Thursday, June 30, 2016

New Song by Wye Oak "If You Should See" (New Album Out)

Jenn Wasner & Andy Stack of Wye Oak (Photo via Merge Records)
I suppose I couldn't help but like the band Wye Oak, with a name chosen back in 2006 to honor the Maryland State tree that was felled in a storm a few years earlier. I spent 25 years in that state as my parents made it their home, so this duo from Baltimore had an introduction that only a sense of place could offer. Jenn Wasner (lead vocals, guitar, bass) and Andy Stack (backup vocals, drums, keyboards) also provide some of indie's most original music, with lush arrangements that could fool a listener to thinking there are many more musicians involved.

The duo's latest album, Tween, was actually created utilizing remnants of its past two albums, 2011's Civilian and 2014's Shreik.  (With an expanded sound to include electronics and bass, Shreik landed on my Top Ten Releases of 2014 list and the song "Tower" was selected as for my Spring 2014 New Music Playlist, as well as my Top 20 Songs of 2014.) My favorite track off the new album is "If You Should See," a glorious tune with interlocking, percussive melodies and vocals that soar above it all. Take a listen via the YouTube upload by Merge Records below and be sure to make time for the entire album.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

New Song by onDeadWaves, "California" (Debut Album Out)

James Chapman & Polly Scattergood of onDeadWaves (Photo credit: Cat Mook)
New band onDeadWaves is the result of combining the talents of British singer-songwriter Polly Scattergood and compatriot musician James Chapman, a.k.a. Maps. Their debut self-titled album is filled with a sun-soaked gauzy indie pop, as revealed on the song "California" with gleaming guitars and hushed vocals.

A new video for the tune is a long-shot of a magical 70s Californian party paradise where people actually swim in pools, as directed by Mexico's Groovy Chaos (who also provided a creative vision for Moby). The track has already been added to my favorite online radio new music sources KEXP and KCRW, and this album seems ready made for summer listening sessions. onDeadWaves is also sharing mixes and other compilations on their SoundCloud page to keep the vibe going.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

In Honor of Father's Day - A Family Songs Playlist

When you realize that your parents REALLY like to sing...
This spring brought a new baby into my tiny family tree as well as another wedding for the next generation - a much happier occasion for us to gather together, rather than the recent memorial services for my father and my mother.  The baby's arrival got me thinking about all the songs that we've enjoyed singing as a family - sing alongs and lullabies that resonated with both parents as well as the kids. There are also ones that arrived on the music scene and were quickly incorporated into our daily life (even with an expletive like in the Gorillaz tune!)

So in honor of the Father's Day weekend, here is my playlist of favorite family songs that were sung in the car and around our house, forever claimed as family memories in musical form.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

New Song by Gold Panda, "In My Car" (New Album Out)

Gold Panda (Photo via Ghostly International)
What is it about music in a car – the instant escape of listening to an awesome song with the combination of being on wheels and gliding down a road, definitely one of life's greatest gifts. Gold Panda's new dreamy tune "In My Car" captures the notion perfectly. It caught my ear the other morning on KEXP, spun by the station's DJ Morgan (who said this came to mind for the playlist while stuck in traffic on the way to the studio that morning!)  As the stand out track on Gold Panda's fourth studio album since 2010, Good Luck and Do Your Best, the music floats along in a wavy pattern of electronics to provide a sonic journey.

The U.K. producer/composer, now based in Berlin, is currently on a world tour through the fall in support of the new album.  Listen to "In My Car" in the official video as directed Rob Brandon, where Gold Panda spends a sweet day with his dear Granny.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

New Song by Sonny and the Sunsets, "Moods" (New Album Out)

Sonny Smith, right, with his band (Photo via Polyvinyl Records)
My latest new favorite song comes curtesy of San Francisco's psych rock band Sonny and the Sunsets. The quirky tune "Moods" is off the group's new album, Moods Baby Moods, that serves as the fourth album for Polyvinyl since 2012. There are also seven others since 2000, four self-released, plus musical side projects galore by frontman Sonny Smith. For "100 Records" in 2010, he invited 100 artists to create cover art for albums by 100 fictional bands, then Smith wrote two tunes (A side and B side natch) for each. The artwork was exhibited in San Francisco and Williamsburg, NYC, with a jukebox playing the tunes which were featured in a box set.

