Monday, April 08, 2024

Rayland Baxter - '79 Shiny Revolvers'

Like most of my music discoveries of late, I stumbled upon '79 Shiny Revolvers' six years after its release.

The tune is penned by Rayland Baxter, a more grounded version of Mac DeMarco.  But he happens to hail from Nashville, as opposed to the Great White North.  Rayland's dad is Bucky, a guitarist in his own right, who passed away in 2020.  

'79 Shiny Revolvers' presents itself as a Jeff Buckley-meets-John Prine exegesis;  it is a wistfully plaintive ditty about America's great firearm obsession. (Think 'Pumped Up Kicks' by Foster the People, but without the electronica and reverb).  

I am honestly surprised that Rayland hasn't had more press or hype than I am aware of.  He seems to have a lot of potential.

While there is no official music video for this track, Rayland Baxter performed it live for Paste Magazine a few years ago.  You can stream that performance below:

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Video Age - 'Away From the Castle'

Video Age is a New Orleans duo that makes Elephant 6 sounding indie power pop.  Brian Wilson-inspired vocal hooks lay themselves upon jangled guitar strumming.  Fans of Real Estate will enjoy this one.

Check out 'Away From the Castle' below:

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Guest Poster Cassidy: Fontaines D.C. - 'Jackie Down the Line' & 'Roman Holiday'

The following post is from Guest Poster, Cassidy.  For more information about Cassidy, click here.

Fontaines D.C. has become one of my new favorite “discovered” bands.  They formed in 2014, so they have been around for quite some time. Even so, I first heard 'Jackie Down the Line' by this Dublin-based band on Sirius XMU in the Spring of 2022. I was going through a tumultuous time and was heavily relying on music to get through – (a shameless SiriusXM plug coming up) – so I resubscribed to SiriusXM, as I love discovering those “newer” bands.  It hits different than Spotify’s “weekly discovery.” The DJ was likely Jenny Elescu.

I have become very fond of the Skinty Fia album, which is the third for Fontaines.  The entire album has a way of inducing an innocence-inspired nostalgia. For me, this album reminds me of my college years, as this would be something that would be on my rotation while studying or walking to class. 

While 'Jackie Down the Line' may sound upbeat, the lyrics suggest the insecurities and potential hurt we can experience in a relationship.

'Roman Holiday'’s psychedelic rock-esque beat and lyrics have a way of reeling you in and making you stay for the entire ride. It reminds me strongly of Jim James or something that a modern-day Zeppelin would produce. 

I sincerely hope that Fontaines D.C continues to move in a direction where they gain more exposure, as they are one of the good ones.

Check out the music videos to  'Jackie Down the Line' and 'Roman Holiday' below:

['Jackie Down the Line']

['Roman Holiday']

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Homeshake - 'Midnight Snack'

Awhile back I wrote a post on how enamored I was with Men I Trust. Since then, I have stumbled across another artist who captures the same diffident spirit.

The project is called Homeshake.  And its architect is another Quebec-based artist named Peter Sagar.  The kicker is that Homeshake recorded almost half a decade before Men I Trust’s Oncle Jazz, yet I only learned of it now.  It’s a shame I am late to the party, because Homeshake perfectly captures the aura of solitary indie rock.

The song I would like to feature today is ‘Midnight Snack,’ which is reminiscent of a Mac DeMarco production.  That is because Peter was Mac’s touring guitarist for some time before his solo breakout. 

The general vibe is flaccid, yet longing.  The instrumentation is thinly layered, with a proper sprinkling of despair.  In other words, it is the perfect jam for a pensive, introspective day.

Check out the video to ‘Midnight Snack’ by Homeshake below:

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Talk Talk - 'Life's What You Make It'

For many years, the only song by Talk Talk I knew of was ‘It’s My Life,’ the megahit popularized by Gwen Stefani’s dynamic cover decades later.  Recently, though, I encountered the band’s lesser-known single, ‘Life’s What You Make It.” 

The track was released in 1985, but its sound was way ahead of its time.  Lacking a traditional pop hook, its structure is rather unconventional:  a shadowy piano lick repeats itself ad naseum, while Mark Hollis broodingly echoes the title, “Life’s What You Make It.”  Synth and guitar eventually complement the track, but it is otherwise a relatively bare bones production—at least when compared to other records of the time. 

Stream ‘Life’s What you Make It’ below: 

Wednesday, March 08, 2023

Men I Trust - 'Oncle Jazz'

Men I Trust is an indie band from Montreal.  I first came across their seductive sounds while routinely listening to Real Estate Radio on Pandora.   I am a huge fan of Real Estate's abandoned mall rock sound, which emphasizes a sort of collective loneliness. And I find myself gravitating toward the band's music when I am desiring something melodic and chill, without feeling like I am stuck on the endless loop of a monotonous spa playlist.

