Archive for the ‘General Music’ Category

When I’m 76 Part 2

Wednesday, June 20th, 2018

 

Today, we celebrate the 76th birthday of the Mozart of pop ‘n rock, Brian Wilson. We are thankful for his immeasurable contribution to melody, harmony, music and culture and wish him a day of peace and joy with his family – with his music featuring high on the charts, there is much is celebrate.

Meanwhile, the birthday boy of two days ago has announced the release of his latest solo album. No doubt, he will also be flying up the chart soon.

When I’m 76

Monday, June 18th, 2018

It’s that time of year as the days reach their longest in the north, and the shortest in the south, that the Gemini twins of song celebrate their birthdays two days apart. It’s Sir Paul’s turn first, so very best birthday to Paul McCartney and thanks for a very full time of great music.

Taking The Midland Line

Friday, May 25th, 2018

I’ve recently covered some great country pop albums by the ladies, so now it’s the turn of the gentlemen. On the recommendation of Jason Brewer of the Explorer’s Club, I explored Midland’s debut album On The Rocks, and I’m impressed. Ostensibly neo-traditionalist country, it is full of catchy and melodic songs that transcend the country genre and move into great pop music.  There are a lot of really strong songs here, but Drinkin’ Problem, Burn Out and Electric Rodeo are some of the standouts.

Pet Sounds 50 ..And 2

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

Since I last posted, we’ve had Pet Sounds 52nd birthday, taking place while Brian Wilson is still touring the album’s 50th birthday. Here is what I wrote about the greatest album in the universe on it’s golden anniversary. There’s been a wedding that some of you have heard about, and in much more obscure but highly welcome news….after 14 years, a new album from A Girl Called Eddy.

23 Songs For Today

Monday, May 14th, 2018

1.  Hard On A Heart-  Ashley Monroe
2.  The Power of Three -Belle and Sebastian
3.  Best Friend -Belle and Sebastian
4.  Bare Feet -Caroline Jones
5. Love Of The Loved -Cilla Black
6, Anniversary Song -Cowboy Junkies
7. Twice As Worth It -Deana Carter
8. So I Could Find My Way -Enya
9. Another Bridge -Everything But The Girl
10. The Lakes of Canada -The Innocence Mission
11. Dirty Computer- Janelle Monáe (feat. Brian Wilson)
12. Space Cowboy -Kacey Musgraves
13. Golden Hour -Kacey Musgraves
14. Out of Reach -Karnataka
15. A Million Tears -Kasey Chambers
16. The Closest Thing To Crazy -Katie Melua
17. I Envy The Wind -Lucinda Williams
18. If I Could -October Project
19. Terribly Sorry -Saint Etienne
20. Fascination -Saint Etienne
21. Montmartre -Sarah Darling
22. Since You’ve Gone -Spanky & Our Gang
23. Walk Your Feet In The Sunshine -The 5th Dimension

Darling Music

Monday, May 7th, 2018

They say good things come in threes, so here is a third great pop album from a country lady. This one is a bit older than the Kacey Musgraves and Ashley Monroe records, but it has recently come to my attention. While the title says Dream Country, there is actually quite a wide range of pop styles, with some classic songwriting on tracks like the gorgeous romantic Montmarte, the classic Where Cowboys Ride and a cover of the Smiths Please Please Let Me Get What I Want.  You can order this great record here on her webpage.

Monroe Suede

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

Like London buses, one good country pop album follows another. Three weeks after the release of Golden Hour comes Ashley Monroe’s new record, Sparrow. Monroe has always been on the neo-traditional side of country music, but here the tradition extends to the countrypolitan sound of Glen Campbell and Jimmy Webb. The album is clearly personal, much of it written while she was pregnant with her first son, with titles like She Wakes Me Up and Daddy I Told You. As with Golden Hour, there are even forays into a more disco sound on Hard On A Heart, and the album still has a sultry core with songs like Wild Love and Hands On You. Good pop music may not be topping the world charts, but it is still around, courtesy of these country ladies.

50 Years Undead

Thursday, April 19th, 2018

Today marks the 50th anniversary of a cult album released by a group that had already broken up. But the album has proved as “undead” as the group’s namesakes, and still growing in stature as a pioneering work. Here is my review of the album from 2007 with some corrections of text garbled by WordPress updates, and in the context of a series of reviews post the 40th anniversary of Sgt. Pepper.

