Showing posts with label #NewMusicMonday. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #NewMusicMonday. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2024

#NewMusicMonday • March, 2024 • Failing Forward

Embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you're not failing, you're probably not really moving forward. –John C. Maxwell

Hey, make this t-shirt, I know a gal!
This past week I was in Palm Springs at the annual CUE (Computing Using Educators) Conference. I have been going to this conference, well... before the invention of the Internet. Back in the 1980's through early 2000's, we as computing using educator's could only dream about every student having a laptop in their backpack. 

At some point in the 2010's, the tipping point was happening. From teachers having one desktop computer in their class, it evolved into teachers having a whole locking cart of classroom laptops, to each individual student having their own laptop assigned to them like a textbook, that they could take home.

As teachers, we keep pushing forward, stumbling and falling with slow-moving leaders, but always advocating for the integration of technology across the K-12 curriculum. Attending the conference this year, I realized many of the teacher's present were actually the school children growing up in a digital world where "digital access" became well... expected.

Fomcore - Rock'n Roller @ CUE
I was at the conference this year working with my colleagues at
D&D Learning Spaces to push that same envelope with mobile and modular furniture (and technology) for the classroom. As a reader, you may be unaware that the same furniture that young students used in the 80's and 90's, are now grown tax paying adults, and their own children are still using that same crappy furniture. So today, we have 21st technology in classrooms with school furniture purchased when Ronald Reagan was President. A bit of a disconnect from the world of work, and the concept of project-based learning. And, that tipping point in public school classrooms is probably another good 5 -10 years out. Hey, but teachers can dream, and they can act.

So, I'm in my exhibitor space, talking with teachers who say, "I guess I could dream about getting this cool furniture in my class someday." Then, I see a teacher in his 30's walk by with a black t-shirt with the phrase, "Failing Forward" in white letters on the front. I just smile. Here's a teacher coming to this conference to learn new things, make mistakes, and change young people's lives for the better. 

My motto in life is a line taken from The Beatles song, Hey Jude,
"Take a sad song and make it better."

Now think of yourself. How will you fail this month and year to ultimately achieve a series of steps to success? 

As JD Souther says in his wonderful song, Little Victories,
I know it hurt sometimes to look around
The sameness of it beats you down
And the best seems all behind
Before you start

Little victories
I know you need one
Little victories


Now the playlist this week has nothing to do with my post above, and that's kind of my way in life these days. I bounce around with different passions and often conflate things like school furniture and rock 'n' roll together. 

Whistle while you work my friends. Enjoy the playlist.


Monday, February 26, 2024

#NewMusicMonday • February, 2024 • John Leventhal

John Leventhal is one of those great musicians that you probably have never heard of before. Like most people, I learned about Mr. Leventhal through his famous wife, Rosanne Cash. In 2018, I got to see both perform at the wonderful 700+ seat Edmonds Performing Arts Center in Edmonds, Washington. I wrote a blog about it, Rosanne Cash Duo - Edmonds Center for the Arts, 1/25/18. Recently, I have seen them billed as Rosanne Cash & John Leventhal. Today, I'll just focus on John and his new album, Rumble Strip, that is also the same name of Cash's and Leventhal's new record label. 

Rumble Strip is Leventhal's first solo album, but with 6 Grammy's under his belt has made a career being a very successful record producer. (Click on the link to go into several good articles about Leventhal, Rumble Strip, and his 30 year relationship with Cash.)

My interest in Leventhal (who is 71) is basically my interest in people continuing to create, and maybe getting a little attention after a lifetime of already excellent work. It is so inspiring to see older people continuing to work their craft and just keep doing it year in and year out. John Leventhal, you're a new hero of mine!

The playlist this week has a smattering of new songs from new albums that are coming out soon. I have saved the end of the playlist for all of the remaining songs on Rumble Strip not featured at the top of the playlist. Rumble Strip is the perfect listening album for my taste in music in 2024, writing and arranging with acoustic guitars that just soothes the soul.

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, January 29, 2024

#NewMusicMonday • January, 2024 • Women Rule 'n' Roll

Over the course of the last several years I have noticed a trend in my #NewMusicMonday posts, women are ruling the Americana genre of music. Even as I explore Indie or Alternative genres, they are now either led by a woman or one or more members of a band now consist of women. 

You don't have to look deep in any field and realize that women are qualitatively front and center. One stat that I recently read was that nearly 60% of women attend a college or university, whereas men are at just over 40%. But, as usual, the flip side of that statistic is that it's also harder for women to get accepted into these same colleges, as admissions offices are aggressively looking for more men. 

I'm not here to make this about bashing men. I've always had a large musical preference towards women musical artists that all started with Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt, and Emmy Lou Harris in the 1970's. And, even though I'm not a big Beyoncé and Taylor Swift fan, They are currently at the very top of the music business.

All my big male rock 'n' roll heroes, like most of my friends, are over 70, or "almost 70" as my buddy Paul has been told. 

For me, popular music in the 20th century was about making hits. As the young artists of the 70's, 80's and 90's grew older, their hits started dropping off at some point, but I didn't stop listening to them. As a maturing music listener, my music tastes have expanded to other genres, but more importantly, it's discovering the deep cuts, the one's that never get played on the radio, or late night television shows.

Several years ago, I found Sarah Jarosz and Madison Cunningham on YouTube. These two young women for me represent the best of 21st century music, women of heart and mind. 