In the course of listening to hours' worth of Real Estate radio while working or commuting, the algorithm had played Men I Trust's single, 'Show Me How,' several times; and each time I heard it, it resonated deeply:  Slow funky bass, Francophone-accented vocals, and spacey guitar amounted to a sonic smorgasbord this old soul couldn't get enough of.  

'You Deserve This' is another song the station played from time to time.  That track is consistent with the theme of steamy dream pop. 

When I was really lucky, the Pandora algorithm dropped 'Porcelain,' from time to time.  This song is what Failure might sound like if they had a female vocalist, in case you were wondering.

Based on the overwhelming impressiveness of these three tracks, I recently attempted to purchase the vinyl record from which they originate from, and I found many locations were out of stock of the album.  I checked out the secondhand market on Ebay and Discogs, and found the prices were greatly inflated.  So, I ultimately tracked down a record store that could backorder it for me for a decent price, but I would have to wait at least eight weeks for the pressing to complete and be available for pick up.  I easily relented and made the purchase despite the long wait, as this LP is just that good. 

But don't worry; I didn't go to all this trouble of tracking down a pressing of Oncle Jazz--yes, that is the aforementioned album's title--without enacting some due diligence.  I have been able to stream the whole production in Hi-fidelity using Qobuz, and every single track delivers.  In fact, the album is organized somewhat as a faux radio station, similar to what The Weeknd did a few years ago with Dawn FM.  For example, Track 1 is in bumper format, reminding the listener they are hearing "Oncle Jazz."  And Track 24 features a funked out Muzak interlude reminiscent of free form FM broadcasts from decades ago.  In sum, the album is a complete work of art in which each track blends perfectly into the next.  

If my hype on this band has intrigued you, I have included the video for 'Show Me How' in the player below. Enjoy! 

Friday, December 23, 2022

BOSCO - '4th of July'

Thanks to a recent referral by fellow contributor Tae, I have been able to embrace my Scandinavian roots, and experience some modern day infrared sauna at a nearby luxury spa.  The setup is amazing; you check in and are given your own private room, complete with bluetooth audio and hundreds of internet television channels.  A complete array of chromatherapy is also available.  

While the heat is unassuming for the first few minutes, once the infrared's photons have had enough time to microwave your insides, it can begin to feel like you are finishing a marathon without having set foot on a running track.  Your heart rate increases, euphoria arises, and you soon discover your skin contains more pores than you ever realized, each expelling metal-laden toxicants by way of colossal perspiration.  

During one recent session, I was grinding against the heat when '4th of July' by BOSCO came on the room's bluetooth stereo.  It provided the necessary inspiration for me to endure the final portion of my 40 minute session.  BOSCO's vocals carried the sweet swagger of a young Janet Jackson, while the beat of the song presented an untroubled array of chilled-out R&B.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find a whole lot of information on BOSCO on the internet.  The only link of substance I could really find was the one to her album, Someday This Will All Make Sense, on Amazon here.  

But, you can watch the immersive video to '4th of July' by BOSCO down below.  Although, without the requisite heat, your viewing results may vary:

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Forgotten Gems: Kenny Loggins - 'I'm Gonna Do It Right'

If you were one of the bazillion people who watched the international smash hit, Top Gun, when it came out back in 1986, you were likely rocked to the core by the sensational, bombastic Kenny Loggins theme song, "Danger Zone".

And perhaps, after leaving the theater, you may have rushed out to your local record store to buy the 7" single of the song on vinyl.

Now... if I asked you what the B-side to the "Danger Zone" single is, would you guess "Playing With the Boys" from the film's iconic volleyball scene?

If so, you would be wrong.  

While "Playing With the Boys" (and its accompanying scene) is amazing in its own right, the song you would have actually found on Side B was "I'm Gonna Do It Right" from Loggins' 1985 album, Vox Humana.

Vox Humana was Loggins' fifth album, and was his first album following his wildly successful title track to the 1984 Kevin Bacon movie, Footloose.

For many critics, Vox Humana was a big disappointment.  Loggins was at the height of his musical powers in the mid-80s and decided to make the leap of faith from acoustic guitar-wielding Yacht Rocker to the dangerous zone of overproduced, synthesized pop rock.

The album also had to follow High Adventure, Loggins' most commercially-successful album, which featured the singles, "Heart to Heart", "Heartlight", and the Grammy-nominated Steve Perry duet, "Don't Fight It".

