While I was compiling this week’s list, I realized that these tracks had more in common than I first thought. After I finished selecting them and finally got a good sequence, I found myself singing most of them around the house unconsciously. Then I surmised that by total coincidence ... these are recordings that grow on you! Not ALL of you, probably — but hopefully, most of you. Lemme know in the comments section (which, by the way, I read voraciously every week!) — AK
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.
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1. "Beaut" — Brooke Waggoner (3:15)
And this is quite a beaut. I believe Brooke lives in Nashville and she wrote AND arranged this wonderful track, the likes of which we haven’t heard since Laura Nyro or Rickie Lee Jones. This is from a 2008 album titled Heal for the Honey. In 2012, Jack White snatched her up to play in his touring band on the Blunderbuss tour. I wonder if they toured in a Blunder bus?
2. "Where All the Songs Come From" — Brandon Boyd (3:34)
After spending many years and eight albums as lead singer in the band Incubus, Brandon Boyd struck out on his own with a solo album in 2010 called The Wild Trapeze, followed by what might be his last Incubus album, If Not Now, When? in 2011. This track is from his latest solo album which came out in May and was produced by wunderkind Brendan O’Brien. I confess I have never heard Incubus, fearing they were serious heavy metal, but after downloading a few tracks from this album, Sons of the Sea, my curiosity is now sufficiently aroused.
3. "All the Pretty Girls" — Fun (2:50)
This is a talented bunch and they have already become arena-fillers. With a strong pop base and Queen-like influences in their arrangements, they draw a younger audience that has already seen through Justin Bieber. But I am the antithesis of young, and I like a few tracks off their latest album. Talent is talent and I always have ears and lotsa room for THAT.
4. "Bathe in These Waters" — Donna De Lory (5:05)
Well, I learned a lot from researching this artist. I always thought her influence was New Age. I was diametrically mistaken, because Donna gained fame working for — MADONNA! She danced and sang backup on the Who’s That Girl Tour in 1987 and the Blonde Ambition Tour in 1990. Her father was Al De Lory, the famous keyboardist, producer and arranger best known for Capitol artists Glen Campbell and The Lettermen. She also sang backup on the road with Ray Parker Jr., Carole King, Carly Simon, and Julian Lennon, to name but a few. I have always liked this track since it came out in 2009 but it never fit into the column until now. This is good songwriting, singing, arranging and production. Should be in your make-out music CDs/playlist.This photo was obviously taken before Sharknado.
5. "Stay Illogical" — Under the Influence of Giants (3:33)
This is quite good. If ya liked Squeeze, you’re gonna love this if ya give it a minute. I also suggest “Meaningless Love” (the track) by them as well. This came out in 2006 and they formed in LA. Jamin Wilcox (drums, keyboards) is the son of Willie Wilcox, drummer for Utopia and also Hall & Oates back in the day. Their self-titled debut album is a great place to start if ya want more. They will take you back to the good old daze. Just book a seat in the row behind them and tell the flight attendant you're a good friend of mine. Doesn't look like there's any room for carry-ons though.
6. "Machines Night Out" — One Trick Pony (3:06)
Like the previous track, this will take you happily back to the '70s although it is comparatively current. Not a band name I would have picked with my experience with critics...
7. "Box of Crayons" — Jillette Johnson (2:55)
Imagine the lyric of “My Coloring Book” as seen through the music and eyes of Tori Amos and then listen to this. This grew on me little by little. I think there’s something here, but it is early in Jillette's career. This is her first album out now and she's just started going through the on-the-road lifestyle which should produce some inspiration for her obviously abundant talents. Keep an ear out for her. I don’t have to mention an eye if you’ve seen her photo.
8. "Keep My Feet Upon the Ground" — The Subdudes (3:25)
This is a band you can always count on to deliver the goods and this is just more evidence of that. With the Crescent City in their heads and voices, they jump right in the groove and sing and play and write just right. I’ve been a big fan since the top and they’ve got me for life.
9. "Howling at the Moon" (Live) — Peter Rowan (3:35)
One of the nicest guys I’ve met in my travels and the talent just oozes out of him. This is a nod to the incendiary country stars of the '50s and other than the improved sound quality and perfect playing and singing, it could have been taped back then. These people know and respect their roots but that’s evident immediately. Nice mandolin solo, whoever you are...
10. "I Ain't Got No Home" — Billy Bragg (3:24)
It’s hard to believe this guy from a town called Barking in the UK could conjure up the spirit and disconcerting look at poverty in the ‘40s in the USA in the manner Bragg does on his latest album, Tooth & Nail. He went through punk and hardcore left wing politics and has now settled comfortably in the embrace of the talents of the late Woody Guthrie. That's how Robert Zimmerman started but he took the left and right turns as his career ambled along. Billy has found his comfort zone NOW and this collection is as honest as it is listenable. I'm currently enjoying all of this album; I believe every word in the Woody Guthrie lyric he is singing here and that is why I close with Billy/Woody this week.