Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top 21 Albums of 2018

Here are the best 21 LP's of 2018. Why such an odd number? Well, initially, I thought I had picked 20 and put them in a playlist but it was 21 so that's what we are going with. Honestly, I didn't want to screw over Bahamas and just drop him. His record is just that good. So, 21 it is!!

I should also point out that this list contains quite a bit of Brit rockers (14 in total). While it's true that I am partial to bands from the British Isles, I believe that it's a statement of fact (not opinion) that they are making the best music by all the important measures year in and year out.

So, without further fanfare, here is my list for 2018.

21. Earthtones by Bahamas

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Bahamas is cool and he's from Canada so that makes him twice as awesome. This LP was one of the first volleys of 2018 and it was a big part of my soundtrack this year. Soft rock returns!

20. Twentytwo in Blue by Sunflower Bean

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The sophomore effort from this Brooklyn trio was stellar. Multiple music landscapes play out across the eleven tracks on the album and I pretty much heart every one. "I Was A Fool" is the Best Track of 2018.

19. 44/876 by Sting and Shaggy

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Sting has gotten to the point in his career where he needs a foil to balance him out and prevent him from whirring into pretentious nonsense. He found just that in Jamaica's own Shaggy. What a fab record this is and it reminds of Sting's glory days in the 80's. Great music, lyrics and a lot of fun.

18. Where Wildness Grows by Gengahr

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This year was the year I discovered Gengahr. As a massive Brit rocker, I was surprised that I hadn't heard about them sooner considering that the London band burst on the scene back in 2015. But, man am I into them now! This record is their second full length and it's a stunning display of catchy pop, guitar oriented music. A shining example of why Brit rock is top!

17. Trench by Twenty One Pilots

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My teenage kids got me into this Columbus, Ohio band a few years back and they continue to blow me away. This is their first full length record in three years and the duo continue to break into new musical horizons as well as exploring old ones. "Morph" reminds me of Steely Dan for Pete's sake! Lyrically, Tyler Joseph really taps into to millennial malaise.

16. Vessel of Love by Hollie Cook

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This West London darling has been making albums for the last decade. It reminds me a lot of why I loved albums in the 80's so much. She is Boy George's god daughter, after all, and the actual daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook. Her third full length cements her status as a god like genius of the 21st century.

15. Hive Mind by The Internet

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I remember when I first heard about The Internet. Some of my students were telling me I should check them out. I wondered if they were changing pronouns on the World Wide Web. They quickly corrected me by telling me The Internet were a band from L.A. fronted by the eternally interesting and gorgeously voiced Syd. In many ways, they have picked up where Sade left off. Great late night, lovey dovey chill out music.

14. Let's Go Sunshine by The Kooks

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A return to form for the lads from Brighton. This record's fifteen tracks almost make it seem like a double album. "Four Leaf Clover" is kiss your lover dreamy! The Kooks are a really great live band. Check them out as they come through your town.

13. Tranquility Base Hotel + Casino by Arctic Monkeys

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If Burt Bacharach and David Bowie produced a musical love child, this would be the album they would make. The Sheffield lads really outdid themselves with this album. Tales of love, heartache and longing...all from a hotel on the moon. Wow...

12. Always Ascending by Franz Ferdinand

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Glasgow's own Franz Ferdinand continue to prove why they are so fucking suave with their fifth full length. I had the pleasure of catching them this year in the Main Room. All of their records should be purchased immediately.

11. I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life by Tune Yards

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Merrill Garbus is this era's David Byrne. Truly, a New England treasure, her music forces me to expand my musical tastes into uncharted territories. There isn't a bad track on this record.

10. In Your Own Sweet Time by The Fratellis

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This band from Scotland is easily in my top 25 groups of all time. Who knew that drunken pub stories could be so eloquent? Jon's words on life, romance and love always hit me deeply. "Sugartown" is fucking mega.

9. Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life by The Wombats

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Liverpool's own Wombats made a statement with this album. They are going to fervently continue the "dudes with guitars from the UK" genre began in the noughties. Thank god...

8. Wildness by Snow Patrol

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Gary Lightbody and his crew drive dagger after dagger into my heart but in a good way. Does that make sense? I don't know and I don't really care as long as they continue to make music. This record is deeply personal and family themed. "Soon" makes me cry nearly every time I listen to it. Lost fathers...

7. Life by Culture Club

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Coming nearly two decades after their last album, Life is shovel to the head stunning in terms of musical growth. They've turned up the soul factor to 11! Boy George, older and more sultry, sounds ridiculously awesome. As a Gen Xer,  it's wonderful to hear this band from my generation still trailblazing and keeping the sound of the 80's alive for the 21st century.

6. For Now by DMA's

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Brit Pop will live on forever as long as DMA's are on the scene. Even though they hail from Sydney, they know this sound and do it quite well. I just wish they would break bigger here in the US. I had the fortune of seeing them live at small club and there is barely anyone there. They deserve the big crowds they get overseas. They are that fucking good!!

5. True Meanings by Paul Weller

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The Modfather continues to prove why he's a god like genius. This record seems like a companion piece to 22 Dreams in terms of acoustic pastorals. Yet it also contains layers of genres heretofore unexplored by Weller. He simply refuses to stop growing so his records are among the best of the last five decades.

4. Call The Comet by Johnny Marr

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Speaking of god like geniuses...Mr. Smiths came roaring back this year with this gem. Holy crap, is this guy pure fucking wonderful. He's already enshrined himself in rock history with The Smiths and now he keeps piling on the awesome with his solo career, now four albums in. Keep making records, Johnny. You are blowing us all away.

3. The Art of Pretending To Swim by Villagers

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Dublin has produced many a fine band over the years. Though this outfit has been making records for nearly a decade, I just discovered them this year with this album. Within one minute of the first track, I had decided I was all in and purchased all of the rest of their music (four LP's and 1 EP). Their music is good for just about any occasion...a romantic walk, quiet reflection, a stroll through a museum, a candlelight dinner or even a run on the treadmill. I've done them all and Villagers are the perfect soundtrack.

