Neil Finn and Paul Kelly Live from the Sydney Opera House

NEIL FINN and PAUL KELLY recently embarked on their first tour of Australia together and their last show was webcast live to the world.  Due to the time difference, I had to leave to go to work right after the show started.  So today I finally watched it and I had to post this great collaboration between two of our best songwriters from the iconic Sydney Opera House.  For those unfamiliar with either, this is a great starting point showcasing some of their best and most well known songs.

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Album Of The Month – JOHNNY MARR “The Messenger”

There is no shortage of reviews and articles written about the recent release of the first solo album from JOHNNY MARR, 25 years after the demise of THE SMITHS.  That’s for sure.  MARR hasn’t gone anywhere.  In fact, he’s been one of the busiest men in alternative rock music since THE SMITHS split in 1987 but always by attaching himself to a project or blending into bands, sometimes as a collaborator (ELECTRONIC), sometimes as a mentor (THE CRIBS, MODEST MOUSE), and sometimes just as a hired guitar slinger (PRETENDERS).

I must admit I am not completely familiar with all of the projects through the years, but the ones I am familiar with have tended to be included in some of my all time favorite music.  I always respected and appreciated the variety of work he produced.  I think that probably was the most effective way to continue on after THE SMITHS, and all the baggage associated with that bands’ legendary status for so many people.  Bottom line, even without THE SMITHS, MARR‘s guitar playing stands out, because of his ability to use riffs and rhythms to create such a unique sound.  Of course, THE SMITHS were what they were and there is no getting away from it.  The band was a blend of an exceptionally tight rhythm section (MIKE JOYCE and ANDY ROURKE) with MARR‘s “no solo” riff-centric mentality.  As I am often quoted as saying, “nothing like it at the time.”

MARR always used his projects to stay focused and relevant.  Yet he rarely came forward to the spotlight.  Unlike the HEALERS project ten years ago, “The Messanger” sounds like a solo album.  The liner notes look like a solo album (no guests except his children).  Working with ex-HEALER (and collaborator for the past decade), JAMES DOVIAK, the production plays to his strengths, highlighting the guitar.   On “The Messenger” MARR shows his songwriting is the solid base to support the weight of his legendary guitar style.   And that legendary sound is certainly there, enhancing the strong collection of songs.  In recent interviews, MARR acknowledges he is now comfortable incorporating the signature sounds he is responsible for in this new batch of music.  This makes it completely new and warmly familiar at the same time; the best we could have hoped for.  Check out the riff at the end ”The Right Thing Right.”  And the way the acoustic intro to “New Town Velocity” sets up the beautiful riff.  It’s all so tasteful and not in your face.  I hope it’s not another 10 or 20 years before the next solo album.

JOHNNY MARR “The Messenger”

 

JOHNNY MARR “Upstarts”

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Album of the Month – RICHARD THOMPSON “Electric”

My four readers know that I am a big RT fan.  Between checking Beesweb (his website) frequently to being a little too into his gear (how about his new Headstrong Lil King amp?!!), my family may feel that I take it a bit too far.  But aside from lurking around our downtown pedestrian shopping district on the days he’s been in town for shows, I have stopped short of stalking.  I just get RT and am just continuously impressed with his 40 year career and the high quality of work throughout.  I try to turn people on to his songwriting or his phenomenal playing at any opportunity.  Taking someone to see RT always creates a convert, and taking a guitar player to see him usually results in a crisis in confidence, even causing them to wonder if they even play the same instrument.

For a while there it was an exciting event when RT put out a band album.  You knew you were in for at least a few great electric guitar solos sprinkled among the great songwriting.  But the past three releases have all been band releases and I was hoping for something a little different this time out.   Upon first listen, I realized “Electric” is a very different RT album.  The songs on “Electric” could have easily been on the previous “Dream Attic” (2010) or “Sweet Warrior” (2007) but this album is different in one huge way:  BUDDY MILLER produced it and plays on it.

