I’m old, I’m not deaf—John Locke, Lost

This week raised the bar a bit, and I had to be a bit more ruthless to keep the playlist down to a dozen and a half tracks. Some weeks I’m just spoiled for choice. Also, I managed the first of actually tying a couple lines about each track. Hopefully no one is offended. Hey, if I didn’t like your song it wouldn’t be on the list. No really, there isn’t even the usual token “you really have to hear this to believe it” track.

Limitless”, the new rocker from Bon Jovi is from their album “2020” out on May 15th,. That wasn’t a typo, 2020 is the title, which doesn’t sound terribly creative, but we’re told it has something to do with it being an election year, and those people are a little too creative, fantastical even, if you catch my drift. Anyway, Bon Jovi are as dependable as ever on this track. I confess I probably don’t get as excited about a new Bon Jovi release because, in my mind, they’re always overshadowed by that other famous New Jersey rock band from a street named E, who are also due to have an album out this year (finally).

Now that “Bad Decisions” is out I feel safe to say that ”At the Door”, the first release I heard from The Stokes’ upcoming album, “The New Abnormal” (April 10th) sounded pretty dire to my ears with that dirge organ going constantly. I’m all for experimentation, but I’d still like it to sound appealing. This track not only sounds A-OK, but it actually sounds like the band that blew us away with “Is This It” back at the beginning of the Century. Hopefully the new album will be in a similar vein.

The “twisted love song” (their description) “Headlock” comes from Manchester band Lottery Winners’ upcoming debut album, although apparently they’ve been busy releasing singles for the last few years. Good energy and a fun track to listen to.

I’m really loving this Thundercat retro soul groove with a soupçon of tongue-in-cheek, and “DragonBall Durag” is no exception. And yes, that is a reference to Dragonball Z. I still say he’s channelling the ghost of Frank Zappa on some of his lyrics. Anyway, there will be an entire album of this stuff, “It Is What It Is” out April 3rd.

Susie Save Your Love” is by Canadian Indie pop artist Allie X, in collaboration with Mitski from her newly released album “Cape God”, her second. ”No, I hadn’t heard of either one of them either, but Allie has been making music for about fourteen years now, so it’s just that we’re old. This one is a bit dream pop with a kick and answers the musical question once posed by the WRKP station Manager to Johnny Fever: “Do I hear dogs barking?” You do, you do.

Bad People” is a lovely sounding downer of a song from Lauren Acquilina. It’s basically a post break-up song about how she’s going to go out and be horrible to people just like her ex was horrible to her, because she’s learned that bad people win. But it’s just venting a broken heart, and listening to this track I reckon she’s about as capable of being bad as Edward Scissorhands was in that move. 

Glasgow rock band The Fratellis put on the upbeat, big brass band accents to get you moving on “Six Days in June”, which is taken from their upcoming album “Half Drunk Under a Full Moon”, due out May 8th.

Sometimes you just have to go a bit bonkers with an instant come-all-ye. Sports Team is an appropriate name for the band that put out “Here’s the Thing”, because it’s a raucous number with a recurring title that sounds like it’s best chanted by 50,000 people. I’ll bet these guys are great craic live. The debut album, “Deep Down Happy”, will be out April 3rd. One hopes they are not a one-trick pony.

Strangers” is the latest of releases from Indie group Mt Joy’s upcoming second album “Rearrange Us”, due out June 5th. I might be crazy, but they remind me a bit of the upbeat, pop side of the Waterboys on this one. Instantly singable chorus.

The Way” is a track by rappers Trippie Redd and Russ with no actual rap in it—they take the novel approach of singing throughout on this mellow groove. Taken from the Deluxe version “A Love Letter to You 4” which is an update of a previously released album with a few new tracks.

Irish Band Hudson Taylor are actually two brothers with the last name Hudson-Taylor, so probably from D even number with a double barrel like that. “Where did it All Go Wrong” is a polished bit of upbeat pop with a hint of Americana and easily likeable hooks that should server them well. This track was released last Friday and the album it’s from, “Loving Everywhere I go”, bucking the trend of releasing tracks a dog year before the album comes out. Fair play.

It’s possible that what I like best about “Ghost Adventure Spirit Orb” by 17 year old Chloe Moriondo is the title. This indie pop song is quirky in vocal tone and lyric content, more psychedelic than some of the self-professed psychedelic bands I’ve heard lately. So it is good, but that title is awesome.

I can’t find much about London-based Emily Burns new single “Hello” beyond it being about the kind of person who you’ve just about gotten over when they pop back up in your life to trigger all those feelings you told yourself you no longer had. It just might make its way into mainstream pop.

I should have guessed that Orla Gartland is Irish considering all the Catholic guilt dripping from “Oh GOD”. It’s a bit of a break down that sifts time and turns up the temperament as it goes along. Taken from the newly released EP “Freckle Season”

Confidant” by Blakey is an earnest and intimate, low key song between friends from one who’s been there who knows to be there for the other. Yeah, we’ve heard similar before, but this one starts to work on you after you’ve heard it a few times.

I wonder if Samuel Jack has a brother named Daniels. Nevermind. “Gonna Be Alright” gets off to a slow-ish start with the droning Hammond organ chords, and even when the piano first kicks in on the chorus you might wonder why we’re here. Then the horn section kicks in and this track takes off. I’ll bet Sam has a copy of “Human” in his music collection. He’s got a number of single and EP releases out in the last few years, but the debut full-length album is due out…soon.

Hey, Biffy Clyro are back with “Instant History” a big, BF sounding, polished rock track guaranteed to remind people who they are. They say this is not necessarily reflective of the rest of the album, which will be released…later and be named…something. That’s all we got from them.

