Category Archives: TunesDay

Election Day. #HopeTuesday. TunesDay.

Three videos for Election Day. Who do we want to be?

Some years ago Sean Kelly of The Samples penned what has to be the election day anthem. It acknowledges what we all know, it notes the reasons we have to abandon hope, and still it insists that we carry on.

It’s Election Day 2016. What choice will you make about the world you want to live in?

Carry on. (Lyrics below.)

Read more

#SNRGTR: Sam's favorite guitar solos

Part 1 in a series.

SNR-GTRI’ll go first. And since it’s my idea, I’ll take the editor’s privilege and cheat a bit by giving you two solos instead of one.

Up first, we go back to 1974 and “Brighton Rock,” the lead track on Queen’s third album, Sheer Heart Attack. The band’s first two releases had been relentlessly self-conscious in their forays into fantasy (check out “The Fairy Feller’s Master Stroke” off Queen II for an illustration).

But SHA opens with a boot to the teeth, highlighted by a Brian May solo that I guess is an example of what William Miller in Almost Famous meant by “incendiary.” Just … damn. Read more

The best CDs of 2013 that I didn’t get around to until 2014, part 3

Hot Nun, Veronica Falls and Fish released wonderful CDs last year that belong on my top albums of the year list.

As noted some time back, there are always CDs I don’t get around to during the year in which they’re released, and with the great ones I accordingly fail to include them in my year-end mentions. I’ve already done a couple of rounds of catch-up/mea culpas, and it’s time now for part 3.

First off, I actually had the Hot Nun disc in hand and just never got to it. Bad Sammy. Hot Nun is the latest project from Jeff Shelton of The Well Wishers, and I have long admired his no-nonsense brand of straight-on, guitar-driven Power Pop. Well, Hot Nun is like that, only moreso.

Apologies for my slackness, and I’ll be adding this to the ever-updating best of 2013 page and playlist. Read more

What’s your favorite song by [band name here]?

Oh, I love that song.

Music: Bands Sam LovesHow many times have you been talking about music and somebody says hey, what’s your favorite tune by [fill in the blank]? I have no idea how many times I’ve asked or tried to answer that one, but many. Many many.

I thought it might be fun to do a little post where I confront the question head-on … about a lot of bands. And then I’d invite you to play along and tell us what your faves are. So I pulled together a long list of artists. Some are famous, some less famous, some contemporary and some from back in the day. Read more

The best CDs of 2013 that I didn’t hear until 2014, part 2: Adam Marsland’s The Owl and the Full Moon

A few days ago I offered up volume one of stuff that should have been in my best CDs of 2013 note, but wasn’t. So now we arriveth at volume the second, whereupon I apologize to Adam Marsland.

Adam has been one of my absolute favorites for a long time. I’m a sucker for the sub-genre we call Power Pop, and he’s among the best. His last studio disc, 2009’s Go West, made my intensely fantastic super-platinum list, and was one of the best PPop CDs I have heard in years. Read more

Whatever happened to Country & Western?: imagining an alternate Nashville

It’s easy to see how the mid-1980s Roots revival could have shaped Nashville into something completely different than the wasteland it is today.

Not long ago I was lamenting the embarrassing state of Country & Western music, and if you track down through the comments of that post you’ll see a couple folks, including our boy Otherwise, recommending that I investigate The Hangdogs. So I did, and they were right – Matt Grimm and Co. could flat out bring it.

It turns out that Otherwise actually knows Grimm and he introduced us, which led to an interesting e-mail exchange and my discovery of his latest solo disc. More on that in a bit.

This whole sequence set me to thinking. There was a moment, back in the mid-1980s, when something really interesting was happening in the music world. There was Lone Justice, based in LA, also home to Dave Alvin and The Blasters. Boston had the Del Fuegos. New York had the Del Lords. Wisconsin gave us The BoDeans. Read more

Is John Newman the “dude version of Amy Winehouse”? Simmer down, Buzzfeed

Newman is pretty darned good. But it’s too early to know if he’s the dude Amy Winehouse or the dude Duffy.

A few days ago BuzzFeed up and wet itself over Brit Soul-Pop wunderkind John Newman, calling the 23 year-old singer the “Dude Version Of Amy Winehouse.”

As a famous man once said, “simmer down, Beavis.” Comparing Newman to 27-Clubber Winehouse is a whole lotta hype, especially for a guy I haven’t even heard of yet. But I’m old and sometimes the latest and hippest doesn’t make it out here to the home as fast as I’d like. Regardless, dude Amy Winehouse is a claim that must be investigated, yes?

