Petter’s Christmas Special

Sick and tired of the same Christmas music year after year? Today I can offer you some relief, with a special list of (almost) new Christmas releases!

I have to qualify the statement somewhat, though, because even though the songs are new, the ingredients are more or less the same as they’ve been since the dawn of time – or since Bing Crosby recorded White Christmas, whatever came first (nobody knows for sure).  Santa Claus and his family, Baby Jesus and his family, Coming home to family (or not), are in various degrees present in all 37 songs.

The songs span many genres, from folk to rock to country to bigband to classic, but sprinkled on top are the always recognizable elements like snow bells and peace and love. Now, I don’t mean to be callous or cruel, because I am a softee at heart, and in December my tolerance for the adopted values of Christmas is (almost) boundless. If yours are too, I can promise you’ll love most of the special playlist.

In addition, I must also add, that some songs are not new, some are more reworked or dusted off than new, like John Legend and Kelly Clarkson’s new version of Baby It’s Cold Outside, with new #metoo-adjusted lyrics, Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s rock version of Dreams of Fireflies, borrowed from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons –  and Ana Gasteyer’s Children Go Where I Send Thee, an old African-American Spiritual.

And – HERE is my Christmas Special on Spotify. Enjoy!

John Legend – A Legendary Christmas

Bring Me Love

By Christmas Eve

Waiting for Christmas

Baby It’s Cold Outside (with Kelly Clarkson)

Ana Gasteyer – sugar & booze

Sugar and Booze

The Man With the Bag

He’s Stuck in the Chimney Again

Children Go Where I Send Thee

Boys of Christmas – Nå e de julatid

Gaver du ikkje vil ha

Ne-Yo – Another Kind of Christmas

Carol of the Bells (with Candice Boyd)

Talk About It

I Want To Come Home for Christmas

It’s For Everybody

Someyday at Christmas (with ReVaughn)

 

Hiss Golden Messenger – Christmas in Prison

Christmas in Prison

Idina Menzel – Christmas: A Season of Love

A Hand for Mrs. Claus (with Ariana Grande)

Keb’ Mo’ – Moonlight, Mistletoe & You

Moonight, Mistletoe & You (with Gerald Albright)

When the Children Sing

One More Year With You

Los Lobos – Liegó Navidad

Christmas and You

Mac McCaughan – Down We Go

Down We Go (Sledding Song)

Magne Furuholmen – White Xmas Lies

There Goes Another Year

Molly Burch – The Molly Burch Christmas Album

Hard Candy Christmas

Pentatonix – The Best of Pentatonix Christmas

Mary, Did You Know?

White Winter Hymnal

Grown-Up Christmas List (with Kelly Clarkson)

Robbie Williams – The Christmas Present

Coco’s Christmas Lullaby

Let’s Not Go Shopping

Best Christmas Ever

Fairytales (with Rod Stewart)

Home

Silya & The Bad Santas – Happy Holidaze

Kissin’ by the Mistletoe

Secret of Christmas

Sissel – Reflections III Christmas

In the Night of New Year’s Eve

Trans-Siberian Orchestra – Dreams of Fireflies

Dreams of Fireflies (On A Christmas Night)

Time You Should Be Sleeping

William Tyler – Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ

 

— Happy Holidays ,Everyone —

 

 

 

 

 

Three Queens and a King (and a couple of Aces)

This is the last regular blog entry this year (the usual round-up of the year is planned for Christmas), and I bring you the return of previous masters of pop, who all have in common that they’ve still got it. But as usual I bring you artists you probably haven’t had the chance to listen to before, hopefully some of them will please you and help warm up the coldest time of year (unless you live on the southern hemisphere, of course).

Here is a link to the revised playlist. And here is a link to the newcomers only.

Chrissie Hynde – Wake Up Again – Jazz/Pop/American Songbook

Chrissie Hynde
Photo: Jill Furmanovky

The Pretenders diva is out with her take on the classics. «Interesting» at times, but mostly very, very refreshing.

 

 

 

Taylor Swift – Lover – Pop/Country

Taylor Swift
Photo: Danny Moloshok

A whole – and very long – album containing songs about love, but not all of them love songs. Swift is at her best when she avoids the standard pop song. She is huge enough star to play around, making Lover a true and enjoyable album.

 

Sheryl Crow – Threads – Pop

Sheryl Crow
Photo: Dove Shore

Sheryl Crow has speculated that Threads may be her last album. Hopefully not, this is truly a great collection of new songs and classics woven perfectly together, including a number of duets with people like Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris and Chuck D.

 

 

Liam Gallagher – Why Me? Why not.  – Rock

Liam Gallagher

I was a huge fan of Oasis when younger, and since Liam Gallagher doesn’t even pretend to move an iota away from the Oasis formula,  Why me? Why not. is a nostalgic and foot stomping album, with a perfect mixture of rock and power ballads. Maybe a bit painful for the most delicate of ears among my readers, but give it a chance and let go. Why not.

 

Caravan Palace  – Chronologic – Jazz/Pop/Funk

Caravan Palace
Photo: Antoine Delaporte

There is nothing chronologic about this wonderful album from French group Caravan Palace, this is truly all over the place, jumping from bossa nova to funk to jazz to whatever they want to do. I love every mood they create.

 

Puerto Candelaria – Cinema Trópico – Latino

Puerto Candelaria

More party and carnival from the guys from Colombia. Cinema Tropico is a playful and I would argue life enhancing album, celebratory from start to finish, and no doubt made by true Latin Americans.

 

Fieh – Cold Water Burning Skin – Jazz

Fieh

More exuberant music, this time from vocalist Sofie Tollefsbøl and Norwegian jazz band Fieh, who veers away from jazz and into funk and pop whenever it suits them, turning this album into a buffet of genres. Very playful and well executed.

No 4. – Duell – Jazz / Pop

No 4

Girl trio No 4. (so called because it was their fourth band name), sing in their native tongue, about love and loss and learning how to live one’s life and deal with embarrasment. Both the music and lyrics are heart-warming, sweet but sophisticated, with lots of self-irony. The harmonies are flawless.

Club des Belugas – Strange Things Beyond the Sunny Side – Big band/Jazz/Pop

Club des Belugas

Another genre- expanding band, Club des Belugas, has been a frequent visitor in my blog lists. Although their repertoire is sometimes way too wide, with lots of forgettable tracks, when Club des Belugas is at their very best, they are unbeatable. Rhythms galore, great vocalists, humour and fun.

Iamthemorning – The Bell – Pop

Iamthemorning

The true opposite is Russian singer/pianist duo Iamthemorning, lovely, slow, sad and serious. Sometimes too lovely, slow, sad and serious, but more often impressive and dramatic and going straight to my heart with its beauty.

