Voila! Another fantastic list of great music- this one has a decent variety of genres, including a very little bit of R&B/rap, plus Celtic rock, classic rock, pop, bluegrass/ Americana, and folk. I didn’t add in very many languages this week, but I’ll have plenty more non-English songs in future lists. I also did not include any Celtic Thunder this week, for which a part of me is gasping in horror, considering that their new album, Mythology, comes out in a little over 2 weeks. I did, however, include another Josh Groban song. In some portion of the world his album All That Echoes is already out- it comes/came out February 5. Happy Listening!
1. “Up All Night”- Slaughter (Mass Slaughter): This one’s becoming a great theme song for me now that I am spending so many evenings at live shows (and tutoring also is an afternoon/evening job, so I rarely have to see mornings any more). As I have always hated mornings, this song has always described my dream lifestyle to some extent, so aside from the not making enough money to survive part, I guess i’m living my dream at last. 🙂
2. “Before I Die”- You Me & Apollo (The EP) : I missed the CD release show these guys did last weekend, but since then I’ve been listening to their new EP plenty. This is the music I missed to see Maxwell Hughes, Andreas Kapsalis and Goran Ivanovic work their magic with their guitars, and it was worth it, but I’m glad You Me & Apollo is a local band so I can catch them again soon. The whole EP is excellent, but I am particularly fond of this song. I’m looking forward to seeing these guys later this year so I can hear this one done live. It has a rich bluesy intro that really sets it apart and provides a more interesting and complex context for the rest of the song as it shifts back to more of an alternative rock texture.
3. “Searching for a Heart”- Don Henley (Enjoy Every Sandwich- The Songs of Warren Zevon) : I could easily imagine Keith Harkin covering this one, or Neil Byrne &/or Ryan Kelly for that matter.
4. “Awake”- Josh Groban (Awake) : Josh Groban’s brand new album comes out tomorrow, so of course he’s on this list. No, I didn’t head out to the theater for his special live in-theaters concert- I guess it was available in or near Boulder, but I’m not sure about Fort Collins. I have listened through the whole 12 tracks of All That Echoes, though, streamed on itunes earlier this week, and I of course saw the HSN live-streamed concert before that. This song is the title-track for Josh’s album Awake, though the song was not actually included originally on the album for whatever reason. (Josh has talked about all this occasionally, but I don’t remember what he said clearly enough right now to paraphrase.) It is listed as being on the album that shares its name, though, on spotify, even if it is not on my physical disc of the same album.
5. “The Way You Love Me”- Michael Jackson (Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection ): This one is not the danceable Paula Abdul single, which is “(It’s Just) The Way That You Love Me”. For a nice change of pace, this one’s actually a nice slow funk love song from Michael Jackson.
6. “Travelin’ Soldier”- Dixie Chicks (The Essential Dixie Chicks) : It’s hard to tell by looking at the Dixie Chicks’ website what they are up to now, though they do have a few shows booked in Canada for this summer. Hopefully this lack of new news means they are in the studio cooking up new music. This song, though, is a Dixie Chicks classic, one of the songs I knew and enjoyed long before I’d heard anything else by this band. It’s related to the “Waltzing Matilda” song Ryan Kelly recorded for the Celtic Thunder fans this week, a song about a soldier who goes off to war, but unlike the fellow in the Waltzing Matilda song, the one in “Travelin’ Soldier” dies in Vietnam, and leaves behind a girl who met him by chance before he shipped out and who grieves for him. The one in the song Ryan sang lives, but loses his leg, and spends the rests of his life moping about it and feeling disgruntled at how the young people don’t understand what happened to him. I thought about doing a whole list with just these war aftermath songs, but I figured it would put me in a lousy mood for the rest of the week.
7. “Follow”- Brandi Carlile(Brandi Carlile) : I really ought to put the lyrics to this song on my wall, or maybe next to the bathroom mirror so I can see them every day when I’m brushing my teeth. It’s like squishing all those cheesy-sounding positive-thinking self-empowerment mantras into one single song, only somehow it’s not actually very cheesy. One of my old roommates introduced me to Brandi Carlile’s music (though not to Brandi herself- I’ll have to contrive to meet her myself one of these days). Brandi reminds me a lot of Megan McCormick, who I did meet this past week, so while I am just getting around to really listening to Megan’s music it seemed a good week to include some more Brandi Carlile.
8. “Hegelectic”- Catch Bees (Newman’s Open Choir): A new Catch Bees album is in the works, and nearly ready, an album whose release I am definitely looking forward to. I’ve already listed quite a few of the coolest tracks off Newman’s Open Choir, and gushed about the album’s cover art, though there is an earlier incarnation of Catch Bees, The Sunshine House, a band whose members migrated into Catch Bees, and I’ve yet to pull tracks from that one for these lists. Still, it’s a good time to get a new set of fantastic music from Philip Waggoner, the fellow at the heart of Catch Bees.
9. “Open Your Heart”- Europe ( Out of This World) : This was a classic late-80’s music video and a catchy power ballad about a couple who are not really communicating any longer. It is a bit cheesy, but Europe had enough style to pull of cheesy sad love songs without losing status as a rock band. Most of the really good 80’s bands had this talent, singing the sort of stuff that lads like Gary Barlow sing now, but with electric guitars, an electric bass and a drummer and an audience full of leather-clad rock fans. Does Europe still have this ability? I don’t know, since they didn’t tour through Fort Collins last year, but they seemed to have had a great world tour, so whatever they are doing now seems to be working.
