Favorite Song: Ivy Sole – “Dream Girl” is a soft cloud of love

I am absolutely floored, how much comfort and warmth this song has. The song is from Ivy’s Album “Eden” and heavily references an innocent, open vulnerability in a relationship, close to the purity that Adam and Eve (and for a short while, Lilith) had back in the Garden.

Her style in this song is beautiful, laid-back old school rap, add to that her lovely singing and a gorgeous stripped-down production and this is a song to start the day, to take a break from things, to soothe your soul.

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Cover me badly: The Police and “King of Pain” by Alanis Morissette

First things first: “King of Pain” by the Police, released in 1983 on their album “Synchronicity” is a perfect song. The simple percussion at the beginning, Sting’s voice having this weird echo as if he’s singing from the other side of the room and then this dirty piano and the key change towards the chorus that doesn’t even feel like a chorus before everything gets into focus.

The amazing thing about this song – a real skill of the Police – is a really sad song that at first glance does not sound like a sad song but immediately feels like one. It’s the best example of that weird juxtaposition that so many 80s songs had, with those danceable beats and deep, sad truths.

With that being said, Alanis Morissette’s cover version (recorded for her Unplugged session) is a beautiful cover because it does two things:

It strips the song down but it keeps the structure.

It keeps the melody, my god, it keeps the f***ing melody. Do you know how many musicians cover a song in a “naked” version and then completely butcher up the melody? I’ve written about it over and over again, that’s how many. She plays a little bit with it by the end of it but that’s about it.

I also really like how Alanis manages to turn this specific 80s-sounding song into a song that has a distinct sound of the 90s with the jazzy piano and of course her voice which is part of the 90s musical canon.

Favorite Song: Anna Calvi ‘Don’t beat the girl out of my boy’ is intense!

Whether it’s that late 80s early 90s indie guitar or that banger of a chorus, Anna Calvi’s new single is absolutely mesmerizing. It’s such a statement piece, a true, pure single that takes bits and pieces of older pop but reframes them in ways that place this song steadily in the year 2018. This is alternative post punk rolled up in the pathos of Frankie goes to Hollywood. And that video – well, I am not into sexy videos but this is one heck of a sexy video.

I recommend the whole album (“Hunter”) by the way, because it’s basically this song but different. Everything on this album is super intense, retrograde 80s and brilliant. It is a bop.

Cover me badly: ‘Only You’ by Yazoo

Look, it might be that I heard the Flying Pickets first with their version of “Only You”. It might even be that I really loved that version and put it on all my mixtapes. But as soon as on some 80s sampler or the other Yazoo turned up and Alison Moyet drowned everything in her soulful voice, I was done with the Flying Pickets (and you know how much I love a cappella).

Margaret Thatcher supposedly liked this song version.  

This is one of those instances that completely obliterate the popular version as soon as you hear the original. Because Alison sings it so sweetly and the synth-sounds by songwriter Vince Clarke give this the weird 80s polish that exemplified great vocals back then. I really love love songs that cling to the fraying ends of a relationship. There’s so many beautiful songs out there (many of them dealing with metaphorical ghosts) and this is yet another example that the time before the break-up can be just as heartbreaking as the break-up itself. There’s an interpretation of this song floating in the web, that Clarke wrote this mainly as a way to deal with his departure from Depeche Mode but as all great songs go, it is about what you hear and feel when you hear it. And thanks to Moyet, that’s a lot.

That outfit is a statement. I don’t know whether I agree with the statement but it is a statement nonetheless.

PS: At some point I should write about Vince Clarke who is also the main composure of Erasure’s songs since 1985 and therefore has written some of the greatest bops of the 80s including his stint with Yazoo.

The War and Treaty ‚Healing Tide‘ – great voices, much love and so much joy

Ok, first of all: sorry, I haven’t written anything in the past few weeks. It’s too hot to do anything and first and foremost, it’s too hot to work and stream music because my MacBook will turn into hot coals and I can’t risk either the work-fallout when it breaks down as well as my skin being marked by a f***ing MacBook Pro for the rest of my life. 

But this still didn’t keep me from discovering the new album by The War and Treaty that opens with a song („Love like there’s no tomorrow“) that’s like a shout from the rooftops, mixing Soul, RnB, country and Americana and some of the best duet-dynamics you’ve heard in the last 20 years. 

It’s so much fun listening to these two, I actually got reminded of attending live shows where the sheer craft and joy on stage would throw a blanket of happiness over the whole crowd and engulf you like sunshine. Cheesy, I know but something so gorgeous that lacks any cynicism (but doesn’t lack humor) doesn’t deserve detached irony, it deserves the whole cheesy, emotional approval stamp.

Shake it! Shake it good!

Honestly, „Healing Tide“, the albums titular song is something that could have been plucked right from the late 60s but at the same time also feels like that glimmer of joyful, warm hope that we all yearn so much after hours on that cesspit of human foulness called Twitter and daily news. Honestly, if this album were a drink, it would be that ice-cold sip of mint tea after the hottest day of the year. 

This is an album about love. Michael and Tanya Trotter and married and they share all of it for us whether it’s sweet, raunchy („Jeep Cerokee Laredo“) or loud and clear („Are you ready to love me“). Both Michael and Tanya can sing the house down and know exactly when something needs to be powerful or soft or even a little messy. 