Smith is a singer/songwriter, author and former troubadour who weaves a storytelling vibe in laid back vocals. As Polyvinyl puts it, "he's in a funk but he's turned it into funk." "Moods" flaunts this retro-tinged sound for a song about synthetic feelings afforded by the modern drug culture. As produced by Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs, the percussive thread is thrust front and center. Take a listen to "Moods" on Soundcloud and give a listen to the entire album out now.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Moby's "Porcelain: A Memoir" - Book Tour & Playlist w/Audiobook Samples

Signing w/his alter ego alien like he drew when working at Johnny's in Darien
Franklin Street Works Contemporary Art Space & Cafe in Stamford, CT provided the locale for Moby's homecoming on his current book tour for "Porcelain: A Memoir." He was born in NYC, then spent a childhood in my town of Darien before spending formative years squatting in one of this city's neglected factories and making a name as a DJ. I must have crossed paths with him during the 80s in Port Chester's club known as The Beat, but more recently we have connected in L.A. at the New Music Seminar (where I interviewed him for PopMatters) along with local talks, live concerts and Asheville's Moogfest festival.

From the passages shared at the event, the book rambles in Moby's stream of conscious style found on his website and multitudinous social media posts, peppered with a vocabulary formed during his affluent upbringing. Though living on the edge of society, Moby respects his mother's decision to return to Darien where her parents still lived and her son could reap the benefits of an excellent public school system.  And one of my favorite things about Moby, besides his musical gifts that I consider My Essential Music - Fave Band Playlists, is that he never throws Darien under the bus. I grew up a bit down the gold coast of CT and one of the best lessons I learned surrounded by wealth is money can't buy you love, or happiness for that matter. As similarly Moby explained in his Q & A after the reading, he defines happiness as being able to do simple things like "playing with a dog" or "eating an orange," having realized that wealth sometimes inhibits joy rather than bringing it.

Husband Paul, Me & Moby
The book covers the decade 1989 through 1999, and when it was our turn in line I asked if it was just volume one, since there was so much more to tell about being an music industry icon. He suggested it might be and I told him that was a very good thing. There's also a "Porcelain" playlist on Spotify with audiobook samples and a release planned for June 10 that pairs re-mastered Moby songs with inspirations at that time (see track list below).

Moby – Music From Porcelain
Disc One
1. "Mobility" – Moby
2. "Go! (Woodtick Mix)" – Moby
Paul w/Moby pals Stacy & Paul Johnson
3. "Ah Ah" – Moby
4. "Next Is the E" – Moby
5. "Rock the House" – Moby
6. "Thousand" – Moby
7. "Feeling So Real" – Moby
8. "God Moving over the Face of the Waters" – Moby
9. "Come on Baby" – Moby
10. "That's When I Reach for My Revolver" – Moby
11. "Honey" – Moby
12. "Natural Blues" – Moby
13. "Bodyrock"  – Moby
14. "Why Does My Heart Feel So Bad" – Moby

Disc Two
1. "Break for Love" – Raze
2. "Pacific State" – 808 State
3. "Scenario" – A Tribe Called Quest
4. "Definition of a Track" – Precious
5. "I'll House You" – Jungle Bros
6. "Top Billin" – Audio Two
7. "Follow Me (Club Mix)" – Aly Us
8. "Raw" – Big Daddy Kane
9. "Pause" – Run DMC
10. "Energy Flash" – Joey Beltram
11. "Anasthesia (Out of History Mix)" – T99
12. "Feel So Real" – Dream Factory
13. "Plastic Dreams" – Jay Dee
14. "Set It Off" – Stafe

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

New Song by Local Natives, "Past Lives"

Local Natives (via Twitter)
L.A. based indie rock band Local Natives is back with a new song, "Past Lives," its first since 2013's sophomore album Hummingbird. This tune startles the listener into submission with a spare hymn-like intro of Taylor Rice's soulful singing "Save me." Then the music builds, adding pulsating rhythms and pleading guitar lines to create a familiar, complex instrumentation by the group until it all ends just as abruptly.

Rice elaborates, "The world is not static, it's made new over and over again. But we tend to live the same patterns in a loop, loving the same way, wrestling the same demons, the same dynamics playing out around us again and again. Untangling every moment and decision that led us to where we are now can make fate feel concrete, inescapable. But our world is not fixed, it's constantly reemerging, and we can change it into whatever we want." Take a listen via YouTube and be on the lookout for a new album soon.