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.


David Bowie 1947 – 2016

Posted: January 11, 2016 in Uncategorized

Just knocked back in the driver’s seat on the school run with the news that David Bowie died of the cancer no one knew he had. In his Ziggy Stardust days he once claimed that he wanted to die by being killed onstage, one of those things that are said to get attention when one is young, I suppose. In a way he did die on stage, as his last album was released only last Friday.

I was in high school when Ziggy Stardust came out, but I was in college before I really listened to it—with the exception of “Space Oddity” and “Changes”, which were on the radio, he wasn’t an initial part of my environment. There was a point shortly after that when I could play the entire “Rise and Fall” album on guitar.

For me, the period from his previous album (“Hunky Dory”) through to 1980’s “Scary Monsters” was a time when I looked forward to each release as I did for few others, knowing that whether I liked what I heard or didn’t it would always be fresh and interesting. He changed musical styles nearly as often as he changed his clothes, and with few exceptions it resonated with me.

Thank you for the music and all the theatricality that went with it.

I’ve created an assortment of Bowie Tracks on Spotify. Not a definitive list (there are a plethora of greatest hits albums out there) but a few well known and not so well known tracks I’ve liked over the years. Most of them are his own. “My Death” is a Jacques Brel song performed live and “Wild is the Wind” was written by Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington and originally recorded by Johnny Mathis in 1957 as the title track for a film.

First, here’s the link to the playlist: What I’m Listening To 28/09/2015.

And here’s what’s on it:

Women of a certain Age – Arcade Fire is getting more mileage out of “Reflektor” by releasing the third half of the two-disc set. This song has a kind of a left-of center, Indi-reggae feel to it. It’s OK, might be a grower. I’d listen to it again.

When I was a Boy –– Ohhh, it’s Jeff Lynne’s ELO now, is it? Uh, Jeff, it’s been officially your ELO since co-founder Bev Bevan retired 15 years ago, and even before that you were usually the first person everyone thought of in connection with Electric Light Orchestra. So now that you’re putting out ELO’s first new album in 15 years, why are you using a name that makes you sound like your own tribute band?

OK, I can hear the essential elements of a successful trademark ELO track, but it’s yet another song about yearning for the good old days that too many geezers put out too often. It’s a little more rueful than I prefer my ELO. Hopefully there will be some livelier tracks on the album.

People on the High Line – Much more infectious in the elder statesmen category is this new track from New Order. Sounds like a return to the disco days, bopping synths, busy piano chords and seductive sirens on the background vocals. Whether I get anything else out of this remains to be seen, but it’s easy on the ear and easy to dance to. Add this to your party mix.

Singularity – Might as well get the other New Order song up while I’m here. This one is a bit harder, heavier, and darker, relatively speaking. It’s still a New order dance track, although it breaks down perhaps a bit too much for a party towards the end before kicking back in again. Anyway, if you liked them before, you’ll like them now.

No One Can Tell – I have to say I like this Youth Lagoon song right off the bat, which is interesting because, to a large extent, this modern psychedelic trend seems less than inspiring to me. I should also point out that I have not listened to much Youth Lagoon. I’m almost positive I listened to Wondrous Bughouse at least once. I don’t recall any of it but, hey, I listen to a lot of music.

I reckon I might remember this track.  This mid-tempo pop song has enough going on melodically and lyrically to hold interest while staying in a recognizable form. The production keeps the song moving while adding some clever rhythm’s and breakdowns that serve the song well without getting in the way. Based on this track, I’d be interested in hearing the rest of “Savage Hills Ballroom”, the album it’s taken from.

War in Peace – Don’t you know I’m going to listen to a band named Sexwitch at least once. Turns out it’s a collaboration between Toy and Bat for Lashes’ Natasha Khan. I haven’t listened to Bat for Lashes, but I spent too long last year trying to like Toy’s “Join the Dots” album. Well, nevermind, let’s give it a chance…

The Guardian said Sexwitch‘s tracks were “hypnotic, groove-based tracks that feature jagged post-punk guitars” and “shrieking crescendos”. That lowered my expectations to expect noise so I was pleasantly surprised when I got music. It certainly has that experimental edge to it, not a million miles away from Siouxsie Sioux or some of Bjork’s material. I like it better than Toy on their own anyway.

