One of the most terrifying episodes of Twilight Zone is “The Midnight Sun” from 1961. It’s about the sun moving closer to the earth (or vice versa) and the physical and emotional breakdown of a landlady and the only tenant remaining in her building that hasn’t fled the city. The temperature is 120 degrees and conditions are becoming unlivable. And of course because it’s Twilight Zone there is a twist ( no, not gonna mention it in case you haven’t seen it, in which case, please do so asap because it’s awesome). It’s both eerily prophetic and haunting and frankly hasn’t been far from my mind during the current heatwave. It’s the anthesis of “summer fun” which is another reason why it rules. Oh yeah, welcome to the latest Weekly New Wonders Playlist ! I’d say it was HOT but you already know that. Anyway, there are some fine pop songs that want to meet you. You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify, links below !
You know when a particular song/film/book/piece of art strikes you in the head and heart and after touting it’s amazingness, when you ultimately share it with others they don’t feel the same ? I was absolutely obsessed with this old movie from 1971 called “Death in Venice” ( okay, still am). Years ago they had a revival screening in NYC and I was beyond thrilled that I would finally get the opportunity to share this AMAZING THING that I LOVED with what I assumed were my like minded friends. I’d repeatedly stated how incredible it was, completely built it up, saying crazy obsessive shit like “this is one of the greatest movies ever made” and “Dirk Bogarde is so genius”. I went with no less than 3 friends in the naive hope they would be blown away and love it as much as I did. This did not happen. They ALL thought it was f-ing boring. In their eyes, I now had a black mark on my taste meter. At the time, I was genuinely embarrassed…which is ridiculous but there you go. It’s that old cliche i.e. when you love something you want to share it and have others experience your same irrational, starry eyed joy. With that in mind it’s time for the WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring what we think are some of the handsomest songs from recent weeks and days. We don’t expect you to love every song and want to squeeze them all, but we live in undeniable hope that you will discover something wonderful to put on repeat and soundtrack your travels this week. They’re beautiful. (and “Death in Venice” is too). You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify, links below!
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“Happiness” is ridiculously beautiful, featuring a hushed and classically motorik beat and, this is slightly odd, is kind of reminiscent of beloved British late 90’s straight up rock band Doves in one of their quieter moments. The hook happens almost immediately, roughly 30 seconds in, and is completely, disarmingly exquisite. Beauty.
Things change. Or rather sometimes people change. Get blinded by lights or other unpredictable sources. Once upon a time things were cool with you and now they’re not. The inclination is always to blame yourself because you know, it’s obviously your f-ing fault. Say hello to Talkie who have a signature song for that very feeling. In “Boring Now”, they sound at various points like either a slacker version of the early Beach Boys or an anesthetized all male Ronettes. This thing manages to be both tongue in cheek and heart on sleeve and perfectly nails that losing feeling.
This is singer-songwriter Valerie Carter (1953-2017). Her first 2 solo albums ( 1977’s “Just A Stone’s Throw” & 1978’s “Wild Child” respectively) were reissued together this week in collection form as “Ooh Child: The Columbia Years” & well, she was just amazing. Anyway, while you’re “Spotifying”, “I-Tuning” or “Padora-ing” this week, please take a minute & check it out because, holy lord, she had a transcendent, shockingly wonderful voice. The nearest she got to having a hit record was when her cover of the aforementioned “Ooh Child” played over the closing credits of the bonafide cult classic of suburban teen ennui from 1979 ( & one of the best movie’s EVER) “Over the Edge”. The original version is a classic but unbelievably hers CRUSHES IT, a genuinely insane achievement. And so check that out if you haven’t before as well as the tracks “Cowboy Angel”, & “Wild Child” because they are tear-jerkingly gorgeous. Speaking of tear-jerkingly gorgeous, it’s time to glorify the BEST NEW MUSIC that’s arisen over the past week which is to say welcome to the WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST. We hope you find your new favorite song(s) within it ! You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify, links are below just for you.
Listen on Soundcloud:
Listen on Spotify:
While “Two Hearts” is a modern day sticky pop song, endlessly bouncing and criminally tuneful, it is also sweetly anchored to some pretty superior indie pop of yore, specifically the criminally underrated 90’s Britpop band Echobelly. Heather Riley’s vocal is both yearning and assertive, way out in front of everything else, wrapped in glorious swirling pop guitar and strikingly reminiscent of Sonya Aurora Madan’s from the aforementioned Echobelly. You’ll wanna squeeze this one close to your heart.
