Okay, we’re in America. Which means that when you look at the Eurovision song contest, we are basically under a rock (Why do Canada and Australia get to participate though /end whining).
So, you, if you are in the states, might not have known that Eurovision 2016 just ended, and the odds on favorite – Russia – finished 3rd, which probably sent Putin into a mouth-foaming froth. But then, when he heard who won, he probably had a conniption. Because the winner was 1944 by Jamala representing Ukraine. About the Russian campaign against the Tartars in Crimea. Yeah, Putin wasn’t going to have a good day.
Walk Off The Earth can be very hit or miss for me. This one is a hit. Even when the lyrics are a little silly.
Okay, I looked for a good version of his Eurovision performance of this song and couldn’t find one. So, we’ll go with the Justin Timberlake posted one.
This is the best of what Justin Timberlake is capable of. A song that makes you move, with great singing and an excellent arrangement.
Straining Hard Against the Night is the debut album of The Blessed Isles. It reminds me of nothing so much as the music of the late 80s and 90s coming out of Brit-pop and new wave – groups like The Cure at their peppiest, When in Rome, Big Country and the like.
In fact, The Blessed Isles have all the same virtues and faults for me that new wave displayed – crisp, upbeat songs that can bring dancing, some what muddled slow songs that are over-layered, a mix of great and really stupid lyrics – they are almost the perfect amalgam of new wave brought into the shoe gaze era.
Recommendation: Stream It
Songs I have a Playlist for: Caroline, Round and Round, Confession
Clunkers I will Thumbs down: Winter Moon
9Bach is a fascinating band from Britain that sings in Welsh. I have absolutely no idea what they are singing about, but I love the music.
Debutante is the self-released debut album of British solo artist FEMME (Laura Bettinson). It is unabashedly pop. What kind of pop, however, is often in flux.
FEMME’s influences seem to be all over the place to me. There’s synth pop, drum and bass-inflected Afropop, and a heaping helping of 60s bubblegum pop in there.
Lyrically, there is lots of boy/girl angst, but there is also a lot of pro-girl standing up to the shitty relationship to break free.
There are some really great songs on this album like Gold and the absolutely brilliant Dumb Blonde. Overall, the album is pretty good, and I will happily listen to many tracks again.
Recommendation: Stream It
Songs I have a Playlist for: Bring It Back Round, Shout Out Loud, Gold, Dumb Blonde, Sirens
Clunkers I will Thumbs Down: Romeo, Light Me Up
None of these albums are poorly written or performed. They just weren’t for me. YMMV.
Recommendation for all of them is Stream.
Nocturnal Koreans – Wire
This is a pretty straightforward rock album, but it ultimately wasn’t terribly memorable or engaging for me.
Too Many Voices – Andy Stott
This is a Dance/Electronica album that started out pretty good for me, but really petered out by the end for some reason I really can’t identify. I just completely lost interest in it.
Nosebleed Weekend – The Coathangers
On this album, The Coathangers strongly remind me of the Romantics, but with less shouting. Still, kind of an 80s punk sound that could be pretty engaging if I were in the mood for it. But I’m not right now and don’t know that I will be in the foreseeable future.
So far this year, Not To Disappear is my favorite album of the year, and Daughter performed a goodly part of it on KEXP. So why not highlight it?
Remember when Borders was still around, back before the corporate money people drove them into bankruptcy and non-existence? They used to have concerts at some of their stores and record them and put them on the internet. Not just little tiny acts either.
This is a great performance with Ray LaMontagne and the Pariah Dogs.
Okay, I’ll admit I heard this first and that’s probably why I like it better than the original. But I do. And Julia Nunes is still my favorite “discovered on YouTube” artist.