And finally we have American rockers All Time Low, with “Sleeping In” an appropriately neat and upbeat rocker with the lyrics flying about as fast as one can sing them. Taken from their upcoming album “Wake Up, Sunshine”, due out April 3rd.

Here we are again folks with a new list of recently released tracks that I’ve pruned probably more severely than usual. Must be feeling old and cranky this week. Also, last Friday was Valentine’s day, and even the new music feeds went all Hallmark on me.

https://open.spotify.com/playlist/7GrKsoztKDuhxqOcuSy8Zq?si=boyb-hxLSaK8dSf-uZNkVQ

King Princess gets the list off to a strong start with “Ohio”, which has nothing to do with CSN&Y, but does have to do with some cold and hot indie rough stuff that just might be the best track I’ve heard all week.

On “Sweet Tooth”, Cavetown reminds me quite a lot of Wheatus (“Teenage Dirtbag”), which I know is a too-recent reference for some of my readers, but do catch up.

I keep reading that Australia’s Tame Impala is a psychedelic rock band, and each time I read it I think of Pink Floyd, which is a pretty high standard to live up to. This probably has a lot to do with why I’ve been less than impressed with Tame Impala so far. Having said that, “Breathe Deeper” may be the song I’ve liked best from the ones I’ve heard over the last few years. It still ain’t Pink Floyd, but it’s not bad.

The Khruangbin and Leon Bridges EP collaboration keeps making its way onto my lists track by track, and I’ve been passing because it was interesting but I just wasn’t resonating with it deeply enough. That changed a bit on the slow burner “Conversion”. As it goes on, it starts to remind me of one of those old Rod Stewart slow numbers back when he was a rebel and before he became a crooner of popular hits. Not as loud and rough, but as drawled.

Speaking of Valentines’ day, I did let Gregory Porter get away with “If Love is Overrated”, partially because it’s got a near Nat King Cole vibe to it, which brought back a pleasant childhood memory of a warm spring Sunday afternoon hearing the stereo through the open windows. Gregory might not sound like Nat, but his musical arranger could pass.

OK, let’s get it out of the way. Here’s Billie Eilish with the new Bond Song, which is called “Diamonds are”…no wait, “No Time to Die”. It sounds like a Bond Song, and definitely not like a Billie Eilish Song. But my eight year old daughter is a huge Billie Eilish fan, so there you go.

“On “Just Not with You”, Patawawa, while not being a name I’d want to say in public, lays down a groove reminiscent of Kid Creole then overlays it with Sister Sledge vocals about moving on from a dead-end relationship. Good for dancing under the mirrored disco ball.

death bed” is one of those “at least now you’ve heard it” kind of songs. I’m not sure which one is Powfu and which one is beabadoobee (sure I could look it up, but some things should remain a mystery), but basically this is a rap about someone laying on their death bed lamenting his impending death and the wasted opportunities of his life while the other one offers to make coffee for someone (surely not the guy in bed?) to help them stay awake. But what’s most remarkable is that, in spite of all this, it all sounds a bit…uh…goofy. I haven’t yet decided if it’s supposed to sound like that.

And the rest you will have to enjoy without my help

Happy Valentine’s Day. This week’s list does feature some love songs, but you could say that about pretty much every song list. See, love is all around you and you don’t even know it. So let’s see what’s in this grab bag of musical delights.

This week’s list seems to be a bit more rockin’ than average, and the hardest song of all is the one Halsey did for “Birds of Prey” called “Experiment on Me”, which even surpasses the edginess on her recent album. For those of you with a weak constitution, this might take your head right off your body, so I saved it for the penultimate track.

Probably the easiest and most fun entry point to this list has to be Green Day’s “Meet Me on the Roof”, which breezes along like a slightly faster and heavier version of Thin Lizzy’s “Dancing in the Moonlight”, while still managing to sound like Green day. I’m starting to look forward to the rest of the album now, and may have to go back and reassess their other recent release“Oh, Yeah”.

Ladies for Babies (Goats for Love)” is surely a protest song by Nadine Shah about the state of sexual politics in the Mid-East, and probably the most radical thing you’re going to hear this week, musically.

Another week, another One Direction alumnut. This time it’s Niall Horan. Sure, they were boy band, but as solo artists at least some of them have shown there is a solid act II, and are faring better than most at growing up. No Judgement.

I hear you. “Seriously Dave? The Pussycat Dolls? WTF?” Yeah, I know. This is on the list purely from a sociological point of view. Here we have a group of women who dress and behave on stage in a way as to get men drooling over them like obedient dogs, singing their complaint that their lover is drooling over them like an obedient dog. She doesn’t want him to kiss her ass. She wants to wind him up, start a fight. She wants him to “React”. But he’s just too darn nice. If I was him, I’d be asking myself, “Do I really need this kind of drama in my life?” If you have been affected by this issue there is a support page on Facebook, surely.

James Taylor finds an easy-going country swing song to play that’s even older than he is, in “As Easy as Rolling off a Log”. Then Tinsley Ellis is back with his album “Ice Cream in Hell” for a second week, playing “Sit Tight Mama”, just because I feel like it, OK? And I like the way that man plays blues-rock guitar.

Ah, Pixies, I almost forgot about you. I stuck you on towards the end, and mostly because “Mal De Mer” is “merely” part of a collection of outtakes from last year’s superb “Beneath the Eyrie”, an album some critics seemed to dislike for not being Doolittle. And “Abbey Road” isn’t “Beatles for Sale” while we’re at it. Anyway, those same people might enjoy this, being that it is a bit more raw and unpolished. While we’re here, i’d like to strongly recommend last years limited series, “It’s a Pixies Podcast” as great fly on the wall perspective on what it’s like to be in a three week recording session with the Pixies. The popularity of thr podcast is surely one of the reasons behind the outake releases.

