Tag Archives: 2010s

Today’s Top 5: YouTube Clips, Vol. 55

As I said over the weekend, there is so much good new music in the world that it can be hard to keep up – especially since finding said sounds means channeling one’s inner- Jim Rockford. Even so-called “good” radio stations (more on that in the coming weeks) do a lousy job of spotlighting new discoveries – unless it’s the latest generic alterna-rock band, that is.

To that end, here’s a collection of YouTube clips that shouldn’t be missed…

1) The Staves – “Blues Run the Game.” So the Staves played a forest the other day…

2) First Aid Kit – “Fireworks.” And FAK premiered a new song just in time for July 4th.

3) Courtney Marie Andrews – “Sea Town.” CMA, meanwhile, shared this clip that was filmed near the Boot & Saddle in South Philly last month. While I was searching for a parking spot before that show, I drove past her shooting this. I should’ve honked!

4) Natalie Duncan – “Get Right.” Here’s a relatively new song from one of my favorite voices of the past decade…

5) Karrie – “Performers.” And, finally, here’s a stunning track from Karrie that she didn’t include on her wonderful 2016 album Perpetual Motion. (More from Ms. O’Sullivan this weekend.)

And three bonuses…

6) Erin O’Dowd – “Jump the Gun Song.” Another of my favorite new voices.

7) Diane Birch – “Nothing Compares 2 U” & “When Doves Cry.” Here’s the Church of Birch pastor’s lovely tribute to Prince (from a February show in Berlin):

8) Paul Weller – “Soundtrack of My Life.” The Modfather reflects on songs that shaped his life in this NME video. Why do I feel old looking at him?

Today’s Top 5: New Music, Vol. XX

It’s a question I’ve asked before, though in a different context: If the George Santayana axiom that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it is true, and I believe it is, what do we make of people who couldn’t care less about said past?

In every facet of life, history holds lessons that can be applied to today and tomorrow. Faces, places and specific circumstances change, but human actions and behaviors generally remain on the same rinse-repeat cycle until we, as a people, realize that the past is not and need not be prologue. (Or something like that.) It’s how history is made.

That said, I’d add a second sentence to the axiom: Those who fail to recognize the present are sure to repeat it, too. And the sad reality of today is that much good music gets lost because of the sprawling maze that’s become the “music industry.” What reigns supreme at the top of the charts is never the be- and end-all of the current scene, of course, but many folks – both young and older, though mostly the older – seem to assume that’s the case. And while much of that chart-topping music is good – there’s so much more that deserves to be heard.

So after a weekend spent looking back, I thought it might be best to spend some time surveying the present. Which leads to today’s top 5: New Music, Vol. XX.

1) Beau + Luci – “Deeper Well.” According to their website bio, these two sisters – who describe themselves as “flower children with rock-and-roll souls” – hail from the swamplands of Southern Georgia. Here, they cover the classic song “Deeper Well,” which was originally written and recorded by folk-country singer David Olney in 1989 before being slightly retooled by Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois for Emmylou’s classic Wrecking Ball album.

And here they are, again, performing their own “Like a Drum.”

2) House and Land – “The Day Is Past and Gone.” Another duo act. According to their label’s bio, Sally Anne Morgan and Sarah Louise met when Sarah opened for the Appalachian old-time band the Black Twig Pickers, for whom Sally plays fiddle. This song is intense:

3) Joan Shelley – “Where I’ll Find You.” The Louisville-based singer-songwriter released her fourth album, an eponymous set produced by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, to wondrous reviews last month. Here she is singing one of its tracks on Later…with Jools Holland.

4) The DuPont Brothers – “Attention Spans.” I discovered this duo, siblings from Vermont, the old-fashioned way when they opened for Garland Jeffreys at the World Cafe Live earlier this month. They stunned me with their songs, harmonies and guitar licks.

5) Stevie Parker – “Without You.” The Bristol-based, Adele-influenced singer has a voice…and enough heartbreak to fill an album’s worth of songs. She’s good.

