Gush: “I Know the End” by Phoebe Bridgers

Full satisfaction is finding a stranger who confirmed your feelings.

The lushness and dazzling horns made me think of long-time Bright Eyes contributor Mike Mogis. Turns out he mixed the album.

My love of celebrity buzz and seemingly good people connecting is summarized in this article here, but that’s not what this blog is about…

I’ve fell hard for Bridgers’ new album Punisher. I thought maybe it was the COVID mood, but I revisited her first album Stranger in the Alps and still after my new found love of it’s younger sibling, I just don’t like it as much. All this to confirm that Punisher is incredible.

Special acknowledgement to the outro of “I Know the End” and @crescendollsx who is feeling me.

Gush: Hannah Georgas

I first learned about Hannah Georgas from Rich Terfry and his CBC 99.1FM radio show Drive. I then saw her tour with Kathleen Edwards in support of the perfect album Voyageur. Then, many years later, with the National in Hamilton, with their female-infused album, I Am Easy to Find.

After some internet searching, I found out that Georgas has been working with the National’s Aaron Dessner on her new music. Here are two gorgeous tunes that I listen to at least twice daily, soak it up!

Gush: Darondo “Let My People Go”

Neo soul is a genre I’m so happy to see a resurgence. It’s also served as a platform to help aging artists have a second-wave career (thinking: Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, Darondo, Lee Fields).

Sadly Darondo died in 2013 (wow – seven years ago TOMORROW), but his music lives on in TV shows – the song “Didn’t I” was used in both Breaking Bad and Love Life.

Gush: Matt Berninger takes on Big Thief’s “Not”

Thanks to Toronto’s Hayden Desser (aka Hayden), the National play Toronto more than they probably would without knowing him. Desser hosts Dream Serenade as a fundraiser for children with exceptionalities and their caregivers.

Today I’m gushing over the almost one year old cover of Big Thief’s flawless tune “Not”. That Berninger ambitiously took on less than a month after it’s release on October 11, 2019. For nerds like me who’d want to know, he performed it on November 2 with the lyrics held close to him throughout his performance.

Throughout he struggled with the lyrics, but most noticeably at the beginning (although Berninger’s been known to screw up beginnings, even of his own songs) and a huge sigh of relief when he hits 3min27sec, when he no longer has to sign. He threw the lyrics into the audience as finishing gesture.

The only other member of the National on the stage is trumpet player Kyle Reznick, who adds some colour to the end of the song, giving it the grit that a cover of it needs.

Gush: ‘Harlem River’ by Kevin Morby

Harlem River was released in 2013, a little while ago. I was still living in Guelph. I don’t think I knew who Morby was at the time, at least his music. I think I had seen him live with the Babies and possibly Woods.

Morby and girlfriend/musician Katie Crutchfield (aka Waxahatchee) did a series of Thursday hangouts via Instagram where they serenaded fans with requests, indulgent covers and fun chat. They sweetly referred to them as “rodeos”. Solidifying themselves as the coolest people that I’d hang out with any day.

Here’s what I’ve been listening to today. The album is good, but the song “Slow Train” is just epic and it has surprise guest vocals from Cait Le Bon. For this moment, physical distancing and pandemics aren’t so bad.

 

 

Gush: “What Will Tomorrow Bring” by Wendy Rene

Stax gem, Wendy Rene, was something I discovered while watching the show Casual. It was the song “After Laughter” and with its very distinct reggae-like organ sound and Rene’s ripping wails, it served as the perfect credit pairing. 

I stumbled upon this song and felt like it was pretty fitting to what we’re all going through in this pandemic. 

What will tomorrow bring,
What will tomorrow bring,
I came to wonder, what will tomorrow bring
I said I wonder, what will tomorrow bring
And joy to my heart and a happiness
And you, darling you, and now
What will tomorrow say, oh what will tomorrow say
I’m thinking of what I’ll say, I wonder what I’ll say
How are you, how have you been and I, I, I love you and now
It’s been so long since you’ve been in my arms
And over long time since…
So honey tell me, what am I to do
Oh, oh, oh, oh what will tomorrow bring
I think I got the right to know
What will tomorrow bring
I kinda wanna know
What will tomorrow bring
Now, will it bring sadness, a blood, a pain, a shame, a will in…
What will tomorrow bring
I think I got a right to know
Tell me, somebody have to tell me
I really wanna know, I really wanna know
I’ve got to know

Gush: ‘Chequered!’ by Chubby Checker

This album is everything. Very grateful that Damien Jurado & Richard Swift’s cover of “If the Sun Stops Shinin'” brought me to it. Chubby Checker is famous for the pop hit “The Twist” – happy to report that this album brings so much more.

1971 was a good time. I allllmost wish I could time travel back to live through all the good music.

The opening track is a bold 7:46 long. I can’t think of another album that’s tried that move.

Calexico & Iron & Wine at the Danforth Music Hall; Sunday February 2, 2020

Some short insights:

  • More people know Iron & Wine than they do Calexico.
  • Most people I speak to, that are roughly my age, say that they liked Iron & Wine 10 years ago, but haven’t listened to them much lately.
  • They have made two albums together: In the Reigns (2005) & Years to Burn (2019)
  • Under the Wikipedia Page for In the Reigns, they classify their genre as Tex-Mex… (?)

Both Calexico and Iron & Wine seem to be having fun while playing. Both bands can easily be lumped in the docile folk category, but as my music taste matures, I’ve developed a bigger love for Calexico (particularly the album Garden Ruin, which I discovered back in 2009). Calexico’s lead singer Joey Burns sound shares the lushness that Sam Beam has, but with a full band and South American influences on high, has a far more complex sound than Beam/Iron & Wine.

I got to the show a bit late – likely missing the first part of the first song. Oddly, the band started at 8:10pm. An early Sunday show for an adult contemporary crowd and I’m 100% OK with this.

The played two of my favourite tunes – “He Lays In the Reigns” and “16, Maybe Less” at the first part of the set. I felt a swell of excitement when Calexico’s Jacob Valenzuela launched into the operatic sounding Spanish vocals on sweet southern waltz “He Lays In the Reigns”, originally recorded by Salvador Duran. Valenzuela’s delivery was softer and more tender and less guttural, but still gorgeous.

Much as it presents on the new album, they played a new favourite tune “The Bitter Suite (Pájaro / Evil Eye / Tennessee Train)” at the middle of the set. A slow burn tune that flourishes into something pretty epic – as the title of the song suggests. The tune highlights Valenzuela’s amazing vocals. Valenzuela plays such an integral part to the band’s sound, but stays tucked in the corner of the stage. Only entering the spotlight when he occasionally sings and dazzles with the trumpet.

Half way through the set, the band left Beam and Burns on the stage. Burns mentioned that they like to have fun and choose each other’s songs to play. Beam played “Naked As We Came,” while Burns played an old lullaby that Burns’ mom used to sing to him and his siblings of the song “All the Pretty Little Horses”, which I now, looking into other versions recorded, can’t unhear Calexico’s spin on it. It sounds like one of their tunes.

They played tune covers – an unrecognizable Echo and the Bunnymen’s “Bring on the Dancing Horses” and the Flaming Lips’ “Waitin’ for Superman”.

Baby’s first time seeing Calexico. I can’t wait to see them again, moreso than Iron & Wine.