Archive for the ‘New Music’ Category

I planned to trip back to September 18, 1984, this morning and bore into my first two published reviews – in the Ogontz Campus News, the weekly newspaper for what’s now known as Penn State Abington. But my archives are not as organized as, say, Neil Young’s. From the time I hit on the idea – Friday – to Saturday afternoon, when I finally located said newspaper, something happened: I discovered two new-to-me artists whose music made me feel young again.

So, here’s today’s Top 5: New Music, Vol. XLI.

On Friday night, while browsing the Paste Magazine sessions (always a rewarding endeavor), I stumbled across singer-songwriter Jillette Johnson’s four-song set, which was live-streamed earlier in the day. 

Her latest album is All I Ever See in You Is Me (2017) and, based on the above performance, I’ll be checking it out this week. 

Then, Saturday morning, a fan post on the Nanci Griffith Facebook Fan Page recapped a Nanci tribute in Austin that was organized and hosted by Austin-based singer-songwriter Nichole Wagner. That led me to look Nichole up on YouTube. Here’s her boss rendition of Bruce Springsteen’s classic “Tougher Than the Rest,” a track that has been covered by a coterie of cool artists in the past, including Emmylou Harris and Shawn Colvin.

That led me to check out her own songs – and, as I’m apt to say, wow. Just wow. I’m looking forward to her forthcoming album, which is slated for release on July 13th.

Another group that I came across on Paste’s YouTube channel, albeit earlier in the week: Haerts. They’re originally from Munich, but moved to Brooklyn some time ago.  Very cool retro vibe and harmonies. As Diane just remarked, “they’re fabulous.”

Another band with a cool retro vibe: the UK-based Treetop Flyers, who borrowed their name from a Stephen Stills song. Here’s the lead single from their forthcoming self-titled set, “Needle.”

I’ve mentioned Mikaela Davis’ Delivery, due out July 13th, before. Here’s the funky “Get Gone” as performed live at the Layman Drug Company in Nashville.

I’ll close out with what a classic track for the bonus – Willie Nelson’s “Living in the Promiseland,” which I’ve returned to quite often in recent months. The David Lynn Jones-penned song was a No. 1 hit for Willie that same year, and the cornerstone of Willie’s 1986 Promiseland LP, which I believe was the first album of his I purchased.

It’s Sunday afternoon as I write, though I plan to post this Monday night. So I’m prognosticating here when I say the Delaware Valley is awash in beer and tears of gratitude. And what better way to celebrate than to dive deep into the digital tubes that connect the Internet and discover great new music?

Here’s a collection of recent videos from new-to-me artists – and one longtime favorite.

1) H.C. McEntire – “Quartz in the Valley.” Mojo – or was it Uncut? – had a good review of McEntire’s solo debut, Lionheart. And after hearing this song, and listening to the album on my morning commute, I have to say – I’m a fan. She’s amazing.

2) Whitney Rose – “Can’t Stop Shakin’.” According to the fine folks over at Uproxx, Whitney – who’s a country singer by way of Canada – penned this infectious tune on Inauguration Day. It’s about seeking escape from the drumbeat of insanity that is the news. The song is from her album Rule 62, which was released last year.

3) Middle Kids – “Mistake.” I stumbled across this Sydney-based trio yesterday, while killing time. Very catchy. Very cool. Their debut album, Lost Friends, is out May 4th.

4) Anna Burch – “Tea-Soaked Letter.” And yet another artist I know nothing about beyond the addictive songs I sampled yesterday. This video was released in December ’17, and the song can be found on her album Quit the Curse, which was released on Friday

5) Neil Young – “Almost Always.” The latest single from Neil’s recent The Visitor recycles the melody – at least in part – from Harvest Moon’s “Unknown Legend.” But it’s Neil. And even recycled Neil is great.

Fall has (finally) arrived to our neck of the proverbial woods, which means our front lawn will soon be cluttered with leaves from trees that are not rooted on our property, or even on those adjoining ours. No, the wind whips them up and down and across the street(s), and for whatever reason they amass at our house as if attracted by a magnet. It’s maddening – as is what’s been an interminable commute home of late. Thursday, I left work at 5:45 and exited the turnpike at seven. Friday’s crawl clocked a similar runtime.

