What I’m Listening to Now – April 2017


Song of the Month

“Cherry Blossom” by ALA.NI

Podcasts of the Month

Best of the Left Progressives Fight on Multiple Fronts

I hear too much infighting about the best way to conduct the resistance, so it’s good to hear this podcast the multiple fronts on which progressives are fighting for our country and our future.

Sound OpinionsMavis Staples

An insightful interview with the musical legend.

The Memory PalaceTemple

I’ve always enjoyed visiting the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Turns out that the temple is not as old as I thought nor has it been in the Met for as long as I’d imagined either.  The stories of why it was built and how it ended up in New York are equally fascinating.

Ben Frankin’s World Paul Revere’s Ride Through History

Four scholars explore the history of Paul Revere and why we remember him today.

99% InvisibleSounds Natural

Viewers of nature documentaries expect that everything in the film comes directly from nature, but having microphones in the right place to capture sounds is so difficult and dangerous that most animal sounds are produced by foley artists.

StarTalk Radio – Baseball: Physics at the Plate

A baseball player, physicists, and comedians join together to discuss baseball at SXSW.  Good things happen

Planet MoneyGeorgetown, Lousiana

The story of a Louisiana town where many of the residents are descendants of 272 slaves sold to fund Georgetown University.

Albums of the Month

Artist: Charly Bliss
Album: Guppy
Release Date: April 21, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Glitter,” “Black Hole,” and “Ruby”

Thoughts: The Brooklyn power pop quartet bring back a mid-90s sound reminiscent of  Letters to Cleo and Velocity Girl.  Eva Hendricks sings a bit nasally over fuzzed-out guitars and drums with lyrics that aren’t anywhere as sweet as they’re sung.  It’s a great throwback but having lived through it all the first time around, I’d prefer something new.
Rating: ***


Artist: Future Islands
Album: The Far Field
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Beauty of the Road,” “Cave,” and “Shadows”

Thoughts: I was not familiar with the Baltimore-based synthpop outfit, but the reviews of the album were good so I thought I’d give it a shot.  The sound is very 80s, reminiscent of Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark, but Samuel Herring’s vocals overlaying the synths are more growly than romantic.  Once again, I’m feeling that I’ve heard this all before. The highlight is the duet with Debbie Harry on “Shadows.”
Rating: **1/2


Artist: Alexandra Savior
Album: Belladonna of Sadness
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Thoughts: This debut from the Portland, OR singer-songwriter features moody crooning over 60’s style jazz-pop.  It’s a little bit reminiscent of Fiona Apple, not to mention umpteen singers from the swinging sixties.  There’s too much polish on this album and the raw talent Savior has is unable to shine through.
Rating: **


Artist: The New Pornographers
Album: Whiteout Conditions
Release Date: April 7, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “High Ticket Attractions”

Thoughts: I’m a long-time fan of The New Pornographers and I’m disappointed by their latest release.  There’s nothing new about it as the reliance on synthesizers seems to just water down their traditional sound rather then expand into new territories.  The emotion and variety of previous albums.  Perhaps the absence of Dan Bejar contributes to the lack of balance and feeling of incompleteness.
Rating: **


ArtistGorillaz
Album: Humans
Release Date: April 28, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Ascension” (feat. Vince Staples),”Momentz” (feat. De La Soul), “Let Me Out” (feat. Mavis Staples and Pusha T), and “We Got the Power” (feat. Jenny Beth)

Thoughts: The band of animated characters is joined by an army of guest artists on this hip-hop, indie pop, electronic dance party album.  It’s all over the place and delightfully strange but there’s a little something for everyone.
Rating: ***1/2

That’s April!  If there’s something I should listen to in May, let me know in the comments.

2014 Year in Review: Favorite Songs


I found it difficult to select just 10 songs I love from 2014.  So, I didn’t and instead I’ve compiled a list of 20 fantastic tracks of the past year.  And I could add more.  The songs are listed below, alphabetically by title.