Seeker Lover Keeper – Wild Seeds – Pop

Seeker Lover Keeper

Behind the band name hide three eminent Austrialian artists, including one of my favourite singers, Sarah Blasko. This is clearly a side project, but there is nothing second-hand about the songwriting and the performance. These are great pop songs, and an album they can be proud of.

 

 

Those Pretty Wrongs – Zed for Zulu – Pop/Folk

Those Pretty Wrongs

Another side project, this time from Luther Russel (who is already in my blog list with his solo album) and Jody Stephens, two guys inspired by Beatles and Beach Boys and other 60s bands. And it shows. A package of great pop songs, sometimes with a folksy touch.

Belle & Sebastian – Days of the Bagnold Summer- Pop

Belle & Sebastian

Songsmiths Belle & Sebastian seem to release a couple of albums a year, now with an enormous catalogue of well crafted pop songs. But this time they have a good excuse for a release: Days of Bagnold Summer is a new movie and this is its soundtrack.

 

 

dePresno – Monochrome – Contemporary Pop

dePresno

Norwegian crooner dePresno debuts with this album of modern pop songs, all with very personal lyrics. The soundcape is contemporary and well produced.

Eleni Mandell – Wake Up Again – Pop/Country

Eleni Mandell

I’ll end the year with another of my favourite voices, Eleni Mandell, an artist who has released album upon album over the last two decades with flawless and interesting country/pop songs, gaining her a lot of respect, but no mass stardom. Somehow, I think she doesn’t really care, because there is no desperation in her songs, no flirtation with formula music, just genuine, true pop music. And that is what this blog is all about.

 

 

Goodbye for now to Ally Kerr, Sigrid, zalagasper, Tiny Ruins, Over the Rhine, William Tyler, Mamood, Lake Malawi, Joe Jackson, Hekla Stålstrenga, Ximena Sarimana, Lily & Madeleine, Julius Meyvant and Rikke Normann.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply Beautiful. And Beatifully Simple.

12 new albums on their way to you, from very different artists representing a great range of genres and of voices. But most of the artists have in common that they don’t complicate things when writing and performing music. Simplicity is the key.

All the new music is here..

And the complete list is here..

Faye Webster – Atlanta Millionaires Club – Pop

Faye Webster
Photo: Eat Humans

Faye Webster flirted initially with hip hop, but moved on to a mixture of many genres, but all of it may be labelled pop, I guess. Her songs are personal and a bit sad-sounding, fragile and sweet, reminding me a bit of Kacey Musgraves.  I simply like listening to it, so her she is in my blog list.

 

Bedouine – Bird Songs of a Killjoy  – Pop

Bedouine

There isn’t much of Syria and Middle Eastern rhythms and sounds in Bedoine’s music, but she is truly born in Aleppo. She has adopted Western music wholeheartedly,  labelling herself as “seventies country-funk with a glimmer of bossa nova cool. “ Well, I don’t know about the funk, because these are sweet, personal songs that appeals to the heart more than to your sense of rhythm.

 

Vampire Weekend – Father of the Bride – Pop

Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weeklend
Photo:Ross Gilmore/WireImage

I have to admit that I have shunned Vampire Weekend for years, expecting it to be music for other people’s ears. But after having listened extensively  to Father of the Bride I have come to realize that Vampire Weekend is by all means for my ears – and I hope for yours as well, because this is happy, creative, clever, playful music, and I am beyond excited, I am a new fan. I could have added all songs from the album, as I haven’t found a single track I didn’t like. But how unfair would that be to the other brilliant artists in the list? Very.

Richard Hawley – Further – Pop

Richard Hawley

I have been a huge fan of Hawley for years, and some of his previous albums are among my all-time favourites. His new album, Further, brings little new to the table, perhaps a bit more up-beat than before, but his songwriting craft is still at its peak. And his voice, reminding me of Roy Orbinson more than anyone else’s, is still in as good shape as before.  The blueprint is the same, yes, but that’s all I crave.

 

Tyler Ramsey – For the Morning – Pop/Americana

Tyler Ramsey

Tyler Ramsey lives out in the country in North Carolina, and his music definitely sounds like it, airy and pure, rural without being too much country. He sings really well, reminding me a bit of Father John Misty, but I wish the producers had dared to cut down a bit on the constant harmonies they add to his voice. It creates  too much of a distance to the listener.

 

Luther Russell – Medium Cool – Rock/Pop

Luther Russell

Luther Russell wanted to make an album that reflected his growing up in San Fernando Valley, a celebration of rock’n’roll and the good life. Which may explain why this album sounds so happy and fresh and young, even though the music goes back to the roots of rock and pop.  His voice is both powerful and fragile, as are his songs. A good-mood album if there ever was one.

 

Luisa Sobral – Rosa – Jazz/Folk

Luisa Sobral

Portuguese Salvador Sobral is already well placed in my list with his latest album. We all remember his sister Luisa from the ESC final, singing the winning song with him, a song that she wrote. On Rosa she shows off her rare songwriting skills once again, minute and mostly songs with very little orchestration, just her sweet, vulnerable voice telling stories I wish I understood.

 

Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox – Sepia is the New Orange – Jazz

Scott Bradlee Postmodern Jukebox

Scott Bradlee had this idea of turning contemporary songs into songs of yesteryear. He has turned his idea into a thriving business, and the performances in places like Nevada are constantly sold-out, attracting an audience of all ages. It is hard to recreate the atmosphere of the shows to the recording studio, but look it up on YouTube if you feel the tracks I have added  make you curious about how it all looks on stage.

 

Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul  – Summer of Sorcery – Rock/Blues

Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul

I have had the pleasure of getting acquainted with Little Steven when he was doing the TV series Lilyhammer. He is a great comedic actor, but his main talents are as musician. As part of the E Street band he has always been stuck a bit in the background, but with Disciples of Sould and on Summer of Sorcery he shines both as a singer, guitarist and not the least as songwriter. This album should have been in my list during the summer, because it has a tremendous summer feel to it. But maybe this is a way of making the summer last a bit longer. Don’t pack your swimsuits away just yet.

Alan Parsons – The Secret – Pop

Alan Parsons
Photo: Jonas Mohr

As a young man I bought and listened to the Alan Parsons Project albums and was intrigued by this man who wrote all the music, but always left it to other musicians to perform.  It was the origin of the concept album, to a large extent. Every album had a theme and a story, more important than the performers.  Now Alan Parson has reached a mature age and decided to realease an album with himself as the main artist. I don’t honestly know how wise a move that was, because The Secret is a bit pompous and frankly with some mediocre songs. But not all – I have picked some of the songs that has the quality of the 70s albums that I enjoyed so much.