2. Course of the Satellites by The Vryll Society

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This Liverpool band nearly made the top spot this year but I had to go with one that sunk in just a little deeper. Psychedelic pop is in good hands with these lads. Not only can I hear their music but I can also see it and taste it. It makes me float! What a fantastic first release and great start to their career.

1. Fight the Good Fight by The Interrupters

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Aimee Allen decided that being a pop music star wasn't good enough. So, she hooked up with the Biovona brothers and formed a ska punk band. Their third full length dropped this year and it's my pick for Album of the Year. It's got 12 tracks (the perfect number for an album), it simply refuses to allow you to sit still upon listening-you must dance, it has wicked pop hooks that stick in your ear forever, and it makes you want scream at the top of your lungs, "LIFE IS FUCKING AWESOME!!"

Congrats to all the bands on this list and thank you for making such amazing music!

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Track #1 of 2018: I Was A Fool By Sunflower Bean

The best track of 2018 goes to Brooklyn's own Sunflower Bean with their amazing and wistful track, "I Was A Fool." This song took me over completely when it came out last March on their second full length, Twentytwo in Blue. Waves of nostalgia wash over me every time I listen to it. Julia, Jacob and Nick do an amazing job of capturing that mid-70's, Dreams by Fleetwood Mac vibe.

This song is perfect for staring out across a bar and wondering what happened to that one...

Friday, December 28, 2018

Track #2 of 2018: Title Holder by The Interrupters

The future of ska music is in good hands with LA's own The Interrupters. Their third full length, Fight The Good Fight, dropped this year and it's their best album yet. The opening track will go down in history as one of the best "pump up" jams. It's the second best song of the year.

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Track #3 of 2018: Tape Deck Sick by DMA's

Sydney's own DMA's are keeping the Brit Rock torch glowing with their second full length, For Now. The track "Tape Deck Sick" really stood out for me from this release. I especially love the last minute of the song where it sounds just like an old cassette tape!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Track #4 of 2018: Glows and Spheres by The Vryll Society

I'm always warmed in the heart when a new band comes out of Liverpool. When they are a psychedelic pop band, it's even better. The Vryll Society have completely blown me away with their debut, The Course of the Satellites. In fact, it's the 2nd best album of 2018 (more on that list later this week) yet sounds like it came out in 1967.

Here's the best track but honestly, they are all great.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Track #5 of 2018: Angel by Peace

I wish that Worcester's Peace would break really big in the US. They such a mega band. They kinda had that Catfish and the Bottlemen sound before Catfish did. Or at least they came up together and then Catfish went on to achieve a fairly higher following.

Peace released their third full length this year called Kindness is the New Rock and Roll. It's fantastic and here is the best track...perfect for Christmas night!

Track #6 of 2018: The Soul Searchers by Paul Weller

Paul Weller continues to prove why he is the Modfather with this latest effort, True Meanings. All 14 tracks on the record are quite beautiful but the opening track is the my favorite.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Track #7 of 2018: Sweet Savior by Villagers

2018 saw me discover a wonderful new band, Dublin's own Villagers. I found it strange that I had never heard of them considering they have been around for a decade but cool bands fall through the cracks sometimes with so much music out there now. Anyway, I'm happy I know about them now!

Here is a track from their latest full length, The Art of Pretending to Swim. It's my #7!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Track #8 of 2018: Rise by Johnny Marr

Johnny Marr continued to cement his god like genius status with this year's Call the Comet. Here's the opening track in all is glory and triumph!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Track #9 of 2018: Soon by Snow Patrol

Dundee's own Snow Patrol are one of my favorite bands of all time. They've been a staple in my music world for over 15 years. Their latest full length, Wildness, is a return to form in many ways.

Here's the best track from the record...a great autumn song, btw...

Friday, December 21, 2018

Track #10 of 2018: Dip You In Honey by The Wombats

It's the Wombats, la'!

Yes, that's right. We have Liverpool's own for our first track in the top 10. What a fab record they put out this year with Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. I'd like to dip the whole record in honey!!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Track #11 of 2018: I'll Be Waiting by Gengahr

Stoke's own Gengahr released their sophomore effort this year and it's a dandy! Where Wildness Grows is top notch from start to finish in all of it's dream pop and psychedelic wonder.

Here's the best track....

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Track #12 of 2018: Stay The Night by The Internet

I love the late night, chill out vibe. You've just gotten back from the pub or club and perhaps you are with a loved one. Time for some music and...who know? A great band to put on whatever device you own is The Internet.

Here is a track from their fourth full length that perfectly fits the bill!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Track #13 of 2018: Simple Song by Amber Arcades

I love a good Burt Bachrach-y trumpet. I also love sultry female singers that seem to spring from the early 60's and Kennedy Era Cool. So, it's only natural that I heart Utrecht's own Amber Arcades. Her second full length, European Heartbreak, is out from Heavenly Records and the track "Simple Song" is #13 on my list for the year.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Track #14 of 2018: Turn It Around by Hollie Cook

Hollie Cook's "Turn it Around" was my song of the summer this year so it's only fitting that it should be included in my top track of the year. This West London's third full length (Vessel of Love) charmed the heck out of me for the entire year as it was release on January 25.

Here's my favorite track...


Sunday, December 16, 2018

Track #15 of 2018: TSLAMP by MGMT

Middletown, Connecticut isn't really know for pop groups. But man oh man did they produce a 400 lb gorilla with MGMT. Now on their fourth full length (Little Dark Age), Andrew and Ben continue to dazzle with sonic sunflowers of love, hope and dreams.

Here's the #15 track of the year...

