Author: Hope Silverman

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !


It’s impossible not to be hypnotized by this “Yoda” Fruit Bat, I mean the whiskers, the smirk, the knowing glint in the eyeballs, he’s just an absolute God/lunatic…but I digress. Here are this week’s Weekly New Wonders Playlists and oh man 2018 continues to gift us musically. Also attaching a couple of links below to 2 recent albums that are really fine and absolutely worth hearing and holding close as well, namely Shamir’s “Resolutions” and Soccer Mommy’s “Clean”. As for the playlists, you can listen on either Soundcloud or Spotify, links below !

Soundcloud Playlist:

Spotify Playlist:

And these 2 albums are so damn good….

Shamir “Resolutions” :

Soccer Mommy “Clean”:

Thyla “I Was Biting”

Gonna make this into one long sentence because that’s how relentless this song is: “I Was Biting” is a gigantic, continually ascending monster featuring an all consuming vocal from Millie Duthie (kinda reminiscent of wonderful Annabella Lwin of Bow Wow Wow), with guitar, bass and drums pushed right up to the front of the stage and is completely restless, anthemic and kick ass and a reminder that maybe progress hasn’t actually set us free but pushed us all into a corner of surveilled sameness …which is to say yes, it kinda rules.

How you doin’ tonight Tallahassee ?!


My brother plays in a cover band in Florida. I had questions. Lots of questions. 

A 4 piece whose arsenal features songs from the 60’s through now, my brother’s band covers the Florida coastline bar circuit literally and figuratively. This was a dream come true for me because my eternal cover band questions could finally be answered. Here we go !

Have you been surprised by the reaction to certain songs ?

We were playing “Heart-Shaped Box” at a smoky country bar…the smoke was so thick you could lean on it. Some bald hill-jack grabbed the mic from the lead singer and sang the song in a very spirited and angry way, probably reflecting  on mommy issues or something… the surprising part was he did not turn to face the cowboy hats bobbing into their Budweiser’s at the bar, nope, he sang directly into the face of our lead singer. It might have been a country bar but that is totally fucking punk rock (and a little obnoxious).

Have there been any big singalongs ?

People don’t sing along to our stuff thoroughly. Most people are faking the words and stop once you make eye contact… I think it’s fucking awesome anytime someone is feeling the music, who gives a shit if the words they sing are right? I certainly don’t…

Have you ever done themed sets ?

No themed sets in the true sense. Rhythm guitarist trying his hardest to play the wrong chord, bass player staring at the wall and forgets the song the band is playing at that moment or the drummer playing 150 beats a minute on a ballad… if these are themed than yes, we play themed sets all of the time.

Any funny stories about audience reactions  ( as a group or specific people) ?

A lesbian wedding party ended up at this biker bar we were playing at…the ladies were wearing overalls and tiaras and wanted us to play a song they could dance to but couldn’t recommend anything… our drummer says, “let’s play Tennessee Whiskey”. Let’s be very clear, I am not a fan of that song. We played it, everybody danced, the newlyweds had the most enormous cartoon smiles during that song, extreme happiness. It was fucking awesome!

What are some weird requests you’ve gotten ?

Sometimes a guitar nerd will play “stump  the chump” and request some obscure thing… we don’t do requests  unless we can “deliver the goods” properly…songs that we already know.

Do you find that the Floridian taste is a little behind the times ?

I wouldn’t define Floridians a certain way since so many people are transplants trying to escape from somewhere else… have you ever watched “America’s Most Wanted”? “The suspect is armed and dangerous, police think she/he/they are on the run to Florida”.
I am always amazed at the songs people know. 60 year olds singing along with Sublime, a housewife shouting out Godsmack lyrics or some young hipster kid in skinny jeans singing along with a Joe Walsh song. A good band will always watch the crowd but you don’t want to judge. I just appreciate that people are there and listening… Does that make sense?

Is it hard to play songs you don’t like ?

Initially yes. Sometimes my dislike grows even more after we play them routinely. There is something amazing about playing anything with a band once everybody is in the groove and there is flow. And when the audience, even if it’s only one person, feels it, then nobody should give a fuck about what I think. It’s just as much for them as it is for the band…even if it is a  song I hate.

Talk about what you loved when you were young…

I loved the Ramones as a kid. The music was raw, loud, unrefined, not complicated and made me feel great. Joan Jett gave me the same feeling… I was a nervous and frail kid, definitely not an “in your face” kind of guy. The music filled some of that gap mentally.

Ironically my musical motivation comes from songs that all of us agree on. Many times we play songs that I have never fully listened to until I had to learn them. Afterward I say “damn, I heard that song when I was a kid and hated it, what happened , that song is amazing”!


Ellie Schmidly “Where To Begin”

“Where To Begin” is eccentric. It’s constructed like a classic Dionne Warwick track as written by the legendary Bacharach and David but is simultaneously punctuated with the kind of melodic twists commonly found in tunes by sonically ambitious 60’s auteur Jimmy Webb …until the chorus that is, which is marked with a crunchy, singular guitar riff and Ellie’s delicate, mournful vocal wafting over the top. Then it turns again and is taken over by a wistful, horn driven, semi-orchestral break. And it runs over 5 minutes. It all adds up to something weirdly beautiful: a pop song on the surface but with something a little off kilter at it’s center. It’s one epic widescreen oddball, and a really handsome thing.

