Archive for January, 2018

(Spotify playlist link at the bottom)

This week felt like a bit of a slog, with a lot of uninspiring tracks in the bucket, but I did manage to find a selection worth listening to. I was beginning to think I was already feeling jaded three lists into the year, but having had a sneak listen to half the tracks in competition for next week, I’m pretty sure it’s not me, it was just a slow week.

So without further adieu…

Let’s Get This Over With—They might be Giants

The album “I like Fun” is now released. There is a running theme of mortality on an individual level and as a species, with one song leaving notes for future archaeologists, and another from the POV of someone who has just crossed over and is concerned that all the junk they’ve collected in their life will go to waste. So while the album title might be ironic, the album is indeed fun both musically and lyrically, with the lad’s tongues firmly in their cheeks, as usual.

Severed—The Decemberists

Don’t let the polished production, synthesizer intro, galloping drums and spaghetti-western guitar fool you. This is indeed the Decemberists with a track from their album “I’ll Be Your Girl”, due to be released March 16th, which will no doubt give me an excuse to list another one of their songs (it’s already the second this year.)

This seems to be sung from the POV of the bad, or maybe the ugly. Definitely not the good. Colin Meloy as desperado, I like it

Sober—Tom Grennan

The man himself refers to this as a James Bond song. It’s a bit of White Soul a la Tom Jones, though more upbeat and not quite as heavy as “Thunderball”, for example, Also Tom Grennan’s voice is a bit more razor wire and sandpaper, but I take his point.

This is from the album “Lighting Matches”, which isn’t out until May!!! Seems a bit premature for that, but maybe there will be another pre-album release to keep things ticking over.

Hem of Her Dress—First Aid Kit

The various new music lists I follow have been throwing tracks at me from this Swedish Folk Duo, and they’ve all been fine. There were simply songs I liked better those weeks. This week, this is one of the better songs. I love the it’s late night country pub sing-along feel and those spectacular harmonies.

Dancing—Kylie Minogue

It must really be a slow week, ha ha. But seriously, this isn’t a bad track. It’s definitely pop music, but it’s got a predominate acoustic feel with a hint of country, even if it does have a dance-floor beat underneath. Musically, she’s aging better than some stars I could name.

Cheetah tongue—The Wombats

And here’s this Liverpool Indie band’s new song from “Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life due out February 9th, which may win the award for track release closest to the actual album for the week.

Pancake—Jaded, Ashnikko

Sometimes I pick tracks because they have, I don’t know, an element that intrigues me. I can’t see myself racking this dance track much in the future, but I felt obliged to let you know about it. On this track, Jaded seems to be using pancakes in the same way that Kelis used milkshakes all those years ago, as sexual innuendo. “I’m a pancake mix but I take the cake/I’m gooey in the middle baby let me bake”. Sometimes it’s best not to analyze these things too closely.

Square One—Moss Kena

Moss is described by her record company, RCA, as an enigmatic newcomer. this track was released the day she signed, January 17th. Not much more seems to be known to the public, hence the enigma I suppose. The RCA bumph compared her to more people than is healthy for a newcomer. I think she’s more Minnie Riperton than Amy Winehouse.

Don’t Forget to Go to Sleep—Nick J.D. Hogson

This is a dreamy, trippy indie-pop sort of a track that seems deceptively unremarkable at the start but sneaks up on you if you give it a chance. Nick was in the back line as the drummer in Kaiser Chiefs, who you may have heard of. So good move Nick, striking out on your own. The track is from the album “Tell Your Friends” which is out now, though I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet.

Paradise—George Ezra

I like George. For me he falls into that category of pop-rock that could fit on the radio while still having a unique personality. This is from “Staying at Tamara’s, out March 23rd.

Public Enemy-Perryvale Sessions—the Vibrators 

This 70’s Punk band is still on the go apparently, and the track, which is the hardest rockin’ one of the week, is from their new album (i.e. not compilation) “Past, Present, and into the Future.” Among other things, they’re responsible for the band name Stiff Little Fingers.

It’s Too Much—Moose Blood

A bit of new mid-tempo rock from this English emo band I’ve not heard of before, but apparently their ex-drummer is famous for being sacked for sexual harassment last year. From the March 9th release “I don’t think I can Do This Anymore” Well, the ex-drummer can’t anyway.

Church —Fall Out Boy

Another track from “Mania”, now that I’ve had a chance to listen to the album. I wasn’t expecting to like it as much as I did. If you like this and “Wilson (Expensive Mistake)”, which was on last weeks list,  you’ll like the rest of the album.