You might recognize “Save Tonight” as being previously done by Eagle Eye Cherry many years ago, but where that version raced along at 45 rpm, Tom Speight ice-chills this version down to about 16. Still, listening to it, it’s easy to imagine this is closer to the songwriter’s intention than the original version, which may have been cranked up for commercial purposes in much the same way that John Lennon’s “Revolution” was cranked up when he was told that the version from the White Album wasn’t going to fly on the radio. I’m just speculating on this.

And that’s all I have time to comment on today. Tune in again next week when you might get to hear Billie Eilish sing the new James Bond song. Or not, LOL. It certainly sounds like a Bond theme anyway. I remember when she was just a young unknown working out of a bedroom recording studio with her brother, like it was only last year.

I’m going to level with you. I’ve had a winter bug hanging on for the better part of two weeks. That fed my inspiration to create a list that made me feel good from start to finish, like comfort food, which meant leaving off a few things that I would otherwise feel should be on a list of new releases. So, sorry Gorillaz, but “Momentary Bliss” isn’t here. I usually quite like your stuff, but in this case I already had a headache, thanks. It’s not you, it’s me.

On the other hand, I found I wasn’t in the head space to do much writing about the songs on the list. But finding new music to listen is the main point of this blog. My semi snarky musings arechickenjust a bonus.

How did a chicken get in here? Seriously, autotext. Never blog from your phone.

There’s a bit of everything on here from straight-up electric blues from Tinsley Ellis to a few flavors of soul, including a joyous, samba, Afrobeat hybrid from Jordan Mackampa, one of the most beautiful solo acoustic numbers I’ve heard in yonks from Rumer and Lost Hollow. Plus a good mix of left-of center but easy-on-the-ear indie. Is it me, or is there something quite Ray Davies in Declan McKenna’s “Beautiful Faces”?

I even let erstwhile One-Directioner Louis Tomlison in. If that tiny intro to his “Habit” doesn’t sound like it was sampled from The Stone’s “Wild Horses”, then I don’t know what does sound like it was lifted from “Wild Horses”. Now I’m going to have to go listen to a remastered copy of “Stickey Fingers”.

Who does Lucia sound like on “City of Angels”? Maybe Annie Lennox?

Time once again for another playlist of songs that slid onto my desk over the last week that didn’t slide back off again into the circular file. A good number of these feel a bit retro. Maybe that’s why I like them.

There’s some hootin’ and hollerin’ going on in Jake Bugg’s latest track “Kiss Like the Sun”, an upbeat country blues rocker that is bound to raise the barn roof. This actually came out in November, but this week’s music feeds gave me a newly released acoustic version, which is also fine, but I opted for the original. It’s from his upcoming fifth album

Now for some local lads. “We Have to move on”, which is Dublin band Inhaler’s new track, rocks with energy, hit’s the ear well, and sounds commercial and polished, but not too much so. FYI, singer Eli Hewson’s dad Paul is better known as Bono, but his dad’s shadow isn’t lingering over the band—they are capable of making their own stand, although it’s not a million miles away from the sound the old man’s band made in the early days when we thought they were an indie band, long ago in an era far, far way. They’ve been getting out and about internationally too, and I imagine this track will keep them moving forward.

And now to Scotland for rock band Twin Atlantic. Although “Novocaine” is apparently the single, my feed pushed the opening track, “Oh! Euphoria!” from their fifth album “Power”, which is said to be inspired by colours, moods and memories. Power is as good a word as any to describe this sound, with maybe a soupcon of Depeche a la mode. They go for a big 80’s synth sound here with an insistently heavy mid-tempo beat.

Kelsea Ballerini gives us a pretty, acoustic country pop song about her love and hate relationship with “la” (as in Los Angeles—she’s got a thing for using all lowercase), from her third album due out in March.

Poppy Ajudha and Mahalia team up for the sultry, seductive groove of “Low Ride” I love their harmonies on this, and the rhythmic feel is just enough off kilter to almost be approaching jazz while still being an R&B song. More of this please.

The David Bowie EP “Is It Any Wonder” continues to be released one one-track-per-week basis. And even though I had “The Man Who Sold the World on this list a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play one of my all-time favourite album tracks “Stay”, originally from the “Station to Station” album. He might not be able to hit those falsetto notes here, but the vocal arrangement more than makes up for it. It’s loose and jazzy on the chorus and driven by that Iconic, over-driven grunge-funk guitar riff everywhere else. Best track so far.

The Pet Shop Boys just keep working that 80’s beat hit factory they’ve built. “I don’t Wanna” is a song you can dance to about being too introverted to go out dancing, but he gets there in the end. Reliable as ever.

Eliza Shaddad’s airy vocals along with an arpeggiated electric guitar riff drive the indie rock ballad “Same as You”, taken from her three track “single” Sept ~ Dec.

Badly Drawn Boy is back again too, but not from the dead, although it may seem that way. The singe “Is this a Dream?” is the first release of new material in seven years. It’s an upbeat, bouncing pop track about the chaos of modern life. There will be a tour, but will there be an album? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

I never equated Tom Grennan with The Police before, but there’s a certain inflection on some of the notes he hits at the end of the chorus in “This is the Place” that is reminiscent of Sting. The drumming and the occasional staccato guitar chords only add to the effect. Couldn’t point to a specific song, but you’ll hear what I mean.

