New Music for Old People: Beck, Scrapomatic, Yellow Ostrich, The Fray and More

By , Columnist

Sheryl Crow

This column is like the title says - its intention is to fill the gap for those of us who were satiated musically in the '60s and then searched desperately as we aged for music we could relate to and get the same buzz from nowadaze. iTunes was the answer for me in 2003 and I have been following the new releases every Tuesday ever since I realized there was an endless stream of music I could enjoy there.

I also include older items that I felt were obscure originally and might not have been heard back then. The reason I am writing this column is to make sure others don't miss this wonderful music. These are not top ten items; but they SHOULD'VE been!

Below is a jukebox containing all the songs I picked this week. After you read about them below, go back and listen to whatever you like by just clicking on that title in the jukebox, or stream the whole playlist by clicking on the "play" icon at the top. It's free and it's the entire song. We're not selling anything. We're just in the business of hopefully making your days better by listening to great music.

We apologize to our readers/listeners who are trying to enjoy the playlists via mobile devices like iPhones/iPads and are finding that they can't; these are, unfortunately, circumstances beyond our control. At present, Grooveshark is not compatible with those operating systems, and in order to stream the playlist, you will need to use a PC or Mac.

Mar142014 by Willow on Grooveshark

1. "Don't Drive Away" — Gratitude (2:53)

I've been listening to this for nine years, ever since it came out in 2005. This is what I call enjoyable noise — it’s even got a message tucked in there somewhere. From San Fran, basically put together by singer Jonah Matranga and guitarist Mark Weinberg. GREAT opener!

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We need two outlets for the guitar and bass amps, okay? What is taking so freakin' long?

2. "Someday" — Julian Lennon (3:32)

I think we already have acknowledged that his current album is far and away his best work. He did stray on this track, however, directly into his dad’s band’s boots, but since it was only ONE track on the entire wonderful album, I personally forgive him. I can see he is headed in the correct direction and he has my support and encouragement. I'm REALLY curious to see what Dhani Harrison is gonna do...

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3. "Shades" — Yellow Ostrich (2:25)

For two minutes and 25 seconds, a gigantic yellow ostrich deploys serious beats, tense guitar figures and comparatively calm harmonies to show you what this ostrich is all about. Somehow all these disparate ingredients come together and a band is born, albeit with serious Kraut rock roots. But enough of my ranting — what do YOU think?

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Somehow I really feel that taxi is never gonna show up... any bright ideas, guys?

4. "So Much Love" — Scrapomatic (3:17)

I cannot believe it’s been 11 years since their debut album was released! This tune, which is from their second studio album, 2006's Alligator Love Cry, grabbed me by the ears and pulled me into its semi-shuffle groove with comparative ease. I was immediately taken with the singing as well and later found out it’s a duet by guitarist Paul Olsen and singer Mike Mattison (Derek Trucks Band). This still sounds pretty damn good to me today.

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5. "Don't Let It Go" — Beck (2:40)

Mr. Mystery is back as mysterious as ever on his latest release, Morning Phase. This moody cha-cha throwback is orchestrated nicely and entices you in little by little. I don’t claim to have figured Beck out quite yet, but I do find this quite listenable after the intro, which could have been excised easily, musically speaking.

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I'm just a sheddo of me former self and I'm not even Briddish!

6. "Love Don't Die" — The Fray (3:04)

They opened like a lion with a double platinum debut album. From Denver and built around Joe King and Isaac Slade, they set the whole world on fire between their first two studio albums (2005 and 2009) and then it started to slow down a bit. The critics took one step back and controlled themselves a wee bit on the third release. The numbers dropped sales-wise, but attendance live was still good. And now comes the fourth release, Helios, just out now. My pick is this track, which features more guitar than piano, which is new for them. I just like the way it bounces around. I think they’re getting better and just re-assessing themselves. I’m curious to see what happens.

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7. "Under the Wheel" — The Autumn Defense (3:29)

With a comparative silence from the Wilco camp, I ventured onto the spin-off efforts of band members John Stirratt and Pat Sansone’s band Autumn Defense and their spanking new, imaginatively titled fifth album, Fifth. Just jokin’ around. I’m a fan of Wilco AND Autumn Defense and this is AD’s best one yet. This is my favorite track and if you haven’t heard them at all, there is plenty for you to explore, especially if you’re a Wilco-head. This is a lot calmer and simpler than Tweedy's band but similar in its musicality. I vote YES.

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No, REALLY! This is the most exciting photo shoot we've EVER done ... REALLY!

8. "Get Home" — Bastille (2:49)

New band — first album — second track I’m importing. That means I like ‘em. These are well-made records with interesting sounds to keep you listening. The trick is to keep this going for a career. ABBA did it magnificently. Hell, even a Broadway show they could stay home for. The mind boggles — will Bastille pull an ABBA? Stay tuned for 20 years...

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9. "She's So Sensual" — Los Lonely Boys (2:48)

This is one of those ones I didn’t wanna like and BAM — I got hooked. Now this is far from original; it reeks of older songs that were raided for various sections and so forth. Brenton Wood excavators, if you ask me. But they’re allowed so long as they don’t exceed four bars. Not speaking as a lawyer, I would say Los Lonely Boys are legal here. So, everyone have a good time.

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10. "Safe and Sound" (from America: A Tribute to Heroes, 2001) — Sheryl Crow (3:48)

Live TV, no audience, just days after 9/11. Springsteen headlined. So here comes Sheryl with a large band assembled and plays this previously unheard song that sounds like it was written for the occasion. It's very unlike any song she’d ever done, with her great piano playing in the forefront and a click track. I’m sitting at home and it brought me to tears. It also brought me to the video store so I could buy the whole concert just for this track. And I did. And played it over and over and made an MP3 copy so I could play it in the car. On her next album she re-cut it, removed the drama from the arrangement, and said she wrote it about her affair with Owen Wilson. Huh? There was no reason to listen to the second version compared with the first and I scratched my head. What happened here? I've always wanted to ask her that but haven’t had the opportunity. She moved to Gnashville after I left there and now she’s a country singer. What?!? See if you don’t agree with me that this is a pretty moving, emotional recording; I thought she stole that whole show. Am I by myself here? Do I stand alone? Comments, please, and I shall return next week all calmed down.

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