Sorry for the delay, readers and listeners. I am not going to bore you with excuses, only to say that it has been a busy few months. Hopefully, 100 new tracks will serve as some kind of redemption from my side.
50 years ago, in 1972, Deep Purple haunted the charts all over Europe, so let’s start with looking back. Funnily, many artists in today’s list seem to do just that, look back – some even have been active back then, from Van Morrison to Mick Jagger, but when listening to the playlist I promise you will be introduced to new, exciting younger artists as well. The classic album this month is from one of my favourite artists of all times, Harry Nilsson.
Petter’s Short List contains all music reviewed in this blog post. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist changes every month.
Petter’s Long List contains all music previously reviewed from December 2021 and onwards. Click here to listen and/or subscribe. The playlist is extended every month.
You may also listen to the singles and sample tracks from each album reviewed by clicking on the title.
Tracks reviewed before December 2021 are available in Petter’s Blog Archive, found here.
Sample track: Smoke on the Water
Heavy Metal and Hard Rock were never really my thing, but I make exceptions, quite a few, actually. Machine Head from Deep Purple was never one of these. Still, who can not like Smoke on the Water, a song inspired by the fact that the studio they were supposed to work in burned to ground. They ended up in Grand Hotel in Montreux, one of the few albums recorded at that time outside of a proper studio. I consider Ian Gillian one of the greatest voices of all time, the first Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar. He excels on Machine Head.
Most reviewers and rock music lovers would not share my sentiments about the album, nor did record buyers. If you haven’t listened to the album, please do and judge for yourself.
Sample Track: Rough Landing
Klaus Waldeck is an interesting Austrian jazz and swing composer and artist, with music sounding like it came out of Las Vegas and nightclubs in Hollywood and not Vienna. He has released a number of EPs over the last two decades, and has now made a foot thumping collection of released and never-before-released tracks.
Sample Track: Now She Sleeps Beside Me
You have been exposed to singles from this extraordinary album in previous blog posts, but here are six other tracks from a rare double album by one of today’s most talented songwriters, in my view. It is romantic, intelligent and incredibly beautiful, songs of love and longing, inspired by classic pop of yesteryear, produced with a sophistication and crispness of sound that I find – yes, extraordinary.
Sample Track: Hjertestorm
You may know her as Tina Dico, but the Danish singer/songwriter used her real name when releasing her first native language album. No doubt we are dealing with a accomplished composer and singer; even those of you who wouldn’t get the lyrics may appreciate the soothing voice and the slick production.
Sample Track: Der hvor vi ikke kunne gå
Another non-English release, but less worry: this is an instrumental album, performed in a small wooden church just outside of Oslo by the jazz trio Maridalen. This contemplative and evocative music should resonate with everyone who enjoys melodic and timeless jazz.
Sample Track: Olvidado
Timelessness is a key word for Father John Misty’s surpising new album as well. Like Sondre Lerche, he has returned to the romanticism of film music and sophisticated, lush pop. Still, I get the feeling the good Father doesn’t fully embrace the music he is perforing; there is a certain irony both in the lyrics and the songwriting. That doesn’t devalue the album on litte bit.
Sample Track: You’re So Fucking Pretty
You may kow The Regrettes as a rock band, even punk rock band, but they too have started to look back for inspiration. Further Joy is a pop album, tough and perky, with lots of great summery tracks. I really prefer this version of the band.
Sample Track: Waste Her Time
There’s a wave of artists in this blog post inspired by music from the classic pop era (well, I guess in my blog in general), and young Christian Alexander is definetely among them. His hit song Waste Her Time ostensibly came about after Christian had listened to an interview with Paul McCartney. The influence of McCartney is hard to conceal, if he ever tried, throughout this album.
Sample Track: Moving On
The artist Noble is drawn like a cartoon character on the Silence album cover, and perhaps she is? It is hard to find out much about this slick and sweet pop album, except that Eddie van der Meer is a Dutch guitarist and producer who has produced and recorded the album. There are countless female vocalists that sounds like Noble, but there is something there in both the performance and the songwriting that makes Silence quite an enjoyable album, standing out from the pack.
