The Lost Boys

Elizabeth Racz posted a video of a song by The Lost Boys. Not a band i’d heard of before but it was a great song. Elizabeth kindly posted me some MP3s whilst I wait for the band to get some more CDs in stock to by.

So, small world. Turns out they’re about an hours drive from me in Southampton (UK).

I know zero about them and there’s not a great deal of information out there.

These are well crafted, highly melodic and very British sounding tunes. Lyrically witty without being over-clever. It’s been a while since i’ve heard someone called a “spanner” and i’m pretty sure never in a song. Refreshingly charming.

They’ve got the goods that should be ringing out from radios this Summer (and hell, into the Autumn too).

You can find them on Facebook or more importantly go have a listen over at Soundcloud.

Tops in 2013

Tops in 2013

It’s been an extraordinary year for music.We welcomed  the return of some pop giants. There were some Nashville cats, and lots of swell girl groups.A nice year for dreamers . I’m a working man, so I needed  to use my free time to immerse myself in this music. There’s never enough time, but I need to proceed. If I love it , put a number on it. Let’s get started!

1] Prefab Sprout -”Crimson/ Red”-The return of one of our greatest songwriters. Yes, the buzzing internet rumors were true. ..
“High on the list of impossible things..”
All played and sung by Paddy McAloon himself and very well produced by Paddy and Calum Malcolm. And music lovers, this is a gem. Killer melodies, terrific guitars, harmonica, and songs that make you cry. Highlights abound. “The Best Jewel Thief in the World” is an obvious take on songwriting.”Adolescence” is an ode to youthful romance.
“Adolescence crimson red , fireworks in side your head” …
“Devil came a calling” and “Billy” remind me of songs like “Faron Young” from “Steve McQueen”.
“I’m in love with Susan Bill, yes I’m in love with Susan
Her smile is like a fairground I’m basking in the glow…”
The lovely “The songs of Danny Galway” is Paddy’s tribute to the great Jimmy Webb.
“The old Magician” sounds like one about Paddy himself. It has a sweet harmonica solo.
All these songs are superb. Tunes that pull at the heartstrings. His poetry is still there. And perhaps the most remarkable thing is his voice sounds exactly the same. His high and low noted are still as youthful sounding as the good old day.
In interviews, Paddy claims that these are old songs from his song book. Can you just imagine how many more great tunes exist? I hope the reaction to this album inspires to share more of them with us. And soon! Speaking of reaction, there is an inspiring review of this album by Sondre Lerche, a great artist himself. It is worth reading. Find it at the Talkhouse site where artists review other artists.
The best album of the year by far. And an emotional high.
… “You roar right out of nowheresville , to find the beating heart…”
Welcome back Paddy.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5WnATZLcXuA

2] The Heavy Blinkers- “Health”-
..”You don’t need a pillow to sleep on the riverbed
as long as you have your health…  “
That is part of the opening chorus to this glorious album. I have always cherished the Heavy Blinkers music. I thought they were long gone. Now 10 years after their last one, “The night and I are still so young” I discovered they were back with “Health”. The sole member , Jason Michael MacIssac has worked on this album since the break. And what an album it is. My friends  this is a  Masterpiece. Jason has been joined by 3 main singers, Jenn Grant, Melanie Stone, and Stewart Legere with some special guests. There are strings ,horns,harp, glockenspiel, mandolin etc. Not exactly sure of the concept , but the songs are so gorgeous. Shades of Bacharach and Brian Wilson are just some of the influences .The strings on ” Child of the Radio” and “God Bless Hazel”are so sublime. The gentle bossa nova of “Call it a day” with it’s knockout chorus-
“..This song will beat your heart like a cannonball..”
The moment on”Silence your Drum” when Jenn Grant sings  “Could you not have brought a harp instead ” and the music swells. Or Jenn Grant’s vocals on “Crystal Clear” , which reminds me of Dusty Springfield.   A note on Jenn Grant. Not familiar with her , but I intend to for sure. And  with her Jason has found a singer that  sounds a bit like Ruth Minnikin, who sang on the early albums.
About those guest singers. Sean O Hagen of High Llamas on  “I should be sleeping” which reminds of that very group. And a stroke of genius on “It sound better than it sounds” none other than the great Sondre Lerche , with swirling strings just pushing the pop perfection.What a song!
There are references to soldiers and war, songs about the Ice Capades and riverboats. All written by Mr. MacIssac, and all great. An epic work. An album you can return to time after time and find something  to warm your heart. I would place this right next to “Smile” on my shelf. It is that good.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuWdHtPxrOA&list=FLOQ7WhfobMIekBnIRwJrLbA&index

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FfrqQCiFzSU

3]Camera Obscura- “Desire Lines”-
A short string intro and we are off and running. Another session with  one of pop’s most endearing vocalists, Tracyanne Campbell. She composed  every tune and they are perfectly suited to the mournful lilt in her voice. There is the ache in “William’s Heart “
“…If it’s a single man or a single malt
that I take in my arms when I’m feeling low..”
In one of the albums best , “New Year’s Resolution”, her resolution is to “write something of value”.  It’s infectious chorus was stuck in my head for days :
“…I’ve been cool with you
the sooner you admit it I will too…”
There is the upbeat rocking “Do it again” and ballad “Fifth in line to the throne”,and one of her best vocals in “I missed your party” with it’s background horns.
“…Bourbon won’t kill it so I’ll just have to will it…”
Great lyrics, the band is perfectly suited to the songs, and Tracyanne’s wounded voice ,like Patsy Cline or classic torch singers equals a well conceived collection of tunes.
The title song name drops “Badlands”, “We could send letters”, and “The Heart is a lonely Hunter”.  A very cool album indeed. Now pass that bourbon.
Check out her Springsteen tee shirt in the video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyk3UvqDD8U

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2QDMrNYJhU

4] Crackerboots – “Crackerboots” -
I’ve made it no secret that I adore the music of Swan Dive and am a big fan of Bill DeMain. So when  Mr DeMain tells me has a new side project, I’m all ears.  I don’t have a lot of information, but I do know that Crackerboots  consists of  Bill and Melissa Mathes with backing musicians. And it is wonderful. A cool jazzy trip with lots of sax, flute,and vibes. Melissa is perfect for this group.  She is sassy in “You’ll figure it out ‘, teasing in “Please don’t rush me” and just plain sexy throughout. So many nice moments, some that are pure Bill DeMain:
the interlude in “Please don’t rush me ” where the music slows down, and Melissa sings “Nice and slow” . Or  “Be a good boy and you might get lucky…”.
In “Little Hipster” where she sings  “wants me like cherry pie ”  ,or “You’re cool as a cuke’
The steel guitar and campfire humming  in “Green River Valley”
The Mancini sounding  background music on “This is it”- and the swell scat section
“He wears his glasses like Michael Caine ” in “Josh”
My favorite song , and one of the best songs of the year ,is  “Paris might not wait”. When she sings “While we’re still young” especially when she goes up on  “young” the second time I get chills.
I am quite sure the horns and steel guitar are played by Jim Hoke. They really add to the atmosphere. But is Melissa Mathes voice that is the star here. And here is what I discovered about here when I was looking for a video. She is the singer in Nashville’s Luella and the Sun, a blues/ rock  band  I have read about in the Nashville Scene. I watched a couple of their videos and I could not believe it was the same woman. She has a gritty  sound that fits their music. What a talent! Can’t wait till they have an album.
This is such a great album. I suggest enjoying it with an old fashioned . I just  hope it’s not a one time deal.
I am not sure how to get this release. If interested, let me know and I will find out for you.
Here is a 3 song live clip :