RT can always let it rip when playing live, acoustic or electric.  (The last album, “Dream Attic”, was a live recording of new songs that captured the ripping quite well).  On “Electric” MILLER, a great guitar player himself, extracts some true grit from RT’s guitar playing in a studio setting.  As is usually the case with a RT album, there are a few standout songs to add to his catalog of gems.   Recording as a trio (MICHAEL JEROME on drums and TARAS PRODANIUK on bass) makes each part more urgent and upfront.  Miller captures a raw live sound, even when a few guests (including MILLER, fiddle player STUART DUNCAN and vocalists SIOBHAN MAHER KENNEDY and ALISON KRAUSS) show up.  I read once that RT used to be frustrated with the album recording process and that playing the songs live really brought out the songs true character.  What MILLER and THOMPSON have done here will help bridge that gap for these songs.

One final thought on working with BUDDY MILLER.  RT has a very devout fan base, convinced of his Dylanesque stature as a songwriter and willing to go to battle to defend his guitar playing against any comers.  He has found new fans recently with his Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award.  (He is actually touring this spring with EMMYLOU HARRIS and RODNEY CROWELL, sure to attract even more converts).   Therefore, as someone who has tried to spread the word for years, I find working with MILLER a brilliant move.   MILLER recently rejuvinated ROBERT PLANT‘s music.  He is a sympathetic producer who, like T BONE BURNETT and JOE HENRY, can bring out the best of great artists while moving them into new territory.  RT is always looking to move ahead and with “Electric” he will move ahead and likely gain a bunch of  new fans.

 

Salford Sunday

 

Good things Happen To Bad People

 

The Snow Goose

 

Will You Dance Charlie Boy?”  (from the bonus disc).  Is that a BUDDY MILLER solo on a RT tune?

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Voices in my Head – ALISON MOYET

I am sure I have mentioned ALISON MOYET before.  Fabulous British bluesy singer that reminds me a bit of DUSTY.  When she came up on the ipod recently, I went back to listen to Voice (2004), a favorite of mine and absolutely wonderful.  Then I had to go back and listen to Hoodoo (1991).  And then I had to go back and listen to Upstairs at Erics (1982) by YAZ!  It’s always fun to go back and reconnect with some old favorites.  In this case, it’s a shame she is not an old favorite for more people.  It’s never too late though.

YAZ – Midnight:

ALISON MOYET – The Windmills Of Your Mind:

ALISON MOYET – Wish You Were Here:

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Great Overlooked Albums – RY COODER and MANUEL GALBAN’s “Mambo Sinuendo”

I don’t know if an album that won a Grammy and was number one on the Billboard World Music charts can actually be considered overlooked.  So if you are already familiar with this classic, please read no further.  If not, and I suspect at least 3 of my four readers are not, go find it.  At some point during the 1990s after his Buena Vista Social Club triumphs, Ry Cooder discovered another Cuban style of music, originating from the 1950’s and likely not imported to the US because of the Cuban embargo.  One of our great musicologists, Cooder was unfamiliar with the mixture of  electric guitar and Cuban rhythms and, having to find out who was responsible for it, discovered Manuel Galban.  The result is a thoroughly enjoyable mixture of pop melody, electric guitar snazz and traditional Cuban styles tempered by calypso and other influences that try to capture a (1950’s) futuristic sound.  Recorded in Cuba, with Galban and a few other notable Cuban musicians (as well as Cooder’s percussionist son), this album recreates an era when traditional influence and instruments met the new sounds made possible by a Fender Telecaster and Deluxe Reverb amp.  It is kind of like a stew with many ingredients, but the sextet fuse the styles so well, it is easy to take in.  And for guitar geeks, it is a must have.

Ry Cooder and Manuel Galban

A short film about the album:

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The Best Of 2012 Playlist

I must confess I had to scramble in the past few weeks to check out some stuff that had come out this year.  So I have been hunkered down trying to figure out what is better than what is not better.  I’ve selected songs for the sake of creating a playlist, but for the most part I am endorsing the album from which the song came.  As with any list, there are things I am overlooking, but the list reflects what I discovered or especially was fond of this past year, including a few requests from very important people.

