Howdy folks! Today's Weekly Update is a slight departure from our normal programing in that I'm offering up a playlist of artists and songs that I'm listening to and enjoying this week... and think that you might enjoy as well! I've got a saying, "I Eat Music For Breakfast," which is part hyperbole and part truth --- I truly love seeking new and interesting music that makes me FEEL... I hope you enjoy checking out some of what I'm digging.
Ryan Adams's newest record 'Prisoner' is the sixteenth studio album by the American singer-songwriter. It's filled with many sounds and tones hearkening back to the 1980's chorus and overdriven guitar tones, with a brilliant modern-meets-vintage tone. The record is a wonderful piece, mostly showing off Adams heartbreak and challenges of coming out of one part of his life and growing into another -- the record has a nostalgic vibe from top to bottom.
The single 'Do You Still Love Me?' holds true to the songwriter's truth-seeking and yearning for that freedom anyone who's ever loved, wanted to love, or been in a relationship, experiences. Adams creates a Neil Young meets John Hughes experience here with bustling guitars and creative percussive hits that reel the listener in, ultimately getting to a cutting guitar solo that reigns in the track. 'Do You Still Love Me?' is the type of song that calls you to get in your car, take a drive on Mulholland Drive at sunset with the windows down and shout to the heavens with your existential wares in tow...
Warpaint's 'Heads Up,' released by Rough Trade Records, is the third record by the Los Angeles based indie rock band. 'Heads Up' is filled with a wonderful collection of songs that sit deeply in groove and mystery. The band crafts songs in the often difficult realm of writing catchy (pop, if I dare say) melodies and structures, but altering them in such a way that it not only feels new and interesting, but also familiar.
'New Song' which I'm highlighting here is exactly that. Instantly up tempo and grooving, with a darkness that keeps the track from being a typical jaunt through radio commercialism -- yielding a deeper sound than at first listen. The counter melodies and harmonies meld together creating something truly exciting.
Doyle Bramhall II's 'Rich Man' is the fourth solo studio album and the first since 'Welcome,' released all the way back in 2001. Needless to say, fans of Bramhall II have been chomping at the bit for over a decade for a new full release from the incredible talent, and the reward is certainly there. 'Rich Man' is an incredible record in it's entirety and one that I'd love to get into further with you all at some point.
One of my personal favorites from the record is 'Keep You Dreamin,' a funky soulful track that throws many shades of R&B -- Sly & The Family Stone meets the Isley Brothers. Bramhall's groove and phrasing, both vocally and musically, are what kill it here for me. It's deep as the dark of the night.
John Legend's fifth studio album 'Darkness and Light' is a joyful listen produced by Blake Mills whom I love both as a producer and artist. The entire record is true to Mills' production -- pushing the boundaries of the artists he works with, yet still remaining true to their vision and personality.
There are many great songs in this collection, including the title track with powerhouse guest vocalist Brittany Howard, but I've decided to showcase the 7th track 'Surefire.' There's something beautiful here that sits somewhere between modern R&B and Daniel Lanois' production of Peter Gabriel's seminal record 'So'. The flowing bass lines create a sinuous tonal base that literally allows the melodies to float right on top - existing right in that exciting territory of familiar and devastatingly new. Lyrically, the choruses draw me in, mainly due to the fact that they're extremely inspirational for an artist making a living in this life. Take those chances, make those moves. This life is yours to make.
Cause I may not know a lot of things but
I feel it in my chest
Know I won't let the blue flame die
We can't lose hope just yet
'Cause it's once, just once in a lifetime
And we're scared to love but it's alright
I may not know a lot of things but
I know that we're surefire, yeah
Know that we're surefire, yeah
The Lemon Twigs 'Do Hollywood' is the debut album from the D'Addario brothers, recently released on 4AD records. 'Do Hollywood' is an extremely creative journey into the 70's chamber pop meets avant-garde: Harry Nilsson's 'Nilsson Schmilsson', Todd Rundgren, Queen, Left Banke's 'Pretty Ballerina'.... man, it's all there. The Lemon Twigs are young and adventurous with their sound and the scope of their songwriting.
The stand-out track 'These Words' is a prime example of the work they've put in. It's a vintage/modern chamber pop masterpiece that isn't setting out to re-create... I'll definitely be keeping my eye on The Lemon Twigs and their ridiculously eclectic vision.
Biffy Clyro, a slightly unknown band to US markets (yet enormously successful world-touring trio hailing from Scotland) released their seventh studio album Ellipsis in 2016, and it's an epic piece of modern pop rock. I normally shy away from anything with such descriptions, but there's something completely different happening with these Scottish lads. 'Ellipsis' is filled to the brim with ENORMOUS guitar tones, catchy-as-hell hooks, and very interesting rhythmic production. It's the kind of record that keeps revealing layer after layer the more you listen. This is NOT disposable pop-rock trite -- it's powerful and demands every bit of success it's received.
The featured track 'Howl' is an ear candy experience that instantly takes me back to adolescence and semi-reckless teenage abandon. The mystery of life, the simplicity of just wanting to be a part of something or someone. Sometimes, a song can just strip away all the shackles of the those feelings and make you feel like you can do anything... if you Howl loud enough.
'Epoch' is the fourth studio album by the American Ambient/Electronic group Tycho, which was released in January of 2017. The album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Charts and for anyone who listens to electronic music, you'll understand why. 'Epoch' is a sprawling musical journey of ambience, break beats, swashes of color and sound. An instrumental record at it's heart, Tycho create the perfect soundtrack to a modern lifestyle. It's almost as if it were written for the road -- meditation for your spirit as you sit in Los Angeles traffic, yearning for freedom and a higher self... wait, isn't that what everyone does whilst in their cars!?
'Division' - which I've chosen to feature today, has a symphonic and epic quality that opens up my brain in a way that just doesn't happen with other kinds of music. There's a Radiohead aspect to the rhythm section which allows the souring melodies from the synth and guitars to float right above your stressed out chakras. This is the kind of music that hits your subconscious right in it's third eye and allows you to soar... if you let it.
Happy listening & happy trails... see you on the other side.