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQOyePoXEeE

5] Foxygen- “We are the 21st Century  Ambassadors of Peace and Magic”

So I’m driving home from work blasting WXRT’s Big Beat show and on comes this song that just grabs me.
“I met your daughter the other day  Well that was weird
She had rhinoceros -shaped earrings in her ears…”
The opening trumpet, the lazy vocals were all arresting. Then after singing ‘That’s news to me ,that’s news to ” the song changed direction to a more upbeat section and then back again.It all leads to a sing-along ending with “I’m happy she’s happy”. Well  I was very happy because I knew I was onto something. I waited to hear who it was.
The group was Foxygen which is 2  musicians from  San Francisco, Sam France and Jonathan Rado. Both are happy to share their record collection with us. Let’s see, there is Dylan, Donavon, Beatles, Stones, Kinks, Prince, Sly, Tony Bennett , etc. The music mashes these influences, mixes in weird dream like lyrics and somehow it is all magic.
Just some of the fun:
“I’m taking to my grandma who lost her arm in the war ” from “No Destruction”
“I left my love in San Francisco , that’s okay I was born in L. A.” in “San Francisco”
The ” Under my Thumb ” break in “On Blue Mountain”
“I caught you sipping milkshakes in the parlor of the hotel” from “No Destruction “.
The songs change tempos and keys constantly. The vocals can veer  from the bored Lou Reed to a Prince falsetto. There can be several changes in one song. Believe me, this album made me dizzy at times. And that’s a good thing.
My fave  is “San Francisco ” sounding like Ray Davies . The outstanding swirling guitars midway through “Oh Yeah” that leads to a Sly like dance workout.
The album ends with the Beatles flavored finale, “Oh no 2″, which actually states “even though it’s just a dream, I still don’t know what it means.” After some Lennon sounding “Oh no”‘s it all ends with “If you believe in love, everything you see is love. so try to be what God wants you to be ” with a ragtime piano in the background. Perhaps that’s the message of this album. As wild as it can be, music can lead us to love .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtdWGGpvY1s

6] And the Professors – “Our Postmortem “-

One of the finds of the year, I have to thank fellow Audities member, Matt Whitby ,for leading me to this beauty. It is worth keeping in tough with these internet groups for perks like finding hidden gems.  Matt wrote me that he found this group because he liked the Honeydogs. I never heard them myself. So the music of Adam Levy was new to me. He is something.
And the Professors is  a 10 member ensemble that plays what could be referred to as orchestral rock, but there is so much more going on.  The music fuses classical, jazz,and film scores into the mix. Adam initially worked with cellist Rebecca Arons on building the songs around intricate string arrangements. The group has members of the Minnesota Opera Orchestra, as well as 2 fine female singers, Bethany Larson and Aby  Wolf, as well as a rock section.
The music is outstanding .From the drama of “We are” , the jazzy “Watching” , the tender “L’etoile du nord” to   “Turn of the Century Recycling Blues” which sounds like Randy Newman.
” and the professors they don’t make confessions
they don’t care about market crashes or hunting fascists
they don’t feel your pain or your assets
they just tell you how it is…”
Perhaps the standout moment for me is “That’s how we died.” The gorgeous string opening and the melody full of minor keys leads to an emotional finish.One of the best songs I’ve hear all year.
The strings really drive these tunes. The melodies are haunting, and Adam can sings them well, adding lots of meaning to this thought provoking group. This is well worth finding.
If Charles Ives was a young man today, this could be his band.
Thank you Mr. Whitby for the excellent tip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2zZt2KGwkc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YnqK1noL1hg

7]  Caitlin Rose – ‘The Stand-In”-

Shout out to Russ ,my brother in law who lives in Nashville [lucky guy]. Several years ago he called this one. Played me some songs from her debut, and said it was his favorite new artist.
Here she is in my top 10.
She has classic movie star looks on the cover and she can match that with a classic voice. A guitar charge opens the set on the excellent “No one to call’ ,which  proves she’s not just a country queen.  Then the next couple tunes establish that yes, she can sell a country tune as good as anyone. There are 2 songs co-written by Gary Louris [Jayhawks].  I love  “Only a clown” with it’s lyrics that disdain the fact that you can  ” put your record on, let the band play a song, all about love and believing” because “it’s only a clown that’s leaving.”
Highlights:
“don’t make me pay, just cause I tried living for today ” – ” Golden Boy”
the classic ballad “Everywhere I go “-”No matter where I go , there you are”.
The dixieland spiked closer “Old Numbers” that show another side of her talents.
The weepy “When I’m gone”- “I’m always running from the scene of the crime”
She can sing like an angel, has some grit when she rocks, and some torch in that jazz closer.
My favorite is “I was  cruel”. It’s quiet ending and exquisite chorus shows off a major talent. Her soaring choruses are one of the charms of this album.
I love her. And I believe she is just getting started.  Watch her become a huge star.
Just check out her cover of The National’s “Pink Rabbits”.[second video] .She puts a whole new spin on this song. How cool is this girl?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFfp8-k_kpc

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfheTfLDgFY&list=FLOQ7WhfobMIekBnIRwJrLbA&index=8

8] Edwyn collins- “Understated”
“I’m so happy to be alive”  [from "Forsooth" ]. As a lifelong fan since the beginning ,I am happy you are alive, Edwyn. It is hard to listen to current music from h im without remembering that he almost died from a brain hemorrhage in 2005, and had to re-learn how to speak. This is his second album since all that happened , and his songwriting and singing are both sharp. This record makes a personal statement and stands on it’s own .
So much here points out how wonderful it is to be alive and working :
“What the heck I’m living now” – “31 years”
“It’s a reason to live for”  “It’s a reason”
” Just understand I’ve lost some ground”-  “Down the line”
“I’m living in the now living and working
I’m breathing in the now working and breathing”- “In the now”
“People they walk in the street  they talk in the street
How are you doing sir ? What a nice day sir”- “Cary on ,Carry on “
All these lyrics could come quite sappy if the music wasn’t such a delightful mix of his usual rock and Northern Soul. I really enjoy his weary vocals on “Down the line” with it’s country piano. And his voice on the title track , “Understated “reminds me of Orange Juice.
“As the story unfolds I’m a singer of sorts”
The album ends with a simple and poignant cover of Rod McKuen’s “Love’s been good to me”. Only Edwyn could pull that off . It brought a tear to my eye several times while I was preparing this.
Edwyn has his own label, AED, he is recording Roddy Frame and Vic Goddard . It’s almost like Postcard is back.  yes, he is truly “working and breathing”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aobdRp663nA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jw9fGgUBDDI

9] Mikal Cronin – “Mc 2″

Here’s a guy who recently got his BFA in music. He can play all kinds of instruments. He was first noticed as a guitar shredder in Ty Seagall ‘s band. And now he has made one heck of a guitar pop record.
Mikal plays almost the entire album by himself. There is some guest violin and Ty Seagull contributes 2 guitar solos. But this is Mikal with some gorgeous piano , awesome guitar, and lots  of sweet singing. The first track, “Weight” sets the pace  with a classical piano opening. There are a couple verses of harmony vocals, before the songs heads to a falsetto repeat of “Take me from myself” and the key changes to a lovely guitar and then a quiet acoustic finale. Impressive for sure. The entire album is well crafted, with solos carefully placed, and a nice mix of pretty and edgy.  “Shout it out” has a very catchy chorus, and “Am I wrong” is reminiscent of early Who .
A highlight is the solo track, “Don’t let me go”. Just Mikal on acoustic guitar and harmony vocals.  It leads to a vulnerable sounding “You’re all I know” which sticks with you. The closer, “Piano Mantra” starts with quiet piano chords, soon joined by violin. This soon picks up the beat with drums and all of a sudden a psych guitar emerges, till it goes back to quiet for the album finish. A well thought out and executed collection of pop pleasure. Can’t wait for the next one.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Z2-RCsLkfE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=074wHh44p10

