Some New Music

So far this year there has been some exciting releases by some of my old favorites and a few fun discoveries.  Here is a nice little playlist to sample:



1.  ELBOW  “Fly Boy Blue/Lunette”  (from The Take Off And Landing Of Everything  2014).  New ELBOW album is wonderful, as can be expected from these guys.  Also a great starting point place if you are not familiar with them.


2.  NEIL FINN  “DIzzy Heights”  (from Dizzy Heights  2014).  This is a great version of the title track to the new album, already fun to see how the lush album arrangements are paired down for live performance.  Nothing lost in the smaller arrangement.  Saw him in Boston this month.  What a pro and what a band!


3.  ST. VINCENT  “Birth in Reverse”   (from St. Vincent  2014).  This may be my favorite ST. VINCENT album so far.  Perhaps ANNIE CLARK has come to grips with the fact that she is a guitar hero.  I love the choreography in this performance, although the drummer gets off way too easy.


4.  BEN WATT  “Hendra”  (from Hendra  2014).  Just out, this is Watt’s first solo album in 30 years.  Of course he has been busy with EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL, his DJ work and releases and penning two books in the interim.  This video is a beautiful version of the title track, featuring the great BERNARD BUTLER, whom I understand is touring with BW.  Almost makes me want a guitar with humbuckers… almost.


5.  LIAM FINN   “Snug As Fuck”  (from The Nihilist  2014).  How about “what the fuck?”   I am not sure what this is but I like it.  Happy Jubilancy Day.


6.  WARPAINT  “Love Is To Die”  (from Warpaint  2014).  One of my daughter’s favorites.  This is very good.


7.  NINA PERSSON  “Dreaming Of Houses”  (from Animal Heart  2014).  Former CARDIGANS songwriter and singer has a new solo album of well crafted pop.  Very clever and very catchy.


8.  ROSEANNE CASH “The Sunken Lands”  (from The River and The Thread  2014).  She describes how difficult it must have been to be her grandmother, but I can’t imagine the burden of being the Man in Black’s kid was much easier.   She is one of the most literate and poised songwriters in not just country music but, in all of music.


9.  LAURA CANTRELL “Starry Skies”  (from No Way There From Here  2014). With Radio Thrift Shop in hiatus, the Proprietress has crafted an excellent new record. I have seen this new album written about quite a bit and heard her featured on NPR and it’s nice to see her getting noticed in the media.  She is a country music historian whose music is becoming an important part of country music’s history.


10. GUY CLARK  “Cornmeal Waltz”  (from My Favorite Picture Of You  2013).  I love the the picture this song brings to mind.  Not that familiar with him, I know him from the periphery.  I know enough to know that this guy is the shit amongst songwriters, and not just Alt Country songwriters either.


11.  NEKO CASE  “Night Still Comes”  (from The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You  2013).  Probably should have included in the best of 2013 list but I am not always on the same page as Ms. Case.  But now that I have spent more time with this album, I can easily see its charms.


12.  FRANK OCEAN feat. MICK JONES, PAUL SIMONON and DIPLO  “Hero”  (single  2014).   Hey, what about the chorus of kids?  I looked it up and they are the Los Angeles Children’s Choir.  Why no “feat.” for them??


13.  DAMON ALBARN  “Everyday Robots”  (from Everyday Robots  2014).  I like the video.  I usually hate videos but this is very interesting and does not distract from the song.


14.  TEMPLES  “Shelter Song”  (from Sun Structures  2014).   This is pretty cool.  Sounds like 1968.  These kids either found their parents Nuggets box set or their grandparents old records.


15.  JEREMY JAY  “Covered In Ivy”  (from Abandoned Apartments  2013).  I can’t remember how I stumbled across this guy but I just read he used to write film scores.


16.  BROKEN BELLS  “Holding On For Life”  (from After the Disco  2014).  JAMES MERCER of THE SHINS and DANGER MOUSE of Courageous Cat and Minute Mouse.  Oh wait, that’s Minute Mouse.  His stuff sounds much different.


