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Brooks, Hadda – “That’s My Desire” [Virgin Records]

humana   3/17/2018   Blues

This is a gem of a selection of Hadda Brooks’s repertoire, from her amazing piano boogies (she’s not called “Queen of the Boogie” for nothin’) to her lovely sung ballads. The liner notes describe how she didn’t think she could sing; we can all be glad that she gave it a try. In fact, she gave both herself and her audience a great gift when she decided to sing her torch songs. She may not have been as well-listened to as she deserved, but we can remedy that now by paying her homage.

Miss Massive Snowflake – “Like a Book” – [North Pole Records]

humana   1/20/2018   A Library, CD

It takes a lot to get me psyched these days, but Miss Massive Snowflake does the trick. Talk about your hidden treasures–this CD had been hiding under my front car seat just waiting for me to feed it to a player so that it could feed me with its amazing fresh rock sounds and unique tempo changes (“Goldsworthy” is outstanding in this respect). Jeanne Kennedy Crosby’s bass playing masterfully keeps a rhythm winding throughout every song. Shane de Leon’s clear vocals

ABC 20 [coll] – [Abaton Book Company]

humana   1/14/2018   A Library, CD

Talk about creativity–this sampling of the first 20 years of the Abaton Book Company label is a treasure trove of radio theater, singer songwriters, soundtracks to movies starring cats (10), quartets, and more. A lot of the tracks are by Marianne Nowottny, whose debut was recorded by ABC when she was only 16. The liner notes are a must read as you listen to the wonderful weirdness contained on this CD. It all makes you believe that coloring outside the lines has not, nor ever will, go out of style.

Roadkill NYC – “Babe City” – [109 Records]

humana   1/14/2018   A Library, CD

What’s not to love about punk rock with rollicking lyrics such as “Stiletto heels could not erase, that girl’s butt was right in my face” (5)? This guy trio packs a hearty punch with these songs that are worthy of many listens. Be sure to check out “Hot Girls Eating Pizza on Instagram” (10).

Drag The River – “Losers/ Marooned” – [Last Chance Records]

humana   1/14/2018   7-inch, Country

Well, this Colorado country band is pretty mellow, and the downtempo songs go along quite well with their band name. The studio versions are on Side A, and the live versions are on B. They aren’t that much different, although the live ones sound a bit grittier and more affecting. Great for a grey, overcast day. Just have some ice cream on hand to pick you up.

Cup – “Hiccup” – [Aaagoo Records]

humana   1/14/2018   A Library, CD

Tym Wojcik is Cup, and these hazy punk songs prove to be more than just a hiccup in his repertoire. Fast-paced guitar works like a jolt to the system in this seventh release from Cup. Songs are 1- to 3-minute bursts of energy. Drink up.

Remember Karen – “What You Say and What You Mean” – [Self Released]

humana   1/14/2018   A Library, CD

I don’t know who Karen is, but this Oakland band pays a fine tribute to her with this release of pop rock goodness. Each song’s lyrics are on the insert, but the vocals are clear enough to make them out. The upbeat guitars and drums provide a fine setting for letting the wisdom of said lyrics sink in. “Afternoon Waking Life” (2), “Slide Collection” (4), and “The Midwest is Boring” (9) will have you bopping and rolling down the window of your car as you blast th

Lyken, Mark / Dove, Emma – “Mirror Lands” – [Time Released Sound]

humana   12/5/2017   A Library, CD

This is a beautiful soundtrack written by Lyken and Dove and set in Scotland, home of the Cromarty Lighthouse, to whose last keeper this is dedicated. There are sounds of water lapping at docks, drills, industry, voices, and geese. Minimalist piano weaves in and out of the tracks in a haunting, beautiful way. The atmosphere is chilly, lonely, and lovely. This is electronica and industrial and field sounds. I love it.

Squarepusher – “Feed Me Weird Things” – [Rephlex]

humana   12/5/2017   A Library, CD

Drum and bass and breakbeat–that’s the genre, and this is the debut studio album of Squarepusher, aka Tom Jenkinson. This is a stunning release that is frenetic, shimmery electronica at its finest. The notes on the CD are fascinating, asserting that Squarepusher “gives us the SOUND of SOUND.” Jump into the energy floe and lose yourself. 7 is my favorite track.

Alexander, Arthur – “Ultimate, The” – [Razor & Tie Music]

humana   12/5/2017   CD, Soul

Out of undeserved obscurity comes the clear, smooth voice and stylings of Arthur Alexander, who paved the way for soul with his songs mixing country, blues, pop, and rock. As Paul McCartney said once, “If the Beatles ever wanted a sound, it was R&B. We wanted to be like Arthur Alexander.” The Beatles and Rolling Stones were only two bands that recorded Alexander’s songs. Try any of these gems–they sparkle with feeling and emotion.

Powwow Songs – Music of The Plains Indians [coll] – [Musical Heritage Society]

humana   12/5/2017   CD, International

These songs were written and performed for the great yearly celebrations, called powwows, of the Great Plains Indians of North America. The liner notes describe the particulars of each dance, and the meanings are felt in the hearty vocalizations and drumbeat of both the Northern and Southern Plains Indians. A true slice of social and ceremonial native music.

Four Lost Souls – “Four Lost Souls” – [Bloodshot Records]

humana   10/28/2017   CD, Country

“These songs aren’t going to sing themselves” (from “Poor Valley Radio”). And count your lucky stars that Jon Langford (who wrote and sings the songs along with Bethany Thomas and Tawny Newsome) and his band (rounded out by skilled guitarist John Szymanski) found themselves in Muscle Shoals, Alabama to sing the great Americana songs contained on this CD. Yes, the sobering election of 2016 made them feel lost, but they stepped up to the plate and responded with these sometimes rocking, sometimes ballad-y songs. Be sure to read the poem in the sleeve.

Flamin Groovies – “Fantastic Plastic” – [Sonic Kicks]

humana   10/22/2017   A Library, CD

They’re back and better than ever! What a fun and enjoyable collection of brand-new rock songs penned by Cyril Jordan and Chris Wilson! These are uptempo songs and smooth ballads by this group whose origins are in San Francisco. Each song is great in its own way, but “She Loves Me” and “Lonely Hearts” are two of my favorites.

Seafang – “Solid Gold/ Stardust” – [Emotional Response Recordings]

humana   10/22/2017   7-inch, A Library

Of course I love this 7″ dimension of wonder because it’s shoegaze from a quintet in St. Petersburg, Florida. “Solid Gold” is an upbeat, fast-paced number, while “Stardust” is a bit slower, but both are fine examples of lovely haze with Heidi’s pretty vocals backed by the band’s energetic guitars, drums, and bass. Think Go-Gos KFJC-style.

Cotillion Soul 45’s [coll] – [Cotillion Records]

humana   10/1/2017   7-inch, Soul

Oh what fun it is to open a box of 10 7″ discs recorded in 1968- 1970 on the Cotillion label and dance to the soul sounds of artists including Darrell Banks, C and the Shells, Moses Smith, and Lou Johnson. There are ballads on here, too, and the liner notes are a must-read for cool background info. Covers of “Ain’t No Sun” and “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” are highlights. Pick any disc and get your soul groovin’!

Demen – “Nektyr” – [Kranky]

humana   9/24/2017   12-inch, A Library

This artist comes from Stockholm, Sweden, and her music and vocals create an atmosphere that is a lovely, murky swirl that makes you feel like you’re inhabiting some kind of cool night world where anything can happen, both good and bad.

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