Recently, Rosanne Cash celebrated her 30th anniversary of the album,  The Wheel as she and husband and collaborator John Leventhal remastered and released the album on their own new label, Rumble Strip. I think of Rosanne Cash as sort of a new pioneer who took her daddy's music with elements of folk and rock 'n' roll back to its roots, and moved it forward to the future. 

I hear those roots and future in Sarah Jarosz and Madison Cunningham, and in new music by Brandy Clark and Dori Freeman this month. Not to fear, I have a new Mark Knopfler song, a couple of Real Estate and Bleachers songs, and new song from The Black Keys to create a little 80/20 women to men ratio here in the playlist this week. But whose counting?

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

Monday, November 27, 2023

New Music and Documentary Monday • September - November, 2023

Boy, a day late and a dollar short here. I might be slippin' in my diligence to bring you the latest Americana and rock 'n' roll but what's a couple of months when my grandchildren look at this someday and think... we'll he'd been slippin' for years.

As usual, I don't have much to say about all the good new music here other than letting the shifting and sorting of putting together a respectable playlist represent the heavy-lifting in the last quarter of 2023. The Americana genre dominates my new music selections as that's were the talent lies these day. Yep, you're still waiting for the ghost of _____________ (fill in the blank) to turn up in a youthful form and spark the great rock 'n' roll revival of 2025. 

Now before you get to the playlist, here's a list of recent documentaries that I have watched and highly recommend as you plant yourself into some soft seating during the holidays. Speaking of which, don't miss my annual Christmas Mix 2023 next week, followed in the weeks ahead by My Favorite Songs of 1963, 1973, and 2023 to take us to the end of the year.

  • The Stones and Brian Jones  (Just released in theaters and rent on Amazon Prime $7.99) - Featuring candid interviews with the Rolling Stones and never-before-seen footage, this captivating documentary explores how Brian Jones, the genius founder of the greatest rock band in the world, was left behind in the shadows of history.

  • Born In Chicago (Amazon Prime)  - In 1960, a group of white teenage Chicago musicians traveled to the city's southside music clubs to learn the blues from the original masters. This is their story.

  • Tom Petty: Somewhere You Feel Free - The Making of Wildflowers (Amazon Prime) - In 2020, a collection of 16mm film was discovered of Tom Petty, capturing a prolific songwriting streak from 1993-95 making the album Wildflowers with producer Rick Rubin. Known for being reclusive about his personal life & creative process. The award winning & critically acclaimed, Somewhere You Feel Free is a candid & musically rich look into the legendary artist's creative genius.

  • David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived (HBO) - Gymnast David Holmes played Daniel Radcliffe’s stunt double in the Harry Potter films until a tragic on-set accident left him paralyzed. With his life turned upside down, David's extraordinary spirit of resilience becomes a source of strength and inspiration to everyone around him. Featuring intimate interviews with David, Daniel Radcliffe, friends, family, and colleagues, David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived reflects on living with adversity, forging a new identity, and the bonds that bind us together and lift us up.

  • Albert Brooks: Defending My Life (HBO) - From stand-up to acting to writing and directing, Albert Brooks has been a major force in American comedy since the late 1960s. With testimonials from comedians, friends, family, and Brooks himself, Albert Brooks: Defending My Life explores the origins and evolution of Brooks’ career, the impetus for his creativity, and his enduring impact on comedy.

  • Stand Up & Shout: Songs From a Philly High School (HBO) - This heartfelt documentary follows a unique music program at Hill-Freedman World Academy that teaches students to write, compose, produce, and perform original songs. Together with local musicians, they create an album that captures the challenging times they’re living in and the joy that music brings. Stand Up & Shout: Songs From a Philly High School explores the transformative power of music and how arts education can be a source of hope and healing.

  • and coming in December - The Immediate Family - The Immediate Family is a unique group of iconic musicians who have played together for decades but never as their own band. Known for their long, illustrious careers backing up such Hall-of-Fame artists such as James Taylor, Keith Richards, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Carole King, Stevie Nicks and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, guitarists Danny Kortchmar and Waddy Wachtel, drummer Russ Kunkel, and bassist Leland Sklar have come together, along with guitarist Steve Postell, to perform their own songs as The Immediate Family, a band that can legitimately be called a supergroup.

Enjoy the Playlist my friends! 

Monday, October 23, 2023

#NewMusicMonday • October, 2023 • Hackney Diamonds • The Rolling Stones

60 Years of Music. Wait a minute. This is not a Monday Monday Music blog going back to 1963, this is The Rolling Stones releasing a new album of original material this month! 

The album's name is London slang for the shattered glass left behind after burglars have smashed a window to break in, Hackney being an inner-city area of London associated with a high crime rate. Wikipedia

Hackney Diamonds is a gem. It's just so wonderful to hear new rock 'n' roll period, much less from the band known as the "world's greatest rock 'n' roll band" from the 20 century. 

I mean for god's sake Mick Jagger is 80 and can still belt it out. Keith Richards will be 80 in December and has adapted his guitar playing around the arthritis in his hands. Ronnie Wood is the young one at 76. Who would have ever imagined that this band would still be going in 2023- they must be on lithium batteries. 

I wish Charlie could have made this one, but wait a minute, he's on a couple of tracks, not to mention original bass player Bill Wyman on a Stones track for the first time in 30 years. Then, there's Paul McCartney, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Lady Gaga who are featured in songs throughout the album. This one's a bag of jewels ready for the taking.

Enjoy my friends, and never die young because we all still have a lot to do! 