Sign of the Times—Post Precious

Kind of a dance, space-pop version of the Harry Styles song that was so big last year. I don’t usually go for covers of such recent covers, but this is completely different from the original and sounds pretty good. I especially like the ethereal vocal effects in the background.

Alfies Song (Not So Typical Love Song)—Bleachers

This pop-rock track is one of four NY band Bleachers songs being featured in the upcoming film “Love, Simon” due out in March. It sounds fine, really, though I’m not sure it has legs. But ever since I failed to see how big the seemingly vapid and cliche ridden “Shut Up and Dance with Me” was going to do a few years ago (I thought it would disappear in a couple of weeks) I’m reluctant to count out a pop song like this before it gets a chance with the public.

Some Heroes Don’t Wear Capes—Callum Beattie

“Man Behind the Sun” was one of my favorite songs last year, and the first time I’d noticed this guy. I think that has a lot to do with me putting this song on the list. It’s a real heartfelt tribute to his daddy, and has a slow, almost country feel. It’s quite sentimental, maybe even maudlin. So it will probably be huge.

I’m Alive—Beth Ditto

Hey baby, it’s 1969 all over again. This sounds like something that should be from “Hair” only the band sounds a bit more authentic. It’s pretty cool really, but it won’t be a hit. Beth Ditto, by the way, is the former singer from the band Gossip.

and speaking of 1969…

Mannish Boy—Jimi Hendrix.

It’s Amazing how Ol’ Jimi can still put out new tracks over 45 years after he died. But in fact, “Both Sides of the Sky” does just that on March 9th. “Mannish Boy” will be on that album. It features Jimi playing with Band of Gypsy’s at their first session, although I’m not clear whether it’s the three-piece version with Buddy Miles, or the one that played Woodstock with him. Hopefully that will be clarified in the liner notes. This being Hendrix, it is a decidedly up-tempo version of the Muddy Waters blues classic. It’s fine, though  perhaps not spectacular, A-list Hendrix.

Chick’s Chums—Chick Corea, Steve Gadd

I leave you with this extended track by legendary jazz musicians Chick Corea (keyboards) and Steve Gadd (drums). This one bops along quite nicely in a way that people familiar with Chick will recognize. For the uninitiated it’s the real deal but there are no sharp dissonant angles to bump up against, so you’re safe to take a chance. It’s from “Chinese Butterfly” which is out now, and you should listen to if you like this.

 

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A list of what floated to the top after a week of listening to new releases.

(Spotify link below)

Everybody’s coming to My House—David Byrne

Here’s a no brainer for the list, for me anyway. David Byrne sounds very much like a founding member of Talking Heads on this track. It may take a couple of plays, but it makes me eagerly anticipate the upcoming album “American Utopia” which has a March 9th release date.

You worry Me—Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats

Sounding older than his years, Nathaniel’s style is influenced by folk, Americana and vintage rhythm & blues. I found myself singing the chorus of this one from time to time over the last week.

Don’t Turn Off the Light—Tinsley Ellis

Tinsley Ellis plays a brand of blues rock that old Clapton fans will recognize. His strong suits are his guitar playing and vocals. I recommend listening to the entire album, “Winning Hand”, which goes through a variety of styles and tempos while remaining within the genre.

Miles Away—Josh Ritter

Josh Ritter offers up a rueful, reflective song with a full band backing reminiscent of old Dylan or the band, only with quietly cleaner vocals and better production.

Wilson (Expensive Mistakes)—Fall Out Boy

Maybe it’s because I’ve only listened to the odd song of theirs in the past, but lately Fall Out Boy seems to be showing signs of maturing a bit. This song builds up excitement without beating you over the head with their usual sonic edge. “I’ll keep Wearing black ’til they make a darker color” may be the lyric line of the week.

Connected by Love—Jack White

Sometimes Jack is a bit more than I can take, but this one, while still unmistakably one of his, works up a mid-tempo, soulful groove that’s well worth listening to even if he usually isn’t what you’d go for.

Street Livin’—Black Eyed Peas

After seven years, the Black Eyed Peas are back with no Fergie and no junk in the trunk, at least here. Instead, we get social consciousness about the seemingly inescapable bad choices available with urban living. It’s rap, yet reminds me of what artists like Gil-Scott Heron, were putting out in the 70’s, although perhaps not as suitable for the workplace. The jazz-influenced trumpet overlay is a nice touch.

Smile on a Screen—Oscar Jerome

Yes, I know the guitar sounds out of tune, but there’s something about this jazz influenced, lyrically twisted rap that grew on me over the last week.

