The Atlantic Culture

Do they have anything in common, artists from countries bordering the Atlantic Ocean? Possibly a common denominator of superior music centered in the Mid-Atlantic? Possibly a way of tying 14 highly wide-ranging and diverse albums together without string? After having listened to the 88 brand new songs in my blog list, you decide.

HERE IS THE UPDATED LIST:  PETTER WALLACE’s BLOG LIST

IF YOU WANT TO LISTEN TO AN INDIVIDUAL ALBUM, CLICK ON ALBUM TITLE

Johnny Borell Photo: David Fisher/Rex Features

Johnny Borell
Photo: David Fisher/Rex Features

England flagAt least one artist is tied to the headline: Johnny Borell’s album is called just that, The Atlantic Culture, recorded with the jazz band Zazou. This is a strange album coming from an indie singer like Borell, highly varied music, from lounge music to folk pop. A lot of the tracks are too strange and varied for my taste, but I found seven songs that I listen to again and again. Hopefully you will, too.

George Harrison

George Harrison

England flagI consider George Harrison the second most brilliant songwriter in The Beatles, following Paul, but sneaking ahead of John. Not being too fond of neither tribute albums nor live albums, I approached George Fest with deep scepticism. And I was mostly right, a number of the renditions were mere shadows of the originals, even from established artists that should have known and done better. Still, it is hard to do brilliant songs really badly, and some of the tracks are quite good, particularly Dhani Harrison’s versions of Savoy Truffle and Let It Down. I would leave the album alone, though, and go with my choice pieces – but first and foremost go back to the originals.

Douwe Bob

Douwe Bob

Netherlands.svgDouwe Bob is like the illegitimate son of Billy Joel and Paul McCartney, shamelessly mimicking the style of the 80s. He has been picked to sing the Dutch entry in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest, and his fame in Holland seems to have no end. Perhaps Pass it On will introduce him to an even larger audience, deservedly so. The song he is entering the contest with, won’t.

Jonathan Jeremiah

Jonathan Jeremiah

 

England flagJonathan Jeremiah is mimicking the Doors in a similar way, but his deep voice is definitely not belonging to a resurrected Jim Morrison. Oh Desire is a wonderfully cool album, jazz, soul and soft rock in an enticing mix, all tied together by Jonathan Jeremiah’s voice. Why the single from the album, Arms, is not played to death on the radio is beyond me.

Jamie Scott

Jamie Scott

England flagI am equally attracted to Jamie Scott’s My Hurricane. Unlike many other singer/songwriters with an acoustic guitar, Scott manages to create songs from a much wider palette than most of his peers. He has written a lot of the music for boy band One Direction, but is a substantially more interesting artist in his own right. We all need to make a living, I guess.

Kakkmaddafakka

Kakkmaddafakka

Norway flagOn to a couple of interesting bands: From the coastal city of Bergen, Norway comes Kakkmaddafakka, the name hinting about a slightly misguided coolness. Kakkmaddafakka is not a rap artist from the Bronx, but a polished indie band, with melodic songs performed with a live feel to them. The band has had considerably more success live than recorded, but perhaps that is about to change with KMF, a chirpy and happy collection that I hope you will enjoy.

The 1975

The 1975

England flagThe 1975 is now among the most popular bands in the UK at the moment, which is a bit of a surprise, actually, because their album, I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (Sic), is way too sophisticated and ambitious to make it to the top of the charts. But it did. I find it very hard to pigeon-hole the music from The 1975, every new song is a new revelation, mostly a pleasant one. Give the whole album a try if you like the six tracks I have chosen.

Emmy The Great

Emmy The Great

England flagBefore we travel across the great Atlantic to the other side, let’s give Emmy the Great a listen. She is born in Hong Kong to an English father and Chinese mother, but grew up in England and there isn’t much Chinese influence in her music that I can hear. Her lyrics and song writing is poetic, sweet but perhaps a bit on the mysterious side. The new album is called Second Love.

Loretta Lynn

Loretta Lynn

USA flagIt is pushing it a bit to say that Midwestern country queen Loretta Lynn is influenced by an Atlantic culture, but Country has taken the world by storm and is much more mainstream now than when Loretta started up six decades ago. Her new album, Full Circle, recorded at the age of 84, shows that age is irrelevant in popular music. As many of you have experienced following my blog list, mature artists don’t stop making fabulous music, even into their eighties. Full Circle offers a lot of traditional country, a bit tedious for my taste, but there are more general accessible songs in between. You find them in the list.

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt

USA flagBonnie Riatt is only 66 and could have been Loretta Lynn’s daughter. Just as Lynn has helped make country mainstream, Riatt has done her bit for the popularity of blues and roots music. She is doing her bit with her new album Dig in Deep, too. There is a lot of sorrow and regret in the lyrics, but she is at her best when she ties knots with her iconic Fender Stratocaster and plays good old rock’n’roll, as in Shakin’ Shakin’ Shakes.

 

Rihanna Photo: EJ Hersom

Rihanna
Photo: EJ Hersom

BarbadosRihanna could have been Bonnie Riatt’s grandchild, but she is already a classic recording artist in her own right and seems to have been around for a very long time. She started recording at 17, so that might explain it. Her newest album, ANTI, is a big surprise, she seems to have sent Swedish pop machine people on the first flight home, and have recorded a sophisticated, different, interesting album, with a soundscape that I am sure a lot of her advisors have warned her about. The way she takes her voice way out of her comfort zone in Higher, proves the point.

Serena Gomez

Serena Gomez

USA flagSelena Gomez is still stuck with the pop robots, but at least she was left with some of the better ones. I can’t help it, I really like part of her new album Revival, despite the fact that it has its big share of chewing gum music. It is produced with style and makes no apologies, even putting Selena Gomez naked on the cover. And if the singing career should go downhill, she still has an equally active acting career to lean towards.

Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman

USA flagI must admit reading about Ezra Furman introduced me for the first time to the term gender-fluidity. In my time we called it bisexuality, but I will roll with the times from now on. Furman is a playful and colourful American artist, hard to pin down musically, full of surprises and twists and turns. Some of it goes over my head, but it is hard not to find anything on his album Perpetual Motion People that you don’t like, and I have found five highly enjoyable tracks for you.

Emitt Rhodes

Emitt Rhodes

USA flagEmitt Rhodes has taken up a lot of positions in his musical career, singer/songwriter, yes, but also drummer, recording engineer, bass player and pianist. With his newest album, Rainbow Ends, he is firmly in the country pop landscape with his music, beautiful, hummable pop music, good for you hearing and your mood.

Lauren Housley, Nerina Pallot, Ben Folds, David Gilmour, Richard Hawley, John Mayall, Diane Coffee, Darwin Deez, Keith Richards, Squeeze and James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg leave us for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Easter Hit Parade

Seven girls, two boys and a band are filling vacant spots in my Easter addition to Petter’s Blog List, probably the best playlist of new, mostly unknown tracks in the known musical universe (sorry, shameless bragging or not, it had to be said). Some of the girls are truly that, the youngest is only 16, which means we have a lot to look forward to of musical brilliance in the years to come. So why not start with her?

Billie Marten Photo by Luc Coiffait

Billie Marten
Photo by Luc Coiffait

England flagBillie Marten is from Ripon in Yorkshire, and had her own YouTube channel at the age of nine, doing covers and impressing enough people to build a steady following. She has issued two EPs, the latter, As Long As, is now in my blog list, for very good reasons. The music is silky smooth, as Billie’s wonderful, calming voice. She reminds me of Rumer that had a short career a couple of years back (she may return…), but with an even more distinct relaxed sound.