Billie Eilish – WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO? – Electropop

Billie Eilish

Billie Eilish is more of a phenomenon than an artist, created online with incredible speed, and she is now one of the best-selling artists in the world, while being more or less unknown a short while ago. Reviewers have described the music as genre-defying, and I can’t argue with that, because this 18-year old is instantly recognizable as herself and no-one else. The simple, but powerful electropop arrangements are part of the allure.

 

Randi Tytingvåg Trio – The Light You Need Exists – Folk/Country

Randi Tytingvårg Trio
Photo: Johannes Worsøe Berg

Randi Tytingvåg is a brilliant jazz singer from my hometown of Stavanger. She has recently joined forces with Dag Vagle and Erlend Aasland and formed a trio that has created a new and interesting sound, merging folk, country and roots with a bit of jazz on the side. They have avoided pouring a lot of orchestration on top of their songs, keeping them pure, acoustic and clean. The result is simply beautiful and beautifully simple.

While adding these dozen artists, I am removing 15 others who have served you well since April: Raymond Baxter, Jamie Cullum, Deuwe Bob, JarleS kavhellen, Benjamin Bolay, Roseanne Cash, Ian Shaw, Elvis Costelloo, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Zaz, Chiarra Civello, Eddi Reader, Don McLean, NES and Albin Lee Meldau.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19 Refreshing New Albums

It’s time to renew the playlist, this time with as many as 19 new albums, ranging from the sweetest pop to the saddest blues. I believe that you, as a regular listener to my blog list, enjoy variety as much as I do, and are equally bored by the same crappy copycat music from (mostly) Swedish music producers – or radio stations playing the same 80s music again and again and again, especially when there is so much interesting music being created out there that is rarely played.

Here is the complete, official blog list

Here are tracks from this blog entry only….

So here goes:

The Cactus Blossoms – Easy Way – Americana

A duo from Minnesota, sounding like the Everly Brothers seasoned with more than a pinch of Americana. Easy Way is their second album.

The Cactus Blossoms

zalagasper – Stiri – R&B

You have already been introduced to the two lovebirds from Slovenia, they competed in this year’s ESC final, where they clearly didn’t belong, with their lounge-like R&B. Their EP, Stiri, shows off more of their truly laid-back music.

zalagasper

Spöket i köket – Chateau de Garage – Folk

The ghost in the kitchen (yes, that’s what it means) is 10-man band with members from Sweden, Denmark and Belgium, playing – and playing with – European folk music, with guts and humour. So much fun!

Spöket i köket

Julia Biel – Julia Biel – Pop/Jazz

Another great Billie Holiday-inspired singer, merging pop and jazz effortlessly. If you have enjoyed Hailey Tuck and Madeleine Peyroux, you are bound to like Biel.

Julia Biel

ISÁK – Ealan – Folk/Rock

The Sámi-Norwegian band ISÁK fuses traditional joik with rock and pop. The vocalist Ella Marie, who became a household name in Norway last year when winning the country’s most popular music contest, Stjernekamp, has a rare, powerful voice, permeating all tracks on their mighty first album.

ISÁK

Fly Sonata – Fly Sonata – R&B/Soul

Another fusion band is debuting Fly Sonata from the south of England, labelling themselves as future soul outfit, and there is definitely a lot of soul in there, but also so many other music influences. The result is fluid, lovely and a great listening experience.

Fly Sonata

Finn Andrews – One Piece at a Time – Pop

One Piece at a Time is the first solo album from English Finn Andrews, formerly lead singer of The Veils. This is song writing at its very best, soul-gripping melodies elevated by Andrews’ vulnerable, but controlled voice. Outstanding.

Finn Andrews
Photo: Matt Holyoak

Rymden – Reflections & Odysseys – Jazz

Nordic jazz, much of it a bit challenging for the average music listener, but some of the tracks are eerily beautiful, primarily because of pianist Bugge Wesseltoft’s sensitive contribution.

Rymden

Tedeschi Trucks Band – Signs – Blues

Great contemporary blues band from Florida, led by Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, deviating refreshingly from the traditional three-chord blues, and still creating believable blues.

Tedeschi Trucks Band Photo: Shervin Lainez

Salvador Sobral – Paris, Lisboa – Jazz/Pop

Sobral won ESC last year, we were many that couldn’t believe his low-key jazzy music could receive such a merit. But Salvardor Sobral does his own thing and doesn’t care for commercial success. Some of the songs on his first album since the win is a bit quirky and introvert, but I can’t stop enjoying every minute of his music and respect his giving the music industry the finger.

Salvador Sobral Photo: AFP

Robert Ellis – Texas Piano Man – Country/Rock

Another continuous favourite of mine is Robert Ellis. I saw him perform live a few years ago, and got even more fond of his deeply personal, evocative, country music then. His new album is filled with his witty but also painful fabulations about contemporary life, mostly his own.

Robert Ellis Photo: Paul Penton

Gilbert O’Sullivan – Gilbert O’Sullivan – Pop

Some of the best pop music made in the 70s came out of Gilbert O’Sullivan’s head, but after the three absolutely brilliant first albums, O’Sullivan’s fame started to wane. Like McCartney, he has lost some of his knack of the great melodies, but he has continued to record and perform, and his latest album presents an artist that wants to stay where he is – and was. Most of the time that works fine.

Gilbert O’Sullivan

AURORA – A Different Kind of Human Part 2 – Pop

One of the most talented singer-songwriters right now is AURORA. Her third album is out, and it might be her best yet. She has created a music style of haunting drums, broad harmonies and energetic refrains that stick in your mind.

Aurora Photo: Bent René Synnevåg

Maria Due – The Colour White – Pop/Folk

AURORA is not alone among Norwegian female singer-songwriters, the “Singing Psycologist” as the press has labelled her, Maria Due, has released her third studio album, The Colour White. The title track is among the best recently produced songs in my view, self-confidently written and performed by Due


Maria Due Photo: Private

Dido – Still on my Mind – Pop

Another female artist who won’t lie down is Dido, a pop sensation in the late 1990s. Now she’s is back with one of her best releases yet, even though (or maybe because) she hasn’t changed her formula very much. Her voice is still her greatest asset and very much at the forefront of every track, and the lyrics are emotional and personal.

Dido

Glen Hansard – This Wild Willing – Pop

Glen Hansard’s voice has been described as “whispery growl”, an acquired taste, perfect if you’re into Tom Waits and Nick Cave. I am into them, but only partially, and the same goes for Hansard. Still, when he’s good he is more than great, and some of the best tracks on This Wild Willing, are just that.

Glen Hansard

The Leisure Society – Arrivals & Departures – Pop

I didn’t expect a relationship break-up album from the boys in The Leisure Society, but that’s what we got with Arrivals & Departures. And with a lot of the humour of previous albums departed, replaced by more poignant and bitter lyrics. Still, this is an album worth listening to, their pop tunes are as good as before, and even though the playfulness in the lyrics are subdued, the melodies are genuinely The Leisure Society.