Monday, June 05, 2023

#NewMusicMonday • April - May, 2023 • The Record Producer

In listening to several new albums released in the past couple of months my thoughts drifted to the broad category of "Indie" music. I'm not going to get into all the indie and alternative music dynamics as the business of popular music evolved or devolved in the late 20th century. What I'm thinking here in 2023 is that the general public doesn't know or hear about the 'Record Producer' much anymore.

Back in the day, major label recording artists would all use or were even assigned a Producer by the record company to enhance the odds of creating a hit song. One reason that artists slowly blew up this model was for the fact that the record label often used the Producer to control the recording process and thus, the product.

As newer folk, rock 'n' roll and rock artists and bands became more independent, the meaning of indie itself kind of found two camps.

  1.  Successful and signed artists wanting control of their content in making albums on an established record label and,
  2.  Lesser successful and unsigned artists without a record contract and a friggin' dime.
In the 21st century, both camps expanded their audiences by creating and streaming their songs and albums on the Internet, or as many published musicians have learned to say, "pennies on a dollar."

In cutting to the chase, sometimes in hearing professional artists self-produce their recordings is that feeling I get that something is missing. It's hard for me as a non-musician to put my finger on it, but maybe an established record producer à la Glyn Johns or Phil Ramone could add that punch and magic to make a professional recording, well more professional.

In listening to the indie pop group The Lemon Twigs' new album, Everything Harmony,  I got the feeling that there are some really good songs here, but if they had only used a producer à la Todd Rundgren, I bet it would have been even better. 

What's great about YouTube is hearing both the polished song version on an album, and the unpolished versions of the same song in various live performances. I'm often looking for the live performance of a song, and that is so much easier and accessible with music made in the 21st century.

As film turned to tape in late 60's, so many great performance really can't be heard or even seen well in the digital transfer to a YouTube video. Maybe that's why my old ear falls back to the standard of songs that were well produced and released on vinyl when hearing those 60's-70's original recordings on YouTube today. 

In relation to songs being recorded today, I'm not talking about the quality of analog vs. digital, I'm talking about the teamwork of an artist and producer crafting the arrangement of a song together. 

I don't want to make this a generational thing, I love and appreciate a lot of music being recorded today. On one hand it's easier to make music and share it with the world, on the other hand, it's still a small group of artists who get a great record deal and all the things that go with making a record, like maybe, an experienced record producer. 

Enjoy the playlist my friends!

Monday, February 27, 2023

#NewMusicMonday • February, 2023

Within a genre of music you're going to encounter, sameness. As a big fan of rock 'n' roll back in the 60's and 70's there were always the imitators. This continues today as many young artists fall into the stereotypical pattern of sameness all trying to relight that spark of familiar hits by previous artists. 

In listening to modern streaming genre playlists with titles like, "Fresh Folk," "Emerging Americana," and "All New Indie," I find that they just seem to perpetuate homogenous grouping of young artists and their niche songs. I'm totally showing my age here, but how many solo droning self-indulgent "smelly cat" artists can there be on a new songs streaming playlist? This past week I kept saying to myself, where have all the bands gone?

In any event, it's getting to be a bit of a grind, as I don't have the time I did a few years ago to do a deep dive hunt for rock 'n' roll and Americana and put a monthly 50+ playlist together. So I'm going to just roll with it. If it takes me two or three months to put a worthy new playlist together with a little musical diversity, then that's where I'm at with my taste in music in 2023. 

There are so many young talented artists I have discovered for myself in the past eight years and shared with my dedicated little group of Monday Monday listeners that I will alway keep this #NewMusicMonday series going. So even though I'm basically saying that the new gems are further distanced from each other these days, it's probably the same feeling I had back in the late 1970's too.

Enjoy my friends. There's people like (header above left to right) Andrew Bird, Bonny Light Horseman, Joy Oladokun, The Lemon Twigs, Caitlin Rose, and (below them) the Milk Carton Kids out there making great new music.

Monday, January 30, 2023

#NewMusicMonday • January, 2023

Looks like I need to play a little catch up with #NewMusicMonday as it last appeared on Monday Monday Music back in October, 2022.

I've been thinking about David Crosby's passing and his exceptional gift for singing harmony. I finish the playlist with his 2021 cover of Joni Mitchell's, For Free with Sarah Jarosz.  

I then started stumbling across fairly new songs with harmony typically featuring a guest singer. Speaking of featured guests, it must be a new rule to have Phoebe Bridgers as a featured artist on your new song. She must be the new Michael McDonald of guest appearances on songs for the 2020's. However, I must say, Brandi Carlile is probably a close contender for the featured singer title too as she's seems to be everywhere. 

It's so hard to find rock 'n' roll bands these days that bring something new with my classic jingle-jangle taste. I've been playing new Sloan songs over the past several months and decided to feature the October, 2022 release of their 13th album, Steady here. It's all right there in the title.

Enjoy the playlist my friends. If you're new to Monday Monday Music playlists, they're different than what you'll find in the sameness of the streaming services in their genre playlists like Indie and Folk.

p.s. Nickel Creek fans, they have a new song!

Monday, September 26, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • September, 2022

Sunday, around 6pm.
I'm staring at a blank white screen with a blinking cursor. I've got nothing. 

But, I did make time to curate a playlist of 72 songs over a month.

The listening, sifting and sorting discovery to make a playlist
is a wonderful escape.

And, that's something. Enjoy my friends.

