Tag Archives: bahamas

The Unsung: Latest and Greatest

26 Jan

Hey Unsungers (yes, congratulations, you are now a noun, a Collective, a Hive, a Movement, a Way of Life):

Long time no speak. I’ve been busy just like i’m sure you have been. Life moves like a jet these days, past your field of view and gone. I’m now a father and enjoying everything that comes with it. In those fleeting moments, when i get a chance to think about music, i think about songs that evoke memories of youth, when life was free and easy.  Or I think about what songs my son should hear in his early days (admittedly this is an overthink, but if all the good willing western parents of the world can arrange for their newborns to fill their bellys with organic sugar free purees, shouldn’t they conspire to have the best of music for their souls? More on that in another post). Songs are always gateways to feelings for me – the happy, the sad, the nostalgic, the introspective. More than ever, i seek out songs to take me to a certain place when i have a minute to escape.

So we keep on moving forward. There are still soundtracks to our lives, songs that still grab hold. Here are my favorites at the moment and a few thoughts, all captured in a Latest and Greatest© playlist on spotify 

Michael Kiwanuka “Love and Hate” and “May This Be Love” The more I listen to Michael, the more i believe he is the true talent of our age. His album is so….deep. Get into him, please. 

Bahamas “Way With Words” A way with words is so important. A welcome return to the chillest man in rock. 

House of Pain “Top O’ the Morning to Ya” Retro throwback. My cousin Konrad and i use to roll around the mean streets of Calgary listening to white boy rap on our way to the courts to hoop it up. Yeah it doesn’t work with the rest of this playlist but…..Go Celtics.

The Vaccines “I Can’t Quit” I loved the first Vaccines album, ‘What Did You Expect From the Vaccines’. It was the perfect mix of the Strokes, stories about models, British classicism, and west coast cool. They have largely sucked since then, but this song seems like a return to form…

Ryan Adams “Where Will You Run” – A b-side to the excellent Prisoner. Here at Unsung, we’ve been long time fans of Ryan and he can do no wrong. Especially when he is doing his best Nirvana meets 80s power pop. When he starts yelping at 2:12, i believe in rock again.

Greta Van Fleet – “Black Smoke Rising” and “Highway Tune” shameless Led Zep guitar noodling and aping? Robert Plant howling? An album cover with allusions to mythical dark forest fires that summon the fellowship in your soul? Check, check and Triple Check. Should you care when it’s such a good rip-off? No. Let’s hope they don’t meet the same fate as Wolfmother.

The Sheepdogs “Nobody” The current Flagbearers of Canadian Classic Rock. Long live our shaggy friends. New album out now….this is an album track which i can picture drinking patio pilsners to. 

“Stardust” by Willie Nelson and Harry Connick, Jr. This song is my current earworm. I was a huge Harry Connick fan in the early 90s – i thought he was going to be the second coming of Frank Sinatra, with actual songwriting and instrumentation chops. Then he went and starred in a bad romcom with Sandra Bullock. But before the corruption, he recorded a cover album on his 25th birthday. Just him, a piano, a dark studio, and some of his favorite musicians. His version of Stardust, especially the piano at 3:50, haunts me. In my humble opinion, it is simply the saddest and the most soothing melody, a song about a song about love. And then we have Willie’s version, from the excellent 1978 album of the same name. It resurrected his career and offers a completely different interpretation, warm and fuzzy like only Willie can be. I mean, just check out the album backcover:

Kudos to my record store and whisky drinking sidekick Shaun for encouraging that vinyl purchase. I haven’t regretted one moment of listening to it with a bourbon in hand.

So, all in all, that’s the beauty of Stardust. An absolute classic, almost 100 years old.

The Weavers “Wimoweh” you should immediately recognize this rhythm if you are Lion King fan, a king of the Jungle, or a past guest at my wedding 🙂  The story behind this song is fascinating. This version, by Pete Seeger and the Weavers from the 50s, is considered the evolutionary bridge between the magnificent original, and the big hit The Tokens had in the 60s. (And the version my wife perfected live and in concert, in full marital bliss, in 2015)

Happy Weekend!