The Leisure Society

Sara Bareilles – Amidst the Chaos – Pop

The Waitress musical, written by Sarah Bareilles, became a great Broadway success, but it is a pop artist and singer-songwriter we first got to know her. Amidst the Chaos takes her back to these roots, and her very clever and imaginative songwriting is brilliantly performed, a bit soulless and polished, perhaps, but Bareilles knows her craft and never ceases to surprise.

Sara Bareilles

Jenny Lewis – On the Line – Pop/Rock

I was sad to see the wonderful band Rilo Kiley break up a few years back. There was a plus, though, the break-up became the start of the vocalist Jenny Lewis’ solo career. On the Line is her third album, and a very mature one it is, both in the material itself and in the arrangements. A long list of infamous contributors have added to the result, not that she couldn’t have managed without Ringo Starr, Back  and Ryan Adams and their likes. Jenny Lewis has been through a lot, read all about it in her lyrics, but she is defiant and there is definitely light than darkness on this album

Jenny Lewis

*

Out the playlist window go: Paul Weller,  Death Cab for Cutie, Boz Scaggs, noonday underground, Willie Nelson, Delgres, Mariza, Falkevik, Alexandra Streliski, AURORA’s second album, Robyn, Honey Hahs, The Jayhawks, A Star is Born soundtrack and Madeleine Peyroux.

Needles in Haystacks

I am sorry. No elaborate blog entry this time either. It has been a very busy year, so far, so rather than no posting at all, here is a shortcut to great new music, without too much fuss. I have dug out as many needles in the haystacks as I could find,  hope you enjoy them. I have also practised the annual ritual of listening to the ESC finalists, and found a tiny stack of needles there. 

Here is a link to the newcomers, and here is a link to the new, improved blog playlist. Enjoy!

Rikke Normann – 35 – Pop/Soul

Rikke Normann

 

 

 

 

 

Június Meyvant – Across the Borders – Pop

Junius Meyvant
Photo: Morgen Schuler

 

 

 

 

Lily & Madeleine – Canterbury Girls – Pop

Lily & Madeleine

 

 

 

Ximena Sarinana . Donde Bailarán Las Ninas? – Pop/Latino

Ximena Sarinana

 

 

 

 

 

Hekla Stålstrenga – Elske og ære – Folk

Hekla Stålstrenga
Photo: Helge Brekke

 

 

 

 

 

Joe Jackson – Fool – Rock/Pop

Joe Jackson

 

 

 

 

 

 

William Tyler – Goes West – Folk/Instrumental

William Tyler

 

 

 

Over the Rhine – Love & Revelation – Pop

Over the Rhine

 

 

 

 

Tiny Ruins – Olympic Girls – Pop/Rock

Tiny Ruins

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sigrid – Sucker Punch – Pop/R&B/Dance

Sigrid
Foto: Petroleum Records

 

 

 

 

Ally Kerr -Upgrade Me – Pop

Ally Kerr

 

 

 

 

 

ESC 2019 – Zala Kralj & Gasper Santi , Leonora , Kate Miller Heidke , Lake Malawi , Mahmood  Duncan Laurence  – Pop

Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl

Leonora
Photo: Thomas Cato

 

 

 

 

Kate Miller Heidke

Lake Malawi

 

 

 

 

 

Mahmood

 

 

 

 

 

Duncan Laurence

 

 

 

 

 

 

Previously discovered needles now leaving the blog list are: Emilie Nicolas, Francoise Hardy, Joan Armatrading, Caroline Rose, Chas & Dave, Willie Nelson, Hailey Tuck, Johnny Cash Tribute, Paul Simon, Family of the Year, Father Misty, Vårin, Paul McCartney, Adam Douglas, Gruff Rhys, Roger Daltrey and Jennifer Warnes. I hope you’ll miss them.

Gourmet leftovers

A shorter blog entry this time; the music will have to speak for itself; but the newcomer list is longer than ever, so no complaints, please. I am promoting a new book in Norway, and it has been taking up a lot of my time the last month, which should explain the minute size of the blog entry. But I have also listened to a lot of fabulous music lately – which should explain the size of the newcomer list.
All albums were released at the end of last year, but we couldn’t start a new year without tagging these albums along, brilliant as they all are.

Here is a link to the newcomers, and here is a link to the new, improved blog playlist. Enjoy!

 

Albin Lee Meldau – About You –  Pop

 

 

 

NES – Ahlam – World

 

 

 

Don McLean – Botanical Gardens –  Pop

 

 

 

 

Eddi Reader – Cavalier –  Pop/Folk

 

 

 

Chiara Civello – Eclipse –  Pop

 

 

 

 

 

Zaz – Effet miroir  – Pop

Zaz

 

 

 

Jarle Skavhellen – The Ghost in Your Smile –  Pop/Folk

 

 

 

 

 

Beth Nielsen Chapman – Hearts of Glass – Pop

 

 

 

 

Elvis Costello – Look Now – Pop/Rock

 

 

 

 

Douwe Bob – The Shape I’m In –  Pop

Douwe Bob

 

 

 

 

 

Roseanne Cash – She Remembers Everything – Pop/Folk

 

 

 

Ian Shaw – Shine Sister Shine – Jazz/Pop

 

 

 

 

 

Jamie Cullum – The Song Society Playlist – Jazz/Pop

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Biolay – Songbook – French Crooner

 

 

 

 

 

Rayland Baxter – Wide Awake –  Pop/Rock

Rayland Baxter

 

 

 

 

Leaving the list: Hugh Coltman, Joan Baez, Andy Gunn, Savoy, First Aid Kit, The Wood Brothers, The Silver Seas. Lucy Dacus, Kacey Musgraves, Morten Abel, Moby, Graham Coxon, Sarah Blasko, Joan As A Policewoman, Chris Price, Brandi Carlisle, Frederico Albanese, Glen Hansard, ESC 2018, Van Morrison, Belle Adair, Sol Heilo, Amy Rigby, Julian Large, Marlon Williams, Manhattan Transfer, Turin Brakes, Belle & Sebastian, The Lost Brothers, Bahamas, Inara George, Alela Diane, Club des Belugas and Jimmy Livingstone. Goodbye.

Most Enjoyable Albums of 2018

Music’s primary function is enjoyment, how it makes you feel. I could, like most other reviewers, easily present you with a list of music that impresses, dazzles, challenges, but when it comes down to it, that kind of music may not necessarily be the same as the music that gives you pleasure, music that you want to listen to again and again, that draws you back and lights up your world for a little while.