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Track #16 of 2018: Dare by Sofi Tukker

New York dynamic duo Sofi Tukker create some truly magical soundscapes. Their first full length, Treehouse, was released this year with the track from the iPhone commercial, "Best Friend." The best track from the record is "The Dare" featured below and it's my #16 of 2018.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Track #17 of 2018: Sugartown by the Fratellis

I've been a fan of Glasgow's Fratellis since their first EP. They have a great range of music from serious and contemplative ballads to raucous pub romps. Their latest effort, In Your Own Sweet Time, contains this amazing track.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Track #18 of 2018: Eclipse by Wooden Shjips

San Francisco's own Wooden Shjips are a truly wondrous band. They've made five albums and they are all bloody mags! Their most recent effort, V, has a great track on it called "Eclipse." It makes me so happy that psychedelic rock is alive and well in 2018!


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Track #19 of 2018: No Wrong by Bahamas

Ontario's own Bahamas (Afie Jurvanen) is a true jewel of the north. His latest effort, Earthtones, brings me back to those wonderful 1970's dripped days of soft rock and Chevy vans. Here is the best track which is also #19 on my list for the year....

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Track #20 of 2018: God and Love by Culture Club

I'm still in a state of shock over the new Culture Club record. Life is a stunning achievement and puts the band firmly in the icon class of pop music. The opening track sets the tone and it's my #20 track of 2018.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Track #21 of 2018: Subaru Nights by Insecure Men

I'm a very big fan of Ben Romans-Hopcraft. His band Childhood is completely fucking mega. He also has a side project called Insecure Men with Saul Adamczewski from Fat White Family. Their self titled lounge exploration has been in constant rotation on my various devices. Here's my favorite track....


Sunday, December 9, 2018

Track #22 of 2018: Call If You Need Me by Vance Joy

Melbourne's own Vance Joy gets the nod for the 22nd finest track of 2018. I love its pleading...felt this way many times...


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Track #23 of 2018: Parking Lot Piroutte by Amanda Shires

Lone Star treasure Amanda Shires released a totally fab full length this year called To The Sunset. It's a magnificent exploration of the soul of American country. Here's my favorite track...

Friday, December 7, 2018

Track #24 of 2018: Allocate by Damien Jurado

Seattle's own Damien Jurado has been a gem from the Northwest for the better part of two decades. His latest effort, The Horizon Just Laughed, is magnificent. The opening track has been brought my mind on many wonderful journeys. Here it is...

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Track #25 of 2018: Bone Dry by The Eels

This slinky little number from Los Feliz, California's The Eels has been in heavy rotation all year on my various music listening devices (there are so many now!). They've been making music for more than two decades and their quality has not diminished.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Track #26 of 2018: Colonizer by Tune-Yards

Merrill Garbus is a genius. The New England native has a mighty fine thing going with her group, Tune-Yards. Their fourth full length, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life, dropped this year and I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.

Here is a live performance of my favorite track.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Track #27 of 2018: Love Like Waves by Friendly Fires

The amount of material released by St. Albans' Friendly Fires these last few years has been fairly sparse. They haven't released a full length since 2011! The singles that have come out in very small drips have been solid but it's just not enough. I require more from Ed and the lads.

Thankfully, 2018 has seen two new singles, "Love Like Waves" and "Heaven Let Me In." It's the former that ranks 27 on my list this year. It's classic Fires...perfect for the club scene and that special guy or girl. Dance the night away, my friends!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Track #28 of 2018: Baby I Love You by Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams is my favorite US artist. I make no bones about it. He's an absolute crazy genius who digs very, very deeply in my heart. He is usually pretty prolific but 2018 has been kinda quiet. He's only got one track out but it's a corker.

It makes me feel like I should be walking down a boardwalk holding hands with a loved one...

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Track #29 of 2018: Morph by Twenty One Pilots

I will be eternally grateful to my daughter for turning me on to Columbus, Ohio's own Twenty One Pilots. What a stunning band that manages to completely cover just about every kind of musical genre. Their latest effort, Trench, delivers massively.

The track "Morph" really caught my attention and reminded me of late era Steely Dan, believe it or not.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Track #30 of 2018: Cutting Stone by The Decemberists

Here is track number 30 of 2018., "Cutting Stone" by the Decemberists. Sure, it sounds like a tune that Renaissance Festival goers would twirl around to but I like it anyway. The lads from Portland did a fine job with this one!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Top Tracks of 2018 (#50 to #31)

It's the most wonderful time of the year, folks: my Top Tracks of 2018. This year, I had so many that I adored that I decided to expand it to 50 tracks. For tracks 50 down to 31, I'm just going to give the artist and the song with no commentary.

Then, starting tomorrow, I'll reveal a track a day counting down to #1 on December 30th. On December 31, I'll post my Top 20 albums of the year.

So, here we go.

50. Razorlight "Brighton Pier"
49. Richard Ashcroft "Born To Be Strangers"
48. We Were Promised Jetpacks "Improbable"
47. Matt and Kim "Happy If You're Happy"
46. Tinashe "No Drama"
45. Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson "Iguana Bird"
44. Blossoms "Unfaithful"
43. The Sword "Deadly Nighshade"
42. Awolnation "Handyman"
41. Kali Uchis "Body Language (Intro)"
40. Franz Ferdinand "Always Ascending"
39. Wild Nothing "Oscillation"
38. Luluc "Kids
37. Camila Cabello "Havana (Feat. Young Thug)"
36. Rhye "Taste"
35. Sting & Shaggy "22nd Street"
34. Arctic Monkeys "Star Treatment"
33. Tall Heights "Midnight Oil"
32. Muncie Girls "Picture of Health"
31. Great Lake Swimmers "Unmaking the Bed"

This is the beginning of a mega playlist, people! Begin downloading and organizing!

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Holy Wave: Lost Treasure of 2018.

El Paso's own Holy Wave sure sound like they came from some sort of 1960's psychedelic Burt Bacharach cinematic soiree. Their third full length, Adult Fear, is a gem and would have easily been in my top 20 were it not for some many other great albums. Here is my favorite track...

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Ben Howard: Lost Treasure of 2018

I'm finalizing my lists for best tracks and albums of 2018 and will release them starting at the end of next week. Until that time, I want to begin a new series specifically for that down time between finishing out the current year (2018) and the beginning of the next year (2019). It's impossible for me to get through all of the music that comes out and sometimes artists will sneak up again and I will be left feeling like I didn't given them enough of a fair shake.

