July 21, 2016




The 2016 Mid-Year Report

Seems that all of my favorite music blogs are doing a mid-year assessment of the best albums of the year (so far). So as not to be out done, we have come up with our own list of the best (so far). Eight of the albums have gotten at least one/possibly two or more mentions so we’ll skip them:

School of Seven Bells: “SVIIB”
Field Music: “Commontime”
The I Don’t Cares: “Wild Stab”
Sturgill Simpson: “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth”
Esperanza Spalding: “Emily’s D+Evolution”
Shearwater: “Jet Plane and Oxbow”
Radiohead: “A Moon Shaped Pool”
Japancakes: “Japancakes”

As for the rest:

Garbage: “Strange Little Birds”. I wasn’t impressed the first time I listened to this. However, the second and third time through revealed a album that has to rate with their best work.

Aubrie Sellers: “New City Blues”. Country music played by a punk band? In a year with superb albums from the likes of Maren Morris, Keith Urban and Brandy Clark, standing out in the crowd is hard.

Bonnie Raitt: “Dig In Deep”. As the song goes, “no one does it better”.

David Bowie: “Blackstar”. His last album and one of his very best.

Anderson. Paak: “Malibu”. An album everyone is (still) talking about and for good reason. This year’s “To Pimp A Butterfly”.

Lucinda Williams: “The Ghost of Highway 20”. Has she ever made a bad album…so far the answer is “NO”.

Paul Simon: “Stranger To Stranger”. Paul is hinting that he may stop touring. I only hope he doesn’t stop writing and recording. “Wristband” is a great song.

The Accidentals: “Parking Lot” (ep). The Traverse City, Michigan trio fronted by Savannah Buist and Katie Larson were one of the most talked about bands at SXSW this year (I missed them….damn). Eclectic is overused but in this case it is so appropriate. Here is a link to a free download at NoiseTrade. Click here.

case/lang/viers: “case/lang/viers”. I haven’t heard the term “supergroup” used in years, but these ladies just may qualify. Nothing extraordinary here: just good songs, well done.

Kongos: “Egomaniac”. The brothers Kongos’ third album is even better than their sophomore release which was one of the year’s best (2012). Two of the songs are on my Spotify playlist of 2016’s best.

Please note that I could only come up with 18 albums for the list. That is not a misprint. Trying to find albums that are consistently good from the first song to the last is hard these days…..and I thought the 50s were bad!

July 4, 2016


July 1, 2016



It doesn’t appear there is a lot of great new music for July (numbers wise), but there are some interesting new releases we are watching……..

July 1:
Bat For Lashes: “The Bride” (already getting great reviews)
Blink 182: “California”
Snoop Dog: “Cool Aid”
Thee Oh Sees: “Live In San Francisco”

July 8:
Aphex Twin: “Cheetah”
Biffy Clyro: “Ellipsis”
Heart: “Beautiful Broken”
Kenny Chesney: “Some Town Somewhere”
Switchfoot: “Where The Light Shines Through”
The Avalanches: “Wildflower”

July 15:
Clams Casino: “32 Levels”
Good Charlotte: “Youth Authority”
Jeff Beck: “Loud Hailer”
Need To Breathe: “Hard Love”
William S. Burroughs: “Let Me Hang On You” (the author reading from “Naked Lunch” with accompaniment by Bill Frisell, King Khan, Wayne Horvitz, and more)

July 22:
MSTRKRFT: “Operator”
Relient K: Air For Free”

July 29:
Billy Talent: “Afraid Of Heights”
Ringworm: “Snake Church”
Steve Adamyk Band: “Graceland”
The Ramones: “The Ramones” (40th anniversary limited edition)





June 26, 2016


ramble on

There are a number of websites we visit each month in search of “free” music: Indie Rock Café, Fluxblog, Aquarium Drunkard, Faronheit, Mad Mackerel, etc. There are also new sites to discover while a few older ones “close” when the editor decides to move on, loses interest or simply gets tired. Blogs take a lot of work, obviously. Some of the more esoteric sites (“Awesome Tapes From Africa” for example) don’t follow a specific calendar and may go weeks/months without a post before there is a flurry of activity. Which brings us to one of the more interesting sites we’ve discovered: “Never Enough Rhodes”

neverenoughrhodesThe blog is dedicated to jazz/funk/r&b/soul; just about anything utilizing the Fender Rhodes piano. There isn’t a lot of history on the site but I’m told the instrument dates back to WW II when it was used as part of the rehabilitation efforts for soldiers. It’s also the inspiration for the term “keyboard”. What is important is the effect it had on music beginning in the late 60s. The site has a lot of free music you can download. I heartily recommend the numerous samplers, particularly “Herbie Hancock-Man With A Suitcase” and the Latin/Brazil Rhodes compilations. click here.

