Taylor Swift has a song called “Haunted” as does Beyonce. Neither of them is as good as this. Seriously. Neither of them mention being gaslighted for one thing, and both are ridiculously overwrought and self-conscious. Within this “Haunted”, Magpie Blue’s assertively handsome vocal, which lies somewhere between Siouxsie and Polly Harvey, is a locomotive i.e. it never stops. Elongated notes stretch like an elastic band through the entirety of the song and provide the foundation for an off kilter, twangingly upbeat guitar line and one truly fine hook. And hey check out her single from a couple months back, “Just In Time” below, an anxious piece of post punk with yet another stellar vocal. The way she spits out “you fucking coward”is everything.
If you’re looking for some spacey, idyllic pop bliss, JayWood is here for you. “Moon Cats” is as hypnotic as a slowly spinning disco ball and as earthly beautiful as riding a bike up an endless tree-lined street where sunlight pokes through the leaves. The plush guitar pattern anchoring this song is entrancing, and the whole thing positively shimmers. Okay, I know that all sounded a little flowery and overly romantic…but it’s true, “Moon Cats” is a total (day)dream.
I know. Those are some seriously cuddly squids. Or squid. I looked it up and apparently either is okay if referring to more than one. Look at those eyes, they are absolutely full of love ( and maybe some exhaustion judging by half mast position of the eyelids). I was seriously tempted to get one but I already have a small, plush sheep and honestly I’d rather if these squid(s) ended up in some imaginatively demented kids hands.
Right, so welcome to the latest in beautiful new music, all within the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST. This weeks collection is particularly airy, laid back and melodic. Not intentional, it just worked out that way. It’s perfect for shutting out all the noise ( your phone, other people) and escaping. And so close your eyes, hold your squid close, and come enjoy some wonderful pop music.
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Have you ever been listening to particular song when something bad happens and then from that point on don’t want to listen to it anymore because you then believe the song is “bad luck” ? A few years ago, I got a ticket riding my bike in Central Park because I had both earbuds in and apparently you can only have one in when you ride, even in the f-ing park. Anyway the song playing when this happened was…Barbra Streisand’s utterly criminal, disco cheese movie anthem from 1979 “The Main Event”. Despite how I just described it, I am in no way distancing myself from this song. I still think it’s awesome…but from that point on I was afraid to play it because I’d convinced myself that it attracted bad spirits and that clearly, wicked things would happen if I ever did. It sat untouched in my gigantic ’70s playlist for several years and I would actively avoid it, knowing it would bring the rain if I dared to play it. Well, at some point this year, as I was gardening i.e. geekily refining and editing playlists, the temptation became too great and I just had to play it. Sure, it was within the safe confines of home but I realized I myself had imbued it with the negative mojo, not the NYPD. I had to play it to kill the power, to take it back. And it worked. I killed the devil in Barbra Streisand’s “The Main Event” and set it free. Sure, I am still reminded of the ticket moment as Barbra croons “Extra, Extra” to open the song, but it’s mostly been freed from the negative connotations it once held. That’s the thing, if you listen to music all day, that kind of crap is bound to happen. Ultimately though, what I’m saying is fuck all that. Songs are medicine, they are courtroom dogs, and when you listen to this weeks especially wonderful WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST I hope you find something that transcends any rubbish, frustrating or sad thing that happens today because really, that’s what it’s for.
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This song is truly schizophrenic. Just when you have it pegged as quirky math-rock it turns into a ’70s pop song replete with cheesy Moog stylings, then as it cruises past the 4 minute mark, you start thinking it was prog all along. It’s a confused teenager in song form and achieves the impossible feat of being both epic and fun.
There’s something about songs where the protagonist is named Jackie. From legendary soft rock classic “Jackie Blue” to my personal favorite “Heartbeat City” by The Cars, Jackie is perpetually lost in time, forever elusive, and always hard to understand. She ultimately leaves everyone in the dust and her story is always best told within the confines of a lush, lost girl pop song. And in The Hails “Sugar”, her confounding legacy continues in the most neon lit and beautiful of ways. It brings to mind the slick, criminally tuneful, shiny chromed pop that was emanating from the UK in the ’80s from the likes of Spandau Ballet, Johnny Hates Jazz and Breathe, all stuff that frankly still sounds gorgeous today. Yes, “Sugar” is kinda beautiful. Go Jackie.
That guy in the drawing above is Donny Hathaway (1945-1979), one of the greatest singers ever to walk the planet. I drew it a few years ago in my weird ballpoint pen way because he’s a bit of a hero for me. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about him tonight. If any of you have been watching the depressing, hedonistic, spectacular show Euphoria on HBO over the past few weeks & are anything close to being music nerds, hopefully you have been appreciating the songs they’ve been using to soundtrack things. It’s a mix of old & new & the choices have been exceptionally good. They recently employed Randy Newman’s 1983 gorgeously sad deep cut “Same Girl” in the most tearjerking fashion imaginable & it became pointedly clear at that moment there were fellow music nerds behind the scenes aligning the sounds to the visuals. It’s rare that a show gets this stuff right on a consistent basis, so what’s happening on Euphoria is worth exulting. In the show’s season ending big finale tonight, they used Donny Hathaway’s classic cover of “A Song For You” during a typically emotional scene. I was moved by the scene but also by the fact that this show was exposing Donny & his vocal brilliance to a whole new generation of people. Not to be dramatic, but the thought of a teenager discovering that sound for the first time, maybe crying, maybe wanting to hear it again & explore his other songs, well, it’s just pretty f-ing wonderful. Which leads us here…Wecome to the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the best, clutch it to your heart pop music of the past week. It’s all about DISCOVERY, always & what’s better than stumbling unexpectedly upon a beautiful song you didn’t know existed until that moment ? If you answered “nothing”, you’re right 🙂
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The guitar line that opens “My Wish” may remind you of something if you watched any MTV in the ’90s, specifically Nada Surf’s “Popular” and Weezer’s “Undone“. But that’s where the similarity ends, for this is no snarky alt-rock anthem of bitterness, oh no, it is a dreamy and somber acknowledgement of ennui, numbness, and ambivalence: It absolutely emanates sadness. It will feature on Orchin’s forthcoming LP on Terrible Records, is heart on the sleeve vulnerable and just exceptionally pretty.