First up is native of Bantham, Devon, Ben Howard. Howard released Noonday Dream last June and it must have gotten lost in the shuffle somehow. It's a good thing I rediscovered it recently on a long drive as I was trekking across the Midwest. Not only is it perfect music for late fall, his stories of villages in his little area of Great Britain are quietly amazing. Here's my favorite track.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Autumn Music Series: Night Beds

On Thanksgiving Day, I'm thankful for Colorado's own Night Beds. Not only do they make great fall music but they also do things like play gigs in high schools. Mega! Check it out...


Thursday, November 15, 2018

Autumn Music Series: Chief

California has produced some great bands over the years and it does seem somewhat odd that one would make a great fall song. Yet, that is just what Santa Monica's Chief did. They only made one full length, an EP and a handful of singles but their body of work is amazing. They are still kicking around the clubs in LA on occasion so if you live out that way, check them out.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Culture Club: God and Love (Track of the Week)

"That's fucking Culture Club? Are you kidding?"

My wife expressed shock and awe as I was listening to the latest effort from Boy George and Co. I joined her in amazement. Dude/Dudette doesn't even sound like himself anymore. Hell, he doesn't even look like he used to! Of course, he is quite a (Karma) Chameleon after all...:)

His voice is lower, thicker and mega sultry. Their latest full length, Life, is the first in nearly 20 years. It went through several starts and stops but it has been well worth the wait. I'll have a full review up soon but here's the first cut and my pick for the track of the week.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Razorlight: Brighton Pier (Track of the Week)

London's own Razorlight return after a ten year hiatus with their fourth full length, Olympus Sleeping. Johnny and the lads are in as fine a form as ever with thirteen new tracks, the best of which is "Brighton Pier." I'm total sucker for tales set in British locales and this one does not disappoint, especially for those fans of dudes with guitars, early to mid noughties style!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Autumn Music Series: Anais Mitchell

November is still fall, right? Well, that's certainly the case in much of the country but here in the North Woods, it's pretty darn chilly in the eleventh month of the year. Still, I've got a few more of these autumnal tunes I need to share.

Vermont's own Anais Mitchell is quite a New England treasure. She's made six fantastic full length albums over the last two decades. Her fourth record, Hadestown, is now a stage show. Here's my favorite track which is perfect for this time of year.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Richard Ashcroft: Born To Be Strangers (Track of the Week)

The man who cast no shadow and writes songs as big as god's fist is back with his fifth solo album, Natural Rebel. And all of Wigan, Lancashire (indeed all of England) is rejoicing. Richard Ashcroft is a towering legend of Brit Rock and his latest effort does not disappoint. I'll have a full review coming soon but this is my favorite track...

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Autumn Music Series: Holy Holy

Can a band from Australia capture that autumn sound that I love so much? Yes. Yes, they can. Holy Holy is a mega cool music duo from Down Under that does a fab job of creating musical soundscapes that remind me a great deal of the fall.

Here's my favorite track from 2015's When The Storms Would Come. 

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Autumn Music Series: Doves

I miss Doves. The Cheshire lads are currently labeled as inactive. I'm hoping they activate soon because their music is perfect for a crunchy leaf walk. From 2005, here is one of my favorites.

Friday, October 19, 2018

We Were Promised Jetpacks: Impossible (Track of the Week)

Wonderful things come from Scotland and Edinburgh's We Were Promised Jetpacks are certainly a great example of why this axiom is true. I mean, how can you not like the name? I was promised a jet pack when I was a kid. Where is it?!!

Their fifth studio album, The More I Sleep the Less I Dream, dropped a few weeks ago and all 10 tracks are quite wonderful. The opening track is my pick for this week. It's dark yet triumphant!

Thursday, October 18, 2018

The Modfather Finds Meaning: Paul Weller, True Meanings

Paul Weller is now in his fifth decade of making music and shows no signs of letting up. His solo career, now over 25 years, has seen a variety of musical explorations that have truly shown his growth mindset.

His fourteenth studio album, True Meanings, dropped last month and has been in regular rotation in my house, my car, and especially my iPhone. This time around, he's offering up 14 tracks of lush acoustical, orchestration that bring new meaning to the word beauty. Most of the tracks start off simply enough with his voice and guitar. Then they build up to majestic heights and we are left wondering if the next track will be just as good. Invariably, it's better.

Here's a great example...

And this is just the fifth track!

There is some Style Council heard here but mostly it's the Modfather reveling in his middle aged musical authority and wisdom. The second to last track, "May Love Travel With You," is autobiographical to me in many ways. Weller's music has brought me an amazing amount of love and joy in my life for over forty years. As he continues to break new ground and try new paths of aural exploration, I'll be right there with him.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Autumn Music Series: John Grant

Denver's own John Grant has made some fantastic music over the last 20 years and his first solo effort in 2010 (Queen of Denmark) is probably my favorite. The first track is a perfect song for blustery autumn days...

Friday, October 12, 2018

Tall Heights: Midnight Oil (Track of the Week)

Boston's own electrofolk duo Tall Heights have just a released a completely fab record called Pretty Colors For Your Actions. In addition to having a cool title, the record boasts several magnificent cuts that send my mind and heart on the most wonderful of journeys. Here's my favorite track...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Autumn Music Series: Thomas Cohen

A key ingredient to a good fall tune is a Fender guitar with the echo turned to 11. Thomas Cohen delivers this quite well on his track, "Honeymoon." He's also got some Bowie Tonight era going on with this song which is another reason why it's perfect for autumn...


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Autumn Music Series: U2

The core month of autumn is now here and nothing fits better than this track from Dublin's own U2. I think I've played it a million times in October and it sounds great every single listen.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Amber Arcades: Simple Song (Track of the Week)

Utrecht's own Amber Arcades has just released her second full length record entitled European heartbreak and I heart every Burt Bacharach minute of it. I imagine myself sipping a martini and curling my toes in shag carpeting when I listen to my favorite track.

