Yes, I know, there isn’t much left of the Empire politically, but in pop music the Brits still rule much of the world, and if we add the former Colonies, then at least this week’s blog list additions tell a story of total domination., as all 14 artists are from Britain, the US and Australia. As far as I remember, this is the first time it happens, but all 14 deserve to be there, to add pleasure to our lives at a time when pleasure rules over business.
Let’s start at “home”, in good old England and with an artist who has been around for quite a while, Bill Wyman, formerly of the Rolling Stones, but that’s hard to believe listening to Back to Basics. Wyman has also previously shown his affection for swing and rhythm & blues, but this time he goes further than ever and serves up a mid- to downtempo album, with lyrics bordering on the infantile. Still, in small doses, this is nice music accompanying your third glass of sangria, just wished he had left the singing to someone else, to be honest. (Not in the Apple Music Blog list)
Who would have thought that we’d hear more from Mick Hucknall and Simply Red? Well, guess what, he/they are back, with Big Love, an album that can make one fall in love with the band all over again, as he/they share with us how they fall in love all over again. It is the sweetest soul music, without any rough edges, songs that just takes you on a lovely ride through sweet lyrics and divine chords. Why be young again when you can be old with Mick?
A third old Englishman is also to be found in this week’s list. Richard Thompson is no longer part of Fairport Convention (who are still in the list from an entry earlier this year), but their heritage is still to be heard on his new album Still. Thompson is a bit angrier and sometimes funnier than he sounded before, with lyrics that demand you to listen. He is added a little mini-musical about his guitar heroes. I wish more musicians would want to do something so out-of-the-box-y like this, highly enjoyable.
One of Thompson’s guitar heroes could easily have been Larry Campbell, a studio musician and member of Bob Dylan’s previous band, who has just released an album with his wife Teresa Williams, backing and lead singer. At times their two voices are like honey together, in other songs on the Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams album, there is the annoying country twang that can drive me up a wall. It goes without saying that I have picked tracks with the honey kind. (Not in Aplle Music Bloglist)
Followers of my blog have come to learn of my growing infatuation with some country music, and one of my absolute favourites is Kacey Musgraves, so much that it borders on infatuation for her. Which isn’t so weird; she is breathtaking and in her lyrics are personal, funny, bittersweet and self-deprecating, inviting me as a listener in to what feels like a private world. The music on Pageant Material is sometimes a bit bland, but the majority of songs are lovable. Her last album ended up on my top 10 list of that year; I wouldn’t be surprised if she makes it one more time. As if she cares. But what if she does? Sigh…
I could easily be infatuated with Simi Stone as well, at least with the collection of happy soul tracks on her debut album, Simi Stone. She has got a perky voice that can liven a funeral, and even though this is her first and is made in 2015, no doubt she knows her soul history. I have picked seven representative tracks of the album, feel free to listen to the whole collection.
Another magnificent voice, not perky at all, just with a lot of power, is Florence of Florence+ The Machine, out with a new album, How Big, How Blue How Beautiful. I have to sit up straight when I hear Florence’s insisting songs, but they do something for me and to me, even on this album when a lot of the elements that made the first albums so exhilarating are repeated, offering little new, just another angle on a by now familiar theme. Still, this is like a genre of its own, so as with classic rock’n’roll and blues, I can take a little repetition.
We have to go to Australia to find a band really pushing boundaries, Alpine. Their previous big hit, Hands, was one of the most original and surprising pop songs of 2012, with a fantastic video accompanying it. Their latest release, Yuck (they don’t mess with long titles) offers a lot of similar icy and crisp arrangements, sometimes a bit too much, but enough times successfully done. It is music I can listen to over and over, and find new interesting stuff for every listen. I didn’t dare adding more that three songs; you know where to find more if you want it.
I know I am pushing my own limits a bit when adding station rock band Ash from Northern Ireland. Still, their new album, Kablamoo!, their seventh, serves up at least five tracks that can be passed on to you uncensored. If you feel more adventurous, try the whole album. Their momentous new song, For Eternity, is among the very best tracks in this week’s list, so my conscience is clear.
To swing the pendulum all the way to the other side, let’s listen to the umpteenth album from singer/songwriter James Taylor. I have always loved the silky smooth voice of Taylor, and he has written some of the loveliest songs, not all of them well known. Still, a lot of his songs are forgettable, and his latest album, Before This World, has its fair share of these. But some are left when my butcher’s knife has been cutting away, fours tracks that show why James Taylor still is a musical force to be reckoned with in his 6th decade as a musician and composer.
Gill Landry came into the music business the hardest way, through busking, and luck and perseverance played a great part in making him a recording artist. He is borderline country, sometimes too much country for my taste, but the quality of the songs and his powerful and self-confident, sad voice do it for me. There is also an element of Mexican in the orchestrations that I enjoy listening to. One of the songs is a duet with Laura Marling, “Take this Body”. And the album is simply called Gill Landry. (Not in the Apple Music Bloglist)
Nev Cottee hails from Manchester, England, and is instantly recognizable with his deep baritone voice, reminiscent of Lee Hazlewood. His new album, his second, is a bit weird, but in between inaccessible songs some real gems are found on Strange News From the Sun. There is a richness here, that lends itself to repeated listening, not your average four-piece band.
On to Denver, Colorado and husband-wife duo Tennis, made up of Patrick Riley and Alaina Moore. They are on to their third album, Ritual is Repeat. Tennis reached a certain fame, like Brandi Carlile that was featured in this blog last time, when one of their songs was used on the soundtrack of Grey’s Anatomy. Ritual in Repeat has lovely harmonies and lush orchestrations, well worth listening to.
If you are a fan of the tragic author Sylvia Plath, you are in for a treat. I am not very familiar with Plath’s writing, but I am still excited about Kathryn Williams’ tribute to her, the concept album Hypoxia. The songs are dark, but eerily beautiful and one can sense the deep emotions behind them, particularly in “Tango with Marco”. Kathryn Williams has been around since the 1990s, as a folk singer, and Hypoxia is her 11th album.
This week it is goodbye to The Decemberists, Antony and the Johnsons, Katzenjammer and Andreas Loven, Haerts, Belle & Sebastian and She & Him. I hope the 64 new songs are great replacements.
Again I have added both a Spotify and an Apple Music version, we’ll see after a while where you decide to listen from, too early to call a winner. : https://itunes.apple.com/no/playlist/petter-wallace-bloglist/idpl.8201d6af39254e54a713b6dbc7c6dbdb?l=nb