1.  RICHARD HAWLEY   “She Brings The Sunlight”  (from Standing At The Sky’s Edge).   I touted this album months back and, although I recommended people checking out all his other stuff, if you find yourself wishing he would just turn it up already, this the album for you.  Same great voice and songwriting, but considerably louder!

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2.  BILL FAY  “There Is A Valley”  (from Life Is People).  Again, BILL FAY was mentioned earlier (in October I believe).  A truly interesting story of rediscovery.  And the album that resulted lives up to, and enhances, his legend.

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3.  BEN HOWARD  “The Wolves”  (from Every Kingdom).   I discovered this through the Mercury Prize nominations.  I think if you like MUMFORD or AVETT BROS., HOWARD may appeal to you.  There is a lot of energy and soul in his delivery.

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4.  ALABAMA SHAKES  “Hold On”  (from Boys And Girls).   This is one I would probably not have included, as I thought they were a bit overrated.  That is until a recent car trip when my kids were singing this in the backseat (and pretty loudly too).  When I heard them scream “C’mon Brittany”, I had a totally different appreciation for the song.  And now, I’ll probably always like it.

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5.  LIANNE LE HAVAS  “Forget”  (from Is Your Love Big Enough?).  A gifted guitarist and songwriter, this is from her first album.  Produced by MATT HALES (aka AQUALUNG), the whole album highlights her  beautiful voice.  This song should be on the radio, if people still had radios.

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6.  MICHAEL KIWANUKA  “Tell Me A Tale”  (from Home Again).   The third Mercury Prize nominee to be featured so far, I discovered some stuff I ended up really liking there.  This song and album are like from another time.  Soulful, folky arranging of good songs and his voice seals the deal.

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7.  PAUL WELLER  “By The Waters”  (from Sonik Kicks).  It’s pleasing to see how WELLER appeals to the younger crowd.  This album find him continuing to push it and apply his strengths to different sounds.  There are probably only a couple of WELLER‘s last 8 albums that would not end up on a year end list, he’s that good.  But this one is definitely adventurous.

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8.  BAT FOR LASHES  “Laura”  (from The Haunted Man).  Perhaps best album cover?  The song is absolutely beautiful and this album is outstanding.  For me, a big find this year.

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9.  TAME IMPALA  “Keep On Lying”  (from Lonerism).  So this album and band are now the critics darlings.  I look forward to hearing what this album sounds like live when I see them in Montreal in few months.  After the initial intrigue I felt regarding the cool sound and production, I can now appreciate the catchy hooks that the songs are built around.

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10.  FIELD MUSIC  “From Hide And Seek To Heartache”  (from Plumb).   The fourth (and final?) Mercury Prize nominee, this is a bit of proggy art rock that is fun to listen to.  Perhaps the short songs and all the changing tempos help.  This one also received a lot of attention and I can see why

 

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11.  SHARON VAN ETTEN  “Serpents”  (from Tramp).   Another album that collected numerous accolades.  I recently acquired it and am not yet fully on board but include it on the strength of all the wonderful things I have read about it.  The deluxe edition included a very interesting collection of demos, some of which I prefer to the album’s version.  I think this will grow on me.

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12.  KASEY CHAMBERS & SHANE NICHOLSON  “Adam And Eve”  (from Wreck And Ruin).   Most artists seem to loose a little when they join forces with their better halves for albums.  When you are a big fan of one of the artists, it can feel as if you only got half of an album.  I’m a big KASEY fan and I’m happy to report that these albums have only made me a fan of her hubby SHANE.  The harmonies are so nice.

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13.  KELLY HOGAN  “We Can’t Have Nice Things”  (from I Like To Keep Myself In Pain).  Another recent pick up, this is simply a fantastic album.  I’ve read the comparisons to DUSTY and SHELBY LYNNE, and she can easily be mentioned alongside those names.  The band assembled to back her is top notch, led by BOOKER T. JONES.  With songs from VIC CHESTNUT, ROBBIE FULKS, ANDREW BIRD and others, this album is another big find for 2012.