10] Dear Georgiana- “Dear Georgiana”-
This was the find of the year. Seeing a tweet by Elizabeth Ziman, [of the   fab Elizabeth and the Catapult] , singing the praises of this music I researched and watched a couple videos. Needless to say it was love at first listen. Dear Georgiana is essentially the work of Lauren Belthrop from Alabama, and she is a talent to behold. Her voice is rich and the music stylish. And she writes terrific pop tunes. From the torch opener , “Don’t let me go”, the haunting “Over You”, to the incredible catchy “I wanna be in love “.
“..cause it will happen when you’re not looking..”.
Lauren is  my favorite new pop voice for sure. I love the cha-cha beat of “Young Girl”  and her quiet , sad ” Where did we go wrong”. “..Looking back on our splendor in the grass..”. I get chills when she sings “I’m going crazy”. My absolute favorite is “Please don’t tell me a lie”. Her falsetto  on “It’s ok to be scared” is gorgeous. I’m so enchanted with this woman I listened to her early group, The Bandana Splits. Lots of fun.
Here are the two videos that got me hooked. Watch the change in album covers and outfits  in “I wanna be in  Love”.  And “Over you” is done in a single take . No cuts. Do watch these, and be sure to check out this great album.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JwnA3mwPD_s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3ToD7r_AGg

11] The Silver Seas – “Alaska”
Another gem from this insanely great pop band from Nashville. They are led by Daniel  Tashian, who I consider to be one of our most gifted vocalists.  Warm and honey soaked, Daniel makes tunes like “I’m the one” and “Roxy” special.  Add some tasty jazz guitar on standout track “A night on the town” as well as “Wolfie”. Somebody’s been listening to Wes Montgomery. Then there’s Daniel’s lovely high notes on “Karaoke star”. So nice!  The album ends with some superb  wordless vocals on “Wild honey”. Leaves you wanting more like a great pop album should.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nyxO8ULk6tI

12] Of Montreal – “Lousy with Sylvianbriar “
An unexpected treat from Kevin Barnes and Co. A sweet blast of 80′s folk, psych pop. Have they been listening to Foxygen? Oblique song titles such as  “Raindrop in my Skull” and “Amphibian Days”. Who can resist lyrics like ‘All of my friends are falling apart, But not me I’m in control”. Catch this cool video of Kevin and Rebecca Cash singing a tune at home.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvHs8BwKjFI&index=4&list=FLOQ7WhfobMIekBnIRwJrLbA

13] Ron Sexsmith – “Forever Endeavour’
A graceful set from one of our best melancholy singers. Well produced by Mitchell Froom, this album has brought tears to my eyes on several occasions. “Autumn Light” which is a bonus track is one of my favorite songs  of the year. Watch a live take of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fctu9oAhBFw&index=7&list=FLOQ7WhfobMIekBnIRwJrLbA

14] Valerie  June -”Pushin’ against a Stone”
From “Humboldt , Tennessee, this extraordinary artist was a huge find. First saw her perform “Workin Woman Blues ” on Letterman, and I rose out of my chair and knew I was onto something. She was standing , playing the heck out of an acoustic guitar singing a blues song .Great voice comfortable with blues, gospel, and country.Dan Auerbach [Black Keys] does some production work.  In her own words, she describes her music as “Organic moonshine roots music”. Major new artist.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBMdEq2LNQY

15] Yo La Tengo- ‘Fade”
Strong set from these veterans  who always delight. This one does accent their mellow side, but there is still plenty of guitar shredding from Ira. Produced in Chicago by John McEntire [Sea and Cake], who adds an elegant touch with horns and strings. This band simply brings it. Check out Ira’s guitar , especially at 4 minutes in.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETo8sSpwRn8

16]Flaming Lips – “The Terror’
One of my favorite bands going down a bleak path. Continuing after the noisy “Embryonic” ,only more depressing. But in the midst of the darkness lies a beating heart . There are melodies and choruses. Even an emotional tune like “Try to explain”. Took a while , but I’ve grown to love it.
Watch the sustained darkness on “Turning Violent”  erupt at about 3:15

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ufok8Dk7G0

17] Okkervil River-” The Silver Gymnasium”
The cover calls it “A Pageant of New England” ,as deep thinker Will Sheff takes us back to his school days in Meriden , New Hampshire, and his band lovingly provides the soundtrack. You can expect emotionally charged anthems that tell great stories. Thrill to “On a Balcony” and “Stay Young” and my favorite “Where the spirit left us” with some of Will’s best vocals.  The band is simply amazing giving these songs their proper lift. But Will is the star, who opens up his past on this album of soaring pop with big hooks. If you visit the band site you can take a tour of his school. You van also click on Will’s name and see his literary efforts, of which his elegy on Lou Reed was the best I’ve seen.
Listen to the stellar chorus in “Pink Slips” ,then watch Will sing his heart out in the actual silver gymnasium .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zLI4gG8RbQE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l2sTel8rsw

18] Lucy Wainwright Roche- “There’s a last time for everything”
Gorgeous album featuring Lucy’s crystal clear voice. She wrote all the songs except for one cover, and there is much to admire.  I love the way her voice blends with Colin Meloy’s on “Seek and Hide”
“I fell in love last year, It’s not a thing I do a lot..”
There is the pop lilt  of “Last time” and the quiet “Look busy” with just bass and piano backing, and the wordless chorus on “Canterbury Song” . There is a moving duet with Mary Chapin Carpenter on “A quiet one”
“So place me here in this minute of Let’s see..”
The album ends with the heartbreaking “Under the gun”
“What do people under the gun know  Tell how to hurt so it won’t show ..”
Now about that cover. If you grade artists by their choice of covers then Lucy gets an A+ because she does an incredible job on Robyn’s “Call your girlfriend”. She picks up on the drama of this song with a quiet intensity and a subtle background chorus. Stunning!
All of these well produced songs [in Nashville- where else?]  are so well sung. And that’s the deal with her. I believe Lucy has the best voice in her extended family[ Roche , Wainwright, McGarrigle] .That’s saying something, she’s got the talent . So clear and beautiful, she is capable of making you smile or bring a tear to your eye.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lTpzz28p26o