Monday, August 29, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • August, 2022

Madison Cunningham doesn't dominate the playlist this week, but I'm already getting geared up for her next album release, Revealer on September, 9th. I have been following Madison for a couple of years now. In January, 2021 she released on YouTube a home recording of the song, Life According To Raechel that knocked the running socks off friend Paul Hobbs and I when it came out. She has now recorded the song for the new album and it's the first song of the playlist, and I hope it hits you like it did us. I finish off the playlist with Madison's recent appearance of NPR's Tiny Desk Concert with four songs from Revealer

Tedeschi Trucks Band finished their 24 song epic, I am The Moon this month, with Part III The Fall, and Part IV Farewell. I have included songs from these last two parts and just love how Susan and Derek feature all their band members, a real musical family that harks back to the Leon Russell and Delaney and Bonnie ensembles. You feel the spirit of this band and the love all the members have for one another. The late 60's and early 70's rock 'n' roll DNA lives on with this band with so many new original songs.

Speaking of that DNA, Marcus King is not related to Mountain's Leslie West, but the physical stature coupled with his kickass rock guitar chops reminds me of albums made from vinyl back in the sweet spot time period. King's new album, Young Blood with its southern blues vibe and rock guitar licks provide a nice mix throughout as my more subtle Americana tunes selection tend to dominate this week.

The Watkins Family Hour Vol. II are a big part of the Americana tunes featured in the playlist. Siblings Sara and Sean continue to make great music together since their early days starting with Nickel Creek. The album is sprinkled with guest artists including Madison Cunningham. 

Hopefully, a little something for everyone as so many great young musicians make new music or cover the greats with the time honored tradition of mixing something old and something new.

Enjoy my friends!

Monday, July 25, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • July, 2022

This past week I began the rather easy and fun task of listening, shifting, and sorting new music that was released this month, or songs I have missed in the past couple of months.

The Mosaic browser
Recently on CNN, I watched the decades series, "The Nineties: The Information Age." I watched it in real time, and ironically was just so annoyed at having to watch the commercials. 

Most of my teaching career was spent as a educational technology resource teacher and so the time beginning in September of 1993 when the Internet began with the Mosaic browser, then Netscape, then Microsoft Explorer, were exciting times. The pioneer days.

The evolution of Internet music with music piracy servers like Napster in 1999, then legit online music stores like Apple iTunes, and now online subscription music streaming services, actually rekindled my interest in music. After years of being a working stiff in the 80's and 90's, I rediscovered my passion for rock 'n' roll and folk through the shear ease of access, online. 

A Monday Monday Music™ blog post now averages between 150-200 hits during its first week of publication. During that first week, the playlist that accompanies the post gets about 1/3 of the hits than the post itself. I realized early on in the world of blog writing that the author has about 3 minutes tops to convey their message. So, when it comes to listening to a playlist of 25+ songs, most just ignore it altogether. 

I say this as I'm just so thankful that you're actually here reading this at this moment. If you never listen to my playlists, I would just suggest, pick one song to listen to as most songs are also typically no more than 3 minutes too. (Although, most of the songs I usually pick for the playlist are 4+ minutes. This week there are several songs in the 7-10 minute category like the old days of rock 'n' roll.)

In any event, do like most of my playlist listeners do, and just do the famous 'digital skip' until you land on something that catches your ear. I will guarantee there's at least one song here worth listening to that you've never heard before, and most likely will never ever hear on the radio.

Enjoy my friends. Skip, skip, skip to my Paul McCartney.

Monday, June 27, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • June, 2022

As Americans, we have a long history of progressively adding things to make our lives better 💪. Whether it be civil liberties, creating new genres of music, social security, medical breakthroughs, inventing new technologies, or even a city getting a new sports franchise team. 

We Americans don't like things being taken away from us. Whether it be our civil liberties, prohibition, nazis trying to take over the world, an insurrection, or even a professional sports team moving away from your city (I've had two, mother... 😖).

Every month, I write a blog and make a playlist about fifty years ago in music, so that puts me currently in 1972.

Breanna Stewart
Power Forward • Seattle Storm • WNBA
In 1972, the Supreme court debated Roe v. Wade and on January 22, 1973 voted 7-2 to give women the fundamental right to have the option to have an abortion. 

On June 23, 1972, Title IX also became Federal law giving women the right to equally participate in  educational sports that received federal funding. 

Both Roe v. Wade and Title IX created new opportunities for women and I will go so far as to say, saved lives.

A human life is very limited without two essential things: opportunity and choice.
I'm writing this on Friday, June 24, 2022 just as the Supreme Court has reversed Roe v. Wade and almost 50 years of protecting women. This backward decision has taken away an attained right affecting opportunity and choice for women with the rippling effect to all American families (including men). 

I have two daughters, two step-daughters, and four granddaughters, all born after Roe v. Wade and Title IX. Let me just say as a father speaking with my collective daughters in mind, that they will not endure or suffer the religious zealot fools kindly in taking away a woman's fundamental right to an abortion. They refuse, or will refuse the idiot's premise that to make America great (white) again, America must go backwards in time.

Best album title of the year
So the white religious crazies have successfully played the political long game on abortion. You can disagree or even hate their motives and methods, but you have to acknowledge and respect their tenacity to tirelessly fight for what they believe in.