10. “An Bauchaillin Ban”- Fiona Tyndall (Deirin De) : An old Irish song, well out of copyright, this rendition is sung beautifully, and would fit in nicely as part of a cabaret or lounge-singer’s set. I love stuff like this. Folk music, performed as if it was being played centuries ago, is cool and authentic enough, but it is also fossilized. Those folk songs were folk songs because ordinary people sang them enough to keep them alive, and there are so many different variations on them because people were not singing them out of a songbook, but were singing them from memory or making them up as they sang. Sure, we ought to preserve what we can of the songs from our past, but they only remain part of our cultures if we allow them to breathe, taking in the instruments, traditions and innovations that we enjoy from contemporary music.
11. “Forever Love”- Gary Barlow (Open Road) : The first time I heard this song was as Colm Keegan’s cover of it, in his rough video which introduced many of us Thunderheads to our new Celtic Thunder singer. I’ve put in a casual request for more Gary Barlow covers from our dear Mr. Keegan, but even if he did a whole dozen covers he’d still not be on spotify (at all, really, since the Celtic Thunder songs with him in them won’t be released for another 2 weeks). Anyway, Gary does a lovely job on this one, so sure, he can be on the list, and those of us who want to hear Colm’s singing can hunt down his cover on youtube.
12. “Homeless”- Ladysmith Black Mambazo (Spirit of South Africa ): This one is just Ladysmith Black Mambazo, though I was wavering between this track and the one from Paul Simon’s album Graceland.
13. “As I Roved Out”- The High Kings (Memory Lane) : A song about a louse who goes around seducing teenagers and impregnating them, and who then gloats about it in pubs. This is nonetheless a fun song, in large part because of the chorus, which I’m guessing is in Irish, though it may still be nonsensical.
14. “A Man’s A Man For A’ That”- Emily Smith, Jamie McClennan (Adoon Winding Nith) : No, this is not a song poking fun at the louse from “As I Roved Out”, though I could imagine a disparaging tune with this title reminding young women of the louse buried inside every man, however nice he might appear. This song is one along the lines of “Working Man”, about honest men and their pride and dignity despite economic and political hardship.
15. “Floating in the Forth”- Frightened Rabbit (The Midnight Organ Fight ): For those reading this blog who don’t know, a forth is a river that opens into a narrow bay, basically. Frightened Rabbit is a Scottish band that has been around for a few years. They actually would be a great match for Fierce Bad Rabbit, if they ever both wanted to embark on a seriously rabbity international tour. I suspect our Fierce Bad Rabbit would be well enough received in Scotland, and I’m sure that a bunch of lads with Scottish accents would be warmly welcomed at the venues where our local band performs.
16. “My Sweet Lord”- Girlyman (Remember Who I Am) : It’s tough covering classic songs that are strongly associated with particular singers, of course. This song has been on the radio for decades, and we grew up knowing it, so of course my first concern with this track was with whether it is as good as the iconic original (yes, it is), and second, is the original available on spotify (no, it is not). So, Girlyman won out over George Harrison. I really like that this version has a woman singing, so there is a vocal line in a particularly comfortable key for me to sing along with.
17. “Ships In the Night”- Mat Kearney (Young Love ) : My local McDonalds has had this song on their overhead music loop for months, and for most of the songs on that loop if I used to like them, I no longer do. One can only hear the same few dozen songs over and over for so many days before all those songs wear out their welcome. This song, though, is still pretty cool, and heard in the context of my more diverse spotify playlists it sounds almost fresh and new again. It’s even a song with a bit of R&B/rap mixed in, and I very rarely go for music in that genre. I love the instrumental bits near the end of the song that sound like sonar signals, showing us a nicely lonely audio picture of those ships Mat sings about, passing each other on the otherwise empty open ocean.
18. “Eileen Og”- Firkin (Firkinful of Beer) : First of all, a firkin is a unit of measure and the name of a container for beer. A firkinful of beer is a fourth of a standard barrel of beer. “Eileen Og” is a traditional Irish song about a pretty maiden known throughout the land for her beauty and who marries an ugly man who plays hard to get, the moral being that men ought to play hard to get to win beautiful wives.
19. “Migration of the Solstice”- Andreas Kapsalis, Goran Ivanovic (The Andreas Kapsalis and Goran Ivanovic Guitar Duo) : I saw these two men in concert last weekend, missing You Me & Apollo to do so. Actually I was there to see Maxwell Hughes, who a friend insisted I had to see. Maxwell Hughes plays his ten-string guitar using all sorts of uncommon techniques and tricks that result in his sounding like a multi-piece ensemble at times. I am pretty sure that Goran Ivanovic also had a ten-string guitar, though I am not absolutely positive. Goran and Andreas play their guitars slightly more conventionally than Maxwell, but they are virtuoso guitarists who use plenty of less-commonly seen techniques. I took Keith Harkin’s statement a few months ago about his not being a good enough guitarist as his just being modest, because he really is good, but compared to Andreas and Goran, Keith is only just beginning to master his instrument.
20. “Down in the Valley”- Mountain Heart (Wide Open) : I’m diving a bit more into the bluegrass community here in Fort Collins (finally) this year, so I had to add in one more bluegrassy song, even if it is a slower tune without all the bells and whistles of the fast complicated stuff I love to see live. (Not all my fingers even move, really, so I can’t imagine playing some of the mandolin, fiddle and banjo stuff that good bluegrass players can play so seamingly effortlessly.)