Best of What’s New

A selection of newly released music that caught my attention

With highs in the low ’60s and high ’50s yesterday and today, respectively, dare I say it, it does feel a bit like spring. Or perhaps global warming, since having spring in mid-February really sounds way too early? In any case, looks like it’s short-lived: In typical New York-New Jersey-Connecticut tri-state area fashion, tomorrow, the forecast high is 35.

What the heck does any of this have to do with music? Nothing, so why don’t we get to some new releases! All my picks this week appear on albums that came out yesterday. Once again, it’s a mix of artists who are entirely new to me and two names I’ve known for a long time, though I can’t claim deep familiarity with their music either.

Spoon/The Devil & Mr. Jones

Kicking it off today are Spoon, a rock band from Austin, Texas, formed as a trio in 1993. They named themselves after a song by German avant-garde group Can. Only Britt Daniel (lead vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion) and Jim Eno (drums, percussion, programming) remain as original members in the band’s current line-up, which also includes Alex Fischel (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), Gerardo Larios (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals) and Ben Trokan (bass, keyboards). Spoon, whose music Apple Music characterizes as being inspired by new wave, power pop and soul-influenced rock, released their debut album Telephono in April 1996. The Devil & Mr. Jones, penned by Daniel and fellow Austin songwriter Andrew Cashen, is a track from Spoon’s 10th and new album Lucifer on the Sofa. Good tune!

alt-j/Bane

alt-j are an English alternative rock band. According to their Apple Music profile, they wear their geeky math side with pride, right down to their name, a reference to the keyboard shortcut for a delta (triangle) sign. But it was their proclivity for the liberal arts that brought them together in 2007 at Leeds University, where lead singer/guitarist Joe Newman, guitarist/bassist Gwil Sainsbury, and drummer Thom Green studied fine art and keyboardist Gus Unger-Hamilton read English literature. The quartet first started tinkering with minimal equipment in their dorm rooms, but soon after graduation their sound had evolved into multilayered melodies that mixed, mashed, and manipulated elements of indie pop, trip-hop, folk, dubstep, psychedelia, and a capella harmonies. It all came together beautifully on tracks like “Breezeblocks” and “Tessellate” from their 2012 debut album, An Awesome Wave, which garnered them the coveted Mercury Prize. Fast-forward 20 years to The Dream, the latest album by alt-j who since Sainsbury’s departure in 2014 have been a trio. Here’s Bane, credited to all three members. Admittedly, it’s outside my core wheelhouse but there’s something about it!

Eddie Vedder/Try

Eddie Vedder is a name I first and foremost associate with Pearl Jam, the Seattle rock band he co-founded in 1990 and whose lead vocalist and guitarist he remains to this day. In addition to his work with Pearl Jam, Vedder has also released three solo albums starting in 2007 with Into the Wild, which was based on his contributions to the soundtrack of a biographical adventure drama picture of the same name. Vedder’s latest effort, Earthling, is his first solo record in nearly 11 years since Ukulele Songs, a folk-oriented album released in May 2011. Here’s Try featuring Stevie Wonder on harmonica, one of three prominent guests on Earthling. The other two are Elton John and Ringo Starr. Mrs. Mills, the tune with Ringo on drums, is included in the Spotify playlist at the end of the post. Try was co-written by Vedder, former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist and drummer Josh Klinghoffer and Chad Smith, respectively, and producer Andrew Votman, aka Andrew Watt. I don’t believe I’ve ever heard Stevie Wonder play on a rock song, but he proves he’s definitely up to the task!

Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators/The River is Rising

Closing out today’s Best of What’s New is Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash (born Saul Hudson). In addition to the band he’s best known for and joined shortly after they were formed in 1985, Slash has been involved in various other music projects. Primarily, that was the case following his departure from Guns N’ Roses in 1996 until his return in 2016. One of these projects has been billed to Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators. The first album Slash recorded with that backing band was Apocalyptic Love, released in May 2012. The fourth and latest is appropriately titled 4. Here’s the opener The River is Rising, which first had appeared as the lead single in October 2021. Co-written by Hudson and Kennedy, the tune has some of that Guns N’ Roses swagger in it, minus Axl Rose whose voice I find a bit difficult to take after a few songs.

Last but not least here’s the above noted Spotify playlist. Hope there’s something for you.

Sources: Wikipedia; Apple Music; YouTube; Spotify

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10 thoughts on “Best of What’s New”

  1. I really like the Spoon song…what a groove that is. I enjoyed that a lot. I will keep an eye out for this band.

    Love the Eddie Vedder song Try. That song could have been out in the sixties. That harmonica of Stevie’s is rocking…it sounds like a voice. In Mrs. Mills…that song is made for Ringo…it has those “Ringo fills” that is his style.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, glad you liked it.

      It’s kind of funny, when I first heard “Try”, I had not read yet that it featured Stevie Wonder. When that harmonica kicked in, I was like, ‘gee, this kind of sounds like Stevie Wonder,’ but I dismissed my own thought right away, since it’s really quite unusual music for him – possibly the very first rock song I have heard Stevie play. Just goes to show what a great musician he is!

      I was also puzzled by the counting of at the very beginning of the song, since that’s obviously not Eddie. Somewhere else I read his two teenage daughters were involved in some of the songs, so I think it may have been done by one of them who counted of the tune.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That harmonica is just great…this would be a cool Wednesday song for you…
        That is cool that he involved his daughters…you know you are living a good life when you can get Ringo, Stevie, and Elton on your album!

        I like his voice in this also.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Off Topic… Is it WordPress kick you out of comments? I’m having to comment by typing into notepad and pasting into the comment section. I thought it was my computer but I switched laptops and it’s doing the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That Spoon drummer is a monster. I haven’t caught up with the new one but will get there.

    That Vedder song is different from his other solo stuff – his other two have been really mellow. I still love the Into The Wild soundtrack.

    Have you heard the Big Thief record that came out on Friday? I figure they’re Americana/rootsy enough to be up your street, even though Adrienne Lenker’s voice can be an acquired taste.

    Like

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