Eilen Jewell

Eilen Jewell

USA flagIf Billie is the princess of the minor key, Eilen Jewell from Idaho, is the queen, at least according to her album cover. Queen of the Minor Key is an impressive collection of songs with deep roots in folk and country and old-fashioned rock’n’roll. The album was recorded in 2011, but the music is so timeless, I couldn’t resist putting in six of the tracks. She has since recorded three (sic) live albums, and a new album was released last year. I might come back to it.

Aurora Photo: Bent René Synnevåg

Aurora
Photo: Bent René Synnevåg

Norway flagWhen British department store John Lewis issued their new Christmas commercial, they used the Norwegian teenager Aurora to sing a cover of Oasis’ Half The World Away. By doing this John Lewis introduced Aurora to a wider international audience, and two weeks ago she released her first full-length album, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend. I do hope this is a start of a tremendous career, for Aurora from Bergen, Norway, is truly a talent out of the ordinary. Her insistent voice is something I haven’t experienced before from any other artist, coupled with lyrics proving that  Aurora is wise beyond her years. I have added seven songs, but could easily have added the whole album.

Frøkedal

Frøkedal

Norway flagAt the same time as Aurora released her album, a much more experienced Norwegian artist released her first solo album. I have played Frøkedal before in my play list, as lead singer in I was a King, but it is as a solo artist she really impresses me. Hold On Dreamer is a peculiar album, folksy and melodic and dreamy at the same time. She uses many acoustic instruments to create her sound, and the song writing is confident and strong. The songs may not be immediately hummable, but they leave a lasting impression.

Rokia Traore

Rokia Traor

Flag_of_Mali.svgFrom the village of Etne in Norway to Mali in Africa, there we meet Rokia Traore, a world music singer with an international background. Her father was a diplomat, so she was exposed to music from all over the world at an early stage. On her new album, Ne So, she stays quite true to her origins, but she is at her best in my view when she add influences from jazz and more Western music. I tire a bit from the most local of world music, and Traore has added a fair share of the local on the album, but I think you will enjoy the four great tracks I have added. Feel free to try the whole album.

Lissie

Lissie

USA flagYou may not have heard of Elisabeth Corrin Maurus, which may be a good reason to perform under the name of Lissie, less of a mouthful. Lissie doesn’t live the urban rock life; she lives on a remote farm in Iowa, if she is not touring and recording. Her new album, My Wild West, has many references to rural life, and leaving the city behind. She paints music with broad strokes, sometimes bordering the pompous, sometimes vulnerably simple.

Samantha Crain

Samantha Crain

USA flagLet’s remain in the American West, and visit Samantha Crain of Native American descent, living in Oklahoma. Her music is sweet and melodic, but the lyrics very often show us an opinionated artist in the Dylan tradition. She cares about the issues she is singing about, whether she deals with race, wealth or class. It wouldn’t hurt to have more songwriters like Samantha… Her newest album, released last year, is called Under Branch & Thorn & Tree, from which I have added six glorious tracks.

Turin Brakes

Turin Brakes

England flagThe English band Turin Brakes has been recording since 1999 and is still at it, a few months ago releasing its eighth studio album, Lost Property. There is a lot of the mellow side of Oasis in their music, but Turin Brakes is hard to pin down, which may be more of a curse than a blessing. I like what I hear and have added seven very different tracks to my list. If you, like me, use shuffle a lot, you may have a hard time tying the seven songs together when you hear them, but the tracks make me straighten up every time I hear them. Who is this? Oh, it’s Turin Brakes!

Colm Mac Con Iomaire

Colm Mac Con Iomaire

Ireland.svgIrish violinist and folk musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire is next. His solo album And Now The Weather was brought to my attention through Spotify’s brilliant Discover Weekly algorithm personalized list. The all-instrumental album offer true Irish folk, but with a contemporary feel to the music, joyful and positive.

Elton John

Elton John

England flagI was seriously in doubt whether I should add tracks from my old hero Elton John’ new album, because I was so disappointed after having played through the tracks once. I am not alone in longing for the old Goodbye Yellow Brick Road sound to return, but I expect he doesn’t have it in him any more, even though he gets help from musicians from that period of his life, and the ever brilliant T-Bone Burnett has produced. The problem is the song writing, much less sophisticated and ground breaking than before. Still, as with other former musical giants, we may expect too much. When I listened the second time, the songs weren’t half bad, some of them enjoyable and foot-stamping good. So I changed my mind and added five new Elton John songs from Wonderful Crazy Night after all. What the heck.

Lots of artists are being excused from service to make room for the 57 new tracks: Ane Brun, Yo La Tengo, Amason, Brian Wilson, The Unthanks, Ingrid Michaelson, Kitty, Daily & Lewis, Rayland Baxter, Beach House, Sweet Baboo, Lianne LaHavas and Chris Connolly. Many of them you will find in last year’s Best of List.

Is it Live or Is It Memorex?

58 individually picked tunes from 11 artists from 8 different countries have cautiously been added to my blog list, found HERE, to be devoured alone, one following the other or shuffled for your perpetual amazement. Some of the artists you have never heard of, others have most likely been an integral part of your life.
Villagers

Villagers

Ireland.svgSome of you may even remember the slogan I have used as a title of this week’s blog, for the audiocassette Memorex. I came to think of the  commercials  when I heard the new album from Irish supergroup Villagers, Where Have You Been All My Life?, because the album was recorded live, without an audience and with all kinds of electronic and acoustic instruments. The songs are all from previous albums, one of which has pleased you blog list listeners before. I consider live recordings a bit flat and uninteresting, but there is something immediate about this Villagers album and the performance of these superb songs. Lead singer Conor O’Brian’s voice sounds more vulnerable and powerful than ever before.

The Anchoress

The Anchoress

Flag_of_Wales_2.svgA short trip across the Irish Sea brings us to Wales and the The Anchoress. Catherine Ann Davies hides behind the name, a versatile lady who performs music, writes non-fiction, has a PhD in Literature, and has been artist-in-residence at South Bank Centre in London. The Confessions of a Romance Novelist is not really a debut album for her, but for her “band”. I found the album a bit incoherent, did not enjoy it all, but some of the tracks had a classic feel to them, with roots in music from Kate Bush and a sinister Lily Allen (if there is such a thing).

David Bowie

David Bowie

England flagWe might as well take it geographically this week and cross the border to England and two truly classic artists. I suspect most of you readers were deeply saddened by the news of the death of David Bowie, perhaps the most innovative and powerful solo artist in the history of pop music. David Bowie introduced me to rock, his Alladin Sane album is still among my favourite albums of all time. Bowie managed to record one last album before he died and while knowing he was dying. Blackstar is influenced by both rock, jazz and sophisticated pop, and some of the tracks are quite challenging for fans of his most melodic songs. Still, like with most other albums from the master, Blackstars grows on you with every listen, to the extent that you will find yourself humming some of the tracks. I don’t know whether that would have made David Bowie happy or not.

Suede

Suede

England flagOne reviewer said about Suede that they sometimes mistake bigness with greatness, and on their new album, Night Thoughts, that may very well be the case, but I do think that they touch greatness often enough for me to listen to them. Brett Anderson was a guest in Skavlan, a talkshow I am in charge of for my employer NRK, and he argued that an album should be listened to as a unit, not as individual songs. I defy him, and have added four tracks that I particularly enjoy.

marte-eberson-1024x720Norway flagI have added three new Norwegian releases, first a solo outing by Highasakite’s Marte Eberson, Mad Boy. Marte was also part of Polopoly together with my jazz singer daughter Karoline, so this is not the first time she experiments outside the highly successful Highasakite environment. Mad Boy proves what considerable influence Marte Eberson has on Highasakite’s universe, because it is hard to hear how the music differs much from their style – which is good news for fans, making Mad Boy a kind of an extra Highasakite album.

