Monthly Archives: December 2019

Dave Steinfeld’s 2019 In Review

 

Longtime BLURT contributor Prof. Steinfeld weighs in on the year that’s just about done. Picks to click: Amanda Palmer (pictured above), Durand Jones, The Monroes, Tom Petty, Natalie Walker, and more.

BY DAVE STEINFELD

Top 10 Albums of 2019:

  1. Amanda Palmer — There Will Be No Intermission (8 Foot Records/Cooking Vinyl) 

These days, it’s easy to throw around phrases like “his/her most personal work to date.” But in Amanda Palmer’s case, if anything, this is an understatement. There Will Be No Intermission is Palmer’s first solo outing in nearly seven years — and it indeed her most personal work to date. Palmer throws it all out there on Intermission: losing her best friend to cancer, talking another friend through an abortion, not to mention being a new Mom in these apocalyptic times. It adds up to a song cycle about loss that can be harrowing at times but is ultimately uplifting. There is no one else like Amanda Palmer — not in the music she makes, not in the way she delivers that music to the public.  

 

  1. Durand Jones & the Indications — American Love Call (Dead Oceans)

If you didn’t know better, you’d swear that Durand Jones & the Indications recorded this album in the early ‘70s. This Indiana-based band has already perfected the kind of soul that The Delfonics and The Stylistics popularized back then. It doesn’t hurt that they have two lead singers (Jones and Aaron Frazer) whose voices compliment each other. This album is comprised mainly of love songs, but there are a couple of moments — like “Morning in America”— where the band tackles more topical material with fine results.

 

  1. The Monroes — The Monroes 2.0 (Tugboat Music)

The Monroes are best known for their 1982 hit “What Do All the People Know,” one of the great songs of the New Wave era. Now, frontman Bob Monroe returns with a new album and lineup more than three decades after the fact. The resulting album confirms that he had more than one great song in him.  2.0 covers a lot of ground — from the radio-friendly rocker “Midnight in Hollywood” to the unabashedly vulnerable ballad “Made for You” to the Beatlesque pop song “Tell Me Tonight.” Then there’s the great opening track, “White Lace and Blue Jeans,” an ode to a woman who is “sometimes wild and crazy, sometimes so austere.” File under “Comeback of the Year.”

 

  1. Mary Lambert — Grief Creature (Tender Heart Records)

Mary Lambert came to prominence in 2012 when she sang the hook of Macklemore’s #1 hit “Same Love”  — one of the few hip-hop songs to support same sex marriage. Her own music couldn’t be further from hip-hop, though. Lambert is a singer-songwriter who writes on piano. Grief Creature is her first album since 2014 and it’s a great one, tackling everything from breakups (from both sides of the coin) to living with bipolar disorder to surviving rape. It It’s a testimony to Lambert that she can cram 17 tracks onto an album and not overstay her welcome.

 

  1. FKA Twigs —  Magdalene (Young Turks)

Magdalene is the long-awaited sophomore set from English artist Tahliah Barnett (better known as FKA Twigs) — and it was worth the wait. This is a concise masterpiece, drawing equally from Kate Bush and urban music. The album’s centerpiece is a haunting meditation on Mary Magdalene, repurposed for the trip-hop age.

 

  1. The Highwomen  (Elektra)

The Highwomen are a country-rock supergroup — a female answer to ‘80s band The Highwaymen. The women in question are Brandi Carlisle, Amanda Shires, Maren Morris and Natalie Hemby. Each of the four gets at least one moment in the spotlight on their self-titled debut, and the album is alternately introspective and rocking. 

 

  1. The Jellybricks  — Some Kind of Lucky (Wicked Cool Records)  

The latest disc from this veteran Pennsylvania-based band is straightforward power pop. The Jellybricks aren’t reinventing the wheel, but on songs like “Corner of My Eye” and “Mrs. Misery,” they polish that wheel until it shines.

 

  1. Joslyn & the Sweet Compression  (Robert Hall Records)

Joslyn & the Sweet Compression are another band — like Durand Jones & the Indications — that specializes in classic soul of the ‘70s variety.  Joslyn Hampton sings her heart out on originals and a surprise cover of George Harrison’s “Long Long Long,” and the Sweet Compression provides great backup.

 

  1.   Rickie Lee Jones — Kicks (TOSOD Music)  

The latest album from Rickie Lee Jones is a collection of covers (her fourth). This time around, she interprets songs that were popularized by a wide variety of artists — from Dean Martin to Bad Company to Elton John.

 

  1. Vince Gill — Okie (MCA Nashville)

Veteran country artist (and sometime Eagle) Vince Gill hits a late-career peak on this extremely personal album.

