Between Rock and a Soft Place

Yes, I know it is a bit dodgy play on words. Sorry, couldn’t resist, since rock’n’roll seems to be back , trying to find its place in between a lot of musical softness and sweetness. So there might be a point there, however dodgy.

Just think: last month the Italian rockers Måneskin won Eurovision Song Contest with a pure rock’n’roll number, followed by two French ballads and a saucy popsoul tune. Close behind came world music, whisperpop and indiepop. It is tough for any music lover to take ESC voting as proof of the music world today, but maybe the Rotterdam extravaganza did say something about the musical taste – at least in Europe – today. I hope some of that diversity is reflected in my blog playlist this month (where you will fin Måneskin’s new album as well, of course).

HOW TO LISTEN:

Petter’s Short List contains excerpts of the albums and singles reviewed in the current blog entry. Click here.

But you can also listen to Petter’s Long List, which contains all music reviewed this far in 2020 and 2021….. Click here.

And – by clicking on the album covers in the blog, you will be taken directly to that particular album in full. AND – by clicking on the title of the single, you will go directly to it.

Bridge Over Troubled Dreams
Delta Goodrem

It’s not the perfect time to be called Delta, but aside from that Delta Goodrem should have little to worry about, at least professionally. Her new album Bridge Over Troubled Dreams went straight to number one in Australia, like most of her previous albums did. She is one of Australia’s most cherished pop artists, and deservedly so. This is pop at its best.

Build a Problem
Dodie

Dorothy Miranda Clark, aka dodie, hasn’t much to to complain about either, , being a YouTube winner for years with her introvert, bittersweet uploads. This is her first studio album, but in the same style as her posted songs, so quiet and, as Evening Standard writes: «her voice small and soft, and so understated that one title is simply a full stop», It is a bit too much (or too little) for me in larger doses, but I have picked some good bits for you, hope you can stomach it.

Daddy’s Home
St. Vincent

St. Vincent takes us back to the 70s and 80s, to a lush New Yorkish landscape. There seems to be a deeper meaning to the pop tunes of St. Vincent compared to Delta Goodrem’s, although they move around in the same territory. As a consequence it may take a bit longer to grasp and to enjoy. Still, the best tracks are wonderful, and of course all of these are in the playlist.

Delta Kreem
The Black Keys

Delta seems to be the word of the month, not only in the news, but in June’s playlist. The Black Keys went into Easy Eye Sound Studio in Nashville, and came out 10 hours later with this album, a love poem to the Mississippi blues tradition that they grew up with. It is such a great homage to a time and a music style that seemed to be lost in today’s music charts. This is the perfect way to bring it back. Kudos to The Black Keys for daring to deviate from the beaten path and do just that.

Fat Pop
Paul Weller

Paul Weller of The Jam fame has not stayed silent since the band broke up, and he hasn’t lost his songwriting and performing touch either. This is his 16th solo album, packed with great songs, maybe not that memorable as some of his previous hits, but still perfect for Summer.

First Farewell
Peggy Seeger

If I had Peggy Seeger’s buoyancy and optimism, I would live to be a hundred, I am sure. Seeger is well on her way, turning 86 last week, and actually singing about being hundred on this absolute delight of an album. Poignant, original and funny in a perfect mix, an album that make you think of old age a bit differently I would hope.

Got Me
Laura Mvula

Only two tracks, so basically a single, but Laura Mvula’s latest release is so good I had to add it to the album section to get your attention. Her new album is just around the corner, so watch this space. Got Me is as if Michael Jackson rose from the dead, such an rousing (an arousing) track, with a beat to die for, perhaps the best single of the year. Laura Mvula’s voice has never been better.

Hello Blue Monday
Jeremy Fisher

Canadian Jeremy Fisher isn’t among the most prolific artists; this is his fourth album in 17 years, and it isn’t really new, «just» a remix of his previous album (named Goodbye Blue Monday) from 2007. It is a bouncy, playful popfolk album, perfect for this time of opening up, some songs reminiscant of Simon & Garfunkel, most others impossible to pin down. This man is all over the place musically, and I love to chase after him.