On this next Island flavoured pop track, I want you to forget about trying to hear Sheneseea’s lyrics on “Potential Man” and just feel the words go by. Maybe it’s me, but it’s pretty cool the way the rhythmic vocal melody goes by like some form of pop scat singing. I’ve got no idea what it has to do with X-Men though. What? Oh, ex man. It was an honest mistake.

I wouldn’t want to be Mae Muller’s ex (I presume). This guy will spend the next few months, at least, hearing repeatedly that he doesn’t need a girlfriend, he needs a “Therapist”. Ouch. This bit of pop crooning is bound to get into regular rotation on the radio, so I reckon there are going to be a few people thinking it could be about them, or more likely more than a few people thinking, “been there”.

Paramore’s Hayley Williams track “Simmer” is simply hypnotic, and the feel belies that this is a song about abuse, rage, and control.  It could work as a dance track if the rhythm was slightly dumbed down. Don’t worry, someone will probably remix it that way.

The youngest person on the list this week has to be 17 year old ren, who, in “New Way” gives us a bluesy pop ballad about a relationship that’s so good she can’t stand it, really. She needs a new way to hate him because she misses the drama. There’s no pleasing some people.

I’m not sure “Fatboy Slim” is anything like in the style of something Fatboy Slim would do, but there’s a great high-energy feel good factor to this track by the Snuts. This is more indie rock than rave, despite the title. The Snuts is a great name by the way—I love a band name that sounds cool and has an is obscure enough to be meaningless to most people. I’ll give you a hint, it’s got nothing to do with the Urban Dictionary.

Pearl Jam return with a song that might be half trying to approximate techno, or at least there’s a smattering of rhythmic synth.  It’s still Pearl Jam, but you might be able to dance to it. “Stand back when the spirit comes” Eddie Vedder “Dance of the Clairvoyants”, a song that seems to be encouraging us to live in the present and not get too caught up in a better, brighter future. “Expecting perfection leaves a lot to ignore.”

Scottish rockers VUKOVI mesh melodic ideas with hard driving guitars on “Aura

Reportedly, North London’s Sorry are a chameleon-like band. “More” is an indie grunge track with a pop foundation supporting an appealing rough structure. There will be an alum in March, where we can find out more about how varied they really are I imagine.

Mama always said Todd Rundgren is like a box of chocolates—you never know what you’re gonna get. It could be one of his perfect pop masterpieces like “Hello It’s Me” or Real Man. It could be some quasi-political diatribe. It could be a prog rock song about chakras. It could even be his hits reinterpreted in Bossa Nova style (“With a Twist”, 1997). His new single “Bang Bang” is neither the best nor worst of Todd, remarkable considering it was written by Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford of Squeeze fame, who allegedly all but disowned the song long before Todd took it up. You’d never guess it was theirs from the techno treatment it gets here. It was released on vinyl for record store day last year, but it’s out for streaming now.

Ciaran Lavery wants a cigarette, would rather be in love, but needs to please himself. These seem to be the main thoughts rotating in his head in “Can I begin Again” his depressed and frustrated gritty-indie post self-therapy song. It was the sound of that slow, tragic guitar riff sucked me in. This is from the Northern Ireland native’s impending fourth album.

Finish Line” is a fairly straight forward big pop song in the direction of Lewis Capaldi by a band called Rowan, There doesn’t seem to be a lot about them on the net, but they seem to be a decent trio of young lads. This might get them noticed.

 

OK Boomers, here’s another round of releases from the last week that these old ears can relate to, which means this playlist might not contain the most popular and hyped songs of the week. (I’m looking at you Louis Tomlinson, though I’m sure “Walls” will do well regardless of my help.) Nope, these are just the new releases that are, at a minimum, listenable after hearing them for a week. (Well, there is one I put through as a public service, but mostly they’re listenable.) You have to let things percolate before you can tell whether you’re drinking Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks. I’ll let you guys argue over that one.

 

Let’s start with an upbeat strumming number from The 1975 which is a lot more accessible than that politically motivated track they last year from their upcoming album “Notes on a Conditional Form”. I mean, the guest vocalist was Greta Thunberg, who is not known for singing voice. Hey, can’t a guy make a joke anymore in these times? Geez! Seriously guys, I had to check to make sure I was listening to the same 1975. A for effort on the climate change cause though. Anyway, on this one, even the title sounds happier despite the lyrics being a bit bittersweet. “Me & You Together Song” features vocalist Matt Healy trying to get out of the lifelong-friend zone.

Bombay Bicycle Club just keep getting better with age. Is It Real feels Like a Cars song, at least until the vocals kick in. You won’t mistake Jack Steadman for Ric Ocasek, and the chorus harmonies almost sound ethereal in a pop sort of way. This is taken from their new album “Everything Else has Gone Wrong”, which also has last summer’s “Eat, Sleep, Wake (Nothing but You)”. If you like this, you’ll like the rest of the album.

I’m all in on Gregory Porter, who manages to raise the energy level above the previous two tracks with “Revival” a stomping soul/gospel track with a ten piece choir as well as the usual band. Not much to say except this is from the upcoming album “All Rise”, out in April, then I’ll just step out of the way.

Let’s take it down a notch with Thea Morgan-Murrell’s delicate waltz “TwentyTwo”, which sees her comforting her partner while admitting that she too finds herself daunted by the uncertainty of what life holds for her. Love the organ on this one.

Next up is the even younger Matilda Mann’s “The Fucking Best”, which shows a bit of envy about people who have it all together when you don’t, and wishing you could be like them, with an air of being resigned to not being so. This makes a change from the ocean of songs that seem to be sung by those other people who seem to project a vibe that you should wish you were like them. Just sayin’.

