Single-Play

So little time, so much music…

That seems to be what’s been happening to me as of late. When you only have 24 hours in a day and a lot of music vying for attention, one can become paralyzed by the sheer amount of “listen to ME” that permeates our so-called free time. As of late, I’ve been listening to Apple’s Beats 1 Internet stream (One can’t call it “radio” since the transmission method doesn’t involve radio waves), and there’s a lot of good stuff being mixed by their DJs. Alas, there’s a lot of dross as well. I know these DJs are supposed to get me excited about music they find amazing, but I think Beats 1 is learning (or will soon learn) that sometimes chasing after the newest and the latest doesn’t always produce good mixes.

Okay, let’s leave Beats 1 to wallow in their multi-million dollar growing pains for now. This little column is about curating just four songs that I think are pretty good. Music is subjective, so not everyone is going to agree with my recommendations, but I think this week’s selection mostly goes with some new releases, and one release that’s been out for a couple of months.

On with the show!

“Empty Heart,” Grace Potter

I really dug Grace Potter and the Nocturnals 2012 release “The Lion the Beast the Beat” — mostly for the title track. I only had a passing knowledge of the group’s work, but really enjoyed the harder rocking sound with Grace’s raspy voice. Flash forward to 2015, and Grace is going solo with a new album that comes out on August 14th. She’s released one single and “Empty Heart” is the second one that’s ready for prime time. Potter really plays to her strengths on this cut with a straight ahead mid-tempo rocker that calls to mind something Sheryl Crow may have done back in her hey day. While “Empty Heart” could have easily been recorded with The Nocturnals, the use of the gospel choir gives the song a different flavor that really does signal that this is a Grace Potter solo album.

“Hardships,” Nadia Nair

They say that jazz music is America’s only original musical art form. Borne out of a blending of styles whose emphasis on individualism and moments of collective harmony reflects ethnic tapestries that don’t express themselves in other parts of the world. Well, that doesn’t mean when ethnic tapestries intersect in other parts of the world that interesting things don’t happen. Case in point: Nadia Nair, the half Swedish half Malaysian-Indian singer whose love of pop music, sonic experimentation, and cultural collisions doesn’t produce jazz, but rather a interestingly odd mixture that brings to mind something Kate Bush could have produced had she had Nair’s influences.

“Let’s Fall In Love,” Brooklynn

When I first heard “Let’s Fall In Love” by Brooklyn, I thought I was in a time warp back that took me back to the ’70s. The song has such a retro/disco feel that it’s quite difficult not to start dancing when listening to it. One would think that with her name, she’s from Brooklyn, New York, but one would be wrong. Brooklynn is from Atlanta, Georgia but the sounds on this track transcend any particular region of the country and belong mostly in one place: the dance floor.

“Dreams,” Beck

Released a couple of months ago, “Dreams” is a 180 degree turn away from the songs on Beck’s Grammy award winning album, “Morning Phase.” Whereas the music on “Morning Phase” was introspective, spare in parts, and lacking a sense of playfulness and irony, “Dreams” seems to embrace that which “Morning Phase” lacks. I just love the dance groove Beck infuses in this song that makes the sense of pure play soar. When Beck sings “Ahhhh, stop fucking with my dreams…Nothing gonna get me in my world/I wanna get me free” you know the guy just wants to be in the stratosphere where imagination knows no bounds.