Hidden Stories
Hooverphonic

Hooverphonic represented Belgium in this (and last cancelled) year of Eurovision, with a song that stood out like a sore thumb, dark and retro (I have added an alternative mix to the singles section – see below), but their latest album shows of their brilliant knack for rock and pop. Geike is back as their lead vocalist to universal, at least Belgian, acclaim, but it was the substitute vocalist Luka Cruisberghs and «Release Me» that caught my attention in the first place last year, and I still think it’s their best song yet (I have added it to singles section, too, although you heard it last year).

Sensational
Erika de Casier

Portugese born Danish singer Erika de Casier is out with her second album. Like The Black Keys and Laura Mvula, it was the rhythm of the music that caught my attention, in a completely different way than with the two other acts, because de Casier’s music is sultry and very, very sensual, drawing you into an intriguing soundscape rather than into very good songs. (They’re not bad, though, but I think you catch my meaning when you listen) There is constant movement here, smooth and silky, from beginning to end.

Teatro d’ira – Vol. 1
Måneskin

There is nothing silky about Eurovision winner Måneskin’s latest albu Teatro d’ira – Vol. 1, this is pure and simple rock’n’roll, performed with zest and belief, as if rock’n’roll was a novel invention. There is something particularly appealing about lyrics in Italian (mostly), perhaps rock should have appeared first in Rome and not in the U.S. But then it couldn’t have.

Today We’re The Greatest
Middle Kids

Australia has always fostered great pop bands and artists, Middle Kids is no exception. The Sidney band is out with their third album and climbled the charts immediately with Today We’re The Greatest. This is grand pop music in the tradition of Queen, although clearly mellower and with a distinct female touch from lead vocalist Hannah Joy.

Vulture Prince
Arooj Aftab

Arooj Aftab lives in New York and has brought with her the influence of her native Pakistan. To me her music is the perfect meeting point between the East and the West, so truly original and stunningly beautiful and calming you can literally feel your pulse slow as you listen. Aftab introduces scales including notes you didn’t know existed, but without alienating my Western ear, just enhancing my musical experience.

What Else Can Break
Mira Lu Kovacs

We don’t often hear pop music from Austria, but judging from this album by Austrian Mira Lu Kovacs, perhaps we ought to. This is such a diverse album, bordering on being all over the place like Jeremy Fisher above, but Kovacs brings it all together and make a whole of it. Great jazz, pop, rock, folk influences, definitely worth listening to.

Lot’s of exciting stuff in the singles section as well this month, piano pop to new versions of old standards to film soundtracks.

Bad Tatoo – Lola Young

Brotin – Eydis Evensen

Coltrane – Hailey Tuck

Don’t Be Afraid – Nico & Vinz

Du vil ikke gå fra meg – Ylva

Give Me Good News – Rolli & The Poor Boys

Lost Birds – Chip Tailor

Lost Cause – Billie Eilish

Lovely Day – Stacey Kent

Melancolia – Jacob Gurevitsch & Buika

Numb – Tom Odell

Our House – The Head And The Heart

Paint the Town – Salvador Sobral

Perfect Day – Karen O & Danger Mouse

Release Me – Hooverphonic

Until The Night Falls – Hadda Mae

Vertu úlfur – titillag – Emiliana Torrini

What A Life – Scarlet Pleasure

The Wrong Place – Hairglow French Crop Mix – Hooverphonic

Chet Baker Sings
Chet Baker

This was the trumpeter and vocalist Chet Baker’s debut studio album. If you every needed an explanation as to why he was called The prince of cool, listen no further. Drugs and alcohol ruined much of his life and probably cut it short, but he did enjoy great career success both in his youth, when this album was recorded, and later in the 70s and 80s, when he was rediscovered by contempary musicians. To me he had the smoothest voice there ever was, it could permeate anything, snuggle up to you and warm your heart and soul – and when he stopped singing and picked up his trumpet instead, the smoothness just changed gear. To me he was one of the greatest, an idol if there ever was one. And this album is where it started.

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