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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Best of July, 2013

Regina Spektor has released a great song on an equally great television show

There seems to be a lot of contempt for the month of August.  I noticed several friends lamenting its arrival on social media earlier in the week.  Tis true, summer is indeed coming to an end.  That is far from a death sentence however.  For one thing you have another four weeks to create new memories.  Secondly, there is nothing quite like fall (especially in the Northeast.)  Kids will be back to school.  The air at night will be a little crisper.  And let's not forget the wonderful tree colors, Halloween and college football Saturdays.  Supposedly more people in the Country love the NFL.  Dig on that too if that is your thing.

Although, the NFL has had a disastrous offseason.  No less that 27 NFL players were arrested since the Super Bowl.  The most famous arrest, New England tight end Aaron Hernandez, is accused of murdering someone execution style.  He is also a suspect in a double murder from a few years back.  Um, not great.  There have been assaults on women, numerous DUI's and drug arrests, in addition to the Hernandez case.  This week a white Philadelphia Eagles receiver, Riley Cooper, was dismissed from the team for using a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert.

One, if employers dismissed everyone who used a racial slur at a Kenny Chesney concert the unemployment rate would be far higher.  Two, within a few years Michael Vick has gone from heinous monster to sympathetic character.  Not only did he regain one of only 32 starting quarterback positions in the World, he is also receiving lucrative sponsorship deals.  And now he is the calm, rational spokesperson for the Eagles as they deal with another American race issue.

Sounds like the NFL.  Perhaps their new slogan should read "The NFL, where dog killers are our moral barometer."

No thanks, I prefer America's pastime.

Wait, what?  MLB plans to announce several lengthy suspensions Monday, including a possible lifetime ban for Alex Rodriguez.   This, after a years long and exhaustive investigation into the Florida anti-aging clinic, Biogenesis.  Shocking!  These guys were cheating!

It's all very sad a predictable.  Trust no one and assume all the games are crooked.

Where can you get honesty these days?  It sure as hell isn't in government.  It isn't on the cable news networks.  How is your work place doing?  Any truths there?

I had the pleasure of joining my wife for her 20th year high school reunion.  It occurred to me that perhaps friends and family is the only way we find truth anymore.  And those truths can be hard to find and forever on shaky ground.

But that is not it.  Truth is in recording studios and stages all across this Country.  It is in movie studios and museums.  You see it in photographs and painting.  You hear it in songs and in instruments.

Art, is the great equalizer.  It can get you through the dog days, and far more.

It is what keeps this author going and is the continued motivation behind this blog.

Go get what is yours and smile doing it.

A friend of mine was recently injured attending a concert and is in for a long road to full recovery.  He will be 1000% soon I am quite convinced.  But his accident was telling for one important reason.

About an half hour before the show he texted me a photo that read "center stage, row ten, perfect weather, good music."

Two hours later his wife was calling me from the ER.

It is all too fragile.  It all moves far too quickly.  And before you know it...  it's gone.

With that overly depressing and unabashedly morbid opening I give you the Best of July, 2013.  This has been a wonderful year in music so far and these songs are sure to make any summer road trip a little more tolerable.  Please enjoy and download them and remember where you heard them.  They have also been added to my Spotify playlist which can be found here.

Enjoy the rest of the summer ya'll.  Enjoy the rest of the summer ya'll.

Dent May "Born Too Late"

May is a Jackson, MS singer/songwriter who studied at NYU film school.   That may (pun intended) or may not explain this synth and string laced disco dance track.  Somewhere in the middle he transitions into a joyous psychedelic bridge totally out of left field.  It is all very satisfying.  A better breezy summer pop song you will be hard pressed to find.

Divine Fits "Chained to Love/Ain't That The Way" live from Conan

The alt world calls Divine Fits a "supergroup."  That may be stretching it a bit.  But what IS known is Austin, TX singer/guitarist Britt Daniel is the man behind the band Spoon.  Singer/guitarist Dan Boeckner has headed up the bands Handsome Furs, Atlas Strategic and Wolf Parade.  Together with Sam Brown (drums) and Alex Fischel they are Divine Fits.  It is straightforward rock and roll and you should like it.  This two song medley showcases their talent, timing and overall sound.  "Chained to Love" reminds me of vintage Cars.