By comparison, Vox Humana fell flat, despite Gold-certified sales numbers and ballad single, "Forever".

But if you slept on Vox Humana or forgot to flip your "Danger Zone" single over, you may have missed out on "I'm Gonna Do It Right" -- a funktastic track featuring none other than the legendary Pointer Sisters on backup vocals and Sheila E. on percussion.  

It is easily one of the most uptempo dance tracks in Loggins' deep songbook, and I'm sad to say I'd never heard it until this week because it's a real club banger.  As a child of the '80s, I couldn't help but love it right away.  Give it a spin in the player below, and get ready to cut. foot. loose.

Postscript:  Fellow blogger, Steve, and I once attended a Kenny Loggins concert at a local casino roughly a decade ago. I went in expecting a routine run through of the hits (for which Loggins has MANY), but what I was not expecting was the exuberance and showmanship he had for performing and he belted out 30+ year old songs with the enthusiasm of a young man who'd just recorded them rather than someone who had played them thousands of times. It was a great show!

Sunday, March 27, 2022

Broadcast - 'Come On Let's Go'

I recently finished watching the HBO Limited Series Scenes From a Marriage. To say the show is an emotional upheaval is a massive understatement. Although I can't say I am too satisfied with the story arc's final conclusion, I will say that both Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac pitch a brilliant acting performance that masterfully portrays the exacting tolls of matrimony.  

In the series finale, a brief snippet of the space age pop song 'Come On Let's Go' by Broadcast is subtly featured in the background of a scene leading up to a big reveal.  The result is a wonderfully curated soundtrack which effectively captures the mood of the moment.  

This cinematic occasion inspired me to look more into the band.  It turns out that Broadcast was formed in England in the mid-90s.  They tended to create psychedelic electronica rooted in a mid century modern style. (Sort of in the same vein as 'Female of the Species' by Space).  In other words, if the universe of Mad Men had a house band, Broadcast very likely could have been it.  

Their magna opus is The Noise Made by People, which contains the aforementioned 'Come on Let's Go.'  'Echo's Answer' is another track on the LP, which is a less melodic and more detached offering. 'Unchanging Window' seems to borrow drummer boy rhythms from Bowie, but maybe that comparison is a forced one only because D.B. literally sang about Life on Mars?

Anyhow, the entirety of The Noise Made By People is well worth a spin, but if you want a solid introduction to the splendor of the group, definitely start with 'Come On Let's Go,' which you can stream in the player below.  

Big Thief - 'Change'

A person wiser than I once told me that all relationships end.  Whether it is a relative, friend, or lover, all associations cease due to death, breakup, divorce, or some other circumstance.  Although a relatively simple notion, the idea had never crossed my mind before.  Instead, I had often found myself clinging to the shadows of former bonds without recognizing or accepting this unavoidable reality. 

It is human nature to clutch what is familiar.  On the surface, it seems ideal to try and preserve the status quo at all costs.  But a world without endings is also a world without beautiful new beginnings.  It is a world of lost potential and unrealized discovery.  Nevertheless, the changeover from one reality to a new one can be some of the most painful journeys a person can endure.

It isn't very often that I hear a song that can almost compel me to tears, but 'Change' by Brooklyn's Big Thief is so honest and pure, it is almost paralyzing with how fierce it depicts the grief of letting an old life go in favor of welcoming a new one in; a process that is not always a voluntary one.  Singer Adrianne Lenker's vocals are tender and disarming.  They present some of the most intimate pleadings to be captured on a record.  

Would you stare forever at the sun,

Never watch the moon rising?

Would you walk forever in the light,

To never learn the secret of the quiet night?

Often, there are hidden joys to be found in the intimidating silence of the unknown.  But you have to be brave enough to step into the abyss in order to find them.  Is it sustainable to never depart from the known path, or do the unforeseen forks in the road instead inspire hidden resilience and strength necessary to nourish the spirit?  This brilliant song does not hesitate in its answer.  

You can stream the beautiful 'Change' in the player below:  

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Lord Huron - 'Mine Forever'

Tumbling off the dusty plains from the set of a Spaghetti Western, 'Mine Forever' by Indie Folk Rockers Lord Huron is a pleasant little jaunt of a tune.  Uplifting and harmonious, the bridge of the song is truly the cherry on top for me.  

If you like nostalgiac call backs to the late-60s days of Laurel Canyon, where everyone seemed to be California Dreamin' all the time, this is the track for you.  

You can stream the video for 'Mine Forever' in the player below: