Mental Jukebox: Week of October 20-24

Monday: Johnny Marr “Easy Money”

Co-songwriter and guitarist for The Smiths, the “most influential British artist ever” according to NME, Johnny Marr steps back into the spotlight with his second solo album Playland which was released on October 6th. This incredibly prolific musician and frequent collaborator has also been a member of Electronic (with New Order’s Bernard Sumner), The The, Modest Mouse, and The Cribs, and his session credits are too numerous to list. He contributed significantly to the score of the movie Inception, working with Hans Zimmer, and they already have plans to join forces for Marr’s next album as well. Marr describes the new single “Easy Money” as a “serious, universal concern disguised as a pop tune,” and serves it up with an infectious dance-rock groove.

Tuesday: Greylag “Another”

Portland’s Greylag draws influences from a wide variety of genres: folk, roots, Americana, goth-blues, alt-country and pop-rock –invoking comparisons to everything from CSNY, early Fleetwood Mac, and acoustic Led Zepplin to current bands like Band of Horses and Fleet Foxes. Smoothly rugged and brooding vocal harmonies blend with driving rhythms and guitar sounds that run the gamut from plucked acoustic to fuzzy distortion. Embracing both an acoustic and electric vibe, their sound feels vintage, yet modern. Despite recording over 100 songs, they’ve only released one EP prior to their self-titled debut album which was released on October 14th.

Wednesday: Bastille “Flaws”

Another British artist I’ve been enjoying for a while now, started as a solo project by singer-songwriter Dan Smith who later decided to turn the project into a full-fledged band. This track was actually their UK debut single in 2010–a limited edition of only 300 pressings, currently worth quite a bit on eBay! It’s now the third US single from their debut album Bad Blood, which had a total of six singles in the UK. The album was originally issued in February 2013, and then reissued as a UK double album in November 2013, and then again in April 2014 here in the U.S. It’s all a bit confusing. But never mind — the music, with its “heartfelt melodies and choruses that resonate” is what really matters.

Throwback Thursday: Everything But The Girl “Missing” (1994-1995)

British duo Everything But The Girl (Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt) had one of the definitive hits of the mid-90s. Prior to this song the band was a folk-jazz team, with eight prior albums and three UK chart hits. “Missing” broke them through on the US AC (Adult Contemporary) charts with modest success in 1994, but when the song was re-mixed by producer Todd Terry as an alternative dance-pop track it became a huge worldwide hit in 1995, peaking near the top of charts in several countries. Watt went on to find success as a producer of dance music, while Thorn released three solo albums. Thorn and Watt are now married and have three children, but have not performed together publicly since 2000, though in the past few years they have hinted that a reunion may be in their future. This is the original version of their hit.

Friday: Elle King “Ex’s & Oh’s”

A definite standout in the numerous tunes I’ve been digging through lately, “Ex’s and Oh’s” grabs you out of the box with a rollicking bass riff and drum beat. Born Tanner Elle Schneider, daughter to SNL cast member Rob Schneider, Elle decided on her future career at age 9 when she was given a record by all-girl pop-punk band The Donnas. The  Runaways, Blondie, Otis Redding and AC/DC also fall in her long list of influences. Her interest in bluegrass and Earl Scruggs inspired her to learn the banjo. Sporting a wicked wit and vintage-sounding bluesy croon, Elle King is definitely an artist to watch. Her style intrigued me to the point of spending quite a bit of time with her You Tube catalog, something I highly recommend.

Until next week!

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