Jagwar Ma "Come Save Me"

The Australian trio, Jagwar Ma, released their debut LP, Howlin, earlier this year.  This track has a psych feel not unlike the vibe their enormously popular countrymen Tame Impala lays down.   60s Motown melodies mixes with Beatles-esque keyboard loops one minute.  The next it is Thomas Dolby meets Beck.  It's always interesting to hear a song that does not belong to a certain decade.  When it is done right, if can belong to all of time.

Regina Spektor "You've Got Time"

One of the true highlights of the truly entertaining Netflix original show, "Orange is the New Black," is Ms Spektor's title song.  This is a real departure for the New York raised, Russian born singer/songwriter.  Show creator Jenji Kohan commissioned Spektor to write, and write she did.  Gone is the melancholy tone and aching piano that usually accompanies Spektor.  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  But it is a breathe of fresh air to hear her sing "Taking steps is easy/standing still is hard" over screaming guitars and thumping drums.   Watch the show.  Listen to the song.  Fall in love with both.  Seriously, a women's prison drama?  Does it get any better???  The only thing missing is Sybil Danning.

Twenty One Pilots "Holding On To You"

Columbus, OH duo Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun are a high energy rock, rap and pop act.  It is unknown if I will ever like another one of their songs or bother to see them live.  What is known is this song is highly addictive and hugely entertaining.  So what if I feel like a 15 year old when I listen to it, loud.

Delta Spirit "Yamaha"

It was a pleasant surprise to a) enjoy the film Warm Bodies as much as I did and b) love the soundtrack.  Sometimes the lowest expectations can be helpful.  And although the Delta Spirit song was released last year, this 2013 movie used it so well it rightfully appears on this list.   The star of this angle is a big, ominous organ and singer Matthew Vasquez's cascading vocals.  If this is what we can expect to hear when the zombies come, and they will, I am perfectly fine with it.

Bastille "Pompeii"   added bonus please take a look at the acoustic version here.

While most of America lavishes praise on "Get Lucky" and "Blurred Lines" this summer this become my favorite sing-a-long.  These kids from London have a Snow Patrol sound and received praise from one of the Gallagher brothers.  It was either Liam or Noah.  Look it up if you don't believe me.  Or just click on the above links and judge for yourself.  It is easy to dismiss after your first listen.  Don't give up on it!  This is a very fun and engaging song and easily one of my favorite from a very solid 2013.

Grouplove "Ways to Go"

Hippie merrymakers Grouplove had an enormously successful debut record, Never Trust a Happy Song, in 2011.  Their sophomore record is due out September 17th and this is their first single.  It is safe to say there is reason for optimism.  The male and female lead singers still work well.  The melody is toe tapping fun.  It is more synth than guitar, like the first record.  It will be interesting to hear the entire record and see if they can keep building on an already impressive beginning.  It does beg the question, where have you gone Foster the People?  2011 seems like a long time ago and many bands are now lapping them with productivity.

The Ceremonies "Land of Gathering"

Yet another band of brothers, literally.  Matthew, Mark and Michael Cook are LA based Land of Ceremonies can be classified in the Local Natives, Grizzly Bear camp.  Their debut record is scheduled for release sometime in the fall.  There is good reason to be excited about it thanks to this single.

Washed Out "It All Feels Right"

Ernest Green is the man behind Washed Out.  Like Regina Spektor he may now be best known for his work with television theme songs, having written and performed Portlandia's "Feel it All Around".  His second LP, Paracosm, is out 8.13.13.  The first single further exhibits Green's deft keyboard work and ability to create mood and ambience with the stroke of a key.  It is a trippy meditation on the importance of doing enjoying everything and/or nothing.

For Dave C.  Get better real soon.  Looking forward to our next show!  And by the way, Go VOLS!!!

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