Check it out!

Saturday, September 29, 2018

The Villagers: Sweet Savior (Track of the Week)

Dublin has produced many fine bands over the years and Villagers are no exception. Their fourth full length album, The Art of Pretending to Swim, has just dropped and it is completely mags. Perfectly crafted pop songs with stories of love, Irish towns, pubs, and journeys shimmer throughout this record. It also makes for a great autumnal soundtrack!

Here's my favorite track

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Autumn Music Series: Arthur Beatrice

The leaves are starting to turn, a chill is in the air at night, and the days are growing shorter. That means it's time to add to the Autumn Music Playlist!

First up is London's own Arthur Beatrice with their first single from 2012. We have the requisite echo-y guitars, of course but the landscape spanning vocals that somehow manage to also sound soft and quiet make this a perfect track for the fall playlist.


(note: click on the tag "Autumn Music Series" below for the full playlist)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Paul Weller: The Soul Searchers (Track of the Week)

The modfather has released his 26th studio album (counting The Jam and The Style Council, of course) and it's completely wonderful. True Meanings explores Weller's softer side with acoustic renderings backed by lush orchestrations. It's a perfect record for autumn. Here;s my favorite track...

Note: I will have a full review of this album up soon. 

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Muncie Girls: Picture of Health (Track of the Week)

Exeter's own Muncie Girls are a great deal of fun. Power punk has always been a great jam and this band really delivers it in spades on their just released second full length, Fixed Ideals. My first several listens brought me back to those halcyon days of mid-90's alt jams and sweaty mosh pits.

Here's my favorite track.


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Wild Nothing: Oscillation (Track of the Week)

Virginia's own Wild Nothing have really made quite a nice and tidy career for themselves these last eight years. They just released their fourth full length album called Indigo and it's more of the same, wonderful 80's tinged nostalgia. Of course, it sounds much better since it was recorded in the 21st century.

I love me some echo-y vocals and strummy guitars!

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Vryll Society: Glows and Spheres (Track of the Week)

I've always been a sucker for psychedelic rock especially bands from Liverpool (gee, I wonder why?). The Vryll Society has just released their first full length album after a couple of singles and an EP and I completely adored straight away. It has all the right ingredients that make for a perfect record...British (from the North Country), psychedelic, poppy, dreamy, and with hints of my favorite bands (The Stone Roses, The La's, The Charlatans).

Instantly, a top gem for 2018. Here's one of my favorite tracks but, honestly, all 11 are wonderful.Buy it now!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Great Lake Swimmers: Unmaking the Bed (Track of the Week)

Toronto's own Great Lake Swimmers have released another dandy of a record called The Waves and the Wake. Tony Dekker's outfit owns the last 15 years in terms of melodic folk rock. Honestly, they are more than that. I hear a lot of shoe gaze and complex orchestration in their tracks. It's good music for mind palace travels.

Here's my favorite track, an early contender for my autumn music series...

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Amanda Shires: Parking Lot Piroutte (Track of the Week)

The Lone Star state has produced some amazing musicians over the years. Lubbock's own Amanda Shires is right up there with all of them. She's been churning out records for over a decade and her latest effort, To The Sunset, is quite wonderful.

Her music paints images and stories of characters that are all too familiar to me even though I live in the North Woods. It's a nice melange of alt country and soft rock that goes well with the dog days of August.

Here's my favorite track which also happens to be the first one...

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Internet: Stay The Night (Track of the Week)

The Internet is cool. No, not that area of cyber space where we all waste too much time in our lives. I'm talking about the acid jazz chill out band from Los Angeles that just released their fourth full length album that is bloody extraordinary. Fronted by Sydney Loren Bennet (left), The Internet spins grooves and soundscapes that take your mind palace on magnificent explorations of the heart, mind and soul. Hive Mind is the latest offering on this journey that I am all too happy to take. Syd's vocals are gorgeous. This young woman is a real talent.

Here is my favorite track...

Friday, July 20, 2018

Luluc: Kids (Track of the Week)

Melbourne's own Luluc have released their third full length album, Sculptor, and it's quite enjoyable for star gazing on warm summer nights-solo or with that someone special. It's also a great record to listen to while staring wistfully at the rain out the window. Currently based in Brooklyn, Zoe and Steve simply make music that warms your heart. Here's my favorite track...very powerful...

Sunday, July 8, 2018

The Interrupters: She's Kerosene (Track of the Week)

It makes me so happy that ska music is alive and well in 2018. LA's own The Interrupters are a fine example of the awesomeness that is happening with the genre right now. Formed out of Aimee Allen's solo career (don't solo careers come after bands? that's why this is so cool), this quartet of high octane punk-ska grist have just released their third full length entitled Fight The Good Fight. It's 12 tracks of pure magic.

Here's my favorite...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Peace: Angel (Track of the Week)

Worcester's shining star, Peace, released their third full length album, Kindness is the New Rock and Roll last month and I've been soaking it in every day since. They were start of the latest and greatest wave of Brit rockers though not as well known as Catfish and the Bottlemen, Viola Beach or Blossoms. These Midlands lads spin some amazing tales of Holy Land wonder. Take the time to drench yourself in it this summer for a nice cool down.

Here's my favorite song on the 10 track album...for lovers everywhere...

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Song of the Summer 2018: Hollie Cook-"Turn It Around"

Today is the first official day of summer and with that we must have the song that should be heard out of blue tooth speakers, car stereos and earbuds all across the sun splashed lands of our great earth.

Hollie Cook, daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook and god daughter of Boy George, has released her third full length album entitled Vessel of Love. Though it was released earlier this year, it honestly gave me a breath of summer breeze in the middle of a cold, North Woods winter.

The seventh track on the disc, "Turn It Around," feels like it could have come out in the 80's with its dreamy and playful bounce and lyrics describing mysterioso love strangers. Where's the video I can watch on MTV? I can easily imagine it in the body of my 16 year old self.

Take a long walk around Lake of the Isles, listen to this track, and perhaps you might meet a future lover...