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14.  GRAHAM PARKER AND THE RUMOUR  “Stop Crying About The Rain”  (from Three Chords Good).   I admit, the hype from JUDD APATOW’s “This is 40” caught my attention, as GP is featured prominently in the film.  Always a huge fan, I am very familiar with everything GP has done, up until about 6-7 years ago when I felt he was making the same record over and over again.  Well, that’s like making a great record over and over again.  This time, re-united with THE RUMOUR, that same record sounds re-vitalized.  GP is under-appreciated and hopefully he’ll get some attention with “This is 40” and when people turn to find his music, this album will hold it’s own against his classics.

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15.  RUFUS WAINWRIGHT  “Montauk”  (from Out Of The Game).   This one is a request.  Not my favorite Rufus album.  A bit of a let down with MARK RONSON producing, but this is great song about how parents look through their grown children’s eyes.

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16.  JENS LEKMAN  “The End Of The World Is Bigger Than Love”  (from I Know What Love Isn’t).   I have been yapping on about him a whole bunch, and especially since this excellent album came out in September.   Jens rocks!

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17.  THE SHINS  “Bait And Switch”  (from Port Of Morrow).  Another strong effort from JAMES MERCER.

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18.  DAVID BYRNE AND ST. VINCENT  “Who”  (from Love This Giant).   What a surprise pairing, but it works.  The horns add a whole new dimension to ANNIE CLARK’s off kilter songs and the smattering of her spastic guitar work bring some spice to DAVID BYRNE’s rhythms.  It’s the rare occasion when two of your heros get together and it’s actually really good.

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19.  ULTRAISTA “Bad Insect”  (from Ultraista).  This I do not know much about this other than Ultraista is NIGEL GODRICH (works with RADIOHEAD), JOEY WARONKER (great session drummer) and LAURA BETTISON.   Compared to Krautrock by one critic, I think there may be a bit too much dance in there to call it that.  Repeated listens brought the cream to the top.

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20.  OPOSSOM  “Blue Meanies”  (from Electric Hawaii).   Ok, I predicted earlier that this may be my album of the year.  I can’t quite bring myself to declare this (or any) as the best of the year but this is still very fun.  I love the drum sound, which seems to come right out of the speakers.  More please.  It’s a pretty short album.

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21.  TENNIS  “Origins”  (from Young & Old).   Their first album was a fun stew of surfy jangle pop.  This second album is a bit more complete, and the songs seem a bit more substantial.  I like her voice to being with but the songs now have some keyboards and a little more heft to them.

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22.  LA SERA  “I’m Alone”  (from Sees The Light).  Another big find as far as I’m concerned.  LA SERA is KATY GOODMAN (bass player for VIVIAN GIRLS).  I had never heard of VIVIAN GIRLS and unlike their punk pop approach, LA SERA allows GOODMAN to sing (which is good) and highlights her songs (which are pretty damned catchy).  Not much punk here, but a great collection of smart alt-pop.

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23.  LAMBCHOP  “Gone Tomorrow”  (from Mr. M)   LAMBCHOP have a great reputation and are always referred to as critics darlings.  The most common description I’ve come across is Alternative-Country.  But there is so much more going on with them and most of the time I hear no country.  Aside from KURT WAGNER‘s voice, which takes some getting use to, the arrangements are gorgeous and the songs are interesting.  This song has just stuck with me so it must included.

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24.  MAYA BEISER and MICHAEL HARRISON  “Just Ancient Loops  III:  Ascension”  (from Time Loops)  This album was highly recommended by several trusted blog sources and I am glad I took the chance to get it.  HARRISON composed much of the music and the liner notes describes the compositions as “investigating compositional possibilities outside of the modern Western canon and the denatured sounds of its modern tuning system.”  Don’t be off put by that as the music is beautiful and features BEISER‘s dynamic cello playing.  With inspiration ranging from the ancient Greeks, the Renaissance to Indian ragas, and featuring computerized piano and the YOUNG PEOPLE’S CHORUS OF NEW YORK CITY, it is a very interesting but warm album to listen to.

