2021 SONG DRAFT- ROUND 2 PICK 8: MIKE AND PAUL’S MUSIC BLOG SELECTS-‘INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET’- BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

2021 Song Draft- Round 2 Pick 8: Mike and Paul’s Music Blog selects- ‘Incident On 57th Street’- Bruce Springsteen. Bruce Springsteen – Incident on …

2021 SONG DRAFT- ROUND 2 PICK 8: MIKE AND PAUL’S MUSIC BLOG SELECTS-‘INCIDENT ON 57TH STREET’- BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

2021 SONG DRAFT- ROUND 1 PICK 9- MIKE AND PAUL’S MUSIC SELECTS- ‘CRUEL TO BE KIND’- NICK LOWE

I am participating in a song draft being run by Hanspostcard on his SliceTheLife blog. Here is my first entry.

slicethelife

Nick Lowe – Cruel To Be Kind (1979, Vinyl) - Discogs

2021 Song Draft- Round 1 Pick 9- Mike And Paul’s Music Blog- selects- ‘Cruel To Be Kind’- Nick Lowe.

Paul’s blog can be found at- https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/84200726

First, thanks to Hans and Max for inviting me to be part of this draft! I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s choices so far. Since I’m newcomer to this, I’ve decided to just feature songs that mean something to me in some way. So here goes.

A perfect example of power pop, this song takes me back to my days living in Philly in the early 90s.

When I was younger and single, I had this habit that when a band came to town that I wanted to see, I just went and bought a pair of tickets, many times before knowing if anyone I knew would be able to or was interested in going. Most times I cold corral a friend to attend, sometimes…

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Welcome back to life(live)

Last night I came back to live. After more than 15 months I went and saw live music. I took my daughter to a small local venue and saw The Wild Feathers. It helps that they are one of my favorite bands that I’ve come across in the last few years. It also helps that they are really fabulous live. I didn’t know this until I saw them last night. I was lucky enough that they happen to pop up on my feed for a local venue that tends to book acts that are not big commercial draws but appeal to a select audience. Despite the social distancing protocols in place and the weird seating arrangement, I managed to have an absolutely fantastic time. Of course having my daughter Hanna with me made it better. The music was fantastic. The americana/southern rock ethos of this band was on full display. They effortlessly move between beautiful harmonies, ballads and jammy songs with fantastic instrumentation. If I had to put a label on them (which I hate ) I would say they fall somewhere between a classic southern rock band and vintage Eagles. Three vocalists all equally adapt and distinctive with fantastic musicianship.The intimate setting allowed for great interaction with the audience. Of course after the show the members of the band were in the lobby of the venue and we got to talk, chat and interact. They handle their own merch. The drummer talked with us about hairstyles. Sidenote*my daughter Hanna is really cool and has great hair. We talked to Joel, bassist and co- lead vocalist about the difficulty with being on the shelf for a year and the challenges of traveling and touring in a post Covid world. Everyone in the audience seem to be like prisoners out of prison released after an unjust sentence. (Forgive me if I’m waxing too poetic.)

I’m not sure I totally realized until last night how much I really missed going to a live show. Of course I’ve continued my ever expanding search of music over the last year. I’ve watched numerous live streams of artists that I like. But nothing replaces the pure adrenaline ,energy and emotion that you feel when people get on the stage in front of you and play because they love it and can’t imagine doing anything else. These guys are doing what they want to do because it feeds their soul. They’re obviously not rich but they’re really damn good at what they do and they made a couple hundred people really happy last night.

keep it up guys. (I’m breathing better now)

REM’s first national television appearance

I’ve been listening to a lot of REM lately. Several of the blogs I follow have featured them recently (see here for Aphoristical‘s updated list of R.E.M Albums: Ranked from Worst to Best; and here and here for song features from badfinger20(Max). And so the other night I stumbled on this gem on YouTube – R.E.M.’s first national TV appearance on Letterman’s show on Oct. 6, 1983.

What a joy to watch this performance! In less than 10 years, R.E.M will be one of the biggest bands in the world, but here they are, just 4 guys from Athens, GA trying to make it. Peter Buck and Mike Mills jumping and bouncing all over the stage playing Radio Free Europe, while Michael Stipe anchors the whole song stationary, hanging on the mic, “murmuring” the lyrics, although you sense he could bound off the stage if he lets go.

In those days Letterman would often give his musical guest two songs, and so after the commercial break, they play a song the band says is so new it doesn’t have a title – and its So. Central Rain.

I found it interesting that the between song chatter with Letterman was handled by Buck and Mills – Stipe, the lead singer, is off to the side , sitting on the drum riser, so uncharacteristic of a lead singer who is usually the band’s spokesperson. I recall reading somewhere that Stipe said he viewed his voice as just another instrument in the band, and this fits with the idea that he’s just another bandmember.