The Fall Into Winter

5 Jan

It’s been a while…summer is gone and I hope you got sun &  surf – I’m California dreaming on such a winter’s day. Close the windows and light the fires…its time for an eclectic bunch of tunes that will keep things burning– this month the theme is redemption and troubled love (aren’t they always?)

  1. Kishi Bashi – “Bright Whites”. This is the kind of song that every car/phone/soda company yearns to exploit to appear hip and Generation Y-ish; you can almost see the young hipsters prancing carefree through a grassy field as the sun shines and first love is found via said car/phone/soda. Good thing I stole it first so you can just enjoy its perfect poppy clatter free of any commercialism.
  2. Stereophonics – “She’s Alright”. Remember these guys? I lost track of them after their early 2000s heyday….some lineup changes but what remains is Kelly Jones and the best voice in rock and roll, devil tinged, whiskey soaked and recklessly propulsive. Their 2009 album ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ is worth adding to your playlist –  vintage Stereophonics rock updated for the Muse inspired sound of modern day.
  3. Rolling Stones – “Little T & A”.  As the Ancient Ones prepare for yet another tour and greatest hits collection, I much prefer a forgotten Stones gem from Tatoo You….Keef at his grimiest. Read his “Life” for a rollicking and unapologetic account.
  4. Cody Chesnutt – “Til I Met Thee”. If you’ve never heard The Roots sing The Seed 2.0, go listen immediately. The lead singer on that track, Cody Chesnett, disappeared for years but has now resurfaced to drop some new perfect soul by way of Marvin Gaye and Curtis Mayfield. MercyMe.
  5. Shad – “Rose Garden”. My favorite kind of hip hop, an old soul sample over some fresh new rhymes. And Canadian to boot. Wash your face in this sink!
  6. Joel Plaskett Emergency  – “Fashionable People”. Many of you are already disciples of this east coast troubadour, but I’m relatively new to his diverse sound that ranges from folk to rock to whatever this funky sh*t is.
  7. Sam Roberts  -“Let It In”. A nice flow from JPE to another Canadian, forgotten by time and modern pop radio. I hate living in a world where Maroon 5 is wealthier than Sam Roberts. But maybe it’s better that he is our own national treasure. Please buy on Itunes!
  8. Johnny Burnette – “Lonesome Train”. Sometimes I think rock has never been better than it was in 1956, when it was raw and pure and pushing all boundaries. Can’t you just hear that shocking rockabilly howl at 0:50 echoing through your pappy’s radio? Watch out for those teeny-boppers with their guitars, they’re going to be trouble!
  9. Jack White  – “Love Is Blindness”. Last Unsung, I talked about Beck’s cover of Only Have Eyes for You being the best of the year. This just might just take the crown, scrapping Bono’s aching croon and stripping it to a barren electric scream that commands your achtung baby.
  10. Bahamas  – “Lost in the Light”. Another fine Canadian talent set to emerge as a major force. This is beautiful songwriting….
  11. John Mayer  – “Queen of California”. I know, I know. He’s slept with half of Hollywood and now he’s ‘found himself’ by moving to Montana and wearing a hat. But his new album is a homage to 70’s soCal where Joni, Neil and Eric used to write soft acoustic rambles perfect for tequila sunrises…it’s a treat and a testament to his musical skill. Let’s not forget why all the women fell for him in the first place….the best thing for John Mayer is to find a nice mountain girl and settle down so he can do more of this.
  12.  Band of Horses – “Slow Cruel Hands of Time”.  Another acoustic beauty from Band of Horses’ new album, produced by Glynn Johns, the sound engineer behind everyone from the Beatles to the Eagles. His influence is evident here, and a welcome focus for a band always trying to get into the mainstream corral.