Listen to remember, listen to forget: There’s plenty of room on my playlist California

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california 1FULFILLING A friend’s request for a California songs playlist was a bit like listening to Hotel California; the heady beginning lures you into a seemingly bottomless pit of choices until, in the end, you find it really is such a lovely place (such a lovely place) after all.

Hope it wakes you up in the middle of the night just to hear it play.

01. We are what we watch (Kardashians). 02. La la la liking LA 03. The Ray Davies of San Fran always swings for the fence 04. Young love on Santa Catalina island 05. The summer of ’68 at Frank Zappa’s Laurel Canyon house 06. Fun, fun, fun til Daddy has like totally a fit ya know 07. California is everything they say it is 08. No Mamas, just Papa John and a mother to be 09. We don’t know we need Tom until we hear him 10. Breaking up in 42 minutes and four movements of classical/progressive-bluegrass fusion. Only in California.

“WHOA,” YOU SAY, “you left out…”. Patience, Grasshopper. A hand can not hold every pebble. When it is time, you will know.

Merry Christmas world: Please enjoy this festive playlist

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charlie brown christmas

Best songs and albums of 2015? Here’s mine:

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2015 ALBUMS:

Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar) – To Pimp A Butterfly
Flush all memory of bling-laden rappers; the glitter in Lamar’s eyes is #blacklivesmatter and making music.
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Otis Taylor (@OtisTaylorBand) – Hey Joe Opus Red Meat
Cornet, violin and muscular drumming add captivating variations on the Hey Joe theme. A right of passage for aspiring axemen (thanks to Hendrix), never before has it soared into such a visionary masterpiece.
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Villagers (@wearevillagers) – Darling Arithmetic
Irish and Supreme Court votes and a witless Kentucky licence clerk made for a Hot, Scary Summer for same-sex couples and pulled Conor O’Brien out from behind his usual writing devices to lay bare what it’s been like.
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Josh Ritter (@joshritter) – Sermon on the Rocks
Ritter’s two favourite things are intellectualizing spirituality and whiskey; hence the title’s play on words. Known for solemnity, he playfully “leaves a bottle on the table (for us) and the Bible open to the Sermon on the Mount”. Our choice what to make of them, he winks.
 .
Courtney Barnett (@courtneymelba) – Sometimes I Sit and Think…
Mix John Cale minimalism, Black Angels psych guitars and Ryan Adams attitude, and you’ve got an honest to goodness, shit-kicking rock and roll record like they used to make.
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Simone Felice (@SimoneFelice) – From The Violent Banks Of The Kaaterskill
The full scope of Felice’s literary intentions were sometimes obscured in a band setting (Felice Brothers; Duke & The Kings). This stripped down career retrospective gives new clarity to his writing and technique.
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Public Image Ltd (@pilofficial) – What The World Needs Now
John Lydon has evolved from Sex Pistols’ call for Anarchy In The UK to a global appeal for solidarity against governments, corporations and any other powers that be. Great groove, and he’s still #NSFW
 .
Craig Finn (@steadycraig) – Faith in the Future
Finn couldn’t write about witnessing 9/11 for more than a decade. He was at a rooftop party by chance, and fear and faith got all mixed up. He’s not over it yet.
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Robert Earl Keen (@RobertEarlKeen1) – Happy Prisoner
The congenial alt-country raconteur’s bluegrass ‘vanity project’ brings warmth and unexpected song choices to a genre that too often descends into a picking race.
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Lianne La Havas (@liannelahavas) – Blood
There is a Hepburn-like grace in the quiet spaces when the breathtaking young British vocalist sings; sensual, aching but hopeful.
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MORE 2015 SONGS:

