Month: August 2020

Weekly New Wonders Playlist # 30 !

There’s this gorgeous old song from 1997 by Adam F. that features legendary Everything But The Girl goddess Tracey Thorn on vocals called “The Tree Knows Everything”. This past week, I was parked on my bike in a random spot in Central Park I’ve passed a million times over the years. For some reason I looked up as I was sitting there & was confronted by this amazingly human tree bearing a benevolent face, sweet smile & exposed heart…and I thought of this song. Also I can’t stop staring at this beautiful tree & how absurdly life affirming it feels right now. And with that welcome to the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the most handsome & heartfelt pop songs we’ve heard over recent days. The tree knows everything…

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Welcome To The Love Crypt: Vol.7

Welcome to PuR’s Love Crypt, spotlighting the underrated, secretly classic albums & songs that didn’t always get the attention they deserved upon release but are worthy of adoration & a listen. This edition is all about the solo work of Fleetwood Mac’s songwriting core, namely Christine, Lindsey & Stevie, just because. Come join us in the velvet underground to meet some beautiful dark horses. Never change, never stop…

 

Stevie Nicks: Ooh Ooh Baby (1984)

“Ooh Ooh Baby” is a demo of a song from 1984 that has never been released officially in any form and as such the sound quality is a bit murky. But forget all that, for despite it’s unfinished quality, it’s an unadulterated beauty with the foggy, faraway feeling of a latter day Beach Boys tune, specifically one composed and sung by lost genius Dennis Wilson (as opposed to brother Brian). A mournfully melodic tearjerker that moves at a positively funereal pace, “Ooh Ooh Baby” is also a frontrunner for the absolute Saddest Stevie Song Ever™. Is it safe to listen to when you are feeling fragile ? Mmm, maybe not but then again it sounds most magical if you are hearing it whilst in particularly melancholic state ( let’s just call it a tear expectorant). Stevie serves up a vocal equal parts bereft and defeated for the entire length of the song and the whole thing is just heart-stoppingly gorgeous. Be brave and give over to it.

Lindsey Buckingham: Stars Are Crazy (2011)

While “Stars Are Crazy” sounds in some ways like the prototypical Lindsey Buckingham song with it’s big yelping chorus and virtuosic picking, there’s something peculiarly riveting about it’s construction. Marrying languorous, slow motion vocals and lightning fast acoustic shredding, “Stars Are Crazy” almost sounds like two totally separate songs that have been sewn together expertly, perfectly. The effect is positively exhilarating.

Christine McVie: The Smile I Live For (1984)

I’ve always thought there should be a rule wherein all albums are required to end with an over the top and epic ballad lasting no less than 5 minutes. It’s especially important if what came before it was underwhelming. And the song should be something that shakes you by the shoulders and gets you misty. While Christine McVie’s self-titled solo album from 1984 is by no means bad and spawned a couple of hits, it was invariably a disappointment knowing what she was capable of. Still there was one track that emanated a pretty glorious light. “The Smile I Live For” has one of those gigantic productions typical of the era. There are the requisite gargantuan drums that sound like they are being played from a riser in an arena, loads of lush synth swooshes as well as a whole lotta “glistening” and “shimmering” to contend with. But none of that does anything to diminish the beauty of the actual tune, with it’s mournfully melodic piano line and lyrics describing a love that’s gotten a bit lopsided. And despite all the supersize instrumental action happening around her, Christine’s wondrous forthright voice still ends up on top. “The Smile I Live For” smolders, cries and shines.

Stevie Nicks: Annabel Lee (2011)

Stevie wrote “Annabel Lee” when she was 17 years old and it’s lyrics are adapted from Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem of the same name from 1849 ( which also served as a major inspiration for the classic Vladimir Nabokov novel Lolita). While she first demoed the song in 1996 it didn’t actually appear on an album until 2011’s In Your Dreams…which seems crazy based on how wondrous it is. Resembling a not so distant cousin of F.Mac’s exquisite “Gypsy”, the tune Stevie created to surround Poe’s poem of tragic, eternal love is so well-suited to it’s lyrical cadence (which expresses a sentiment oh so Stevie) that you could be forgiven for assuming she’d actually written the words as well. Though to quote Stevie from back in 2011, “I love the fact that I have written a song with Edgar Allan Poe”. Had the song appeared on any of the F.Mac albums released during their heyday, it’s likely it would be an eternally beloved and evergreen anthem by now. Next to “Silver Springs” it remains and reigns as one of the finest woulda-coulda-shoulda Stevie songs ever.

Lindsey Buckingham: Street of Dreams (1992)

“Street of Dreams” is not a typical Lindsey Buckingham song. It doesn’t feature any anxious helium high vocalizing or mind bogglingly fast picking. It is instead a mesmerizing and ethereal hymn with a backdrop of falling rain that grows heavier ( along with the lyrical content) as the song progresses. It’s on the bridge that things hit peak intensity with Lindsey serving up a particularly heart-squeezing and passionate bit of vocalizing. Lindsey has said the song refers back to a particular time in the early ’80s when he was uncertain of what he should be doing creatively and was feeling lonely and unwell, with the powerful bridge describing what he was doing to help assuage this confusion;” I used to go and talk to my father (who passed in 1974) in the cemetery…sit and talk to him and try to imagine what he would say to me…what advice he would give me”. Hypnotic, lonely and riveting to the last,”Street of Dreams”, remains a stunner.