Sarah Mary Chadwick “Sugar Still Melts in the Rain”

Good Lord. Pretty sure this one will be unlike anything you’ve heard today, and don’t know if I can describe it and do it true justice but okay….Sarah’s vocal is a complete and utter scenery chewer, occupying every inch of the song, leaving no oxygen whatsoever, a combination of an angsty Chrissie Hynde, a demented Beth Orton, and a drawling King Krule, sprinkled with some Bjork-ian inflections. It’s a desperate, mascara running, teetering on the edge of sanity, soul flayed open lament that sounds like it’s playing at the wrong speed. In other words, it’s amazing.

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !


Yes, that is a bird shaped cloud in Central Park I witnessed last winter. It was approximately 10 degrees out there and my hands were killing me but I had to capture that bird. And now I’m using it as a visual metaphor to represent this weeks otherworldly new songs because I am a cornball. For some reason there are more slow, contemplative songs this week than window shattering anthems but we all need to take a break sometimes. You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify, and please note that the playlists are slightly different due to song availability on each service, so check ’em both out.

Soundcloud is here:

Spotify is here :

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !

Screenshot 2018-02-24 21.26.29

Oh yeah. Welcome to this weeks barrage of New Wonders. Once again it’s a candy store and we’re all kids. You can listen on Soundcloud and/or Spotify: we’ve got you covered. And in the words of Mr. P.R.Nelson, “life it ain’t real funky, unless it’s got that pop”…

Listen on the Soundcloud:


Listen on the Spotify:



Soul Unhinged : The Art of “Melisma”


At some point in the very late 80’s a vocal plague spread across R & B and pop music. The name of this affliction was “Melisma”. “Melisma” is of course defined as singing a single syllable of text while moving between several notes. And while Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston, 2 outrageously gifted singers, were the initial purveyors, to these ears Boys II Men were the real starting point as far as spreading the plague, the true guilty party ( “Motownphilly” excepted, because shit, who doesn’t love “Motownphilly”). Anyway, they employed the technique on literally every track they released, and once they hit it big, that was it. It was the signal for every up and coming R & B group to feature ” the Melisma” on what felt like every single song on the radio. Screw economy and grace, gratuitous vocal runs became the norm. And people loved it. “I Will Always Love You”, “What A Girl Wants” and of course the Boyz/Mariah collaboration “One Sweet Day” ( and an interminable number of others) were all beyond massive hits. The standard was set forever. The pop delicacy of a Mary Wells vocal, like the kind you’d hear on “My Guy” was instantly an artifact from a bygone era.

The style reached it’s peak of manifestation on American Idol, and a little bit later, on The Voice, and continues to fester to this day, generally in the most predictable, immaculately produced, and technically manipulated ways. Now I know this all sounds very “get off my lawn” but I honestly don’t hate “Melisma”, it’s just that this slick, show-offy version of it feels like just that . The only thing I can liken it to is a painting that looks just like a photograph : it becomes all about technique and not so much about content, which makes the art feel kind of empty…the fact is “Melisma” coupled with unbridled, unrefined, imperfect emotion can make for some amazing, spiritual, mind blowing listening. Let’s go back in time for a minute….

Linda Jones was both Aretha Franklin and Gladys Knight’s favorite singer. Linda’s recording career was short, running from 1964 to 1972, when she unexpectedly passed away at the far too young age of 27. Within that time, she achieved only middling success ( couple of hits on the R & B charts in the late sixties , the biggest being “Hypnotized, which was also top 20 on the Billboard pop chart). While she never made what would be considered a classic album within that time, she did kick out some incredible singular songs that positively beggar belief. As in, the vocal performances were nuts. Listen to this insanity :


I know, that thing should come with a warning attached. In less than 4 minutes Linda has crushed the entire earth into a dust like powder. I’ll be honest, the first time I heard this, it made me laugh because it was just soooo over the top…but I immediately loved it, because it felt lived. You believe Linda. That’s “Melisma” in the hands of a master. That’s technique and content in one giant heart-shaped mass.

Then there’s this. McKinley Mitchell’s vocal on “Town I Live in” starts oh so sweetly, full of longing, and lonely love…but then about halfway through it turns into this raw, raspy, desperate monster and obliterates everything in it’s path. It happens so suddenly, and jarringly it’s like being woken up from a deep sleep by someone throwing cold water on your face.  This song was recorded in freakin’ 1962, and still sounds weird and off kilter in 2018: a perfect marriage of rough and smooth that transcends time. Check it out:

I know. It’s nuts right? 19-freakin-62.

Screw the visuals. These were records. And yes, in some way the relics of a bygone era…but lord, aren’t they beautiful ? Has anything on The Voice/Idol ever come near these ? Okay “East Coast Family”, as you were….

Mellow Gang “Temps”

“Temps” is one giant, melodic, shoegazey tornado, all fat sad synth, and crying guitar twang spinning together under neon lights. And it features a positively monumental vocal from Harriet Joseph that’s sure to get you dizzy if you play it loudly. Utterly swoon-worthy and special.

Maria Kelly featuring Ailbhe Reddy “Threads”

A gorgeous collaboration/duet from 2 amazing artists in their own respective rights, “Threads” is the perfect evocation of complete and utter misery, which is to say, yes, it’s that good. All lopsided love, wasted hope and dust enveloped in delicate acoustics and distant playground sounds and…it’s just grim…yet utterly addictive and beautiful at the same time. It’s that old painful wisdom nugget in song form i.e. the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Not a million miles from the fine Jessica Lea Mayfield in tone and timbre, it may take a couple of listens to succumb to it’s fragile airiness, but once you give in, it’ll stay with you for real.