increasingly brief increments of time, I find myself drawn closer to people like Michael Chapman.  This English folkster has been releasing an album per year since 1969.  In a few weeks, he will be releasing his fifty-first album.

One of the teaser singles off of this album is a song titled After All This Time, which - at first glance - seemed very appropriate for the day.

The song is as beautifully arranged and performed as any recent folk piece I can recall.  The harmonies, the lead guitar, the petal steel guitar, and Michael Chapman's finely-aged vocals are all magnificent.

The lyrics focus on a long-lasting relationship where the two have grown apart and gone their separate ways.  He sings about this with sadness, lamenting on how the feelings of love have faded away.

Personally, I find the opposite to be true.  When I think that kindred soul in my life, nothing has faded.  After all these ye…

First World Problems - Ian Brown

from the forthcoming album Ripples (2019)

Despite his six lovely solo albums, Ian Brown will always be first thought of as the lead singer for The Stone Roses.

On First World Problems, the lead single from his forthcoming solo album, you find him in top form; his distinctive voice coupled with a late 80s vibe reminiscent of The Farm, EMF, and - needless to say - The Stone Roses.

I really dig the song's bounce, created by a bright drumming and a punchy bass line.  This rhythm section perfectly underpins the Ian Brown's trademark vocals.  Keyboards and guitars fill the soundscape with beautiful restraint.

If you are looking to time warp back to the golden days of Manchester bands, this is your ticket.

Click Here to watch the official video for First World Problems by Ian Brown.