So, no more best album list, here are the 10 albums that made me most happy in 2018, I have also added a few dry facts about each album. At the very bottom you will also find, in alphabetical order, 15 other highly enjoyable albums reviewed drurng 2018. And if that’s not enough, you can always go back to previous blog entries; I never review an album I don’t like…

For a playlist of all songs from the 10 albums, click here .

 

 

Paul McCartney: Egypt Station
Egypt Station is a great album and would have been even greater with some pruning before release. But Paul’s ability to create a great tune with some whimsical lyrics without a hint of subtext is still unsurpassed. It is 50 years since the release of Beatles’ White album, and to hear that this man is still churning out music like this, well, I am lost for words….!
  • His 17th solo album
  • First studio release since 2013
  • The title derives from a 1988 painting by McCartney
  • McCartney says about the album: «I liked the words ‘Egypt Station.’ It reminded me of the ‘album’ albums we used to make… ‘Egypt Station’ starts off at the station on the first song, and then each song is like a different station. So it gave us some idea to base all the songs around that. I think of it as a dream location that the music emanates from.»

 

Father John Misty: God’s Favorite Customer

Father John Misty is again out with a new album, and again he delivers. Readers of my blog know full well how much I have appreciated all his previous albums, and nothing much have changed in my appreciation – nor in the Father’s approach to music. He is as witty as before, every song is like a small symphony, melodic and at times even hummable. How does he keep this up? This is his fourth release in a short while, and as unique and outstanding as the other three.

  • The album has an alternative title: Mr Tilman’s Wild Ride
  • The album was supposedly mostly written on the toilet
  • On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, God’s Favorite Customer has an average score of 83 based on 27 reviews, indicating «universal acclaim»
  • Father John Misty is in my Top 10 list for the third year in a row, so yes, I am a fan. 

 

Kacey Musgraves: Golden Hour

I am so proud to have discovered this artist long before the majority of reviewers did. Her two previous albums are so full of fireworks and fun and heartbreak and truth that it is almost impossible to believe she didn’t score massively. With Golden Hour reviewers are going crazy, calling her the new Taylor Swift. And she deserves every bit of praise. The only fly in the ointment is that she will be swamped with composers and producers who will do their best to peel off the very layers that make her the superior artist she is. I hope she proves me wrong – and on Golden Hour there is only one horrible track (“High Horse” – which is already the most listened to track by Musgraves on Spotify – Sigh!), the rest is every bit as lovely as everything else she has released.

  • The album won Album of the Year at the 52nd Annual Country Music Association Awards
  • Musgraves said about the album: «I have a lot more love songs this time around, and I’ve never been one to write a love song and really feel it. That probably sounds like the most depressing thing ever. [But] I’m coming off getting married and being in this golden hour of my personal life, where all these things are finally coming to fruition. I found myself inspired to write about this person and all these things he brought out in me that weren’t there before.» 
  • Musgraves’ sister Kelly Christine Sutton took the cover photo for Golden Hour

      

The Lost Brothers: Halfway Towards a Healing

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.

  • The brothers are not brothers at all: it is an Irish musical duo consisting of Mark McCausland and Oisin Leech
  • In 2018, they recorded Halfway Towards a Healing in Tucson Arizona with producers Howe Gelb and Gabriel Sullivan.
  • The album was released to wide critical acclaim from leading music publications, including Mojo, Uncut, Record Collector,and Q Magazine

Alela Diane: Cusp

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.
  • Alela Diane Menig (born April 20, 1983), known as Alela Diane, is an American singer-songwriter from Nevada City in California. 
  • This is her 7th studio album
  • In February 2017, she gave birth to a second daughter named Oona. The birth supposedly inspired the album.
  • Diane said about the album: “This music is about motherhood,”  Even just by saying that, it feels like people will write you off. It’s like you’ve suddenly lost the charm of being youthful and even attainable––you’ve been commoditized as available. There is not a big place in the music industry for 30-something women with kids making music.”  Well, I would argue there is.

 

Caroline Rose: LONER

LONER is Caroline Rose’s third album, and I have really fallen in love with it. Caroline Rose gives the world the finger with her playful songs, modern and chic, whimsical and with a rare creativity in the use of instruments. There is a bit of Cindi Lauper in Rose, irreverent and rickety. The track Bikini, might be the most fun track of 2018.

 

  • Born in 1990 in Long Island, Rose grew up in Center Moriches, New York.[2][3] The daughter of two artists, Rose began writing songs and poems at age 13
  • LONER got an amazing and deserved 83 score on Metacritic
  • Although Rose played most of the instruments on the album, she formed a new band to perform on tour.

 

Benny Andersson: Piano

Benny Andersson of ABBA fame has released a solo album – simply called Piano – on Deutsche Grammofon, performing songs on a grand piano from his vast catalogue.  If anyone was in any doubt before about the quality of his compositions, listen to this album. In my view, Andersson is up there with the great composers of our time, like Lennon/McCartney, George Gerschwin and Irving Berlin. Both his songs for ABBA and his post-ABBA music are brilliantly performed, with so much emotion and grace that it almost makes me cry listening to the love, sweetness or pain that radiate through his fingers.

  • Piano is performed unaccompanied by just Benny himself, on his trusted grand piano.
  • The album was recorded with Linn Fijal, engineer and studio manager at his own RMV Studios, on the island of Skeppsholmen, in the heart of his hometown Stockholm.
  • Andersson said about the album: ‘In the process of recording this album, I have come to realise that the pieces I have chosen to play are an integral part of me. In endeavouring to reach for some core within them, I have found that the more I strip away the clothing, the closer I feel to the music, regardless of whether it was created last year or 40 years ago. In a strange way, I feel like I am playing my memoirs.’Even without the bass, drums, guitars, strings and vocals on these songs, I think there is still substance in all of them. That was very pleasing to realise.’

Pugwash: Silverlake
Another great tunesmith isThomas Walsh of Irish band Pugwash and their new album Silverlake. If you’re a McCartney or an ELO fan, look no further. Yes, it is a bit old fashioned, but if you are that kind of music fan, like me, that is complementing the album, not criticizing. And if you have had enough of darkness and winter, Pugwash will definitely introduce an early summer in your ears. Lovely.
  • In the early 1990s, Walsh adopted Pugwash as a stage name and began recording some 150 demos to 4-track and, in 1995, one of those was named Demo of the Year by Irish music magazine Hot Press.
  • Walsh later formed a group called Pugwash
  • Walsh was also part of the duo The Duckworth Lewis Method, also featured in my list, despite singing about cricket only.
  • In 2017 Walsh disbanded the group line-up and returned to being a solo artist under the Pugwash moniker.
  • Thomas Walsh said: “I still live in a small house with nine guitars, a Dansette, a telly and a fuckin’ mellotron,I collect records and live hand-to-mouth. We’ve made some great records but most of them have gone nowhere.”
  • Nowhere? They are at no. 3 in MY list!!