I didn’t get into R.E.M. until Document in 1987, and was barely aware of them during my college years (82-86). On the other hand, I watched Letterman religiously during college so I’m not sure why I missed this. Although on reflection that was more in my junior/senior year, so this performance would have been earlier. What I can say is that if I had caught this performance, I am willing to bet I would have become a fan much earlier!

Enjoy the performance!

Favorite songs of 2020

Ok a couple days late but its still the weekend so I’m going to slide my list of favorite songs of 2020 in and hope no one notices my tardiness…

2020 was a terrible year in so many ways but it was still a great year for new music finds. Here are 10 of my favorite discoveries this past year

10. The Chats – Pub Feed

I stumbled onto this band from someone’s blog earlier this year – sorry can’t remember who. The Chats are a self described pub-punk shed rock band from Queensland Australia who remind me of the Ramones with their straight head no nonsense punk sound. Their song deal with everyday concerns – getting a meal at the local pub, getting the clap, getting hassled by the police. Ok maybe not the everyday concerns of a 50 something white guy from the US East Coast, but great music nonetheless. Plus it keeps my streak alive of having at least one band from Down Under on the list the last number of years!

9. Tami Neilson – Call Your Mama

Tami Neilson is a R&B throwback to an earlier time. As Popdose describes here – ” If you’ve ever wanted to know what Wanda Jackson duking it out with Shirley Bassey in a alley while Rosanne Cash, Sharon Jones, and Amy Winehouse egged them on sounded like, look no further..” This put down on a cheating man cracked me up – A ring a ding ding!

8. Spanish Love Songs – Kick

This LA based rock band has been around since 2013 but I had never heard of them til this year. Their lead singer Dylan Slocum’s voice reminds me of another lead singer, but I can’t place it. Any ideas? Great guitar head cleansing rock

7. Brandy Clark – Who You Thought I Was

Brandy Clark has written a number of songs that have been hits for other country artists (Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgrave) but has also put out several albums on her own. I’m not a huge country fans, but do appreciate the roots/American branch, and I found this song gorgeous.

6. Okay Kaya – Psych Ward

I heard this song on a new music playlist early in the year and couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks. Then it seemed very topical as the year progressed as it felt like we were living in a psych ward what with the way our leaders were running our country. Favorite line – “I am a very patient patient” Video has alot of non song content so posting Spotify link instead

5. Best Coast – Everything Has Changed

One of my favorite bands is back after a 5 year hiatus and sounding as great as ever. Sounds like songwriter / vocalist Bethany Cosentino has found contentment and happiness as the songs are no long all about lost love and broken relationships

4. Marcus King – Beautiful Stranger

Marcus King is a 24 year old singer/guitarist from Greenville SC whose debut solo album El Dorado was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. The album is a fantastic combination of country, blues, R&B, and rock, anchored by King’s phenomenal voice. Featuring Beautiful Stranger here, but also check out the rest of the album, including The Well.

3. The Beths – Dying to Believe

Another of my favorite bands from Down Under whose album Jump Rope Gazers is great from top to bottom. I had tickets to see them in DC in May, which got postponed til the fall, which got postponed to …. actually I don’t know.. One of many huge disappointments this year. I really hope to see them in the States one day. But at least we got the new album. My buddy Mike posted I’m Not Getting Excited on his year end best of list (see it here), so here’s another keeper, Dying to Believe

2. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – Dreamiscle

Jason Isbell is one of those artists that I’ve been aware of for awhile but for whatever reason have never really checked out until recently – and geez what I’ve been missing. His 2020 album with the 400 Unit has a bunch of great songs on it that made it hard to choose just one, but this one was definitely my favorite. Great lyrics, great imagery, great chorus.

1. Bruce Springsteen – Ghosts

I hear the sound of your guitar
Comin’ from the mystic far
Stone and the gravel in your voice
Come in my dreams and I rejoice

I don’t think there could be a better song intro for me in the current year for me than this, as it signals that Bruce and the E St. Band is back, better than ever. Its been a while, what with his book, the Broadway show etc. Just a fantastic fantastic song, which for me ranks in my top 10 Bruce songs ever. As my co-blogger Mike says, the album Letter to You is easiest is best in 20 years. From Roy Bittan’s piano, Max Weinberg’s drumming, to Jake Clemons sax, you just know that this song is going to be a killer live – and its even got the count out towards the end of the song to tease you. A bright ray of hope to all the great live musical moments that awaits us on the other side of this pandemic.

Happy New Year everyone!!

Best albums of 2020 (imho)

I’ve been doing a top ten albums list for almost 10 years. About 3 years ago my buddy Paul and I started this music blog. We went gangbusters the first year and as these things occasionally do, it lost a little steam over the past 2 years. Paul has posted a few articles but this may be the only one from me since my ten best of 2019. Nevertheless, I felt I owed it to my loyal small handful of followers to get this past years list up. So here goes….