With right-wing-nuts like Clarence (and Ginni) Thomas leading the charge, who say the Supreme Court “should reconsider” its past rulings to now take away Americans rights to contraception access, same-sex relationships and same-sex marriage, you have to marvel at their privileged power position in action. If 63% of Americans who support Roe v. Wade have seen it fall, why wouldn't evangelicals keep their clown car rolling with the pedal to the floor?

I wonder, will my inept majority Democratic Party ever get off its ass to simply vote in the midterms? What's the midterms?

Ok, enough for now. In times like this it's probably best to just take my shaking hands off the keyboard and sit back and listen to the playlist I made this past week. I will leave with my new favorite album title of the year including a couple of songs featured in the playlist this week.

Summer's here and Jack Johnson grabbed my attention with his new album, Meet The Moonlight. He's the tonic I need right now including the new song called, Calm Down. I think I'll take Jack's advice.

Enjoy the new music releases my friends.

Monday, May 30, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • May, 2022

 Pop music. I'm mostly underwhelmed by most pop artists and bands today, and then Harry Styles came along a few years back. He's so good, and getting better. So good in fact, that I keep listening to his new album, Harry's House like I used to listen to new albums. I think it's simply fantastic! Harry's a terrific person who's really lifting people up with this new album and it's perfectly timed to counter the hate in our increasingly 'cruel country.' Go Harry!

Last Friday, my daughter Shawna stopped by to help me take my car in for some service. While my car was in the shop, we drove together to get some breakfast at our favorite, DZ Akins. In her car, she starts to play Harry's House and asks me if I have heard any of the new songs? 

She then tells me how Harry Styles is part of a group of artists with a special invite to Joni Mitchell's house (pre-Covid) to play, sing and just jam together. Harry's House is in fact a Joni Mitchell song (not on Harry's new album) but on her 1975 album, The Hissing of Summer Lawns (still part of my vinyl collection). I'm sure as polite as Harry is he probably asked for permission first, as Joni tweeted her approval when the album was announced in March. Oh Harry, the friends you keep.

In my opinion,  I think Harry Styles is going to be the artist of his generation as his greatness has only just begun.

I was also pleased to discover that this was a great release month for new rock 'n' roll and Americana with a little something for everybody. I'll let my usual album focused playlist speak for itself this month.

But first, something more important from the editorial desk-
My fellow 90% of Americans, enough. It is time to vote out all the politicians who don't support background checks on all gun sales. These same NRA funded politicians continue to support the insanity of letting the general public continue to buy assault weapons with high-capacity bullet magazines. I think the NRA's issue of Democrats taking away people's guns for hunting animals has never been the issue at all. But now more than ever, Americans face the much larger crisis of people hunting people with AR-15 style rifles (60 Minutes) as their mass weapon of choice in our schools, churches and public gathering places. It's way past time to throw these assholes out of office and their semi-automatic thoughts and prayers. Enough. If you didn't watch 60 Minutes last night, I recommend you click on the link above.

Now Harry Styles brought me to Everytown for Gun Safety where he has just donated 1 million dollars to this leading non-profit organization. I can't match that but Mike Bloomberg is tripling Harry's donation and yours too if you make a donation by May 31st. I just donated $25 so thank you Mr. Bloomberg for tripling that! 

Enjoy the music my friends.

Here is the YouTube Music app which is great for listening to this playlist on your phone. Click on the text link below.

Monday, April 25, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • March-April, 2022

 I'm a folk and Rock 'n' album guy. In reviewing albums released in March and April of this year I found six worthy of note from a songwriting perspective. For me, it's hard to find an album these days where I like most of the songs. You know that Bonnie Raitt is going to deliver, and of course she does as she writes or covers songs with style and grace, not to mention she can still make you shed a tear. Listen to the songs, Just Like That and Down The Hall, and you'll know what I'm talking about.

Colin Hay is my personal find of 2022. I really never paid attention to him as I wasn't a big Men At Work fan. Colin has been busy over the years touring, playing in Ringo's All Star Band, and putting out some fine albums the last several years. The guy speaks right to me and I enjoy everything he records on YouTube, a real gem, you should check him out.

Of the six albums, I've only seen Mike Campbell live with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and also a few years back in Fleetwood Mac. External Combustion is a really good rock 'n' roll album and Campbell is a very good front man for his band, The Dirty Knobs. How does one go on after losing their lifetime musical collaborator? Well nobody's going to replace Tom, and Mike is just being Mike Campbell, a fantastic guitar player, and not a bad lead singer too. The Heartbreaker spirit lives on and thank the gods we still have rock 'n' rollers like Mike Campbell making music.

I also just discovered Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices this past year. The Band was formed in 1983 and is just another great rock 'n' roll band to come out of the mid-west (Ohio). He writes and plays nice little guitar riffs and I ended up including song after song from Crystal Nuns Cathedral to the playlist.

If you're looking for introspective folk, you'll find it all over the streaming services with most of it just sounding the same. If I hear one more droning indie female or male voice... skip. Well, Christian Lee Hudson is for me an exception. Produced by Phoebe Bridgers who is also a cut above, lets Hudson's songwriting carry the day. I'm thinking Joni Mitchell probably likes Christian Lee Hudson.

And lastly, Jeremy Ivey. Invisible Pictures is his third solo album and a guy you want to succeed as an emerging Americana star. I was feeling for him after trying to look him up on Wikipedia. He didn't have a Wikipedia page as it cross referenced him to his wife, the now very famous Margo Price. He probably gets that a lot, as just being "the husband" of Margo Price. Anyway, I love most everything both of them do together and separately, and this is a couple you just want to root for to counter the stereotypical Nashville country pop tripe.