No 4

No 4

Norway flagI apologize to my non-Norwegian readers, but I have to add a band that sings only in Norwegian, and with lyrics that are as important as the music, No 4. This all-girls group’s first album is a delight, though, and I suspect the harmonies and melodies can please non-Norwegian listeners as well. The jazzy, swing-infused, harmony-strong album, Henda I været (Hands in the air) is filled to the brim with sophisticated lyrics and melodies to go with it.

Sivert Høyem Photo: Kim Erlandsen, NRK P3

Sivert Høyem
Photo: Kim Erlandsen, NRK P3

Norway flagSivert Høyem is considerably more accessible for an international audience. Høyem was the lead singer of Madrugada, one of the best rock bands ever to come out of Scandinavia. He went solo a few years back, and with Lioness I hope he will reach international prominence – in Norway he is already an artist filling stadiums. His voice is warm and deep, his music very much grandiose, but this is truly greatness before bigness.

Erik Truffaz Quartet

Erik Truffaz Quartet

Flag_of_France.svgErik Truffaz was born in Switzerland but has lived and performed in France. His style of jazz is on the truly accessible side, and his Erik Truffaz Quartet is worth listening to even if you don’t feel jazz is your thing. Their latest album Doni Doni mixes world music with jazz, giving it a musical flavour that makes it even more interesting to listen to. Erik Truffaz is a true bridge builder between different musical genres.

Frederico Albanese

Frederico Albanese

Italy.svgn 2015 I claimed Chris Connolly’s solo piano album among the top 10 albums of the year. This year I follow up with Frederico Albanese’s similar album, The Blue Hour. Albanese is using a bit more orchestration, but the album has a solo piano feel to it, and a wonderful feel it is, very romantic, soulful and often mournful. Albanese lives and performs in Berlin.

Sia

Sia

Australia flagThen a long journey both musically and geographically, to Sia and Australia. Sia belongs to a group of singer/songwriters that I normally don’t enjoy listening to, shallow and highly commercialized music. But I can’t help being impressed with her ability to create strong and hummable gems on her new album This Is Acting, , and I even forgive her pretentious seriousness, at least most of the time. Nobody can take away her talent both as a performer and as a composer, and her constant criticism of media’s focus on appearance is further softening my resistance.

Eleanor Friedberger

Eleanor Friedberger

USA flagFinally another album from Eleanor Friedberger, her third outing in my blog list, but the weakest till now. New View has a number of toffee tracks, soft in the middle and hard on the outside, but fewer than on her previous albums. As a blog listener you needen’t worry, though, I have picked what I consider the five best tracks, and if you follow the album link, you can hear the rest as well.

We say goodbye to Sharon Robinson , Pete Atkin, The Deslondes, Buffy Siante-Marie, Roddy Frame, Lenka, Magnus Berg, Eleni Mandell, Rikke Normann, Pink Martini, Club des Beluges, The Last Hurrah!, Hamilton De Holanda, Restore to Past, Jodi Marie and George Ezra. I hope you have enjoyed them while they were part of the list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden Slumbers

I am starting the year with an offering of music looking both forwards and backwards, to infancy and old age. There is so much great new music out there, but I know it is getting harder to find than ever, since both radio stations and streaming services alike are focusing on a very narrow choice of new music. I hope that’s why you come to my list, or maybe other similar lists, to find new music that deserves to be considerably more widespread than it is, but doesn’t reach you through regular channels.

You find the whole album if you click on the album titles in the reviews. For my updated list with all new songs reviewed, plus previous reviewed tracks, click here.

Jeff Lynne of ELO Photo: Rob Shanahan/Sony Music

Jeff Lynne of ELO
Photo: Rob Shanahan/Sony Music

England flagLet’s start with two of the oldest and wisest in the music business, first Jeff Lynne of Electric Light Orchestra. John Lennon said that ELO made music the way The Beatles would have done had they continued. Listening to Alone in the Universe, recorded in 2014 and 2015, one can easily sympathize with Lennon’s statement. There is a lot of The Beatles in here, although lyrics and some of the melody lines are not near being as sophisticated as the Fab Four. Still, this is a great album from 68-year-old Lynne. He shows off songwriting techniques of the highest quality and the greatest enjoyment. After having listened through the album once, I was already humming to some of the songs, as if I had owned the album since the 1970s.

Jools Holland & Ruby Turner Photo: Mary McCartney

Jools Holland & Ruby Turner
Photo: Mary McCartney

England flagFlag_of_Jamaica.svgThe second old wise man is Jools Holland, although he is still to be considered young after 57 years on the planet. He has been around forever, though, as a pianist, one of the best television hosts in the UK, and as a successful big band leader. Most contemporary artists of peerage have performed with him. He started out as a pianist in Squeeze, one of my favourite bands of all time (and in this list at the moment with their newest album). Holland has recorded an album with Ruby Turner, in the vicinity of big band and gospel. It is unfortunately not his best, mostly because the range of music is limited and fast becomes repetitive. I have added enough to keep the interest up, and if you want more, go to the whole Ruby & Jools album.

Mariza Photo: Carlos Ramos

Mariza
Photo: Carlos Ramos

Flag_of_Mozambique.svgOne reviewer said about the new album from Mozambiquean born Mariza that it is only the Portuguese language that stands between her and worldwide fame. I still think that Fado-inspired music will appeal only to a minority of music lovers, but Mundo is an album that should bring the genre to a wider audience, despite the language barrier, Here are songs that are heartbreakingly beautiful, performed with a voice range and control that you seldom hear anywhere. Mariza is a true citizen of Alfama in Lisbon, where she grew up and learned to sing the Fado in the tiny cafes there. But Mundo is so much more than Fado.

Bill Wells

Bill Wells

Scotland.svgNext up, two albums that focus on lullabies and nursery rhymes, not the most likely genres in pop and rock. Still, the two albums in question could prove otherwise. Bill Wells has joined forces with Yo LaTengo (another list regular), and made arrangements of famous children’s rhymes that deviate quite a bit from the original. Some of the songs on Nursery Rhymes don’t do much for me, but in between there are new and truly surprising and enjoyable takes on the familiar. Bill Wells has done the trick before with Christmas songs, so what’s next?

Wanwright Sisters

Wanwright Sisters

Canada FlagUSA flagI am quite fond of the very musical Wainright family, many generations of musicians that have all been regulars in my blog. Now the two half sisters Martha and Lycy, Loundon Wainwright’s daughters, have recorded Songs in the Dark, mostly made up of nursery rhymes. The sisters are truer to the originals than Bill Wells, which make the album a bit unexciting at times, but again there are gems hidden in between, and all of them are now in my collection for you to enjoy.

Seinabo Sey

Seinabo Sey

Sweden.svgI’ll continue for a bit longer presenting albums in pairs: now on to two Western European singers with backgrounds from Africa. Swedish Sinabo Sey, with a father from Gambia, got a monster hit two years back with Younger, particularly a remix version by Norwegian Kygo. Her long awaited album, Pretend, didn’t disappoint, and her soulful, deep voice has taken Sweden by storm, introducing her as a great songwriter as well.

Jeael Naim

Jeael Naim

Flag_of_France.svgFrom Younger to Older, if you have stuck with my list for a very long time, you will recall Yeael Naim as one of the earliest artists I introduced. She is of Tunisian Jewish descent, and as with Sinabo Sey, there is certain influence of the Middle East and Africa in her music, although it isn’t dominant in any way. Her new album Older (a bit cheeky when she is only 37) hasn’t reached the same success as her first album, that made her sworld famous for a limited time, basically because Apple used one of her songs in a commercial. The new album deserves better, because not only is Yeael an emotive singer, her songwriting skills are impressive, and this is good and original pop music.