Joan Armatrading: Not Too Far Away
We haven’t heard from Joan Armatrading , born on Saint Kitts,  for quite a long time. Her new album, Not Too Far Away, is vintage Armatrating, folk-pop at its best, perhaps even more hummable than back when her records were on everyone’s turntable. She plays all the instruments on the album, rarely a good idea, but she is pulling that off as well, so no complaints from me.
  • Fun fact: Armatrading performed as a cameo vocalist for the song «Don’t Lose Your Head» on the 1986 Queen album A Kind of Magic.
  • Armatrading said: «My songs aren’t about me at all. They’re always about love, the pain and anguish of it. But the way I’ve always written is from observation. They’re about what I see other people going through. If the songs were about me I’d be so embarrassed I don’t think I’d be able to walk out the front door.» The optimistic songs reveal a bit more of me because that’s how I feel. I’m definitely a ‘glass is half full’ kind of a person.
  • Many of her lyrics do not specify the gender of their subjects and she frequently uses the word «you» rather than a gender pronoun.

Hailey Tuck: Junk

Hailey Tuck carries the legacy of much older, even deceased, performers on her shoulders. There is a lot of Billie Holiday, Melody Gardot and Madeleine Peyroux in both her voice and her choice of songs, and this amazing debut album proves that she can carry that weight. Tuck’s intepretations of great songs stand out, and the album deserves to be named Most Enjoyable Album of 2018. Because that is what it has been to me.

  • Hailey Tuck is from Austin, Texas.
  • Tuck has performed with Jamie Cullum
  • Junk followed three EP releases.
  • Last year she released a Christmas single, Please Come Home for Christimas
  • Her biggest other interest in life is vintage clothing and the silent movie star Louise Brooks

 

 

And – as an extra treat, here are previous number ones:

2013:

I Awake – Sarah Biasko

2014:

The River & The Thread – Roseanne Cash

2015:

I Love You, Honeybear – Father John Misty

2016:

JOANNE – Lady Gaga

2017:

DANCE OF TIME – Eliane Elias

And – as another extra treat, here are 15 other highly enjoyable albums of 2018, in alphabetical order, click album title to listen:

AURORA – Infections of a Different Kind Step 1

Sarah Blasko – Depth of Field

Roger Daltrey – As Long As I Have You

Falkevik – Louder Than I’m Used To
Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born Soundtrack

Jimmy Livingstone – Airplane Mode

The Manhattan Transfer – The Junction
Mariza – Mariza

 

Morrissey – Low in High School
Willie Nelson – Last Man Standing
Madeleine Peyroux – Anthem
U2 – Songs of Experience
Vårin – If I Started Seeing Rainbows
Paul Weller – True Meanings
Marlon Wiliams – Make Way for Love

So, that’s it folks. 2018 veers to an end, and we with it. I will be back in 2019 with lots of new, exciting, feel music.

So watch this space.

Happy new year to all readers and listeners, I really appreciate that you keep reading, keep commenting, keep sharing with others.

 

 

Building musical bridges

Many of this month’s artists are unfaithful to the musical genre they are most associated with, challenging reviewers (is this pop? Americana? Jazz?)  but giving listeners a wider range of music, fewer musical pigeonholes and a happier world altogether. There is also an age difference of some proportions among the artists reviewed: the youngest is barely a teenager; the oldest har turned 85. Still, they all beat to the same drum: great and ageless music.

Play the music!

The updated list, here.

Only the newcomers, here.

 

Madelene Peyroux – Anthem – Jazz/Pop

Madeleine Peyroux

After playing the streets of Paris in the 1990s, Madeleine Peyroux (no, she isn’t French) finally got a recording contract and recorded the brilliant Dreamland. That’s when I started listening to her. I was surprised to read that Dreamland never made it to the charts anywhere significant; it was Careless Love that came 8 years later that gave her a huge audience, as a singer, bridging the gap between jazz and pop. Her newest album, Anthem, is her most mature yet, low-key and a with a sophisticated choice of songs.

The Jayhawks – Back Roads and Abandonded Hotels – Pop/Americana

The Jayhawks
Photo: John Vettese/WXPN

The Minneapolis-based band The Jayhawks, has been around longer than Peyroux, and has broken up and reunited more often than I can count, but they are still at it, and have a catalogue of Americana-esque songs to choose from. This album is filled with songs they have written for others, but it sure sounds like The Jayhawks, melodic and pretty.

The Honey Hahs – Dear Someone, Happy Something – Pop

Honey Hahs
Photo: Linda Lylind

The Honey Hahs must be the youngest band I have ever reviewed. Let’s face it, they are children, the drummer is around 11-12. And they are sisters. And they have recorded a respectable debut album, varied and assured, good pop music, well played and performed. Wolfgang Amadeus did quite well at this particular age as well, so unless nasty record company executives manage to botch it up (they might), this is the beginning of interesting careers. Remember where your heard (of) them first…

Robyn – Honey – Dance/Pop

Robyn

One career that started very early and that wasn’t botched up, in fact continued to grow and grow, is the career of Robyn, the Swedish star, that has grown with the times and evolved with the music. Listening to her albums over the years you might wonder whether she led or she followed. Robyn’s music and lyrics are open reflections of her life, she shows us her vulnerability, her sorrows, her victories, in a manner that borders on being private. I have to admit I am more stuck in the style of music she started out with as a teenager than what she is doing now, but I still enjoy her work.

AURORA – Infections of a Different Kind Step 1 – Pop

Aurora
Photo: Bent René Synnevåg

Robyn’s career can foreshadow what is coming for the equally brilliant Aurora from Os, Norway. She is out with her second album, and even she has left the past behind her and continued on a path to independence and to finetuning her art. This is a more introvert album, more sorrow and pain, but it is a beautiful pain and there is a positive, hopeful air around both music and lyrics. I do hope the audience that were so moved by her debut album, gets onboard for this ride as well, because Aurora is among the most talented and genuine artists on the music scene anywhere in the world right now.

Falkevik – Louder Than I’m Used To – Jazz/Pop

Falkevik

The all-female trio Falkevik also comes from Norway, named after their vocalist Julie Falkevik. As with Madeleine Peyroux, this is a band that manages to build a bridge between jazz and pop, bringing fans from both genres closer together. Nobody will deny that they are closer to the shore of jazz, but this is accessible music for any adventurous listener, and perhaps one of the most beautiful albums of the year.

