Another Friday morning and another hard week’s work is drawing to a close. Oh! That Friday morning feeling when I could look forward to an evening’s celebration followed by a weekend of sport, companionship and self indulgence.
These days every week is replete with self indulgence but at least there’s no harm in overdosing on music. Today brings a good chat with Peter and John with the prospect of more sport on TV, the second Melvyn Bragg book and, shamefully, some pastries to negate the effect of the anti-cholesterol tablet I take every morning.
Every week, Spotify produces a personal “Release Radar” playlist which uses a very sophisticated algorithm to predict what new releases I may like. I have discovered a lot of new acts this way as well as being alerted to new music produced by some of my favourite artists. I guess this algorithm notes what music I play and classifies it into genres. I’ve been playing a lot of “Wild Life” by Wings this week so I wonder what impact that may have. I’ve also been listening to another Elektra 74 album – Ars Nova’s first album from 1968 – so maybe there are more hidden treasures to unearth.
“Salty Boys” by Lau. Kris Drever is a member of Lau and he has a wonderful voice. He is a huge gentle Scottish giant who made a lovely album with Roddy Woomble and John McCusker in 2008. I’ve tried listening to Lau in the past but never found a way in. Sea shanties are suddenly fashionable and I wonder if this is one? Lovely fiddle. This is a 7 minute song. It’s obviously lovely with some great accordion but, blimey, it’s quite long. 6/10
“My Future” by Sarah Jarosz. I got her album, “World On The Ground” last year and enjoyed it. This starts in a very sparse, unadorned way before some Spanish guitar kicks in. She has a lovely voice but it’s one of those songs with constant key changes in place of a melody. A showcase for her vocal dexterity. 7/10
“I’m More Inclined” by Teenage Fanclub. This is more uptempo and, immediately, a strong melody is a welcome relief. Perfect pop music with soaring harmonies and jangly guitar. They have a new album called “Endless Arcade” released on April 30th. Wow! Three months. “Instant Karma” took ten days to write, record and release. 8/10
“Dearest Alfred (MyJoy)” by Kraungbin, Knxwledge. This track is fluid, alien, electronic, experimental, instrumental. Their influences are from Pakistan, Korea and West Africa. This is a remix of a track from their last album “Mordechai”, an album that Peter and I listened to last year as part of our Album Club and they have called it “Knxwledge” remix.. Very relaxing. 7/10
“Salt Of The Earth” by Brigitte DeMeyer, Oliver Wood, Chris Wood and Alfreda McCrary. I have never heard of Brigitte DeMeyer but this is excellent. There’s what I’m sure a journalist hack would describe as a soul groove to this track. Her voice is not a million miles away from Frazey Ford. I often wonder if having a relatively common name, like Chris Wood, confuses the Spotify algorithm. This Chris Wood is, along with Oliver Wood, a member of The Wood Brothers and he is quoted on her website as describing her new album “Seeker” (due for release on March 26th) as “Sly Stone meets Bob Dylan”. This will be her 8th album. Excellent. 9/10.
“We All Have” by Julia Stone featuring Matt Berninger. This is obviously included as a result of my listening to lots of music by The National over the past month and this song sounds exactly like something from Matt Berninger’s album or even one of the duets from Taylor Swift except Julia Stone’s voice is several octaves higher. So high that Pinky and Perky spring to mind. Her fifth album “Sixty Summers” will be released on February 19th. A strange title for a 36 year old Australian. She curated an album called “Songs For Australia” last year which included Australian songs covered by various artists including The National. The proceeds from that album went towards supporting relief from the Australian Bush fires. I’m regretting the reference to Pinky and Perky now. Her voice reminds me of Phoebe Bridgers and on the fifth listen, this is a very good song. 9/10
“Glad To Be Here” by Hailey Whitters featuring Brent Cobb. This sounds excellent. Well produced, well sung and wonderfully arranged country music. She released an album, “The Dream” in 2020 and on February 26th she will be releasing an expanded version of the album (“Living The Dream”) with five new collaborations with Brent Cobb amongst others. An uptempo, upbeat song featuring good harmonies and polished electric guitar. Hailey is glad to be here. Good times. 8/10
“Just Wrong” by Pino Palladino and Blake Mills. Giuseppe Henry “Pino” Palladino is a Welsh bass player who has played with The Who, Jeff Beck, Gary Numan, David Gilmour, Adele, Keith Richards and hundreds of other acts. Blake Mills is an American guitarist and producer who played on Bob Dylan’s “Rough And Rowdy Ways”. The two of them are releasing an album called “Notes With Attachments” on March 12th. Listening to this reminds me that Van Morrison once recorded a song called “Close Enough For Jazz”. Very nice. Not my sort of thing at all. 5/10.
