Summertime Round-Up

Don’t worry,  I haven’t stopped looking, and I have found great new music for you; I apologize for taking so long to publish this time, but sometimes other projects take more time than anticipated. As a patch on the wound (as we say in Norway), I have added a few videos to make the list (even) more readable and ready to enjoy.

Here is the updated list, if you want to go straight to it.

And HERE is a clean playlist of newcomers only….

 

Eurovision Song Contest 2018 – pop

Let’s start with my annual Eurovision Song Contest exercise. As usual, most songs performed are at best forgettable, but there are always some minor gems hidden in the Europudding. This year Belgium, France, Austria, Portugal, Spain, Australia, Lithuania and Germany delivered music that we can still listen to, a month or so after the final.

The Lost Brothers – Halfway Towards a Healing – folk/pop

The Lost Brothers

But let’s move on to more interesting and longer lasting music. I was particularly taken by the album Halfway Towards a Healing from the Irish band The Lost Brothers. This is the closest to Simon & Garfunkel and Everly Borthers we have come for a very long time, soothing, wonderful harmonies, heart-warming lyrics and melancholia galore. The album is their fifth, so I am going to their back catalogue if and when I am getting bored with the current one.

Club des Belugas feat. Maya Fadeeva – Chameleon – swing/pop

Maya Fadeeva

Club des Belugas has joined forces with Russian-born singer Maya Fadeeva, not for the first time. She has a great and (in a good way) piercing voice, but I like it better when the rhythm kings from Germany use more than one singer. Chameleon comes a bit trite in the long run, but the best tracks are now in the list, and these will get you on your feet and swing to music.

The Manhattan Transfer – The Junction – Jazz

The Manhattan Transfer

As will Manhattan Transfer, finally back with a new and adventurous jazz/swing album, The Junction. The group sadly lost Tim Hauser in 2014, but Trist Curless is a good replacement, and their harmonies are as rich and stunning as ever. The title track is especially good, one of the best tracks they have recorded in years. Maybe this is a new beginning for them, I have missed them so much. I still consider them the best vocal group in the world, and nobody still even comes close.

Belle & Sebastian – How to Solve Our Human Problems – Pop

Belle & Sebastian

Belle & Sebastian has also been around for ages and still kept the freshness in the music. Their new album is actually made from 3 EPs, perhaps that is why it feels a bit too long and repetitive. Still, the beauty and richness of the best songs (all of which are to be found in the list), make it worthwhile to listen to, both if you want to reminisce or if this is your first encounter with the Scottish band.

 

Van Morrison – Versatile – Jazz

Van Morrison
Photo: BBC

Northern Ireland

Van Morrison is a most productive man, and a stream of new albums are now out, so fast that I can’t keep up. He is publishing more often than I publish my blog. His newest release is Versatile, looking back on some of the songs that inspired him, mixed with songs he himself wrote, but this time performed as jazz versions. It is easy to forget what a great jazz performer Van the Man is.

Alela Diane – Cusp – Pop

Alela Diane

Beauty can come from personal pain, and Alela Diane’s concept album Cusp about childbirth, both her own and her children’s, is truly beautiful. The soft feel to both the lyrics and the melodies make for great listening.

Turin Brakes – Invisible Storm – Pop/Rock

Turin Brakes

The English indie-band Turin Brakes has visited my list earlier, now the band is back with a much more commercially interesting LP, but not necessarily more musically interesting. Still, I like their melodic pop, more predictable than before, but ideal for summer listening.

Belle Adair – Tuscumbia – Pop

Belle Adair

A similar band, albeit with a different sound and more high-pitched harmonies, is Belle Adair. Again, we are served with pleasant pop for both the beach and the garden, sweet and rich in texture and with melodies that stick.

 

Bahamas – Earthtones – Pop/Rock

Afie Jurvanen of Bahamas

The Canadian band Bahamas (a band that’s not a band: Afie Jurvanen hides behind the name)  also fits easily into my summer repertoire, a little rougher and more upbeat that Belle Adair and Turin Brakes, but most of the tracks on Earthtones easily fits in, without alienating too many of you.

Amy Rigby – The Old Guys – Rock

Amy Rigby

Amy Rigby can play rough all on her own, but she is also funny and lets herself be vulnerable. She shakes up this week’s list, without losing her focus on great melodies and her clear messages.

 

 

 

Sol Heilo – Skinhorse Playground – Pop

Sol Heilo
Photo: Jørgen Nordby

Sol Heilo was part of the Norwegian group Katzenjammer, playing folk-inspired, happy, multi-instrumental rock music. Now she has released her first solo album, and it still has its playful moments, but it is mostly darker and sadder. That doesn’t bother me, this record shows off a new side of Heilo, worth listening to. But don’t miss out listening to her original band, either.

Julian Lage – Modern Lore – Jazz/Rock

Julian Lage

I have featured a number of instrumentalists in my list, but never, as far as I can remember, a guitarist. Along comes Julian Lage from California, and I had to include him and his latest album Modern Lore, that’s how good it is. Lage is at heart a jazz musician, but here he plays – in both senses of the word – with rock, folk and jazz, surprising us with his musical creativity.

Inara George – Dearest Everybody – Pop

Inara George
Photo: Mel Melcon/ Los Angeles Tmes

Inara George lost her father, Lowell George of Little Feat fame, when she was a little girl. The trauma of his sudden death has inspired this wonderful LP, but it is in no way bleak and withdrawn, but rather bright and optimistic, at least when it comes to the sound. Release Me is one of the strongest pop compositions I have heard this year, but the whole collection begs for re-listening.

Marlon Williams – Make Way for Love – Pop

Marlon Williams
Photo: Chris McKeen

Marlon Williams takes me back, in the same way Richard Hawley does, to the times of Roy Orbison and the pop music of the 60s and 70s. His baritone voice grabs me from the first tone, but there is an irreverence here that you rarely found in Orbison. The musicians push borders, but still in the centre stands Williams and takes the song all the way home.

Jimmy Livingstone – Airplane Mode – Pop

Jimmy Livingstone

This week’s final artist is Jimmy Livingstone. He sounds like he has been around forever, but this is in fact only his second album. I found some of the tracks on Airplane Mode truly small pieces of art, where lyrics and tunes come together to create stories that stick, greatly helped by a voice that you won’t easily forget.

Emily Parker, John Mellencamp, Will Stratton, Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle soundtrack, Joep Beving, Pieta Brown, Alison Moyet, Martha Tilson, Hajk, Randy Neyman, John Moreland and Asgeir, they all leave us now. Goodbye…

 

 

 

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