Weekly New Wonders Playlist !

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Look at that billboard. When “Blue” was new. 1971. Wow. I imagine it was probably really cool to be driving along and look up and see that in the distance back then. Pretty sure I would’ve greeted it out loud upon passing. And so Joni turned 75 this month and if that’s not a good enough reason to throw more worship at her don’t know what is. Anyway, here we are and here is the latest installment of Weekly NewWonders featuring heartbreakingly fine new music from truly fine bands. You can listen on Spotify or Soundcloud but please note lists are ever so slightly different as some songs are not yet available on Spotify and some are not yet available on Soundcloud. Listen to both so you don’t miss anything. It’s a good one.

Soundcloud:

 

Spotify:

Weekly New Wonders Playlist

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Welcome to the latest Weekly New Wonders, a small gathering of some of the finer new music from the past week or so. You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify but please note: the Spotify list is a bit longer this week due to some stuff not being available on Soundcloud as of this writing so listen to both for maximum discovery.

Soundcloud:

Spotify:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lawrence Rothman “Decade”

The perfect pop entree into Lawrence’s just released and exceptionally fine “I Know I’ve Been Wrong But Can We Talk ?” mini album, “Decade” is a lush locomotive of heartache, about how the past can color the present and resembles an imaginary collaboration between Tears for Fears and Naked Eyes. It manages to be both infectious and wistfully sad and, well, it’s a real beauty.

IV League “Lose Me”

Soundwise “Lose Me” has that alt 80’s kinda vibe, a little March Violets , a little Divinyls, plus, moving forward from those people, a bit of Hole circa “Celebrity Skin”, as in it’s all tuneful guitar line and massive chorus… but it also has a little something extra, namely Bella Venutti’s ridiculous voice. Massive, pleading, and here maybe asking everyone around her to hang in there with her while she figures shit out, it’s a force of nature. And do yourself a favor and check out their glorious pop fuzz fest from earlier this year, “Superstar” below, it’s a tornado.

 

Rahkii “Zoom”

Whoa. Okay, this is cool for a myriad of reasons. For one, and it’s a big one, it’ll remind you of something definitively great, specifically Erykah Badu in her 90’s “Baduism”era. Also, part of the video takes place in a library ( I secretly wish all videos did) which is, in and of itself, beautiful. “Zoom” is infectious and sweet sass end to end, filled to the gills with soul and style, and all that along with Rahkii’s voice and charismatic presence add up to one of the best soul things to hit this year. I swear, it really is. More please.

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !

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Axl Rose was (in)famous for his being pathologically late for Guns N’ Roses shows back in their early 90’s heyday. As in your ticket might’ve said “Guns N’ Roses Civic Arena 8pm” but you wouldn’t actually be hearing “Paradise City” until maybe midnight. This was (allegedly) because he needed mental preparation time before shows, as he had to be in a particular head before he could go out to perform. Until he knew he could complete the show, could confirm that he could in his mind, he couldn’t officially start it. I am not defending this behavior, it was all kinds of f-d up and resulted in a lot of mess. Which is to say I “Axl Rose’d” on the Weekly New Wonders Playlist over the past 2 weeks, as in there hasn’t been one until now. Yeah, stuff got in the way, but no worries for here is the latest and greatest all ready to perform. As a result of the delay it’s a slight bit longer than usual (a lot of raindrops can fall in 2 weeks) so you can you use it to soundtrack your trip both there and back . And you can listen on Spotify or Soundcloud. And please note the usual : lists are slightly different as in all songs aren’t available on both services, so yeah, PLEASE check out both for maximum coverage, don’t want you to miss anything. Take me home…

Soundcloud:

Spotify:



 

“That’s Their Pet Sounds” : Rick Springfield “Working Class Dog” (1981)

Mission statement:

No matter who we are in this absurd, brief, and messy life we can all lay claim to a peak, a shining moment where we were the best we could be, where all the stars aligned and we fuckin’ delivered the goods.

Welcome to “That’s Their Pet Sounds” our semi-regular feature where we endeavor to spotlight, and celebrate a heretofore maybe uncool, often unjustifiably underrated, sometimes polarizing, not as acclaimed as they should be, or “what the hell?” artist’s grandest artistic achievement i.e. their greatest album.

*“That’s Their Pet Sounds” is named after the Beach Boys landmark 1966 LP which is universally regarded as one of the greatest albums ever made but yeah, you probably knew that.