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25.  KYLIE MINOGUE  “Can’t Get You Out Of My Mind”  (from The Abby Road Sessions)   That’s right!  I have previously endorsed BABY SPICE and THE PIPETTES, so this is no surprise.  I have always thought this song is awesome, and it sticks in your head like glue (not the kind you sniff).  No this is just a great re-make of a classic pop song.

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Joe Strummer Passed Away 10 Years Ago Today

It does not seem like ten years have passed.  More than plenty has been written about JOE STRUMMER over those years.  His story has been told in numerous films and documentaries.  But if we sum it all up, the influence he had on the other musicians that came into contact with him, and the influence he had on those who were inspired by him, is immeasurable.  I can only say that I was, in some ways, more impressed with what Joe went on to do after THE CLASH.  The immense pressure to have to live up to his persona and the legacy of that band, combined with an admittedly enormous ego, led to some long musical droughts, all well documented in those books and films.  Equal parts gifted lyrical preacher and musical explorer, the musical explorer took the lead in defining how he would continue to preach his message.  Many years removed from THE CLASH, he found his second wind with THE MESCALEROS.  That band effectively incorporated all the World Music discoveries Joe had made.  STRUMMER’S musical curiosity was insatiable and he always felt responsible to share what he found with others.  Sure, THE CLASH were huge and maybe Mick and Joe could have gotten back together and blah, blah, blah…  I would have eaten it up like everyone.  But the last album, Streetcore (2002), still seems new and exciting to me and I would have been eager to hear what new musical discoveries would color any followup.

Knowing I cannot articulate what Strummer meant to so many, I went looking around for some commentaries I could link to.  I found the one below from GIDEON COE, a BBC radio presenter who has been around long enough to appreciate the enormous impact STRUMMER had.  I was not surprised to read his description of STRUMMER as a “musical magpie”, another reference to that unquenchable curiosity.  (Also note the side bar comments from DON LETTS, a bandmate and colleague, who also has a BBC 6 Radio program – I know I’ll be checking out his tribute on 12/23).

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-20713672

The full concert video below features JOE and THE MESCALEROS in great form and it is decent quality.  This is what we are missing.

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November Blailist – And The Winner Is…

The days are short, waiting for snow and being thankful for Black Friday.  November.

 

 

1.  ALT-J  “Breezeblock”   (from An Awesome Wave 2012)   I had to report back who won the Mercury Prize (see October Blailist).   Not my choice but it is original.

2.  TAME IMPALA  “Elephant”  (from Lonerism 2012)   My daughters new favorite album will probably end up on many people’s year end best of lists.   This is basically one guy, KEVIN PARKER, from Perth, Australia, getting his BEATLES on.  The music sounds like the photo of the studio on the back sleeve of the CD:  gadgets, wires and chords everywhere.  And a Hofner bass.  Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

3.  SIA  “Soon We’ll Be Found”  (from Some People Have Real Problems 2008)  Saw this one night on Later… with Jools and looked her up.  Another Aussie whose music has apparently been featured in HBO’s “Six Feet Under”.

4.  AMY LAVERE  “Killing Him”   (from Anchors and Anvils 2007)  I saw this on the same episode of Jools that SIA was on.  Alt-country.  Funny idea for a song, unless it’s a true story.  Then it’s just funny.

5.  MARNIE STERN  “For Ash”   (from Marnie Stern 2010)   This can only be described as a an aural guitar assault.  Amidst the wall of guitar, manic drumming and piercing vocals there is enough melody to catch your attention.  I have to hear more of her playing as she clearly can shred.

6.  GRAHAM COXON  “In The Morning”   (from The Spinning Top 2009)   I promised my daughter I would give (her heroes) BLUR more of a chance and I am glad to have done it.  They really are the “brightest witches” of their time.  Throughout their career, which saw them go from Britpop stars to boundary pushing artists, they are constantly creative and interesting.  This guy deserves as much credit as DAMON ALBARN in that department.  On this record he embraces the rich British folk tradition and styles of DAVY GRAHAM and BERT JANSCH.  By the way, my daughter is NOT getting a bunny named Graham for Christmas.

