Tag Archives: 2010s

Fazerdaze’s Morningside – The Review

It’s Wednesday morning, 7:52am. I’m in my car, on the way to work – and, as is often the case, stuck in traffic. Streaming via Apple Music: Morningside, the debut album by Fazerdaze.

Like most new releases, it’s been assigned a slew of specific descriptors – shoegaze, dream pop, guitar pop, indie pop and bedroom pop (that last due to its DIY nature, not to its subject matter) – to help with the discovery process. But I hear something else: the (direct or indirect) influence of the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, perhaps due to my having recently watched a documentary about it on Showtime. Not in the production values, mind you, as it’s obviously lacking a Wall of Sound, but its melodies and moods. I’ve read that Amelia Murray, the 24-year-old New Zealander behind the music, listened to the Beatles and Bob Dylan as a kid, but nothing of the Beach Boys – and yet, as the reverb- and echo-drenched music commandeers my ride, the wistful melancholia of Pet Sounds is what I hear.

Even “Lucky Girl,” the catchy song I featured a few weeks ago, is deceptive, spinning unease about commitment into an upbeat number.

The album’s final song is a sonic, if lo-fi, marvel:

I won’t go so far as to say Morningside is the greatest thing since sliced bread; i.e., I’m reining in my usual effusiveness. But I will say that I was cursing myself by mid-day, when I went to listen to the album again and discovered that I’d left my headphones at home.

I highly recommend it, in other words.

Also, one thought: sometimes I fear that ever-more-specific descriptors are a hindrance, and not a help, to the discovery process, which really should be less about sameness of sound and more about inspirations, influences and sonic surprises. But that’s a post for another day.

Anyway, here are a few live versions of their songs:

Graham Parker at the Sellersville Theater, 5/12/2017

Last night at the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Pa., Graham Parker delivered an exemplary set that featured many of his best songs, including “Stick to Me,” “Heat Treatment,” “Discovering Japan” and “White Honey.” His sardonic sense of humor was on full display, too – his intros were often as funny, if not funnier, than routines delivered by stand-up comedians.

Accompanying him: Brinsley Schwarz – as in the guitarist, not the band. The longtime Parker sideman, who plays in the Rumour, handled electric guitar most of the night, and shined on his one excursion into the spotlight with “You Miss Again,” a song from his 2016 solo album Unexpected. Parker, for his part, played acoustic guitar.

Back to Parker’s intros: One of the funnier bits centered on the Sellersville Theater. He praised it, as it’s a great place with wonderful acoustics, and mentioned that he was impressed with many of the acts they book. “But what’s with all the cover bands?” he gibed. “The Almost Queens?!” (An actual “tribute” band, from what I just discovered.) He added, dry as can be, that he once saw an Oasis cover band and found it more enjoyable than the real thing: the faux Liam and Noel weren’t butting heads.

Ah, the things we rock fans find amusing.

I’d love to share a video of that or any intro, as well as several of the night’s songs, but taking pictures and “any recording of any kind” were strictly prohibited. Even if not, although we had excellent seats, two rather large shadows (i.e., the people in front of me) would have made it nearly impossible – as evidenced by the few pictures I snapped during the show’s last songs.

Anyway, I could and probably should delve deeper into the night’s specific highs – such as “Don’t Let It Break You Down,” when he integrated snippets of other songs, including the Velvet Underground’s “Sweet Jane” and the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun,” into it – but, honestly, there’s no point. For me, it was a good/great show. But Diane and our friend Luanne, who are both longer (and much more rabid) fans than I, were absolutely enthralled. They both raved about it – and about meeting Graham afterwards – on the ride home.

I hasten to add, about this last picture: My de-facto casual weekend garb since the 2016 election includes my “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Bill & Opus” hoodie that I picked up…last spring, I believe, after seeing an advertisement for it on Facebook. When out and about on chilly days and nights, it and my faux-leather jacket keep me warm – and, too, sends a subtle political message. But I also was not expecting to pose for pictures with Juliana, Courtney and Graham in succession…especially since I’ve only posed with one other artist, Rumer, in all my years of concert-going.

The set:

  1. Watch the Moon Come Down
  2. Between You and Me
  3. Stop Cryin’ About the Rain
  4. Fool’s Gold
  5. Devil’s Sidewalk
  6. Lunatic Fringe
  7. Socks ’n’ Sandals
  8. Disney’s America
  9. You Miss Again (Brinsley Schwarz)
  10. Heat Treatment
  11. Stick to Me
  12. Discovering Japan
  13. Long Emotional Ride
  14. Pub Crawl
  15. The New York Shuffle
  16. White Honey
  17. **You Can’t Be Too Strong
  18. **Don’t Let It Break You Down
  19. **Hold Back the Night

(** = encore)

Garland Jeffreys: 14 Steps to Harlem – The Review

Since the dawn of what I’ve decided to dub the fast-track century, aka the 21st, there have been a few constants in my life. Family? Of course. Feline? Check. Music? Well, duh! I listen as much now as ever – new artists and old favorites forever intermingle on the ever-evolving soundtrack of my life. Some new artists become old favorites in short order. And old favorites, though they may fade to the background for a spell, always resurface.

There’s just not enough time – not for music, and not for life. It “goes away as quick as a wink. Quicker than you think.” Those lines come from “Time Goes Away,” a meditative gem on this, Garland Jeffreys’ latest long-player. (If it was on YouTube, I’d embed it here.) It’s a beautiful, plaintive tune buttressed by the addition of Garland’s 20-year-old daughter Savannah, who echoes her father’s simple yet profound words: “Time goes away/Till you don’t have many/Till you don’t have any.” (That young voice deserves an album of her own. Just sayin’.) It’s a topic Diane and I discuss often these days, actually: yesteryear often seems like yesterday to us. And our tomorrows…we both know there’s less of them to come.

As a whole, 14 Steps to Harlem finds Garland looking back, surveying the present and contemplating the future – and doing it all to melodies that linger long after the music has ceased. This morning, for instance, I woke with the title track in my head:

Other highlights include “When You Call My Name”…

…and “Venus.”

His cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Waiting for the Man,” written by his old friend Lou Reed, is great to have on album. (It’s been a concert staple of his for the past good while.)

And “Luna Park Love Theme,” which features Lou’s wife Laurie Anderson on electric violin, is the perfect cap to a great outing. Unfortunately, it’s not on YouTube so, instead, here’s a clip of another high point: Garland’s slowed-down spin on the Beatles’ “Help.”

(Here’s the AP’s review; and an excellent USA Today article on the album.)