New Pagans “Charlie has the face of a saint”

There was a time I felt like I could hear Wheatus’s 2000 megahit “Teenage Dirtbag” in literally every song with a freakin’ guitar in it. It was bizarre. It felt like every remotely rock-ish track loudly rang with the “Dirtbag” vibe, both it’s fat riff and supremely bratty chorus. But as time has gone by, that song has been replaced and my ears now regularly hallucinate that every song is in fact Nada Surf’s 1996, (also) megahit “Popular”. And “Charlie Has the Face of a Saint”, the new single from Belfast band New Pagans did initially bring it to mind with it’s gorgeous little hook and the cynical storyline…but overall, it’s true sound foremothers are kick ass, grinding alt greats Veruca Salt and hearing that anthemic 90’s thing done this well in 2019 is an absolute treat.

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !

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Rock and Roll has officially been kicking around since the mid ’50s. Since then many albums have been released. As a result of all this, not a week goes by these days, where someone does not call attention to a specific album anniversary. 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 50 freakin’ years. I’m not 100% sure what is being signified by showcasing these anniversaries other than we are all getting older. Whenever I see an article celebrating an album’s original release, I think one of two things :

1- Shit, it’s been that long, seems like yesterday. Also, I’m old.

2-That album is not very good ( I’m phrasing that more politely than what my actual thought usually is).

The potentially mind-blowing album anniversary factoids haven’t happened yet, you know, like when The Beatles “Sgt.Pepper” turns 100, or Taylor Swift’s “Lover” turns 50. That stuff seems genuinely insane.

Anyway, last week saw the 37th anniversary of Daryl Hall and John Oates wondrous 1982 album “H20”, a record full of the awesomest 80s NYC soul pop this side of heaven. 37 is not a genuine demarcation point in anniversary world of course but in Hall and Oates world, this record was a significant event. And so any excuse to celebrate it’s beautiful, sweaty, poptastic life is valid.

There are going to be some new long form, faintly demented pieces appearing on the blog over next 2 weeks. One of them involves Hall and Oates and it will be both loving and critical, full of joy and Oates. I can’t wait to share it with the 1 or 2 of you that care ( seriously) !

Welcome to the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST, featuring some beautiful pop music from recent days. You can listen on Spotify or Soundcloud below. And let’s make a pact to meet back here in 2056 to celebrate how awesome these songs still sound then okay ?

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Tawiah “Recreate”

Tawiah has been around a bit. She’s toured the world with Mark Ronson as his featured vocalist, guested on tracks by Blood Orange and Cinematic Orchestra (amongst others) and dating back to 2007, has released 3 EP’s under her own name. Her official debut album “Starts Again” is being released this month, finally, via First Word Records. But frankly that title is too modest a reference for what this LP actually is, namely  Tawiah STARTS FOR REAL .“Recreate” is a cool beauty, craftily mixing neo-soul, and vintage Young Disciples while nodding respectfully in the direction of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” and Massive Attack’s “Safe From Harm”…which is to say it’s touched by a lot of brilliant things and is as fine a piece of soul as you’re gonna hear this year.

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !

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“Music In A Mellow Mood” is a 4 LP set from 1969. Despite the fact that it’s been living in my house for several years, I have never listened to it. I found it in a box on the curb outside this record store that was closing down, which means it was my equivalent of an abandoned puppy. I couldn’t heartlessly leave it there, ignored, unloved and vulnerable to the elements. And so here it lives, leaning against a shelf, being especially mellow since it doesn’t ever come anywhere near the turntable. I’m never motivated enough to actually play it. I sometimes find myself staring it for no apparent reason. In the game of life, it’s clearly won.

The latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST is a big one. It is in fact TWO WHOLE WEEKS worth of amazing new music. It doesn’t feature as many songs as “Music In A Mellow Mood” but it does have a few of the same attributes in that it is Pleasure Programmed ™, parts of it are hypnotically mellow and some of the songs are about love being blue. But seriously, there are some real beauties in here this week, we hope you find something to steal your heart…

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Fire In Her Eyes “Presenting”

Fire In Her Eyes are a young trio who sound unashamedly and brilliantly old. They’ve name checked Stevie Nicks, Erykah Badu and Grace Slick as influences. They’ve expressed admiration for the incredible disco lords Heatwave and say they wish they’d written “After The Love Has Gone”, the most glorious Earth Wind and Fire ballad ever. I only heard about them for the first time this past week after reading a lukewarm review of this, their latest single, “Presenting”. We’re not going to be lukewarm. “Presenting” is an unquestionably beautiful thing, ridiculously sophisticated, soulful and slightly psychedelic and features some pretty immaculate harmonizing. It’s a sweet mix of vintage Sugababes ( the original 3 ), Wilson Phillips, and Carole King, which is to say it’s a proper song and it’s mighty, mighty fine.

