This week’s new music is actually old music. Today is the release date for An American Treasure, which is the new box set of live versions, alternate versions, and previously unreleased music by Tom Petty put together by his band the Heartbreakers, his wife and his daughter. I’m often a little leery of posthumous music releases. I often think if an artist didn’t want this song out in the world, then why a I listening to it now. Sometimes though I suppose especially during most of the time that Tom Petty was recording there just wasn’t room for everything. You could only fit so many songs on an album. The fact that this is put together as a tribute by all the people who knew Tom best gives me more faith in it. Most of the box set is different versions of previously released music, but there are a couple of new, old songs that have been added including the song “Keep a Little Soul”. The music video, which features live footage of Tom Petty, was put together by his daughter. All of it does seem like people who loved Tom Petty trying to put together something to honor him and share that love with his fans and not the money grab that these sometimes can often feel like. As I’ve previously mentioned I have a deep love for Tom Petty, so I’ll allow myself to enjoy this last music from him.
Earlier in the week I was thinking I was going to write about some songs by Amos Lee and Phosphorescent, but when I sat down to write I decided give the ladies a little love instead. Plus Mumford and Sons dropped a new song yesterday after what seems like forever so I decided to throw them in the mix too.
Uh-Huh by Jade Bird
I thought forever about writing about Jade Bird’s song “Cathedrals”, but it was out around the time that I just had no will to write about anything so I just never did. I still love that song and you should go listen to it too. I’m very much digging Jade Bird’s newest single, “Uh-huh” right now though. Sometimes you can use some angry girl rock and “Uh-huh” definitely fits that bill.
Girlfriend by Christine and the Queens
The single “Girlfriend” has been out for a few months, but the album it’s on, Chris, drops today so I figure it’s a good day to write about it under the auspices of new music Friday. Christine and the Queens is the stage moniker of French singer Héloïse Letissier. If you prefer to listen in French the album is being released in both French and English. I’m very much loving the kind of groovy early 80’s smooth synth of this song.
Guiding Light by Mumford & Sons
It’s been three and a half years since Mumford & Sons last put out new music. It was starting to feel like they might never do it. I had sort of hit a point with them that the stuff off their first three albums had gotten so overplayed that I didn’t even want to listen to it anymore even though I once loved them a lot. Then they played the Newport Folk Festival this past summer. They stuck to the acoustic stuff from their first two albums, but seeing them live especially within the context of Newport reminded me of what I fell in love with in the first place. Plus in my current binge watch of Grey’s Anatomy I just hit the season that obviously coincided with when they were ascendant as several of their songs showed up within a couple of episodes. The use of the songs in the show also gave a new life to them in my mind. Now they have finally dropped a new single with an announcement of their forthcoming album. It sounds like a Mumford & Sons song and that’s not a bad thing. Maybe it’s time to get a little bit excited about Mumford & Sons again.
It’s only the second week in my Friday new music blog post series and I feel like I’m already cheating. I always write about the concerts I got to already, but I’m co-opting my post about last night’s Mt. Joy concert and making it my new music post for today too since I figure most people reading this have no idea who Mt. Joy is. Hey at least I’m writing.
I first saw Mt. Joy at the 2017 Newport Folk Festival. At the time they may have had one song up on Spotify. Whatever it was it was enough to get me to put them on my Newport schedule. As I stood there grooving out to them they all of a sudden started singing about Baltimore in their song “Sheep” and I was like who is this band? Are they from Baltimore? Turns out they are not. They have roots in Philly but fully formed and are now based in L.A. I did find out last night about the Baltimore connection though. The lead singer said that Baltimore has a special place in their heart because it influenced one of their earliest songs and his brother went to college in Baltimore so he hung out here a lot at the time.
Anyway, they finally put out a full album back in March which I really like, so I jumped on the chance to see them again when I saw they were going to be playing the 8×10. The 8×10 is one of Baltimore’s well known little concert clubs and for some inexplicable reason until last night I had never been there. There is no logical explanation for this that I can figure out. As a through line from last week, The Stray Birds, who I wrote about last week even have a song called “Sabrina” all about a fan that used to come see them play at the 8×10.
Usually I try to get to shows early enough to support the opening act and check them out even if I don’t know them. For whatever reason I didn’t make it down there until about halfway through Illiterate Light’s opening set, which turned out to be a good thing because I did not particularly care for them. The rest of the crowd seemed into them though, so good for them.