 With Sgt. Pepper still on our minds, I thought it would be an appropriate time to look at some late 60s albums that were conceived with the same principles in mind such as classy pop songs,  harmonies, a sense more than substance of a unifying theme,  and some hints of psychedelia. The next three album reviews are what I will call the three “Os” -three album titles that begin with O that I believe meet the above criteria. Maybe you can start guessing what the next two will be…..

The first one is a true “cult” album, Odessey And Oracle (and yes, that Odessey is a typo by the record company that has never been corrected) by the Zombies. The story of the album seems almost like one of those scenarios that they could make a blockbuster movie…band on the verging of breaking up make one final classic album, album sinks without trace due to no publicity in 1968,  DJ starts playing a track a year later that becomes a big hit and pop standard, and the album gains cult status and critical acclaim over the years.

The big hit is Time Of The Season, which readers should know. It is a classic slice of 60s pop rock with a fantastic riff and harmonies, and it more than deserves its “standard” status.  But it is in illustrious company, as the album clearly shows a band that shows it has nothing to lose and is prepared to take chances and a lot of care over the songs.

The music is sophisticated, harmonic pop, with slightly jazzy arrangements tinged by the use of a Mellotron, which should definitely appeal to fans of both the Beatles and Beach Boys. Lyrically, there is some very interesting ground covered – most notably in the very personal war experience song, Butcher’s Tale (Western Front 1914). As with Pepper, there isn’t really a unifying theme, but the songs do feel like they belong together. And bits of it were recorded at Abbey Road studios.

My personal favorite song on the album is Hung Up On A Dream, an evocative journey through a “a dream…that gave me peace and blew my mind” that includes some stunning melodic and harmonic moments.

Some more good background can be seen on the Wikipedia article, and it is still very readily available on-line.  This is certainly an absolute must for 60s pop fans and anyone serious about having a complete collection of the great pop and rock albums.

Country Rebel Makes Perfect Pop Shocker

Sunday, April 1st, 2018

Kacey Musgraves  is known as something of a country rebel, and she certainly isn’t in the conventional Nashville mould, but her latest album is very much a conventionally great pop record. Golden Hour may be closer genre-wise to country than anything else, but the great songwriting hearkens to classic American songbook. The occasional uptempo hoedowns of her earlier work are replaced more mid-tempo pop sensibilities -with occasional nods to the dancefloor, especially on High Horse but always ensuring great melodies and real musical instruments dominate. The overall mood is a lot more positive and romantic than earlier works, linked to singer’s recent marriage, but hints of the rebelliousness and previous disappointments still linger.

Everything here is very listenable, with some noteworthy tracks being the beautiful Butterlies, played at my own wedding, the pop perfection of Space Cowboy and the lovely title track which hearkens to both a past nostalgic utopia and a future where great songwriting would be appreciated as much as in the golden eras of pop. We live in a world on edge, but Kacey Musgraves has made the world a much better place to live in.

23 Songs For Today

Wednesday, March 28th, 2018

Inspired by their Cricket World Cup qualifying campaign – an all Scottish list

1. Trains – Al Stewart
2. Sand In Your Shoes -Al Stewart
3. Year of the Cat -Al Stewart
4. Sleep the Clock Around  -Belle & Sebastian
5. The Fox in the Snow -Belle & Sebastian
6. Everything is Now, Pt. Two -Belle and Sebastian
7. Wonderland -Big Country
8. East of Eden -Big Country
9. In A Big Country -Big Country
10. My America -Deacon Blue
11. Loaded -Deacon Blue
12. Rae -Deacon Blue
13. Woke From Dreaming -The Delgados
14. Margo’s Waltz -Lloyd Cole
15. Man Enough -Lloyd Cole
16. Forest Fire – Lloyd Cole & The Commotions
17. Why Does It Always Rain On Me? -Travis
18. Church Not Made With Hands -The Waterboys
19. A Man Is In Love -The Waterboys
20. It Should Have Been You -The Waterboys
21. Angel Eyes -Wet Wet Wet
22. Blue For You -Wet Wet Wet
23. Theme From Ten -Wet Wet Wet