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbIyaxd4aOE

19] Elvis Costello and the Roots – “Wise up ghost”
Born in the back rooms of Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night Show, a partnership between Elvis and Questlove was formed and a decision to create some music together. Now I’m a big Costello fan. And I look forward to seeing The Roots on late night tv . Their intro music for guests are legendary. So I was terribly excited about this release. And what are the results of their union? Well, it’s not hip hop. nor is it rock, but more like a hybrid of styles. It is a dark, noir filled collection of slow moving night time tunes. The snap of Questlove’s drums ,rumble of Mark’s bass, and precision of Kirk’s guitar, punctuated  by jazzy horns.
I will be honest, and say I was thrown at first.  But like all good music, the more I listened , the more the grooves settled in and I Loved it.  And there is much to rave about:
The walking drums on “Walk us uptown”
The funky bass and piano on “Refuse to be saved”
The groovy horns on “Wake me up”  – “Wake me up , with a slap or a kiss”
Elvis in full ballad voice for “Tripwire” with Diane Birch on backing vocals.
“Come the Meantimes”  a cool blend of rock and soul with just guitar bass and drums, and it’s repeated “Right Now Right Now”– “Gather some stones and make them atone” .Kirk shows off some mean guitar here.
Then there are two tracks together that really send me. “Cinco Minutos Convos” trades vocals with La Marisoul, a remarkable Latin singer ,that sends makes this song a revelation. Immediately following is a blast of very sweet “Lovers Rock” horns and Elvis in his best falsetto. Both tracks illustrate just how potent the meeting of these musical minds can be
Throughout, there is much mutual admiration displayed. As the excellent liner noted state, Questlove is a Costello fan. And the Roots are very well grounded here. Elvis sings, they play.And since the cover states this is Number one, I trust we can expect some more magicin the future.
For a real treat, go to youtube and check out the MSR studio sessions showcasing these tunes live.  Here are a couple:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ytx7gHTspqw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzo7d2A_e34

20] David Bowie- “The Next Day”

” Here I am Not quite Dying”  ,sung in the title song by the Thin White Duke. Yes, to make this year even better we have the return of David Bowie. The recording of the album was a well kept secret, and  in the early days of the new year a single and video was dropped with the forecast of an album to follow. The song aptly titled “Where are we now “, an ethereal beauty featuring a lovely fragile vocal. I sat and watched that video and was stunned. When he sings “The moment you know,  you know you know ” in the chorus is so effective.
The real surprise was just how good the entire album was. Drums crack, guitars snarl, saxes honk, and David finds his falsetto. The highlights :
The guitars and background “Sha la la’s” in “Valentines Day” featuring David’s best pop vocal in ages.
“The stars are never far away”, “They watch us from behind their shades” from the rocking “The stars are out tonight”- “They burn you with their radiant smiles.”
Earl Slick’s heavy guitar on “You will set the world on Fire”-  “I can hear the nation cry”
The dramatic ballad  “You feel so lonely you could die”
The decadent menace of “Heat” – “My father ran the prison”
One of my favorite performances is on “I’d rather be high” . David’s in rare form and having some fun.
“I’d rather be high I’d rather be flying
“I’d  rather be dead  or  out of my head…”
The excellent bonus track,  “I’ll take you there “.
Mojo refers to it as “the album that fell from nowhere”. Who knows if we’ll ever get a collection so well put together again. For a long time David Bowie ruled my musical universe. It is good to have him back again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gH7dMBcg-gE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4R8HTIgHUU

Bubbling Under:
21] She and Him – “Volume 3″- Zooey gets better with each release
22]Lucius – “Wildewoman”-  “I’m your dolly stuffed with extra baggage ‘- more girl group splendor. When family members give you a tip, you listen.
23] William Tyler- “Impossible Truth”-  Gorgeous Americana tone poems for solo guitar .  From Nashville.
24] Dawes -”Stories don’t end” – Excellent California rock.
25]  Tristen – “Caves”- Bewitching Nashville chanteuse.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9B8guZfOcU

26] Jim James- ‘Regions of  light and sound of God-  Epic pop from a man on a spiritual quest.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvyB-kAfIt4

27] They might be giants- “Nanobots”- Smart and fun, they continue to make very catchy pop.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VlGNm7_dvz4

28] Vampire Weekend- “Modern Vampires of the city “- Never really gotten into them, but this one received so much praise I recently got it. Would probably be even higher if I had it sooner , because after a few listens it’s addictive. Sounds like they focused on making a great pop album, and that it is. Early fave is the harpsichord laced  “Step ” .Can’t wait to listen some more.

29] Haiku Salut- “Tricolore “- Lovely instrumental trio who describe their music as “Baroque-Pop- Folktronic – Neo Classical -Something- Or- Other”. They also claim to be influenced by  the author Haruku Murakami,  which accounts for the melancholy tones. The music by these ladies is very beautiful, featuring Accordions, Spanish guitar, melodicas, etc. Watch them play the heartbreaking “Los  Elefantes” . This is worth finding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmeKSBfOJJc

30] Paul McCartney- “New” -Sounding as young as ever, Paul can still rock. He was committed to making a great album and it is.  “Save us ” is a rousing opener, and “New” is a pop gem with Paul doing some swell  wordless “Ooohs .”  “Queenie Eye” is a standout featuring Paul on everything but drums.   Just listen to this guy sing.  Great! Spot the stars in the “Queenie” video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5CfLUmVso30

Some more: Neko Case, Alela Diane , Jules Shear [so nice to hear from him],  The 88, The Pastels [always cool], The National, Christopher Owens, Lisa Mychols, Julia Holter, and Cortney Barnett, The Tor Guides

Album of special merit: Van Dyke Parks- “Song Cycled”
Intoxicating collection  from  Van Dyke Parks, a real musicologist. Entertaining us with his usual eclectic blend of hymns, calypsos, traditional tunes, and a couple new versions of old Van Dyke songs. “The Parting Hand” is taken from the Sacred Harp Society Hymnal from 1835.”Aquarium” is a Saint-Saens composition played by the Esso Trinidad Steel Band, a group Van Dyke cherishes. “The All Golden” is taken from his debut album, “Song Cycle”. This is a stripped down version with just Van Dyke on vocals and keyboards.It’s lovely. The album comes with a wonderful set of composer notes and  art work for each song. It is a most impressive package. Just watch this amazing legendary musician play ‘The All Golden”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-J0JrExgh8&list=PLD5B855E7CF5BE48F

Album of special merit- Glen Campbell- “See you there”
This recording was made during the “Ghost on the Canvas sessions. What we get are classic Glen Campbell tunes with just a small band backing. No orchestras , just a stripped down session. It’s wonderful. There is something special listening to “Gentle on my mind” by an older , wiser Glen. And that is the essence of this set. Classics like “Wichita Lineman ” and “Galveston ” take on new meaning with just a voice and minimum backing. Glen sounds great and it warms me to listen to this. Two tracks are a revelation.  “Postcard from Paris” is a Jimmy Webb tune Glen has never recorded. Add it to huge list of their Webb covers Glen has added his magic to. Gives me chills.  Then there is the spiritual “Waiting on the comin’ of my Lord”. There is something especially poignant hearing a man with declining health doing this number. For the finale, Glen returns to this same spiritual ,this time with the backing of a mariachi band.  “Jesus take my hand and guide me through the promised land” Glen sings after a mariachi overture.  And that just might be the last we will hear from Glen , which makes it a fitting  song awaiting death.
Hopefully Glen, we’ll someday “See you there”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-Oz6kq-MYY&list=ALGLx1orRGw4XFx7Qcdx9uMtrDXiK0mFm

Songs of the Year:
1] Foxygen – “San Francisco”
2]Prefab Sprout- “Adolescence”
3]And the Professors- “That’s how we died”- riveting !
4] The Heavy Blinkers- ‘Child of the Radio” -shades of Dusty Springfield
5] Julia Holter- “Hello Stranger”-  Haunting cover reducing it to only voice and minimum keyboards-
6]Ron Sexsmith- “Autumn Light”- breaks my heart each time it plays
7]David Bowie- “Where are we now” – remarkable return
8Cracker boots- ‘Paris might not not wait’- Sophisticated pop- that crafty Bill DeMain and sultry Melissa Mathes
9]The Silver Seas- A Night on the Town”- Daniel Tashian simply has the best voice- and that guitar- Wow!
10] Camera Obscura- “New Year’s Resolution”
11]Courtney Barnett- “Avant  Gardener” – Her deadpan delivery is a hook -”I feel like Uma Thurman post-overdosing…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bcnIhzaDTd0

12- Jimmy Webb and  Keith Urban- “Where’s the playground Suzie”- Deeply affecting song  that features  some of Jimmy’s strongest vocals. Keith sounds great as well. The utterly sad lyric “If I don’t stay around” is classic Webb. Watch Glen Campbell and Jimmy perform it from 1988;

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdJGcx9YkW8

13] Glen Campbell – “Postcard from Paris”- Yet another Jimmy Webb tune that Glen adds his magic to. Doesn’t get much better.