For previous year-end lists of previous years check out my lists for 20132012,  2011,  2010  and  2009.

I’ve featured many of this songs in my Song of the Week posts this year.  If you see a link from a song title it will take you back to the Song of the Week post for that song.

Archie, Marry Me” – Alvvays

Beneath the Brine” – The Family Crest

“Chaghaybou” – Tinariwen


“Coffee” – Sylvan Esso


Discourse My New Romance” – Shinedoe


“Disco // very” – Warpaint


“Divisionary (Do the Right Thing)” – Ages and Ages


Don’t Wait” – Mapei


“Don’t Wanna Lose” – Ex Hex


Elon Matana” – Clap! Clap!


FUNKNROLL” – Prince


“Go Away” – Weezer


“Good Mistake” – Mr. Little Jeans


“Grotto Beat” – Don Flemons


The Liar” – Fennesz


Low” – Young Fathers


“92nd Street” – Kris Delmhorst


“Ohun Aiye” – Seun Kuti & Egypt 80


“Quartz” – TV on the Radio


“True Trans Soul Rebel” – Against Me!

Song of the Week: “FUNKNROLL” by Prince


Prince released two new albums at the end of September, Art Official Age under his own name and with the band 3rdEyeGirl, Plectrum Electrum.  Both albums contain a version of the song “FUNKNROLL.”  While the version below is from Art Official Age, overall Plectrum Electrum is by far the better album.

Enjoy the groove.

Ten Favorite Songs of 1992


The project continues with my favorite songs of 1992.  Read the first post for the detail on this project.

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Are You Happy Now? – Richard Shindell

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The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead –  XTC

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Church – Lyle Lovett

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Doo Doo Brown – 2 Hyped Brothers and a Dog

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Hawa Dolo– Ali Farka Touré

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7 – Prince

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Something Good –  Utah Saints

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Stars – Bobby McFerrin & Yo-Yo Ma

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Thing Of Beauty – Hothouse Flowers

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Upside-Down – Yo La Tengo

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And my song of shame for 1992: Jump Around by House of Pain

Ten Favorite Songs of 1991 (x 2)


1991.  The year everything changed.  The year I graduated from high school.  The year I moved from Connecticut to Virginia.  The year I started college.  The year I turned 18. The year I went to my first rock concert (Fishbone, with Primus opening).  The year of Out of Time and Nevermind, and suddenly music that had been relegated as “college rock” and “alternative” was everywhere.

I’m going to get a little crazy and list 20 great songs from 1991.  And if you find that indulgent, well, I could probably list more.

Clare’s Scarf  – John & Mary

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Crazy – Seal

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Dónal agus Mórag –  Altan

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Everybody Plays the Fool – Aaron Neville

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Fight The Youth – Fishbone

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Gett Off  – Prince

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Groovy Train – The Farm

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Gypsy Woman –  Crystal Waters

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In Bloom – Nirvana

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Justified and Ancient (Stand by the JAMS) – The KLF featuring Tammy Wynette

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Kill Your Television – Ned’s Atomic Dustbin

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Kiss Them For Me – Siouxsie and the Banshees

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Move Any Mountain – The Shamen

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Only Shallow – My Bloody Valentine

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A Roller Skating Jam Named “Saturdays” – De La Soul

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Sax and Violins – Talking Heads

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3 Strange Days – School Of Fish

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Until The End Of The World – U2

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Walking in Memphis – Marc Cohn

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Wicked Game – Chris Isaak

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And a handful of shameful, guilty pleasures from 1991:

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It Ain’t Over ’til It’s Over – Lenny Kravitz

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I Touch Myself – Divinyls

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Life Is a Highway – Tom Cochrane

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Right Here, Right Now – Jesus Jones

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Sadeness (Part I) – Enigma

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Unbelievable – EMF

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Are there any songs left?  Let me know in the comments.