17.  THE RAILS   “Bonnie Portmore”  (from forthcoming album Fair Warning 2014).  THE RAILS are KAMI THOMPSON and JAMES WALBOURNE.  KAMI is RICHARD and LINDA‘s kid and TEDDY‘s sister.  James is a great guitarist, most recently backing up RAY DAVIES, who is no slouch.


Follow Blailist on Spotify and you can listen along.  (Spotify did not have LIAM FINN or THE RAILS yet).

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Bedsit Disco Queen Playlist

I recently read TRACEY THORN‘s excellent book Bedsit Disco Queen, How I Grew Up and Tried to be a Pop Star.  THORN is not just a gifted lyricist, but a great story teller as well.   And her story makes for a great read and a great playlist.

This is a great story, two stories actually.  First, Tracey describes her suburban childhood experience, and tells the tale of how the punk movement of the late 70’s could grab the attention of a shy music-loving kid and infuse her with the DIY mindset that anything is possible.  This DYI ethos really provided a catalyst for profound changes in music of the time (both changes in genres and the way the music business worked).  Tracey describes her story with punk as the initial backdrop, providing characters and the attitude that made what she did later possible.  Listening to her first band, MARINE GIRLS, and her later solo work for Cherry Red Records, punk hardly comes to mind when describing the hushed, direct approach of these early recordings.  Folk, Bossa Nova, or Jazz maybe, but not punk.  However, it was that punk attitude that inspired her and so many around her in suburban London and that attitude could be applied to whatever style you wanted to play.  The story of how she became involved with independent label Cherry Red (with its likeminded, diverse group of artists including THE RUNAWAYS and KEVIN COYNE), the influence BEN WATT and others musicians have on her make for a compelling narrative and an interesting diverse playlist.  At the start, we see punk’s great influence, shaking up the entire music industry at the time.   And that story continues through the lens of Tracey and Ben’s 80’s and 90’s experiences in the music industry.   Tracey watches as the DIY ethos fades around them, even with some of their contemporaries and influences, but the skepticism and desire to be original and true to themselves for the most part stays intact.  And every once in a while, even with their skeptical disposition towards the music business, their work overlaps into the big record company world of pop music hits (for example, “Missing” from Amplified Heart 1994).

A second story is Tracey and Ben’s fascinating personal journey: how they met, stayed together all those years and made music together for much of that time.  Especially interesting is the influences they bring to each other along the way.  The stories of their contemporaries and friends during this same period of time (THE GO BETWEENS, THE SMITHS, THE JAM) could (and have) filled volumes themselves.  But Tracey is a gifted and honest storyteller with an acute eye.  This is not name dropping but, rather, a great perspective on some other impressive careers.  The tale winds up where it starts, with Ben telling Tracey in an Australian hotel that he just received a call asking how they would like to open for U2?

I have been especially fond of Tracey’s return to music in the past decade, including her wonderfully well crafted and mature albums (Out of the Woods 2007, Love and Its Opposite 2010, and Tinsel and Lights 2012).  This book is a delightful backstory that provides a great companion to the music of her entire career and confirms TRACEY THORN‘s importance in British pop music.  As the playlist shows, there is a lot going on here.   The soundtrack to this story makes for some wonderful music.


1.  SEX PISTOLS  “Liar”  (from Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols 1977).  Tracey describes how, as a young girl, her journal and attitude transforms after seeing the Pistols on Top of the Pops.  “I had finally had my socks blown off.”


2.  THE CLASH  “White Riot”  (from The Clash  1978).   “Fantastic, I luv ’em.”

3.  THE JAM  “In The City”  (from In the City  1978).  An early influence, later THE STYLE COUNCIL will really help put EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL on the map of British pop.


4.  SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES  “Carcass”  (from The Scream  1978).  One of Tracey’s female punk heros.

5.  MARINE GIRLS  “A Place In The Sun”  (from Lazy Ways 1983).  Tracey’s first real band is not really a band but three girls with a strong DIY attitude and clever songs written by TT.

