We havent changed our format this week. These girls actually sing and play...really...
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.
1. "Let Me In" — Caleb Johnson (2:46)
The good thing about this column is that I pick the contents by listening. A great deal of the time, I don’t know the names of the new artists, but if I select their song for the column, I do a little research. So don’t think for a second that I ever watched American Idol from whither Caleb approaches, having won the 2013 season. All I know is this is a tasty track and Caleb can sing. The worst part is that when Caleb was born I was around 47 years old.
A strange-looking mix of Steven Tyler and Meat Loaf, no?
2. "Water and a Flame" — Daniel Merriweather, feat. Adele (3:25)
Born in Australia and lauded there and in the UK, Daniel has appeared as guest vocalist on at least five different artist's hits. In the 2000s he rang up a trio of his own in the UK and won awards. Not as well known here, I’m pretty sure he is still trying to bust that barrier. This is a nice duet track he cut with Adele. He sings the first verse and she sings the second verse and the bridge. They both sing all the choruses. It’s a well-made record and the lowest notes I have ever heard Adele sing for a change. I also love the last chord in the song.
3. "Over Your Heart" — Rob Crow (2:49)
The lead singer of Pinback, an innovative guitar band over the years, occasionally makes solo albums. This is from one called He Thinks He’s People. Need I say more? Well, I will, anyway. The master of burying his lead vocals seems to be in great shape, although as time goes by the lyrics get a centimeter louder each album. I am intrigued by his guitar sound and methodology of recording said guitars. I can usually identify this band by the guitar sound as it is unique to Rob’s work and said guitar sound is exactly the same on his solo work as well.
"This is how much vocal volume I like to use in each song."
4. "Tap Out" — The Strokes (2:56)
I would say seven out of ten of this column's songs have great guitar parts but I wasn’t initially trying to create a theme. I will admit I am attracted to these guitar sounds and arrangements. This has some great moments in that category. It is the lead-off track from their long-delayed album of last year, Comedown Machine, which was their contract-closing workpiece on the RCA label.
5. "This Letter" — Stephanie McKay (3:22)
The guitars in the intro sorta hide the fact this is an R&B track, but the drums soon come to the rescue as the song itself begins. It is a subject matter that has been covered many times before, although this one is a true contender because of the comparative honesty of the lyric and the artist’s performance. Her hubby is overseas fighting and she and their offspring need him back home. Been done before. But I almost believe this one. Her performance is not a super standout, but it is eminently believable — no small trick in today's R&B. I feel that she has that standout performance within her and I can’t wait to hear it. Meanwhile, this will surely do...
Stephanie, I love your look and your voice but I just wanna warn you of a possible impending wardrobe malfunction...
6. "Stronger" — Tank (3:39)
Tank made his column debut last week and returns just one notch higher this week. This is modern R&B with a nod to the '70s kind in his vocal approach. This is a nice piece of material, especially the chorus, and Tank wraps his rangy voice around it quite well. I admit I am a sucker for a well-done R&B ballad with personality and this one sure does qualify. Put Tank in your tank and you’ll go to the audio bank. No need for any thank.
7. "Unstable" — Anberlin (3:00)
Often erroneously tagged as a Christian band—probably because the lead singer's last name is Christian as is the guitarist's first name—these rockers started out in Winter Haven, Florida in 2002. They released albums in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012 and their final album two months ago. I rarely heard of them, but they sold albums and had top-tenners. Comparatively, they made good albums. I think over the years, I downloaded three of their songs. This is my favorite one overall. They will be all gone after their current FINAL tour ends. By the way, that was waaay longer than any band I was ever in except for my current one, The Funky Faculty, started in 1999. But we sold no albums.
8. "Ante Up" — Ages and Ages (2:55)
Another song and video by them was in the column a few weeks ago. This boy/girl band is a model in simplicity, its own sound, and straightforward songwriting. I’m liking them more and more as I increase my listening.
9. "Girls Are Always Right" — G.R.L (3:09)
From the remnants of musically unrenowned group The Pussycat Dolls came this. This is comparatively brand new and should be the anthem for party girls everywhere. It was gonna go in the coveted last spot in this column, but I came to my senses and made it the headline photo instead. Rupert Murdoch Lives, or too many years of me reading the New York Post are to blame.
10. "When the Lights Go Out" — The Family Crest (2:59)
I was in a movie theater watching the matinee showing of The Loved One when the October 1965 blackout hit New York City. I was also under the influence of mescaline and had a pretty rough time getting to the safer realms of downtown, but that’s another story. This song title immediately reminded me of that afternoon, so you see, different songs mean different things to different people. And that afternoon I was fer sure a different people. Meanwhile, my current favorite band plays its third track from their newest album and I hope brings in some more future aficionados. You’re all on your own now — I will play no more until their next release.
We fondly bid The Family Crest bye-bye for now until their hugely anticipated next release.
You can sign up for Al Kooper's mailing list right here.