Saturday, September 17, 2016

Weekend Music Roundup

The weekend has finally arrived after a LONG week. On the bright side, autumn is slowly starting to roll into the foothills of the Catskill mountains, sweeping summer away for another year. There's a nice mix of stuff on this list. Some new discoveries, some new releases from past favorites, a few vinyl finds, and some of my own catching up on curiosity. Rock, Jazz, Trip-Hop, Hip-Hop, Folk, Indie, and poetry are all represented so there's no excuse not to find something you want to hear. Enjoy.

Len Sander - Places EP: This is a new band from Zurich that my Missus encountered and brought home this record for me. This subtle trip-hop in the style of Portishead and remind my of one of my favorite bands, the little heard Scala. This has one of those undeniably cool grooves to it that sort of fits any mood, any atmosphere. You can hear this and the rest of their catalog on their bandcamp site, linked above. I love discovering new music, or when people discover it for me. Well worth checking out.

Cocoon - Welcome Home: One of my most anticipated albums of the year is this third album from the French folk pop due, their first album in six years. Their previous two records are favorites of mine and I was super excited for this one. It's another fine album in their catalog, even if it is more upbeat and lacks some of the sadness that made their earlier work so endearing.  "Miracle," "Cross," "Watch My Back," and "Shooting Star" are my personal favorites.

Billie Holiday - The Original Recordings: It seems almost impossible to believe that until this past week, I didn't own any Billie on vinyl, with the exception of a few songs included on a Jazz box set. I picked this up and it's a real treasure. Billie's voice is unbelievable, and paired with the subdued jazz, it's other worldly. Every Sunday morning, I like to listen to jazz with my coffee and this is an album that will occupy that spot for many, many Sundays to come.

On the Seventh Day - On the Seventh Day: Released in 1970, this is the only album ever put out by the band and one of the only true psychedelic soul records ever made.  Never re-released, this is one of those rare albums and I was lucky to come across a copy with the original withdrawn cover for a reasonable price. This album mixes pre-recorded bits of speeches, news reports, and other depictions of events as it tries to highlight the coming end of humanity with it's amazing psychedelic soul sound. This is one of those records that needs to absorbed in one sitting, and when done, it's moving and thought-provoking.

Arlo Guthrie - Arlo: Over the years, I've become a bigger fan of Arlo's than of his teacher Dylan, who in turn was the disciple of Arlo's father Woody. It's like Socrates-Plato-Aristotle of American popular folk, and each learned for the previous. I wouldn't say Arlo is better than Bob. Hardly. But there is something about it that appeals to me. Perhaps it's the honesty and complete lack of trying to be iconic. Regardless, I hadn't had this live album from '68, his second release. While the first side is very Pete Seegar sounding, the second side opens with the great psychedelic folk song "Meditation (Wave upon Wave)", the real standout track on this record.

Bernie Taupin - Bernie Taupin: Released in '71, then just twenty years old, this is Bernie's debut album which more than likely got a released due to the success of songs he'd written for Elton John, who was just beginning his rise into the stratosphere. This is an album of poetry read over some of the most pleasant folk guitar music of the era. Free of the structure of song, Bernie is able to delve deeper into the rhythm of his words and delivers some wonderful poetry, awoken by the music.
N.W.A - Straight Outta Compton: Certainly not an album that's new to me. Having grown up in the late 80's, this was certainly a record that was always around and got some cassette play in my car when I first started to drive in the early '90s. But hip-hop, more so than rock, has a way of discarding anything that isn't new and I've rarely gone back to old albums and found them not to sound dated. Watching the movie last weekend, I was totally feeling these jams and knew I needed to come back to this. The pioneer record of hardcore still holds up, mostly because of Cube's rhyming skills, Eazy's swag, and Dre's dope beats. Legendary record.

Hookfoot - Hookfoot: The '71 debut from the British pop rock band was a recent pick up. I was sold by a quote on the inner gatefold from Elton John claiming they were the best new English band. That makes sense due to the fact that he was in a band with two of the members before starting his solo career, and that this album is like a hard rock version of Elton's blues on Tumbleweed Connection, released the year before. "Mystic Lady," "Nature Changes," and the cover of Neil Young's "Don't Let it Bring You Down" are favorites of mine. 

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