And with that here’s an artist frequently dismissed as a teen idol who defied odds and opinions to make a truly seminal power pop album…
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Rick Springfield’s BEST ALBUM : 1981’s “Working Class Dog”

Background: By the late seventies Rick Springfield was in a state of desperation. At this point he’s released 3 studio albums of okay pop rock with middling success and is maybe a teen idol past his prime. Even though music is his passion, bills have to be paid, so he auditions for an acting role on “General Hospital”, the soap of the time ( pathetic anecdote break : I rushed home from school every day for this thing and somehow disciplined myself to not start my daily school persecution crying session until 4 pm, when the show was over, that’s how invested I was ). He gets the job. Meanwhile he signs with RCA and starts making another record in earnest, newly inspired by the power pop guitar crunch pervading the LA clubs at the time, particularly from bands like the Knack. Yes, you are witnessing the phenomenon known as stars aligning.
Okay so in 1981, a lot of shit happens. Rick is starring on the still top-rated “General Hospital”, and his new album, “Working Class Dog” , is officially out in the world. If that weren’t enough,   “Jessie’s Girl”, a truly rockin’ piece of ear candy off the album has begun picking up steam on the radio, and it’s corresponding video is soon all over MTV. The song ultimately hits #1 on the Billboard chart. Now as great as “Jessie” is, and lord it is, there’s no reason to believe Rick is anything but a one hit wonder, another teen idol from the factory. At that point, pop history was littered with similar scenarios. People that, while yeah they made records, they were also TV stars, and were thereby automatically not regarded as credible musicians ( David Cassidy being the prime example). Didn’t matter that Rick was musician first and an actor “just because”, he automatically got tarred with that brush…but something weird happened and turned that whole notion on it’s ear. See, “Working Class Dog” turned out to be good, like really good, as in one of the finer power pop albums ever made. Seriously. Something that could hold it’s head up next to Badfinger’s “No Dice” and “Straight Up” or anything from Cheap Trick’s 1977-79 golden era. Why wasn’t he mentioned in the same breath as those guys at the time ? Well, Rick was a teen idol, a branded man, and all the nerdy, pseudo cool, music know it all guys who liked the aforementioned bands couldn’t bring themselves to like something all the girls were crazy for, because it had to be shiz if girls liked it. Yes. Ironic considering power pop’s roots in the Fab Four but there you go. Beatles. Stones. Same scenario. Girls loved and recognized them first and at some inevitable point, their amazing-ness couldn’t be denied. As of 2018, I can honestly say the most knowledgable and passionate male power pop heads I know, the ones that worship Big Star, The Raspberries and Flamin’ Groovies all think “Working Class Dog” kicks ass.

Why it’s his Pet Sounds :

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“I just made a seminal power pop album girl”

Rick is one of those guys that has good songs on every album. You can trust him to give you at very least 1 or 2 within every release. He’s reliable like that. Unlike, and it kills me to say this, Neil Young and Paul McCartney who at this point just can’t be trusted. Fact is if you like Rick, and continue to buy his new albums, you will be rewarded in some way.
Out of all 17, and counting, of Rick’s studio albums, “Working Class Dog” is the deepest, the punchiest, the most consistent. It’s the one.
It goes something like this:
There are 10 songs on “Working Class Dog”and they are all good.
Every one has a killer hook and sounds like a single.
Every chorus in every song is impossibly sticky and cannot be removed once they’ve suctioned themselves to the inside of your head.
Also, every song is about girls.
Since the early seventies, bands overtly influenced by that early Beatles sound and song construction were filed directly into the category that came to be known as power pop. And oh man, music writers of a certain age, gender and genetic make up love them some power pop. It is a religion. Their irrational/earth shattering love for this sound is no different than that of the BTS fan army of today ( If you don’t know about BTS, go have a Google). The most obvious way this love manifested itself in the pre-internet era was in the consistent attention bestowed upon power poppers in the music press i.e.almost any band that made this kind of music got lauded and showered with good reviews and features back in the day, even though their overall popularity usually didn’t warrant the attention and they were all pretty much guaranteed to be cult bands forever. There was something about this particular sound that struck a chord with hardcore music nerds. It was pop, but self-referential and smart and clever, with guitars all over it. It was romantic music for boys.
“Working Class Dog” is the absolute epitome of great power pop and in a 2018 musical world where the concept of what’s cool and not cool no longer exists, where it’s just about loving songs as singular digital entities, no matter where they came from, all that old baggage about “it’s for girls” can finally go straight in the garbage where it always belonged.

