A regular Thursday feature of this channel.
I started the list thinking it was a pretty bleak week for new music, but one by one the good stuff started poking out of the weeds. And I have to say I’m getting tired of people complaining that nobody makes decent music any more, because they do.
Case in point, Annie Keating. Yes, she makes liberal use of the Chris Isaak impenetrable guitar jungle in production, but her lyrics are full of unexpected but welcome contrasts. Feels Like Home has a great three-bar phrase repeated at the end.
I wasn’t familiar with Aldous Harding until a few weeks ago. Lawn is a stream-of-consciousness lyric that avoids being tedious because Hannah Sian Top has such an arresting voice. Strange fuzz guitar solo at the end, you decide if it works.
God I hate saying this but I’ve now heard two songs from the new Weezer album I really love. Opening Night is typical Weezer trickery, but it’s so damn happy. Best use of a Vivaldi quote this year.
Camp Cope is a recent find. Blue isn’t a perfect song and could use a little work in the verses (and the um…uninspired…mix) but it has the kind of chorus that sticks with you.
Is All Dressed Up the third or fourth Keb’ Mo’ appearance in PBNSOTW? I’ve lost track and I don’t feel like checking. Nothing special in the lyric other than it’s very tightly constructed and fits the song perfectly. But the chord structure—oh my goodness. Steal these changes. The bass part is a seminar in how to do a minor bluesy things that has no purpose other than supporting the lyric. Perfect mix. And how often do I say that?
Bethel Woods is a crazy high-energy track from Midlake. The drummer feels like he’s playing for his life, but everything else is dialed back and under control. It’s a great contrast. Pleasingly ambiguous lyric you can discover new things with on each listen. Mix is a little dense in the midrange.
Where The Light Used To Lay is a delicious little gem from Yumi Zouma. The band has an unerring instinct for catchy production, thankfully matched with a mature lyric sense. Listen for how the synth stuff is woven in instead of riding on top.
This week’s problem child is Pictish Trail. Melody Something is mashup of sound effects, reverse echo, and a surprisingly focused lyric. But they drop the BPM drastically at the chorus destroying any forward momentum the song had built up. The producer should have forced them to try everything at the same tempo and make them sit in the control room and listen to a playback. They also take an unconscionably long time to get the actual song started.
Cover of the Week is Brad Mehldau’s take on Tom Sawyer, and it isn’t even a contest. You need to hear this. It starts off note-for-note but takes some brilliant side paths eventually finding its way to an effing brilliant sax and mandolin soli. Please give this one a listen.