If you’re looking for some spacey, idyllic pop bliss, JayWood is here for you. “Moon Cats” is as hypnotic as a slowly spinning disco ball and as earthly beautiful as riding a bike up an endless tree-lined street where sunlight pokes through the leaves. The plush guitar pattern anchoring this song is entrancing, and the whole thing positively shimmers. Okay, I know that all sounded a little flowery and overly romantic…but it’s true, “Moon Cats” is a total (day)dream.
I know. Those are some seriously cuddly squids. Or squid. I looked it up and apparently either is okay if referring to more than one. Look at those eyes, they are absolutely full of love ( and maybe some exhaustion judging by half mast position of the eyelids). I was seriously tempted to get one but I already have a small, plush sheep and honestly I’d rather if these squid(s) ended up in some imaginatively demented kids hands.
Right, so welcome to the latest in beautiful new music, all within the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST. This weeks collection is particularly airy, laid back and melodic. Not intentional, it just worked out that way. It’s perfect for shutting out all the noise ( your phone, other people) and escaping. And so close your eyes, hold your squid close, and come enjoy some wonderful pop music.
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Have you ever been listening to particular song when something bad happens and then from that point on don’t want to listen to it anymore because you then believe the song is “bad luck” ? A few years ago, I got a ticket riding my bike in Central Park because I had both earbuds in and apparently you can only have one in when you ride, even in the f-ing park. Anyway the song playing when this happened was…Barbra Streisand’s utterly criminal, disco cheese movie anthem from 1979 “The Main Event”. Despite how I just described it, I am in no way distancing myself from this song. I still think it’s awesome…but from that point on I was afraid to play it because I’d convinced myself that it attracted bad spirits and that clearly, wicked things would happen if I ever did. It sat untouched in my gigantic ’70s playlist for several years and I would actively avoid it, knowing it would bring the rain if I dared to play it. Well, at some point this year, as I was gardening i.e. geekily refining and editing playlists, the temptation became too great and I just had to play it. Sure, it was within the safe confines of home but I realized I myself had imbued it with the negative mojo, not the NYPD. I had to play it to kill the power, to take it back. And it worked. I killed the devil in Barbra Streisand’s “The Main Event” and set it free. Sure, I am still reminded of the ticket moment as Barbra croons “Extra, Extra” to open the song, but it’s mostly been freed from the negative connotations it once held. That’s the thing, if you listen to music all day, that kind of crap is bound to happen. Ultimately though, what I’m saying is fuck all that. Songs are medicine, they are courtroom dogs, and when you listen to this weeks especially wonderful WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST I hope you find something that transcends any rubbish, frustrating or sad thing that happens today because really, that’s what it’s for.
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This song is truly schizophrenic. Just when you have it pegged as quirky math-rock it turns into a ’70s pop song replete with cheesy Moog stylings, then as it cruises past the 4 minute mark, you start thinking it was prog all along. It’s a confused teenager in song form and achieves the impossible feat of being both epic and fun.
There’s something about songs where the protagonist is named Jackie. From legendary soft rock classic “Jackie Blue” to my personal favorite “Heartbeat City” by The Cars, Jackie is perpetually lost in time, forever elusive, and always hard to understand. She ultimately leaves everyone in the dust and her story is always best told within the confines of a lush, lost girl pop song. And in The Hails “Sugar”, her confounding legacy continues in the most neon lit and beautiful of ways. It brings to mind the slick, criminally tuneful, shiny chromed pop that was emanating from the UK in the ’80s from the likes of Spandau Ballet, Johnny Hates Jazz and Breathe, all stuff that frankly still sounds gorgeous today. Yes, “Sugar” is kinda beautiful. Go Jackie.
