Monday, August 22, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 08/22/16 Update

Today, we return to Volume 6 of our 1967 collection, 1967's Super "Sensational" Summer Of Love, and take a listen to The Youngblood's iconic hippie anthem Get Together.

The surprising thing about the New York folk-rockers cover of Get Together is that while it was released on their self-titled debut in 1967 and got some airplay, it didn't become a major hit until 1969, after it was (in classic Pink Moon fashion) used in a public service ad.

The success of the song would go on to sustain the Youngblood's through a couple of critically well-received albums into the early 1970s, particularly 1969's Elephant Mountain, but further commercial success would, for the most part, elude the band.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 08/21/2016 Update

Today, as we continue to look at those 2015 and 1967 songs that made our year-end mixes but won't appear in our final best-of-the-year rankings, we return to our 2015 electro-pop mix Circuit Teasers, and highlight the wonderfully moody I Can Never Be Myself When You're Around, one of a few lead singles to drop from Portland post-punkers turned synth-rockers The Chromatics yet-to-be-released Dear Tommy.

Hopefully, 2016 will be the year this much-anticipated follow-up to the band's excellent 2012 album Kill For Love finally gets its proper release, but one never knows. This is a band that's been known to take whatever time it feels it needs to finish its material.

Based on how great this tune is, all I can say is "fingers crossed!"

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 08/20/2016 Update

Today, we return to our 1967 Singles Superstars mix, and take a look at two tracks from a Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame act that most now associate with the late 70s disco era, but that actually had its major commercial breakthrough in 1967, Australia's The Bee Gees.

After nearly a decade performing together in Australia, where they had become local recording and television stars, the brothers decided in 1966 that they needed to move back to London where it was all happening musically if they were going to make it big.

Based on the strength of their recent Aussie single Spicks & Specks, the band was quickly signed by British producer Robert Stigwood, and after adding lead guitarist Vince Melouney and friend Colin Petersen on drums, the group quickly penned and recorded their international debut, the Hollies-like psychedelic pop album Bee Gees' 1st.

The album was a success, producing three UK hits - To Love Somebody, Holiday, and their first to chart, New York Mining Disaster 1941, which we profile here.

Interestingly, again given the perception of the band today, it was Robin, not Barry, who handled the bulk of the act's lead vocals at the time.

Later in 1967, while in New York on tour, the band was inspired to write a counter to all the songs of the moment urging people to go to San Francisco.

That idea would morph into Massachusetts, the tale of a boy who does indeed make it out to San Francisco to join the flower power scene, only to find himself painfully longing for home.

Ironically, the band themselves had never been to Massachusetts at the time.  But the song struck a chord with listeners.  It became the band's first song to reach #1 in Australian and the UK, and would go on to become one of the top-selling singles in recording history, moving over five million physical units (an honor shared with two other songs on the Singles Superstars mix, Simon Says and the Monkees' Daydream Believer).

Friday, August 19, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 08/19/2016 Update

Here's the funny thing about putting together an annual mix collection comprised of close to two hundred songs - you still agonize over the last track you had to cut for time.

This year, the most painful cut was without question LA-based neo-soul collective's Go With It, from their solid third LP Ego Death.

Propelled by Syd(ney Bennett) The Kid's gorgeous voice and an excellent opening guest rap from Chicagoan Vic Mensa, this chill, funky tune was on my original pass of Black Music Circa 2015, but  removed at the last moment to make room for an additional Kamasi Washington track.

Still, leaving them out of this year's collection has stuck in my craw so badly, I just had to give them a shout out.

So here's Go With It.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 08/18/2016 Update

Today, let's turn to the most challenging mix in either collection, 2015's Nut Squeezers and start with singles from two of the three veteran acts represented on this volatile mix of post-punk, black metal, and hard-hitting thrashers.

And when it comes to hard-hitting thrashers, few acts have delivered the goods over the last twenty years like Providence, Rhode Island's drums and bass noise-rock duo extraordinaire Lightning Bolt.