Speaking of the crowd it was a good one. I was shocked by how everyone seemed to know the words to every song and were singing along. That made me happy. I’m a shorty so I often have problems seeing at standing room only shows unless I’m right up front or standing so far back behind the crowd that I can see over it. Neither was an option last night, so I wound up trying my luck up in the balcony. The rail was only one set of people deep when I got up there, but I still couldn’t really see. I had resigned myself to not really seeing anything, but a little ways into the Mt. Joy set the guy in front of me went and stood behind his girlfriend and waved me up to the rail. So thanks to you random stranger for allowing me to see at least half of the concert. I also felt particularly old at this show. I remember going to shows when I was in college and seeing the random one or two old people hanging out by themselves and thinking weird old people at a club. Well now I am the creepy, weird, old, music loving person hanging out by myself at the club with people at least half my age. Life comes at you fast.
Mt. Joy was good. They pretty much played all the songs off their album plus a couple of covers. One was a Neil Young song that they played as the first song of their encore. When they went off stage before the encore people started shouting one more song and then someone got people to start saying two more song instead of just one. When they came back on stage they said we were just going to play one more song, but now we’re going to play two. I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m on to you Mt. Joy. I could see their set lists on the stage from my vantage point in the balcony and there were always two songs in the encore. Nice try.
I had a hard time rousing myself to go out on a gloomy Thursday night. The lack of sun always sends me into hibernation mode and my introverted self would often rather just stay home even when I know I’ll have a good time once I get somewhere. I did in fact enjoy myself once I got there and am glad I went.
As I’m sure has been pretty obvious I have really lost my blogging inspiration since the last election. I have seen lots of things from creative types who have found it hard to do their thing in the past few years because everything is so distracting, depressing, and anxiety producing. It’s particularly hard to write a blog that’s focused on the good things in life when you don’t see a whole lot of good in the world anymore.
I quit Twitter about 5 months ago because that had turned into a non-stop pile of anxiety and depression producing garbage. I miss what it once was. I met a number of people who became IRL friends there, and there are a few people I still miss interacting with there on a regular basis. But for the most part I don’t miss what Twitter had become by the time I left. It’s still the best way to keep up with concert announcements so I have one list of music related accounts I still look at, but that’s it. I haven’t even felt the slightest bit tempted to look at anything else.
All that is to say that I thought when I quit Twitter I might start to feel more inspired to write here not to mention the fact that I should have more time to write since I’m no longer mindlessly scrolling through Twitter all the time. But it has now been 5 months and that inspiration hasn’t arisen, so I’m trying to jump start it a little by starting to write about new music on Fridays. My music posts were always my least read ones, so obviously it’s the perfect thing to write about, something no one who reads this blog cares about. Good thing I’m doing this for me and no one else.
There has been lots of music over the past year that I’ve thought about writing about and then just never gotten the will up to do it, so hopefully this will force me to actually write more instead of just thinking about it. New albums are released on Fridays now, which is still weird to me after Tuesday being the album release day forever until a couple of years ago. So I figure that’s a good time for me to talk about new releases I’m excited about or if there’s not something brand new that week at least something newish that I’ve been enjoying.
Now after that long preamble let’s get on with the music.
First up this week is “Nina Cried Power” by Hozier featuring Mavis Staples. Hozier just released a 4 song EP as a teaser to his new album due out in 2019. It’s an anthem and an homage to others who have used their voices to fight for justice. And hello Mavis Staples. This world does not deserve her. I love how much she has been collaborating with younger generations of singers in recent years. Her presence in this song takes it to a whole other level.
I was both excited and saddened to open my email this morning and see that the new album I had preordered by The Stray Birds, Let It Pass, was waiting for me. I am very happy to have a new album by them, but also sad because I know it will be the last music I will ever get from them. Two of their three members were married and are now divorced. They miraculously managed to record this album together after their breakup and were planning on continuing on as a band even announcing a tour to go with it. I think they figured out pretty quickly that was not going to work and canceled the tour shortly after announcing the album and the tour. I will relish the last beautiful folk music they’re going to put out into this world. Not to mention I’m also really digging some of the more rock vibes going on in this album than previous ones.