Leah Nobel

Leah Nobel

USA flagAmerican singer and model Leah Nobel sings and writes songs of a pop genre that at the outset doesn’t stick out, but is pretty and unpretentious. However, when I listen for a bit longer, there is no doubt she knows the craft of songwriting as well; most of her songs are little tales, and her voice is smooth and charming, winning me over. Her EP, Just Like Sunday, gives promises of maturity and more sweet, but poignant music coming in the future.

Son Little Photo: Anthony Saint James

Son Little
Photo: Anthony Saint James

USA flagA young singer, who cites Ram by Paul McCartney as one of his inspirations, deserves to be listened to. His first album, simply called Son Little, Aaron Livingston’s artist name, offers a number of songs with an old-fashioned r&b feel to them. I am being taken back to Sam Cooke’s universe, which isn’t the worst world to delve back into.

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey

USA flag

Finally, and the third Californian in a row, Lana del Rey and her David Lynch-like musical universe. The mystique of her voice and the cold, distant arrangements make Honeymoon the most mature album from her yet. The album is already a chart topper all over the world, and ideally shouldn’t have been in my blog list, but I can’t resist playing her, mostly because her musical roots from the 70s and 80s are so evident.

Some artists have served the list long and well and retire from today: Billy Wyman, James Taylor, Simply Red, Gill Landry, Florence + The Machine, Kathryn Williams, Ash, Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, Kacey Musgreaves, Tennis, Simi Stone, Richard Thompson, Nev Cottee and Alpine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Very Best 2015 Albums

To paraphrase, in his 100th birthyear, perhaps the greatest singer of all time, Frank Sinatra, «It poured sweet and clear, it was a very good year».

It was indeed. As you can gather from my previous post, it is hard to choose between a number of brilliant, some future classic albums, but I have made an attempt.

To save you the trouble of listening to each album one by one, here is a link to the Spotify list of all 10 albums:

the-best-2015-300x300

And here are the details:

10. CHRIS CONNOLLY:ALAMEDA

I had mixed feelings about this album when I started listening to it; now it is among the 10 best albums of the year for me. Moral: Keep playing and keep listening.

Chris Connolly is  Sun Kil Moon’s pianist. Rock music is by definition repetitive, and Connoly brings the revolving themes into his piano pieces. I find it mostly comforting and heartbreakingly beautiful, an album for relaxation and contemplation.

Chris Connolly: Alameda

Chris Connolly: Alameda

9. KATZENJAMMER: ROCKLAND

I have waited for the definitive album from this all-female Norwegian group, and I hope and expect this is it, because Katzenjammer deserves an even larger following than they have today, with their foot stomping folkmusicy (I have to patent this word) and happy music. If you ever looked for the perfect bridge between folk and pop, look and listen no further. Here it is.

Katzenjammer: Rockland

Katzenjammer: Rockland

 

8. RAYLAND BAXTER: IMAGINARY MAN

One of the biggest musical surprises of the year  is Rayland Baxter and his second album Imaginary Man. His voice is so out-of-the-ordinary, touching and occasionally even intimidating , but never unexciting. Every time a track starts he grabs my attention even if have drifted away for a minute. The songwriting is equally good, songs that sticks with me. There is humour and grief perfectly mixed together on this amazing album.

Rayland Baxter: Imaginary Man

Rayland Baxter: Imaginary Man

7.  CHRIS CORNELL:  HIGHER TRUTH

Chris Cornell is better knows as the lead singer of Soundgarden. There is no doubt he has got a powerful voice, and he enjoys using it with full force. I still like him better when he tones it down a bit, and on Higher Truth you get a bit of both. It is a brilliant collection of songs.

Chris Cornell: Higher Truth

Chris Cornell: Higher Truth

6. DAVID GILMOUR: RATTLE THAT LOCK

David Gilmour has gone into the studio alone and recorded a considerably better album than Pink Floyd’s 2015 release The Endless River. Rattle That Lock is as accessible as Pink Floyd at their best, great pop songs with strong melodies, some of these reminiscent of tracks from a musical. His solo guitar trademark is printed all over the album, and his vocals are mixed all the way to the front, successful producer moves, both of them.

David Gilmour: Rattle That Lock

David Gilmour: Rattle That Lock

5. KATHRYN WILLIAMS: HYPOXIA

I am so excited about Kathryn Williams’ tribute to Sylvia Plath, the concept album Hypoxia, even though I lack most of the references. 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.

Kathryn Williams: Hypoxia

Kathryn Williams: Hypoxia

4. WHITEHORSE: LEAVE NO BRIDGE BEHIND

Whitehorse and their album Leave No Bridge Unburned. came as a complete surprise to me. As I listened to it for the first time, I was completely taken aback by the quality and the smartness of the song writing. There is a freshness and cheekiness to the music that is quite rare these days.   This is Whitehorse’s second album, so hopefully we have years of wonderful music to look forward to.

Whitehorse: Leave No Bridge Unburned

Whitehorse: Leave No Bridge Unburned

3.  DAMIEN RICE:  MY FAVOURITE FADED FANTASY

I have never been thrilled by Damien Rice’s whispering, ultra-thin falsetto voice before. Then My Favourite Faded Fantasy comes along, and I am completely taken aback. I know I have used the word classic a lot,  but I have to use it again. Yes, the voice is still there, but it is put to use in a collection of songs that never stop growing on me. Many of the tracks start small and grow into wonderful landscapes of sound. It is hard to label the music, we used to say Damien Rice was a folk singer, but I don’t think so, not any more. This is the music of conviction.

Damien Rice: My Favourite Faded Fantasy

Damien Rice: My Favourite Faded Fantasy

2. KACEY MUSGRAVES: PAGEANT MATERIAL

It has been a fight the last few weeks, my heart says number one, my conscious mind says number two.  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. Her lyrics are personal, funny, bittersweet and self-deprecating, inviting me as a listener in to what feels like a private world. The majority of the songs on Pageant Material  are lovable, some nothing but brilliiant. It is impossible to sulk when listening to the album. I dare you to try it.

Kacey Musgraves: Pageant Material

Kacey Musgraves: Pageant Material

1. FATHER JOHN MISTY: I LOVE YOU HONEYBEAR

Not many albums permeate the mundane and bring us to music that may last longer than we do, the mark of true classics. I first heard Father John Misty’s voice as part of Fleet Foxes, the wonderful post-Beach Boys band that was the talk of the music industry four-five years back. I added his first solo album to the list, but it is with I Love You, Honeybear, that Father John Misty emerges as a truly great and perhaps lasting pop artist. Of course his name isn’t John Misty at all, but Josh Tillman. His lyrics come with a warning, not that I would think many would take harm from listening to his stories of doubt, sexual urges, of falling in love and of sticking to relationships. It is not necessary, however, to glue your ears to the speakers to grasp every word; the songs are small symphonies with a great value even without the lyrics.

Father John Misty: I Love You Honeybear

Father John Misty: I Love You Honeybear

I wish all my blog readers a happy yuletide and a wonderful, rewarding new year. I will be back in 2016 with more fantastic music you probably would have missed.  And remember, my blog list is always updated and available. Click my picture, and beautiful music will surround you.