I’d listen to it again, but I appreciate that it might not be to everyone’s taste.

‘Cause I’m a Man – HAIM Remix – Nice try HAIM and I won’t hold it against you but, sorry Tame Impala, I still don’t like it.

Psycho – Muse is a band that can sound credibly hard and heavy on one level while still sounding like a pop band, kind of like Green Day sometimes does, only smoother. I have a rational argument against that, but this track kind of works for me, so maybe I shouldn’t complain. The sampled boot camp dialog I could do without. Is that “Full Metal Jacket”? That or something similar.

Helelyos – On first listen I think I like this Sexwitch track better than War in Peace, with its hypnotic rhythm perfect for dancing with abandon in the moonlight. It will take a few listens to determine whether this is just an infatuation.

Crosswords – I wasn’t altogether certain whether I’d even be able to distinguish between this EP remix of one of Panda Bear’s most melodic tracks from his latest multi-layered electronic album “Panda Bear Meets the Grim Reaper”, but there does seem to be just a little ping-pong delay on the rhythmic clacking and an even more pronounced vibrato effect in this version. However, I suspect the production might drive me a bit crazy with repeated listening, sending me back to the original.

I’m still waiting for something that blows me away as much as his Animal Collective track “My Girls” did, but this will do while I’m waiting.

Writing’s on the Wall – I knew, even before I looked, from just the opening strains. Of course I had to confirm, but it was clear from the start that was the BIG SONG from the opening title sequence of the latest James Bond film. So congratulations Sam Smith, but as with previous such songs in this series, I’ve already heard enough.

It’s that talk Again – Ever since Broken Bells introduced themselves with “The High Road” five years ago, I’ve been hopeful about their releases. Sadly, I’ve yet to hear anything as delicious as their first release. This isn’t a bad song, but it’s not exceptional either, and by next week I might forget what it sounds like. Not too unlike the New Order tracks, but it pales in comparison.

Bad Blood – I’m kind of liking this Ryan Adams track on third listen. It’s a radio-friendly, countryesque pop song that moves along pleasantly enough even though it seems to be about a bad break-up, and has some gentle peaks and valleys to keep it interesting.

Exhibit Diaz – I’ve been ranging from almost to kind-of liking Ibeyl with each new song of theirs I’ve heard this year. I love the vocal sound, and mostly the feel, but there was something with each track that kept it from completely resonating with me. This is the first one I feel like I can say I like without equivocating.

She Used to Be Mine – There’s something bittersweet, simple and scincere about Sara Bareilles ballad that makes this torch song stand out for me. It starts out with a sparse piano arrangement that suits it, but the build-up towards the end works well enough too.

Love Me Like You – This Little Mix track starts out as a fairly typical modern pop song but, hang on, there’s just a hint about halfway through the first verse, then comes the chorus and, BAM, we’re listening to the Ronettes with the Phil Spector wall of sound and it’s 1963 all over again. I’m sure I’m showing my age, but this is going on my list of favourites this week.

Keep You On My Side – This CHVRCHES track has just enough of a 1960s girl group radio vibe that I had to leave it in as a companion piece to Love Me Like You. Enough of a vocal hook to make it memorable to me anyway.

David Grissom How It Feels To FlyDavid Grissom – How it Feels to Fly

Last week I may have undersold David Grissom’s latest Album “How it Feels to Fly” Listening to it again last night I realized the songs were still growing on me. I still stand behind what I said about the instrumentals being my favourite tracks. There’s something about the vocal tracks that reminds me of when Eric Clapton or Dave Mason (the one from Traffic) decided they were going to become a bit more radio friendly and de-emphasise the guitar playing in favour of marketable songs. On the other hand that’s when they both began to have massive hits. There’s only one of Grissom’s songs I haven’t warmed up to at this point (“Overnight”), In light of this realization I’m adding the opening track “Bringing Sunday Morning to Saturday Night” to the playlist.