So I sat down, got the old Technics headphones out, and gave the kid a spin. Here’s what I concluded. Read more

Establishment Music: WTF ever happened to Country & Western?

If C&W had a soul Jason Isbell would be the biggest thing in Nashville.

Keith Urban is a judge on American Idol. Blake Shelton is on The Voice. Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and the rest of these prancing pinup models are the stars of the moment.

Meanwhile, down in Alabama, Jason Isbell has produced as good a set of back-to-back records as anybody in country (C&W, alt.Country, Thunder Country, you name your sub-genre) history – maybe as great as any consecutive albums in any popular music genre – and Nashville treats him like something it scraped off its diamond-spangled distressed ostrich boots. Read more

New Mayer Hawthorne CD isn’t what you expected, but it may be better than you expected

Mayer Hawthorne’s new CD, Where Does This Door Go, is set to drop next Tuesday. Thanks to NPR, I’ve been streaming it for a few days now.

If you recall, I loved his last disc: How Do You Do made my Platinum list for 2011.

Okay, well, that may be overstating the case a tad, but as fun, can’t-get-that-song-out-of-my-ears ’60s and ’70s-influenced R&B goes, it’s hard to beat How Do You Do. (BTW, for those of you back in the Carolinas, this is the best Beach Music CD you’ve heard in years, except maybe for Dixon’s 2010 release.) There’s never a false referent and every track takes you somewhere you haven’t been in years, but wow, it’s great to revisit the place. Granted, The Temptations never had the potty mouth that MH does, but you got to roll with the times.

This isn’t the only best-of list Hawthorne is on, and good for him. Some might snipe a little that he’s working CeeLo Green’s turf, but I can’t imagine Green having any complaints at all about How Do You Do except maybe “turn it up.”

The new release hangs a stylistic left, and isn’t going to be what some fans are expected. Like me, for instance. It took me probably seven or eight spins to get my ears completely around it, and if I’d only listened once I’d have been disappointed. Glad I hung in there.

Where Does This Door Go just gets better and better with each listen. It’s mainly a sort of very urban neo-’70s radio soul/R&B kinda disc, plenty of funk and groove and steam rising through the manhole covers along North Broadway in Philly just before sunrise. But it’s also a lot more. You’ll hear snatches that remind you of Prince and Stevie Wonder and it could easily be the second disc of the new Daft Punk CD, and there are spots where it’s like he’s intentionally riffing on Steely Dan (you’re going to hear “Peg” whether you want to or not) and it closes with a track that says yes, I have been listening to the final days of The Beatles (and maybe a tad of ELO, as well).

Just a great, great CD.

TunesDay: HOT NUN!

TunesDay usually happens on Tuesday, not Thursday. But the first video from the new self-titled Hot Nun CD was just released, so fuck the rules and roll the tape.

Hot Nun is the latest project from Jeff Shelton, whom you may know from The Spinning Jennies and The Well Wishers (they’ve featured here at S&R a number of times). While Jeff has always leaned toward the “power” side of Power Pop, Hot Nun is perhaps his rawest and most muscular outing to date. It gleefully throws back to late ’70s New Wave and in a lot of spots is really reminiscent of Cheap Trick’s glory years, circa Budokan.

I’m loving Hot Nun and heck, you might, too. Here’s the lead track, “Brave New World.”

Stream the rest of the CD at Bandcamp.

TunesDay: Phoenix and Aline are making 2013 a big year for French Indie Pop

We haven’t historically regarded the French for their rock & roll. Wine and cuisine, sure. Beautiful women, absolutely. But Europe’s greatest pop music has always tended to emerge across the channel. Then, in 2009, a little band from Versailles called Phoenix blowed up with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and one of the year’s hottest Indie singles, “Lisztomania.” Phoenix had been around for a few years, and music insiders were also familiar with bands like Rouen’s Tahiti 80, but never before had a French act been so much en vogue in the lands of the Anglos.

Now they’re back, with a new CD entitled Bankrupt set to drop this summer. The first cut is “Entertainment,” and if the rest of the disc is this wonderful they’re going to have another smash on their hands.

As is so often the case, when an artist from a previously unmined cultural outback (think Athens, or Seattle, or Minneapolis, if you will) breaks through, it opens the doors for others from the neighborhood. I find myself really, really hoping that another outstanding French act – Aline, from Marseilles – benefits from the rub. Their new release, Regarde le Ciel, is simply freakin’ marvelous.

Spread the love, spread the music. Happy TunesDay.

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