Tanya Donelly, “Send Me Your Next Nightmare”
With the announcement that Belly is getting back together and touring this summer, some may be overlooking all that music Tanya Donelly produced in the 20 years since Belly’s demise. Lovesongs for Underdogs, Beautysleep, and Whiskey Tango Ghosts, were albums that got quieter and quieter with each release — until This Hungry Life saw her creating more uptempo songs. With the Swan Song Series, Donelly kept her songwriting fresh by collaborating with other artists on new tunes. Well, all five volumes of the series will be released on CD on May 20th, and Donelly has reunited with her former Belly bandmate, Tom Gorman, for a new song that’s not only pleasing but has some surprising elements as well. There’s a kind of return to the dreamy quality of Belly’s first album on “Send Me Your Next Nightmare.” However, the music does not stay in dreamland for very long once the full band kicks with a countryish guitar layered over strings that bring to mind Bollywood. Yeah, Bollywood. Not in a campy way, but more to punctuate a soaring moment in the song. Really good stuff from Donelly who shows how much she’s grown as an artist since “Feed The Tree.”
Jerad Finck, “Criminal” (Acoustic)
In 2011, Jerad Finck’s “Runaway” was very much rooted in the pop stylings of the Goo Goo Dolls. With his new song “Criminal” he continues with his brand of pleasing songs featuring well-placed hooks and vocals infused with the right amount of emotional sincerity. The result is a radio-friendly song with a broad appeal that should do quite well on Hot AC formatted radio. Give it a listen and you’ll see what I mean.
Sada Vidoo, “The Actress”
Even though “The Actress” was released about two years ago, it’s only now bubbling up on the North American music radar. Vidoo is an interesting artist whose vocal performance gives more than a nod or two to Kate Bush — but also laced into “The Actress” are echoes of part of her Palestinian cultural roots. She grew up in Denmark, but often felt alone and was bullied by peers as a child. She’s taken all that pain (both the bullying and being abandoned by her father at an early age) and poured it into her art. The result is not quite the quirkiness of Kate Bush’s music, but one that melds a number of styles within a pop framework. Sure, it all sounds like a jumble of elements, but it all seems to work in the end.
John Doe (Featuring Debbie Harry), “Go Baby Go”
X is probably my favorite punk band — mostly because they had both fury and a real sense of musicality that could be absent from that scene. John Doe and Exene Cervenka wrote some great songs on X’s first three albums — albums that should be in everyone’s collection — but the call of country music (not pop country, but the white man’s blues country of Hank Williams) was and continues to be a strong pull on Doe. That’s probably why he started The Knitters in ’85. With his new album coming out in April (titled The Westerner), Doe is once again feeling the pull of country. But he can’t quite get punk out of his system, so the result is more of an X sounding “Go Baby Go,” with Debbie Harry filling in for Cervenka on a rocking and rollicking song that has an instant appeal.