6.  MARINE GIRLS  “Honey”  (from Beach Party 1981).  Tracey gets the courage to start singing and the rest is history.


7.  KEVIN COYNE  “Love In Your Heart”  (from Beautiful Extremes Et Cetera  1983). Cherry Red label mate.  Coyne is an example of an artist who was revitalized by the punk movement and found a new label home with independent minded artists.  Coyne ends up producing Ben.

8.  TRACEY THORN  “Plain Sailing”  (from A Distant Shore  1982).  Early TT before EBTG really got going.

9.  JOHN MARTYN  “Solid Air”  (from Solid Air  1973).  At college in Hull, Tracey meets Ben and his record collection, which blows her mind again.

10.  THE DURUTTI COLUMN  “For Belgian Friends”  (from LC  1981).  Ben describes his music to Tracey as The Durutti Column with songs.  Pretty obscure now, but pretty interesting.

11.  BILL EVANS  “Waltz For Debbie”  (from Waltz For Debbie  1961).  A strong influence for EBTG was jazz artists like Bill Evans.

12.  BEN WATT AND ROBERT WYATT  “Walter And John”  1982  (from Pillows and Prayers Vol 1 & 2, Cherry Red 1982-1984).  Pretty impressive that Ben could record with such an icon as Robert Wyatt.


13.  EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL  “Night and Day”  1982  (Ambition Vol 1 & 2  the History of Cherry Red Records).  This cover of the COLE PORTER classic catches the eye of PAUL WELLER, who wants to go in a jazzy direction after the demise of THE JAM.

14.  EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL  “On My Mind”  (from Pillows and Prayers Vol 1 & 2, Cherry Red 1982-1984).  Ben and Tracey are, by now, a working duo, each contributing their own songs to EBTG.

15.  THE STYLE COUNCIL  “The Paris Match”  (from Cafe Bleu  1984).  Weller plucks EBTG, to contribute to this jazzy song.  This is sure a long way from recording with your girlfriends in a shed (Marine Girls) just a few years earlier.

16.  THE SMITHS  “This Charming Man”  (from The Smiths  1984).  Early on, EBTG gets a lot of encouraging support from Moz and Tracey ends up following The Smiths around on tour.

17.  THE GO BETWEENS  “Right Here”  (from Tallulah  1987).   Tracey forms a close bond with LINDY MORRISON, the drummer for the Go Betweens, and like the rest of us, cannot understand why this band did not become widely known.

18.  DUSTY SPRINGFIELD  “Don’t Forget About Me”  (from Dusty In Memphis  1969).  A big influence on Tracey.

19.  FAIRPORT CONVENTION  “Genesis Hall”  (from Cropredy 1990).  Ok, this is not just a cheap opportunity for me to slip a little RICHARD THOMPSON in.  When EBTG is invited to play the Cropredy Festival in the mid 1990s, Tracey is impressed by how DAVE PEGG runs the Fairport operation from a computer in his kitchen.  On the surface it seems like different worlds, but it really does work well together, especially when you hear Fairport’s DAVE MATTACKS and DANNY THOMPSON provide the rhythm section on Amplified Heart (1994).

20.  MASSIVE ATTACK feat. TRACEY THORN  “Protection”  (from Protection 1994).  Tracey wrote the words, this collaboration turns out to be a pivotal point in EBTG’s career.

21.  EVERYTHING BUT THE GIRL  “Missing”  (from Amplified Heart  1994). Huge, huge hit.


22.  JEFF BUCKLEY   “I Know It’s Over”  (from So Real  2007).   Ben and Tracey play their first Glastonbury with special guest Buckley on a classic Smith’s cover.  From Tracey’s description, this is probably a significantly more polished version.

23.  TRACEY THORN  “Nowhere Near”  (from Out Of The Woods  2007).  Tracey’s welcome return to recording after almost a decade.


24.  BEN WATT  “Guinea Pig”  (from Buzzing Fly Anthology Vol 4  2009).  Ben’s post EBTG work has focused on his Buzzing Fly label and club and his work as a remixer, radio presenter and DJ.  But I am happy to report we can expect a new solo album in April.