Tommy Castro - Devil You KnowTommy Castro and the Painkillers – The Devil You Know

Revisiting Tommy Castro and the Painkillers, I realized that one song just wasn’t enough, so I’ve included “Center of Attention”, a track I nearly pipped for the playlist the other day.  Maybe it was just the night that was in it, but last night I found myself thinking “The Devil You know” might be up in my top ten albums so far this year. Or at least just bubbling under

Johnny Winter True To The Blues

Johnny Winter – True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story

On to new business – sort of. I usually don’t go for retrospective compilations, but it’s been so long since I heard Johnny Winter play guitar I had to give a listen to “True to the Blues: The Johnny Winter Story”.  The title might put off some of the uninitiated who might enjoy this album – True to the blues rock would be more accurate. Yes, there is some straight up blues here, but there’s also a lot of blistering rock and roll. And I mean a lot – according to Spotify this collection runs over four hours. And no, I haven’t listened to it all since the release, but we used to listen to this guy quite a bit 30 or 40 years ago, and ranked him up Eric Clapton, Duane Allman and the other guitar legends of the time. If I have one complaint about this collection, it’s that someone seems to have edited out the cry of “ROCK AND ROLL” before either “Jumping Jack Flash” or “Johnny B Goode” (depending on whether you were listening to the album or the single from “Live Johnny Winter And…” released in 1971). Both tracks are on this compilation, and it’s very tempting to pick one, but I’m going to go for the nearly forgotten classic “Rock and Roll Hootchie Koo”, which has probably fallen through the gaps of modern radio playlists every bit as much as yer man has, but I concede that living in Ireland might give me a different perception of this than the folks back home have. Anyway, it’s on the What Am I Listening To 2014 playlist.

St Vincent St VincentSt. Vincent – St. Vincent

And now for something completely different. Don’t you know I’m going to give a listen to anyone who’s worked with erstwhile Talking Head David Byrne. St. Vincent’s
eponymous new album is left of center pop music, but still within the margins of getting radio play on “Birth in Reverse” and “Digital Witnesses”, and I am enjoying those as well as the rest of the album. But the one that seems to have really resonated with me on the first few listens is the ballad “Prince Johnny”, which is a lovely pop song with some intelligent and eccentric lyrics, so I put it on the playlist. After all the blues rock I’ve added lately I better find something to go with this song so it doesn’t feel all alone, lol.


I know it’s only Tuesday, but I’ve got a couple of Friday night bands here I’ve been listening to for a few days who have new studio albums out, although I suspect that in both cases they sound better when heard live in a dark room under the glow of the beer light.

Reverend Horton Heat - RevReverend Horton Heat – Rev

First up is a character named Reverend Horton Heat, who is relatively unknown to me, though not to America from what I’ve read. He’s been kicking around long enough to be nearly as old as I, and has been putting out records since 1990.

The Rev plays a rough and ready style of what I believe is most appropriately called punkabilly. He leads a three piece band which includes a stand-up double bass. It’s the classic Stray Cat’s line-up, but with an energy reminiscent of the early Clash, without the politics. The songs themselves don’t consistently fare well against either of those comparisons, and Heat isn’t quite Brian Seltzer. However the adrenalin levels are high and it sounds like these guys would be fun to see in a bar.

“Never Gonna Stop It”, a rock ‘n’ roll song about rock ‘n’ roll, is now on the What AM I listening to 2014 playlist.

Tommy Castro - Devil You KnowTommy Castro and the Painkillers – The Devil You Know

Next is a guy who actually is my age, Tommy Castro, along with his band the Painkillers. They play a mix of blues, old school r&b, and rock. To my ears the musicality, songwriting and guitar playing is a notch above the Rev’s. I suspect the album will also hold up better to repeated listenings. On the other hand there’s a sort of just good enough lo-fi quality to this album that also makes it sound a bit rough edged, and a good-time feel that makes me think both artists could happily share a stage with without too much culture shock for the audience.

The album boasts a decent cover of the old Wet Willie song “Keep on  Smilin’” that makes the song sound more like a J. Geils track than the original did, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  Among the originals it’s hard to know which one should be picked for the playlist, there are enough equal contenders. I went with “Medicine Woman” ’cause that’s the way I roll. It’s on the playlist.