(This is so sweet!)

This album is amazing because the lyrics are loving and cheeky, there’s enough honesty and humor to believe when both croon in „Hearts“ and the musical production is straightforward and never takes over the vocals which is important in an album that features vocals like that. 

I might not be as excited about country ditties like „Hearts“ as much as I love songs like „Healing Tide“ or „Are you ready to love me“ but when the triplet with Emmylou Harris comes around („Here is where the loving is“), I am all aboard the country wagon with all the twangy guitars one can muster up. 

Honestly, this is a beautiful, fun, honest album that just makes me happy. It’s just the right thing.

Florence and the Machine: ‚High as Hope‘ as good as new

I loved Florence and the Machine’s debut album. It was dramatic, grand and full of epos and theatrical songs, cheeky storytelling and some amazing cover versions of underrated songs. 

Since the album reached me during the last years of my life as a student, just getting out of a deep, close to depressive phase, the album also felt like one gigantic catharsis, because Florence Welch is so loud and that’s such an amazing thing to just stand there and shout every feeling from the rooftops. 

However, with her second album „Ceremonies“, I lost her a little. The high production values and the big dramatic arches verged on decadence. It felt like a menu that serves only the richest chocolate cake. It was too much and the accents of her first album got lost in the grandeur of it all. 

Now, with her fourth album „High as Hope“, I feel the joy, drama and big moods of Florence Welch are back in my life and what a rich life that is. 

I am not aware of most music videos because music television is basically dead and done but my gosh, that’s a fantastic music video. 

What I always loved about Florence is her punk infused balance of emotion over beauty. Sometimes, her voice breaks or she gets too loud to sound pretty but that’s just it: it’s not about perfection and smoothness, it’s about that slightly burned note of caramel, that bitter taste of coffee, that off-key note full of feelings.

I also feel like music like Florence’s is such a beautiful thing because she really never shies away from pathos. Loyal readers of my blog know that I – a gigantic fan of classic rock and pretty much all of the 80s pop catalog – have a soft, squishy spot for pathos. Freddy Mercury wasn’t the star he was because he was moderate and cool. He was a star because he gave it all, like a theater actor dressed up colorful enough and talking loud enough that even the last row could feel what he felt. Florence’s music is just like that. It’s such a strong, intense, emotional thing that it can really grip you, no matter where you are, no matter how far away. 

Personally, I love this side of her and I am very glad that Florence went back to less pizzazz in the production and more Feels in the whole album. It’s a beautiful album, an honest album, a great pick-me-up.

I love everyone who emulates Kate Bush during her “Babooshka”-era, so thank you very much, Florence. Also: that’s a banging choreography. It’s so unnerving, I love it!

Coversongs: “I’ve got my mind set on you” James Ray vs. George Harrison

This song was such a gigantic part of my childhood because my parents loved everything involving ELO and especially in the 80s, Jeff Lynne was the Timbaland/Pharrell/Dr. Dre of pop music: he was EVERYWHERE and everything sounded like an ELO-song (which is fine with me). So, it’s no wonder that “Got my mind set on you”, performed by George Harrison sounds like a long lost ELO-song.

FYI: I did an entry on this song before, back in 2013! I am such an idiot that I didn’t check. However, I won’t delete either, let the archives know that I can’t even remember things from 5 years ago …

This video has it all: shoulder pads, a business-in-the-front-party-on-the-back haircut, Sherlock Holmes’ living room, a dog, dancing muppet furniture and George Harrison singing a love song but really not looking like he’s singing a love song but rather selling kitchen ware catalogs from door to door and of course an amazingballs dancing interlude that obviously isn’t done by Harrison but is all the more charming for it.

Honestly, I love this song and this version. The song lyrics are the kind that sound really cute and lovely if it’s the right person (I wager that Harrison is the right person) but could end up super creepy if a random dude decides to sing it to you after you met once at speed dating.

Ok, so the original song was written and composed by Rudy Clark, who also wrote a bunch of other amazing songs (mainly “It’s in his kiss” which is a big favorite of mine …

… and “Good Lovin'” which is an amazingly fun little bop).

“I’ve got my mind on you” was first performed by James Ray with a very lush orchestration and boy, it’s a completely different song. I gotta say, as much as I love Lynne and Harrison, I feel like Ray puts a little more feeling in it and there’s a twinkle in his voice that alludes to the song’s message of: Boy, I am willing to work hard to impress you.

Now, let’s acknowledge the fact that there are a lot songs out there that promote guys not giving up and not hearing a simple “no” and instead going along until their “lucky lady” has to go the route of restraining order. BUT because there’s this gigantic bit about the singer being down on his luck and seeing somewhat of a ray of sunshine in that significant other in this song, it feels a lot less stalkery and more like someone willing to put in the work for love. And yes, I will stick to that interpretation because I love both versions and don’t want to cancel either.

James Ray, by the way, did unfortunately never hear Harrison’s version. Shortly after his chart success with a few singles (many written by Clark), he died from a drug overdose. But Clark got to cash in on the success of Harrison’s version, at least, as far as I know, he is still alive (according to Wikipedia).

James Ray has a lot of that swagger and ease in his voice and it reminds me of Amy Winehouse who also sounded so effortlessly and glided through her songs in this elegant, smooth way that is just such a joy to listen to.