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Favorites from 2013

Another new year, another chance to look back on the past year’s music.  Looking back, 2013 featured many new releases from established artists which may have pushed some of the new stuff we discovered to the side.  I tried to mix it up and, like in past years, limit the list to 25.  The list reflects favorite albums so I have selected a song from each album that stood out.  (One artist has two selections – my favorite album of the year and the album I listened to the most).  This list is also on Spotify, if you prefer not to read on and be distracted by videos.  It makes for a great playlist to put on while you ponder your new years resolutions.

1.  DAVID BOWIE  “The Next Day”  (from The Next Day). This album was a surprise, as there was no media hype preceding it’s release.  The album played a big part in the development of a new bona-fide Bowie fan around here.  Having spent much of the past year rediscovering his entire catalog, I think The Next Day ranks up there on the strength of it’s songs and sound.



2.  LAURA MVULA  “Green Garden”  (from Sing To The Moon). What a pleasant discovery this beautiful album was.  It’s full of adventurous vocals and numerous musical styles and is fun to listen to.




3.  HAIM  “Don’t Save Me”  (from Days Are Gone).  I read that these three were basically pros from an early age, heavily influenced by their parents, who were also musicians. This album owes a lot to the artists their parents had turned them on to.  I do hear Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, some new wave and other stuff in there.  It is undeniably great pop music that I have no problem hearing played to death on the radio.



4.  UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA  “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)”  (from II).  From New Zealand and Portland, Ruban Nielson‘s band creates quirky pop songs that are lightly coated with sprinkles of psychedelia.  I guess.




5.  DISCLOSURE  “When A Fire Starts To Burn”  (from Settle). British brothers Guy and Howard Lawrence.  This is just a great song.  Primarily electronic, this album is more dance-y than chill out.




6.  JON HOPKINS  “We Disappear”  (from Immunity). Nominated for the Mercury Prize, this is more chill out than dance-y.





7.  DAFT PUNK  “Giorgio By Moroder”  (from Random Access Memories).  This is such a phenomenal song. Moroder’s voice over and the story behind “the click” is perfectly complimented by the track that builds and builds.  Love the drums at the end.




8.  JOHNNY MARR  “New Town Velocity”  (from The Messenger).   Mentioned here before, this is a great debut album from a legendary guitarist and songwriter.  Repeated listens reveal the layers of care and craft that went into these songs.   Great hooks to add to his already impressive collection.




9.  RADIATION CITY  “Zombies”  (from Animals in the Median).   Do not know much about these guys and gals but I dig the catchy retro sound and the harmonies drenched in washes of reverb.





10.  SAM PHILLIPS  “When I’m alone”  (from Push Any Button).  Sam Phillips is a treasure.  This is her best album in years, possibly since Martinis and Bikinis.  Please check out any Sam Phillips if you are not familiar with her.





11.  RY COODER AND CORRIDOS FAMOSOS  “Vigilante Man”  (from Live in San Francisco).  This album is a real treat.  It features songs from throughout Cooder’s great career. Cooder has served as America’s premier musicologist and this album shows his versatility and varied interests.  It features plenty of tasty guitar work as well as awesome guests (FLACO JIMENEZ and LA BANDA JUVENIL).  The video is not the best quality but listen as the audience gets into it as Cooder gives them what they came for. (Then check out the great sound of the album recording on my Spotify list, or just go buy the album and support the artist).



12.  GREGORY PORTER  “Liquid Spirit”  (from Liquid Spirit).  Some Jazz, some torch, some blues.  Porter’s voice carries it all off.





13.  PATTY GRIFFIN  “Wild Old Dog”   (from American Kid). I don’t ever want to take a Patty Griffin release for granted.  This year the elusive Silver Bell was also released after a decade in limbo and for a while, I was smitten with the band arrangements and more raucous material on that album.  But at the core of all of Patty Griffin’s considerable power are the songs and the achingly beautiful voice, both of which are prominently featured on American Kid.  “God is a wild old dog”.



14.  BRUCE ROBISON AND KELLY WILLIS  “Cheater’s Game”  (from Cheaters Game).  Sure they are both great songwriters and alt-country heros but this does not sound like the cheesy married couple album in any way (George and Tammy, anyone?).  There was a lot of good country music this year from newer artists (KACEY MUSGRAVES, ASHLEY MONROE, BRANDY CLARK) but it is reassuring to hear the old dogs still have it.  Dogs may not be the right word?