Yes, of course, those are penny-ante annoyances. In the words of the noted philosopher Roseanne Rosannadanna (1946-89), “If it ain’t one thing, it’s another.”

And on that note, here’s today’s Top 5: New Music, Vol. LVIV.

1) First Aid Kit – “It’s a Shame.” “Lately, I’ve been thinking about the past. How there is no holding back, no point in wasting sorrow on things that won’t be here tomorrow.” Those aren’t my words, but First Aid Kit’s. They released a new single this week, which means a new album is (hopefully) near. “It’s a Shame” delves into the dark side of life on the road, loneliness, and moving on while others stay put, and the fleeting relationships that form as a result. It’s not a new topic for the sisters Söderberg, of course, but it’s well executed. And those harmonies…

2) Neil Young – “Powderfinger.” Hitchhiker just gets better with every listen. While stuck in traffic on the ride home Friday, I played it, then played it again. And this morning, while out and about doing mundane errands, I played it yet again. It’s a hypnotic set that – and I don’t say this lightly – is in the running for my fabled Album of the Year honors.

3) Erin O’Dowd – “Queen of the Silver Dollar.” Erin’s full-length debut, Old Town, is due in early December for those of us who backed her on Kickstarter, and I can’t wait. She possesses the voice of a world-weary angel. Here, in the first of hopefully many “Porch Swing Sessions,” she shares her spin on this Shel Silverstein classic, which has been recorded by everyone from Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show to Barbi Benton(!) to Emmylou Harris.

4) The MonaLisa Twins featuring John Sebastian – “Waiting for the Waiter.” The Liverpool-based duo, who may well be best known for their Beatles covers, turn in this bluesy original about…is it a metaphor? Could be. Could be not.

5) Courtney Marie Andrews – “Sea Town.” Can a day go by without me listening to Courtney? Yes. But then I hear a song such as this, the b-side to her recent “Near You” single, and it’s like a flip switches inside my soul and I want to listen to no one but her…

And one bonus…

6) Courtney Marie Andrews – “Near You.” What I said above. Times two.

The lazy, hazy days of summer are upon us, and while my intent today was to delve deep into the Natalie Merchant Collection – well, I’m feeling lazy and, thanks to the Delaware Valley’s patented humidity, my thought process is as hazy as the sky looks from my window. Even with the a.c. running, the thick air has seeped into my skull and clouded the synapses, making analysis more of a chore than it should be.

So, instead, I’m tripping into the past with new songs that sound like they could’ve been released in the late 1960s in preparation for another sojourn into the sunny sounds of the Summer of Love, which I plan to post on July 4th (if not sooner).

1) Lucy Rose – “No Good at All.” I suppose I should have heard of Lucy Rose before March of this year, given that she’s been turning ears since 2012. But it wasn’t until she released “Floral Dresses,” which features backing vocals by the Staves, that she appeared on my radar. This, the second single from her forthcoming Something’s Changing album, possesses a wondrous retro vibe.

2) Lia Pamina – “Sycamore Tree.” Elefant Records is one of my favorite labels – just about everything it releases sounds like a lost treasure from yesteryear. This sweet song was written and produced by Joe Moore (the Yearning).

3) The Primitives – “I’ll Trust the Wind.” The Coventry-based indie-pop band, another Elefant Records act, is probably best known for their 1988 hit “Crash.”

4) Sundowners – “Ritual.” I don’t know much about this Liverpool-based group beyond the inclusion of this track on Mojo’s June Children of Pepper CD compilation. I like them.

5) Hannah’s Yard – “Better Together.” Hannah & Co. cover the Jack Johnson song from the singer-songwriter’s 2005 In Between Dreams album. I’m cheating a bit by including it, I know, as  it’s not exactly retro – but Hannah’s voice is timeless.

And one bonus:

6) The Parcels – “Overnight.” They’re an Aussie band that’s now located in Berlin, and they blend ‘70s-era disco and pop. This song conjures Blondie and Chic.