14] The Tor Guides-  “All about the loving”- A sweet pop confection .Can’t get enough of it.

15] Dear Georgiana- “Please don’t tell me a lie” – Perhaps my favorite new vocal find of the year, Lauren Balthrop sings this so well. So vulnerable. Listen to her sing “it’s ok to be scared”, and her wordless finish.  Awesome talent.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2LwofIqeVM

16] Lucy Wainwright Roche- “Call your girlfriend” -  She brings a quiet intensity to this Robyn cover.

17] Yo La Tengo- “Cornelia and Jane” “Ohm” seems to be the favorite, but I prefer this song. Ira’s sensitive guitar and Georgia’s tender vocals, and subtle horns. Musicians in total control of their gifts.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pJrznWjOQQ0

18] Edwyn Collins-  “31 Years”- A touch of autobiography from a musician I have cherished his entire career . ” 31 Years of Rock and Roll”  he sings, and he still sounds great.

19] Electric Soft Parade- “The sun never sets around here”- Nice touch of the Beatles. Need to check out their album.

20] Neko Case- “Man”- Heard this a lot on local WXRT and never tired of it.

21- The 88- “I saw the light that day”- great title to a swell tune.

Special mention: The Living Sisters -”Run for cover”  Real nice 6 track covers EP. “Que Sera Sera”is awesome.

I need to check out:
Avett Brothers, Bill Callahan, Anna Calvi, Laura Viers, Sam Phillips, Phosphorescent, State of the Union [2nd album], Josh  Rouse, Eleanor Friedberger,  Kurt Vile , Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, Elle Macho

Looking forward to :
Eleni Mandell, Beck, Angel Olson, Dum Dum Girls, Lily Allen, Elizabeth and the Catapult, St Vincent, Laura Cantrell, Real Estate, Steve Malkmus and the Jicks, Hurray for the Riff Raff, The Hold Steady, The War on Drugs, The Cloud Nothings, Lykke Li, The Roots, Old 97′s,  Gruff Rhys, The Strypes, Neil Young [covers album], Ben Watt, Stars in Coma, Rumer, Luella and the Suns, Sharon Van Etton,  The Haden Triplettes, Plush,  Pearlfishers, NRBQ, Suzy Bogguss, Lake Street Dive,  Roddy Frame [yeah!] , The New Mendicants

I can dream can’t I ?-
Swan Dive- I have read that Bill and Molly were recording . That is great news. Can’t wait.
Gary Clark [Danny Wilson} -We got a new Prefab Sprout.  Roddy Frame, Ben Watt, and The Pearfishers are releasing new music this year. So please, Gary. Consider it. I know I'm not alone in hoping for something new from this gifted musician.
Boo Hewerdine
The Kinks [God save the Kinks!]

Concerts: Wilco – Solid Sound Festival – June 21st- An all covers set taken from fan requests. Wild set list included covers from Big Star, Pavement,Yo La Tengo, The Kinks, Nick Lowe, and Television plus many more. They even covered Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky”. I wasn’t there, but do own a download , and it is a musical treat from the first note to the last. What an incredible band.
An Evening with Todd Rundgren – SPACE in Evanston, Illinois on August 28th. An intimate club date that was really  like the “30 Years Of Todd” tours he was doing. He was in great spirits and terrific voice. Did a little bit of everything  but the highlight for me had to be “Determination”. What a rush. Also  “Drive”, “Lost Horizon”, “Hawking”, and the finale “A dream goes on forever”. An outstanding night of Todd.

Shout outs:
Mojo Magazine : A monthly musical fix I would be lost without. The creative cd’s are a bonus.

Pitchfork,  Popmatters,  Stereogum, Paste, No Depression etc. On line stops that are essential to my constant musical searches.  There are others such as Uncut [love the depth of their Playlists], and NME . It was at  No Depression where I found out about the Heavy Blinkers release. First heard about the Prefab Sprout at Sondre Lerche’s twitter messages,

Matinee Records, Darla Records, Ray Gianchetti and Kool Kat Music [his weekly messages are so cool] for working hard on spreading the love of pop. Also, I recently found my way to Alan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio messages. That is where I found the fab Tor Guides.

Whatever it takes to find the musical gems that are out there. It is a full time hobby searching for and finding them. Just like writing this list. I know, I take forever. But I take it seriously. I listen carefully and go from there.
Hope you find something new from the list. If you do, please let me know. It is such fun to share the music. I welcome the feedback.
Now I need to move onto 2014. Glancing at my “looking forward to” section it is shaping up to be a wonderful year.

‘Music pourin’ out on singles
Finds a home on someone’s stereo…”
“Singles” by Rupert Holmes

Gene Good
javagene@hotmail.com

Review: Our Postmortem By And The Professors

Holy Cow!  I love this album so much I just don’t know where to start.

Firstly you need to go and listen to it over at Bandcamp. Just come back here when you’re done. Take your time. I’m happy to wait.

(waits)

It’s great, right? What did I tell you. Well it’s a collaborative effort with (amongst others) members of The Honeydogs of whom i’m a big fan. I guess if you really insist of categorising music you’d put it in the Baroque Pop / Chamber Pop hole, but lets not do that. I’m struggling to think of a similar band but the best I can do at the time of writing is The Leisure Society.

Knowing that a mere review can never do justice to this album i’m going to sign off and just spend the afternoon listening to it on loop.

I’d be pretty surprised if this didn’t end up as my #1 number for the Audities Best of 2013 list.

Listen. Enjoy. Buy.

Review: Lightning Through My Soul (ep) by Brian Howell

Brian HowellThe first release (I think) from New Yorker Brian Howell.  An EP full of original compositions.  Citing influences such as “’50s rock, ’60s garage, ’70s power-pop/New Wave, classic rock and modern indie rock influences” i’m hearing, and certainly on the vocal for the first track, Buddy Holly.

On the whole it’s old-fashioned rock ‘n’ roll like your mom would have made if she’d been hanging around in garages in the fifties.

Track Listing

1. Why oh why
2. Dry my tears
3. East Coast girls
4. Cold little heartbreaker

Hear the album over at Bandcamp

Review: Problems by Hector and The Leaves

I got an email from Tom Hector of Hector and The Leaves saying he’d written an EP over the Summer and amongst this influences was Elliot Smith. Now, i’m a big Elliott Smith fan and those are some mighty big feet to fill. There are many artists that people cite as influences and you can only assume they’re referencing a style of working, work ethic, or somesuch because musically they’re not really hitting it but with Tom he’s bang on the money.

Fans of Elliott (especially his later work) should absolutely seek this out and take a listen. I’m really excited to see what Hector does next.

Find him on Facebook or go and listen at Soundcloud or Bandcamp.

A heads up… Thomas McConnell

Thomas McConnell came across my radar with his YouTube cover of McCartney’s new song “New”.