Petter's Blog List

Petter’s Blog List

Warmes wishes,

Petter

15 Fabulous ’15 Runners-Up

I hear you: If these 15 fabulous albums are runners-up, how good can Top 10 in ’15 be? You’ll find out very soon. In the meantime, enjoy some of the very best music – in random order – this great music year has had to offer. Click on the cover, and I will take you directly to the album on Spotify (Yes, I’m impressed with me, too). I have also added excerpts of my previous reviews.
Blood is a great and musically wide-ranging album, introducing us to both soul and sophisticated pop. She worked for a while with Prince, and his influence can definitely be heard, particularly in the daring arrangements and self-confident use of her pleasing voice.
Blood

Lianne La Havas: Blood

…Souther doesn’t even try to make music that sounds remotely modern, but for all of us missing Don Henley, Harry Nilsson and other 70s crooners find some consolation in JDs sweet, tender pop music. I have fallen in love with this album and will turn to it every time life runs off with me, reminding me of the wonderful first decades of my adult life.
JD Souther: Tenderness

JD Souther: Tenderness

Mimmi Tamba from the northern town of Tromsø.. started out as a soul artist, but when her first full album was released, Storm, reviewers and audience alike were pleasantly surprised to find that Tamba could do so much more. Storm is difficult to pigeonhole, more pop than soul, that’s for sure. …Mimmi Tamba is an artist with a rich talent, yet to be fully blooming.
Mimmi Tamba: Storm

Mimmi Tamba: Storm

This pop album offers much more than pop (and the pop is exquisitely good), ending with a full piano concerto reminiscent of George Gershwin’s rhapsodies, that Folds performs himself together with the Nashville Symphony. It isn’t as good as Gershwin, but what is? I love this album…,
Ben Folds: So There

Ben Folds: So There

 Simi Stone 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.
Simi Stone: Simi Stone

Simi Stone: Simi Stone

..Buffy Sainte-Marie returns with a surprisingly good album in her 74th year, Power in the Blood. It is ironic that a 74-year old is the artist with the most power in her voice, in her arrangements, and not the least in her convictions, in my list right now. She has had ample time for practise; her first record came in 1963, 53 years ago, and she hasn’t lost the touch.
Buffy Sainte-Marie: Power In The Blood

Buffy Sainte-Marie: Power In The Blood

If I believed in reincarnation, which I certainly don’t, I would have suspected Roy Orbison was involved in putting Richard Hawley together. The same baritone voice, the same pain as well as soothing in the voice, but Hawley is still his own man. His songwriting and his guitar skills add to his genius.
Richard Hawley: Hollow Meadows

Richard Hawley: Hollow Meadows

this album is nothing but brilliant. Introvert, vulnerable and touching, Saint Saviour’s voice embraces the listener, and the songs are little gems that stick in your mind. The Manchester Camerata Orchestra accompanies her on all tracks, creating a timeless atmosphere.
Saint Saviour: In the Seams

Saint Saviour: In the Seams

Brian Wilson keeps the surf beat going, repeating himself just enough to keep us hanging on and without tiring us out. THE ALBUM is bursting with sunshine and happiness. Some of the songs brings me back to less troubled days, to a quiet place in my soul. What more can I ask for in music? Bless you, Brian Wilson, may you live and compose and perform forever.
Brian Wilson: No Pier Pressure

Brian Wilson: No Pier Pressure

Canadian Tobias Jesso Jr. knows how to churn out McCartney-esque songs. He was discovered by Adele, who tweeted about him.  There is a lot of looking back on Goon, I hear Lennon, Billy Joel, and many other similar men in awe of women and love. Jesso’s craftsmanship is undisputed, and I dare predict this is not the last album from him.
Tobias Jesso Jr.: Goon

Tobias Jesso Jr.: Goon

A.. strange band is Club de Belugas, with their jazzy dance tracks and swinging ear drum teasers. The German band ..has a loyal following of fans – and of vocalists. Some of the greatest are represented on their new album, Fishing for Zebras, my personal favourite being Veronika Harcsa, with one of the most distinguished and arousing voices around.
Club des Belugas: Fishing for Zebras

Club des Belugas: Fishing for Zebras

Sharon Robinson has been Leonard Cohen’s backing singer, arranger and collaborator for decades, and co-wrote some of his songs, like Everybody Knows. She has just released her second album, and some of the tracks on Caffeine are just exquisite, so when you have played Cohen’s songs to death, put Sharon on instead. You blood pressure will stay down.
Sharon Robinson: Caffeine

Sharon Robinson: Caffeine

English folk singer Darren Hayman discovered an old pamphlet from the 1880s with lyrics for songs to be sung by socialists. In only two cases did the writer, William Morris, specify a tune, so Darren made up the rest.  even if you’re not a socialist yourself (I’m not), you might be moved by both the poignant, historical lyrics, but also of Hayman’s great new tunes and harmonies.
Darren Hayman: Chants for Socialists

Darren Hayman: Chants for Socialists

Few singers can produce the voice as a rhythm instrument better than Gardot. She seems to be experimenting more both with lyrics and melody (excuse the pun) on this album than ever before, and I tag along for the ride.  Currency of Man grows and grows every time I listen to it.
Melody Gardot: Currency of Man

Melody Gardot: Currency of Man

In 2013, I dictatorially voted Sarah Blasko’s I Awake as Album of the Year. The brilliant Australian singer is back with a new album, Eternal Return…There isn’t much happiness in Blasko’s music, but the intensity and sincerity in her voice makes up for it a hundredfold. Eternal Return also reveals new levels every time I listen.
Sarah Blasko: Eternal Return

Sarah Blasko: Eternal Return

I will soon be back with Top 10 2015, for the first time in the history of my blog, a male singer at number 1…..

 

I Believe in Yesterday

The cleverer of you instantly recognize the line, and this week The Zombies repeats it in a new song, Maybe Tomorrow, singing: “You should forget about today, just like The Beatles used to say: I believe in Yesterday.” In the times we are living in, it might be what we all would prefer, trying to avoid meeting pure evil and stupefied fundamentalism face to face. But I guess truth lies in a mix of the best of today and the most valuable from yesterday, both in terms of our daily lives and in music. That´s what many of  this week´s artists have in common, at least.

The Zombies

The Zombies

England flagSince I have already revealed that The Zombies has released a new album, let’s start with Still Got That Hunger. There is no reason to be sceptical to 60s and 70s bands resurrecting, and this mostly wonderful album proves the point. The Zombies might be the most underrated of the 60s bands, but to me they are up there with The Kinks, The Beach Boys and perhaps even The Beatles at times. There’s a bit of jazz in the The Zombies as well, mostly thanks to brilliant pianist Rod Argent and Colin Bluntstone’s positive and happy voice. On “I want you Back”, the piano playing is particularly impressive, reminding me of David Bowie’s flirtation with the jazz piano on Alladin Sane, perhaps the greatest fusion of pop and jazz ever recorded, thanks to pianist Mark Garson.

Tom Jones

Tom Jones

Flag_of_Wales_2.svgTom Jones’ new album Long Lost Suitcase, doesn’t thrill me as much, not because it isn’t good, but Mr Jones goes back to stripped down bluegrass and American traditional folk, and I can’t take big doses of this, even though I recognize that Tom Jones does this exceptionally well. I have left five songs in the list, including a duet with Irish favourite Imelda May.

Judy Collins

Judy Collins

USA flagI can’t take enormous doses of Judy Collins either, the music is mostly a bit too polished for my taste. But as with Tom Jones I recognize a master singer when I hear one, and Judy Collins means what she sings. On her new album, Strangers Again, she performs duets with among others Michael McDonald, Jeff Bridges and Thomas Dybdahl, and I have added tracks that will bring you joy, I am sure. And if you need more, listen to the whole album.

Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell

USA flagJudy Collins is born in Seattle, Washington, and so is next artist, Chris Cornell, better knows as the lead singer of Soundgarden. There is no doubt he has got a powerful voice, and he enjoys using it with full force. I still like him better when he tones it down a bit, and on Higher Truth you get a bit of both. It is a brilliant collection of songs, and I had a hard time choosing what to serve you, and ended up seven great and powerful songs, rocking up your Christmas listening.

Jesper Munk Photo: Michael Dorn

Jesper Munk
Photo: Michael Dorn

250px-Flag_of_Germany.svgAnother powerful voice is that of Germany’s Jesper Munk, the blues singer from Munich. On some of the tracks on CLAIM, he pushes his voice too far and the arrangements get too avant-garde for my taste, but on others, particularly the five tracks I have added to the list, he creates brilliant, sweaty and sultry songs, making you feet tap helplessly and forcing involuntary air guitar scenes in the bathroom.