The year ahead releases articles told me that Soccer Mommy’s next album is highly anticipated, and I thought to myself, “Who the hell is Soccer Mommy?” I admit I’m at an age where I dip in and out of what’s going on at ground level, which sometimes makes me feel like I live on an island, which I do technically, but a civilised one with an Internet connection and not that one where Tom Hanks spent his time talking to a volleyball. Anyway, Soccer Mommy is AKA Sophie Allison, who has been putting out music for about five years now. On “circle the drain” (her choice not to use initial caps) she sings about depression in a way that makes the song sound much lighter than the lyrical content it contains, in an indie sort of way. The album “Color Theory”, her fourth full-length album, is out next month.

I’m still trying to make up my mind about Green Day’s “Oh Yeah”. It’s fine, and it’s growing on me, but after raising the bar so high for themselves, and waiting so long for this, I probably expect more from them than I would from other bands. This song has a lighter feel than you might expect, or maybe the usual trappings are just overwhelmed by the clap-along beat. It’s more “I Love Rock and Roll” than “American Idiot”. Well. Billie is a Joan Jett fan. The Album “Father of All…” is out next month.

The Vistas give us a rocker about being a Fool in Love with “Sucker”. Then it’s Thundercat and Steve Lacy gives us Black Qualls, a twisted bit of funk about moving to the burbs with no more living in fear. It keeps shifting gears like it’s auditioning for a part in the next Fast and Furious movie. After that, Nigerian via London Obongjayar gives us an earthy, rough and ready flip side of what Gregory Porter was up to earlier with “God’s Own Children”.

In other news, Bowie’s people released the second track, “I Can’t Read” from the upcoming EP I told you about last week. It’s “very interesting”. But for me, the dead artist of the week has to be Duane Allman with the Allman Brothers Band performing Trouble No More, which also happens to be the name of their upcoming 10 LP/5CD box set to mark their 50th anniversary. The track claims this is a demo, but working from memory the only thing that seems to be missing from the originally released version is a bit of polish. Duane shines bright as ever. The man left quite a legacy considering how little time he spent with us before the fatal bike accident. Those of you kids who don’t know who I’m talking about, take a listen to what a real guitarist sounds like. And GOOD GRIEF, go listen to Derek and the Domino’s (D[uane] & ERIC [Clapton], get it?) “Layla” album, which still sounds as vital and alive today as it did 50 years ago, and I’ve tried to wear it out. Not many albums I can say that about. Oh, and the Allman brothers were pretty good too, especially while Duane was making them something truly special.

I tried to kick What a Man Gotta Do to the curb several times, mainly for the crime of being by the Jonas Brothers, which gave them little street cred IMO. However, each time I heard it I found myself hesitating and thinking, “Nah, next time.” It’s just a simple, pumping pop song driven by an infectious hand-jive rhythm, albeit laid over the same old ho-hum overused four on the floor kick drum, but it’s kind of infectious. I should probably see my GP.

At first listen, it didn’t seem like Oh My God by Boniface would make the list, but once I tuned into the lyrics, I knew I couldn’t deprive you of this song of adoration fuelled by a few drinks too many, one which boasts the compliment, “You’re the shit nobody gives”. You’re welcome.

I should tell you, I will occasionally put things on this playlist as a civic duty to make you aware of something you might otherwise miss, so that you can say you heard it at least once. Last week, some of you might have been bemused by the unlikely paring of Ozzy Osborne and Elton John, but that was merely a match made in heck compared to this week’s collaboration between that nice young Ed Sheeran lad and the perennially controversial Eminem. Those Kinda Nights conjures images of Ed that you’d rather not think about, considering your children listen to him, whereas for Eminem it’s probably a slow night, but his rhymes do crack me up from time to time. It’s all a bit Jay and Silent Bob. We should probably have a serious conversation now about artist’s public personae vs their actual personae, but I must move on.

Ron Sexsmith returns with his own brand of pop with “You Don’t Want to Hear it”, and Lily Moore’s bluesy voice makes her sound older than her years with “Now I Know”.

I know I put Halsey on the list last week, but I was compelled to do it again after having a few more songs put through my new music feeds. The obvious choice probably would have been to include the attention seeking “3am” where she is in overdrive seeking validation from pretty much everyone she ever met, but I preferred to include “Still Learning” as in still learning to love herself, which offers a more positive message that bears repeating. This seems to be shaping up to be one of the big albums of 2020. I’ve only had a chance to listen to it once. There’s a lot to unpack.

As usual, I didn’t comment on every song on the list. There are only so many hours in the day, music is for listening to, and you’re sitting in front of a Google machine.

This is my unapologetically subjective playlist of tracks that were released last Friday, (or at least I heard them for the first time last Friday). Spending a week with them gives me a chance to hear which ones gleam in the sun, breaking through the surface of the sea of releases, and which drop out of sight like Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic. What remains is what I can still listen to at the end of a week, in descending order from favourite to least so, more or less. I may not comment on all of them  . On the other hand, I may comment all too much about others.

Let’s begin with words I never thought I’d type: The hottest release of the week is Morrissey’s Bobby Don’t you Think They Know. This is based purely on the sound and feel of the music, because according to the Google machine I’m not the only one who finds the lyrics indecipherable. Is it a song about Bob Dylan? Is it some fascist, xenophobic diatribe written after the style of Michael Stipe? (please, no). I’ll hold off speculating further until I at least get the playlist published. What matters is this is a fun sounding bit of stomping white soul that is aided and enhanced by Motown Veteran Thelma Houston. The groovy (usage intentional) organ and sax solos don’t hurt either.

