Aloe Blacc: All Love Everything

Almost 7 years to the day since his last album (not including 2018’s excellent “Christmas Funk” which I encourage everyone to check out), Aloe Blacc returns with what is truly his most personal and complete album. The songs of family could have been written during the pandemic, but they were actually done in 2019 prior to all you know what breaking loose. Whether you want the songs to be familial or spiritual, you’ve come to the right place. These songs will lift your soul and take you on journeys accompanied by those who love you. Quite a wonderful experience for these crazy times. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Bon Jovi: 2020

The reviews for the latest from Jon Bon Jovi and his current band of brothers have been less than favorable. While I cannot give a glowing critique, I can say this record will suffer from a lack of originality and a lack of touring. These songs sound a little half-baked to my ears, but I think they would sound great live when they are given a chance to fully cook. Much like his Jersey brother from another mother, I like it when Jon keeps his politics up for interpretation, but I understand it to some degree. While I don’t disagree completely with all the sentiments contained within this record, I still find some of it hard to take from someone who has made it due to the advantages America has to offer, flawed though she may be. I think this record will age better than people will expect when it can be separated from the times which birthed it. 🌟🌟1/2

UPDATE: I am liking this album the more I listen to it. Emotional and thought provoking, if not completely great. I can add another 1/2 of a star. 🌟🌟🌟

A Cautionary Tale For Those Left Behind

She always wanted a good man

She wanted one who was hot

She prayed for a gentleman

And a gentleman’s what she got

They were married on a Saturday

Thirteenth day of May

Sun rained down upon them

Such a beautiful day

She always wanted a baby

She wanted one so badly

She prayed for a daughter

And a daughter’s what she had

She was born on a Saturday

Fourth day of July

Fireworks filled that night

Such a beautiful sky

Life was happily ever after

Or so it seemed

But the pain behind her eyes

Only darkened her dreams

She had everything she wanted

Except the clarity of mind

Just a cautionary tale

For those left behind

The Psychedelic Furs: Made Of Rain

The wait is over! It’s been 29 years since World Outside was released in 1991. No artist should be able to release a record as equally retro and sublimely relative as this one after making fans wait more than a quarter of a century. However, The Furs have done just that! This record has a little bit of everything for long time followers and it may just bring a few more converts into the revival tent. Unlike some of there contemporaries from the early 80s such as U2, Depeche Mode and The Cure, The Psychedelic Furs never truly reached the levels of success which appeared to await them following hits such as Love My Way, Pretty In Pink or The Ghost In You. Four excellent albums released between 1980 and 1984 followed by three more from 1987 to 1991 and then…silence, at least from a studio perspective. With the exception of Alive (For Once In My Lifetime) included in both live and studio versions on their live greatest hits album in 2000, fans have waited and hoped for more. Well, wait no more! From the opening noises of The Boy That Invented Rock & Roll to the last strains of Stars, the album does not disappoint. Not all of the songs are classics, but there are no rusty tracks. Richard Butler continues to delivery the same honey gravel vocals and lyrical wit of their should have been more glorious days. The music is pure Furs, equal parts sugar and spice, making for the type of cake they alone seem to be able to bake. If you have never heard them before, this is a good “hello, nice to meet you” record. I hope, for everyone’s sake, a few more records are in the bakery and this does not turn out to be “hello goodbye”.

The Airborne Toxic Event: Hollywood Park

It is a long-standing tradition for artists to channel personal struggles and pain into the music they create. In the case of TATE leader Mikel Jollett, Hollywood Park represents the traumatic childhood he lived and finally escaped. To call it a childhood is a bit unfair. Trapped for years in a cult and subject to child abuses which would leave anyone scarred beyond recognition, his is a story of suffering and hope and escape. Who ever really escapes, though? This album is filled with stories of addiction and war and prison and the longing to be free of their trappings. This record should be listened to from start to finish to be fully appreciated. TATE has never really tasted significant commercial success and I am not sure this album will change that, but it certainly should. Mikel wrote an autobiography around which these songs serve as a loose soundtrack. Now we just need a full documentary to compete the trilogy. I feel sorry for Mikel and all he went through, but I am glad to see he is making his escape. 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Trail Mix: Bruce Springsteen

Here is the first installment of Trail Mix. Basically, it is a list of some of my favorite songs by an artist. Songs to listen while hiking or just relaxing at home. These are in no particular order.

I’m On Fire – I think of the video when I hear this one. Bruce captures the longing of wanting something you can’t possibly have and maybe shouldn’t have anyway.

My Hometown – One of a long list of moody story songs Bruce writes with the best of them. A sense of nostalgia resonates through this one as the narrator recalls his hometown and what was, but is no more.