Melody Gardot Photo: Franco P Tettamanti

Melody Gardot
Photo: Franco P Tettamanti

USA flagMelody Gardot is back with a new album, Currency of Man, and she knows a little about rhythm, too. Few singers can produce the voice as a rhythm instrument better than Gardot. She seems to be experimenting more both with lyrics and melody (excuse the pun) on this album than ever before, and I tag along for the ride. Of all albums I introduce on this week’s list, Currency of Man, grows and grows every time I listen to it, more than any of the others.

Sara Bareilles

Sara Bareilles

USA flagPop star Sarah Bareilles has moved on to trying out as musical theatre composer, like many other pop artists like Elton John, Paul Simon and The Who before her. She has written the music to Waitress, based on the film from 2007, and I find the result successful, with songs stuck between traditional Bareilles pop and traditional musical tunes. The Broadway premiere is in 2016, and judging from the album What’s Inside: Songs from Waitress, there might be enough ingredients for a success here.

Sarah Blasko

Sarah Blasko

In 2013, I dictatorially voted Sarah Blasko’s I Awake as Album of the Year. The brilliant Australian singer is back with a new album, Eternal Return, and although it isn’t as innovative as her previous album, I remain a big fan. There isn’t much happiness in Blasko’s music, but the intensity and sincerity in her voice makes up for it a hundredfold. Like Gardot’s new album, Eternal Return, also reveals new levels every time I listen.

Ingebjørg Bratland

Ingebjørg Bratland

Norway flagIngebjørg Bratland built quite a reputation as a traditional folk singer in Norway, with a voice that could melt snow. Still it took many years before she managed to fuse her traditional singing technique with that of modern folk and pop vocals. Now this fusion has brought her new fame, and on her new album, Månesinn (a pun on the word moonshine and “moon mind”) she performs superbly crafted self-composed songs, while keeping to the singing technique that made her famous in the first place. I have also added her equally brilliant rendition of Bob Dylan’s Make You Feel My Love, in Norwegian.

Danni Nicholls

Danni Nicholls

England flagDanni Nicholls is something as rare as an English country singer. Born in Bedford, England, she still performs modern country better than many Nashville stars. On Mockingbird Lane, many of the tracks are well crafted, but are quite traditional country songs. But what makes the album stand out is still the richer, more elaborate songs, also found among the American-inspired; perhaps it is her English pop and jazz upbringing that shines through. Five great English country songs are added to the list.

Kovacs

Kovacs

Netherlands.svgDutch singer Kovacs’ album Shades of Black is also impressive. She sounds a bit like a mixture of Amy Winehouse, Shirley Bassey and Lena who won ESC for Germany (and with her quirky English pronunciation as well). With rich orchestrations and sultry rhythms I am being enticed by song after song, into a quite dark musical universe, reminiscent of old James Bond movies.

Sondre Justad

Sondre Justad

Norway flagSondre Justad’s fame started when he performed Sam Smith’s Stay with Me, with his own translated lyrics,  live on Norwegian radio. His debut album has been highly anticipated, and his contemporary happy-pop on Riv i hjertet (Tear at my heart) has extended his success, following great reviews and  topping the charts in his home country. Singing about being an insecure young man has never been wrong. Sondre is from Norway’s major archipelago Lofoten.

Giorgia Moroder

Giorgia Moroder

Italy.svg

I am closing today’s blog with a man who is truly going back to yesterday, perhaps a yesterday that has gone a bit out of fashion, the Disco. The King of Disco, at least chief architect of Disco, was Italian Giorgio Moroder, now in his seventies. He has released a new album with the help of many younger friends, among others Sia and Kylie Minogue, aptly named Déjà vu. Most of the tracks on the album are in my ears truly dated, and modern production techniques don’t make up for it. Still, I can’t help being drawn into the Yesterday of some of the tracks, really enjoying being sent back to my youth.

This was the last addition to the blog list in 2015. As I have done since 2013, I will publish a special list of Top 10 albums of the year, but I need to get closer to Christmas before I can start putting it together. In the mean time, enjoy 4 ½ hours of new music! Put it on shuffle and get proof that good music is still being made.

To make room we say goodbye to Mørland & Debrah Scarlett, Chungking, Shelby Lynne, James Horner with Mari and Håkon Samuelsen, Whitehorse, Aminata, John Karayiannis, Loic Nottet, Angelique Kidjo, JD Souther, My Morning Jacket, Kyle Eastwood and Guy Sebastian.

Never Give In!

..said Winston Churchill, in fact this is what he actually said: ”Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense.” Some of this month’s artists subscribe to his still profound words, consciously or unconsciously. They have stuck with their art, in the face of adversity, if common sense, if not good sense, told them it was time to quit and leave the stage to someone else. Those “someone elses” are also represented in today’s list. Let’s start with perhaps the least fortunate of this month’s artists, Nerina Pallot.

Nerina Pallot

Nerina Pallot

England flagHer debut album was pulled before it was released, she lost her recording contract after an episode on a children’s show where she was accidentally pushed off a couch and became the butt of a number of jokes. Although reviewers have mostly loved her, the audience hasn’t exactly embraced her. On her new album, The Sound and the Fury she turns protest singer three decades after it was fashionable, but hopefully time will prove her right. It might just be fashionable to sing about more profound things than falling in love.

Lauren Housley

Lauren Housley

England flagNot that there is something wrong with falling in love, far from it. Lauren Housley proves the point. Her new album, Sweet Surrender, offers a number of nice love songs, charmingly performed in her edgy country style with an equally edgy voice. Housley has been compared to Joss Stone, Eva Cassidy and Amy Winehouse, quite unfair for all four, if you ask me. Her songs may not be distinct enough to be in that elite category, but I enjoyed the album and have shared five songs with you.

James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg

James Elkington & Nathan Salsburg

England flagUSA flagStaying in the romantic corner for a while, let’s listen to duelling guitars from virtuosos James Elkington and Nathan Salsburg, born on different sides of the Atlantic but definitely coming together on the beautiful album Ambsace, their second to date. The album is filled with both old and new songs, with both Duke Ellington and The Smiths represented.

Diane Coffee

Diane Coffee

USA flagDiane Coffee takes me back to the airy pop of the sixtees, bringing back images and sounds from the Sgt. Pepper era. Coffee is a side project for Shaun Fleming of Foxygen. Fleming has also lent his voice to a number of Disney characters, so that should explain why he sounds as much as a girl. Everybody’s a Good Dog offers bubblegummy pop, but done with style and sophistication and with the upmost respect for the artists who inspired him.

Darwin Deez

Darwin Deez

USA flagMoving up a few decades to the eighties and to Darwin Deez, reminding me of old favourites Stephen Bishop and Squeeze (see below). This is naughty and unpredictable pop music, ditching chorus and verse when he feels like it, bringing in strange beats, riffs and entertaining lyrics to make it even greater to listen to Double Down.

Ben Folds

Ben Folds

USA flagUnpredictable is a good description of our next artist, Ben Folds, the North Carolinian who last month released So There. This pop album offers much more than pop (and the pop is exquisitely good), ending with a full piano concerto reminiscent of George Gershwin’s rhapsodies, that Folds performs himself together with the Nashville Symphony. It isn’t as good as Gershwin, but what is? I love this album, and I do hope, although we may be among the few on the planet listening to So There, that Ben Folds sticks with it like Churchill suggested, because this is not only good, it is great.

