Monthly Archives: May 2016

You Bring The Summer

Music was all around us – carrying thinly through the still, humid air – bright sun blazing down as we splashed in the Platte River. Clear, insistent beats oscillating in cool, dimly-lit bars and basements. All the windows down – wind surging through the car – furry melodies, whipping, aswirl, as we’d tear down country roads sending up diaphanous, starlit walls of dust in the twinkling night.

Happy songs, sad songs, and love songs – summertime rules, and summer tunes work to lift us up, to even us out, and to send us into quiet contemplation. For me, the formative summers of the early- and mid-1980s are easy to revisit through the time machine of music.

Drew Citron

Drew Citron

I am always on the lookout for something new, and still love those songs that gave my young summer world its shape. Here is a sample of a few new and a few old songs for summer.

I love Drew Citron’s voice and her guitar power pop band Beverly. They recently released one of my favorite records of the year, The Blue Swell. This dreamy music is mostly light and it shimmers around the edges, but there is heft and darkness to be found at its core. Strong lyrically and melodically, Beverly provides great hooks and beats with this superior summer music.

Lake House & Don’t Wanna Fight by Beverly from The Blue Swell (2016 Kanine Records).

All Songs Considered does it again – the weekly NPR show is great for turning me on to new music and artists. Recently they featured the terrific summer song linked directly below by Esmé Patterson, a musician from Portland, OR. This tune put me in the mind of some of my friends’ and my favorites from college summers in the early- and mid-1980s, like Oh-OK, R.E.M., and Let’s Active. Enter the time machine here:

Feel Right by Esmé Patterson from We Were Wild (2016 Grand Jury).

Esmé Patterson

Esmé Patterson

Here they come … celebrating fifty years, the trippy, fun 1960s television phenoms The Monkees are back! Good Times is their new album and it features each of the ‘prefab’ four (yes, even the late Davy Jones is represented with some vocals.) The album includes songs written by Harry Nilsson, Neil Diamond, Paul Weller, and many others. This bubbly track was written for the boys by XTC’s Andy Partridge.

You Bring the Summer by The Monkees from Good Times (2016 Rhino).

Kristin Kontrol

Kristin Kontrol

The marvelous shapeshifterKristin Welchez shed her post-punk Dum Dum Girls persona, Dee Dee, and has embraced synth-pop. She now performs as Kristin Kontrol, and this tune would not have been out of place pulsing from the basement ‘boom box’ in 1984. Her new album was released last week.

(Don’t) Wannabe by Kristin Kontrol from X-Communicate (2016 Sub Pop).

My favorite record of 2015 came from the Montreal quartet No Joy. They are back mid-July with more of their killer, summer sounds. Here is a ripping tune that picks up where they left off:

A Thorn In Garland’s Side by No Joy from the forthcoming EP Drool Sucker (due 15 July 2016 Topshelf Records).

What would the Romantic, minor key and chord geniuses Claude Debussy and Erik Satie have made of Radiohead? The Oxford lads delivered another masterpiece recently called A Moon Shaped Pool. Below are two links. First, a live version of a song that is perfect for a sultry evening on the patio. Share it with someone you can sit and be quiet with, and have a glass of something cold and strong. The second song is perfect listening for floating alone in the pool at the blinding, blistering end of a summer afternoon.

Present Tense & Daydreaming by Radiohead from A Moon Shaped Pool (2016 XL Recordings).

Here are a few ‘summery’ songs from the early-80s vault.

They were sublime….from Georgia,Oh-OK:

Such N Such & Straight by Oh-OK from the 12” Furthermore What (1983 DB Records).

Oh-OK's sublime "Furthermore What"

Oh-OK’s sublime “Furthermore What”

They were sparkling….from North Carolina, Let’s Active:

Every Word Means No & Make Up With Me by Let’s Active from Afoot (1983 I.R.S.).

Irreplaceable, masterful – Prince:

Take Me With U by Prince and The Revolution (w/ Apollonia) from Purple Rain (1984 Warner Bros.).

Fall in love…The Psychedelic Furs:

She Is Mine by The Psychedelic Furs from Talk Talk Talk (1981 Columbia).

30 May 2016

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You Bring The Summer

Music was all around us – carrying thinly through the still, humid air – bright sun blazing down as we splashed in the Platte River. Clear, insistent beats oscillating in cool, dimly-lit bars and basements. All the windows down – wind surging through the car – furry melodies, whipping, aswirl, as we’d tear down country roads sending up diaphanous, starlit walls of dust in the twinkling night.

Happy songs, sad songs, and love songs – summertime rules, and summer tunes work to lift us up, to even us out, and to send us into quiet contemplation. For me, the formative summers of the early- and mid-1980s are easy to revisit through the time machine of music.

Drew Citron

Drew Citron

I am always on the lookout for something new, and still love those songs that gave my young summer world its shape. Here is a sample of a few new and a few old songs for summer.

I love Drew Citron’s voice and her guitar power pop band Beverly. They recently released one of my favorite records of the year, The Blue Swell. This dreamy music is mostly light and it shimmers around the edges, but there is heft and darkness to be found at its core. Strong lyrically and melodically, Beverly provides great hooks and beats with this superior summer music.

Lake House & Don’t Wanna Fight by Beverly from The Blue Swell (2016 Kanine Records).