Off the back of that I ordered his EP which i’ve been enjoying in addition to this rather good ditty over at his SoundCloud page.

I’m expecting good things from McConnell. Definitely one to watch out for.

The Disbandables

Self promotion alert.

I’ve created a new site called http://www.disbandables.com where I interview great bands. The sites been up a few weeks with a new bunch of bands at the beginning of each month.

If you wondered what happened to

Brown Eyed Susans
Jackdaw4
Klaatu
Love Nut
The MerryMakers
Ooberman
The Pursuit Of Happiness
Second Saturday
Sugarbomb
Tiny Volcano

then http://www.disbandables.com is worth a visit.

Aaron from the great Powerpopaholic was kind enough to post a short interview with me about the site.

http://www.powerpopaholic.com/artist-interviews/matt-whitby-disbandablescom

Review: 1-2-3-4-5 (ep) by The Real Numbers

Can it really be 2010 since I last heard an album from San Francisco’s The Real Numbers? Yes, yes it can. See the (short) review here.

I loved the happy, sunny pop of their debut and their follow-up EP “1-2-3-4-5″ could very well be songs from the same album (not that I expected them to move over to a heady mix of grunge and metalcore). I’m happy to say they’re as joyful and buoyant as ever.

Songs about the mile-long, zig-zagging bicycle route from Market Street to Golden Gate Park, Internet Fame and pouring your heart out to a now gone Daphne.

Listen to recommendations; Look there’s just the five tracks. Listen to them all.

Find them at;

Web –
Listen – http://realnumbers.bandcamp.com/

Album Review: Introducing Ruby Free by Ruby Free

Ruby Free - Introducing Ruby FreeI’ve built myself a time machine and you can too. Tuck yourself under your bed sheets and put on the debut from Rick Hromadka (Double Naught Spies, Maple Mars) and Lisa Cavaliere. The dappled light now leaking through the covers is no longer from your normal surroundings but from Laurel Canyon in its sixties heyday.

Laid back, melodic tunes to while away your time to. With Ruby Free every day is a warm, sunny, carefree Saturday.

Plug in. Switch on. Chill out.

Links;

https://www.facebook.com/rubyfreeband

Band — The Penelopes

I got a handmade compilation CD of songs by The Penelopes from Japan (not to be confused with the Paris based dance rock band of the same name). Having never heard of The Penelopes I tried to do some digging to find out more but there appears to be precious little information. From the All Music Guide; “The Japanese twee-pop outfit the Penelopes was essentially the work of singer/songwriter Tatsuhiko Watanabe; the group debuted in 1992 with the album In a Big Golden Cage, followed a year later by Touch the Ground. Although by this time the band was primarily a Watanabe solo project, he maintained the Penelopes’ name for 1997’s Kiss of Life; A Place in the Sun, issued that same year, was the first LP issued on Watanabe’s own Vaudeville Park label.” [1] which is pretty much what the bio on the send press-release says.

Facebook tells me I have twenty mutual friends of the Tatsuhiko Watanabe so my ignorance of his music is down to me, rather than them.

Twee pop certainly describes some of the bands output which puts it firmly into the Belle & Sebastian category (great purveyors of said genre that they are). Twee Pop is a sensibility rather than being as dismissive as it may sound.

Splitting their output between 60′s and 80′d influences over their substantial output there’s a lot to work through. Often synth based with a love of what I would presume is a glockenspiel there’s often an understated feel to the songs. Melodic, calming and some are almost anthemic if the anthem was designed to get you to sit down and drink a nice cup of tea.

Site details;

You can hear some samples over at http://www.newusb.co.uk

You can pick up three of their albums on iTunes

Reference: [1] Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide

Review: The Kimballs by The Kimballs

Album Cover2013 brings us The Kimballs third album. I confess to not having heard their first two, though having thoroughly enjoyed their eponymous third i’ll be seeking them out.

Citing influences such as Lou Reed, Warren Zevon, Nick Lowe and Television when listening to tracks such as ‘Agnes’ you should add some Elvis Costello and Joe Jackson.

On a hot day as the asphalt cracks beneath your feet a band is crashing away in their garage and the upbeat strains waft pleasingly down the street. Upbeat, melodic songs wend their guitar sounds earwards. A fun, Summer record. Crack open the beer, light the barbecue and put on some Kimballs.

Tracks to try; “Fact or Fiction”, “Agnes”.

More information:

http://www.thekimballsrock.net
http://thekimballs.bandcamp.com
http://cdbaby.com/all/thekimballs
http://www.twitter.com/thekimballsrock

Album Review: To Hell with you by Bleu

Bleu - To Hell with youA PledgeMusic funded album. A nice way to support an artist but then you do end up paying $25 for an album. Better than the album not getting made of course.

An overture is a musical contract between the artist and the listener saying; “This is what you’re going to get.” The wonderfully orchestral opening promised much.

The following track, the titular ‘To Hell with you’ was therefore unexpected. Hints of Jean-Michelle Jarre, or perhaps more Vangelis it’s quite a departure from Bleu’s earlier work. It did worry me – as I’m always wary of change. I know that Bleu’s dabbled in Electronica before, but it’s not what I expected on this record (i’d made sure i’d not listened to any samples before the CD arrived).

Track three, “All downhill from here” – ironically – brought back a more traditional Bleu.

Tracks nine through eleven feature rapping which I find dreary and whilst who am I to tell anyone what direction they can explore musically, just don’t fit on a Bleu record for me.

The final melancholic, wonderfully melodic closer (bonus track aside) of ‘Won’t Make It Out Alive’ almost make me able to to forget the rapping.

It’s still undoubtedly Bleu, and his knack for a good melody remains undiminished. I do hanker for the tunes of the older records though. *

Tracks to listen to; “All Downhill From Here.”, “Won’t Make It Out Alive”.

* Or, i’d settle for a new Major Labels record.

Tops in 2012

Live from the Church of St James, a sublime performance from the master.
00:02:33
Added on 12/04/12
3,994 views

Due to time slipping away, I had given up on this yearly exercise. Then Roger Ebert died, and I was inspired . I work for no one, with no deadline. But my love for this music, and belief I have something to contribute compels me to at least give it a whirl. After all it was a very good year, filled with musical dreamers. If I can turn someone somewhere onto  something new, it is worth the effort. Roger shared many thoughts on cinema with me, so in dedication to his craft, permit me to do this. I’ll do my best to edit myself and keep it brief.  So here I go.

1] Paul Buchanan – “Mid Air”
A sustained melancholy set of songs that never stray from the mood it creates. With minimal backing of just piano and synths,the accent is on Paul’s emotional vocals. And what a voice it is.Full of longing and regret, so touching. Songs like “I remember you”, and “Two Children” remind me of Sondheim.The trumpet  on “After Dark” adds to the loneliness.
Not for everyone, but a must for Blue Nile fans. If you play this in the wee small hours of the morning, it will get to you. I think it’s a masterpiece.
Just watch him perform the title track.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE70AgkeTZc&list=FLOQ7WhfobMIekBnIRwJrLbA

2]Clare and the Reasons -”KR-51″
“I’ve got words in my mouth to make you stay
I’ve got hands in my pockets to put on yours….’
Thus begins the opening song from this remarkable album. It is a song that has had me in tears many times. Clare and the Reasons can do no musical wrong. All three of their albums have been treasures.  Clare’s vocals and the orchestrations conducted by Oliver Manchon are so wonderful, i can hardly express in words what this music does to me. “The Mauerpark” is another song that sends me,with a strong emotional pull. The album leads up to a trio of songs that leave me breathless. I simply can not recommend this lovely orchestral pop music higher. These are voices that deserve to be heard.
Check out their classical  take on “Everybody wants to rule the world” -Awsome!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NL8VZmFaQc&list=FLOQ7WhfobMIekBnIRwJrLbA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFUOfB3wDl0