Alexandra Strelinski – INSCAPE – Classic/Easy Listening

Alexandra Strelinski

Bridging a similar gap between classical and pop is the Canadian composer and pianist Alexandra Strelinski. You might have heard her music if you were a fan of the TV series Big Little Lies. Her new keyboards only album is her fourth, so if you can feel your muscles relaxing and your stress level plummeting after listening to this month’s blog, there is more to find in Strelinski’s back catalogue.

Mariza – Mariza – Folk

Mariza
Photo: Carlos Ramos

I find Mariza one of the loveliest voices around, despite the fact that I do not understand a word of what she is singing. A part of me loves that she is uncompromising – as on her new album simply called Mariza where she only does Portuguese music – another part wishes she would adventure outside her cultural sphere, to open even more listeners up to her wonderful world of music.

Delgrés – Mo Jodi – Blues/Caribbean

Delgrés

I don’t understand too much of what Delgres is singing about either, but I still love the music and the feeling it leaves in the listener’s mind. Paris-born Pascal Danaé formed the trio Delgres and released the album Mo Jodi as a tribute to a Caribbean freedom fighter, Louis Delgrés, who chose death over captivity in the Napoleonic wars. The blues trio, performing in Creole, are hard to pin down musically, there is soul and blues and rock in there, but the overall feeling is still Caribbean.

Boz Scaggs – Out of the Blues – Blues

Boz Scaggs

Boz Scaggs’ heydays were the 1970s, every album released during that decade brought him more gold records and world fame. But the blues and rock’n’roll singer never stopped recording or performing, and I find him as fresh and virile today – musically that is – as when I first heard him back in the 1970s. His new album Out of the Blues is polished blues, still with a sting, performed by an artist that knows his genre better than most.

 

Willie Nelson – My Way – American Songbook

Willie Nelson
Photo: David McLister

Boz Scaggs is old, Willie Nelson beats him by 11 years. And he still records and perform, despite his 85 years. He is lucky in a way, his voice has always sounded like an old man’s voice, but now it is for real, it is an old man sharing his music with the world. Last month I wrote about his album of original songs, this month I add some of his covers from the American Songbook, not all brilliant, but some are, and the brilliant ones are now in your playlist.

Paul Weller –  True Meanings – Pop/Rock

Paul Weller

Paul Weller is a punk in comparison, only 61, but even the energetic former vocalist of The Jam  has started to look back and discharged himself of his rock’n’roll past, at least for one album. Because True Meanings is tender and warm and folksy, one of the most surprising albums of the year, in my view. The songwriting is exquisite, as is his performance, and the songs stick in my mind.

Death Cab for Cutie – Thank You For Today – Pop

Death cab for Cutie

There is a lot of nostalgia in the latest release from Death Cab for Cutie, this is sweet, endearing pop music, still with a certain edge. The band has followed in the tracks of 80s bands like Pet Shop Boys, but they have kept going, and not all of their previous albums are as interesting and accessible as Thank You For Today, in my view their best album.

 

Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born Soundtrack – Pop

Lady Gaga

Some of you were surprised when I named Lady Gaga’s album Joanne album of the year, because she might appear as the epitome of the kind of artist this list is not about. I disagree, and since I am writing the blog, I am entitled to. She is one of the most talented artists in her generation, she does not only cater to listeners of Top 20 music, she looks backwards for material, she records music that doesn’t sound as if a robot wrote it. She does that, too, and I realize most of her fame is on account of that, but even the soundtrack from the blockbuster movie A Star is Born, put together by the shrewdest people in the business, has elements of a different, more mature artist. She performs with Bradley Cooper, an actor I know very little about, but the album is great, and Cooper has nothing to be ashamed of either.

noonday Underground – On a Quiet Night – Rock

noonday Underground

The last review of the year is for noonday Underground’s album On a Quiet Night – offering a true garage band sound from the two principal band members Daisy Martey and Simon Dine, filled with fun and noise and joy. And in a way this album builds bridges as well: it is modern and fresh, but there is no doubt where the inspiration comes from, this is the sixties, seventies and eighties sewn into one.

They joined us in February, they have served their time, it’s time to relieve Warhaus, U2, Pugwash, Benny Anderson, Whitehorse, Leon Russell, Nick Garrey, Morissey, Peter Cincotti, Lea Ann Womack, Liz Wright, Lenka, Airelle Besson, Edoard Ferlet and Stephane Kerecki of their duty. Welcome back another year – or to this year’s round up? Who knows? You will, in a few weeks’ time, make sure to come back then….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rockin’ at the Retirement Home

Yes, there was a time that an artist would push retirement age when reaching thirty. To all the young artists out there: relax – rock’n’roll is for life. Many of the artists in my list today prove the point to such a degree that young artists should rather worry about the competition from the retirement home today than worry about an imminent end of their own career.  (But they don’t all have to worry, which the second part of my blog today proves. )

GO TO THE FULL PETTER’S BLOG LIST ON SPOTIFY HERE

GO TO PETTER’s NEWCOMER LIST (ONLY FROM THIS BLOG ENTRY  ) HERE

 

Roger Daltrey – As Long As I Have This – Soul/Rock

Roger Daltrey

74-year old Roger Daltrey opens the ball with As Long As I Have This, a collection of covers with some original tracks thrown in for good measure. The Who it ain’t, but for someone who wasn’t their biggest fan, this is a highly enjoyable album. Yes, he is pushing his voice to the limit, but didn’t he always do that? Foot thumping good.

 

Paul McCartney – Egypt Station – Pop

Paul McCartney
Photo: Larry Marano/RexX/Shutterstock

Paul McCartney is in the room next door to Daltrey at the home, and there is a lot of beautiful noise coming from there as well. Egypt Station is a great album and would have been even greater with some pruning before release. But Paul’s ability to create a great tune with some whimsical lyrics without a hint of subtext is still unsurpassed. It is 50 years since the release of Beatles’ White album, and to hear that this man is still churning out music like this, well, I am lost for words….!

Paul Simon – In the Blue Light – Pop

Paul Simon
Photo: Suzanne Cordeiro for American-Statesman

Paul Simon is out with a compilation album, In the Blue Light, as he is retiring from touring. On it he introduces some of his best songs from previous albums, but with a more sombre orchestration. If you are unfamiliar with the songs on the album, quit immediately and go back to his previous catalogue, for I would say the originals mostly are better. For seasoned Paul Simon fans, you will most likely enjoy another take on these songs, but you will most likely, like me, dig out the originals afterwards.

