Album: Love is Magic
Artist: John Grant
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Love is Magic,” “Tempest,” “Diet Gum,” and “Is He Strange?
American expatriate John Grant resides now in Iceland where he makes very weird music. The synths and disco beats make the album feel straight from the early 80s complete with spoken word segments reminiscent of Laurie Anderson. The lyrics are crude, angry, deeply personal, and sometimes just plain bizarre. It took me a few listens to warm up to Love is Magic, but it still doesn’t feel as good as Grant’s earlier work.
Album: Sugar & Spice
Release Date: May 25, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Sure,” “Sleep,” and “Try.”
The debut EP by Australian singer/songwriter Hatchie (no apparent relation to Waxahatchee), a.k.a. Harriette Pilbeam, is five tracks of dreamy, ethereal vocals over layered, jangly pop. It’s reminiscent of the early 90s alternative acts (think The Sundays or cranberries) who were drowned out by grunge, but nevertheless created some of the best music of the period. It’s a sweet treat and I look forward to more from Hatchie.
To the Best of Our Knowledge :: Pick Your Poison
The most stunning segment of this episode on poison regards “The Radium Girls” of Ottawa, Illinois, who were poisoned painting clock dials with radium. It’s another example of cruelty of capitalist greed, misogyny, and indifference to human suffering.
Twenty Thousand Hertz :: Theremin
I’m fascinated by weird instruments like the theremin and the career of Bob Moog, and this podcast has a lot of both.
Fresh Air :: Don’t Be Fooled By The Talking Horse — ‘BoJack’ Is A Sadness ‘Sneak Attack’
I’ve written reviews of BoJack Horseman here stating it’s the “best show on television,” and Terry Gross’ interview with its creator is revelatory.
99% Invisible :: The Worst Way to Start a City
What if a city was born by just having 100,000 people show up at once and claim their spot? That’s the weird story of Oklahoma City. Listen to this just for the “Oh, Joe – here’s your mule!” part.
Some new albums that don’t exactly contain new content, so I’m reviewing them in bulk.
Artist: St. Vincent
Release Date: October 12, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Slow Disco,” “Los Ageless,”
Thoughts: A release of Masseduction with everything stripped away except Annie Clarke’s voice and a piano, making her sound more like a chanteuse. I think I like this version better, although I didn’t really like the original much at all.
Album: My Way
Artist: Willie Nelson
Release Date: September 14, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “Summer Wind,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” “One for My Baby (And One More For the Road,” “What is This Thing Called Love?,” and “My Way”
Thoughts: Willie Nelson sings swinging standards in the style of Frank Sinatra. What’s not to like?
Album: Piano and a Microphone 1983
Release Date: September 21, 2018
Favorite Tracks: “17 Days,” “Cold Coffee & Cocaine,” and “Why the Butterflies”
Thoughts: The first posthumous release from Prince’s music vaults is a glimpse of an artist at work. Just Prince tooling around on a piano, working on several songs, and being amazingly talented.
The Derevolutions :: “Agua de Beber”
The Beths :: “You Wouldn’t Like Me”
Fatboy Slim :: “Gangster Trippin (Sultan + Shepard Remix)”
Ross From Friends :: “Project Cybersyn”
Day 30: A song that reminds me of yourself
There was a time when I thought “Lost Soul” by Bruce Hornsby and Shawn Colvin was about me. Maybe it still is?
Day 29: A song you remember from your childhood
I specifically remember being a young child at the end of a long day visiting my grandparents in Brooklyn in the back of my father’s cavernous Chevy Nova as the rhythmic paving bumps on the BQE and “Baby Come Back” by Player lulled me to sleep.
Day 28: A song by an artist whose voice you love
I’ve always had a thing for ethereal women’s voices, including that of Harriet Wheeler, who sings lead vocals on The Sunday’s “Here’s Where the Story Ends.”
Day 27: A song that breaks your heart
The longing, the loneliness, the fear of dying, and the fact that Elizabeth Cotten was not even recognized for writing this song for a long time all make “Freight Train” a heartbreaking song.
Day 26: A song that makes you want to fall in love
“Old Devil Time” by Pete Seeger reminds me to gather my lovers around to fight off time and death, and I find my lovers everywhere – family, children, friends, neighbors….I fall in love every day.