15.  STEVE EARLE AND THE DUKES  “That All You Got?”  (from The Low Highway). Another artist I do not want to take for granted.  He has been so good for so long.  Back doing his own songs and recorded with the Dukes, this is a very good Steve Earle record.




16.  AOIFE O’DONOVAN  “Fire Engine”  (from Fossils).  Another new country-ish discovery.  Late this year I became smitten with alt-country again, and I haven’t even mentioned great new albums by NEKO CASE or CAITLIN ROSE yet.




17.  JASON ISBELL  “Stockholm”  (from Southestern).  This is a very impressive album from the former DRIVE BY TRUCKER.  Mature songs and fantastic voice.  This cool video really highlights the voice.




18.  BOMBINO  “Amidinine”  (from Nomad).   My fondness for African guitar has been documented here before. Bombino is a recent discovery.  This album is produced by BLACK KEYS’ DAN AUERBACH and is full of good gritty desert guitar.




19.  THE NATIONAL  “Demons”  (from Trouble Will Find Me).   Another strong effort from The National.  Smart songs and more direct than ever.  They seem to be getting better with each album.




20.  LINDA THOMPSON  “As Fast As My Feet”  (from Won’t Be Long Now).  Linda’s latest is like a great big party, attended by all her folk music pals as well as the whole family.  It features ex RICHARD, kids TEDDY, KAMI and MUNA THOMPSON, friends MARTIN CARTHY and DAVE SWARBRICK.  It even has her kids friends on it (AMY HELM) and a grandkid (ZAC HOBBS).  A wonderful collection of songs (her own and from great songwriters like RON SEXSMITH) live up to the hype that a rare Linda Thompson album brings.



21.  LAURA VEIRS  “Sun Song”  (from Warp And Weft). Talked about this previously.  To sum up, another excellent album from Laura Veirs.





22.  LUCIUS   “Turn It Around”  (from Wildewoman).   This album is great start to finish, full of bright fun indie pop.  This may be the best find of the year.





23.  VAMPIRE WEEKEND  “Obvious Bicycle”  (from Modern Vampires Of The City). Very impressive third album.  My only complaint is this should have been the last song.  It sounds like a last song.




24.  GOLDFRAPP  “Thea”  (from Tales Of Us).  Lovely, hushed, atmospheric… almost acoustic.   Goldfrapp seems to have settled into a nice pattern of alternating an electro-dance pop album with quieter albums that require more focused listening.  I like them both.




25.  DAVID BOWIE  “Where Are We Now?”  (from The Next Day).   Back where we started.  Again, even with all the monumental work he has created in his career, this is a great album. It is what Bowie should sound like now, allowed to create great songs that pull from all aspects of his past work but free from having to bear the weight of shape shifter and trend setter.  Just let the guy make great music and stop comparing it to another time. Frankly, this is a great song for any time.


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Something for the Season: NICK LOWE “Quality Street: A Seasonal Selection For All The Family”

Every year I try to resist the barrage of hype, try to keep it simple and just slide through the season. But last night I heard this album, and BLAMMO!  Today I am pulling out the extension cords and scouring the basement for those stupid lights! This straightened my head right out and my heart grew three sizes.  This album is awesome.  Check it out, get in the spirit, and then… go buy stuff!!

NICK LOWE “Children Go Where I Send Thee.”  Now, that’s a carol.


NICK LOWE “Christmas At The Airport”   A new Christmas Classic.


NICK LOWE “A Dollar Short of Happy”

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Research for Best of 2013

By now, I have a pretty good idea of some of the stuff that I will be including on The Best Of 2013 Blailist. But the team here has been scouring our sources to find other new stuff that should also be included.  I am not sure if any of this will make the final grade, but everything included below is pretty swell.