The Flaming Lips have always been a bit hit and miss with me, sometimes I connect with them and sometimes I think their music is “very interesting”, to quote Marty McFly’s mother. Home through Hell falls into the former category, and like the Morrissey track I found it hard to shake once it got into my head.

For me, Ozzy Osborne’s ballads have never been his strong suit, and this one about being a performer ‘til the day he dies is fairly predictable at first listen. But damn, Ordinary Man grew on me over the course of the week. Maybe it’s the Old Grey Whistle Test comfort food factor. Maybe it’s because it sounds a bit like an Elton John song until the second verse, at which point it sounds totally like an Elton John song due to it being sung by Elton John. Then there’s one of those tasteful, melodic, fat and over driven lead guitar solos that used to frequent these type of tracks 30 or 40 years ago. It’s all fine.

The redoubtable Circa Waves add another upbeat and sure-to-be-popular pop/rock song to their catalog with Move to San Francisco, in which the singer’s girlfriend wants to move to “where all the happy people go”, but he’s not so sure. Let us know how that works out.

If you’re going to remix a song, do it drastically. St Vincent does just that with Beck’s Uneventful Days from last year’s Hyperspace, seemingly jettisoning all the ambient pop instrumentation from the original version, retaining only the vocal. Then she builds a mid-tempo funk groove around it that you wouldn’t expect. It works, maybe even better than the original version.

Stop this Flame by Celeste is some old school Motown-like soul, for which I am a sucker, Then there is Halsey’s Ballsy f*** off folk-rock breakup song You Should Be Sad, both of which deserve to be in the top half of this list.

After that comes Winona Ryder by Picture This, an Irish band apparently (I knew I’d heard of them). The label says Indie but it sounds a bit like Modern Country to me, which is what we used to call Country rock, or just rock, depending on whether you were talking about The Eagles or Lynyrd Skynyrd. Not that this band sounds like either of those two, but this track still seems to fit in the genre. I hate labels. Where was I? Oh yes, so this is a song about falling in love and being star struck by another person, even though he or she may not be one. It sounds radio friendly, but I’m tellin’ ya, it could take off on the American modern country charts.

Barcelona by Big Moon comes next, a bit of melodic, mid-tempo girl group indie. Not sure I have more to say about this one because next I’m itching to get to…

The problem with famous dead artists, besides the fact they rarely produce new material, is that people who have access to the vaults eventually release pretty much anything and everything to satisfy the demands of the public for more content from said artist while satisfying their own desire to profit from said artist. But at least said artist is David Bowie, so it could be worse. I’m not sure if this version of The Man Who Sold the World from the 1997 ChangesNowBowie sessions adds or subtracts much compared with the original album version, but it is a valid excuse to go back and listen to one of my favourite tracks from his acoustic, bedsit, pre-Ziggy days. And apparently we’re going to get another five weekly excuses to listen to old Bowie, as one track a week is released from an upcoming six-track EP, which will reportedly grow up to be an LP. I refer you to the first sentence in this paragraph.

I have little to say about the rest of this playlist, which is not a bad thing. If I didn’t like the songs at all they wouldn’t be on the list, although as I said earlier, the cream floats to the top. Of the bands that remain, the two more famous ones, Kodaline and Tame Impala, have songs on this list that will probably get some significant airplay, or downloads, or ad placement, however you measure success these days. Neither of these bands would be on my personal A list, but a lot of people like them, and the songs do have good solid hooks. Looking at the long-term forecast, I think Tame Impala in particular might have a very good year.

Well, it was inevitable that I would miss a week here or there. I think I’ve done well to get this far into the year without a break, not to brag or anything like. And that gave me a much larger pool to draw from, which may have resulted in an even stronger list than usual, and one that has a few more songs on it. You will have to let your own ears determine whether they are for you.

(Spotify link below)

Plastic Hamburgers—Fantastic Negrito

Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz (try pronouncing that) says that he makes “black roots music for everybody”. That could be true, because to my ears this track sounds like blues-ROCK that, between the riffs and the voice, puts me in mind of a certain band named after a heavy dirigible.  From the album “Please Don’t Be Dead”, out June 15th

Sweet Sensation—Flo Rida

Yes, OK, it’s unashamedly a hit pop song, but it’s got such a great “get up and dance” groove to it, which to a large extent is aided by a first-class pumping production job. Sometimes it’s OK to just let go and enjoy the sounds.

Philly Forget Me Not—Hall & Oates (with Train)

Millennials will be saying “Who???” but those of us of a certain age will remember this once auspicious hit machine which was much better than the long overplayed “Maneater” would have us believe.  This one is more in line with their Philadelphia soul roots than that other aforementioned hit. It’s their first new track in 15 years but, alas, it isn’t a prelude to an album, or even another single. For now anyway.

Change—Charlie Puth, James Taylor

A June-December match that is more Charlie than James in vocals, I think, but definitely has a James Taylor feel to it. Lyrically it’s basically about accepting each other for who we are, which some would say is a modern message, but being old enough to remember the 60’s I can assure you is not. From Puth’s upcoming, collaboration filled album “Voicenotes”.

that was then—Isaac Gracie

Isaac sure can hit those high notes. This song takes a few seconds to get going, but once it does it pulls you in with a decent melody  and a feeling of longing and regret.

the broken hearts club—gnash

There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to like this song because of the subject matter, which is basically come join us because misery loves company. But it is kind of a catchy song. So I’m hoping this is at least partially tongue in cheek.

By the way, what’s with all the lower case song titles?

