Posts Tagged ‘pop’

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.

 

 

Rosanne Cash The River and the ThreadRosanne Cash was born in and began her schooling in Memphis Tennessee. Since then she’s spent most of her life in California, New York and parts of Europe, in part distancing herself from her daddy’s legacy, but when that daddy is Johnny Cash, and you were born into the Memphis of the mid 50s, with the bible belt, the Grand Olde Opry, and the civil rights movement shaping your childhood, there just isn’t enough rebellion to displace those roots, and eventually you say “Road Trip!”

The River and the Thread” was created out of that road trip that took Rosanne and her collaborator/husband John Leventhal through  Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, to Robert Johnson’s grave, the Tallahacthie bridge, civil war battle fields and, of course, her father’s birthplace.  These experiences inform the songs in subtle ways instead of showing up as overt themes.

The album is a gentle celebration of the angels and demons of the South and of Ms Cash’s connectedness to them.  It’s a consistently worthwhile collection of tracks and an easy listen with well-crafted lyrics. The latter tracks on the album venture a little too close to traditional country sounds and motifs for my taste, but I admit that’s a subjective comment.  

“Modern Blue” is an upbeat adult pop song that caught my ear the first time I listened to her new album “The River and the Thread”.  It’s probably the least country sounding song on the album. It has a familiar, comfortable feel. It’s on the What Am I Listening To 2014 playlist.

Rosanne Cash plays Dublin’s Vicar Street April 27th, 2014.

 

Anything can wash up on “Plastic Beach” – ballads, ethereal soul, rock, R&B. There’s even a hip hop sea shanty that sounds like it could have been co-written by Gilbert and Sullivan. Gorillaz’ turn the flotsam and jetsam of musical styles into a label-defying whole that is, at its core, a pop album.

After the miniature overture, the album starts with a moderate-tempo, 60-ish R&B number built around what sounds like a Hammond organ that’s been run through a forward-moving time machine. Snoop Dogg shows you where this album’s center is by rapping the line, “The revolution will be televised”, giving it just the right phrasing and inflection to make it clear that it’s a quote and not a coincidence. With that one line he invokes social consciousness a la Gil Scott Heron. But there is no war or racial protest here. “Plastic Beach” deals with the more unifying themes of ecology and economics.

This is usually where the alarm bells start to ring, mainly because when music and social politics collide, the result is too often lyrically inane or musically boring, or both. That is so not the case here. The music is infectious, with a trawler full of hooks. The lyrics are, by turns, clear, clever, and sometimes enigmatic. And with an ensemble cast rivalling that of “Lost”, there are many diverse songs to sing.

Some of the teenagers in my house like this album as much as I do, which makes me smile and wonder whether Gorillaz pulled a fast one, a group of cartoon characters acting as the public face of an album on which the young people are middle aged and the elders are, well, pretty darn old. I mean, Lou Reed, half the Clash, Mark E Smith from the Fall… I have to refer my son to the opening credit sequence of Tarentino’s “Jackie Brown” to explain who Bobby Womack is.

Unlike many albums, the singles give you a good idea of what you can expect. “Stylo”, the first single, is a perfect example of the style mashing that goes on in this album, going from Mos Def’s rhymes to a Damon Albarn pop verse to Bobby Womack’s stream-of consciousness soul raving, and back around again, all to a beat you can dance to. Lyrically, it seems to have something to do with electricity.

On the other hand, “Superfast Jellyfish”, the next single, is a light-hearted, well-realized ensemble send up of commercially available breakfast choices which may or may not be actually edible. “On melancholy Hill”, is a straight-up pop song that would sound at home on a Blur album, if there were ever a new one.

Even more than its predecessors, “Plastic Beach” sounds like it was made by experienced artists who are relaxed and confident in their abilities. This album lets the music work on you slowly. At first listen it seems pleasant, if simple. With repeated listening it becomes “Plastic Beach” reveals itself to be Gorillaz best album yet. Maybe even Albarn’s. Despite being cartoons, Gorillaz have grown up.