Ether & Wood—Alela Diane

This is just a beautiful, lyrically rich, melancholy ballad with a stripped down piano-based arrangement with a bit of vocal harmony.  It deserves to be heard, but may just fall between the cracks of what gets programmed on the radio these days. “All the ashes of our days are ether and wood.”

Drive Me Wild—the Xcerts

Another band I’ve not heard of ’til now, though they seem to have a few previous releases. This is a pretty much straight-up, mid-tempo power ballad in a style we used to call album oriented rock, with a full sounding guitar-based band, assisted by a sax on this track.  Who wants to bet these guys have a few Tom Petty albums in their collection. One gripe: If you’re going to have a guitar band, it would be nice if someone at least tried to play a bit of lead guitar. Just sayin’.

If you like this you’ll probably like the rest of the album. It should make some radio stations playlist.

Sweet Dreams Baby—INHEAVEN

This is a cool sounding bit of retro in a Phil Specter meets Springsteen channeling Roy Orbison kind of way. I’ll stop there.

Flickin’ Your Hair—The Hunna

Superficial perhaps, but a decent track from the harder side of the pop-rock genre. The sort of thing that might get played on the radio.

Consequences—Camila Cabello

I’ve heard four or five new tracks from Camila lately. None of more up beat ones have grabbed me the way “Havana” did. So while we’re waiting, here’s a nice stripped-down piano ballad which for me is the best of the lot.

Lottery—Jade Bird

I’ve yet to make up my mind whether this song equating love to winning the lottery, literally, is really naff or a decent bit of folksy pop. Probably both. And I suspect we should get used to hearing it.

Heart Attack—Tune-Yards

And the award for best use of staccato in a vocal this week goes to the tune yards. If you can get over the vocal conceit, it’s not a bad bit of high-energy modern soul.

My Song—H.E.R.

I told myself I wasn’t putting a third piano ballad on this list, but I didn’t think it was fair to leave this one off.

Yo! My Saint – Film Version—Keren O., Michael Kiwanuka

to quote from Offic Magazine :Yo! MY SAINT is a three-pronged artistic endeavor incorporating music, film, and fashion. It’s not just a song, or a film, or clothes. It’s a project, and the culmination of creativity erupting from KENZO’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection.

Uh, OK. It certainly sounds cinematic. I can’t vouch for the rest of it. I hope this isn’t just an ad.

Crisis Fest—Sunflower Bean

This is rough and ready indie rock with hooks that made it earwig me as the week went on. This is from their second album (apparently) “Twentytwo in Blue” and reportedly eschews the dreamy, indie sounds of their first album for something a bit more energetic in a classic and pop-rock vein. This track implies the veracity of that statement.

We’re going Home—Vance Joy

This sounds like something that could get a bit of airplay. It’s a pretty straight forward pop-rock song that’s easy on the ear.

Egg and Soldiers—Cosmo Sheldrake

I’m including this here because it’s worthy of hearing at least once, and you probably won’t get it anywhere else. This is probably the strangest little song you will hear this week. Cosmo Sheldrake, who apparently is already working in film and theatre, gives us a song that sounds like Kurt Weill meets They Might Be Giants. I appreciate this is probably not for everybody.

 

Egg and Soldiers—Cosmo Sheldrake

This is probably the strangest little song you will hear this week. Cosmo Sheldrake, who is apparently working in film and theatre, gives us a song that indeed sounds like Kurt Weill meets They Might Be Giants. Don’t know if this will make Monday’s list, but I have to give you the opportunity to listen to it at least once.

Smile on a ScreenOscar Jerome

…And this is the second strangest, and yet oddly enjoyable, song you’ll hear this week. What do you call this? Acid funk? Labels are such a nuisance.

 

A well-pruned list of recent releases I can still listen to after several plays.

(Spotify link below)

Ben Franklin’s Song—The Decemberists

(Technically this is from the middle of last month, but I had started my Christmas Holiday by then and wasn’t plugged in the new releases.)

You had me at Ben Franklin, and happily the song is nearly as epic as the man it’s about. This is an outtake from “Hamilton”, or at least the lyrics are. Lin-Manuel Miranda couldn’t quite get Franklin’s character to work in the show, and eventually handed the lyrics off to the Decemberists to add the music, stating that he heard the song in his head as being sung in a “Decemberisty” sort of way.

This is a first-person introduction to Ben Franklin with plenty of attitude. (Do you know who the f**k I am?”), so I don’t recommend it for the workplace, or anyplace where people are easily offended.

