1) Another week, another Melody – this time, “Bad News.” I’ve written in-depth about the mesmerizing Ms. Gardot before, so won’t rehash too much here. But, at the time that I discovered her music, I was enamored (some might say obsessed) with the music of another jazz chanteuse, Peggy Lee, whose Black Coffee album is as sultry a set of songs ever pressed to vinyl. As I listened to Melody’s new Currency of Man album this week, it occurred to me that “Bad News” would easily fit on Black Coffee between “A Woman Alone With the Blues” and “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was.” Currency of Man is the best new release I’ve heard this year.
2) Mary Lou Lord – “My Buddy Valentine.” So, during the early ‘90s, I often bought a very cool music magazine called CMJ New Music Monthly at Tower Records. Every edition included a CD of the music reviewed therein, which focused primarily on alternative sounds. The collections were, as one might expect, hit-or-miss affairs – but, so what? Nuggets were to be found, too, including one that was my introduction to Mary Lou Lord: “Some Jingle-Jangle Morning.” It’s indie-pop perfection.
As is, all these years later, her latest album, Backstreet Angels. This, the lead single, was released a few months ago.
3) Carole King – “Up on the Roof.” An oldie, yes, and a true classic. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, it was a hit for the Drifters in 1962; and has since been covered by hundreds of artists, including the Grass Roots, Laura Nyro, Dusty Springfield and Neil Diamond, It’s as perfect a song ever written, I think, and if released today – by, say, Diane Birch – it would be a hit.
4) Diane Birch – “Waterfalls.” Speaking of the high priestess from the Church of Birch… she recently uploaded this beautiful rendition of the Paul McCartney song (from McCartney II) to Soundcloud. Unfortunately, as of sometime in 2020, it has gone away… so here’s an atmospheric art film made in 2014 instead.
5) I admit it: There’s much I don’t know. Take Miley Cyrus, for instance. Oh, I’ve flipped past her picture (and articles about her) in Rolling Stone from time to time, and I do recall a mashup of her “Wrecking Ball” with Bruce Springsteen’s same-titled song, though I never watched it. I just never gave her much thought. In fact, if you’d asked me a few weeks ago, I’d have summarized her as thus: the onetime Disney moppet who taught the world to twerk.
I still would, but I’d add: the gal can sing. The first inkling I had of that fact came on the overblown (and way too long) SNL 40th anniversary special, when she delivered a breezy take on Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Then came her most recent Backyard Sessions clips, which she released to publicize her new charity, the Happy Hippy Foundation, which is geared to helping homeless kids. This song, a duet with Melanie Safka on Melanie’s “Look at What They’ve Done to My Song, Ma,” is a marvel.