The steam train of excellent music has no breaks, and even fewer stops. Here’s some things I reckon you should give a listen to!
#1. Wilco. “Ode to Joy”
This is the latest release from long term indie/rock/folk/alternative/neuvo-americana musical chameleons Wilco. Since the addition of legendary free jazz guitarist Nels Cline Wilco has been putting out very intriguing albums. Somehow hanging on to their measured musical style and downtrodden Tweedy-esque melodies with the addition of perplexingly clever guitar work. My own personal measure is that the more the front man / song writer Jeff Tweedy looks like a dishevelled mess the better the album will be.
I have yet to see any photo evidence but I suspect that somewhere is a very unkempt Jeff Tweedy because this album is excellent.
It has the privilege of 10 previous records of songwriting experience. The songs have a certain spacial quality to them. The band is in no rush or urgency but still somehow manages to get their musical point across to you from the get go. This may not be the most welcoming Wilco album to kick off with, but if you have been a fan of theirs before you will not be disappointed.
#2. Slaughter Beach, Dog. “Safe and Also no Fear”
In keeping with the very blue theme this third album release from Philly’s own is up next. Departing mood wise from his 2017 release “Birdie” Jake Ewald has both lyrically and musically matured on this record. The tone is probably best encapsulated it the opening track “One Down”. A warm melancholy story of ennui and modernistic anxiety. This album is less about past joys and nostalgia as per precious releases, but about present reflections.
I’ve been a longterm fan of Elwald since his days in Emo-Punk outfit Modern Baseball and “Safe and Also no Fear” was a very welcome offering in late summer this year. This album has a charm behind it, despite what could be seen as lyrical indifference. Slaughter Beach, Dog has in my opinion continued on its excellent path as a band with potentially the most referential Delaware based beach name that makes heavily experiential Gen Z music. This release shares the pattern of catching me off guard with how comfortable it makes me feel when I listen to it.
#3. “Tiny Changes”
Last but certainly not least is a collaboration of roughly 17 different musicians. A tribute album celebrating the all too short life of Frightened Rabbit front man and song writer Scott Hutchison. Last year was the 10th anniversary of one of my most listened and favourite albums ever made “Midnight Organ Fight.” In honour of this milestone before his death Scott spent months organizing some of his friends to cover the entirety of the album and then some. After his tragic suicide the rest of the band continued his work of putting this together.
I find the ideas of covers fascinating and romantically difficult. I have even though about writing a whole essay on this topic. There are a number of ways one can go with covering someone else’s work. Whilst listening to this record I have devised some version of a personal rule 3 circled Venn diagram for covers. I shall spare you the long version but this album of covers is exceedingly faithful thematically to the core of Frightened Rabbit.
This album is a beautiful project, much closer to the spirit now of a Harrison-esque memorial concert than an album of unrelated musicians covering songs. And the star is still very much Hutchinson’s lyrical earnestness and heart wrenching song writing. If you have not listened to the original do so. If you have not listened to the cover album do so. There is even a 30 minute bio-pic/interview with the artists who worked on this project.
Also and probably more importantly if you are struggling with mental health please talk to someone about it. In honour of Scott the band set up a charity http://www.tinychanges.com/ please feel free to read more about it or to donate. It is an issue worth supporting.
Personal favourites: (this is more like choosing a favourite child)
Thanks for stopping by!