This song was earwigging me all last week.

All Time What—They Might be Giants

Here’s another song that got stuck in my head, perhaps not quite as much as the first track. The quintessential nerd rockers are back with another album this week. This is a track from it, and we can only hope the rest of the album sounds this good.

I Can’t Quit—The Vaccines

Another upbeat rocker from a band that seems to have picked up where the Ramones left off, in a straight-forward three chord way at least.

Finesse—Bruno Mars, feat. Cardi B

I just realized this is another holdover from last year (i guess the word “remix” should have given that away) but I do like Bruno’s taste in pop funk. And the track is also remarkable for making Cardi B tolerable to me after being made to listen to that odd and twisted “Bodak Yellow” enough to feel masochistic.

If You Leave Me Now—Charlie Puth feat. Boyz II Men

Not a remake of the old Chicago song (thankfully) but just a nice soul ballad done with velvet harmony from Boyz II Men.

No woman, No Cry (arr, Cello)—sheku Kanneh-Mason

I went back and forth on including this, but I thought I owed it to you to let you hear this classical, instrumental arrangement of the classic Bob Marley song at least once. sounds nice, but I’m not sure I’ll be racking it much in the future.

London’s Blues—Ferris & Sylvester

Maybe a bit more folk-rockabilly than blues. I’d never heard of this young duo from England, but their website says they’re being compared to Laura Marling and the shovels, among others. I don’t know about that, but it’s a pretty good track.

Amsterdam—Spilt Milk Society

Another relatively new band (2015) in the Indie Rock/Pop vein who are doing quite well on Spotify, apparently. I can understand that if this track is representative.

Spanish Sea—Toto

Don’t get too excited old timers—it’s only one of three unreleased tracks from an upcoming compilation. This one is firmly in te style of “Africa”. If you liked them before, you’ll like this, and if not…

Where the Sidewalk Ends—Sydney Gish

There’s a certain upbeat,’60s folk/pop vibe to this song despite the lyrical references to amazon, for example. Through yet I’ve never heard of her before, this is from the Bostonian’s second album “No Dogs Allowed”.

All this Useless energy—Jeff Rosenstock

This one reminds me a bit of a mid-tempo Weezer Song in the way the big guitars fill up the sonic space. Jeff has been kicking around the New York area for over twenty years, with a solo career for the last six having previously played in bands such as the ska -influenced Arrogant Sons of Bitches and Kudrow.

Hey Heartbreaker—Dream Wife

Is it just me, or are women playing some of the hardest rocking music these days, such as this track from the London trio’s current EP “Fire”.

So it Goes—Only Sun

Some more upbeat Indie rock/pop for you from another relatively new London-based band.

Echo—Black Rebel Motorcycle Club

I have to be honest and say that this band is one that I always felt like I should like more than I actually do, but I don’t have to try so hard on this typically, downbeat track. the chorus hook and harmonies carry it for me.

Wildwind—Young Dreams

This is a track from “Waves 2 You”, the second album from this Norwegian band. Though they’re called Indie there is a certain art rock feel that reminds me of something by Supertramp, or maybe 10CC, that eludes me at the moment. Might have a lot to do with the synthesizer, beat and melodic vocal line.

Tell Me—Joan as Policewoman

This seems to be Joan Wasser’s first single in a couple of years. I admit the past work that I’ve heard hasn’t resonated strongly with me, but this one is a fairly straight-forward track that might not be my favorite of the week, but isn’t bad either.

Toxic Love—the Beach

I picked this for the list before I realized they’re a relatively new band from Dublin. I certainly didn’t guess from listening to it. It’s a fairly solid pop-rock song with a dance beat (four on the floor) kick drum and a decent chorus hook. It’s early days yet, and hopefully they’ll find a way to make their music a bit more distinct from other bands. Still, pretty decent.

Party Tattoos—dodie

Although this young singer/songwriter from Epping has seems to have just one traditionally recorded album from 2016 to her name, she also has a Youtube channel doddleoddle that features more than 150 videos and over a million and a third subscribers. Not too shabby. This is the new single from what I expect will be the next album. Or not.

Vincent—James Blake

This probably made the list for sentimental reasons. Still a great song after all these years (about 40 I’d guess) and a decent, straightforward reading from James.

Like a Motherless child – Slow Light Version—Moby

I vacillated on this one too—yet another version of “Motherless Child”, but I do like the feel and the sung part of the vocal. I’m not convinced about the rap though. If Moby is as busy this year as he was last year I’m sure I’ll have plenty more opportunity to find something I like better.

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