A regular Thursday feature of this channel.

Peter Baird


It’s a good week for new music.

I discovered Nick Piunti & The Complicated Men a few years ago with a song called Bright Light. Give it a listen. One of the Boyz is off their brand-new album Heart Inside Your Head, which is one of the best power pop collections in recent memory. It’s a 12-string driven He-Doesn’t-Deserve-You ditty.

Matilda is the strongest song on a very strong album from Harry Styles. This sounds to me like one of those moments when the artist chases everyone else out of the studio before cutting the vocal. If you have a tendency to dismiss Harry as a pop nothing, listen to this tune. Side note: some people will hear this tune and feel just slightly better about their lives.

Once again I am celebrating a song from Calexico’s El Mirador album which I have finally ordered on vinyl. The El Burro Song is a traditional format, performed and recorded exceptionally well.

I admit to not being a Cory Wong fan by and large. I’m not consistent in some things, and one of them is how I react to march-of-the-thousand-note-soldiers fusion players—some I love instantly , some not. I know his musicianship is unimpeachable, but so much of Cory’s stuff tries really hard to be current. Every Time I Look at You escapes this by the simple expedient of eliminating 90% of the room reverbs customary on even a moderately dry track. Seriously, this is the driest drum kit I’ve heard in 20 years and it sounds great. Lindsay Ell does a bang-up job on the vocal.

I’ll Love You Till The Day I Die is a Marty Robbins tune, once recorded by Kitty Wells. Willie Nelson gives it his standard treatment, and that’s good enough for anyone. He’s very gentle with the song, especially the underlying sentiment, managing to bring a dangerous lyric to life without making it mawkish.

Take My Hand is completely different from anything else this week, and illustrates the fact that thick, verby, synthy production doesn’t necessarily have to get in the way of a lyric. Hatchie loves soundscapes and effect elements, but at heart she’s a songwriter. “Trust what you fear, use it to your advantage.”

And another Leyla McCalla track. I’m pretty sure there’s a spring reverb in there somewhere. I’m hypnotized by the sound of her voice against the bead of the stick on the hihat in the first verse. You wouldn’t expect it, but this song ends with a cray-cray guitar solo, a stop-time section, and then three-against-two tribal drums.