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.
Joan Jett has magical powers. Andy Moreno explains how the explosion of “Cherry Bomb” forced her to leave her hometown and find a way to ROCK forever…
I was going to call myself a late bloomer but the truth is I’m more like that old house plant you keep alive. It never dies and you wouldn’t call it healthy or vibrant but you do give it props for defying natural laws.
By 1982 Joan Jett was out of The Runaways and off making hits. I had one foot out of my home town and another knee deep in what I call Indiana girl muck. In 70’s Midwest, by 20 years old, you should’ve been well on your way to marriage and kids. A small starter house was a part of most friends’ worlds… if they didn’t already die in a drunk driving or overdose accident that is. I was working as a full time dispensing optician at an Ophthalmologist’s office in one of those ugly one story office buildings off of Lake Avenue in Fort Wayne, Indiana. You know those places that are completely devoid of any type of cool in an area where it was blocks and blocks of the same. I wore nurses whites and orthopedic shoes. On my break, I would sometimes run to Taco Bell with my boyfriend and, on occasion, suck back a beer or two before returning to finish my shift. But most times I’d drive solo forfeiting food to smoke cigarettes and blast my speakers making sure to put on the “power booster” to elevate the mood. I would drive in giant squares so that I could come back in time but long enough that I could feel the wind on my face and escape the debilitating monotony. What I’m describing is a lonely loner, early signs of a deep introvert. But even recluses get bored. In the “The French Song” Joan sings I know what I am, I am what I am. I might not have known what I was but I always knew what I wasn’t. I remember one particular afternoon, coming back from my lunch break, now in my newly purchased used canary yellow TR7 that unbeknownst to me had cracked cylinder heads and was already showing signs of major distress after only two weeks. I sat silently in that car as it bumped and rattled, unable to turn off, painfully acknowledging that I could no longer live this particular life. I couldn’t drive up to this building one more week to this job that I felt was pulling me into some unremarkable abyss. I thought about the week before and all the weeks before that. The reason I got this car was because I allowed my boyfriend to total my Celica GT lift-back by slamming into a pole while we were all drunk in the passenger’s seats. That was car wreck number 6 or 7 if I was counting. I was going to be 21, not 18. My nighttime shenanigans were becoming very worrisome to the sober adult me. Unable to get replacement parts locally, that car became a permanent garage fixture and I was afraid of the same fate.
In the following days “Cherry Bomb” came on the radio as I was dropped off yet again to the gates of doom as I was now carless. The music felt so alive blaring loudly from inside that vehicle. I didn’t want to step out knowing that life was stagnant on the other side of that door. It suddenly occurred how late in the game it was for me. My boyfriend was speaking but I drifted off imagining being where Joan was, this magic place where a girl like me could play guitar and live a completely different type of life. I left my body which I was prone to do. I was shaking my head and my hair starting flying around my face. I drank up every last ounce of that song. That moment unleashed some newfound freedom that I had felt rising up recently and caused it to erupt like an oil well. I would leave town for LA to try to play in bands! That was it! I started making a real plan. I quit that job, I babysat for my sister and saved enough money for a ticket. I got my GED. I recruited a friend. We left about 3 months later.
Andy in 1982: play it girl…
In hindsight I should have left about 3 years before I got on that plane to California if I wanted any chance to actually fly. I wasted just enough time to pack on enough self doubt and guilt that it was very hard to get off the ground even with all the miles between me and the muck. I drank when I was nervous and that was generally always. It doesn’t help matters to be drunk or timid but I could never decide which was worse. So I always erred on the inebriated side. Had I moved in 1979 I believe I may have become a real musician and possibly stuck to it to this day. I had the self discipline and desire but the few obstacles I ran into were enough to not only deter but stifle me entirely. Unlike all the determined strong folks you read about with all their dreams. It’s a shame too, because women artists were just about to pop, so the timing was right in the world for someone with limited talent like me to actually make it. That perhaps was my epiphany. I wanted to be Jimmy Page, Eddie Van Halen, Jeff Beck. In other words, I wanted to be credible but was convinced early on that I didn’t have what it takes to become great. And the alternative was becoming famous and mediocre. If I was anything I would be legitimate and authentic. Or nothing at all.
This is the bullshit I tell myself. I had about 5 years of practicing the guitar before I left home. I was getting better but it was already apparent I was not gifted. After more lessons, being in working bands and a few #metoo stories later I just gave up.