3]Sylvie Lewis – “It’s all true”
“There was a song I sang before I met you…”
My love affair with Sylvie’s music continues. Ever since I connected with her debut, “Tangos and Tantrums” , I have been  in awe of her talent. She can make you laugh and just around the corner she’ll bring you to tears. She sings softly and sweetly, without a false musical note. I love it all but songs like “Kindness”, “Dylan’s Arms”, “The fish and the Bird” are quite special. A real highlight is “The doorman”, short but so meaningful. The album ends with “Give me the roses now” , based on a traditional folk song, but with a tweak it is total Sylvie, and quite whimsical.She lives in Italy , where she is musically active and speaks ,as well as sings Italian well. And just this week I discovered she is in a group there , A. K. Ellis. I’m  so excited to find some new Sylvie music to listen to. Anyone out there with other tips on other music by her, please let me know. I’m all ears.
Sylvie, I love your music!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQjNIKR2Fqw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OwkfxUPlOx4

4] Kelly Hogan- “I Like to keep myself in Pain”
So nice to see a new one from this amazing singer. It’s been a while. Recorded in the same studio as “Pet Sounds” ,with a great band [Booker T.,James Gadson, her buddy Scott Ligon etc.]. The songs were given to her by esteemed artists like Vic Chestnut, Robin Hitchcock, Andrew Bird, and M. Ward. But is Kelly’s voice that shines the brightest here. She is comfortable in folk, country, jazz, gospel- just name it. This lady can sing. With all those great songwriters, it is her own composition that stands out. “Golden” was written for her friend Neko  Case, but as quoted from her live shows “You go y’all”, she took it on herself. And it is a sensational performance, showcasing some gospel and grit. My very favorite song is M. Ward’s “Daddy’s little girl”. “My name is Frank Sinatra’, the song begins, and continues to invoke that artist. But this song takes a left turn at about 2 min.54 seconds , where she sings
“would I change anything for a minute
well of course I would now, who wouldn’t…”  just elevates this song to something special.
Just hope we don’t have to wait too long for more music from this great artist.
“Someday you and all you put your hand to will turn Golden…”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTH-k40Rf2s

5] Tame Impala-”Lonerism”-
Headphone album of the year. Todd Rundgren + Beatles= pure bliss. So much going on with this wildly inventive psychedelic band. Drums roll, synths swirl, guitars twist and bend, and those sweet Lennon like vocals just delight the senses. “Apocalypse Dreams’ is epic. The sonic thump of “Elephant” just kills. Heck there is a remix of this song by Mr. Rundgren. My favorite is “Feels like we only go backwards” with it’s oh so sweet vocals. The album ends with the total Lennon sounding “Sun’s coming up” that has a mind bending noise coda.Blast this at home. Play it in the car. Thrill to this trippy dream music. Can’t wait to see where these guys are going. They are wizards. True stars.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A084zz6zKiQ

6] Eleni Mandell- “I can see the future”
Eleni continues her current direction of laid back ballads- some torch, a bit of twang and a lot of girl group vocals.  She’s still a clever composer with lots of humor in the mix  like  “Bun in the oven”.  “Magic Summertime” and “I’m lucky” illustrate what a marvelous singer she is.
“I wonder when, will they declare me the winner
and with whom will I share my tomorrow…”
She always surrounds herself with great musicians, and her partners in the Living Sisters do some background vocals. I do so look forward to her albums, and this one is a gem.
Pop Matters asked her in their “20 questions”  what she wanted to be remembered for. She answered  with writing good songs, and being funny. Both of these are well covered on this collection. I can see the future. More swell Eleni Mandell music.
Check out her live take on “I’m Lucky’ in the second clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cH_ELG2Obw

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZVTJFNud3M

7] The DB’s =”Falling off the sky”

I do enjoy seeing some of my favorite bands reforming and playing again. But I don’t expect the results to be as great as this album. The albums kicks off With a kick, and how ironic after all this time that the song is called “That time is gone”. And the cool songs keep coming along with great pop hooks and vocals.These guys sound great. Thrill to those harmonies and moments like the twin lead guitar solo on ‘Before we were born”. “Wright Back” .a Will Rigby tune is so catchy it played in my head for  a week. I’ve seen criticism of the strings on “Far away and Long ago”  as syrupy. I love them and Chris Stamey’s  moving vocals.”Send me something real” and ‘World to cry” are simply top notch pop tunes. All in all, a terrific pop album that is a pleasure to listen to. This far exceeded my expectations. Hope there is more to come.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9CwLD1Yrvo

8] Jens Lekman-” I know what love isn’t”
Latest from the Swedish Bacharach continues his catalog of songs dealing with the ups and downs of romance. His warm conversational voice mixes with piano, Spanish guitar, sax,and strings to paint pop portraits of mostly break ups. And really no one quite does this like him, with his melodies and word play.In “Become someone else’s ”  he sings,
“That lonesome feeling and what it tells us,
Sleeping on my arm til it becomes someone else’s…”
On the aptly titled “The World Moves on”
“You don’t get over a broken heart
you just learn to carry it gracefully …”
And on the title song when he sings ” So let’s get married” a girl breaks out laughing.
There is much to admire here for the true pop fan. Well arranged chamber pop wrapping around many observations about a breaking heart. While his last album, “Night falls over Kortedala” was his masterpiece, this is still a compelling collection. As David Bloom writes in his Popmatters  review, “a breakup album for the well adjusted “.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jQErekXV9Qc

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoWHNDgGtbg

9] Allo Darlin -”Europe”
How I long for the days of listening to Heavenly, The Darling Buds, and Sarah Records. I used to go the Vintage Vinyl in  Evanston ,Illinois and buy all these groups, then play them constantly. Allo Darlin takes me right back there. It is difficult to put in words what this album does to me. The band jangles, and there is a youthful invigorating quality to these songs. There is heartbreak for sure, but also optimism creeps in. Elizabeth Morris is the main focus with her timeless voice that move effortlessly through these songs with the greatest of ease.
On “Some people say” she sings:
“I have a feeling that this day will be amazing…”
From the terrific title song:
This is life this is living…”
Pop songs are mentioned throughout , in fact they are almost like characters in the songs. In the emotional “Tallulah”, Tallulah  Gosh and the Maytals are  name dropped. Also this stunning statement:
“I’m wondering if I’ve already heard all the songs that will mean something…”
Current groups Camera Obscura and The Tender Trap come to mind. In fact at one time Elizabeth played with Amelia in the Tender Trap. But Allo Darlin is a special band, that stands alone in their pop status. A remarkable band well worth seeking out.
Watch Elizabeth and her ukulele play “Tallulah” in the second clip.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YcfaCxjR2t4

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbOCAIYqyZ4

10]Graham Parker and the Rumour- “Three Chords Good”
What a rush to have these guys back.Like the DB’s reunion, it was a great year to see the return of Graham Parker and the Rumour. They made one of the greatest all time albums. “Squeezing out Sparks”, and really good do no wrong. Graham sang with a passion, and the band just rocked. I was hesitant at first listen, but as all good music it wasn’t long before I realized how great this album is. Songs like “Long emotional ride ” and the protest rock of “Arlington’s busy” ,and the cool vibes of the title song make it seem like they never left us.
“whatever it is that girl put a spell on me…”
The band is as solid as ever, but it is Graham’s vocals that rule. He sounds amazing. No one can quite spit out those words like he can. Two other songs stand out for me. In the cool jazzy “Old Soul” , Graham sings at his best, and the band concocts a magical spell with a nifty organ solo.But the real killer comes with cut #11-”Coathangers” . This songs stand up to their best, with a killer melody , a perfect guitar solo, and lyrics like :
“In the world of the blind, the one eyed man can see…”
There is no concession to it being 2012 here. Just a classic rock album by a band that knows how to do this well. More please!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtVKd7wz0Uk

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=REs2zxgGaoY

11] Glen Hansard-”Rhythm and Repose” -an emotional beauty.

