I drew a small creature to go with the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST which is also small. There are weeks when there are so many good songs it’s difficult to edit the playlist into something lean & efficient…but this week we weren’t inundated with a lot of grand newies which is understandable. While there weren’t a ton of songs, there were definitely a handful of mighty fine ones. Check ’em out below….
That bird up there is a Great Argus & it is by far the BEST bird I’ve seen in person in 2020 ( they have one at the Bronx Zoo) but I digress…..PuR is a very small & somewhat silly blog, so small it wouldn’t even qualify as a pin prick on the pinkie finger of Pitchfork…but I still get genuine joy from sharing new music & writing ridiculously self-indulgent essays about old “uncool” music that require the patience of a saint to actually read all the way through. In other words, I love doing this.
In light of what is happening right now, in all the misery & uncertainty, it seems even more important than ever to say thank you & show some love even in the tiniest ways. With that in mind I wanted to shine a light on some of the most brilliantly wonderful songs & artists that have surfaced over the first quarter of 2020. I hadn’t planned on doing this, didn’t occur to me until last week but this stuff is medicine & I’m grateful it all exists right now. Hopefully you’ll discover ( or rediscover) something here that’ll warm your heart for a minute. Rock on y’all⚡️
🔥PuR First Quarter Favorites🔥
SONGS (in no particular order):
Talker: Personal Space
Talker aka Celeste Tauchar released an excellent EP titled Waxthis year & “Personal Space” is an unadulterated highlight. A melodic marriage of vintage grunge, Julien Baker style crescendos & Avril Lavigne’s forever banger “I’m With You”, it’s a real stunner.
Clea: Soft Blow to the Head
If “Soft Blow to the Head” had been born in 1994, it would’ve been played in an endless loop on both MTV & the radio & would likely have found it’s way into a good old Gen X film soundtrack. It’s a sweet jangle with a defiant core & a bit of Belly, smidge of Sundays & ounce of Cardigans embedded in it’s memorable melody.
“L” sounds like a tranquilized, dreampop version of the Smashing Pumpkins “1979”, it’s hazy, hooky & just so languorously lovely.
HEBE: Out Of Sight
Bit of a vintage Zero 7 vibe to this sweet pop groove that explodes into something special when it hits the bridge; things get quiet, HEBE’s lustrous voice hovers over a spare backdrop & then it’s boom, boom, boom hands in the air for a semi-manic all too brief coda.
The Satellite Station: Phantom
A theme song for driving in circles in an empty parking lot at 2 in the morning feeling alone, alone, alone, the type of thing there can never be enough of, especially if they’re as fine this.
Eliza Shaddad: Pure Shores
It seems wrong to exult this cover of All Saints 2001 megahit “Pure Shores” as the finest Eliza Shaddad has to offer since her original stuff is so freakin’ good…but gotta love how she toughened it up, turning the electronic pop anthem into a vintage 90s alt rocker with a sweet Liz Phair/ Juliana Hatfield vibe; it’s just sublime.
Snowgoose: The Making of You
Sandy Denny, the late legendary vocalist of Fairport Convention & Fotheringay as well as incredible solo artist in her own right, could make traditional centuries old folk songs sound like pop songs & pop songs sound like traditional centuries old folk songs. Glasgow’s Snowgoose make music that is cut from that same glorious cloth. “The Making of You” is regal, rustic & handsome & hearing a band doing songs in this vein, this well in the pop-infested universe of 2020 is revelatory.
Charli Adams: Cloverland Drive
Adams is a truly gifted country singer and songwriter & this evocative reminiscence brings to mind peak Trisha Yearwood namely 1993’s “The Song Remembers When” & it don’t get much better than that.
One of the more striking characteristics of Ellis’s debut album is how nearly every track starts off quietly standing in the corner then invariably erupts into either a wall ofstirring shoegaze or a melodic twanging tearjerker…which is a very roundabout way of saying there isn’t a single weak track on it and it’s a total treasure.
Steve Reidell:Duke (40th Anniversary)
Steve Reidell of Air Credits, The Hood Internet & Black Moth Super Rainbow covers nearly every track from Genesis’s pop-prog masterpiece from 1980, Duke with complete, unabashed love. The fact that it even exists is wondrous enough but that it has the audacity to be as good too, well, that’s just a beautiful bonus.
And for the millionth time, Phil Collins Genesis > Peter Gabriel Genesis
And lastly, my favorite video:
HULA are a super duo featuring Bktherula & Hook & this is an unbelievably simple video, created by the digggers that so perfectly suits & celebrates the song ( & HULA themselves), it’s impossible to separate the 2. Whoever chose the mall setting is clearly some kind of super genius 🙂
When things are chaotic & uncertain, it can be calming to follow a routine, as in get up at a certain time, eat at a certain time & so on. I’ve been doing this but have found my calm disrupted by an unexpected intruder, namely Questlove. For the past several weeks he has been doing live DJ sets that run from about 10pm to 130am ( or later !) every night & transmitting them via all the socials. In the short time he’s been transmitting, I have come to truly LOVE these things & have officially found myself at the “I can’t ever miss one” stage. My preferred way to watch & listen is on Instagram, mostly so I can see all the endlessly scrolling loved up, crazy comments of everyone else listening ( last night during his Bill Withers tribute there was extended conversation about grits happening).