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Johnny Marr: Rise (Track of the Week)

Johnny Marr is a god...a brit rock god. He was born in Manchester. He was in one of the greatest bands of all time (The Smiths) that made one of the greatest albums of all time (The Queen is Dead). He was awarded NME's god like genius award in 2013. He's on a corker of a solo career with this third full length release, Call of the Comet, dropping last week. This guy continues to top himself in a now four decade career.

Here is the opening track. Dig it!!


Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Top 101 Albums of All Time

After careful consideration, here are my top 101 albums of all time. As lists go, this one is more personal than professional. This is truly MY list and not at all an objective list. For example, I'm not going to include a Wilco album just because it should be on the list. These are albums that have meant and still mean a great deal to me. They have been the soundtrack to my 51 years on this planet and I consider them essential listening for any serious music devotee.

I will be adding to this list in terms of hyperlinks which dive deeper into each album. Note that #7 (Dreamboat Annie by Heart) already has such a link. I will also be adding #102-200 at some point as well. My goal is to get to the 500 best albums of all time IMHO.

Here is the list, starting at #1.

  1. Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys 
  2. Abbey Road by The Beatles 
  3. Love Is Hell (2 EP UK Edition) by Ryan Adams 
  4. Just Enough Education To Perform by Stereophonics
  5. Paul Weller (Japanese Edition) by Paul Weller 
  6. Costello Music by The Fratellis 
  7. Dreamboat Annie by Heart
  8. All or Nothing by The Subways
  9. Skylarking by XTC
  10. Whatever People Say I Am That’s What I’m Not by The Arctic Monkeys
  11. Aja by Steely Dan
  12. The Beatles (White Album) by The Beatles 
  13. Confessions of a Pop Group by the Style Council 
  14. Unforgettable by Nat King Cole
  15. The Nightfly by Donald Fagan
  16. Revolver by The Beatles 
  17. Inside In/Inside Out by The Kooks
  18. Healing by Todd Rundgren
  19. Diamonds and Pearls by Prince
  20. The Unforgettable Fire by U2
  21. Stone Roses by Stones Roses 
  22. Definitely Maybe by Oasis 
  23. Kind of Blue by Miles Davis
  24. What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye
  25. Blood Sugar Sex Magic by Red Hot Chili Peppers
  26. Quadrophenia by The Who 
  27. Chips From The Chocolate Fireball by The Dukes of Stratosphear 
  28. Smile by Brian Wilson 
  29. The Man Who by Travis 
  30. (What’s The Story) Morning Glory by Oasis 
  31. Urban Hymns by The Verve
  32. You Gotta Go There To Come Back by Stereophonics 
  33. The Yes Album by Yes 
  34. October by U2
  35. Pink World by Planet P Project 
  36. Let’s Dance by David Bowie 
  37. After The Gold Rush by Neil Young
  38. How Dare You! By 10cc
  39. The Secret Migration by Mercury Rev
  40. Let It Be (Phil Spector Mix) by The Beatles
  41. Something/Anything by Todd Rundgren
  42. Rubber Soul by The Beatles
  43. Heartbreaker by Ryan Adams 
  44. Purple Rain by Prince
  45. Who’s Next by The Who
  46. Achtung Baby by U2
  47. A Hundred Million Suns by Snow Patrol 
  48. Language Sex Violence Other by Stereophonics 
  49. Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles
  50. Pandemonium by The Time 
  51. The Balcony by Catfish and the Bottlemen 
  52. Damn The Torpedoes by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers 
  53. Hopes and Fears by Keane
  54. Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan 
  55. The Gift by The Jam
  56. The Joshua Tree by U2
  57. Help by The Beatles
  58. Young for Eternity by The Subways
  59. I Just Can’t Stop It by The English Beat 
  60. Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
  61. Final Straw by Snow Patrol 
  62. Crowded House by Crowded House
  63. Cafe Bleu by The Style Council
  64. Best Crazy by Joe Jackson 
  65. Fish Out of Water By Chris Squire 
  66. A Hard Day’s Night by The Beatles 
  67. Utopia (1982) by Utopia 
  68. Purple by Stone Temple Pilots
  69. Up The Bracket by The Libertines
  70. Songs From The Big Chair by Tears for Fears
  71. Jordan The Comeback by Prefab Sprout 
  72. The La’s by The La’s 
  73. Stronger Than Pride by Sade
  74. Is This It? By The Strokes
  75. Getz Au Go Go by Stan Getz
  76. Court and Spark by Joni Mitchell
  77. Tim by The Replacements 
  78. Fisherman’s Blues by The Waterboys
  79. Past Masters by The Beatles 
  80. Another Live by Utopia 
  81. Time Out by Dave Brubeck 
  82. Odelay by Beck
  83. War by U2 
  84. Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles
  85. Tonight by David Bowie
  86. Zooropa by U2
  87. 1999 by Prince
  88. Sound Affects by The Jam
  89. Rumors by Fleetwood Mac 
  90. Look Sharp! By Joe Jackson 
  91. Murmur by REM
  92. Beatles For Sale by The Beatles
  93. Finisterre by Saint Etienne
  94. Couldn’t Stand the Weather by Stevie Ray Vaughn
  95. Let Me Up (I’ve Had Enough) by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
  96. Zenyatta Mondatta by The Police 
  97. Blurryface by Twenty One Pilots
  98. If I Should Fall From Grace With God by The Pogues
  99. HARRP Live by Muse
  100. In Thru the Out Door by Led Zeppelin
  101. The Age of the Understatement by The Last Shadow Puppets 

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Pete Yorn and Scarlett Johansson: Bad Dreams (Track of the Week)

The year 2009 saw an interesting musical pairing of indie darling Pete Yorn with Hollywood A Lister Scarlett Johansson. They released a tres emo record called Break Up. I thought it was pretty cool though most critics did not. I guess I've always gone in for the melancholy stuff.

This year they are back with more of it on an EP entitled After. Here is the first track, "Iguana Bird."

