the Buzz for April 2014
conversations with musician david lanz andposted at 10:47 pm by brandon in child, my work
Shivaree — “Goodnight Moon”
(from I Oughtta Give You a Shot in the Head
for Making Me Live in This Dump) —
In honor of last night’s total lunar eclipse — in which the moon passed through the darkest parts of Earth’s shadow on the same night that Mars made its closest approach to Earth (hardly a near-miss at just over fifty-seven million miles, but nonetheless close enough to cast an eerie red pall over the moon’s reflection) in about six years — that lit up social media like a Roman candle as Monday faded into oblivion, I can think of no better tune to serve as the soundtrack for some ravishing photographic evidence of the galactic traffic jam. (The top photo is from The University of Arizona’s Steward Observatory, and the bottom photo is from Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles, Calla-forny.)
Pete Yorn — “Burrito” (from Day I Forgot) —
Convenience store comestibles may well not be the preferred romantic motifs of priests and poets. But just try to name a pop song that better captures the kinetically heady rush of new love.
David Gray — “Gulls” (from Mutineers) —
Don’t tell me the universe doesn’t love me when it gives me a new Tori Amos single and a new David Gray single in the same calendar week. Such a pity then, is it not, that this song isn’t a bit more — uh — enjoyable that what we’ve come to expect from this infinitely brilliant Irishman. My gut reaction upon first listening to this track was that Gray is far too gifted to settle for turning in a second-rate Bon Iver impression, and though “Gulls” comes alive a bit in the tune’s more sonically absorbing back half, I can’t even try to claim I’m not disappointed to see David — who, a decade and a half ago, with a shattering recording called White Ladder, nearly singlehandedly rescued the idea of the male singer-songwriter as a commercially viable thing — meekly following trends he used to set.
Aloe Blacc — “The Man” (from Lift Your Spirit) —
The thunderously soulful voice behind Avicii’s autumn smash “Wake Me Up” steps into the solo spotlight with a killer track and an able assist from the most recognizable lyric that Bernie Taupin likely ever penned for Elton John to sing. Just try getting this one out of your head after one listen.
O-Town — “We Fit Together” (from O-Town) —
Billboard reported the welcome news earlier this week that O-Town — a minor blip in the much-ballyhooed boy band revolution of the early aughts — is back in commission after a decade-long dormancy. Ready-made for reality television and then immediately placed under the tutelage of music legend Clive Davis, the band labored mightily but ultimately couldn’t overcome the misfortunes of circumstance, as bubblegum pop was on its way out of fashion when these boys were trying to lodge their collective feet in the doorway, and they managed to score one major hit (2001’s “All or Nothing,” a ballad whose chorus we can all still sing from memory, whether we like it or not) and a couple of minor ones — including this slinking, sexy, not-subtle-at-all ode to, well, sharing the night together — before fading into the dustbin of obscurity inside of two years. (I feel no shame in admitting that this was one of my favorite pop songs of its day, and when I read the news that these guys were reuniting, it was literally the first thing that popped into my brain. And while one can’t quite claim that it has aged as well as, say, the majority of Hanson’s gems have, “Together” still has its own likeable and uniquely brainless charms. So I still dig it; sue me.)
Serena Ryder — “Mary Go Round” (from Harmony) —
The force behind one of 2013’s most thrilling triumphs, the riveting Ryder stole the show at this past weekend’s Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys), walking away with trophies for Artist of the Year and Songwriter of the Year. (One of the tunes for which she wound up in the winner’s circle was her staggering smash “Stompa” — whose praises I pumped to the heavens in this very space last fall — so if you think I in any way quibble with these award choices, you’re officially nuts.) As is true of a number of Canadian singer/songwriters whose names don’t start with the syllables “Sarah Mack” (hi, Jann Arden; hey, Chantal Kreviazuk), we at the Buzz are still waiting — patiently — for ‘Murrica to wake up and make this gal the supastar she so richly deserves to be; in the meantime, we’re letting the act of digging into the heart of Serena’s brilliant breakthrough album its own reward.