You should probably know that being of the same deranged species As Questlove, namely HARDCORE MUSIC NERD ™, I have always longed to be his friend, have imagined detailed scenarios involving the two of us eating chips & sitting in front of a stereo with LP’s spread all over the floor yelling deranged hyperbolic things at each other about how the Five Stairsteps were really more gifted than the Jackson 5 or how everyone has slept on Tears For Fears “Seeds of Love “ album & they’re idiots.
His DJ sets are ridiculously eclectic, spanning all genres, & he often gets on the mike dropping in facts, anecdotes & opinions. And listeners respond to him at a furious pace; the scrolling never stops. And naturally when a song or opinion hits I too weigh in, secretly hoping he “recognizes” me & responds ( though nothing short of “I love your blog” or “let’s hang out” is going to satisfy me). The sensation of being ghosted in realtime when you can actually SEE the other person is both disconcertingly funny & soul crushing. Still I live in hope that Questlove will eventually come to his senses & realize that we are kindred spirits & will therefore continue to devote my every night to his endless sets. By the way I did that drawing of him up there with my ballpoint pen because I clearly care waaaaaay too much 😉
And with that, I invite you to head to the blog (link in bio) for the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST , featuring the MOST HEARTSTOPPINGLY WONDERFUL NEW SONGS we heard this week. I genuinely hope you find a new friend.
Guessing we’ve all been receiving a lot of those emails from Netflix & Hulu, as well as websites like Paste & Vulture, recommending things to watch while quarantined at home. While some of the suggestions seem genuinely interesting & potentially addictive, I haven’t watched any of them. All I’ve wanted to watch are animal & nature docs. National Geographic & Real Wild shows about elephants, owls and wild dogs. I’ve gone down a literal rabbit hole full of actual rabbits. And as brutal as nature can be ( you wouldn’t want to be reborn as an impala ), there’s still something oddly comforting & transportive about watching these shows even if it means watching how wild dog pups get fed which is exceptionally disgusting…but still I say bring it on you regurgitative, big eared fuzzballs, you’re still awesome. Anyway, IT”S TIME FOR NEW MUSIC ! We now offer you the finest songs from recent days by some beautiful humans within the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST. There’s a whole bunch of ethereal gorgeousness in there this week, here’s hoping you find something to love….
When it comes to writing about music, I usually categorize myself as an evangelist or a missionary. You know, presumptuously sharing things that I think will enrich the quality of someone’s life & testifying maniacally about how wonderful they are and why. It seemed somewhat noble and marginally dignified to think of it that way. But a friend of mine recently informed me, I am not an evangelist/ missionary, I am in fact, a “fluffer”, providing the “set-up” needed in order to make someone want to listen. I was taken aback by this for a second …but then I realized, it’s totally true, as lowbrow & unappealing as it sounded. And so I’ve decided to accept this categorization & hope you find the virtual aural fluffing you’re about to receive fulfilling. And so for a really good time, please enjoy the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST where you will find the hottest & most beautiful new songs & artists, all of whom are dying to meet you. Amen.
How are you feeling right now ? Maybe anxious & unsettled, maybe afraid, maybe lonely. Most of us have don’t have a point of reference for how to deal with this specific type of situation or have had any life experience that we can call on & go “yeah, that’s what I’ll do to alleviate this anxiety & stress, my tried & true method that always works whenever this happens”.
Despite how all that sounds, this is not an infomercial I swear, & I’m not about to offer a surefire way to feel better. I just wanted to share this thing I made that I listen to when shit gets crazy because it simply calms me down. It’s just a little neo-classical, sort of ambient, playlist featuring some especially cool pieces of music. As much as I love the POP music, I play this thing nearly every day in some variation & have done for months; it’s basically a vitamin plus medicine. Anyway, wanted to share it in case anyone isn’t feeling well because I’ve found it to be very calming, even as a simple backdrop to whatever task or project or life activity you happen to be indulging in…though I personally just like to put on the big fat headphones & drift away to it. Or sometimes I just pick a track & play it on an endless loop because sometimes you just plain need to do that. Here’s hoping you find it helpful & peaceful.
Here’s something peaceful I drew to stare at, to help counteract this most un-peaceful week ( that ballpoint pen thing above). When you’re a kid, your room can feel like a private little universe, a secret haven & there’s something really comforting in that. Being surrounded by books ( or records !), having a place to go dream. As a kid I completely craved a room with a forest growing in it like Max in the ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ but I’m guessing most kids did right 🙂 ? Yeah, you see where I’m going with this, silver lining & all that shiz, but enough sentimentality, let’s talk about some lustrous pop music…
Welcome to the WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the latest & greatest new songs from recent days ! For added encouragement I’ve included MINI REVIEWS of each song BELOW ( it goes band name, then review) which are hopefully are convincing enough to persuade you to listen..but you should just listen anyway because your new favorite song or band may very well be in there waiting for you.