***

Top 5 Compilations/Reissues:  

  1. Tom Petty — The Best of Everything (Universal/Geffen)

 

  1. Various Artists — 1977: The Year Punk Broke! (Cherry Red)

 

  1. Various Artists — Electrical Language: Independent British Synth-Pop ’78 — ’84 (Cherry Red)

 

  1. New England —   The New England Archives, Vol.1 (HNE Recordings/Cherry Red)

 

  1. The Rolling Stones — HONK (Universal/Interscope)

 

Top 5 EPs:  

  1. Natalie Walker — Evenfall

 

  1. Rogers & Butler — Diana Dors

 

  1. Puss N’ Boots — Dear Santa

 

  1. Emily Mure — Sad Songs and Waltzes 

 

  1. Jesse Terry & Alex Wong — Kivalina

In Memoriam: 

Scott Walker, Ric Ocasek, Eddie Money, Ranking Roger, Ginger Baker, Marie Fredriksson, Dave Bartholomew, Andre Previn, Dr. John, Mark Hollis, James Ingram, Peter Tork, Hal Blaine, Keith Flint, Johnny Clegg, Larry Wallis… And so it goes.

 ***

Best Instrumental Album:  Bruce Cockburn: Crowing Ignites  (True North Records)

Best Concert:  Amanda Palmer at Joe’s Pub, NYC

Best New Artist:  Durand Jones & the Indications

Hype of the Year: Billie Eilish

2020 Release I’m Most Looking Forward To:  Drive-By Truckers — The Unraveling

Favorite Piece for Blurt:   Glen Matlock: From the Pistols To Palestine!

Wildcard/Summary:  Where do I begin? Women clearly ruled the year in 2019. Six of my Top 10 new releases and three of my Top five EPs were made by women or female-fronted bands. 

Unlike a lot of my peers, I still believe there is a ton of great music being made. The difference is that you can’t find most of it through the old channels. Record stores continue to struggle, while radio stations (commercial ones, at least) are all owned by Clear Channel and like-minded corporations who don’t know shit about music and don’t care to learn about it. So you really have to seek the good music out — which can be challenging. But it’s there and it’s being made by artists young and old, male and female, black and white, straight and gay, and everything in between. And these days — when we’re dealing not only with our own personal issues and losses but also with the collapse of our environment and the most divisive President of our lifetimes — it’s more important to seek out good music (and good art in general) than it ever has been.

 

Flamin’ Groovies co-founder Roy Loney 1946-2019 R.I.P.

The boisterous frontman was a godfather, a pioneer, and a hero.

By Fred Mills

Indie music fans were stunned this weekend to learn that Roy Loney had abruptly passed away on Friday due to severe organ failure following surgery. He was 73. The news was broken by photographer Roberta Bayley on Facebook, writing, “Very sad news. Roy Loney, the original singer of the legendary Flamin’ Groovies has died. Only minutes ago. Roy was a great talent, as a songwriter and performer, and a great friend. He was hospitalized last week, and I spoke to him Wednesday. He was in good spirits. He had a surgery this morning and never came out of it. Sorry, I have no other details. Roy will surely be missed by all who had the pleasure of knowing him.”

Earlier this year Loney was scheduled to reunite with the band he cofounded in San Francisco in the late ’60s, the Flamin’ Groovies, for a tour of Europe during which the plan was to perform classic ’71 Groovies album Teenage Head. In June, however, he suffered a fall at the airport and injured his head, preventing him from continuing on the journey. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Loney reportedly recovered from the fall but subsequently began to experience a decline in health “for reasons unconnected to the accident” and had to go into the hospital on several occasions.

The Flamin’ Groovies official Facebook page paid tribute to Loney via multiple posts, and fans poured forth with their own tributes.

In addition to the iconic Groovies (with whom he cut three albums and a 10″ EP during his 1968-71 tenure), Loney fronted several bands including the Phantom Movers and Roy Loney & the Longshots. He would also work in A&R for ABC Records as well as manning the counter of legendary Bay Area record store Jack’s Record Cellar. Over the years the fiery Loney became recognized as both a godfather of the punk movement and a spearhead of the roots-rock and rockabilly revival, and though he went into the studio only sporadically, whenever a new Loney-related record appeared, the rock community treated it like a genuine gift.

Below, check out a few classic Loney tunes, including three with the Groovies (the first one is from this past May):

Next Wild Honey Foundation Trib Show: Lovin’ Spoonful

Cue up Feb. 29 on your calendar, then queue up!

By Blurt Staff

The Wild Honey Foundation collective, which BLURT has frequently supported over the years – follow this link to our coverage to date, featuring super-shutterbug Susan Moll’s exquisite visual renderings, such as this one – has announced that the Lovin’ Spoonful will be this year’s tribute subject at the charity’s annual benefit concert. To date such icons as the Kinks, Buffalo Springfield, the Band, the Beach Boys, Big Star and the Beatles have gotten the Wild Honey Orchestra treatment, and it has never been less than first class.

The Spoonful concert takes place Saturday, Feb. 29, at Glendale’s Alex Theatre, and it will benefit the Autism Think Tank. Consider throwing your financial support behind the ATT yourself even if you’re not able to attend the show next February.