“O.N.E.” by King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard. I’m interested to hear this because this Australian rock band always get a good write up in UNCUT but I’m put off by their ridiculous name. They have released 16 albums since 2012, including 5 in 2017. Their next album, “L.W.” Is scheduled for release on February 26th, four months after “K.G.” This is good with a Santana-esque conclusion. Rock music on a Friday morning. 8/10
“In My Room” by Shovels & Rope, Sharon Van Etten. This is not promising because “In My Room” is one of the best songs Brian Wilson ever wrote. It’s lyrically similar to “There’s A Place” from “Please Please Me”. Where can the tortured song writer find sanctuary? Physically – a room. Mentally – in their own head. Shovels & Rope are an American duo and their album “Busted Jukebox, Volume 3” is released on February 5th. Sorry but I prefer the original by a scale factor of a billion. 1/10
“Pocahontas” by Neil Young. This is from his “Archives Vol 2”, to be released on March 5th. This is a 10 CD box set covering the years between 1972 and 1982, my favourite Neil Young period. I am eagerly waiting for its arrival. “Pocahontas” is one of my favourite songs from “Rust Never Sleeps”. This is a lilting country-tinged version. Excellent. 9/10
“Hourglass” by Elton John. I’m not really sure why Spotify keeps suggesting Elton John songs to me. I don’t actively dislike him but I am quite indifferent. He has an 8 CD box set out called “Jewel Box” featuring songs from 1965-1971. Nice (but dull). 6/10
“Jumped In The Humber” by Jerry Leger. This is more like it. A song about suicide set to a jolly beat. He is a Canadian singer whose previous albums were produced by Michael Timmins from The Cowboy Junkies. He is set to release deluxe versions of his two recent albums over the next few months. 8/10
“Rebel Girl” by Mike Watt, The Black Gang. This is a re release of a cover of a song by Bikini Kill which Mike Watt released in 1998. Paddy and I walked out of a Mike Watt gig in New Orleans and I’m very glad this song has now finished. As my Dad would have said, it’s just a noise. 1/10
Talking of Paddy, I once gave him a cassette with the best songs ever on it. He wrote a brilliant response which included the phrase “fucking hell – fast forward – it’s Dire Straits” when his hi fi system played “Romeo And Juliet” for the first and last time. The next song on this Spotify playlist is a cover of this song by an American duo called Widowspeak. Is that widow speak or widows peak? They have released five albums and (last week) an EP of covers including “The One I Love” by R.E.M. and this perfectly serviceable version of one of the best songs ever. 7/10
“Alice In Blunderland” by Chris Forsyth, The Solar Motel Band. I’m never sure why Spotify put a comma between artists. Surely it’s Chris Forsyth and (or with) The Solar Motel Band. This is a dense guitar heavy instrumental from someone I had never heard of until I came across a great YouTube video of him playing a long improvised jam with Garcia Peoples. 6/10
“Don’t Overthink It” by Aaron Lee Tasjan. Now this is really interesting. He has an album out next week. Two weeks ago, my Release Radar had another song by him on it which I really liked and this also sounds great. Aaron Lee Tasjan is not someone I’ve ever listened to but I’m dimly aware of favourable reviews in the past. It’s a very sophisticated pop sound with good melodies and interesting instrumentation. This will be his fifth album. I’ve just ordered it. This is why Release Radar is so good. Thank goodness for a clever algorithm. 9/10
“Blown Away” by Matthew Sweet. I loved the early Matthew Sweet albums but I stopped listening when he went a bit easy listening. When he had Richard Lloyd and Robert Quine playing dirty guitar, his songs were very exciting. I’ve not listened to any new album for over 20 years (since “In Reverse” in 1999). His album “Catspaw” has been released in the past few weeks and this song sounds excellent. I’m very tempted. 9/10
“Your Body Changes Everything” by Perfumed Genius. If I’d been listening to Erasure, New Order or ABC recently, I’d understand the inclusion of this song. 3/10
“Gone” by Painted Shrines, Woods. A new album by members of Woods and Skygreen Leopards will be released on March 5th. Sounds very pleasant but I’m not sure about the vocals which sound a bit anemic on first listening. 7/10
“Moving Men” by Myd. I’ve never really been a fan of French music and not if it sounds like Tom Tom Club. 5/10
“Lost Love” by Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy featuring Emmett Kelly. I used to have a number of Bonnie Prince Billy albums but I sold them. I can’t remember why but I know that his moustache annoyed me. That can’t have been the main reason, surely? These two have been producing a weekly cover version for months now. This is a cover of a song by Air Supply. It’s minimalist and very good. 7/10
“Power” by Daniel Lanois. The producer of U2, Bob Dylan and Neil Young has a new album, “Heavy Sun” released on March 19th. This is good with a trademark swampy dense New Orleans vibe. 7/10
“The Fox In The Snow” by Grandaddy. This is a cover of a Belle And Sebastian song covered by an American band, formed in 1992 who have released five albums. They should look at King Gizzard’s work rate. 7/10
“Breathe” by The Milk And Honey Band. Wikipedia states that the roots of The Milk And Honey Band’s sound comes from pastoral English psychedelic rock. That’s an interesting combination of four genres but this gentle song seems to fit. They haven’t released an album for 10 years and “Songs From Truleigh Hill” is released on February 26th. Very enjoyable and worthy of further exploration. 8/10
“Some Kind Of Ghost” by Jim Rioux and Jolie Holland. Jim Rioux is based in Portsmouth and has been making music for over 30 years. This is an excellent single which he hopes will be followed up by a single later in the year. 8/10
“Mother” by David Bowie. A stunning cover of the first track on “Plastic Ono Band”. 10/10
“Lone Pine Hill” by Steve Earle. One of my favourite artists has now released three albums in tribute to deceased friends or family. “Townes” and “Guy” are great but nothing quite prepares me for this album “J.T.” which mainly comprises songs written by his son Justin Townes Earle, who died last year. I haven’t got this album yet – I was a bit disappointed with last year’s “Ghosts Of West Virginia” but the fiddle playing and, above all, his voice (the best rock’n’roll voice of all time) are astounding on this. The album was released three weeks ago. 9/10
“Raise ‘Em Up” by Alonestar. Ed Sheehan appears on this but after the intensity of Steve Earle, I’m not ready to dance or take ecstasy. 2/10
“Cough Low” by George Martin. What is this? It’s just noise. 0/10
What a brilliant playlist. Some really interesting songs, some alerts to must-buy albums and a variety of musicians I’d never heard of. So much music. So little time.