That guy in the drawing above is Donny Hathaway (1945-1979), one of the greatest singers ever to walk the planet. I drew it a few years ago in my weird ballpoint pen way because he’s a bit of a hero for me. Anyway, I’ve been thinking about him tonight. If any of you have been watching the depressing, hedonistic, spectacular show Euphoria on HBO over the past few weeks & are anything close to being music nerds, hopefully you have been appreciating the songs they’ve been using to soundtrack things. It’s a mix of old & new & the choices have been exceptionally good. They recently employed Randy Newman’s 1983 gorgeously sad deep cut “Same Girl” in the most tearjerking fashion imaginable & it became pointedly clear at that moment there were fellow music nerds behind the scenes aligning the sounds to the visuals. It’s rare that a show gets this stuff right on a consistent basis, so what’s happening on Euphoria is worth exulting. In the show’s season ending big finale tonight, they used Donny Hathaway’s classic cover of “A Song For You” during a typically emotional scene. I was moved by the scene but also by the fact that this show was exposing Donny & his vocal brilliance to a whole new generation of people. Not to be dramatic, but the thought of a teenager discovering that sound for the first time, maybe crying, maybe wanting to hear it again & explore his other songs, well, it’s just pretty f-ing wonderful. Which leads us here…Wecome to the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring the best, clutch it to your heart pop music of the past week. It’s all about DISCOVERY, always & what’s better than stumbling unexpectedly upon a beautiful song you didn’t know existed until that moment ? If you answered “nothing”, you’re right 🙂
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The guitar line that opens “My Wish” may remind you of something if you watched any MTV in the ’90s, specifically Nada Surf’s “Popular” and Weezer’s “Undone“. But that’s where the similarity ends, for this is no snarky alt-rock anthem of bitterness, oh no, it is a dreamy and somber acknowledgement of ennui, numbness, and ambivalence: It absolutely emanates sadness. It will feature on Orchin’s forthcoming LP on Terrible Records, is heart on the sleeve vulnerable and just exceptionally pretty.
One of the most terrifying episodes of Twilight Zone is “The Midnight Sun” from 1961. It’s about the sun moving closer to the earth (or vice versa) and the physical and emotional breakdown of a landlady and the only tenant remaining in her building that hasn’t fled the city. The temperature is 120 degrees and conditions are becoming unlivable. And of course because it’s Twilight Zone there is a twist ( no, not gonna mention it in case you haven’t seen it, in which case, please do so asap because it’s awesome). It’s both eerily prophetic and haunting and frankly hasn’t been far from my mind during the current heatwave. It’s the anthesis of “summer fun” which is another reason why it rules. Oh yeah, welcome to the latest Weekly New Wonders Playlist ! I’d say it was HOT but you already know that. Anyway, there are some fine pop songs that want to meet you. You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify, links below !
You know when a particular song/film/book/piece of art strikes you in the head and heart and after touting it’s amazingness, when you ultimately share it with others they don’t feel the same ? I was absolutely obsessed with this old movie from 1971 called “Death in Venice” ( okay, still am). Years ago they had a revival screening in NYC and I was beyond thrilled that I would finally get the opportunity to share this AMAZING THING that I LOVED with what I assumed were my like minded friends. I’d repeatedly stated how incredible it was, completely built it up, saying crazy obsessive shit like “this is one of the greatest movies ever made” and “Dirk Bogarde is so genius”. I went with no less than 3 friends in the naive hope they would be blown away and love it as much as I did. This did not happen. They ALL thought it was f-ing boring. In their eyes, I now had a black mark on my taste meter. At the time, I was genuinely embarrassed…which is ridiculous but there you go. It’s that old cliche i.e. when you love something you want to share it and have others experience your same irrational, starry eyed joy. With that in mind it’s time for the WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST featuring what we think are some of the handsomest songs from recent weeks and days. We don’t expect you to love every song and want to squeeze them all, but we live in undeniable hope that you will discover something wonderful to put on repeat and soundtrack your travels this week. They’re beautiful. (and “Death in Venice” is too). You can listen on Soundcloud or Spotify, links below!
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“Happiness” is ridiculously beautiful, featuring a hushed and classically motorik beat and, this is slightly odd, is kind of reminiscent of beloved British late 90’s straight up rock band Doves in one of their quieter moments. The hook happens almost immediately, roughly 30 seconds in, and is completely, disarmingly exquisite. Beauty.