7.  JAKE BUGG  “Two Fingers”   (from Jake Bugg 2012)   So a kid like JAKE BUGG listens to someone like GRAHAM COXON and the styles and traditions of an unfamiliar bygone era are passed along.  That’s how it all happens, but I don’t get the DYLAN comparisons at all.

8.  BAT FOR LASHES  “All Your Gold”  (from The Haunted Man 2012)  Decide for yourself but this kind of reminds me of PORTISHEAD.  That is a good thing and this new album is very good.

9.  JOHN CALE  “Paris 1919”   (from Paris 1919 1973)   I am always trying to find the classic albums that I was either unaware of or had dismissed in my music snob youth.  I always knew JOHN CALE was in THE VELVET UNDERGOUND, which did not appeal so much to my taste buds.  I do completely understand why they were so important.  I am more aware of all the great artists CALE goes on to produce, including NICK DRAKE, PATTI SMITH and SQUEEZE.  I am woefully unfamiliar with his post-VELVETs work except for some cool collaboration albums with LOU REED and BRIAN ENO.  I am working to correct that and an awesome place to start is 1973’s Paris 1919.  It’s a beautiful album that is stylistically diverse.   Strong songwriting and flawless execution.

10.  BILL FAY  “There Is A Valley”   (from Life Is People 2012)   FAY is an artist who made just 3 records in the early 1970s, than became disenchanted with the whole process and moved on from music.  30 years later, his songs are re-discovered by artists including JEFF TWEEDY and NICK CAVE and producer JOSHUA HENRY convinces BILL FAY to make another record.  Very interesting story and very interesting lyrics in these songs.  How many other great artists are out there ready to be brought back from obscurity?

11.  AIMEE MANN  “Labrador”   (from Charmer 2012)   Another quality AIMEE MANN album.  It’s easy to take her for granted but each of her albums contain such high quality songwriting.  I used to feel she could push herself with different arrangements and styles but realize that would likely detract from the songs themselves.

12.  LUCY ROSE  “Bikes”   (from Like I Used To 2012)   British folkie.  Very Nice.

13.  HAPPY MONDAYS  “Kinky Afro”   (from Pills, Thrills and Bellyaches 1990)   That’s a 5 star album on Allmusic!?  That’s a 5 star guitar riff if you ask me.

14.  HOWLER  “Back Of Your Neck”   (from America Give Up 2012)   America has not given up on super catchy bad attitude rock n roll.

15.  YOUNG THE GIANT  “Apartment”   (from Young The Giant 2011)   We gave this album a listen on a recent college visit car trip.  Good album through and through.  This is a good example of their hook laden alt pop.  I am sure they are super popular or are soon to be.

16.  TOM WAITS  “November”   (from The Black Rider 1993)   Where I live, November looks like this sounds.

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Great Overlooked Albums – Marti Jones “Used Guitars”

The idea of creating a playlist of music that you would have heard in my car (1981 Toyota Starlet) right after college was immediately abandoned for a playlist that you would have heard in my car (1968 Chevrolet Camaro) during senior year of high school.   Cooler car, perhaps.  Better music, certainly not.  The car had no influence over the music played in it.  I promise to do a Camaro playlist soon.

Shifting the time frame from post college (crappy car) to high school (slightly cooler crappy car) will mean I skip one of my all time favorite albums.   It’s not so much a guilty pleasure as a true pleasure and few people probably know about it.   MARTI JONES’ “Used Guitars” is a great album that came out in a year (1987), in a decade really, that many argue does not have it’s share of great albums.  If you were to have hopped into the Starlet in 1987 you would have had to pop my copy of “Used Guitars” out of the stereo in order to put your “Substance” or “Document” cassette in.  I liked it that much!  I had just discovered DON DIXON and then found his wife made equally cool indie rock.   (Was that even a word then?).  This album doesn’t sound like the thin 80’s recordings of the time and the songs (a mix of DIXON/JONES and excellent covers) hold up better than most of my other favorites from this time.  It’s chock full of great musicians (MARSHALL CRENSHAW, JAMIE HOOVER, SONNY LANDRETH, MITCH EASTER).  It’s worth adding to any collection.

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October Blailist – Mercury Prize Shortlist!