2020 was an interesting year in music. Artists were left without that creative outlet that touring provides, so many improvised. Live streaming performances and stripped down, acoustic music with lo fi production became a thing., even from bands and artists we think of as big loud arena ready performers.Some went to the vault and recorded alternative versions of previously releases. The Bouncing Souls released Volume II , acoustic versions of some of their great rockers. I loved this album.

My number 10 album is by BillJe Armstrong/ Green Day. Really just a fun project of power pop covers including Hanna”s fave “That thing you do ” from the movie sound track> Here’s one i had on regular rotation.

10 Green Day “NO FUN MONDAYS”

9. The Beths. “JUMP ROPE GAZERS”

I like finding new music and owe this find to Paul. Not sure if he recommended this band but he has been a fan of female led bands and opened my eyes to what I was missing. Great range in this band.

8.Drive-by Truckers. “THE NEW OK”

Easy to get fooled into thinking these guys are just a southern rock band. They definitely have that southern twang thing going but they have a bit of punk and a socially progressive message. This song was inspired by the BLM protests this past year especially in Portland.

7.Chris Stapleton “STARTING OVER”

This artist has been around country music more than 10 years as a songwriter. He’s now put out a few excellent albums. This one is no exception and this song cold might be the best single song I heard this past year. AMAZING voice!!

6.Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit “ REUNIONS”

His winning streak continues. whether solo or withe the fantastic 400 unit, Jason Isbell puts outfantastiic music. This song released early in 2020 was like a prediction for the rest of the year.

5. Haim “ WOMEN IN MUSIC PT. III”

These sisters had a hit a few years back and Iv’e always like their cool LA vibe but this album kicked it up a notch . This song is great but the whole album is worth a few hundred listens

4.Dawes “GOOD LUCK WITH WHATEVER”

These guys have become regular occupants of my top 10. They just keep surprising me

3.The Killers “IMPLODING THE MIRAGE”

This band seems to be permanently stuck somewhere between 1985 and 1992(and I mean that in good way). loved this album from top to bottom.

2. The Menzingers “ FROM EXILE”

After seeing them open for Frank Turner a few years ago, I’ve been a big fan of this local PA band. best played LOUD

1.Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band “LETTER TO YOU”

Well, duh…..

Bruce had been pretty quiet for a few years until his very different introspective “Western Stars” last year. I thought that was great and it was my chill out album of summer 2019. I was beginning to wonder if Bruce was settling into his rock star emeritus phase. Then came this…which i think is the best thin he’s done since The Rising. He draws on his whole body of work without sounding like he’s recycling. Quirky characters like from his early work appear in “If I were the Priest”. “Janey Needs a Shooter” would be at home on “Darkness”

The chorus fo this son starts with a defiant “I’M ALIVE…” which was the perfect message at the end of 2020.

Five of my Favorite Christmas Songs

Well, its Christmas Eve 2020 here and while this year has been unique (and not in the good sense) the holidays helps anchor us to the traditions that make our lives meaningful and that can carry us through these challenging times. Yes the pandemic has altered Christmas as well, but it won’t stop me from posting some of my favorite Christmas songs! While there are many to choose from, here are five of my current favorites.

Eurythmics – Winter Wonderland

From the very first A Very Special Christmas benefit album from 1987 – I really love Annie Lennox’s vocals on this track, a very Eurythmics take on this classic. While the album was a mixed bag (imho) this was one of the standouts.

Fairytale of New York – The Pogues featuring Kirsty MacColl)

I’ve heard plenty of other versions of this song, but for me the original cannot be matched. There’s something about Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl’s vocals, and the Irish instrumentation that does it for me.

Pretenders – Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas

Another standout from the A Very Special Christmas album – love Chrissie Hynde’s vocals on this.

Bruce Springsteen and the E. St. Band – Santa Claus is Coming to Town

Of course this Bruce holiday classic would make my list – probably one of most popular rock versions of a Christmas classic ever. There’s nothing like hearing this song live in concert (which I’ve been lucky to hear several times) and hear old Clarence’s HoHoHo. Really miss the Big Man. Here’s a live version from 1978.

Bob Dylan – Must be Santa

I discovered this Dylan cover a few years ago and its my new favorite. To be honest, the video makes it for me – Dylan in the white hat/Santa hat, the accordion player, the unexplained altercation and escape and the exchange of glances between Dylan and Santa. Looks to be a fantastically fun Christmas party!

Hearing wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

Song for our Times – Bob Mould American Crisis

A scream of rage in this dark time in the history of US.

I heard a story on the radio a few weeks ago (before we slid off cliff) about what this year’s “song of the summer” will be (last year it was Uptown Road)….

This song has my vote for song for this summer.

You’re one of us,

Or one of them

If you’re one of them

Don’t come near me again