12] Kathleen Edwards” “Voyageur’- “For the record, I only wanted to sing songs…”

13]Dirty Projectors- ‘Swing lo magellan’ – Amber Coffman rules-what a voice

14]Rufus Wainwright- “Out of the game”- Rufus pop album

15] The Shins – “Port of Morrow”  Pure pop for now people

16] Avett Brothers- “The Carpenter”-Best Americans album of the year

17] Sondre Lerche- “Bootlegs” -The great pop stylist with a cool rockin’ band- makes me want to see him so bad.
18] Beach Boys- “That’s why God made the radio” – well crafted title song- album concludes with a trio of Brian songs that are right up there with his best

19] Martha Wainwright- ‘Come home to Mama”- Her best vocals to date

20] Donald Fagen “Sunken Condos”- Should i be surprised at just how good this is?

Bubbling Under

21] Beach House- ‘Bloom” -”Myth” is a song of the year candidate
22] State of the Union -The great Boo Hewerdine and Brooks Williams
23]Grizzly Bear -”Shields”  Awesome vocals
24 Norah Jones- “Little broken hearts”  Seductive
25 Lori Carson – “Another year” A real find  thank you Spotify. So good!
26 Lambchop- “Mr. M “- Lush .
27Loudon Wainwright iii- “Older than my old man now” The third album on this list from this talented family. And a new Lucy Wainwright Roche coming.
28 Bob Dylan “Tempest” -took  me a while to adjust to his voice. Some very good songs here.A couple long ones. I’d have to say a real return to form.
29 NRBQ-” We travel the spaceways”-A nice live set by a still great band. Nice to hear them play Sun Ra.
30 Michael Smith- “Old Man Dancing” The superb Chicago folk artist with a fine set of new tunes. I can’t begin to count the number of times this artist has brought me to tears at a live gig.

Songs of the year:
Beach House “Myth”- Breathtaking.
Clare and the Reasons -”The Lake” So beautiful.
Beach Boys- ‘That’s why God made the radio” Such vocals
Dirty Projectors- “Gun has no triggers”- Dear Amber just kills in the chorus
The Shins “It’s only life”- James Mercer at his pop finest.
Kelly Hogan “Daddy’s little girl” M. Ward’s weird take on Sinatra.
Allo Darlin “Europe” Never fails to excite me.
Flaming Lips- “God only Knows ” From the Mojo tribute cd.
Bill DeMain- “In your letter”
Special mention-
Bill Demain “Extended  Stay” 6 song EP from the wonderful pop guru. Can we have 12 more like these please?

Recordings  of special merit ;

Paul McCartney- ‘Kisses on the bottom’
So much better than other rock stars trying out their stab at the Great American songbook. This elegant , laid back collection is well designed. Terrific arrangements by Diana Krall which leads to sensitive backing  by her group. Also some lovely orchestrations by masters like Alan Broadbent and Johnny Mandel.  Sir Paul is in excellent voice ,and his song selection is right on.  An obscure  one .”My very good friend the Milkman ” is refreshing .I love the fact that he does “The Inch Worm”, always a fave of mine. ‘My Valentine ‘, one of two originals is Paul at his best. This is well worth checking out.

Meredeth  d’Ambrosio- ‘By myself”
For her 17th release, Meredeth devotes the entire set to songs written by Arthur Schwartz. The music is just her on vocals and piano. and it is a quiet revelation. Songs like ” Is there someone lovelier than you ” ,” I guess I’ll have to change  my plan” ,and “Something to remember you by ” are as beautiful as anything I have heard all year.  No, this is not some indie rock artist , but a seasoned pro spinning indelible melodies, and pop songs that have stood the test of time. She ends the set with “Haunted Heart ” ,a fitting close to a remarkable album.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtGrYYTRcAg

I need to check out :
Hiss Golden Messenger , Allah -Las,  Parquet Courts, Kurt Vile, Haiku Salut, Phosphorescent,
Matthew E. White, Mikal Cronin, Youth Lagoon,  The Fresh and Onlys, Foxygen ,Solange ,Bill
Fay, Ducktails, Caitlin Rose,  Wild Nothing, Savages, Django Django, William Tyler, Mac Demarco , Melody’s Echo Chamber, Elle Macho

Looking forward to :
Christopher Owens [Girls] , Yo La Tengo, Jim James, Flaming Lips, Edwyn Collins, Low, Josh Rouse, John Grant, Living Sisters, Tristen, Camera Obscura , Attic Lights, Club 8 ,Nicole Atkins,
Iron and Wine, Ron Sexsmith

I can dream can’t I :
Prefab Sprout [there actually has been some talk of one], Roddy Frame [I read he was recording], Gary Clark [Danny Wilson], Swan Dive [or more solo Bill DeMain], Pearlfishers

Shout out – Mojo magazine -Consistently great. Well worth the subscription charge.

The Roots- For their late night musical contribution to Jimmy Fallon.Look forward to what they are up to every show.

Hope musical lovers may find something new as a result of my list. If so, please let me know.
Thanks to my wife for allowing me to keep up with all these musical dreamers.
Add some music to your day and enjoy.

God save the Kinks!

Gene Good

Not a review: Laurie Bennett and the Models

Like everyone who reads this blog i’m guessing you buy a lot of music.  Probably, if it could possibly be so, too much music.  I have a pretty good memory for roughly when and where I picked up most records from (or at least I can narrow it down to a country).  I have this album though.  “Dream Ferret” by Laurie Bennett and the Models.  It’s odd, but odd in a wonderfully British way.  It sounds like it was recorded in someone’s front room and has the feel of Martin Newell album.  I’m very keen on the opening track; “Swarm”.  I’m simply putting this post out there on the off-chance anyone has any information on them.

Review: Celluloid by Bevel Emboss

I tend to get sent power pop albums because that’s what I like and the genre that I most connect with. The downside (and I use that term loosely because it’s not REALLY much of a downside is it) is that I have an inkling of how it’s going to sound before I put it on. Not so with this new album from Bevel Emboss. I’m thinking; why does this sound like something from a Tarantino Soundtrack? Then it clicked. A few months ago i’d been getting into Surfer Rock, or more specifically the sounds of Dick Dale who, as i’m sure you know, had his cover of the folk song ‘Misirlou’ as the opening to Pulp Fiction.

Let me lay my cards on the table here. This isnt’ a genre that i’m overly familiar with but I know for sure that when I put this record on it gets my blood pumping (and what more can you ask of any record?) In a few weeks i’m off to California and I can promise you that this album is getting played on the drive down to the beach. The sun will be shining, and every track will blast out as the perfect soundtrack to that day.

A happy, melodic, fist pumping start to a day. I thoroughly recommend it.

Official Website: http://www.bevelemboss.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BevelEmboss

Twitter: http://twitter.com/BevelEmbossNL

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