Willie Nelson – Last Man Standing – Country/Pop

Willie Nelson
Photo: David McLister

At the end of the corridor you’ll find Willie Nelson’s room, and you will be unable to pass without entering, because in there Mr Nelson will belches out some of the best songs of his career, Last Man Standing. Make note that Willie Nelson is 85. Yes, 85. More than any other artist, he has managed to drag reluctant pop and rock fans over to the country side, widening our musical scope. This album is his greatest attempt yet to do just that. (Next time I plan to review his other release of 2018….this man just doesn’t stop until it is full stop)

Chas & Dave – A Little Bit of Us – Pop/Honky Tonk

Chas & Dave

But let’s face it, there are deaths at the retirement home, and Chas Hodges of Chas & Dave fame died a few weeks ago. Before he died the two chums released a new album, their first in 31 years, and sadly their last. This is intimate rock’n’roll as you would hear it in small pubs in the 60s and 70s, with a lot a wackiness and overblown orhestrations, honky tonk piano and a singalong feel to songs you have never heard before.

Misc. Artists – Johnny Cash Forever Words – Country/Pop/Folk

Johnny Cash

Johnny Cash is sadly dead as well, but his family and friends have made a tribute album, with a surprise choice of songs, considering what they had to choose from. But the result is a collection of very personal songs from widely different artists, but with a common thread tying it all together, Johnny Cash’s wonderful world of music. I have picked renditions from Ruston Kelley, Kacey Musgraves, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, T-Bone Burnett, Roseanne Cash, Jewel, Elvis Costello, Carlene Carter and Jamey Johnson.

Joan Armatrading – Not Too Far Away – Folk/Pop

Joan Armatrading

Joan Armatrading from Saint Kitts and Nevis at 67 is a bit too young to get a room at the rock’n’roll retirement home, but we haven’t heard from her for quite a long time. Her new album, Not Too Far Away, is vintage Armatrating, folk-pop at its best, perhaps even more hummable than back when her records were on everyone’s turntable. She plays all the instruments on the album, rarely a good idea, but she is pulling that off as well, so no complaints from me.

Francoise Hardy – Personne d’Autre – Folk/Chanson

Francoise Hardy
Photo: Ed Alcock for The New York Times

France’s Francoise Hardy is 74 and is back after severe illness a few years ago. This is a quiet and beautiful collection of songs, with lyrics (I am told) dealing with regret and getting older. Her voice is as insistent as ever, and she is still the Queen of the Chanson, particularly now when the Kings, Charles Aznavour and John Haillyday, both died this year.

Hailey Tuck – Junk – Jazz/Pop

Hailey Tuck

Hailey Tuck is barely old enough to get a job at the retirement home, but she carries the legacy of much older, even deceased, performers on her shoulders. There is a lot of Billie Holiday, Melody Gardot and Madeleine Peyroux in both her voice and her choice of songs, and this amazing debut album proves that she can carry that weight. I think I have added nearly the whole album to the list, just couldn’t choose among these gems.

Jennifer Warnes – Another Time, Another Place – Pop/Folk

Jennifer Warnes

Jennifer Warnes just moved in, 71 years old. Most of us associates her with the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, but she has collaborated with Leonard Cohen for many years, and is an astute artist in her own right, which Another Time, Another Place really accentuates. Still, there is a lot of Cohen in her songs, warm and genuine.

 

 

Well, it is time to move on the younger generation, because there is a lot of great contemporary music made out there, and here is a pick of the crop:

First, let me clarify. I don’t particularly feel artists from Norway are any better or more interesting than artists from other countries, but living here gives me access to more locally produced music, which is why my international readers possibly perceive I have a Norwegian bias.

Emilie Nicolas – Tranquille Emile – R&B/Pop

Emilie Nicolas

That being said, here are three Norwegian artists in a row. Emilie Nicolas is truly local for me, she used to live down the road from me and went to school with my daughter. And has become a great artist of international stature. Her new album Tranquille Emile, is more proof if any was needed. The creativity in her compositions, the earnest lyrics, and the fact that every track has new nuances to be discovered with every replay, is all the proof I need.

Vårin – If I Started Seeing Rainbows – Folk

Vårin
Photo: Anette Blom

Vårin’s debut release, If I Started Seeing Rainbows, has been one of the loveliest new releases of 2018. She is only 21, but there is a depth both to her lyrics, her melodies and to her voice that signals a musical intelligence beyond her years. The music radiates soreness and beauty in perfect combination.

Adam Douglas – The Beauty and the Brawn – Soul/Blues/Pop

Adam Douglas
Photo: Julia Marie Naglestad/NRK

The third Norwegian artist we have adopted. Adam Douglas in American born, but found love in the fjords of Norway. Last year he won “Stjernekamp” – The Ultimate Entertainer, and has since become a household name here. This is his first solo album after he won the contest, and it proves what a great singer, guitarist and song writer he is. There is blues and folk and pop and soul all mixed together, but his unique soul voice ties it all together in a perfect knot. My only regret is that he doesn’t do any covers, but I’ll guess we have to wait until he is ready to move into the retirement home for that.

Gruff Rhys – Babelsberg – Pop

Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys was lead singer in Super Furry Animals, a truly inventive band. His solo LP,  Babelsberg, supposedly recorded in one go, stand out as well because this symphony rock at its purest, Rhys’ basic tracks have been overdubbed with a full symphony orchestra, but the songs are still standing out through the carpet of instruments.

Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer – Pop/Rock

Father John Misty

Father John Misty is again out with a new album, and again he delivers. Readers of my blog know full well how much I have appreciated all his previous albums, and nothing much have changed in my appreciation – nor in the Father’s approach to music. He is as witty as before, every song is like a small symphony, melodic and at times even hummable. How does he keep this up? This is his fourth release in a short while, and as unique and outstanding as the other three.

Family of the Year – Goodbye Sunshine, Farewell Nighttime – Pop

Family of the Year
Photo: Catie Laffoon

Family of the Year became an overnight success in 2012 with their single, Hero. Now they’re out with a new album, and as with John Misty, not much has changed, still the same full and lovely harmonies, warm and summery melodies, albeit not as easily remembered songs. Still with repeat listening, the smoothness and the melodiousness become more apparent.

Caroline Rose  – LONER – Pop/Rock

Caroline Rose
Photo: Matt Hogan

I’ll end the month’s blog with a new and inspired young artist, Caroline Rose. LONER is her second album, and I have really fallen in love with it. Caroline Rose gives the world the finger with her playful songs, modern and chic, whimsical and with a rare creativity in the use of instruments. There is a bit of Cindi Lauper in Rose, irreverent and rickety. The track Bikini, might be the most fun track of 2018.

 

We’re waving goodbye to Miley Cirus, Phoebe Bridgers, Chris Price, The National, Marc Almond, Van Morrison, Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer, Susanne Sundfør, Ine Hoem, Molecules and Erlend Skomsvoll, Ane Brun, Sparks, Jake Bugg, Silje Nergaard, Beth Hurt, Bugge Wesseltoft, The War on Drugs, Paul Heaton and Jacqui Abbott, and Robert Plant. They’ll be invited back.

 

 

 

 

 

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…