Lost in Paris—Tom Misch, GoldLink

Kind of jazzy,  with some slinky guitar work. Feels pretty smooth.

Lash Out—Alice Merton

Alice sounds a bit frustrated, but she’s rocking it in an Indie sort of way.

Sugar & Spice—Hatchie

A nice mix of girl-group, 60’s style, Indie sensibilities with hooks, harmonies, and a nice production wash that’s full sounding without being overproduced.

The Walking Wounded—Roseanne Cash

Roseanne Cash is surely country, but as this song suggests it’s more country in a Springsteen sort of way than her daddy Johnny’s way.  The lyrics try to cover so many bases they’re nearly generic, but there are some good lines. Ultimately it feels quietly anthemic

Unusual Boy—Bernie and the Believers

Singer/songwriter Bernie is looking for love with someone who is as much of a misfit as she is. A lot of yearning going on, but the song does get under your skin. Someone did a great job with the string arrangement, which does a great job of building up the song dynamically as it goes along.

Start Over Again—New Hope Club

The New Hope Club’s singer wishes he had put just a little more effort into making that all-important first impression with his date. That sounds like a downer, but the lyrics are decent enough, and we’re talking about not splitting the bill and saying you look beautiful instead of nice, as opposed to say getting wasted and dancing naked in the fountain, so it wasn’t a horrible first impression. Musically the song really pops along with a semi-acoustic guitar-band arrangement and a light touch on the lead guitar.

In My View—Young Fathers

The Young Fathers have an interesting album out, “Cocoa Sugar” that has had tracks coming dangerously close to making the list over the past month or two. This is the first I’ve picked, and considering this list is compiled from two weeks it’s fair to say it’s not cause the competition is weak. Also, some of the other stuff on the album, while being different, hasn’t really connected with me on an emotional level. This song is a bit cynical like some of the others, but the groove caught me, the’re a nice melodic shift going into the chorus, and the singer’s voice is just the right kind of off-kilter to pull of the track.

Shiggy—Stephen Malkmus

I’ve come to like this guy a lot over the last couple of years. This one is mid-tempo heavy without being overbearing, and an alt-pop sensibility to the lyrics and the melody supported by Stephen’s enjoyable but not ready for X-Factor vocal style. Think Todd Rundgren meets Nirvana. Plus it’s another track with some decent, melodic lead guitar. It’s a banner week for that, relatively speaking.

Raining in Kyoto—The Wonder Years

I should warn you that you will have an urge to turn up the volume as soon as this track starts, but the volume will kick in and rock this out shortly into this track, so be kind to your ears, or speakers and neighbors, and wait it out. When it gets going it’s like standing under a downpour of sound

Seagull—Aquilo

The intro almost feels like David Crosby to me, but it soon opens into a smooth, mid-tempo, guitar band arrangement of a nice melodic track that might be more Christopher Cros than Crosby, now that I hear it again.

Sweet Coffee—Mullaly, Bassette

A love song, or possible a mutual lust song, that floats along like two might if they were able to enjoy that first cup of coffee with the luxury of watching each other instead of the clock.

Ultralight Beam—Naaz

There’s something seductive from this track from female, Dutch singer Naaz. It’s essentially a slow rap track that seems to have a dreamlike free-association quality to it, supported by a solo piano that sometimes punctuates the track at rhythmically odd but appropriate angles

Here We Are—Lowes

I think it’s really the soaring chorus with all those drums that caught my attention, but it’s a good enough hook to make the list.

Love is Madness—Thirty Seconds to Mars (feat. Halsey)

You’re not good for me, I’m no good for you, let’s get together and be perfect for each other in what is probably an unhealthy but totally obsessive way, and be possessive of each other while not wanting to be possessed, or perhaps even faithful. And now you know why love is madness. It’s a heavy sounding mid-tempo pop song that might cross over to rock despite the lack of guitars, But it has drums that are probably a prelude to the inevitable breakup.

We Can Do Better—Matt Simmons

This is a happy little, big sounding, pop song about relationships, and not making the same mistakes as the couples who you’ve observed previously. And you can sing along to the chorus.

Velvet Elvis—Kacey Musgraves

It’s kind of a cotton candy pop/rock track, appropriately enough, since it’s a young woman comparing her boyfriend to a velvet Elvis, as a compliment of course. But it’s pleasant and poppy with a good backbeat. So kinda Shania Twain. Could do well with the masses.

Over It—Bullet for my Valentine

And here is the heaviest song of the week, or at least the heaviest one allowed on the list. Unlike some people, I suppose, I prefer having some melodic elements mixed in with the screaming. And like the Ed Norton version of the Incridable Hulk, the screaming is only there when absolutely necessary.

Opener—Hookworms

Counter-intuitive as it is, we’ll close with “Opener”, which might not be to everyone’s liking, but I find has a certain hypnotic presence. For me Hookworms have made a journey from what I would call ambient psychedelic rock to ambient psychedelic rock with actual songs in it, which is far more interesting. It does go on a bit though, so if you don’t make it to the end I’ll understand.

 

 

 

(Spotofy link below)

Between the Easter holiday and the school’s mid-term break, it’s hard keeping on track at the moment. So a couple of days later than usual here is this week’s list of music that appealed to me over the last week or so, starting with a Leon Bridges track that, between the voice, feel and pristine production quality just feels so good.  David Byrne gives us some comfortable familiarity in his own way. Sandro Cavazza makes great use of whistling on happy little tune. There’s a sing-along anthem from Panic! At the disco. And Genghar gives us some beautiful, next-generation, classic guitar rock.