Tributes/Covers:
Sean Rowe (@sean_rowe) – Soldier (Williams)
Glen Hansard (@Glen_Hansard) – Hold On Magnolia (Molina)
Darrell Scott (@darrellscott) – The One I’m Still Thinking About (Bullington)
 .
Jazz Singers:
Cecile Mclorin Salvant (@cecilesalvant) – Growlin’ Dan
Dayme Arocena (@_HavanaCultura_) – Come To Me
Natalie Prass (@NataliePrass) – My Baby Doesn’t Understand
 .
Folk:
Barna Howard (@MamaBirdRC) – Quite A Feeling
Bill Fay (billfay.co.uk) – The Freedom To Read
Mark Erelli (@MarkErelli) – By Degrees
 .
Blues:
Beth Hart (@BethHart) – Tell Her You Belong To Me
Songhoy Blues (@SonghoyBlues) – Soubour
Shemekia Copeland (#ShemekiaCopeland) – Crossbone Beach
 .
Americana:
Brandi Carlile (@brandicarlile) – The Eye
Dave Rawlings Machine (@TheDaveRawlings) – The Trip
Jason Isbell (@JasonIsbell) – Speed Trap Town
 .
Real Country:
Malpass Brothers (@Malpassbrothers) – I Met A Friend Of Yours Today (Strait)
Alan Jackson (@OfficialJackson) – Angels And Alcohol
Chris Stapleton (@ChrisStapleton) – Tennessee Whiskey (Jones)
 .
Groovin:
Jazmine Sullivan (@jsullivanmusic) – Let It Burn
Ghostpoet (@ghostpoet) – Be Right Back, Moving House
Suffers (@TheSuffers) – Make Some Room
Lyrics Born & Ivan Neville (@lyricsborn) – Around the Bend
Brooklyn Funk Essentials (@BklynFunkEsntls) – Recycled
 .

Please support the music you like!

Come and get yer (Happy) Thanksgiving songs

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snoopy be thankful

25 review: Adele needs a producer who hears the Etta James in her, not the Katy Perry

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Adele – 25  (2015)

adele 25Attempting a follow up to the most successful album of all time is hugely courageous, and the masterfully organized release of 25 (due tomorrow) is an erstwhile effort. It’s good, not great; a solid 7. Here’s why:

Adele has no equal when she comes to us naked in pain, and it would be wastefully desensitizing to listen to all those full-on singles from 21 at one sitting, like an opera of nothing but arias. 25 has but the one ‘big single’, Hello, and lacks its aria – that one unexpected moment that leaves us, and her, breathless and wondering what just happened. No Chasing Pavements from 19 or Someone Like You from 21 to bind singer and listener in a defining moment.

To her credit, Adele wanted to broaden her oeuvre, “to be quite acoustic and piano-led” and not make a big production. But that isn’t what emerged from the studio. She mostly starts with intimate intention but checks off into radio-friendly comfort zones that compromise the original phrasing.

But the post-21 hurdle has been cleared, and for 27 she could find a less considering producer who hears the Etta James and Edith Piaf in her, not the Katy Perry/Rebecca Lynn Howard.

Barna Howard wakes up late in a lonely place and writes about his big mistakes. It’s quite a feeling

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Barna Howard – Quite A Feelin’ (2015)

barna howardFans of Jerry Jeff Walker’s Mr. Bojangles and road-weary Lightfoot will find a lot to like in Portland-via-Illinois Barna Howard’s second album.

With echoes of those great 70’s Jimmy Webb characters resigned to a need to move on that we all share, literally or figuratively, Howard writes without cliche or hyperbole.

He has an ear for a phrase and is a superb picker. Good time to get started collecting what promises to be a big back catalogue.

Chris Stapleton: A traveller from country radio to country soul

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Chris Stapleton – Traveller (2015)

chris stapletonRodney Crowell and Graham Greene have both voiced a dirty secret of writers: To write what you want, you’ve got to write what you need to pay the bills. Chris Stapleton stuck his boot in the Nashville door penning safe radio hits for Luke Bryan, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney et al and earned his performing stripes in a bluegrass band and later in a southern rock outfit.

The real Chris Stapleton is more subversive, it emerges via his first solo album. The bluesy grooves and (blue-eyed) soul voice hint at the pioneering country of Ray Charles’ Modern Sounds and his writing the harsh introspection of Waylon Jennings.

Charles and Waylon have no equals. But Nashville could do with more of their kind than the people Stapleton was writing for.

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