Jungleland – Clarence Clemons saxophone makes this track pure magic. The emotions flow up and down like a roller coaster as the characters take to the streets in an epic battle of the bands. Sensational.

Streets of Philadelphia – Originally called Philadelphia until Bruce found out Neil Young had written the title track for the movie of the same name. No matter. This strolling ballad captures the essence of the film and paints a picture of what it’s like to live outside the mainstream.

Secret Garden – This song from the movie Jerry McGuire is simplicity at its finest. The yearning in the music fits right along with the longing vocals about love and only being able to get so close. One of my favorite Springsteen songs of all time, more from the mood it creates than the musical virtuosity within.

Growin’ Up – I really love the live version on the box set as it is more emotional than the studio version. We all grow up, just not at the same pace.

Land Of Hope And Dreams – I first heard this when I finally saw Bruce play live in Milwaukee. It was love at first hear. He has recorded a few versions of this and while none of them fully capture what I heard that glorious night at the show, it is still a great song of hope.

Girls In Their Summer Clothes – This track from Magic just grabs me. I just like how it grooves.

Atlantic City – While I love the original version from Nebraska, I really love the version from We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. It is a new take on a classic and it gives it a different feel.

Iceman – Taken from the Tracks box set, this emotional ballad is pure poetry in motion. You can feel the pain and anguish throughout this one. I love it and listen to it quite often.

Gave It A Name – Another slow burning from Tracks. Several stories mesh together perfectly in this one. Potent lyrics and simply accompaniment blend to form a beautiful song.

Walk Like A Man – I was a late rider on the Springsteen bandwagon. A good friend of mine kept bugging me to listen to him and I never really got into him. Sure, Born In The U.S.A. Was huge, but Tunnel Of Love was the song and the album which hooked me. This album track just gets me right in the heart and never lets go. A great story from a wonderful teller of tales.

Valentine’s Day – The last track on Tunnel Of Love and my favorite on the record. A simple, strolling track which returns to the feeling of longing found in I’m On Fire. This is another one I really love.

There Goes My Miracle – A song from Western Stars which captures the moment of separation perfectly. Sweet and sour, pleasure and pain. Opposites complement each other well in life as well as in music.

4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy) – A story set in Bruce’s native New Jersey and which I love both the studio version and the version from Live 1975-85. Storytelling at its finest.

Well, that does it for the first installment of Trail Mix. I hope you check out these tracks and continue to support the music and the artists who make it.

Carolina Pizza Company

Just a quick shout out to say how great the pizza is at CPC in Seneca, SC. They have a thin and crispy NY-style crust which is awesome and the sauce has just a little spice to it. One of the best pizzas my wife and I have ever had. Check them out when you are in the area.

Movie Review: The Wrong Missy

The reviews for the new David Spade Netflix film, “The Wrong Missy”, are even less than awful. That being established, I really liked this movie! It is what it is and if you have low expectations going into it, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. It will not win any awards and it’s pretty straightforward from a plot perspective, but I laughed throughout. If you want to be entertained and are not easily offended, I think you will enjoy the trip. 🌟🌟🌟

Movie Review: The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

I happened to be watching something earlier today about The Smiths where they mentioned this movie. The main character gets fixated on their song “Asleep” which is merely a background story and mood setter for this coming of age film. This song may be my favorite song by The Smiths, so I thought I might have to find the movie and check it out. As luck (or some crazy search algorithm) would have it, this movie was in the picks for me on Netflix this evening so Melinda and I watched it. Suffice it to say, it was a really good movie and the music throughout was tremendous. Both of us highly recommend this one.🌟🌟🌟🌟

Fiona Apple: Fetch The Bolt Cutters

Disclaimer: Fiona Apple’s music is not for everyone.

I make that disclaimer mainly because she is a true artist, musician and songwriter who does things on her terms and her terms don’t include radio-friendly ramblings. Fiona recorded her fifth album at her home in Venice Beach, CA and the unique sounds it permits her to make carry this record from start to finish. Since Tidal was released in 1996, Fiona has seen three, six, seven and now eight years pass between recordings. I sure hope we don’t have to wait nine years for the next one. This record begins with “I Want You To Love Me”, a quirky piano ballad with a strolling melody which feels like a walk in the park with the one you love. Not Top 40 for sure, but an indication of things to come.

Again, Fiona Apple is not for everyone. However, if you are a music lover who enjoys a kaleidoscope of lyrical sophistication and refined musicianship as much as a you fancy a paint-by-numbers radio tune, you owe it to yourself to listen to this album. I mean really listen to it. If you are new to her music, I encourage you to start with Tidal and listen to each of her albums and see what it’s like to stroll on the long and winding road to greatness. 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