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The Cravats “Shy”

Ed Zed wants to tell you about the new single from The Cravats and we’re not gonna stop him…

The horns of glorious delirium blare once more, sounding the arrival of a blistering new single from those Dada-damaged delinquents, The Cravats.
‘Shy’ finds our boys in black injecting a dose of warped Motown into their art/anti-art punk sound, though far from being a three minute celebration of love, the track in question celebrates what it means to be a shrinking violet in a world of tall, imposing weeds.
Whilst ‘Shy’ is at once a frank admission of social reticence to which so many of us can relate, it can also be read as a sardonic swipe at the so-called ‘alpha male’ posturing that much of the world seems finally to be sick of.
The darkly psychedelic b-side ‘Good for You’ pillories the I’m-alright-Jack mentality certain members of the ‘haves’ branch of our polite society cling to so fervently – all too poignant during these increasingly desperate times.
This spectacular 7 inches of plastic is waiting to be devoured right now, in anticipation of The Cravs’ new album which drops in early 2020. Get ur freak on.

Fletcher Gull “Hypothermia”

No the title is not a metaphor. This song is about actual hypothermia and is based upon a particular sub zero temperature night in the mountains Fletcher Gull suffered through. It’s a subtly delirious pop song that’s not a million miles from The Flaming Lips with an undercurrent of anxious mania running through it. Infectious, and full of hallucinatory elation, “Hypothermia” makes the act of survival sound positively joyful.

 

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !

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Ric Ocasek was one of those people where if he was out in the street you couldn’t miss him. One day about a dozen years ago, my co-worker Dennis and myself were in Union Square Park on our lunch break from the music store where we worked, walking through the food stands and heard a couple of woman shouting. “Ric ! Hey Ric !” We turned and saw Ric Ocasek  meandering through the moderately crowded path between the stands. The women were giggling and prodding each other, trying desperately to get his attention but he didn’t acknowledge them. They appeared to be a couple of suburban ladies who couldn’t believe their luck ( Hey, I can say that because I’m one of those technically), here he was, the man who soundtracked their school years in the flesh.

Dennis and I were embarrassed on his behalf, I mean he was just peacefully cruising through his neighborhood, not looking for attention. But I understood and appreciated their excitement even though we’d seen him around before. It was Ric of The Cars. Ric who wrote Just What I Needed, Let’s Go, You’re All I’ve Got Tonight and Drive. Ric from MTV and Creem Magazine. And so yeah, they couldn’t help themselves. You couldn’t really blame them for getting excited.

Ric was one of a kind in every way. He and the Cars made perfect weird and wonderful pop music that will endure as long as the earth is turning. He also actively mentored, coaxed, and nurtured new bands. As I write this, The Cars Complete Greatest Hits album is # 1 on iTunes. No matter what you might feel about people predictably jumping on the posthumous bandwagon, the fact that these songs are still getting love and that maybe a younger generation are discovering them for the first time is really kind of beautiful and awesome.

Okay, no way to transition neatly from that. Let’s just say here is some wonderful new music by some artists you may not know of yet but who hopefully will make your day feel better. Welcome to the latest Weekly New Wonders Playlist. Heartbeat City, here we come…

Listen on Soundcloud:

Listen on Spotify:

Weekly New Wonders Playlist !

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I had this poster of Boy George up in my bedroom as teen (not the physical one depicted, that was lost ages ago but same image). I truly, truly loved him. I kept a freakin’ scrapbook. Bought 2 copies of every magazine he was in so I could cut one up for scrapbook inclusion. Alas, I was totally embarrassed by my infatuation with George, worried people would think it was “weird”. And so I fell into the self-hating routine of hiding my giant poster. Basically if anyone was coming over and there was potential of them seeing my room, I would pre-emptively take it down and temporarily replace it with something more “respectable” like Adam Ant or f-ing Sylvester Stallone in his green tank top. When they left I would put it back up. Sad right, that I was worried what people would think. I was ultimately “cured” once I saw Culture Club actually perform at the Pier in NYC and found myself surrounded by hundreds of freaky George loving anglophiles like me who while they also loved George passionately didn’t appear remotely ashamed ( yes, it was a real life version of Bee Girl in the Blind Melon video). While I wasn’t completely healed of my insecurity, I did cave considerably that night and bought a garish Culture Club tee shirt which I subsequently wore in public. Baby steps. Anyway, a trillion years have gone by since then and at this stage I can honestly say I feel no shame admitting I’d rather listen to Culture Club than Tom Waits or Leonard Cohen. It’s not even close.”Church of the Poison Mind”? Turn that shit up.

Speaking of transcendently beautiful pop music, here is the latest WEEKLY NEW WONDERS PLAYLIST, featuring the best new music from recent days. We hope something here will melt your heart and take you there .

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Listen on Spotify:

Nancy “When I’m With You ( I Feel Love)

“When I’m With You (I Feel Love)” is a dizzy, lo-fi, otherworldly collage of a pop song that exudes love from it’s every corner. It’s chorus is plush, emotional and euphoric enough to be the centerpiece in a hymn book of a benevolent religious cult. Nancy describes it as “my love letter to the people I meet in my dreams at night” which is to say mission accomplished, perfectly.