Came across an interesting story on “BuzzFeed” entitled: “The True Story Of The Fake Zombies, The Strangest Con In Rock History”. It is fascinating with this bit of history: how Frank Beard and Dusty Hill of ZZ Top came to be in a 4 piece band that toured as “The Original Zombies”. click here.



June 15, 2016

Soundproof listening booth at a London music store 1955

What We’re Listening To (or “What’s Still On My iPod”)…………….

School of Seven Bells: “SVIIB”. The band’s swansong is a sad affair, but also full of wonderful melodies. Still one of the year’s best.

Field Music: “Commontime”. The comparisons to Steely Dan’s “Aja” are well-deserved. “Unusual song structures and unconventional instrumentation”.

The I Don’t Cares: “Wild Stab”. Juliana Hatfield and Paul Westerberg provide the almost perfect rock & roll collaboration.

Sturgill Simpson: “A Sailor’s Guide To Earth”. THE “American Music” album of the year: rock, blues, soul, gospel, folk AND country.

Esperanza Spalding: “Emily’s D+Evolution”. One reviewer called it a “Joni Mitchell and Charles Mingus collaboration”. Produced by Tony Visconti (David Bowie, T.Rex).

Shearwater: “Jet Plane and Oxbow”. As one reviewer (me) put it, “you’d think after 8 albums that everyone would be a Shearwater fan”.

Ray LaMontagne: “Ourboros”. If this had come out in the early 70s it would have been one of the biggest albums of the year. It isn’t too bad in 2016 either.


the best of their recent releases:

Mary Chapin Carpenter: “The Things That We Are Made Of” sampler. click here.

John Prine: “Live in Ashville ’86”. 24 songs from an American classic. click here.

Forecastle Festival: “2016 Artist Mixtape”. Featuring Brandi Carlile, Gary Clark Jr., Dr. Dog and 17 others. click here.

Bonnaroo: “Bonnaroo Mixtape 2016”. Features 43 artists. click here.

Gabe Dixon: “Turns To Gold-Solo Acoustic”. Better than the studio album. click here.

Cowboy Junkies: “Live At The Belly Up”. Recorded in 2014 and features “Sweet Jane”, “Misguided Angel” and a stellar version of “3rd Crusade” plus 9 others. click here.


 Listen To This (new stuff)………….

Radiohead: “A Moon Shaped Pool”. The reviews have been exceptional and I would agree wholeheartedly. Their best album since “KId A”.   

Japancakes: “Japancakes”. Their 8th album, their first since 2007 and now with vocals. Sounds like Kate Bush fronting Depeche Mode at times. Here’s a link to a free download at Soundcloud. click here.

Ryley Walker: “THe Halfwit In Me”. One of our favorite artists. This is from “Golden Sings That Have Been Sung”, his third album due in August. The free download is courtesy of Aquarium Drunkard. click here. 

Los Colognes: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. Yes that “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. The band is from Nashville and reminds me at times of Dire Straits with echoes of The Allman Brothers. Here is the video. click here. 

Bill Charlap: “Notes From New York”. I am a huge fan of piano jazz. Charlap, the Grammy award winner has a new album with his trio and it’s stellar; as the great Johnny Mandel so aptly put it, “it don’t get no better than that”. Here is a link to a YouTube streaming video. click here.

Wendy Waldman: “How Do I”. About the only thing I have in common with Bob Lefsetz (musically speaking) is our enduring appreciation for Wendy Waldman. One of my biggest disappointments was not seeing her “break through” during my years at WEA. She is a major talent. Here is something new and a YouTube video. click here.


And finally……some classical:

Les Violons Du Roy/ Mathieu Lussier: “Vivaldi Concertos. I must admit that I like just about every Vivaldi recording I have ever heard, but this has become one of my favorites. I am not sure how you pick from the 500 or so concertos he wrote, but kudos to the people who chose these. Here is a sample from a YouTube video. click here.

Cor Madrigal/Barcelona Symphony Orchestra/Pablo Gonzalez: “Enrique Granados: Orchestral Works, Vol.1″. I have to confess to knowing absolutely nothing about the Spanish composer and I don’t remember ever hearing any of his music.That’s a shame because Granados is a truly gifted composer and an exceptional pianist (or so I’ve read). The music is in the romantic style and is supposed to be representative of “musical nationalism”….and people wonder why I listen to the music AND then read the liner notes. Whatever the case I will be finding more of Granados’ music. I couldn’t find anything from the album on YouTube, so here is something from his “Suite Elisenda”. click here.