The Songs:

  • Rick wrote 9 of the 10 tracks. There’s lots of talk about appeasing Daddy (hers and Rick himself) and “little girls” that are alternately dirty or scared “like you”.
  • The one track he didn’t write,“I’ve Done Everything For You”, is …well okay it’s a Sammy f-ing Hagar song from 1978…but in the same manner in which Aretha Franklin stole Otis Redding’s “Respect” and made it her own forever, Rick took complete possession of this song. As in his version completely crushes the original. (Disclaimer: I am in no way inferring that Sammy is like Otis, I am just referencing the circumstance. Otis is a God, while Sammy remains and will always be a man.)
  • This album is romantic in the same way hanging out in a suburban 7-11 parking lot late, late at night ( cheap pun alert) and cruising the main strip of road in town hoping by chance to see your unrequited love is romantic. It feels eternally young and single-minded and all emotions expressed within it are as urgent as a fire alarm. It runs all the lights and is very, very horny.
  • The first 8 tracks are hook laden pocket anthems and each one to the last features an  impossibly infectious chorus. Though the competition is fierce, gonna say the one in “Love Is Alright Tonite” rules the hardest. As a side note, “Love…” soundtracks the most manic and crazy scene in cult classic “Wet Hot American Summer” and is hard to detach from that once you’ve seen it but they really do take it to yet another level of greatness.
  • For years I thought Rick was singing “You can keep your cheddar” in “Daddy’s Pearl”. I reasoned “cheddar” was some kind of slang way to say cheap opinions/gossip which made sense in the context of the song. It sounded kind of clever and weird. Plus he rhymed it with “better”. Years later found out what he is saying is actually “chatter”and was disappointed. Listen for yourself and decide but I think “cheddar” is the way to go.

 

  • “Inside Silvia” is a lust ballad. It is 100 % literal. When Rick sings “there’s one harbor where I’m safe and warm”, the “harbor” to which he is referring is Silvia herself. All the metaphors are literal on this album. I swear that is not a contradiction.
  • There is also a straight up Lynyrd Skynyrd guitar solo that wandered in off the street and somehow got lost in “Red Hot and Blue Love”. It is phenomenally disconcerting but it works in what is the most “experimental” song on the album.
  • There’s really nothing left to be said in regards to “Jessie’s Girl” at this point. It’s a classic pop song, full stop, some people love it, some people are sick of it…but it lives and will continue to do so long after we are gone.

In Conclusion:

 37 years have passed since “Working Class Dog” was released. And Rick is still out there touring and recording like a truly driven man. This thing sold 3 million copies and had 3 top ten singles and will probably never be included on any of those “Greatest Albums of All-Time” lists…but who cares what the critics say. It’s an absolute diamond, it’s his Pet Sounds.

*One more thing ! While there have been an extraordinarily large number of crap rock memoirs thrust into the world over the years, Rick’s own  “Late, Late at Night” from 2010 is not one of them. The story does not resolve itself in the last 50 pages with descriptions of joyfully taking kids to school, cooking vegan feasts or daily one on one martial arts training sessions with an esteemed master guru like the kind that regularly surface in todays rock memoirs. Rick’s story is ongoing, unresolved and human. The book is one of the most compelling, dark, sexually charged, honest and self deprecating music autobiographies you’re ever gonna read and so highly encourage you to do so.

Hear it here:

or here:

Weekly New Wonders Playlist

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This weeks new music is a little on the mellow and short side for some reason, just happened that way, but hey we all need a break once in a while right ? And so here’s a soundtrack of the newest to recline, tune out, and contemplate the cosmos to. You can listen on Spotify or Soundcloud BUT recommend choosing the latter this week as a few songs are not on Spotify as of this writing !

Soundcloud:

Spotify:

Anthony Friedlander “Sacrifice”

Don’t know if I’ve heard many things that have been as lush and heartrending as “Sacrifice” this year. From the cascading piano chords, to the plaintive Brian Wilson looking at a rainy beach vocal ( swear that’s what it sounds like), both the mood and construction of this song are something else: no hyperbole, it really is transcendent. It brought to mind one of the absolute diamonds of the 21st century, the Ed Harcourt song “From Every Sphere”, itself a blueprint for grand, evocative, melodic epics to ponder the universe to, and is equally as beautiful.

Ghostly Kisses “The City Holds My Heart”

Morose and handsome, tearjerking and tuneful, “The City Holds My Heart” is an electro wash with a delicate beat that comes over like a wistful, modern and melancholy cousin to the Eurythmics classic “Here Comes the Rain Again”. Ghostly Kisses is Margaux Sauvé and her vocal here rings with the gorgeously austere clarity of UK folk rock legends Sandy Denny and June Tabor which is indisputably wonderful company to be in. Basically it’s sad, and is a perfect soundtrack for staring out of rain dappled train windows, which is to say it’s pretty great.