And one bonus…

Paul Weller – “Woo Sé Mama.” Granted, Weller is far from a new act. But A Kind of Revolution, which kicks off with this catchy number, is a new album from him.

The Essentials: Rumer’s Seasons of My Soul

(As noted in my first Essentials entry, this is an occasional series in which I spotlight albums that, in my estimation, everyone should experience at least once in their life.)

Last night, I listened anew to one of my all-time favorite albums – the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was just released with a “3-D mono” mix orchestrated by the son of the late George Martin, Giles Martin. I first heard it in…late 1978, I imagine, though I can’t say for sure, and have returned to it hundreds, if not thousands, of times through the decades.

But is it, as the marketing campaign for this reissue claims, the greatest album of all time? According to numerous critic polls, the answer is yes – but some say no. Pet Sounds has edged it a time or two, I believe, as has – if my memory is correct – the Beatles’ own Revolver. It’s what happens when you solicit opinions from dozens or hundreds of people, as few of us are totally in sync on any matter, let alone music. And, too, there’s this: I honestly don’t know where it falls in the pantheon of my top picks. Aside from the not-so-arduous process I employ for my annual Album of the Year exercise, I’ve never contemplated all that long on where an album (or single, for that matter) falls in the scheme of things. Is it better than What’s Going On? Pet Sounds? Abbey Road? Dusty in Memphis, Late for the Sky or Born to Run? Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere? Bridge Over Troubled Water? Blue? Seasons of My Soul? How can one judge such things?

And even with the jeweled trophies I dole out to the winner and runners-up at my year-end Album of the Year fete, which is now in its 39th year (!), the reality – as I explain in the intro to my running tally – is that the honorees are as much a reflection of my mindset as anything. Which, really, is what makes a great album great: It speaks to and for us in ways that, often, we aren’t aware we want or need.

Such is the case with Seasons of My Soul, the 2010 debut album from British singer-songwriter and pop chanteuse Rumer, which would easily rank among my Top 10 Albums of All Time – if I had such a list, that is. It’s my most played album of the past seven years, easy; and likely one of my most played albums, ever. As I wrote in my first blog post (which first appeared on the Hatboro-Horsham Patch in February 2012), it’s “an atmospheric song cycle that’s teeming with soulful, knowing lyrics and melodies that wrap themselves around the heart, to say nothing of Rumer’s emotive, pitch-perfect vocals. It echoes the classic pop of Burt Bacharach and the Carpenters, yet moves past those inspirations by tackling themes not always associated with pop music. ‘On My Way Home,’ for example, is about the grieving process, and several other songs echo loss of one sort or another. ‘Come to Me High,’ on the other hand, is a lush, romantic ode, as is ‘Slow.’ The intoxicating ‘Take Me As I Am’ is about pushing people away when you need them the most. Add in … ‘Aretha’ and such songs as ‘Thankful’ and ‘Blackbird’ and, to my mind, the album is a must for everyone’s collection.”

Here she is in 2011 performing “On My Way Home” in Philadelphia:

I’ve written about the album here, as well, and elsewhere on this blog. To my ears, it’s a timeless song cycle that captures the nuances of life and love in a way that’s both personal and universal. It’s my definition of “essential,” in other words.

Here’s a YouTube playlist I created of the album as nature intended, aka in the order of the original British release. It features several of the original videos plus official and unofficial uploads of individual tracks:

The songs:

  1. Am I Forgiven?
  2. Come to Me High
  3. Slow
  4. Take Me As I Am
  5. Aretha
  6. Saving Grace
  7. Thankful
  8. Healer
  9. Blackbird
  10. On My Way Home
  11. Goodbye Girl

(Warner Bros. saw fit to re-arrange the order of the tracks for its download-only version when they released it in the U.S. in 2012. The songs remain brilliant, of course, but the album’s ebb-and-flow is dammed, at times.)