Not looking to darken the proceedings of presenting the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the MOST wonderful new music we’ve met over the past week, but want to take a minute and pay tribute to someone no longer physically with us who’s absolutely worth remembering and knowing about right about now. His name was Jimmie Spheeris and he died 35 years ago this week in a motorcycle accident in Los Angeles. He was an absolutely amazing singer-songwriter who should’ve been better known. He looked every inch the 70’s troubadour, long haired, bearded, toting his acoustic guitar but there was something about his songs, full of summer breezes and insecurity, melodic and complex, that was utterly special which is to say jeezus damn, he was pretty amazing. Anyway, take a minute this week and spend some time with the handful of albums he blessed us with because they are all full of beauties and they’ll make you feel loved okay ? Now back to our regularly scheduled and beautiful new music…
Listen on Soundcloud:
Listen on Spotify:
Waylon Jennings’ “Cedartown, Georgia” ( 1971) is both an amazing and horrifying song. In it, our grizzled hard workin’ protagonist describes his plan to murder his cheating wife in a most relaxed, tuneful, and matter of fact way. It’s so great and so f-ing wrong at the same time. It is absolutely as creepy and beautiful as Bobbie Gentry”s legendary “Ode to Billie Joe”. Country music has openly embraced and sung about terrible crime scenarios for decades, centuries, long before all the now beloved Dateline’s, Serial’s, My Favorite Murder’s and their brethren hit the video and audio airwaves. While the country music death march has slowed down considerably over the years, there have been some pretty cool assertive, feminist revenge party songs that have waved the murder flag pretty effectively in the 2000’s, Miranda Lambert’s “Gunpowder and Lead”, and Carrie Underwood’s “Two Black Cadillacs” to name a couple. Today though, want to exult a damn fine murder ballad with no “winners”. Tim McGraw is a beloved country superstar who, since his debut in 1993, has racked up countless piles of platinum and # 1 albums and singles. I’d take him over Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan or any of the other supposedly “hunky” doofus’s out there because he has some properly good songs and frankly, seems way cooler. With that in mind we’re going to go back in time so we can shine a light on his superior contribution to the irrational, jealous country murder ballad canon. In 2009 Tim released his tenth studio album, “Southern Voice” and nestled within it was a song called “Good Girls”. It was written by pedigreed country songwriters Chris Lindsey, Aimee Mayo ( who co-wrote Lonestar’s crossover megahit “Amazed”) and the Warren Brothers ( who co-wrote Dierks Bentley’s country # 1 “Feel That Fire”). While Tim is the narrator in the song, he is not an active participant in it’s storyline and is just there to tell the terrible tale . The story he relates is about 2 best girlfriends, Jesse and Jenny. Jesse calls Jenny to insist they hang out, drink some Boone’s farm wine and chase the moon right outta the sky. They hop in Jesse’s car and take off like a bottle rocket. Turns out Jesse has an ulterior motive which is to confront Jenny about messing around with Jesse’s man. It doesn’t go well. Next verse Tim offers up is about the news report the next day which tells of a car parked on the tracks and a train with no time to stop. The only witness to the whole event is “a Weeping Willow on a foggy hill” and as Tim is describing it all in detail, well, for all intents and purposes, he is the all-knowing, noble and empathetic tree ( being the only one privy to what happened in the car that preceded/resulted in the tragic ending)…which I very much like the idea of. It’s got an achingly earnest vocal, and is built on a foundation of crying guitar straight out of the wistful, dusty old Bob Seger ballad “Main Street” ( which is also awesome). Yeah,“Good Girls” sounds like a Dateline episode put to music but it’s also really f-ing good. And even with it’s glossy, not remotely gritty or raw production there’s still something oddly striking, sinister and retro about it. Something that brings to mind that dark old country tragedy tradition. Let it proudly hold it’s irrational, impulsive head up next to “Cedartown” forever.
“If I can’t have him neither one of us will”. You better believe it.
Hear it here:
And here’s Waylon’s beautiful and wrong “Cedartown, Georgia”: