Happy 70th Birthday Mick Jagger

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So you look like a constipated California Raisin. Big deal. So you have like 17 illegitimate kids. I can accept that. Because you brought us Gimme Shelter and I Miss You, two of the most intense  and moody vocal performances ever, and of course, that famous duck walk. You and your homies have relentless toured for the past 45 years, and the stories are nothing short of legendary. You even got a song written about your dance moves by a guy who wasn’t even born until you were 35. Nice.

But today I choose to pay tribute to you with these two later-career tunes that feature perhaps a more sensitive and understated Jagger, but are equally powerful and timeless. I didn’t really “get” you or your style until 40 Licks and the Alfie soundtrack. (Yes, I’m even younger than Mr Levine.) But with those I was hooked. So thanks, for that, and for all the rocker jeans, boots, moves, and tunes.

Explosions in the Sky + David Wingo = Prince Avalanche

ImageThe native Texans EITS always deliver that full, proggy, “post-rock” instrumental sound. (“Post-rock” being a phrase that might not actually convey any meaning.) And their work as a instrumental-only guitar-driven space-rock group is known to many, but now they have a soundtrack collaboration with Austin-based composer David Wingo for the upcoming release of Prince Avalanche (featuring a mustachioed Paul Rudd). Check out the ethereal goodness on Grooveshark.

Best Songs of 2013 Continued

I realized I left these songs off the list because I learned about them so early in the year.  And because I’m forgetful. Super great stuff though.

Jim James – State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)

He’s such a great mood creator, and this syncopated tune is so soothing, so mellow.

“I use my state of the art
Technology
Now don’t you forget it
It ain’t using me ”

The Lone Bellow – Green Eyes and a Heart of Gold 

Supremely thrilling tight upper-register harmonies and  huge energy right from the get-go. Not a bad “storytelling” song either.

“Green eyes and a heart of gold, all our
Money’s gone and the house is cold
And it’s alright.”

Telekinesis – Power Lines

I would probably not enjoy Telekinesis at all were it not for this massive album opener. With this track I understood the huge potential and musical power of this artist. I was literally just scrolling through Rdio, pulled it up, and fell in love after this first track.

“When I was young I thought I was a power line.”

Ivan and Alyosha – Running for Cover 

A nice folksy harmony song with a huge swell and build for each chorus.

“If I could see the garden place /
Before the fall, would things have changed? ”

 

No Depression Fan Picks

No Depression Fan Picks

There is a great and ongoing forum over at NoDepression.com. It’s worth reading through the whole thing. I did, learned a huge amount, and near the end someone suggested that this would make a great playlist. I thought, yes it would, why can’t I do that? So I spent an hour or so making a Spotify playlist of virtually all of their recommendations. Turns out they were right.

If you’ve ever wondered what Americana/roots music is, this is it. Guy Clark’s “The Cape” may be my new favorite song.

Multiple Appearances:

Neil Young – 5

Dylan – 4

The Dead – 4

Emmylou Harris – 2

John Prine – 2

Guy Clark – 2

Rolling Stones – 2

Robert Earl Keen – 2

The 15 Best Songs of 2013 So far

Well it’s halfway through July and most everyone else did this in June. What ev.

15. Portugal. The Man – Purple Yellow Red and Blue 

Just a happy synthy fun time. Totally a summer singalong.

“All I wanna do is live in ecstacy.”

14. Thao and the Get Down Stay Down – We the Common (for Valerie Bolden) 

First heard this in January and it’s still full of bouncy goodness.

“I could be your saint. You could be mine.”

13. Justin Timberlake – Suit and Tie (feat. Jay-Z)

The Grammy comeback performance was surprisingly good, and the song makes me want to dance every time I hear it.

“As long as I got my suit and tie / I’ma leave it all on the floor tonight”

12. Vampire Weekend – Diane Young 

Not so keen on the whole album, but this catchy one has gotten under my skin in a good way.  I love it when it comes up on the radio.

“Irish and proud, baby, naturally. But you got the luck of a Kennedy /
So grab the wheel, keep on holding it tight.  ‘Til you’re tunneling over into that good night.”

11. Foxygen – San Francisco 

Now we’re getting good. To my knowledge there has not been a true psychedelic band in our generation (though Wolfmother was close).  Foxygen just might be it.
“Your eyes are like a cup o’ tea. Ascend into the sun with me.”

10. Haerts – Wings 

The video absolutely makes the song. Chock full of nostalgia for me, and now I just like the song by itself.

“I’ll never let the magic go. I’ll float away into your afterglow.”

9. Phosphorescent – Song for Zula 

Already topping at least one best-of list for the year (Paste I think) the somber background synth here with his haunting vocals and the Johnny Cash shout-out is nothing short of brilliant.

“Now my heart is gold, my feet are right /
And I’m racing out on the desert plains all night.”

8. Daft Punk – Get Lucky 

If this song were a movie, it would be the 2013 summer blockbuster. Doesn’t have to be critically acclaimed (though it may be). Just has to make you feel good.

“She’s up all night ’til the sun; I’m up all night to get some /
She’s up all night for good fun; I’m up all night to get lucky”

7. The Thermals – Born to Kill 

OK, now it’s serious. This is 1:48 of in-your-face, slap-you-around gritty pop punk. And I never get tired of his edgy yet melodic voice.

“I will never be done, I’ll always be hungry.
And each final breath I take burns a bright fire inside of me.”

6.  Edward Sharpe and Magnetic Zeroes-  Better Days 

Such a great mellow song. It seems that they’re aging into wisdom (even more now) and they’re not even 30.

“We don’t have to talk. Let’s dance.”

5. Lake Street Dive – Seventeen 

The coolest opening act I’ve seen all year (w/ Josh Ritter at the Crystal). This song was the highlight of the set. And, with the exception of Taj Mahal at the Bluesfest, the sexiest musical thing I’ve seen all year as well. (Video is from an NYC show)

“I wish I’d met you when I was seventeen.”

4.  The Mowglis – San Francisco 

Party on, Mowglis. Nothing but perky, pop choral fun here.

“Do you feel the love? (I feel the love)
C’mon c’mon, lets start it up!
Let it pour out of your soooooul”

3.  Josh Ritter – Apple Blossom Rag 

I’ve said it before, but this will always be a go-to lullaby for my kids. Exquisitely painful, beautiful folk ballad.

“Oh, the appleblossom rag
Oh, for such a knife
That from my blood could love unbraid
Without taking my life”

 2. Patty Griffin – Wild Old Dog 

Watch this video from the Bing Lounge performance, remember I’m Texas boy, and understand how much I love Patty Griffin. Especially the intro story and then from about 4:10 to 4:40.

“It’s lonely on the highway / Sometimes a heart can turn to dust.”

 1.  Aoife O Donovan — Red & White & Blue & Gold 

I was privileged to see Aoife perform this for Prairie Home Companion at Edgefield last Wednesday night. Quite possibly the most perfect summer romance song ever written.