Though a "can't miss" live act, most of their recorded music is so extreme, the vocals so weird (drummer Brian Chippendale sings through a microphone stuffed into his mouth like an S&M plug), and the mixes so lo-fi that I've felt most of their music would be too much even for the open-to-anything ears of our mix collection fans, and thus I haven't included any efforts from the band since one track from 2005's Hypermagic Mountain.

But in 2015, Lightning Bolt entered a high-end studio proper for the first time, and the resulting album Fantasy Empire, while no less crazed or hard-hitting, really benefits from the improved production and is their most accessible album to date (relatively speaking). There were several tracks I considered including in this mix, especially opener The Metal East and the wild Dream Genie, but ultimately, I went with the steady heavy-metal chug of Horsepower.

Another band that delivered the hard-hitting goods in 2015 was beloved Boise-based indie-guitar act Built To Spill, whose Untethered Moon offered another batch of those knotty guitar lines and Neil Young-styled vocals fans have been eating up since the band's inception back in 1993.

The album lacks the "through the roof" peak efforts of some of their better second decade releases like 2006's You In Reverse, but is still solid front-to-back, and as with Fantasy Empire, produced several tracks I considered including on this mix - scorching closer When I'm Blind, the quaint Never Be The Same, chugging opener All Our Songs - before settling on the album's tightest, punchiest number, Living Zoo.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 08/17/2016 Update

Today, we turn to our 1967 mix highlighting all the great going-ons in England that year - Meanwhile, Across The Pond - and take a listen to the only two songs on the mix that won't end up represented in our Best Songs or Best Albums of the year rankings.

The first of those two songs needs little introduction, even today.

The Who's Pictures Of Lily, which guitarist Pete Townsend considers one of the first "power pop" recordings, is one of the all time great songs thematically dedicated to masturbation (and there have been many through the years, hundreds if not thousands, including another wanking masterpiece on this mix).  The song was released in April, 1967 in the UK (late June in the US), and reached #5 on the UK charts, but didn't crack the top 50 stateside on its initial release.

The next single comes to us from another famous mod act, The Small Faces, who would later change their names to just the Faces after some personnel changes that included the addition of Rod Stewart.

But the band at this time were driven by two fantastic singer/songwriters in guitarist Steve Marriott and the one-of-a-kind bassist Ronnie Lane, each of whom would pen a '67 classic. Lane's tune will make our best songs of the year list, so we'll touch on that later.

Marriott's classic, Tin Soldier, was released as a single in December of 1967. A song of sexual pursuit, it was written by Marriott to specifically impress one woman, model Jenny Rylance, who would become his first wife the following year.

Ironically, Marriott almost turned the song over to American soul singer P.P. Arnold, with whom it is rumored he had just ended a brief affair, but ultimately decided the song was too good to give away.

However, Arnold was still enlisted to perform backing vocals on the song, and appears in some initial televised performances. Though never a monster hit in the states, the song is still revered in the UK, often charting in all-time polls as one of the 10-20 best songs the island nation has ever produced.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The 2015/1967 Countdown - 08/16/16 Update

Today, we dive into ambient/electronic music and take a look at one of the singles featured on our 2015 shoegaze/electronic/dream pop mix Dream Weavers,

Shy, seductively unassuming, and ending with a Beirut-flavored Balkan turn, Bleak and Beautiful All Things) comes to us from the well received 2015 full-length release Etch And Etch Deep by the English instrumental act Haiku Salut.

An all-female trio renown for never speaking a word onstage and lighting their shows exclusively with household lamps that turn on and off with the ebb and flow of their music., Haiku Salut specialize in a gentle, organic form of electronic music that incorporates a broad range of traditional instruments and mixes a number of cultural styles.

All and all, it's a very appealing and unpredictable sound, and I encourage anyone interested in the possibilities to be found at the intersection of electronic and acoustic music to check this act out further.