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Wooden Shjips: Eclipse (Track of the Week)

Spacey, psychedelic rock always interests me and I'm glad there are bands still around that are making it. One of them is San Francisco's own Wooden Shjips. They just release their fifth full length record and it's quite wonderful. V has seven mind bending tracks that are sure to activate old trips buried deep within the recesses of you mind.

Here's the first track...


Saturday, May 26, 2018

Friendly Fires: Love Like Waves (Track of the Week)

Summer always means Friendly Fires  to me. Their music is light, warm, sunny, and just fucking awesome. Sure, their catalog is small (two albums, a side project and a few singles) but the lads from St. Albans, Hertfordshire continue to stun me with great music.

They are back strong with this track...

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Damien Jurado: Allocate (Track of the Week)

Seattle has produced some fine music over the years. One overlooked artist is Damien Jurado who has been churning out albums over the last 20 years. His just released 13th record is called The Horizon Just Laughed and it's fantastic. It sets a very chill mood with the opening track (featured below) and proceeds to slide one into a very romantic and sorely needed melancholy place.

I'll have to give this album a listen again in the fall as it would go well with that particular season.

Monday, May 14, 2018

The Road Still Leads To Utopia

The first concert I ever attended was in the summer of 1980. My dad was a big Todd Rundgren fan and his band, Utopia, was playing at Poplar Creek in Chicago. I had just turned 13 a few months before the show and my dad decided it was time for my rite of passage into the world of live music.

Todd's music had been a big part of my childhood. My dad played Something/Anything, Another Live, Hermit of Mink Hollow and Adventures in Utopia endlessly throughout the 1970's. I count these records as some of my favorite albums of all time. I was so massively excited to see them live I could hardly stand it! It was an amazing concert in a perfect outdoor setting. Seeing Todd and Utopia soon became an annual tradition for me and my dad.

When I lost my father in 1988 to alcohol addiction, Todd and Utopia's music comforted me on a regular basis. Their songs have always had a healing quality about them, including the solo Todd album of the same name. Every time I listened to their music, I thought about the good times with my dad and him not being there was just a little easier to bear. Over the years as I would see Todd live, I'd think about my dad and the music we shared together.

Memories of my father were quite strong last Saturday night in Milwaukee when I caught the much anticipated reunion of Utopia. Todd's band had not really played together as an official unit since 1992. They did warm up for Todd's full album tours in 2009 (minus Willie and with Prairie Prince on drums)  but it seemed less like a real Utopia show and more like a .brief dip into nostalgia. This current tour is a full on Utopia tour, complete with dazzling visuals and a complete musical history of the band. The set list for this tour starts at the beginning and winds its way through the band's whole history.

I was lucky enough to score a VIP ticket which came with a meet and greet before the show. Here's a picture of me and the boys. It was truly an honor to meet them. Michelle Rundgren, Todd's wife, organized this event and did a fantastic job of getting everyone photos with the band and autographs of anything they wanted signed.

Next, it was on to the show!

My VIP ticket got me in the fourth row to take in all the power and glory. I was dead center. I was close enough to get some great photos but far enough away that I could take in all the visuals. I remember wondering right before the show was about to start...would the band match up to their younger selves?

Bear in mind, I've seen Todd 20 times in concert, five of which were with Utopia and, given that they are all getting up their in years (minus Gil Assayas, their new keyboard player), I wondered how they would stack up to their previous shows.

From the opening minutes of the first song ("Utopia Theme"), I knew that they were going to COMPLETELY BLOW AWAY all the previous shows I had seen. They were ON from the very first note. It was shocking, to be quite frank.

A flood of wonderful memories opened up and poured out as they worked their way through both sets. The visuals, which were shovel to the head stunning, worked hand in hand with the note for note renditions of all their best tracks. All band members were energetic and polished throughout the entire 2 and 1/2 hour show. Here are some action shots of each band member.

High points for me were "Overture-Communion With The Sun," "Freedom Figthers," "I Will Wait," and "Rock Love." Kaz was amazing as always...the voice of an angel. It was great to see Willie behind the kit again...truly an amazing drummer who brings a ton of power and passion to each track. New band member Gil Assayas was remarkable, perfectly capturing the essence of Utopia's keyboard parts that are so integral to each song. And Todd was...well TODD! A rock legend...

As the show came to a close, I realized that my entire adolescence had played out in my mind, heart and soul.I felt the spirit of my father so very close to me.

Thanks, Todd, Kaz, Willie and Gil for a truly awesome night!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Matt and Kim: Happy If You're Happy (Track of the Week)

Matt and Kim are just a ton of fun. A friend of mine recently turned me on to them and I now officially love the heck out of this duo from Brooklyn. I've always been a hopeless romantic so the fact that their relationship fuels their music is completely fucking mega.

They just released their sixth full length album, Almost Everyday, and it's every bit as awesome as all the rest. Here's my favorite track...

Sunday, May 6, 2018

DMA's: Tape Deck Sick (Track of the Week)

Sydney's own DMA's are back with another gorgeous love letter to Brit Pop. Their first EP and full length were a cross between The Stone Roses, The La's and Oasis. Their latest effort, For Now, offers more of the same with some explorations into new musical horizons. This band is a very underrated and hardly heard of on this side of the pond gem.

Here's the best track on the record. The last minute was tweaked to sound just like an old cassette tape!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Surprise! Sting Finally Makes a Good Album in the New Millennium

Poor Der Schtingelhoffer. He made five great albums with The Police and six great solo albums. Then, the millennium changed and he want to shite.

2003's Sacred Love sounded like he wanted to make the best Adult Pop album ever (barf!). Songs From The Labyrinth (2006) was his attempt at classical music. It sort of sucked.

Next we saw If on a Winter's Night which made us all realize that Sting could actually achieve a higher level of pretension, although I will say that living in Minnesota connected me with this record in a mildly melancholic way.

We'll skip Symphonicities (an ill advised dive back into classical music) and go straight to 2013's The Last Ship which was made for those folks who hang out in the sea shanty set. How many of them are there? Five? Off the coast of Ireland?

