As I plow through the hundreds of new releases lately, I distinctly notice there is a trend in certain artists to unabashedly “recall” the music of 40 years ago albeit with love and respect (and sometimes copyright infringement!). I noticed a greater deal of it this week and so angled the column right on it. See if you agree.
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.
1. "The Californian" — Bob Schneider (3:24)
This was originally released in 2006. I used it once before in the column but it is such a great example of the genre I’m writing about that I had to open with it as well and give it a forbidden second play. If you like Zep you will forgive me, although Bob’s lyrics are funnier than theirs.
2. "Cigarettes" — Noah Gundersen (5:16)
I know this track is long and it sure is derivative, but it is a masterpiece of songwriting concealed in a minimalist setting circa its release two weeks ago. This is right up there with everything David Geffen had his hands on in the days long gone now. Noah has sisters and a brother he grew up with who sing backup on this and it surely doesn’t hurt that natural blend. If there IS any justice out there, he will be the new Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey for the current generation that prefers the records we grew up with to Mr. Kardashian and his gang.
3. "Bad Self Portraits" — Lake Street Dive (3:00)
This is really nice. From their self-titled debut album just out, it is the first single and is the best track on there.Too bad they didn’t title it Real Bad Selfies — it would've sold another million. Guess the current hippies don’t meet on Lake Street nowadaze.
4. "Acid Tongue" — Jenny Lewis (3:25)
I pulled this when it came out in 2008, but hadn’t found the best place for it until now. The constraint in the production is the star of this track. I assume Jenny is playing the acoustic guitar and there is a bassist. Other than the mighty backup singers, that’s ALL there is but it’s enough to tell her story and not lose your attention for three and a half minutes. I guess the drummer took too much acid and had to go to the ER...
5. "Love in Motion" — Mayer Hawthorne (2:05)
This is a curious version from Mayer’s iTune Session of 2012. The year before he guested on a dance track by Sebastian that was an electronica dance single with a few mixes released — you know the deal. But here HIS band helped him do it HIS way and it harkens back to Sly and The Family more than any current electronica aggregation. I dismissed the earlier version but this I like. I confess to being a Hawthorne enthusiast and wish he was Mayer of Boston.
6. "When I'm With You" — Chris Pierce (2:34)
Chris’s contribution is the oldest one here from waaay back in 2005 (hahaha). Chris represents the Bill Withers faction of today and does it in style only. These are his songs but ya KNOW he grew up on Withers and Curtis Mayfield just because this music takes ya back to those days. And that’s why Chris is on board right here and right NOW. Dig it...
7. "Young Girls" — Bruno Mars (3:35)
If you read the column every week, I know it looks like I’m being paid under the table by Bruno Mars' publicist but that is simply NOT the case. I was late to his Unorthodox Jukebox album and I really liked it and wanted to just catch up. The songs are different enough that they fit in to the other columns he has graced recently and this certainly fits today's category. I promise this is the last one til his next album and only if I like that one. However his James Brown knock-off was pretty darn good at the Stupid Bowl half-time though. I haven’t recovered from the Dylan Chrysler commercial.
8. "Try and Try and Try" — The Styletones (2:52)
Well, this is assuredly an homage to Oakland’s Tower of Power and it doesn’t really quote anything they did musically or lyrically, but again — these people grew up on that stuff. As I recall they are Washington, DC-based, and isn’t it great to hear that old-time soul music with no one ranting in the middle and know it was released in 2012 for the people of TODAY.
9. "Stay 'Soul-Lifted'" — Liv Warfield (3:50)
Just when I thought Snarky Puppy were the only ones up to this sort of musical mayhem, along comes Liv with her blond crew-cut and her big Lady Soul voice. Whoever arranged this and played the backup has my complete endorsement. This is just how I like it. Wish there was a lot more of this but not many people can sing this well. She’s already on my keeper list. This is from her debut album, The Unexpected, out NOW.
10. "Flick of the Finger" — Beady Eye (2:57)
On August 28, 2009, the Gallagher brothers, Liam and Noel, broke up their hugely successful Brit group Oasis which had begun in 1991. Liam kept the core of Oasis and renamed it Beady Eye. Oasis was steeped in the Beatles legacy, so if this sounds redundant, it’s just tradition, mate. I think this is a great example of what the Fab Four wrought in the next generation and I hope you enjoyed this column which attempted to show how, in many cases, not much has changed in certain musics. Thanks for bearing with me. See ya next week!