1.  LENKA  “Nothing Here But Love”  (from Shadows  2013).

2.  GOLDFRAPP  “Thea”   (from Tales Of Us   2013).

3.  SAM PHILLIPS  “When I’m Alone”  (from Push Any Button  2013)    SAM PHILLIPS is one of our best songwriters.  She has been throughout her 20 year career and it is too bad that more people are not familiar with her or her songs.  This song comes from another in a long line of fantastic albums.  Push Any Button will be on best of lists this year for sure.

4.  MILES KANE  “Inhaler”  (from Colour Of The Trap  2013).

5.  CAMERA OBSCURA  “Do It Again”  (from Desire Lines  20130.

6.  PET SHOP BOYS  “Vocal”  (from Electric  2013).   Wow, these guys are still making very interesting stuff.  So much more than just a good beat and catchy hook.

7.  YOUNG GALAXY  “Pretty Boy”  (from Ultramarine  2013).

8.  EDWYN COLLINS  “Carry On, Carry On”  (from Understated  2013).

9.  BETTIE SERVEERT  “Mayham”  (from Oh, Mayham  2013).  This band has been putting out great indie rock for over 20 years.  Or is it 200 years?

10.  RY COODER, CORRIDOS FAMOSOS  “Lord Tell Me Why”  (from Live In San Francisco  2013).   No video was relevant, but do yourself a favor and go check this album out.   It is beautiful and will appeal to guitar geeks, accordion geeks, brass section geeks… all sorts of geeks, actually.  As usual, RY COODER is a master of blending many styles and the band features some killer guests (including FLACO JIMENEZ).

11.  ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE ROOTS  “Walk Us Uptown”  (from Wise Up Ghost  2013).

12.  ELEANOR FRIEDBERGER  “I Don’t Want To Bother You”  (from Personal Record  2013).

13.  HOODED FANG  “Bye Bye Land”  (from Gravez  2013).

14.  QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE  “I Sat By The Ocean”  (from …Like Clockwork  2013).

15.  THE VACCINES  “Everybody’s Gonna Let You Down”  (from Melody Calling EP  2013).


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This Year’s Mercury Prize Nominees

Last year, I used England’s Mercury Prize nominee list to discover some great new music. Some of that music turned out to be quite popular around here, and by the sounds of it, other places as well (BEN HOWARD, ALT-J and JESSE WARE).  So let’s see what this years group has in store.  Before even listening to the artists, the first things that struck me were the inclusion of some big names and some epic comebacks.  Like last year, I’ve selected a song from each album to create a nice little sampler.

1.  ARCTIC MONKEYS   “Snap Out Of It”  (from AM  2013).   Check out this cool acoustic version.

2.  DAVID BOWIE   “Valentine’s Day”  (from The Next Day  2013).  This is a strong candidate for album of the year.  I LOVE old Bowie.  (Thanks Alice, thanks Paul).

3.  DISCIPLINE   “When A Fire Starts To Burn”  (from Settle  2013).  Undeniably catchy.

4.  FOALS   “My Number”  (from Holy Fire   2013).

5.   JAKE BUGG    “Lightning Bolt”  (from Jake Bugg  2012).   BOB DYLAN?  nah…  LONNIE DONEGAL?  Maybe.

6.  JAMES BLAKE  “Retrograde”  (from Overgrown  2013).   Snooze fest…

7.  JON HOPKINS  “Open Eye Signal”  (from Immunity  2013).

8.  LAURA MARLING  “I Was An Eagle”  (from Once I Was An Eagle  2013).  I don’t get all the fuss.  Another snooze fest.

9.  LAURA MVULA   “Green Garden”  (from Sing To The Moon  2013).   I usually hate videos, but this is very cool.  Great song.

10.  RUDIMENTAL  “Feel The Love”  (from Home  2013).

11.  SAVAGES  “Husbands”  (from Silence Yourself  2013

12.  VILLAGERS  “Earthly Pleasure”   (from {Awayland}  2013).

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Album of the Month – Laura Veirs “Warp and Weft”

Warp = the threads that run up and down on a loom or in a woven fabric.  Weft = the filling thread or yarn in weaving, drawn through the warp.  It helped for me to know that when listening to the latest by LAURA VEIRS.