Richard Hawley

Richard Hawley

England flagRichard Hawley is out with a new album, which is quite an event for an avid Hawley fan like me. I was a bit disappointed last time he presented a new album, but this time, with Hollow Meadows, I am back being a happy man again. If I believed in reincarnation, which I certainly don’t, I would have suspected Roy Orbison was involved in putting Richard Hawley together. The same baritone voice, the same pain as well as soothing in the voice, but Hawley is still his own man. His songwriting and his guitar skills add to his genius.

Squeeze

Squeeze

England flagWhich leaves us with four performing acts who refuse to give in. One I have already mentioned, good old Squeeze, the band that was destined to take over from the Beatles and to a certain degree did for some of us. But again the comparison is unfair for both. Their new album, From the Cradle to the Grave, is really a soundtrack album to Going to Sea in a Seave, a memoir series from British broadcaster Danny Baker, but it does feel like a real collection, a real LP. The abupt chord changes, the energy, the great tunes, the sunny charm of Difford and Tilbrook, it is all there. I fell immortal listening to new Squeeze tracks in 2015!

Keith Richards

Keith Richards

England flagAnd talking about immortality, a new solo album is out this month from a man who is the living proof of man’s indestructability. Keith Richards of Rolling Stones fame should never have been around recording Crosseyed Heart. What he hasn’t exposed his body to has not yet been invented; still there is a lazy energy in everything he does, including this album. I saw him live with the Stones last year, and although he is a bit more stationary than his pal Mick, he didn’t exactly look like he would drift back to a nursing home room after the show. Crosseyed Heart is not full of Jagger-energy either, and a bit backwards looking than modern, but I like it considerably better than Bill Wyman’s album that I exposed you to a few months ago.

John Mayall

John Mayall

England flagHe is called the father of British Blues, but great grandfather would be a more appropriate title. John Mayall has just released an album at the age of 82, called Find a Way to Care. And he is not talking about elderly care. I dare blues artists in this day and age making the guitars sing and the piano roll like him. The album has a number of old blues songs, but still feels fresh and new. Never give in.

David Gilmour

David Gilmour

England flag

I presented you with tracks from Pink Floyd’s new album some months back. Now David Gilmour has gone into the studio alone and recorded a considerably better album than Pink Floyd’s The Endless River. Rattle That Lock is as accessible as Pink Floyd at their best, great pop songs with strong melodies, some of these reminiscent of tracks from a musical. His solo guitar trademark is printed all over the album, and his vocals are mixed all the way to the front, successful producer moves, both of them. Floyd aficionados may find the album too middle-of-the-road. To me this album is taking me back to highly loved Richard Wright’s solo albums in the 70s and other fabulous solo projects from the Floyd boys. Like The four Beatles they were sometimes brilliant on their own. Not always, but sometimes.

Mew, Villagers, Van Morrison, Oh Land, Denai Moore, The Leisure Society, Daniel Kvammen, Marina and the Diamonds, Death Cab for Cutie, The Lilac Time, Anneli Drecker, Pokey LaFarge, Bassistry and Bill Fay are now leaving the list. Hope they have given you pleasure and joy.

I will be back with two lists in December: the last refuelling of the Petter Wallace list this year, then a Best of ’15 list. In the meantime, enjoy the 67 new tracks!

 

 

 

 

 

What Music May Do To Your Blood Pressure

Worried about high blood pressure? Or too little excitement in your life and your body? Music in general – and my blog in particular – may be the answer. A new study reported in Heart, a British Medical Journal publication, has shown that listening to fast music increases blood pressure, whereas listening to slower music has the opposite effect. Today’s new additions will certainly do both, but mostly I have picked artists performing the slower specimens this time. It is a busy time of year, so I’ve chosen to be gentle. You’ll thank me later.

Chris Connoly

Chris Connoly

USA flagLet’s start with mellow piano music from Chris Connoly, Sun Kil Moon’s pianist. Rock music is by definition repetitive, and Connoly brings the revolving themes into his piano pieces. I find it mostly comforting and heartbreakingly beautiful, although some of the tracks on the album Alameda may be a bit annoying when the themes are repeated over and over again. The four tracks I have chosen are safe, though, and well worth listening to.

The Unthanks

The Unthanks

England flagThe Unthanks from Northumberland in England will treat your heart well. Their new album offers true folk, but often with lavish pop arrangements, making them considerably more accessible than most folk. The sisters’ buttery voices with a bit of edge on top will sooth anyone. The Unthanks naturally reminds me of First Aid Kit, although the former is truer to folk roots. Mount the Air is just lovely, nothing more to say.

Beach House Photo: My Jolie Machine

Beach House
Photo: My Jolie Machine

USA flagThe American group Beach House is a pop duo from Baltimore, but the lead singer, Victoria Legrand has roots from France and from one of the greatest musical composers ever, Michel Legrand. Their latest album Depression Cherry shows off their unique and gracious dream pop style. There are more electric instruments here than you would think, given that it the sound is so cool and mellow, but the sound picture is clean and uncomplicated, letting Legrand’s voice tickle you.

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo

USA flagI have added music from Yo La Tengo before, considerably less mellow than the new tracks you will find added to the list. The four-piece band from New Jersey is considered an indie band, but on their latest, Stuff Like That There, there isn’t much reminding me of mainstream indie. This is basically an acoustic album with folk undertows, sweet harmonies and lovely melodies, nothing like their previous, groundbreaking album Fade. Perhaps this is what pushing borders really mean. Yo La Tengo does what it likes. And I tag happily along, hoping you will do the same.

Brian Wilson

Brian Wilson

USA flagBrian Wilson hasn’t changed much, though, but the quality of the songwriting is still as exquisite as in the glory days of the Beach Boys. He keeps the surf beat going, repeating himself just enough to keep us hanging on and without tiring us out. The worst part of this album is the ridiculous pun in the title, No Pier Pressure, the rest of this latest delivery is bursting with sunshine and happiness. Some of the songs brings me back to less troubled days, to a quiet place in my soul. What more can I ask for in music? Bless you, Brian Wilson, may you live and compose and perform forever.

Kitty Daisy and Lewis

Kitty Daisy and Lewis

England flagConsiderably younger, the Durham family is also going back in time for inspiration. The siblings forming Kitty, Daisy and Lewis stay with their acoustic instruments to create their happy jazzy swing music, borrowing from folk and variety music. On Kitty, Daisy and Lewis The Third, the is a lot of fun and sweetness, all performed with originality in orchestrations and the vocals.

Rayland Baxter

Rayland Baxter

USA flagThis week’s biggest surprise is Rayland Baxter and his second album Imaginary Man. His voice is so out-of-the-ordinary, touching and occasionally even intimidating , but never unexciting. Every time a track starts he grabs my attention even if have drifted away for a minute. The songwriting is equally good, songs that sticks with me. There is humour and grief perfectly mixed together on this amazing album.

Lianne La Havas Photo: Jean Paul Pietrus

Lianne La Havas
Photo:
Jean Paul Pietrus

England flagAnother brilliant new artist, Lianne La Havas, was introduced to me in 2012 when she released her first album. I added tracks back then, hopefully introducing you to a new talent. Now she has matured even further, and Blood is a great and musically wide-ranging album, introducing us to both soul and sophisticated pop. She worked for a while with Prince, and his influence can definitely be heard, particularly in the daring arrangements and self-confident use of her pleasing voice.

Ane Brun

Ane Brun

Norway flagI must admit I have never subscribed to the bottomless praise of Norwegian singer Ane Brun. Of course I recognize the quality of the songwriting, the sorrow in her powerful voice, the daring changes in moods, but it has always been too dark for my taste. On her latest album, though, there are definitely tracks that are pleasing to my ears, as well as to everyone else’s, judging from its popularity . The orchestrations are richer , there is not only sadness in the songs, and I have seen an artist who moves, smiles and reassures. If you are not like me, listen to the whole album, When I’m Free, if you would like to be introduced gently to Ane Brunism, stick to my four selected tracks.