Enjoy the playlist my friends.

Here is the YouTube Music app which is great for listening to this playlist on your phone. Click on the text link below.

Monday, February 28, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • February, 2022

A little bit of folk a little bit of rock 'n' roll. A hand-made curated playlist like no other...

Let's start with some new folk music from a duo that has just released their second album, One Day by The Cactus Blossoms. Often artists and bands get tagged with, "they sound like..." as I'm sure The Cactus Blossoms are sick of hearing that they sound like... The Everly Brothers. First off nobody will ever sound like the Everly Brothers who are forever in the rarified air of music heaven. It's really a bit unfair as the Cactus Blossoms have actually many influences that probably even date back further than Duane Eddy, who also comes to mind. Anyway give these guys a listen as you'll appreciate them for all their influences to make their own Americana music in the 21st century.

One of my best sources for finding new folk/bluegrass/Americana music (or whatever genre label you want to stick here) is the online publication, The Bluegrass Situation. I came across Janis Ian's latest and she says her last studio album at age 70, Better Times Will Come. Most of us were introduced to Janis Ian through her huge hit in 1975, At Seventeen. Well Janis has actually made 25 albums and like so many others I have come to appreciate her work in a second round in my 60's. The songwriting on Better Times Will Come is outstanding, as I just kept adding songs to the playlist this week. 

Hey for all you rock 'n' rollers out there, we actually have some new tunes by some classic people who made a big splash back in the 80's and 90's: Tears For Fears, Spoon, Johnny Marr (from The Smiths), and Eddie Vedder doing a solo album (from Pearl Jam). It's hard to find one worthy new rock 'n' roll album released in a month, much less four for this month. Enjoy my friends!

Note- Starting this week my YouTube playlists will come in two formats - 

  • Below is the playlist in its usual embedded format in the blog.

Monday, January 31, 2022

#NewMusicMonday • January, 2022

On January 14th, Elvis Costello released his 32nd studio album, The Boy Named If. Costello, born Declan Patrick MacManus, (August 25, 1954) is 67 years old and was part of the 'New Wave' genre that began in the late 1970's and into the 80's. As I was putting together the playlist this month, I came across new singles (for upcoming albums) from fellow 80's music stars, the Tears For Fears duo, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith (both 60 years old), and Colin Hay (68) who was the band leader of Men At Work. 

Now when I reached 60 years old and had retired from my teaching career, I received a letter from the AARP welcoming me to the club. F*** that! I had no interest in retirement other than getting a monthly check while not driving to a school parking lot five days a week. Around my 65th birthday, it dawned on me that I had in fact entered the same club called, "senior citizen" as my mother, who still is 20 years older than me! 

So, 1980's rock 'n' rollers who forty years ago were the 'new wave' are now probably seen by young people in their 20's as the same gray group of rock 'n' rollers who created music in the 1960's. Oh well, I guess that's the circle of things.

From the gray side of both sides now, music has always had young stars not only following their heroes who were 10-20 years older, but with their talent, equally shared the big stage at the same time. I just love the mix of younger artists like Madison Cunningham and older artists like Colin Hay releasing records and streams in the 21st century. Who knows, maybe someday they'll do a song together.

The gray haired musicians, no matter their age, are an inspiration to us all, to keep creating, to keep making stuff. It doesn't matter if you create something in your garage, on your dining room table, at a computer, or in a studio... never stop.

In looking for new music releases every month, I always come across singles or albums that passed me by the first time around. So as a bonus this month, I'm going to include Colin Hay's entire 2021 album, I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself. I just found this album last week and love Colin's voice and his versions of these classic covers. His new album, Now And The Evermore is coming out in March and I won't miss that one. Rock on Colin Hay!

Monday, December 27, 2021

My Favorite Songs of 2021

A Year Of #NewMusicMondays
Last Year, I began a monthly feature called #NewMusicMonday. This post is a culmination of 12 months of searching, sifting, and sorting new music every month across the Internet. YouTube Playlists have a built-in limitation of 200 songs when embedded into a web page like Monday Monday Music™.  This 200 song limit can be a blessing and curse. I basically had to revisit over a 1000 handpicked songs and whittle that down to 200 of my favorite favs, including any new songs from December. 

Last week, I did the same for my Fifty Years of Music series with the same process for songs from 1971. That was a much easier task for the many songs that were already part of my rock 'n' roll DNA. Here, this was a bit more work of current listening. In 2021, there are fewer great rock 'n' roll songs being written and recorded, but at the same time the 'Americana genre' continues to evolve often blending Rock 'n' Roll, Folk, Indie, Bluegrass, Country, and Blues.

Genre bending and blending is basically what music has been, is, and will be. For me, I'm a 'folkie' at heart... with a rock 'n' roll soul.

Rickenbacker 360 Fireglo
That bent leads to what some (me included) would call, 'jingle-jangle' rock 'n' roll with the blending of acoustic and electric guitars. I'm going to start with The Beatles as my personal reference point in time, and John's early use of his black Rickenbacker 6 string electric guitar, and then in 1964, adding George's use of his Rickenbacker 360 Fireglo twelve string electric guitar shown here. 

In 1965, Roger McGuinn of the Byrds quickly follows George's lead and uses his Rickenbacker 360 'Mapleglow' 12 string on all their hit songs, including Mr. Tamborine Man and Turn, Turn, Turn

This tradition continues through the years most notably with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers, The Bangles, and The Jayhawks to name a few. 