Christine McVie: Friend (2004)

Tired of the touring grind, flying and inter-band politics, Christine McVie left Fleetwood Mac ( and California) in 1998 and moved back to the quieter environs of the English countryside to reconnect with her roots and spend time with her then ill father. While it wasn’t until 2014 that she would officially rejoin the Mac, she did make a tentative step back into the sonic fold in 2004 with the release of her third solo album, In The Meantime. The album as a whole isn’t great and she herself isn’t nuts about it, but “Friend”, it’s lone single, remains a standout. Though she wasn’t the sole composer, with it’s infectious chorus, heart on sleeve emotion and regal vocal, it bears all the markings of a classic McVie song (and as such exudes the Mac vibe from it’s every pore). In fact, it would have been a very welcome addition to Mac’s 2003 underrated but slightly spotty comeback album Say You Will.

Weekly New Wonders Playlist # 29 !

There’s never a bad time to look at David Bowie being both very chill & very hot in 1992 whilst cradling a saxophone…in fact right now is probably the ideal time with all that’s happening. Maybe put on some of that latter day Bowie this week too, a little “5.15” from the Heathen album or “I Can’t Give Everything Away” from Blackstar. Then just breathe in & breathe out.

Anyway, it’s time for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the greatest, most embraceable and infectious musical discoveries of the week. You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify below. Rock on…

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Welcome To The Love Crypt: Vol.6

Welcome to PuR’s Love Crypt, spotlighting the underrated, secretly classic albums & songs that didn’t always get the attention they deserved upon release but are worthy of adoration & a listen. Basically, if Love Crypt were a Beatle it would be George Harrison. Now join us under the radar to meet some beautiful dark horses…

 

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers: You Can Still Change Your Mind (1981)

“You Can Still Change Your Mind” was written by Heartbreakers guitarist Mike Campbell with Tom Petty and originally appeared on their Hard Promises album in 1981. It sounded noticeably different than the typical Heartbreakers fare up to that point for while it possessed a snarlingly magnificent signature Petty vocal, the tune itself was a lushly melodic Beach Boys style tearjerker. And with harmonies provided by Stevie Nicks and her long time backing singer Sharon Celani, “You Can Still Change Your Mind” quite literally sounded like the physical embodiment of a slow burning Southern California sunset. It’s just a total stunner. Heartbreakers keyboardist Benmont Tench himself has said that he loves it and that he thinks “it’s absolutely beautiful”. Tom did too and hoped it could be released as an actual single…but the powers that be weren’t having it. According to Petty, “That’s sort of Mike’s tribute to Brian Wilson. I loved it and worked really hard on that track. No one could hear it as a single. People had a mental picture of what we should sound like and if you played them something that didn’t sound like “Refugee” or “American Girl” or “Even The Losers”, they were puzzled”. More’s the pity because it would have been an absolute treat to hear it played live on a regular basis with thousands of people singing along. Oh if only…so, so miss this guy.

Pete Yorn: “On Your Side”(2001)

Pete Yorn’s 2001 debut album Musicforthemorningafter was the recipient of a fair amount of critical acclaim upon release. It was power pop ( Yorn especially loved the band Sloan) with both Smiths and Springsteen style flourishes and inflections. The album ended up achieving Gold status which is pretty damn good for any full length much less a debut. Yorn also had the misfortune of having to play songs from it at one of our yearly business conferences when I was with Virgin Entertainment Group as we ate dinner. And though we were basically a bunch of record store nerds who loved him, I’m guessing that had to have sucked for him a little.

“On Your Side” arrives late on the album, at track #11 to be exact. It’s 5 minutes of shuffling melodic regret and Johnny Marr-esque strumming with a delicate flush of synthesized strings and sounds both a little drunk and a little lost. But while it’s ache is palpable, even tear inducing, there’s still something oddly consoling about it. Either way it’s just a timeless and truly lovely thing.

Weekly New Wonders Playlist # 28 !

The pic above is of a wall in my Mom’s house that features artwork of animals who are all looking in the same direction. Whenever I see stuff like this I am convinced she is some kind of mad genius because seriously I would never, ever have thought to do this. Though I admit I’m considering drawing a creature looking the opposite way just to see if she starts a new wall. Okay enough weirdness, it’s time for the WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the finest songs we’ve heard this week. It’s full of lush, jagged and handsome pop songs all of which are currently # 1 in a better alternate universe.