Sample Track: First To Love
Maia Friedman, who for a while was Coco’s vocalist, has released her first solo album. There’s a warmth and richness streaming from these songs, gliding, immensely beautiful vocals, almost cinematic soundscape.
Sample Track: Vatten
Iranian-Swedish Laleh is out with her ninth album, Vatten (Water). I have been a great fan of Laleh, she is an artist with a life-affirming attitude and purpose, and with a voice that wakes you up, so beautiful and emotive – and so insisting you just can’t ignore it. This album has water as theme, from tears to oceans.
Sample Track: Longing For You
I wrote about Noble (above) that countless vocalists sing like her. This is certainly not the case with 18-year old Vilde Bye from Tromsø, Norway. There might be a likeness to Billie Holiday, but that might be pushing it a bit. Not that it matters, Vilde Bye is her own, and the debut album of country rock is accomplished and well worth listening to. No doubt this is just the start of a musical career.
Sample Track: Wet Dream
One reviewer described the duo Wet Leg’s self-titled album «nothing but pure fun». Well, it is hard to disagree on the fun bit; it is truly envigorating to listen to this chirpy, irreverent album, dripping with sarcasm and fuck you-mentality. But it is also a look into a youth culture in which the irreverence might be a way to survive in a crumbling world. Or maybe it is just pure fun.
Sample Track: Somebody Like Me
Not enough country music in your life? Welcome in, Thomas Rhett, America’s most popular country singer right now. His new album, Where We Started, demonstrates to an extent country music’s position now, with both pop and rock elements sneaking into traditional country. That makes country more palatable for me, but I appreciate not for everyone. Still, there is much to enjoy on this album, whether you are an afficionado or, like me, liking a bit of this and a bit of that. That’s Thomas Rhett for you.
Lots of evergreen artists refuse to lie down and continue to release new (or not so new music), some of it no more than interesting, but a lot of it enriching what’s on offer. So have listen to the 2022 version of Alanis Morissette, Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra (remixed), Van Morrison and Michael Bublé. As for new artists, like Nouel and Elephant, I hope the single release is the start of a long career.
Be Still My Heart – Club des Belugas & Lene Reibau
Goodbye (She Quietly Says) – Frank Sinatra
It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown – Ben Folds
I’ve Been Lonely Too Long – Chris Price & The Explorers Club
A Nightingale Sang in Berkely Square – Michael Bublé
No Woman is an Island – Rae Morris
Up the Mountain – Regina Spektor
You Oughta Know – Alanis Morissette, Duomo & Kroma Strings
Sample Track: Take 54
Harry Nilsson had this bad joke, he called himself Nilsson Schmilsson, even released an album under that name (an absolutely brilliant one at that, with Without You on it). The year after, in 1972, the album Son of Schmilsson was released (I would argue equally brilliant), and later an album of versions of songs from the American songbook was called A little Schmilsson In the Night. His version of bad dad jokes I guess.
Beatles names Nilsson their favorite artist, it was something that they seemed to agree on. And John Lennon and Harry Nilsson did an album together, Pussycats, supposedly recorded during a drinking spree. So, yes, he was something, Nilsson, quite a character. But people tend to forget what an accomplished vocalist he was, even after drink and smoke ruined the voice. And what a brilliant songwriter he was. And he added a lot of fun to pop and rock music, which Son of Schmillson proves. So perhaps there is a line from Nilsson to Wet Leg: Don’t take this world too seriously? Perhaps my blog post has a theme?? That would be something.
Finally… a little bonus: Paul McCartney played a three-hour concert at this year’s Glastonbury Festival, hailed as one of the great concerts in pop music history. Judging from the set list I can only image how magical it must have been to be among the 100 000 there… So if you want to listen to the 36 songs he performed, here is a playlist of all original recordings. Not the same as being there, but as close as you get…