VEIRS‘ previous albums, packed with clever hooks and interesting harmonies, have become staples in my listening diet.  They have not grown old in any way and helped create some real anticipation for this latest collection.  VEIRS is a top notch songwriter.  I have read “Warp and Weft” described as more electric guitar based, and there is some truth to that, but it is some of the lyrics that are what strike me as different from “July Flame” (2010) or previous albums.  There are certainly less water and mermen references for starters.  Several of the songs are much more direct.   “Amercia” has VEIRS throwing her clear concerns about gun violence and our society right out in front of the listener.  “That Alice” finds VEIRS telling the story of ALICE COLTRANE’s contributions to music and culture.   “Sadako Folding Cranes” frames a beautiful melody around the story of SADAKO SASAKI who, as a two year old, survived the atomic bomb blast in Hiroshima.  These songs are clearly vessels for what is on VEIRS’ mind.

I have always been drawn to the interesting arrangements and tasty production from hubby TUCKER MARTINE.   This time there are great guests who are not just included for star power but who really help create and enhance the songs they are featured in.  NEKO CASE’s bridge in “Sun Song” is an exclamation point on an already fantastic song.  JIM JAMES, k d lang and others are in there too.  It’s fun to try to pick them out.

This album did not initially jump out at me like “July Flame” (2010) but, like “Year of Meteors” (2005) before it, it has slowly revealed it’s greatness.  If you are not familiar, LAURA VEIRS is the real deal and this is an excellent starting point.  This album is a real weft, another thread in a great catalog so far.  Hmm… is that proper use of the term?

Oh, and if you buy the actual CD, you get an origami!  C’mon.


“Sun Song”

“Dorothy of the Island”

“Finster Saw the Angels”

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August Blailist – All new (to me) music

This is actually June’s Blailist, so you know how well I’ve been keeping up.  Actually, I totally changed the theme today.  This is all new music to me.  A few I stumbled across myself but most my kids showed me.


1.  EMMA LOUISE  “Jungle”   (from Vs. Head Vs Heart 2011).   This one I found and then I saw it featured on Itunes, so others have found it too.


2.  RADIATION CITY  “Zombies”   (from Animals in the Median 2013).  From Portland, OR, this album is all over the place genre-wise.  Sorta CAMERA OBSCURA, sorta retro 60’s pop.


3.  WARPAINT  “Bees”   (from The Fool 2010).   Current favorite of my daughter.


4.  SURFER BLOOD  “Squeezing Blood”  (from Pythons  2013).  Current favorite of my son.  Equal representation.


5.  BRITISH SEA POWER  “Living Is So Easy”  (from Valhala Dancehall 2010).


6.  QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE  “I Sat by the Ocean”   (from Like Clockwork 2013).  This album is getting much critical acclaim.


7.  UNKNOWN MORTAL ORCHESTRA  “Swim and Sleep (Like a Shark)   (from II 2013).  Features former MINT CHICKS member (and brother of KODYRUEBEN NIELSON.  The album has some very memorable hooks but wanders quite a bit too.  


8.  PEACE  “Bloodshake”   (from Delicious EP  2012)


9.  FLEET FOXES  “White Winter Hymnal”   (from Fleet Foxes 2008).  Not really new but worthy of mention.


10.  LOCAL NATIVES  “Heavy Feet”   (from Hummingbird  2013).


11.  SWIM DEEP   “She Changes the Weather”   (from Where The Heaven Are We  2013).


12.  DRY THE RIVER  “No Rest”   (from Shallow Bed  2011).


13.  TOY  “Lose My Way”  (from Toy  2013).


14.  MYSTERY JETS  “Luminescence”   (from Roadlands  2012).


15.  JOHNNY MARR  ” New Town Velocity”  (from The Messenger  2013).  Ok, this one doesn’t fit this month’s theme but this song was released as a single in July and is one of the highlights of The Messenger.  And now it has a video so here you go.