Listen on Soundcloud or Spotify below:

Welcome to the Love Crypt: Vol.5

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Welcome to PuR’s Love Crypt, spotlighting the underrated, secretly classic albums & songs that didn’t always get the attention they deserved upon release but are worthy of adoration & a listen. Basically, if Love Crypt were a Beatle it would be George Harrison. Now join us under the radar to meet some beautiful dark horses…

Keith Green: Your Love Broke Through (1977) 

While the song I’m about to describe isn’t technically obscure, it’s not exactly mainstream either. It straddles the line between being a beloved classic known to fans of a certain sub-genre and a cool piece of cult pop. Up until the early ’00s, I’d never heard of Keith Green. In the course of a general music conversation one day, a friend recommended him to me and described him as sounding “like a Christian Elton John“. I was instantly intrigued by this this chocolate and peanut butter combo. I loved Elton of course but I’d also had an ongoing fascination with Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) although it’s hardcore messaging was not remotely applicable to my own life (on top of which I disagreed with more than a few of it’s tenets). But I was somewhat fascinated by it’s earnestness. Of course my interaction with CCM was of the decidedly alternative variety in the form of bands like Jars of Clay and Mutemath who both generally preferred not be branded as such and thus be pigeonholed as bands solely for believers. Once I finally heard Keith Green though, it was clear he’d had no such reservations. He was laser focused on spreading a message. And he made for a curious listen. There is an undeniably Elton-esque quality about the construction of his songs which are primarily big pop piano ballads with gloriously soaring vocals. But that’s where the similarity ends, for Green’s songs are not about yellow brick roads or or horny toads but about Jesus. “Your Love Broke Through” is a highlight of Green’s 1977 debut album Him Who Has Ears to Hear which is regarded as one of the greatest CCM albums of all-time. The tune itself is sublimely melodic and Green’s vocal is exceptionally lovely. It sounds like a classic mid ’70s style am radio hit, is neither aggressive nor preachy and no matter what you feel about the sentiment it’s innate sweetness is hard to deny. If you dig the studio version, check out this solo TV performance of the track from 1977 which is also pretty fine.

 

Des’ree: “You Gotta Be (After Hours Mix)” (1994) 

It’s not what you think. I’m going to start with the facts then go off the nerd rails so don’t worry ( or worry). Des’ree’s infectious anthem of self-affirmation and belief “You Gotta Be” was a massive worldwide hit in 1994. The song was released in the UK in March of 1994 and was available to purchase as both a “CD Maxi-Single” and a 12″ piece of vinyl. I was a purist and a nerd so opted for the vinyl. It featured 6 different versions of “You Gotta Be”, including something called the After Hours Mix, which was nestled discreetly at the end of side A. It was basically “You Gotta Be” stripped down to it’s absolute bare bones, minus the original single version’s groovily ostentatious piano and drumbeats. It’s only occupants were Des’ree’s exquisitely warm vocal, some Rhodes style keyboard chords and a rubbery bass. Once I’d heard it the original ceased to exist for me forever, for the eye-rollingly titled After Hours Mix is absolutely gorgeous. The song morphs into something otherworldly and untouchable…and it kind of crushes the original. Sadly the mix is not available on either Spotify or Apple Music as of this writing which is a damn shame.  Here’s hoping someone will one day see the brilliant light it emanates and it’ll find it’s way to the mass audience it deserves.

 

Weekly New Wonders Playlist # 27 !

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Hey All, it’s time for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the best new music we’ve heard over the past week. There was a whole lotta POP of the regretful, wistful & wanting variety ( the best kind) & you can hear every last bit of it below. I took the pic above on 4th & Broadway about 5 years ago (aka better times) & it looks a lot like what this week’s playlist sounds like. Dig in below…

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There’s also a particularly exquisite album to check out this week ! Cannibal House Rules by Jonathan Something is an unabashed love letter to the neon sound (and soundtracks) of the eighties. It’s full of endlessly lush and evocative synthpop storytelling and is the perfect backdrop for all the fantastical climactic scenes you could ever want to daydream.

Hear it here:



Weekly New Wonders Playlist # 26 !

hopeslide parking meter

Many years ago, I bumped into a table at my friend Robbie’s house & spontaneously apologized…to the table. Just an “oh sorry table”. It turned out this was a teachable moment as Robbie then explained to me the literary term known as ‘pathetic fallacy’ which is defined by Oxford as:

‘the attribution of human feelings and responses to inanimate things or animals, especially in art and literature’

I then realized I’d lived my whole life abiding by this ‘pathetic fallacy” thing. Getting angry at individual bottles that didn’t open, complimenting comfortable chairs & so on. Anyway, I was rummaging through some old pics I took back in the 20th century & stumbled on this thing above. I instantly thought about good ole ‘pathetic fallacy’ because those 2 guys in the pic are definitely giving off some kind of weird, creepy energy & I don’t trust it.

Okay, enough absurdity, it’s time for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST, featuring the best new music that crossed our path this week. There are A LOT of gorgeous things in there, good for heart-healing, air-punching or lying still & pondering the universe. Check ’em all out below….

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