All Songs Considered does it again – the weekly NPR show is great for turning me on to new music and artists. Recently they featured the terrific summer song linked directly below by Esmé Patterson, a musician from Portland, OR. This tune put me in the mind of some of my friends’ and my favorites from college summers in the early- and mid-1980s, like Oh-OK, R.E.M., and Let’s Active. Enter the time machine here:

Feel Right by Esmé Patterson from We Were Wild (2016 Grand Jury).

Esmé Patterson

Esmé Patterson

Here they come … celebrating fifty years, the trippy, fun 1960s television phenoms The Monkees are back! Good Times is their new album and it features each of the ‘prefab’ four (yes, even the late Davy Jones is represented with some vocals.) The album includes songs written by Harry Nilsson, Neil Diamond, Paul Weller, and many others. This bubbly track was written for the boys by XTC’s Andy Partridge.

You Bring the Summer by The Monkees from Good Times (2016 Rhino).

Kristin Kontrol

Kristin Kontrol

The marvelous shapeshifterKristin Welchez shed her post-punk Dum Dum Girls persona, Dee Dee, and has embraced synth-pop. She now performs as Kristin Kontrol, and this tune would not have been out of place pulsing from the basement ‘boom box’ in 1984. Her new album was released last week.

(Don’t) Wannabe by Kristin Kontrol from X-Communicate (2016 Sub Pop).

My favorite record of 2015 came from the Montreal quartet No Joy. They are back mid-July with more of their killer, summer sounds. Here is a ripping tune that picks up where they left off:

A Thorn In Garland’s Side by No Joy from the forthcoming EP Drool Sucker (due 15 July 2016 Topshelf Records).

What would the Romantic, minor key and chord geniuses Claude Debussy and Erik Satie have made of Radiohead? The Oxford lads delivered another masterpiece recently called A Moon Shaped Pool. Below are two links. First, a live version of a song that is perfect for a sultry evening on the patio. Share it with someone you can sit and be quiet with, and have a glass of something cold and strong. The second song is perfect listening for floating alone in the pool at the blinding, blistering end of a summer afternoon.

Present Tense & Daydreaming by Radiohead from A Moon Shaped Pool (2016 XL Recordings).

Here are a few ‘summery’ songs from the early-80s vault.

They were sublime….from Georgia,Oh-OK:

Such N Such & Straight by Oh-OK from the 12” Furthermore What (1983 DB Records).

Oh-OK's sublime "Furthermore What"

Oh-OK’s sublime “Furthermore What”

They were sparkling….from North Carolina, Let’s Active:

Every Word Means No & Make Up With Me by Let’s Active from Afoot (1983 I.R.S.).

Irreplaceable, masterful – Prince:

Take Me With U by Prince and The Revolution (w/ Apollonia) from Purple Rain (1984 Warner Bros.).

Fall in love…The Psychedelic Furs:

She Is Mine by The Psychedelic Furs from Talk Talk Talk (1981 Columbia).

30 May 2016

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William, Bill for short

A couple of sketches and some songs, with gratitude.

You wanted to hug him when he was around. And he was a guy who would link arms with you while you walked, or he would take your hand and hold it while you chatted together. You can see his pale pillowy fingers on top of yours, both your palm and his facing down on the tabletop. He leans in to listen, his eyes narrow a bit – sometimes he pats the top of your hand. Like a gently smiling prophet or a benevolent Mafia don – a character, and yet thoroughly himself.

A Character

A Character

You wanted to make him laugh and smile. You craved his approval. But you also wanted to hear the wonderful variety of sounds he would make. The breathy machine gun bursts of ‘heh heh heh’ popping out of a tight smile to betray his instant, unfakeable delight. Or the reflective, sighing chuckle – his hands upon his broad belly, working to keep it steady. The hilarious, full-throated roar that seemed somehow to come from his wide-open eyes as much as from his round mouth. His little teeth. His laughing-moon face tilted to the sky, like a modern day Falstaff or Tevye – a character but completely himself.

You wanted to get him alone. He was among the finest listeners you will ever know and he always elevated the conversation with his taste and opinion. His voice assured. He was an alloy – blending the sensible, unbendable metal of ranch-town boy with the assured and shining precious metal of city sophisticate – a fusion of so many things, and yet absolutely singular.

You wanted him to live longer. Though you surely spent many hundreds of hours together over scores of evenings, in theatres and bars, basements and living rooms, you would like an hour more.

His sensibility. His sensitivity. His style.

It is now nearly three years ago that he died and you cannot believe it. You hope and perhaps you even believe that he has not so much gone away from you – gone away from us – as he has gone toward something else. To be a most generously memorable fellow – beyond. Oh, Bill.

Fortunately, music can act as a time machine, and you will have the chance when you listen to these songs that he loved, (that you were thrilled to introduce him to, that you just knew he would love…) to close your eyes and be in his company again.

From Portugal, combining transcendent vocals with elements of classical, folk, and chamber music – the incredible Madredeus.

Madredeus

Madredeus

O Paraiso the complete album by Madredeus (1997 Metro Blue).

O Paraiso

O Paraiso

Ainda the complete album by Madredeus (1995 Metro Blue).

Transcendent vocals, Teresa Salgueiro of Madredeus.

Transcendent vocals, Teresa Salgueiro of Madredeus.

Anseio (fugo apressado) by Madredeus from Movimento (2001 Metro Blue).

Oh, William, these thoughts are put down quickly and with great gratitude. It was a pleasure. You were a treat.

12 May 2016

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