There’s plenty else to like, I just don’t have the time to wax on about it, Although I should warn you not to skip over Superorganism’s take on “Havana” because they have definitely made it their own.  The DMA’s are sounding very much like classic Oasis, if not quite as nasally. Thunderpussy is a great name for a hard-rock band of women. And Shawn Mendes, I’m giving you a chance here partly because my daughter liked your last album so much, so don’t let me down.

At the end there are three instrumentals from completely different genres I had to include.  “Call and Response” is an acoustic guitar workout with percussion that is immersed in mid-east influences. Joshua Redman and Brian Blade have a great track that is more challenging than some of the jazz I’ve listed this year, and finally “Mass (Re-Imagined)” is somewhere between classical piano and chill out music.

On time for once, here’s this weeks play list.

(Spotify link below)

 

Saviour—George Ezra, First Aid Kit

George Ezra and First Aid Kit both seem to be having a good year so far. this song seems to be more focused on the former than the latter. after all, it’s from his latest album “Staying at Tamara’s, which features a number of strong tracks.

Sugartown—the Fratellis

This is a mix of 60’s rock ballad, old-school, mid tempo love song with an indie feel and updated lyrical sensibilities. From the album “In Your Own Sweet Time”. Hey, it’s only been a couple of years since the last one.

Blackout—Frank Turner

Probably the poppiest thing I’ve heard from Frank turner, who I have sometimes compared to Billy Bragg. But not this time. Lyrically rich and ready for radio.  From the soon to be released “Be More Kind”, which has at least one other great track I can vouch for.

Can’t Deny Me—Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam are back to rocking out with a track from their upcoming album that they recently dedicated to the Parkland students. And it is political protest to those currently in charge of America, but you’ll be nodding your head to it first and parsing the lyrics second.

Bittersweet—George Glew

relative newcomer George give us a nice ballad about letting go when you don’t want to, with a bit of bounce and some decent lead guitar work.

Do it Like You Do—Kawala

This upbeat, predominantly acoustic track moves along nicely and features some subtle African style guitar inflections despite being a couple of young white lads from Leeds.

Habibi—Tamino

Here’s a darkly haunting song from new artist Tamino. Habibi translates from arabic as “my love”. this is Tamino’s first single.

Strawberry and Cigarettes—Troye Sivan

I’ve been hearing Troye a fair bit in the various new music lists this year, but this is the first one I’ve picked. It’s firmly in the pop category, but the imagery of strawberry and cigarettes kind of caught my attention. This is from the soundtrack of “Love, Simon” a film which I believe is due out soon.

Slippin’—The Magic Gang

This song starts off as a slow burner and makes you wait a bit before building up a head of indie steam. From their self-titled debut album. The guys seem rather unassuming, and it’s not the greatest band name in the world, but the music is pretty good. If you like this you’ll like the rest of the album.

Take It Up—Wilkisnon, Sub Focus

This one just felt good. It’s pretty much a dance track, but it does have a bit of a soul foundation.

Bet Ain’t Worth the Hand—Leon Bridges

Leon Bridges is a young man with an old-school soul approach to music. This one is a ballad from the album “Good thing” which is out early next month.

90 Degrees—Yazmin Lacey

This is a bit of a soul/jazz fusion from Yazmin, who seems to have been self-producing her own groove for the last four or five years. there should be an EP out soon.

Celebration—Larry Carlton

Even if you don’t listen to jazz, anyone who has ever heard Steely Dan’s “Aja” album has heard the tasteful and deceptively easy-going guitar of Larry Carlton, since it was all over most of the album. This track has near enough the same feel to some of that, although it’s an instrumental. God stuff.

Shedding—The Fin.

Some mid-tempo modern Indie/pop from Japanese band the fin. The album is called “There”, and it’s their third.

All Fall Down—Fangclub

Finally getting to some more hard rock, Fangclub are back with a single to support their upcoming tour. they’re still working on material for the album so no release date is set yet.

All I’ve Got To Do Is Forget You—TRASH

OK, I’m confused. These guys allegedly broke up in December and are now releasing a three-song single, the largest number of songs they’ve released in one go. What gives? Is this a marketing ploy? Well, anyway, it’s a pretty decent Indie song.

After Bach:flux Brad Mehldau

And now for something completely different, because we all need to cleanse our palates from time to time. I mainly know Brad Mehldau as a jazz musician, but his latest album, “After Bach”,  obviously leans more towards classical than jazz. This seems to be a solo effort, judging from this track. The man can play.

Need a Little time—Courtney Barnett

Australian Courtney Barnett has her second album coming out mid-May. This is my favorite of the two tracks that have been pre-released so far, a mid-tempo, Indie “taking a break from you” song. Now it would be nice to hear a little something as grab you where it hurts as “Pedestrian at Best” from her first album.

I Know a Place—Muna

There seems to be an epidemic of releases of acoustic version of hit songs by the same artist, but every once in a while something like this comes along that actually adds a new dimension to a track, as opposed to just milking it. So it’s worth a listen.

Freaky Friday—Lil Dicky, Chris Brown

NSFW. I’m not much of a rap fan, but this one was too much fun to ignore. I’m sure we’ve all seen, or are at least familiar with the concept of, the various versions of the Disney movie “Freaky Friday”, in which a mother and daughter exchange and are forced to live each other’s lives. Hilarity ensues. Now apply that to Lil Dicky and Chris Brown. I suppose this could have turned into an earnest track about what it’s like for a white man to suddenly be black and vice versa, and there is a small allusion to that. But mostly it’s about these two guys taking the piss out of each other, as each other. Hilarity ensues. Somehow Ed Sheeran and Kendall Jenner find their way into this before it’s over. that last bit really isn’t safe for the workplace.