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Album of the month – Lloyd Cole “Standards”

LLOYD COLE’s new album, Standards, has been hailed as a return to form.  To be honest, when you google the topic, only three or four reviews show up and not much else.  That has basically been the problem for COLE for most of his career as a solo artist.  He has always been liked by critics but as time has gone by less people are aware of the consistent quality of his output.   Way back in the 80’s, LLOYD COLE AND THE COMMOTIONS, were actually quite popular and had a good presence on college radio.

I do not agree that Standards is a return to form because I frankly think COLE has rarely slipped from being very good throughout his whole career.  I found Antidepressant (2006) excellent and Broken Record (2010) slightly less so. It is true that his albums do feel more homespun or more intimate as the years go on.  In fact, his last two have been partially funded by fans through his website, allowing the inclusion of a proper band.  (I just received my signed copy!)

So I do not want to review the new album so much as encourage you, dear reader, to check out LLOYD if you are not familiar with him.  And Standards is a great place to start.  The combination of wry literate lyrics and his brand of catchy pop songs are not diminished by a (weary?) 52 year old’s perspective.  His lyrics are still clever and his melodies still stick in your head all day.  He’s brought along his old pals (MATTHEW SWEET, FRED MAHER) that played on those great early 90’s albums Lloyd Cole (1990) and Don’t Get Weird On Me Baby (1991), and Standards certainly sounds more like those records.  For me, those albums were from a place and time I have fond memories of.  I don’t want to get ahead of myself and get all optimistic (a very un-Lloyd like thing to do) but I could see this album accompanying some good memories just as well.


LLOYD COLE   “Period Piece”

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Running Playlist – Can music make you faster?

Well, after last weekends half marathon, the answer for me was probably not.  But maybe they will make you run faster.  Some people are convinced that the faster the tempo, the faster the pace.  It’s never worked that way for me.  For starters, I need to use my runs as time to check out new music or concentrate on something I am interested in.  In addition, for me a song does not have to have pounding rhythm or a fast tempo to get me fired up.  In fact a big bombastic ballad or stark scary folk song where something really bad happens can easily get my heart pumping during the middle of a long run.  I take a lot of grief from those I live with about my choice of music during training runs.  I was charged with coming up with a playlist that was (mostly) up-tempo songs.  I had all week to compile a playlist, but as is always the case before a big race, I only remembered after I went to bed the night before.  So I hopped out of bed and this is (part of) what I came up with.

1.  THE ROLLING STONES   “Rocks Off”    (From Exile on Main Street 1972).    This song gets me fired up, especially when the horns come in.


2.  THE ROLLING STONES   “Respectable”    (from Some Girls  1978).   Ok, I need fast tempo.  Check.


3.  MATTHEW SWEET  “Come To Love”  (from 100% Fun  1995)   The tempo is slowing but this song rocks!


4.  SUGAR  “Good Idea”   (from Copper Blue  1992).


5.  DAN DEACON  “Lots”   (from America  2012).


6.  TED LEO AND THE PHARMACISTS   “St. John The Devine  (from The Tyranny of Distance  2001).   Slower tempo but driving rhythm, right?  The album this comes from is a classic and a great introduction to the very wise Ted Leo!


7.  VAMPIRE WEEKEND  “Diane Young”   (from Modern Vampires of the City  2013).   Wow, pretty good third album.  Alice says it’s all Rostam, right?


8.  ARCADE FIRE  “Keep The Car Running”   (from Neon Bible 2007).    Nothing keeps you moving more than a hurdy-gurdy!

9.  CURTIS MAYFIELD   “Move On Up”   (from Curtis  1970).


10.  SUPERGRASS  “Cheapskate”  (from In it for the Money  1997).


11.  PALMA VIOLETS  “Best of Friends”   (from 180  2013). One of the greatest debut albums since the dawn of time.  Says Oskar.


12.  TALKING HEADS  “Pulled Up”  (from TALKING HEADS 77  1977).  Hey, didn’t we see these guys already?  Oh wait, that was Vampire Weekend.


13.  NEW ORDER  “Weirdo”   (from Brotherhood  1986).


14.  RADIOHEAD  “Body Snatchers”   (from In Rainbows  2007).


15.  X   “Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not”    (from Los Angeles  1980).    A shot of adrenaline to finish the race!

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