Though at the end of the day we are all the exact same doomed dust balls, we humans still like to entertain the idea we are “special” & that we personally are unlike anyone who has ever walked the earth before us. While the latter applies or has applied to say David Bowie, Prince or Kate Bush, the rest of us are not that special…which is to say it’s never nice to find out you are an utter cliche. As I watched the new & pretty cool “High Fidelity” series on Hulu yesterday, several moments within it hit dangerously close to the bone, including our hero as played by Zoë Kravitz breaking down Fleetwood Mac’s “Rumours” track by track & acknowledging her preference for “Tusk” & then later correcting a major chronological error made by an asshole regarding the release date of the “Wings Over America” album. I watched in abject horror & thought ” uh oh, that sounds like me”.
At some point each & every day I think of Fleetwood Mac & Paul McCartney. I might not always be talking about them but not a day has gone by in the past trillion years when they haven’t made their daily cameo in my mind. Don’t get me wrong, I still think of my family & stuff like I’m supposed to, it’s just I also think of Fleetwood Mac & Wings. It’s too late to recalibrate & fix at this stage, just know if anyone needs breakdowns on which live versions of “Sara” are the best or wants someone to rank all the McCartney releases from 1970- 1980 in meticulous detail, I’m here for you.
And with that WELCOME to the latest & greatest in pop music from recent days within the WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST. You can listen below on Soundcloud or Spotify. Here’s hoping you meet your new favorite song & future favorite band there.
This week, in an effort to clear space & make my computer “run faster”, I deleted a bunch of stuff. And in my haste I accidentally obliterated about 100 songs from my hard drive. While there a were a few beloved friends among them, long term loves that I rushed to recover immediately, I was surprised to find that most of what I’d lost I could do without for a minute, even though some of the songs been high on my hit parade at some point over the past 10 years. As an example, I’d gone through a weird phase one summer where I was obsessed with deep cuts by Seals & Crofts , the mustachioed pop-folk duo of ’70s “Summer Breeze” fame. For an entire July and August, I’d had them playing in an endless loop. I still have no idea what drove this impulse, I mean shouldn’t America’s Greatest Hits have provided all the soft rock any one person would ever need ? One day I just found myself rummaging through all the Seals & Crofts albums on I-tunes & next thing you know I was rocking a carefully curated 20 song playlist every time I walked out the door. And so you can probably guess what I’m about to say. Yes, a bunch of those Seals & Crofts songs died during in my accidental purge . Although it may have been a “disaster” had it happened 10 years ago, as of this week I just didn’t care. They’d ceased to be important anymore.
There are songs that are only meant to soundtrack a specific part of your life and then evaporate into the ether once you’ve gotten everything you need from them which I guess means songs are like people. And so it was with Seals & Crofts who inexplicably rocked my world for 2 whole months until I no longer needed them. But hey “Summer Breeze” is still a classic.
And here are some gorgeous new songs we’ve heard over recent days that I hope you never get sick of… Listen on Soundcloud:
Back in the late ’90s I was in charge of ordering the cds in a big mega record store & watching the Grammys was an essential task. I would literally sit with a notepad writing down anything that seemed significant so the crew & myself could order bulk of whatever it was the next morning. This was because the next day would see floods of people coming to purchase whatever thing won “Album of the Year” or whatever release coincided with whoever gave the best performance on the show. Those were the only 2 things that mattered. The sub-categories seemed to mean nothing to people.
These days the Grammys are a complete mess for more reasons than I could possibly list here. There’s so much brilliant stuff never gets acknowledged & never will. And there is heinous stuff living inside its infrastructure. But this year, within the mess was this one particularly sweet thing.
Country music legend Tanya Tucker has LIVED. She’s been kicking out records since 1972 & has been put through the ringer of life in every which way you can imagine. I was blessed to see her play live in 2019 & she was an open book on stage, intense, tough as nails & vulnerable as well as self-deprecatingly funny. And her raw razor blade voice sounded amazing. I took the pic above at the show & yeah, she offered us all a drink becuz she rules like that. Anyway, she just received the 1st freakin’ Grammy Awards of her nearly 50 year career this week, at age 61, and holy shit, it took waaay too long & she totally deserved them. And it was a beautiful thing because it meant so, so much to her. Hail to you Queen Tanya, hope yer livin’ it up.
Now please enjoy the latest & greatest new music we’ve been exposed to over recent days within the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST !! There’s post-punk anthems, Nilsson-esque crooning, plush synths & a 400 year old folk song amongst them & in the midst of the current misery & mayhem, they are here for you. Hope you fall in love with something.