Author Archives: Richard Samuel

Clairo ‎- Bags (2019)

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Last year, Clairo surfaced from her bedroom, but never let go of her lo-fi schooling. The release of Immunity has critics cooing for her adoption of a dream pop quality sealed with a breathless delivery as if you are the only person in the world she would dare to tell her secrets to. Its lush ballads and homespun soft-rock revealed behind it – not a girl, but decidedly a woman

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Yusef Lateef ‎- Like It Is (1968)

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Some midweek, midtempo jazz…. nice. Born and named William Emanuel Huddleston, until his father changed the family name to Evans, Yusef Lateef converted to Islam while he was in his early 30s. This was a man open to influence. His classic 1968 album The Blue Yusef Lateef is full of eastern persuasion and never more so than on ‘Like It Is’. Many draw a straight line between ‘Like It Is’ and the subsequent popularity of world music.

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The Kinks ‎- Waterloo Sunset (1967)

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A change of commute yesterday morning got me thinking. If it wasn’t for The Beach Boys’ ‘God Only Knows’ and The Beatles’ ‘Penny Lane’, I think that ’Waterloo Sunset’ might be the best 1960s pop song, and perhaps best ever. Ray Davies wrote the track at age 23, dwelling on the time he spent in Waterloo hospital as a child. The track closes The Kinks’ 1967 album ‘Something Else’. Like, Terry and Julie, I briefly watched the world go by. 

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John Cale & Brian Eno ‎- Spinning Away (1990)

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Good morning! In 1990, John Cale and Brian Eno revisited their past collaborations to produce a new album. For these two, the output (Wrong Way Up) is untypical in its accessibility. Apparently, Cale had sensed that Eno was in the mood for something less experimental and together they produced what only can be called a pop album. The track ‘Spinning Away’ stands out and is a complete omission from my best of 1990 sounds post. Have a great week.

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The Zombies ‎- Maybe After He’s Gone (1968)

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I started the week with a band (The VU) that would only be fully appreciated posthumously. I end it with another. While St. Albans is no New York, the town gave birth to the short-lived brilliance of The Zombies. Formed in 1962 by Rod Argent (piano, organ vocals) and Colin Blunstone (vocals), the band released just two proper albums; and because they broke up immediately after recording their second, Odessey and Oracle, their impact would be delayed. The LP was recorded in the summer of 1967, as a last hurrah. The accessible hit singles may have dried up, but you can hear how they were pushing the boundaries. While the harmonies of ‘Maybe After He’s Gone’ are reminiscent of The Beach Boys, the instrumentation is as close as you will get to proto prog rock. The result was timeless and influential. Have a great weekend.

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Richmond Fontaine ‎- I Can’t Black It Out If I Wake Up And Remember (2016)

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Portland’s beloved Richmond Fontaine disbanded in 2017 before frontman Willy Vlautin wrote a fifth novel (Don’t Skip Out On Me) and convinced his pals to reunite to write an instrumental soundtrack for it. So the band’s last real album was 2006’s You Can’t Go Back If There’s Nothing To Go Back. The band may have reached their peak with 2003’s americana masterpiece Post to Wire, but a slow-burner track like ‘I Can’t Black It Out If I Wake up And Remember’ was a reminder of the wistful and widescreen landscape they are able to create in sound.

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Cass McCombs ‎- Sleeping Volcanoes (2019)

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This morning, it’s another track off Tip Of The Sphere, Cass McCombs’ ninth studio album from last year. The Californian troubadour knows how to create an intro.

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The Velvet Underground ‎- Oh! Sweet Nuthin’ (1970)

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I’ve got a dose of post-holiday blues. Oh my, Oh! Sweet Nuthin’. This song features on Loaded, The Velvet Underground’s last real long player. Lou Reed narrates the story of poor Jimmy Brown, the homeless Ginger Brown, the street cat Polly May, and the love-lost Joanna Love. I’ve always thought of this song as a thing of beauty and misery. However, the sound does kick into a drum-led celebration of sorts. Moe Tucker was off on maternity leave and so Doug Yule did a very good job filling in on drums, leading the band to the song’s climax.

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Questlove ‎- Goodbye Isaac (2008)

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Good morning. After an action-packed weekend in the Alps, it’s a slow start today and time for a calm beat. Questlove’s track ‘Goodbye Isaac’ was created by Ahmir Thompson (aka Questlove), Randy Watson and James Poyser in tribute to Isaac Hayes. The beat was respectfully laid down the day the Black Moses passed away. Like Hayes, Thompson is an artist, a producer, an actor and author, but best known as the drummer and joint frontman for The Roots. Have a great week.

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Neil Young ‎- Harvest Moon (1992)

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If Faye Webster is a modern face of alternative folk music, Neil Young is the establishment. Very different to last month’s post of ‘Cortez The Killer’, the title track from his 1992 album Harvest Moon clearly draw’s on Young’s folk rock touchstone Harvest. The two albums shared many of the same guest musicians, but his pals still left him space to perform… his credits on this song include guitar, banjo-guitar, piano, pump organ, vibes and vocals. Have a great weekend.
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Faye Webster ‎- Kingston (2019)

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As I depart my Thames-side hometown for a few days, I give you Faye Webster and her ‘Kingston’. The 2019 single marked her new deal with Secretly Canadian and provided an opportunity to sing about her native Georgia. “I don’t know that much about Kingston/ But I like the sound it makes when it starts pouring rain”.

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Stephen Malkmus ‎- Come Get Me (2019)

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“I’m all alone here, I can’t see/ Any reason to wallow/ In this decanter.” Stephen Malkmus endures. Pavement endures. Despite being labelled as his electronic album, last year’s Groove Denied has classic Malkmus fingerprints all over it. Take ‘Come Get Me’, it’s a lo-fi song with echoes of the Indian subcontinent, rather than Berlin, where he wrote the album during his ’00s residency there.

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience ‎- Foxy Lady (1967)

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Good morning… the blog’s back and Jimi Hendrix is no better place to start. The virtuoso’s recording career exploded in 1967 and changed music forever. Are You Experienced? was his debut album with drummer Mitch Mitchell and bassist Noel Redding (The Experience). Hendrix opens the album with one of the rawest riffs ever recorded. All listeners feel a little more experienced on hearing ‘Foxy Lady’.

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Antonio Vivaldi ‎- Concerto No. 4 in F minor, Op. 8, RV 297 (“L’inverno”) (1725)

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Antonio Vivaldi composed his four celebrated violin concertos between 1716–17. After several days of celebrating, I choose the apt sound of Concerto No. 4, “Winter” (L’inverno). Vivaldi divided each concerto into three movements (fast–slow–fast);  in the case of Concerto No. 4, slow is very slow (“largo”) … and that’s how I feel.

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9 of the best – modern pop bangers

A party compilation for the early hours of 2020 Nine of my favourite pop bangers from recent years (in chronological order). Happy New Year!

Outkast – Hey Ya! (2003)

The Black Eyed Peas – Meet Me Halfway (2009)

Daft Punk – Get Lucky (2013)

Jon Bellion – Luxury (2014)

Justin Bieber – What Do You Mean? (2015)

DJ Snake – Let Me Love You (2016)

ILoveMakonnen – Tuesday (2014)

 

Lizzo ‎- Good As Hell (2016)

The Weeknd – I Feel It Coming (2016)

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