2016 saw return to almost form with 57th and 9th, his first actual pop/rock album since 2003. There were some decent tracks but it didn't really wow me like his earlier solo work did. It seemed like it could have been better if he had a decent collaborator which brings us to this year. I guess all he needed was a Shaggy.

44/876 is the latest album from Sting and Jamaican singer Shaggy. It is EXACTLY the album I have waited for from Sting in nearly 20 years. It has a decided Police vibe on many tracks as well as a return to the rhythms of Dream of the Blue Turtles. Shaggy has provided him with that extra bite that he needed to make a good record.

Yeah, there is a world music feel to it that perhaps causes a half star to removed from the final rating but who cares? I'm feeling summery and all 1983-1985 again and I'm loving it! Here's my favorite track...

Saturday, April 28, 2018

A Place To Bury Strangers: Situation Changes (Track of the Week)

Is there such a thing as "Twin Peaks" music? If so, the New York City band A Place To Bury Strangers are darn good at making it. Their fifth full length, Pinned, hit the shops last week and its landscape is filled with sights and sounds directly from the mind of David Lynch. It's a great record to zone out to and contemplate your place in the universe. Here's my favorite track...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sofi Tukker: The Dare (Track of the Week)

New York based music duo Soffi Tukker has just released their first full length albums after a series of singles and EP's. Treehouse is a veritable cornucopia of musical styles that delight the ears and inspire the mind. This album is a must for an 2018 playlist. Here's my favorite track...

Sunday, April 15, 2018

The Eels: Bone Dry (Track of the Week)

I've been a fan of The Eels going back to their 1996 release, Beautiful Freak. They've made many great records since that time and their new one is stellar. The Deconstruction is their first effort in nearly four years after the band's front man E needed a break. Parts of it sound most Tweetyesque but my favorite track is vintage Eels. Check it out!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Gengahr: I'll Be Waiting (Track of the Week)

London's Gengahr release their second full length record last month and it's quite good. Where Wildness Grows is every bit as good as 2015's A Dream Outside in terms of its dudes-with-guitars dream pop quality. My favorite track is "I'll Be Waiting." Here's a live performance from Paris just last week.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sunflower Bean: I Was A Fool (Track of the Week)

New York's own Sunflower Bean has released their second album. TwentyTwo in Blue, and it is magnificent. I've always been a sucker for wispy pop and this record really delivers in that department. Here is my favorite track...


Friday, March 23, 2018

The Fratellis: Sugar Town (Track of the Week)

The fifth album from Glasgow's fab band The Fratellis dropped last week on my birthday and I have been loving the crap out of it for the last week. In Your Own Sweet Time sees new musical avenues traveled by the trio including this new corker of a track, "Sugartown."

I can't wait to see them at First Avenue in May!

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Triumph of The Decemberists: I'll Be Your Girl

The city of Portland, Oregon has given the world many fine bands. One of them is The Decemberists who just released their eighth album, I'll Be Your Girl. It is a most triumphant record filled with soaring and anthemic pieces of music ("Once in My Life", "Tripping Along") that one would expect to hear as show closers at giant festival concerts.

But it also has introspective moments like my favorite track, "Cutting Stone."

This is a great record to kick off the Spring. Check it out!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Joy of Vance Joy: Nation of Two

Sometimes a man just needs some folk music. It doesn't have to be autumn, right? And the artist doesn't have to be from the United States either. Melbourne's own Vance Joy fits the bill perfectly. His new album, Nation of Two, dropped last week and I highly recommend it for those of you who want a cure for the late winter blues.

The 13 track effort drips all the ups and downs of romance in an early Coldplay-type of fashion. It's just bloody magnificent. Go buy it!

Here's the opening track...

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The Wombats Just Dipped Me In Honey

I've been a fan of Liverpool's The Wombats for more than a decade. They've made four great records and their latest, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life, is fantastic from start to finish. All of my favorite British bands tell great stories and the lads do a fine job of relaying tales of love, drunkenness, and the universe. All eleven tracks are ready made for pub singalongs and staring all misty like into a loved ones eyes. Here's my fave track, a throwback to psychedelic pop!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Going AWOL with Awolnation

Los Angeles' own Awolnation has just released a corker of a record entitled Here Come the Runts. This album is their third offering and is clearly their best. It's a veritable cornucopia of sonic experimentation. I suppose you could call it "Indie" but that's honestly too narrow of a definition. Every track is a different experience. One might sound like the Killers. Another sounds like Beck. And then the next is a late 1970's inspired acoustic rock pastoral.

Here's one of my favorite tracks but I recommend getting the whole record as it's an experience piece.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

An Aural Explosion: I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life by Tune-Yards

A myriad of musical styles combine into a perfect stew on the new Tune-Yards LP, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life. Is it art pop? World beat? Lo-fi? Indie pop? A perfect mix of all of the above. New Englander Merrill Garbus is the force behind Tune-Yards and for the last 9 years and now 4 records she has completely blown me away.

My "Tune-Yards" pattern usually goes something like this. I buy her new album. I play it. About half way in I say out loud, "This album is really fucking good." And then I play it over and over again, marveling at how amazing she is. Here is a recent performance of the opening track, "Heart Attack"

My favorite tracks are "Home" and "Colonizer" which I could not find on YouTube. Check both of those out and whatever streaming or download service you use. They are mega!

Monday, January 29, 2018

Breezy Dad Rock: Earthtones by Bahamas

2018 has gotten off to a great start in terms of new music and a shining example of this is Bahamas' new LP, Earthtones.

Bahamas is the stage of name of Toronto's own Afie Jurvanen. Earthtones is Jurvanen's 4th record and it's a corker for 50 year old dads like me (even though he is only 36). This album could have easily come out in the year 1973 with its soul dripped 11 magnificent tracks that instantly transport the listener back in time. My first listen to Earthtones made me nostalgic for my old, crappy Realistic brand AM radio that spewed WLS morning, noon and night right next to my bed throughout my childhood.

Here are my two faves off the record.