Andy in 1985: it’s on…
But Joan Jett got me out of that office building and on that plane to California. That in and of itself was giant in my small world. Her voice, guitar, and songs throughout the years got me into those band auditions. They put me in those record store jobs. Her chutzpah kept me in the mix of excitement, meeting songwriters and artists, mingling with creativity. She got me to New York, where I always dreamed of living.
I have enough hangups to fill five tour buses but Joan continues to motivate and inspire me to push my mole ass further into the world each year and for that I’ll always be grateful.
Editors note : Everyone make sure to check out the new fist pumping/tear jerking Joan Jett documentary “Bad Reputation” asap: it’s awesome.
Look at this Tree Kangaroo. Also, please listen to this weeks offering of fine new songs all neatly arranged within the latest installment of our Weekly New Wonders Playlist. You can listen on Spotify or Soundcloud below . Please note that lists are slightly different as in there are 2 songs not available on Soundcloud as of this writing, and 1 not available on Spotify. And so yes, check out both. There are a lot of things I would qualify as pretty and evocative this time around so set up your chair in front of the staring window and just press play.
Last year Praa graced us with the otherworldly minimalist soul ballad “Modeling Clay”, a song so fine, Prince would surely have tipped his hat in unabashed approval of it. Well guess what,”Y”, her latest single, is even better. A lamentation on human facades in the form of straight up 90’s style R & B, it’s a modern day cousin soundwise to a couple of classics from that royal era of soul, “Kissin’ You” by Total, and “Love’s Taken Over” by Chante Moore, both of which are absolute perfection. And know what, can’t pay higher compliment than that: it’s just magical.
There is something kind of wonderful about “Good When I’m Done” the new single from Hull’s Hubbards. Featuring a semi-strangulated vocal full of anxiety and passion (not a million miles away from those of Suede’s Brett Anderson) and counterbalanced by a very neat and tidy bit of harmonizing, it spits desperation and flays itself open from the start, literally serving up it’s heart ( “on a plate for you”). God is a girl and this is shiny, bright and Britpop in all the right places.
What you are looking at is the back cover photo of the sleeve of Sting’s “Love is the Seventh Wave” single from 1985. Note the tactful placement of the right hand and coquettish yet assertive head tilt. All that’s missing is the speech bubble saying ” you know you want this”. Fact is everybody did want this at that time so it wasn’t like he was wrong. Anyway, have always wanted to celebrate the brazen beauty and complete ridiculousness of this photograph, a true vintage “New Wonder”. And now here are some desirable and foxy new songs to stare at with your ears. You can listen on Spotify or Soundcloud and hey, the lists are slightly different as there are a couple of songs only on Soundcloud as of this writing. Eee-yo-oh…
Katherine Paul aka Black Belt Eagle Scout’s just released debut album is a beauty and “Sam…” is it’s most beauteous track of all. What’s surprising is how something so subtle could be such an insidious ear worm: it’s literally one sung verse followed by a lengthy, repetitive, hypnotic guitar line. Heartbreakingly special.
Having your song described as “Beatle-esque” can be a mixed blessing. The main thing it implies is of course that the song will be melodic and have an incredible hook anchoring it…but it also suggests that it’s derivitive and follows a very particular and unoriginal blueprint (that can’t be improved upon at this point). Which is to say all tunes that fall into the “Beatle-esque” category are not created equal. “Hourglass” is one of the former. There are some really fine and clever hooks within it that McCartney himself would approve of, as in it’s really good. And hey also check out Harvie’s “In My Lonley Hour”, another utterly infectious and damn good bit of guitar pop below.
This past week I had an actual dream where Mariah Carey and I decided to drive around Long Island, where we both grew up, and revisit our old haunts. No, we didn’t pick up fellow “Strong Islanders” Billy Joel or Chuck D along the way, it was just us. Can’t remember what I ate that would’ve caused this fantastical vision, and it didn’t inspire me to throw on a Mariah record the next morning. In all honesty the last Mariah record I voluntarily listened to was…okay, it was the “Glitter” soundtrack about 10 trillion years ago…I recollect liking a song on it…okay, that was “Never Too Far”. Anyway, it was weird but we think about pop music 24/7 around here and that includes slumber time. And with that in mind here are even more swell new tunes to soundtrack your best dreams. You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify below…
It’s not easy to sneer with sadness but “Jungle” somehow manages it in the most gorgeous, echoey, anthemic way possible. It’s a little Garbage, a little Breeders and just ass kickingly good. This one features on Jeen’s forthcoming album, due for release this very week and all signs indicate it will be loud and really damn good.