I am not one for Award shows.  I do like watching the spectacle of the Oscars and then (usually after the fact) seeking out all the movies I should have seen the year before.  As for music, anyone who has perused through this site knows I have never used the Grammys to find new music.  In England they have the Brit Awards, kind of like the Grammys, also way over the top and also featuring big commercial artists.  As an alternative to that the Mercury Prize was established in 1992.  “Championing recorded music of all genres”, as long as it (mostly) originates from the UK or Ireland, the list of nominations over the years have included heavy hitters like U2 and COLDPLAY as well as excellent lesser known artists like ELBOW or ANTONY AND THE JOHNSONS.  It can also introduce people to relatively obscure music they may not have discovered on their own, people like the great NORMA WATERSON or this years nominee ROLLER TRIO.  I do like the fact that the Mercury Prize nominees can be all over the place genre-wise.  It is not entirely perfect as contemporary classical music fans have noted.  (There has not been a classical music nominee since 2002).   And the UK can’t convince me that Mumford and his sons are country or bluegrass.  But as this years shortlist shows, it is both a jumping point to find some interesting new stuff and it contains some excellent stuff that should be more recognized.

So let’s check out this years shortlist.  I picked some songs that I think are representative of the nominated albums  A few I was familiar with, and others were totally new to me.  But I mostly feel they are all worthy.  Perhaps you will find something in here that you will be listening to for years to come.   (The winner will be announced November 1).

1.  ALT-J   “Fitzpleasure”  (from An Awesome Wave 2012)   My son has been digging these guys for a while now.   You can kind of make out some words on this song, which is not always the case.

2.  DJANGO DJANGO   “Default”  (from Django Django 2012)   This I like a lot, very catchy.

3.  RICHARD HAWLEY  “Don’t Stare At The Sun”   (from Standing At The Sky’s Edge 2012)   I featured this album earlier in the year, and although I am still fond of it (admittedly in part just because it’s RH) I would hope that people new to RH would also seek out earlier albums like 2006 Mercury Prize nominated Coles Corner.  (I agree with the “speakerporn” comment on the clip below referring to the guitar solo)

4.  FIELD MUSIC   “(I Keep Thinking About) A New Thing “  (from Plumb 2012)  This is one of the big new finds for me.  I sense a little prog rock in there.

5.  BEN HOWARD   “Keep Your Head Up”   (from Every Kingdom 2011)   This song is a hit if I’ve ever heard one.  Maybe it is a hit somewhere.

6.  MICHAEL KIWANUKA  “Tell Me A Tale”   (from Home Again 2012)  This is just excellent.  It sounds like a lost classic recorded years ago yet this is from the soul singer’s first album.  Another great find!

7.  PLAN B   “Deepest Shame”  (from Ill Manners- Music From and Inspired By The Motion Picture 2012)  A nod to hip hop, brit style.

8.  LIANNE LE HAVAS   “Forget”  (from Is You Love Big Enough? 2012)  Produced by AQUALUNG’S MATT HALES, this rocks.  There is also a great acoustic version of this song on You Tube, that also rocks, acoustically.

9.  SAM LEE  “The Ballad of George Collins”  (from Ground Of It’s Own 2012)   This is an example of an obscure artist being exposed by Mercury Prize recognition, and the jury is out on this one for me.  Yes me; the big fan of the British folk, but I am not sure the arrangements are much more than a gimmick or shtick.  That’s a little harsh as he does have a nice voice.  We’ll have to see what his third or fourth album sound like.

10.  THE MACCABEES   “Ayla”   (from Given To The Wild 2012)  Another band that has been on my sons radar for some time and I like ’em quite a bit.

11.  ROLLER TRIO  “The Nail That Stands Up”  (from ROLLER TRIO 2012)  From what I could dig up on these guys, another Mercury Prize discovery.  Interesting mix of funky Jazz and some ambient guitar and sax fuzz.


12.  JESSIE WARE   “Wildest Moments”  (from Devotion 2012)  A big hit in England.  Some r&b chops.   Maybe not in the same category as ESTELLE or ADELE?   Change of name?  Jessele, perhaps?

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