Amason

Amason

Sweden.svgAvid fans of my bloglist (you MUST be out there somewhere calling yourself avid fans) may have noticed that I have added only the occasional Swedish artist, partly because I blame today’s Swedish composers and producers for having ruined much of today’s music scene with their bland and cynical music productions, churning out mostly totally uninteresting “songs” devoid of even the simplest level of sophistication. But enough ranting, I forgive the Swedes because they occasionally give us some of the best music in the world as well. I wouldn’t necessarily call Amason among the best in the world, but the band takes me back to soothing 80s pop, like Fleetwood Mac. The boys and girls in the band have been around for a while, and perform and write with a delicious self-confidence. Sky City is bursting with interesting pop.

Sweet Baboo

Sweet Baboo

Flag_of_Wales_2.svgOn to a country that only has done good for world music, Wales, and to Stephen Black aka Sweet Baboo. He his already released four albums, and listening to his fifth, The Boombox Ballads, I realize I have to go back to listen to the previous ones. There is a bit of soul, a bit of playful pop and a lot of inventive songwriting, with amusing and pointed lyrics. Sweet Baboo’s voice sounds laid-back and like the man owning it having a lot of fun.

Ingrid Michaelson

Ingrid Michaelson

USA flagOur final artist this time around  is Ingrid Michaelson, the American pop singer with a big following already. Her fourth album went straight to #5 on Billboard, and I would be surprised if Lights Out wouldn’t do well, too. The music is a bit slick, polished and perhaps overproduced, but I guess that is what it takes to make it to the very top. Enough tracks are pleasant enough to enjoy over and over again, both the ballads and the straighter pop tracks.

With 64 new songs in the list, something has to give, and this week I am removing Madonna, Ringo Starr, Ron Sexsmith, Brandi Carlile, Fairport Convention, Keath Mead, Tobias Jesso Jr. and Rebecca Ferguson. These songs have been in the list since May.

 

 

 

Restore to Past

Prepare yourself to restore to past – and still stay in the present. A bunch of old favourite artists (and a few notable new ones) let themselves be inspired by the past when creating new music. I am injecting the syringe filled with new tracks into an already strong playlist, so get your headphones out and enjoy! 

Many of the artists refreshing the list have contributed before, so many of you who have stuck with my playlists for many years will – hopefully- fondly recognize voices and beats.

Pink Martini

Pink Martini

USA flagLet me start with two of the strangest bands around, bands that defy any trend and play what they enjoy. Pink Martini is from Portland, Oregon, but sounds like they come from the heart of Europe, presenting song material from all over the world, completely without musical borders. Their new album, Dream a Little Dream, is a collaboration with the descendants of the Von Trapp family of Sound of Music fame. For you rockers out there, have patience with me, and sail away with the beautiful music of thes musical nonconformists.

Veronika Harcsa of Club de Belugas

Veronika Harcsa of Club de Belugas

250px-Flag_of_Germany.svgAn equally strange band is Club de Belugas, with their jazzy dance tracks and swinging ear drum teasers. The German band has been around for a number of years and has a loyal following of fans – and of vocalists. Some of the greatest are represented on their new album, Fishing for Zebras, my personal favourite being Veronika Harcsa, with one of the most distinguished and arousing voices around.

Eleni Mandell

Eleni Mandell

USA flagI am also mesmerized by Elani Mandell’s honeycoated voice reminiscent of Nancy Sinatra and Karen Carpenter, so no one should be surprised that she has sneaked into my list again with her new album Dark Lights Up. The album is kinder and softer than her previous albums, so expect no raising of blood pressure from Elani’s songs. Some of the tracks are too soft even for my taste, but the group of songs left in the list should be enough to wet softies’ appetites for more.

Jodie Marie

Jodie Marie

Flag_of_Wales_2.svgWelch singer Jodie Marie, is another list veteran, despite her young age. On her new album, Trouble in Mind, she delves into the blues and soul that got her into music in the first place. She makes no apologies for recreating the sound of soul of the 70s and 80s, in many ways like The Commitments did a decade or so ago. Some of the track choices are a bit unimaginative, though, but of course you won’t find them in the list.

Rikke Normann

Rikke Normann

Norway flagRikke Normann makes no apologies, either. The Norwegian singer, with the lovely alto voice and a great musical range, plays and writes the music she enjoys, and the result is sophisticated pop with enticing swing elements, creating a unique style of her own. Rikke has studied music in Leeds, England, and has been a collaborator with a number of Scandinavian artists. With Dig Deep she is out front alone, where she belongs.

Lenka

Lenka

Australia flagLenka was the vocalist in Decoder Ring in Australia, but it was when she left her home country for America that her career really took off. Her airy melodic voice and her knack for creating sweet and sultry pop songs, have been a great combination, proven by her latest album The Bright Side. And bright it is, so bright I should have added it to the list earlier this summer. I still think you can take the sugar shock even this late in the year. I find it impossible to not be charmed by one song in major after the other. Life is good.

Magnus BergNorway flagIf Lenka and the other happy artists above are a tad too much, her comes an antidote in the shape of Magnus Berg, a Norwegian blues artist that has taken the international blues world by storm. Blues Blast Magazine nominated him as Best New Album Debut for Cut Me Loose this year, and blues lovers will applaud the nomination. Magnus spends a lot of his time in the U.S. and there isn’t much Scandinavian influence in his music. I find it fresh and foot-stomping good.

The last hurrah!

The last hurrah! Photo: Tore Rygh

Norway flagThe Last Hurrah! has also picked up a lot of inspiration and band members in the U.S., even though the band is clearly Norwegian-born. I was first impressed by them when the band contributed to the tribute to Pink Floyd last year, recreating part of Dark Side of the Moon in the most creative way. Their album Mudflowers should have had considerably more attention than it has received, despite rave reviews in Norway. But that goes for a lot of artists in my list, one of the principal reasons for me to publish.

Restore to Past Photo: Rolf-Ørjan Høgset

Restore to Past
Photo: Rolf-Ørjan Høgset

Norway flagI can say the same about the band that named this week’s blog entry, Restore to Past, a lot of fabulous reviews, equally much attention when they played Øyafestivalen in Oslo this summer, but no chart topper for the album Restore to Past. The two musicians behind the band, Kristian Romsøe and Leifson Persbraaten, are the only really stable elements in the band, the rest of the musicans on the album drift in and out of tracks. The result, however, is one of the most beautiful and memorable collections of 2015, from any country.

George Ezra

George Ezra

England flagAn artist that definitely has got a lot of attention this summer is George Ezra, and deservedly so. He made his debut with an EP in 2013, but his music bloomed with this year’s Wanted on Voyage. (The title refers to the sticker on Paddington Bear’s suitcase – but of course you knew that). It is beyond belief that Ezra is only 22 years old. His voice has the roughness and confindence of a much more mature artist, and the songwriter Ezra is equally sophisticated and surprising.

Hamilton de Holanda

Hamilton de Holanda

Brazil.svgI’ll end by taking you to Brazil, to mandolin player Hamilton de Holandia. I haven’t introduced my listeners and readers to mandolin music before, possibly for good reasons, but de Holandia offers Latin American music of the highest quality and enjoyment, going out front only when necessary and letting his fellow musicians shine. O Baile do Almeidhinha is his 21st album, so if you like what you hear, take a day off work and dive into music that will keep you moving. Who can sit still to this? Not me.

With as many as 70 new songs, a few artists will have to leave us, as usual. This time the following artists pay the price of a long list life: Angeleena Presley, Gretchen Peters, Father John Misty, Willie Nile, Damien Rice, Punch Brothers, Mark Ronson and Trevor Bretzer. As this week’s list shows, great artists are invited back.