By jingle-jangle, I'm basically identifying the signature sound of bands with typically two guitar players playing off each other in complement rhythm and riff of each other, like The Beatles' George and John, or The Rolling Stones' Keith Richards and Brian Jones (and later Ronnie Wood). These bands do not have an identified lead guitar god à la Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or Jimmy Page to drive that rock sound. I love that sound too, but it often comes at limiting a song's lyrics with a melody and vocal harmonies to produce a more balanced sound. That last sentence, kind of defines the root elements of folk and I guess my bent to artists and bands and that sound.

In 2021, I found both older and newer artists and bands all over the world that satisfy my folk and rock 'n' roll DNA with their new music releases. Here are the artists, bands and albums that grabbed me this year (in somewhat of a slipshod rated order): 
  1. Joy Oladokun (Nashville, TN), in defense of my own happiness
    Joy Oladokun gets the top slot in that she taps into the heart of our times of 2020-2021. I found her lyrics compelling matched with a pure rich voice to carry her message, and one worth listening to.

    I've paddled upstream where the river ran
    I've turned sticks and stones to an olive branch
    I've made a full house from a shitty hand
    Yet, here I am, still gotta be bigger than the bigger man
    – Bigger Man, by Joy Oladokun and Maren Morris

  2. The War On Drugs (Philadelphia, PA), I Don't Live Here Anymore
    I said a couple of posts ago that Adam Granduciel the leader of The War On Drugs had me when he pulls out his Rickenbacker 330 Fireglo to go with this outstanding 2021 rock 'n' roll album.
  3. Madison Cunningham (Los Angeles, CA) 
    Madison Cunningham did not release an album in 2021, but she and many other artists took to Youtube and social media to record a plethora of songs on the Internet. In 2020-2021, the f*%#ing pandemic may have stopped live music in its tracks, but recorded music actually found a way to reach us (even in lock-down) and saved many souls. I found Madison on Youtube in 2021, and words can not express how I love this young singer-songwriter's work. 
  4. Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats (Denver Colorado), The Future
    I'll be honest, Nathaniel Rateliff at first pass was interesting, liked him some, but was not a fan. The Future album changed all that. I just love his new songs to go with the passion and the horn section!
  5. Watchhouse (formally known as Mandolin Orange) (Chapel Hill, NC), Watchhouse
    The name Mandolin Orange has always been one of my favorite band names ever. So why change your band brand after a decade of hard work to get exposure as a folk duo? Anyway, the new album is fantastic, so well crafted and a complete standout in the Americana pack. 
  6. Teenage Fanclub (Scotland), Endless Arcade
    These guys have been around since 1989, who knew? I'm a slow learner and still catching up to all the great UK jingle-jangle bands out there. Endless Arcade is endless fun!
  7. Lord Huron (Los Angeles, CA), Long Lost
    If you're a fan of David Lynch's Twin Peaks music, you'll be right at home in the Red Room. 
  8. Guided By Voices (Dayton OH), Earth Man Blues
    This album simply rocks! The riffs on this thing takes me back to the day.
  9. Dori Freeman, (Galax, VA), Ten Thousand Roses
    This woman simply stands out with her songs. I hope she will get her due down the road as she is miles ahead of many young artists with much bigger names and smaller songs.
  10. Crowded House (Australia), Dreamers Are Waiting
    I love Crowded House, I love this album and part of the 80's-90's bands revival of 2021.
  11. Big Red Machine (Ohio, Wisconsin), How Long Do You Think It's Going To Last?
    An Indie Folk supergroup? With Aaron Dessner and Justin Vernon at the helm, and with drop-in's like Taylor Swift, this album is a standout.
  12. Shannon Lay (Los Angeles, CA), Geist
    I had never heard of Shannon Lay until I heard a song from Geist on a streaming service. Then, that gets me interested and I listen to the whole album, and I'm picking songs right and left for the monthly playlist and then, songs left and right for this final playlist. Yeah, I like Shannon Lay a lot.
  13. Gary Louris (Minneapolis, Minnesota), Jump For Joy
    Gary Louris is the founding member of one of my favorite bands, The Jayhawks. Of course I'm going to love this solo album of folk and jingle-jangle rock 'n' roll!
  14. Bleachers (New York, NY), Take the Sadness Out of Saturday Night
  15. Kings of Leon (Nashville, TN), When You See Yourself
  16. Jackson Browne (Los Angeles, CA) Downhill From Everywhere
    Jackson is simply one of the best still at the top of his game. I'm enjoying his ongoing collaboration with Val McCallum on electric guitar and vocals.
  17. Dylan LeBlanc (Shreveport, LA), Pastimes
    An EP of some of the best covers I've ever heard. 
  18. Elise LeGrow (Canada), Grateful
    Great soulful sound and nobody's heard of her? Grateful is so much better than Adele's 30, but that's just my little opinion.
  19. The Wallflowers (Los Angeles, CA), Exit Wounds
    Not bad for a band who haven't played together in nine years. The very wonderful Shelby Lynne provides backup vocals on several tracks.
  20. Natalie Hemby (Nashville, TN) Pens and Needles
    One of Nashville's best songwriter to the stars, gets to shine here on her second solo album.
  21. Allison Russell (Canada), Outside Child
  22. The Killers (Las Vegas, NV), Pressure Machine
  23. Death Cab For Cutie (Bellingham, WA),  The Georgia E.P.
  24. The Fratellis (Scotland), Half Drunk Under A Full Moon
  25. David Crosby (Santa Ynez, CA), For Free
  26. The Black Keys (Akron, OH), Delta Kream
  27. Flyte (England), This Is Really Going to Hurt
  28. Real Estate (Brooklyn, NY), Half a Human
  29. Hearty Har (Los Angeles, CA), Radio Astro
  30. Toad The Wet Sprocket, (Santa Barbara, CA), Starting Now
  31. Kings Of Convenience, (Norway), Peace or Love
Okay, I'm going to stop here at 31, I got to get to the finish line.

Now before I send you to this great 2021 playlist below, I have to give myself a little squeak of the wheel and pat on the ol' back. 

In January, I made a promise to myself (and Paul Hobbs) that I would write a Monday Monday Music every Monday for the entire 2021 year. Well boys and girls it's week 52 and this is my 52nd post for 2021! Heck, I could have done it with 48 in 2019, and 50 in 2020 if I had been paying attention and kept my eye on the ball. But now that I've done it, I have decided to pull the plug on the blog, and learn how to play piano... 

Just kidding. I hope I didn't make Paul's heart skip a beat. Yes, I'll be back next Monday, January 3 to start a new year of music posts. I actually do want to learn to play piano and work on my house a bit, so I'll just take it a week at a time, and a transition to...

Thank you dear followers for reading my post every week and making the time to dive into the playlist, most weeks. There's a lot of great music being made every day and remember pilgrims, Music Saves!

Now for starting the playlist this week the first video I picked back in January was Katy Perry's, Firework for Joe Biden's Presidential Inauguration. Her performance made me cry tears of happiness for the fact that the orange fat fascist was actually NOT the President anymore. I follow that with Joy Oladokun's, i see america, and then complete my little trilogy of American life with Harry Styles', Treat People With Kindness. After that, the songs in the playlist are in a random order and are not ranked, including a bunch of songs not mentioned in the albums listing.

Enjoy these 200 songs my friends, and Happy New Year!

Monday, November 29, 2021

#NewMusicMonday • November, 2021

 November is usually a big album release month to cash in on the holiday season notwithstanding the mega Taylor Swift and Adele albums released this month. (Hey I even included an Adele song in the playlist this week.) 

This month was a good month for me finding new music that lead me back to discover older recorded material by artists and bands. If you are a regular reader of this blog you know that the majority of my writing is inspired by my younger days in the 1960's and 70's, and not as much from the 80's and 90's. Now even though this is a #NewMusicMonday, you'll find that I've found newly recorded songs that were originally recorded in the 80's or 90's, or new songs that have an affinity and influence from those past two decades... or some new/old blues, and if you can believe it, some new Deep Purple from the way way back of my youth.

Acoustic Hymns Vol 1 (Amazon)
I'm going to start with the 90's band, The Verve that took me back to something older. Richard Ashcroft just released Acoustic Hymns Vol 1 this month which is much more than just the former Verve's lead singer and songwriter's greatest hits album. I think every track has been carefully re-crafted to breath fresh life into each one of his songs. I included all of these songs in the playlist this week and think you will enjoy the new arrangements.

Natural History (Amazon)
Acoustic Hymns Vol 1 also reminded me of another great album that was done in the same vein, J.D. Souther's, Natural History, a wonderful album of his reworked greatest hits as a songwriter. 

What makes me bring these two albums together is their acoustic flavor with songs stripped down to enhance the songwriters lyrics with their fantastic singing voices. I highly recommend both.

The next band, The War On Drugs has a mixture of rock 'n' roll influences, but I guess their name says it all being emblematic of the Nancy Reagan 80's and her infamous and ridiculous, "Just say no to drugs" campaign. The band's leader, Adam Granduciel was born in 1979 so he obviously grew up through that 80's D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) period at school and probably even had to wear the t-shirt to a D.A.R.E. program in the school auditorium hosted by a local sports hero. Need I digress more... The band's new album, I Don't Live Here Anymore, is simply fabulous and the songs have grown on me the past several weeks. I have included all the songs from the album in the playlist this week, but Adam had me when he pulls out the Rickenbacker 330 Fireglo for his live version of Change and is the song to lead off this mix.

Rufus Wainwright's new album just came out November 26th and in waiting for that release I actually got listening to his back catalog last week and came across his 2020 release of Unfollow The Rules that totally passed under my radar last year. So, I have included several songs from that album that are at least new to me. 

Here's the new albums I'm featuring in the playlist this week including a few famous names from the 80's
and 90's.

  • I Don't Live Here Anymore,
    The War On Drugs
  • Acoustic Hymns Vol 1, 
    Richard Ashcroft
  • Bright Lights, Susanna Hoffs
  • Raise The Roof, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss
  • The Bridge, Sting
  • The Future, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats
  • Heavy Load of Blues, Gov't Mule
  • Queens of the Summer Hotel, Aimee Mann
  • Grateful, Elise LeGrow
  • Turning To Crime, Deep Purple
  • Rufus Wainwright and Amsterdam Sinfonietta Live, Rufus Wainwright and Amsterdam Sinfonietta
  • Unfollow The Rules, Rufus Wainwright (2020)
And now a shameless plug. Please tune in next week for my seventh annual Christmas Mix 2021. I've been collecting traditional and non-traditional songs all year that fit into both hot and cold climates zones not to mention rock 'n' roll and Americana music zones as well. 

Happy Festivus... for the Rest of Us!